I haven’t posted to this blog for many weeks. My absence has not been for lack of desire to communicate with you, dear reader. Rather, I have been wandering – wandering in my mind for words worth writing, for messages worth reading, for feelings worth expressing.
When I wander, I allow life to speak to me. I open myself to whatever the universe is saying and then I seek meaning in the messages. I envy those who can sit in lotus poses and meditate for hours on end to access the voices of the cosmos. I fear that my puppy mind has long grown past the point of such discipline. So, I search for sustenance by random grazing. My process is wholly unpredictable, even chaotic. But, when my beautiful muse speaks to me, she injects me with an understanding beyond all knowing and a joy no drug can match.
Last Friday, I took a day off and drove to Frankenmuth, a little tourist town of quirky shops and manufactured cuteness. I strolled through an enormous bead shop, admired faerie art, turned a music store clerk onto European goth rock, and sped through a soul-sucking Christmas store. My only purchases were a bag of specialty popcorn and some random candy from bygone days. I bought them thinking that I would savor them over the coming weeks, enjoying the occasional taste of toffee and sugar.
But, last night, I sat in my living room resting, flipping among the cable channels mindlessly. Beside me was the now empty bag of popcorn and a few remaining pieces of the candy. In just a few days, I had not been able to resist the repeated narcotic allure of the promise of instant gratification. Whether I had actually enjoyed the consumption had no meaning – I had simply wanted to consume and could not resist the urge.
This morning, I was besieged by a wave of synchronous voices – a Facebook link to an article about why our young people are leaving churches in waves; a heart-wrenching biography of a young woman struggling to survive economically without selling her soul or losing her way; and a finely crafted essay on capitalism calling for us to seek a new model for living and being together as humans.
For the past few years, I have traveled this road largely alone. Oh, I have friends – dear and treasured friends – many of whom are treading similar paths. But I have lived alone within a sea of humanity. I have preached of love, of the agape of religious community. I have spoken promoting pacifism and nonviolence, of how we must learn to love ourselves and others equally. And when the Occupy Wall Street movement began, I jumped at the opportunity to try to shape all of that frustration and anger into a constructive and positive force for change.
But, the pull of my old life is hard. Financial debt constantly reminds me of the need to seek monetary compensation for my labor, even though I would gladly do this work for free. The privileges earned only through the circumstances of my birth tempt me with their serene siren song of comfort. And I mourn the loss of my family elders, my first mentors, now all dead and kept alive only in my memories.
I know in my mind that we must change – that my old life is not sustainable. I know that I cannot, as they say, only talk the talk. I must walk the walk. I am trying, dear friends, oh I am trying. But resisting that candy takes so much effort. Taking risks and having the courage to reach out, to be vulnerable, frightens me. And, in allowing myself to be vulnerable, do I risk losing my capacity to lead, to help effect the changes I deem necessary in our society?
In recent months, I have watched helplessly as people lost hope in causes. I have struggled as comrades, consumed by doubts and fears, dropped out of activities and organizations. Perhaps such attrition, while regrettable, is inevitable. But, is the flame of our hope flickering on the verge of evanescence?
As we emerge from winter, thankfully a gentle and easy winter, perhaps the time for a new dawn has come. Maybe this time, we will subvert the dominant paradigm. Can we build a new Racovia, a new Hopedale? Can we envision and bring about a new model of being together as humans?
I do so fervently hope so. And I invite you to join me in the journey.