Safer spaces and fonder places proved we made it through.
Recollections of changed directions made grown ups of me and of you.
Waters under our bridges made essential abridges of the people we were destined to be.
Memories serve us so much, of life and its touch, leaving only our legacy.

life is a soap opera.

The older I get, the more my life appears to have been a progression of soap operas:

As The World Turns.

One Life to Live.
All My Children.

The Young & The Restless.
The Doctors.
General Hospital.
Search for Tomorrow.
Guiding Light.
Dark Shadows.
Another World.

the least of these.

I hadn’t considered myself among “the least of these” but starting over at 51 as an ex-felon working a $9/hour church janitor job apparently exceeded the qualifications. But the surprise of a fifty dollar bill tucked in my back pocket by a passing stranger at Christmastime was eclipsed only by the words accompanying the gesture. “You’re making more of a difference than you know, young man.”
I’m not sure if I was more shocked by being addressed as a young man or by the unexpected the generosity of his acknowledgement of a stranger working a lowly invisible job during the busiest time of the church calendar. I’d just returned from plunging a toilet full of poop and was en route across the courtyard to a hazardous cleanup in children’s ministry made by two siblings who’d had blueberries and alpha bits for breakfast.
I’d like to report our encounter was an interaction but his swift disappearance into the festive crowd of evening Christmas servicers was as angelic as his act of kindness. By the time I put my mop and pail to the ground and wiped my hand on my shirt to shake his hand, he was gone. I reached into my back pocket to find the gift he’d bestowed and while $50 was a helpful blessing this time of year, his words had been of much greater value.
Invisible people are all around us. Janitors, cashiers, clerks and other such name tags we rarely if ever read or better yet, take notice. Doing so need not cost $50 or 50 cents, but only to know the words to their silent song hoping someone might care enough to notice and at the very least, tell them that in this world, they’re making more of a difference than they know.

Accidental diversity.

Two days at a conference on leadership and I walked away with a personal action plan that will take me six months to put in place. We took our entire team of 19, but none of them noticed what I did. We’ve hired the best of the best people out there, not primarily for their skills but their passions. And because our belief and experience that passion consistently trumps skill in onboarding decisions, we became diverse purely by accident.

98% of those we serve are the poorest of the poor in our community spanning every demographic, and in our business of sheltering, homing, feeding and lifting them from their circumstances into self-sufficiency, meaningful connections with each one is imperative to accomplishment of our mission. We never intended to hire staff who have been homeless themselves, from the LGBTQ community, male, female, black, white, Asian, Hispanic or of any particular faith, but we did–now 19 times over–and many times before.

The social ideal that presumes the practice of hiring to proportionally represent demographically diverse people groups produces the best company results has never guided our staffing decisions. Hiring people whose primary qualification is a passion for hurting people is the factor solely responsible for our accidentally diverse team, because passion for helping unfortunate and underserved others has no race, color, faith or creed.

Of all my conference take-aways to enact in the next several months, ensuring our healing staff comes from every walk of life to connect with any walk of life is not one of them.  Passion for and love of the underserved in our community is a team builder that transcends all other reasons for hiring and maintaining the right person for the job. And it can happen purely by accident if you let passion be your guide.

Published by

Donald Miller M.S.

Donald Miller M.S.

Outreach & Senior Program Manager
HopeLink of Southern Nevada

the !

Our conversation about happiness took a wide turn into serendipity.
While sharing what makes us happiest I had an epiphany. All our scenarios were circumstantial, based on fortunate events and experiences that either happened around us, to us, or were otherwise created by us to experience and briefly enjoy. It occurred to me “that’s a lot of work for a fleeting bliss ultimately dependent on the next one.”
Being continuously happy requires effort and exposure to things outside ourselves while being content is a taskless state of peace within our circumstances whatever they are. Happiness is the ! at the end while contentment is the sentence before it we need not work to write, because we just let it fall into place. And we discovered that serendipity is both wondrous, beautiful, and exactly what our dinner conversation that evening had happily become.

for as long as we live.

Of all life experiences only one remains entirely unknown. Despite relentless attempts at its description from every conceivable perspective, unhinged fantasy, limitless speculation and sordid detail, unchallenged since the beginning of time, we still know nothing more definitive except for the promise that we never will for as long as we live.

truth is

Truth is, you get used to it.
It takes some time, but living single and alone eventually grows on you. You chew your food longer for lack of dinner conversation, sleep more soundly without a chatty someone stealing the covers, cuddling, or wanting something more. You save money on silly flowers or something special for no one special for no special reason, and you learn to be self-sufficient when sick, make your own soup and get your own toilet paper. You no longer worry about dying alone, just dying, and gradually forget the memory of a mind-blowing kiss, a hug or the unexpected touch of a caring hand. Truth is you get used to it and it grows on you like an annihilation of everything that might have been, drawing any willing heart, mind and soul closer to all the good things in your life that actually are.

I once knew a man…

A brush with depth.
I once knew a man who had a serious brush with depth. He failed to resurface, lost the only life he knew and was never the same again.

Each of us is given one or two moments in a lifetime to dramatically change course if we want it bad enough, have vision to recognize the opportunity and the courage to act upon it.

This world would have us believe that succumbing to the shallows is the only safe existence. Never venturing into unknown waters, we risk dying without discovering our purpose or knowing the endowment of an internal superpower that equips us to see beyond the drivel of the commonplace and into the extraordinary unknown.

For too many, the price is too high, but for the priceless few fortunate enough to heed the call and take the leap, turning back becomes an unconscionable act of self-loathing, imprisoning us forever by the if onlys.

Deepest changes cost every cent you own, the allocation of your wealth to those with none, then makes you rich in acts of enrichment upon the lives of others.

So don’t fall into the lie that goes no deeper, reaches no further and leaves you like a child on the beach afraid of the water…
because I once knew a man…

Don’t set fire to the cake.

There are a lot of angry, fed up people in this world. Here at home and across global ponds, everyone wants change; half one way, half the other, half for economic reasons, half for moral reasons, half for certainty of rights, half to convict wrongdoings. And remarkably all profess a desire for unity, but only when that unification embraces their own cause at the expense of another’s.
Here in the calm of the morning, I consider the world landscape and how this ideal of “unity in diversity” unravels a little more each day and it’s more than a little eerie.
The ways of today’s world are far too complex for single issues which do more to divide than unite. No one person can do the job to achieve the one ideal all profess as their goal.
Our frustrated responses have become searches for simplicities where available, comforts where reliable and escapes where attainable, all within ever tighter communities which increasingly exclude views of others across the fence. Our solutions have become our problems, our chasms widen and our unity narrows as we fall into the bloody traps laid by the media and the powerful.
It’s now simpler to stage and post half-truth memes which underpin the basics of our convictions than to attempt to embrace complex truths of others. “Tell me how to think” has taken a front seat to thinking itself because too much pride is at risk for being wrong on some valid points made by the other side.
So we remain angry and fed up for all the wrong reasons and nothing changes, because nothing within any of us changes. Yet without us, nothing will ever change.

While I don’t have the answer, I believe WE still do if we want it bad enough and remember that in America—at least on paper—“We, the people” are also “We, the leaders” still able to defeat the divisive anger which polarizes rather than unifies a nation.

So Happy Birthday America. May our candles burn bright with passion but not set fire to the cake.

let go

Stop buying unnecessary things. Toss half your stuff. Learn contentedness. Reduce by half again. Pick four essential things in life and stop the rest. Do them first each day. Clear distractions. Focus on the moment. Let go of attachment to doing and having more. Fall in love with less.