Laugh at the Illusions and Stay in Love

When I was leaving a juvenile detention facility after responding to a crisis call, I walked back to my car, got inside my vehicle, and started it to crank the air conditioning up as I wrote down some notes for my report. As I was writing my notes, something happened that made me panic for a few seconds. I thought my vehicle began moving quickly in reverse. I hit my brake as hard as l could, and simultaneously checked to see if my car was in park, which it was, and as I was about to pull my emergency brake, I noticed something that made the few seconds of panic immediately turn to peace and laughter. My car wasn’t moving at all, the car next to me was. The car next to me drove forward, causing the illusion that my car was moving backwards.

Sometimes we are right where God wants us to be, doing exactly what God wants us to be doing, when the words or actions of others (intentionally or unintentionally) cause an illusion that we are off track and there is something wrong with us.

If you know you are where God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to be doing, do not fall into the illusion of fear from what others say or do. Remember, fear always lies in lies and lies always lie in fear. Love is the truth. Stay with God in Love and on purpose in your vision and mission no matter what is happening around you.

Love,

Anthony

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One Important Question 

I spend a lot of time teaching youth peaceful ways to resolve conflicts. Violence isn’t just hitting, stabbing, or shooting someone. Peace isn’t just refraining from hitting, stabbing or shooting someone. Violence and peace are mindsets. Peace and violence are choices. In making the choice of violence, there are many ways to carry it out. In making the choice of peace, there are many ways to carry it out. Once any decision is made, the path becomes clear. Once a commitment is made, the path is walked, and becomes something you know, not just know about.

There are far too many youth who know the path of violence at an early age. And there are too few adults who teach the path of peace by example in thought, speech and action. Peace is not passive, or cowardice. Peace is active and courageous.

There is an old samurai proverb that says, “A warrior can choose to be a pacifist, everyone else is condemned to it.” After being proven in battle in the ring, dojo, and on the streets many times over, I chose peace and then committed myself to its grace. And when I made that commitment, there were few men who supported me in that. But the men who did support me in my commitment to peace were men who’ve experienced the extremes of violence and war, so they understood, better than most, the importance of peace. After enough experience you learn that all violence is senseless.

When I was struggling to commit myself to a path of peace by taking my first steps upon it, the Creator posed a question to me deep within my heart, “Do you think I created you to be a healing force or a destructive force?”

It’s easy to say something negative and mean. It’s easy to throw a punch. It’s easy to use a weapon. In a world that glorifies violence and even rewards it, it takes strength, courage, and trust in the Creator to bless those who curses you, and walk away from those who want to fight you.

My uncle taught me a long time ago that the war is always behind the other person’s eyes – the war is within them, their own mind – their own choice. And so it is with peace. Peace is always behind the other person’s eyes – the peace is within them, their own mind – their own choice. Peace can be behind our own eyes, and in our own mind at any moment we choose.

What’s the reward? Often times I’ve found the reward for choosing peace is simply peace itself. And I have found few, if any rewards greater than peace.

The question the Creator posed to me years ago is a question I’ve asked many youth over the years. Although for most people the answer is obvious, the commitment to being a healing force needs to be obvious now more than ever before. Do you think you’ve been created to be a healing force or a destructive force?

Prophets, Like Leaders, are Often Without Honor in Their Hometown

Matthew 13:57: “And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own household is a prophet without honor.”

Whenever I am invited to a community to facilitate presentations and workshops, I always remind the community I am visiting to look around and see their leaders again. Often I will share, ‘I would love to be invited back, but I assure you that there are some, if not many, right here among us that you know well and see every day, that can facilitate this type of presentation or workshop. But you overlook them because you know them. You know their strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and failures, yet they are doing the work every day and night, just like I do. They have the same amount of experience as I do. They can translate decades of experience to a fantastic training, just like me, but they’re from here, they live here, and you’ve known them your entire life, and that’s exactly how you stopped knowing them. You’ve become blinded by the snapshots you hold in your mind about their downfalls, mistakes, and idiosyncrasies and have forgotten how much they’ve overcome, all the valuable wisdom they posses, and the importance of the work they do. It’s time to see them again. Contrary to popular belief, an “expert” does not have to live one-hundred miles or more away, because chances are, there are some, if not many leaders, that are sitting right next to you. See them again. Honor them again. And don’t forget to include yourself in that seeing and honoring.’

Honestly, I don’t even like using the word leadership, because for me, it’s so overused, and somehow, at least for many, it’s become linked to status, money, titles, and get rich quick schemes, which of course have nothing to do with leadership. True leaders are servants, nothing more, nothing less. Not when it’s convenient, or during “normal business hours,” but wherever and whenever service is needed. And I promise you, because I am blessed to serve in 24/7 youth crisis counseling and youth residential services, I work with true leaders every day and night, who stop at nothing to ensure youth and young adults are safe, fed, clothed, working through their pain, taking steps away from the trauma and walking back towards their God-given destinies. Unless you work with me, you probably don’t  know the names of the leaders I am blessed to serve with. Their titles range from residential adviser, prevention specialist, counselor, social worker, director, janitor, groundskeeper, outreach worker, violence interventionist, gang specialist, etc. But none of them care about their titles because they know that their titles are not nearly as important as their testimonies. And in that truly called and anointed position of being a servant, they know the youth and young adults that we are blessed to serve are our leaders, and they treat them that way.

Those I am blessed to serve with are true leaders, and may not be honored as such by some, but I honor them, and the youth we serve certainly know who it is that’s ready and wiling to help in the middle of the night when there is a crisis. You see, when someone is truly in crisis they’re not in need of an “expert,” they’re in need of a willing servant. And you won’t see the leaders I speak of at all the black tie events and fundraisers, not because those things aren’t important, but because they’re facilitating a suicide intervention, sitting in a psychiatric hospital getting a child admitted, sitting in an emergency room waiting for the rape exam to be completed, under a bridge giving youth sleeping bags and food, at the shelter facilitating healing, or they’re sleeping off another shift that lasted nineteen to twenty-four hours, because they don’t go home when it’s time, they go home when the mission at hand is completed.

These leaders may not be honored in terms of recognition by politicians and such, oh but they’re recognized by those they’re called to serve. They’re not interested if someone of so-called prominence recognizes them or what they do. They’re focused on ensuring that the traumatized, marginalized and rejected are being recognized as the sacred blessings, miracles and gifts they are. They’re focused on teaching those who many said are unteachable, and reaching those who many said are unreachable. And guess what? They reach them and teach them, because they understand that as long as adults are willing to learn from the youth, the youth are willing to learn from adults, and that understanding only manifests from a servant’s heart.

Leadership, being a servant isn’t a high standard to achieve. It often begins at a very low place of misfortune, mistakes, loss, pain and tragedy, then in that same low place, on our knees in communion with the Creator of our understanding, a servant is sent to kneel with us, encourage us, and together we rise. And from that experience, another servant, a true leader walks among us, simply giving all that was given to them, understanding both the depths of trauma and the truth of miracles. And this experience brings forth the wellspring of the only necessary qualification of a leader – love.

True leaders are servants, nothing more, nothing less. And like prophets, true leaders, servants, may not always be recognized or honored in their hometown because the labels of “former gang member,” “former addict,” and all of the other past tense stigmas mask the reality of who these leaders are today by those who claim to know them, but really only knew a moment in time of them. There is not one human being in existence, that if we were to live with them or work with them day in and day out, that we wouldn’t soon realize that all the frailties we want to crucify some for, are the same frailties we willingly overlook in others. We choose who we honor as leaders, and we choose who we overlook, including ourselves.

Honor is not something we as human beings receive, honor is something we live. Honor is something that cannot be bestowed or taken by anyone or anything outside of ourselves. So instead of asking you to honor those servants among you, I will simply encourage you to follow their example. And by doing so, everyone is honored and leadership is reframed back to what it truly is – service.

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Independence is a Lie

Independence is a lie
In an ever-connected
Uni-Verse and Universes
There’s no such thing
As a self-made man 
or self-made woman
Love has no opposite
other than illusions
Just as a seed
Never stops needing
The Earth
We never stop needing
The Creator, Earth, Love,
our hearts and each other

We are completely dependent
Upon the Creator, Earth,
Love, our hearts,
and each other
Independence is a lie
Separation is a hell
Where we cast ourselves
In the illusion of division
Forgetting that
Just
As
A
Seed
Never
Stops
Needing
The
Earth
We
Never
Stop
Needing
The
Creator,
Earth,
Love,
Our
Hearts
And
Each
Other

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Bandwagons Again 

Bandwagons passing by again

Playing a tune again

Wanting us to jump on again

To be taken away again

Listening beyond the beats again 

To the lyrics again

The same song of fear again

Captivating the masses again

Songs of division & separation again 

I pull back the curtain again

And see the conductor of fear again 

Encouraging us to join in again 

‘No thanks,’ I say again

I’ll wait again 

For the bandwagon of truth again,

and again, and again,

with Love as the conductor again

To join Love’s bandwagon again

That carries us back to our hearts again

The place where we remember again

That we are each other again 

The Divine Dinner Table

Barely being able to see
Over the table
I peeked my head up
And saw I was at a dinner table

There, before me,
are all my favorite foods
drenched in love –
seasoned with compassion,
joy and acceptance
The juice in my cup
Is of the finest nectar
Made from the most
beautiful and nutritious fruits –
sprinkled with lights
from the stars of Heaven
Mixed together by Angels
Who sing as they prepare
Our meal

One of the other children
At the Divine Dinner Table
Began to say a prayer
When a loving, confident,
gentle voice interrupted,
“Everything is already blessed
because you are here.”

I peeked my head up again
To see who said those words
And saw that it’s God
Sitting with all of us – the world
at the Divine Dinner Table

God is as close or as far away
as you want Him to be
Every person, animal,
plant, stone – all of creation
from the past, present, and future
Has a seat
at the Divine Dinner Table

We are all just little children
laughing while eating
delicious food, and knowing
We’re loved, safe,
protected and important
Oh, the Angels sing
When we come together like this!

The only cranky children
Are those who refuse
To take their rightful place
At the Divine Dinner Table
They each have their own reasons
For not sitting in their blessed chair,
but none of their reasons
ever makes them happy

The Divine Dinner Table

It’s Truly Never Personal

A man, who happened to be Native American was sitting at a meeting. During the meeting a man across from him began saying horrific things about Native Americans as he peered directly at the Native American man. The Native American man just smiled and sipped his coffee.

A woman sitting next to the Native American man leaned over and whispered, “Aren’t you Native American?”

“We are older than that term and the other terms that have been imposed upon us, but generally speaking, yes.”

“Doesn’t it bother you what that man is saying about Native Americans?”

The Native American man leaned towards the woman and chuckled, “Ma’am, that man hasn’t said one word about Native Americans. However, that man is speaking volumes about himself.”