Wednesday, December 5, 2007

How Health Arrives

While my wife and I have been married only a short two years, our journey togther has taught us some powerful things. The most important of these may be that emotional and spiritual health seems to arrive only when we are willing to explore our roots. How have we come to be the way we are? What influences in my life have inspired / denigrated / motivated / silenced me and the voice I possess?
How willing we are to investigate where we've come from says a lot about how much we want to grow.
In my class today, my students and I acted out one of my favorite texts, Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It is a beautiful essay which explores how many of us live: so as to hide behind what we have always known to be true, rather than explore the new possibilities of our lives, which may be more true than the comforts we have known for so long.
During a long walk last night, my wife said something I found to be profound and moving, which helped to connect a lot of divergent thoughts I have encountered lately. Her words: "We must be willing to confront what has happened in our past if we want to embrace the opportunities of our present."
I agree!

Not Condemnation

In our society, many of us feel a desperate need to shame others. We often find ourselves reverting to crude assessments of the faith of others, their morality, their flaws, their "wrong" opinions and beliefs. How quickly we can distract ourselves from the hard work of exploring the inner terrain of our own lives. Sadly, we often find it so much easier to criticize others than explore the ares within us that need attention--ultimately, a form of escape.
Recently, a good friend told me of a quote he had heard: "comparison is the theif of joy." I bristled with both inspiration and conviction as soon as I'd heard it. Perhaps one reason many of us find it so easy to condemn and so hard to have grace--the grace which Christ exhibits--is that we find ourselves stuck in the comparison game. "How can I be happy as long as he or she..." and we fill in the blanks indefinitely. Seeking joy in who God has created us to be--without comparison to others--can help us garner a greater freedom in who we are, thereby giving us grace for our own humanity, and for that of others.

On Being Silly

The word "silly" gets a bad rap in our culture. As in, "you're silly" (translation: "you're weird and childish"). However, being silly evokes something deep inside us, which might be most apty characterized by the following image:
You are in the lion's den. Unsure as to how you arrived there, or why you are there, you panic. Sweat congeals on your forehead, in your arm pits, along your thighs.
Lions are not friendly--at least, most lions are not friendly. You think: are these lions friendly? Could they be friendly? What is the chance that these lions might possibly be friendly, versus the chance that I am definitely going to be eaten by them.
Then: you wake up. Yes, yes, I've pulled the "you wake up" scheme which many of us find terribly annoying in writers or storytellers. But, go along with me for a minute here.
So, you wake up. It is a Saturday morning. Your wife is resting peacefully beside you. You decide that maybe this morning you will make pancakes, and drizzle them with maple syrup.
Then, you think: "drizzle" is a funny word. No, "drizzle" is a silly word. You think of drizzling your pancakes with maple syrup, and you smile.
The more you think of this--especially after having been terrified by the dream of lions--the happeier you feel, the lighter you feel.
You begin to laugh louder, smile wider. Soon, you find that you are in a silly mood. Your silliness wakes up your wife, and you laughing makes her laugh. By the time you sit down with pancakes and maple syrup, you think to yourself, "silly is not so bad."

Why We Imagine

Perhaps one of our greatest gifts, the ability to imagine can create love where there was once only fear, hope where there was once destruction, and peace where war rallies.
Our willingness to imagine what we cannot yet see says the most about who we are, and who we long to be.