Archive for December, 2012

Wall? What Wall?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2012 by michaelcogdill

There is one way — and only one — to know who you truly are in this wild mortal life.

Run headlong, like a man or woman on fire, into a challenge.

You will never fathom what you can do, who you can become, until you do.

Everybody eventually hits a wall too high to jump, too steep to climb. Plenty of little human chihuahuas will yip and bark their despair at you when you hit it. They’ll claim it impossible. They’ll yap and yammer on that you can’t clear it — that it can’t be done. Most of them have never dared take a run at it.

Steve Jobs delivered a commencement at Stanford a few years ago, just after his cancer diagnosis, and he said something that will ring in the ears of my heart for life. Steve warned that eager crowd that time is short, don’t spend it living someone else’s life.

I say, amen. I say be the someone else most everyone else won’t dare become. Okay, it’s a tad confusing, but it’ll make sense when you roll over at 3 am.

This is a season of life’s sweeping resolutions. People make promises to themselves, then break them when they find the resolution is a wall that looks, or feels, too hard to break and too high to clear. Because it bloodied them once, too many won’t try again. They won’t look for a way around!

Instead of making a resolution, make a life. Remake yourself into what you want, into who you feel called to become. Good science reminds us the mind is a flexible. We can bend it, shape and re-shape it. Think and act for yourself, not at the behest of someone else. Ignore the yip of the little dog. Become, instead, the alpha dog, the one of quiet courage, strength, compassion. Lead — starting with yourself.

Camus wisely said the best way to deal with the shackles and walls of this world is to become so free, even your very existence is an act of rebellion. All the greats have done it. Your inner great will as well. Let him out to run. Set her free to fly. Sure, you’ll smack the wall, face first, more than once. It may pulp the hell out of you. This is human. But freed from the despair of sleepwalking through a withering life the yapping masses demand you live, you will waken to one so great, you couldn’t imagine it. You’ll clear the walls, one after another. And you’ll begin to know, at last, how stout our mysterious Maker made you after all.

Wall? Yep, it’s there. And another one behind it. They are uniquely your walls in this wilderness life. And beyond them is your paradise. Go. And go well. In going, you’re bound to show others the way.

The Unexpected Beauty of Brokenness

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2012 by michaelcogdill

Grief quiets us. It teaches us. Breaks us, yet grief makes us better than before.

We’ve seen it through the sorrows after Newtown, Connecticutt. Grief weakening us to make us strong. Such global loss of lives reveals us. It reminds us the breaking of a heart opens that heart. Into the breakage step the broken, there to abide and embrace and heal one another. Watch for it. In the words and tears of a stranger, the embrace is there, one human brokenness serving another. It’s in the volunteers who bring golden retrievers to love on surviving children and children at heart. This brokenness lets in a rare band of light. Even a pinprick of it reminds us that darkness is no match for a random kindness. In the same fine way, death is no match for love.

The aching of a human heart is a prayer. As a heart groans and weeps, outwardly, inwardly, it opens its arms to the mysteries where God abides. There, in the dark, an aching heart feels around to find its way. It reaches for a light switch that waits for us all. In that dark, God beyond the divisions of religion comes down to us. As the psalmist said, even the dark is not darkness to God. To God, the night is as bright as the day.

The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. In this dark time in American life — in the life of the world — some will shake their fists at the heavens, asking, “why?” “How could you? How dare you allow it?” This, I believe in my faith, is a conversation starter God adores.

In this conversation, may we listen well. May we serve beyond what looks possible. May we recognize love as the only truly high gift a human life can give. It is the only gift that grows more beautiful each time it’s returned. Unlike a chartreuse sweater trimmed in lavender, love drapes us in beauty. It becomes us. Becomes the only lasting part of us. It is the gift we ought give, and receive, with extravagance.

Cheers to extravagant love. It is the entirety of why we’re here. It is the only antidote to what wounds us. Such love makes brokenness beautiful — which makes it a perfect fit for us all.