Hello, fellow travelers, it’s Scott, and welcome to this present moment!
Probably the most self-flagellating and destructive practice we engage in is the belief that when things are going well with us, that means our individual value is high…
And when things are not going well, our individual value is low and we’re terrible people, because…well…look at the hard times I mean, if times suck for me, right now, that must mean it’s because I suck, right??
We are not your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, or ideas. We have them and are 100 % responsible for what we do with them and their effect on the lives of others.
And yet, they change.
The essential nature of who you are… The breath within your breath… That is unchanging.
Rest in that for just this moment.
You are always the most precious of all the diamonds, no matter how much you might think your value fluctuates.
On Wednesday, January 12, 2022, I found out (in a rather bizarre way, I have to say) that I had just lost another contract due to Covid-19.
So, that made a grand total loss so far of… (Let’s see…carry the one…)
$37,500 in “booked work” since March of 2020 when our industry first got shut down.
(I only mention the number to stress how “touch and go” it is for many of us in the arts industry right now. It has certainly been difficult for everyone, and I know many have lost much more than I have. Please, support the arts when and where you can?)
I still haven’t seen any of that money and, since I didn’t qualify for unemployment because of the way Pennsylvania’s unemployment system calculates one’s worth, Sarah and I had to patch together a living during this global pandemic via whatever might come our way.
It turned out to be an amazing adventure in faith. I mean, what other choice did (do) we have?
Last weekend, Watson and I found ourselves lying on the couch, doing nothing while Sarah was at work. Nothing too unusual.
So, we start watching TV (also, not unusual), and we decide to watch our favorite Indiana Jones movie – “The Last Crusade.”
WATSON: SPOILERS!! ME: Thank you, Watson. I’m not sure you had to be that loud but thank you. WATSON: I just wanted to remind you to let people know you were going to play a clip from the movie, and it would contain spoilers. Am I wrong about that? ME: No, you’re not wrong. You’re just loud. (Pause) WATSON: I’m passionate! ME: Passionate. Right.
(SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” well, first of all… and second of all, if you decide to read further, I’m afraid I can no longer refrain from giving away the ending. So…choose wisely…)
We get to the part where they’re in that lost city place…
WATSON: Alexandretta. ME: Thank you.
When we get to the part where they’re in Alexandretta, and Indy’s got to somehow get to the other side of this huge ravine to get the grail (THE GRAIL!!) and save his dad, Sean Connery, this happens…
WATSON: I always hold my breath until the last second! ME: I know, right!?
Watch it again and notice how, when the camera angle shifts, we see what Indy couldn’t see from his angle – the bridge was always there!
The bridge didn’t “appear” where there wasn’t a bridge just because he had the faith to step out. The bridge was always there, always right underneath his feet.
Remember, though, that neither Indiana Jones nor anyone else who might have attempted to venture further, was ever going to be able to see the angle that revealed the bridge’s presence until he stepped out. There was no way to see it from where he was standing.
His faith became a trust in something he knew he would not see until steps were taken, but he took that first step anyway.
His faith was grounded in a knowing – not only that there would be a bridge but also that he would have to step out in order to cross over and claim the healing power that always restores you when you drink of it.
Sometimes, life seems to be that way, doesn’t it? I know it does for me.
Sometimes, the cavern can seem bottomless and the ravine way, way, way too wide to dare even dream of life on the other side.
But, there is always a bridge underneath your feet and, believe it or not, it is most assuredly always there when you think you just can’t see it, no matter how hard you try.
It wouldn’t ever be a “leap of faith” if we could always see what landing was going to look like.
But do rest assured, my dear fellow traveler, that you will always land, and if you are still and quiet, you will see all of the help and aid and comfort available to you at all times, especially if the landing is super hard.
(Or, if you prefer to talk about it this way…)
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sew nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” – JC
Could we have used that contract I just lost? Most certainly.
Could we have used all of that 37.5 Grand? Hell yes!!
Can I do anything about what I’ve lost? No.
But, I can take a step forward…and then another…and then another one after that…
I’m not sure what lies ahead, but I am convinced it’s something exciting and way better than what got canceled. Why am I convinced of that?
Because God has proven to be so incredibly faithful in spite of everything that seems to be occurring. And, also because I choose to look at it from that angle.
I choose it.
My joy and my peace are under my control because I know there is always a bridge right underneath my feet, especially when I can’t see it.
SORTING through some video I’ve shot over the last couple of years, I realized I had shot several versions of the same scene from my front porch during the course of the pandemic.
I set some of them to music and posted a few of them, including the one below:
There were other clips I didn’t use. None of them had been thought out or planned, so many became manufactured and just didn’t work.
For some reason, I saved them.
Looking at them again – the ones that didn’t work – I saw they were never going to work, and I deleted them.
I had needed them in order to find the clips that worked for what I wanted to say at the time, but now that I’d found those, these “cutting room floor” clips no longer served a purpose.
WATSON: Like I said, There’s no need to keep looking at them. They served their purpose. ME: And you were exactly right! Which is why I thanked them for their service and moved them to the trash folder.
(Pause) WATSON: Did you empty the trash folder? ME: Um…I… WATSON: Maybe something to think about? ME: That’s fair. I’ll look at that. WATSON: Have you seen that little bone I buried? ME: Check the couch. WATSON: Right! The couch. Thanks.
In each of the video clips, at the time, I was just standing on my porch, looking left and right when I decided, for some reason, to film what I was seeing with my iPhone (Thank you Steve Jobs and Tim Apple! 😉 ).
What occurred to me when I looked back to them was how the scene was always the same and, at the same time, was always different.
The space was always the same, but what was happening in the space was always changing.
Sometimes it was snowing.
Sometimes raining. Sometimes flooding.
Sometimes it was sunny.
And no matter how many days it would rain or snow or flood, the sun would always return.
Rough days happen. Rain falls on all of us.
Not because we’re good people or bad people, worthy people or unworthy people.
The rain falls on all of us because rain falls.
That’s what rain does.
The sun shines on (behind those rain clouds) because the sun always shines.
HOLIDAY TIME FEELINGS always come with a bit of complication as we get older, I think. They didn’t always. Come with complication, I mean.
I’ve always loved the Holiday Season. (Let’s call it, for the sake of this conversation, Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day.)
If you struggle with complicated Holiday Time Feelings for whatever reason, perhaps you might not be doing okay. And it’s perfectly okay to be “not okay.”
Lately, I’ve seen several social media posts, reminding us of that truth, and they are a good reminder for those who need to hear it. I’ve needed to hear that truth a few times over the last seven years.
(It’s perfectly okay to be “not okay.” Please, hear that, if you need to hear that!)
THIS YEAR, though, a new/different kind of Holiday Time Feeling (HTF? Yeah, that probably won’t catch on) has risen in my heart, and I wonder if anyone else might need to hear a slightly different exhortation, namely:
It’s also okay to “be okay, again!” It’s okay to be happy!
Perhaps, someone you love has passed, and the Holidays just don’t seem right without them. And maybe you feel like you’d be dishonoring them or something if you enjoyed the time without them being here, the way they used to be.
Maybe, instead of the death of a loved one, there is the death of a relationship (or even several) because of bad decisions you’ve made, and you feel if you were happy during the Holidays, again, you’d somehow be “off the hook,” and you don’t deserve to be let off the hook.
Possibly, you’re afraid that if you feel happy now, (like at a 10!) you must not actually have been as happy as you thought you were before (I thought I was a 10 at the time, but obviously I’ve “never been happier” so, I guess I was maybe at a 9 back then?…), and that might make you sad because you know you were a 10, at the time, and it’s a confusing feeling.
(I told you, Holiday Time Feelings can be complicated! HTF, am I right?!?)
The truth, though, is that when I accept all of the difficult feelings right alongside the fantastically joyful ones, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that all I have is this present moment, and I, alone, get to create what’s in it.
I’ve always found this prayer to be exceptionally helpful to me: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
There is hope for you, dear friend. You don’t need to get *whole* because you already are.
Maybe, it’s still time for you to grieve whatever you might be grieving. That’s totally okay.
Maybe, moving forward is not the same as giving up loving someone(s) you will always hold dear. You never give up loving someone, but things always change. That’s what things do. That’s totally okay, too.
Maybe, comfort and joy aren’t just for those who have figured it all out and have it all together. Comfort and joy are available to anyone at any time, and the Holiday Season always reminds me of that.
If you feel the “peace that passes all understanding” at some point during the Holidays – maybe it’s a song, or a decoration, or a film/tv show, or a story, or whatever it is for you – I urge you to bask in it. Let that feeling of peace wash over you and remind you of your worth which is infinitely incalculable.
I bring you a message of hope, dear friends: You are loved beyond your present understanding, and you are never alone.
Holiday Time Feelings can be complicated, but there is no uncomplicated without the occasional complication. Don’t try to push those feelings aside or pretend they don’t exist. Invite them in for eggnog, visit with them for a bit, then let them fade into the peace of the season.
Let them drift away into a favorite song, or prayer, or ritual, or quiet moment, or pleasant site. Let those complicated feelings melt into a desire to love the next person you see.
Love can, will, and is transforming all of your sufferings into joy.
You deserve joy! Have at it, if you’re ready! (If you’re not, that’s also okay.)