‘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.)

This Following Jesus Business

Jesus came into the world without the generational issues that we have to deal with.  Therefore, He was aware of… and showed… full Christ presence from the very beginning of His ministry.  He did not have traumas, neuroses, and complexes that got in the way of His knowing His Father’s will at all times. Nothing hid His being Christ.  We, however, need to do the hard work of stripping away the issues and distractions to reach that clarity.

I have known people who have died without reaching a clear awareness of Christ.  I have known people who never even tried to address their issues at all, unaware that working out their own salvation is theirs to do.   I have also known people who have reached that clarity and were able to live the last years of their lives in full Christ presence and in full service of the Father.

We have been given the means to do the hard work of shedding all of the interfering stuff.  The Holy Spirit has blessed us with knowledge of dealing with addictions, resentments and hate, illness and diseases.  We have psychology, spiritual healing, prayer, AA groups, solid advice on what to eat, how much exercise to get, the importance of spending time in nature, deep breathing, and good sleep.  All of that knowledge and help has been provided to assist us in shedding our issues.

While working out our salvation, we can spend precious and protected moments in silent prayer and meditation…becoming familiar with that clarity.  With enough consistent practice, we can carry that grounded Christ presence out into relationships, crisis moments, and the world.

But we must still do the work.

Jesus spent His life psychologically whole, unattached to possessions, and undistracted.  He spent time in prayerful meditation to maintain His clear awareness of God.  All other times, He was open to the people around Him and present, in the truest sense.  He was attentive, aware, and conscious.  Follow Jesus’ example.

It is not necessary for us to be crucified on a tree in order to die to our distractions and issues.  But what Jesus demonstrated was that once we choose to, after a time of grief, darkness, and confusion, we awaken full of Christ and ready to serve.

Follow Jesus.

A Gift that Counts

…the Gift of Fore-Giveness

Okay I’m playing with the words, perhaps, but walk closely with me here, if you will:

It seems it is time to address dark generational issues in my life and in the lives of those close around me.  During my work yesterday morning, looking at the evidence of painful and sensitive generational issues, I backed away from the specific situations for a bit and looked at the dynamics of incarnations and karma, in general.  Whether or not you believe in reincarnation or even karma, I think you can accept that ‘sins of the father’ can be visited on the son.

So, I was thinking about how my mother treated me and I extrapolated that out to how she was treated as a child by her parents (based on stories she told us about her mother and father).  Then I thought about how, if souls reincarnate, why they reincarnate: to either ‘get it right this time’ or to pay for what they did in their previous incarnations.

Without going into the details of the patterns, clues, and repeating tendencies, (and there are many) if I look at all of this from a distance, without attachment, I can see how one generation plays into the next and how the law of Karma explains why.

Then, it dawned.

What if I stand in the infinite, the eternal, the non-time space and…holding in awareness all of my incarnations through history…I forgive all those souls who have hurt me therefore owe me a karmic debt?  Then, what if I ask those souls whom I have hurt through history, therefore those souls to whom I owe a karmic debt, to forgive me?

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

We’re talking a whole chunk of forgiving…past, present, and future. That, to me, would be a Gift that Counts.  AND, if enough of us do this kind of work, that is how all souls can be forgiven.

 

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.)

“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…

The Journey Through Life and the Value of Video Games

In the past, I have lamented about my having “wasted” my youth; I suspect we all have lamented that lament;  I don’t anymore.  I am at a place in my life journey now, where I can look back over the terrain that I have navigated, and I can see the benefit…if not the purpose…of the trip.  Walk closely with me here…

In wrestling with my history (difficult relationships, failures, sloth and stagnation, abuses of others and indiscretions, seemingly ‘dead’ ends,…), I have looped back and tied up and seen connections that were not clear then.  I can see how frustrations then, initiated these revelations…now.

For example, the memory of intense longing that I felt (in my 20s and 30s) at the doorway of a bookstore, informs me now of the importance of intuition…but also of proper timing.  (“Yes, but not now.”)  The perceived import and relevance of the knowledge, insights, and wisdom to be imparted by those books, only makes sense to me now; only now am I ready to read those books; only now do I have the hooks to hang the insights from.  All, in good time.

In fact, I take comfort in that memory; I see the longing then to have been evidence of my being drawn along…all along. We are not puppets of God in this Universe, we have free will, but neither are we left totally alone to figure it all out.  We get help.

Oh, and those deviations and lungings off the path, they were not ‘wasted’ time but times of information gathering, insight development, and even anecdote material…for future use. Had I not been through dark nights and prodigal journeys, I would have no knowledge of such things…I would not know that terrain…no way to relate to those who have such nights and take such journeys and who need my steadying evidence of survival.  (“I got through it and learned from it and you will, too.”)

Throughout my dark nights and times of desiring to end my life, I had a sense that “this doesn’t make sense; I know this is not where I should be…where I belong.  I want to go home.”  Suicide seemed to be the only way to get home.  But then I received messages…so many messages…that the only way to get there from here is THROUGH.

Looking back, I see that it was in the THROUGH that I picked up all the ‘tools’ I would need to be of use to others on the other side of it…tools like strength and stamina, faith and trust in what I could not see, anecdotes and stories of others who have shared their stories of their own journeys…stories heard and shared in mental hospitals, even language and jargon…and those books.

I have been wrong to criticize and condemn people…particularly young people…for playing video games hours and hours at a time…particularly the ones where the character gains experience points and gathers tools along the way.  I sat through hours of knitting while my boyfriend and his friends played Dungeons and Dragons.  I thought it was stupid.  I have been concerned about the days my son has spent playing digital versions of the same sort of thing.  But I have been wrong.

Teaching kids that we benefit from experience…especially ‘failure’…and to look out for tools, messages from bystander, signs,… that might be useful later on, is valuable in helping them get through this life…and not just ‘get’ through this life, but ‘gain’ from this life.  Our lives are about more than just our lives.  (By the way, don’t tell my son, but I have been reading Fallout Equestria.  Does that make me a ‘mom-ony?’)

Finally, a friend and I have been sharing how we have often said, concerning our hard dark times, “I would not wish it on my worst enemy.”  Life is damned hard and the ‘richest’ of lives is not for the faint of heart.  I suspect that those who experience the worst sorts of journeys, are meant to do so.  I, myself, believe that I asked for it…that I requested it; I did so intentionally because without my hard times I would be of little use to others, now.

Delayed Gratification – not what you think

I have not always appreciated the value and merit of my hard life. But with 20/20 hindsight, I can see that God has been answering my prayers…all along the way.  I find myself now in a place of honor.

The beauty is that I can stand toe-to-toe with scientists, professionals, bureaucrats, and managers; I have been all those things. I can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with single mothers, divorced women, abusive / neglectful parents, persecuted Christians, even the promiscuous because I have been them.  Now, I can look in the eyes of customers who are missing teeth, wear worn-out clothing, and are buying cheap food with EBT cards and show them ‘knowing love’ and compassion; my smile is genuine.  I can sit with patience as the crippled man and the one with slow speech get to the parts of their stories where the true deep wisdom of life comes out.  I am one with them because I am truly one of them. The ‘crazy’ woman in the doctor’s office is no different from me except that she is at a bad place in her illness and is unmedicated.

To be no better off than anyone around me is a truly privileged place to be.  I am never embarrassed by their poverty or uncomfortable with their conditions.  I sit easy in the DSS or Social Security offices because I belong there.  Jesus was able to break bread with the tax collectors and prostitutes because He was one with God.  For me, though, it took a lifetime of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and illness.  But I had prayed for that…sort of.

When I was a teenager, I prayed for the wisdom that scripture said was so valuable.  I also prayed to have a mastery of words so that I might be able to heal and to help people understand life and to get along.  Then I forgot that I had prayed for all of this.  Thank God, God did not forget.

So, here I am. God has been answering my prayers for the past 61.8 years.  And God is not done with me yet.