“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurmann
The night before he was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us that violence was threatening our very existence. If we are to confront this reality, there must come a deep joy which springs up in the face of hatred and injustice. The beauty is that this kind of joy exists within each and every one of us. Discovering it can be achieved in prayer along with contemplative practice and outreach. For it is in stillness and silence that the voice of God will direct our actions.
Years ago, I was engaged in a whirlwind of activity with self-designed goals to have more…more of everything. I thought that happiness could be found through obtaining lots of money and all the best material things it could provide. I would do whatever was necessary to get it, often at the expense of anyone or anything standing in my path. I was ‘on the way up’ and those left behind were regretfully collateral damage.
This is not to say that I was a mean person. On the contrary, I was jovial and popular. And I wanted more of that too. It was all intoxicating. In fact, intoxication became part of the equation. Cocaine and alcohol were perfect running mates as my personal wealth neared a million dollars just prior to my thirtieth birthday. Then the bottom fell out and I lost all of the people and things I treasured so much. Surprisingly, it was during the following years of descent, desperation, and sadness that I discovered inner peace and joy. My path of personal poverty led me to a different kind of richness through centering prayer and contemplation I never imagined. Faith and hope were restored as God’s unconditional love and forgiveness washed over me. I came alive.
For the past four decades, my world has been filled with an inner joy founded in contemplation and action. Not that there has been an absence of bumps and obstacles. I have had more than a few stumbles. But I have dedicated my life to what unceasingly makes me come alive. My work with wounded kids and those who suffer from addiction has been my way of confronting suffering, injustice, and hatred.
We are all called to action in this chaotic world. It has never been more important for us to work for social, political, economic and environmental justice and peace. We have to come alive now. Our existence depends on it.