Spirituality, Liturgy and the Tao of Inner Peace
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
This morning as I listened to Mary Catherine Akamatsu, one of our priests at St. Thomas, I was moved by a story of forest conservationism. She told how burning of brush is used to decrease forest fires and also breed a more resistant tree. She revealed to us that some trees, the more fire resistant, survive after the brush fire, and they can be pulled up to reveal their roots, and along those roots you will see knots, and each knot represents where the tree has survived a fire.
I have knots! I have survived fires! It was in that moment I realized how beautiful those knots of life can be, not ugly scars but badges of honor. I think for me, I see my knots, i.e. failures, as large ugly bruises on the canvas of life. As if they are akin to the scarlet letters of my journey – marks of failure for everyone to see. The disappointing moments for my family, friends, and most certainly my creator. I wish like a stray pencil mark on a paper I could erase them from existence. Yet we must walk our path. Those times we were wrong or made mistakes those are our battle scars. That little tree didn’t look at those knots as embarrassing scarlet letters, no they were triumphs over the struggles of life. I know we all struggle with our imperfections, we live in a world that tells us we must be great, happy, and living this movie star life at all times, but that is not real. Real is lines on the face, and stretch marks on the body, and scars on our hearts. Yet it is those knots, if you will, that make us so beautiful. If I meet a young woman who is devastated by a divorce it is my experience that allows me to help her, to give her the grace extended to me once upon a time. If she speaks with someone who has lived a charmed life and marriage of 40 years what can they give to her that she desperately needs? Every knot, every bruise, every wrong path I took are like beautiful gifts, lessons and stories I can use to help my fellow woman/man. I am not ugly, I am not beyond hope, I am broken and that is were the light shines through.
Each fire of life you survive forms you into a much stronger person, gives you that much more empathy for your brothers and sisters, equips you that much more for your journey. It is those bruises of life that make you into you.
I took a trip down the Ocoee once, it was a nightmare. We all were turned over in a swirling vortex and I found myself fighting for my life as I traversed “hell’s half mile” on my back, underwater, trying desperately to save myself from drowning, to breath, to catch a rock and find my footing…to no avail. Eventually, I was rescued by another guide along the way. All I could think of was what a horrible idea this was, but as I reflected in therapy over the incident my therapist said “Cameron you never gave up!!” He pointed out that I kept trying different strategies for saving myself and how so many people in life literally and figuratively “give up.” I always see myself as weak as less than, I bet you can relate. We rarely give ourselves the love we give to others. However with some reflection I bet you can see that you never gave up either! Just like those little trees with all their knots we are survivors! Each and every mark, knot, bruise has made us the glorious, wonderfully made children of God that we are!
So go on with your bad self! I love you, knots, bruises, and all.
#LOVEYOURSELF #LOVETHEKNOTS #LOVEONEANOTHER