Tuesday’s meditation from the CAC (Center for Action & Contemplation) struck a chord with me. [Click the link & then the “subscribe” link to get these free daily meditations.] Fr. Richard Rohr’s writings are so often just what I need to hear, just what I need to be reminded of, and just what I need to help keep me focused on what matters most & how to just be in the world. So here’s the part that hit me Tuesday:
“How do we find what is supposedly already there? How do we awaken our deepest & most profound selves? By praying & meditating? By more silence, solitude, & sacraments? Yes to all, but the most important way is to ‘live & fully accept our reality.’ This solution sounds so simple & innocuous that most of us fabricate all kinds of religious trappings to avoid taking up our own inglorious, mundane, & ever-present cross.”
To “live & fully accept our reality” is something I think most of us either try to avoid or simply don’t understand. As a middle-aged (grrr! I really just wrote that!) art teacher at a Catholic school in the USA, what is my reality? What is yours? If the “American dream” is to live a “better” life style than our parents did then it will always be just that; a dream! Where’s the reality? This American Dream that everyone talks about whenever they feel the urge to act like a “real ‘Merican” is (for the vast majority of us) unattainable at best, & unsustainable at worst. Here’s the reality: For most of us our lives are mundane, inglorious, & full of crosses to bear. Reality sucks! Or does it?
To “live & fully accept our reality”…. What does that look like? How does that feel, & will that awaken something profound in me? What will I find there?
These last few weeks have been full of these kinds of questions, and I’ve been finding some answers, AND some more questions! My reality: I am a teacher at a mundane school in a mediocre town in an average state in a country riddled with problems. I deal with the “first world” problems & dramas of children, teachers, & parents everyday. Personally I have my own “first world” problems, too, but I try not to burden my friends with them! So! My reality is pretty mundane. So is everyone else’s. Again, reality sucks! Or does it?
Last week I had a conversation with a little boy who, just like the rest of us, is trying to fit in & feel special. I used to jokingly say to kids “You’re only special to your mother!” True enough; we can’t all be so special to warrant more than 15 minutes of fame in any given year, but that’s what we want. We all want to feel special, like we matter, like what we do is important and meaningful, yet most of us feel unimportant & like nothing matters anymore. I suspect our technological advancements in the last 50-100 years have added to this sense of worthlessness. We are bombarded 24/7 with media that keeps us searching outside of ourselves for stuff to make us feel special. The information we have is no longer limited to the few hundred or few thousand individuals in our corner of the world. We are inundated with billions of stories, dramas, tragedies, & triumphs from all over the globe! It’s staggering!!! But, we can’t all be celebrities, and we can’t all have carefree lifestyles, we can’t all be heroes or saints. Or can we?
I am inspired by articulate people, because I don’t think that I am. I am inspired by people who turn their visions into realities, because I don’t think that I can. I am moved by visionaries, mystics, & poets who write such eloquent thoughts, because I don’t think I have such thoughts. I am touched by the courage of people who struggle to make change for good, because I think I am too small to be useful. I sit in awe of the accomplishments of others, because I think that I have done nothing remarkable.
In all honest humility, I have concluded that I am wrong, and in doing so, I have made a conscious decision to live more fully in my mundane reality! This is very freeing! In these last few weeks I have become a part of a new group of activists (TCFF, Treasure Coast Fair Food...there are some amazing people with a wealth of experience & energy in this group!) working in support of the CIW (Coalition of Immokolee Workers). I found the courage to propose a plan for a school garden, and it’s been accepted! I have raised two beautiful children who also lead rather mundane lives (so proud!)! And today I made a classroom full of children feel loved and valued, and tomorrow I intend to do the same!
By accepting and fully embracing my very average, mundane reality I can live in it more fully, freely, & joyfully. I can actively participate in the good it has to offer, & I can actively work to change what is unjust. It is within this very real, very ordinary and mundane corner of the world where I have found I am most at peace.