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Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Past-Future

"The past is not dead. It's not even past."
~ William Faulkner

Sometimes in order to see our way forward we need only look back. Remember back only five years in your life, your community's life, the nation's or the world's. What were the circumstances, issues, hopes and dreams only five years ago? How have things changed?  Is your current condition surprising or expected? Is life as bad or good as you anticipated? What were some of the dynamics that brought you to this point in life? Now do the same exercise using 10, 20, or more years.

My guess is when most of us do this we discover our lives, and the world, have a general trajectory determined by decisions and choices based on past experiences in order to maintain a sameness, or stability, to the present. Any real change usually comes from a significant departure from this dynamic often brought on by major events like births, deaths, illnesses, moves, accidents, etc. In the case of nations these change makers are elections, wars, treaties, agreements, laws; all of which are influenced by more personal dynamics.

For me, several simple axioms of life come from such contemplation. First is the old adage that if you keep doing the same thing you'll get the same results. Or the more negative version is the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

Second is Ebenezer Scrooge's question to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in A Christmas Carol, "Men's [sic] courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me." 

The final axiom is the simple but overarching aspect of time, "this too shall pass." 

So, want to know what's in your and our futures? Take a look at the past. It will give you some clues.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The First and Last Words

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."
~Luke 1:30

“…they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’”
~ Matthew 1:23

According to the gospel stories about the resurrection of Jesus, the day of and those following the resurrection were days of fear, doubt, amazement, surprise, joy, and hope.  I don't know about you, but this sounds like a pretty typical week for me. Our lives are always somewhere in the mix of thought and emotion that fluctuate and vacillate from fear to hope.

Holding all of this together is an overarching, abiding Presence within the entire story of Creation and Life. Our religions and philosophies have numerous names for this One Eternal Presence. By whatever name we call the Presence our hope lies in knowing its essence is Love.     

I have written in another OEP that the first words of Christmas are "Fear not!" If this is true, then perhaps the final words of Easter are "Love each other!"

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”
~ John 13:34

“I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
~Matthew 28:20

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holy Week

As is often the case, Christian Holy Week and Jewish Passover coincide.  Both of these seasons are times to reflect on the dynamics of oppression and liberation in our lives and the world. The Passover journey is from slavery through wilderness to promised land; while the Christian path goes through crucifixion to resurrection. Both are pilgrimages from hopelessness to hope. Both are also about living within and overcoming imperial powers of fear and violence.

Holy week begins with crowds shouting an emphatic Hebrew phrase, "Hosanna!" which means "Save us, now!" Within what we have traditionally perceived as a celebratory procession is a cry for liberation. In the Gospel of Matthew even the children shout in the temple, "Save us, now!"

There are many voices in many languages in the world today shouting "Save us, now!" Forces of imperial fear and violence are being unleashed by the Pharaohs and Caesars of our day in the names of patriotism, peace, security, and religion.

People of faith and hope are again called to remember the path to home and new life goes through wilderness and crucifixion. For people of comfort and privilege this means letting go of that comfort and privilege in order to be with the enslaved, oppressed, and hopeless of the world. We are called to not only hear the cries of "Save us, now!" but to also shout "Hosanna!" for those who have no voice.

The pilgrimage to promised land and resurrection are never easy. Maybe this is why we need to be reminded year after year.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Source or Resource?

"...indeed God is not far from each one of us. For “In God we live and move and have our being.”  
~ Acts 17:27-28 

"Water is not only a resource but a source of life." I recently heard this phrase on a radio program. So, what is the difference between a source and a resource? In the dictionary I find that source means "beginning, origin."  The prefix "re" means "again, subsequent." In the case of water (food and air as well) it is essential for life.  Water can also be used for other things like cleaning, travel, recreation, industry, but it's primary purpose is a source of life. And, within every resource we will always find its source.  

I'm wondering if perhaps we too often treat our sources of life as resources and in doing so forget that not only things like water, food and air, but also creation itself is the Source of all Life as we know it. If this is true, then the opportunity and challenge for you and me are to begin to ask a simple question of everything and everyone we encounter: where or what is the Source of Life in this encounter?