The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Esperanza’s popularity grew with each tale of her healing. One day she posted to social media this statement, “If you want to be my follower if you truly want to learn from me, you must consider this cause more important than all you have. The cause of love is more important than your family, your life, and even your own wellbeing. You must be willing to suffer and possibly even die for other people. Consider what it will cost you to follow me. Who goes out to buy a sports car but cannot afford the payments? They are laughed at and made fun of. What person when planning a party does not consider their guests when planning snacks and meals? If you hold tightly to what you have in the here and now, you will eventually lose it. Instead give freely, love freely, and know that this is dangerous work. What good is a car without gas? Or a fountain without water? If you say you follow me and my teachings but do not actually do them you are without purpose.”

A short time later, Esperanza had met with her friends and there was a larger group of people gathered around her. This was a gathering of people many would consider being outcasts and ‘sinners’. A group of rabbi and priests were passing the gathering. They murmured rather loudly for people to hear, “She hangs around sinners and outcasts? She eats and has gatherings with them?” The crowd grew silent and split so that Esperanza could speak to the group of teachers. “Tell me which one of you if your dog runs away will not go out and put up missing posters? How about when the dog is found would you not celebrate that your family member has returned home? These are my family members. This party is an image of what the Divine’s kingdom will be like. We found each other, you are welcome to join us. Or how about this, if you lost your wallet, do you not tear your house apart looking for it? Once you have found it would you not breathe a sigh of relief? These people are looking for a place to call home. Here together, we are building home.

There once was a man who had two sons; the youngest said to the father, ‘I know we are a wealthy family. I’d like my share of things to try to get started on my own ideas and company.’ The father considered this and wondered what his son would do with the investment. He gave it to him. Not much later the son went out and got distracted buying himself all manner of frivolous thing. He bought clear toilets with money in them just for show. He bought the most expensive beverages and food. But did not get started on his business ideas. When he discovered he had spent all that he had, he panicked. He was evicted from his penthouse and all of his stuff was repossessed. He started to work at a fast food restaurant because it was the only job that he could get. He couldn’t even afford to eat. He would have gladly eaten any of the food he served up every day, but the company had strict rules against that. He thought to himself, ‘How many people work for my father? Don’t they have enough to eat? They get paid well enough. They have enough, yet I am dying out here on minimum wage. I’ll go to him and say that I’m sorry, I’m not worthy to be called his son. I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up.’ He took what little he had earned after months at the fast food place and bought a bus ticket. When he was still far from the house, his father spotted him. He knew it was his son. His heart welled up and he ran to meet him. The son stopped and could not make eye contact. Through the tears, he said to his father, ‘Dad, I’m so sorry. I’m not worthy to be your son.’ The father interrupted him and said, ‘Stop. You are my son, you will always be my son. You made a mistake. We’ll work it out. Come inside get cleaned up and put on good clothes for we are going to celebrate tonight.’ The eldest son caught his dad on his way back inside. ‘Dad, I’ve been here the entire time. I’ve worked hard for you, you’ve never given me a party.’ The father smiled and put an arm around his eldest son, ‘Son, your brother has come home. You are always with me, everything I’ve had is yours. Your brother has come home to the place where he belongs.’

There also was a businesswoman who owned many franchises. One day one of her advisors informed her that there was a franchise manager who was skimming money from the business. She called the manager in for a meeting. ‘You have been accused of skimming money from the business, what do you have to say for yourself?’ While the manager was trying to explain, he thought to himself,’What am I going to do? If I’m fired I have no marketable skills. I know, I will lessen my take so that other people will take care of me.’ The businesswoman fired him. He was given to the end of the week to settle up any accounts with a close eye. He settled up the accounts cutting his portion of the commission out of the bills, on some they amounted to 50% on others it was 20%. The businesswoman was informed by those who kept a close eye on the man. She was impressed at his thoughtfulness for his own position, and his attempt to make some things right. For those of you who do not follow me are quite shrewd in the way you conduct your business. Maybe you should take a look at those you do business with and make friends with them and see they are just like those who have gathered. For with your mind on your money, you worship only Mammon.

Those who are faithful with little will also be faithful with a lot. But, also, those who lie about a little will certainly lie about a lot. So when you lie about a little with your business dealings and worship of mammon, who will gather around you to help you? If you have lied about other’s business as well, who will give you what is your own? Nobody can serve two desires; either they will hate one and love the other, or they will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both the Divine and Mammon.”

Those who were scornful at the beginning scoffed at this. But she said to them, “You are those who make yourselves look good in front of people, but the Divine knows your hearts; those who are praised for their good appearances before others look horrific to the Divine.”

<  Chapter 14 Chapter 16  >

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 14

Chapter 14

As she was teaching in a church one Sunday morning, A woman who had suffered from near-crippling arthritis for eighteen years approached her. When Esperanza saw her she called to her, “Ma’am, may you feel healing in your bones.” She rested her hand on the woman’s shoulder. The woman straightened out for the first time in years. Life seemed to pour into her. The priest was infuriated, for Esperanza had healed his congregation member, in his church, on a Sunday, in front of his congregation no less. He turned to his congregation, “If you want healing from this woman, you can do it on your own time, in your own houses! I will not have this done on a Sunday!” Esperanza turned to him shaking her head, “You hypocrite! Don’t you read on a Sunday? Do you turn on your television on a Sunday? Do you cook for your family on a Sunday? Do you walk your dog and feed it on a Sunday? Why should this woman not seek healing on a ‘Sunday’?” At this, the congregation stood and applauded. The priest turned bright red in anger and stormed off to his office.

Esperanza turned to the congregation. “What is the kingdom of the Divine like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a small spark set to kindling. When it comes off the flint it is so very small, but when it catches it can set fire to the largest bonfire. All who are near can feel it’s warmth. It is like a baker adding a bit of sourdough to the fresh dough in order to make a magnificent loaf of sourdough bread. Just a little bit can go a very long way.”

After this teaching, she continued on her way through cities and towns. In one town there was a person who asked her, believing in a shortly coming apocalyptic future, “Are there a lot of people who will be saved?” She said to him, “Don’t worry about how many will be ‘saved’. Instead, focus on the work that I have taught you to do. That will certainly save your life. Love your neighbor, love your enemies, and live your life fully. There will be those who do not do this, and only worry about the numbers of the ‘saved’. They will come to the end of life and say, ‘Look at all we did in your name!’ when all they cared for was themselves. They will understand that life was not about themselves, but others. There is room at the table for everyone. All are welcome. You need not worry about how much room there is, just that you show all to the table. Sometimes you may be the one who needs to be shown, other times you may be the one showing.” It turned out that this man was a priest. He invited her over for dinner that very evening.

On the way to dinner, he confided in her. He was part of a larger committee that had been discussing her for a few months. He said to her, “The government isn’t happy about the things you have been saying. Even the president wants to silence you.” She said to him, “You can tell this committee that I’m doing the work the Divine has for me. I will continue doing what I’m doing until the day I die. If they don’t like it, they can come speak with me themselves. The government has always had a problem with people who speak the truth. I understand your concern for me, but when the time comes I will suffer and even die for the truth if the Government wills.” They continued on their way.

When they arrived at the priest’s house, one of his friends with extreme swelling and edema. Since many of the priest’s friends who had gathered were lawyers, priests, and rabbi, Esperanza turned to them and asked, “One of you said to me earlier today that it was unlawful to heal or seek healing on a Sunday. Is it unlawful to heal on a Sunday?” They just looked at her in silence. She placed a hand on his shoulder keeping her eyes on the crowd. He had a relieved look and then surprised look immediately followed. He excused himself and rushed off to the bathroom. When he returned his body had shrunk back to a normal size. She smiled at him and said, “If your child falls into a well, would you not go immediately try to get him out on a Sunday?” They just remained silent and stared at her. The man who had edema hugged her thankfully.

When it came time for dinner they were trying to figure out where each of them would sit. Since it was the priest’s house they thought he should sit at the head of the table. Esperanza took the opportunity to tell a story to them. “When you are invited to a wedding do you go and sit at the head table? No! You probably would take the seat nearest the back of the room unless someone comes and points you to a place of honor set for you. Then you would be honored by those who are at your table. You shouldn’t be seeking honor, honor is given to those who do not seek it. When you hold a dinner party you shouldn’t invite your friends and neighbors just to be repaid. You should invite all who need to eat so they can truly appreciate the food that is given to them.” One of the Rabbi who was sitting near her said, “Well that I can agree with!” She smiled and toasted the meal for all who were gathered. She then told an ancient story about a king who was having a wedding feast for his son. Many were invited, but all those invited gave excuses as to why they could not attend. The king heard this and asked his servants to invite even the lowest of the low to the meal. They did so until the room and tables were filled. The king found favor with these. Those who did not show up lost places of honor. When those who had gathered at the dinner heard this they contemplated the meaning of it.

 

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 12

Chapter 12

She was meditating in the morning. When she had looked up, one of her friends asked her, “Can you teach us to meet with the Divine?” She thought for a moment and said, “When you meditate quiet your mind and think on these things, Divine, who is both outside and within. May I love as you are love. May your love fill me so that all I need is provided for. Teach me to love like you do so that I may not harm any other. May I even love those who harmed me. I know it is easy to forget to love, may I not grow lazy or weary of loving. Which of you would turn away a friend in need? Even in the middle of the night? None of you would because they are your friends. It is like that with the Divine. The Divine is not a cosmic slot machine. Instead, the Divine is more like a parent. If your child asks you for a fish would you give a snake instead? Or what if your child asks for something to eat, would you give them rocks to eat? Though not all is within the Divine to supply. Meeting with the Divine is for you. It is for you to think about all your needs and questions, and quiet your mind for a possible answer.”

One day as she was curing a man who had an addiction, the crowd had been so impressed by her. There were some from the synagogue and the churches. They were terrified by her. “She must be from the devil. No one can just cure addictions! This power must come from hell.” She turned to them. “How can I be from the devil? Can the devil cast out the devil? A house divided against itself will tear itself apart. If the devil is divided against the devil how can he stand? If I cure things from hell, how can I do it in the name of the devil? What if you are wrong and I’m from the Divine? Wouldn’t that mean you are calling what is of the Divine, evil? I’m not doing this just as a parlor trick. I’m also looking to get to the reason he turned to drugs in the first place. If I just cure his addiction, he will eventually go back, because there is something that caused this to happen. So instead maybe if you asked how you could help this man stay clean and cure the deeper pains, maybe you would see the Divine in what I do.” Those who called her the devil, became angry. “Give us a sign then, to show us that you are from the Divine.” She rolled her eyes and sighed heavily. “Why do all of you place the burden of proof upon me? You are the ones who called me the devil. Maybe you are the ones who need to prove what you say.” She took the opportunity to teach a lesson about Jonah. “The people of Nineveh were despised and said to be of the devil, yet they ended up listening and understanding the error of their ways. How would you believe you were wrong even if I show you a sign? Would you purposely hide good things, just so that you would be right? Be careful when you deny the good that you not fall farther into evil yourself. You pretend very well to be good, but even as the prophet Isaiah said ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ You deny the love of the Divine in order to look good in front of other people. You may keep your traditions. I’ll follow love. These people from the synagogues and churches are the type of people who are all about looking good in front of others. That’s like washing the outsides of dishes, but not the inside. Seriously, You tithe your money, but you completely neglect the justice and love of the Divine. Those were the important things that you forgot about in order to look good.  You love the best seats in the synagogues and churches, woe to you. You are like makeup on a pig, woe to you.” A lawyer stopped her to point out, “Teacher, by saying this aren’t you also judging us?” But she went on, “Woe to you lawyers also! You and those like you load men with burdens hard to bear, yet don’t help one iota with those burdens at all. You, the priests, and rabbi all hold fast to these rules and regulations that cause nothing but anxiety and pain for people. You didn’t listen to those who came before me. Instead you killed and silenced all who spoke against your evil, greed, and corruption. You have taken away the key of knowledge and treat those who follow you like idiots. Yet you do not know anything about that which you proclaim to know either!” As she said this she walked out of the venue in which she was teaching. From that point on those she spoke against conspired to silence her.

She met during this time with her friends. “Beware of these lawyers, priests, and rabbi they are going to lead many away from the Divine with their words, but it is just so much hypocrisy. The truth will always come to light though. Nothing that is hidden will stay that way for long. They may want to kill or silence you in other ways, but the ideas the truths will come out. Do not worry about them, because the Divine will not forget about you. The Divine knows that you know and speak the truth. You are special in the Divine’s eyes. People can say what they want about me, but those who speak against what the Divine is doing in you, they better watch out. The Divine will be with you, even when they try to kill or silence you.”

<  Chapter 11  |  Chapter 13  >

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Unsolicited Advice

I have been wanting to write this for a while now, but the words just weren’t coming to me. I feel like there were much more important things to think about and write about. I figured I might as well make a new category for my blog as this doesn’t fit within my journey of faith or my letters to my son. Unsolicited advice will be a series focused, maybe a little tongue in cheek, on giving unsolicited advice (and very unqualified advice at that) to someone or something pulling from my years as a youth minister.

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Honest Faith: The Lost Boy

Growing up my biggest fear above anything else was being alone. There were many different reasons for that, and it was also a bit hard to define. Like for instance, I didn’t mind playing in my room by myself if someone else was in the house. I could play on a playground alone if I knew someone else was on the property with me. What I feared was truly being alone. I feel like that has evolved more into a fear of being forgotten. That my life, my work, and the things that I do don’t make a difference. I can point to an episode of “Black Mirror” (Available on Netflix) that would define it rather well. There is an episode of a sort of dystopic future sort of run by a reality talent show. I won’t spoil it but the ending terrified me.

I was reminded of this when I was talking to my wife yesterday. It was the “Hey honey, how was your day?” talk that we usually have at the end of the work day. I was telling her about this podcast that I discovered that day by the pastor who gave up God for a year, and discovered he was an atheist back in 2014. I was telling her about the work that he was doing now and she asked me a question that is stuck in my brain. She asked, rather innocently, “Do you not want to be a Christian anymore?” Still now I don’t know how to respond to that question. I quickly said a “No, that’s not what I was talking about.” But the truth is I don’t know.

The truth is a very tricky thing. I think it takes the right question, phrased in the right way to help you discover what it really is. That question asked of me last night shook me. It helped me to see the truth about some things, and also made things a bit more cloudy. I used to feel God was with me every day. I used to see God in everything. I would be inspired by little things and their relation to the greater divine all around us. I used to. The truth is I’m lost more now than ever. I don’t know if what I was seeing or feeling was truly the divine or something I was just fooling myself into believing.

I look back on my life and wonder if I caused my own isolation. Ministry is a lonely and isolating profession. It is no wonder that many of those who are in ministry suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. While ministers are meant to journey alongside, many are pushed to the front and told to lead, yet few follow. I noticed something while I was in ministry. When I met someone new and told them what I did for a living they would, more often than not, take a step back. As if somehow proximity to me would cause me to add guilt to their life. So as a reflex to that I started walling myself off from people. I would protect myself from getting hurt by people by not letting them inside in the first place. I discovered now in my transition that I don’t have anyone that I feel really sees me for who I am. I feel forgotten, alone, and lost. As if my worst fears have become reality.

There is one place that I still see the divine. Every day I see it. It’s in the smile of my son. That little boy is delighted by all that he sees. There was a song that a friend told me that I should listen to after he was born, primarily because his name is Peter. I keep coming back to this song this year. He is my peter pan, and I am his lost boy.

I think while we have been so busy trying to find ourselves in this society we walled ourselves off from each other. We got so very lost while we trying to grow up. We got caught up in the digital not realizing that it was cutting us off from one another. Is it just me, or are we all lost? Have we forgotten to be human to each other? Have we forgotten how to develop real human connections? I ask because this lost boy is trying to find his place in the world.

I’m trying to find my way back to the place I was before. I still want to see the divine in everything. I want to be inspired by little things again. I hold so tightly to that little piece of the Divine in my life because at times it’s all I have. I think as human beings we are meant to see the divine in each other. I think that is why community is so important. To be honest I don’t know how to find a community that I would feel comfortable being myself in. I don’t know how to do that, but I’m going to try.

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Honest Faith: The Continued Dehumanization of Culture

2016 may well be a dumpster fire equivalent of a year. There have been a lot of horrible things that happened this year. There has been a large loss of life; human, animal, and other. Some things that we thought would never happen, actually happened. For many of us, some personal struggles finally came to a head. It certainly doesn’t negate the good things that have happened, but sometimes the bad is a lot easier to feel.

This year there has been a large number of celebrity deaths. Some of our most iconic heroes and artists passed away this year. John Glenn, Muhamed Ali, David Bowie, Prince, and Carrie Fisher to name a few. I have seen a lot of posts on social media talking about how 2016 is the worst or how people are complaining too much about 2016. It’s completely natural to mourn the loss. With a few exemptions I feel we celebrate those who have shown us what humanity is capable of. Artists, and Athletes that remind us of the divinity that resides in all of Creation. It makes sense for people to mourn the loss of those glimpses of the divine.

It is natural for those of us who grew up learning how to communicate digitally to share how we feel on social media. It releases dopamine when we get likes or responses on social media. It has become our norm. We millennials tend to live our lives digitally. It makes it very hard for us to have analog relationships and conversations with people. There has been a great video going viral recently that explains this phenomenon. There is a massive danger in this I think. The problem is that we who have become addicted to social media have begun to dehumanize each other.

I’ve talked about this issue before last year on arguments and other sprinkled references throughout my blog. I think that it is very easy for us who live our lives online to tend to see others as statistical views, likes, clicks, comments, and so on. We’ve become names and pictures, not real human beings on the other side of the internet. We can no longer see the forest for the trees or the internet for the people who make up the world wide web. This makes complaining a lot easier to do. Complaining about things like people venting feelings or needing some comfort because someone they looked up to passed away.

I think in so doing we not only dehumanize the other, we have dehumanized ourselves. We forget about the validity of the feelings of the other in so doing we are trying to protect our own feelings. By protecting those feelings we shut them down. I know that we do this because I’m guilty of it too. I have been guilty of getting involved in the shutting down discussion because I disagree with someone. I have been part of arguing with digital people because I thought I was trying to enlighten them. It’s tough. I don’t know what the answer is, truthfully. What I do know is that we have a big need for actual conversation. We need to stop dehumanizing and start talking… Just a thought.

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Honest Faith: Beauty in the Breakdown

A few years ago I was obsessed, like many people my age, with the television show Scrubs and Zach Braff. I particularly enjoyed his movie Garden State. He put together a wonderful mix of songs for that movie and there was one that particularly stood out to me. Still, to this day, it wells up “the feels” in me. It is Frou Frou’s hit “Let Go”. If you wish to give it a listen here’s the first youtube video that pops up when you search it:

My life, as one of my friends puts it, certainly wasn’t the one I signed up for. I have had several breakdowns emotionally, spiritually, and physically along the way. I could have let any one of those stop me along the way, but still, I persisted. There is one thing that through it all I’m reminded of. There is beauty in the breakdown. I can quote any number of things that kept me going throughout the years, but that’s not what this post is about.

On Sunday, my family and I attended a church service. It was only the second time we had gone since another such breakdown. Something there reminded me of this. The moments came together to suddenly bring me back to a place where I felt comfortable again at a small “c” church. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first time we had attempted to go back to a worship service. I broke down during the Eucharist. I felt unwelcomed and unwanted at the table. Because of this, I got very angry and upset. I realize it wasn’t rational. I know it is nobody’s fault. But it was something that just took me aback. I realize there are things that I could be justifiably bitter about in my life, but that would go to serve nobody. It doesn’t help me, and it certainly doesn’t help other people for me to hold on to grudges. It was almost enough to make me never want to go back to church again. But I made a promise to myself, my wife, my therapist, and my blog readers (Hey! Look you got a mention!) to try to find a way back.

Anyway, This week as I was sitting there preparing for the worst, as I am wont to do, something beautiful happened. Now, this may seem silly to a lot of people, but to me, it was one of the most beautiful and endearing things that have happened in a worship service in a long time. People kept missing their marks, there were misspellings in the bulletin, and the lectors read the wrong thing. Some may take offense at that, but to me it was beautiful. It was beautiful because nobody seemed to care. We were all just honest, real, and authentic human beings coming together to worship the Divine.

I think that is one of the reasons, out of many, that Millennials are leaving organized religion. It’s become too polished, too much of a show, and so much about the “entertainment value” that worship has become a shell of what it was. I did a youth group project a few years ago asking people why they go to church. One of the top answers was because my friends are there. I’m sure if you ask people what they love about a church, aside from disingenuous answers of the music, or the preaching, you’ll hear because they are family or some variation on that. Now let me ask you something, are your friends and family perfect, polished, and “showy”?

One of the things that Millennials value most is authenticity. I think that this is why I felt there was so much beauty in this breakdown of the service. It suddenly felt real to me again. It was a family muddling through the issues to do the traditions and rituals before us. We didn’t let the small things stop us. Maybe that is what the Divine intended all along for us. To be messy, to be real, and to be authentic.

What about you, reader? Do you find beauty in the breakdown? Is it easier to let go when others do? Am I way off base?

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Dear Son, In Your Eyes

Dear Son,

When I look into your eyes, it is almost like staring into a mirror. I see my own eyes looking back at me. In some ways, that terrifies me. In others, it fills me with hope. I don’t want you to have to face and see some of the things my eyes have seen. I also know that you will see a world much different than the one I grew up in. Though, every time I look into your eyes I still get an overwhelming and almost ineffable sense of joy and pride.

You look at everything now with a sense of wonder and discovery. You are just now starting to recognize things and how they relate to you. I love the look you get when I pull out the cracker box. You like to look around and observe everything around you. Right now as you play on the floor, you have to keep turning your head to look around at everything. I may just be reading this wrong, but you seem to be very curious, just like me.

There are many sappy songs that I could quote and refer you to at the moment, but by now I’m almost certain that you’ve heard them a dozen times over. one line keeps replaying in my mind, though. It’s from the first lines of Lee Ann Womack’s classic I Hope You Dance,

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger”

I don’t ever want you to lose this wonder, this hunger you have to discover everything around you. There is so much in this world for you to learn and understand. I know you will encounter that brief period when you think you know all there is to know in the world, but I pray that passes quickly. I hope that I will always see that look in your eye of wonder and amazement at all the world has to offer.

I also hope that you never stop seeing things around you. I hope you see the needs that you can fill, the comfort and support you can supply to your fellow human being who is hurting, the small gestures that you can do to make someone’s day better, and how big of an impact those small things can make. Your little eyes will see a lot of things as you grow. I pray that I will be able to help guide and support along the way.

Love,

Your Dad

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Honest Faith: A Mosaic in A Tower World

One of the things I’ve been struggling to come to terms with recently is the fact that my experiences aren’t linear or based purely on a defined path. If my life were to be described as a video game it would be more like an open world game where you can take tasks when you want to, or go waste time on side quests before ever working on the main story quests. Through a lot of help, here’s the big secret: I’ve been going to therapy for a while now, I’ve come to see my life as a mosaic.

Mosaics are artworks that are made up of different, usually broken, pieces of other things to make up a whole. I’ve always found mosaics particularly beautiful. Especially in the form of stained glass windows. Stained glass windows have always held a very significant role in my life. So that is why this image held particular resonance for me. Every little seemingly random moment or experience in my life comes together to form a much larger and grander picture.

I had a very difficult time with this because I have come to the understanding that suffering doesn’t hold meaning. Growing up in the church I was told that everything happened for a reason; good or bad it had a reason. Still, even now parts of me want to assign meaning to the broken parts of my life. The big problem with that though is I don’t think we are meant to know the meaning. I think on one level, yes, they are right. Everything does happen for a reason, but it is on a much grander and cosmic scale than we can possibly fathom. We try to figure out the reason for our suffering or the reason for the suffering of those who endure much greater hardships than our own (IE Syrian refugees). But the horrible and awful truth of the matter is that there is no meaning to that suffering on our level. It’s just suffering. If we can do something about someone else’s suffering, we are meant to. That is where we get our meaning, our reasons for being. Everything happens for a reason so that we may better see how we can alleviate the suffering of our fellow man, not our own suffering, but sometimes shit happens.

This has been on my mind recently as I’ve been noticing that here in this country we celebrate towers. I mean we celebrate those who stack accomplishment on top of accomplishment of the same type and fashion. Often times it is very hard for “normal” everyday people to live up to this because I’m pretty sure life isn’t structured in this way. We aren’t meant to be towers. I think there is a much bigger lesson in this and it might also be the start of a much bigger metaphor if I were to dig into it, but for now let’s leave it at the stacking of accomplishments.

We have become a tower society, celebrating the stacked accomplishment of those around us and looking at our own lives and wondering why we can’t be towers too. I think if you were to ask the “Towers” about how they got to where they are, they wouldn’t point to the stacking as their main purpose. Instead, I think our lives were meant to be mosaics. Every little moment in our lives is meant for something bigger and grander. A beautiful piece of art that is still in the process of being made. Our pieces coming together and separating in beautiful and unknown ways. The colors of the other people that come in and out of our lives helping to change our own colors. The experiences that shape us and reform the other pieces of our own experience. I think we have lost sight of the purpose of this art of life. We are mosaics, not towers.

What would it look like if we lived our lives this way? What if we took our experiences not just as training for something else later, but as a beautiful tile in itself? Life, in my opinion, isn’t stagnate. It’s ever moving, ever evolving, ever changing into something new, something different, a bigger picture. It is a grand mosaic made up of smaller mosaics.

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Honest Faith: An Introduction

Audio version

Introduction

My name is Miguel. I’m a human being. I struggle. I fall. Sometimes I think of beautiful things, sometimes my thoughts are bogged down with darkness. I am. I exist. That is all I can claim is true in these moments. Recently I have set out on a quest to rediscover who I am, this is no easy quest. It is one that I’m often reminded has no end as our true selves are constantly in flux. But I wanted to really figure out what makes me, me. Finding the truest me that there is. So here is where I begin.

The Truest me

Recently I’ve been trying to clear myself of fluff. Both metaphorically and literally, I put on a few pounds during the pregnancy and first months of my son’s life. I decided to start cutting things out of my life that didn’t need to be there. I have been trying to very hard to figure out this question for myself “Who do I want to be?”. On the basest level, I discovered a few things that I want to be known of me:

A Loving Man

A few years ago my friend in his best man speech said of me that I was one of the most loyal and loving people he had ever met. Granted, it may have just been flowery language to pep up his speech. But a few years later a teenager who I had been working with at a church said in her goodbye speech to me that I was the embodiment of the love of God I so often taught them about. Both of these instances have told me that even if I’m not those things that I want to be those things. I want to be a loving man. I want it said of me that I loved with my entire being. That the love they saw caused me to be fiercely loyal to my friends and family, if you have met me you are one of the two to me.

A Safe Place

Recently the symbol of the safety pin has gained popularity. Despite it being another form of slacktivism, it is meant to show those who feel oppressed that the person wearing it is a “safe person”. Meaning that they will come to their aid in time of distress. This is another thing that I want to be said of me, that I am a safe place for all people. That no matter your age, race, gender, creed, orientation, mental ability, economic status, history, type of pie you love, or even if you hate pie (but really who hates pie?) that I will be a safe place for you. That when I am around I will come to your aid and defend you, even if you hate pie.

An Encounter With the Divine

More than just coming to the aid and defense a safe person is someone you can talk to without judgment or condemnation. I will talk more about my faith in a moment, but I want to be somebody who embodies the Imago Dei or for you non-latin speakers the image of God. That when you meet me or have a conversation with me that you can somehow through me have an encounter with the Divine, whatever the Divine looks like to you.

Out of everything else in my life I want those three things to be true of me. That in Miguel you will have a loving and safe encounter with the Divine.

Honest Faith

The name comes from a few things. I’ve been told that I was just trying to copy the popularity of the honest trailers on YouTube. But it’s really been something I’ve been considering for a long time. I tried to do some through my writing in here, an odd youtube video there, and all that I did in my career before. But I never was able to sort out what it was I wanted from this.

Honesty

Back in my college days, my theater director gave me one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in my life. She said that whenever I was on stage I portrayed the truth. I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve always wanted to be the most honest that I can be with myself and others. I haven’t always succeeded at this, especially when I feel cornered and trapped. Writing and theater are two things that I have been told that I’m good at. I want it said of my art that I’m honest. I want it said of those things that portray me the most are as real as they can be.

Faith

One of my favorite quotes is one from Frederick Buechner:

Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat. Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch. Faith is waiting.

In a talk that I gave to teenagers a few years ago, I likened it to being homesick for a place you have never been. There are so many of those things in our lives. There are so many fandoms nowadays that you can take your pick for a place you are homesick for that you have never been to Hogwarts, A galaxy far far away, the starship enterprise, Narnia, Tamriel, Westeros, Middle-Earth, the fringe division, S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters, the hall of Justice, and on and on… I think that’s a form of faith, in fact, there is a wonderfully funny video about how religion is just the biggest nerdom of them all. I have been to many of these worlds through books, movies, tv-shows, and comic books. I’ve brought back many important lessons for life, and I think they are the relics and stories of our times. The divine is revealed to me in these things as well as Scripture, so all of my faith stuff is going to have a bit of a nerdy twist to it. It’s my movement toward the Divine in all things

I want my art to reflect these things both honesty and my own nerdy sense of faith.

My Honest Faith

I am a man that has been kicked by the small “c” church a bunch. Sometimes it was my fault, others it wasn’t. I’m not going to go into specifics because honestly, I think that would do more harm than good. But I have just about given up on the small “c” church because I know what the large “C” church should look like and have encountered it only a select few times. Recently, I haven’t been on the best terms with the small “c” church. I had given up on practicing for a while, but now I’m taking a journey back into faith with a newfound sense of purpose. I’m going to be encountering the small “c” church in a new way than I have before and I will write about that as well. I figure if I’m going to make true art, it would probably best be told from my true to life struggles finding my new place in the small “c” church. I want to share my journey with you, and I hope you will tell me about your own honest faith journeys as well!

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