Letting Go!

a- sophia

Letting Go!

We always want good things to come to us, even if some of the good things aren’t always what we expect. I have learned to live life with open arms, trying to let go of the many plans that I have constructed within me that usually do not end the way I expect or even wish. I have had devastation slap me squarely in the face, and I have had blessing that enter my very being as if it were an electric charge driven into my very core.

Living this way, I am reminded that whatever is buried deep within me, whatever dreams and passions I have for myself and those around me are not solely mine. Those dreams and prayers that I have, that construct my very being, are also the dreams and prayers that millions of others have on this planet. We are joined by our desires; we are joined by our prayers. I don’t care whether it is a fellow Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or an atheist. I also don’t care whether the other is male, female, hetero- or homo- sexual. We all share in these common desires.  

We are all subject to the same human condition; we lack the ability to see beyond our own slanted ideas, our own elementary lifestyles. And if we are equal in all these basics, then we should be, we must be, recognized as equals in all things. Jesus knew this; Jesus taught this. It was his distant followers that demanded inequality. Why should a person who does not pray, does not meditate on God, be sacrificed because we disagree on spirituality? If Jesus didn’t care, then I cannot care.

I am awaiting all to recognize that we are children of God, no matter what our circumstances. Our differences are recognized only by us, not by God. I refuse to be so religious that I cannot join in the suffering of those on the fringes of our man-made societies. I meditate on the coming of that single genuine moment, when I can truly say that my thoughts, my prayers, my desires, are recognized as true gifts given to me by God.

I have many blessings; my family, my friends, my academic associates, and my students, are all gifts given to me . . . gifts, not prizes that I have earned. I believe that when this moment of reality occurs within me, this single moment, this genuine moment will have great consequences for me and those around me. I pray for this much desired gift from God.

Listen . . . Listen for Wisdom

a- sophia

Listen – Listen for Wisdom

I was reading one of the many thought-provoking meditations I get on a daily basis, and I was slapped in the face by something that Harriet Tubman said. I don’t know what circumstances led to this, but I do know how this affected me: “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

Have you ever experienced this feeling? I have, twice in my life that I can recall. The first time was in 1980, when Linda and I took my 80-year-old father on a memory trip to his boyhood home in Norfolk Connecticut. We were staying in a motel that adjoined a horse farm. In the early morning hours, I was out to photograph the rising sun over the stables and corrals; this was the first time I had been to an area such as this. Suddenly, I spotted my father standing by the fence, watching a colt romping around; there was a slight mist over the valley, which added to the beauty of the photographic moment.

My father must have heard me approaching; he suddenly turned toward me and began walking away from the fence. I snapped the picture just as he was fully emerging from the mist. He looked like an image of eternity emerging from the shadows of my mind; I later discovered that the photo was exactly as I had pictured it to be.

The second time this glory passed through me was in 2016; I had been suffering through a great deal of pain. Those of you who know my story understand the miracle I was blessed with that took the pain-killing days from my shoulders. When this happened, the felling that I was restored to a product of nature was overwhelming. Not only was I able to see and smell the glorious world that July morning, but I was able to picture a refreshing dip in a hidden pond, somewhere in northwestern Jersey. This euphoric feeling was the closest I ever came to feeling totally detached from the horror I had previously faced. I was a part of God’s true world. I felt that for the first time in a very long time I was true to the myself that God created; I was no longer tethered to the make-believe world of 21st century America.

I recall the words of Isaiah, “In the time of my favor I will answer you . . .” I was demanding God to heal me; I did so for two years. But, two years to me is milliseconds to God. And, He did hear me.

My prayers now consist of the desire for all of us to speak knowing we are God’s children. I listen to others at meetings decrying the hardships they endure. This upsets me . . . twice. I empathize with their misery; I have been there and in the future will probably return there. I also am upset when I think that my friends and neighbors forget, as I did, that we are children of God. God nurtures us; all we must do is listen (pray?) I pray that the Lord lifts the weight of suffering from all living on Earth. Is this an unreasonable desire?

 

My Prayers for Our Future

My PrayersLet all that you do be done in Love. for our Future.

Blog April 21, 2018

We humans are strange beings. We are a combination of unbelievable egotism, and at the same time, a feeling of inferiority. No wonder so many of us are in therapy or heavy drug use. We are born as such beautiful representatives of God’s goodness, while we often are convinced by others that we are not.

We are God’s seeds on Earth, firmly planted, enabling us to flourish and to grow. By not realizing this, we sometimes transplant ourselves in believing we are something else. The result is that we do not grow, but wither on the vine. We must be courageous enough to stand our ground, defending the beautiful creatures of God that we are. The alternative is to complain unhappily, just as a little child complains when it does not get its way. We are better than that.

We must accept that we are all good. After all, we are God’s creations, and being thus, we cannot be anything but perfect creatures. This is difficult, but when we look around at the world we live in, the beautiful garden that Earth can be, we see nothing but God’s beauty displayed for all its natural wonder.

We cannot, however, overthink our importance. We cannot think that we are the only worthwhile creatures made by God. How could humans think we were the only or even the main event? Not only did we think that the Earth was the center of the universe; we were certain our human species was the only one that God really cared about. Not only do we think the we are the center of the universe, se sometimes think that we are the only creatures that God really cares about.

Before you jump down my throat about this statement, look how we abuse our world, the world created by God. There are thousands of miles of oceans that are uninhabitable due to the garbage we dump there from our major coastal cities. Our air quality is such that those with chronic breathing issues must move to clean air areas, which are rapidly disappearing. When I was a young boy, my uncle and his family moved to Arizona for medical reasons. I have recently had a friend move from Arizona due to the pollution.

One of the things I pray for and meditate on is for us to change our ways. I only have one grandchild, but I know he must live in the environment we leave him. My daughter is raising him with the understanding, and he has learned this, that there are many people in Virginia who are not as privileged as we are. He serves with my wife at our church’s feeding ministry, recognizing the fact that there are hundreds of people in our community who are living on the edges of society.

I look at the youth of today; between those who are rewriting the future of guns in America, and how my grandson and people his age are concerned about the needs of all people, and I am comforted knowing that they will be the leaders in the future.

My prayers center on the belief that our collective prayers will be heard by us, and that we will begin doing what God was of us.

Others – Ourselves

I was reading the Washington Post on Monday, fascinated by one of the editorials: E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s “Profane President, Penitent Pope” proved more interesting than this simple title. Dionne mentioned that our president does not apologize for anything (this is the last time I will refer to President Trump). Dionne continues with comments on Pope Francis, “First, he did something that comes very hard to most public figures, and particularly to the current occupant of the White House: He apologized fervently for ‘grave errors.’”

 Admission of misdeeds is important in a complete person. We are born into a world of shadows, where truth is many times optional. The pope also mentioned that we “waste precious time, being caught up in superficial information and instant communication.” How much of this is truly affecting our minds, our relationships with family and friends?

Jesus admonished us when he stated that the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. My query is that it is difficult for us to identify the person with whom we are dealing. All of us are affected by those outside influences that bombard us on a daily basis. We have to look beyond the facades that we post to exist in this topsy-turvy world we have created. As we examine our own inner selves, so must we examine those around us. For example, we cannot be offended when a coworker, or a family member, or a friend snaps at us. We do not know what has negatively affected him. We cannot know the stressors that are holding him hostage.

We cannot completely judge a person by the outward persona. We must take the time to dig through the falseness of their projected image, finding the person that God brought into this world, just as we do with our own persona.

This grave error we make in our relations with others is divorcing ourselves from brotherly love. We are all related in God’s world. Our brothers and sisters are wandering the world, looking for a safe haven to raise their families and turn their frustration into love for their neighbors, as we must do.

In the Old Testament (Leviticus to pinpoint this) is the statement that we must accept the stranger at our door and not oppress him because he looks or talks differently than we do. I am a white American; according to God’s law, the dark-skinned, Urdu-speaking family that moves into my neighborhood or sits behind me in church is related to me in the most basic way. We are living there with our families to nurture them and give them the chance to succeed, as this neighbor is doing, as we are doing. We have entered the church to praise God and receive that comfort and elation that only a house of God offers. As we leave the church, we wish that the feeling of openness, love, and ease would stay with us throughout the week. Normally, it does not.

We can keep this euphoria by looking at that family, open our arms and our homes, accepting them as brothers and sisters, or at a minimum fellow travelers who are struggling to find their way, or, to find The Way.

May God help us do this.

road.jpg

And Sarah Laughed

Sarah laughed

And Sarah Laughed

Sarah thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, now will I have this pleasure?” then later in Genesis 18, “God has brought me laughter” and she named her son Isaac, which means He laughs in Hebrew.

Sarah laughed. God brings us laughter. I have suffered pain, regret, disappointment, failure, and loss. All these have caused great pain and suffering in my life. But each time this happens, I return to being myself. Joyful, content, happy, and yes jovial.

There is nothing new to this. My grandmother used to say that time heals all wounds. I have to agree with her; unfortunately, she did not live what she preached. My grandfather, whom I never met, left her in the 1940s, moved south, and had another family apart from his first family in New Jersey. My grandmother never forgave him, never let go of the loss, and as a result did her best to sour the life of all around her.

I and all my cousins laughed at her when she went into this routine; after a good cry, or more often, a good rage at everyone, she would settle down and begin to enjoy her grandchildren, there were 27 of us, and begin laughing and enjoying life. For a time.

I have had my times of depression and anguish, some serious, some not. When I remembered to take life as it comes and put my failures aside, I quickly returned to being a forward looking person. It was difficult at times, especially when I almost lost my life and subsequently lost the business I owned. This was a very tough time for me.

But God opened doors that I did not even know were there. I was led into teaching by his angels, some ethereal, some real life people. I glided into teaching with little difficulty and enjoyed 23 years in front of students, from middle school, to high school, and finally, to college. I have loved each of my classes, and each of my students. I have laughed with each of them.

All of these young people added to whom I am today, formed the person I am . . .  serious, but humorous. These classes and individuals over the 23-year period opened a world of understanding to me. I learned to appreciate each of their individual talents. I have always enjoyed music, but to learn about music from my history students when I taught in high school, allowed me to truly appreciate the sounds of quality music; and that does not include Rap.

I also learned to appreciate art and crafts from these young enthusiasts.

The ardor with which they approached their projects impressed me, and help to create an appreciation for all forms of art. Jealous that I cannot do the same.

So I write.

When I write, I laugh.

I also pray; I pray for and pray with others. This enlightens me to another aspect of my life. I rejoice with people, and I cry with people. Every person I pray with and pray for is special to me. At our church we have a prayer circle in which we may not know our prayer target. We have a name only. So we pray for a person we may never have met. This is a truly joyful experience. Because I get to embellish my prayers for this person with all forms of tomfoolery. Hopefully bring him (or her) and me closer to God’s wishes for us and our lives. Hopefully to bring joy and laughter into our lives.

So Sarah laughed; she laughed at God; and He blessed her with a son. Do we dare to do the same? Are we brave enough to laugh at God? Abraham is one of three people who actually saw God according to the Bible. Moses and Jesus also did. And Moses only saw his hind quarters.

We are none of these people; we will probably not see God in this lifetime, face to face or his hind sides. Can we laugh at God? I do it all the time! God created laughter in me; why shouldn’t I share His gift with Him?

My 75th

spring

From Psalm 109, “With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord; and in the midst of many will I praise him.”

On this my 75th birthday, I reflect on a life of mixed feelings about faith. As a young Marine, I was always angry with God with all I experienced. As I aged, I ignored God for most of my life; I was angry with my parents for many reasons; therefore, I was also angry with God.

But gradually, over the last thirty to thirty five years, I have come to realize that no matter what I have done and what has been done to me, I have always had God beside me, many times carrying me through those really tough times, like a head-on collision with a very big truck.

I also realize and realized at the time, that when I lost my business and went into teaching, the doors fell open so rapidly that it could only have been by god’s hands. As a fifty year old, there is no way that I was a better candidate for a history teaching job in an upscale community. There was also no reason why as a sixty year old I should have been admitted with no difficulty into an elite doctoral program for literature.

The major steps in my life, including my marriage to the love of my life, and the birth of my two wonderful children, have been blessed.

Now, as I turn seventy, and am finally hanging up my teaching robes, I look forward to a life of helping others find their way in life as I have found mine. I will use all I know, including my relationship with God, to help others avoid the trenches that I fell into.

I feel truly blessed by the Lord and in the midst of many will I praise him.

 

Knowing Ourselves

reflection                                          Knowing ourselves

This is always a challenging idea. I am never sure if I truly know myself. As I progress in age, I am reflecting on my life, my present circumstances, and my future on this earth. Questions always arise as to what my true nature is. I was reading a passage from the Plough journal and came across this by M. Basil Pennington; I want to share the entire passage with you:

Unfortunately, in seeing ourselves as we truly are, not all that we see is beautiful and attractive. This is undoubtedly part of the reason we flee silence. We do not want to be confronted with our hypocrisy, our phoniness. We see how false and fragile is the false self we project. We have to go through this painful experience to come to our true self. It is a harrowing journey, a death to self – the false self – and no one wants to die. But it is the only path to life, to freedom, to peace, to true love. And it begins with silence. We cannot give ourselves in love if we do not know and possess ourselves. This is the great value of silence. It is the pathway to all we truly want. (from: A Place Apart)

I am due to retire at the end of April, and I am confronted by what I will do for the remainder of my life. However, to really discern what my future will be, I must reach deep inside me to discover what God has planned for me. Pennington mentions silence. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to find true silence. Even when the house is quiet and my wife has gone to bed for the night, I can sit in relative silence to meditate. But I don’t think that this is the silence that Pennington speaks of. I think that true silence is when I clear my mind of all thoughts, thoughts of the just ended day, thoughts of what I must do in my duties as a vestryman and a prayer leader at my church. With a congregation exceeding 1500 souls, it is extremely difficult to rid my mind of ongoing concerns for those I love. I know I must do this to truly find the path that God wants.

I turn 75 on April 7th; I have many years to serve my fellow man. I know that the service that I undertake will be led by God and that what I do will bring peace to those in my spiritual care.