…And there’s a deep yearning within all of us to retrieve what has so gracefully been given to us: the purity and newness of viewing the world through the eyes of a child.
“What’s with the beard?, she asks as the last drops of coffee spill into the forestry of salt and peppered chin hairs. I should have known the question was coming as it happens to be as of recently she turns her gaze from my eyes to the puzzlingly scouting of untamed facial hair. I sip air, hoping the quieted seconds will quell her curiosity and she’d derail her questions to colorful topics like politics or conversion or counseling in prison. But I’m stuck and break the silence with “ideals.” I realize I’ve already gone too far, recognizing I have missed the exits of ‘early Movember’ or ‘fashion statement.’ And then enters the anticipated dread of un-interruptions so I continue: “The beard is a sea of ideals, a vast and seemingly infinite ocean separating who I long to be and who I am. The strands of hair represent the endless journey, an ongoing battle to merge the contents of the mind with the desires of the heart. My beard is a story composed of daily dialogues with the Creator- it is a panoramic museum depicting refined poets and unrestrained savages in combat. My beard is a composition of curled letters telling tales of wandering peoples through the desert- an anatomy of a broken heart daring to mend itself. The beard is a covenant, a promise to always recall what I’ve been through, where I stand, and where/who I want to be.”
Man was created to shine brighter than the sun. With a great capacity to generate power from within and illuminate the world surrounding it, man, just as sun, has been granted the ability to give light to those around him. In turn, he is free to flourish and grow from the abundant light granted to him by those he encounters daily.
Is it really possible to make meaning out of every moment? Some people may say that their lives are characterized by a general sense of design and meaning but to say our daily occurrences and experiences are filled with purpose may seem like a spiritual ideal-an inspirational quote at best. If life contains order and perfect design, why are our daily routines lacking purpose? The problem lies in distorted roles. We have become infatuated with our stance on receiving and have neglected the natural life sustaining approach of bestowal. At every turn of our waking hours we are bombarded by someone or something attempting to sell us a product that will provide gratification. As a result, this has increasingly become our default mode in which our innate drive to give and love altruistically has withered under the illusion of ‘receiving equals fulfillment.’ The obsession to have is a subtle addiction producing apathy and indifference towards others. Many times than not, the cause of depression and anxiety stems from an existential crisis where purpose is lacking and the individual finds no meaning. Once the distorted belief that attaining ‘things’ is broken (switching mindset from receiving to giving) and the individual begins living a life of service in which love, elevation, and healing is bestowed on to others, the meaning of one’s purpose is drastically enhanced.
Two signs we are growing: 1) we desire to give more than receive and 2) our hearts become sincerely congruent with that desire.
Our greatest hope should not be in the acquisition of wealth and status. Our greatest hope should be that right now will be the moment we decide to love one another altruistically and unconditionally. There is no greater hope in life than love.
The reality of heroism is an unpalatable truth. The stories we’ve heard of the triumphant, smiling rescuer who stands unblemished on top of a mountain at the end of a smooth day of saving lives, are obviously fabricated fables. Instead, the truth of heroism carries with it a heavy burden; a man must himself be as, if not more afflicted, more bloodied than the lives he seeks out to save. Authentic heroes are rare in this era. They suffer greatly, more often times from failure than the physical wounds acquired from attempting to change the world. Find an “average man” worn down in distress and I say you’re closer to real heroism than you ever would be amongst the most popular.
The human definition of utopia is, if not frightening, quite boring. The truth is we have no idea what a perfect society would be like. What we do know is that a world with chaos and deprivation paves the way for humanity. And what is humanity? Humanity is the gift of weeping with your brother, stretching out your hand to the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the lost. These acts are what brings us closer to the Creator because these acts are a semblance of who He is. More often than not, this is what makes life worth living.