Fear

My favorite poet.  Of all time.  Rumi.  WB Yeats run a close second but for whatever reason when I am looking for a quote Rumi hits it right. Every. Single. Time.  These times we live in are crazy.  But then life is crazy and beautiful and brutal. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, "brutiful".

We crave certainty and security.  It took me a long time to realize the comfort and security is found in the acceptance of the unknown and is mostly an illusion.  This is not some new truth, obviously, since Rumi wrote these words some time between 1200-1273 and lived in Persia, now present day Afghanistan.  Wow.  Funny that such impactful words should come from someone who lived 800 years ago from the other side of the world and who might be considered my "enemy".

Everything in me loves this quote.  Because it is lessons I learn over and over and over again.  The piece that hit me the most?  "I have tried prudent planning long enough, from now on I'll be mad".  It captures precisely how I feel in this exact moment in time and my heat leapt with the truth of it.  

 

My Choice

Here it is.  I found it.  I am reading a book by Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.  She starts off Chapter 4 saying, "It's up to us.  We can spend our lives cultivating our resentments and cravings or we can explore the path of the warrior-nurturing open-mindedness and courage".  Some person decided to write in pencil, "no, it's not, it's up to the Creator of us-God!"  And therein lies my problem.

We are not exempt from the responsibility of our lives, whether we are "saved" or not.  I truly believe, with all my heart, we are co-creators with the Divine.  I did not come up with this, but it resonates deeply within me.  I did not start to wake up, start to live consciously until I realized and decided I am responsible for every single choice and decision I make.  Bailing out and leaving it up to Jesus or God to save me without putting in the work is ridiculous.  And yet, much of our world here in America at least, believes in that.

This is not to say I do not believe in miracles or unexpected turnarounds or changes in behavior.  Because I do.  But by and large, most of those choices come from a decision in the heart.  Not a one-time decision, but an ongoing decision.  Instead of asking Jesus to save us, we can and should save ourselves in a sense.  Now, I'm far from an expert in understanding how this works.  But I do know I have always been at odds with people telling me how to live my life on the one hand, and then telling me I will stand before God alone.  Doesn't work both ways.  If I am standing alone before God at the end of my life, then I will make sure to own my choices. 

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LOVE

I found something last night in one of my notebooks I had written on 11/16/2016, when I asked myself if I could create an acronym for love.  This is what came to me:

L - Listen

O- Observe

V- Value

E- Empathize

Listen - "to wait attentively for a sound".  Listen is a verb, an active word.  Too often we are listening only to come up with our reply, or we butt in and do not give people a chance to speak.  Another word for listen is hear - "to listen to; give or pay attention to" One of the things my mom taught me was to pay attention to not just what people are saying and doing, but why they are saying and doing what they are.

Observe - "to regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something".  This word is also a verb, a word of action.  It ties in to the above, pay attention what is underlying why people are doing or saying certain things, not only what they are doing or saying. 

Value - "to regard or esteem highly".  Another verb.  When you value a person, you listen and observe to learn and understand the why of what they are doing, not just the what, even when you may not agree.  

Empathize - "to experience empathy", which is "the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another".  That is a big one and requires us to come out of ourselves and into the experience of another.  Or, the other, as is sometimes used.

In my own life, love has most often called upon me to step out of what is comfortable.  To not make the easy choice, but the difficult one.  To suspend what I would most like to do for the sake of another.  Not out of my need to be valued for what I can do for someone else but because I value them as a person and think about what they might be going through.  Working to join them in whatever it is they are going through and to be with them in that.  Whether or not I agree is irrelevant,  and I don't get to decide whether or not what they are feeling or going through is valid.  

We can all listen more, observe more, value more and empathize more.  Coming out of yourself for the sake of another is not weak, instead it shows an incredible amount of strength.  

Reverence

We have lost it.  Our reverence for life.  In our obsession with avoiding death, that is the very thing our culture and our world perpetuates over and over and over again.  Weapons of mass destruction.  Tanks and guns and bombs and death and more death over and over and everywhere.

Our televisions are filled with it, our video games rife with it.  You can get in more trouble for stealing money than you can for killing someone. People say that might is right and the only way to enforce peace is through strength.  I believe there are different kinds of strength.

The peace that passes all understanding cannot be secured with guns or bought with another barrel of oil.  And the reverence for life that needs to be restored will require a great amount of strength, a great amount of courage that does not come from any source of external power, because external power will never suffice.  No matter how much you have, death is never eluded.  And thus the cycle repeats over and over and over again.  As they say, what you resist persists.

It hurts my heart to see the level of damage we as human beings inflict on each other on a daily basis.  And we will never stop until we grasp the fact that we are all the same.  We share the same DNA, we share the same stardust.  That is true power, true strength, grasping the fact that we are all the same.  When the trickle becomes a stream, the stream becomes a river, and the breeze of change becomes a full-blown wind.  

People say it doesn't matter, nothing will change, human nature is all the same.  Maybe we have been until now.  And maybe we will be for more generations to come.  But I'm not so sure.  I feel the winds of change blowing in my soul, and I know others feel it too.  When we all come together and realize nothing has to separate us, we can do things we thought impossible. 

I don't know exactly why I'm writing this.  But I do know writing gives me an outlet, a place to express my thoughts, an avenue to do something, anything.  Truth and authenticity are words thrown around a lot in the land of false idols and fake friends.  I for one will strive to keep those values at the core of who I am, and encourage others to do the same.  The world needs more people who have come alive and live their life in the authentic pursuit of truth, their truth.  That is authentic power and that can and most often does change the world.