We have recently heard from Vicar Clive Larsen about the importance of honoring our ancestors and those who went before us, paving the way for our spiritual path. He spoke of them as being in the stands of the stadium, cheering us on.
I’d like to speak about one of my ancestors. My mother was raised as one of eight children in the Depression. Her father passed away when she was about three, so they were pretty poor. I realize that my mother was happy to have a home and the ability to feed her children, keep them warm and get them to school. It was so much more than she had as a child that it seemed grand. She often told us how lucky we were. How she lived her life set a pace for me to be thankful and frugal and to not take things for granted. She taught me the difference between want and need, and the value of work. No matter how little money I made, she expected a percentage to come to the household to support our home. That included babysitting money I earned at ten years old, back when fifty cents an hour was the going rate. She paved the way for my life in a very specific way.
This is a very personal immediate ancestor. Clive also mentioned the saints who went before. There have been so many people who have lived a life of integrity and have paved the way, showing what is possible in the human experience. We can honor all that has come before us by living even more fully as ourselves, which by our very nature is of integrity and greatness. We can create a sun by revealing the sun that already exists inside of us. We can go beyond what has been proved as possible as a human being—not beyond it in a supernatural way but beyond it in the most normal way of reclaiming what it’s like to be alive and fully ourselves. It takes courage. It takes courage to admit we are designed to be whole. We are designed to be wholesome, to bring blessing and magnify life.
We recently had the privilege of hearing Joel Salatin speak here in the Dome at Sunrise Ranch. He was such a powerful speaker, reminding anyone who would listen that we have gotten so far away from the natural design that it is currently illegal to do some things that are totally natural. His focus is on how we grow food, but there are so many laws created to avoid legal issues that we find ourselves doing things or not doing things to avoid getting into legal trouble. For example, in some places it is okay to grow roses but not tomatoes. In similar places it is okay to use a clothes dryer but not hang your clothes outside on a line. When did it become offensive to do smart and healthy things? A big one for many people is that it is illegal to sell or buy raw milk, when evidence shows pasteurizing milk makes it a problem for the human body.
I speak of these things referencing the courage it takes to be wholesome, which means being yourself and making wise choices. The things I mentioned involve food or the environment, but what about violence or consumption? I once was mocked at a Christmas party for saving a beautiful Christmas ribbon. I was accused of being cheap. I wondered when it became politically incorrect to be smart! Having more things does not make you a wholesome person. Having power over someone does not increase your radiance into the world.
Yesterday I went to a movie with some friends. We thought we’d have a nice, relaxing evening out. We went to see a movie called Twelve Years As a Slave. Five-star reviews. I walked out three times—I couldn’t take it. The first time I walked out I thought, well, I’ll wait until this scene will be over. I stood in the entryway and I came back in about five minutes. I lasted another ten minutes and I had to again walk over the people in the row to get out. In the end, all four of us left about an hour into the film.
It took courage to say, “I will not—I cannot watch this violence.” I couldn’t do it. You could say it was true to life; it’s truly what happened. But watching someone torturing another person on the big screen, I can’t do it. I just will not—I will not subject myself to the horrific things that human beings have done to each other. Horrific! The story is about a black man in upstate New York, who in pre-civil war times was a free man and was stolen and put into slavery in the South. I don’t know how he got away because I left the theater, but I know it’s a true story. I gave my money to pay for that movie, but I encourage you not to. Do not support that which makes it entertainment to watch people be beaten to death or raped. While the story was based on something that truly happened, there are a lot of unwholesome things that have happened in our world that revisiting in such a graphic way do not help.
I am grateful for reminders to think about how I am living my life. I am grateful for the ancestors that went before, living wholesome lives, courageously challenging belief systems and unconscious rituals or habits. I want to live my life and own it. That takes courage. If I don’t own my life I can blame my experiences and choices on the environment, on the legal system, or on my boss. It takes courage to humbly ask the hard questions and to take responsibility.
As leaders we are often holding other people in their processes and learnings, hopefully assisting them to also own their lives. We get to assist them when they are challenging the beliefs and habits of which they are becoming conscious. Many coaches and teachers have decided it’s just easier to tell them what to do. It may be momentarily easier but it certainly is not satisfying and it does not grow wholesome people. I am interested in being one of those ancestors who is cheering in the stands, shaking the keys to freedom.
A friend asked me the other day, “How do you assist people when there are personalities bumping into each other and more chaos than creativity?” My answer was twofold. First, make sure they feel your love for them. Second, be invested in their victory. It is common to feel important because you know something another person doesn’t. You can feel superior. You must let that go if you want to lead people into courageous wholesomeness—if you want to assist people in discovering and revealing who they are. Whole people—whole world. That’s what I am interested in.
I wrote this poem a while back, when I was facing the challenge of seeing myself and my world with fresh eyes.
Set free from all that I thought,
and was told,
I am born today
I am possibility,
I am a fertile crescent,
I am pregnant with potential.
All that I see is changed in the seeing,
all that I love is made moist to bursting.
What lies ahead is uncharted,
to the life I currently know,
requiring my presence for its survival and birth.
I am one with the source of life,
I am the change of seasons,
I am the womb of new thought,
and the union of masculine and feminine
in holy matrimony.
Come now and see the creative circus in town.
Join me in the three-ringed adventure
of love, truth, and life.
It takes courage to be free of man-made structures and beliefs, but anything less is an inferior life. I invite you to honor those who went before, paving the way for freedom from the old unconscious ways of living. I invite you to live on the precipice of your own consciousness, your own creative thinking. It is uncomfortable because you are constantly being born; but you are being born, not the replica of the human experience following unwholesome structures.
Passionately be yourself; own your life and let the brilliance within you out. Let us assist each other by investing in this victory and courageously letting our love for each other be known.
I am thinking, in particular, about this matter of investing in others. Loving someone else to succeed is pretty awesome, actually, and for so long I have feared this because of a competitive mindset where someone else’s success robs me of my opportunity to be great. This needs to be turned on its head. And, it does not need to be complicated and cost $1,000,000. Life is as intelligent as a little piece of saved ribbon used in a right and respectful way.
Saying ‘thank you’ can make someone feel a million dollars. On the other hand, saying ‘f*** you’ can be ‘cheap’ but also very costly. There is inordinate power in words.
In the same way, I have been doing some
I’m sitting here at Riverdell on a beautiful, cool spring morning, reflecting upon courage. I love your succinct summary of assisting people – make sure they feel your love AND be invested in their victory. These two seem like manifestations of the two great Commandments and are a simple recipe with which to live our lives.
I’ve reflected upon our past year at Riverdell, noting so much newness in just one calendar year. The courage to manifest this newness has been drawn forth from within those of us here feeling that there’s nothing else we could do. That in turn has been the result of the increase in love substance that’s FELT by us here, not just a theory but the bodily experience of it. The felt love then empowers the creative change and it’s as though courage becomes easy – easy to do the next creative thing. How wonderful Life can be when one is lit up by Love and backed up by the Universe!
Thanks for your inspiring words and much love