A Lesson in Humility With Robert Drake
I recently had the privilege to sit down with Robert Drake a chaplain at University of California San Francisco with a unique perspective on how we can connect to God’s Creation.
Drake grew up on a YMCA ranch the small town of Elkhart, Indiana, roaming the fields and forests of northern Indiana and southern Michigan. In fourth grade he started reading the Dialogues of Plato.
Yes, he’s a brain.
Drake studied at fourteen colleges and universities. He has a BS in Philosophy, an MS in Conflict Resolution with a “Kant-ean” ethics specialization, an MBE from UCLA, and he participated in a graduate program at University of Arizona in American Indian Studies. Drake is now a senior seminarian at the San Francisco Theological Seminary completing a Master of Divinity graduate degree with specialization in Pastoral Care and Spirituality.
Don’t let Drake’s credentials give you the wrong impression though. He’s no bookworm.
No, in fact, Drake is a bit of a daredevil. He has attended sweat lodges, fasted in the Mojave’s Saline and Eureka Valleys, and raced in the freezing, choppy waters of San Francisco Bay. Oh, and he once buried himself for 36 hours in a grave.
It is Drake’s unique educational background and extreme experiences that made me want to meet with him. I wanted to understand his motivations.
“I have always found spirit in nature,” said Drake as we talked in an empty hospital room. “The closer I get to a state of survival the closer I am to the spirit and that manifests itself in seeing the spirit in everything around me.”
I have to admit that as Drake described his experiences I was both shocked and intrigued. I thought about how I would feel in those extreme situations; vulnerable to the crashing waves, shifting California ground, extreme heat, and extreme cold; feeling my hunger, thirst, injury, and fatigue; hearing the blood in my ears; tasting the salt of my sweat; helpless to my current situation.
Would I think about my attachments and angers? Would I regret my sins? Would I long for the things I love in life? Could I find peace?
Sometimes life’s distractions separate us from God’s Creation and our true nature. The more I imagined myself underground or swimming through the Bay, the more I felt a greater humility.
That’s what Drake taught me about my connection with God’s Creation.
“We exist in a relationship,” he said sipping coffee. “We don’t exist separate from anything else and everything we do affects everything. I think what we have done to the environment reflects our relationship with God and it comes from our belief system. Who we think God is how we treat each other and how we treat our environment is a reflection of who we think God is.”
When we choose to abandon life’s cushy barriers we can experience Creation in a new way.
We can experience humility in the face of God and Nature.
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