In the Audience

The speaker himself kept referring to how his life (and ours too) was far more fluid than he’d initially thought. Whether you considered your rhythms cyclical like seasons (blossoming, producing, declining and reviewing) or more like chapters or stages, our lives were subject to changing conditions that were both unpredictable and uncontrollable. This was one of his primary points, that we each were able to and were responsible for creating a path for ourselves that was fulfilling.

I went to sit in the audience not because he was expressing new or foreign concepts but to witness this aspect of his journey up close, first hand and to gather a sense of how he was being received from the people surrounding him.

He used to be a preacher. It was his calling from early on. He studied, started his ministry, was effective and, by most standards, popularly successful. In that phase or stage of his life, he focused on making the stories or journeys found in the Old and New testament relevant to his congregation. While he was doing that, he also continued to grow in his own awareness of his relationship with and his perception of the message.

Two things happened as he did: 1)His congregation grew so large as to overwhelm his physical ability to minister as personally as he so desperately wanted to and 2) he grew so far spiritually in his understanding of the ultimate message that some in his congregation balked. They wouldn’t follow. The two occurred in proximity and in parallel; he was burning out and people in the congregation (most? some?) were concluding that he had gone too far and had strayed from the truth. Understandably, there was a parting of the ways. It wasn’t especially amicable but it was necessary…if he were to be true to himself.

That was courage.

For him, as he expressed it, it felt like desperation.

It’s funny how that is.

Whenever we find ourselves at that moment of choice when we don’t know what the final outcome might be or what the endgame is but what we do know is that doing nothing or staying where we are would be unbearable, we’ll step out and try something different or new. From the outside, our action has all the indications of courage. Within ourselves, we’re desperate but willing.

These moments, and they occur everyday, do not involve living up to an outside duty or code of honor or someone else’s expectations. These are the moments wherein we step up and step out because we have chosen to be true to ourselves.

I’ve come to understand these moments as grace.

They involve me but they always feels like they’re more than only me. The situation and my life won’t unfold the same way without my participation but making honest, awakening choices and taking action doesn’t involve taking control or knowing the results. There is indeed a fluidity and a flexibility that feels spiritually athletic, graceful…somewhat effortless and still quite focused.

The speaker once a preacher talked about creating a space within ourselves and with one another that would allow and support these moments to be recognized, appreciated and gently explored.

He acknowledged the need for such spaces, the need for connection (he termed it solidarity) and that his intention with these small venue talks was to do his part. He couldn’t say where it would all lead, but he was enthusiastic about the possibilities ahead.

We share that in common.

 

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Forming Groups

People have been reaching out to me and inquiring more about starting a group in their area centered upon personal awakening and the book Owning Ourselves.

When they’ve  reached out and asked, they have been met with very encouraging responses. Still, they describe how simple it is to feel a connection with someone, even within a random conversation, and yet how unnerving it can be to actually step into suggesting to someone a website to visit, a book to read and then to extend an invite to them to attend a group that’s forming to discuss the whole darn thing. It all seems a bit forward.

I smile (and have to tell them I’m smiling because we’re doing this through email). I tell them that it only seems to be a bit forward because we’re so used to holding ourselves and goodness back. I remind them that stepping into goodness will always need honesty and courage. It’s the same for all of us. And we all feel better about ourselves when we do.

When someone I’m talking with and feeling comfortable with (not necessarily someone I even know…like a check out person, or the person in line behind me at the coffee shop) volunteers to tell me about a good band that’s playing somewhere, or a good restaurant they’ve recently been to or a good repair company they’ve recently used, I don’t take offense. I might be a tad surprised, even mildly amused, but still, I genuinely thank them and try to remember the information so that I can check it out if I care to. The universe is giving us freebies all the time. If we’re paying attention.

So when we meet or know someone who seems to be seeking or attuned or open minded, inviting that person into a group discussion is like inviting them to a party.

Of course, they will decide for themselves if they’d like to or not.

Either way is fine with us.

The party is happening.