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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

90 Seconds

Ninety seconds of confusion, fear, anger, panic, violence, and what actually happened in that minute and a half will never be fully known.  What we do know is that in a flash of time a life ended, families were devastated, and a community, both local and national, was splintered and drawn into the same fear, anger, panic and violence of those tragic fleeting moments.

Ninety seconds is the time it takes to brush your teeth, or put on your shoes, or drink a glass of water, but also enough time to say or do things you will regret having said or done, enough time to determine the rest of your life.

On this day before Thanksgiving Day is there anything we can find in these ninety seconds for which to be thankful?  Perhaps, but not until we understand that every "ninety seconds" is the result of all that has come before it.  When we feed our lives with fear, anger, panic and violence, guess what the next ninety seconds will produce.

Maybe on this Thanksgiving Day, in addition to turkey and all the trimmings, we, as individuals, families, communities, and nations need to begin a steady diet of kindness, patience, calm and peace. This is our only chance that the next ninety seconds will be any different.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


A friend recently asked, "Why is it I never heard about a Polar Vortex until a couple of years ago?"  I agreed with his question, but then immediately began to wonder what is a "vortex" anyway?

So I did what most of us do these days.  I "googled" it and discovered that a simple definition of vortex has to do primarily with liquid dynamics and is motion as that of a whirlpool.  It is also used to describe similar dynamics in gaseous and atmospheric form, such as a cyclone or tornado, or as in the case of our recent weather, the atmospheric phenomana know as a Polar Vortex.

I, like most people, am not a scientist or meteorologist all I know is that in the past few days here in North America the balmy days of autumn have rapidljy disappeared and it is suddenly winter.  We went from light sweaters and windbreakers to overcoats and scarves in a matter of hours.  In other words things changed rapidly.

The Polar Vortices of Earth, both northern and southern, are always there just like change is inevitable in our lives. Change may come in the form of a gentle breeze or babbling brook giving us time to gradually adapt and adjust, or it may come like a vortex sweeping away what was and sucking us into somthing different with little time to make adjustments.  We may have the luxuary of basking in Indian Summers, or it's "batten down the hatches!"

One thing we can count on is change, whether gradual or sudden.  The seasons come and the seasons go, and life changes.  Sometimes the only thing we can do is grab our coats, hats, gloves, and shovels and dig our way through.  Or we could build a fire, pull out the comfortors, settle in, and ride it out. Most often, as with winter, life requries both.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beyond is Within

The Truth (with a capital "T") of most spiritual traditions is found in paradox.  In the Christian tradition, Jesus is a walking paradox as he continually proclaims the first as last, the poor as rich, the humble as exalted, the outsider as insider, and ulitmately life in death.

Paradox draws us into perspectives that are usually alternative to the dominate thinking, suggesting that perhaps our "way" of livng may seem progressive and productive, but is actually counterproductive.

One of these "ways of living" is the human propensity to first seek the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of our lives from outside sources only to eventually discover what we really need comes from within us.  Literature and mythology are filled with examples of "hero" stories in which a person sets off on a journey to find something only to be led back to the beginning to discover what they are looking for was right under their noses all the time.  I also venture to say that most of us have our own hero stories of this sort.

So why do we keep looking for answers out there somewhere when deep inside, beneath layers of "coulds, shoulds, woulds, and oughts," we know were to look and seek.   I think perhaps this is what Jesus means when he says, "Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven [within], then all the things [beyond] will be added."

The Kingdom of Heaven is sort of like the rear view mirror message - it is "closer than it appears to be!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ritual Exchange of Power

Every two years we drive to the fire station and overthrow the government, and there’s not a policeman in the street. 
~Will McAvoy, character in Newsroom

Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
~Exodus 1

Yesterday the people of the United States went to fire stations, schools, community centers, churches, and courthouses to participate in the peaceful ritual of choosing leaders at all levels of government.

Today some are celebrating victory while others nurse the wounds of defeat. A huge sigh of relief can also be heard from many because whether their candidate(s) won or lost, at least it's over for now. 

However, the ebb and flow of kings, empires, congresses, and city councils continues as the ritual of the next elections is already in motion.  And as the preacher of Ecclesiastes says, "There is nothing new under the sun."

Just beneath the surface of all exchanges of power, peaceful or not, lies the eternal human search for benevolent leadership that offers safety for purposeful participation by those being led.  Even if an empire "forgets Joseph" there will always come along a Moses to stir the memory, reminding that ultimately the leadership and deliverance we seek is not in the ballot box or coup d'etat, but rather beyond us and within us, in both burning bushes and flaming hearts.      

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists...
...The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"

~Tao Te Ching, #17

My kingdom is not from this world...I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
~Jesus, to Pilate