Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ears to Hear and Hands to Hold

Can we hear the call as we sit in silence in our rooms,
Or do we only hear it in the clamoring of creation?
How do we discern whether the voice calling is true,
Or a lead to a lesser life than we are meant to live?

What is our meter of discernment for the voice of The Almighty;
Will an angel stop my folly, as was done for Abraham?
Some say the only way to perfection is never to do;
Dare I act without a guide for my faith and my feet?

Please give me patience that I may wait for your assignments;
Give me the humility to understand that I cannot act alone.
Give me guides that hear your voice in the clanging of creation,
And hands to hold as I begin anew this journey as your pure child.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Path to Paradise

Is all religion an effort to tame the savage beast that resides inside our souls? Can we ever become all that we are meant to be without tapping into our own inner divinity -- our own "image and likeness of God?"

Isn't the ability to make decisions on how much of our inner divinity we will cultivate and contribute to our earth that which makes us different from the rest of creation? How much more wonderful our world would be if every day we asked ourselves what we can do to increase the flow of the Divine Energy in and through our contacts with creation.

If we are following a path to the Wholeness of Divinity, the light draws us ever onward toward itself. Our lives become less about rules against actions and more about what promotes peace on the path to the fullness of our shared Divinity. All our actions that are off this path will give us a feeling of isolation, leading us to once again seek the unity with others walking the right way. Any that we have pushed off the path by our actions against them, we will seek to once more embrace and include in our walk in grace. Those who have pushed us, we will pray for while we continue our walk.

This eternal longing for unity with The Divine is the condition of all of creation, and can only be completed in the fullness of time. Meanwhile, we must keep our sights set on the divine duties of our own work and honoring the divine in the work and being of each other and all creation. This creates a continuum of the path to paradise "on earth as it is in heaven."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Epiphany

It is Easter! Let us arise
And find our better selves
That inside us reside.
Let us throw off the greed
And the jealousy
And find the people
Which we're meant to be.
Let us live in the glow
Of Infinite Love
Uniting earth with
The grace from above.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Legacy of Love

The House by the Side of the Road
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

There are hermit
souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house
by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house
by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears-
Both parts of an infinite plan;-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened
meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my
house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish- so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I'm not sure that when Walter Foss wrote that poem, he was talking about living on Highway 68. Charlie loved to tell how when he moved to Coker Creek, you could set up a card table in the middle of Highway 68 and play all day without being disturbed. His constant complaint was about all the trucks and crotch rockets barreling past his place at breakneck speed. I'm not sure what upset him most about that the fact that Bootsie, his cat, couldn't roam free, or the fact that none of those barreling past his place ever stopped to say hello.

It didn't matter what time of day or night a person drove into his driveway, Charlie greeted that person with a smile and a hug...and a story. Charlie had stories about everything from his childhood adventures, to rum running, to religion. He said what was on his heart and mind, and lived what he believed. He was the only person I ever knew who actually thanked me for arguing with him without getting (in his words)"all pissy."

One of his favorite sayings was, "A hypocrite I'm not; a Christian, I am." We know that Jesus' time on the earth was spent collecting people, feeding them, loving them, and leading them on the road to salvation. Charlie lived his life doing similar things. He seemed to know everything about whatever he loved, and couldn't wait to take you along to enjoy what he loved with him.

If ever one wanted a tour guide, Charlie was your man. It was often a wild ride taking a tour with Charlie. He'd drive these curves with one hand on the wheel and one eye on the road. How we ever stayed on the tarmac is a wonder to me, as he was usually turned toward the person to whom he was talking. Now Charlie is, I'm sure, giving tours of heaven. I figure that The Almighty needed a great tour guide who could make getting to heaven look like a fun ride.

We all leave a legacy when we physically leave this earth. Some leave great fortunes to continue the work of their favorite charities; some leave laughter and love. Love is the legacy of our friend Charlie. He truly lived on the side of the road and was a friend to every man, woman, and child that crossed his path. I'm so glad to have been one of those people.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Just for Today

Just for today, I'll not worry;
Just for today, I'll trust;
Just for today, I'll be patient.
Today, I'll live just for today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Gift of Grandchildren

To have children who are parents is a gift of grace that surpasses all others. Only then do we see our values in action as they struggle with the stresses of balancing faith, family, friends and bread winning. As our third grandchild reaches her teen years today, I am awed by what fine young women and man the children of my children seem to be becoming.

It is humbling to watch and try not to worry or interfere. These are the times when prayer and patience can lead to the peace that is necessary for being truly present for the young families. My prayer is that I not be selfish or petty, and that I do all in my power never to take from them more than I was able to give.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Path to Peace

Many people of my acquaintance use the terms "sympathy," "empathy," and "compassion" interchangeably. I believe that they have different meanings and applications. It seems to me that compassion is entering into, or sharing, a feeling with another; this is accompanied by a willingness to act. Empathy is the sharing of feeling with a desire to absorb some of the energy, but not to necessarily act. Sympathy is the projecting of one's own feeling on another.

If I have compassion, I too have an emotional investment in the resolution of another's problem or feelings. I will look for ways to share the other's burden. When I empathize, I am emotionally present for the other. In sympathy, I simply acknowledge that you have a given feeling. I like to think that compassion is a sharing of the love of the Infinite in all of us; that we are all bound together by the same spark of creation. I believe that what hurts one bit of creation hurts all of us, and that what heals one soul heals a bit of all.

Many also seem to loosely use "motivation" and "manipulation." My yardstick for these terms is how they are used to effect the one who is being led to act. If I encourage action of another with selfish motives on my part, that is manipulation. If I support action for the betterment of others, that is motivation.

What does all this have to do with faith? I believe that to become one again in Eternity, we must seek to be more compassionate, even of those we feel are our enemies. We must also ask ourselves if our leaders are acting as motivating forces or simply manipulating us for their own selfish ends.

Compassion is the only known path to peace. The Buddha, Abraham, Moses, The Christ all sought to motivate their followers to live lives of compassion in order to promote community (unity with others) -- "on earth as it is in Heaven."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Compassionate Conflict Resolution

We, as animals, have two natural responses to conflict, fight and flight. As humans, we have another option, which is coping. But who among us is taught a system of conflict resolution? To be fully human we must retrain ourselves to seek peaceful co-existence.

What good does it do us to take all conflict to the courts where the opponents have to swear on a book that may or may not be sacred to the swearer? We claim to be a predominantly Judeo-Christian country, with the greatest emphasis on being Christian. I'd like to see a new vocation come out of all this claiming of Christianity in our country.

We could call it Compassionate Conflict Resolution. This would be a field that could intervene when folks of different faiths and value systems have issues that they want peacefully resolved. Whoever took up this profession would have to be willing to familiarize themselves with the values and belief systems that drive all parties involved in the conflict, sort of like our secretary of state must do on the world stage. The arbiter would also have to reveal to all parties the value system from which she or he hails.

We could run these "courts" sort of like the Supreme court, but with fewer "judges." Each party to the conflict could have one representative witness and an uninvolved resolution specialist would be the arbiter of the dispute. Witnesses could be called, if necessary. This, of course, entails the ability to articulate one's wants and needs. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we cared enough to do this?

If we want instruction for this system of conflict it's all laid out in the Torah, the New Testament Bible, and in the Koran. Why aren't we willing to use this system?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jesus' Life of Love

This is the holiest season in Christianity, and one of the holiest in Judaism, when both faiths are celebrating deliverance from evil earthly forces. As a Roman Catholic child this was the season in which I was taught all about the passion of Jesus. Unfortunately, I was taught more about the big drama of his scourging and crucifixion than I was taught about his passion for his people while walked the earth in the flesh.

I think we miss the point; the true sacrifice isn't the death, it's the heroism that leads to that death that is the greatest sacrifice. Many people are willing to put themselves in harm's way for those they love. Look at the sacrifices truly loving parents, caregivers, teachers, health care professionals, and members of the armed forces make in the line of duty. But to live a full life out among all the sin without once falling? How many of our lives would withstand the scrutiny that Jesus' life continues to command? The most remarkable thing about Jesus, in my opinion, was his example of a loving, sinless life on the same planet that I inhabit.

I believe that Jesus wanted us to realize that we are all God's children; that salvation is a choice, not a birthright. Why else would any of us have been born? I believe that his passion for all people led him to condense the many rules in the Torah and Old Testament down to two -- love God and love God's children. I believe that he came to show us, by his example, the way to peace with Our Creator and of harmonious relationships with our fellow humans. That example, by design, coincides with the way of Abraham and Moses. I believe the Holy Spirit he left with us is the "God" spark in each of us and in all creation.

I believe that we humans were still needing outward signs of human sacrifice to God, so Jesus was willing to be our scapegoat. I believe that what Jesus really wants us to take away from his life and death is the joy that comes with sharing our loving lives with others, The Spirit of Loving Unity.This Easter, I think I'll observe the stations of all my spiritual ancestors' lives.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Herds and Humans

Our animal instincts are much too strong
For us to ignore our need for spiritual
Support groups for very long.

This is what I think churches are meant to be.
But aren't they often simply
Strengthening the herd mentality?

Instead of projecting acceptance out to others
They close their rule-bound ranks
Around their sisters and brothers.

Is this because they are afraid of being infected
By the ways of outside others
That their group has rejected?

It seems that mission work is so much more effective
Than all the Sunday sermons
And the judgmental invective.

When you feed a hungry person or hold a fearful hand
This imparts the love
That makes an animal human.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Preparing For Purity

Look very closely at the light, and it will begin to draw you in.
When we are seeking a way out of darkness, this is how to begin.
Even a tiny pinpoint of light, seen in the eyes of a child,
Can be enough to give us hope for just a little while.
The uncorrupted child's soul is a pure pearl of light,
The earthly evidence of what, in creation, is right.
But we must prepare ourselves to protect their purity,
So that we too may experience the inner light they see.

But we don't prepare our people to be present in these moments;
We bring babies into isolation, without the tribes to which they're sent.
We live from task to task, exhausting our emotional resources,
Leaving our children's souls to all manner of evil forces.
At least, we now have daddies who hold their babies most dear,
Making their claims on their babies' hearts and minds clear.
But where are the councils of elders with time on their hands,
Helping to pass on the values that true humanity demands?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Synchronizing Our Spirits

I've read for many years about rites and rituals of religions that are supposed to take us closer to God. It seems that most of these were developed by people seeking to get away from their everyday lives on earth. While this may work for some, for short periods of time, I don't think it's the best way to long-lasting lightening of the load of life. When we wake up, there are still dirty dishes to be done, but the egg is stuck more firmly to the plate.

Many societies and religions solve this problem by creating the illusion that there are some who are simply meant to be closer to God and bring their visions down to those who do the dirty work. Those not gifted with enough inner light are encouraged to use all manner of psychoactive substance to "reach a higher plane", or to lose themselves in rituals that deaden the awareness of what's going on around them. While this may be great as a break from mundane matters, it isn't meant to be a lifestyle. And it sure isn't conducive to the training of children "in the way they should go."

One of the most beautiful rituals I've ever witnessed is the putting of a fussy baby to sleep. When done with love, it is pure spirituality in action. The serenity of the adult is imparted to the baby to the point where the baby feels so safe that his or her breathing synchronizes with the soother. It is like that with loving arms; they impart some of oneself to the other. With all the fear in the world, maybe it's time we reinstate rituals of spending snuggle time together. Believe in the bumper sticker, "Hugs, not drugs."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Matriarchy and Motherhood

Faith fuels my matriarchy, where it confused my motherhood. I am almost sixty. Having lived through the silence of my mothers and the sins of our fathers, I am no longer willing to be silent as I carry anyone else's sins. I bow under the burden of the secrets that I've already heard, not because I offered but because no one else would lend and ear. I now speak out against all the evils that I have come to know.

We have been living under a set of lies, perpetrated by those who did not live what they preached, but sought to set us on paths away from their own perdition. "Don't do as I did," they say. Unless we check their advice against the wisdom of the ages, there's little chance that we should believe that they profess a proper new way.

All animals learn by example, and we are animals before being infused with our souls. Even then, we are helpless to survive outside the good graces of our community of origin. Isn't it wonderful to live in a democracy where we are free to begin again?

I will follow only those who walk the walk, for it is only in seeing the fruit that I will judge a tree.
I will profess only those beliefs that I've seen in action, for many generations preceding me.
I will warn others of the evils of which I've been warned, hoping to help others to avoid the millstone's noose.
I will admit the problems that I've caused myself and others, so that the sins of my mothers and fathers may finally be set loose.
I will seek to balance the weaknesses of being human with the strengths of others in relationships.
I will offer to salve the wounds of those bloodied in the battles, and to relieve revenge bit by bit.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Commitment to Compassion

"This is my body. This is my blood" words that can be spoken husband to wife and wife to husband in marriage.
"This is my body. This is my blood" words that can be spoken by a mother as she embraces her children.
"This is my body. This is my blood" words that can be spoken by a father every time his labor pays for his family's food.
"This is my body. This is my blood" words that can be spoken by a teacher every time a child learns to read and write.
"This is my body. This is my blood" words that can be spoken by the armed forces every time they are on the front lines.
"This is my body. This is my blood" words that can be spoken by a nurse at the bedside of a patient in pain.
"This is my body. This is my blood" words that can be spoken by all who reach out in love and minister to others.
This commitment to compassionate action is the true communion of saints, and it is how we help create heaven on earth.