True, uninhibited life is found in seeing beauty in the seemingly random flares of grace. The more we gather empirical experience, poignantly contemplative at the ephemeral playfully at work, the higher the resolution at which we perceive the transformational spiritual reality we’re called into; it’s availability and presence and immediacy. There exists and permeates a reality, as Peter Rollins says, “found in the act of love.” Knowing there’s patterns and rhythms brooding with a sacred weight, means the opposite is also true. There’s an exchange of love that takes place in the ambiguity of chance and frills of casual daily living. There’s small moments fermenting with rich, experiential life if attuned to in the spontaneity and unexpected. I have two beautiful accounts.
I was substitute teaching on the southwest side of my Texas city, in school deeply within white-flight, upper-middle class area of the district. Incredibly quick backdrop, with self-actualizations and inner angst-filled turmoil for another post, needs to be made. I recently got back from a multi-month trip backpacking overseas in Southeast Asia. I love primitive, minimalism mixed with cultural immersion and be external intuitively-stimulating environments of application and dissonance that teach me about humanity and my soul. Long story short. So here I am in Texas, the community I’m humbled to serve and love and change (, bless their hearts).
His name is Naziel, at least that’s his last name which I mandated as his salutation upon its pronounceability. He’s the one non-white. He’s Pakistani and Muslim. And he’s such a collection of inviting, pristine awareness. Confident and sure. He’s chastized and pushed in the margins, both by faculty and students. Living seen through bifocal perspectives of paralleled opposites: my religion vs. your religion, arab vs. white, different vs. same. His untarnished, freewheeling spirit makes him such a beautiful demonstrative force at love. He walked in acceptance of situational circumstances, but not defeated. He chose self-disclosure and vulnerability in response to vocal dissent and timidity of uncertainty. I felt Ihidaya, the Single One, through him. His spirit marinated my heart into the clarities of his “knowing” me. THrough his opening and opening, I saw whole and new into the divine energies of Being manifested around me. I preempted this story with myself to illuminate the isolation and misunderstanding I sometimes feel….and its pettiness. Naziel showed me the third way, a response into a reality that transforms those around you. He expands and opens himself in a liberalness of spirit that doesn’t carry wounds of exclusion or mistreatment.
By the end of the week, his mom who had never met me, made me a traditional Pakistani meal. The nuances and subtleties of flavor, prepared with love, almost made me weep as I ate in the gym, alone, in a white wall washed school in West Texas. You can guarantee I accompanied every morsel with sighs of ecstasy. I worshiped with a fork as my medium.
Secondly, I took a position for a day working with elementary-age kids that have cerebral palsy or permanent brain damage from shaken baby syndrome. I was struggling with lack of fulfillment, wondering whether any impact or change was being made without linear continuity in the day to day as a substitute, or oppositely concerned if I was grasping to acquire meaning through immortality projects. Anyway, walking across the threshold of a room laden with beautiful souls, I felt invited to be faithful with the world. Mother Teresa says “There’s no great acts, only small acts of great love.” Teary-eyed and humbled by grace, I was entrusted to be everything in changing diapers, moving positions, cyclically, from seated to standing to lying. The evening was spent in a sensitivity hangover as I felt my heart had been massaged by their laughter and outbursts and spit-ups and smiles all day. I took a second day there.
I love the dependency. I love how interim and nothing I am. I love kids needing help at lunch with milks and go-gurts, taking no stock or identity in self-reliance. I love the kenotic, fallow self-disclosure that has to take place before I can become anyone, in all my humanity and partiality.