Have you ever had a moment when a bunch of life’s puzzle pieces suddenly come together? . . . when your thoughts converge in such a way that you have what can only be called an epiphany? Not just a realization or a bit of knowledge you didn’t have . . . something big . . . life changing. Something that sets you free . . .
That happened to me today . . . the truth is that this epiphany has been years in the making, but several things happened to day that brought the puzzle of life into sharp focus. I’m going to share with you what happened to me today. I don’t expect you to understand my extreme reaction. Some of you will absolutely understand . . . others will think something like “Duh!” . . . others might not get it at all. None of those reactions will bother or surprise me. The only reaction I’m not looking forward to is from those who will think they ‘get it’ when they really don’t, but there’s nothing I can do about anyone’s reaction to what I have to say. It doesn’t matter anyway.
A friend on Facebook posted a blog by Hugh Hollowell. Mr. Hollowel is the director of Love Wins Ministries where he loves the poor and homeless of his city. I shared his post on my Facebook page, commenting that I thought it was the best thing I’d read on the subject of poverty. His words echoed my heart about what the Christian response to the poor should be. I’m no expert on the subject, but I have read more on it than the average person. This blog post was the perfect summary of it all. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Hollowel’s post:
“We like to see our prosperity, our good family, our happy lives, our full stomachs as signs of God’s favor, as evidence of our doing “the right things”.
But if that is the case, then I have a few questions:
Why did I grow up in a house with parents who loved me, who passed on a work ethic and taught me how to dream, how to set goals, how to love? I had nothing to do with it – it just happened. I was in the right place at the right time.
Why did my friend Danny grow up in a house where his mamma’s boyfriend beat him with a fan belt, where his mom had to sell her body to survive after Daddy went to jail and where the only male role model in his life was the local pimp? He didn’t pick that life. He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
When it comes to the economically poor, you need to realize you are not better than these people – you are not smarter, you are not more in God’s favor, you are not more virtuous. You aren’t better, you are just better off.” Please, please, PLEASE read his entire blog post . . . there is much more there than just what I’ve shared, and it really is full of truth that we all need to hear, painful thogh it may be. You can find it here – http://www.hughlh.com/why-are-these-people-poor/
I went into the rest of my day with his words echoing in my heart and mind. I’ve been busy with several projects around the house, and I was frustrated that no one has been terribly enthusiastic about helping me. I decided to take a break from it all and go see a movie by myself. At seven o’clock I found myself in a darkened theater enjoying an Americano and a Reese’s peanut butter cup. I checked myself in on Facebook and settled down to watch the latest Woody Allen flic, “To Rome With Love”.
It’s been years since I’ve seen any of Woody Allen’s movies. Honestly, when I think of Woody Allen, I always see him as a sperm. “What if he’s masturbating? I could end up on the ceiling?” Okay, that was a bit crass, but you’re not really surprised, are you? After all, you’re reading MY blog, and I’m writing about Woody Allen . . . anyway, it’s a great movie, if you’re inclined to see it. My take-away was something I’ve been pondering and lamenting for a long time – nothing matters. Think about that for a minute. Nothing matters. Nothing that we think is important is really important at all. Nothing that we have created on this earth will endure.
I have to mentioned one last thing that figures prominently in this epiphany. Not long ago a tragic drama unfolded in front of me. A young life close to my family unexpectedly flew from this earth and into the arms of God. I don’t have to tell you all the swirling thoughts and emotions than come when something like this happens. It doesn’t make sense. There is no way to make it make sense. But it happened. And it happens all over this planet every day of every year since the dawn of time. Death is a fact of life that we will all face.
The convergence of my life experience to this point into a single day, Saturday, July 7, 2012, is this – the only thing that matters in this earthly life is how well we love. It doesn’t matter who we are, what we do, or how long we live. All that matters is how well we love the people around us.
Now I don’t want to leave you with the impression that that’s all there is. Yeah, okay . . . “nothing matters” . . . some ephiphany, right? All I can tell you is that when I left the theater, lights were brighter . . . music was better . . . I was amazingly energized. The thought that nothing mattered didn’t leave me in despair – it set me free. I put on my headphones and played one of my favorite songs, one of those songs that you take into your soul and make a part of you. And I loved it even more than I did before, because it didn’t matter. I was free to play it and love it and dance to it and enjoy it . . . I am free! I made a couple of stops on the way home, just wishing for someone to smile at, someone to talk to, to connect with . . . because nothing mattered – not what I looked like, what clothes I was wearing, what they looked like, whether or not they were nice to me . . . it didn’t matter if the guy in front of me on the road drove too slow, or if someone pulled out in front of me . . . it just didn’t matter! It doesn’t matter if someone agrees with me or disagrees with me, loves me or hates me, treats me well or treats me poorly. It doesn’t matter if they are like me or different from me, if they are male or female, gay or straight, black, white, yellow, brown, red, green or purple. Our differences really, really, REALLY, don’t matter. What matters is love.
I am free to make the most of the life that has been given to me. I am free to let others do the same, without judgement. I am free to love and accept myself, and offer that same love and acceptance to others. I can relax and love others freely, without pretense, without selfish motives, without fear. I don’t have to protect myself, and others shouldn’t have to protect themselves from me. I am free to love, because nothing else matters. And that is a freedom worth celebrating. And a life worth living.