Living from the Front Porch

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I have a hunch that you are like me, you’ve gotten really good over time at living a disconnected life.  You are super at faking it, you excel at putting up the front that ‘you got this’ and ‘this is fine, we’re fine’.  Well, are you fine?  Do you feel at home and at rest in this one ‘wild and precious’ life as Mary Oliver puts it?  Are you comfortable in your own skin?  Do you feel powerful?  Is your inner life settled, is it at rest?  Do you experience a deep abiding contentment regardless of how much or how little you have on the outside?  Is your heart healed and free?

We know what the opposite experience is of these soul questions don’t we?  Anxiety, depression, disconnection, loneliness, despair, loss of hope, hurt, suffering, loss, scattered thoughts, bondage, discontentment.  In my 45 years of life on this orbiting planet, I’m learning that the answers for me reside in living and leading from the Front Porch.  The Front Porch for me is a metaphor for a way of living that involves things like rest, self-awareness, invitation, hospitality, healing, truth, deep community, nourishment, power and many more experiences that make my heart feel at home.

When I’m living from the Front Porch, this is where I connect to the One who made me and gives my life context.  This is the space of deep  healing and intimacy.  The Front Porch is a spiritual reality for me and I’d like to give it away to others who may find it helpful.

Life is not about the ‘next’ thing, it’s about finding a reality we can connect to that never changes.  Everything in this world changes and breeds anxiety.  There is a place we can find the satisfaction and contentment our souls long for that never changes.  This is what I call living from the Front Porch.

“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, Life of the Beloved

To Pilgrim in 2018

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Our world screams hyper-activity, uber-productivity, high energy, stress induced anxiety necessitating record breaking amounts of mood altering meds and magic pills.  This world screams the values of wealth, comfort, convenience and excess as the recipe for happiness and fulfillment.  The consumer-slavery model convinces you to create bills and debts to things you don’t need (but feel entitled to) so that every waking minute and second of your days exists to push coins in the direction of your creditors in the pursuit of this American Dream.

Here’s my problem with the American Dream:  it’s not old enough.  It might be the historian or the theologian in me, but I marvel at the primal connections of our forefathers/mothers who lived lives of deep community, deep meaning and deep mystery of old.  I’m not interested in a life w/out air-conditioning, a cold space to keep my meat and proteins so they don’t spoil or without my Jeep but there are some simplicities I am interested in that I can learn from the past.  Mostly that my life is not defined on things I produce which in turn give me value, but my life has value because of who I am and who I belong to.  Primal community, I am who I belong to.  I have value because the One who made me bestowed upon me value as his son before I ever ‘did’ anything in this world.  I have value not by what I add to my community, but because of their deep love and affection for me.

I  have a conversational relationship with the One I call ‘God’.  I perceive him to be the God of the Ancient Scriptures, I access him through a divine connection with Jesus the Christ and his Spirit, I experience him to be the very Son of God having resurrected from the dead.  By definition that puts his words and prompts in another category.   I’ve been asking for a ‘word’ for 2018 and the one I hear back in my spirit is ‘Pilgrim’.  I think the Spirit wants to lead me on a pilgrimage and wants me to perceive my circumstances as a pilgrim.  This life, this world, is something I am just passing through.  It doesn’t define me.  If I don’t ‘crush it’ in 2018, it doesn’t take away from my primal identity and connection as a Pilgrim passing through.  I am defined by who I belong to and what He is teaching me, not by anything that I am accomplishing.

Takes the pressure off and turns the joy up.  Cheers to your Pilgrimage!

“But your loss brought you here to walk under one name and one name only, and to find the guise under which all loss can live; remember, you were given that name every day along the way, remember, you were greeted as such, and treated as such and you needed no other name, other people seemed to know you even before you gave up being a shadow on the road and came into the light, even before you sat down, broke bread and drank wine, wiped the wind-tears from your eyes; pilgrim they called you, pilgrim they called you again and again.  Pilgrim.”  – ‘Camino’, poem by David Whyte