Thursday, November 29, 2012

Competition Kills Community

I am saddened by how many believe gratitude is a sign of weakness
Even though I believe that gratitude is the way, we love, confess.
Why do members of the same communities continue to compete,
And the mistakes of Cain and Able, over generations, repeat?

We'll never know who translated or interpreted the book of Genesis
In proclaiming that either Cain or Able's sacrifice was considered best.
I prefer to look at it, and all the Old Testament, as cautionary tales,
Portraying the evil of human competition that, even today, prevails.

We are each given a path to enrich humanity with our gifts of Divinity,
But we continue to lust after gifts that were not meant, to ours, be.
If each of we were meant to be wholly Divine on our own,
There would never have been a second human, Divine light, shown.

And if two were ever enough to take care of all earthly creation,
There would never have been many generations and many nations.
We have come from a world and communities, perfect in every way,
To relying on only what each of our animal instincts' have to say.

Can we all simply admit that it is time to start community over,
That the patriarchs of past generations are not our problem solvers?
Do we want to continue in wars, generation after generation,
Or do we want to seek all creation's peaceful salvation?

I can only succeed in a group who will freely continue to share
In the gifts that support the values about which we all care.
Until we are all ready to admit strengths, weakness, and gratitude,
It seems that competition will continue to kill community good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Abuse and Absolution

I had lunch with a friend, educated in the same religion and school as was I,
We met through our husbands, but to form a friendship, we didn't try.
Our conversation turned to patriarchy and the need to pursue true justice;
So many of my most passionate beliefs were given a new thrust.

None of us can undo what we've done to others, nor what others did to us,
But it's harmful, from those who have been abused, to expect human trust.
I'm sick of forgiveness rhetoric that comes without any obligation
To admit the harm done and make attempts at community repatriation.

We run from victims of abuse, afraid that we may see some of ourselves;
People don't want to admit to the evil that in all of humanity dwells.
It is not that we don't all have challenges to holding a compassionate course,
But we must be willing to face hard facts to begin a truly just discourse.

It is not healing to me if my abuser is prosecuted or even executed,
If his or her damage to me continues to be ignored or refuted.
I can only take the acceptance of the abusers' denial of guilt
As a sign that I'm not honored in the community that we built.

Why are we, as Judeo-Christians, afraid to hold each other to rules?
By forgiving those who admit no wrongdoing, we are made fools.
It is not, and has never been, enough to make peace with our own souls,
When we've destroyed part of a another, leaving him or her less than whole.

There is no way to rebuild innocence, once it is taken away,
But until the abusers are confronted by community, they continue to prey.
Communities are only strong when rules are evenly enforced
Otherwise, animal instinct and behaviors continue to run their course.

We cannot continue to have a civil society ruled by man-made fear;
The fear mongers are destroying what civilized society holds most dear.
We must re-frame our attitudes about what makes an animal human.
It's not thought, but the compassion we show for our fellow woman and man.

Knowing that I thought about abusing another shouldn't give me shame;
Only for the evil actions we don't resist, should we accept blame.
When we admit that all of us are faced with similar temptations,
We will support and hold each other to living up to humanity's obligations.

It is not the power of our thoughts, but our words and deeds
That allow, in our world and communities, evil to succeed.
When we feel with each other while standing strong in our values
We will not, the true road to responsible compassion, lose.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Richard's Ride

Richard's first lady love needs a heart transplant. The engine on his beloved 1989 Bronco II finally beat her last piston pump. He bought the  new vehicle just before we met, so I have always considered it the valiant steed of my knight in shining armor. She was with us through Richard's heart transplant, waiting for him as he recuperated. She is the vehicle into which we packed all the plans for the Higgins boats to save them from Hurricane Katrina for the National World War II Museum.

Richard lost his head over me, his heart to a congenital defect, our home, and his workshop with all of his tools to Hurricane Katrina. My fears for his health even forced him to leave his heavenly holler in the mountains of Tennessee. I simply couldn't bear to see him lose the last thing he has from our early days together.

Unbeknownst to me, he secretly planned to replace the engine when the Bronco  II reached her classic status. He did confess, however, that he actually thought he'd be dead before that decision had to be made. He will be seventy-one by then and always believed that statistics would kill him by the time he's seventy-two. I insist that the new heart gave him many more years than statistics do.

Hear we are facing a great decision, to deal with car salesmen or to fix our faithful steed. Replacing her heart wins hands down for me. We had a friend who paid over $100,000 to restore a classic car. Richard's Bronco II is only two years from classic car designation. We will only have to spend around $8,000 to get her back to being beautiful and functional.

I do have the provision that since we are spending that kind of money, we will also spring for a paint job and that he has to scrub twenty-three years of meals eaten and coffee spilled in his vehicle off the upholstery and carpet. As Fernando Lamas said, "It's not how good you feel; it's how good you look."

Richard's now trying to figure a way  to explain all this rationally. He just can't admit that he can do things simply based on emotion. I keep reminding him that he'd have never married at the age of forty-nine if he had stayed rational. And I like to encourage him to take care of his ladies even as they grow old and don't work so well. I wish we could spend $8,000 on me and have me almost good as new.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Worship and Wonder

Sacred Sunday, on this beautiful fall day, began as they all do;
Richard and I rose from our bed and had coffee, just us two.
Our discussions usually touch on the ways we practiced our faith
In everyday actions, in which we have the privilege to participate.

We love sharing stories of the victories of others in which we share,
And joy in the holiday in which we saw so many for whom we care.
Sundays are days for afterglow, reliving our new and old memories;
I think we both feel that gratitude is that for which we're conceived.

We then went out for a leisurely breakfast in a favorite local place,
And to a local grocery store at an equally leisurely pace.
Then it was on to begin the season of winter's wonder,
With celestial sounds of peace instead of religious thunder.

We thought the Christmas music was to be that of cheer;
Musica da Camera doesn't share our Christmas music idea.
We both enjoyed the nostalgia of being in a grand church;
Marveling at the acoustics was enough to give me mirth.

It occurred to me that the old churches had it figured out,
That acoustics is the secret for what heavenly music is about.
Even this small group of musicians playing and vocalists singing
Sounded, as if through this sacred space, the Seraphim were winging.

We agreed to try, in this year of our adult Christmas spirit
We would seek sacred joy wherever we can hear it.
We have long ago gotten over the need to open presents;
Sharing worship and wonder is that for which we're meant.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Conception and Committed Community

When you wrap a blanket around yourself, the warmth is coming from you;
When you feel power of The Holy Spirit, that's coming from inside you too.
Each of us is endowed at our conception with this remarkable energy;
Parents should prepare before conceiving to protect and nurture our Divinity.

I believe our unborn children grow or diminish their souls' lives;
Based on the environment in the womb, their Spirits die or thrive.
When children come into the light of earth, their first sense should be joy
From committed community ready to, their own Holy Spirits, employ.

I am eternally thankful to my daughter's deceased godmother
Who shared with me the magnitude of joy I could share with no other.
We celebrated together from the moment I knew that I'd conceived;
As my mother-in-law lay dying, this gift, some of my grief, relieved.

My neighbor who lived next door said my daughter had an old soul;
I believe her godmother's love is what helped her Holy Spirit to mold.
When I conceived my son, our community was in a state of sadness;
My daughter's godmother was afraid that I would succumb to madness.

She sought out a source of people who would share their joy with me;
The failing was that these people were not committed community.
My son was born with a restless Spirit and a brilliant Holy light;
Few had the sacred strength to guide his Spirit toward right.

Where are the great warriors who will fight for our children's souls,
Men who nurture the mother and child while the baby's Spirit molds?
When children are seen as a burden or a trick to secure maternal support,
Escaping responsibility will continue to be a competitive sport.

There can be joy in changing a diaper and earning the daily bread;
If we begin with communal support, these are not tasks to dread.
Unless we properly prepare ourselves before a child's conception
The belief that we will bring up Sacred Souls seems a huge deception.

Preparation includes the presence of a community that blesses your union,
People committed to the children's bodies and souls before their lives are begun.
Perhaps churches and neighborhoods could form rocking granny groups,
Allowing sleep deprived parents to go home, shower, sleep, and recoup.

Perhaps our schools could become committed community centers,
Where rules of responsibility and compassion must be followed by all who enter.
A place where all with skills could come and share them with our young,
The perimeter patrolled and protected by the compassionately strong.

Could we mandate that all children who tire of regular school
Be assigned to learn to work in centers with the communities' tools?
Perhaps less teens would be so anxious to become parents
If they worked in these centers with the community "uncles" and "aunts."

The teens could be assigned to work out their excess energy,
Playing with children who need protection while running free.
This would all be under the watchful eyes of the community elders,
Under whose wings all the community children would be sheltered.

There is much physical labor in maintaining the building and grounds;
This could be done by those the elders don't want children around.
What could be wrong with each person educated in our country
Giving two years of their lives to helping build strong community?

Perhaps in this era of charter schools, we could begin again
Re-thinking the purpose of the school buildings that remain.
Go back to the way it worked in the early days of our country
Where schools and their guardians mirrored values of the community.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanks and Thrills

Thanksgiving Day was wonderful; our college girl surprised us
Over her and her mom's pumpkin muffins, we were allowed to fuss.
She was a delightful child, and now that she is grown,
She is able to come visit with us all on her own.

My childhood girlfriend and I then dressed to the nines;
We were escorted by Prince Charming to Luke in New Orleans to dine.
Others had labored long and hard away from their families
To create a Cajun Thanksgiving buffet, which was a sight to see.

The waiter was a young man, and he was so very solicitous;
Over my blonde bombshell friend, he made an extra fuss.
We had turducken, eggplant, mirliton, and oyster dressing, too.
We did Thanksgiving dinner the way the Cajuns do.

Or how very civilized and we didn't have to cook a thing!
As we finished each course, the dirty dishes took wing.
My prince, our friend, and I cooked for family for many years;
We felt entitled to feel as a jury of the cooks' peers.

Everything was delightful; we couldn't have asked for more;
And after a short nap, my prince and I had more in store.
A movie with our daughter's family was a great way to relax;
So many wonderful memories, now in our souls, are packed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiness in Happy Holidays

I remember many times deciding whether to shut down emotionally or go forward with a gaping hole in my solar plexus. I wanted so badly to be able to seal over the hole that let in so much hurt, along with other emotions. I would make some progress in this effort while my children were visiting with their dad, but would have to open it up again when they returned to me. It seems that I didn't know how to love my children without being weak-kneed vulnerable to their every emotion.

I have heard "love" defined as a suspension of judgement. Maybe this is the most accurate definition for such a complex word. I never felt that it was my place as a parent to judge the right or wrong of my children's actions, but to anticipate the consequences to them and others, and warn them away from harming either. In my religious training we were taught to look for the evils in almost every move a human could make, especially in our own actions.  I worked very hard not to impose on them the fears that had been imprinted on me. I walked through my children's lives with rose-colored glasses, attempting to use only affirming words.

This seems to be the way I walked through the lives of all that I love. I was always surprised when others disapproved of anything about someone that I love unconditionally. I'm usually overly repentant when someone who loves me finds fault with me, hiding in shame until I can "cure" the offending fault.

We may all be forgiven by God for our weaknesses and transgressions, but this doesn't mean that my simple "I'm sorry" heals the human wounds I've inflicted. And how many times does it take being wounded by the same person in the same place in our souls before the scars seal the area forever?

If love is suspension of judgement, where does that leave us as human beings with wants, needs, and different familial values? How does one temper one's vulnerability without shutting down the depths of one's soul? Is there such a thing as emotional by-pass surgery where we can let only measured amounts of the energy of others into our hearts and souls?

This holiday season, I am committing to keeping my rose-colored glasses firmly in place by only associating with those who like to join me in a fantasy fog. This means we will not be exposing ourselves to big family gatherings where irresponsibility and ridicule are parts of "funny" family values. I just don't "get it" and I really don't want to. I want to keep the sense of holiness (wholeness) in our Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sad Is Not the Same as Mad

I've written about how I began to re-embrace the possibility of faith in The Holy Spirit after a young woman told me that she thought that God hadn't thrown Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, but that they had decided to turn away from God. God, like a loving parent, stands at the gate in sadness and hope waiting for his children to return home. When we begin with this interpretation, the rest of the Bible must be read with completely different interpretations than those which I have been taught.

When our children are very young, they are, in fact, dependent upon our acceptance of them for their very existence. In healthy bonding, compassion comes from mutual vulnerability, actually feeling the emotions of one another. As the parent's and babies' heartbeats and breaths synchronize with one another,the fussy baby absorbs the parent's inner calm. Quite often the parent gives him or herself over to a new-found innocence and joy.

The old paradigm for parenting was all about control. Babies were supposed to be taught to eat and sleep on strict schedules, bending to the parents' whims and wills. Children were expected to serve their parents, and make them proud of their progeny. In my religious training, we were taught, at the age of five, "God made me to show his goodness, to know him, love him, and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him in the next." God was our master. He might love us later, after we were purified by death, but not now.

When my children were small, a neighbor continued to talk about her children's childhoods as "the magic years." This was very interesting to me, as her children seemed to always be sick, but they were also allowed to dance and sing on the coffee table. She seemed torn between her duties as a wife and mother and her desire to allow her children to continue being their most magical selves. She was always stressed, but she kept trying to nurture the magic of her family. She is also the woman who taught the young woman in the beginning of this tale that praying is sitting under a tree listening to God.

When we are bonded to our children in mutual vulnerability, our sadness doesn't have to be transformed into anger to affect them. Just as we are saddened by their sadness, they are saddened by ours. It may take longer to affect desired change, but when we ask for change for their own growth and goodness, we are willing to wait and watch, hoping they will return to us. Anger simply asserts control, and often leads to secret rebellion. Compassion leads to patient prayer while we wait and watch at the gate.

When I was six and still had some magic in my soul, I cried because my sins hurt "little Baby Jesus." I was then taught that I was to be sorry for my sins because they made God mad and would lead to my being banished forever. I am so happy that fathers are now learning to bond with their babies; maybe we'll begin to understand patiently waiting for the return to the magic made by mutual vulnerability, what I call "love."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sacred Sunday Conversations

Our Sacred Sunday conversations are often about how the scriptures of many cultures impact our lives and those of all the earth. It has taken over twenty years to have him speak about what he believes, but it has been worth the wait.

He began our romantic relationship with an announcement that he was not going to tell me he loves me; he was going to show me his feelings instead. He said that he wasn't sure what people meant when they said they love someone.

He also said that he wasn't sure what the role of men was since the advent of Women's Lib seemed to have thrown out all the old rules of Chivalry. We've been busy making it up as we've gone along, but we still come out as as the traditional couple. His greatest joy in me was in supporting me as a wife and mother; my greatest joy in him was in showing him gratitude for his efforts.

We are now at the point where I no longer have anyone to mother. My new passion is in seeking a common language for defining The Divine in all of creation. I am also seeking to understand where the common boundaries are in both Judeo-Christian and non-Judeo-Christian families and functioning communities. Never did I expect the fireworks that my questions about boundaries would create.

We seem to live in a world that is greatly post-religion. Where does this leave us as members of the animal kingdom, while continuing to be aware that we have a spark of something special that non-human animals don't possess? It seems that even without what we define as religion, humans have always been aware that nurturing this special spark brings out our best, in ourselves and in our bonds to each other.

I seems that the rebellions of the sixties and seventies broke the traditional boundaries and fears between races and religions. We still seem to be looking for a way to define new boundaries for human behavior. Many seem to want to run back to their familiar areas and wrap themselves in their flags or their sacred scriptures without ever looking farther for areas of common community agreement. In a world of global communication, we simply can't ever go back.

Many have stopped looking for masters who have a special power to speak to The Divine, and are aware that each of us has the capacity to "hear" The Divine in ourselves and in others, if we simply take the time to "hear" it. I call this the Post-Pentecostal era, an era when we should each look for and share the laws of responsible, compassionate community written on the hearts of ourselves and others.

Early on, he said that he believed that what made humans more special than other animals was the capacity to say, "no" to their instincts. Over the twenty-something years I've known him, I've watched him enjoy telling himself "no." It's not exactly "no," but "all in its own time, as is life enhancing for himself and others." He enjoys the anticipation of careful planning, the process of the performance of each task, and the afterglow of sharing of stories about each others' accomplishments and enjoyments.

It seems that the problem for many of us is allowing ourselves too many choices. We go for quantity of experiences, rather than for the quality. He may not have as much as he could or do as much as many, but he certainly enjoys the process of performing any action. It seems that, for him, it's not so much about saying "no," but in deciding to honor all those things to which he says "yes."

We are now in the years where all of life can be anticipation and afterglow, not only about our own accomplishments, but in celebrating those of others. It seems a shame that our society doesn't slow down long enough to decide what they will do, how they will do it, and what they will do after. They seem to simply bounce from one excitement to another without any boundaries or direction.

What ever happened to the wisdom of the ages helping to mold the paths of the new lives, not as gurus, but as trusted elders of working communities? When my people are ready to listen, we will be happy to speak. Meanwhile, we live lives of savoring each moment and sharing in each others' wisdom gleaned from the many people and projects we've encountered in our lives.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Leadership of the Loud

A light bulb went off in my head this morning.

For many years I've suspected that some people may behave irrationally, but they don't know it's irrational because it's the way all the people in their immediate families behaved. What our own families do is what we generally accept as the norm for all families. Our families are generally drawn to others of their own beliefs, so this reinforces our belief that all people do whatever our family (and our immediate community) does.

I had written a tragic play that I thought I may have better named Folie a Deux (definition: the same mistaken belief shared by two people) for a contest. As a point of silly pleasure, I thought of how many people in groups get carried away with the group's beliefs; I jokingly labeled this Folie en Masse. Lo and behold, there is an online entry from a psychiatrist defining the term that I thought I had just coined as a joke. He was describing what led the followers of Jim Jones to drink the Kool-Aid.

Several years ago, Time Magazine published an article about what traits lead us to follow people. Disturbingly, this article revealed that we tend to follow those with the biggest voices. Unfortunately, I believe it is true that our animal brains process the biggest "bark" as leadership ability. We instinctively become frozen when we are verbally assaulted. Some flee, some follow, and the aggressive fight. What's to become of those who pull back and think over the situation?

I was reared in a dog-eat-dog family. We learned to speak loud and long. Nobody had ever really heard of bullying, except as a way to weed out the wimps who didn't deserve to live in the animal kingdom of survival of the fittest (meaning the biggest and baddest in our families). One never knew when the posturing and snarling was going to lead to deadly engagement.

My mate speaks in a voice so low one has to have an ear up against his mouth to hear him. (It is helpful in conversations to be able to read lips.) He actually has a lot of value stuff to say, if you only take the time to hear him. Early in our relationship, he said to me, "Just because you speak louder than I do doesn't make you right." Since then, I have tended to give extra attention and credence to those who always speak in measured tones and cadences.

For several years, we worked to balance our passions, mine very vocal, and his more circumspect. Perhaps you could say that I am the booming bass and he is more the sweet soprano. When he almost died, I decided to take all stress of decision-making from him. I seem to have gone from a Folie en Masse of my family to Folie a Deux with him. Things got scary in our lives without his balancing wisdom.

My booming base, not balanced by his sweet soprano has taken more than one along on my perceived path to peace. My passion usually burns bright, but doesn't last long enough to get us there. I have to take frequent breaks to get my breath again.We have all been so blessed that he continues to pick up where I leave off.

Perhaps it is again time for each of us to take full responsibility for our own actions and decisions; never, however, losing sight of the need to consider the impact of our actions on the other. I may become quieter, and he may actually learn to speak loud and long. It could also happen that our fellow community members in our country will begin to listen to those who speak softly and carry big ideas.

Neither is likely, but they could happen.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Arrogance or Art?

At last I have my best friend, from when I was fourteen, back;
Our paths have taken different turns on different life tracks.
While she studied, I was birthing; while she birthed, I was away;
Now she's semi-retired and has lots of time to play.

We've begun taking a pottery class with several other women;
This is another way that I feel like I'm close to heaven.
I always wanted the opportunity to express myself in clay,
Ever since my little sister and I were in our mud pie days.

There are many similarities in clay work and in baking,
But the products won't be eaten, all my work foresaken.
I'd like to do Raku sculptures of united  families;
The Shona art of Zimbabwe has similarities.

It seems that clay work may be perfect for one like me
What comes out of the kiln, you can never foresee.
Since I wing everything, and often face failures,
Knowing there's no guaranteed results has an allure.

Maybe instead of medication, we need art all along;
This seems to be another way to sing a joyful song.
So much of one's soul goes into one's art;
Isn't clay where, we're told, humankind got it's start?

We are told that God breathed onto humble clay
And imparted His soul into who we are today.
I've grown and cooked food that nourished families;
I now want to create from clay what my soul sees.

Some sing, some dance, some cook, some speak;
Some simply smile and make our knees weak.
Some write with such soulful, heartfelt words
That The Sacred cannot help but be heard.

Is it arrogant to feel art brings us closer to The Divine?
Or is art another way for our Divine Spirits to shine?
I like to believe that in sharing our artistic talents
We're sharing the Divinity that in many has been spent.

I grieve for those so are afraid of their own emotions
That they run from all beauty sung, danced, or spoken.
Emotion is the only path we have to another's soul;
Without that bonding, we can never feel whole.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spiritual Sunshine

Even gratitude can become painful if not often expressed,
But so many don't want to seem vulnerable to another's best.
It takes nothing out of me to say how wonderful you are;
Sincere acts of gratitude can carry peace on earth far.

We should thank every citizen who pays their fair taxes;
This is the center support of a compassionate axis.
We should thank every daughter and son helping an infirm parent;
This saves on the Medicare dollars that are often spent.

We should thank every parent supporting their own child,
And every caring teacher that goes the extra mile.
The nurses and aides who serve because they care;
We should all thank them for The Spirit that they share.

When anyone smiles at us, how awesome would it be
If we said, "Thank you for sharing your Divine Spirit with me"?
Perhaps, in this way, The Spirit that we have known
Will permeate our lives, our workplaces, and homes.

There are many who see compliments as currying favor,
And others who come to believe that they are Our Saviors.
It is sad when others refuse to be open to gratitude,
And those who thank only The Unseen for all that's good.

Nothing seems a greater gift than shared childlike wonder
In every gift of creation, the birdsong and the thunder.
Many enjoy exploiting the vulnerability of others,
But sharing vulnerability is what makes us all lovers.

It takes courage to continue to open your heart;
Simply smiling into another's eyes we, peace, impart.
When we tell someone they have a beautiful Spirit,
Not only their ears, but their souls, will also hear it.

It is true that many wounded will run away in terror;
They will think that what you're seeing is an error.
Instead of promoting in our children pride or humility
Let's simply teach them to share all gifts in community.

The joyful energy we share will eventually spread,
Encircling even many that we were taught to dread.
Little by little these rays of Spiritual Sunshine
Will spread in all humanity the Spirit of The Divine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Heroes to the Voiceless and Vulnerable

There can be no justice without bravery. Any passion that one is, as a sober adult, willing to die for represents the greatest power in the world. I salute those who believe in our American values enough to put their lives on the line for me and mine. This is part of the beauty of an all volunteer armed forces. These brave people feel a calling to serve in the capacity of warriors and peace keepers for our country to remain safe and spread the good of compassionate democracy. When they die for us, their great spirits are left to sustain us.

As important as dying for a cause, is living for that cause. Many give their lives over to serving our freedom. They begin being heroes the day they put on the uniforms representing us and our values. They don't do it for the money or the prestige; they do it because they love us and our country.

The same can be said for our teachers, our police officers, our firefighters, and most of our medical professionals. Isn't it time that we stop worshiping those who do everything for money, prestige and power, and stop exempting them from the laws that govern the rest of us? They should be more highly accountable, as they have no excuse for their illegal, immoral, unethical behaviors. They want attention, and we allow them  to break all of our laws while they entertain us with their antics.

There are enough actual children in the world to entertain us with endless childish antics. Let's pay closer attention to them and less to the adult children of the world. Where are the people volunteering to do respite care for the children of single parents and parents with a partner who must travel to support the family? Who is teaching them how to set up childcare cooperatives? How many of us are willing to purchase a year of conception control for someone not in a position to care for a child? Perhaps we can help stop the perceived need to abort unplanned and unwanted children.

So many live in a child's dream world rather than facing the realities of proper parenting. People with children are vulnerable. If alone, they can run from a threat, but they need protection if also holding on to a couple of children. We are all vulnerable at more than one point in life. We all need heroes sometimes. Too many children are used as the parent's shields and access to resources instead of the other way around.

Our competitive society takes advantage of the most vulnerable, congratulating ourselves on our victories. Those who compete at all costs to others are seen as the normal ones. It takes courage to stand up for and with those who don't quite fit the generally accepted definitions of "normal." If the people who we hold up as role models for our society are the "normal" ones, I certainly am glad that my children have never seemed "normal."

Daily compassionate, responsible action is what makes a person a hero. If they are also willing to stand firm in the face of death; that makes them martyrs dying for a cause. There is a difference.

We may come close to worshiping the martyrs, knowing that we will never be asked to do what they have done. Thankfully, most of us are not asked to emulate their actions. Everyday heroes, however, serve as examples to all of us in this life. Each of us is called on to be heroic in some way, but very few of us are called to be martyrs. We have role models and mentors for human heroism. Each of us can find someone to help us in achieving our heroic missions.

Sometimes dying seems easier than getting up every day and being the best hero you can be to a voiceless or vulnerable person. Write a letter to an old person or disabled veteran; smile at a person who looks lonesome; listen to the tales of a senior citizen who simply wants to feel his/her life counted for something; tutor someone in reading or other life skills; teach parents how to set up babysitting cooperatives; support conception control efforts for the reduction of the most vulnerable, the unwanted babies of the world; advocate to make the rape of women and children as acts of war an international war crime.

Each of us, every day, has some way we can "Just do it!"

Monday, November 12, 2012

That for Which I Pray on Veterans Day

My prayer this Veterans Day is that we will one day create no veterans of war.
Becoming one holy and apostolic church is what Christianity is created for.
When we see that generation after generation creates scenarios for vengeance,
We will stop looking for ways to destroy all those whose views offend us.

Moses was told not to turn and fight, but to lead his people away
To an area where they could live in peace, not matter what others had to say.
Perhaps we are too married to the concept of our permanent earthly place.
If it hadn't been for travel and resettlement, there would be no human race.

Until we, like the Native Americans, accept that all creation is lent, not given,
We will never have the promised peace on this earth as it is in heaven.
Until the day returns where whole communities will travel together,
We will continue to our weapons and words of war be tethered.

I accept that peace on earth will not occur in my given lifetime.
Peace in my own family is a mountain I've not been able to climb.
Until the time comes when the vulnerable aren't molested,
I'll  reach out to our warriors as Operation Homefront has suggested.

I will attempt to share sparks of The Spirit of Peace within my own soul;
Perhaps in sharing my spiritual journey I can help another to feel whole.
Every eye-to-eye encounter we have with another human being
Is an opportunity to share with another what our own Holy Spirit is seeing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Looks of Love

When we watch silently as children are being bullied,
We are watching the bullies as they suck out another's soul.
Some proud parents continue to see their different children as perfection,
And others join the ranks of those who replace innocence with shame.

How can a child grow in goodness when reflected in the eyes of disgust?
It is through the loving eyes of others that we first learn to love ourselves.
I was taught to look away from those with obvious physical differences
Rather than to approach them and look them in their eyes.

Many feel uncomfortable, so they resort to bullying
Rather than attempting to find some common human ground.
Do the disrespected learn they're inhuman or invisible,
And do they finally stop hoping for a human's loving looks?

When we learn to celebrate differences, rather than to fear them,
We may find the paths to lasting places and people of peace.
Every encounter we have with another human
Gives us one more chance to nurture another's soul.

Somewhere deep inside even the most wretched adult
Still lives the innocent child hungering for a smile.
A look of sincere acknowledgement of the beauty in another,
And a moment spent listening, may rejuvenate their hope.

But dare we open the doors to their child-like tenderness
If we can't remain to help nourish their new-found spirits?
Do we really look away because we don't want to see,
Or are we afraid that their need is too much for us to fill?

Where to begin in a world so filled with fear and anger?
And how to protect ourselves from our energies being sucked dry?
It seems that only by bonding with people of like passion
Do we maintain the flame that burns deep within our human souls.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sing Out My Soul

Do we really want to find ways to get along,
Or are there some whom only anger makes feel alive?
Will we ever be satisfied with gratitude
Instead of substituting jealousy and greed?

Holiness is in the heavens and permeates the earth,
Though many don't care to see it.
Some say that holiness is only available
To certain places, certain times and certain souls.

Perhaps they're not looking closely enough
Into the eyes and hearts of others.
Perhaps they only hear the words
That are spoken with the loudest voices.

Do they not feel grateful when a baby smiles?
And how are they not overjoyed
When The Spirit of the sun warms their flesh?
Does the seed unfolding not bring them to their knees?

We were never meant to see all of Divinity;
There is no correct face of The Spirit.
Would one define all trees as the apple tree,
Or all faces based on their own countenance?

The majesty of creation is too amazing
For any human to embrace it all at once.
Awe can be a wonder or fear-filled emotion,
More bearable when shared with kindred souls.

I must share the love and awe in my soul,
Or The Energy overwhelms my Spirit.
I know that my passion is painful to others,
But I must continue to sing out my soul.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Our Compassionate Country

The national election is over,and the American flag is still proudly waving over the water in our home harbor. Long may it wave over a land of the free and the home of the just.

When the constitution was written, neither women nor black people were considered fully human. It was thought that all privilege and power came directly from God, and if you had neither it was because God didn't deem you worthy. It mattered not how the powerful obtained their power, nor how they held onto it. Our "representative democracy" (republic)was not meant to represent every voice in America, only the voices of the powerful.

These powerful people owned the media, enacted laws to which they were not held accountable, and created corporations to protect themselves from the consequences of their illegal, irresponsible, and immoral actions. The first amendment to the constitution granted protection to the voices of every one of us, from the least educated and poorest to the Ivy league graduates. The internet gave power to the individual voice in a profound way.

We are finally able to be a government of all the people, by all the people; let's keep believing that every voice counts so that we can create a country that is truly for all the American people. Compassion is not Communism, as many fear-mongers have asserted. Let Our America serve as a model and lead the way to a compassionate, responsible, and just world that is of, by, and for all the people.

May the Holy Spirit guide all of us in our thoughts words and deeds as we compassionately care, listen to,  and responsibly speak out for the vulnerable and the voiceless.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Seeking The Spirit

The issue that I see with defining Divine energy as male, is that we accept as sacred scripture the old gods of war and blood lust, re-framed in a  "new" religious way, as a pattern for "loving" fatherly behavior. We are taught that the Almighty "loving" Father created hordes of people who would never amount to anything and that "He" went so far as to create a child simply to torture him and put him to death as an example to any who are tempted to step out of line.
This branding of god creates religions that are really nothing more than Stockholm Syndrome. (Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.WikipediaWe are led to believe that personal power is a punishable offense, and that punishments for all mistakes will be visited on us and our future generations unless we admit that we are powerless.
We are told that this "loving" father is a jealous patriarch, who will not rest until "He" extracts the essence of life from all who err.Is it any wonder that we continue to war with one another and so many live in daily, all-consuming terror? Death seems a safer place to many than continued fear. As long as we attribute angry outbursts, directed at individuals who displease the "Master" to Divine energy, there will be no peace in religious people.
Even the essence of Christianity, "Love "God" with your whole heart and soul and your neighbor as you love yourself", has been perverted by those who seek to control others through fear. The core question is, "How do you define "God?" It is important that we find a common language for the source of all life and the transformation of death. Perhaps the closest we get to a neutral definition is the Yin-Yang concept in Daoist metaphysics.
During the sixties, in the United States, there was a strong move toward a spiritual movement based on personal experience of The Holy Spirit. This spirit is generally accepted as neither male nor female, although the patriarchal religions continue to attempt to codify this experience and define The Holy Spirit as a person of the triune male god.
It seems that all religions since the advent of the frontal lobe in humans accept that humans have a special "spark" that other creatures don't have. I like to think of this spark as The Spirit of Wholeness (Holy Spirit) that makes humans capable of acting on individual conscience, even at their own expense.
I believe that most religions have something similar to the concept of the Holy Spirit imbuing all humans. Perhaps the answer is to rescue the definition of The Holy Spirit from the patriarchal powers, and redefine it for ourselves as we see this spirit in action in our fellow humans. I am hoping the listening campaign leading up to the Parliament of World Religions will help define a common vision of The Spirit in action.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hunting for Hats

This Sacred Sunday we'll celebrate with buying my honey a hat;
Skin cancer has kept us in the dark so long, I feel like a bat.
I really do like his face, as I like the rest of him,
But he won't hold together long if they carve off all his skin.

A hat with a very large brim to protect his ears and neck
He draws the line at the desert sun curtain in the back.

To Sunrise on Second for breakfast; out the door we'll waddle.
Then off we'll go to Bass Outdoors, they have plenty of models.

Perhaps take in a movie; we've heard Cloud Atlas is a winner.
By the time the movie's over, we may go out to dinner.
I have him to myself two days a week; I must make the most of them.
I sustain myself for the rest of the week on memories made with him.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Diana's Disaster

As a person who lost my home and neighborhood to a dreadful hurricane called Katrina, I am always amazed at the people who use these disasters to tout their own superiority as "Christians" who are protected by their favor with "God." Are the states of New York and New Jersey part of that 47% who are simply choosing to define themselves as victims? Or maybe their "sinful" ways have brought the wrath of "God" upon them?

For me, Hurricane Sandy is Diana's personal disaster. I am grateful for every tax-paying citizen's money that funds FEMA efforts that assisted my state after Hurricane Katrina, and is in the trenches helping my cousin's state of New Jersey. They need a lot more than FEMA, however.

My first cousin Diana and her husband Keith have spent their whole adult lives advocating for children and troubled families. Each of them works professionally for organizations that assist these populations. They adopted three beautiful children and are now grandparents of a darling granddaughter. They have a grown son, a daughter working in the film industry after obtaining her degree, and another daughter in college.  They are highly educated taxpayers, just like so many of you. They choose to use their skills for the greater good, rather than in the for-profit corporate sector.

The headquarters and staff of my cousin's organization has been hit hard by this hurricane. She has not run away; she is at the office coordinating efforts to help her staff and the many people she serves. I am so proud that she has asked me to assist in her efforts to assist her population.

Here is what she wrote to me about her organization:

About 80% of my staff are without power, heat, hot water, phone and internet...And of course millions of other NJ residents are as well...Our offices were without power or phones until yesterday afternoon. We are opening today with a skeleton crew and trying to help families.

We are starting up a fund to help families who have children with special needs who may have lost equipment, special food and nutritional supplements, etc., So you can certainly make a tax-deductible contribution to the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network and put "Sandy" in the notes line. Address is below.

Hope you are well.

Diana MTK Autin, Executive Co-Director
Statewide Parent Advocacy Network
35 Halsey Street, Newark, NJ 07102
973-642-8100 x 105

Empowered Parents: Educated, Engaged, Effective!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prejudices of the Past

I wonder how much hell on earth is about living the pasts and fears of others?
So many of the fears that we experience were passed down from fathers and mothers.
Those who preach a jealous, wrathful "God" are programming their children to quake
Whenever faced with any decisions that leave any doubt in their wakes.

If "God" destroys or saves a whole nation on the actions of one human,
How are we to believe that about justice "He" gives a damn?I don't believe that one human's actions has ever helped control the tides,
Even though this is a belief in which many scriptural stories abide.

I have become, from gurus, shamans, and priests divorced;
I now believe that all energy is part of a balancing force.
Nothing on earth ever loses all its life; it is simply redistributed;
The balance is positive or negative, based on the lives we've lived.

We too strongly hold on to the action of simply breathing;
We are too set on recreating ourselves by conceiving.
When we realize that death is not an entry into nothingness,
We may be able to false promises of individual reward resist.

I much prefer to believe that each of us is born as a relatively blank slate,
And that we can pick the people and energies to which we'll relate.
This fear that only so many are born as God's chosen people and friends
Creates a competitive environment that leads us not to seek to make amends.

When we realize that the Energy we absorb and the Energy that we give
Is the Energy that has continued the breath of life since the first life was lived,
We can stop attempting to "one up" each other in the eyes of "God."
And give all others an equal hand of friendship on the earth we all trod.