My husband and I met the Queen of England in 2008. That alone is a wonderful thing, but the story of how it happened is actually my favorite part of the whole experience. We were at the Lambeth Conference on a summer day, one that was quite hot, even for Americans. We had been invited to afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace, along with a few thousand other people. The Queen has a lovely back yard, really more of a park, but the sultry weather had caused everyone to gather on the sidelines under the shade of trees and tea tents, lined up on the right and left of an enormous, sunny expanse of lawn. We decided to take a stroll, and went straight up the middle of this open area, far from any others. A man in a morning suit appeared, really it seemed out of nowhere, and asked if we wanted to meet the Queen. That was an easy question to answer, and we had our brief brush with royalty.
The point of my story is that we were walking in the middle, alone in that expanse of lawn, with the thousands of other guests far away on either side. I think that made us an easy target for the man in the morning suit on his mission of rounding up a few commoners for the Queen’s reception line. In this case, the middle ground served us well!
I really value the via media, that middle way that builds consensus and sees both sides, even if it can seem like a namby-pamby approach to life. We’re often told to follow our passions – to feel strongly about those things we believe to be true – or false. Yet, in this world of winners and losers, black and white, right and wrong, good and bad…all that clear division of thought cries out for a via media else we forget how to talk to each other at all.
And so, I am choosing to cultivate a passion for moderation. Now, if everyone did that things would get boring pretty fast, but there’s probably no danger of a huge growth in passionate moderation anytime soon. I do believe that we really need people who bring their zeal to both conservative and liberal thinking, though that doesn’t include extremists who distort the truth and abandon motivations of love. Unfortunately, the extremes on either side are sort of like those people standing on either side of the Queen’s lawn – they just might be missing something to be found in the middle.
With all of the attention lately paid to the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, I found it particularly interesting that a May 26th Washington Post article ended an article about Bishop Curry with this line: I think the story these days is not the rise of the religious left, but the religious middle. If Bishop Curry is any guide, it’s possible for that middle ground to be full of passion’s energy.
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This blog represents my attempt to put thoughts together on various things that seem to connect – in my mind anyway. More often than not new ideas first involve reaching back to what was and I can only hope that the prehistoric San cave painting at the top of this page inspires all kinds of connections between old and new.
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3 thoughts on “Passionate Moderation”
Thank you, Sonya. You have eloquently expressed here the thoughts and feelings of many of us. Now if we can find leaders who embrace the middle road we may be able to take our country and our parish back from the extremes. -TATE
Thanks Jim. The real problem, as E.J. Dionne says so well in today’s WashPost, is that lying has become an accepted part of leadership. I know it’s not really new, but it sure is painful to see the damage up close. Honest conversation is the only way forward, but that might diminish the control and power enjoyed by a few. Very glad to walk this middle way with you!
Love the story about the Queen and a the skillful way you wove it all together. I love these blogs.