This morning I got out to run in the drippy pre-dawn town that includes my current address. As much as I enjoy after-running, I needed a nudge and that’s where Katie’s text from last night came into play. “Yoga in the am?” So with a target to meet up with my pal on a mat with another pal leading, I headed out the door to slog a few slow sloshy miles. I wanted to quit almost immediately. How long have I been running? Surely, this is more than two miles? It wasn’t until the running app I use “dinged” that I knew I was 10 minutes and a little over a mile in; I hadn’t covered as much ground as hoped.
And so it is in the interior exercises of growth, joy, pain, rinse and repeat.
This guy, Bob Goff, who wrote “Everybody Always” has simplified a message of hope and faith that even I can appreciate – a post-faith human with a helluva story still unfolding. In the audio-book version of “Everybody Always” you get to hear the truth of his heart and joy and goofiness and grief and wonder in his voice as he reads his book to you. His heart reminds me of my pastor friend’s and other friends’ along the way – some found and many “lost” according to the judges of the day.
Instead of convoluted theology, Bob asks that we become love by treating folks with love – everybody. always. He has a lot of energy, has the means and will to get so much done, and has a marriage and family that have grown and endured. Honestly, I felt a little jealous on that last part – marriage and family that have endured. Wooweee.
As I brushed my teeth this morning, I listened to Bob recount bringing a man to trial who had mangled a child in ways even I cannot understand. And somehow, Bob later returned to that incarcerated man and — somehow — extended forgiveness. If I’d been crying during the story of the little boy, I sure as hell cried during the forgiveness portion. Then I cheered listening to how Bob spoke about his new friend mangling a holy truth and still finding a way to become a holy love to a prison of condemned men. It wasn’t the theology that unleashed the tears, but the will to forgive and become love with some creepy disaster of a human that has willfully defiantly caused great harm.
Before breakfast I’d lost my mascara to both jealousy and forgiveness. Banner day in the Hobbit House.
Despite the hard work of decades and open heart, I am admitting to a certain jealousy of lovers and families who have made a way to endure and pull together in celebration and frustration. For a kid who felt untethered and broken by shame and anomie, family and relationships are kind of a big deal. And my best efforts have only caused heartache and failure toward my kids and the friends who love me through the trash fire. Damn.
I can appreciate my tiny apartment and sweet Vibe with the accidental-genius theft protection of a missing door handle — most days — without incident. The children of my youth and friends of my years are the sweetest of treasures. Overcoming and travel and opportunity and kayaking and the Konza and yoga have created an embarrassment of riches.
But that one heart cry has never been filled for the duration. What’s wrong with me? I’m sure if I asked this publicly, I’d need to yell to the ever-growing crowd, “Line UP! One at a time! Stop jostling. I’ll be here as long as it takes” and refill my water bottle and courage. What’s wrong with me?
And forgiveness…it reminds me of its healing qualities in a million little ways. If jealousy and heartbreak are death by a million cuts, forgiveness is freedom in a million by millions of small decisions and probably-foolish-but-imperative heart openings.
Just this week, I dreamt of a friend who had suffered greatly. His actions hurt me, but this dream softened my heart and all I could do was say, “thank you. i forgive you. i’ve loved you.” And another completely different dream the next night had a similar outcome. “thank you for those people. i forgive you. i once loved you.”
Trust me, I am no do-gooding supergenius. I slog through more often than I glide and have worked for lifetimes to stanch the bloody rot of what seemed impossible to heal and then to relearn value and reality based in truth not violence. I curse and though “people are my jam,” I can be an insecure twit. As for supergenius, let’s just put this out there: I drove the entire way to work today with my hazards on instead of my defogger because my heart and head were wrestling for attention. I probably shouldn’t have driven, but folks got out of my way! Winning!
“What’s the point?” you may ask.
So glad you asked.
We cannot live in darkness and the delusion that not dealing with something means we’re safe. We must face ourselves, the fears that we want to keep hidden that only keep us imprisoned, and get real with whether we plan to live this life or just endure it until we get to die and let the relief wash over us.
You may not have been raped or neglected; divorced or bewildered by public humiliation and lies or even felt the shame of driving to work with your hazards on…the whole way…through the college and to the left. But you have your stuff and I hope without certainty that your griefs are not earthquakes and bloodied devastation. I hope that whatever it is that causes you pause and requires a commitment to work-it-through, I hope that it becomes your apocalypse — your uncovering and revelation — so that you have nothing else but to deal with your sh*t.
I’ll be over here dealing with mine. And trying to become love to you and to me. And to that creepy bastard who first violated my person and family. Or the creepy dumpsterfire that chooses sensationalism over truth; division to conquer over community which leads to what unifies and strengthens.
Let me know if I can listen for you. Be love and all of that very very hard good important stuff as you deal with your own celebration and/or apocalypse. I’ll start the coffee or pour the wine.
With love (and squinches of jealousy and forgiveness),
Your still-twitly pal, Al.