Okay, I'm not exactly a poster child for fundamental christian principles. I'm not really even christian. Except that I am a Universalist: I believe in the fundamental truth of all faith. I do believe in something other than life in this dimension as we know it. Something bigger. Something greater. Something more. I also believe that we are incapable of really knowing what that is.
It's not uncommon for people experiencing dark and frightening times of life to seek greater wisdom and power. I have done that. I have asked. I have been offered otherworldly guidance. I have blindly followed. Blindly. And I mean that literally.
One day, I walked away from my life, my career, my ambitions, my education, my house, my belongings, my everything. I gave up. I had worked hard. I had a good education. None of that mattered. Security never existed. I couldn't count on anything I had ever believed in. Quite the contrary, I could count on everything I had believed in to be fundamentally false. What then?
I got a lot of advise. I tried a lot of things. I went in any number of directions. I do remember reading a lot of religion. I remember laughing at some of things I read. "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
Wow. That's some instruction. Not that anybody would really do that. I certainly wouldn't. And even if someone did, not every body can. Because then there would be no towns, no homes, just a lot of lost souls wandering around seeking kindness from strangers. Would that really be a better world? No. But, then, if you take Jesus seriously, you are probably smart enough to realize that everybody isn't going to do that. And Jesus, being omnipotently smarter than anybody else, obviously knew that as well.
In truth, that's what I did. It was never what I intended to do. I made no deliberate plan and set out to accomplish it. In hindsight, I realize that doing so would have been contrary to the purpose. I just asked a question. In prayer, I wondered, cynically, what life would be like if I were to really do that. In fact, it's really only been recently pointed out to me that I did this, am doing this. It's very odd to me to look back and make that connection.
Truth is, we all have a gospel, all our own. We preach it every day. In our thoughts, our acts, our works, we spread our gospel as we go. what we have, what we do, this is what I cherish most. Often it is our children, our hobbies, sometimes it's our work, for many it is the public recompense we value most. What I am worth to the world in terms of dollars and cents - very real, very tangible, very necessary appreciation. We truly cannot live without it.
As an artist, and occasional writer, I accept that my recompense must often come in smaller increments, further apart, than most in our culture enjoy. When survival depends on having the gold and silver to pay the tax man, the corporate supplier of food, water, housing, transportation, then there is so little left over for things like beauty, decoration. Somehow, since starting this journey, I have always had enough. It hasn't always felt like enough. It often felt way too close to a day late and a dollar short. I've learned there is a wide gap between what I want and what I need.
We can all live with a lot less. Try it. For a month. Use only what you absolutely, bottom line need. You will quickly find that beauty, kindness, laughter are absolutely mandatory.