The “Christmas Blues” suffered by many people can be acute. This is especially true for those who had a child, a spouse, a loved one, taken by eating disorders. You see the Joy of the Season experienced by society and you wonder, will you ever feel this again. There are days where the very act of waking up and getting out of bed and merely existing, seems so incredibly difficult. And one can’t help but wonder … Is life meant to be so very hard?
For the vast majority of people who share this 3rd rock from the sun, I believe the answer is a resounding “No.” They are born, go to school, are generally happy, face the every day trials and tribulations that most people have, they may or may not go to church, they have their hearts broken by their first loves. They go through high school and leave in one form or fashion, most graduating.
If they are lucky or smart or come from a family of some wealth, they may go to college, where they either graduate or not. They eventually find a partner or spouse, they may have children, they find a job or career … and the cycle repeats itself. The obstacles placed before them seem large… insurmountable, too daunting and the obstacles define their very existence.
As their life enters its twilight and nears a close, some may wonder if the world is a better place because they were in it. Did they leave a lasting impression that generations which follow will know about or study? And again, for the vast majority, the answer is a resounding “No.”
For most of our lives, we are content. Or if we are not content, we may feel hopeless, unaware of how to make a true difference. And, that is before we even get to the issue of “why” we are going to make a difference. For most of us, life is not hard. We may aspire to some sort of greatness that we cannot even see let alone possibly understand and we pray for greater insight obtained by looking ever deeper. But, oh those obstacles! We cannot get past them. They are Olympian in height, as vast as the limitless void of space. And this is generally true for automobile mechanics, janitors, sanitation workers, teachers, attorneys, business people of all stripes. Many may wonder, is this all there is to life? The obstacles become our natural boundaries and borders. Our obstacles define the boundaries of our very existence.
It does not matter how high our IQ, it does not matter the size of our bank accounts … we live, most will love, most will have children, some may even say they “need to make a difference.” And yet, after we die, at most our names will be remembered on a tombstone by loved ones for a generation.
Most of us believe in a higher power, a God. Some will embrace the dogma of an organized religion. Some will read a copious number of books in pursuit of insight into their soul or spirituality.
And for them.. for the 99.999% of the people who occupy this 3rd rock from the sun will experience that type of life, the obstacles will define the boundaries of their existence and a simplicity of spirit and existence keep them within those boundaries. And truly, that type of life is simple. It is not hard. I am acutely aware that for most of my existence, I was certainly included in that 99.999%. And life seemed and was simple.
But … what of the .001%. Does anyone think George Washington was in that 99.999%? He was from a farming family. He was a surveyor. Do you think he envisioned himself as a Father of a Nation? No, probably not. But, somewhere along the way, some divine intervention happened, he instinctively got out of its way and let Divinity guide him as he managed to lead a ragtag militia to the defeat of the world’s then greatest military force. This gave birth to the greatest nation this 3rd rock had seen. That was not supposed to happen And yet, once he started that journey, he could not stop. The path was laid before him.
Abraham Lincoln. He was from a poor family. Became a lawyer. Served in Congress and lost. Then… divine intervention got in the way. When he saw that western states and territories were being opened to slavery, an institution so repugnant to him, that inspired him to reenter politics. You know the rest. Was his life easy? Was life made easy for him?
In Washington’s case, the Freedom of a People. In Lincoln’s case, the Freedom of a Class of People from Oppression. Life for both Washington and Lincoln was surely a daily trial.
Nelson Mandela. Imprisoned for decades. Enduring unimaginable hardships. And through it all … his soul found its path. The hard journey he encountered steeled his soul and became his platform from which he could lead and inspire. And a new nation, a better evolved nation was born. He had the vision of being able to be the conduit through which a people could find freedom… a chance of life.
We all know the case of Martin Luther King.
The list of leaders is well known and I submit that those people have something in common … the obstacles that are placed before them, those obstacles that otherwise would define their existence and for the vast majority of people lead to ordinary, simple lives … are broken down NOT because of what they do or what they believe … but by the causes their soul’s journey encounter and draw them toward. Freedom of a People. Freedom from Oppression. Freedom of the Soul.
I submit that those few people don’t knowingly or necessarily even choose their paths through life. They cannot. The every day hardships those persons with great souls surely endured nonetheless molded them. They survived their trial by fire.
An author named Sherrilyn Kenyon is quoted as saying: “Strength through adversity. The strongest steel is forged by the fires of hell. It is pounded and struck repeatedly before it is plunged back into the molten fire. The fire gives it power and flexibility, and the blows give it strength. Those two things make the metal pliable and yet able to withstand every battle it’s called upon to fight.”
I believe that one cannot choose the path his or her soul must take. No. Instead, I believe that a soul chooses it’s own path for all of us. And that path is rarely the easiest path. It is not smooth, devoid of cracks. We learn very little of ourselves by treading an easy, smooth path.
And until October 30, 2016, I was defined by my well-defined boundaries and obstacles. Life was simple. Very few challenges of the soul. And but for that dark Sunday night, I would have lived a simple life and died a simple, shallow, superficial man.
And then …
I was not ready, and believe I am still not ready to shoulder the burden of my soul’s journey. I do not even know where that journey is leading. I only have what meager gifts have been bestowed upon me to try to figure it out. And those gifts are not nearly enough. The burden of unimaginable and unspeakable anguish weigh so incredibly heavy on all aspects of my existence… the head, the heart, the soul. Yet something is still guiding me, telling me that something in the future already exists, something that must be discovered, found and brought forward. I do not know if I am that person who is supposed to find it, especially since I don’t even know what is to be found. My place may be merely to clear a few boulders off a soulful path for others, others who are far greater or more insightful than me, someone with more insight or soulfulness to take the next, perilous steps.
The burden on many days seems too much to bear. And yet, if I do not keep an open heart, and open mind and open eyes … if I turn away from my soul guiding me, I will surely lose more than just physical things, I will lose more than just money … I will lose my very soul. I will lose my daughter’s legacy. Even still, most days I still so wish I was defined by my boundaries and obstacles. I wish life was simple. It is not. It cannot be.
I do not want this. I have no choice. My soul won’t let me. And the burden seems oppressive. If I don’t shoulder it, if I do not find a way to get stronger, who will pay the price. What lives could be taken if I turn my back on my soul? What lives could be saved if I stay on that soul’s journey and keep walking down that path? And if I caved, if I succumbed to the hardship, could I live with myself? Would my soul let me?
A simple life was not meant for the twilight of my life. Now, make no mistake, there are days when inspiration comes and when people come to me and tell me that I have made a difference, and it fills my heart with renewed strength and allows me to take the next steps on my soul’s journey.
And so, the journey continues. Let the Fires of Hell do their worst. An uncertain future is before me. And I surely must and will stay on the path, no matter how painful, no matter how complex. There is an Army of Warrior Angels who demand nothing less. My beloved daughter’s mission, her message demand nothing less.
And the next steps await.