Sunday Sermon: Bloom Where you Are.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Anais NinThere is so much visual imagery in these words. I can easily imagine a wildflower in a tight bud straining with all its might to keep from opening up. It’s afraid of change and the unknown and what will happen if it loosens its hold on the present. The pressure to let go was becoming unbearable—and painful. It doesn’t know how much longer it can hold on against the compulsion to bloom.
Finally, it had endured all it could—no more. It let go and slowly and inevitably the gorgeous colors unfold out into the waiting sun until it was in full, spectacular bloom. Shivering in the sun it adapted to its new existence. “Wait a minute, this isn’t so bad. In fact it feels pretty good!” Soon this giant, two legged, walking thing stopped to admire it. It bent down and sniffed at the bloom and smiled. Oh my, this felt more than good, this was wonderful! There was such a sense of worth and value, this is what it was born for, it’s very reason to exist. The rush of joy was indescribable. “Why did I fight this! I should have rushed headlong into it instead of dreading it!”
Day after indescribable day passed, each more wondrous than the one before. It worshiped the sun and in return the sun worshiped it. Flying insects came and browsed and it felt so pleased that it was playing such an important part of the ongoing universe. It felt so gloriously alive to be contributing to LIFE.
After what seemed forever, the magic of its life seemed to start to slow down. The wind no longer felt like a loving caress but started to feel harsh. Its delicate petals were becoming tattered and bent by the wind. Then one day some of its petals actually fell off and blew away in the wind. He knew his time was coming to an end, that his days were numbered. He thought back to those days fighting with all his might to not bloom. What a waste! It was his only regret. Every other minute, every moment since he bloomed was heaven, even the rainy, stormy days.
Finally the day came when he worshiped the sun one last time. One moment he was there, and the next he was not. But he is never really gone, just changed. He had learned his lesson from those horrible days when he fought the natural order of things. This time he embraced the change that was happening to him, knowing that the change was frightening, but what lay on the other-side was even more wonderful than what he had now. And so it was!
My friends, you and I are that bloom. If you read my blog it must be because at some level the American Dream has lost its luster for you and you long to make a change. Your current life is causing you enough dis-comfort that you want to change, but not so much that you can’t keep going a little while longer. Your day has not yet come! The pain is not so great as to force you to bloom. You simply can not let go of the old way.
That describes most of my adult life. I always hated the humdrum monotony of my jobs. They were meaningless and tedious, but they paid the bills and I was able to survive on them. So I went to work day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade. The older I got the more I hated my life. When I hit 40 and looked back I thought, “My life is half over and I haven’t lived a day of it. Yes I have had some adventures but the huge majority of it is mind-numbing, soul-sucking drudgery. And I have to keep doing this for another 20 years!” That thought filled me with despair and hopelessness. That led to some really stupid behavior on my part which then led me to the first of the dark days that finally led to my salvation: the day my wife said we were getting divorced and kicked me out of the house.
That was followed by many days not seeing my children and crying myself to sleep. Soon after came the day when my last credit card was maxed out and I realized I didn’t have enough money to live on and couldn’t keep paying for those credit cards. Soon after came the first of many nights of crying myself to sleep on the floor of a van.
There is much, much more to the story, but it’s sufficient to say that I can totally relate to the truth that there finally come one day when it was all too much. I couldn’t keep fighting; something had to give. When that day came, the pain was finally unbearable and I gave up and allowed my life to simply move forward without my controlling it. I screamed out with every fiber of my being. “Whatever horrible things you are going to do to me can’t possibly be worse than this, so do your worst to me!!”
Little did I know that by clinging so tightly to my little walls of self-protection that in fact I had locked myself away in a dark, horrible prison that had totally kept out the glorious transforming light of the sun. I had no idea that I could be changed into something entirely new and different; and dare I say it, changed into something beautiful? Today, the only way I can describe the experience is to say that I was changed at the cellular level.
What about you; are you fighting change in your life because of fear of the unknown? Do you cling to a present way of life that is painful and unpleasant because you think the unknown future might be worse?
If you still have the strength to fight against the natural order and flow of things; if you still need total control over your life out of terror of the unknown, then I am sorry for you. You are locked into an unpleasant and an increasingly painful way of life, but your strength of will is still too strong to surrender and let go to happiness.
Maybe you are one of the most unfortunate of humans, and your strength of will is so strong you will never let go of an unhappy or even painful present and allow yourself to be controlled by something else. And so you will go to your grave and you will have never bloomed. You will never have known the wonder of the sun beating down upon you or the joy of having someone else stop and be filled with joy by your beauty. Instead, you will have lived your whole life in a dark prison of your own making.
If you are offended by that last paragraph, forgive me. I’ve deliberately used strong language to try to shock some people out of their stupor. If it doesn’t apply to you don’t accept it! Simply see it as a message for someone else who actually needs it and send it along hoping that those who need it find help in it.
Am I a hypocrite?
Last Sundays post encouraged you to accept your life just as it is at that moment–and be grateful for it. And this Sunday I am telling you to not accept your life as it is right now, and to not settle for a mediocre life. They appear to be polar opposites! How can I justify that? Am I a hypocrite?
Stay tuned, gentle readers, to this same time and same place next week and I will give you my answer! Until then I want to leave you with these quotes:
“Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller
It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us.
Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive –
to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross