A rich guy followed the king of his region to France to fight during medieval times. In the middle of a battle, he had a vision and knew there had to be another way. Soon after, he went back to his lands, and soon headed towards Rome. Once he got there, young Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (1182-1226) soon gave away all his worldly possessions and started begging near the Vatican. Over the rest of a lifetime, Giovanni came to be called exclusively by his nickname “Francis” to recognize the love he had for the place he’d fought. He went on to become a monk, founded a religious order, and performed miracles several times. Only two years after his death he was named a saint, and has been honored as the patron saint of the environment and animals, and is one of the two patron saints of Italy.
During his life, Saint Francis’s teachings were important to his country and all of Catholicism. He roamed the countryside teaching, spreading the Gospel, and living his life like he thought Jesus Christ had lived his.
Whatever the reason, Saint Francis arrived at very deep understandings about the nature of the Universe. In his study about the character of all things in relationship to each other, Francis stumbled into one of the tenants of the Heartspace Teachings. He wrote, “No one is to be called an enemy. All are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourself.”
In the same way the Buddhist believes there are no obstacles, only different ways to get somewhere from here, Saint Francis believed there is no way another person can harm you- only different ways for you to understand other people.
Perfectly engaged in the worlds within and around us at all times, Heartspace shows that there’s no way for anything to work against us, since everything is constantly working for us. Even the most humiliating, deceiving, and relentlessly horrifying circumstances and people are merely different ways for us to understand ourselves in the Universe.
Every single thing in life—inanimate or in motion—is engagement. In this same way, St. Francis was teaching us that every person individually is truly responsible for themselves to the core. There’s no other person who can take our happiness, joy, understanding, or peace away from us. This is true all ways, in all ways.
The agreements we make through Heartspace, including the invisible strands that connect to all things everywhere. Coloring ideas, actions, people, and outcomes on one person allows us to see the intricate ways way relate we may suffer from.
Being there is all you need to do. Wherever there is, whoever there is. Just be there
In my life, I strive to do. Some have said in the past that I’m a do-aholic, constantly on the go and busy. Over the last few years though, I’ve learned to hear some of what Heartspace has been saying for a long time. Tonight, I heard that being there is all you need to do. Wherever there is, whoever is there. Vincent van Gogh once “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”
Just be there.
Those times are different in every situation, and there’s no formula for knowing where, when, who, or how you need to be there. Heartspace will reveal that to you every time through your personal engagement in whatever is at hand.
If you’re deeply drawn towards speaking, be there.
If you’re wantingly compelled towards a person, be there.
If you’re sincerely warmed by a topic, be there.
If you’re eagerly resting within a place, be there.
There’s no wrong time, and there’s no wrong space. Your actions are perfect, and the time is now.
When I can’t pay my bills on time, or am driving on empty, I know I’m supposed to be there. Standing in the middle of a fight between two old friends, I know I’m not supposed to be there. My work isn’t to fix anything immediately—unless it is. I’m not supposed to intervene—unless I do.
Being there is all you need to do. Wherever there is, whoever is there. Just be there.
Here are some of the social media channels Adam Fletcher operates!
The Freechild Project—Connecting young people and social change.
SoundOut—Promoting Meaningful Student Involvement in school change.
Adam Fletcher—Youth engagement consultant, speaker and writer
- Website – adamfletcher.net
- Facebook – facebook.com/AdamFCFletcher
- Twitter – twitter.com/bicyclingfish
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamfcfletcher/
- Youtube – youtube.com/bicyclingfish
- Newsletter – Adam Fletcher’s newsletter
- Blog – adamfletcher.net/blog
In these days, life can be about honoring the trickster. The trickster is that force that wants us not to take ourselves- or life- too heavily or with too much seriousness.
Life gives me plenty of opportunities to laugh at myself, particularly in hindsight. The grace of these days is that I’m learning to laugh at myself in the moment. That lets me shake off the blues and greys of those moments and rise, lightly walking along with whatever comes my way.
The sacred part of it all is see that whatever comes my way is what it is; my response is subjective and can be changed.
Combining those two beliefs? To me, that’s going lightly down your sacred way…
Johan Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “Everything that happens to us leaves some trace behind; everything contributes imperceptibly to make us what we are.” Looking out from Heartspace into the world around us, we can see that our personal engagement, our community engagement, and our universal engagement are endlessly in force to secure, sustain, and compel our sustained connections to the worlds within and around us.
There’s a way within every person that we can establish, build, and sustain intentional connections to the things that matter most to us. These connections can help us when we’re sad, frustrated, lonely, or suffering. They can help us survive.
Working in all the communities with all the people I have, there’ve been nonstop stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things despite dreary circumstances. All these people had one thing in common: they had those lasting connections within themselves, as well as to the world around the. I call that sustained connection engagement.
Our engagements are born from each person’s inherent wisdom, that part of us that intuitively knows that everything everywhere is connected all the time, whether or not we acknowledge it. That part of us- and all things- is what I call Heartspace. I have consistently seen people rely on Heartspace to become bigger than themselves and more spectacular than they’d ever known they could be.
Heartspace rewards us for knowing it. It rewards us with love- and not the sentimental bosh, either. Instead, it’s the warm, deep, sincere stuff that allows us to rest secure in the reality that it’s all good, right now. Because it should be no other way when we’re connected to all things everywhere all the time. Ahhh…
It seems like being human can be harder than being a superhero.
There are a lot of things in our lives that call us to greater action. Many of them feel like they’re focused on saving ourselves, as we work, live, raise families, and journey through life. Others seem like grand, heroic things we do for others as we “rise above the narrow confines of [our] individualistic concerns”.
But in these times, we routinely hear about regular people doing great things and being attributed with superpowers. Apparently, these people leap over buildings to get the things done in front of them to do; use x-ray vision to see through pain, uncertainty, and indecision to do the right thing; and dodge the bullets of life with lightning fast responses. These people are advertised and marketed to as superheroes.
Surely, there are people who, when faced with hard times, shirk away from them, cowering from the reality they’re faced with. But do we live in such a time when simply doing the right thing needs to be heralded as infallibility?
Superheroes, with capes and superpowers, live on high pedestals of righteousness. Rarely questioned for their judgment, superheroes often live in seclusion or in hiding, away from the world and it’s harshness.
Today, it seems like being human can be harder than being a superhero. As we reach out into our lives and do the things in front of us to get done, we may loose track of ourselves because of busyness and pressure, stress or pain. And that’s okay. Radical personal engagement calls for each of us to live in those times and see them for what they are: Heartspace in action. Connecting in deep and sustainable ways throughout our own lives allows us to live without hiding, stand strong without super strength, and save our own lives when others can’t stand with us.
It’s a fascinating play, wanting to wear tights all day and rescue others. But maybe, just maybe, the real super life is right here, right now, waiting for us to live right now.
|Me in 2001 doing some work.|
Each work seems to have it’s place, whether I see what it is or not. The housemom is just as significant as the president, and the soldier is not at odds with the peace advocate. It all fits.
In my own life right now I’m considering a substantial transition my own career. Reflecting on my work over the decades, I increasingly see how everything has come together in my own life. Things have come full circle since I was a homeless kid in a homeless family taping a sign for my advertising company to the front door of our hotel room somewhere in America. Working as a union forklift driver, a house painter, and waiter all seems to have fit into the schema with being a summer camp counselor, state government worker, and international movement leader. At some point years ago I hung a new sign up on the Internet for my consulting business over here in the Pacific Northwest. Everything has had its place.
Working with early career youth workers in nonprofits around the country, its become obvious that everyone wrestles. Some folks see their work with young people as a transition in their lives, a step between college and the professional world. Others see youth work as their profession, and want to stay in it all their days. I used to thrash against the job-hoppers and dog on their inability to focus on the “good work.” Life has allowed me to understand differently.
Now I get that we all do what we do until we do something else. There’s no “right” way to do it, and we each have to do it for ourselves. This is as true about work as it is any other part of our lives, including our families, friends, and recreation. Each work has it’s own place.
People want to accumulate engagement and experiences of engagement like they collect stuff, thinking all the time that the more they gather, do, think, talk about, wonder, and dream, the more engaged they’ll become. The Heartspace Teachings show that engagement is happening here, right now, in our day-to-day movements and ways of being. All of it, sacred and profane. There’s nothing more to do.
Striving as we do though, people always want something more. That’s not wrong, but it’s not true to engagement. We are already engaged right now. If we want to become more so, then so be it. But we’re all already engaged right now. As I often do, I look to history to teach me about these things.
Monday is the official MLK Day holiday here in the US, and millions of people across the country we be doing community volunteering work with King’s adage, “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve” hanging in their imaginations. They believe that by doing community service work, they are becoming more engaged in their communities, and that is true.
What isn’t true is that community service is the only way to become connected to the people around us. Dr. King was well aware of this, as he acknowledged it too. He wrote, “In a real sense, all life in interrelated… We are inevitably our brother’s keepers because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
This interrelatedness means that anything you do with another person, place, thing, or idea, that leads to a sustainable connection is something that engages you to others. You might be volunteering or giving money to strangers, and those things are engaging you in your community. But King’s philosophy of interdependence shows how we might also become engaged by helping a neighbor hang Christmas lights, babysitting a baby niece, or helping your disabled friend go grocery shopping.
So don’t worry about it! Just keep doing the things that you’re doing right now, unless you want to do something else. Then do that. But either way, don’t rely on any prescriptions, pathways, or perspectives that would force you to follow a particular avenue towards becoming engaged. Heartspace always shows the way.