Remember being a teen, eager to find out all the secrets of life that everyone else seemed to know? In the fervor of my Baby-Boom generation we decided that we didn’t want to know (or be, or live) what our parents had, so we eagerly embraced cultural revolution and turned away: from the Business World’s way of commerce, to bartering; from monogamy, to free love; from pursuing a house in suburbia, to being footloose and fancy-free! But as we have aged many of us have gotten tired of relentlessly starting over. As a result, we have naturally settled into living in a way that is more secure and regular, more adult-like, and… dare we say it!… more like our parents. Which makes me wonder… when was the last time that we did something for the first time? Is that only in the past? And if so… why? And why is it that despite all of our accomplishments, when we do try something new we still have that odd feeling of once again being an insecure teen? What has happened to the revolution?
Internal revolution is the plowing up of an old and established field in order to bring forth something new, something similar to my leaving the monastery in 2001 at age 52. When I left my monastery after being there for 23 years, living as a monk-without-portfolio caused a part of me to awaken, a part that I never even knew had gone to sleep! I remember having the clear thought at that time, “I need to do this again when I am 70! The Sleeper NEEDS to awaken… again!” Therefore, in 2019 I will toss my life upside down again to move to Hilo, Hawaii! I will be forced to learn new streets, eat new food, to be like a butterfly who sheds his confining chrysalis and spreads newfound wings. Apparently, though, the revolution will begin a bit earlier than that, as I found out by what happened in Walmart the other day!
On Tuesday, right there in Walmart, I was ambushed by an experience which suddenly caused me to know that… even at 66… I do not yet know enough about my heart! I went into one of the 20-items-or-less lines, and while patiently waiting looked over at the line on my right and felt a tsunami of bewildering fury! There at the register was a Muslim woman in a head-to-toe Abaya paying for her purchases. An Abaya? In Rincon, Georgia?!!! It was as if a grenade suddenly went off in my heart: “NOT IN MY WALMART !!!” I don’t understand the violence of my visceral reaction! I mean, I have gotten used to seeing Muslim women everywhere wearing head-scarves and that has never before evoked such a spasm in my heart. Walmart in Rincon is not Afghanistan, and not only did I wonder what she was doing here but the intensity of my not wanting her to be here left me wondering, “What is this about?” It was not that I thought that she might be a terrorist. It was more that I felt that her dress was a deliberate and insulting rejection of where she is! Of us! Of ME!!! Good Lord, what is all of this about?!!!
Apparently, the revolution is not going to wait until I am 70 and move to Hilo, Hawaii! In Walmart the other day the revolution came to me! While I had not planned on plowing my heart’s field quite yet, my emotional reaction makes clear to me that there is something in there which requires a bit of turning over and weeding. Now… where did I leave that plow?