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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Way

Last week, while standing on a street corner in Key West, Florida,  I found eternity.

At the intersection of Whitehead and Fleming Streets in Key West  is a sign for  U.S. Highway #1 that says, "Ends" and "Mile 0," just across the street is a nearly identical sign with two exceptions - it faces the opposite direction and says, "Begins" and also "Mile 0."  According to wikipedia U.S. Highway 1 stretches along the East Coast of the U.S. for 2,369 miles between the above intersection in Key West and the Clair-Fort Kent Bridge that crosses to Canada from Fort Kent, Maine where it also begins and ends.

Just a few days later, back home in Washington, DC, I was again on U.S. Highway #1 on the 14th Street Bridge crossing the Potomac River. In my life I have been on numerous sections of Highway 1 mostly south of Baltimore in MD, DC, VA, NC, SC, GA and FL.  Even though I've never been on the Clair-Fort Kent Bridge or most of the northern route,  standing between those two signs in Key West reminded me that any given point on Highway 1, or any highway or path, can be experienced as both a beginning and ending.

No wonder so many of our spiritual and religious traditions are filled with imagery of paths, ways, highways, pilgrimage, and journey that represent our encounters and experiences of the Divine.  Jesus says, "I am the way..."  "...the Alpha and Omega."  The beginning and the end.   The Tao is know as "The Way."   Early Christians also used "The Way" to describe their experience.  A common contemporary moniker for religion and spirituality is "Faith Journey."

So, whatever highway or path you may be on take a moment to pause, look around and breathe in the Eternal, for  eternity is not a destination but rather the place in time and space that wherever we are, we are already there, be it Key West, Maine, or Washington DC.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's All Relative

I'm a day later posting One Eternal Presence this week because my usual posting day was a travel day.   When Peg and I left DC early Wednesday morning the temperature was 8 degrees with wind chill near -10 and 5 inches of snow on the ground.  Brrrrr!   When our plane touched down in Miami it was clear, breezy and 62 degrees.

One of the first things we noticed as we started down Hwy. 1 toward Key West with car windows open was that some people on the sidewalks were nearly as bundled up as folks had been back in DC.  

Once in Key West we had supper at Harpoon Harry's  a blue plate type diner where a lot of locals eat.  By that time the temp was in the 50's.   Bits of conversations overheard as people came and went seemed as if they could have been at Pete's Diner or The Tune Inn on Capitol Hill in DC.

"Cold enough for you?"  

"Better stay bundled up out there!"

"Had to get out my winter coat."

"Finally got to wear that floppy wool cap."

"Stay warm!"

O, well, it just goes to show,  "Paradise for one is purgatory for another!"

Stay warm out there - wherever you are :-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014


There is a certain fear of death that comes from not having lived yet.
- Richard Rohr

Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
- Jesus

You may think death is not the most inspiring thing to be mentioning here at the beginning of a New Year.  Isn't this the time when we should be thinking about beginnings, about new things as we look toward the coming year?  Then again, death could be the best thing to be considering, especially if we do so from the perspective of the two quotes above.

Most sages, mystics, and prophets of the ages have taught that in order to truly live one must first come to terms with the fact that death is inevitable. One of the best places to see this dynamic at work is in the cycles of nature where death, decay, fallowness, and seeds are all necessary for new life.

We can also see the same process at work in our lives as we either hold on to past ideas, beliefs, and practices or allow those ideas, beliefs, and practices to die, adapt, and evolve into something new.  Sometimes an unfulfilled or fallow dream must die in order for a new dream to be formed.

There is still another way to view this death/living paradox.  If we have hopes, dreams, and ideas that we "keep" as Jesus says, and they never even have a chance of becoming real, then we end up with Rohr's feeling of "not having lived yet."

In a more amusing way a friend of mine use to say, "We're all going to die of something. Let's just hope it's not boredom."

So, perhaps a couple of good New Year questions for us would be:  What things of the past do we need to allow to die in order to make room for something new?  What hopes, dreams, and aspirations are we "keeping" from becoming real in our lives?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Packed Away

A common sight on sidewalks and curbs these days are disposed Christmas Trees.  We "undecorated" our tree last night and it will soon be on the curb and join the ranks awaiting the chipper.  We also packed away other decorations throughout the house. As my wife was putting away the nativity figures that adorned our den mantle she said, "It always makes me sad to pack away Baby Jesus."

News sources reported earlier this week that the first Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year.  Some of the reasons given were: the Holidays are over, it's the first day back to work for many, and resolutions have already been broken or become unrealistic.  Ironically, this year that day just happened to be January 6 the observance of Epiphany which is the traditional end to the Christmas season.

However, Epiphany is really about beginnings.  Epiphany is the awareness of the Presence of God in our lives and throughout Creation.  In a way Epiphany is the ultimate New Year Resolution because along with the awareness of the Divine permeating all things comes the potential, possibility, and foundation of new ways of experiencing and being.  

Undecorating, disposing, and packing away the vestiges and symbols of Christmas actually gives us reason to pause and consider their real meaning - the Presence of God in our lives.   Baby Jesus may be packed away until next year, but the Eternal Presence of God still shines as a guiding star in our lives.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


New Year's Eve and New Year's Day always get me to thinking about time. Isn't it curious how we rather arbitrarily have two days on which to commemorate the last and the first of a cosmic cycle that actually has no apparent beginning or end?  Why not June 30th and July 1st?  The weather would certainly be more pleasant for outdoor celebrations.

Calendars and clocks are human constructs devised and needed to order and standardize the natural cycles of Earth's movement in space by way of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years.  And we in turn order, standardize, and measure our lives accordingly with schedules, seasons, holidays, birthdays, and death-days.

Thinking along these lines as one example of shifting perspective, I recently wondered how old I would be if my life were measured in sunrises instead of years and birthdays.  There is a place online to do this.  Today, January 1, 2014 is my 22,534th sunrise - some of which I actually witnessed.   What have I done with all of those days? 

Time constructed in calendars and clocks is necessary.  I get it.  But, why not regularly and intentionally shift our minds out of these constructs of time in order to view and live our lives from different perspectives?  Many people have done and continue to do this. We call it mindfulness, meditation, prayer, reflection, contemplation, day-dreaming.  We might even begin to understand our need for sleep as nature's way of taking us out of our own constructs and therefore pay more attention to our dreams.

So, my New Year hope for you and me is, regardless how we do it, that we regularly and intentionally release our minds from artificial constraints of time and see where we are led.  My guess is we will all be surprised and enriched. 

Happy New Year!