Morning musing 4.24.16

Early morning musing 4.24.16

I’m thinking of writing for my eyes only an ongoing narrative called “What Bothers The F*** Out Of Me” or WBTFOUM for short.

Now while it might appear to be over the top, after all I’m using a variant of the “F Word” in the title, it’s a strong word because I have strong reactions to some things; such as social injustice, food deserts, racism, grace and forgiveness being withheld on my part, responding out of fear and not love, mental health stigma internal and external, et al.

All of the things that bother me in this life mainly pertain to human behavior, and not the human in and of himself/herself. Which I think is good, because I can work through reaction and respond with action.

I don’t see human beings as issues, their own or imposed, we all have faults and cracks. Yet this is how the light gets in (as so elegantly sung by Leonard Cohen in Anthem), and so I want to expose my cracks and be illuminated.

I have cracks, I have faults, I have an inner darkness, I have fear of true intimacy. But I have a desire for the light to expose all of me, I want to be seen for who I am and not some cheap imitation that’s “socially accepted” and that’s it.

I was made for more than that,
You were made more than that ☺

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

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Holidays with the Harrisons / The beauty of messy hospitality

My roommate Brian is a swell guy, and in getting to know him better I have also gotten to know his family as well. They have invited me to several family functions, mainly holiday (and soon, a wedding) and today on Easter it was no different.

It started off with going to Easter at 11am at Springbrook Community Church where Brian’s father is the lead pastor.

I was a little early for the 11am service, so I waited around till Brian arrived and then we went into the sanctuary as it was starting…

It was a good Easter service with a few sleigh-of-hand’s by Brian’s father, a lot of laughter and a lot of celebration of the resurrection. From there I met some people Brian knows, and it was nice and social. From there I drove over to their house for Easter lunch, which was great because they do a good job at being themselves and being hospitable.

“Messy Hospitality” is a phrase I’ve heard before to describe hospitality as-is, no hook lines and sinkers, no catches, what you see is what you get, and so on. The Harrison’s home is such a place, and there’s a welcoming in that family that is “as-is” and I love it completely.
Messy hospitality can get complicated as its fractured and untidy. But I suppose that’s the beauty of it, it comes unvarnished and doesn’t have a shine to it for appearance’s sake. As Leonard Cohen croons in Anthem;

                                                              Ring the bells that still can ring
                                                              Forget your perfect offering
                                                              There is a crack in everything
                                                              That’s how the light gets in.

Growing up my family’s life was very private, and consequently my life was very privatized and compartmentalized. Some of it A lot of it was operating out of fear, and fear compounds itself on fear and before you know it you have this massive fear stack that you have no idea how you’re going to dismantle it…except, say if you move in the direction of honesty (to self inasmuch to others), even if that means transparency and, ultimately, messy hospitality.

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Messy hospitality is what I aim to do where I am at in every walk of life unto everyone I associate with. I might not bare my heart on my sleeve, but I will be unflinchingly transparent where needed be. We all need boundaries in our lives, and so there are some things I will withhold from others and my blog for my own emotional and mental health.

For what I cannot wrestle on my own or with the help of others (which is statistically 92.5%) I take it to God in prayer. Occasionally Most of the time my prayers are detailed and very much “warts and all.” God gets me more than the other way around, but with that being said I lay it on thick.

I no longer fear what others think about me (most of the time),
I don’t have a nagging in the back of my mind to keep up appearances that are contrary to how I am feeling and responding to what’s going on inside and around me.
I don’t have a need to wait till I get “there” when it comes to hospitality, my door is wider and my table is inclusive to all.
It took time to get here, but may God be honored by the journey I’m on.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

Compassion as a spiritual exercise; day 19 of Ramadan

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

If you didn’t know already, the weather globally has been a bit topsy-turvy this summer. We’re in the midst of a weather event known as El Niño, and depending on where you’re at globally it might be warmer or colder or wetter or drier than usual. With that being said, in my part of the weather it has been a very very wet summer.

Subsequently a good portion of the activities with my students have been onsite. There have been warm summer days, and so I do what I can to play with my students in the park or simply walk around our building for a period of time.

Today didn’t seem like it was going to rain and so I thought I’d have some time to do some outdoor activities with my students…so I thought, but during our time out in the community it started raining, not a lot, but enough to cancel any outdoor activities once we returned. One of my students was alarmed and frightened by the thunder and lightning, and so he vocalized it and a short while later I went back to the unit with him for remainder of the school day.

Compassion by definition is the “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” I believe I have within me a good deal of compassion to put out there to others, I have an intuitive nature and a good sense of communication via body language, and thankfully I have a job where if a student is feeling unsafe I can help get her or him out of the classroom in a pretty timely matter without any fuss from the teacher I work under or our mutual superiors.

I want to live life intentionally and compassionately, to be aware of the needs of others and doing what I can to help them out. I realize that I can’t address everyone’s needs nor can I reach everyone for that matter, but still I want to be able to help out others tangibly in community.
Acting compassionately and meeting the needs of others is one of the central things tied to my belief system as a Red Letter Christ-centric Universalist, because there are a lot of things that point to Jesus doing as well as being during his time spent here on earth.
I used to have the mindset that I would help others out when I was fiscally in the black, that I wouldn’t be hurting when I did give of my resources. Yet, and I do believe it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I went against that perspective because I realized that I would never truly be in the black given my field of work and that my resources didn’t only pertain to money but also my gifts and also my time. I resolved then and there to give of what I have to others, to live semi-frugally, and to give what I have to others.
As of late I am doing what I can to live with even less than what I already have. It’s purifying in a way to assess what you have and what you can easily do without and then give it away to those who are in need, this act of compassion certainly is a symbiotic relationship between the giver and the receiver.

So with all that being said, compassion was my keyword on this 19th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God, The Compassionate One, who extends his compassion upon humanity and helps us extend that compassion to others. May we not be stingy with our resources in this life, may we give unto others who are less fortunate than we are, and may we remember that our lives are not our own.

Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,
Nathanael