I don’t have the beaches of Kauai, but I have the hills of Pennsylvania. I don’t have a quaint, historic village in England, but I have the small town of Mechanicsburg. I don’t have the life of an “important” person who travels and speaks and is invited places to receive compensation for the great things they have to offer, but I am important.
My life’s value consists of more than mere productive output and top 40 charts and social media followers.
I get to take walks with the best dog in the world. I get to pray for the Earth as I tread gently on her skin and admire her miraculous growth in every season. I get to have the space and time for interacting with God in all the ways God wants to reveal God’s self. I get to distance myself from the nauseating neurosis of achievement and self-effort that is so prevalent in society. I get to go deeper into the things that really matter because I’m not caught up in the whirlwind of self-promotion.
I am not where I thought I’d be, but I’m somewhere. And somewhere is where God is.
I thought I’d have accomplished more. Produced more. Become more well-known. Experienced more. But I think every human thinks this. Our metrics are stupid.
I don’t want to miss what’s now,
But when I close my eyes and dream,
I dream of finer things.
I want to mine the depths of the present moment,
But my feet are ready to step into the future.
I live here.
I like here.
I still want there.
I regret all I haven’t done,
And I crave redemption.
My hope extends into the past
And into the future.
The starting point is
Here and now.
It is much more difficult
(to our ego)
To invest in the lives of those around
by asking them questions about their life,
by inquiring of their opinions on things,
and by listening without prejudice,
instead of monologuing,
or dispensing advice
that no one is asking for.
The art of conversation.
Me and you.
Two ears to listen.
Two mouths to speak.
Everyone has a voice.
Everyone deserves to be heard.
The sun carves its way again into the expanse above me, around me. Even more miraculously, it gets inside of me. Another day with the sun means another chance at life.
Not the kind of life you “do”, the kind you receive. The kind that gives you another chance at being – connected to God, learning God’s love, swirling into God’s rhythms.
This kind of life. The relationship. The connection. The sun always reminds me.
Light of all lights, thank you for this light.
Colors. There are so many. They are non-competitive, I guess because they have no soul. I wish we could each be our full selves, without striving or envy or competition. Just like colors.
“I sold my soul to it all.” he whispered as he leaned in close. I couldn’t believe he was telling me something so personal. I barely knew him.
“They came in like a flood. The applause, the requests for more, the likes and the smiles and the cries of ‘We want you!’ Before I knew it I was doing things I never really wanted to do in the first place. I did them because I liked being liked. I liked being in the inside circle. I had to keep up with the big guns, so I did what the big guns were doing. They made me feel powerful. And I liked that. I liked that so much,” he continued, opening up to me in a way that probably surprised himself. The words just kept spilling out of his mouth, a cascade of honesty over things he had never let himself truly believe. He was desperate. He needed to get rid of it, and he wanted to spread the message that it was never supposed to be like this. Life was never supposed to be lived in desperation of being liked. How frivolous.
“You know, before I knew it,” he said, sitting back in his chair as if to say he was getting more comfortable about opening up about the whole thing, “I was creating things that allowed me to have power over people, and I wasn’t even sure if I believed in the product I was creating. I just knew that the product gained me favor with the people I so desperately didn’t want to disappoint. And it caused more people to need me and look to me as an expert. I had had that hole in my soul for a long, long time… needing to be needed and respected. I just kept plowing through life, trying to cover that hole through good works.”
As he spoke, I found myself thinking that this was the kind of stuff we all wish our elders and our mentors and our teachers and our parents would tell us. Enough with the self-help books, and the sermonizing, and the posturing yourself like you only have answers and no questions. Enough pretending. Enough with that nonsense. The victory is in the honesty.
The crowd chants, “Speak to us from your valleys!”
We need music from your depths…not your surface, your lip service.
We find solace in your streams that you are learning to wade in.
And we will wade with you.
I don’t know what to do with all of this endless chatter, this barrage of images and quotes preaching at me. This black hole called the Internet. A society that feasts on power and image. The constant connectivity of everyone and everything. I see the merits – the world is smaller, information is at our disposal more quickly – but it’s mostly a loud, annoying noise that won’t stop.
It’s like a bad storm has rolled in. And although the rain is nice, the constant thunder, lightening, and looming dark clouds are menacing after awhile. You just want them to go. You crave a different setting. One that’s less crowded and threatening. The Bright! Shiny! New! Click me! lifestyle is exciting like a thunderstorm, tricking you into doing the happy dance in the rain before it hits you with lightening and tornadoes.
Nothing has sparked a blandness in my life like social media. I miss life as before, when it was not drowning in other people’s comings and goings. How do we stay here, and live here, and be humans together without trying to conquer one another through our projectile vomiting of opinions, boasting, and fame-addictions?
I don’t know. But I’m trying to keep my focus on the behind-the-scenes of my life, and I’m trying to pay attention to my neighbors, and I’m trying to remember the timeless simplicity of how Jesus spoke and lived.
I can’t just disengage, and avoid the stupidness altogether. Nor can I take part in the mud-slinging, in the fierce effort to be liked, in the obsession with being right and being top-dog. I’d feel empty either way. So what do I do?
I rebel. I go another way. And what does it look like? That’s what I’m trying to navigate. Life this 21st.
Take the mountain out of your sightline for once.
That mountain you are trying to conquer for the sake of your empire.
Focus on the ground you’re standing on, and the people you’re sharing it with. You are wearing them out. Your continual pursuit of the biggest and the greatest has replaced your awareness of your needs and their needs.
Pay attention. What worked then won’t work now. Your goal looks like a piece of moldy bread. It used to taste good. We’d sit at the table and feast together back then. The bread was good, the wine was even better.
The King has set a new table. I only know this because I’ve stayed in touch with Him. Have you? You act like you do, but I sometimes wonder.
Let’s come together at this new table, drink this new wine, eat this fresh bread. Let’s share in this time together, and reacquaint ourselves with the ease of openness. It’s a safe place.
Know yourself. Know your people.
We humans have been hurt by bad leaders. We humans have been bad leaders. So, it’s hard for us to give any leader a chance, especially if they’re new at what they’re doing. Our pain tells us they’re going to screw things up…screw us up.
It’s a risk to give someone a chance.
Someday we’ll be the ones people will be taking a chance on. Maybe they will have learned from us that we humans are at our healthiest when we are optimistic.
Stay true to your heart. Make sure it’s clean. Pure in your motives.
It’s more than it seems.
Corruption, discrimination, abandonment, offense… through words, images, actions.
How have you survived for so long?
I see a fire of fury in you, and a surfeit of spite.
You can’t go on like this.
Heart, you must find your purpose again. Awake! Come back to life. Be drained of your jealousy & rage.
I choose…again…for the 128,000th time… to trust in Perfect Love, to let it heal me, wash me, give me new perspective, and keep me safe. I choose…all over again…to believe that corruption, discrimination, abandonment, and abuse are not acts of my Father, and I choose to not participate with them or their companions – fear, fury, bitterness, pessimism.
No one said it would be easy. But, Heart, you have to make a choice: Rot and die in this bitter cold, or just start running.
Come now, Heart. Let’s run.
We knew each other. Not like now.
We fought for worlds beyond our reach. We knew what lay ahead, and we were hopeful. Never before had there been a company of people quite like us, a ragtag group of all sorts…full of fire.
Fire was what marked us. It was in our songs, in our decisions, in our actions, our arguments. We knew nothing else but intensity. There was no such thing as cynicism back then. It was all or nothing, and nothing never entered our minds.
Our entire lives lay ahead of us. And everyone believed in us. We had crazy ideas, and they said yes. We were young, wild, and carefree. We had a home.
“What if everyone could belong?” we pondered. It was an idea that always fell right smack dab in the center of every conversation and every plan.
And we actually believed we could change the world.
Creativity came easy. Time was no sacrifice. We were bold. We were safe. Moments of wild dancing in the night would turn to spaces of breathtaking intimacy we were not prepared for. We heard angels. We sang with abandon in our secret language. These songs have marked me forever.
I do remember pain. Years later that pain seems diminished when compared to the wonders. Selective memory.
It was the perfect time to be alive.