The Tarnished Chalice

I wonder what kind of world we have created as I hear once again today that a child has taken someone’s life.  Apparently a young child shot his teacher at the end of the school day.  I contemplate what we are passing on to the generations to come.  Once it was important to cherish young people, to provide them a spiritual foundation and a meaning to life.  Real or imagined these fundamentals were at least a belief, a hope and a dream.  How have we let these assumptions vanish?  Have we become so oriented into ourselves that we can’t even see what we are doing to our offspring?  Have we become so cynical about faith that we no longer understand much less believe?  Have we lost completely any sense of life and its wonder that we no longer place any value on it? 

Yes these are my thoughts on a Friday evening after a week of meetings, which were arduous at best, long in the least and so epitomizing all that I have encapsulated above.  Mostly these meetings seemed to be a tribute to ego, a demonstration of “power” and held at a cost that would have supported many of the homeless, hungry and destitute that we have in our wealthy society,

Yes, and I was part of all that, perhaps even an integral catalyst that made some of it possible.  It appears that my attempts to do good things in my work in such an environment are so often dismissed and even resented by some.  I continue to work beyond my own capacity to provide the space, the support and encouragement to others.  I continually seem to lead other people to the edge of the fire, a fire that emits flames of passion and tantalizes many who come near.  I saw these flames of passion flare in the young people whom I have nurtured over the past several months.  I experienced once again their anguish, their despair and their frustration at how they have to do what they have been challenged to do with so little support while so much is spent on frivolity.

Yet these same young people have taken up this cause with a passion and desire that is enviable.  They have truly bought into a concept that has people at its apex, encouragement as its focus and support as its basis.  They understand its foundations.  They believe in its worth.  And they have faith that they too can make a difference.

I saw the disrespect they were accorded from some who were in charge.  I saw the tokenism of a gift provided not with sincerity but only to temp their favoritism.  I heard of their treatment later as they were driven to sign contracts with which they had disagreement.

And I was proud of their resolve to push back and renege.  I shed a tear, as one so articulately challenged the motives and stirred the emotions of those in attendance with a plea for understanding and an appeal for a different set of standards.  I listened, as his colleagues supported this cause, not so boldly as the one, but as bold as they could be.  I guess I felt a pang of guilt for challenging them the day before, encouraging this very discourse and perhaps for even leading them along the path that they have now decided to follow.  I wondered aloud if I was worthy of their words of praise, their show of support and their own demonstration of courage in being so vocal.

Yes, I pondered deeply, once again, as to my own motives, my own resolve and my own ability in taking the path that I have chosen (or which was chosen for me).  I have reflected on these same issues so often over the past years.  I have struggled with this burden that seems to be mine and have contemplated why.  I appear to be once again facing a crossroads in my work, in my personal life and in my faith.

Our generation was given a chalice by those that went before, bright and shiny from being bathed in the blood and courage of so many of the youth of another generation.  We have taken this chalice and allowed it to darken with tarnish because of our need to self indulge and enjoy what others could never imagine much less enjoy.  We have neither the time nor inclination to polish its surface much lest contemplate its depth.  And yet, we wonder why our youth are despairing, why they destroy life before they even understand its meaning and why young children retaliate at the slightest provocation, often with fatal results.

As I contemplate, the thoughts arise that perhaps my path is wrong, my beliefs flawed and my approach defective.  It may be that the chalice that I am passing along is tarnished from my own self-indulgence, my own egotistical needs and my own desire for recognition.  Maybe I can’t decipher what is good and what is not anymore, so strong is my own desire for contentment.  Maybe I am but a microcosm of what I see all around – a world lost in itself and its own need to be important no matter the cost in money, moral ethics or people, all of which seem to be expendable.

What a challenge we pass on to those brave, adventuresome young people who take up the cause to do “good”.  They have to struggle for recognition, push for compensation and even take the abuse of those that are long past their understanding of what good is all about.  I did see this week the first glimmer of a shine, witness the resolve of those much younger and glimpse a brief flash of hope that a shift is happening.  If faith is hope with depth then perhaps my faith is but stretched and not lost at all.  Maybe this new generation will find redemption in a world, which appears to us to be filled with pain, despair and hopelessness.  It is even possible those bright young people will create the world for which we have searched and so longed to have.

Perhaps the chalice of life can be salvaged and buffed to its shiny form before it is relegated completely to the scrap heap of worthlessness.  It is even possible that our generation with the guidance of those much younger can rejuvenate it to the condition in which we received it.  This would afford the next generation the sparkle of hope that is so fundamental to life and living.

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