Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer and Family...

So far, Summer has been rich. The last couple of weeks I got to spend time with nephews I only get to see once every year or two. They grow so fast and grow up, too. And yet there is the same essence inside that has been there since the beginning. It’s so interesting to see how the layers of life add to that core - to see where interests branch off and make sharp turns or simply carry on and deepen. To see what changes, what remains, what is on the edge of becoming.

I feel lucky (in the absence of having a family of my own) to have these little guys in my life. There are pieces and parts of me that got left behind somehow, and it gives me an opportunity to explore with them. And at the same time I get a chance to share whatever wisdom I have gained this time around in whatever way I can transmit that. Most often it is by simply being with them, or taking them to the forest, the river, the sky. I try to open up a space where there can be wonder, or a voice can emerge of its own accord. How many of us are too busy to let our real voice bubble up and out of us?

While they were visiting, one night we did something I don’t do often - we all sat in front of the tv. Everyone was excited to watch Nik Wallenda walk across the Grand Canyon. This brought up all kinds of questions and feelings and speculations. Over dinner, folks seemed to want to wager about how he would fare, and this felt wholly wrong, yet was natural. Inside of me was the question of whether it was appropriate for children to watch this, considering that certain death was one possible outcome and to watch that would open up something that could not be simply closed back up again till maybe a later more convenient time (or never).

And there we all sat - a couple of us hiding our eyes from time to time, my hands and feet sweating and me wishing I hadn’t eaten so much at dinner. And then there was what people were saying. I was struck, again and again, by this man’s faith and the conversation between him and his father that was the sole sound on the tv (other than background noise of the helicopter and wind reports). Mostly, it was either Wallenda praising and thanking Jesus and God and his other father giving him words of encouragement and support. It looked (and felt) like he was having a terrible time of it - heavy winds coming through and the challenge of seeing things in perspective, with the wires and the visual effects of looking across such a great divide with texture and color and so many horizontals as to confuse the matter completely.

Mr. Wallenda would stop and crouch at times to try and settle the movement in the wire and regain a manageable rhythm. I can’t comprehend or imagine what it might be like to be crouched on a wire in the midpoint of a 1/2 mile stretch over a 1400 foot deep canyon, can you? Nor what it would take to stand back up and walk across it. Again, while my mother kept saying, “God wouldn’t want him to do this!” What an interesting response to this man’s action and prayer. And it begs the question, really, what DOES God want us to do? With our lives, our time, our money, our essence.

I kept being struck by this man’s faith and prayer as he went. I could relate to it on some deep level. It felt, to me, not unlike the humility I feel in the presence of beauty, and in the place in my work (both Art and Therapeutic Massage) where I know I must invite something other than myself to come through me - or rather become one with something greater than myself - in order to be authentically present and with an appropriate degree of pure faith that surpasses any notion of ego.

Some time ago, I had a line in my head that I wanted to work with - for a blog entry or some kind of writing exploration. It went something like this, “we are each of us, always, standing at a precipice” and would go on to talk about how each moment in time is an important point of choice that shapes us so powerfully. How none of these moments is insignificant. Not the moment I decide to linger a little longer in bed to keep feeling the hue of a dream, nor the moment I am pulling a weed in the yard or listening to a friend who needs to process something out loud along his path. Not only do our choices in these moments shape us, they shape the WORLD.

And so among my many thoughts and feelings about this whole Wallenda canyon crossing, was the question of what purpose it serves for a nation or a world to watch such an event. What does it do to us, individually? What does it do to the world? Is this a spectator sport? What if he had fallen to his death? What then? What does God want US to do?

I don’t know anything about Nick Wallenda, so I use my imagination and my logic and whatever accumulation of authentic wisdom I have come to up until now. I imagine that he is carrying on a family tradition that has powerfully imprinted his blood, his DNA. Imagine what those feelings on those wires does to one’s blood - the beauty, the powerful places crossed over, the rush of so many things all together, the required faith to balance the fear with love. I imagine this kind of experience surely must blur the boundary of self and universe or self and God. I imagine this must be his passion and the way he has learned to navigate the world, the way he finds his edges and where he knows how to grow.

I ask myself, what on earth am I here to do that would take all of my courage to do? I think, perhaps, this is the question I am getting at. I talked with some folks who thought it was stupid for this man to do these crossings with such risk - without purpose. But I think that sometimes it is the most powerful gift we can bear, to lean right into faith and do what we know is both possible and impossible in order to meet ourselves on the other side of it - to find a part of ourselves that will be entirely new from the experience.

And it reminds me that when I was recently considering a call (of the calling sort) I was feeling, a friend simply asked, “what is the most courageous thing you can do right now?”

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