Today makes sixteen years since my father and mother packed up me and my then-little brother, wall of books, garage of memorabilia, oak furniture and all our other things into a Ryder van and transplanted us from Bull Head City, AZ to Medford, OR.  I have yet to leave the state.  Mazel Tov.
I don’t feel very at-peace with myself today.  I’ve been hit by an uncommonly potent fit of allergies, I’m sniveling, my head hurts, my face is raw, it’s hard to think about anything, and I didn’t get done everything to which I’d aspired.
Nevertheless, I am here, determined to spit out thoughts.  Why?  Because I love the craft of writing and want to nurture it, even through mind-fog.  And because I yearn for peace.  Even if it’s just peace for myself.  I committed to this journey and this blog and I don’t want to falter just because I feel ill.  Does life stop when illness starts?  Do compassion and peace go away when energy fades?
I’d hate to think that I would answer either of those questions with a yes.
So here I am, reviewing the week, wondering what I learned.  The week was full of work and writing, but honestly very ordinary.
I’m having to remember that growth in peace and compassion does not happen quickly, nor is it packed with tangible mile stones.  Sure, I can mark where I fight and make up with someone.  I can mark little moments where I stop and breathe and pray, but after a wile they tend to all look the same.  But that’s ok.
When counseling people in recovery, we often speak of the Stages of Change.  These stages outline the process of gradually becoming more aware of your “problem” and the need to change it and the means to change it and the action you take to change it until finally you are maintaining what you’ve changed.  Any recovered person will tell you that the Maintenance Stage of recovery takes every bit as much dedication as the initial action.
I venture to say that a journey of peace is much the same way.  You see a problem.  You see a solution.  You start doing life differently.  You start being different than before.  You grow, you change you peak you enlighten, epiphonize and then…realize that the inner revolution has become the new normal.  The difficulty and the novelty wear off together.
This is the nature of spiritual growth.
Now what?
I am but a young man of less than thirty, but I suspect that you continue on with what you’ve learned.  The journey stretches out like those two-lane hi-ways on endless Nebraska plains.  You haven’t seen a Starbucks in twelve hours and have another day to drive before the horizon breaks.  All you have is that you’re going the right way.
Potentially, you might doubt your direction, get distracted, turn around or just stop.  Or, to push the metaphor, you might speed, trying to move faster than is ordained, burn out and breakdown, or get a ticket.  Those are delays, and not very fortunate, but still not the end of the journey.
My inner conflict this week is that I’m bored.  I’ve learned a few things and want to move on.  I want epiphany and bliss and spiritual awakening.  I want to advocate a cause, start a movement, march on a capitol, accrue disciples, maybe shave my head to make a statement about….something…  But I can’t.  I’m not ready.  I’m relentlessly confined in one moment and one place and have not yet developed the tools I need for whatever is next in this journey of peace.
So I will be continuing with what I have.  Continuing to try to value life, more than I did before.  To speak words of kindness more than I did before.  To try to understand people’s perspectives more than I did before.  To pray more consistently than I did before.  To eat as well as I can.  To exercise as much as I can.  To write honestly with my own voice, not trying to be anyone else.  To ask for help from those who would give it.  To look for the good even in the people I want to criticize.
Maybe tonight I’ll go to bed early…that would be good.  🙂
May you be known for your compassion and may you live in peace with those around you.  May you know the presence of God and not be afraid…