The Journey Through Life and the Value of Video Games

In the past, I have lamented about my having “wasted” my youth; I suspect we all have lamented that lament;  I don’t anymore.  I am at a place in my life journey now, where I can look back over the terrain that I have navigated, and I can see the benefit…if not the purpose…of the trip.  Walk closely with me here…

In wrestling with my history (difficult relationships, failures, sloth and stagnation, abuses of others and indiscretions, seemingly ‘dead’ ends,…), I have looped back and tied up and seen connections that were not clear then.  I can see how frustrations then, initiated these revelations…now.

For example, the memory of intense longing that I felt (in my 20s and 30s) at the doorway of a bookstore, informs me now of the importance of intuition…but also of proper timing.  (“Yes, but not now.”)  The perceived import and relevance of the knowledge, insights, and wisdom to be imparted by those books, only makes sense to me now; only now am I ready to read those books; only now do I have the hooks to hang the insights from.  All, in good time.

In fact, I take comfort in that memory; I see the longing then to have been evidence of my being drawn along…all along. We are not puppets of God in this Universe, we have free will, but neither are we left totally alone to figure it all out.  We get help.

Oh, and those deviations and lungings off the path, they were not ‘wasted’ time but times of information gathering, insight development, and even anecdote material…for future use. Had I not been through dark nights and prodigal journeys, I would have no knowledge of such things…I would not know that terrain…no way to relate to those who have such nights and take such journeys and who need my steadying evidence of survival.  (“I got through it and learned from it and you will, too.”)

Throughout my dark nights and times of desiring to end my life, I had a sense that “this doesn’t make sense; I know this is not where I should be…where I belong.  I want to go home.”  Suicide seemed to be the only way to get home.  But then I received messages…so many messages…that the only way to get there from here is THROUGH.

Looking back, I see that it was in the THROUGH that I picked up all the ‘tools’ I would need to be of use to others on the other side of it…tools like strength and stamina, faith and trust in what I could not see, anecdotes and stories of others who have shared their stories of their own journeys…stories heard and shared in mental hospitals, even language and jargon…and those books.

I have been wrong to criticize and condemn people…particularly young people…for playing video games hours and hours at a time…particularly the ones where the character gains experience points and gathers tools along the way.  I sat through hours of knitting while my boyfriend and his friends played Dungeons and Dragons.  I thought it was stupid.  I have been concerned about the days my son has spent playing digital versions of the same sort of thing.  But I have been wrong.

Teaching kids that we benefit from experience…especially ‘failure’…and to look out for tools, messages from bystander, signs,… that might be useful later on, is valuable in helping them get through this life…and not just ‘get’ through this life, but ‘gain’ from this life.  Our lives are about more than just our lives.  (By the way, don’t tell my son, but I have been reading Fallout Equestria.  Does that make me a ‘mom-ony?’)

Finally, a friend and I have been sharing how we have often said, concerning our hard dark times, “I would not wish it on my worst enemy.”  Life is damned hard and the ‘richest’ of lives is not for the faint of heart.  I suspect that those who experience the worst sorts of journeys, are meant to do so.  I, myself, believe that I asked for it…that I requested it; I did so intentionally because without my hard times I would be of little use to others, now.

It’s all good

“45% of GOP voters believe God helped Trump get elected”

God helps me write. God helps me progress on my spiritual path. God helped Joseph’s brothers get him to Egypt.

I write from where I am spiritually to other people where they are spiritually. I have a ways to go; we all do.

President Trump’s actions and statements are jolting people from despondency and complacency. That’s good.

President Trump’s actions and statements are prompting people on spiritual paths to ramp up their practices. That’s good.

President Trump’s actions and statements are encouraging people to pray. That’s good.

President Trump’s actions and statements are causing people to think things through, to consider the consequences of their actions and comments, to consider who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them.’

“What you meant for harm, God means for good.”

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

That’s from Genesis.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Open your ears.

 

 

Celestial Navigation

On my former blog, The View from 5022, I wrote about making necessary adjustments to one’s life and efforts by using the analogy of sailing.  The post is titled “Coming About.”  A few nights ago, I performed the equivalent of pumping out the bilge, trimming the sails, and charting a new course.

To continue with that analogy, since the end of last year, I have experienced stalls, squalls, and I’ve run aground a few times.  But more recently, there have been breaks in the clouds and a freshening breeze.  When I crawled into bed Monday night, I knew there was much to be thankful for but, because of all of it, I felt a bit battered.  I grabbed a pen and the closest thing to write on, a prayer and praise journal (which was fitting), and made an assessment of the gains and the losses.

I had been struggling for months with a particular Canadian-born bank which had mismanaged my account and reversed a payment to the IRS, costing me hundreds of dollars in penalties, fees, and increases in interest.  The government consumer protection agency and the senator’s office helping me with the issue informed me Monday that the issue is being dropped.  To stay upset would only hurt me.  I tossed the issue over-board.

Inspired by the marches on Saturday, I enthusiastically volunteered my services to the senator’s office and was told someone might be in touch…at some point…maybe.  Issue tossed.

Since just after Christmas, I have written (actual letters on actual note cards in actual cursive handwriting) to 9 friends and family members.  None of them have responded.  Looking for addresses of others to write to, I came across an old phone list.  On it was the name of a former doctor who, earlier last year, had been enduring cancer treatments and surgery, a long time friend who, earlier last year, had been reeling from the emotional blow of retirement, and a former coworker, from 2001 time-frame, who was likely concerned about the future of her career with a governmental climate science agency.  I made the calls and was met with instant re-connection, filling my emotional sails with billowed hopes.

These issues and more were lined up down both sides of the pages like small fishing skiffs bobbing in the waves…but there was something else still disturbing me…

Last Summer, when preoccupied with my sister’s arrival from Alaska, I stopped attending the small Episcopal church on the other side of town.  Driving by there late last month, I saw on their marquee a notice about an oyster roast.  On Saturday, I noticed the date had been changed to this weekend.  I called.  I volunteered to help.  However, I was informed that the priest I had known there had died, suddenly, in December.  (I wrote about several of his homilies last year.  See “To the Extent that One is Forgiven, One is Capable of Loving” and “What I Didn’t Know.”)  He was one of the few people who has believed my inner experience of God.  (Father B: “You help me because you are able to hear what it is I am trying to say.”)  Recalling that he was now gone from earth, my enthusiasm was suddenly becalmed; I felt more alone on earth than I had before.

My faith and beliefs have come under attack, recently, by bloggers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum.  On the one hand, there are the bloggers who hold that all people should believe xyz, strictly and immediately.  (I respond that each person should be allowed and encouraged to be where they are on their spiritual path to God; at least they are on the path and God is not done with them yet.)  On the other, there are those who hold a larger view but accuse me of insisting that mine is the only way.  (I am out of words with that one; My way is MY WAY and I offer it as an example…nothing more.)

At the same time, ironically, I have discovered that there is a spiritual path…a Christian path…with followers who hold the same beliefs I do.  Although I have come to my beliefs, faith, and inner life the hard way, having found them, I sought to join them.  It seems, however, that although they acknowledge my interest, I have been excluded apparently because I lack the expected background and education.  So, I will continue on my own, navigating by the heavens and sailing ‘solo.’

The course I am left with is a simpler one, lacking an itinerary with specified destinations. It is more a way of sailing:  trusting in the guiding stars (Jesus and the communion of saints) and the breeze on my face.   Watching the tell tail, testing the wind, keeping an eye on the horizon (and the channel markers),…this is the stuff of life.

 

(I borrowed the image above from the web)

God in the Ordinary

A few days ago, I posted my thoughts on God’s interest in everyday, technically non-religious, and seemingly non-spiritual events like football games.

In this morning’s meditation from Richard Rohr, he does a better job of saying the same thing:

God’s revelations are through the concrete and specific.

We have created an artificial divide or dualism between the spiritual and the so-called non-spiritual.

Biblical revelation is saying that we are already spiritual beings; we just don’t know it yet

 

Here’s to our learning just that!

Richard Rohr’s daily meditations are found through his Center for Action and Contemplation website.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

For the past several days, I have ramped up my reading of scripture and books about God, Christianity, and spirituality. I have also been very open and vocal in expressing my beliefs and faith. I was feeling very clear and strong, spiritually. I was functioning in the present moment and doing good work.

Then, late yesterday, I was conned: I purchased what turned out to be a very inferior product that I really couldn’t afford. The salesmen, who came door to door, misled me and misrepresented the product. When I discovered the poor quality later, I felt crushed because not only had I been careless, the young men and I had shared our religious beliefs: we had talked about our beliefs in God and the importance of strengthening that belief…long before it is too late. (one young man’s mother had just died.)  Sergio and I even discussed his desire to write, particularly when he receives divine wisdom from God.

What was worse, though, was that purchasing something impulsively when I cannot afford it, is an old pattern for me. So, not only was I crushed, I was disappointed in myself.

It got worse. Later last night, I fell into another old habit; I found myself in an imagined conversation with the people who had destroyed my financial and material security 15 months ago. (I was wrongfully fired and lost my home, income, credit, reputation, friends,…)

And it got worse still…most of last night was spent in a twilight sleep where a dozen or more memories of being mistreated, marched across my consciousness.

This morning, I feel a bit beat up and stunned.

What do you think is going on here?