What’s Your Dream? Part 2: Cultivating Loving Kindness; Kierkegaard, Unicorns and Olaf from Frozen.

In my last blog I mentioned being asked by an eight year girl what my dream was. On my 800 mile roundtrip to Destin, Florida recently I had a lot of time to think about that. I already have everything I want and I don’t need any more possessions. There’s no specific place I’m dying to go to. I’m content to just ride and discover. I’m happy with my job and they seem reasonably happy with me. I’d like to spend more time with my family, but they’re so far away right now. So what’s my dream?

The only dream I could come up with had to do with the kind of person I want to be. Most of the time I have a hard time living out my spiritual beliefs. Isn’t that what life should really be about? Kierkegaard says that our problem is that we live backwards. We see relative things (cars, houses, jobs, vacations, money, the sports teams we support, the political candidates we vote for, etc.) as being of absolute importance to us and we see and act like things that are of absolute importance (God, our moral values, our spirituality, love and compassion for others, the meaning of life etc.) as only of relative importance. He says that we need to reverse this: we need to relate absolutely to the absolute and only relatively to the relative. To me, this means that my dream centers around being a less judgmental and a more loving and compassionate person to absolutely everyone (without exception) that I meet. Trust me, I’m not giving up my enjoyment of the relative: a great motorcycle, Georgia football, friends, drinks and kisses, but I need to keep them in perspective – they’re only of relative importance.

This week I managed to run into my little Latino friend who’s about 8 years old and who goes to the same free meal program I go to. After we had talked awhile I asked her what her dreams were. She told me that she loved unicorns because they were so beautiful and magical. She also said that she wanted to be  Olaf from Frozen. I had to look him up. Olaf is apparently a friendly snowman who loves hugs and who’s innocent, outgoing and kindhearted. Olaf actually seemed a lot like the young girl before me who just bubbled with happiness and warmth.

So my dream is to be more compassionate and loving, and hers is to be Olaf, the kindhearted snowman. In a wacky way maybe our dreams are not that much different?

Anyway, what are your dreams?

What’s Your Dream? Green Eggs and Ham.

Last Thursday, at dinner time, I sat down with the beautiful Latino kids I sit with each week. The sweet 8 year old girl beside me suddenly said: “What’s your dream?”

“Good question.” I replied, partially so I’d have more time to think.

“Don’t say it.” Her brother chimed in. “Or it won’t come true.”

“No, that’s wishes.” I said. “You don’t tell people your wishes. You have to tell people your dreams so they can help you make them come true.”

The little girl surprised me with a hug. “I love how you sit with us and let us read to you and you make us airplanes.”

“I love being with y’all.” Sometimes dreams begin by just putting yourself in new places, challenging places. I was going to ask her what her dreams were when she flipped open the book Green Eggs and Ham and, well, it’s one of my favorite books and I wanted to hear it again. When she finished reading, which she did with only a little help, I was going to ask her what her dreams were but then dinner came and, well, I was hungry. I’ll sit with her and her friends next week and I’ll ask her then.

There’s a credit card advertisement here in the USA which concludes with: “What’s in your wallet?” My spontaneous answer to that is immediately: “Not a whole heck of a lot.”

But when you think about it, what’s in your wallet doesn’t really matter that much. What matters is what’s in your heart, for that’s where dreams come from. What are your dreams? Where are they beckoning you to go? How do you discover them and start your journey?

If you’re not sure where to start then ask a child. If you’re lucky she’ll read you Green Eggs and Ham.

The Trees Will Clap their Hands: Marriage and Motorcycling

Two days ago I had the honor of co-officiating at the marriage of two good friends of mine, Lauren and Michael. It was being held on the beautiful grounds of Berry College on the edge of a forest. While everyone was gathering I watched the wind rippling through the trees, and listened to the branches sigh a refrain.  It was like they were clapping. When it was my turn to talk I talked about what a joyous occasion it was and mentioned a verse from Isaiah: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

It was a beautiful, joyous ceremony.

Yesterday, I was up early for my trip to Destin, Florida. The temperature was in the low 60’s and the scent of autumn was in the air. Big Red, my Harley Road King, was ready to go and was already half way edged out of the garage in expectation. I loaded on my gear, cranked her up and headed out Highway 27 south. Doesn’t take long when I’m riding in silence on the bike for me to be overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for everything I have in my life and for the twisty roads I still have a head of me. Silence and solitude are natural healers. Turn off the radio and the television, skip the newspaper and Facebook and let your own soul tell you about what’s important today.

I generally avoid interstate highways, preferring the old “blue” highways. And I ride without GPS or any maps/directions in plastic on the gas tank so, consequently I get lost a lot. I try to memorize route numbers and that works most of the time. The rest of the time I get lucky or I get lost. Either way, I’m okay with it.  I managed to ride into a few towns I had never been in before and enjoyed the columned, wrap around porches, and the slower pace of life being acted out.

Out on the road again the cotton fields were beautiful, looking like places where snow was being grown. In some places the wind was helping white bolls escape and hurry across the highway. At the sides of the fields sat idle, long armed irrigation machines that looked like ambitious, but failed Wright brothers inventions.

I passed the place where the National Peanut Festival was held every year and stopped in Dothan, Alabama for barbecue at Dobbs Historic Barbecue. Big Red and I rode past the Bonsai store with its long window of Bonsai trees that solemnly watched us as we rode through Cottondale, Florida.

A few hours later than I had planned, I eventually made it to Destin. I had been on the road for 10 hours and had traveled over 400 miles. My motel was right across the street from one of my favorite places AJ’s restaurant, which sits right on the harbor. I parked Big Red and took off my helmet. It felt joyous to have simply made it, to have spent the day surrounded by beauty, and to finally be giving my backside a rest. I inhaled the fresh sea air, heard music playing in the distance and watched the breeze riffling through the palm trees. They were definitely clapping.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”