Beginning to arrive

 

 

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When doubt arrives at my house with his suitcases, I know trouble is brewing. He is not an easy guest to host. Sometimes I survive him by reading poetry. Lines of sentences on a page, a word here catching a word there, can be grounding to a soul steeped in never ending suppositions. Poetry gathers all the pieces of me that life strews allover the place, bringing me closer to myself in those times when the only thing I need is healing. It pulls all the parts of me together. It makes my heart start beating again and slowly I can recognise my limbs, my face, my lips, my voice. There is nothing more nourishing to my soul than words that fit. Words chiselled to hold me tight; to make magic inside of me.

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Two dogs at the park – a lesson

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I was at my local park the other day. I sat on my favourite bench with my feet curled underneath me feeling the sturdiness of the bench holding me up. Sure. Strong. And grounded. The world lay open before me; the vast green field of the cricket ground, the pristine houses that lined the streets, the setting sun looming over the tall, tall trees. So close yet so far.

There was a dog in the ground, running to & fro excited for the wide, open space, no doubt. He embodied freedom. A freedom I envied. I watched him dance his way from one end of the grounds to the other. His owner content to walk leisurely beside. I smiled.

I watched as a new comer with his dog walked down the slope into the ground. The new dog was big & intimidating. It looked like a conqueror of spaces and of other dogs. I was afraid for the other dog. In all his crazy excitement, he might spill himself all over the new dog. And the new dog might not like it. Not at all. So I held my breath and willed peace.

The big dog, in all his big-dog air walked over to the smaller dog. They sniffed each other & gave each other dogly greetings which involved more sniffing & kissing. Then as quickly as the ritual had begun, it ended. The two dogs ran off into the sunset together as though they had known each other forever. All was well in the dog world. I released my breath and sat back into myself.

I thought about the human world.

So much we can learn from those two dogs. But I want to pick one;

Acknowledge people. Say hello to people. Nod. Smile. Acknowledge.

Don’t hold back. Don’t hide. The tendency is to look away from people we don’t know. To suspect. To imagine the very worst about them. We have convinced ourselves that the world is full of crazy people who want to hurt us. Sure, there are people like that indeed. Let’s not be naïve.

But that girl serving you soup in the restaurant? C’mon, say hi. Say thank you. Mean it. Maintain eye contact with your banker. He is human too. And would appreciate a warm smile.

It all sounds easy. But it isn’t. I think you know. We have been trained by our culture not to care for people we don’t know. To be too busy getting from A to B to notice them. We have been taught not to be interested in random strangers who share random stories on side-walks. We protect ourselves by shutting them out.

I want to do better – to show myself more vividly and vulnerably, to love publicly. I hold back most of the time because I am afraid. I am afraid of being thought of as weird. I am afraid of being thought of as a hippie. Seriously.

But how on earth are we going to break these perceptions if we simply do nothing? If we do not even try?

Acknowledging people & saying hello, these things may be small but these are the small things that build our ways of seeing and being. They sit at the core of our worldviews and the sorts of stories we tell ourselves about the world. We will never know how awesome and so like us other people are if we avoid them or build glass houses around ourselves.

This has to stop. Break the cycle. Start small. With your family, friends or neighbours. Start today. Start now.

If dogs can do it, why can’t we? It sounds crude, but it is true. & its truth cannot be denied.

Go be properly human.

First things first

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First things first – this is going to be hard. Sometimes you & I will want to bail out. And we are always free to do so. But the world needs warriors with strong but tender hearts. People who are willing to hold up their torches in the dark so we can see where we are going. So we can bring a little warmth and comfort. So many wounded people out there, so many. And I want to gather all of them together, hold them. Each one, special & rightfully their own self. I want them to be a little less wounded, a little less lonely. That is just how my heart is wired. And I take this responsibility very seriously.

So first things first – we suck at this.

We suck at being human beings. Most of the time. And the sooner we can face this truth in the face, the better for all of us.

There is nothing shameful about it. The only shame exists if we just sit here & pretend this thing don’t matter. If we don’t do what we can.

I was walking around today thinking about what it means to be a human being. Trying to find the perfect words to wrap around you, to entice you with & seal your sweet little hearts to my cause. My feet hurt from all the walking. Then I realised, I didn’t know.

Yes, I said it. I don’t know what it means to be a human being. With all my intellectualism & deep heart knowledge I cannot distil you & me into a wonderful sentence.

I know this though – it’s definitely not some of the things I see in the world. It’s not the unforgivable breach between the rich & poor. It’s not the way the orphans, the children & the widows have no warrior looking out for them. It’s not the way we disregard one another as human beings believing that some are more human than others.

Hell. to. the. no. Being a human being is none of that.

We often forget how interconnected we are. And I don’t mean this in an airy fairy kind of way. But how each person’s presence on the planet has real consequences for another.

We pass each other on streets, in buses, trains, shops. We build things for one another. We sell things to each other. We rub shoulders in queues, on beaches, in parks. We start families together. We fall in love with each other. How can we then be strangers to one another?

There is no strangeness here. We strip that off. Strip it naked. We remember our commonality is stronger. is sacred. And our differences are beautiful, added to be enjoyed & not ridiculed. We start here.

We put away the shame & the fear & the shallowness. We renounce all the ways we don’t know how to be human. I’ll start;

Hello, my name is Sunshine and I used to be a lousy human being. 

Beautiful inventory

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You are made for so much more. I know this to be true.

I will not lavish you with sweet words of what you deserve i.e. happiness, success, love…because I don’t know if you do.

Deserve is such a powerful word. & it is greatly, greatly misconstrued. misused. It is thrown around like a wet towel that is meant to suck up all the mess in the world. all the mess you & I have made in the kitchen because we thought mama wasn’t looking.

No, I will not even claim to know what you deserve. I dare not go there.

I do know though that you were made for so much more. For beauty & honour & glory. for love.  & this is what gets written over & over on the canvass of your life – in what you do; in the way you think about others & yourself; in the way you treat others & yourself. this is what forms your identity. not so much what you look like or how many people think you’re cute or that you can write so well.

My dad always used to say that life is about relationships; that life is a love relationship. But relationships are tricky beasts. & sometimes they are plain difficult.

A few weeks ago I laid it out for my mom. I told her I had it up to my ears with people who rub me the wrong way – people who breathe negativity into my life. I had taken inventory & they were getting the chop. My wise mother let me vent for a while & then paused, the way she does when she is listening hard.

“Sometimes you can’t choose who walks into your life. Nor are you meant to in those times” she finally said quietly.

Her words sat uncomfortably into me for days. Later I realised what she had been trying to tell me; what I had been resisting – every inventory begins with myself. If I’m not getting it right why should I give other people such a hard time? I cannot ask people to do what I am not doing. & I cannot ask people to do what I am not willing to do. That is hypocrisy 101. Sometimes people walk into our lives to teach us this very lesson. This is the inventory that counts. It is the one that produces the more that you & I were made for.

Should you be crossing & dotting negative people off your life list & casting them into your version of utter darkness? Probably. But it’s not about having people in your life that make you feel good. It never was. You can feel good & still be lost. It’s about having people in your life that help you grow. & sometimes that will involve a bit of frustration & pain.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s super important to surround yourself with people who are real, kind & compassionate. But first check in the mirror – are you real, kind & compassionate yourself?

By all means take inventory. But make sure you start at your own doorstep. What you will have in the end will be beautiful. It will not necessarily be easy but it will be beautiful.

Stop tip-toeing. Stop it.

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The instruction came loud & clear. Chilling to the very bone & unravelling me in marvellous ways.

I had prayed after all.

For openness of mind to see all the nooks & places I could apply my spiritual & vocational gifts; for the expansion of vision to see the things that had been beyond my sight.

I never expected a reprimand. I expected an answer that did not involve facing my fears & conquering them.

Have you ever been in that place where you boil to break free & yet you treasure the four walls that imprison you?

This is the place where fear drives us to; the place where fear builds lavish castles for us – that fear of failure, fear of success, fear of what others might say or think about us & what we do, fear of our own inadequacies. & this fear when it is full blown & grown muzzles us & leads us into an even darker place – the place where we are afraid to live because it’s all too much. & so we tip-toe around not willing to upset the orderly prison our fear has created around us. It stops mattering that we are unhappy. What matters is that we are safe.

The illusion of safety that fear can produce is potent. It convinces us that reaching out beyond our four walls or going the extra mile is actually unnecessary & quite dangerous for ourselves, our faith & our loved ones. & so we hold back in the name of safety & security.

Yes, there is no denying that the world is a crazy, crazy place in bred with thorns that can pierce to the very death. But that is never a reason to hide ourselves. Because the world despite its heart-breaking brokenness is still home to some wonderful things that need protecting & preserving. & if we are busy hiding away, what hope is there?

Stop tip-toeing. Stop it.

You are not called to save the world. No human can do that. But the calling that sits on your head & my head involves planting our feet firmly on the ground & dancing with life. It involves doing the dirty, beautiful work of going deep within ourselves & facing the stuff that lives there. The good & the bad.

I thought my day of reckoning would never come. I thought I could get away with making excuses about why I couldn’t unfold in all my glory. I thought it was forbidden to be so much. I found myself slowly & unconsciously slipping into a state where I was picking up my heels & quietly treading along, not wanting to be seen while at the same time secretly wishing I could be seen. It was a dichotomy. I was leading a double life.

Fear can do that to you.

How could I live a full life when I was afraid to untie my bow & let myself be whole? How could I when I wouldn’t give my voice – my beautiful voice – permission to carry in its own right?

I had to face these questions for myself. But that is the gorgeousness of life – you get the chance to get better & beautiful at being you.

You & I still have to be careful about throwing pearls to swine.  But being careful doesn’t mean tip-toeing or playing it safe. It means getting our hands dirty with wisdom.

You have a dream to realise, a goal to reach & work to be done. & your life is all of these things. Get into it. Lose yourself in it. Breathe it in & let the bliss begin with the peace that comes from knowing that life can be lived wholly & fully.

So stop tip-toeing. Stop it.