Tomorrow begins, at least for those of us recently invited to be on staff, the Spring 2010 Greater Fox River Valley Operation Snowball weekend. If we are open to it, tomorrow also begins a new world…a new future. If I am truly open, tomorrow holds the possibility of a new me.
I am prompted in these words by a book I just finished on the subject of memes. Memes are the mental/intellectual/cultural counterparts to human genes. They are the thoughts, the ideas, the worldviews we hold and those we spread. Like the genes we pass on to our children, and generations yet unborn, memes are the ideas we implant in others that will fight for survival as they collide with alternate worldviews—conflicting ideas that simply cannot share the limited neuronal capacity of our all-too-human brains.
A phrase I once heard that brings me to tears as I contemplate my reason for existence—here at Snowball, as well as here on Earth—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 I have nearly the capacity to give them even a small portion of the love they ache to find in their lives. Who am I to think that I know even a smattering of the memes that will help them build a future where they can discover fulfillment and a share of happiness?
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 are some better questions? A Buddhist monk once said that if we could truly see into the soul of other humans we would never get anything done…we would spend the rest of our lives bowing to one another. I believe that to be true. We have all seen it revealed through the magic that is Snowball. How often do the stories unveiled on Saturday night at “It’s a Wonderful Life” give us a glimpse into the sacredness of the souls who sit in our midst?
So what are the right 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 myself, and by so doing, point the way to their learning of their own wholeness. How can I learn that the answers I seek 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 “The Eve of an Inventure”—a word I borrowed from author and friend, Richard Leider. An inventure is a journey inward. An inventure is 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.