Beginnings, endings, and in Betweens

God is always there

Into every life and every day there are beginnings, endings and in betweens.

In Genesis in the beginning all there was is “God of Courage and Creator”.  Symbol (Genesis 1:1-2) water covering the whole earth, still waters reflecting peace, and the Spirit hovering over the waters with love and grace.  Revelation 21 “a sea of glass” is the ending.

All that is in between is the History of Salvation, of Life, of Love.

As I walked through a cemetery recently I noticed that everyone had some kind of marker of their living.  All regardless of size or shape had three things:  A date of birth beginning, a date of death or ending and a “Dash”, a “-” of in between!  It did not matter how many years the person lived everyone had the same dash!

The Gloria Patri often sung in churches has this line: “As it was in the beginning even now and ever shall be world without end Amen amen!”

The World as it was and is and ever shall be is “the world where love and peace are everywhere, everything, and in everyone” Amen!

March Madness and You

The Message to the World

This Tuesday begins March Madness when 68 teams play in single elimination over the next three weeks until there is only one:  mad, sad, and glad parts abounding.  There is a message to all in the world even if you are not a sports fan:

 

“Always keep heart and hope alive, anything can happen because nothing is impossible or improbable and everything is unpredictable and growth producing!”

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What do you have?

Who are you?

Wake Up:

 

It is not about getting what you want, need or crave.

It is about knowing who you are and what you already have.

 

As Wordsworth said,

“Getting and spending we lay waste our powers,

All that is necessary in life is already ours!

What Comforts a Child comforts the Child in all of us

Comfort and Connection, When Care is Felt!

I had two school age parts (actually probably many more than two but two that I clearly was aware of at the time).  One was a serious “do the work part” and the other was “a clown get attention make people laugh part”.  I did both pretty well.  The entertainer part got a lot of positive feedback and became central in lots of ways that had other parts feel lost or unattended to.  “The entertainer part” got attention as did the “hard worker part”. As a child I never saw them as really two very similar parts striving for acknowledgement of and attendance to me as a person.  They were my persona and they did get good attention.  My person, who I was as a person, was lost in the attempt to be noticed, acknowledged and attended to as a person.  Even as I write that it sounds strange.  Yet it seems strangely correct.  

The other day I was watching my grandson at age 19 months crying uncontrollably in his travel crib.  My son and his wife needed a break so my wife and i had come over for a time of grandson sitting.  I volunteered to go into his room that was dark.  My grandson’s crying was drowning out the sounds of the ocean that were playing on an i pod to help him relax and sleep.  The problem was that his “fear of being alone” was causing his crying which was drowning out the very thing that might give him a sense of serenity and peace  For that to happen he would need to come his fearful part so he could hear it. That he could not do. So the question became:  “what would allow him to be content, to know that the content of his parents love and care for him was present.”  Blocking out  his “fear of being alone”.   I asked my son if he would let me try to help his son to settle down and sleep.  At first hesitant confident that nothing could be done, he was encouraged by his wife to let his dad have “a go of it”.  I went into the darkened room, noticed him standing holding on to the top rung of the “sleeping travel bed”, sorta like a mini playpen! He was holding on for dear life!  There was no way he was letting go, stopping, and forget about me trying to pry his hands off that rung of safety. I closed the door behind me and laid on the floor next to him as his eyes focused on my presence.  At first he screamed all the more.  In a short period of time as he saw I was unaffected by his crying and he heard my rhythmic chanting of “I am so tired, I really have to go to sleep”.  I was speaking for one of his parts, ignoring the fearful one. Actually addressing the fearful one, indirectly. I watched him notice me turn away and then turn back.  I had his attention.  Without picking him up are trying to assure him of my care I was sending him a clear message of my presence, my not being rattled by fear,  and settled by the persistent practicing of my presence in his presence.   Without letting his fearful parts hook my fearful parts that would pick him up to assure him of my care I was sure my presence was all he needed.  If i were to let him control me, and have me pick him up that would make him feel less safe.  Put in words from his internal world, “If I can get this person to do whatever I want him to do then I will know that I have the power and he does not which will make me feel unattended to, in control, and therefore more fearful of being alone. The little boy thought, “If he could be content and sure, stable and secure, unaffected by my fears or controlled by my tears then I can count on his presence, quiet my fears, and feel comforted.  Unnerved by my tears I can feel my fears subside and rest gradually come into my focus.”  As I was clearly unaffected by his crying but stable and secure in my presence,  he gradually let go and sat down.  He looked at me as if to say, “what is wrong with you” but inside he was feeling “there is something right and comforting about this”.  The inner confusion of “am I cared for” was infusion by a quiet and assuring way.  My perfect contentment posture and my resistance of his controlling me, invited him notice my presence and feel comforted.  Gradually he sunk into the comfort of his bed checking to be sure that nothing was changing in my voice, presence, or cadence of care.  Within a very short time he was soundly and serenely asleep.  I thought of a tweet I had tweeted the day before:  “Shit happens in life by accidental events, Shifts happen in life by intentional choices”.  I changed it in this context to: “When we by intention do not let others control us but remain content and caring in our presence, the recipient of that experience feels and internalizes comfort. My choice  sent a subliminal message of care. The quiet reassurance about “presence of care” gradually won out.

The truth is a child can only trust presence that he cannot control.  Maybe there is a hint here about why when we sense God’s presence even when we feel he/she/they are absent we find our greatest sense of contentment and peace.  When we cannot control God or feel God is not there for us we lose the sense of his presence, and realize God knows to pick us up would send the wrong message. He chooses rather to send the message, “I am here” to keep you from falling or failing to know the power of presence.  It is presence not action that provides contentment and peace.

Waking up to the reality that the practice of my presence is not as powerful as just being present.

When a person feels like they can control you they feel lost.  When they feel they cannot control you, they feel comforted by your presence and confident in your care.

When the keepers of thee Sacred get Scared the Message is Lost

The One Task of the Real Church - For Such a Time as This

What does it mean to Be the Real Church?

Leadership of a Congregation a Community or a Nation demands authentic, audacious, and authoritative presence. They are critically important, as is “Truth” from all perspectives, perceptions, and precepts.  Soren Kierkegaard said, “To know the Truth and not Be the Truth is to embellish that very Truth with error!”

I am concerned, as a member of the community of faith in the United Church of Christ and a church consultant, that churches remain non-partisan.  Just saying you are non-partisan while speaking against the current administration is partisan. Saying you are non-partisan and speaking for eh current administration is partisan.  All voices need to be heard, honored, and honestly and respectfully responded to not reacted to.. The church is called primarily to love all people regardless of anything about them.  The church is called to challenge any position or posture of leadership while respecting the same. We are not called to label people or positions.  When we do we reveal our own institutional bias and prejudice while confronting the bass and prejudice of others. Jesus said “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.  How do we as “the real church” do that?

Our primary responsibility in relationship with those in authority and leadership over us is:  to Pray for them.  Pray for Our President!  That is the call that should be going forth from every steeple, dome, or mosque.  Zechariah reminds us that it is “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit” that internal and external change is achieved.   God’s leading and direction has no partisanship associated with it and leaves to God changing what needs to be changed by God. Changing our attitude of political and social action will change our society. Attitudes precede actions and from them.  As a church we simply and profoundly model humility and honesty: “speaking what we believe to be true with compassion and love” before others who believe differently.  It is not declaring that our judgment or position is right and others wrong which reveals our bias and prejudice.  

When Mordecai suggested to Esther that she might be placed in her position of influence for “such a time as this”, it was not lobbying for a political position but to promote the discovery of truth.  The modern day version may be “Speaking truth to power” which is different than speaking in opposition to those in power.  We need to pray for all our congresspeople and justices because they are in their positions for such a time as this.  Please also note that Esther risked everything when she with a vital and vibrant balance of boldness and humility approached the King.  Remember Jesus words, “The meek shall inherit the earth”.

Could it be that we are called “in such a time as this” to pray in massive and momentous gatherings that demonstrates unity from all and of all faiths.  Not great speeches but powerful prayers shook the whole world in the first century because the church prayed.  The church prayed for Saul of Tarsus and all those who persecuted the church.  Saul became Paul.

Please do not misunderstand my point here.  My primary point is not that we should not speak out march or demonstrate (I have and will) but that all we do as the “United Church of Christ” is to be dome in the mindset and humility of Christ.  “in God and in Christ we are all one, we all deserve “liberty and justice”.

Speaking the truth as we see it and respecting the truth as others see it,  is living the Truth. Jesus lived and modeled truth more than trying to direct people to any particular version of the truth.  John reminds us that Jesus was “the Truth and the Grace” of God in dynamic tension and in designated tenderness.  He never addressed the political aristocracy as that was not his focus.  HIs focus was the hearts and minds of people which can be changed in the power of the Spirit. When in peace we express the power of love to transform the most misled of people, we are the church.

Let us Pray for Our President, united together as one, with commitment to the transforming power of prayer and Spirit.

“A proactive church is not a reactive church, love never fails”

Rev. Dr. Don Paine, member of

The United Church of Christ in Stockbridge, MA.

Days of Darkness or Days of Light

Where are we and where are we going

In the Never ending story there is a “Sea of Sadness” that overwhelms and sucks everyone into it.

Today I hear people everywhere either talking about “a time of darkness, depression, sadness”.  On November 9th a new president was elected and on January 20th he was sworn into the Office of President of the United States.  More people showed up the following day to protest his election that came to support him on Inauguration Day.

I was unaware we were in a popularity contest.  I hear all the negative jabs and feel all the negative vibes.  Really what doe the expression “Not my president” mean?  Often half of the people in America want one person to be their president and another is elected.  This year is no different except for this wave of negativity.

John Keats said it was the genius of the creative to have the capacity to see both sides of anything and everyone.  John Keats would say in an effort to settle the negativity, “he may not be your president (because you did not want him nor voted for him) however he is your president because nearly half of you fellow Americans voted him in.  Good old American core values of maturity and mutual respectfulness invites the other half of America to grow up and let go of control and perhaps watch everything settle down.  Our president is human, maybe too human for some of us to embrace.  But inside of all of us if we are as Keats would say courageous enough to see it, “implicit racism, sexism, sectarianism, bias and prejudice” but hopefully we are mature enough to acknowledge them and not be stalled up by them into a “Sea of Sadness”.

Conversely, we are able to swim in a “Sea of Gladness” that is full of Compassion, Clarity, and Courage”.

I am not a Trump Supporter nor am I endorsing him.  I am endorsing positivity as an attribute that sees negativity as the key to balance and harmony only when with maturity there is mutual respectfulness with leads to creative resolve to see what can be (faith), creative dissolving of differences (hope), and creative expressions of prayer and care for all literally all (love).

That is America home the brave who can handle anything and of the free where the poorest and richest of kids can one day be president of our nation.

 

 

 

 

www.keatsian.co.uk/negative-capability.php

Dark times or Time for Light

Light shines in the Darkest of Places

I listened to a sermon today about darkness and depression that eluded to the “shadow of death”>

I have been in the shadow of death and felt it was more real than anything else on earth.  Today having all through the valley of the shadow of death, I know two things which lead to a third a conclusion.

  1. The shadow of death is not real.  Like most shadows it is formed when we or some part of us gets in the way of the light that is in us and all around us and so a “shadow is cased”.  It is an illusion and in it light is elusive.
  2. Light is internal and eternal it is not temporal or absent in darkness.  Exodus 20:21 describes Moses moving toward thick darkness and in that darkness he discovered “God there”.   How can that be?  I am not sure but here is a thought of a part of me.
  3. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  God is light and everything that is not of the light walks in darkness, of where the eternal light of God shines within there is no darkness without   At the same time in Genesis 1 we read “In the beginning God created……and darkness was over the face of the deep”.  In that moment God created light outside of Him/Her/Them.  There is light in side everyone that comes into this world (John 1:9).  There is eternal light (understanding/awareness/Self) inside of everyone coming into the world.  It is why in the new heaven and new earth there is no need for sun by day or moon by night for God is light an the iridescent glow of all people from the light with which is God creates the light outside for all to see and not stumble.

 

 

An Alternative to the Cherokee 2 Wolf Legend

While the Cherokee Two Wolf Legend is powerful and helpful in some regards it is flawed in this way:  Hate and Love are two parallel emotions.  If you starve an angry and hateful wolf and feed another, the likelihood is that the starved and angry wolf will be deliriously angry and would kill and eat the “fed wolf”.  So while it sounds good g=regarding the internal world it is fraught with an internal world problem.  There are no bad or evil parts inside of us. There is an evil core and a good core.  The evil core or dark side is fed when the polarizations of love and hate are allowed to polarize, perpetuate conflict, and nearly destroy the “good self”.  I know this first hand and experientially.  It was my polarized part that I attempted to feed the good parts and strive the “bad” parts which resulted in loosing any sense of the Higher Self which resulted in the Dark Side taking over rendering me depressed, suicidal, hopeless and and helpless.  The starving one part and feeding the other did not work for me at all intact worked against me.

I will note below two versions of the Two Wolf Legend.  Here is a third.  Please note I am a grandfather and have gained wisdom from the things I learned in dark places at least that is how I see it.  We will see!

 

There was a grandfather who loved all his grandchildren equally yet differently for in his heart he held equal love for all of them while respecting and responding to all their differences in an unique expression of his love.  Some in the family of course conclude he loved one more than the other yet for him: “He loved them the same yet differently because they were different yet the same: his grandchildren.  One of them asked him one day, “Grandpa it feels sometimes like there is a war going on inside of me.  Sometimes I want to be good and other times I want to be bad and I do not understand this?”

 

Ah, Grandpa said, “It is true for all of us.”  The grandson interrupted and said, “For you too grandpa, I can’t believe that, you are so good all the time.”  The grandpa smiled and said, “Not so much, but let me tell you a story:”

“I used to think I had to push aside the bad thoughts and feelings like: anger, hatred, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. My grandfather told me that this was like two wolves fighting inside of me and I had to decide which one I fed fro that one would ultimately win out.  So the    other wolf or good thoughts and feelings:  joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. These two wolves are like a civil war inside.  In Jewish tradition there are the twins (Jacob and Esau) who were already fighting inside of Rebekah even before they were born and today the fight goes on in Israel and Palestine). The same fight is going on inside of you and inside of every other person.

The grandson thought for a moment then asked, “Which one will win”

That is the really tricky part and please pay attention to this. The old Cherokee replied , “the one you feed”.  In my living, I have learned something different from the wisdom of life not the wisdom of ego, the wisdom of Spirit-Self not the wisdom of choices.

 

From the Spirit Self within you need to care for both of these wolves for they really believe that one has to win and the other will die.  It is the power of polarity to polarize and defeat true balance and harmony, courageous compassion and creative care.  If yo try to feed the one “bad” wolf the other “good” wolf will suffer because in believing the lie that only one can survive the bad one goes underground and wins as its anger and fury is fed when you try to only feed the good.  All parts of you need to be understood, listened to and cared for by the Wise Spirit Self within you.  It is not about either wolf but about the “Higher Wise Spirit Self” that from inner wisdom knows that all parts of both wolves simply need to be heard, understood and appreciated in their positive intention.  This only done by having positive intention and seeing positive intention in them.  All of what we call bad parts or the” bad wolf within” come from feeling threatened and fearing loss. When we try to resolve this inner conflict by feeding only what we see as the good wolf we are seduced into the “only one can win” world which is just “not true”.

The grandson looked very puzzled and confused and asked, “how will I know which one to listen to and care for?”

“From the Inner Spirit of Self always listen to both and from a place of Calmness, Courage, Compassion, and Clarity find out what the part needs and why it thinks the way it does so it can be relieved of its burden or false belief that would have it choose destructive behaviors.”

“Wolfs can appear as white sheep or black sheep but in the end they are part of the same flock of parts within, they mean no harm and only do harm when feeling threatened or ignored.  I learned this the hard way so please grandson always try to remember this , “There is wishing you a “Sprit Self ” that is indivisible, pure love and the Human Self is often polarized by wolf parts within.  Always feed the sheep and the wolves equally the grain of car e and compassion and the inner war will lessen and life will feel less of a conflict and more an experience of “compassion and care” for all by all.

http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TwoWolves-Cherokee.html

 

 

 

The Message of Martin Luther King

Have a Dream, A Dream that is not just about You, and Work to make that Dream a Reality

On January 16th we recall the memory and message of Martin Luther King.  Dream central is at the center of his memory and message.

It was not like “a dollar and a dream” or even like “if you dream it you can do it”.  For MLK the dream was not about him but about what vision he had for the community of earth.  We have come a long way.  We elected a person with an african american heritage, eight years ago.  This was a first in our country and for many was a breaking of the hold of racism in our nation.  Today we are reminded that one act that represents on one stage a breakthrough can be the exception and not the rule.  Many want the rule to be that all people though different and diverse ways have an equal opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Or as Franklin Roosevelt and Norman Rockwell presented them, four freedoms:  Freedom of speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom form Want, and Freedom from Fear.

A week ago Saturday many participated in a “Freedom Walk”.  A dream that was not a propellant of a person or even an idea but a concept that “All men and women though not placed in equal opportunity settings have the inherent right to be treated as equal when it comes to the essentials of life”.

MLK’s dream was not about him or even for him.  It was a dream about and for society.  It was a dream that “the content of one’s character” would be more important than the “color of one’s skin”, “the orientation of one’s gender”, “the identification of one’s religious faith”, “the dna of on’s ethnicity or social network”, the “affiliation of one’s gender identity”, the affluence of one’s financial status”, The size of on’s dwelling place”, “the side of one’s road”, “the focus of one’s reproductive choices”, “the height of one’s stature”, or “the substance of one’s social or political thought.  By the content of one’s character, MLK was attempting to get us back to the basics of personal maturity and mutual respectfulness.  As it was said of Jesus in the Gospels so Martin Luther King would want us all “to grow in wisdom and stature in the eyes of God and in the eyes of humanity (our brother’s snd sisters of earth).”

 

This is the American Dream.  Not a dream three cars in every driveway but of no car being used to do harm either thru thoughtlessness or recklessness. Not a dream for huge dwelling places in some parts o fa state and homeless shelters in another.  Not a dream of plenty of food in the cupboard and refrigerators while some have no food in their tent.   The American Dream is a dream of equal opportunities, and equal rights, and equal justice.  The American Dream is a dream of all people having everything in common and no person in want of anything.  By the way this is not communism of socialism this is Christianity. (Acts 2:44-45)