Gratitude List 1082

1. I just woke up, and when I awoke, there was a moment not only of letting go, but of understanding. And the understanding is manifold.

2. I really don’t need to be defined by what they think of me, or by what I think they think of me, at all.

3. I really don’t need to reach out any further toward them at all. All further reaching out is only an effort to “prove” myself. There is nothing to prove, if what I am is defined in my divinely drafted design, defined by the Designer who designed me, independent of their judgments of me. Their judgments of me, whatever they are, are immaterial.  I have nothing to prove to them, and I need not, and ought not, try.

4. I have been lifted out of the Old and into the New. They are not in the New. They are in the Old. I am in the New.

5. To continue to grasp toward them is to turn to the Old. It is not for me to return to the Old. It is for me to continue to turn to the New, and the Newer, and the Newest.

download6. If I wait, they will reach out to me when the time comes, if the time comes.  If and when that time comes, in reaching out to me, they will be turning toward the New — for I am in the New.  For them to reach out to me is to turn to the New, where I am.  It will be my task then to draw them toward the New, to show them Christ in me, the hope of glory.  It will be my challenge then to resist being sucked back down into the Old.

7. I therefore don’t need to send another text, email, voicemail, letter, chat, or postcard. To any of them who are still in the Old.  I need not return to the Old at all.

8. In this manifold understanding, I am free. I am no longer bound by the Old.

9. In turning to them, in pleading with them, in praying to them, I make them gods.  They are not gods, nor are they on a path toward becoming gods.  They are only human, as I am human.  In praying for them, I turn to God, I plead with God, through Christ, who makes all things New.

10. If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation. The former things are passed away. All things are becoming New.

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Dangers of Liberation: Part One

On August 8, 2006, I sat at the corner of Shattuck and Kitteredge in Berkeley, California, three blocks North of the Royal Grounds Cafe, where I had just spent my last two dollars on coffee.   

I had walked back and forth, to and fro, not knowing where I was going.  It gradually dawned on me that I had nowhere left to go.  I had spent my entire severance check after leaving my summer job as a singing teacher with Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose.  I had spent it all on taxicabs, meals in restaurants, and motel rooms.   So I sat down, expecting to enter into total misery.  Instead, I entered into total bliss.

Image result for i understand that a man can have everything having nothing

I finally had nothing.  Nothing to prove anymore.  Nothing to hold on to.  Nothing to need to protect or salvage or horde.  Nothing that could be coveted or stolen.  Nothing that I needed to accomplish or achieve.   

And in having nothing, I realized that I was open to everything.  In an instant, everything that the Universe had to offer came soaring into my consciousness.  All the gifts of life — the very gifts that my worldly concerns had blinded me from seeing — were now not only visible, but tangible, accessible, and omnipresent.  

I found paper and pen, and I wrote down these words:

I have indeed hit bottom.
And at the moment when I reached my bottom,
I realized that I had reached the very top.
At that moment, I was Buddha.

While this surprising sense of liberation was very real, and while it was destined to impact me for years to come, its accompanying bliss was short-lived.  Within three days, I was to see its downside in a dramatic way.   And the bittersweet dynamic thereof informed my later thought.

So I’ve decided to use the next several Thursdays to post my thoughts on this theme as best I can.   There are distinct dangers involved when one permits oneself to receive gifts of joy and happiness from sources commonly associated with misery and despair.  I’ll do my best to illustrate what the years following that experience have held for me.  Hopefully, I can do so with clarity.

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Homeless by Choice

On the Q&A site Quora, dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge by those “in the know,” I was asked if I thought there was anything wrong with being “homeless by choice.”  Here’s my answer:

There is nothing morally wrong with being homeless by choice. One has a right to do whatever they wish to do as long as it does not impinge upon the rights of others. Therefore, if one wants to be homeless, and one is not harming anyone in the process, one can rightly exercise that choice.

However, this does beg the question as to why one would want to be homeless by choice; and in fact, if one choosing to be homeless is actually choosing a preferred lifestyle, or merely the lesser of evils in an untenable situation.

home sweet homelessThere are three general reasons why one would “choose” being homeless over an indoor living situation:

(1) lack of privacy in the indoor situation

(2) abuse or neglect in the indoor situation

(3) inability to keep up with the cost of living indoors

I was homeless in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years.  As I stated in this post, I often had a difficult time with shelters and other group situations due to the lack of privacy. I also found it next-to-impossible to keep up with the rising cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The trade-off was made palatable due to my not having to pay exorbitant rental fees, often subjected to rent increases every six months.

Although I personally would not have characterized any of my living situations as “abusive,” I certainly have met numerous people, mostly young people, who chose to live “home free” following emancipation from abusive parents or guardians. To many of them, the idea of living indoors was associated with bondage, violence, and sexual violation. Of course they should not be faulted for wishing to escape such horrible home lives. This is why many such young people will not use the term “homeless” to describe their lifestyle. They prefer the term “home free” — and this is telling.

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