We Are Not Alone

footsteps

We are not alone

I have spent the last two months trying to recover from a fall that I experienced in early October. It has not been an easy road, both physically and psychologically. To add to my maladies, I contracted what I call a MOAC, that is, the mother of all colds. This is the first cold I have had in over five years. My loving wife tells me that the cold is a reaction to a pneumonia vaccination I received last Saturday (almost a requirement since I am fast approaching 75). I cannot believe this, because my fine-tuned mind tells me that there are no active pneumonia cells in the vaccine. My doctorate in literature trained me for this scientific pronouncement.

Being flattened by this cold, I missed work for the first time in over five years. I also missed various meetings, attending church, and being nice to all around me. Sorry Linda, for the terrible week that you had to survive with me.

Spending the better part of the past 32 years in some sort of discomfort (1985 I was in a terrible accident), I handle physical adversity with all the calmness of a two-year old. I have no patience; I will not accept advice (although I do eventually succumb); and I always feel abandoned by all those around me. I ask questions, such as: Why does Linda have to spend all day at The Table; doesn’t realize how sick I am? Why is it that nobody from church calls to see how I am faring? Why is it that my abandonment is always so obvious to me, but not to others?

Of course, we all know why. Our defenses are weakened from the illness, and we begin feeling sorry for ourselves. Nobody has abandoned us. Nobody has abandoned me. I am still God’s child, who is loved and cherished for who I am. Now that I am reduced to jelly by this false image of myself, suffering now with the untouchable post-nasal-drip cough, I can see that I was comforted throughout by a Loving God who cares very much for me and for all of us.  

Our false self, created by the culture in which we live, addicts us to unrealistic values and expectations. We lose touch with our true self, the one made in the image of a Loving God, struggling to finds its deepest fulfillment in living in union with God.

Prayer for Unity and Hope.

unity

Prayer for Unity and Hope.

Beloved God, Father of all Life, act on our behalf this day; fill us with your Love. Release the light that is necessary for use to do Thy will, for all our decisions are according to Thy will. All our energies are used to magnify You in all people. See that Thy Wisdom, Holy Mother, given to us is used to expand Your kingdom. Above all, Beloved Father, I commend my spirit to Thee, asking as Your flame is one within me, the union of these will affect the world with atonement which I pray for in Your presence. 

The world around us is transparent with come-ons and desires for objects we do not need. When we follow this cellophane way, we cannot leave room to learn what is truly a benefit for us. We must see through this thin veil of material possessions to discover that which is truly in our best interests. We are truly wounded, and we often miss what is around us. We are surrounded by God’s promise; all we must do is open our eyes to enjoy the fullness of God’s Paradise. I spend time each day watching the birds flitting from feeder to feeder in our back yard, while on the ground are the squirrels and occasional groundhog enjoying the extras tossed to the ground by the smaller birds. Our back yard is complete with many trees and plants that also glorify God creation. I often wonder why I cannot do all my work in this environment. But often, it is too hot or too cold, so I just sit and gaze through the window. When I meditate with this image, I know that I enjoy the mystical experience of communing with God. I know that, when I sit there, we are a part of something much grander than ourselves; how grand, we can never know.

I also find that when I am meditating while observing our animal friends, that the spirit power that is within us all is creating the force field in me that generates and maintains my creative juices. And the prayers that I whisper, that can only be heard by God and me, remove the despair of my life, bringing forth strength and the feeling of unmistakable Hope.

Whose Plan?

God's visison of wisdomsharing

Whose Plan!

We do not know if God has an overall plan for us, but I do believe She has a vision for what we can and will become. In the short term, maybe even a term as long as our lives on Earth, all may not seem to be well; we will have pain, sickness, sorry, and failures coming in many styles. It seems that our lives are controlled by an evil randomness. We must recognize that these are a part of our mortal existence, but not a part of our spiritual live with God.

Our lives are imbued with meaning!

We rarely take the time to think what we do with the gifts that are given to us by our loving God. It is too often that we accept these gifts for ourselves and refuse to share them. My wife and several others began an expanding feeding ministry at our church. With the help of a family who won the lottery, and shared their gifts with this feeding ministry, the people in need in our community are benefiting from the gifts this family received. This is the spirit of sharing God’s gifts with our neighbors. This is the example we all must follow. We are not all equal in our abilities to give, but we can be equal in our abilities to share the gifts we have. This is one of the lessons we learn, we know, but too often we forget.

Our Bible is composed of people who accepted the challenge to give of themselves for the benefit of others. I don’t think that many of the spiritual leaders in the Old Testament were any different than you or me . . . potentially. I believe they just were willing to give of themselves. Maybe we are too comfortable; maybe we are too timid. We cannot make a difference if we hide in our homes; we must go among the people to listen, to learn, to give of ourselves.

  

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

respect

I keep looking at other people, wondering what they appear to be doing. Yes, I am a people-watcher. One of the truths that I have ascertained is that each of us is unique. We all have our idiosyncrasies and bad habits that tend to get on the nerves of people, even those whom we love and love us in return. Without these differences, we would live in a sterile world as automatons, devoid of any real challenges or for that matter interests.

We must discover the differences in people and cherish them; we must retain this uniqueness and develop avenues of encouragement for growth as individuals. However, this should not be done without considering the needs of the extended community. After all, we do cohabitate this planet called Earth.

 We must encourage others to share in the beauty of our world as human beings, and as children of God. For it is only through Her benevolence that we can share in the concept of eternal life. I was raised as a Christian Scientist, a religion I left after spending a weekend at St. Albans Naval Hospital being discharge for a back injury, while my brother Marines were returning from Vietnam missing body parts. I could not understand how God could allow such tragedies to exist, and no one in my hometown church could give this young Marine a reasonable answer other than God works in mysterious ways. So I left Christian Science, much to the disappointment of my father.

With this in mind, I find myself studying the early Christian mystics, from the 1st and 2nd centuries, who populated civilization around the Mediterranean Sea. What I discovered is that the early Christians seem to be closer to the Word of God than many of us are today. They shared a more basic, simplistic understanding of what Jesus taught. And, my distant memory of the lessons learned in Sunday School at the Christian Science Church return to me with the same message. We are all God’s children and must act as if our lives depend on it. to

For some reason, I am beginning think that it does. The Great War (1914-1919) was the most devastating war in the history of mankind, due to the new weapons that could kill the enemy forces in masses. It was called the war to end all wars. Less than 20 years later, a new, more destructive war began, and World War II (1937-1945) set a new record in human devastation. We have been fortunate that we have only had what the historians call Brushfire Wars since then. Korea, Vietnam, and now the generation wars now occurring in the Middle East. Will we be so ignorant that we allow nuclear weapons to destroy human life on this planet? I worry that we can and will be.

We must begin in our local communities to convince our leadership to look at those we fight with a new respect; not one born on the battlefields, but respect born with the understanding that we all have the right to live in the world that God created.

God help us if we don’t.

Invitation

invite

We face each day as a recurring set of invitations; spiritual invitations are dropped in our laps every day. We are in the midst of an awesome mystery, as we face the political and economic problems created by our political leaders. Our response must be to affirm and encourage God’s works in ourselves and in those around us. We cannot respond with anger and hate. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul states that we are each a part of the body of Christ, and we must play our part to bring the whole Christ back into being, that is into relevance on our world. Together, we can offer an alternative to the hatred being spread in our lives. We cannot heal ourselves or others by being separate; we can encourage each other’s development, understanding that they also are children of God, Loved by God, Cherished by God. That is Christ’s blessing to us, bringing our lives together, being known by each other, and being called to do God’s work.

Who Are We

sun rays

Genesis tells us that God made man in his image and likeness, which I take to mean that we are a mirror image of God. Jesus tells us to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect.

We cannot in our material world attain the perfection that God hopes for; but we can use the natural abilities we have, to strive for that ending. The first century Christians understood this. In their daily lives they carried Christ with them in their hearts, in their minds, and in their spiritual teachings to others. When Jesus taught his apostles to go and spread the goodness of God, he empowered them to be the healers and teachers to all mankind, just as He was and did. We can do no less if we want to live the message of Christ.

We cannot, nor are we able, to go back to be as the early Christian; however, as our societies have evolved, some might say devolved, so must our efforts to follow in Christ’s footsteps. This is not easy; in fact, it is probably the most difficult task we have in our cellphone-infected narcissism. We are constantly bombarded by can’t resist advertisements, special events, well-meaning friends and neighbors, and family, all aimed at allowing us to be the modern person, to have the latest iPhone, or 70” Samsung TV. We are encouraged to livestream broadcasts and download our favorite movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Life demands that we do this, actually, life (with a lower-case l), demands that we do this.

Life with an upper-case L, asks so much less, yet so much more, of us. Life invites us to Love God and She loves us, and to love each other, as we love ourselves, as we love God. Not so simple a task.

When we lived in New Jersey, we had two families living on our same street who were not what I would consider to be close friends. One was so attuned to his own needs, that anything that he found wrong with his property, he blamed on others, even when he, or his son, was the culprit. This man was not easy to love. The other neighbor was the salt-of-the-earth type. Drove a subway in New York City. Had three boys, who were just like him. When he bent over to get something he had dropped, he had butt-crack the size of a water slide at Kings Dominion. He is one of the nicest people you could possibly have as a neighbor. The problem is, his property looked like it was abandoned by the Joads as they left Oklahoma for California. On a beautifully wooded street, he and his sons would set off airborne fireworks, year-round. And his wife, raising four children including him, left no doubt as to who had the loudest voice in the neighborhood. They were, though, a lovable family.

Both men, who are as opposite as could be possible, are always willing to invite you in on their schemes, and always super-interested in giving advice. One man went to church on a regular basis, the other hadn’t crossed the threshold of a church since the day he married. Both believed in a Loving, forgiving, and healing God. I sometimes wonder which would be considered the true Christian. We are too quick to place people in our self-made categories, too quick to judge.

As God Loves me, She also Loves my two former neighbors. Three men, as different as could be, are equally Loved by the welcoming comfort of a true parent.

The Inner Voice of Love

god - manThe Inner Voice of Love

 There are times when we must transcend the discipline of darkness to learn that we need a force greater than we are. Darkness is a time to learn. It is easier to hear a songbird at night because we are not distracted by the colors of daylight. I am sure that we cannot be productive in darkness without the hand of God guiding us. Listen for the voice! It is the ever-present voice within us that guides us through our toughest nights.

I recently experienced a minor fall while on retreat in the mountains of the Shenandoah; it was nothing major, just a shake-up. What it did do was bring back the fear of the extreme pain a suffered three years ago, when I could not walk, sit, or lie in comfort, and ended up on major doses of nerve pain medicine that caused me to be in a mild state of euphoria. Presently, I am experiencing weakness in my legs and tolerable discomfort when in a prolonged sitting or standing situation.

The pain is not back, but the fear the memories. The discomfort I feel now is laced with the fear of returning to the state of extreme uncertainty that I was in two and three years ago.

For the past few nights, I have experienced hours of dubiety, enlivened by the distraught nerve endings in my middle back. I therefore, rise and write to get my mind in a better place.

As Brother David Vryhof of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist says:

Quieting ourselves in prayer, seeking God’s guidance and wisdom, we descend into that deep place within ourselves, that part of us that makes choices, to discover what it is that we truly yearn after. It may not be at all what we assume it is. We may be surprised at the hidden forces of desire that rule our hearts.

It is times, such as these, that I begin to truly understand what others have been saying to me for many years. My Father raised my sister and I in the Christian Science religion; my Sunday school teachers guided me in my comprehension of the Word; ministers from New Jersey to Virginia have all passed on the same message. But it is in the wee hours of the morning, when yesterday has barely passed to eternity, that Truth shines bright in my seeming loneliness.

John begins his gospel:

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

God is with me . . . always. I may not always accept Her presence, but I know that I am not alone. And knowing this, I can overcome anything life throws at me.