Wednesday, May 14, 2014

streams of thought...may 14th, 2014

In those moments I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life hidden like the river beneath the ice.” – Parker Palmer from Let Your Life Speak

Have you ever found a writer, a performer, a thinker of all times, or perhaps just another person that makes both your face and soul smile at the same time? 

It may be in the way they live their lives.  It may be in some act of kindness that they have done.  It may be in what they have written.  Or it may be just because they sang something that just reached inside you.

Parker Palmer is one of those individuals for me.  He speaks with such depth and clarity, yet with the simplest of ways.

In moments that I need to re-find my way, I go to some of the writing sources that always seem to inspire me.  Yes, I find refuge in the Jewish Proverbs.  I find meaning in the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh. I revisit my calling in the writings of Parker Palmer and Henri Nouwen.

We just left a winter season of introspection.  That period of time when we can pause to discover how we can live life. 

I think that we take the seasons for granted.  In winter, we move through them mindlessly and always looking for the warmer seasons to come. In the spring, we seem to be thinking about the family “vacations” that need to be planned out.  In the summer, we are outdoors and moving about going from one event to another, all the while making plans for the fall events and holiday seasons. We just do not seem to give the seasons a place where they can guide us in looking at ourselves.   

Hopefully, during this winter season of reflection, we had the opportunity to glimpse through the icy cold exterior of the day to day into a warmed life that flows inside of us.  Just as the trees had shed their leaves… a symbol of their external beauty… its life moved inside of itself to develop a greater strength in the roots, which anchor the tree into the soil of the earth.  We, too, have gone through a season of moving inside of our own souls to take a moment from the busyness of life to develop the roots inside of ourselves to anchor us for the impending seasons. 

Now in the spring season, we move into a period of renewal and rebirth.  Just as we see the flowers and the buds on the trees start to peek their colorful heads from the dark depth of their birthing place of protection, we, too, are moving into a new season of life.

If we have caught a “glimpse of (our) true life” during the season of introspection, we have discovered what path we are designed to travel on. Hopefully, we have looked at our sense of being a little differently than before.  Many times we get caught up into a cultural movement which pushes us into competing more… into earning more… into consuming more… and yet our life, that is uniquely individual, yearns for more than just moving in the same direction as everyone else.  We are reluctant… dare we say… afraid… to step outside of our environment that we live in to be different.  We have learned to live from the outside in and then wonder why we are never satisfied.  Instead, we need to pause long enough not to say how we want to live life but to listen long enough for our life to tell us how we should live it.  We are becoming deaf to the beating of our soul because the noise of the world has been turned up too loudly.

Nature has a way of teaching us so much more on how we should walk in our own present life.  We have become the consumers of the earth more than the caretakers.  A caretaker will do just that…. “take care”.  They will know the dangers and the possibilities in the land and the creatures that reside in the habitat.  It may be possible that we no longer listen to our own inner self because we are just thinking about how we can consume life not care for it.

Parker Palmer writes, “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”

We all go through a season of what is seemingly lost.  Is it possible that the loss is not really a loss but a lesson?  Is it possible that the lesson is meant to be a positive teaching of how to live and love?  Perhaps the loss is showing us what we truly value and therefore giving us a chance to live those values out in a richer sense.

We see the streams of water… the current is flowing and carrying with it what needs to be taken away… perhaps the only thing the separates us from that Living Water is the icy barrier of being something that we are truly not meant to be.

Breaking script… Namaste

Friday, May 9, 2014

streams of thought....may 9th, 2014

A season of another transition is here. 

We have gone through the season of winter, a time of introspection.

We have entered into the season of spring that elicits our sense of rebirth and renewal. 

Soon, we will be going into the heat of summer, a time when we get out and play even past the setting of the sun.

Many of us are aware of the fact that we are going through a chronological transition, as well.  Some of us are going to be spending the last summer time together with a son or a daughter, who will be heading off to college or maybe they are already preparing to go on their first adventure. Many of us are transitioning from one location to another in search of a new life… a new love… a new sense of meaning.

I remember graduation time at my small local high school in Illinois.  It was an intimate affair and of course we had the graduation parties afterwards. Many of us talked about getting into college while others talked about getting jobs. We had dreams of doing something.  I think that if I had the opportunity to ask every one of my classmate what their lives would look like decades later; no one could really imagine how it would look today.  Every one of us had successes and losses.  A number of us have had the challenges of health and the turmoil of ruptured relationships; while hopefully most of us have lived challenging but yet very fulfilling lives

A few days after my graduation, I got into my Buick Century (two door of course) and drove off to a place south of Gallup, New Mexico.  Prior to this time, I had never driven past St. Louis before and even then that was with some friends; however, here I was getting ready to drive to a place where I had never been to before and to be honest was just a dot on a map.  Now, keep in mind this was before cell phones, GPS, and the internet.  So, I literally was driving alone.

After three days, I arrived to the road that was supposed to take me to my destination. I drove past a building that said “Vanderwagen” a number of times before I pulled in; so that I could ask for directions. As I walked into the building, I was mesmerized by all of the First American artifacts and the presence of being near the Zuni and Navajo reservations.  The gentleman behind the counter was very welcoming and asked me what he could do to help me.  So, I told him that I was looking for a camp for Navajo children that I was going to work at for the summer.  I pulled out my letter that told me the name of the town was called Vanderwagen and I wondered if he could give me some directions.  He smiled and said, “Well, you found Vanderwagen.”  I looked at him rather puzzled and asked him what he meant.  I soon discovered that this location that I was standing in was a mailstop and… it was Vanderwagen.  He did give me some additional information as how to get to the camp and I left with mixed emotions. 

As I walked out to my car, I realized that I had one of two options. I could travel down a dirt road and search for the place I was expected to be at for the summer or I could get in my car and drive back to my home. 

I chose to drive down the dirt road.

We all face transitions and opportunities.  If I had not gone to New Mexico, I would have never had the experience of being immersed in my first cultural experience.  It was that experience that eventually led me to the field of social justice and counseling.  If I had not driven down that dirt road, I would have driven away from an experience that has had a lifelong impact in my life. 

Yes, the road was dusty… bumpy… and winding but it was necessary.  I had to go down that road to get to where I learned a lot about myself and others.

We all have opportunities that pull us down a road that is unknown.  It is a sense of a calling or a direct action caused by a passion.  We may resist it or even consider going in another direction altogether. We may even go down the road and get to the destination; however, because it does not appear as we thought it would we may both dismiss it and possibly even miss out on a life changing experience.

 Life is never a clean map.  It all has to do with that thing that we call “tomorrow”.  We have no idea what tomorrow looks like and in the cycle of life we may even become unaware of what is possible. We look at today and miss its engagement because we are so enamored by the possible gift of the next day. We also live in a mindset that is linear.  After accomplishing our goals, we are many times lost because we are looking for the next one. 

We live in a natural world that moves in tides.  I think that this natural state of being is one reason we find the sound of the ocean so peaceful. We lay in the sand or sit on an outgrowth of land while listening to the water come in and the move out. We see the effects of the evening tides on the sandcastles that we make and we give no thought to building another one.  

I have read recently that the better life is one where we are being pulled into it as opposed to being pushed into it.  Having the choice to say “yes” to a calling or a direction gives us a sense of freedom.  However, for us to say “yes” we also had to say “no” to another option. For me to get into my car that day and drive to the camp, I had to say “no” to going back home.

So, we are in a season of change.  We should take the time to know more about ourselves and what truly pulls us.  We will then have the opportunity to grow in a new way.

We all have this season. 

We all have an inner flame that is silently burning within our soul’s threshold.  This inner fire is either going to grow more intensely or… it is about to go out.  A fire needs only a few things but the one thing that it does need to keep going and to grow is air.  So, breathe in the moment.

We need to find a way to not let the light within to go out…

because if we do…

it will be a dark and cold world.