Looking Back Upon Forevers

Looking back

upon forever 

He really thought

It would be forever

every time


Looking forward

upon forever

He still thinks

It will be forever

every time


Being here, right now

He’s enjoying

the part of forever

he’s in

In this time

this moment

this breath 


We’re all time travelers

caught in the forevers 

when it hurt the most

and felt the best

Carrying our forevers

Together 

They Made Me This Way

Sharing like it was a dream
When I share it, I awaken
memories that others live with,
haunting them of what was done to me

Many excuses to justify what they knew
Many substances to numb what they didn’t
Many expiration dates way past due
It was a void, a dream, a past

The pillow I used as a child
is full 
of used up tears,
angry screams asking “Why?!”
And angry prayers asking “When?!”

Each memory I still feel
Each memory I still forget
Each memory unlocks more clues
Each memory is the same

I was more present than all of them
I was new
I was trusting
I was only a child

Walking in the morning as an adult,
wandering into the horizon
with no thoughts –
no destination

I was looking for me
For that little boy from many years ago
I wanted to let him know
that we’re going to be okay

If they didn’t make us this way
we may not have saw
there is another 
way – a different path
Extremes make visibility clearer

The pain wants to create clones
More generations of pain makers
More cycles of dream takers
That crossroad came and we walked

The path towards the abyss was tempting
It was where everyone else was facing
It was normal
It was home

We walked away from the zombies,
the substances, the destruction,
and walked back to our heart

Little boy from years ago,
know that we will be different
We will live with honor
We will live with truth

What made them that way?
Little boy, now a man,
together we still don’t understand

A way they made us,
not by walking it,
by not walking it,
by not talking about it,
the way was revealed

They are our precious teachers
for they show us how not to be
and taught us everything we’re not
They made us this way

A way, a path, a direction to take
leading us closer to our hearts –
how the Creator intended us to be

All those labeled as heroes or villains
when asked how they got there
have the same answer
in the form of a question –
How else would you have turned out if you were me?

You

There is a voice we don’t need to find but long to remember. It’s a voice we know better than any other. We can fight it, but it never fights us because it loves us. We can attempt to drown it out with numbing agents, but it can never die. We can try to forget it, yet it always remembers for us, because it’s never against us. It cannot leave us alone because it’s as incapable of separation as water is of being dry. The voice is you – the real you. You can lay your mask down now because you’re welcome here.

The truth doesn’t hurt, the lies do! The lies from the voices of strangers that say you are anything less than a sacred blessing, miracle and gift are untrue. Sometimes when listened to and believed, the voices of strangers can make a stranger of our own voice. Listen only to the voices that echo your greatness. Stop making a stranger of yourself, us, and God. As you remember your voice, you rejoin the Great One, your true self, and all life in the great uni-verse – the ancient song of truth, that in the holy instant of our creation, we agreed to sing together.

Your voice gently knocks from the inside, within each heartbeat, longing for your return to remember, remind, and shine forth Love’s truth:

You are alive because you are Life.
You are beautiful because you are Beauty.
You are healed because you are Healing.
You are talented because you are Talent.
You are hopeful because you are Hope.
You are forgiven because you are Forgiveness.
You are faithful because you are Faith.
You are innocent because you are Innocence.
You are gifted because you are a Gift.
You are blessed because you are a Blessing.
You are true because you are Truth.
You are miraculous because you are a Miracle.
You are sacredness because you are Sacred.
You are holiness because you are Holy.
You are loved because you are Love.

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Image Credit: Kevin Phillips 

Don’t Fight the Wind

My dad would say, “Don’t fight the wind, son,” whenever he saw war brewing in my eyes

Wars fought long ago
that woke me up
crying, punching, kicking,
screaming,
reaching for a horizon
Walking in a daze
to somewhere
that was nowhere
A place I couldn’t reach
because I was trying,
desperately trying to find
the twelve year old me
to let him know
we’re going to make it
beyond that moment
and something miraculous
will manifest from it all

Time won’t tell us
anything more
than we tell time
to disclose
Yet, when that moment
arrives, it arises and raises
a sun that beams
upon all survivors
melting the tears
to rainbows that arch
from our heads
back to our hearts
Under which we find
the solace of the miracle
that the wounded child
within us has longed for

It is there, here, now
in a holy instant
we no longer
fight the wind,
but allow it to carry
the unnecessary away
and breathe us
back to life
with
Its
songs
of
healing

 

Reclaiming Who and What We Are: The Power of Symbols

A few hours ago in my full time work as a street outreach crisis counselor I had the opportunity to facilitate a gang intervention with a young person. There were many positive seeds planted in this young person’s life before what occurred this evening, and for that I am grateful. There was also a lot of weeding out negative seeds that were planted in this young person’s life before what happened this evening, and for that I am even more grateful.

Life, for each of us, is about tending to our personal garden. Weeding out that which hinders and chokes the life, dreams, truth and beauty of who and what we truly are. Tilling the soil. Planting wholesome, loving seeds. Allowing the sunshine of laughter and bliss, as well as the cleansing water from tears of both sadness and joy to work in their beautiful unison to grow the love that’s been planted. It’s work. A beautiful work. A labor of love. When we’re children we lovingly tend to our garden and help others do the same. For some, over time, we begin to pull away from tending to our garden because of the voices of lies that come through some people. Lies told through people like, “You’re not good enough.” “You’re not pretty enough.” “You’re not handsome enough.” “You’re not smart enough.” The list of lies pointing out all that we’re not goes on and on, and it’s sad that it does. Remember: fear always lies within lies, and lies always lie within fear. Only the fearful tell themselves and others what they’re not. Only the courageous tell themselves and others what they are. And the truth of who and what you are is beyond words, however the best words I know to remind you of who and what you are, are the same four words that every youth and young adult I’ve had the honor to serve in my twenty-six year career are: sacred, blessing, miracle, gift. Yes, you’re a sacred blessing, miracle, and gift. We all are.

There is no script for interventions, whether the intervention is for sex trafficking, drugs, alcohol, gangs, violence, homelessness, or suicide. An intervention is truly walking the razor’s edge, simply because interventions are life or death situations for the person you are serving, as well as for you, the interventionist. In situations where you have minutes, sometimes seconds, to get a person to put down a loaded gun, drop a knife or box cutter, not jump into traffic, or make an exodus from a lifestyle that is certain to end in early death or incarceration, but is the only lifestyle the person thinks can meet their basic needs, a life they’ve become used to, and sadly, is often something that isn’t any less dangerous or painful as what the person experienced behind the walls within the house they lived in as a child. 

There are only two things that are a must for me whenever I facilitate an intervention. The first thing is that I need to make sure I am not the one who is facilitating the intervention. I get out of the way and pray, “God, You know what this person needs, not me, so please, You do this through me. Use me, Lord.” The second thing is that the first words the person hears from me is, “You are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift.” And these are not mere words, it is as close as words can get to describe who and what that person truly is. And in a world where we are bombarded with all the things we are not, when someone hears a sincere reminder of who and what they are, it penetrates deeply, beyond the mental, it’s a connection that is felt and not just cognitive, that interrupts someone’s pattern of crisis and opens the door of dialogue, pacing, leading, and de-escalation. Like being funny or knowing how to fight, an intervention cannot be faked. The words you are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, have to be from such a deep, heartfelt, Spirit-led place of sincerity that they penetrate the lies and instantly remind the person of their truth and worth of greatness and beauty. For me, if someone cannot see you as a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, they cannot see you. Again today, by the grace and guidance of God, I witnessed this transformation happen with a young person who was on the fence about leaving gang life. I was called in, so I called God in, and it happened.

When that young person heard the words you’re a sacred blessing, miracle and gift. You’re not a gangster, you’re a Godster. You’re a child of God, she shook and tears welled up in her eyes. She instantly remembered when and why she stopped believing that about herself, and because she was being seen as the sacred blessing, miracle and gift she is, she was willing to see, hear and believe that about herself again and reclaimed her truth. She made the internal transformation and wanted the internal change to be matched with an external change, so she gave me all her items that were gang affiliated. One of the items she gave me was a rosary she wore only because its color matched that of the gang she was previously affiliated with. In exchange I gave her a tree of life necklace, so that she now has a symbol to wear that represents healing, positive growth, beauty, and positive transformation. She’s also going to get a new rosary, not to wear, but to use to pray and remind her of what she is whenever she’s bombarded the lies of what she’s not.

Symbols bypass the conscious mind and go straight to the subconscious mind, creating a strong current of direction within a person’s life. Are the symbols you’ve allowed in your life, be they words, items or thoughts, reflecting the truth that you’re a sacred blessing, miracle and gift? If not, then it may be time to weed your garden of any lies and anything that represents lies, and take that seventeen inch walk from your head back to your heart.

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Your Road to Damascus

Acts 9:3-9 New International Version (NIV)

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

 So there Saul was living his life, mercilessly persecuting those who believed differently than he did. Along the road to Damascus he was struck blind and heard God say, “Why do you persecute me?” He didn’t ignore this, or try to write with some type of scientific explanation. He understood the importance of that moment, and began an intimate relationship with the Creator. In this intimate transformation, he became Paul, and a disciple of Jesus Christ. His sight was brought back to him but with a renewed vision, this time living from his heart and following the intimate and personal voice we all hear from deep within our hearts. 

What was your road to Damascus? If you haven’t had a road to Damascus experience thus far, it can be challenging to appreciate those who’ve had this type of experience.  

The lives of every person we encounter are never as simple as presented. In a facade-filled society where protecting perceived prestige and titles is a norm, it becomes challenging to appreciate those who are willing to reveal their past mistakes and challenges.

Those who are willing to share their testimonies are sometimes labeled in negative ways. The very urge to label someone who has the courage to share their testimony with others demonstrates how sharing our personal testimony stirs a remembrance within others about the roads to Damascus some hold secret. Thoughts or statements in response to someone sharing their struggles such as “I would never”, “I can’t believe she did that”, or “Why would he share that?” come from many who claim various forms of religiosity as bedrock for their lives. It’s interesting how those who claim Christianity as their religion will quote various individuals, who, before their moment of transformation had bad reputations from less than honorable lifestyles. If it isn’t obvious, the irony is simple: people will quote scripture from those they themselves would have labeled as “undesirables” and “criminals” but who are now considered spiritual leaders, yet will reject people who have come from the depths of prostitution, gang life, drug dealing, alcoholism, and incarceration among us right here, right now as living, breathing miracles, and in-your-face testimonies of the true healing power of our Creator regardless of religion, but exclusively dependent upon Spiritual Relationship. 

It’s in the complete and honest dialogues of our challenges and shortcomings that true teaching-learning experiences blossom. I am not advocating indiscriminate & complete personal disclosure; we have to be careful with that. I am advocating that our personal road to Damascus experience can be the greatest foundation of compassion we have with ourselves and each other. To a greater or lesser extent we all have our own personal road to Damascus. A moment we saw beyond our physical sight and beyond ourselves with great perception in order to glimpse the impact our thoughts, words, and actions are having upon our family, community and world. Never underestimate the power of your personal road to Damascus, and never demean someone else’s personal road to Damascus.  

For anyone reading this that views others in our communities who are currently or were previously afflicted with alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, gang affiliation, drug dealing or any other forms of negative lifestyles as “less than” perhaps this writing is a personal road to Damascus of sorts for you. A moment for you to reflect upon any self-righteous indignation you may carry towards or about those you would consider “less than,” “beneath you,” “unreachable,” or “beyond help.” Carrying this type of view about anyone is a poison that blinds us to the reality that the Creator has placed within all of us. A reality we must see in one another so that we can remind one another of the greatness placed gently within everyone by the hands of The Great One.  As disturbing as it may be to your ego, your labels, judgments, and opinions cannot hold the translation of anyone’s life, including your own. The Creator alone holds the final translation about everyone and everything.

Perhaps if you take a moment to go beyond your physical sight and look deep within your heart you’ll see nobody sets out to become a prostitute, addict, and place more value on money than human lives. Perhaps within your heart you’ll hear a still, small voice saying, “They are my children and deeply wounded. You might have wound up exactly like them if you went through exactly what they did. If you’re so perfect then shouldn’t you have more than just labels and judgments to place upon the altars of my hurting children’s minds and hearts? Don’t you see them as a part of Me? Don’t you see them as part of you? Why do you persecute yourself? Why do you persecute Me?”

Hurt, pain, loss, tragedy, condemnation, and persecution in various forms is what moves our youth into negative lifestyles; offering the exact opposite is what’s required of us to bring them back.

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