\"BUT\" VERSUS \"AND\" - A REPOST FROM MANY MOONS AGO

… a bit tardy,  but relevant to what we talked about on our podcast like 2 weeks ago, about the power of God’s Spirit to move in the “both/and” moments of our lives.
By: Rebecca Garrett Pace, Minister of Worship & The Arts, and honestly surprised she was able to dig up a blog post from 9 years ago.
Below is a post I originally published in April of 2012. Some stuff has changed, and some hasn’t. Thoughts? Enjoy!


Have you noticed how often we say "but" on a daily basis? Or is that just me?

Recently, I started reading a daily devotional book of wisdom and reflections from indigenous peoples around the world. The majority of the entries are by Maori, Hawaiian, American Indian, and Aboriginal Australian peoples. It's been a beautiful exercise for me. In many instances, I have affirmed beliefs that my parents wisely and holistically instilled in me from infancy: to seek good in any person also seeks the good in yourself, and in your community; we are to care for the earth not as though she were "ours," something to be owned, but as though she deserves respect and consideration. In other instances, I have been asked to consider things differently than I had before: contrary to (predominantly northern hemisphere) Western thought, to own land is not a base instinct, nor is it necessity. To have relationship with land is necessary, and it is only capitalist mindsets that entwine relationship and ownership.

A small and profound observation I read in this book was the exchange of one word prevalent in Western speech — but — for another word prevalent in many native cultures — and.  How often do we use "but" when we could use "and" instead? Does one little word matter so very much?

Consider:

I love you, but I think we need to part ways. [My love for you is not strong enough to prevent our parting, which we will both then view as an inconquerably negative thing.]

Dear Choir, you did really well on that anthem, but we need to work on this/that/the other. [You have not reached your full potential; you disappoint me; therefore you are being asked to try again to make your efforts presentable.]

You are a talented musician, but have you ever considered becoming an ordained elder? [Your ministry as a musician and artist is good, but it’s not good enough. It’s not as good as this other thing.]

Re-Consider:

I love you, and  I think we need to part ways. [My love for you will not cease at our parting; on the contrary, it is precisely the strength and presence of my love for you that makes me believe our parting will be healthy and beneficial for both of us.]

Dear Choir, you did really well on that anthem, and we need to work on this/that/the other. [I believe your lovely gifts can be crafted and refined even more, and you have proved already that you are capable of making things ever more beautiful.]

You are a talented musician/singer, and have you also considered being ordained? [I affirm you as a minister through your music, and you also have additional talents I would love to help you cultivate.]


I've caught myself saying "but" more often than I thought I did. And  I want to change that (see what I did there?). "And" is flexible. "And" brings inclusion. "And" breaks down walls. "And" opens doors to new opportunities. "And" is open to the Holy Spirit.

"And" is allowing me — during a time of new thoughts, new considerations, and new possibilities — to exclaim, "I am a musician and a theologian. I am a singer and a percussionist. I enjoy organizing things and being flexible and creative. I see God in secular music and  in sacred music. I see value in Western classical pieces and  Global song and  'contemporary' praise music. I affirm tradition and progressive thinking. I believe liturgy and spontaneity work together in worship. I am a whole person and an ever-evolving work of art in God's image. I affirm myself and I affirm others — my affirmation of myself does not come at the expense of others. I affirm my purpose to serve God and remain open to diverse modes of that service."


Hi there — the 2021-version-of-Rebecca here again: have you ever thought about these two words in this way? What do you think of the idea that the Spirit works really well through “both/and” scenarios?

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