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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Attention

People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it. ~ Olive Ketteridge

It's life's illusions I recall. I really don't know life at all.  ~Joni Mitchell

Wonder what I missed yesterday,
or last year, or way back when,
or even five minutes ago.
Were birds singing and I didn't hear them?
Did you say something?
Sorry, I wasn't listening.
Wish I had paid more attention.
It was right in front of me.
Never saw it coming.
If it had been a snake...
Wish I had that to do over again.
If I had only known.
Lost sunrises and sunsets.
Missed moments.
A smile changed my life.
"Please"
"Thank you."
"I love you."
A touch.
A smell.
It's always happening
-Life -
gone before we know it.
Better pay more attention.
"What was that again?"





Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Made-up Day

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!  ~Psalm 118:24

Yesterday, as numerous Facebook posts would have me believe, was Siblings Day. Many of those well wishes to and memories of siblings described the day as a "made up day." This made me think, aren't they all - "made up?" Mother's and Father's days were created by greeting card companies. Even the big ones like Christmas and Easter co-opted existing "days" and evolved through cultural and religious influences. 

Perhaps the most "made-up" day of our time was created by a television show. Does anybody remember (or celebrate) "Festivus for the rest of us!?"    

There are anniversaries, including birthdays,  that celebrate dates of actual events, but even these have a sense of made-up-ness because we as individuals and communities decide which days are to be remembered and which are not.

The truth is a day is just a day until we give it meaning through the attention we give it or the memory we have of it. Each day is (to use a few cliches) a blank canvas, an empty page, a path yet made. As the psalmist above says, each day is a gift to become what we give it, what we put into it, how we react to its events. 

"The sun comes up and the sun goes down." Whether a day is fully lived, remembered, commemorated, or celebrated is up to us.

So, go out and make up a day! 



Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Dreams and Fears

...your old men shall dream dreams,  and your young men shall see visions... ~ Joel 2:28

...Do not be afraid... ~Luke 2:10

Fifty years ago today a black man with a dream of human equality and dignity was murdered by an angry white man who feared human equality and dignity as a threat to the prevalent lie of white supremacy. The black man's dream as well as the white man's fear continue to comfort and haunt the  American psyche.

Somewhere in this struggle is the ultimate hope that the dream is our true destiny and the fear a distorted illusion.


 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Right To...

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.  ~9th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

There are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. ~ John 20:25

A man hears what he want to hear and disregards the rest. ~ Paul Simon

Amidst the cacophony surrounding certain "rights" given in our constitution's Bill of Rights, I decided to pick up my pocket copy of the constitution and actually read it. My first reminder was that we tend to "cherry pick" those parts that serve our vested interests and emphasize those over others. Our selectivity even goes so far as to focus on short phrases without keeping them in the complete sentences and thoughts of which they a part.

Our selectivity is nothing new or unique. We approach our holy texts in the same way. We also choose literature, music, art, recreation, religion, and so many other things in our lives according to our needs and desires, often reframing them as "rights" or "truth."

The 9th amendment in the Bill of Rights comes at the end to remind, or warn, us that the previously stated rights are not exhaustive.  The final verse in the Gospel of John does the same. What we know from scripture about Jesus, his life, and teachings is not exhaustive.

The beauty and truth of much law, art, and religion is that within their particular perspectives and prescriptions lies an expansiveness that extends beyond individual needs and desires. They reveal rights, beliefs, and values held by all people that embrace the fullness of human dignity. In order to know this we must be open to this expansiveness and not "hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest."

Perhaps a simple way to say all of this is that even though individuals have needs and desires, true "rights" extend to all people.

I may need or desire to say something harmful, own an assault weapon, and make exclusive religious claims, while disregarding others' needs and desires, but is it really my right to do so?

Maybe the only true "God given right" we have is the last breath we took in.