Sing Along –
Earlier this week I had a song stuck in my head. It played over and over in my mind. It was from an artist I don’t like or dislike and was a song that was fine but not spectacular. These facts didn’t matter because the song was like an earworm which burrowed its way into my brain and wouldn’t stop. I found myself humming the tune, singing along, tapping my foot and fingers, when I was in meetings, classes, and other places.
It is hard to get a song out of your head sometimes. I usually try listening to it several times in a row which can dislodge it. Other times singing it out loud, all the way through, will do the trick. However, some songs refuse to let go and I just live with it until finally, another song, or silence if I’m lucky, takes it place.
I was speaking with someone this week about the causes of poverty, abuse, addiction, incarceration and the incredibly hard task it is to break free from these often generational, familial, cycles. Too often, people think the battles we face are won by acts of wills and choice. While these are important they are not the sum of all problems. When you have been surrounded with these ills of society and family you become used to a normal. You witness those you love and look up to make decisions that keep them trapped in the cycle. Growing up in these environments impact the way you think, your view of the world, and the hopelessness of being free. Who we are, what we are, are not only the choices we have made but from a myriad of choices which happen when we cannot decide for ourselves or even before we are born.
Understanding the truths about some of the people we meet each day will, hopefully, rewrite the judgmental and biased scripts we easily recite in our minds when we encounter the poor, drug addicted, alcoholic, homeless, ex-felons, and wonder; “Why can’t they do something about their lot in life?” Maybe, they need us to sing a new song to them.
Dashed Hopes –
One of the incarcerated fathers I work with was told recently by the parole board that it would be at least another 12 months before he would be eligible again. The board didn’t think he was to the point where he was ready to be released. He was crushed by this revelation. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up,’ he said, ‘but they were raised anyway. Now I’m just down and lost.” We spoke for a while about making good choices while he was still incarcerated, using the time wisely by taking other classes the jail offers, hanging around the right people and not giving up. He agreed but I could tell he was coming to grips with dashed hopes.
Hope is a wonderful thing but it can also be devastating when what you desire, long for, remains elusive, out of reach. Hope can help us through the most trying of circumstances and drag out difficult and challenging seasons. Hope can be the driving force behind our survival but it is also the reason we burn ourselves up and out. Trying to figure out when to keep hoping and when to give up hope seems impossible to know. Perhaps giving up hope is not the solution but rather learning where to place our hope is true wisdom.
One of my favorite things to do is sit by our fire pit after a long day and watch the flames light up the night sky filled with stars.
On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon we had several rain showers move through the area. Finally, Sunday evening, they scattered to the winds leaving a damp chill in the air. I went out to the fire pit and uncovered some wood in a holder that’s protected from nature’s elements. The ground in and around the fire pit was soaked but placing the dry kindling in and putting a match to it I soon had a roaring fire that chased the dampness away. The area around the fire was wet but the wood was dry and this made all the difference.
I smiled as the flames leapt into the air and reflected on the storms that often come into our lives. They deluge us with difficulties and pain, heartache and despair, hopelessness and powerlessness. We may wonder if our lives will ever burn again with passion and purpose. The key to being reignited is to protect our spirits, a layer of shielding around our hearts and minds, to know at our center the rain cannot penetrate and when the time comes we will be ready to once again be set aflame and light up the night.