Grace always demands the answer of gratitude.
Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth.
Grace evokes gratitude like the voice of an echo.
Gratitude follows grace like thunder follows lightening.
I am half a century old (yikes) and in my five decades of being on this planet, few things truly are firm anymore in my life; doubt is often more prevalent than faith, foolishness more than wisdom, and uncertainty over certainty. But one thing that is becoming clearer and clearer to me is that I am coming to trust that the secret of life is written on (and in) our heart’s desires. These desires – the ones that are all-consuming, have a life of their own, connect you with the pain and joy of the world and with God – are sacred.
The time has come to return and re-ignite the inward journey that leads us to these divine desires. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we can pick up the trail right here and right now. God is timeless and therefore God is ever-present in every moment and in this moment we can dive deeply into our hearts and find God and those burning desires that are divine.
Our desires are the map that we have been given to find the only life worth living!
Don’t just ask yourself what the world needs. It is vital (life-giving) that we also ask ourselves what makes us come alive, and go do that! Because what the world needs now are people who have come alive and are awake. There are enough ‘sleeping giants’ and deer in the headlights kind of people. We need people burning with Life, fire, passion, and love – seeking to fulfill the desires planted in their hearts.
In some ways, I believe that God has in fact “rigged” the world so that life only “works” when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives when we live by faith.
All our attempts to find a safer life, to live by the expectations of others, just kill the soul in the end. That’s not how we find Life. And if there is any wisdom in these words, in the 47 years of living I have under my belt, I would say this: don’t ask yourself how or why you would follow your heart’s desire; for that question will cut your dreams off at the knees.
The “how” is never the right question to ask. And the “why” questions just leads to chasing an elusive dream, like a hamster on a spinning wheel going nowhere fast.
The most powerful question to ask is “WHAT”…
What would you dream for yourself? What does your heart truly long for? What do you feel God is calling you to be and do? What makes your Soul sing? I believe the deep desires of our hearts’ were placed there by God – to lead us deeper into him and deeper into ourselves and this beautiful world.
In my estimation, I see our “job” as the place of asking What we would do and as for the question of HOW, well that’s God’s job.
“Experience tells us that we can only love because we are born out of love, that we can only give because our life is a gift, and that we can only make others free because we are set free by [God] whose heart is greater than ours.
When we have found the anchor places for our lives in our own center, we can be free to let others enter into the space created for them and allow them to dance their own dance, sing their own song and speak their own language without fear.”
-Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer
Killian Noe is someone I used to work with at Samaritan Inns in Washington, DC and also we went to the same faith community (Jubilee Church) that was one of the members of the larger Church of the Saviour. Her sermons then always moved and challenged me, challenged me to live my faith, to let it be real, to let it be connected to the broken and the hurting. She always spoke of connecting our personal pain with the pain of others and the larger world, to find our common humanity and humanness in that space.
She now works with and started the Recovery Cafe, out in the other Washington, Seattle to be exact. Check out her writings below and check out Recovery Cafe
Enjoy Killian’s words, may they comfort and disturb you….
For much of my adult life depression has stalked me, occasionally catching up to me and robbing me of perspective. Depression is not only a thief, but a skilled liar. At its worst, it tells you that those you love and the causes you care about would be better off without you.
Last month our nation was saddened by the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. With suicide rates soaring in the US—45,000 in 2016—up nearly 30% since 1999, and more people dying of overdose than died of AIDS at the height of that epidemic, (over 60,000 in 2017, Center for Disease Control), it is past time to adequately fund prevention, treatment and longer-term healing communities for individuals suffering from addiction and other mental health challenges. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder (Dr. Richard Friedman, June 11, NY Times). Prevention, treatment and longer-term healing communities are three legs of the same stool. I’d like to focus on the need for communities of belonging needed to sustain recovery for all of us, especially those marginalized by homelessness.
We need communities where we are deeply known and loved.
Being a member of the Recovery Café community in Seattle includes participating in a weekly, loving, accountability group called a recovery circle. In a circle of 7 to 10 peers, members share honestly their struggles, joys, short-term goals and long-term dreams. Sharing deeply week after week results in being known and loved, breaking the isolation so many experience in our larger culture.
One newcomer to the community shared in her circle, “Every morning at 9:00 a.m. for the past fifteen years I have met my drug dealer.” Without skipping a beat, an older member responded, “Tomorrow morning you will meet me at 9:00 a.m.”
We need communities that make authentic connection possible.
We live in an age of isolation and loneliness–our attempts to form authentic connection through social media do not fill our deepest longing for connection. There is scientific research pointing to the role of loneliness in addiction and other mental health challenges and the power of authentic connection to change our brain chemistry.
Whether we are recovering from addiction to substances or another mental health challenge—like depression—or from a need for control, power, security, approval, compulsive working, compulsive eating, compulsive spending; authentic connection is an antidote. And, we need authentic connections that cross racial, socio-economic, religious, and other barriers because authentic connections are what change us and ultimately change our world.
We need communities in which everyone is a valued contributor.
Although many first arrive at Recovery Café traumatized and simply seeking survival, they quickly realize that this is a community that recognizes the gifts every single person brings. Everyone is expected to contribute to the running of the Café as well as to the healing of others who make up the Café community.
Whenever someone relapses or suffers a mental health crisis they are invited to tell the rest of us what they experienced so we can learn from them. It touches me deeply to witness even someone’s suffering being valued as a gift they can contribute.
Finally, to sustain long-term recovery from addiction and other mental health challenges we need these kinds of communities for the long haul; not just for the amount of time some insurance companies currently are willing to pay for treatment.
Like early AIDS activists, we must fight for funding for all three legs of the stool like our lives and the lives of hundreds of thousands of our family members depend on it. Because they do.
-Killian Noe, Recovery Café in Seattle, Washington