Monthly Archives: July 2012
Challenging week. Car in shop. Husband in ER for four hours. (OK now.) I broke off front tooth. Have to get whole new upper partial. Can’t get new one for a week, since taking Plavix. Ran into deaf friend, I haven’t seen in two years. Very brief conversation. Deaf people can’t read lips if you have your hand over your toothless mouth. Internet still down at home after a week. Lightning fried modem, router, and ? Using office computer. Need to let husband get back to work on it.
I am not addicted to email. I am not addicted to face book. I am not addicted to blogging. I am not addicted to lying about my addictions.
I am addicted to cake. Must sign off. On way to bakery.
Nobody but God knows our whole story, not even ourselves. So, only God has the necessary information to judge anyone. One of the reasons we are sensitive to others’ criticism is that we are already judging ourselves.
But we don’t know the hand we, or others, were dealt. We don’t know the combination of genes, the effects of time in the womb, the combination of personality and life experiences, hormonal imbalances, even the effects health issues long forgotten have had on us.
Two very trivial experiences, that I became aware of, illustrate this. Most of my life, though I love yellow flowers, I have always disliked forsythia intensely. Once while talking with others about memories of being disciplined in childhood, I surprised myself by saying, “My grandmother always stripped the long Forsythia branches to use for spanking us.”
It took me years to overcome an antipathy to classical music, only to finally remember at ten years of age having measles and standing shaking and miserable as my mother hemmed my Easter dress and my father insisted I listen appreciatively to Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
In mid-life I spent some time recording my dreams in order to better hear what was going on in my unconscious. My children were grown and gone and I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.
There was an interesting “character” that re-occurred in my dreams, a competent, practical, assured woman (not a reflection of my conscious self at that time, for sure). In this particular dream, I was playing cards and when it was my time to deal, I realized that I wasn’t playing with a full deck. (It’s ok to laugh here!) So, in the dream I went into a storage closet to look for the missing cards. The woman came into the room at that point and said with authority, “Eileen, get back in the game and play the hand you were dealt.”
I have come to realize that many of my parents’, teachers’, and my own expectations for me were probably delusional.
In college I wrote an essay entitled Breathes There a Man with Pride So Dead, Who Never to Himself Has Said, “I Am NOT the Common Man.”
In mid-life, I had to come to terms with the possibility that my struggle to not be mediocre (common) might not be the real issue. It might be that I have to struggle to become mediocre!
We are only called to play the hand we were dealt.
Ultimately, the judging of how well we do that ends up back in God’s court.
Thanks so much to my favorite loyal blog reader, Betty Harper, for coming to my first experience of an open mike. It helps considerably to pack the house with friends and family. It’s a fairly small place, just this side of a hole in the wall, so our party of twelve represented a large part of the “gate,” so to speak.
Though I’m sure my excitement is way out of proportion to the actual achievement, it is still a milestone for me. Thanks friends and family for being there. All those friendly faces made it fun instead of frightening.
Meanwhile back at the blog…………………..more tomorrow.
I get to do a couple of my blog posts at an open mike tonight. What fun to do for the first time at seventy-five. I think this is going to be a great age.
My gig is at The Open Hand, a coffee house behind Cat’s Music in Pomona after 7pm. I’m doing my posts, Grace a la Manure and God’s Spiritually Challenged.
I lead devotionals at a nursing home, so I figure even an empty house can’t be a very much harder audience than there, since many are stone deaf and some are living a whole different reality.
Please feel free to pray anyway.
Faith untempered by reason quickly becomes superstition. Reason that is unwilling to take the risk of faith becomes hubris.
The challenge of the spiritual life is maintaining an ongoing dialogue between faith and reason that stretches and refines both.
The historical paradox of Jesus being divine, yet fully human, does not require an either/or solution. We can focus on one aspect to better understand it, but if we emphasize one to the detriment of the other, we lose the meaning, purpose, and power of the mystery.
One of the most amazing and freeing aspects of the humanity of Jesus, as illustrated by the stories in the Scriptures, is that he grew in wisdom and holiness. He, like us, was until the moment of his death in a process of growth in understanding of his mission, in his understanding of the nature of love, and in the faith and courage to accept death .
Even more surprising was that often the people who guided and challenged him in this process were women, women with no religious or political credibility, even gentile women, and women considered unclean.
Recognizing the humility of the human Jesus can free us to both face our own incompleteness and to believe in our potential for growth.
And risking the leap of faith to accept Jesus as the expression of the unconditional love of the creator of all that exists for us personally is the saving grace that can carry us through the doorway of death.
God is love and Jesus is the human expression of that perfect love. Jesus is the Word of God to us.
Our own difficulty in grasping the paradox of the divinity and the humanity of Jesus, is simply just that, our difficulty, because of where we are in our own growth process. Sometimes our leap of faith is like putting something we don’t understand into an open file labeled Possibility and then living with an openness to the Spirit of God speaking, guiding, challenging, calling, teaching through the everyday events and people in our lives and then empowering us through Her quiet voice within.
(to be continued at a later date)
This is a story from a member of a traveling Christian repertory theater ministry.
Sarah, a nineteen year old, made very little money in this ministry from September through May, so she spent the summers at home working as a temp to supplement her meager income.
Since she had no car, she walked to and from work. At the first of the summer, she found this a blessing of time spent in prayer and reflection. As the temperatures rose it became less a blessing than an ordeal and she began to ask God to send her a ride somehow. After asking everyday for a week to no avail, as she was walking once again to work, she finally prayed,
“Lord, I can see that I might not find the time to spend with you, if I had a ride. And the heat is only uncomfortable, not dangerous, so the walking is healthy for me. But would you just let me know that you heard my prayer please.”
She had just finished this prayer, when a small boy on a tricycle, towing a little red wagon, came along side her. As he passed he called out, “Hey, lady. Want a ride?”
Christianity is accepting and sharing the love of God fleshed out in a Jew named Jesus.
Christianity is both an encounter and a relationship. It’s an experience and a process.
Christianity is growing in the knowledge and understanding of the unconditional love of God with both our mind and our heart, so that we can continue to respond, “Yes,” to God even when the going gets rough.
Christianity is, as Henri Nouwen writes in Reaching Out, a journey inward through our own brokenness to find God within, a journey outward to a broken world, and a journey together as earthen vessels, unique, flawed, but empowered.
Christianity is about realizing that though we have been filled with the Spirit of God, we leak.
Christianity can free us to recognize that the Spirit of God works in diverse ways in diverse people; sometimes like a geyser, sometimes like a brook, sometimes like an underground river.
Christianity involves recognizing that God is bigger than anybody’s bread box.
Christianity is valuing the fruit of the Spirit, peace, joy, and love, in whatever ethnic or religious context we encounter it.
Christianity is loving people more than loving thinking we’re right or feeling chosen.
Christianity is summed up in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant of rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Vs 12-13 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three: and the greatest of these is love.
If this doesn’t humble us when we are claiming to be Christians or judging others, nothing will.
The tragedy of today’s America is that the middle class is systematically being wiped out by the policies of both political parties.
Neither party is willing to put the goal, of finding a way to fulfill every American’s right to life in a time of exorbitant costs for medical care, before political expediency. There is no longer the caring, commitment, and creativity needed to seek and find other solutions than leaving it to the government to solve the very real and critical crises of survival for many hardworking, middle-class Americans.
Thus, from necessity, the government will fill the void; its bureaucracy growing ever larger and more inefficient. And eventually the means will defeat the end of decent, affordable medical care for all Americans.
And the conflict from attempts to prioritize our rights to life and liberty will end with diminishing both.
Instead of regurgitating totally unchristian vituperation and polarizing political propaganda, why don’t we focus on recognizing the reality and severity of the problem, brainstorming solutions across party lines, and every single one of us praying, not for our personal agenda, but for enough love, commitment, and creativity to live up to our American dream of life, liberty, and justice for all.
One of the hardest things about life is discovering that it is NOT about being happy. Happiness is a by-product of the life long process of becoming the person that we were created to be. Ultimately, that involves becoming wise and loving.
Along the way we acquire knowledge and skills in order to survive, though obviously surviving is not the end purpose in life. We all die eventually.
Important parts of the process are recognizing that knowledge is not wisdom and need is not love.
Financial success and even accomplishment are not a necessary part of the process for everyone and most definitely not a substitute for becoming wise and loving for anyone.
Some of us just accept whatever we were taught by family and our particular era and culture. Others rebel against these in total. Both responses leave us trapped in a time warp and defeat the larger goal of helping humanity also become wiser and more loving.
Political opinions, philosophies, religious beliefs, if left unchallenged by questioning or other viewpoints, generally get carried to extremes to the point of becoming not only ridiculous, but destructive.
Truth is paradoxical. Our limited human perception leads us to half truths or warped truths. Our human tendency to delude ourselves that we see the whole truth and nothing but the truth pushes us into polarizing and alienating conflicts. And we never develop our ability to truly listen and to stretch our world views to encompass much needed balance.
Wisdom and love are inextricably linked. What often passes for love is destructive to both the giver and the receiver. Wise-love discriminates between needs and wants and respects the needs of all.
“What is my bliss?” is not the same question as “What makes me happy?” Rather it asks, “What are the ways I personally can best grow in wisdom and love?”