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What Do You Do with Pills?

Medicine manufacturing and distribution must be a big business. A friend of mine often quips, "Better living through pharmaceuticals!" and I suppose there's some truth in that. The pills we take are intended to help our bodies with some issue or ailment. Head us in the direction of health. But personally, I resist them mightily.

And yet I dutifully take the few I have been told to take. Because in the long run I am interested in being around for a long run. And apparently what has been prescribed is working effectively. And who doesn't find greater enjoyment in life when life is working well? But not only physically. Socially. Emotionally. Spiritually. Financially. We are complex creatures enmeshed in a web of systems, structures, expectations, and relationships. Sometimes we struggle. Even suffer. And we'll sometimes comment that a setback or unanticipated hardship is a "bitter pill to swallow."

But we also might refer to a difficult person as a "pill"! Actually, it would be better to say a person whom we experience as difficult to be around or to relate to or to deal with. Such experiences with others give us opportunity to consider how we are responding. In other words, what do we do with those we consider to be "pills"?

In the wisdom of Quaker author, teacher, and activist, Parker Palmer, we might opt to "turn to wonder." One of the "touchstones" Palmer posits for building trusting relationships is "When the going gets rough, turn to wonder. If you feel judgmental, or defensive, ask yourself, 'I wonder what brought her to this belief?' 'I wonder what he's feeling right now?' 'I wonder what my reaction teaches me about myself?' Set aside judgment to listen to others - and to yourself - more deeply." (see more at Yet we are often attached to our assessment of others, aren't we? We believe we're right in our judgment and entitled to our opinions. So, it can be a bitter pill to swallow to set aside such thoughts and turn to wonder instead!

The Lord we follow has even crazier things to say about responding to those we experience as "pills"! Jesus teaches us to reverse the nature of our response from both what we are receiving and what might come naturally: "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." It's not easy to check our impulse to respond in kind! And it's seldom a piece of cake to dish out grace instead of grease which fuels the fires of dis-ease among us! So, you're invited to consider this Sunday and ongoingly and not only for yourself but also in community, what do we do with pills?

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