Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Walk!

Back around the late 70's or early 80's I started my own personal tradition. I don't think I started it with a "tradition" in mind. Just a one time thing that lasted into parts of three decades or so. I would go into the woods or somewhere quiet and walk and think and pray and try to make sense out of my life. I loved to walk up at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama. The falls were a part of my youth just as they were for countless Gadsden/Etowah County kids and families growing up. They weren't the only place but they were the most relaxing place for me to walk. Black Creek was narrow and swift and cold and I would walk the woods and the rocks and while it might seem crazy today. I felt no need at all in my late teens or early twenties to tell anybody where I was. This was my time to open up to God and to myself about the deepest thoughts and problems and hopes of my life. The coming year and all the people and experiences of the past year. So, I have walked in North Alabama and the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. The woods around Altoona, Alabama and in Colorado. Life has taken some twist and turns I didn't expect.

I don't walk in the woods much these days. Don't get out as far by myself as I once did. Meditation with ear buds has replaced long walks and silent prayer has replaced at least to some extent the verbal out loud talk. Believe me talking to God while walking beside a swiftly running creek or walking the beach with waves breaking is a much easier thing than talking out loud in the grocery store. :-) The beach and woods and creek cover nicely. The store might get ya a day in the Psyc ward or at least a visit from the nice officer to make sure you're not volatile. :-)

Anyway, as I thought about it today I started thinking about old times. I thought about people that have been in my life. Some for just a moment and some shaped and molded my thoughts and actions for a lifetime. All are and were important. I have been able to reconnect with some people on facebook that I never thought I'd talk to again in this lifetime. I have also been able to come to a peace about my life. I don't hate the past and I don't regret the people I've known and cared about and if I do have a regret it's how I missed so many relationships or treated people shallowly and missed the dance of life by worrying so much.

I don't smoke these days at all. Not tobacco and not anything else either. :-) My 58 year old lungs would give out if I tried. Breath is a precious thing these days. Believe me. I don't drink except for the occasional glass of wine with my wife on special occasions or maybe a single beer on my birthday with a birthday dinner. My stomach will not tolerate alcohol well these days.  My brew is coffee and Colombian means coffee these days. ;-) So life is different. But, regrets? Some yeah. I would do some things in moderation and some things I wouldn't do at all. But, it's not my wild and lonesome frustrated vices of my youth that I regret. It's how I looked at people and if I treated people well that I would change for the better if could.

I once thought that if only I had the right home, job, bank account, city to live in that things would be okay. Now, I realize that I always had the right home, city, bank account and job if I could have just looked up and enjoyed the dance instead of waiting for the "right" time. Oh well, there's a reason they call it youth.

I worked for Child and Youth Services in Fort Carson, Colorado for a little while several years ago. The director there had a monthly meeting and she always had a segment called "Lessons Learned." I like that. I use it myself sometime. So, here at the end/beginning of a new year are some lessons learned. But, these are lessons learned over not only a year but a lifetime. I think about that sometimes. What would I say if an angel came to me and said "well Steve, it's time." What have you learned in this lifetime? Lets wrap it up. Well, after groveling and "Slangin Snot" as the old folks used to say in my southern youth. ;-)  I think I would say some of this.:

Lessons Learned:

1. Made peace with my past: The people and relationships and mistakes and regrets of the past have shaped how I am evolving now. I went for a time in denial and shame of where and what I had been. I had an old nickname back then that I completely refused to talk about and knew people I completely refused to even think about. I was so scared that by thinking about it I would feel that old helplessness and I would lose myself. Superstition? Yeah maybe. Denial? Yeah. But, finally I made peace with it. It doesn't bite. Some of the people I have loved the most were back there. Some of the most frustrating things in my life were back there too. I recently took my old nickname and decided to own it. To make it positive. Not to call myself that. My name is Steve. But, at least to use it in a fun way to celebrate my youth and life. There's an old saying in baseball when a batter hits a home run. "Touch em All." Meaning of course to touch all the bases on the way around. If you don't you can still be called out. It's also a celebration of hitting the home. Touch em All. I do that now with my past as well as my present. It's all important. I touch em all. :-)

2. Treat people the way you want to be treated: Harder than it sounds believe me. But, I do try to treat everybody with respect of the Divine within them as well as me. We are not bit players in each others movies. We are all on the journey and how we  treat people that have no power to pay us back or give us something in return says everything about us as human beings.

3. Forgiveness isn't the same as saying it's okay to be an asshole. I try to give people room who have hurt me. I try to give them room to be human. I can honestly say I don't hate anybody. I can give them room to be themselves. But, it doesn't mean that by forgiving that I have to say what they did was okay. That's still something that they will have to work out someday. God doesn't balance his books every Tuesday but he does balance them. However, I try to live my life and not wait and hope to see the ones who hurt me obliterated or hurt or get theirs. Hate just eats away at the one who does the hating. So, I release my "right" to have revenge. Now, understand that doesn't mean that you let somebody keep abusing you. It doesn't mean you can't take a stick and get em off you either. :-) It just means you don't give them the "power" of having you dwell in hate toward them.

4. Pray: This is the most important thing for me. I don't prescribe to a religious dogma these days. I have my faith and belief but it's not so fragile that I have to beat others over the head with it. I also don't need the approval of others in authority to verify my own life and spiritual journey. But, I will say this. In my opinion (That's imo for you young age of the internet folks.) :-)  Prayer isn't a shopping list to a cosmic Santa. For me it's calling on the very source of my being the very real maker of my soul for help in this life. I heard a scientific type person say once that he didn't understand how but he had found that there is a power and if you will call then you will get help. Sometime all I can say is "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God." But, I know I'm heard. I am trying to learn to live in mindfullness. To remember to breathe. To worry less.

5. Honesty: Now I know people like to say "I'm honest" but lets get real. There are things in life (or at least there are with me) that we don't share with others. We can't because others aren't in our skin and couldn't possibly understand all our reasons for everything we've done. But, I do believe that God esteems honesty. I lived so much of my life trying to please others. So, the church would think I was a good Christian. The girl would think I was a good guy. The friend would think I voted for the right canditate. That God would give me good stuff if I thought the right thoughts. It took a while and it's still ongoing. But, I try to be honest with myself and therefor with God or my Source of being. It's liberating in many ways because I no longer have to pretend to believe something I don't believe just to please people. I don't have to be close minded either. I can pray and meditate and do an honest search for sanity and clarity.

So, on this New Year's Eve I pray that I am open to the voice of the only one who has the authority to know my innermost person and thoughts. I pray for enough.

 I read something on the internet the other day. An older lady was saying goodbye to her daughter at the airport. She told her daughter that she wished her "enough." Her daughter said the same to her. A man later asked the lady why she said that to her daughter. She replied that she was terminal and going home to die. She wouldn't see her daughter again in this life. So, she wished her enough. It was something they had always wished for each other. Enough resources to live and have food and shelter. Enough hope and love to go on. Enough rain in each life to enjoy the sun. Enough lack to enjoy the good times. Enough darkness to enjoy the coming of the light. Enough. I pray for enough this year. Because if we look up and if we can keep going there really is enough. But, I'm not naive and I know that crap happens. I also am reminded of a youtube video of the great psychiatrist Carl Jung. He said that he didn't believe in god because he knows there is a God. Belief is not knowing. He said I know. That when he talked with his elderly patient's they didn't talk hopelessly about an end. They talked about looking forward to something better. So, yeah I admit that life isn't always going to end in prosperity or good health or another new toy. It's not wrong to seek prosperity or even to play with a new toy if we don't harm others to get it. But, it's also true that humans need hope. So, if I've learned one thing in my 58 years so far. I've learned that hope is eternal and we are more than brain chemistry. I wish you hope this year.

Eagles: "I Wish You Peace"
I wish you hope when things are goin' bad,
kind words when times are sad.
I wish you shelter from the raging wind,
cooling waters at the fever's end.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jesus Laughing!

I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint.My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me: Psalm 22:14

Wait, I'm fifty eight years old. I have a family and health needs and I'm way to old to be out looking for a job. It's coming up on the holidays. Oh, God, my lips are numb and my mouth is like cotton. I've never been this scared in my life.

I had a dream shortly after that on a restless night. I was in my truck but it was losing power. I thought "well, this can't be good." Then I was in my old workplace and a friend was there behind me. "Wait, I shouted there's a giant hole in the floor. Don't move! We were on the second floor in the  dream but the actual building doesn't have a second floor. Still I was grabbed from behind. Forcefully but yet with strong and sure presence that I was safe. I was taken down the stairs swiftly and out the door. I heard every footfall my rescuer made on running down the stairs. I was put into a strong speedy vehicle and delivered where I was supposed to be. I jumped out once the vehicle stopped and went inside.

Wow, on waking up. Was that you God? Was that my Guardian Angel? Do you have this? Still, fear and confusion would follow so many nights of :

Whatif? whatifwhatifwhatif, What If? What if I never work again? What if I get sick? what if my wife or child gets sick? What if we lose our home? How will we eat? How will we live? Crazy time. I can't breathe. Can't sleep! What if?

 If someone asks, 'What are these wounds on your body?' they will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.: Zechariah 13:6

My child has Asthma. But, he is now on All Kids. But, what am I reading from this good Christian conservative now on facebook? It's a shame we have Medicaid? Really? So, my child should die of an Asthma Attack because I no longer have my Blue Cross? That's God's Will? That's what our nation was founded on? Oh Jesus have mercy. I've worked for the past 30 years and now I'm a moocher because I want my child and wife to have health care? Onward Christian Soldiers.

Meditate, breathe, thank you Wayne Dyer for the youtube video that helped me with my breathing and calming down every evening and morning. Peace. Still whatifwhatifwhatif!

Job Interview: I have my license ya know. LBSW! But, everyone here is younger than me. How long do I think I can work? Why do you ask that? I'm afraid to say that out loud but it's pretty clear. They need a younger social worker.

Wait, waitwaitwaitwaitworryworryworryworry.
Whew, my wife got a job in her field. Not a high paying job and no benefits but it will help.

Letter from first job interview: Thanks  for applying. Better luck next time.

Second Job Interview: At least I'm not the oldest one at the table this time. The social workers and director are older than me. Good sign. I'll be glad to use my experience and yes I am licensed.


Third job interview: I'm the oldest here again.

Thank God, Second interview called. I got the job. So blessed. Now, I can breathe. Also, I have seen how tough it is to get work This sounds brief but it took months. It was a up and down and panic in the night soul numbing time. I can't put it all in here. I'm not ready to do that may never be.

Jesus Laughing:

I saw this and downloaded it. I thought the day might come when I can use this Picture.  I thought about it once I was looking for work, I thought about what it might mean.Jesus thinking before his trial Crazy Time!  Gone to the garden. Oh God let this pass. Thoughts: "Ya know your not anything special don't ya? You will die like all the rest and go into oblivion. RUN!

I can't run. I have to do this. I was born for this. "Are you Crazty?" Run!
Oh, God, whatifwhatifwhatif. Run! Let this pass from me. RUN!

Meaning of my profile picture of Jesus laughing:

Some people see Jesus as the virgin born son of God. I was raised Christian and even though some of my more liberal views would be thought heretical now, I still identify so much with the one who walked and lived and died to show me the way home. So, here's what I think about when I see the picture of Jesus laughing:

A long time ago I saw a cartoon in a Christian magazine of a man who had just gotten to heaven. Somehow, the artist managed to catch the worn out weary person who has just come through life. But, at the same time the "Rest and healing and Whew, that's over" feel too.

So, I think about Christ. The journey finally done. The voices finally stopped. The fear finally faced and victory hard won. The weary hard dry journey over. The loss of everything and everybody he loved finally shown to only be temporary so what does he do?

He Laughs. With JOY! With Life! With relief, with Hope! With Love.

And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; Job 19:26

So, even before I make my last journey. Even now I can Laugh!

God doesn't balance his books every Tuesday. But, he does balance them. Peace!