During the last four years, my life has changed to where it is almost unrecognizable to me. There has been continual growth, mostly internally. My understanding of my position is to be the absolute best I can be. There have been both personal challenges and worldly changes. My attempt to remain grateful for every experience has allowed me to be able to pick my battles, and I admit I fight only a few of them. Most just are not worth it. It has been critical for me to maintain a sense of peace and purposefulness. This year has brought challenges with my children. Each has had to walk their own path, sometimes with joy, sometimes with great pain, most often with both.
My driving force in writing Slavery of Faith was the fear of leaving this earth without making some type of difference. I had decided to live with no regrets – a declaration and mantra that created the very consciousness to guide each decision – and the only thing that was unacceptable was not to act at all. Most times I succeeded in my efforts, although there were a few times when I should have taken a big breath, and not reacted to the emotions I was feeling. In this consciousness we call life, our decisions are critical, not only to the destination of our paths but to the journey itself. This journey was not to become a “celebrity” – which is how I’m referred to by people who know me only as a part of history – nor to become so into the world with its fame and fortune that I lose sight of the purpose. The purpose to enlighten others, to extend myself as much as possible, to try to walk daily without massive ego, to steer myself away from the adulation of others to feel purposeful and worthy, but rather to ensure that when I cross over, I may hear “Good Job, Good and Faithful Servant.”
We are in a world where there is so much suffering that at times I find it hard to bear. My experience is personal to the suffering. When I look at the world events – as I bear witness to some of the most horrific crimes against humankind – I feel a piece of my heart crack. Each one of us possesses a gift that was given to us before we arrived. Our challenge – our responsibility – is to ensure that we are utilizing the gifts.
I can tell you, that although I am pleased and happy with my life, I easily recall the days when it was simpler to sit back and exist. Sometimes the old Leslie wants to rear her ugly head, but I stop, think, slow down and remember who I am now. The enormous amount of love given to me by people I have never met, through emails and personal introductions, keeps me humble and moving even when I hit those bumps in the road that make me weary. Yet I know there is still work to be done. Someone else needs to hear you, I remind myself, you still have a lot of love and wisdom to share, you need to keep pushing even when your body sometimes says otherwise. In the end, I am grateful for the journey and the strength I have found to keep me on it.
Every day is a celebration of my existence and the memory of those who have gone before us, those that are present and those to come after. And through it all, I am always grateful, understanding that the lessons will be learned and shared.
In the meantime, Embrace You. Celebrate You. Love You…. And most importantly be Thankful for every step, every breath, heartache, tragedy… release gratitude to the universe and watch what happens.
(Leslie Wagner-Wilson was a child of Peoples Temple living in Redwood Valley from age 13. She lived in Jonestown until escaping with her two-year-old son and several others the morning of November 18th. Her husband, mother, sister, brother, niece and nephew died in Jonestown.
(Leslie is a regular contributor to the jonestown report. Her other articles in this edition are Suffering in Silence, Wayne Pietila – Giving Us Fond Memories, and FLIGHT (Finding Light in God’s Higher Truth) Prison Outreach Takes Off. Her earlier writings are collected here. She is the author of Slavery of Faith, which is available through her website. Leslie and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)