Brian Cole | The Work of Reconciliation | Episode 6

In this episode, Gordon talks with The Right Rev. Brian Cole, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, about reconciliation and how we can mend broken relationships. We explore what it takes to be able to use the act of reconciliation to create greater kindness and compassion through our interactions with each other in our world.

What is reconciliation?

Reconciliation is the ability to take a deep breath and recognize that we have differences and that we might not always see things in the same way. There is an acknowledgement of our differences and at the same time a willingness to be able to make things right with each other.

Meet Brian Cole

A southeast Missouri native, The Right Rev. Brian Cole graduated from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1989. In 1992, he earned a Master of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with additional studies in Anglican Church History at The University of the South School of Theology, Sewanee, in 2001. He also pursued studies in Art and Prayer at General Theological Seminary (GTS), New York City, in 2006, and studied liturgics In Asheville, N.C., from 2002 to 2005.

Brian was ordained and consecrated fifth bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee on December 2, 2017. He is married to Susan Weatherford, a poet, musician, avid gardener, and graduate of Berea College and University of Kentucky. They have one son, Jess. Brian and Susan live in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Ordained a priest in 2002, Brian served as vicar at Church of the Advocate, a worshiping community of the Diocese of Western North Carolina for homeless in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. From 2005 to 2012, Cole was sub-dean at The Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville. He served as rector at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, Kentucky, from 2012 until his election as bishop of East Tennessee.

Brian has also served as an instructor in Appalachian Religion, Faith and Practices, and Appalachian Religion and Culture, at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa. N.C.; Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. Prior to his ordination as a priest, he served for seven years on the staff of the Appalachian Ministries Education Resource Center (AMERC) in Berea, Kentucky. Much of his work then involved teaching seminarians, listening to Appalachian leaders, both in and out of the Church, and learning how to read and appreciate the culture of the region.

Brian has five times been a featured preacher on the Day 1 weekly radio broadcast/podcast. His articles, sermons and other writings have appeared in The Gospel and Our Culture; Natural Saints: How People of Faith are Working to Save God’s Earth; Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth’s Climate; Green Pulpit Journal; Appalachian Heritage; Heartstone; Aging and Spirituality; Lutheran Seminary Review; Iron Mountain Review, and Creation Care. His reflections were included in Lent 2017 Living Compass Series, and an essay was included in Merton and the Protestants.

Find out more and/or contact Brian at the Diocese of East Tennessee,

Reconciling vs. Tolerating

In the context of kindness and compassion it is important to draw the distinction between reconciling with someone vs. just tolerating them. After all, there are times when we can show kindness by being tolerant and polite with people. In other words, as Brian put it, “just holding our breath through the interactions”.

The other thing is that reconciliation requires a commitment to a continued relationship with the other person. Whereas, toleration only requires interaction in the moment with no commitment to continue a relationship afterwards. Reconciliation is a commitment to engage and continue deeper conversations.

Reconciliation is Reparative Work

When we engage in reconciliation, it is the work of making amends and making our relationships right. Gordon mentions that in his work with couples, one of the key ingredients of having a healthy relationship involves the ability of a couple to repair things when there has been a hurt. It is about staying engaged and commitment to continue the relationship. It means taking things in a new direction.

Reconciliation Requires Imagination

Brian mentions an article in Harper’s Magazine by Garret Keizer, a writer and Episcopal priest, that describes a situation where we might think or say, “I can’t imagine how you could think that…”. When we think in this way, we are really showing a lack of imagination. Because if we were to fully understand the other person’s life experiences and back-story, then we are able to understand how and why they see things differently. Their point of view becomes abundantly clear.

Brian goes on to say, in this whole practice of “loving your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44) means trying to fully understand the other person’s story and background. You might not fully agree with their point of view, but you can at least understand why and how they see the world as they see it. This in turn opens the door for the other to begin to understand your point of view and perspective.

Deeper Work of Reconciliation

The work of reconciliation is ultimately a willingness to engage in deeper conversations and understanding other people’s life experiences. Kindness and compassion begins with showing a reverence for other people’s trauma, wounds and life experiences. So many times we do not know what other people are carrying. But by allowing them the space to share that without judgment or disdain, gives room for healing. It is deep work.

This deep work only can happen if people can feel safe and know that they are seen as human beings that are loved despite their flaws. It means being present with people in a non-judgmental way.

The deeper work of reconciliation is also an ongoing process. It is not a “one and done” proposition. It requires ongoing conversations and dealing with our own internal struggles. We also need to know and understand ourselves well.

Reconciliation Means Responding vs. Reacting

Brain tells of a conversation with his son about a disagreement his son was having with a friend. Brain was impressed by his son’s wisdom in being able to “turn down the temperature” of the disagreement. In that he slowed things down enough to respond vs. just react.

In our interactions with others, it is important to learn how to give thoughtful responses to things rather than simply go on the defensive. It requires being curious about the other person rather than simply reacting.

Reconciliation also requires emotional maturity. We need to engage in the work of learning to be in control of our own emotions and inner worlds. It is the ability of a person to know when they are emotionally flooded and then take control of that for themselves. It is the key to emotional intelligence.


As was said, the work of reconciliation is an ongoing process for us as individuals but also in our various communities across the world. It means having a willingness to have deep conversations and listening. Reconciliation is an intentional act of kindness and compassion. At least in my view, it is the path forward in ending all the polarization and dissension in the world. We need to understand at a deeper level the people that we disagree with the most.


Brian (00:00):
A part of a part of how we get to a place of deeper reconciliation is to appreciate how it is people are made and shaped over time, either the trauma or the blessing, the nurture, or the neglect, you know, that, that those things together, um, end up making us who we are. And then, then you put us in relationship. Uh, and so we bump up against each other. And I think, you know, the, the saying about kindness and compassionate being kind and compassionate, you know, that so often we don't know what people are going through. You know, while at times that might feel like kind of an old cliche, it is so true.
Gordon (00:42):
Welcome to the kindness and compassion podcast, where we will explore the intersection of psychology science and spirituality. My name is Gordon brewer and I'm a licensed psychotherapist and mental health provider. I have spent my career helping people learn how to better manage their emotions and find more meaning in their lives and connection in their relationships. Join me as we think and talk about the ways we can find happiness and be content in our lives, through the practices of kindness and compassion. We will talk with other experts in the fields of psychology, science and religion. I'm so glad you're with me on this journey as we learn how to be at peace with ourselves and others.

Hello Everyone. I'm Gordon brewer and welcome again to the kindness and compass podcast. And this is episode number six and glad you're joining me glad you're with me on this journey. You know, when I was, uh, first conceptualizing, uh, starting this podcast, uh, which has been couple of years in the making, at least in my mind, or at least in my head, one of the people, but I knew I wanted to have as a guest was the person you're gonna hear from today. And that is Bishop Brian Cole. And Brian is my Bishop, uh, have shared in other, I think in earlier episodes. Part of my, one of the many hats that I wear in addition to being a psychotherapist is that I'm a, a deacon in the EPIs church, which is a, a clergy clergy person. Uh, one of the three orders of clergy in the Episcopal church, Bishop's priests and deacons.
Gordon (02:34):
I'm a deacon and a deacon's role in the Episcopal church has really ministry in the world. So in, in many ways, this podcast has become part of my, a ministry and just trying to reach people and, uh, communicate maybe a new way of thinking about the world and how we interact with each other. So Brian is the Bishop of east Tennessee, and he's gonna tell you a little more about himself, but I, I feel so privileged to have him in my life and it being in relationship with him and my role in the church. And, um, I think when you hear from him, you're gonna really, uh, understand why he is so liked and so loved by so many people in our area and just really what an intelligent and thoughtful person that he is. And, um, he is certainly the kind of person that at least for me, um, really demonstrates a lot of kindness and compassion and in all of my interactions with him, that is how he has approached things.
Gordon (03:37):
So, um, looking forward to you, hearing from, uh, Bishop Brian Cole, um, but before we get to him, one of the things I'd like for you to do is first invite you to check out the website, kindness and And if you haven't done so already sign up for email list, I'm gonna be putting out some emails in just a newsletter type format to give you more resources and ways to think about kindness and compassion. Um, and so invite you to do that by just going to the website, kindness and, and you'll see some forms to sign up, to start receiving our newsletter. Um, also I'm putting together a guide called the kindness and practices of kindness, compassion guide. And so when you sign up for the email list, you'll be able to get that PDF of just a way to begin to think about different ways you can practice kindness and compassion in your life.
Gordon (04:34):
Um, the other thing too is if you are enjoying what you're, you're hearing here on the podcast, um, and you would like to support it in some way, we do have a Patreon page set up and you can find out more about that by going to kindness and And it's just a way for people to support the podcast. And when you become a sponsor or a patron of the cast, you can get some little perks there's, uh, some stickers and coffee mugs and t-shirts, and that kind of thing for the different levels of, of Patreons or patrons for the, for the podcast. So I wanna invite you to check that out. So, um, so, um, having said all that without further ado, here's my conversation with the right Reverend Brian Cole, AKA Bishop Cole, AKA Bishop Brian, Hello, everyone. And welcome again to the podcast. And I'm so glad and been looking forward to you all, getting to hear from a person that's near and dear to my heart and that's Bishop Brian Cole. And as I shared in the other episodes, I'm part of, one of the hats that I wear, not only as a, as a psychotherapist, but I'm also a clergy person in the Episcopal church. And so I belong to Brian. And so, Brian, welcome. I'm glad you're here
Brian (06:14):
Important. It is good to be with you and it's good to, well, I think that we belong to each other. So, uh, it's good to be a part of, uh, your work, uh, knowing both your important work as a psychotherapist and also as a deacon in the Episcopal church.
Gordon (06:28):
Yes, yes. And so Brian, as I start with most everyone, why don't you tell folks a little bit about you and kind of how you've landed, where you've land?
Brian (06:38):
Yeah, so I grew up, uh, in Southeast Missouri and, um, church has always been a big part of my life, but I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition and, um, and it's, it's wild for me to think about that little Baptist kid who now serve as an Episcopal Bishop in east Tennessee. Um, I didn't leave the central time zone until I was 19 years old. So my world was pretty small, uh, geographically, but, um, it's a world where I felt loved by all kinds of folk and, um, and a part of, you know, it would take, uh, several podcasts to get me from, Hey time, Missouri to Knoxville, Tennessee. I think the main thing I would say is just, uh, again, to think about your topic, um, lots of folks have been really compassionate and kind to me as I've kind of continued to make sense of my spiritual journey.
Brian (07:39):
And it's a thread from that boyhood to who I am now, that makes a lot of sense to me. And, uh, so, you know, a part of me being an Episcopal Bishop is not somehow a rejection of those people who loved me in that little Baptist church in Missouri, as much as, um, the story they first told me has continued to unfold in my life and has brought me here. I'm married to Susan Weatherford and we have a son Jess who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, he's in his mid twenties and we have a dog named Jerry Lee. Who's the world's luckiest rescue. Uh, he's a Sue. And, um, he, he brings a lot of delight and love, uh, into our world.
Gordon (08:23):
Yes, yes. The, the canine of the ordinary, which I'll, uh, maybe explain that later, but that's, uh, yeah, that's, that's, that's great. So, uh, you know, the topic we had just kinda landed on, which to me is just very befiting of bro Ryan, because when he became Bishop of the diocese of east Tennessee, this theme came out about reconciling and, and being able to reconcile. And I think for some folks, when they think of the word reconcile, they think, okay, that's something I do to my checkbook, but you wanna, you wanna talk about what that means and maybe how that ties into kindness and compassion?
Brian (09:07):
Yeah. So, um, you know, I had been a parish priest in Asheville, North Carolina, a parish priest in Lexington, Kentucky. And when I was elected Bishop of east Tennessee and was moving to Knoxville, um, I was really mindful that I wanted my ministry as a Bishop, which is sort of an overseer and an encourager of parish, clergy and parish ministry. I wanted to make sure whatever I offered to the diocese is what help us all pull in the same direction. And that as a Bishop, I never sort of offered some idea or program that was a distraction or got people off course. And, um, in the book of common prayer in the catechism, which is sort of a, a place of teaching, uh, there's a question about what is the mission of the church. And the answer given is the mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ, and also in the letters of Paul.
Brian (10:07):
At some point, he talks about this ministry of reconciliation to which we've all been called. I remember thinking reconciliation then is, is to be a core value in the Christian tradition and in the Episcopal church. And, you know, I, I grew up in a, what is now a very red part of America, and I have served in a place like Asheville, North Carolina, which, you know, if a place could be any more, uh, bluer than that, I don't know. Uh, and I am Ken to people across the political divide and theological divide. And, you know, if in Christ, there is no Eastern or west, uh, if in Christ there's no neither Greek nor Jew slave nor free male, nor female, all are one in Christ. You know, somehow the idea that in this place of the Christ, we can all be who we are and somehow all belong to each other, uh, in a time that feels so deeply polarizing and deeply fractured.
Brian (11:10):
Um, I thought if I offer anything, it would be to invite people to say, this is gonna be our work, knowing that at, uh, once you say that people have a whole lot of questions about, well, so how do we do that? Do we do that by simply avoiding any topic that we might disagree on, which is not helpful? Cause I think at some point that becomes a really thin sort of just, we're all gonna be nice to each other, but knowing that, that sort of deep reconciliation work, um, only comes with trust, right? And so part of the work is there's a whole lot of work you have to do before you get to the place of the real breakthrough of some reconciled people, uh, knowing this is a long answer to your good, good question, knowing that for us, you know, that that act of reconciliation is really something God has done, uh, with Jesus on the cross.
Brian (12:03):
If you think about how radical it is for Jesus to forgive his perpetrators while he is being killed, I mean, that sets high bar for what it means to be able to forgive. So really all that we're doing, you know, if you and I have a real falling out with each other Gordon, if you, and I find a way to somehow say, we need to, we need to admit this wrong that we have between each other and what would it take to make it right in order to be reconciled? All, all that we're doing is really in many ways, echo in response to what we've experienced, uh, with Jesus on the cross. So, um, you know, I think, I think you, and I can never say, you know, we could never be reconciled if we have that example of just a radical global and cosmic, uh, work that the Christ did on the cross.
Gordon (12:52):
Right. Right. Yeah. The 1, 1, 1 thought that occurs to me and this maybe is another, another question here, you know, what, what do you, what do you see as maybe the difference between reconciling versus just tolerating? Mm. Um, you know, uh, because I think we all run into, we're all gonna run into people that we don't necessarily see, see things as they see them. And we, we, by virtue of our values and our background and how we're raised and all that sort of thing, we're gonna have different kind of viewpoints of things. But what would you say about that?
Brian (13:34):
That's a great question. Um, when I think of tolerating, I think of holding my breath and you and I are like, okay, we're about to have lunch with this really difficult person. And we know they're gonna say, you know, outlandish things or offensive things, but we're all, we're just gonna tolerate old Joe. So we're just gonna go in there and hold our breath and hold our tongue and know that we can run out the clock and get back in the car and, and say, man, I'm glad that's over. I think true reconciliation is the ability to, to take a deep breath and really say, I, I am you and I are different. You and I have had some hurt in the past, but there's been the real work of trust, building of truth, telling of how do we make this right. And then that covenant to say, now in going forward, there's a place of reconciliation with us.
Brian (14:37):
So I think, I think also toleration is, again, just in the moment I'm gonna hold my breath and get through this with you. True. Reconciliation is both an acknowledgement that you and I have a past where there's been a brokenness. We had some moment in the present where we made, made it right with each other, and then you and I have some future relationship going forward. Right. Where I think toleration is just, let's just get through this. And once we get through it, we'll have nothing else to do with this particular person or issue. Right. So it, it really is a sort of, um, yeah, it's, it's a different, different level of connection in a sense of, can we get through this as opposed to, can we grow deeper together?
Gordon (15:22):
Right. Right. I'm reminded of, you know, in my work as a, as a therapist in working with couples, one of, one of the keys to a healthy relationship is being able to do, um, reparative work in, in previous episode. I know that that was one of the things I talked with our friend and colleague, the Reverend Claire brown, how do we do that? Repair work? Where we not just, okay, we're gonna agree to disagree and just move on, but actually begin to repair things. And I think part of the work of that is really taking the time to get to know people, get to know their backstory of truly understanding who they are and why they are like, they are kinda thing.
Brian (16:15):
Well, cause you know, yeah. I think sometimes, you know, you'll hear someone say about someone else, you know, I can't imagine how you could ever think that. And a friend of mine wrote an article in Harper's, his name is Garrett Kaiser. He's an Episcopal priest in Vermont. And he said, you know, when you say, I, you know, I can't imagine how Gordon brewer could ever possibly believe X or Y or Z. He says, and you say that in some ways you're expressing a real lack of imagination because if you really put yourself in Gordon Brewer's shoes and you maybe had experiences that Gordon brewer had, you would understand why Gordon believes that. And, and so I think a part of loving the enemy or praying for the enemy is at some point, being able to appreciate if I was that person, I might understand why he or she holds this opinion or holds this, uh, um, uh, approach are, uh, has this take on that.
Brian (17:18):
And I would understand that I might not agree with it, but I'd at least I, I understand how Gordon got there, which if, if I can do that, then maybe as I speak my truth, my piece say my history, maybe then Gordon will be able to appreciate eight. Oh yeah. If I was, if I was from there and I'd had these experiences, then I could UN I could also imagine how you got there. And I think for me, when I hear people and it's, it's funny, cuz it's so often meaning Episcopalians, who I think of themselves as being open, open people. But when they say this sort of, I can't imagine how you could ever think that it sort of immediately limits their vision or their imagination. And so I think a part of a part of how we get to a place, a deeper reconciliation is to appreciate how it is people are made and shaped over time, either the trauma or the blessing, the nurture or the neglect, you know, that, that those things together, um, end up making us who we are.
Brian (18:22):
And then, then you put us in relationship. Uh, and so we bump up against each other. And I think, you know, the, the, the saying about kindness and compassionate being kind and compassionate, you know that so often we don't know what people are going through, you know, while at times that might feel like kind of an old cliche, it is so true. Right. So true. I know you probably, you, you obviously have had this experience as a therapist. I've had this experience as Turkey person, you know, people tell us their stories. People give us insights on their stories that we, you know, we can't go around and share. And so it's a, it's a, it's a important Revent thing we hold for them. And what's interesting is then when you see them in the community or see them functioning, realizing yeah. A lot of people don't know what they're caring, but you maybe know as a therapist or I know as a clergy person and, and to, and to watch people sometimes with quiet dignity or quiet confidence, navigate the world where we will, we know, man, there's a burden in them or there's a wound in them.
Brian (19:29):
And yet they're able to somehow out carry on. Yeah. That I think to be able to see people with compassion and kindness, uh, it's only when you create that sort of environment, that's in the deeper work of reconciliation of truth telling of so, so how do we make this right. And, and how much time will that take that only happens if people, I think, feel the safety, um, that they're being seen as, as real genuine people.
Gordon (19:58):
Right, right. Yeah. To, to, to me, one of the things that, um, has, has really been kind of a, kind of a guiding thing for me in my own ministry, as a deacon in, and a therapist and that sort of thing is the importance of just being present with people and being present in a nonjudgmental way of just you, you know, I think about the times in my life when I've gone through struggles and had down times and that sort of thing, what has always meant the most to me is just somebody being present. It wasn't that they had any magic words or anything that it was just that they were there. And, um, yeah. So I think that that is so key, uh, coming around full circle to this whole idea of kindness and compassion is just to be able to, to be present, just be genuine with people and, and do our best, not to judge what's going on with them.
Brian (21:07):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And yeah. And I think also too, the, the it's I, you said earlier about toleration versus reconciliation, um, I think the awareness of that in so many settings, we do get to choose, right? That, that, um, you know, the invitation to be a truly re saw people that does take work right. And it's not done quickly and it's not done and, and it's not done and then done forever. I mean, it's an ongoing work. And you know, to me, a part of the joy and the, and the grace of being in a, in a community, how of worship and intentional Christian community, part of the joy and the grace of that is also connected to and its work. Right? Cause over time you are gonna, you are gonna fail that person over time. No matter how much you think, no matter how great a person you think I am or how helpful I am to you, if you and I are in real relationship, at some point someone's gonna disappoint someone or there's gonna be some sort of falling out, right.
Brian (22:14):
And, and only then do we get to make the choice of, is this worth continuing to work together? Or is this why I'm gonna now leave that church or leave that community? Or I don't do that anymore. You know, there's the old, the old Joe about they've they find this person he's been stranded on this desert island and he's been there for years and they say, you know, how did you get through, how did you, how did you survive? And, and so they're talking to him about how he did that. And they noticed there's three dwellings that he had built. They said, so tell us about these three dwellings. He said, this first dwelling, this is where I live. He said, and the second dwelling that second dwelling is where I go to church and said, well, what, what about the third dwelling? And he said, well, that's where I used to go to church.
Brian (23:03):
And, um, you know, so even by himself, you know, there's the inner conflict that he faces. And so to me, you know, to be a reconciled, people is not one and done, it's an ongoing work and it, and to me, the gift and the grace and the reason to do it is the belief over time, the more, the more you and I really work out our work together, we ultimately end up going to a deeper place. You talked earlier about working with couples, you know, to me, I have experienced divorce. Um, but I've also experienced remarriage and marriage. And, you know, a part of the gift of that marriage that endures over time is there's just hopefully more that I know about what the person I'm married to, but also more about myself, right? That over time, that kind of ongoing relationship hopefully reflects a deeper maturity, deeper capacity for love and for forgiveness. Uh, and if I, you know, if I end that marriage, you know, I might end some sort of pain or in some sort of hurt, but I'm also gonna end some kind of wisdom that, that hopefully grows in us with that ongoing, true deep, um, vulnerable relationship.
Gordon (24:15):
Right, right. Yeah. This is great stuff. Um, and I know that we could spend hours talking about this 1, 1, 1 final kind of question for you. Brian is, you know, we've been kind of talking about this in the context of just kind of church kinda stuff. What, what do you think we can do outside just in society in general, to be more reconciling with each other?
Brian (24:46):
I learned a lot of good things from my son and Jesse's a wise person and we were together several months ago now where he got a text from a buddy and Jesse read the text to me. And he said, you know, this friend of mine, he's, he's asking me about something that isn't true. I think it was like, Jesse owed him some money on a rent or there, there was something. And Jesse realized there was a misunderstanding in the text and Jesse sort of fought out loud in front of me and he to the young man's text and sort of lowered the temperature. Right. And so he responded, he didn't react. And I said to Jesse, that day, I said, I'm so like, I'm impressed with you because I think a lot of people would've gotten to X like that and would've, you know, flamed them back with some sort of reactive statement, you know, and, and would've, would've increased the temperature and increased the potential conflict and then created some hurt simply because the way in which you re responded and reacted to each other.
Brian (26:08):
And, and it was, it was great to watch Jess sort of experience the misunderstanding and realize there's a way to, to, there's a way to make this right now, as opposed to a, and so I think what I notice in political discourse or discourse in a community or in a neighborhood is how much we react to each other, you know? Yes, you put up, you put up a political sign that I don't like. And instead of thinking, you know what, that's your right to put up that political sign. I don't agree with it, but you know, I'm not gonna lose sleep over it. Um, somehow I take great delight and I'm gonna put up a, a reactive sign that says, you know, I think you're not only wrong, but I think somehow you are, you know, not human or, and so, so how quickly it goes from what might be mature conversation to at best kind of elementary school, if not junior high behavior.
Brian (27:07):
Yes. So I think, I think if people breathed more, I think if we, if we counted to 10 before we responded, um, and, and again, to think about a response, not a reaction, uh, I think there are all kinds of ways we could turn down the tempera, you, in order to say, what does it mean to really belong to each other? Because you said earlier, you know, that you as a deacon, you belong to me. I mean, I think I would say people who wanna live in a civil society at some point we belong to each other. And if I think I belong to you that I'm gonna make decisions, not only do they impact, but also hopefully impact you and, or be aware that my decisions do impact you. And I think when we think, you know what, it's my land, it's my decision. It's my salary. It's my whatever. And I don't care what Gordon thinks. I think when we, when we, when we, when we limit ourselves and limit the impact of what we decide, we begin to be reactive people, not responsive people.
Gordon (28:08):
Yes, yes. Yeah. That, that, that is some truth. That is absolutely some truth. I know that, um, again, not to go too far down the, the therapy trail, but that is one of the things, again, in just working with people in relationship hips, when we can, when we can teach ourselves to be mindful enough, not to go on the defensive with others and oppose to going on the defensive, just become curious about what's going on with them. It like, it does exactly what you say. It turns the volume down, and it's a, it's also a, it's also a, a good practice of emotional intelligence when we do that, of being able to be mindful of, okay, they're doing something I don't agree with, but let me just get curious about that and not react, but just respond. And hopefully we can respond in a, in a kind, in a compassionate way, uh, which is not always easy, but I think that's, that's the start.
Brian (29:13):
Well, yeah. And there's also, you know, there's, there's this new word that people have started using about adulting. I'm gonna do adulting a, a U L T I N G. Yes, we think, oh, that, you know, if I buy a house and I have a mortgage that's adulting, or if I, if I open a retirement account, that's adulting. I think the main thing I would encourage folks to think about is, again, mature behavior, responsive care of each other, deep listening, compassionate kindness for, for, you know, for that to be adulting. Yes. Yes. You know, that, I think a part of a part of what allows us to, to work well together is to all grow up, you know, and to be mature for people and, you know, St. Paul, St. Paul, I think it's in the letter to the Ephesians sort of says, you know, I need y'all to grow up.
Brian (30:08):
You know, don't just keep eating baby food forever at some point, grow up and, and, and allow things to change, allow things to grow, allow your mind to be open your heart, to be open, grow up. And I think, I think a part of what would also help us as a society is if we were a society of grownups and, and some self-discipline and some self-restraint and the compassionate heart and the kind heart and the openness to change, and, you know, all those things that, that are in many ways, um, quite elementary and obvious. But for so many people, you would say it's a, it's a impossible task. And I think the more we can adult, the more we have hope for a, yeah.
Gordon (30:51):
I love that. I love that. I, I immediately think of my daughter, Rebecca, that we both, uh, and that's, that's how I describe her as adulting now she's adulting now, so yeah. That's great. Well, Brian, I wanna be respectful of your time. Um, tell folks how they might get in touch with you if they have more, wanna somehow another connect with you.
Brian (31:14):
Yeah. So our do and website, um, D I O E is where you will find more about me and the work I do, uh, in the Episcopal diocese of east Tennessee. Uh, I tell people, I also like to call it the, the diocese of best Tennessee. Uh, I just love, uh, you know, Susan and I were in Asheville, North Carolina before going to Lexton Kentucky. So living in east Tennessee, we live in the heart of a region that we really care about. So to reach out to me, D I O is our website. And you'll find ways to contact me directly or folks on my staff and learn more about what we do in our work of reconciliation, uh, in east Tennessee.
Gordon (31:55):
That's awesome. And we'll have links in the show notes and show summary, so people can find us. So Bishop Brian, thanks for being on the podcast. And I'm sure, I, I know I'll be seeing you here soon.
Brian (32:08):
Yeah. And Gordon, thank you for your, uh, not just a podcast, but the way you live out, a kind compassionate, uh, ministry and vocation and heart. Thank you. Good to
Gordon (32:18):
Gordon (32:32):
Well, I really love that whole thought of being able to respond rather than to react and, uh, absolutely agree with Brian that it, the more we can learn to be responsive to people rather than to reacting to people. I think that is gonna, as he put it, turn the volume down on kind of the, the discourse that we're in right now around polarization and really being so adverse, sir, with people and, and too is I, I said in that is just being able to get curious with people about what's going on with them, I think is a, is a place to start in in being able to practice kindness and compassion. So again, big, thanks to my good, my dear friend and, uh, Bishop Brian Cole for on the podcast. And you can find out more about him by just going to D D I O E
Gordon (33:28):
Or you can look here in the show notes and find out more about the diocese of east Tennessee. And, and if you're curious about the Episcopal church, you can just go to Episcopal and, um, L love for you to learn out more about this tradition, this faith tradition that we're in, and, um, find out more about that because it's, it's part of our core values. At least we try to, we try to live into that. So anyway, I'm glad you were with me on the podcast. Do take time to visit and be sure to follow us or to subscribe to the podcast wherever you might listen to it and leave us a review. I'd love to get some honest feedback and, uh, get a response from you on, on, on things that you might have heard and, uh, be sure and share with your friends. And also if you're interested in supporting the work that we're doing, we set up a Patreon page and you can find out more about that by going to kindness and And that's a way for you to support us financially if you choose to do so or listen and listening to the podcast. So take care of folks, got lots of great guests, us lined up for future episodes. And we'll talk to you in the next one.
Gordon (34:49):
You have been listening to the kindness and compassion podcast with Gordon brewer, part of the psych craft network of podcast. Please visit, more information, resources, and tools to help you in your journey. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you haven't done so already be sure to sign up, to get the free kindness and compassion practices guide. Again, you can find, the information in this podcast is intended to be accurate and authoritative concerning the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the hosts guests or producers are rendering clinical medical, mental health, or legal advice. If you need a professional, you should find the right person for that.

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L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.


Claire Brown | Embracing Fear With Curiosity | Episode 4

As counterintuitive as it sounds, does embracing our fear help us to show more kindness and compassion?  In this episode of the podcast I am joined by The Rev. Claire Brown as we discuss her thoughts on befriending and being curious about our fear as a way to show self-compassion and empower ourselves.

Meet The Rev. Claire Brown

The Rev. Claire Brown is an Episcopal priest, writer, facilitator, and spiritual director. Claire is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, and is the co-editor of Keep Watch with Me: An Advent Reader for Peacemakers and co-author of New Directions for Holy Questions: Progressive Christian Theology for Families. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School, the School of Theology at Sewanee, the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Still Harbor. Find Claire at She lives in Athens, Tennessee with her spouse and two young children. She is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Athens, TN.

How Do We Embrace Fear In Our Lives?

For many of us over the last 2 years, we have all experienced fear as a result of the COVID pandemic.  As Claire put it, “fear has been driving the bus…”.   And it has impacted us at different levels depending on our own life situations.  Parents worried about their young children who can’t be vaccinated, people with chronic illnesses, and all the other people that are most vulnerable have been especially affected with the fear the virus has brought us.

As a leader in the Church world, Claire speaks about how much of this has been uncharted territory for those in leadership. After all, at the core of what it means to be “Church” is the absolute necessity of having community.   It has been about finding the balance between the need for keeping people safe and at the same time helping meet people’s spiritual needs and the need for contact with other people.

Claire tells of a person in her care that has advanced lung cancer. So for that person, getting COVID feels like a death sentence. She also sees folks who have children that are suffering in isolation. Then there are the people that fear losing their community and the church life they love so much. At its core is the fear of loneliness.

Through all these conversations, Claire is trying to stay focused on what fear may be communicating to us. After all, fear does serve a biological function in that it serves to protect us.  But when we allow fear to drive everything we do, essentially our amygdala takes over. 

Essentially, a step toward embracing our fears comes from allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.  It means acknowledging our own fear and the fear of others, because to be confrontive.

Taking A Curious Approach

“Staying curious about what fear is communicating is really important”

In those times when we are feeling fearful of others, one solution seems to be in taking a curious approach. In other words, acknowledging the fear we are feeling  and what it is communicating to us about ourselves and our community.

Find Ways to Have Reparative Moments

We need to build in reparative moments as we move through our fears.  For example, having a good laugh or a good cry are ways we can repair the damage of fear. Movement,  exercise, and breath work are also ways to repair the fear and grief we are experiencing.  

By building in these practices within the activities of our communities, we give people ways to heal from the fear they are experiencing. Being outdoors for activities helps us reconnect on many different levels.

“By building in small reparative moments of joy, laughter, and rest are the ways in which we build our capacity to stay open and curious”. 

Finding New Paths and Possibilities 

So many of us are fearful of losing our past ways of doing things. We see this kind of fear all around us. And with the COVID pandemic, we fear that things will never be like they were. With the isolation and distance we have had, we fear the change that it brings.  Claire says,  “We are out of step with old patterns that used to serve us, and still trying to build new ones”.  

Hope comes through when we think about the new possibilities of reconnecting and repairing those things that have brought us hurt and fear. By acknowledging our fears and allowing ourselves to be mindful and vulnerable, we can find healing and hope. When we curious about our fear and the fear of others, we can find new paths and possibilities in our relationships.\

Being Curious is The Key To Embracing Our Fear

In relationships we can get into patterns of criticism and defensiveness.  The way to counter act this is by learning to be curious about what is happening for the other person instead of simply defending our own point of view. When we understand the “backstory” of others, and get furious about that,  it gives us room to have kindness and compassion.

Doing this takes practice. Being curious is not a natural thing for us to do when we are fearful. But when we can be mindful enough to be curious, it opens up pathways for healing that we might have missed if we stay in our fear.

Parting of The Red Sea

Claire shares the metaphor of Moses parting the Red Sea and the connection it has with our fears. She talks about some of the incredible artwork we have seen of creatures behind this wall of water.  She says about fear, “We are going to carve out this space, that still feels quite treacherous, but yet it is still enough of a path for us to walk on. That curiosity has this power to split open the possibilities and make a pathway for us to walk on together.”


Ultimately our fear can be very informative.  As Claire mentions in this episode, our fear can protect us.  But at the same time it can cause us to be separated from others. When we get curious about what our fear is telling us, it can be the path to finding connection and hope.  And it can also be the path for kindness and compassion.

Claire (00:00):
Whether that's, whether that's geographically objectively true, or part of the story in that narrative, there's this image that he walks the people through and I've seen some really incredible artwork that tries to imagine what it would be like to walk through. And maybe you could look up and see this wall of water and creatures behind it, or some like that. Yeah. But almost the sense of we're going to carve out this space that still feels quite treacherous. And yet it's a, it is enough of a path for us to walk on,
Gordon (00:40):
To the kindness and passion podcast, where we will explore the intersection of psychology science and spirituality. My name is Gordon brewer and I'm a licensed psychotherapist and mental health provider. I have spent my career helping people learn how to better manage their emotions and find more meaning in their lives and connection in their relationships. Join me as we think and talk about the ways we can find happiness and be content in our lives, through the practices of kindness and compassion. We will talk with other experts in the fields of psychology, science and religion. I'm so glad you're with me on this journey as we learn how to be at peace with ourselves and others.
Hello everyone. And welcome to this fourth episode of the kindness and compassion podcast. I'm Gordon Ru glad you've joined me in this journey. Glad you're listening to the podcast and hope you'll take time to follow us or subscribe to the podcast wherever you might be listening to it. So I'm, I'm excited for you to get to hear from my guest today. And, um, that is the Reverend Claire brown and Claire and I delve into this whole topic of fear. And how do we embrace our fear and how do we get curious about our fear? And I think that you'll find this probably an in interesting conversation, you know, kind of the convention is, is that when we're faced with fear, you know, kind of the old adages is you've gotta conquer your fears. Well, we wanted to challenge you to maybe take a little bit different approach to that of learning, how to embrace your fear versus conquering your fears.
Because I think as we've all learned over this last two or three years with the COVID pandemic, is that there's a lot of fear out there and, um, not only fear around the virus itself and how it can impact us and those we love, but also there's been a lot of fear just politically and just within our society, um, on, on any number of fronts, either P politics, um, the black lives matter movement, uh, with the advent of George Floyd's, um, untimely death and murder. Um, and just all of that has created a, created a lot of fear within our society. And so Claire and I kind of tackle this, this topic, and I will say that it's from kind of the perspective of our, both of us, our clergy people within the Episcopal church. And so we have a little bit of bias in that direction.
Gordon (03:37):
And so I just want to be transparent around that. That doesn't mean that that's the only path to discovering how to live a life of kindness and compassion, but that's the context to, through which I know Claire and how we have, um, kind of entered into this conversation. So, um, I invite you to listen in as Claire and I talk about embracing our fear and how to be curious about our fear, but before we get to that, one of the things that I would like to invite you to do is to check out our Patreon page for those of you out there that are listening to the podcast. And if you'd like to support what we're trying to do here with the podcast, that is a great way for you to do it. And if you will go over to kindness and, or you can just go to kindness and and you'll see a, a, a, a up in the menu, a place for you to click, to get to our Patreon page. And that's just a way for you to show the love, give us your support, uh, through just a donation. We have, uh, three, three different membership levels. And I think they're set at $5 a month to $15 a month or $25 a month. So hopefully for, for people that's affordable and we appreciate the support to be able to continue to do this work and this project that has started with the kindness and compassion podcast. So, uh, without further ado, here's my conversation with the Reverend Claire brown.
Gordon (05:22):
Well, hello, everyone. And welcome again to the kindness and compassion podcast. And I'm so glad and excited to have my first guest. Well, no, that's not quite true. I had another guest, but this is my first guest outside the therapy realm to join me brown. The Reverend CLA Claire brown is joining me today. Hi Claire.
Claire (05:47):
Hi Gordon. Thanks so much for having me
Gordon (05:49):
Well, I'm, I've been looking forward to this and as I've gotten to know Claire over the last few years, um, she is just one of those people that, to me, exudes kindness and compassion, um, and not to put you on the spot, Claire, but, and I know we've had a lot of deep conversations just with our mutual work within the Episcopal church and been particularly the diocese of east Tennessee. But Claire is the rector, which is, uh, an Episcopal term for pastor, I guess, to some degree of St. Paul's church in Athens, Tennessee, but Claire, why don't you begin by just telling folks a little bit about yourself and how you've landed, where you've landed?
Claire (06:31):
Sure. Well, um, it's a, it's a delight to answer that question with you, because of course you were part of the commission on ministry when I was discerning a call to priesthood. So, um, you have a, a not insignificant role in the story of how I landed, where I landed. Um, yeah, so I'm in Athens, Tennessee, which is a small town, uh, in a rural county between Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee in, and I, um, moved here and started this call not quite a year ago. And before that was serving as an associate priest in a parish in Chattanooga. And I also do some writing and some facilitation, and, um, got into all this work wrestling with a call that really emerged in childhood, um, to be somebody who asks big God questions and helps others do the same. Um, it took me many years of searching to find a home in the Episcopal church, a tradition that seemed to make enough room for the big questions I was carrying and also enough room for me as, um, a woman with a call. Um,
Gordon (07:44):
And I should say too, I'm married to Austin sory. Who's the, uh, interim executive director of, um, statewide organizing and community empowerment in Knoxville, Tennessee. And we have two little boys, five and two who we are trying to raise to be agents of kindness and compassion in this world.
Gordon (08:08):
Right, right. Uh, yeah, I, I love, uh, yeah. It's, as I said earlier, I've love getting to know Claire and, uh, learning, learning more about her and just what she he's doing as a, as a mom, a priest, uh, you know, just a, an agent in the world of trying to spread kindness and compassion. And one, one of the things that Claire and I had kind of chatted about via email before we started, uh, this particular episode was the topic we wanted to discuss. One of the, what came up was just, and I think this is a great topic is how do we embrace fear within our lives? And, um, because I think one of the things about kindness and compassion, at least in a way that I think about it, is that an opposite of that maybe a go-to opposite of that would be anger. And I think about fear as being kind of the driver of anger. And so Claire share with folks kind of what you've been thinking about around in embracing fear and how it relates.
Claire (09:18):
Yeah. So when I think about my relationship to fear in the last couple of years, it's deeply tied to the COVID 19 pandemic. Um, I have found myself, uh, in very odd position that you are too, and others are too of being a convener of people in physical space in a time when we have not known how to do that, um, without fear. And so, um, thinking back to the beginning of the pandemic, um, I was in, and a situation of being a support in leadership in a congregation that we knew had, uh, potentially been exposed to the virus. And this was a, you know, we have to take back our, our goggles of what we know in 2022 that we didn't know then, right. But we were trying to do risk assessment with very little data and be spiritual, peaceful, loving pastoral leaders in unknown territory, um, when fear was really driving the bus for all of us.
Claire (10:35):
Um, and so that's just been a, a really alive question for me in the last two years, is, are we making our decisions out of care for each other or out of fear of the unknown? Um, and are we making decisions with the most vulnerable folks in mind, remembering that our levels of fear around this virus vary for really good reasons. Um, those of us who are caretakers of children who can't yet be vaccinated, have a different fear calculus, right? Um, those of us who live with chronic illness have a different set of concerns to consider. And those of us whose, uh, call and livelihood is to go into hospital rooms and nursing homes to go into gatherings of people and speak with them and lay hands on them and feed them the sacrament have to ask a different set of questions. So it, it's an evolving one too, for me. Um, as we learn more and as we consider where we're headed, um, and in some ways it feels like a learning lab for the kind of fear that leaders in unknown places have to grapple with all the time.
Gordon (12:05):
Right. Right. Yeah. That's a, it's, it's a, it's a tough place. And we, I think when I, when I think about fear kind of the go to maybe is to think about confronting the fear in other words, being able to just push it away or somehow, or know negate the fear, but I like this idea of being able to embrace it and accept it and that we can, we can actually, you know, it's a place of vulnerability, number one, in that, and in, and in my, and in my view at least is that vulnerability is the thing that finds us together. And that we, you know, just to going back in time in ancient history, the reason the human race survived is that people recognize their vulnerability and they gathered together. And so that was that, that's the thing that is a struggle and that being able to be kind of people that are fear.
Gordon (13:16):
Um, and I think another thing that I struggle with is how do you be kind, how are you, how can we be kind to people that have different ideas about what is safe and unsafe? Mm. And that sort of thing. And just, uh, and that's a, you know, get us again. One of my, the purposes of this podcast is wanting to kind of end that polarization. So in, in your, in your work, just in the community and in your congregation and all of that, how have you dealt with kind of differing opinions and being able to yeah. And, and even deal with people that have vastly different ideas about how to handle things.
Claire (14:04):
Ooh, that's a great question. So not perfectly is the first answer. Yeah. That's coming to mind, You know, I think staying curious about what fear is communicating is really important. Um, I hear from folks who are afraid of being infected, um, someone very dear to me that I, that I'm trying to hold, uh, has advanced lung cancer for that person getting COVID is, feels like a death sentence.
Claire (14:47):
On the other hand, I've got folks who are seeing their children suffering in isolation. I see folks who are worried that, um, we are losing sight of our call, or we are being excluders and those are based in fear too.
Claire (15:09):
Um, I think one of the things that I find myself talking out with my vestry in Sunday school weaving into sermons and conversations is actually probably scooting a little out of my lane into your Gordon and talking about, um, that in our psychological wellness fear is really important. It's a fear, a fear that protects it's a hardwired biological resource for us. Right. Right. And that, I think part of, well, I would say part of our call in for instance, Christ's teachings about forgiveness and turning the other cheek, uh, his teachings about the be attitudes is a call not to let our a amygdala impulse run the show.
Claire (16:04):
And so to stay curious about the fears that drive us, um, whether it's a fear of illness or a fear of losing our community, whether it's a fear of loss of an institution or decline, um, or a, a fear of our own loneliness and the space that has emerged for us to maybe have to confront our own selves in periods of isolation, staying really curious, so that we say, what is this communicating? And is that communication of our fear, this, this bio impulse, the yeah. The racing heart and the sweaty hands, and the, I need to take off and run is what that's actually communicating, something that we hold onto, or is it something that we filter through that and gospel of love and courage.
Gordon (17:02):
Right, right. Yeah. And it's a, you know, you know, what comes to mind for me, uh, immediately as you're describing that is just the, the practice of mindfulness and then being able to be mindful as a community, not only as individuals, but as a community of being able to say, you know, yes, we're afraid this is fearful stuff. And, but I think they, you know, the kinda the, again, using that, that language of the good news is, is that we're not alone in this and that. And I think that, you know, fear drives a lot of what people do, but also not only fear, but the fear of loneliness and being disconnected is what drives most of the not to get too, too far over into the psychological lane. But the, at least in my view, I think that any addiction, whether it be substances, sex, gambling, whatever the addiction is, is driven by a sense of loneliness.
Gordon (18:14):
And I think that people use substances and, and other things in their life to numb that feeling of loneliness, as opposed to learning, to sit with it and being able to kind of, um, you know, sit with a discomfort of those things. And, you know, when we're uncomfortable, I, you know, I'm just remind, uh, I think of this metaphor of when, um, you know, with your kids when, when they are afraid or when they are uncomfortable in some way, the go to is to, is to, is to wrap your arms around them, to cuddle 'em, to hold them and to give some sort of reassurance. And so I think at least in my mind, that's how we try to, um, practice kindness and compassion in, in our communities. Yeah.
Claire (19:12):
One of the things I've been mindful of, um, speaking of mindfulness. Yeah. Noticing, staying curious about, um, is how to, in my, in my work, in my personal life, in my family build in, um, reparative moments, um, I read a book toward the beginning of the pandemic that was super helpful for me. Um, and it was appropriately titled burnout. Um, and it talked about the ways that you can complete the physiological stress cycle. Um, and it's, it's things that I thought, well, of course I knew that I just hadn't connected the dots, you know, having a huge laugh is actually a, it, it has physiological impact on your stress, uh, letting yourself cry it out, move movement and exercise, uh, looking at all these sorts of very concrete practices, uh, breath work, and finding to weave that in again, in preaching in Sunday school, in, uh, we had our, rather than doing a week long vacation Bible school at the church, we did weekend Bible school and invited the adults and made it really intergenerational.
Claire (20:27):
And we did a lot of body movement going for a walk in the park was one of our set activities, um, trying to figure out how can we in, in whatever our daily call and life is, build in smaller moments of repair of joy of rest, um, because that helps build our capacity to stay open and curious, um, to stay connected to ourself and others. Um, yeah. And, and, uh, and, and also recognizing that at this point, many of us are out of, um, we're out of step with old patterns that used to serve and still trying to build new ones. So trying to, to weave that in, um, I have a lot more kitchen dance parties with my children than I used to cause we need, we just need to, to schedule it almost. Right.
Gordon (21:27):
Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, the, you know, the, the, the one word that you have said as we've been talking that I think is key to being able to, um, embrace our fears is the word curious. And, um, you know, I just think about in my work with couples, you know, kind of, again, not to go too far down the therapy path here, but, um, one of the patterns that couples will get into, um, is patterns of criticism and defensiveness with each other. Sure. And one of the, one of the ways to, to counteract that is we find ourselves going on the defensive and we find ourselves kind of putting up that fear if you will, is to really begin to get curious about the other person. And so I think that's one, one kind of good take home point here with just thinking about how do we handle the fear that we experience that not only throughout the pandemic that we've gone through, um, but also just in dealing with each other through a lens of kindness and compassion is, is we have to first get curious about what's going on with other people.
Claire (22:49):
Mm, yeah. Yeah. Well, in that curiosity when it's not, uh, when it's, uh, pure, I guess when it comes from an earnest place, even if that's takes a lot of discipline for us to stay there. Right. Um, and is not a natural posture, it's still worthwhile, even if you gotta work on it, right. Maybe more worthwhile, it seems to carve out some space. Um, for some reason, when, when you were speaking Gordon, the image that came to mind was, um, this is so bizarre, but I'm gonna go with it was Moses parting, the red sea,
Claire (23:28):
And this idea of this powerful ocean, whether that's, whether that's geographically objectively true, or part of the story in that narrative, there's this image that he walks the people through. And I've seen some really incredible artwork that tries to imagine what it would be like to walk through. And maybe you could look up and see this wall of water and creatures behind it or something like that. Yeah. But almost the sense of we're gonna carve out this space that still feels quite treacherous. And yet it's, it is enough of a path for us to walk on. Yes. And that curiosity has this power to split open something that feels hopeless and overwhelming and impasable, and make a pathway that we could walk through together.
Gordon (24:23):
Oh, wow. I love that. I love that. Yeah. I love that metaphor. And that's, you know, that's, uh, as we, as we like to say in church, we church folks like to say that'll preach. Yeah. So, well, Claire, I wanna be respectful of your time. And I'm so glad we got this spend this time together, and I'm, I'm sure we'll have further conversations hopefully on this podcast, in the, in the future, if folks want to reach out to you, um, I guess, first of all, tell them about your books and some of the things that you're doing with your podcast and, and that sort of thing, and how they can get in touch with you.
Claire (25:06):
Sure, sure. So, um, I'm the co-author of two books. One came out a few years ago and it's called keep watch with me an advent reader for peacemakers. So it's for the liturgical season of advent, which is actually all about walking through the darkness for trust that God's light is on the other side. Um, and that was, uh, a collaborative work with, uh, lots of different contributors and spiritual practices and prayers all through. So, um, I, I'm still coming back to it every year and receiving the wise words from others that were part of that. And then this year, um, I, co-authored a book, um, called new directions for holy questions, progressive Christian theology for families. And, um, it's a book of big God questions and making space for wondering, and having hard talks, um, with kids about God, um, all through a progressive faith that is, um, committed to L G B T affirming. Um, and anti-racism while also being Orthodox and Christian. So yes. Um, folks can find out more about those or my facilitation work, um, or reach out, um, about spiritual direction or other things that I've got going on at rev, Claire brown
Gordon (26:31):
All right. And we'll have, uh, links in the show notes and show summary for folks to find that easily, the books and, uh, how to get in touch with Claire. So Claire, any, any quick closing thoughts that you have,
Claire 1 (26:45):
Uh, stay curious and stay open. Your fear is not your enemy.
Gordon (26:51):
Yes. I love that. So thanks Claire. We'll be talking again. I'm sure.
Thanks cord.
Gordon (27:10):
Well, such a huge thanks to Claire for being on the podcast. I was so excited when she responded and, and decided to join me on this, uh, this journey. Uh, you know, this, this whole cast is really an experiment and I'm really doing it out of a place of kindness and compassion, not to sound too cheesy, but that's really, my hope is that that this podcast will give people things to think about and how they can kinda live into more kindness and compassion in their lives. Um, certainly with, uh, some of the guests you'll hear from me are, you know, through my church connections. And, um, but I'm hoping to, to get a well rounded viewpoint around kindness and compassion from any number of faith, traditions, psychology traditions, or those folks that are in science and, and that sort of thing. So you're are gonna be hearing hopefully a diversity of messages around this topic.
Gordon (28:09):
Uh, but you know, I, I think for me, the take homes that I got from Claire is that the importance of being curious about those things that bring us fear rather than trying to necessarily run from it or eradicate, uh, of just getting curious and mindful about those things that, that cause us fear. And, and I've seen it in my own work over and over again, that when we, when two people that maybe are in conflict can begin to get curious about the other person's story or their back story. So to speak it change the way we think about those people, because I think a lot of times we just deal with each other superficially. And I think the key to kindness and compassion is to be able to be willing, to be vulnerable and to take a deeper dive within our relationships and in our conversations with each other in interactions.
Gordon (29:04):
So thanks again, folks for being with me, um, and joining and listening into the podcast. As I mentioned, uh, take time to follow us wherever you might be listening to the podcast or subscribe, however, however they list it wherever you listen to that. I know apple podcast recently changed it from subscribe to follow. And I, I know on Spotify and Amazon and other places like that, where the podcast is located, you can just simply follow us. And, uh, thanks again for joining us and also be sure and go to the website, kindness and, um, getting some resources together on the website for ways for people to begin to explore this topic and be able to have some resources in doing that. And you can sign up for our email list. I'm gonna start sending out regular emails, um, with just some resources and for people to connect and, and learn more about this whole topic of kindness and compassion.
Gordon (30:07):
And if you like what you're hearing, I'd love for you to be a patron and you can go over to our Paton page. And again, if you go to kindness and up on the menu, there's a, a link there for you to a patron, or you can simply go to kindness and Um, and, um, thanks again for being with me on this journey and looking forward to my future episodes. I've got an upcoming interview with, um, Mallory Duff and, um, McDuff, excuse me, Mallory Mallory, McDo. And we talked about her book on our last best act. And it's a, it's an interesting topic it's around, uh, just death and dying and how we can express kindness and compassion through that. Um, you know, for some that might be kind of a morbid topic, but I think given what we've been through over the last two years, last two or three years with COVID death has touched us in many different ways. And so, um, looking forward to you, hearing from Mallory in the next episode, take care folks and glad you're with me on this journey.
Gordon (31:23):
You have been listening to the kindness and compassion podcast with Gordon brewer, part of the psych craft network of podcast. Please visit for more information, resources, and tools to help you in your journey. Be sure to follow us wherever you and to your podcasts. And if you haven't done so already be sure to sign up, to get the free kindness and compassion practices guide. Again, you can find, the information in this podcast is intended to be accurate and authoritative concerning the subject matter covered. It is given what the understanding that neither the hosts guests or producers are rendering clinical medical, mental health, or legal advice. If you need a professional, you should find the right person for that.

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L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.



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