The Seventeen Inch Walk is a workshop I’ve been blessed to facilitate for many years now. Below is a small portion from The Seventeen Inch Walk workshop that was placed upon my heart to share with you here. May it bless you and whomever you are led to share it with.
~ Walk in Beauty,
Have you ever purchased a lottery ticket and then dreamt about what you’d do if you were the one who held the winning lottery ticket? Most of us have. We think how much easier our lives would be with the instant millions of dollars. We think about how many people we could help, especially those who’ve made sacrifices for us. It’s fun to think about being in a position to be of more service. It’s fun to think about how much more fun, joy and passion we could have in our lives that instantly having millions of dollars could bring us. And the fun of that fantasy all stops at the time they draw the winning numbers, then poof! The dreaming is gone. Imagination is disengaged and the focus is back on the needs of the day – daily survival.
The big, instant dream of a huge avalanche of abundance pouring from a winning lottery ticket into our lives and out into the lives of others generates so many conversations about fun, future, giving and living. And people can’t help but join in the imaginings when asked the question, what would you do with the money if you have the winning lottery ticket? When asked that question, so many people are momentarily filled with passion and can tell you in great detail what they’d do, the changes they’d make, and how their lives would be better, if only by some remote chance they were holding the winning lottery ticket.
Years ago, I had a friend who purchased a Powerball lottery ticket and during the drawing their ticket matched all five numbers of the first numbers, but not the Powerball number. He held that ticket in his hand and asked some of his friends and family in the room, “Did I win? Is this a winning ticket?” His family and friends assured him that he did not win anything. His family and friends convinced him with complete sincerity that his one-hundred thousand dollar winning lottery ticket was worthless. His friends and family may have been sincere, but they were sincerely wrong. Nonetheless, he accepted their answers and threw his winning ticket in the garbage. A few days later after doing his own research, he discovered that he had won one-hundred thousand dollars. It was garbage day in his neighborhood, so he hurried home in the middle of the day from work to pull all of his garbage cans from the curb and go through each bag to find his winning lottery ticket. When he arrived home, he saw that the garbage had already been picked up, so he went to the garbage dump and knew his one-hundred thousand dollar ticket was somewhere in the middle of tons of garbage. He searched for hours in hopes of finding his winning lottery ticket. He never found his winning lottery ticket, and was severely depressed for several weeks, but after he came out on the other side of his depression, he was mostly upset with himself, because in the moment he won, he didn’t listen to his own, deep level instinct letting him know he won; he listened to everyone in the room that told him his ticket was worthless, and he allowed their voices to drown out the voice inside of him that was screaming, They’re wrong! You are holding a winning lottery ticket!
Let me tell you a secret: You are holding a winning lottery ticket. A lottery ticket that is worth more than all of the money the world can make. You may think that your winning lottery ticket is expired, but it has no expiration date. You may think that it is lost, but it’s incapable of being lost. You may think that it’s been thrown away and destroyed, but it’s incapable of being destroyed. It may be buried underneath disappointments, pain, loss, tragedy, and the voices of some who say that it’s worthless, but it can never be lost or destroyed. Your winning lottery ticket isn’t something you can purchase, nor do you have to just imagine all the passion, joy and benefits that it can offer you, others and our world, you simply need to exchange it for all the benefits it holds. And the only way to exchange it and extract all the greatness within it, is by sharing it. Your winning lottery ticket, what you have to exchange for all the fulfillment and riches beyond money and material things that you can possibly imagine is you. The real you. The you that’s created in and with a deep, devoted and passionate vision, mission and purpose. And you’ve been endowed by the Creator with every gift you need to manifest your vision, mission and purpose. Your gifts are not a gamble, they’re a sure thing when you share them.
To exchange your gifts for all the benefits they can offer you, others and our world, the first person you have to share them with is yourself, not dozens of people. If your vision is to write a book, begin writing the book. If your mission is to be a better parent, begin making one simple change that improves the relationship between you and your children. If your purpose is to obtain a degree or diploma, take the first step by registering for your classes. If you want to start a fire that will be a place of comfort, light and hope for yourself, others and our world, begin by gathering the matches and kindling, then lighting the fire in privacy – just you and the Creator of your understanding. After the foundation of the fire is strong enough, slowly and surely, piece by piece, build upon the spark of the vision, mission, dreams and purpose you’ve been given. Allow your vision, mission, purpose and gifts to burn within you first, so that you don’t walk into a room full of people, light a match and allow someone to blow it out and say, “See? You don’t have anything to offer.” If you don’t share your gifts with yourself first, you’ll make the same mistake my friend did. You’ll be in a room, holding a winning ticket, which you are, and attempt to get encouragement and approval from others, but just like my friend, even when you are holding your winning ticket – your gifts – and all the evidence points to the possibilities of something remarkable happening, if you get caught up in external voices and don’t immediately take the next steps in accessing what you’ve been given to share, others will intentionally or unintentionally try to convince you that what you’ve been given to share has no value. Your gifts are not a gamble, they’re a sure thing when you share them.
Don’t confuse your abilities with your gifts, because they are different. I cannot physically perform the martial arts now at age forty-six like I could at age twenty-six, so my physical abilities have dwindled a bit, but my gifts to inspire, motivate, teach, problem solve, and allow God to facilitate healing through me are timeless and eternal, because my gifts, like yours, are forever within the great love that created us exactly like itself – the great love that births our gifts through us to others. Your gifts are not a gamble, they’re a sure thing when you share them.
Just like people give themselves a moment to dream about all they’d do with millions of dollars from a winning lottery ticket, give yourself a moment to dream again, in detail about all you could do with your gifts. Then take the first steps in the presence of only yourself and the Creator. As has been said countless times over decades, people are rewarded in public for what they’ve practiced for years in private. Your rewards, when you follow your vision, mission, dreams and purpose by utilizing all of your God-given gifts will be many. The most important reward you’ll experience is fulfillment. You will always recognize your highest callings by one key trait: That which fills you when you give it away. Yes, when you give it away – that’s why it’s a gift. If you’re living your life to get instead of give, then keep playing the lottery. If you want a peace and fulfillment beyond understanding that no amount of money could ever provide you with, then realize that you’ve already won the lottery – you are the winning ticket! Look in the mirror, remember that you are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, fully equipped to be a blessing, miracle and gift to others. Success isn’t about how many people love your work, success is about love being your work, whether what you’ve been gifted to give is for one person or one million people. And whether or not you exchange your gifts and live your vision, mission, dreams and purpose is entirely up to you, but I guarantee you that someone, somewhere needs what you have to give. Your gifts are not a gamble, they’re a sure thing when you share them.
Recently I’ve encountered many people who are and have been doing incredible healing work in their communities. And because of all that’s going on in the world, they’re now questioning if they’ve made or are making any positive difference at all. In my travels and conversations with family and friends, doubt and cynicism seem to be on the rise. This concerns me. God placed this letter on my heart to share love and encouragement with you.
In the past twenty-six years in my calling in youth development I have attended many funerals for young people. I have experienced many grieving parent’s tears shed upon my shoulders as they screamed in agony from losing their child. I’ve been in courtrooms many times as a young person I knew and worked with was given a life sentence. I’ve been in abandoned buildings where children have not had any solid foods for over a week. I’ve been in drug houses and assisted law enforcement in rescuing youth who were being bought and sold for sex. I could go on and on with examples about the evil that is encountered in my work, our society, and around the world, and I am sure you can too.
We can count our scars as the number of times we’ve been wounded and compare tragedies, or we can count our scars as the number of times we’ve been healed and share miracles. It’s not about what you walk into, it’s about what you walk in with. You, my dear friend, walk into the darkest moments of people’s lives delivering light. Can we change what’s already happened in our lives or the lives of others? No. Can we influence what happens next? Absolutely! And sometimes we forget that influencing what happens next is more powerful than what happened before. Inter-generational healing is more powerful than inter-generational trauma. And what an honor it is to be part of a cycle of healing. Thank you for choosing with the Creator of your understanding to be the healing force you’re created to be. I could go on and on with stories of overcoming all odds, fortitude, resilience, healing and miracles that is encountered in my work, our society, and around the world, and I am sure you can too.
A dear friend of mine, who has selflessly served his community for many decades recently described his decades of countless contributions as, “It’s like trying to punch a hole in water. It doesn’t do any good. It’s just a nice illusion.” I reminded him that feeling as if what we’re doing is not making a positive difference is the illusion, not the truth. We all feel like that from time to time, especially after experiencing tragedy. But what is it that we guide our young people to do when they’ve experienced pain, loss and tragedy? We guide them in honoring their feelings. We guide them in expressing their feelings in a manner that is not destructive. We guide them in channeling their pain, loss, and tragedy into healing medicines for themselves, their family, and our communities. We guide them in how to use every stone that life hits them with as a stepping stone to create a better path for themselves and others, instead of using those stones to build a wall around their hearts and give up. And isn’t that exactly what guided you to the path of service you’re on right now? Now isn’t the time to give up. Now is the time to remember why you started and why you’ve held on so long.
Any reason why we want to give up on our vision, mission, and purpose is also the same place where our vision, mission, and purpose can become even more clear, refueled and restored. The work you do is so important and I thank you for doing it. I honor you for doing it.
Don’t just get up, wake up to the truth that you are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift. Vision begins within. The true vision of love extends outward in healing. The distorted vision of fear projects outward in destruction.
Until someone can see you as a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, they cannot see you.
Until you can see yourself as a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, you cannot see you.
A rose never decides against itself. It allows all of its beauty to unfold, both receiving and giving all of the perfection that it is. You are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift. Any resistance to this truth is ego. The ego only wants separation. And what a separation it is to loath and condemn yourself, then project that violent separation outward to others.
Who came up with the false image of you that says you’re anything less than a sacred blessing, miracle and gift? As sure as you did not create yourself, you did not create this false image of yourself. This false image reduces the son and daughter of the Most High Creator to a guilty, condemned, disconnected, unworthy, unknown, and insignificant fragment. This false image is violence, both the cause and the symptoms. This violent fragmentation is the opposite of the whole and Holy truth that the ego does not want you to remember, because in this Holy memory the ego dissolves to the nothing it is. Do not bow to this false image of yourself anymore. No matter how temping it may be to say that this is humble, because there is nothing humble about deciding against yourself without the Creator. Humility is deciding for yourself with the Creator.
Arrogance is thinking of yourself as anything other than what you are. What you are is a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, yet even those words are mere sparks compared to the Light of Who you are from and all that is you.
Dear child of the Great One, how great is your memory that needs only one word to dissolve the thin veil you think separates you from your Maker and all of creation. In this instant you are called back to the Creator and yourself. In this instant your ancient Holy name is known again by you, calling you, speaking it clearly in your heart. In this instant you remember that it is not a journey of one thousand miles, but only one step that takes you from hell to heaven.
Lay down your mask. The masks you’ve worn are no longer necessary because you are welcome here.
Lay down your hopelessness. You are not hopeless. You are as certain as God Who created you.
Lay down your perfectionism. You are and have always been perfect.
Lay down your desire to become someone. You are already much more than some one, you are all within the One.
Lay down the desire to become something. You are already more than some thing, you are everything.
Lay down the weapons that ego has forged against you, and then projected towards others.
You are Love. Love is eternal and beyond destruction. The thin veil of false images telling you that you are anything less than a sacred blessing, miracle and gift are mere distortions of your Holy reflection. The false images of ego have painted over the mirror that obscures your Holy reflection, so when you look at the lies, you think it’s you, but it’s not. You’re beyond the lies that blur your vision. You’re beyond the past that the ego uses to justify self-imprisonment. You’re beyond the false images the ego has constructed that blur you from you, God, and all of creation. The Creator Who lovingly hung the earth on nothing manifested you from this same great love.
In this instant you remember that the slate is clear, and always has been.
In this instant you wipe the mirror clean of all the false images that cloud your true reflection.
In this instant you see your true self again and remember you are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift.
In this instant you reach out to the loving life-giving rain and sunshine that nourishes you and allows the beauty of you to unfold.
In this instant you decide for yourself with God and bloom within the sacredness you are.
In this instant you decide for yourself and allow the illusions of the ego to roll off of your flawless petals.
In this holy instant you decide for yourself, with God, and remember that you are Love.
The rose in full bloom
Nourished when open
Never deciding against itself
The rose is humble
There were 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, 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.