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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Give Christmas Day A Break

One of the best and worst things about Christmas Day is our anticipation of it.  To a child the weeks and days before Christmas are the longest of the year. To adults rushing about decorating and shopping there seems to never be enough time to get it all done. Whether the days are long or short, one thing is for sure, Christmas Day always arrives to our delight or dismay. All of our anticipation and expectation gets wrapped around one day.

Then the day itself is filled with expectations of just the right gift, a meal with all of the expected accoutrements, a particular kind of weather, the right music, being with particular people, wearing a traditional outfit - the list goes on.  That's a lot to expect of one day.

So, why not give Christmas Day a rest this year. Let's do what the traditional Christian liturgical calendar invites us to do - stretch it out into a "season" of Advent-Christmas-Epiphany.  Christians aren't unique in this approach. Most religions have seasons or days associated with major holy days / holidays.

Experiencing Christmas as a season of days (depending on the year, up to 37) rather than one day allows us to have good days and bad days, met and unmet expectations, reflection and celebration, good meals and bad ones, or exchange the not so perfect gift.

Pacing ourselves through the Season not only allows us to experience its fullness, it also invites us to know and experience the One Eternal Presence in our lives everyday - not just some or one. After all isn't this what Christmas is all about - God's Presence among us? 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Conflicted and Troubled

Let me begin by saying this is where I am personally at the moment within dynamics of our wider culture. I speak for myself and have no way of knowing another's experiences.  I have no answers, mostly questions that lead to even more questions, but am trying to be vulnerable enough to ask.  

I'm deeply conflicted and troubled. 

On the one hand it is about time that women in our world are telling stories, too long in the shadows, of abuse, harassment, indignity, and oppression at the hands of men in their lives. Men are being held accountable for centuries of unacceptable behavior that has been accepted and tolerated.  Men are being forced to examine and re-examine our relationships and interactions with women at home, work, and the wider community. In light of such scrutiny, we are discovering that words and deeds that we once thought innocent, or even playful, and socially acceptable are actually harmful and destructive. Men need to be held accountable. 

What troubles me is how do we find our way through centuries of oppression, pain, and inequality experienced by women that can't even be imagined by most men? How do men begin to relate to women with equity and true respect and shed age old mantles of dominance?  How do we find our way through the quagmire of accusation, denial, and humiliation in which we find ourselves. How do we find paths that allow women the freedom to continue to speak out without fear and shame? How can men own up to our actions and not victim blame and rationalize?

We desperately need to find paths of confrontation and listening that allow full expression of fear, anger, and loss, as well as reparation, restitution, repentance, forgiveness - and yes, punishment when necessary. 

Human experience tells us conflict and trouble are necessary in order to find new ways of living together with equality, dignity, respect, integrity and love. 

We are living in such times. May we have the courage, humility, grace, and compassion to find our way. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Day to Remember - And Dream

Today is Peg's and my wedding anniversary.  Each year on our anniversary we spend time remembering and dreaming.  We talk about times past and dream of what may be ahead for us. As the years add up the remembering gets longer and the dreaming seems shorter, but one thing remains constant, whether looking back or ahead it all comes together in the time we have right now. Of course the same it true of every day, but some are more special than others and are naturally days to remember and dream.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Going to Seed

I don't know about you but some days I feel like I'm in the hand-basket, you know, that hand-basket in which our parents always said the world was going to hell.  What is going on? 

For many years I have been repeating a little phrase about the times in which we live - "the individual rationalism of The Enlightenment is going to seed." The revolutionary ideas of Descartes, Rousseau, Locke, Jefferson, and others have been parsed, twisted, and perverted so that individual appetites are consuming the common good of people and planet. The same can be said for the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Lao Tsu, as well as other prophets and sages. 

There also seems to be a toxic convergence of this demise with modern technology that only amplifies the perversion. With the Internet and "social?" media we have created a forum where every opinion, regardless of its origin, is presented and received as fact. Anybody with a computer or smartphone can slander, smear, and deceive with autonomy and, if desired, anonymity. To some degree we are all complicit in this demise. 

Sometimes when I face the empty page for this weekly blog I seem to have no words of encouragement and so I rely on others to encourage and inspire me. Today my wife Peg shared the following from her Facebook feed and I offer it to you:
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.  ~ L.R. Knost

It's true that when something goes to seed what remains are the seeds. So what we must do in the seeming chaos in which we find ourselves is look for the seeds of love, compassion, dignity, respect, honor, and mutual forbearance that are around us and, more importantly, within us. Once we discover these seeds we need to intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally nurture them into the next Gospel, the next Enlightenment, the next embodiment of One Eternal Presence - one seed at a time.