Saturday, August 30, 2014
Maybe it is all about starting all over, starting anew, with a clean slate of sorts.
I have been resisting - and resisting - what feels like a wholesale shattering of many aspects of my life. But in truth, it has been the shattering of illusions, false images propped up by hopes, desires - fears. We keep "living" in too many situations because we don't like change, we fear that what comes next will be worse than the current churning. We smile fake smiles while secretly hoping that one day the circumstances will change - that somehow God will move a mountain and our hearts will no longer feel discouraged or confused.
My spiritual advisor just stared at my emotional dismay recently. In between my demands for answers as to why ALL the shattering at once, he looked puzzled. He reminded me that on my spiritual journey I have been earnestly seeking truth and clarity. Why now was I resisting the truth - and clarity? Was it easier to live with the illusions??
He continued to stare at me.
And I have been sitting in this strange, formless place of spiritual suspension - totally uncomfortable with moving forward - because what else is to be shattered? I fear my heart could not take a shaking involving my children, me having to walk them up the hill to be placed on a makeshift altar of sticks and fallen leaves. This too, Lord? Them too?
And so I have sat. Suspended. A spiritual paralysis hoping the dark cloud would soon pass, that the curse would be lifted, that any satanic spirit would eventually tire of taunting me and leave. I have considered whether there be anything evil residing within my home - I should search for it so I can crush it or set fire to it in my backyard. I have run the gamut trying to blame SOMETHING for all this shattering!
And still my spiritual advisor just stares at me.
Because I have longed for Truth. I have sought Clarity. And though ALL THIS is not exactly what I had in mind, it does seem more real than the illusions I have been propping up - for all kinds of reasons. There is something far more solid about this reality.
And if it is true that I have 20-30 more years of life, if I am lucky, perhaps all this shattering simply lays the foundation for all that I want my life to truly be. Perhaps it is a second chance to get things right, to begin again living a life as it was meant to be, to start anew with Truth and Clarity as my guides rather than the empty illusions that only promise an equally empty life.
Who do I want to be? What do I want my life to say? In the death of all these aspects that I believed would bring me life, is Life being truly born? In this moment of death and letting go, can I find Life and have the courage to receive?
Lord, help my faith on this spiritual journey be far more than a hobby. Help me to live according to my faith and values - and to live fearlessly regardless of the fiery trials and the shattering of every illusion. Help me to not be dismayed by death but encouraged by the new Life being born in every moment of transformation and change. Here and now. In this moment.
I think I see some sunlight...
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
When I have a minute, my mind ends up drifting back to Miley Cyrus.
I know, right?? Crazy!
But her move at the VMAs this week moved me.
The backslidden Disney star eshewed center stage that night for a 22-year-old homeless guy she met at a homeless center. Though was described as model-handsome, I was strangely attracted to the message both he and Miley conveyed while accepting an award for her wildly popular "Wrecking Ball" video.
In classic wrecking ball fashion, Miley sent Jesse Helt up to collect the award for the video. Jesse told attention-grabbing crowd of musicians and artists that he was not accepting on behalf of the singer/performer that night, but “on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now.” Salon.com described him as arresting as he spoke about stark realities - during an awards show that honors the furthest thing from reality.
I am blessed to work every day on social impact solutions in Flint, MI, often involving homeless people - and structurally unemployed individuals who are otherwise forgotten - or worse ignored - due to a wide variety of circumstances.
But I also chair the Committee overseeing Young Life of Genesee County, an outreach to youth in 6th-12 grades. In that capacity, I regularly hear of the population that Miley and Jesse referenced at the VMAs.
It's the "1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now" that can keep me up at night. My kids are 17 and 16. They already both know at least one of their friends who are already homeless.
I heard a presentation last week that underscores this crisis in Flint and America. Diplomat Nate McGregor reported that while LGBTQ youth represent only five percent of the overall youth population, they comprise 15 percent of those in juvenile justice system and 40 percent of homeless youth. He weaved into his presentation the suicide of a bullied youth from Fenton.
I can never ever consider this problem without thinking I need to do something more to change the hearts and minds of our youth who are deeply troubled and "starving, lost and scared for their lives."
And while I have criticized Miley at times for her jarring antics, today I applaud the 21 year old who ended up sharing her moment to address a problem that otherwise would be dismissed if she had not. That night, she leveraged her celebrity to draw much needed attention to a crisis we all choose to ignore far too much of the time.
Will those 15 minutes of VMA solve the problem? No but it will raise the much needed awareness far better than any other costly means.
Jesse closed his acceptance speech with, “a dream we dream together is reality.”
May we together step one step closer to reality...