For the last several years, the Holy Week Missive has been inspired by the same quote, “When you get out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in" (Haruki Murakami). I try to move to a different theme, but the quote calls again and again too me - an affirmation that life is about change. You aren’t the same person who read this newsletter last year. You have grown, changed your mind, learned something new, gained and lost family, friends, loved ones. Something has changed for you in the last year - and if it’s nothing outward - your cells have changed, that is a requirement of living. And yet, while we are creatures of change, the last few years have been a chorus of wanting, needing to return to normal. Several years ago I went through a surgery that was to return me to my normal life - and what happened was the exact opposite. Instead I walked through the storm and on the other side was the unexpected. There was no going back to who I was, that normal was gone. And since that moment, I have relied less on normal as a destination and more on the new normal that presents itself each hour and day.
We have a magnetic on our fridge that says “The only normal people are the one’s you don’t know very well.” Normal is a facade that crumbles under deeper inquiry and observation. The word normal derives from a “unit of measure - the carpenter’s square” and developed into meaning “conforming to common standards or established order or usage.” And while normal began as something objective, it has turned into a subjective unit of measure for human living and worthiness. Society’s compulsory constructions are now what is seen as normal and many of us are trying to measure up to a yard stick that is antiquated and unattainable. Normal is a culturally created mirage in each one of our minds. This Holy Week I wonder how “normal” is keeping each one of us from living from our essence and authenticity? What are we measuring our life against? Who’s carpenter’s square did you give authority to in your life?
Stripping away the normal isn’t an easy or a quick task. It’s a journey to deeply honoring our needs even if they rub against the established order. It’s anchoring into one’s own being with unwavering faith that your soul is the measure you need and allowing others the same freedom. Normal has kept us culturally stuck in a binary with something good, right, and “normal” while anything outside of this square unit of measure is deemed OTHER and therefore bad, wrong, and amoral. For everyone, normal is a destructive measuring stick. We all lose when the standard is false. In this season where the theme of liberation is dominant for so many traditions, my hope and prayer is that each one of us is liberated from the constraints of normal. And that we all live a life where we can deeply embody our genuine essence.