A Few Alternatives to Easter
I have never had issues with people of faith attending church and celebrating the story of Christ, except for this weekend.
Many of us have not yet had someone close to them fall victim to the Coronavirus. Two and a half weeks ago, Terrence McNally, one of our country’s most influential playwrights, passed. Anyone who knew Terrence not only thought of him as a literary force of nature, he was a magician in bringing the human experience to life. As a role model, he showed so many of us what it means to choose kindness, no matter the circumstances around us. His departure was the moment the health crisis became very real, random, and utterly disrespectful.
My spiritual journey is unlike anyone else. But, I also believe that everyone’s true spirituality is unique.
I come from a childhood that featured a white-male-pissed-off-God. That merciless and inhospitable God was so violent that many of the followers were also violent and merciless.
For years, I dragged around a big expensive set of luggage that contained all of the billing from therapists and the remnants of that violent childhood. But, finding my life’s work changed everything.
I delivered the first Inspired Work Program in 1990. Nothing prepared me for what took place in that room. The curriculum caused people to fuse their spirituality, emotions, and critical thinking into an answer to that all-important question, “What do you want to do with your life?”
My internal bias towards others became extraordinarily painful. As people from all walks-of-life walked through those doors, I hid my bias behind a poker face. I would imagine that someone I just met would be the last person on earth to transform his or her life. Invariably, they would be the first ones to have a mind-bending breakthrough.
So, my spiritual journey has led to an outlook that no matter the religion, we are all praying to the same entity. And, the actions we take toward helping others often determine whether we reach our real potential or not.
Here is one of my most favorite examples:
I have served an organization that reaches out to the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles. A few years ago, I met a wonderful woman who was throwing her all into making it back to her community and family. There was a time where her drug addiction had led to living under a freeway overpass. There, she developed an infection that destroyed all of her teeth.
Despite her circumstances, she always smiled, even though it embarrassed her to do that! She was usually the first to help others. The day arrived that surprised all of us. She walked in the door with a mouth full of beautiful new teeth! As I watched her, an image came into my head. I have learned that many of those life-changing opportunities arrive and if we take action, everyone wins. So, I walked over to her and lowered my voice.
“I hope you don’t take this personally. I have been so impressed by your joy and willingness to help others. Now, you have this big gift, and if you are open, I would like to treat you to a makeover.”
She threw her arms around me. A few days later, I took her to our hairdresser and asked him to give her the whole thing, hair, makeup, manicure, and pedicure. I left two outfits, got in my car, put down the roof, and waited at the beach. When I returned, I tiptoed through the back entrance and peeked around the corner. David, our Scottish hairdresser, had her turned away from the mirror. He saw me and signaled that I stay quiet. But, I was so astonished by her beauty the tears were already flowing. He spun her chair around and she looked at herself, totally overwhelmed, and said, “I look beautiful.”
I cannot recall, with any detail, my visits to church during Easter or Christmas. When I think of anything that remains transfixed in my head, it usually involves a transformative moment when someone’s life changes or when someone did the same for me.
The actions that are taking place today, the reset that could be playing out right now, isn’t about dogma, it is about either doing the right thing or being aware of how each one of us can change someone’s life just by allowing us to step into possibility and compassion.
There are still people on the streets of Los Angeles. We can help them.
There are millions of people who are not dealing with stress in healthy ways. We can call them.
For those of us who declare that service isn’t valuable unless it is selfless, I say bullshit.
Service makes all of us happier, healthier, and more connected with our spirit.
Here are just a few possibilities:
- Make a hot meal, put it in a bag, and give it to someone who needs it.
- Call the friend or family member who is far more isolated than you. Check-in on his or her welfare. Listen.
- If you wanted to go to your church, synagogue or temple, but you have changed your mind. Call and ask if there is anyone in the congregation who needs food, a makeover afterward, or simply a call.
- Visit LinkedIn right now. Wait, you might be reading this on LinkedIn! Visit the profiles of the very people who supported you and made your life better. Write a recommendation that is generous and from your heart. It turns out that praise is one of the better behaviors to help others be healthy.
- Buy someone a bag of groceries, pay their utility or phone bill, or solve one of their problems.
The Coronavirus became real to me when a friend passed away. This “thing” is so random. This man influenced our culture in profound ways. He was one of the kindest human beings that I ever met. On the same day, LA’s Mayor Garcetti held a press conference and said that our staying at home might be better realized if we treated it as an “act of love.”
I am not telling anyone what to do, nor am I holding myself up as a role model. Anyone who knows me well is aware that I am as deeply flawed and imperfect as the next person.
What I do hope my readers hear is that gratitude transforms our lives, service makes us better and healthier people, and we do not have to leave our home to make someone’s life better.
Look, I cannot control what people will do on Sunday. I would just like to suggest that taking action that protects us from illness and using our time to help others could contribute to the spiritual makeover of our country, the one it so deservedly needs.
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