Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Past Is Not Dead!

A couple of days ago on Memorial Day I posted a photo on Facebook in memory of my father.  The photo was taken in the early days of World War II  at Camp Rucker, Alabama one of the places Daddy trained before going to the South Pacific.

Then, only a few minutes after posting the photo I went outside our house here in DC and look what I found:

And some people don't believe in resurrection, reincarnation, and incarnation!  It's just like William Faulkner said, "The past is not dead,  It's not even past."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Two Metaphors for God

Today I simply offer for our consideration a quote from Rabbi Lawrence Kushner as heard on the current "On Being with Krista Tippett."  

There are two ways to understand our relationship with God. I'm going to say right up front that they are both just metaphors, relax. Just metaphors. The first one, picture a big circle and the big circle represents God. And then picture below it a very tiny little circle. And that represents you in the world. And because the big circle is above the little circle, it's naturally hierarchical, and therefore it’s generically masculine and welcome to Western religion. All of Western religions have this thing, “God’s up there and we are down here, and we talk to God and God tells us what to do, blah, blah, blah.”There was a cartoon recently in the New Yorker, it shows two angels ended the guy talking without a beard. And one says to the other, “I just can't take him seriously without the beard anymore.”

…Now I'm going to give you another metaphor. Just another metaphor…Same big circle that represents God but the only difference is is that the little circle that represents you and me is inside the big circle. And that is a more Eastern — it strikes us as a more Eastern model, but.. it's widely available in Western religious tradition as well. And the goal in that model is not to pray to God or have God tell you what to do, but to realize that you have been all along, contrary to all of your illusions, a dimension of the divine, and in moments of heightened spiritual awareness, the boundary line, which is the little circle defining you inside the big circle, momentarily is erased. Momentarily is blurred and it's no longer clear where you end and God begins.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Internal Wifi

Now that warmer weather seems to have finally arrived in our area, we have "opened" the backyard for the season.  Since we'll be spending more time outside I've been trying to extend our wifi so we have a stronger signal in the backyard.  So I purchased a router extender and have gone through the connection and setup.

One of the challenges in fine tuning this extender is finding just the right spot where it receives a strong enough signal from the original router and is still positioned to boost the signal into the backyard.  This has proven to be less direct than is apparent because of corners, thick walls, and old brick chimneys.  However with enough persistence I did find a place where the little green light shines on the extender and my wireless device has a five bar signal.

All of this tuning and positioning has me thinking about the way we tune and position ourselves in relation to the circumstances of our lives.  Whether we are aware of it or not, our lives are receivers and transmitters of information, emotions, moods, attitudes, and general dispositions.

The difference between us and a wifi router is that we have the opportunity by our positioning and tuning to actually influence what we receive and transmit.   Just because someone around us is always negative and critical doesn't mean we have to emit the same.  We have the ability to adjust and filter our environment and then project it from our own perspective.  Sometimes we even have the option of physically positioning ourselves to stay away from negativity and harmful criticism.   We also have the ability to mindfully choose times, places, and relationships in our lives that create and nurture positive attitudes.

In the end, we can be either unaware of our internal wifi and simply pass on what we receive, or we can intentionally change, nurture, and as Jesus says, be "the light of the world."   Gandhi puts it this way, "Be the change we hope to see in the world."  It's all a matter of positioning and fine tuning.   That's when we experience those moments when the little green light of our lives tells us we are connected with the world around us.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

All the Time in the World

"A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun."
~ Isaac Watts, "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past", "Psalm 90"

"Were you to live three thousand years, or even thirty thousand, remember that the sole life which a man can lose is that which he is living at the moment; and furthermore, that he can have no other life except the one he loses... This means that the longest life and the shortest amount to the same thing. For the passing minute is every man’s equal possession, but what has once gone by is not ours.”
~ Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"

From the first day over ten years ago that I've lived in Washington, DC, I discovered and have often been reminded of a personal axiom about living here, "It always takes longer than I think it will."

Whether it's a "quick" trip to the grocery store, a metro ride across town, or driving anywhere in metropolitan area (especially on a Friday afternoon!), I always try to give myself more time than I think it will take to go or do whatever it is I'm doing or wherever I'm going to.

Conversely, the two quotations above remind us that life as we know and experience it is shorter than we think it is. Much shorter!  In fact it is as short as the present moment.  The same moment is also longer than we think, encompassing eternity itself.

Time is one, if not perhaps the greatest, of life's illusions.  We think we have all the time in the world, when in fact we don't.  And then once coming to this realization we realize that "all the time in the world" is contained in and as fleeting as the present moment.

Marcus Aurelius also says, “Take it that you have died today, and your life’s story is ended; and henceforward regard what future time may be given you as an uncovenanted surplus, and live it out in harmony with nature.” 

Jesus puts it this way, "those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life will find it."  He also said, "Don't worry about tomorrow..."  Today is all we have. 

So, in taking all of this to heart, here's a little exercise I'm borrowing from Brian Johnson's Philosopher's Note on Marcus Aurelius.  Imagine that the next breath you take is your last.   You; along with all your troubles, cares, and heartaches; and yes, successes, joys, and happiness too; are gone.  No more.  Finished.

Now, celebrate and grieve your life.

Then, take another breath.  It's a whole new life waiting to be lived.  But, it only last as long as the next breath.

And the next one, and the next one, and............