I wrestle with priorities. Not only for the team I lead, but for the broader community I am a part of. Life has used intense and at the time, painful and frustrating experiences, to remind me of the importance of focusing on the right things at the right time. When I do, everything changes. While the outcomes are not always what I thought I was aiming for, as I look back on the times where I got the priorities right, the results were better, higher, and farther than anything I imagined.
One of the weaknesses I wrestle with is readiness. Even with tools at my disposal, at the moment I was going into a call to continue a negotiating discussion, I was certain I was coming in unprepared. In my busyness, I had not refreshed my mind, reviewed our goals, reread the offer, and, most importantly, let go of the distractions.
If this was the first time, I would have excused myself and moved on. However, it is a pattern which reappears with a recurring frequency. In each situation, I carelessly forget to tend to my heart and mind. It is as if I let demands distract me from the disciplines which give me the ability to bring my best and more effective self to the situation.
I often see key words as I experience a photograph. In the process, I find myself in a life lesson exercise of the markers Divinity leaves around me. In today’s sunrise, there were notations written and left on display. As individuals interacted and live out public lives, examples and telltales were offered to anyone watching and listening. All around us are Divine markers, each telling a story, leaving us with lessons, and pointing us to something greater than ourselves.
Far too often, I realize I have stopped looking. I let life’s busyness and stress get to me, forgetting that it is in the Divine markers left along my journey that I will find guides to living with care and kindness. Yesterday, I was asked if I had time. With my eyes focused on my computer screen, my mind buried in what I was writing, I hear the question as a whisper from a distance. My initial inclination was to ignore it, to focus on my priority at hand. As I looked up, prepared to say the words, I saw expectant and hopeful eyes. I paused. In that pause, I experienced Divinity’s love and teaching.
As I watched parents interacting with their young child, I was struck by the unconditional nature of what was going on. I know they have their moments which interrupt their relationship, however in this scene they were amazingly in love.
When I think of my children, I see the same emotions playing out. I wish I could say that my best moments were always on display, but human weakness is evident across all my relationships, even those most important to me! The lingering reflection of what I witnessed in this young family took me to those I love and beyond. It was as if I was glimpsing and beginning to understand how Divinity understands Her relationship with you and me.
I met a 5-month-old recently. Beyond his amazing calmness in the chaos going on all around him, I found an old soul within sharing and teaming me about life. I find myself wanting to hold onto his teachings, replaying them as I am now at the start of every day.
One can say as much or more through one’s eyes as one can with words and motions. This young man had an ability to look fully, deeply, and without hesitation. His gaze was so steady and focused that I initially realized I was uncomfortable. As I relaxed and accepted the open, totally vulnerable one on one eye contact, I found myself remembering the psalmist’s words; “All eyes are on you, expectant; you give them their meals on time.” (Psalm 145.15).
In a moment of frustration, a colleague offered an observation in a meeting.
“We talk a lot about our problems, but we never try to solve them.”
The more I have reflected on his statement, the more I have come to accept how truth filled it is. As I consider how far this observation extends, I find that it equally applies to my social life and what is personal and private. It is easy to recognize our problems, difficulties, and weaknesses. Doing something about each, regardless of how obvious and easy the solution might be, is often difficult.
There is a small network of close friends who I know will always be on my side. In a recent situation, the ability to reach out, have a conversation, and take a positive step forward with confidence was possible because I knew they would be there. As I reflect on the relationship with each, I find myself considering the other areas of my life where constant certainty is not always assured.
Life repeatedly offers experiences and examples to confirm the constants. The link between Divinity, beauty, and wonder is, from my experience, absolute. I am on record as a witness having written on the subject for more than two decades. As confident as I am in this moment, there are times when I act as if Divinity is on vacation, I have been abandoned by all my friends, and the only assured thing in my life is justice. The latter is not a good thing because I, like others willing to look in the mirror, know the truth of her/his life.
Experiences in life can be hard, painful, and at times, seemingly evil. Every hell is unique and yet, at the core of each touch, we are taken to a familiar place of darkness, fear, and uncertainty.
In a recent conversation, a question was placed on the table. I was sure I had laid the groundwork to answer the question before it was asked. Yet, in that moment, a seemingly simple question took me to a place of darkness, uncertainty, and anger. I came to the question, open and unguarded. I could feel everything change, altered in ways I did not anticipate. I moved on resolved, eyes opened, and ready for the next.
On this day twenty years ago, I was speaking on the phone to a close friend living in lower Manhattan. The first plane had just hit a World Trade Center tower. While we talked, I watched the live stream of the smoking tower from a camera on the east side of Manhattan. He looked out on the same scene from the window facing west in his 7th floor loft. Together we witnessed the 2nd plane hitting the second tower, a jet engine exploding through. the side of the building, and unknown to me, the instant death of a friend in the building.
The first year of school for me was at the end of the time-period where Americans lived in fear of nuclear annihilation. I missed most of the era simply because I was too young to understand. However, in my first experience with formal education, I along with others in my California school were instructed in “duck and cover” techniques. It may sound complex, but for most, it was simple. We would hide under our desks when the alarm sounded. We believed and executed this with enthusiasm as if our lives were at stake because we were told that this action would save us from the impact of an atomic bomb landing nearby.