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A Tragedy and a Message for Our Times

What Moved Me to Tears and Awakening

My daughter who lives in NYC called me last Tuesday and said she had been “pretty upset about something that happened”.  She is a musician who has had as one of her longstanding jobs a “regular gig” at a church nearby that does extensive social activism.

She told me a brief, straightforward story about why she was upset and struggling; and when she finished I was in tears.  I cried for a half hour, and off and on over the next several days – and there was more than tears washing over me:  I understood how miraculously every day, light, higher meaning and core realization about who we are and what we are finds its way into every corner of our lives as a shared offering for clarity, healing and development.

The Story

A middle-aged man who seemed to be viewed as a misfit in many ways – having mental illness, cognitive impairment, and frequent relapses with chemical addiction – found his way a while ago to this church that hosts addictions recovery meetings, a weekly soup kitchen, and related community and spiritual activism programs.  He had  attended this welcoming and inclusive church’s services for a while, through which time he lost his apartment, was in and out of shelters, and then become once more homeless.

He was viewed as being difficult to be around, exhibiting socially inappropriate behavior at times.  He came to church that Sunday and told everyone it was his birthday;  and one of the pastors led the congregation in singing “Happy Birthday” to him. 

My daughter said she saw him after church “hanging around” as she was rehearsing an upcoming performance, and asked him what he planned on doing for his birthday – “just taking it easy?”  She thought he left a little while after . . . and later heard  from the pastor, who lives with her family upstairs that, hearing some noise from the sanctuary that evening, she went down and discovered him sleeping in one of the pews.

The pastor quietly went back upstairs and emailed other pastors she knew for help to try to get him reconnected into emergency housing, and started a networking prayer circle for him.  The next morning she went downstairs to the sanctuary to talk with him.

He had died during the night – my daughter had heard  possibly of a heart attack – laying in the church pew, on his birthday.  The next day the pastor was able to find two of his immediate family members; and was coordinating with them and the church congregation an upcoming memorial service and burial for him.

The Gift – and the Burden

This man, perhaps, died better than he lived, miraculously in a spiritual center of caring and compassion – and also perhaps because of the society we live in – needlessly.  My daughter said the discussion following at the church was centered around how “we didn’t do enough . . . didn’t care enough . . . for him”. 

I told her I couldn’t imagine how many men and women in this country, with its Constitution and Bill of Rights, are like this man.  They simply die on the streets every day – and every time that happens, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we lose some of our own spirit.

The Truth About Recovery, Responsibility, Caring

In my practice I do a lot of work with codependency involving control and enabling.  I work with clients about how to better understand what that really is – and isn’t – in order to recover self-responsibility and freedom.  Opportunity then emerges to better make one’s way in the world, more highly create, and more easily and extensively offer one’s wonderful creations as greater expressions of love and beauty. 

We can only recover through self-healing, which then leads to enlightened knowing about how to really care and be compassionate without condition.  That in turn supports the greater good – said to be our spiritual mission – that we continue to seek to actualize throughout our lifetimes.

Are we our “brother’s keeper”?  Yesas much as we are meant to become aware that we are also our own – and with no obligation or dysfunctional agenda.

What Is Our World – Our Challenge?

We remain such a barbaric society in great denial, filled with excuses, blame, resentment and entitlement that takes us as far away from our own great spirits as it endlessly perpetuates great abuse.  No wonder we cannot make peace within and without!

The political challenges of our times are the spiritual challenges of our times; and we cannot afford to continue to deny, excuse, justify and blame who we decide to objectify, neglect and violate.  As it was said, “what we do to the least of them . . . ” we do to ourselves – and we all continue to lose.

A Call to National Healing and Recovery

I see our real challenge today is to find the courage to admit, acknowledge, commit and care to transcend our own limited and faulty history and belief systems; and realize there is no Other.  We have the power to create a world of spiritual actualization, and accept ongoing responsibility to become our own better selves.

Love is a given – and every moment of our lives offers us infinite opportunity to more greatly love without exception as the only way to heal and develop.  We cannot settle for less – all of our survival and happiness depends on it.

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