Missing the Mudslide
I had occasion this week to get caught up in a real honest-to-god California mudslide.
It occurred on I-80 as Rebecca and I were driving to a meeting. Now, mind you we didn’t actually get swept away in mud or get to see the collapse of the side of the mountain, which was so saturated with water that the foundation of dirt and rocks and tree roots gave way.
But in my head I know that if we hadn’t stopped at McDonald’s for those fries earlier, we would have been right at the spot to witness the event. Instead, we were told by California Highway Patrol that a mudslide had occurred half an hour earlier (it was a long stop at McDonald’s) and to turn around and find another route to our meeting.
This event reminded me of the counsel of many wise saints and teachers across traditions and over the ages, who time and time again remind us to take care of the foundation upon which we build our lives and to tend to that foundation.
The teaching most familiar to me comes from my own tradition, where Jesus invites us not to build our lives on sand but on rock so that when the rains come and the floods appear our houses – that is, our lives – will stand.
In many ways this is the work that we have undertaken with our youth.
Being in the foster system is like trying to build your life, your house, on sand. Everything keeps shifting and nothing feels stable and there is nothing underneath onto which one’s feet can feel planted.
You provide solid ground for your youth every week, creating more and more stability as you bring the gift that is you: your hope, your presence, your re-creation, your sense of community and communion. You as a team provide this young person with a more solid foundation that affords them a foothold as they negotiate the floods of life, just by being in their lives, however that is being played out.
But in this work it is important to tend to your own foundation as well.
To take the breaths you need to take. To recenter. To engage your spiritual practice, whether that is yoga or reading or walking in nature or being with friends. To be mindful or pray the way you pray. To remember that you are a gift, a gift to this world.
We are grateful for you. Take care of yourself. Life can get too saturated sometimes and foundations can begin to slide.