Finding Yourself - and Everything In Between
The first time I met a pastor he said my name was holy. I was 5 at the time - my family and I were making our annual trip to church on Easter. Something we did to help my Dad convince himself we were a Roman Catholic family. Besides from that, and Christmas Eve, we were sinners like the rest of civilized society. But that’s besides the point. Holy. It wasn’t until about just a year ago that I found myself in the context of understanding to what he actually meant.
Born in 7th Century B.C. - died 6th Century B.C.
Daniel, the super star of the Book of Daniel. A tale about a boy taken into Babylonian captivity and chosen to be trained as an adviser to the Babylonian court because of his intellect and beauty (along with three others Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah). Given the name Belteshazzar (fancy pansy for ‘prince of Bell; Bel protect the king’) and through “divine wisdom” from his God, Yahweh, interpreted the dreams and visions of the king numerous occasions throughout his life. By interpreting dreams and secret messages, Daniel eventually was granted the title of “Third Ruler” of the kingdom of Babylonia. One of his most famous acts of faith was that of the lion’s den - an event at which corrupt officials convinced the king, Darius the Mede, into issuing an irrevocable decree that stated no God is to be worshiped for a 30-day period. Daniel, who prayed three times a day towards Jerusalem, is ordered to death and thrown into a den of lions. An angel closes their mouths, Daniel is delivered safely out of the den, and once the corrupt government officials are thrown inside? They are eaten instantly. As madness is bestowed upon him, as history makes clear the pitfalls of those ruling us, Daniel is protected. His faith alone carries him through what scholars believe to be an almost 101 years of life, through hell and high water, through numerous kings, apocalyptic visions - with the final message of the second half of the Book of Daniel being that God will deliver the people from oppression. Echoing the protection Daniel has known throughout his entire life.
As grand as my namesake may sounds, there are some potential flaws. For example, I’m not Jewish. To be more specific, for 19 years of my life I considered myself atheist. How could anybody who has never seen faith transpire throw blindly into it’s bucket? If we are really covered with an invisible yarn of ever-burning love why do we feel such horrible things, see such darkness, and bare witness to malicious acts of evil that every single human being is capable of committing? These things convinced me for many years that we were absolutely alone in an infinite Universe, desperately trying to throw reason at the metaphoric dartboard of purpose. It’s absolutely maddening. Looking for faith only to give purpose to acts of horror; play by play tilts on the seesaw of balance and chaos that allow us existence? Defiance. By no way did I believe, and at certain points challenging God against moonlit infinity to change my mind.
Do it, I dare you. And he responded. Awfully bluntly, and with little room for doubt.
So I guess this brings me to the point of this particular piece of writing. Anybody, and everybody, has the ability to find themselves. Now I don’t mean your casual self - your love of crafts or your passion for marine wildlife (as cute as those little baby seals are). No, I’m talking about the fibers of your being stoned and standing steady at the back of your mind, flowing tirelessly down to the bottomless depths of your beating heart. Parts of yourself that have always been there; quite and patiently awaiting the day that you decide to find them. You. In every fiber of the word. You, can find, well... You. Upon reaching your destination standing and looking back at the magnitude of your journey you will discover all of the little pieces that were also uncovered along the way. It might take you a few weeks - or it might take you a few years. But find broken peace knowing there are some who never find out what their purpose is. Find peace in the pieces of yourself scattered along a conscious -yet unaware- reality.
So I challenge you, reader. Begin to take larger steps along the path of life and DECIDE to find the rest of your soul. Decide that now is as early as it could possibly be, forgive yourself for not doing it sooner, and take a leap into the possibility of accepting that there is more meant for you then this. All it has to be is the decision to go on a walk. Put your headphones in, hit shuffle on your mp3 device (or Pandora, if you’re a fan of randomness like I), and walk until you feel different. Feelings are all we have in this body; they allow us a connection to the possibility of things we cannot yet explain and worlds we have yet to name. So walk until you feel. Walk and ponder, listen and observe, feel and open yourself to the wind as it hits your face and listen to it rustle the leaves of the oak besides you. I found who I am, I found faith, and I found everything I am and could be along the way. We may never reach the peak of the mountain; standing tall and perfect as we observe the grace of all humanity. But where is the living in not taking the first steps up the hill? Where is God if not in the places we have yet to look? And what exactly is it that restrains you from reaching your potential as human being?
It all beings with a decisions to walk.
Deliver yourself from oppression. Then? It’s one less thing God has to do.