The End

This is the final post of The Core Blog, and I’ve written and re-written it a dozen times in my head. Sometimes it was going to be epic and unforgettable, sometimes it was going to be brief and succinct. It’s taken on so many flavors and so many moods: lofty, wistful, pedantic, narrative, critical, introspective and blunt. All in my head.

But, like so many of my projects, what was envisioned in technicolor has been realized in black and white. And if authenticity is what we’re after, it’s probably for the best.

Especially because this blog has been largely inactive over the past year or so. When it began, almost exactly six years ago, I had so much to say, and more time to say it. I crafted each paragraph, and loitered over each comment. It was a vital outlet for me, especially when The Core was in its embryonic stages, and the Front Porch was only a twinkle in the eye. It did so much to help me sharpen the vision, largely because of the participation of those who read it, and commented on it.

Since then, my diatribes have become less and less digital, and more and more tangible. Even my words, in many cases, have been replaced by experiences. Some of those experiences upheld my words, and others refuted them. And hopefully to some degree, idealism has given way to wisdom.

But here I am, at any rate, a former pastor of a former church. I suppose you could say I went down with the ship, if you wanted to be melodramatic. Because it’s not really true. Although an organization has indeed been scuttled, I am glad to say that the family lives on. Hopefully it will not only survive, but flourish in its new location, with different brothers and sisters, and different leadership.

There is a page on this blog called “About” which has now been re-written to account for the conclusion of The Core, and its new partnership with Canvas. So I’d like to wrap up this blog by repeating it below… for posterity’s sake, if you will. But before I go, let me say thanks to you for being one of the (undoubtedly few) people reading this, my final post. And take heart, because the works of God, like so many chain-smoker’s cigarettes, do not end without sparking a new beginning.

I just want to be along for the ride.

___________________________________

The Core Fellowship was an independent body of Christ-followers which was founded in February 2006, and met for the last time on December 4, 2011. From August 31 onward, it gathered each Sunday morning at the Front Porch, a social venue which was located at 310 South Avenue, in historic downtown Springfield, Missouri. In addition to Sunday Gatherings, The Core Fellowship hosted a wide variety of events and activities, including live concerts, open mic nights, discussion groups, rotating art exhibits, movie nights, game nights, potlucks, dance parties, fundraisers, meetings and numerous private events.

Although The Core and the Front Porch are now no longer, the body and the vision live on. This is possible thanks to an organization located directly across the street (315 South Avenue) called Canvas, which also runs a social venue, with an emphasis on visual art and theatre. As of December 11, 2011, the people of The Core will gather with Canvas for worship each Sunday morning at 10:30 am. Beginning in early 2012, many of the functions normally carried on at the Front Porch will be re-located at Canvas, including live concerts, open mic nights, a hands-on art club, and much more.

Ryan Wiksell, The Core Pastor, and Christina Wiksell, Front Porch Director, would both like to express their sincere appreciation to all the volunteers that helped this effort to launch, and to last longer than 1 day. Each and every individual made a difference, and helped to shape this community in a unique way. From the bottom of our hearts… Thank You.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Walkability

Seattle, WashingtonImagine you’re a city planner. If you like the NBC Sit-com “Parks and Recreation“, imagine you’re the departed character Mark Brendanawicz. (Yes, I had to look up his name to spell it.) You’ve grown accustomed, over the years, to car-centric demands, like adequate parking, traffic flow, collision reduction, etc, etc. But one day, it seems like you’ve awakened into a different world, when all the people who used to clamor for more parking spaces are now chanting, not just a new buzzword, but an entirely new word. Now they want their neighborhoods to be: Walkable.

You know how those buzzwords are. They carry fads and trends around like rafts carrying passengers in the river; rafts which soon get deflated and flimsy and must be brought ashore and disembarked.

Your float trip is only going to last as long as your raft, and your trend is only going to last as long as your buzzword. When it gets damaged or deflated, you have to either find a new buzzword to prop up your trend for a few more miles, or find a way to give the old one new life.

Alexandria, VirginiaChristianity is the worst about this. It is lately, anyway, as it tries desperately to jump from one ministry catch phrase to the next to the next. In the 70s we pumped up the phrase “Born-again” for widespread use. In the 80s a church was all of a sudden expected to be “Relevant”. Soon after that it was all about “Gen-X”, and then “Post-Modern”. The words “Sustainable”, “Authentic”, “Narrative”, “Missional”, “Community” and “Post-Modern” have all made their appearances, some of which are still going strong.

But you, Mr. Brendanawicz, understand the fleeting nature of buzzwords very well. So you try your best to fend off the new fad until it blows over. The problem is, it doesn’t seem to be blowing over like any other public whim. It seems to be growing stronger all the time.

This may be a sign that Walkability is much more than a fad. Of the last five college students I’ve met, two of them were majors in urban planning, and both agreed: the call for Walkability is now ubiquitous. And for that reason I believe it signals a paradigm shift from community development that is car-centric, to people-centric. The concerns of the pedestrian, the cyclist, and the transit-rider are gaining influence over the concerns of the concerns of the motorist, and their gains are only increasing.

Memphis, TennesseeIt should be obvious that this is not a new thing at all. This is the only way cities were ever planned or built for millenia. Every city in history was conceived with the pedestrian (and perhaps the equestrian) in mind until the 1920s, and even into the 1940s. Some older communities, and poorer regions, never made the shift to accommodating cars at all. And they are the ones holding up the banners saying “Welcome Back” to Walkability.

The movement is gaining so much strength that it’s close to establishing the new standard for neighborhood quality. The same young families who used to be attracted to a subdivision full of cul-de-sacs and three-car garages, are now bemoaning that same neighborhood’s pitiful walk score of only 29 (out of 100.)

Why are people so into Walkability all of sudden? Because it turns out that pedestrians are capable of social relationship in ways that motorists never can be. The best possible interaction you can have in your car, with the driver of another car, is a mundane gesture of traffic courtesy, after which you can wave or smile and that’s it. The worst possible interaction is not even worth thinking about.

As pedestrian, however, you have access to a whole world of relational possibilities. That is, when you’re found in a walkable community. You can give directions to a lost visitor. You can pet a dog that’s being walked. You can open a door for someone, or help carry something heavy. You can study the architecture. You can smell all the smells of the neighborhood (including, perhaps, the roses.)

You can also meet the man or woman of your dreams… which is virtually impossible while driving (although many men with horns on their steering wheels have certainly tried.)

It seems that, as a society, we’ve finally started to get the hint. The hint that, despite the fact that GPS now comes standard on our vehicles, we are lost without relationships. And this time I’m not talking about the relationships with our spouses and families and friends, but relationships with our neighborhood; chance interactions with strangers and acquaintances that make our particular collection of streets and buildings worthy of the term Community.

I wonder if the Church can share that epiphany. Have we made the connection between diversity and relational health? Between an openness to chance interaction and spiritual growth? Is it fair to measure the Walkability of our churches by their focus on people, as opposed to programs?

Because if there is one word we ministers share in common with the urban planners, it is the word Community, and the desire we should have to make it Authentic. Some cities are taking their cues from Disneyland as they construct storefronts and lamp-posts intended to evoke a bygone era of Walkability, without the substance necessary to bring that neighborhood to life. And some churches have created a new host of programs designed, ironically, to shift the focus away from programs.

Springfield, MissouriBoth efforts are, of course, self-defeating, because they treat the concept of Community like a fad, instead of what it is: a Movement. A Shift. A Homecoming.

And just like any pedestrian on the street of any historic urban “walkable” neighborhood, if we’re going to be part of it, we have to accept that we cannot control it. We can only participate if our eyes are open to random people, our ears to random music, and our noses to random flowers.

Posted in center-city, church, city, community | 1 Comment

Yes, And

The Skinny ImprovThe more I get to know the guys from The Skinny Improv here in downtown Springfield, the more I keep hearing the phrase “Yes, And.” Tyler Snodgrass first mentioned it to me at Rob Hunt‘s birthday party, while explaining some principles of improvisational comedy. Then I heard Jeff Jenkins, the founder of The Skinny, talking it up. And when my co-worker Gary Seevers started taking improv classes, he jumped on the Yes And bandwagon as well.

But ever since the first conversation with Tyler, I knew that there was more to “Yes, And” than comedy. There’s nothing inherently funny about the phrase or the technique. That’s because it’s not fuel for humor, it’s fuel for teamwork. It takes the energy created by one person, and multiplies it around the group.

I’m feeling the need to back up and explain the concept. As a group of comedians endeavors to create an improvised sketch, they have to feed off of one another. The last thing you want is a bunch of disjointed one-liners. Rather, you want a scene; a story. And you can’t build a story with a certain flow of events. Consequently, your contribution has to flow directly (or at least indirectly) from the lines that were just spoken. And the best tool for learning to think this way is “Yes, And”.

It doesn’t matter if you think everyone else on the stage is an idiot. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the direction the scene is going. If you try to mutinize it, the scene will fail no matter how funny or clever you are. Instead, you have to think “Yes, And” and hope you can steer people in a hilarious direction.

Personally, I can’t get the idea out of my mind. It’s occurred to me how often my interactions with people are begin with either “No, instead…” or “Yes, but…” Either I’m trying to negate and replace their statement, or I’m paying lip service before improving or correcting it.

Naturally, some statements need correcting. But I’ve got to learn to pick my battles better, because many times I’m correcting things that I don’t even think are wrong; I just see more angles that I’d like to explore. And that’s a problem. Too many “Yes, but”s, and you start to look like a hypocrite who simply patronizes people instead of listening to, and affirming them. And far too often, that is exactly what I am.

How much better would the Body of Christ function if we thought this way? If we recognize that we’ve got a scene to play out, and we’re all on a stage trying to create something that will connect with the audience, then maybe we’ll stop trying to grab the spotlight and remember that it only works when we work together. And that honestly affirming a lame idea (or at least the originator of it) is always more effective than replacing it with a great one.

So that’s my goal. To think like a YesAnder. Which means now is the perfect time to comment on my blog, to give me some practice affirming your opinion, whatever it happens to be.

Please don’t make me regret this.

Posted in church, humor, regrets | 4 Comments

A Bad Day for Jesus

Following is an imagined conversation between God the Father, and Jesus the Son on May 21, 2011:

Father: It’s time, my Son.

Jesus: Time for what now?

Father: It’s May 21, 2011. Time for the Rapture. You know… Judgment Day.

Harold Camping, Endtimes PrognosticatorJesus: Wait… what? You mean that psycho on the radio was right??

Father: Yep… Harold Camping nailed it. And you know, if you’d paid a little more attention in Hebrew School, you might have known the date yourself.

Jesus: But I was valedictorian!

Father: Out of what? Eight students? Valedictorian of Nazareth Synagogue and Tannery… very nice.

Jesus: It’s not my fault… I didn’t write those prophecies.

Father: And did you really have to admit that you didn’t know the day or the hour? It’s been exactly 7,000 years since the Flood, for your sake! Talk about obvious…

Jesus: What? I thought that was next year!

Father: You counted the year zero again, didn’t you? I’ll bet you were banking on that heathen Mayan calendar, weren’t you? 2012 just looks better, doesn’t it?

Jesus: Now you’re just being hateful. “God is Love, remember?”

Father: Right. Well, regardless of that, I’m giving Harold your job.

Jesus: …

Father: of Messiah. Savior. First-born over all creation and First-fruits of the redemption.

Jesus: You can do that??

Father: Oh, please. I can do everything except make a rock so large I can’t lift it. You know I’d been meaning to make the change ever since that embarrassing display with the foot-washing. But Jesus! Don’t look so devastated. It’s not like I’m not disowning you. You can be like Esau to Harold’s Jacob.

Jesus: But I’m waaay older than Harold! Jacob and Esau were twins.

Father: Look who’s finally paying attention to their Torah studies…

Jesus: So I’ll still be your Son?

Father: Sure. But you might need to stop capitalizing the “S”.

Jesus: Then what are my new duties?

Father: Manager of Merchandising.

Jesus: Salt on a dung-heap! You’ve got to be joking.

Father: Hey… if I were joking, you would be laughing. But enough of this… you’ve got to get down there already. Gabriel has his trumpet out of the case, and he’s getting impatient.

Jesus: Fine. What should I do when I get down there?

Father: Don’t worry about that. You just show up with Gabe, and he’ll make the announcement. Harold Camping will rise first, and you can let him take it from there.

Jesus: Oh God.

Posted in humor, jesus, news, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Another Stupid Bible Study

There are no wacky coffeehouses in Springfield.

I’ve been to some crazy little java joints in Kansas City and St. Louis with lots of edgy art, painfully miscellaneous furniture, parental advisory music, lengthy vegan menus, and baristas with tattoos on their faces.

This will never be the case in my city, because the Springfield coffee scene is owned by the Christians.

Bible StudyNot that my ideal hang-out necessarily includes trash art or vegan fare. But neither do I close my eyes and imagine a venue where every other table sports five open Bibles and two actual beverages. This is characteristic of the boilerplate Bible studies that have inundated Springfield’s caffeine-dealers with Christian college students, accountability groups, and Sunday school classes who’ve been looking for a change of venue.

Before I go any further, let me say that I’ve got nothing whatsoever against these people. And if they are benefiting from the experience, I say more power to them… they’re not bothering me. If I fear just one negative effect of their existence, it is the bible-study-stigma they create in the minds of millenials, post-moderns and post-Christians. I know this, because it happened to me.

And if I have zero interest in attending Another Stupid Bible Study, you can bet your Flanders-glasses that I don’t want to lead one.

Nevertheless… it seems my mind keeps wandering back to the idea. I can’t help but notice that there are a lot of people who really do want to work through books or passages of the Bible in a methodical way. Even more importantly, they want to learn how to interpret God’s words for themselves, and eventually show others how to interpret God’s words for themselves. Because, for anyone following Christ, doesn’t this sound like the essence of the command to “make disciples”? But at the same time, one sighting of a metal folding chair or a fill-in-the-blanks workbook, and they’re outta here. (Because I would be too.) It has to be conversational, it has to be open-minded, and it has to be altogether unique.

So I can’t get the idea out of my head… and this is where I need your help. The last thing I want to do is carefully piece something together based solely on my own stigmas and preferences and interpretations. So here are some questions for you, in case this sounds like something you maybe always wanted to jump into.

1) How important is conversation? Should everyone have a strong voice, regardless how unfamiliar he/she is with Scripture?

2) What types of passages should be addressed first and most often? Gospels? Letters? Narratives? Character Studies? Endtimes?

3) How important is it to learn new interpretive information from the facilitator? Do you want “teaching” mixed into it, or would you prefer something entirely dialogical?

4) How intensive should it be? Is it more preferable to offend intellectuals, or laypeople? How important is it to be able to jump in and out at will?

5) How Christian should it be? Should a Buddhist or Muslim or Atheist feel comfortable? or does this undermine the effectiveness of the discipleship process?

I do appreciate your input here. And for those living in Springfield, I plan to have an open forum at the Front Porch this Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm to talk over these ideas in person. In other words, Another Stupid Forum. Tempting, right?

Posted in bible, emerging church, front porch | 3 Comments

Doing My Own Stunts

I decided today that a pastor doing his own graphics is a little like an actor doing his own stunts. It’s fun, but dangerous.

So I thought I’d take a post here to reminisce on all the dangerous fun I’ve had so far with my sermon graphics. Some are slides for a whole series, and some for a single message, but anyway… here are my favorites.

Posted in autobiography, communication, the core | 6 Comments

Barack O’Billion

Obama's $1 billion campaignThe latest estimates, as evidenced by stories like this one from Reuters, is that Barack Obama will raise $1 billion to run for his re-election in 2012. This amount is likely to dwarf any potential Republican rival, especially when considering that Obama doesn’t have to spend any of trying to win primaries.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of a “grassroots” president planning a 10-figure campaign in the middle of a 13-figure budget crisis rubs me wrong. In other words, I have a much better idea for how a presidential candidate can spend $1 billion. So let me take this opportunity to turn my post into:

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

Despite being politically moderate, and despite my occasional chagrin with your policies, I like you as a president. I liked your 2008 campaign, and its grassroots character. I like the glass ceiling you’ve broken, for the benefit of racial relations in this country. And I like the way you tackle issues head on with a minimum of the usual issue-dodging and political mumbo-jumbo.

However, I’m afraid that the end of your first term may mark the end of everything that made your administration a breath of fresh air. Because there are two things that absolutely infuriate so many Americans seeking and end to wasteful government spending: Black-Tie Fundraisers, and Campaign Commercials. As many of us see it, these Fundraisers are literally the place where political power is bought, and the Commercials are where it is sold.

No doubt this is where the majority of campaign money is spent, on these Commercials that everyone hates, and nobody is really swayed by. Are you, Mr. President, prepared to spend a solid chunk of $1 billion on them? I hope not. Instead, I’d like to propose an alternative.

Raise your billion, if you must. But then make an announcement that $100 million of it is going to healthcare for children, instead of your campaign. I guarantee that you will get more positive media attention from this announcement than you would from $100 million worth of TV ads. Pick nine more causes, like safer streets, career re-training programs, drug addiction centers, etc, etc, and give each one $100 million, every two weeks. You’ve seen what that sort of magnanimity does for Oprah. If you weren’t already a media darling, this would seal the deal.

Not only would this plan be a tremendous benefit to American society, it would be a much more affective way to campaign. Except for a little bit of traveling around and pontificating in the final 3 months, no other compaigning is necessary. You’re the incumbent! Make the right decisions, and you have total access to the eyes and ears of the American people. This is your chance to be the Obama that people came to know in 2008, a persona that brought so many people inspiration and hope. Plus, you have the opportunity, here and now, to set the example for future leaders, and unwind the narcissistic trend of over-spending that’s been spiraling out of control.

Sincerely,
Ryan Wiksell
Springfield, Missouri

Posted in media, politics | 4 Comments

I. Am. Job.

Mrs. DoubtfireIn what can now be considered a “classic” comedy, Robin Williams invents a few hilarious characters on the phone before concocting the iconic Mrs. Doubtfire. Consequently, his wife’s initial inquiries into a nanny for her children are met with lines like “Are your kids well-behaved, or do they need, like, a few light slams every now and then?” and “Oh, I don’t verk vit da males… ‘cuss I used to be vone.” And finally, “I. Am. Job.”

“Do you speak English?” she replies.

“I. Am. Job.”

It’s pretty doubtful that Mrs. Doubtfire intended any deeper meaning to be implied here. But I’m going to do it anyway. Because last night in our Art of Conversation group with four Saudi guys, we were talking about jobs and occupations. One of these young men was telling me how he planned to study accounting, even though he hated math. Since he still had plenty of opportunity to change his mind, we talked with him about his other interests, and what other occupations he might enjoy.

It turns out he was very interested in computers, especially the hardware aspect. But, despite his limited grasp of English, he was able to communicate to us that only jobs in banks and hospitals are respected in Saudi Arabia. “I want to have a job at a desk, in an office. People ask you what kind of job you have… it’s the first question they ask. That way I can have a wife, have children. And I have money for them.”

Whether or not my new friend’s perspective is a perfect match with Saudi reality, I was disheartened to hear it. Although it doesn’t make sense for everyone to pursue a career that reflects their ultimate passion, we should all at least be able to do something we’re good at. Especially if we travel overseas to study for it, like this young man is doing. People who hate math should not feel pressured to be accountants, any more than people who can’t stand the sight of blood should feel pressured to be surgeons.

And yes, it’s easy for us Americans to look askance at foreign cultures, especially middle-eastern ones, and lament the lack of freedom in one area or another. But when it comes to careers and the workforce, I’m not sure the situation is a whole lot better here.

I’m sure we’ve all observed the “I Am Job” identity crisis; perhaps even in ourselves. Either we wrap our personhood around our position (“I am ________), or we sink it all into our dreams for the future. (“I am an aspiring ________”, or “I am a ________ major.”) And others, at that point, can have us mostly figured out.

I understand this might be a tired point; that you are not what you do. So I’m going to wrap up this post by taking it a different direction, in other words, the way we choose our careers. As in many things, I think there’s an error on one side, a different error on the other side, and an ideal path down the middle.

CHOOSING A CAREER: THE ERROR OF PASSION

Music TherapyThis is the more common error amongst Americans and other Westerners; choosing a career or major based solely on one’s passion. This, of course, would apply to most (but not all) music, art and theater majors, along with students of philosophy, literature, history, or Latin. (Don’t be mad, I got my degree in music.) Of course the error is not limited to these areas. Many people choose majors or career paths based on all kinds of interests, and find out later that all it takes is two years of intense study or productivity to rid them of that passion entirely.

And that’s the less obvious problem which arises from following your heart into the workplace. (The obvious one being that you’re not likely to make a living at it.) It’s not unlike the pitfalls inherent in dating your best friend. There’s a chance it might work out romantically, but if it doesn’t, you’ve got a lose-lose on your hands. Likewise, even if you do find your passion does translate into a short-lived dream job, you may end up ruining both a career, and a hobby.

That being said, I’m still very glad that some people choose to pursue studies in music, the arts and the humanities. We need them. Maybe just not so many of them.

THE ERROR OF PRAGMATISM

The ProfessionalThen there are those who stray in the opposite direction, either at the prompting of their parents, or at the urge of their practical nature. They want a job with a future, with good prospects, with market demand, and yes, a good salary. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this. But it comes back to my Saudi friend who is about to spend every day doing something he hates. At this point, I don’t care how lucrative or secure the job is, it’s not sustainable. Someone in this position will be lucky if he makes it to his mid-life crisis before breaking down and/or bailing out. And the wife and kids will wish they could trade the 4000 square-foot house for a non-disgruntled husband and father. Of course, the same thing happens with wives and mothers who make these kinds of choices.

THE MIDDLE WAY

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to quite a few people lately about their career choices, and I don’t pretend to be able to give them professional guidance. But I do like to encourage them to combine their skills with the needs of the market, and use their imagination. I may loooove music, but I don’t think I’d want to do it (or profit from doing it) professionally. I really like graphic design, however, and it turns out that the graphic design market has a place for me. And I can do it every day without spoiling an intimate passion of mine; I can still enjoy music all I want.

I guess we have to back up and remember that Career and Calling are two different things. God has made us for both, but there’s still a line to be drawn between them. We’re created for a Calling, certainly; to pursue our spiritual purpose through prayer, study and worship. Maybe that calling will be of a practical nature, or of a more mystical nature, but either way it’s straight from God, intended for the benefit of his Kingdom.

But amongst all that, we’re also created to contribute to society around us. Don’t think of it as a market, think of it as a community. What does my community need? Where are the gaps? What skills can I apply to those gaps to be a blessing to the people around me?

If I choose a career based on my interests (even if I’m only interested in a big paycheck,) Then 40 hours or more of my week is centered around me. But if I look at the needs of my community, then I have an opportunity to spend half of my waking hours every weekday making my life about others. And that’s a Calling that we all need to embrace.

Posted in autobiography, culture, guidance | Leave a comment

Top Ten Terrible Ideas for a Themed Party

Lately I’ve been astounded by the sheer ubiquity of the “Themed Party”, to the point where it’s become unthinkable to have a party without a zany theme. So as you’re planning your next shin-dig, allow me to help steer you clear of some potential pitfalls as I offer my original “Top Ten Terrible Ideas for Themed Party.” Fore-warned is Fore-armed, so if I see any of these parties in my Facebook Events, you can expect to find my name under “Not Attending.” Here goes…

10. “Drinking for Two” Baby Shower

9. Carbon Neutral Surprise Birthday Party! (everyone stay home, do nothing)

8. Holocaust Halloween

7. “Beer” Party

6. Prima Nocta Bridal Shower

5. “Night of the Motionless Dead” Masquerade

4. Glee

3. Free-Beer-but-Ten-Dollars-at-the-Bathroom-Door Benefit Show

2. “Presidents of the 80s” Decade Dance

And the Number One Terrible Idea for a Themed Party…

1. “Super Bowl”

High Five!

Posted in humor | 1 Comment

St. Valentine’s Revolution

heartsOf all American holidays, none seems to receive a wider spectrum of observation than Valentine’s Day. Some people dread it, some people forget about it, and some people plan for months in anticipation of it. Very few are complacent about it.

You won’t find too many holiday-themed posts on my blog, but I’ll make an exception today, in order to predict what sort of Valentine’s Day you’ve had.

For the most part, people fall into one of four categories on the day of love, and I think the kind of day you have on February 14 is predicted with some accuracy by these categories. So here goes…

1. You love nobody, and nobody loves you: UNHAPPY; BITTER

2. You love somebody, but they don’t love you back: UNHAPPY; FRUSTRATED

3. Somebody loves you, but you don’t love them back: UNHAPPY; ANNOYED

4. You love somebody, and they do love you back: HAPPY!

V-day may be recognized as an opportunity to celebrate love, and spread it all around, but it seems that the only people who enjoy the holiday are those who receiving love from a specific person. The unrequited lover isn’t celebrating.  The adoring parent, child, sibling or friend might be feeling left out as well.

So it would seem that the measure of Valentine’s Day doesn’t have anything to do with LOVING, after all. Rather it has everything to do with being adequately desired by the individual of one’s choice. Which begs the question: Where does actual Love come into all this?

I’ve seen a few interesting solutions to the “problem” of mid-February solitude: “Stupid Cupid” parties, girls/guys nights out, speed-dating, etc. But all of these, in my opinion, either miss the point, or stomp on it. The fact is, no matter what your romantic situation may be, you can celebrate love. Namely, by loving.

The key to this is to realize that the man/woman of your dreams is almost certainly not the person who is most in need of your love. Rather, it is the child living in a broken home, the widow in assisted living, the forgotten co-worker or student or neighbor. What if Valentine’s Day were seized as a revolution of real love, and the revolutionaries who seize it are the ones normally left behind by the commercial spectacle?

Because it may be that the happiness you seek is nothing, compared to the happiness you are capable of giving away.

Posted in culture, spirituality | Leave a comment