Words to raise the dead

When I was younger I was fascinated by the Jewish legend and lore of the Golem. A monster made of the dirt who would come to life when molded by a Rabbi, and when truth/emet was inscribed upon it it came to life, when the “e” was removed death/met terminated the Golem.
A protector of the Jewish people when there were problems; pogroms, antisemitic attacks, and the like.

Given that with what little I know about my Jewish heritage, there were matchmakers and Rabbi’s in my family, so it would have been the latter that took the dirt and inscribed the emet and when the time came met would have occurred…

With that being said, despite centuries and cultures apart, I too raise the dead with my words!

No, I don’t take the soil in my hands and inscribe emet into it, but I do speak words of encouragement, comfort, and life over and into others.

Last week one of my students was in an emotional rut. She had a difficult day, it was known by all, but given some factors in her life it didn’t sink in until much later in the day. When it did, she was moping about and frustrated with herself for the choices she made for herself. Because I don’t work with her all that often, and I’m not in her classroom so I only see her when she goes back to her unit. It was there I saw her in a very despondent state of being, it was there I spoke life into her;

“This is a temporary setback, this doesn’t define you nor does this define your future.”

The light returned to her eyes, hope set back in, and she whispered a “thank you” to me.

***

That’s all it took for my student, and so often it is the case with most people who need words to raise them from their suffering or their metaphorical death. Yet I propose that within speaking life into others, sincerity is key; yes, sometimes the outcome might very well be bleak, and literal physical death could be on the horizon, but there is still room to speak from a place of truth and not one that merely glosses over reality.

Speaking encouragement and life into someone’s life doesn’t take much, but so often we don’t take the time to do this because we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we lose sight of anything that isn’t us. But we weren’t made to be solely focused on our needs, we ought to consider the welfare of others (more on this in my next post).

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

Thank God for Atheists in my life

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While it might seem like a funny phrasing, or a malicious/bad taste plan-on-words, I am sincere in my statement:

Thank God for the Atheists in my life.

One is a person I only know via Facebook, she is one of the most endearing, kind, open, loving, supportive and active listening people I know! We have invested in life together, sharing of what’s going on, the good and the bad, and everything in between.  She does a good job at active listening which I appreciate. She dives deep into what going on in my life, and she is sincere.
When I think about my friendship with her I think what makes it work so well is our transparency with one another, and in addition to that she has a good knack of knowing when to speak and when to listen.

The other individual is someone I used to work with, a guy is amazing at his job and meeting individuals who have mental illnesses where they are on their terms. I am proud of him and how well he does his job which is sometimes very thankless. Apart from being a good worker, he is articulate, thoughtful, and very caring. He recently joined me to and from our mutual friend’s wedding and it was great to converse with him, but more so to the point, share life in community with him.

***

So why do I say all this about my friends who are Atheists? Because I have removed myself from the framework that says I will listen to good counsel solely from Christians; I am no longer a fan of the tribalism that Christians produce, the us vs. them paradigm; I consider myself a follower of Christ but I will take good counsel from those who are outside of my faith and beliefs.

Even still as I examine my own faith and beliefs I realize they aren’t what they were 10 years ago, or even 5, or even 1 for that matter. I think God has been leading me to be more intentional with my life, in the way I spend it as well as the way I invest it, and as a result I figuratively as well as literally choose to prepare an open table for all whom I come into contact with. My friends who are Atheists have never been legalistic or dogmatic about their views, nor have they have never come across as rude and aggressive. Take note Christians, that you can love God and love others holistically as well as faithfully by simply doing good to others and this can be pointed back to God. As St. Francis of Assisi said; “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

It’s good to know people in life, in community, who are doing what they can to make the world a better place. It might not look like how I do it, but if it betters humanity holistically I for one will not be bothered in what’s being done regardless of what a person believes or doesn’t.

~Nathanael~

Making plans/Life happens sometimes all the time

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon

Truth to be told I like structure in making plans. I do have moments of spontaneity of just “going with it” some times, but I like plans and making plans. I, however, do not like hiccups in my plans, either personal or external, it works it way under my skin and I get irate and I have panic attacks because my plans have been thwarted.Yesterday was one of those days where nothing seemed to have gone my way. I did not like it, and I was worked up in frustration and anger for not getting my way. Yet grace was given to me by Jimmy, my foot in the door contact in Memphis and the I’m Sorry Campaign: Memphis edition. As soon as I realized I wasn’t going to be getting out to Memphis on my schedule (am I saying my too much? I just want it to bear witness to my internal chaos) and subsequently I wasn’t going to be able to cook for him or his roomies…he forgave me, he thanked me for communicating that I wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t upset! He was more full of grace to me than I was to myself!

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Now even though I am a cynical asshole to myself and to others sometimes, I get grace, I really do. Do I get it every time? Whether the getting grace or getting the nature of grace, no, but I’m trying to get grace like that on both accounts. I don’t write it off as southern hospitality as to why Jimmy was kind, I realize the grace I believe in so much of the times others do too, and when they extend that grace to me in moments where all my plans are shot down, it is a balm, it is a cool drink of water on a hot summer’s day. Grace, I love it, and need to extended it to myself more often equally as much as I extend it to others.

So here I sit on my couch in IL for the last time in 20 days contemplating grace and BEing in grace, and I like it. Any ounce of anger or frustration is gone. Life happens sometimes all the time, and I need to allow room for error, but I also need to allow room for grace to myself for things not going as I would have liked it to.

Lesson learned, moving forward and upward and down to Memphis. I’ll be there today, at least I plan on it.

~Nathanael~