‘I’ll know my name as it’s called again’

 ‘So come out of your cave walking on your hands And see the world hanging upside down You can understand dependence When you know the maker’s land

So make your siren’s call And sing all you want I will not hear what you have to say

‘Cause I need freedom now And I need to know how To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I will hold on hope And I won’t let you choke On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again‘ – Mumford and Sons, The Cave

Was sitting on the patio last night getting all contemplative with one of the last of the great Renaissance men in Paul McGillivary and this song came on.  That last lyric just always gets me, ‘I’ll know my name as it’s called again’.  Isn’t this what we are all looking for?  Who are we?  Why are we here?  Who do we belong to?  What is my purpose?

Friends, if you’re reading this, I hope you have learned by this stage in life that getting a paycheck is not a big enough idea to sustain you.  That’s just being a cog in the wheel of a system called Consumerism that isn’t meant to fulfill you, it’s meant to enslave you is not an end for your true self.  The mythology of the American Dream creates a destitution of the heart that leads you away from your primary self.  We are all waking to the reality as William Wallace puts it, that ‘every man dies, but not every man truly lives.’

To truly live is to know your name as it’s called again.  Know who you are, why you are, what you have to offer, where you belong and what fights to pick.  If you aren’t there, I’ll hold out hope with you that your resurrection is coming.  That you can walk out of the cave of your own heart and know your life as it’s meant to be.

Just as water is meant to run downhill, so you were destined to count. -Dallas Willard

Teach your kids that school is not the same as education

I love what he says here in terms of the fact that life is not mechanistic and that’s certainly true for school and our education systems.  They are somewhat false constructs of reality and how humanity works.  They do teach our kids how to sit still for long periods of time, how to know their place in the pecking order, how to be a receiver of someone else’s knowledge instead of a participator in it, how to memorize wrote information for a test that won’t increase their intelligence and how to conform their thinking so as to suppress their sense of wonder about the world.  This is a perfect breeding ground for the American corporate lifestyle of cubicles, florescent lights, endless meetings about synergy and production and the impersonal pursuit of more and better widgets.  This all fits quite well if you buy into the mythology of the American dream . . . I however do not.

I am a lover of education, but it’s not the same as our systems of schooling in America.  I support and pray for the teachers out there who are talented educators but feel caught in a stifling work environment of measures that have little to do with why they got into teaching to start with.  The primary educators of your kids are not the ones who are paid with tax-payer money, it’s the ones who bred them.  Parents, don’t give over the role of education to the schools, you are the primary teachers in their lives.

I want to teach my kids that probably the best outcomes of school are the acquisition of good work habits, that hard work is its own reward regardless of a letter grade.  That learning social behaviors with people you like and people you don’t like is what most of the rest of life is like.  That honoring educators and authority over you is a requirement but agreeing with them is not, I’d prefer they learn to think for themselves.  That learning is far more about the right questions than it is about the right answers.  I want their learning to be an open loop of freedom, wonder and discovery, not a closed system of pre-determined bubbles to fill in.  School is linear, education is not.  Real education is about context, community and creating cultures of learning that last a lifetime . . . those are the things they don’t teach you in school.

Take Care Now

Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death. -Henri Nouwen

stress

Wisdom and modern psychology says that taking care of yourself looks like this—

  1. Get an adequate amount of sleep
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Maintain a healthy diet
  4. Nurture meaningful relationships
  5. Allow for leisure time

History says that to ignore the list above puts you on the course of a train wreck waiting to happen.  I’ve been there, I know, and I fear I’m heading there again.  I’m trying to heed my own advice but not doing so well with it.  There are a lot of things in my life i have no control over, however these 5 things for the most part I do, with the exception of #1.  Insomnia wakes me up around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. and doesn’t allow me to go back to sleep.  Though I think if I did 2-5 well that #1 would fall into place as it has in the past.

In my early 30’s, I lost 2 of my best friends and their deaths act as a gift to me to tell me that life is short and fleeting so create meaning in the here and now.  Nothing is guaranteed, life doesn’t owe you anything.  We live in a culture that is obsessed with the future, obsessed with future goals, obsessed for more and not content in the beauty of now. In ancient cultures, their orientation was towards the past, they understood who they were and what gave the present meaning by remembering where they came from.  In western culture, we don’t live in the meaning of now because contentment is wrapped up in unattained goals in the future.  Always wanting more without taking the time and sitting in the beauty of now.  I say this a lot, but our present western culture is full of crap.

You can take care of yourself because ancient wisdom says we have value to care for now, we are quite worth it. Life and the meaning you are looking for is what is in front of you right now . . . today . . . this breath . . . these relationships . . . this ordinary moment.  So, take care now.

Acceptance of self

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.
Thomas Merton

road trip to Venatana Mountains and Tessajara Zen Center

It’s important to me that I live and seek for an examined life, one that has an anchoring within the contemplative.  For as long as I can remember about myself, I have been injected with the virus of being a leader, it’s a sickness that I carry around.  In the western world, leaders are measured externally for what they can produce, what they can ‘make happen’, their level of being dynamic and entertaining to others and their ability to achieve results for the organization.  All of that is a normal part of work and vocational life this side of the meridian.  But if leaders aren’t careful, they may believe the lie that the only qualities that are valuable about themselves are the things that can be measured as results and production.  If that is your core belief about yourself, then you are only one good and strong wave away from having the sand beneath your feet dissolved, it is not firm enough ground to build your foundation on.

Self confidence is a tricky thing.  My core identity and spirituality is as a follower of Jesus. His guiding principles involve both an ongoing commitment to deny oneself and simultaneously to radically redefine yourself as one loved by God.  Christians throughout history have created systems of religion meant to be about self-denial but ended up resulting rather in tyrannies of legalism that offer none of the freedom and joy God designed his world for us to play in and find peace in.  I’m also seeing that the ways in which I bought into the lies that I have value not because of who I am as one loved by God, but only as one who can be a productive leader and as one who goes all out in sacrificing for others/the organization.  Legalism doesn’t work, nor does a kind of self-sacrifice that leaves me used up on the scrap heap.

So even at 40 I’m seeking after a proper and healthy view of myself where i understand my value in the grander scheme of things and can anchor down in a core identity that doesn’t change, regardless of the chaos around me.  I believe the answers to this search are not found ‘without’, in the circumstances around me.  But rather I believe that they are accessible ‘within’, that a healthy acceptance of self is within my grasp and control right now, even at 4:30 a.m.

So I write these thoughts not just for myself, but I suspect that I’m not alone in this leadership and identity quandary.  So for today, I bless you to go and find that place within, that voice within that says you have value, you are loved, you are worth protecting.  As Brennan Manning would say, “radically redefine yourself as one loved by God.”  You are not what you do, that starts with a healthier acceptance of who you really are.

The myth of ‘scarcity’

scarcity

“2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’” 4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.” (Genesis 3:2-7)

“took and ate”, could this possibly be the first act of human consumerism?  To me, this is a picture of what you and I still do today.  But the question is why?  What is it within us that says that what we have is not enough?  Where do the fears come from that speak to us and say that someone/something is taking things away from us and in the end there won’t be enough for me?  The myth is that the thing I put my security in is a scarce thing, there isn’t enough of it, so I will consume it and hoard it if need be so that I am self-sufficient and not vulnerable to the reality of being left without.  It is a fear-based way of thinking, I don’t think it’s how we were originally designed.  The moment the original humans tried to ‘make it on their own’, it didn’t work out for them.  What they felt was fear, shame, competition and a loss of peace.  All that was right, now was wrong and they came to that realization, the game changed.

We do this on many levels in western culture.  Physically, popular reality shows on hoarding and apocalypse preparation are extreme examples of the idea that if we don’t grab for more and the fleeting security of self-sufficiency, there won’t be enough for me.  We do this on our over-filled closets, basements, garages, dressers, attics, crawl-spaces etc. of stuff we hardly use, don’t really need but we acquire because we must not have enough and want the security of more.  We do this with the promise of retirement savings, that we can save up enough to live comfortably into our aging years because of what we have stockpiled throughout life.  Consumer goods aren’t evil, it’s our attachments to them that expose the sickness.  Saving money is a wise habit/strategy, but as a source of security for what really sustains us, it will fall woefully short.

From a spiritual perspective, it seems to me that the original humans no longer trusted that God would provide for them, that there wouldn’t always be enough.  So they began to take mastery of their world, enforce a dominion over Creation and grab for what they could instead of living and trusting in the promises given to them and the balance of harmony they were set in.  Take, acquire, master, consume . . . these are the verbs of the myth of ‘scarcity’.  The opposite verb is simply ‘trust’.

So what is the antidote to the myth of ‘scarcity’?  I think it is a simple yet profound trust in the One who made us, who cares for us, who will do what He promises to do.  I think it is also a trust in one another.  My favorite definition of community is ‘there’s enough for everyone’.  That we make ourselves vulnerable to one another in the reality that we need each other, that we are designed to live in community with others so that as we each contribute, all our needs are met.  This is how Creation operates, no one part has all it needs to survive, we live as a part of a connected whole sourcing one another.  The myth of ‘scarcity’ begins when we stop trusting these basic truths and in our vulnerability grab for more.

I’m seeing some parts within me recently that I’ve bought into this lie of scarcity and it’s exposing my lack of trust in the One who made me. I find myself going back to a primary place within, perhaps circling back to that Garden and asking myself what do I really believe and trust in about God and His Creation and my part in it?  I’m coming to a new realization that there are some really good answers to that question, and plenty of them.  Scarcity be gone.

 

Creation isn’t tired

pacificcity

A few months ago while on an anniversary trip with my wife to the coast of Oregon, I spent a little time of solitude and reflection on this particular beach at sunset.  The tide was coming in as I looked out over the monolith rock formations and then it occurred to me that the tides had been coming in and out, everyday, for millions of years.  (Yes, I’m an old-earth guy)  Everyday, without effort, it was like the coasts way of breathing in and breathing out.  All of this is connected to a greater designed whole of gravity and the relationship to our moon that make up our tide systems. It was operating nothing like the manic and produced world I’m a part of.  Everyone I know is tired, nothing in Creation seems to be getting tired.

Then just this past week, I had the opportunity to visit my friend, Mike Bishop, down in West Palm Beach, FL and he took me out snorkeling at a nearby cove.  As soon as I dove in, after ripping up my knee a bit on some coral, I was transplanted to another world.  Immediately I was amazed by an entire unseen world from the road, coral structures and systems of schools of fish living unaffected by the manic pace of our world on the shore.  Hurricanes come, hurricanes go, their world continues on in a calm eco-system of elegant design.  This all exists without the weariness of producing and consuming more, never satisfied nor content as we tend to be.

So this is my reflection point, Creation isn’t tired.  It does what it does, it operates within the natural laws of the universe and sustains and grows itself within a system of wholeness and not a contrived and artificial straining for more.  More often is not better, more often is actually less in our consumer world for increased effort and demands for production.

My friend Dr. Savage shared this with me recently as we are on similar wavelengths and it’s been resounding in me ever since:

The contemplative response is an invitation to stand in awe of the beauty and wonder of the created world.  In the rush of our lives we rarely have time to contemplate anything, much less nature.  Yet, taking time to be fully present to the world around us can expand us through awe and a sense of gratitude.  We can begin to cherish such beauty and long to ensure its protection.  In cultivating a contemplative relationship to nature, our hearts are transformed, and we can begin to live in more conscious and life-giving ways.

I want to stop and notice, pay more attention to a Creation all around me that isn’t tired.