The first words that Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John are in the form of a question.
He’s walking through Jerusalem when John the Baptist sees Him and declares, “Look, the Lamb of God!” Two disciples begin following Jesus, whereupon He turns around to ask them “What are you looking for?”
Rev. Mark read this gospel at Trinity Church on Friday and he expanded upon this most basic question during his sermon.
“If that isn’t the question for this year,” he told us, “then I don’t know what is. In 2013, what if we allowed this question to echo through our hearts and our lives for this year? What are you looking for? What do you want in life?”
The obvious responses include health, happiness, companionship, and success. I’m looking to free myself from the chains of rage and despair that I’ve used to entangle myself so I can become the person I really want to be.
I’m looking for love, starting with myself, because I have to say that sometimes when I look in the mirror I’m not very fond of the guy looking back at me.
I want to live in the present moment because I know that anger and self-loathing can’t exist in the now. These toxic emotions need the treachery of memory and the fear of the future to keep their harsh fires burning.
This is, without a doubt, the most difficult task I’ve ever undertaken and that’s why I’m not nailing it down to any foolish New Year’s resolution that will almost certainly end in failure.
I may have a bad back, but my mind is as wild and skittish as a colt and it’s ready to leap over the fence at the slightest noise and take off for the horizon. Reigning in this wild horse is a hell of a lot harder than dropping a few pounds or cutting out the sweets.
I’m trying to rewire my brain, so I will take this will be one day—one minute—at a time.
I’m looking for results, not excuses. Bob Beamon didn’t fantasize about winning a gold medal in the Olympics. He went out and did it.
Whenever You're Near
I’ve been assembling something of a mental health playlist and one song that comes to mind is “The Real Me” by The Who.
Roger Daltrey repeatedly asks the most important people in his life--doctor, mother, preacher--“can you see the real me?”
He never gets an answer and I’m having trouble with that question myself. I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to be someone I’m not, to play a character rather than build a life. And I’m tired of it.
I haven’t been feeling well for the last few days—I suspect that some of the rich foods I’ve been eating during the holidays activated my chronic fatigue issues. I’m feeling better now, but on Friday evening I was furious about being sick yet again.
And when I’m angry I slip into the ugly past, resurrect every bad incident I can think of, and then go into a tailspin of guilt when I realize how ungrateful I am. I know I’m repeating myself here, both in life and on this blog, and that makes this behavior all the more frustrating.
I’ve fused my self-worth to the quality of my health and, given the difficulties I’ve had with my immune system over the years, I’m pretty much guaranteeing that I’ll go berserk with debilitating regularity.
So I must learn to love myself both in sickness and in health.
In my first post of 2013 I quoted Rumi’s line about “that place where everything is music” and that got me thinking about another song for my Mind-Pod called “I Can Hear Music.”
I’m most familiar with the Beach Boys’ rendition where Carl Wilson tells his love that he can hear music, sweet music, whenever she’s near.
I’m going to stretch things here a little bit to include self-love, so that I can hear music whenever I treat myself with kindness instead of suffering through the malicious feedback of scorn.
“It is my prayer for this year,” Rev. Mark said at the close of his sermon, “that we’ll all have the courage to answer that question because that’s a very tough question. What are you looking for?”
Amen, my brothers and sisters. Amen.