o Jacob’s Ladder 12/21/13


Prayer for myself often takes the form of imagining myself climbing up a ladder out of a pit, the pit being my current circumstances of poverty and homelessness. Getting out at the top represents a return to the normal life of the American mainstream. I didn’t start with a ladder in there, but I decided to add one to symbolize the various structures and tools that others have made available to me — and eliminate the possibility of clawing at loose earth.

Here begins a list of “rungs” on the ladder that I’ve become aware I need to “overcome.” Each one takes effort, exertion, to get over. I will update this list from time to time as I learn of others.

1. Fear of the unknown. See From my diary: Learning to pray.
2. Jealousy of others who seem to be prospering more quickly than I am. Details here.
3. Times of despair. I guess, from time to time, they’ll happen. Details here.
4. Incidents of utter selfishness. Details here.
5. Moments of unusual hardship and sacrifice. Details here.
6. Cut loose the losers. Details here.
7. Smoking.  See posts tagged “Smoking”.
8. Shame.  See “(3) Baby steps.”
9. Attributions of arrogance, selfishness and greed.
Many who are content to live in the pit will inevitably resent an upwardly mobile person as arrogant, selfish and greedy.
I need to grow big enough to turn the cheek to these attacks on my reputation.
What they call arrogance is actually focus. The upwardly mobile person minds one’s own business. Among the squalid, everyone’s business is everyone else’s business. (This is espcially intense in jail.) The upwardly mobile person doesn’t have time for gossip or infantile conflicts.
What they call selfishness is actually self-care, or more specifically, good stewardship — right use of one’s resources. What they call sharing the wealth is actually sharing the poverty: on any given day, if I give a cigarette to every stranger who asks me for one, I will soon enough be asking strangers for cigarettes myself. I don’t want to be in that position. Else why bother trying to improve my own lot?
What they call greed is actually the pursuit of excellence. Such confusion exists throughout society.
The fact is that haters’ attacks aren’t my real obstacle. Rather, I must overcome the fear that they might be right.
It is obvious that Jesus did not come off as arrogant. If he had, the son of God would have had no credibility among the poor. None of them would have listened to him. So if Mark complains to me that Amy has bad breath, my response cannot be to turn up my nose at his childishness; but rather somehow recall to his awareness that he himself is a child of God.
A lack of healthy selfishness, or self-care, was a major factor in how I became homeless. Being so much, so long on the receiving end of others’ generosity, I now have a strong desire to become generous myself. But giving cigarettes — or dollars — to strangers, at this time, is no way to accomplish this. I need to become able to be generous, having my own needs met first. At what point will my needs be met? This is a current question for me, to be explored more in a later post.
The same will also look some at the puzzle of greed, a sin I really, really do not understand.

on air talent, talk show host, talk radio, the homeless blogger, jail, self-care, self-love, Jesus, keep the focus on you, take care of #1

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