These words are for an amazing cohort of fellow travelers on this journey we call life. Today more than 40 teens and adults will gather to begin preparing for the Fall 2011 Greater Fox River Valley Operation Snowball weekend in November. If we are open to it, today also offers us an opportunity to begin preparing, not just for a 3-day event, but for an entirely new, extraordinary future. If I am truly open, today holds the possibility of a new me.
A phrase I contemplate often, one that can easily bring me to tears, is “youth are the messages we send to a future we will never see.” Why does it tear at my heart? Partly because it reminds me that someday, in the natural course of events, I will no longer be here for my children, Kathryn and David, in their time of need…and I will not be here for the youth of Operation Snowball who so often need a kind word or hug to let them know that, in spite of their pain, they will be okay.
But I wonder if the tears come from a deeper place. I wonder if the tears don’t emanate from my deep sense of inadequacy. Who am I to think I am nearly wise enough to teach these beautiful young people even a small portion of what they need to know as they navigate the oft-treacherous rapids flowing toward the future? Who am I to think that I am capable of passing along a single skill they will need to live into a future where they can discover fulfillment and a share of happiness? Who am I to think I have nearly the capacity to give them even a small portion of the love they ache to find in their lives?
The reality is that these are actually the wrong questions. These questions put me at the center of their future. These questions hold out the possibility that I have their answers, when, in fact, I often cannot even answer the deepest questions in my own life.
So what might be better questions? Here are a few that come to mind: How can I model for these ambassadors to the future the search for self? How can I, by honestly revealing the hills and valleys of my path, help them know the path they are on is the right path, even though, for so many, their path is infinitely more difficult than mine? How can I learn to find and bow to the sacredness inside me, and by so doing, point the way to their learning of their own wholeness? How can I learn that the answers I seek about life in general, and my life in particular, are here inside my heart and that if I trust, they will reveal themselves? How can I help others discover they too already have the answers they seek?
I titled this piece “On the Eve of an Inventure”—a word I borrowed from author and friend, Richard Leider. An inventure is a journey inward…a sacred look inside my being. An inventure is a discovery of who I am, so who I truly am can manifest itself in the world.
So as we begin, I bow to each of you, my fellow travelers. I bow to your goodness…I bow to your humanity…I bow to your wisdom. And I ask for your love and support as I try to bow to myself.