A View from the Other Side

Observations from the winged dude next door.

Archive for the tag “hope”

Hurry Up and Wait

angels helping a runner

I know it’s the nature of the work I’m doing, and of a lot of work in general, but there’s a lot of stopping and starting, slow and go traffic on this route into the future. Sometimes it’s frustrating to continue the marathon, but on it goes, the finish line getting ever closer… until it’s changed into a different goal, or a detour, or lost entirely and the race has to be started again from this new line.

When I work, sometimes there can be immediate results. I got someone to call his friend to say he wasn’t dead within about ten minutes. Other things can take months or years of slow progress, punctuated by sudden breakthroughs, followed by months more work.

Fortunately, it seems like the breakthroughs are coming more frequently. Like a ball that’s been dropped onto a hard surface, the bounces are getting closer and closer together. Hopefully, very soon, the ball will come to rest, and the biggest breakthrough of all that’s been over five years in the making will finally happen.

Then… a new ball is dropped, the starting gun fires, and a new race begins. But this time, instead of a dash of desperation through an obstacle course to escape a hopeless life of poverty, this will be a marathon through new territory with opportunities and rewards among the obstacles. There will be thorns in the roses, of course, but what a small price to pay for such beauty.

One Act of Kindness

don't sweat the small stuffFrom the Kate Taney on the Huffington Post:

“…And, I lost it. I broke into big, fat, silent, hopeless tears. There was no sound, just pain enveloping my face and dense petals of teardrops sopping onto the man’s lap sitting in front of me. He was dressed in blue from head to toe; a heavy beat blasting through his earphones. I saw him shift a bit and look up towards me. His big brown eyes looked concerned, as if he was beginning to feel what I was feeling; as if it hurt him to see me this way. I wiped my cheek with my shoulder and tried to hold my breath to keep from feeling anything, but despite my best efforts, I was crumbling into myself like a little girl told to stop crying.

“I saw him move about to get something out of his pocket: a big wad of brown paper napkins. Peeling one out, he handed it to me and nodded his head to go on and take it. Of course, his action, with all its simple thoughtfulness was so beautiful it only made me weep more. “How kind,” I thought. “Where has he been tonight? Where is he going? I wonder what his struggles are like…” He reached into his pocket again, this time pulling out a pen. When he was done writing, he stood up and gestured to his seat for me to sit, holding out the wad of napkins. I was hesitant to take it at first, but with no words he insisted I accept them. So, I did. He smiled reassuringly, turned his back and walked through the sliding doors.

“Some people believe in angels or guardians or signs from things or people outside of ourselves to awaken something dormant within us, to remind us of something, to lead us somewhere, or to someone. Perhaps, he was an angel… or maybe, he was just a NYC stranger who can still allow himself to feel and be felt. All I know is, I will keep this note with me forever, I will pass it along throughout my life and I will look at his words to remind me that everything will be OK, that doubts and fears are normal but are not useful, that compassion is king and that empathy, and random acts of kindness still exist.”

Thankful for the Pain

sword on anvil

I am thankful for what I have now, for a safe home, a loving family, a meaningful life, the little physical comforts I’m afforded.

I am also thankful for the hell I’ve been through. The pain and despair and loss have made me who I am now, in part. I would not be here right now, I don’t believe, if it were not for those things. I would not be as strong now, or as grateful for what I do have. I would not know how to protect others nearly as well, or how to be a leader, or what real loss really means. I would not know the utter depths of the dark night of the soul that make the light shine all the brighter.

I’ve been told that to become a true priest, or shaman, or holy person, you must go through a literal death and rebirth. I’ve been torn limb from limb and left to die in a dark pit of my own making But, somehow, I survived. I survived in that darkness for long years that felt like long forevers, every day opening my eyes to realize that I was one day farther away from that death, but never getting any closer to a real life.

Weeks, months, years. I was a dead man walking. The only reason I wasn’t in a grave is that I wouldn’t stop moving. Even if I felt nothing, I kept moving. Movement was forward, and maybe forward could lead to something that didn’t feel like being alive just for the purpose of atoning for my sins every moment of every day.

I found that the one thing I had left was a spark of hope in my heart. Then I learned that the spark wasn’t just my own hope, it was light. Somehow, a tiny bit of who I was had survived, like someone carries a tiny coal inside a container for miles and miles until they reach their next camp, then they blow on it and it springs to life.

That spark, that light of the Source… it was there all the time. It gave me hope. It kept me moving. I found my way out of the darkness by following that slender thread.

I have never once, for one minute of one day, not been grateful for what I have now. That includes the lessons of the darkness that enable me to be what others need. The strength, the skill, the creativity, the leadership, the flexibility… I had those things before, but the darkness pounded and forged me into a weapon for the light. An instrument of God. And that is what I’m thankful for.

The Monk’s Tale

Once there was a monk who lived in near isolation, but for a very tiny group of friends and family that he trusted and surrounded himself with. People would sometimes seek out the wisdom of this monk, who was gifted with special insight most mortal people did not have.

It was both difficult and easy to find this monk. Once his location was known, it was only a matter of saying hello, and he would answer from the darkness of his safe haven. One of the monk’s secrets was that he actually loved talking to people, but he had been attacked and injured so many times that he retreated into safety and hid his scarred face and heart from the world.

Many times people had knocked on his door, and the result was nearly always the same.

“Hello? May I speak with you?” the people would say.

“Yes, please, of course,” said the monk. “I get very lonely sometimes.”

At first the visitors were cordial, and would often share tea and secrets with the monk., who hid himself behind a black velvet curtain. But as time would go on, and they tried to get a better look at the man behind the curtain, they would grow more frustrated.

“Why do you not show yourself fully to me?” the people would say.

“Because you would not like what you see.”

“But I’m not like the others, I’d never hurt you!”

The monk would quietly laugh to himself. He had heard this over and over again, from all the people who had attacked him over the years. They were like the others.

Another of the monk’s secrets was that he held the flame of Hope in his heart. So he would do as they asked, thinking that maybe, just maybe, this one would be different after all. The curtain would part, and the visitor would see a shadowy image just behind it.

“Why are you staring at me? It makes me uncomfortable,” they would say.

“I’m not staring at you.”

“Of course you are! And now you’re pointing at me! Why are you making me feel bad?”

“I’m just standing here.”

“Stop lying, I can see exactly what you’re doing,” they would snap at him, their voices growing more angry, “and now you’re saying mean things about me!”

The pattern had come true once again. The monk pulled back more of the curtain to reveal a mirror. The visitors had been looking at what they themselves were doing, and accusing the monk of it all. Like the others, the visitor grew enraged and attacked the mirror, shattering it into a million pieces which slashed the monk’s face and body and heart all over. Then they would leave him forever, infuriated that he would treat them so badly.

“What’s a few more scars,” the monk would murmur to himself as he picked out the glass.

His best secret of all was that, sometimes, a few rare people would see a loving person in the mirror. Broken, wounded, but loving just the same. And they would recognize that it was only a reflection, observing their own flaws and working toward fixing them, instead of projecting their damage onto who they perceived the monk to be.

These few rare people were allowed to pass through and join the monk in his tiny temple, and see his true heart, and the love would grow just a little more. This inner circle would hold him close, and help him pull the glass out, and give him strength to heal for the next time someone would call at his door.

Because, sometimes, it was worth the pain to find one more good heart that could help change the world.

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