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Thursday, August 24, 2017


Like millions of other people I watched the solar eclipse on Monday. I was fortunate enough to be in the path of the total eclipse in western North Carolina. The day began at 2:30 a.m. for me and three friends because we had a three hour drive to the path of totality and wanted to beat the heavy traffic that had been predicted.

Before we got in the car we all paused from our mountain top viewpoint and gazed with wonder at the clear night sky. The Milky Way, which most of us don't see too often, seemed so far away and yet we were looking at our own celestial home, our own galaxy, from within it.

As hoped for, our drive was clear sailing and uneventful. Along the way we passed many full motel parking lots. We arrived early at our destination of Cherokee/Bryson City in time to see both little mountain communities awaken to their big day as "totality" destinations.  Cars and campers were already gathering in roped off fields and parks. At breakfast in a local diner everybody was talking about "the blackout." By 10 a.m. the streets and sidewalks were becoming crowded. 

My friends and I had been invited to join one of their son's family at his in-law's place. It sits on a hillside between Cherokee and Bryson City with a clear view of the sky and overlooks a beautiful Blue Ridge vista - the perfect spot.
We spent the morning napping in the shade, tossing bean bags into corn holes, talking, and snacking on smoked chicken, slaw, and beans. Around 12:45 we passed out the "eclipse glasses" moved our chairs up the hillside and positioned ourselves for the show.

And what a show it was! As the moon slowly covered our star from "pacman" stage to tiny sliver the air turned cool and still. It stayed nearly full light up to the final tiny spot of sun and then we couldn't see it through our glasses.

The glasses came off to a chorus of "oooh's" and "ahaaa's" followed by moments of awe-filled silence. I won't even attempt to describe what I saw. Words sometimes fail. It was simply a minute and thirty-odd seconds of wonder and amazement in which I was reminded in a dramatic way of the complexity and fragility of our place in the immensity of the universe.

It is a miracle that any of it exist at all, much more that we have the opportunity to experience it. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Way of Life

"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." ~ Pema Chödrön

Prophets come proclaiming Truth that threatens the "way of life" we worship. So we kill them. Then we domesticate and twist their Truth into our way of life. We deify them, and eventually build monuments that worship our way of life.

Demagogues come proclaiming lies that stroke our fears and feed our pride in the "way of life" we worship. Lies are twisted into truth. Believing that others, and not them, threaten our way of life, we go to war and die for them. We eventually build monuments to them and worship our way of life.

Whether through Prophet or Demagogue we end up at monuments of cold stone worshiping our way of life. Until we we learn and know at the core of our being that the problem lies in our way of life, the cycle will continue.

We seem to be living in a time that begs for the cycle to be broken. It is time to create a way of life that works for everyone!

When will we ever learn?

Post Script:
I took a walk after posting this and feel the need to say:  In no way am I creating a false equivalency between prophets and demagogues. If there is equivalency, it is in the way we receive and act upon their proclamations. The "way of life that works for everyone" is the Truth of the prophet and mystic which is justice, kindness, peace, and Love.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017


…our years come to an end like a sigh.
The days of our life are seventy years,
   or perhaps eighty, if we are strong...
they are soon gone, and we fly away...
~ Psalm 90

I'm thinking about death today.  I went to bed last night after reading about singer Glen Campbell dying.  I awoke to news that a dear friend of many years died early this morning. Another friend died recently. And of course, thousands of lives end every minute of every day on our planet.

When someone I know dies, the first question that usually comes to mind is: "Where are they now?"
Where is the energy, the laughter, the tears, the hopes, the dreams, the imagination, the love that was unique to one person? Where is all that made up that one life? Having been in the presence of death several times, I have witnessed the "sigh" of the psalmist. One second a person is here and the next moment who knows where.

We have our religious beliefs, rituals and myths of afterlife that make the mysteries of death tangible, as good ritual and myth does. However, thinking beyond pearly gates, gold streets and crossing rivers we come to a place of finality that begs the question "Is that all there is?"

One of our daughters once announced to my wife that she "didn't want to go to heaven."  This threw Peg into a moment of existential angst until she simply ask, "Why?" Our daughter's reply was telling, "It just sounds awfully boring!"

In the end we simply don't know what comes after "the end."  It may very well be a new beginning, a new adventure beyond our imagination. Perhaps "the sigh" is actually a gasp of surprise. One thing is sure, every person that lives will one day know.

In the mean time, what we have are "the days of our lives" to fill with laughter, tears, hopes, dreams, imagination, and love.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nothing's New

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9 

The longer I live and more I read the Bible and other sacred texts, the more I realize that Jesus and other mystic visionaries of the ages are mostly telling us to stop our frantic grasping for God in order to experience the Eternal Sacred already present, here and now. In this sense, Jesus comes not to change anything, but to reveal everything as already Holy.

When "the preacher" of Ecclesiastes says, there is nothing new under the sun, this is another reminder that whatever we are presently experiencing has already been experienced by others somewhere and sometime in human history, and will be experienced again. A long view of history shows us that with each cycle of experience adaptions are made creating an illusion that things are getting better or worse when in fact they are simply more or less sophisticated.

The human challenge is not so much to break the cycles of history as to be fully aware of them in order to not get swept away by them. In doing so we begin to experience the Divine Eternal Presence calling us into authentic relationships within Creation in our time and place. 

We look to the past for guidance from those who have already experienced the challenges and celebrations of life. By living with integrity now we offer hope to future generations when they face similar experiences.

Again, "the preacher" says, 

What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. God has made everything suitable for its time; moreover, God has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before God. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by. 
~Ecclesiastes 3:9-15