Sunrise and a New Day

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Sunrise and a New Day

How would you respond to my belief that each new day is a time for rebirth for all of us? Each morning we rise, we are given a new chance to live our lives and enjoy the peace and love that is in front of us, but rarely taken inside of us.

I went to bed last night with our older cat, Lucy, sleeping between my wife and I, my hand resting on Lucy’s rump. I awoke this morning with Lucy nibbling on my right pinky, telling me it was time to rise and feed all three of our cats. While I was meditating, the other two, Noelle and Sabastian, were sitting on either side of the chair I occupied. (All three cats were adopted by us from our two children, which is not the first time we have inherited grand pets from them.)

This is a loving and comforting way to awaken in the morning surrounded by the love of these three cats. As much as I complain about their boxing several times a day, I do appreciate that God has chosen us as companions for them. Francis of Assisi received sainthood for many reasons, including his belief that all creatures deserved God’s love and caring, and his work to protect animals and their environment; our animal guests in our houses reflect this blessing. And, their love of us is a response to our mutual sharing of God’s blessings.

I love watching the birds flit from feeder to feeder in our backyard. I love how the birds, the squirrels, and the groundhogs, sit side-by-side on the ground eating the sees and corn kernels, without fighting among themselves. (My cats love watching them also, but I think for different reasons.) The enjoyment I receive watching these creatures dine, is wonderful, but I keep reminding myself that what is cute to me is a fight for survival for them. My wife is the keeper of the bird feeders; she always says that she does not pray. I say that her love of the birds and her refilling the feeders daily, shows the power of prayer in her.

So, I rise each day, challenged by a new day, a new world, and a new life. I pray that my actions throughout the day will please God and all of his creatures, including mankind.

 

Thanksgiving

thanksgiving   Thanksgiving

As we approach one of our oldest celebrations in the United States, I ask that we try to remember what Thanksgiving represents.

In the past few decades it has become a time for tailgating at football games, stuffing ourselves with more food than we need, and finally, going to the mall to buy that 72” TV that we also really don’t need. Thanksgiving has become a very inconsequential time for gluttony in all respects.

The original Thanksgiving, if we trust recorded history, and I do, was a meal shared by new immigrants to the North American continent, who were saved by the love and sharing of the natives they met on these shores. It was a time of brotherhood and sharing of community . . . without discord or hatred, a time of brotherly love.

Spiritually, I think of Thanksgiving as a time to reflect on the beauty of life, given to us by God, all life. Personally, part our family will join to share several meals over the long weekend. Linda and I will join our daughter, her husband and son, Linda’s brother, and our son. The celebration begins Wednesday night at our house, moves to our daughter’s on Thursday, and ends in a celebration at a local winery on Saturday. Yes, it may be a decadent weekend on the surface. But throughout the weekend, we will take time to thank God for the many blessings he has given all of our family, those with us, and those in separate parts of the world.

We will also reflect on those members of our extended family of mankind who cannot share in the abundance we enjoy in the United States.

I will take time to personally remember that God is at the center of our lives, thank Him for the gifts, and pray that my less fortunate brothers and sisters, suffering in suppressed and oppressed areas of the world, be given His comfort. As I think about all of the pleasures we have in the United States and then think of the suffering around the world, I am reminded that Jesus taught that whatever we do to the poorest, we do to him. This bothers me. As an individual, I cannot do much to assist those suffering, but I can pray. I can work locally to help those in the Fredericksburg area have a more pleasant life, whether it is assisting them to get Medicaid, or teaching others at church meetings that we are all brothers and sisters, regardless of what color or religion we are. Between close family members, in-laws, cousins, nieces, and nephews, I maybe have 40 family relatives, but as a child of God, I have billions. I care just as deeply for them, even if they do not share my bloodline.

I pray that God blesses all in this time of thanksgiving. I also pray that all of us take the time to think of others less fortunate and say a pray, silently or aloud, for them.

Happy Thanksgiving, my brothers and sisters throughout the world. As God does, I love you all.

Inclusion

inclusionInclusion

Do we really know what inclusion means? The first definition in the dictionary say it is the act of being included; not a big help. If we think of synonyms, we might be better off: involvement, embodiment, and embracement. Looking at these words helps us determine what inclusion really means.

Are we willing to allow people of different national origins or religious beliefs into our extended families? If you read the headlines in our daily newspapers, we may think that we are all at each other’s’ throats, because all the news talks about is how many people are killing each other over our differences.

But we must look beyond these headlines and look in our own back yards. I have found great brotherhood in my friendships with people of color, people identifying themselves as various genders, and people of different faith traditions.

There is so much to learn from each group that culturally I am enriched by these friends. Can we all do this? Are we willing to surrender ourselves to get to know people who do not share the same heritage as us? This is God’s will, but He does not force this on us; we are free to choose what path we journey on. I find that opening my hearts to God’s goodness and the goodness of others allows me to become a whole person, enriched by diversity.

Looking at the world, I see a very violent place, a place where peace needs to be nurtured. If we allow peace-nurturing in our hearts, perhaps peace-making will follow. It is God’s will.

Being Connected

reconnect  Being Connected

Brother Jonathan Maury of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist recently wrote:

“Our connectedness to one another in God rests on the foundation of all those who have gone before us as believers – a lineage of saints stretching back to Jesus’ first disciples, those without whose witness to God’s mighty deeds we would not ourselves be disciples.”

I am a man of faith, who, as a young man, turned my back on religion because of the innate hypocrisies I saw. As I aged, I began to realize that religion is more than a narrow theological view. The word religion comes from the Latin religio, which means to reconnect, to retie the binds that hold us as a people.  

I also discovered that the message for Christian churches is rooted in the experience of Jesus’ disciples and the first century evangelists, not the Roman leaders of the 4th and 5th centuries. An open church, meaning one that is willing to view the Gospels and other biblical writings as a means to understand our world today, means that the message spread throughout the ancient world, needs to be re-interpreted for every age.

This is becoming more difficult to do with all of the constant distractions that try to remove us from the good words that the Bible and other religious writings bring us. By this, I mean the writings that religions all over the world use as a basis for their beliefs. Each of these religions interpret the messages in a different voice, but we all pray to one God.

To reconnect with these ancient philosophers can be challenging, but all profess the message of Love that Jesus offered for all who recognized that God is part of our lives, or as Jesus said, the kingdom of God is within us. Loving God is the highest love we can experience, but, this divine love allows us to look at each other, see God in the faces of all we meet and love them for who they are, not what mistakes (sins) they have made.

However, we must go further; if we are truly to Love God, we must love all He created, from all people down to every grain of sand on a beach. We must love the earth itself and the plants and animals that inhabit the earth along side of us. If we can do this, we can truly recognize the re-connection that we so longingly crave to find.

We have not done this. We have missed the chance to be able to experience a truly divine existence, experiencing all that God has given us.

I lament the lost opportunity; none-the-less, I will not stop trying to change my little part of the world. I strongly believe in the ripple effect. I know as a teacher and later as a college professor, I planted seeds in the minds of my students will, eventually, blossom into a greater opportunity to improve how mankind lives on the planet Earth.

One of my favorite folk groups of the 1960s was and still is The Brothers Four. They sang a song called “Well, Well, Well.” The lyrics included the line: “The Lord brought a flood, but a fire next time.”

Now, I am not one who takes all of the biblical stories literally, but occasionally, I reflect on this song. I know God loves us. Otherwise he would not have created us. He gave us free will to do as we saw best.

Will our free will cause the Earth to give up on us because of the way we have spoiled it?

I trust that mankind will learn to reconnect with each other and in doing so reconnect with the beauty and the necessity of a strong vibrant planet.

 

 

 

 

Love God with All Your Heart

Let all that you do be done in Love.    Love God with All Your Heart

 

Love is God

Only I can bring God into my life,

Vigorously I walk in the love of God

Every step I take

Gives me strength to

Open my heart

Discover new family

Without judgement

I walk with others

Taking the path of love

Hear His voice

As I see His

Loving face in yours

Learning

Yearning

Offering

Unending Love and patience

Remembering the euphoria

How exaltation

Engulfs me

As you

Recognize

The face of God to me.

 

Gratitude

         Gratitude

gratitudeWhat am I grateful for?

Let’s start with the fact that God has kept me around for over 75 years; and, I pray that he will continue to allow me to walk his beautiful earth, meeting more of his children.

Next, I am grateful for my family. When I was twenty-three, God opened my eyes and I saw a high school friend in a new light; I realized that she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with; and so far, that is going well. We also have two children who are very successful in their chosen fields, and are very kind, caring people. God has also blessed me with one dynamic grandson, who just turned sixteen and will be driving in just a few days.

I also have a brother-in-law and two sisters-in-law and a 96-year-old mother-in-law. My own sister and parents have all passed into a world where we all will eventually be.

After years of struggling, I entered the field of education and ended my career as a college professor if writing and literature.

As I look back on my life, I realize that I have been blessed with all the grace that one hopes for. I am also blessed to be a part of a dynamic, faith organization filled with loving, caring people, who have allowed me to be one of its lay leaders. This is a great responsibility, but knowing I have the support of God, I am able to assist in the church’s work to feed the hungry and through my ability to listen, be a prayer minister who hopefully brings the peace of God and His grace into their damaged lives. This is one of my dearest and most loving gifts that God has allowed me to have.

God has also given me the ability to write; and, I pray that my efforts to bring prayerful meditations and poetry to my followers are pleasing to Him and help bring His love to all my friends and followers all around this blue globe we call Earth.

These are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to what I am grateful for. Everything I have has been provided by the ability to persevere in attaining the abilities to do all I have done, realizing that I could not have done them alone. The support of my family, particularly my loving wife, and my friends, I have been the backbone to my successes, all under the guidance and direction of a God filled with grace.

I posted this earlier on Facebook:

Gratitude is not a simple emotion or an obvious attitude. It is a difficult discipline to constantly reclaim my whole past as the concrete way in which God has led me to this moment and is sending me into the future. It is hard precisely because it challenges me to face the painful moments – experiences of rejection and abandonment, feelings of loss and failure – and gradually to discover in them the pruning hands of God purifying my heart for deeper love, stronger hope, and broader faith.

My wish today is that this meditation, will spark a desire in all my friends and followers to reflect on their own gifts and how thankful they are for these gifts.

 

 

We all are Love

cloud-love

The most powerful part of our being, and the most power part of why we are who we are is love. Without love, we are like a boat in the water lacking oars. We can be jostled around aimlessly.

This is a high bar to live by. Jesus tells us to love God and love our neighbor. Can we do this without reservation? We cannot say we love God and then say that we do not love our neighbor. Let me be stronger. If we feel hate in our hearts for anyone, and I mean anyone, we cannot say that we love God.

This is also a very necessary quality in all humans, especially in the political climates that permeate the world today. We cannot allow hate to fill the world like it did in the 1930s which created the most devastating war in the history of mankind.

Love is who we are; we are not truly alive if we don’t love. If we hate anyone, there can be no love in our hearts, and therefore, our lives. We cannot mislead ourselves by thinking otherwise. We cannot be true to ourselves without love.

Human culture can be a very confusing, and, as we have experienced, very violent; but, we cannot let these outside forces take the love from our hearts. We will only proceed to our own spiritual demise by allowing events to take over our ability to love one another. We can disagree, and even dislike, things that are occurring around us; we also cannot ignore them. What we can do is to put them in the proper prospective. Chances are, what we experience in the greater world does not directly affect our lives. We can work to prevent the hatred from entering our community, by continually looking at people as children of God, not as strangers to be disliked because they are not like us. As god created us, he created them also. We must keep our faith foremost in our hearts to do this.

When we keep love alive, we keep hope alive. Where there is hope, there is the ability to help lift others from their conditions. This means that we bring life to those who have been forgotten. This is not possible without love. This life based on love gives us strength and the courage to bring God’s love to those society shuns.

This poem is from my heart to all my friends:

My Love

An inner wellspring

Of primal intimacy

Only God and I can feel

But you and others may share

        In the first letter of John, we are told quite bluntly that those who say they love God but hate their brothers or sisters are liars. Some of them may be. But in the light of what we know about modern psychology, I think it better to say that their understanding of love is incomplete.

Can we love? Can we be pure in our love, pure in our hearts? I pray so.