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Spirituality fulfills the Law: The Beatitudes

Spirituality is foreign to us, because it is paradoxical and few of us have had training in grasping paradox. We’re faced with the challenge of choosing to lose so we can win and die so we can live. And that takes grace rather than logic, morals, or ethics.
Opening to grace requires admitting we need it. And that’s the leap of faith that jump starts our spiritual journey.
The following are my paraphrases of the Beatitudes. I have translated the word “blessed” as meaning “open to grace.”     The originals are in Matthew 5:3-11
The Beatitudes
Graced are the poor in spirit for they are not filled with self-righteousness, so they are able to be open to God.
Graced are those that accept the pain of loss for they will find the Comforter’s joy within instead of settling for  pleasure to escape pain.
Graced are those who do not need to own or control anything, for they are free to enjoy the beauty of everything.
Graced are those who know and regret that they are imperfect, for they are free to accept Jesus as their righteousness.
Graced are those who recognize the log in their own eye, for they can accept the unconditional love of God and grow more and more able to love imperfect humans, including themselves.
Graced are those who are focused on God, for they will see God everywhere.
Graced are the peacemakers, because no cause or group owns them; they belong only to God.
Graced are those persecuted for Jesus’ sake, for they know Jesus.
Graced are the falsely accused and rejected, for they learn to need only God.

These are the truths Jesus taught that fulfill the law.

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Not a One Piece Puzzle

Seems to me life is like a puzzle
where we each only get one piece.
But rather than put our pieces together,
particularly the ones we can’t see
how to fit together with our own,
we create an imaginary picture
that tidily fits with our one piece,
but totally distorts the whole
all our pieces could complete.
That’s why I keep odd shaped
puzzle pieces in an open file
for when their place shows up.

Religious Rant for the Day

Theologians are theory people…and yes we need theory people…but they often miss the obvious. Yes, God is awesome, way way beyond our human understanding, worthy of our praise and admiration, but God is also practical!

YES! PRACTICAL! The BIG TEN weren’t traps, tests, or a spoil sport kind of thing. They are the incubator that helps keep us alive until we and finally all humanity mature enough to love others as much as, or like Jesus-more than-our small selves. They are for OUR protection! God is FOR us.

What about number 1? Does God need our love? God doesn’t NEED anything! WE need God What we admire and love, we try to be. But how do we imitate a God beyond our understanding?  Duh! God’s goodness and love is fleshed out, visible, understandable, in a prototype so to speak: JESUS, a human growing into a Love that’s way beyond the “Big Ten,” a human struggling with the human suffering of sadness, discouragement, rejection, fear, and physical pain…but always open to God, both within and in others, open to grace to make the loving choice in the end, a human that moves beyond the “Minimum Ten” to fleshing out the beatitudes…a whole other level of love.

“Sins” against the Big Ten are just plain stupidity, once you realize that Jesus showed us that this very fleeting life isn’t all there is and that instant gratification and gathering toys are for children and need to be outgrown before we can move on. The truth is that coveting, stealing, killing etc., end up making our lives miserable, even hell.
And it takes finding that source of grace which we call God, both within and outside ourselves to out grow our childish shortsighted selfishness .

Friends, Family, and Countrymen Lend Me Your Ears!

LISTEN TO ONE ANOTHER…BOTH SIDES OF EVERY ISSUE HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.

I have much loved relatives and friends that think very differently than I do. That’s works for me.

However, when posts turn vicious and judgmental, I hide them.
If posts are logical explanations of a different view point, I read them, because I’m old enough now to know there are valid points on both sides of any issue.

I have come to believe that progress will be made toward bettering all of our lives, if we find ways to cling to our ideals while using practical solutions to minimize the negative fallout for the innocent everywhere.

To quote my best friend, “Be wise as serpents, gentle as doves.”

It takes the idealists to move us toward better ways of humanity surviving in this world together.

It takes the pragmatists to keep us from getting destroyed while trying to do that.

For the sake of our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren open your minds and hearts to work together.

God is in the Reality of the Present Moment

I’m studying the book of Ecclesiastes in a Scripture Class at my church. We are using a book by my favorite Rabbi, Rami Shapiro. He boils Ecclesiastes down to accepting the reality of the present moment without judging it as good/bad, happy/sad, bright/dark. There’s none of this gritting of teeth and bearing things in hope for a reward of heaven or a star in our crown. It’s about accepting everything in this moment: myself, others, pain, joy, beauty, ugliness and by accepting the now…whole, we experience the grace, the transcendent in it.
God is in the reality of the present moment. It is all we actually have. But it is everything.

Persevering as an Imperfect Unfinished Person in a Pitifully Flawed Unfinished World

I once was a nauseatingly bubbly, outgoing, optimistic, like and help everyone type of person. I thought I was beautiful, generous, kind, humorous, honest and intelligent. It turned out that I was delusional about myself and criminally naive about other people and the world.
Somewhere in my fifties, I flipped.
I began to realize: that I was often a difficult person for those closest to me, that I was intelligent about theories, but had zero common sense, and that no one is so intelligent that they are right all the time. I found that rescuing people often reinforced their lifelong behavior of making poor choices. I began to notice that my humor usually had a victim. I sadly faced that I was a bottomless pit of needs and wants in my relationship with my husband and that my neediness stunted my ability to love. And I finally admitted that our American ideal of beauty has an expiration date and I was past it.
But other than these, I was an Okay person, because I wasn’t finished yet. 🙂
In the ensuing twenty plus years I have moved toward the middle by accepting being a reasonably tidy looking person, having a sense of humor about getting old and being human, being not only a person who has some valuable flashes of insight, but one who can be practical (at least when it’s absolutely necessary), someone capable of understanding, loving and actually making sacrifices for the people that I find myself unable to like because of totally disagreeing with them. I’m still into helping others – but I have admitted that I can’t save them and that helping others has the perk of making me feel better about myself. I am finally accepting the reality that though most people need a helping hand sometimes, it’s often important to allow others the chance to learn from suffering the consequences of their chronic bad choices. I have quit emotional garbage dumping on my husband and love him enough to now test the dubious leftovers in the fridge on myself, instead of him. And an almost fair amount of the time I do the necessary boring stuff I hate, though sometimes I just say “to hell with it” and stay up all night reading a spy novel and sleep all morning. While, I don’t idealize myself anymore, I both accept and value myself as the imperfect, sometimes downright weird, unfinished human being that I am, while still working to stay open to the challenge of changing when the need becomes obvious.
When my husband and I are watching the news together and it triggers one of those downward spirals of starting to focus on all the terrible people and things in the world, now one or the other of us will bring it to a halt by saying loudly and very irately, “It’s a terrible world, filled with terrible people!” and then we will laugh at ourselves and even at our pitifully flawed unfinished world.
Life is not about perfection. It’s about the life long challenge to develop paradoxical, but reasonable and practical balances between polarities.
But most of all, life is about persevering.

Hungers of the Heart by Richard Watts

WHEN LOVE BREAKS THROUGH, WE ARE SUDDENLY ABLE TO ACCEPT OUR WEAKNESSES AND FAULTS WITHOUT COMING UNGLUED.

“Hungers of the Heart” by Richard Watts.

 

Watt quotes David James Duncan, who tells about his search that finally brought him to hollowing out a place in his heart about the size of a thimble. Duncan continues, “When I was twenty, in India one day, I turned to God with embarrassed sincerity and said, ‘ Would you care to fill this little thimble with anything?’ and instantaneously, -almost absurdly really, – an undeniable, unimaginable, indescribable lake of peace and love landed on my head in reply.”

Watts continues: “This experience that Christians call grace breaks into the anxiety, confusion and self-doubt that trouble us and frees us to journey along a path toward becoming a real self. ….It need not be as sudden or dramatic as Duncan’s. We need not be “born again;” we live in God’s grace simply by virtue of having been born. Whether for us a breakthrough comes as we look up to the stars, ponder the mysteries of DNA, find someone who loves us, help heal another’s hurt, take a risk for justice, (recognize our limits and helplessness, hit bottom, are forgiven by someone we have harmed* my additions) the experience of being accepted restores us to our real selves.

The paradox is this: that when love breaks through, we are suddenly able to accept our weakness and faults without coming unglued.

We come to accept that even our best impulses are tainted by self-interest, that we pretend to know more than we really know, and to “have it all together” when we really don’t. We begin to see that our strengths are really also our pitfalls: ambition that enables us to achieve can result in a stunted personal life with little time for love and friendship, the pride that allows us to walk in dignity may also keep us from acknowledging our mistakes; the charm that opens doors for us may lapse into shallowness on which we depend without seeking deepening, growth and newness; the intellect in which we trust may mask a denial of the emotions, which one day erupt in us in discomfiting force. (Our tendency to respond to life emotionally may help us understand and reach out to those who are suffering, but since emotions are short term, we may make our choices based on them with consequences that are destructive in the long run.* my addition )

The wonder of grace is that we are increasingly able to see ourselves as we really are without despair.”

And that is the first step to becoming free to grow and change in ways that give us more balanced, appropriate and grace-filled responses to life.

 

Smart or Intelligent? Moral or Ethical? Religious or Spiritual?

Due to a bad case of writer’s block, I am reblogging more old posts.

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

11:27am
Being smart and being intelligent are different in practice. Being smart is more about the present moment and the practical, being intelligent is about learning from the past, so humanity can live both free and humanely in the future.

Morals and ethics are different also. Morals are about not doing evil, while ethics are about not achieving reasonable goals evilly. Morals are immediate and personal. Ethics are long term and social.

Ethics question whether an end, particularly the goal of our personal happiness,  justifies means that hurt people and that set precedents for corrupting society.

In trying to pass down values for a changing world, I want to challenge my descendants:

1. Morals: Don’t do it if you don’t want those you care about to read it on the front page or see it on U-tube.

2. Ethics:  Don’t do it if everyone else also doing it will make…

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The Delicate Dance of the Balance and Harmony of Paradox

To me, this is the key to personal and universal healing, transformation, wholeness, and peace. This is where grace can take us if we let go of the prejudices, fears and idols of our ego.

“The dichotomies of imagination and rationalization, intuition and intellect, heart and mind, heaven and earth, feminine and masculine need to be viewed less as polarities than as partners in a delicate dance of balance and harmony. Only by embracing all parts of ourselves are we able to know the wholeness of the world and our inherent inseparability and interdependence with it.”    Mini Farelly-Hansen
(Copied from the Blog: Make Believe Boutique)

Since We’ve Done Away with Sin and Hell, What’s the Point of Christmas?

To be honest,  I don’t see sin the same way I used to and I’ve discovered that we make our own private hells on earth, when we refuse to grow past needing into loving.

A view currently popular is that a world suffering from some original ancient ancestors’ screwing up isn’t reasonable or just and that tiny babies come into the world innocent and lovable.

I agree with both.

BUT, all tiny babies come into the world Needy with a capital N. Ask any parent. And some are needier than others, through no fault of their own.  It’s just how nature is.

And NEED is the opposite of  love, in fact it prevents us from loving.

We  can’t experience the transforming  joy of Christmas, until we recognize our neediness.

Note: needing to please others or even getting pleasure from doing for others is not always love.  It can actually be a destructive enabling out of our own neediness.

At one point in my life, I recognized that I was a bottomless pit of needs and wants.  And I felt totally unable to truly love- anyone, even parents, husband, children. I was like Snoopy, I loved humanity. It was people I couldn’t accept.

The paradox is this: unless we know, with mind, heart, and soul, that we are loved unconditionally, we cannot grow from needing to loving.  But that requires recognizing and admitting with mind, heart, and soul that we are needy, not loving.

At the point when I recognized that I was too needy to love, I also recognized that there was not enough love in this imperfect world of imperfect people to free me .  Fortunately for me, that is what Christmas is about.

Perfect Love for all of us came as a baby with human needs and offered us a Love that can set us free.

And that is the transforming  joy of Christmas: Saving unconditional love that sets us free and gives us  illustrated instructions on how to grow from need to love.

Joy to the world, for Love has come.  Let us rejoice and open our hearts to receive it.

Come, Lord Jesus, free us to love.