My time away has given me cause to consider the importance of balance. All of that time dedicated to processing social matters has left me drained due to the pain felt after writing about the chaos all around us. I’m reminded of the basic tenants of my faith. My love of the Quaker theologian Rufus Jones compels me to find the spark of God within every person. The throbbing of my spirit has challenged me to love beyond my own capacity.
This love that I carry is greater than anything I have previously felt. In a strange way, God has taken me to new heights of spiritual reflection. It comes out of the frustration related to contending with those who develop opinions based on their own imagination. I have been harmed by the ways others perceive me. I have allowed the aggravation of years of exertion to immobilize me. My deep sadness reminds me of the significance of the mountain. Lingering among the broken too long can shade the truth of God’s work.
My tears have dried up now. The mending of this broken heart has provided me the strength to return to the valley. It was lonely on the mountain. There I was forced to hear God’s voice after being confused by the words coming from people who say they love me. So much of what I have carried forced me to operate behind a shield of strength. Often, I listened to others while contemplating my own pain.
Those lonely nights of isolation introduced me to my true self. Paul Tillich spoke of the God beyond the God of our understanding. The God beyond the teachings of the Church. Beyond the inspiration poured into our spirits when the choir sings an old hymn. God is found beyond the gist of our claims. When none of what we’ve maintained produces the outcomes we desire-God is found there.
My sorrow is rooted within the context of both personal and communal pain. I’m fed up with reading and writing about young men and women cast into cold rooms with iron bars due to poor decisions. I’m tired of driving through neighborhoods, chock-a-block with brown and black skinned people, where death and dismay fills the air. My heart is broken by the disparity between those who have versus those who have not. The wealth of some juxtaposed against the poverty of others feeds a resentment within me that brews my tears.
There, on the mountain, I asked those hard questions. Why God? When God? How God? Where God? No answer fed my interest. No fire to point the way. No cloud to beg my praise. I shouted to my God, I’m tired of meeting with people to discuss these matters. I’m tired of hearing the same solutions while living with the same outcomes. Does anyone care that our children are suffering? Am I the only one willing to place my neck in the guillotine to take the risk for a cause?
Yes, the community I love keeps me on my knees. I pray for the broken in my midst, but there’s more. I too am broken. I too need some semblance of hope. Years of fighting and writing, preaching and teaching, praying and meeting, protesting and believing have drained me of all my strength. After being thrown out, stripped, discounted, downsized and battered-the wounds have left me in spiritual intensive care. I couldn’t find the words to write. I lacked the hope that has inspired me over the years. My passion emaciated to a pot of bleeding tears.
Faith is found in these moments. There, alone to question the work we do, God speaks. Inspiration comes in remembering the journey of our faith. I was reminded of other days like this. The reminder of the last whiff of weed sparkled will to move again. There, on the mountain, I remembered the smell of cocaine and the blood flowing from my noise after using too much. The memory of the heroin gushing trough my tender veins and loss of memory after a weekend binge dug deep into my throbbing spirit.
All is not lost. Too many challenges overcome to retreat to the land of empathy. This is the reason for my passion-a life of brokenness transformed into a vision filled with possibility. In my quest to find a way to survive, there are others, like me, in search of the road less traveled. Mine is to help them find their way.
To rise on top of the mountain while glaring at the world below presents a new perspective. It is ours to lead them to this place of refuge. This is the place of rejuvenation. Here we find presence and peace. You can’t lead them if you never visit this place. For those who toil in the valley, there is a place to restore after the bombardment of ones dreams. We can’t stay long. The work is down in the valley.
I’m back. Let’s get ready for this work together.