My oldest daughter lives about 9.5 hours away; a reasonable road-trip. So, in preparation for my most recent trek her way, I prepared! I downloaded an audio book in advance, along with a couple podcasts that I’ve been meaning to listen to. I couldn’t have anticipated the way in which these (and one more event besides) weaved themselves into something else entirely.
Four (seemingly) random things I now see as completely interconnected.
I listened to Celeste Ng’s newest book, Our Missing Hearts. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with this choice, given how much I loved Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere. Plus I’d recently heard her on a podcast and was intrigued by her perspective, her wisdom, her heart.
I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say it is profoundly thought-provoking. It solidified so many of my opinions/fears about our hyper-patriotic culture, about “leadership”-through-fear, about how easy (and understandably self-protective) it is to look the other way instead of stepping toward justice. And all of this through a plot that primarily involves an 11-year-old boy.
About an hour into my return trip, I finished the book and switched over to the 2022 Podcast of the Year: Roe V. Wade by Slow Burn. Only 4 episodes long (unless you subscribe and get all the bonus content), it doesn’t talk at all about the recent repeal of this ruling; rather, it tells the powerful (and mostly unknown) stories of individual women and cases, their trials, the unbelievable legal battles, and the convergence of forces that enabled this legislation to be passed in the first place.
It’s well worth listening to. It was a reminder of how easily women, their bodies, and their agency/will is disregarded AND how important it is—ongoing and always—to hear and honor women’s stories, both individually and collectively.
I listened to a second podcast from the New York Times called 1619 that tells of how slavery has transformed America.
Again, SO worth listening to. It was a glaring and heartbreaking acknowledgement of how much I take for granted, how much I actually do not know, and how excruciating our history is—not to mention the ways in which every bit of this continues to be perpetuated.
Just a day or so after my road trip, news was released that Stephen tWitch Boss had died by suicide.
Both of my daughters texted me when they heard the news, given that years and years ago we were obsessed by So You Think You Can Dance—when he won and then the years that followed in which he came back as a mentor and most recently a judge.
This has me reeling and deeply cognizant of the following: 1) we never know what other people are actually experiencing and feeling, no matter how things look on the outside; and 2) the cultural belief-and-demand that success, fame, money, and more will make us happy is a complete lie.
OK. So, how do these things connect to one another? You’ve probably already spotted the common thread, but let me gather it all together by saying this: unless we remain awake and aware, so much passes us by that remains unnoticed, unnamed, and unhealed.
And this: forces always conspire to invite us more deeply into our own story and all that is ours to learn, embrace, and transform both within and without.
An event occurs. An email arrives. A strong, even unexpected emotion thrums in your chest. A conversation takes place. There’s a book you read, a podcast you listen to, a news story you hear, a song that lingers and haunts. All of it seems random in the moment, but when you look beneath / behind / within, you will glimpse what’s weaving them all together . . . and all on your behalf.
These threads, these glimmers, these connections ARE the sacred: endless and infinite ways in which seemingly disparate aspects of our life are really one big, beautiful story that waits for us to see it as such, that holds its breath in anticipation of us stepping into it, that longs for us to live with complete trust in its truth.
Whew! This feels like a big claim: the (seemingly) random events and experiences in our lives are evidence of the sacred, the presence of the sacred, the activity of the sacred—and all on our behalf.
So, my invitation in all of this? Be curious about the myriad and (seemingly) random ways in which the sacred shows up for you. You don’t have to go searching for it, preparing yourself for it, or working your fingers to the bone to deserve it. Gift. Grace. Surprise. Serendipity. And (seemingly) random.
Mmmm. May it be so, yes?