Life is a journey. It can be a plodding journey undertaken in inattention. It can be a scattered journey as our attention is constantly pulled from one thing to another. It can be a tunnel journey focused on a single goal to the exclusion of all else. Or it can be a journey of continual discovery, of unmeasured surprise, of miraculous blessing.
It is our choice.
Yes, some of us are born into more material luxury, more obvious opportunity, better health. We are born with varying degrees of intelligence, with different skin colors, with different physical abilities. I don’t want to make light of any of those or dismiss them as unimportant. In India, one’s caste still exerts power to determine many of one’s choices – but Gandhi chose to break the lines of caste and liberated an entire country from the Raj. In many cultures, women are denied schooling or independence – but Juliana Dogbadzi escaped Trokosi slavery and has devoted her life to insuring the practice is banned in Ghana. Rana Husseini has put her life on the line to expose the horror of “honor killings” in Jordan and throughout the Muslim world. In the Americas, indigenous peoples are displaced from their lands, but Rigoberta Menchu (barely literate when she began her work) won the Nobel Peace Prize for her fierce defense of Mayans – over 200,000 of whom were killed by the Guatemalan government in the 1980s; and Maria Teresa Tula has fought tirelessly through the grief of her husband’s assassination and the pain of her own imprisonment and torture, to hold to account the death squads who “disappeared” campesinos whose land was desired by the wealthy in El Salvador.
What makes this group of people unique is not the circumstances of their birth or their schooling or their skin color. What makes them unique is that they pay attention to the real circumstances in which they live. They choose to define their own journeys rather than having those journeys defined by outside circumstances or the powers-that-be. They see and speak truth. And they spend their lives on behalf of their profound visions of hope, of blessing, of grace, of justice.
This week I invite you to join me in considering:
How do I want to spend my life? For what purpose do I want to spend it?
What enables me to be intentional, hopeful, and generous about living?
Where have I chosen to live inattentively because paying attention is uncomfortable?
Where do I find the strength to face into discomfort? pain? grief? despair? fear? shame?
Who are my mentors or allies in paying attention, in noticing, in naming blessing, in sharing hope, in witnessing (in silence or in words), in overcoming fear, in moving past pain?
I try to remind myself that choices don’t often happen “all at once.” Choices are made in small ways each day, and practiced again and again as I continue to pay attention. My strength and courage are built one event at a time, over time. This is living with discipline from the Latin word which means “learning, instruction.” It is a process of learning to be all the way present in the life I have been given so that each moment is more aware than the previous moment.
If my own prayer speaks for you, share it with me this week:
Call me on the journey out into blessing;
fold me in, into Living Blessing;
shape me to be blessing for those who are struggling to hope.
Call me on the journey out into faithing;
fold me in, into Living Faith;
shape me to be faith for those who doubt anyone cares.
Call me on the journey out into questing;
fold me in, into Living Questions;
shape me to ask the questions that will change the stories
of prejudice, hatred, violence, despair, and oppression.
Call me out and call me in. . .
to meet and reveal imminent-transcendent Divinity.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photo © 2012, Immram Chara, LLC
The Justice Candle photo is available as a special order card or print from my Etsy shop.