Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Practice of Good Will

by Troy Chapman

I have experienced plenty of ill will in my life but I’ve also experienced enormous good will. Ill will is a force that tries to tear me down; good will is a force that builds me up. Thinking about this in my younger days led me to the question: if it works like that on me why wouldn’t it work the same on the world, on everything?

Over the years, since asking that question, good will has become the center of my spiritual practice. There are, of course, many other dimensions of spirituality but if good will isn’t there it’s all just “a banging gong and a clanging cymbal” according to St. Paul.

Which leaves me with the question of how to consistently practice good will on the world. Of course, it’s easy when dealing with people who direct the same toward me but much more difficult in the face of ill will. Which is why I think of it as a “practice.”

This month we’ll talk about good will and see where it leads us. I’ll share some techniques I’ve learned for cultivating it, among which is prayer, at the top of the list. Thus we’ll start off with a prayer:

Lord help me remember that good will is the integrity of spirituality; grant me a spirit of kindness and compassion today in thought, word and deed.

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