What experience of the presence of the divine can you speak to?
Where has grace moved in your life?
Every time I meet with youth in detention, I am interested in hearing their story. Monday, I heard the story of a young man who is extremely disappointed in himself. So we read the Tales of the Pointless People by Dan Ehrlander. Here we explored that the keeping score, comparing, ourselves to other, leads to spiritual death. Holding yourself responsible and bearing guilt beyond your capacity are two separate things.
“Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” ― Neil Gaiman
What story do you have to tell?
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”
* Oriah Mountain Dreamer is the author of several best-selling books: The Invitation (now translated into more than fifteen languages), The Dance, and The Call: Discovering Why You Are Here. Her book, What We Ache For: Creativity and the Unfolding of Your Soul, explores the challenges, rewards, and necessity of doing our creative work.