Sunday, November 30, 2008

11/30/08 Ride the Bull!

I’m not here—we are not here—to mess with your life. We are not here to take anything away from you or force anything on you. You are just fine as you are. And things are fine just as they are. And, you, and they, will be fine, it all will be fine.

And, we all, you included, know that isn’t true. We/things are not just fine as we are. Yet, we/they all are so too just fine as we/they are. Both those statements are true. We live on the boundary between being just fine as we are and not being just fine as we are. We start where we are, knowing that we are just fine and that the process is always about transitioning, growing, developing, perceiving, seeing, hearing, understanding more than we ever presently do. That the process is always about the journey, never the destination.

Here’s how it works. The path begins under our feet. We don’t have to go anywhere or learn anything or change ourselves in any way. Everything starts with our granting ourselves permission to be who and where and how and why and what we are. We can’t be anything until we can be who we are. And, we don’t stop there. We open ourselves to ourselves, to our circumstance, to our choices, options, and possibilities, and see what happens. But, no one is going to push you to do that, or anything. You are just fine as you are. We all are. And yet, life is not static, bound forever to be as it is.

The Biblical ideas of the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God, and the New Jerusalem pull us beyond where we are toward the life that is yet to be lived. The call is to life. Yet, life is not a steady state. Life is not Itta Bena, Mississippi in 1956. It is not the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in 1968. Life is not something we have, own, possess, accumulate, box-up, fence in, store away, keep safe. Life is wild and rambunctious, dynamic, unfolding, emerging, spilling over, pouring out, uncontrolled and uncontrollable, carrying us who knows where, asking us to do who knows what. We can’t define life, explain life, understand life. We can only live it as it comes. Hanging on and hoping for the best.

The rule for living life as it comes is: Ride the bull. The bull, of course, is our life. Or, any aspect of our life, that which is life for us, like photography, for example. It gets hard. It pays off in ways that cannot be weighed, counted, measured, put in the bank and used to pay the bills. We wonder why we are doing it. If it’s worth it. We think about quitting. The question is, Is It Life? If it isn’t life, leave it behind and live toward the life, go to the life. If it is life, ride it out, no matter what. Ride that bull! Hang on for the duration regardless of what it throws at you. Hang on through all the spins and twists and contortions. Don’t let it dump you, and don’t even think of bailing out. If you live to be 100 it will amount to less than the 8 seconds of a rodeo bull ride on the geological clock. It’s no time at all. Hang in. Hang on. Ride it out. For the glory of having done it if for nothing else. For the life of it.

We are in it for the life of it. And life is always out there ahead of us, urging us on. And, we are always hanging back, saying “Oh, but, we had it so good in 1956! We had so much fun in 1968! We are sure that’s how life should be!” We want to tame the bull and turn him out to pasture. And, our life is out there in the Great Beyond, shouting, “Come on! Come on! You haven’t seen anything yet!” But, we think we’ve seen plenty. We think we’ve seen enough. We want to sit down and let life pass us by. We want to let the ride go on with out us.

We want to return to the time when times were easy and things were fun. We had it so good when David was king! We want someone to restore the good times, to bring the memories back to life, to give us what we had. We look for a Messiah to take us where we want to go, back to the halcyon days of lore, back to fortune and glory and the good old days that were once ours, or our ancestors, and are no more.

“Are you the one, or shall we look for another? Are you the Messiah we want you to be? Are you the one to take us where we want to go? Are you the one to give us what we want to have? Are you the one to dance to our music and march to our drum? Or, shall we look for another?” The question is met with a question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Faith in whom, in what? Faith in the bull! Faith in the cause of life. Faith in LIFE!. Faith in the ride, in the road that is no road, in the path that is no path, in the pull—so slight it can be overlooked, ignored—of the Great Beyond. Faith in more than meets the eye, in more than words can say, in more than we will ever understand. Abraham leaves his father’s house and strikes out on a journey that has no end. The Promised Land is without political or geographical boundaries. We do not settle down with Life. We move on. Beyond the limits of civilization. Into the unexplored regions. Into the wilds. Where there be dragons, or worse. Riding the bull, with the wind in our hair, and no concern for the clock, because the ride is the thing, and has its own version of fortune and glory, delighting in the day and wondering what tomorrow will bring.

Where do we find our strength, our direction? What sustains us, guides us, moves us on? What gets us up, involved in doing what needs to be done? That’s where our faith is. We trust that we are not alone, that we are being led, pulled, pushed into life, into living, into being alive—into transitioning, growing, developing, perceiving, seeing, hearing, understanding—always the journey, never the destination. Always the ride, never the dismount. Always the trail, never the bunkhouse, never the pasture.

The killer—death—is sameness, rigidity, homeostasis—the unbending, unmoving, fear of change and the unknown. Which seems like I’m saying it is not okay to be who you are where you are when you are why you are what you are. But. I’m not saying that. I’m saying it’s just fine to be who, etc., you are.

Here comes one of the 10,000 spiritual laws: We can’t be different until we can be who we are. Or, to put it another way (which is why there are 10,000 of these things), Nothing changes until nothing has to change. Or, to put it another way (see what I mean?), In order to change our lives, we have to make our peace with our lives—we have to let things be how they are. And, of course, we could keep saying this in different ways until we got really tired of the game and went to lunch. Which is generally exactly what it takes for things to shift. When we get fed up with something, anything, something happens. When we get fed up with trying to change ourselves, or our situation in life, something changes about ourselves or our situation in life. Maybe not what we had in mind. Probably not what we had in mind. But something. Anyway. Back to the point.

The point is that we are just fine as we are, and we can’t be different until we recognize that there is really no need in anything changing. Boom! As John Madden would say, things change. But things change in their own time, in their own way. And, not as a result of our trying to make them change. So, if you want a baby, for example, to grow up do two things. No three. Stop trying to make the baby grow up. That’s the first thing. The second thing is to baby the baby. Make the baby more of a baby than the baby wants to be. Take care of its every need. Change its diapers before they need changing. Wipe it’s little nose when it isn’t runny. Hound the baby to death taking care of the baby. That’s the second thing. Here’s the third. Fail the baby in significant but non-harmful ways. Make the baby take care of you by not being capable of taking care of either you or the baby. Become dependent upon the baby.

Here’s the rule. If you want someone to become more reliable, you have to become less reliable. If you want someone to increase their functioning in relation to you, you have to decrease your functioning in relation to them. If you want them to grow up, you have to become infantile. And, when they begin to take over, you have to let them take over.

Now, this gets us back rather nicely to the fact that we are just fine as we are. And we can only change by realizing that we are just fine as we are, and getting off our backs about needing to change. We do not need to change. And we can’t change until we can allow ourselves to be exactly as we are.

The Prodigal returns and his father welcomes him home. The father indulges the Prodigal. We would say the father enables the Prodigal. The father indulged the Prodigal by sending him away with his inheritance to the Far Country. That didn’t wake him up, so the father continues to indulge the Prodigal by welcoming him home. Maybe he wakes up, and maybe he doesn’t. Do you think the father can force him to be more awake than he is? Do you think you can change someone by telling her, or him, to change? If so, my wife would like for me to come live with you a day or two.

Look. Here’s how it works: God Says Yes To Me by Kaylin Haught—you can find the poem at the following web site:

Yes, yes, yes, means that over time, eventually, we wake up. We learn what works and what doesn’t work. We get it. Or not. And if we don’t, we wouldn’t have gotten it with all the angels in heaven yelling in our ears. We wake up over time. That’s the hope. In the meantime, we are just fine as we are. Or, to put it another way, Yes, Yes, Yes! 

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