The tyranny was as it always is. Small things at the office about your desk, or countywide with oppression and deaths, tyranny is not about that. Tyranny is about the “what’s next” and the “unknown” that allows it to continue. The fear of the unknown thing, the desert for Moses after the exodus and the cry of the people to return, is but one example. Yours is your own. The knowledge that if you leave, then the next step will be a desert resides deep within you. So you submit, and you stay.
One of the things that I do is sift the current situation to see just how I am framing the conversation in my head. Perhaps I am overreacting or the other person is having a bad “month”... it could be that they have a problem at home that they bring to work or that they were passed over for that job they were promised... I just don’t know. What I do know is that it is either a phase or the nest step on the way to the bottom. I will need to choose though, and I know the next step is the desert of the “unknown”. So, I stay.
I have to measure the cost that I have seen others pay. I have watched their lives spiral and spin. While some do well and others flame out in some mildly pathetic way, and I wonder. The fact of the desert includes the first hill. That one dune that blocks the view of what is next, and then what is after that. The beasts and the dryness and the relentless and oppressive sun. The possibility of an oasis spread on the lips of the hopeful. The pit of vipers and the madness of solitude, and the endless wandering, spoken by the fearful. I can guess all of that awaits me if I start. So, I stay.
Oddly, it comes to me as in so many themes of movies, about the rebel that will finally abandon the safety of the tyranny and “escape” into near certain death. The movie Planet of the Apes (from the 70s) had that theme. The idea of the rebel guy that even would consider the act of leaving was shocking to the others in-prisoned there. And so, we ponder our own walls and the troop of our companions that we stay with, in our safe prison of low expectations.
There is a bandwidth of tolerance for each of us. A high and a low that will ring the bell of the need to change. Too high and our friends tell us we are putting on airs. Too low and we are in danger. Between those is a wavelength that we are comfortable with and we “hum along” with that rhythm... So we wonder. So we stay.
It is a curiosity as to what is the impetus to move, but we find that being confronted with the option of change or stasis we cross the divide and act. Take control of our lives and step. One step over the line, and our lives are now different, never to return. Our step into the desert has begun, and either alone or with a follower, we move. Change has begun to show. It started with the thought and was made evident with the step, but now is... our new normal. So, we stay... strong.
The desert is what we thought; big and dangerous and we are unprepared. The oasis is farther than we knew, or hoped and the result is near death from the dryness and the missteps. The snakes are an issue and the ever-present sun, but the thirst... dryness and blinding sand and wind and sun. Recriminations for bad planning and wrong expectations and a reality of staggeringly threatening proportions leaves us sobbing tears that consumes the remaining moisture in our bodies.... and we question.
We question our choices and our possibilities of death and the God that has not answered...but was the one that called us to try. What we are dealing with is the idea that we heard the call of our heart to try and struggle and fight the entropy and stasis and complacency that is like the barnacles on a ship. Slowing the progress and doing their work beneath the sight line. Or perhaps it is like the pernicious ideas of our companions that call us to abandon the notions of trying in the first place. Just as the worm that burrows into the wood and creates the leaks and weakens the planks of our resolve. They fear our leaving and view it as abandonment, or fear the retaliation of the overseers for our escaping the prison of mediocrity... perhaps it is even more, just unknown until it is spoken into reality...
So it is that the first dune is not the sandy one before us, it is the wall of our excuses that keep us low and timid, confined by ropes of our own making. Then it arrives, unexpectedly and boldly and clearly. The blade that is within reach and capable of the job of releasing us from the soul numbing malaise of the accepted mediocrity. Available and within our capacity if we accept the challenge, to reach for the freedom of trying and the challenge of the task it represents...
Fear of the unknown. The nemesis of greatness, of so many flaccid results of the compliant. But to dare! To try and fail and to try again... that is the stuff of the call in our hearts. To not honor that is to do a disservice to our being, and to the one that calls in the stillness of our soul.
I wonder about the call. The trust of my heart and the One that beckons. That the reason for the call is to grow and challenge and struggle for a worthy cause, and I am a worthy one to honor that call that is made. Or so I hope and believe. The worthy call from the trusted and scary and hopeful One that knows the timing and the outcome. In the midst of that struggle, before the oasis that I hope for is seen, and after the reality of return is removed, then is the hour of our greatest resolve found. After the death of our lover and companion, the challenge of the single parent, the job lost and the career change, the death of the entrepreneur’s dream on the breakers of a bad decision... these and many others force us to confront the dune before us, and the call within us...
Patience is required for the healing, and the time to learn. Patience is not complacency for there is always the tug in the place that we reveal reluctantly and to but a few. Then will come the day to honor that call, and while we are tremulous, we step forward. We love again, if only ourselves. And for some that is a large step. Walk with them in that journey into the desert of the attempt. Bring someone with you on the journey of your own. Show the scars and tell of the thirst, to those worthy of the tale. When Brodie (in the movie Jaws) tells of the scars it is with the last scar that he tells of his fears. Before that he laughs and brags, but in the desert of the ocean with his companion, that story is reserved for the worthy. The call to you is to treat it as worth the price of the telling. Humility and grace for the one that tried and survived. It could be you. Treat yourself as worthy, others think you are.
There is a name for the called. There is a name for the one that calls. There is a call that is the one that you alone can hear. Do not expect others to hear, for it is a singular thing. Reserved for the time and the one to which it is meant. You will know. You will be tested. There is no lack of calling and the irony is that as you act on the little ones, that call gets clearer and more defined. The test is not the big thing first, but the test to honor the “little thing.” It is within your ability and your path of growth. Be obedient to it, and you will know the test when it calls.
This call that comes is one that is up and forward. This one that calls knows you are able, or the call would not come. The one that calls you knows you. That is why the call was made. That is why you were the one that heard the call. It is for you. You are the one worthy of the call. To grow and challenge yourself and to find the strength that you were not aware of but had hoped was there.
Change will come to your companions as well. When Frodo went on his adventure his friends came back different for the journey that they went on as well. If you follow a companion on their quest, you will be changed as well. You will be a defender and a friend. You will be the squire and not the knight. You will see that they are prepared and supported. If it is your grand adventure take your friends with you that will see you are prepared and ready. Hangers on and near-do-wells can remain as they are. This is an adventure of merit and must be regarded as such. Return is an option, change is not. Off to the adventure ! Honor the Calling !
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