How do you know that you are walking “Your Path”? What endorsement … what validation … what affirmation cements your confidence in the right-ness of your elections? Just like you, I had the desire for certainty. My confidence skated on the thin ice of a fragile Belief and wavering Conviction that I was being the person that I was created to BE. I, like you, was challenged by the voices of loving, caring, concerned, and trusted friends who offered their opinions and perspectives on my life choices. And none … absolutely none of them could see the rationale for my determinations. Yet … I persevered on the strength of an inner conviction that I was in harmony with the leading of the Source of all that is true.
Then Life reached out with a steadying Hand and a reassuring Voice in the person of the only individual who (as a consummate human being) could command my absolute confidence and respect. He was a respected and honored Scientist and Educator … and a deeply committed Spiritual Being. Inasmuch as he is no longer with me in physical presence (though certainly still-known in spirit) I can, and will, reveal his identity (want, as he was, to remain invisible, humble, and unobtrusive.) Swaminatha Sundaram, (Professor-Chairperson (Physics), University of South Florida, 1982 [B.Sc.; M.S.; Ph.D., D.Sc., Annamalai University, India, 1960]) became a dear Friend, Confidant, and Joy in my life from the moment of our initial meeting (as he placed his mail in the post-box at the curb, and I delivered the morning newspaper in the pre-dawn hours of the day.)
It was during one of our treasured luncheon visits together, that he (being a man of very few … yet each one valuable … words) said “You, My Friend, are a true Priest. You walk your daily path as lead by The Spirit … minister to each life encountered along that path … asking nothing and expecting nothing save the meeting of your physical and material needs. All at the direction and through the provision, of that controlling Spirit.”
Confirmation! I can tell you, My Dear Reader, that I have never, in all of my life, been more honored, humbled, and moved than at that moment. Life had warranted and authenticated my convictions in terms that I would never have known to ask for or expect. And I can now share this story with you, as my personal testimony to the certainty, that you will know, with sureness, the appropriateness of your life elections ... if you will but exercise that awesome power, of your own Free Will, to follow the Inspiration … the Inclination … the Leading of your own personal and individual “Still, Quiet, Inner-Voice.” Mindful that doing so will often be to the exclusion of all outside "influences."
I cannot promise you riches, fame, glory, or applause as an expectation resulting from such a disciplined and oft-courageous (and sometimes lonely) choice. What I can, and do, guarantee you is Joy, Confidence, Peace of Mind, and Spirit, that gives (in time … and with patience) rhyme, reason, and meaning to all of the conflicts, pains, disappointments, and sorrows of a life so lived. And ... at that time and in that place, when and where you need, and are ready for it ... you can expect, in some form, a confirmation and validation ... from the Creator of all that You are ... from "Life." A confirmation and validation of the reality of your BE-ing that unique and particularly special Individual, that You are equipped (by nature, inclination, and experience) to … BE.
This is, I promise you, My Dear Friend, the greatest reward that can possibly be imagined. To know that you are living in harmony with the intention of your Creator in the world that is your daily walk. That all is Right with You and your place in all of Time and Eternity. And it is to the encouragement, endorsement, and enabling of You, in your personal pilgrimage, that I am committed … as I remain;
Your constant Friend and unwavering Servant.
IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan, PDPhoto.org
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
He would never be measured by the accumulated credits for what he would do in life. His would not be an achievement quantified path. Those who were to take note of him would not speak of the Stuff he had done; the Creditentials he garnered; the Degrees, Titles, or Ranks he had tallied up. No, my son’s life was to be recognized for one … only one … thing. Who he was to be … not what … as that individual Person that he was created to be. This was to be my focus and the core of my parenting efforts for as long as I had the opportunity to influence him. And it was to become my life’s mantra. It is who we be … not what we do … that matters in life. (I know … the grammar stinks … but you get the point!) If we be the best that we can be … no one on the face of this planet can ever be better. This is the path that Matthew and I set out on together. Setting aside all of the cerebral palsy baggage … we would set our sights on being our best … us.
So when the young man came up to me in the coffee shop and said “I noticed that Matt really likes to read the newspaper every morning. So I gave him the novel that I finished reading last night. I told him that he will probably finish it more quickly than I did, because he reads so much. I hope that he enjoys it as much as I did.” I smiled and took silent note of the beautiful way that Matt had disregarded the fact that he couldn’t read. He pushed aside that potential barrier to social interaction … by creating the illusion that he was an ardent reader. Thus he fine-tuned his performance of all of the subtle gestures and mannerisms that he had gleaned from observing the behaviors of those who did read the newspaper. And I had, for some time, watched his beautifully played-out role as he “thoughtfully” turned the thoroughly considered pages. He artfully picked out comic strips and used them as props to share with others … pointing; throwing his head back in laughter; and enjoying the ensuing comradeship with the Strangers he met as he sat at the al fresco tables outside the shop that I sat inside of. (Please note that Matt’s mental challenges do not permit his grasping of the humor in those comics strips … even when read and explained to him.)
This was but one of the daily exercises that I devised for him (without making any note of it … just treating it as a routine, customary, and altogether normal happening.) He sat outside … at a table of his choosing, and enjoying his choice of beverage and pastry … and introduced himself to whatever level of social interplay he was comfortable with. I observed; took mental notes for discussion with his speech therapist (as we developed our understanding of the particular limitations manifested by Matt’s cerebral palsy affected brain), and devised “coaching” tips to share with Matt.
You see, my Friend, Matthew did not want to be recognized as someone who was challenged by the retardation of his mental functions. He did not want to have his physical impairments noted or accommodated. He wanted to be … Matthew; just another guy; a friend; one of “the gang.”
At our neighborhood YMCA … where I weaned Matt from my accompaniment by pointing to the “Members Only Beyond This Point” sign at the entrance to the gym, and told him that he was the Member. I was just his driver and escort. And I had no privileges there … he was the entitled one … none of the many folks, that Matthew established himself with, discussed, or even took notice of, the fact that he had never experienced homework assignments from school … when he discussed, with them, their children’s struggles with homework. He had honed his listening skills to such a lovely degree of empathetic listening that anyone would comfortably believe the illusion that he was in complete understanding of every element of the subject at hand. He simply pushed aside that potential barrier to social intercourse, by focusing on the finer goal of the desired relationship. He was marvelous. He was allowing himself to be! And he became a very self-assured young man. Content in himself, and comfortable with others.
So why, you, my Darling Reader, may well ask, do I tell you all of this? Because, Dear One, I hear so many lamenting their frustrations and disappointments at not achieving what they had expected themselves to achieve. So much moaning and groaning about perceived “failures!” And it is all about stuff that they feel that they “should” (by some mysterious standard either imposed by others [who have no God-given right to either impose; or certainly not to judge], or by some inner demons that inflict demands based on nothing more than self-generated unreasonableness.)
To these I say “How is that human Being coming along? That’s right! You are not a “human doing.” Even machines and devices can do stuff. But only a Being given the marvelous Gift of choice and election can be.” So I ask you to consider following Matthew’s lead. Set aside those impediments to your realization of who you … and only you … can be. And permit your Self to be … that uniquely equipped, individually gifted, and singly able person who has this one-time opportunity to offer our world … You.
I humbly thank you for your patient indulgence with me. Please know that my speaking to you, in this way, is born only of one thing … my genuine and respectful love of … You.
I remain your steadfast Friend and always willing Servant.
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