Embracing the Struggle

tirrell-starI often carry around spiritual books or poetry books so that when I need a dose of beauty and inspiration, I am prepared.

Well, since Tirrell started working with us, inspiration has been right at our doorstep.

On August 17, my morning prayers included this line from the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart:

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

A couple hours later, Tirrell and I were talking through the recent unrest in Sherman Park and the anger, frustration and violence that led up to and remains in our Milwaukee neighborhoods since those events.  And in our conversation he said , “I’m learning that I just have to embrace the struggle. It’s always up and down.  I gotta just know that and do my best every day, whatever comes.”  So basically this twenty-something with no theological training except for the one life has given him repeated verbatim the words from the Buddhist spiritual elder who travels the world to inspire people and transform lives.

 I am simply astounded at how powerful it is to witness someone who is honest with themselves and others about the difficulties they experience and the mistakes they have made – and who do the hard work of accepting the past in order to grow into their best selves.  And often, what that growth leads to is service – finding someone else who is struggling and drawing near to them.

Or at least this is what Tirrell has been teaching me.

For shining from within – the kind of shining that only comes from a person who knows that hope is born of struggle – Tirrell is our November Star of the Month. Thanks, Tirrell for your quiet wisdom, your gentle strength, your diligence in your work and your kind smile.   You are inspiration for so many.

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