• vslachman

The Run-Away


Who hasn't experienced the urge to run away? Or maybe the issue is "running in circles."

Recently I listened to an interview with Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries. His is one of the largest and most successful organizations working in gang rehabilitation in the United States. Here's a six minute videoed speech he gave recently, and if you get out of it without a tear or two, well, that would be surprising.


He speaks about those he works with--gang members--men and women who don't believe they have a way forward other than through destruction, which is where they come from so often. Father Boyle observes that in his 30 years of working with these folks, none of them are running toward something, they're always running away.

"Stand in awe of the burdens people carry, but not in judgement about how they carry them." Father Greg Boyle.

Who among us hasn't been there at one time or another?

To go through what's scary and dark, or turn away--always the question.

Oddly, his words, and my own and Doria's experience recently, has got me thinking more and more about stillness.


As you likely know, Dorian is rehabbing from a serious injury--a deep muscle tear. So at first even walking was hardly possible. Our experiences are so often parallel, so his injury came at a time when I, too, was having a tough time moving forward. He appeared to be literalizing what I was experiencing.

"Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope." Father Greg Boyle.

And so hope became a mantra for me as we began his rehab. Tiny steps forward, literally, were all we could accomplish at first, and darned few of them.


Eventually, those few steps became more and more. We started with only five minutes of trotting after a period of stall rest, and his rehab evolved to intervals of trotting interspersed with walking, backing him up, moving his hind quarters or getting him to side pass on the ground, all designed to strengthen the muscle slowly and surely. We have moved forward to about 30 minutes of trotting, all-tolled, at the apex of his work.


Slow, steady progress requires vast amounts of patience, something I'm not good at demonstrating. It also entails not gazing down the road too far into the future, but rather focusing on the here and now, and the gifts of each day's work together. Another lesson it seems hard for me to learn . . .


In all we've worked through together, the words "muscle tear" continue to resonate with me.

When I trot Dorian, if no one is in the indoor arena, I sing hymns to him or talk to him about who I know him to be--a beautiful expression of Life and Love, and some other things I won't belabor here. He listens, and his movement becomes fluid and natural, unharmed, at least it appears so to me.


He often breaks into a canter, which he's not supposed to be doing at the moment (!), but his exuberance at hearing the truth energizes and frees him.

Dorian was cleared to go out to a flat pasture for two hours. Progress!

At other times, when people are around and I can't sing to him (what would people think!), he sometimes doesn't do as well, and even seems to labor a bit. Yet, thankfully, overall, he is progressing.


I think what Father Boyle sees in his "homies," is that they're not what they appear to be--either to society or to themselves. In translating his work into my own, I've come to realize that no matter what Dorian has seemed to experience, he hasn't been--because he can't be--"torn" from who he fundamentally is. So my task has become to see, as much as possible, through the illusion of damage that's so enticingly frightening and discouraging.


So often that darker sort of "seeing" gains our total attention, and keeps us running away or running in circles.


So what does stillness have to do with this? Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, has a quote I love: "Mind [by which she means God] demonstrates omnipresence and omnipotence, . . . and its power is displayed and its presence felt in eternal stillness and immovable Love."

Rays of light at Taylor Made Farm in Lexington, KY.

The fact that the demonstration isn't ours to make, only ours to witness, is so relieving! And equally sustaining is the fact that Love, however we define and wherever we find it, is "unmovable."


I've found that to get anywhere with Dorian, I have to come to him in the stilled centeredness he inhabits. And that means letting go of all the mental ruminating, worry, anxiety . . . all the planning ahead or laboring over the past. And in doing that, I come back to myself, over and over again. Day after day, I'm forced into this lesson.

Clearly, I'm not a quick learner! But I'm convinced that we all know in a deep part of ourselves, that we've never been "torn" from our authentic selves.

This is a view I'm not taking my eyes off of--come spring, we'll be trotting down the path to the woods. I have no doubt.

It takes practice and discipline to acknowledge this, to see and to be this. It takes courage to stop running away. But it is possible. And for me, the only true forward progress I've made has come to the extent I can be more and more consistent in that discipline.

As we all can--I'm sure of it. I know we can because, as challenged a past as I come from, if I can make progress and demonstrate the little I have, anyone--every one of us--surely can. My sweet Dorian included!





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