I originally read this quote on my friend Stan’s porch. It was written by a homeless person on a wall in Albuquerque, NM, and the author and Franciscan friar, Richard Rohr, thought it profound and prophetic, and wrote it down to share in one of his daily meditations. Stan keeps it on his porch in a frame as a reminder and a means of meditation on what truly matters and what it is that we do with our lives. In that vein, I have a birthday coming up soon, and so as most people are wont to do, I find myself reflecting on my journey and another year down.
This past year has been one of great change. Career, family, death, life, politics, elections, empires rising and falling, and on and on. Life. It moves on whether we wish it to or not. As I thought about the past year, and the work we’ve been doing in our neighborhood and with our friends and neighbors on the street, I found myself coming back again and again to this quote above, and thinking seriously about the things that I guard and hold on to, and how many times those things really amount to nothing. Possessions, power, prestige, position, perception, politics, etc. So much of what we say, do and guard in this life amounts to shadows and dust, and is instead used to create the illusion of safety and comfort. It becomes all about us, and in our attempt to numb ourselves from the knowledge that life is fragile, we overlook those who remind us of that fact. The friends I have met this past year continue to teach me that everything can change in an instant, and we can find ourselves in places we never imagined. For those who have hit rock bottom, it becomes easier to see the fallacy of both the easy pleasures of this life and the emptiness of a cheap rhetoric about a loving God who will save you from hell if only you clean yourself up and follow the rules of the tribe. These things are meaningless if you’re already in hell, isolated from the tribe, and the very people preaching about this God and his heaven are the same ones putting locks on the doors to keep you out. If God is real and God is perfect love offered freely to all, then truly that God must be hated in a place that is all about image, acquisition, conformity, and self-preservation.