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Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Question of God

In my musing today, I began to wonder how deeply people in general explore and experience God. Is God discussed vigorously with others seldom or regularly or never? Are a wide array of thinkers about spiritual matters read and considered? Is time spent daily in spiritual practises? Is God thought of first thing in the morning, during the day and at bedtime? If we were observed, would others generally think we put God into our regular days and lived as one who walks with God?

Let's say we say we believe in God, and moreover as God being Present as a divine Presence. We imply then that our lives are lived in the Presence of God. If we deeply and truly believed this, how would that show up in our lives? How would we be changed?

I think this is worth considering. Stop a moment and look into yourself. Bare faced honesty is needed for us to actually see ourselves.

Do you, in fact, actually, really and truly believe in God's Presence, in God, Him/Herself? If so, what comes next?

For me, it is a challenge. I challenge myself to be open, congruent and to grow each day more and more fully into walking The Way. What challenge do you give yourself?

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Lingering Memories

There are countless memories, of moments in my life, that live only in my mind. No one can know my private memories. They only have sway when I bring them to this moment. Most of the moments of my life, however, have dissolved into a sea of nothingness. I cannot remember every detail of every moment of all that I have lived over these many years. Yet, they do have meaning, sort of as a group, in that they have bent the trajectory of my life and participated in developing my consciousness.

I find myself drawn to Irenaeus ' idea of this earth as unfinished, imperfect, in order for those who come here to refine and develop their souls. What matters is not one tiny detail, but rather the overall spiritual growth of each of us.

I can look at my past as an observer rather than as an emotional ego. This or that happened. I interpreted it this or that way. Each is a piece of who I am today. I see patterns. Each time an instance of a pattern enters my life, I see my evolving self more and more able to respond spiritually, at least more and more often. I can see my growth and/or my need for more growth.

All the water under the bridge lifts me onward.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Reality?

For a couple of days now thoughts about reality have been bouncing around in my head. What is it? Do we share the same reality? Can we explain our reality fully to someone who has a different reality?

In my book on forgiveness, one of the chapters is "Marlene Colored Glasses." We see everything through who we are, at least who we are in that moment. If we are in an extreme emotional state, for example, how we interpret something varies according to that state. If we are angry or happy, life looks different. If we have unhealed wounds from our past, our view of now is distorted.

Let's say we see an agitated person. One person responds with compassion, another with disgust, another with anger - to the same person in the same moment. Is there an actual reality, or is there merely a reflection of our own consciousness?

Is our view unique to who we are in our stage of development? Do we form groups of friends, maybe without knowing it consciously, on the basis of having the same or similar versions of reality, thereby reinforcing our view and excluding others as false or wrong or dangerous?

Is our life a mirror showing us how close or how far we are from walking a spiritual walk? What yardstick can we use to measure ourselves? For me, there are several ways based on what Jesus is reported to have said.

First, "by their fruits you shall know them." What might be the result of this choice? Does it lift others? Does it produce love? Does it foster peace? If not, what would be a better choice?

Second, "what you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me." Would I really say or do this to Jesus? Would I exclude him? Would I hurt him? Would I treat him In this way? In the spiritual understanding of Oneness, what we do touches all. What would be the highest choice?

Third, paraphrased, "Love God with all of yourself and love your neighbor as yourself. This fulfills all of your requirements." So, I must ask myself and answer honestly, am I thinking, speaking and acting from unconditional love in all instances? What do I need to heal, restore, uncover in myself to fully walk in love?

For many of us, it is time to heal and rise to a more inclusive and loving reality. Look in the mirror of your life and see the smudges on your reality, and wipe them clean with love.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Good News Should Not Be Based On Bad History

Oh, my goodness, I could not have stated it better. Amy Jill Levine's line summarizes one of my key points I've been making for years. Context, history, and actual study are essential to understanding most anything. Yet so many seem to gloss over these essentials and make stuff up. They then require everyone to just believe whatever it is they've made up. It's no wonder confusion reigns in so many areas.

It has long been my contention, for example, that to understand religion, we have to understand the times in which they emerged. My particular focus has been on the first centuries, BCE and CE. If we don't at least try, we miss the meanings of the events, the parables and teachings. We fall prey to every charlatan, to every misguided speaker, to contorted ideas, inaccurate translations and out and out cons.

I feel strongly, as you can tell, about the necessity of us getting involved in our own spiritual journey, not just taking some person's word without examining it. I think that is part of our job to be actively engaged in the search, the quest.

Wars, anti-Semitism, violence, exclusion of some, anger and hatred, all are children of religious ignorance.

The Good News of The Way of Christ has been smeared with bad history. In some cases, only a tiny ray of the original peeks out. I challenge you to go on the most important quest of your life. Search for history, for what it all meant to people of the day. Go on a time travel adventure, through the muck of ignorance to the bedrock of truth.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

What About Angels?

I just read an interesting analysis of Old Testament/Jewish writings regarding angelic beings. There are several (Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, etc) who are described as being God's agents to people on earth, carrying divine power and authority, second only to God. They are described in magnificent ways with glorious appearance. But they are not God, and are not to be worshiped.

That led me to think about angels possibly being with us, maybe along the lines of a guardian angel or angels, or the cloud of witnesses, maybe even the oversoul.

I do know we are not alone. From personal experience, I know we are connected in some way to the divine. There have been moments in my life when the "veil" has been lifted, at times transparent. There are divine beings aware of us, helping when we let them. I cannot conjure them up on demand. They appear as they choose.

When we spend regular time in the silence, we become more attuned to all things divine. Our lives take on a special depth, an expanded interiority. It is a new way to be on earth when we know more than meets the eye is as real as things that are earthbound.

What if God and God's agents really are here? How would we live out our lives knowing this?

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Thought About Paul

Maybe I should say, a new to me thought about Paul, that I read in a new way this morningšŸ˜‡.

As you may recall, Paul wrote his letters/epistles starting somewhere between 49 and 51 CE, continuing to write for another ten or so years. A general idea about his writing was that it gives us a glimpse into Paul's theology and his counseling to groups he started, as well as a bit of understanding of where and in what direction The Way had developed by 20-30 years after the crucifixion and resurrection. This is still true, yet there is another nuance also.

Before he had his dramatic vision on the road to Damascus, he was a persecutor of the followers of The Way (followers of Jesus). So to be a persecutor, he had to know what upset him. He had to know something of what was being said and taught in the fledgling movement.

So, some things included in his letters are from prior to his conversion. Some things he wrote give us a window into the first 20 years of the movement. There are hymns, for example, that predate Paul's entrance into the sect.

I suppose this is a little thing, but to me it is a significant point because I have sought understanding of the first century for such a long time. This is another piece of the puzzle for me✨.

Most people seem satisfied to overlay post first century understanding over the actual first century. This doesn't work for me. Putting what we now know on top of what they couldn't possibly know distorts the whole thing. Ideas like the trinity, atonement, mandatory creeds, original sin, etc did not live there in the beginning. I know It is so very challenging to try to look without 21st filters, but we can try.

So we have Paul telling us his theology, and giving hints of developing theology beginning with the years before his conversion. Maybe we can read Paul with clearer lenses. Maybe he can still surprise us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Hyperbole

I love that word, it sounds so important, but I dislike what it describes. Plus, I have concern that many people can't seem to notice the difference between hyperbole and truth, or maybe accuracy.

Sometimes the overstatement and exaggeration are silly - I am so full I feel like I just ate a huge Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes it is prejudice - putting a judgement on an entire group, as all .... (fill in the blanks) are....  Sometimes it is used to whip people up emotionally, often in politics and religion.

This morning I read an outrageous article that stated our Attorney General had said that he was concerned about our long held values slipping into secularism (I agree). The writer then jumped to an illogical conclusion, stating that our Attorney General was advocating a theocracy. The two ideas are not related and trying to tie them together is ridiculous.

I think we need to be alert, as there are sooooo many exaggerations flying around that, if we're not thinking, we can be led far astray. I can almost hear my old Zen meditation teacher shouting WAKE UP!!!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sometimes I Feel Sorry for Myself

Yes, there are days it is hard to go cheerfully into the world. But, I have antidotes for getting off the pity pot. One of my favorites is to read and contemplate a prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is error truth; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
These are our marching orders. Go forth and express love and light freely. Don't go out needy, wanting to receive. Give.

May I suggest we read this thoughtfully several times a day this week? Watch how attitude and choices of action change, seemingly on their own. As Paul said, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Wake Up to New Seeing

I am thinking this morning about how parts of life can become rote, thereby missing subtle, or maybe not so subtle, meanings. I think this is especially true of religions.

Let's just look at one example using a line from what is called The Lord's Prayer or Our Father:
Give us this day our daily bread.
If you are a Christian, you may have said this a thousand times or more. You may hardly ever really think about it.

First thing we might see is a redundancy. Read the line again. Do you see it?

This day and daily mean the same thing. What might be the reason to repeat? Emphasis maybe? Or...?

The next thing we might see is something God doesn't actually give, though we ask for it in this line? Do you see it?

God is not our personal baker. God gives grain, and we make the bread. This line speaks of how we co-create with God. We take the raw materials given to us and change them. We make good things like bread or bad things like bombs. This speaks of our personal responsibility.

So, we could go on with this line, or most any line, but I am hoping you understand the process I am showing you. Think and ponder and discover what we might miss when we just go through the paces unconsciously. Try it with some of your favorite verses.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Downside of Worthiness

Recently I encountered the relationship of testing and worthiness in the Bible. The worthy were often/always tested. Abraham was tested. Joseph was, as well as Adam, Moses, Noah, Jonah, etc... and the quintessential testing story was of course Job.

In the story of Job, we are told an accuser, a member of God's heavenly court, tested him in order to see if he would stay true to God or not. Giant wave after wave of disasters befell poor, unsuspecting Job. He lost all earthly things, and his friends blamed him - What did you do to upset God and deserve these disasters? I can imagine the attitude of his friends was a knife to his heart.

Eventually, Job passed the test, or maybe the accuser got tired of the game too. Anyway, finally all good things came to Job, even better than before.

My life has been strewn with test upon test. I joked the other day that I wish I were not so worthy. But seriously, I can see and appreciate that each has been my teacher. I can see how each has sculpted me into stronger, more flexible more compassionate forms. I can see my faith is deeper and more integrated into my life. I am thankful to be here today in the form l am in, Marlene 79.5. I know each day will bring more sculpting. I hope to be able to recognize the lesson quickly and cooperate fully with God, and not resist. I must admit, in the past, there have been times I questioned God - Really! Are You sure this is absolutely necesssary? 

Help me to recognize Your hand in the lessons of my life. Lead me ever closer to You. Bring me at long last into the valley of peace and safety and freedom.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

If We Don't Know History

The old saying says - if you don't know history, you're condemned to repeat it.

I must say, I see lots and lots of ignorance of history going on. I'm not sure if it's because history is poorly taught, is taught with extreme bias, or it is willfully skewed for reasons of manipulation and control. It seems to me, whatever the reason, it leads us down dark and unnecessarily redundant alleys.

Instead of reasoned study, it appears that emotions are in charge. That old limbic brain, void of logic and reason, is in charge in many places.

A quick survey of history shows us countless stories about what has and has not worked. It shows us the arguments of great minds. It shows us the processes of great artists, philosophers, theologians, warriors, leaders and ordinary folks. It gives us a foundation upon which we can build.

Let us build upon the best of human history and throw the histrionics, hyperbole and ignorance aside.

A song from my youth has been playing in my mind this week - it only takes a spark to get a fire burning, that's how it is with God's Love, once you experience it, you want to pass it on... Let's be a spark for truth and turn on the light of reason in the midst of ignorance.

Oh Divine More, guide Your people. Let loose a hunger for truth and reason. Calm the troubled souls caught in the tide of emotion and ignorance. Help us rise to be who You created us to be and step into the Light and out of the shadows cast by the addictions to emotions. Help us plant seeds of Your Highest and best. May Your Will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.