Watching 60 Minutes honoring the firefighters and other first responders from 9-11-2001, my chest heaves and tears fall at their willing sacrifice for others! Some are wired to seek out opportunities for this kind of bravery but most of us are not. The closest I ever got to this kind of act was when my wife, Sherree, my nine year old daughter Lily, and I were driving in the north Georgia mountains when a pick up truck repeatedly swerved to almost run us off of a winding mountain road. We finally pulled over, but so did the other driver who got out of his truck looking very angry and shouting that we had “cut” him “off”. I was frightened and expected violence, but he got back in his truck and left when I stated we were not aware of any such slight but made it clear that I would defend my wife and child no matter what.
Earlier in my life, it took a different kind of courage to listen to my heart and release a judgemental and punitive god along with the fear of eternal damnation, and to turn toward a compassionate and forgiving sense of the divine that needed no blood sacrifice to forgive my errors and unloving behaviors! And last year, there was the courage to be with the most intensive physical pain I have ever experienced for several months!
I believe when we feel love for other humans, animals, plants, ourselves, fairness, justice, our bodies, minds, hearts, and the world as lover and as self, we can answer the heart’s call of love to free ourselves and others from oppression, poverty, and despair!
You have been through the fires that help anneal us. As a blacksmith would know so well, The metal that makes a sword so strong comes from a process of heating and gradual cooling to temper the stress that is within the metal, thereby giving it durable strength. It seems to me that you have lived the annealing of your own capacity to move through the toughest times in life. Your Metal has become your Mettle !