Why Do You Do It?

After more than a few injuries and too many 15-20 hour work days to count facilitating interventions in my full time job as street outreach crisis counselor, someone asked me why I put all of myself into the full time work we do with the youth and young adults we serve. Well …

Because it’s not work or a job, it’s a calling. Truly a calling from God. There were many situations that called me to this work, most of them were extremely challenging situations that God used to cultivate deeper love, respect, honor and compassion. One of many experiences was when I was homeless and walking through a neighborhood during the Christmas holidays in Michigan. 

I was wandering around with no particular destination other than wanting to get to a 24 hour store or restaurant where I could warm up and take a nap. It was snowing and as I was walking through a neighborhood I looked across the street and saw a house with a huge window, and through that window I saw a family eating dinner. They were passing food around the table, eating, laughing and talking. I remember sitting down by a tree in the snow just staring across the street, watching the family enjoying life and each other’s company. I don’t know how long I was there, but I remember what I was thinking. I was thinking, how the fuck did I wind up in this situation? I’m not stupid. I have talents and abilities. I know my life is supposed to be more than this. I feel so lonely. So lonely. 

That feeling of loneliness was so intense that for a little while I forgot about the cold. Loneliness can make us numb. When our needs are frozen, literally frozen, we become numb to so many things. And when God sends someone into our lives to bring God’s warm light to thaw our needs, meet our needs, and show us a better way to think and live, it is a miracle so intense that all you want to do is be a vessel through which that miracle is delivered to others. 

If it’s partial or conditional, it’s not love. And if it’s not love, then I wouldn’t dare refer to it as a calling.

Did the Cat Commit Suicide?

A beautiful cat was wandering lost in the wilderness on a cold, winter night. Snow covered the ground and the freezing temperatures, slowly but surely, began to disrupt her breathing, heart rate, and instincts. When she first realized she was lost, she panicked and frantically ran in an unknown direction hoping she would find shelter. Out of breath from running, and discouraged from not finding shelter, her emotions began to grow as numb as her frostbitten paws. Her tears of desperation were frozen to her fur, and with each struggling step she took, hopelessness began to fill her. Then, off in the distance she saw a farmhouse. She mustered the last bit of courage and hope she had within her, and moved towards the farmhouse. Both the weight of her despair, as well as the weight of the ice-covered snow sticking to her paws with each step, made her feel as if the weight of the world was upon her. And it was. Her world, seemingly out of nowhere turned from the familiar place where she was born, grew up, loved and knew so well, to an unfamiliar, cold, dark place. With each shaky step, she limped and cried out for someone to help her. And who among us, if we are honest, hasn’t wandered into cold, dark and unfamiliar places, all while never leaving a place we once knew so well?

She wasn’t experiencing a moment of weakness. She had just been strong for as long as she could. And despite all odds she made it close to the farmhouse, where to her pleasant surprise, she saw that the farmer’s truck was just a few more steps from her. With her last bit of strength, she crawled under the truck and felt the warmth emanating from the motor. Warmth, oh, sweet warmth. The warmth gave her hope, and in this hope her heart began to beat strong again. As her blood began to flow strongly through her, she leaped up, crawled onto the warm motor, and as her frozen paws began to thaw, she knew she was safe. She curled up on the motor of that truck and fell into a deep sleep.

As he always did, in the morning the farmer awoke early. After he ate his breakfast and drank his coffee, he went outside, got inside his truck, put the key in the ignition, and started the vehicle. The cat was instantly killed.

We all have needs. Sure, the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing are needs. But ask yourself, has your belly ever been full, and yet your heart completely empty? Have you, or someone you know had all the things that brought comfort on the outside, and yet, inside you felt so alone that even in the middle of crowds the loneliness was so intense that it sent shivers up your spine? We have more than the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. We need to be seen, heard, believed, accepted, loved and safe. We as humanity need one another. We are here to meet the needs of each other. It is a blessing and responsibility to thaw out the frozen needs of each other so that we don’t seek temporary warmth by curling up inside a bottle of alcohol, a bottle of pills, with a needle in our arms, or in a lifestyle that is not only destructive, but essentially suicide on an installment plan.

There are many people who are wandering lost in a cold, dark time that just one smile, one word of encouragement, one loving conversation, one afternoon spent with someone who cares – someone like you, would shine a light of warmth and love so bright that their frozen needs would instantly thaw, and you would see it, because all that has been frozen within them would melt, pour out through their eyes, rid them of their pain, and they with you, will take that seventeen inch walk from their head back to their heart. And what greater honor and purpose is there than to be there for one another to call ourselves out of the cold and darkness and back to ourselves and God?

Did the cat commit suicide? You decide.

winter night

Transforming Poisons to Healing Medicines

There was three different groups of travelers walking along the same path at different times. Each of the groups of travelers carried offerings with them.

The first group of travelers came upon a tree that they recognized as poisonous. Because they recognized that the tree contained some poisonous elements, they motioned for everyone to go far around the tree, which they did. The first group of travelers offered avoidance

Days later, the second group of travelers encountered the tree, and they too, recognized that the tree contained some poisons elements. This group saw the tracks of the first group that went far around the tree. The second group of travelers decided to tie a blue cloth to the tree to warn future travelers that the tree is poisonous. The second group of travelers offered labels.

A little over a week passed when the third group of travelers came into the vicinity of the tree. From a distance, the third group of travelers saw the tracks that went far around the tree, as well as the blue cloth warning them that the tree is poisonous. The third group recognized that the tree contained poisonous elements, but after much prayer and contemplation, the third group of travelers decided to make camp around the tree. The tree became the center of their camp, and they shared an entire season with the tree. They learned that the poisons the tree contains can be transformed to healing medicines when cultivated with the care, patience, and the courage only love can provide. The medicine this tree produces cures sicknesses that there was once no cure for. With honor they approached the tree, and with equal honor they parted ways with the tree. Before they left, the group sang a thank you song and tied a red cloth under the blue cloth, marking the tree as whole and Holy – a significant reminder of the truth that Heaven and Earth are forever connected by the sacredness within all living beings. The third group of travelers offered relationship

And so it is with our youth and young adults: We can avoid them. We can label them. Or we can spend a season with them and cultivate relationships in love, compassion, truth and honor that will transform any poisons that have been imposed upon them back to the healing medicines they’ve been endowed with by the Creator God.

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Resisting Healing is Resisting Our Truth

Our children don’t have to grow up and become something or somebody. They’re much more than some “thing” or some “body,” they’re sacred blessings, miracles and gifts. We all are. 

The resistance I receive from some when I facilitate gang intervention training, or any other youth development training, is from those who want to hold on to the idea that there is such a thing as a “bad” kid, but there is no such thing. I’ve met hurting, deeply wounded and traumatized children, but never a “bad” one. 

Others who give resistance in my training and workshops are those who want to hold on to the view that labeling and institutionalizing our youth is a solution, but it’s not. The school to prison pipeline is child trafficking. 

Those who give me the most resistance in the training and workshops I facilitate, are those who think that transformation isn’t possible. People who truly don’t want a paradigm shift, because that would mean they’d have to make internal changes, mindset adjustments, and begin working within the causes of the challenges our youth are facing – pain, loss, trauma. And since many are unwilling to go to this space within themselves, they’re surely not willing to go there with others. 

The youth are the solution, not the problem. The challenges our society faces is not the fault of our young people in society. The challenges that the youth face in our society is a reflection of our society within the youth. 

Healing, true transformation is possible. I’ve witnessed too many miracles to be a skeptic. But it comes with and in love, compassionate correction and guidance, not punishment, prescriptions and labels. 

I was once asked, “Don’t you get tired of working with gang members and hard-to-serve populations?”

Through my laughter, I responded, “If that’s how I saw them I probably would.”

~ Walk In Beauty,

Anthony Goulet 

Gather Your Thoughts

Take a moment
to gather your thoughts
And to do that
you have to let go
of the thoughts
fear has given you

Thoughts of hate,
suspicion, jealousy,
greed, violence,
and separation
are not your thoughts,
beloved

Lay down thoughts
that are not yours
and take a moment
to gather
your thoughts
in one holy breath,
one holy prayer,
one holy instant,
this holy instant
you can gather
your thoughts,
or rather,
allow God
to bring
His thoughts
which are your thoughts,
back to you

I promise you,
beloved,
this holy instant
of trust in Whom
you come from,
will result in
you being gently
ushered back to
the love you are
The Great Love
that created you
exactly like itself

Gather your thoughts
They’ll lead you
back to the One
Who created you
in one holy, miraculous
thought of love,
and tell you
of the sacred blessing,
miracle and gift
you are

Gather your thoughts

Gather Your Thoughts

Now That You’ve Graduated, Take a Short Walk

There is no self-made man or self-made woman. Remember what has brought you to this moment. Remember your ancestors. Your ancestors lived, struggled, fought, thrived and celebrated for one reason – you. You, my friend, are the result of countless generations of hope, love, faith, and charity. Consider this monumental moment of graduation your season of springtime brought forth to you by those who came before you. However, springtime isn’t what brings forth fortitude. No, it’s the harsh winters that reveal us to ourselves. The moments when it’s cold, resources aren’t easy to find, and when we’re lonely are the moments when we dig deep and realize we’re stronger than we ever knew. Before you arrived at this season of springtime there was the season of winter with all its storms. The winter storms of those who didn’t believe in you. The chilling winds of those who abandoned you; the long winter nights where the only thing that gave you warmth was your blanket of hope, and sometimes that hope felt frail, but you allowed yourself to hold on for one more day. That one more day turned into a series of days, all leading to this moment. So in this moment of your springtime I am not asking you to look at all of the books you’ve read, the theories you learned, the information you memorized, your GPA, or even your diploma. I am asking you to look at and consider something else. Perhaps it’s something you’ve become more acquainted with during your journey to graduation, or perhaps it’s something you’ve grown further away from. Either way, it’s fully accessible to you because it is you. It’s where the voices and fortitude of your ancestors reside. It’s where your calling sings to you. It’s a place where there is no such thing as I, only we. It is a place that reminds you that any attempts to live for yourself is not living at all. It contains all the reasons you were born, and all that will benefit the next seven generations who come after you. This most sacred place is your heart.

The type of diploma you now hold in your hand, or hanging on your wall is of no great significance to the world unless it is accompanied and guided by a heart filled with love and compassion. In this transitory, wonderful, and mysterious life you are now in a position to do what you always wanted to do, what you were sent to do – to change the world for the better. All the dreams you held about changing the world for the better when you were a child were not silly, childish thoughts. When you were a child is the time you heard and understood the ingenuous language of the heart most clearly. Regardless of your profession and the career path you follow, you can change the world for the better. Before you continue with your plans of career paths and professional positions, I am asking you to consider the position of your heart. If you are positioned resolutely within your heart you will find fulfillment. If you are positioned away from your heart you will find voids that only moving back to your heart can fill. Moving back to and living from your heart is the most courageous way to live. If you’re willing to live with and from your heart, of course you will experience hurt, pain, and loss, but those will be moments, not a lifetime. There is nothing more tortuous to the human soul than going down a path that has no heart, because it’s counterintuitive to our spirit. This direction is a lifetime of suffering, always leading to a final moment of regret that no one has to experience, but unfortunately, many do.

At this point in your blessed life I urge you to make one simple decision that will ensure you do not miss the reason you were born. This simple decision is taking a very short walk. It’s a walk that I have witnessed people on their deathbeds wish they could turn back time to when they were in your position, and take the first step on this sacred path that ensures all paths taken after it are meaningful, not meaningless. It is a walk that is only seventeen inches long. It is a walk I suggest you take now, and every day throughout your life to ensure you truly live, and share life with all those fortunate enough to be in your presence. On this very short walk you will find love in the purest sense in your personal and professional life. In this pure love you will find your calling. You will always recognize your true calling by one key trait: That which fills you when you give it away. To know love and your true calling within love, take the short walk from your head back to your heart.

Diploma Image