I wish you more we than me.
*Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I Wish You More.
I have, relatively speaking and compared with many, likely most, had few friends. Having had a strong spiritual focus from early in life, this adventure of Spirit separated me from most persons. They did not understand me, neither did I understand them. Mostly what I remember from childhood and adolescence, for example, is being alone. I had no neighbors to associate with, for we lived way in the country off to ourselves. We had one neighbor down the hill and around the corner, off to himself. His name was Joe. He was well into adulthood, and what I saw of him was his driving by red-faced and intoxicated, with his two red-faced and intoxicated friends. They drove slowly. I liked Joe, and that was the one neighbor.
I recall, when I was a young boy and being told by my pastors that I must try to get people converted to Jesus or God would certainly be displeased with me~one pastor even told the congregation, based on an Old Testament Scripture, those we did not seek to "get saved," their blood would literally be on our hands at the last judgment day. Now, no young boy wants the blood of others, indeed any blood, dripping from his fingers, at least I did not. I went to see Joe and tried to "lead him to Jesus," another way of speaking of this evangelical effort. Joe did not seem to mind my trying, and he seemed appreciative. He listened intently to every word I spoke to him. Joe loved his alcohol more than Jesus, many would have said. I would not say that, and never felt that way about Joe. It did not work. I did not know then, possibly Joe was more saved than I, just in a different way. Anyway, I had done my duty, I concluded.
Now, I can appreciate Joe was simply a different kind of saint than the ones at the church. And, oddly, I have fonder feelings now in memory for Joe than them. Joe, to me, represents those saints who simply do not fit the religious group, but likely Jesus would be as much, if not more, welcomed by the Joes of this world than the church people of this world. I am not the judge of that, but I have some thoughts about it. I will not share them. Joe was, regardless, we too. And, today, if I could return to that front porch where Joe lived and sit with him, I would likely enjoy a cold one with him.
* * *
I created and sustained, even into my mid-20s, an imaginary world I could enter and be respected, loved, and demonstrate my worth. That world, in time, disappeared, unable to be sustained with the demands of adulthood. And, with beginning to preach as a Christian clergyperson at age 15, I entered a real world with real people, a world where I could perform and get real admiration, real love, and real worth. So, I had two worlds to feel the joy of making a difference for my God, for others, and to feel approved by both in return. Outside of these two worlds, I did not feel very loved or cared for. I felt alone. I felt unappreciated. I rarely had anyone to compliment me, but criticism was oft directed at me. Of course, this turned into anger, which was really a form of self-loathing, and usually the anger stayed inside, seething, waiting for someone to discover that quiet, calm boy was not merely quiet, calm. Some would say I was deeply wounded, but not in the two worlds where I found refuge. I found we. Likewise, this wounding held within a gift, the gift of growing in compassion for others who longed to be loved, cared for, and to know their inestimable worth. I came to see we were ~ are ~ a wounded communion. No one is exempt, I could see, from that common suffering-within.
* * *
Do we not create ways, either healthy or unhealthy, imaginative or real, even into adulthood to sense ourselves valued by others, loved, and that we make a positive difference in this world? Do we not love partly to receive love? And, is there really a difference between the imaginative and real ways we choose to engage this adventure? Possibly, the two worlds are simply different qualities of one world. As a child into young adulthood, those two worlds, now I see, were both instrumental in expressing the longing to connect, to give love, and to be gifted with love. Now, also, I can see my high school classmates use of drugs, rock-n-roll, and sex was a means of seeking connection, even as my preaching about Jesus from the King James Bible on Sundays was. We were both looking for what we all look for, in our varied ways: we. Working in a corrections Chaplaincy for about six years, I saw how these we have labeled criminals were looking for the same belonging, and I saw the criminal activities they engaged, often hurting many who loved them in the process, to find love, which is really, again, finding we.
* * *
I have no regrets for the many beginnings and endings, some very painful and some that resulted, at least partly, from this intensity of focus on a spiritual path. And, I do not seek understanding from others, as I once did. Neither do I regret the price paid to walk this Way. Ironically, the Way leads me back to the start, where there remains an innate reaching out to love and be loved; yet, now I know this love is already present, always with me, with everyone.
I do not see this need to reach out as a neediness, a lack, but an expression of the fullness of Grace that connected me to the umbilical cord of my mother in 1960, a biological connection mirroring the inborn desire we all have to enjoy communion with others, from the heart.
And, before such birth, is it not amazing that some 50-250 million sperm begin a journey toward an egg~the egg? And, with the union of one sperm~the sperm~with the egg, you and I begin? We are conceived in communion, we being our inception to this life calling? We is our beginning. I have often joked with persons that we need, not only only a birthday celebration, but a conception day celebration. No one, including I, can find a way to make that workable. Anyway, I was an unplanned conception, but I got here anyway, and was welcomed in love.
* * *
I was captivated by Something, most clearly one night at age nine, and that Grace has never let me get away or the "Yes" to be taken from me. Indeed, endings and losses have always opened onto a new vista. I am still saying "Yes" to Life, by Grace of Life. And, though not close to many persons in a personal way ~ which, after all, is not the most important or loving way ~, I am thankful for those I am, pray to love all, and have been blessed to serve those needing love and compassion. I have been gifted to engage this serving in jail and prison settings, in varied counseling and spiritual guidance contexts, as a long-time pastor, as a professor, and in Hospice care. Now, as an author and writer, when I am writing, I feel a reaching out to a readership I cannot see, a seeking to make possible connection as we. When I write, I do not feel lonely, alienated, cut off from the world; I sense a transcendence of apartness in what the Church calls the Communion of Saints ~ yet, to me, that communion is all Nature, and everyone is a saint most deeply, most truly, even if a wounded and wounding one. My sense is simply being together means wounding and being wounded, and, possibly, only in that way can our heart open to empathy with others. I am suspicious of persons who act above being wounded or wounding others.
* * *
Many persons have been instrumental in my not losing trust in Life, and Grace that inspires the love of the adventure. Some of these were loving to me, yet those who were hurtful encouraged me also. I have chosen to use opposition to strengthen resolve, not disarm devotion to that Something, to we, to Brian. I feel, sometimes, like I would like to meet persons who acted hurtfully toward me and say, "Thank You."
Of course, being a human-among-humans, sometimes, I feel like I might say something else, like the song by Elton John, "I'm Still Standing," or Fleetwood Macs', "Go You Own Way," or the Eagles', "Already Gone" ~ these songs from my youth are not saintly songs in a conventional sense. At times, I do not feel saintly about others. I am okay with that.
* * *
I was surprised by the lively, usually submerged below consciousness, gratitude in the adventure, when in February 2016 I was in an interview for a potential job opportunity. When sharing about my life, I was overwhelmed with the Beauty of it all. Tears started coming to my eyes. These tears surprised me, and the depth of the respect I have for the adventure Grace has led me on, from beginning to beginning, for really an ending is a beginning. Now, some like to speculate on what an "i and me and mine" was before conception or will be after death. I do that sometimes. I find it fun. Yet, usually, and more so now than earlier in life, I enjoy simply being now and looking at such matters with a humorous indifference.
This heart sings silently and reverently
"Thank You" to that Something, the Beloved, that
early took me prisoner to Love.
The song is for everyone who has touched this life
with Grace through gracefulnesss.
Through your kindness, and often patience,
I am still falling in Love with Love.
You live within my heart, always.
Thank You. The Journey continues. We continue.
*The vision statement for Lotus of the Heart is Living in Love beyond Beliefs.
*All material, unless another source is cited, is authored by the presenter of Lotus of Heart, Brian Kenneth Wilcox, Florida USA. Use of the material is permitted; Brian only requests that credit be given and to be notified at firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union, is available through major booksellers.
*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.
The Sacred in Me bows
to the Sacred in You