Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin
5 years ago I started reading “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. I got about 2 chapters in before choosing a different book instead. I started reading it again just a few days ago and I swear I’ve never read a single word of this book before. I guess that 5 years of life experience have given me “New Eyes” or something.
Today’s quote that made me pause and scramble to find a pen:
Most people don’t inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one.
This book is all about the Ego and how “I” am not who “I” think “I” am. Damn that hurts the brain. Tolle talks about this stuff in a way that makes sense to me like nothing I’ve read on the subject until now. And it really does feel profound.
I really do spend most of my time living in a reality constructed by my obsession with relationships, titles, possessions, anxieties, theories, political ideals, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), feelings of accomplishment, feelings of failure, thoughts about how many people will read/”like”/comment on this blog, and the list goes on and on and on.
So what does a “Living Reality” look like? I am sure I can’t define it in these words, but I believe I have experienced it a few times in my life. When I witnessed my wife magically bring the life of my 2 kids into this world. When my wife told me her campus was on lockdown with reports of an active shooter (After several tense minutes, we discovered it was precautionary due to an arrest in the area). When I stood in the shower suddenly taken in by the sheer real-ness of a shower tile. There are more, but these are a few instances I have seen my conceptualized reality fall away revealing something deeper/truer.
Here’s to hoping my “New Eyes” will see more on the next page!
Josh began weeping as soon as we pulled up to Joshua Station. He saw that greeting him at the office was not his mother, but the family who had agreed to care for him and his brother once his mother passed away—something that we all knew could happen any day. The consideration was even made that perhaps the boys shouldn’t go to camp this year. We knew they would be destroyed if she passed while they were gone. Ultimately their mother made the decision that they needed to live lives as close to normal as was possible, so they went.
Though she did eventually pass away, his mother was simply in the hospital receiving treatment when Josh and his brother came home from camp. This update did little to slow the river of tears that began to flow when he thought his worst fear had become a reality.
This moment, like the reality of everyday with Josh and his family, was an invitation into that sacred space where we connect with what it truly means to be human. Those of us who had gotten to know and love this family gathered around Josh and let him know that we were right there with him. We didn’t encourage him to stop crying. We didn’t tell him that his fears had not come true today, so cheer up. We sat with him in the fullness of his sorrow until he was ready to get into the car that would deliver him to his mother’s side.
Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is a powerful and miraculous story. But the part that most stands out is not the part where Lazarus walks out of the tomb. The part that most stands out and has become one of the most well known lines in Scripture, is “Jesus Wept”. Jesus could have said, “There’s no reason to cry. He will live again.” Instead he accepted the sacred invitation into the truly human experience of sorrow that so filled that moment.
To the best of our ability, we accepted the invitation Josh offered. It was an invitation to step into the sacred space of his vulnerability, his sorrow, his deepest fears. That moment, and the whole story of Josh’s family, still brings many of us to tears today. It was such a difficult season for those of us who knew them and knew the hard road they were traveling. It was painful. It was also beautiful. It was real. It was truly sacred.
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