By Kathy Harwood Long
Last December, I sat at my kitchen table with Xavier Clark. I had met him when he was a tiny guy in the Peace camps I created in SE Michigan. Now he will be one of thousands to graduate from high school this June. He is among the ”firsts”–those who have traversed through a Freshman year with a pandemic and now cross a stage to receive a well-earned diploma.
I marveled at Xavier’s attentive presence while we shared. He is true to his life essentials: friends, sports, art, and his family. His mom mentioned a mandala he’d created at Peace Camp, the word “Courage” at the center. Everything about Xavier is teaching courage. He shows up for life on life’s terms, not his. He thrives on connecting with family and friends. He is learning to rise with his feelings each day, and Madisyn, Tate, Hana, and Justin, killed at his school on Nov. 30, 2021, are not with him. I don’t think he takes much for granted, but he clearly chooses to live.
Choosing life, especially when we are challenged to do so, reveals an energy axiom: in giving to life, life is giving to us. I think of axioms as pivotal Truths upon which all else proves that Truth. Just the word truth evokes the spiritual domain. For Xavier, me, and anyone challenged to rise to life with so much destructive insanity occurring, the spiritual Truth is this: as you give, so that you will receive.
I observed in Xavier much evidence of giving to life and the following truths:
Being with people we care about may be our best medicine to live…living with a one-day-at-a-time attitude may save us from fear….accepting that questions don’t have to be answered may calm unnecessary worries that were strangling our life force…Be Here Now intentions liberate the mindful breath and the realness we most want.
True confessions. I wanted to make it better, fix it, offer a solution, and wave my magic wand to banish the awfulness that Xavier had already experienced. But seeing people as “less than” and trying to make them better with my “more than” ego has never helped. A dear teacher once encouraged me to meet family members, co-workers, neighbors, and everyone, without my agenda. “Meet them where they are, not where you want them to be.”
I’m so grateful for those who inspire me to truly live with courage. Thank you, Xavier! Profound, transformative, healing goodness comes with an intentional willingness to live and learn. Most won’t say they are being courageous, but the root meaning of the word courage is “of the heart .”Let’s live from the heart. Let’s traverse with our children and our hearts through this unpredictable terrain called life. Let’s join Xavier and the many graduates, witnessing their courage to graduate with hopes and dreams. This is ours to give. Let’s do this!