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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Swimming


"Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
~Jesus,  Luke 5


Many years ago I was a lifeguard at a public swimming pool and one of the sidelines of that job was also teaching swimming lessons, mostly to young children, for the public recreation department.

We always started out in the shallow end of the pool were we learned to be comfortable in the water and under the water.  Then came the basics of breathing, floating, treading, kicking and finally arm strokes.  Once we had the basics in hand we worked on distance. Our first major goal was swimming across the pool without stopping. 

When students were able to swim across the pool they could go into the deep end of the pool. This is where things got interesting. There was usually one or more students who were afraid of going in the deep end, even though they could swim perfectly well across the pool, and sometimes back as well.    

My response to them always began with, "You can swim.  And when you're swimming it doesn't matter how deep the water is."  With most students it only took a few minutes in the deep water to realize this. Before long they were gleefully jumping from the diving board, which of course was usually their ultimate goal.

Like those children in the swimming pool, when we trust our capacity to acquire new knowledge and learn new skills, and then trust what we already know, this is usually enough for us to take the next step. Before long we're "swimming." And when we're swimming it doesn't matter how deep the water is.  Then comes the fun of jumping from the diving board!

So, it is time to get out of the shallow end and into deeper water?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Applied Knowlege

"Knowledge isn't power until it is applied."
~ Dale Carnegie, from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

"...be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves."
~ James 1:22

"‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."
~ Jesus, Matthew 7:24


If it is true that the fundamental teachings of all major world religions are some form of love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and peace, and that most people in the world are familiar with these teachings and say they "believe" in them, then why is there so much hatred, selfishness, cruelty, condemnation, and violence in the world?

Dale Carnegie, quoted above, also says, "...if you would never read anything more basic or more profound than such hackneyed proverbs as ‘Don’t cross your bridges until you come to them’ and ‘Don’t cry over spilt milk.’...—instead of snorting at them—...we would lead almost perfect lives."

Truth be told, most people already know what we need to know to lead peaceful, meaningful lives if we would only put that knowledge into practice.  As author Robert Fulghum says, "All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten."

We know "loving our neighbor as we love ourselves" and "loving ourselves as God loves us" makes life better, but how many of us actually do it?

How many of us "religious types" are actually practicing the compassion, kindness, forgiveness and peace taught by our respective religious traditions?

Just like the old song says, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin in me." Sounds to me like a pretty good place to start.  Actually it's the only place to start.

More quotes by Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Seasons

"For everything there is a season..."
~The Preacher of Ecclesiastes


Today is the first day of Fall.  I know the official first day of Fall is the Autumn Equinox on or about September 21.  But it just isn't Fall to me until October gets here.  The name even sounds like cooler temperatures, turning leaves, later sunrises and clear blue skies. Another unmistakable sign of Fall for me is the first hint of red in the small maple tree just outside our front door.  Soon it will glow like a burning bush in the early morning sun.

Seasons are creation's way of reminding us that change is not the exception but the norm throughout all of creation.  We live with an illusion that there is constancy in our lives when in actuality the opposite is true.  Quantum physics tells us that everything is, at some level, always in motion.   The Seasons are a constant never-ending cycle of decay and regeneration.

So are our lives. Like the leaves of trees, the cells in our bodies fall away and then regenerate.  The experiences of our lives quickly fade into yesterdays while tomorrows quickly become today. Every moment quickly becomes the next.

The Preacher of Ecclesiastes, quoted above, also famously says, "There is nothing new under the sun" indicating that there is a "sameness" to the cycles of Creation.  But, what if the the constancy of Creation is it's ever changing nature? The more things remain the same the more they change, but change they will.

The wisdom for us in all of this is the more we know and accept change in our lives, the more likely we are to actually affect the changes, or at least our attitudes toward the changes.

One more bit of wisdom from The Preacher: "I know that there is nothing better for [us] than to be happy and enjoy [our]selves as long as [we] live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all [our] toil." 

Have a great Fall Season!




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dreaming


“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
~James Allen, from As A Man Thinketh

"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field…"
~Jesus, Matthew 13:24



I invite you to participate in a little exercise today.  As you go through your day notice all of the things you encounter through your senses and imagine who was the first to ever dream it. Who was the first ever to envision a fork, a coffee mug, a piano, a concrete sidewalk? - You get the idea.  I think you'll be surprised at how many fulfilled dreams surround us!

All the things we know as reality were once ideas, visions, dreams of someone.   This includes not only the positive that grows from thoughts of joy, peace, abundance, and generosity, but the negative things in the world the grow from thoughts of anger, fear, scarcity or greed.

Having done this for a while, then begin to notice your own thoughts and dreams.   What kind of seeds are you planting?  What are you bringing into reality in your life and our world?