Our Hope is Built on Nothing Less…

…than being Fully Human.

  • Fully cognizant of God’s ever-presence
  • Fully connected to each other and all of life…in love
  • Fully engaged in the battles and brawls that strengthen us and teach us everyday, but . . .
  • Especially in these focused, dedicated events to demonstrate our resolve and our purity of heart.

Go TIGERS!

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Celestial Navigation

On my former blog, The View from 5022, I wrote about making necessary adjustments to one’s life and efforts by using the analogy of sailing.  The post is titled “Coming About.”  A few nights ago, I performed the equivalent of pumping out the bilge, trimming the sails, and charting a new course.

To continue with that analogy, since the end of last year, I have experienced stalls, squalls, and I’ve run aground a few times.  But more recently, there have been breaks in the clouds and a freshening breeze.  When I crawled into bed Monday night, I knew there was much to be thankful for but, because of all of it, I felt a bit battered.  I grabbed a pen and the closest thing to write on, a prayer and praise journal (which was fitting), and made an assessment of the gains and the losses.

I had been struggling for months with a particular Canadian-born bank which had mismanaged my account and reversed a payment to the IRS, costing me hundreds of dollars in penalties, fees, and increases in interest.  The government consumer protection agency and the senator’s office helping me with the issue informed me Monday that the issue is being dropped.  To stay upset would only hurt me.  I tossed the issue over-board.

Inspired by the marches on Saturday, I enthusiastically volunteered my services to the senator’s office and was told someone might be in touch…at some point…maybe.  Issue tossed.

Since just after Christmas, I have written (actual letters on actual note cards in actual cursive handwriting) to 9 friends and family members.  None of them have responded.  Looking for addresses of others to write to, I came across an old phone list.  On it was the name of a former doctor who, earlier last year, had been enduring cancer treatments and surgery, a long time friend who, earlier last year, had been reeling from the emotional blow of retirement, and a former coworker, from 2001 time-frame, who was likely concerned about the future of her career with a governmental climate science agency.  I made the calls and was met with instant re-connection, filling my emotional sails with billowed hopes.

These issues and more were lined up down both sides of the pages like small fishing skiffs bobbing in the waves…but there was something else still disturbing me…

Last Summer, when preoccupied with my sister’s arrival from Alaska, I stopped attending the small Episcopal church on the other side of town.  Driving by there late last month, I saw on their marquee a notice about an oyster roast.  On Saturday, I noticed the date had been changed to this weekend.  I called.  I volunteered to help.  However, I was informed that the priest I had known there had died, suddenly, in December.  (I wrote about several of his homilies last year.  See “To the Extent that One is Forgiven, One is Capable of Loving” and “What I Didn’t Know.”)  He was one of the few people who has believed my inner experience of God.  (Father B: “You help me because you are able to hear what it is I am trying to say.”)  Recalling that he was now gone from earth, my enthusiasm was suddenly becalmed; I felt more alone on earth than I had before.

My faith and beliefs have come under attack, recently, by bloggers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum.  On the one hand, there are the bloggers who hold that all people should believe xyz, strictly and immediately.  (I respond that each person should be allowed and encouraged to be where they are on their spiritual path to God; at least they are on the path and God is not done with them yet.)  On the other, there are those who hold a larger view but accuse me of insisting that mine is the only way.  (I am out of words with that one; My way is MY WAY and I offer it as an example…nothing more.)

At the same time, ironically, I have discovered that there is a spiritual path…a Christian path…with followers who hold the same beliefs I do.  Although I have come to my beliefs, faith, and inner life the hard way, having found them, I sought to join them.  It seems, however, that although they acknowledge my interest, I have been excluded apparently because I lack the expected background and education.  So, I will continue on my own, navigating by the heavens and sailing ‘solo.’

The course I am left with is a simpler one, lacking an itinerary with specified destinations. It is more a way of sailing:  trusting in the guiding stars (Jesus and the communion of saints) and the breeze on my face.   Watching the tell tail, testing the wind, keeping an eye on the horizon (and the channel markers),…this is the stuff of life.

 

(I borrowed the image above from the web)

Protect what is True

(repeated and expanded here from my comment to an article in Sojourners)

Those of us who hold fast to truth and Wisdom must also hold fast and protect what we know of God, love, and justice. With Shadrach, Meschah, and Abednego, we know that God can deliver us, but if He does not, we will not bow down nor worship anything else…including fear, hate, or discouragement.

It is my opinion that the best position (in addition to protecting and preserving what we know) is to rise up to take a God-perspective of our situation. ‘Bad’ things are sometimes necessary to bring about world-sized changes. There is much ‘good’ coming from this looming dark time: many people who would ordinarily be going about their business are putting more attention to their relationship with God. There is more praying, contemplating, and discussing.

This is a time to keep vigil. This is a time to bury the silver. This is a time to clarify and strengthen one’s own connection to God…and to do that with others.  These are dark times but also times of opportunity to focus on what truly matters.

I agree with Pope Francis; this is a change of era.  This is an era when seekers of God in truth can pray in silent unison while darkness builds around them.  Travelers on the paths of Wisdom, mindfulness, consciousness,… will find themselves walking alongside one another, humming the same tune, speaking the same language.  We see the same light.  We hold the same light.

Keep watch. Pray. Hold hands. Hunch up close to Jesus. Do not let the light die.

thoughts…at this new year

when things happen:  locate God and adhere

struggling?  fearful?  perplexed?  look from a different height and angle…like God’s

try Ditzler’s 10 questions.  start with:  what did I accomplish last year?  what were my disappointments?  what did I learn?

Life takes time…it takes a whole lifetime.

The past?  learn from it…quickly…then let it go.

Whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ Gods has it.

simple.  clear.  listen.

show up and serve…everything else is distraction.

let her talk

transparency:  the less you hide, the less you have to carry

prep work.  homework.  it saves a lot of embarrassment.

allow

 

The Purpose of ‘Bad’ Things

I have recently weathered another perfect storm:  exhaustion and self-doubt met with unjust accusations, betrayal, inquisition, and ambush.  Did I mention I have weathered that storm….I came through it in one piece.

When a dear friend asked me today why these things always happen to me, I did not elaborate on my beliefs, but Jackie, I will now.  My opinion of why such things always happen to me is 1) difficult for many people to accept and 2) my opinion and I am entitled to one.

When people think about ‘bad’ things happening to good people, their concept of ‘bad’ is not my concept of ‘bad.’  Other people’s list of ‘bad’ things include things like car accidents, cancer, abandonment, birth defects, premature death, etc.  To me, ‘bad’ is being so unconnected with God that you wonder if you need to introduce yourself when you start to pray.

I will clarify my definition of ‘bad’ by defining the opposite, namely ‘good.’  ‘Good’ is unconditionally loving God.   Walk with me closely here because I am not saying that we should respond to ‘bad’ things by loving God; it’s a little more involved (and possible) than that.  When ‘bad’ things happen to me, I can often see how the ‘bad’ thing is connected to (or pointing to) something that is distracting me from God.

I will add another very controversial concept:  God lets dark forces interfere in our lives for a purpose.  Ask Job.   When the dark forces are on me like flies, that is my opportunity to once again declare to Whom I belong.

The purpose of this life is not peace, joy, success, prosperity, abundance, health, blah, blah, blah,…  And conversely, hatred, misery, failure, etc. are not ‘bad’ things.  The purpose of this life is to give us an opportunity, in the midst of battle, to locate and adhere to God.  God wants one thing: our constant awareness of Him.  The bad things that happen are God-given opportunities to perfect that.

Remember, this is my opinion and I hold it very stongly…and I can because it plays out repeatedly in my life; each time I weather this kind of storm, and prove my loyalty and faith, my bond with God becomes stronger.

In Shadrach, Meschah, and Whatshisname, I give my battle cry, “I’m with them.”

I serve God, through Jesus, with strength and conviction from the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus, saved by His blood by the Grace of God.  I look to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the very Father God to protect and save me.  But if He does not, I will not turn from God nor will I stop drawing close to Jesus and neither will I stop turning to the Holy Spirit for guidance and protection.  I will not worship anything else.  Are there any questions?

I feel I must point out that holding this belief is easy for me because, unike the rich young ruler and most other people, I don’t have much left to lose.   I’ve done this a good bit; I know the drill.  That is not to say the battle is over.  I have not died yet.  I’m sure things can get worse.   But I pray for the strength to remain steadfast and that I continue to show up when called upon to do so.

Response Ability Requires Power to Respond

This morning, the minister at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville related an insight I had not heard before, concerning the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat:  a thermometer reflects the environment; a thermostat assesses the environment and responds. He went on to challenge his congregation to be like thermostats; don’t just reflect what is going on around you and in the world.  Assess what is going on but respond in a way that improves the climate.

I would add only this point to his wisdom:  the only way the thermostat is capable of doing more than just reflecting the environment is because the thermostat is hooked up to a power source.  One’s ability to respond, and not just reflect, depends on one’s clear connection to a power source.  The quality of one’s response depends on the quality of the power behind it.

Last night, after Clemson defeated Wake Forest, Dabo Swinney commended the team members on their response to the previous week’s defeat.  He praised “these young men” for HOW they responded.  Dabo is right:  It is not important what happens to us in this life; what is important is How we respond to what happens.  Those “young men” responded with quality character traits:  courage, poise, optimism, strength…because they were clearly connected to a quality power source.

Good power source…good response.  Flawed power source…flawed response.

I commend Dabo Swinney, most beloved inspirational speaker, for demonstrating, and guiding those young athletes to their own discovery of, the best source of power there is.