- Jennifer Hadley - https://jenniferhadley.com -

Walking the Talk

Spirit is in the timing of everything. I am one of those people who believe that no one can die before their time. (And, I know there’s no actual death, just the passing of the body.)

I remember in 1997 when Princess Diana passed and Mother Theresa followed her within a week, that it seemed like there was divine timing. Both of those women were world-famous and they transcended their roles, to become beloved by people of many nationalities and religious beliefs.

Those two women both lived lives of service – very different lives, obviously, but both were of service to people around the world, and particularly those who were children and those who suffered with illness.

With their passing within a week of each other, and the whole world focusing so intensely on their lives, what happened was that there was a spotlight on living a service oriented life. I noticed that many people became ignited about how they could serve [1].

It was right before this time that there was announced the forming of an organization and an event called A Season for Nonviolence. A Season for Nonviolence was a 64-day campaign of events meant to commemorate the lives and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I volunteered right away and ended up becoming extremely involved in helping to manage hundreds of events.

I became the Volunteer Coordinator and started to give talks every week on the personal practice of nonviolence.

This was when I began to write my Daily Shot of Spiritual Espresso that is this daily blog.

It’s interesting how we’re prepared for things to come. When I was in my 20’s, in the 1980’s I read Gandhi’s autobiography and was greatly inspired. Then in the 90’s I started to study the speeches and writings of MLK, also profoundly inspiring.

I didn’t know I was preparing to be able to teach about the practice of nonviolence.

I didn’t know that this was the beginning of my ministerial training, but it sure was.

In this crazy time in which we’re living – with so much upheaval and divisiveness, there’s also a tremendous amount of healing happening at the deepest levels of our consciousness and our society. And in the last 10 months we’ve had the passing of two the most inspiring leaders from Congress this country has ever seen, Elijah Cummings and John Lewis.

Their lives of great service to the nation and the people of these United States have been brought to our attention so that we can study, learn and be inspired.

At the funeral for Rep. Lewis, one of my favorite teachers spoke most eloquently and was galvanizing, as usual. Reverend James Lawson was a mentor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as well as to Rep. John Lewis. He was a teacher to me and I studied with him for about four years. He certainly was one of the most inspiring and energizing teachers I’ve had the great good fortune to study with.

Listening to Rev. Lawson speak at Lewis’ funeral had me weeping tears of gratitude that we have such great men living on the planet at the same time we’re here. They have helped me to have faith [2] that the transformation I wish to see in this world is actually occurring. I weep with gratitude that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from these wise elders, and to benefit from their examples how to be an inspired leader.

I encourage you to listen to Rev. Lawson’s share at the funeral for Rep. Lewis. You can watch it here:

For my 40th birthday, my friend, Eisha Mason (who spoke at our Sundays With Spirit service on June 21, Father’s Day), gave me a copy of Rev. John Lewis’ memoir entitled: Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement.

The book, published in 1998, begins with a prologue, which I’ve never forgotten. It’s a powerful piece of writing that gives you a clue to what this great man’s mind is like. I share it with you now so that you too will be inspired to learn more:

“I want to begin this book with a little story. lt has nothing to do with a national stage, or historic figures, or monumental events. It’s a simple story a true story about a group of young children, a wood-frame house and a windstorm.

The children were my cousins: Roy Lee and Jinnie Boy, Naomi and Leslie and Willie Muriel-about a dozen of them, all told-along with my older sister Ora and my brothers Edward and Adolph. And me, John Robert.

I was four years old at the time, too young to understand there was a war going on over in Europe and out in the Pacific as well. The grownups called it a world war, but I had no idea what that meant. The only world I knew was the one I stepped out into each morning, a place of thick pine forests and white cotton fields and red day roads winding around my family’s house in our little corner of Pike County, Alabama.

We had just moved that spring onto some land my father had bought, the first land anyone in his family had ever owned-l0 acres of cotton and corn and peanut fields, along with an old but sturdy three-bedroom house, a large house for that part of the county, the biggest place for miles around. It had a well in the front yard, and pecan trees out back, and muscadine grapevines growing wild in the woods all around us-our woods.

My father bought the property from a local white businessman who lived in the nearby town of Troy. The total payment was $300. Cash. That was every penny my father had to his name, money he had earned the was almost everyone we knew made what money they could in those days-by tenant farming. My father was a sharecropper, planting, raising and picking the same crops that had been grown in that soil for hundreds of years by tribes like the Choctaws and the Chickasaws and the Creeks, Native Americans who were working this land long before the place was called Alabama, long before black or white men were anywhere to be seen in those parts.

Almost every neighbor we had in those woods was a sharecropper, and most of them were our relatives. Nearly every adult I knew was an aunt or an uncle, every child my first or second cousin. That included my uncle Rabbit and aunt Seneva and their children, who live about a half-mile or so up the road from us.

On this particular afternoon-it was a Saturday, I’m almost certain-about fifteen of us children were outside my aunt Seneva’s house, playing in her dirt yard. The sky began clouding over, the wind started picking up, lightning flashed far off in the distance, and suddenly I wasn’t thinking about playing anymore; I was terrified. I had already seen what lightning could do. I’d seen fields catch on fire after a hit to a haystack. I’d watched trees actually explode when a bolt of lightning struck them, the sap inside rising to an instant boil, the trunk swelling until it burst its bark. The sight of those strips of pine bark snaking through the air like ribbons was both fascinating and horrifying.

Lightning terrified me, and so did thunder. My mother used to gather us around her whenever we heard thunder and she’d tell us to hush, be still now because God was doing his work. That was what thunder was, my mother said. It was the sound of God doing his work.

But my mother wasn’t with us on this particular afternoon. Aunt Seneva was the only adult around, and as the sky blackened and the wind grew stronger, she herded us all inside.

Her house was not the biggest place around, and it seemed even smaller with so many children squeezed inside. Small and surprisingly quiet. All of the shouting and laughter that had been going on earlier, outside, had stopped. The wind was howling now, and the house was starting to shake. We were scared. Even Aunt Seneva was scared.

And then it got worse. Now the house was beginning to sway. The wood plank flooring beneath us began to bend. And then a corner of the room started lifting up.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. None of us could. This storm was actually pulling the house toward the sky. With us inside it.

That was when Aunt Seneva told us to clasp hands. Line up and hold hands, she said, and we did as we were told. Then she had us walk as a group toward the corner of the room that was rising. From the kitchen to the front of the house we walked, the wind screaming outside, sheets of rain beating on the tin roof. Then we walked back in the other direction, as another end of the house began to lift.

And so it went, back and forth, fifteen children walking with the wind, holding that trembling house down with the weight of our small bodies.

More than half a century has passed since that day, and it has struck me more than once over those many years that our society is not unlike the children in that house, rocked again and again by the winds of one storm or another, the walls around us seeming at times as if they might fly apart.

It seemed that way in the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement when America itself felt as if it might burst at the seams-so much tension, so many storms. But the people of conscience never left the house. They never ran away. They stayed, they came together and they did the best they could, clasping hands and moving toward the corner of the house that was the weakest.

And then another corner would lift, and we would go there.
And eventually, inevitably, the storm would settle, and the house would still stand. But we knew another storm would come, and we would have to do it all over again. And we did.
And we still do, all of us. You and I.

Children holding hands, walking with the wind. That’s America to me-not just the movement for civil rights but the endless struggle to respond with decency, dignity, and a sense of brotherhood to all the challenges that face us as a nation, as a whole.

That is the story, in essence, of my life, of the path to which I’ve been committed since I turned from a boy to a man, and to which I remain committed today. It is a path that extends beyond the issue of race alone, and beyond class as well. And gender. And age. And every other distinction that tends to separate us as human beings rather than bring us together.

That path involves nothing less than the pursuit of the most precious and pure concept I have ever known, an ideal I discovered as a young man and that has guided me like a beacon ever since, a concept called the Beloved Community.

Let me tell you how I came to understand that concept, how it ushered me into the heart [3] of the most meaningful and monumental movement of this American century, and how it might steer us all where we deserve to go in the next.

Let me tell you about my life.”

From the Prologue to Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, by John Lewis

The two paragraphs I put in bold, above, are two I could have written about my own life, BECAUSE of my exposure to Dr. King, Rev. Lawson, Rep. Cummings, Rep. Lewis, Eisha Mason, and many more.

What I can say I’ve come to know, is that the greatest Joy there is in life, and the deepest sense of fulfillment there is, comes from knowing that I’m making the right use of my life, my energy [4], my time and attention.

We are birthing a new heaven and a new earth. We are preparing for it right now. All hands on deck. This IS what we’ve been preparing for.

This is the time for us to show up, stand up, and Partner UP, with the Higher Holy Spirit Self.

We have what we need within us.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: to help usher in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

We’ve got what it takes!

TODAY, you can join me and my friends, Myron Jones, Jamie Lula, and more friends on zoom. Rev. Myron Jones is a Pathways of Light ACIM student and minister I’ve known for years. And Jamie Lula is a brilliant and beautiful musician I’ve been listening to for 25 years. We’re coming together to share our inspiration in many ways. We’ll have a spiritual celebration together with message and music – we call it Sundays With Spirit [5]. Please invite your family! If you can’t join us, you can catch the replay! Because we’re going to be live on video, you’ll have to register to get the detail [5]. All are welcome, there’s no charge, but you do have to register unless you’ve already registered in the past.

When you register, you’ll also get easy access to past services with Lisa Natoli, Jon Mundy, David Hoffmeister, Maureen Muldoon, Corinne Zupko, Maria Felipe, Frances Xu and more. If you’ve already registered for a previous Sunday – you don’t need to register again, you’ll get a reminder with the details automatically.

I look forward to our gathering TODAY. It means so much that we can join together and celebrate Spirit together.

If you’d like to get some inspiration, and also support this ministry, you can sign up for daily inspirational text messages [6]. You can make a one-time donation for as little as $1 or set up a recurring donation to support this ministry as an active tither. These texts are such a blessing to me – I get them every day and I love them. They always [7] seem to come with the perfect timing! Divine timing!