‘Politically Correct?’ No, Minding your Grandma.

Have you heard Goerge W. Bush’s recent speech about this country, democracy, and leadership? Truly warms my heart. Bless him.

In contrast, our current president behaves like a caricature of our worst natures…the personification of our shadow selves…everything our kindergarten teachers told us not to do, be, or say…everything our grandmothers took switches to us for. But because he is president, other ‘children’ in society now think it is permissible to disobey every lesson their grandmothers taught them, every rule their teachers gave them…including the Golden Rule and The Commandments. These ‘children’ need to go back to kindergarten; they need to get a good scolding from their grandmothers.

When reminded of these basic rules of good behavior and common decency, these ‘children’ scream in protest; they are tired of being ‘politically correct.’ Well, dammit, this isn’t about politics. What would your grandmother say?

(I borrowed the image from the internet. Thank you.)

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It’s time

After a lifetime of treading water over the dark end of the pool, after decades of working to stay above the murky deep, I now stop thrashing and slowly slip in.  As the dark cold water closes in over my head I am at peace and expectant…listening:  What do you have for me?

Voices travel well through water and fog.

Just as it’s the struggles that grow us up, it’s the dark that grows us deep.  Choosing to not stay on the surface, choosing to let go of security and safety, lowering the eyes and dropping down is the nod of consent:  I’m here…I know you’re here too.  Tell me…

‘Bad’ or ‘Good’

I have tried all of my life to be a good person…kind, sweet, patient, compassionate, respectful.  I have not always been successful but it was my goal…my intention…because I was raised to believe that I was a ‘bad’ person …naughty, untrustworthy, immoral, and mean.  That was the default assumption of my parents and I never knew why.  If I dressed up, my father said I looked like a slut.  If I had a friendship with a boy, my father assumed it was sexual.  If I made a mistake. my mother accused me of hating her.  If my sister was unhappy with me, it must have been because I was having an affair with her husband.  If the neighbor hit me, I must have been doing something wrong to deserve it.

This craziness extended well into adulthood.  At work I wasn’t considered credible and most of my programming was discarded (without even looking at it) because it was assumed I was not smart enough.  I was not welcomed into the family business.  My husband made a game of never letting me have my way.  Family members suspected me of sabotaging otther family members.

The thing is, I was smart enough.  I was credible.  I was a good person.  Unfortunately, I am not made of bronze like the little girl on Wall Street.  The abuse made an impression on  me.  So, I decided to stop trying to prove everyone wrong.  I am 62 years old.  I let it all go…and I let go.   I expected to be angry or resentful or bitter…yet, I wasn’t.  I expected to be disappointed.  Nope, not that either.

Then, yesterday, I killed a bird…a robin.  It flew into my car.  That was my complete undoing.  I had to pull over out of traffic and I wailed.  (“Blessed little bird…I’m so sorry…I’m so sorry…”)  The crying released a whole lot of hurt…a lifetime of hurt.  I was wailing over my being a contributor to the pain in the world…in hurting an innocent created thing.   I was also crying for all of the small beings (people as well as birds) throughout the world and throughout time who are lost, alone, and beat up without deserving it.  I cried for children, as well as 62-year-old women, who feel tossed, misunderstood, wrongfully accused, neglected, and unprotected…people who haven’t a chance and have no way of knowing how to get a chance.

I assumed, as I cried, that having given in, darkness would soon take me over, but that didn’t happen.  I was at peace and I was still kind, loving, and compassionate.  God allowed darkness, mean-spiritedness, fear, guilt, and jealousy to beat me up for 62 years.  Yet, I still have free will.  If the Eternal Divine is allowing me an either/or…I choose neither; I choose Christ.

I am beginning to understand that polarities like ‘bad’ and ‘good,’ ‘positive’ and ‘negative,’ ‘light’ and ‘dark’ are necessary for life to be experienced, but neither one should be prefered over the other.  It is through the pain of bad experiences that we grow.  For an image to be an image, it must have both dark and light.  Christ encompasses all of it.

(I borrowed the image from the internet.  It belongs to CNN.)

“Lord, this is what I’m hearing”

You help me because you hear what I am trying to say.

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

People are always asking me, “How can I get my brother to understand this?”

How do we get people to change their behavior?

Why don’t you understand me?

If I could just get you to see things differently.

They won’t understand until they are ready to; some people never do.

Why am I trying harder than the people I am trying to help?

She could get out of that, if she wanted to.

They know not what they do.

I want to help him; why won’t he let me?

They are not going to hear what you say until they wake up.

Do you hear me?

It will not happen until you are ready for it

If only my mother had known this before she died…

My goal is to find a way to raise their consciousness.

She’s not ready for it.

Lord, show me the way

I read this before and it made no sense; Now, it is crystal clear.

I guess I need to start over; I don’t get it.

All in good time…

They are at a higher level of consciousness; that’s why.

People could change if they wanted to.

We haven’t got that kind of time !

Wake up and smell the coffee

He who has ears, let him hear.

When they get older, they’ll figure it out.

We thought education was the answer, but it hasn’t changed their behavior.

I don’t know how.

I want the wisdom that is so highly praised in scripture.

If I only knew how to get through to him.

I tell them what to do but they just don’t listen.

It takes one to know one.

Why can’t I change?

You’re not waiting on God; God is waiting on you.

Are you ready?

“Information is not Wisdom”

Ever since the beginning of Lent back in March, I have been studying the writings of spiritual teachers and mystics, contemporary to ancient.  I have been accompanied by other pilgrims through an internet forum and through email.  Since Easter, most of the original group has lost interest, leaving about 5 or 6 of us.  The conversations have deepened and become more personal as we get to know each other.

This small group of us bring together varied spiritual backgrounds and life experiences and have shared where our understandings come from…books, doctrine, speakers, ancient texts, holy scripture,…  As I learn from my friends, I naturally expand my interest to include their suggested ‘teachers.’  Then, as one writer recommends another, I have expanded the margins of my interest beyond my own spiritual heritage.  I now find myself walking my spiritual path carrying about 12 books and as many websites.

I am a follower of Jesus, a true Christian.  I am a constant seeker of Christ in life and believe Christ is what is sought, the ‘wisdom,’ in all spiritual practice.  Christ guides me so I am able to find guidance in all areas of life.  Each morning, I gather my ‘library’ about me and pick which ‘speaker’ will speak to me today … which teacher will tell me what to do.  Well, that’s what I did, until today.

Lately, I have been struggling with insecurity in discerning my personal path.  The varied sources describe the same journey but with different sign posts, markers, and itineraries.  In truth, for most of my life I have not followed any prescribed path but some of my fellow pilgrims have, and I have wanted to know, “Where am I on the map?  How am I doing?”  In fact, for the past 12 days I have felt I have lost my way, lost sight of the trail, and may have lost my right to be on the path because I had lost faith.  One of my online friends sent me several passages from a teacher he highly regards and between the passages he included simply, “Ask Jesus.”

This morning, I picked up The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo and before reaching today’s meditation (October 7), my finger stuck in the page for September 9.  Making a quick promise to myself to go back to September 9 next, I moved on to October 7,

It is so tempting to want the answers before we begin the journey.  We like to know the way.  We like to have maps.  We like to have guides.  But we are more like a breathing puzzle, a living bag of pieces, and each day shows us what a piece or two is for, where it might go, how it might fit.

So many of my questions were answered by that alone, yet because a promise is a promise, I returned, smiling, to September 9:

If at times you feel numb or distanced from the essence of what you know, perhaps your mind, like the sage’s teacup, is too full.  

Information is not wisdom.  If you cannot speak when your mouth is stuffed with unchewed food, how can you think clearly if your mind is stuffed with undigested information.

Then, without even thinking about it, I took up Thomas Merton:

The purpose of a book of meditations is to teach you to think and not to do your thinking for you.  Consequently, if you pick up such a book and simply read it through, you are wasting your time.  As soon as any thought stimulates your mind or your heart you can put the book down because your meditation has begun.  To think that you are somehow obliged to follow the author of the book to his own particular conclusion would be a great mistake. It may happen that his conclusion does not apply to you.  God may want you to end up somewhere else.  He may have planned to give you quite a different grace than the one the author suggests you might be needing. (emphasis mine.)

 

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So, my two dozen references are just that….references.  Seeds.  Bread crumbs…suggesting the path…not a loaf to be my whole meal.  I will trust.  The lesson is in the living of life.  The next stepping stone will appear beneath my reaching foot and I will know where I am going…when I get there.

And so, as my friend suggested that I ask Jesus, I now do…

Hope…In Motion

I am re-posting this because I suspect those people who raised their heads in hope last Fall are beginning to see the outcome. Those who supported the election are not the beneficiaries of the promises.  (God, show me how to help them.)

(November 9, 2016)

For a long time, many people…including the ‘silent majority’…have been quietly despairing.  The government was seemingly ignorant of their struggles or unwilling to address their needs, which is what a government is intended to do.  Large chunks of the citizenry were not part of the policy equation.  These people had given up hope of ever mattering again.

Donald Trump’s message of “Make America Great Again” included their struggles and needs.  Rather than ignore the elections, as they often have in the past, they mustered their hope and went to the polls exuberantly.

The hearts and spirits of these people are vulnerable and lie exposed in Donald Trump’s hands.

I believe that whether or not these people’s lives are improved by changes in government or policy lies in who Trump surrounds himself with and listens to…his advisors.  Trump is not known to listen to advisors and Trump is used to people being Trump fodder.

(We now see who Trump’s advisors are and the benefit of Trump action will likely not reach the people who elected him.)

Regardless, these people’s hopes have been enlivened; their heads are raised and they are looking for help.  If it does not come from changes in government or policy, they will look elsewhere.

After Hurricane Hugo, I was pregnant and not able to clear brush and debris so I offered to help address the emotional needs of the children whose lives were devastated.  I consulted a psychologist who specialized in trauma and disaster recovery.  His answer was simple: to the extend that the family ties were healthy and functional, the families will survive.  The families in despair, however, will turn to things that promise some form of control like drugs, witchcraft, guns, hate-based organizations, even evangelistic preachers.

The disheartened people of this country have their hopes up now.  If they are disappointed or mistreated by hurricane Trump, it is likely they will turn elsewhere for a solution.

I am not close-minded and welcome wise action from a new administration.  However, my hope does not lie in the presidency nor in the Congress, Supreme Court, or bureaucracy.   My hope does not even lie in a church.  My hope lies in my own connection with God.

My hope is that if the hopes of these people do not find purchase in the new administration, that they turn their eyes to the only true hope…the only trustworthy source of help and relief.

All I Need to Do is Show Up (Reprise)

Well, this is fate! …What do they call it when everything intersects?”   “The Bermuda Triangle.”  (wonderful lines written by the late Nora Ephron and spoken by Jay and Sam in the movie, Sleepless in Seattle)

A favorite fellow blogger wrote recently about letting God be God.  I responded that she was absolutely right and that all I needed to do was show up.  (I keep stealing her best words.  Sorry, Donald, I don’t think you do have the best words, but I won’t get into that now.)

While I was in North Carolina, recently, I encountered several people who already had their ‘dukes up’ when I entered the room:  sales clerks, buyer’s agents, and even a beloved friend.  Driving home with the top down on my little blue wonder car, I felt like I was “getting the hell out of Dodge.”  As I breathed deep and emptied my mind of the bits of discordant conversations, the scripture words “shake the dust off your feet,” came to mind.

Now, I am aware of the potential punishment due one who alters or disagrees with scripture, but when I look at the whole text,

If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city…

…I am disturbed.  These words are from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus sends out the twelve apostles “with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.’”  Now, maybe it is because they are to try to reach out to the Jews; but this does not sound like the Jesus I know.  I am reminded of the parable of the shepherd who goes out looking for the one lost sheep.  Jesus does not tell me to judge someone as “not worthy” and therefore to “take back my blessing of peace.”  Sure, there are swine who are not going to appreciate pearls but convincing them, much less judging them as unworthy, just isn’t my job.  Let me explain what I mean…

In the verse, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet,” I see that as wisdom for my psychological health.  In a previous essay, I wrote about the techniques used to keep oneself safe when attempting to help others; I wrote about how healing ministers have a special prayer they pray to cleanse themselves of residual attachment to the pain, evil spirits, or even pride in having helped Jesus to heal someone.

However, I believe the process of acting as ambassadors for Christ does not end just because I have not been well-received; God’s work is far from over.  If I give to someone a blessing of peace, I have planted a seed or embedded a grain of sand.  I may walk away, but circumstances outside of my knowledge can, and likely will, cause that seed to germinate and, maybe years from now, will grow into belief and faith.  I think of the seeds in the desert that lie dormant until the rains come.  The image at the top of this essay was published in October 2015, in the Daily Mail .  The picture is of the Atacama desert in Chile, “the worlds driest desert,” in late spring after heavy storms took place in March.  In the words of the writer, “a magical transformation brings the area to life.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3294865/Blooming-marvellous-rain-falls-world-s-driest-desert-jaw-dropping-phenomenon-takes-place-year-s-display-spectacular-18-years.html#ixzz42z6FNd6z

Atacama desert dry

This image above may be what I encounter on a daily basis, but my blessings are like a seed tossed out into that sand.  Sure, I will shake the dust from my feet because I do not want to dwell on the rejection or seeming lack of acceptance of God’s love, but my job is done.  Now, it is up to God…who will be God.

I would like to add that sometimes I am met with true rancor; I usually have no idea what is the reason behind it or the source of it, but I can bet I have touched on something that needs God’s healing touch.  Again, it is usually none of my business and, therefore, it is not my job to try to fix it.  Furthermore, in cases such as that, I have likely planted a grain of sand that, God willing, will irritate the hearer until a pearl of wisdom is formed…but this can take years, just like within an oyster; I don’t need to see it happen.  I believe and have faith; I move on.  What happens over time is God business.

A young blogger recently indicated that he was concerned about the state of the salvation of his friends as they were facing college; my advice to him was to remember that their souls were in God’s hands and that his job was to love them, be kind to them, be there to answer questions, but to try to not judge or criticize them; God is not done with them and paths of their lives will be as diverse as the flowers of the world.

This same blogger, only weeks before, had expressed dismay over his own doubts and waverings of faith.  When I replied with some of my personal experiences and with teachings and practices that have helped me, he responded with much self-righteous criticism and condemnation; he said some of my beliefs and practices were”Satanic.”  Before I lashed out in self-defense, I had to remind myself that he is probably no more than 20 years old and, certainly, God is not done with him, yet, either.  However, it would be prudent for me to give the topics mentioned in his attacks at least a cursory look… Balaam’s ass and all that.

When something like that niggles my soul, I am wise to reflect on the situation.  I am not exempt from receiving seeds and sand from others who are unknowingly (or knowingly) acting on behalf of God.  My beloved friend’s screaming at me that “Now, you’re just being contrary!” has merit; I am by no means a saint.  I can be contrary.  I can be mean-spirited.  How do you think I recognize so well the mean-spirited ways of others ?!?  I can only thank God, and my friends and family, that there are such things as forgiveness and understanding.

The point I started out with is simply this: my job is to show up.  Jesus is not physically here to plant seeds and sand; I am.  I am not equipped, or emotionally or spiritually healthy enough, to give appropriate correction to others.  However, I can obey Jesus’ commandments to love God and to love my neighbor.  The only way I know how to love my neighbor is to show up, be kind to them, to set a good example of what ‘love of God and neighbor’ look like, to not judge or criticize them, to allow them to be where they are spiritually, and to forgive them and have faith that God is not done with them, yet.

Addendum:  As I learn more about the Law of Three, it occurs to me that as I ‘show up’ with seeds and sand, I may, in fact, be acting as Third Force…just a thought.

To God be the Glory

 

 

Creation is Evidence of God’s Brilliance (Reprise)

A fellow blogger is concerned about evolution; he believes the concept that life evolved from a single-celled organism dismisses belief in God and devalues human life.  This is how I respond:

I disagree that what we are learning, and continue to learn, dismisses belief in God or devalues human life. God, even as documented in the Bible, has revealed Himself to man in ways that man can understand Him…in ways that man can handle…emotionally, conceptually, and intellectually. When He appeared to Abraham and to Moses, it was in glimpses and even then the men were dramatically affected by the experience. God, the Father, sent Jesus in human form so we would be able to receive Him and accept Him and listen to Him without the shock of His divinity; when he presented simple displays of His power in healing and changing water to wine or feeding the thousands, these simple examples were difficult for people to understand and accept.

The writers of the Bible wrote about God in ways that made sense to them…in ways they and others could handle and understand; they wrote in terms of what they knew…and even then it was mysterious and marvelous. The more we learn about our world, our universe, and ourselves, the more we learn about how amazing God is. God is so much more than what we know and are aware of. If God created us by a method starting with single-celled organisms, the whole concept is mind-blowingly creative and brilliant. The elegance of the processes involved are evidence of the masterfully-artistic mind of God.

Evolution, in no way, devalues human life. Man is special and unique among all of the creatures God planned: Man writes poetry, for example. All other creatures do what they do to survive. Poetry is not necessary for survival. Man seeks communion with the Creator. Do other creatures do that?

God is in no way threatened by science or technology. Quite the contrary, God is giving us the guidance to learn more about our universe…and more. God reveals Himself and creation as we are capable and prepared to know. And, the Holy Spirit is not computer illiterate; God nudges man to develop technology and inspires people, like you and me, to use it to distribute knowledge, wisdom, and guidance and to heal people all over the world.

God created this world and it is still a good creation. There is much wrong going on and God is aware. God loves.  God wants reconciliation and gives us ample opportunities to do that..and to help others see that.  God is excited…just as we are…as we continue to learn how magnificently and beautifully executed His creation has been…and continues to be.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

“Boring Stories of Glory Days”

This is an essay written by a new friend…a fellow Clemson fan…a fellow Dabo Swinney fan.

Moments

I heard an interview the other day with a former Clemson football player who was in the locker room with the Tigers after they won the National Championship. He was detailing the utter jubilation contained within those four walls from 18 to 22 years who had just ascended the mountain top of college football. This was a moment. A moment that would live with them the rest of their life. A moment that would include a ring, hardware that they could wear on their finger for the world to see and ask about. A moment they could put on their resume even if they never played a single down or step on to the field. A moment they could rehash and retell to anyone who was willing listen.

This former Clemson football player continued that the head coach Dabo Swinney talked about how proud he was of his players. Proud that they never gave up, proud that they not only believed in themselves but each other and then he talked about the moment. He reminded his player that as great as this moment was it would not and should not be the greatest or defining moment in their young life. There were many more moments ahead of them, graduation, marriage, children, moments that should equal if not be greater than this moment right here, right now.

I am a big fan of coach Dabo Swinney. Now I don’t necessarily agree with his in your face Christian views or speech but I can’t fault the man on his faith because he has proven time and time again he not only talks the talk he walks the walk as well. Yes, he is making millions of dollars a year, money that can and will cover a generation of future Swinney’s but there was a time when he had nothing, literally nothing, but his faith and a dream and those moments, those memories keep him grounded. Ground he passes on to his player’s.

For many people a single moment, a single accomplishment defines them. They spend much of their life reliving or trying to hold on to that one point in time. What they miss is the rest of their lives, a full life filled with more than just one moment.

Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
and I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
but I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing mister but
boring stories of glory days

Glory days well they’ll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

Bruce SpringsteenGlory Days

Boggles the Mind…

…but causes the heart to giggle.

Has anyone else experienced what I have just experienced:  having released the frustration of not having the money to buy the books I think I need to read right now, I go to my own bookshelf and find them…all of them…except the one that is just now released, one that is not yet released, and two that I have only recently learned of.

Let me emphasize, even after pulling them off of the bookshelf, I do not remember buying them.

Life-long truth:  when I go to a book store looking for wisdom, I usually buy 4 books:  the one I went for, one I need to read right then, and two I will need later.  Thank You, Jesus.