Can We Transfer Our Emotions? December 15, 2014

Today we go to psychologists, undertake cognitive-therapy, pray a lot, and do just about anything we can think of to quell our fears and anxiety.  In today’s world, we have many reasons to be fearful and anxious.  A very bright young man, Jules Evans, wrote a book that is getting lots of kudos these days, and rightly so.  Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Problems.

The Ancient Philosophy part really got me.  For example, the Stoics believed that emotions can be changed by understanding their connection to our beliefs and attitudes.  Wow.  Change your thinking and you change your emotional attitude.  That’s nothing new.  But   the Stoics used journals to keep track of how they felt and examined them.  (This reminds me of St. Ignatius and his Examen.)  As Vicktor Frankel said, we cannot control what happens, but we can control how we react to what happens.  The Stoics practiced focusing on what they could control.

According to Mr. Evans, one of the exercises the Stoics practiced was called The View From Above.  For instance, we project our imaginations  into the vastness of space.  We then imagine what we are thinking from that perspective and it doesn’t seem so big anymore.

The Stoics believed in Habits.  They practiced, trained and repeated their theories.  Evans says they had a technique called Maxim.  They would form their ideas into short phrases  which they could remember like “Everything in Moderation.”

Practice, practice, practice!  Study, but then put the ideas to work.  The Stoics believed that adversity was for training.  If we eat too much, practice eating less.  The aim of Stoics was living in accordance with virtue.  “The good life came from doing the right thing.”

Finally, the most important.  The Stoics believed that we have ethical obligations to everyone, even the world.  Do we?  A question to ponder.  If we do, to what extent?

Thank you Jules Evans.  You have touched my heart and soul.  You have made me think.  You have made me want to love bigger and better.  Google Jules Evans.  He is amazing.

 

Please Love Me December 3, 2014

We all want to be accepted and liked.  I know there are people who really don’t care, but most of us do.  Today’s society makes it very difficult to find friends, or even groups that make us comfortable.  We are a lonely society.  We share via keyboard, hoping to hear back.  Social media seems to be our mantra.  Today at the grocery store I saw a young man with a huge belt on and hanging from it looked like one of those cell phones we saw in late eighties movies.  It wasn’t. I don’t know what it was except that it was electronic.  He had a head set on and was talking a mile a minute and hand two more phones on his opposite hip.  Ah, was he connected!

I certainly don’t begrudge the young man.  We all do what we have to do.  But he was wearing more than my purse weighs.  I see back trouble in his future.

But let’s get back to connecting on a human level.  How do we do that?  Well, we can’t receive love unless we are able to give love.  In order to give love we have to have love to give.  How do we do that?  We love who we are.  God does.  Why can’t we?

Don’t doubt it.  Don’t give it a second thought.  Just know that your Creator loves you.

So with love being the reason for the season, walk proudly with love on your face.  Hafiz said, “Admit something:  Everyone you see, you say to them, ‘Love me.’  Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.  Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.  Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying, with that sweet moon language, what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?”

Smile, even if you don’t want to.  Now, hold it and see how you feel.  Nice, huh?

Advent: What Are We Waiting For?

Most of us would say, “Oh, well this is the time of waiting for the birth of the baby Jesus.”  No, Jesus has already been born.  We think in terms of past, present and future.  So, if we are not waiting for His birth, what are we waiting for?  Well, we ARE waiting for Christmas, the celebration of His birth.  But what we are really waiting for is His coming in the future.

In the Gospel of Mark 13: 24-37, he talks about …. “the Son of Man” coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”  In verse 30, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.”  Well, all those people are gone.  So what does this mean?

Remember while we might live with the concepts of past, present and future, Jesus does not.  Our Lord does not.  The Holy Spirit does not.  Verse 33:  “Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come……Keep awake.”

This is the Advent message for us.  He could come for me in the next five minutes.  I am waiting for my fulfillment.  He was talking to all of us.  We do not know our hour.  We must, in our way of thinking, wait for the future.

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.”  We need to take good care of our souls for we know not when our hour comes.  But it will come.  We know that for sure.

The Two Visions Of Christianity November 24, 2014

If you are a Christian or identify as a Christian, you are familiar with the precepts of the church.  Jesus was born of Mary, gathered believers, and traveled by foot to spread the word of salvation.  He spoke of peace, love and hope.  He spoke out against injustice and was crucified on the cross.

Today, one vision of Christianity emphasizes the next world and what we must believe and do in order to get there.  The other vision is about God’s passion for the transformation of this world.  The latter is probably more biblical, ancient and traditional.  I believe that because the former changed according to need when it became allied with the culture of the Roman Empire in the fourth century.

How would you choose to be identified as a Christian?  Are you baptised as an infant or an adult?  Do you believe in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one?  Do you believe in the virginal conception of Jesus and His physical resurrection?  Are you truly drinking the blood and eating the body of Christ at God’s table?

Ultimately it does not matter.  The central message of Christianity is about loving God and loving what God loves.  Jesus is the embodiment of what can be seen of the character and passion of God here.  Can you imagine a transformed earth?

As Marcus Borg so eloquently put it, “Christianity addresses the two great human yearnings – our longing for personal transformation and our desire that the world be a better place.  The Christian message reduced to its essentials is: love God (as known in Jesus) and change the world.”

 

Bob Dillon November 9, 2014

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about finding God.  I believe I said, we have to make a choice.  Well, Bob Dillon said the same thing in his song “Gotta Serve Somebody.”  This song is from his album ‘The Essential Bob Dillon.’  I will quote the first verse and the repeat melody.  All the lyrics can be found on-line.

It doesn’t matter who we are or what we do or where we are from.  We’re gonna have to serve somebody.  That’s life, folks.  I hope we make our choices good ones.

“You may be an ambassador of England or France.  You may like to gamble, you may like to dance.  You may be the heavyweight champion of the world.  You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody.  Well it may be the devil or it may be the Lord.  But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”                                  Words and Music by Bob Dillon.

The Right To Die November 3, 2014

“Be cheerful, sir:  Our revels now are ended.  These our actors, as I foretold you were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air:  And like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all of which it inherit, shall dissolve,  And like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind:  We are such stuff, as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”  Excerpt from The Tempest by William Shakespeare

A beautiful young newlywed ended her life Saturday by choice, in a state that allows it, because she had terminal brain cancer.  She was told in January that she only had six months to live, and she was given a vivid description of what dying with this cancer would be like.  Near the end she was seizing several times a day, had excruciating headaches, and seemed as if she was having repeated strokes.  She knew it was time.  She had her loved ones around her, and after taking the lethal dose of prescriptions, she went back to God.

How do I feel about this?  It personally makes me feel sad and very uncomfortable.  But I have great admiration for Brittany Maynard.  She lived life on her terms and she lived it with love, joy, and zest.  In her last Facebook post, she told people to love life, not to waste it, and pay it forward.

Mr. Shakespeare said it well in the oft quoted…….leave not a rack behind.  We are the stuff, as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.  Brittany did not leave a rack behind.  It does not matter if we agree with her.  What matters is that she knew how to live.  I pray we all work toward that kind of courage, and pay everything forward.

God Bless you, Mrs. Brittany Maynard.  Well done.  May you rest in peace.

How Do I Find God? October 28. 2014

Ask some questions.  Do I want to find God?  Why do I want to find God?  Do I think God can do something special for me?  Will I be different if I find God?  Do I want God to take all my problems away?  Will I stop suffering if I find God?  How will I feel if I find God?

I do not want to debate the existence of God, and I will answer the questions I have posed as I understand them.  But first a choice needs to be made.  This is the era of science AND religion, not science OR religion.  More and more scientists are coming to believe that a Supreme Being, as most of us perceive Him, does indeed exist.  But back to the choice.  Who was here first? God or the universe?  Once the choice has been made, then the above questions can be answered.  Here we go.

I believe God was here first.  Yes, I have always desperately wanted to find God.  I have been a seeker for as long as I can remember.  When I was a very little girl, I was asking my parents questions…where does God live?….that sort of thing.  I wanted to find God because He is bigger than me, and if He is bigger, He must be smarter too.  I had (and still have) a lot of questions.  I believe God can do special things for me.  I believe that because I have learned to stay close to God through prayer and meditation.  I believe He somehow hears every petition and sometimes His answer is yes and sometimes His answer is no.  But the answer is always in my best interests, even though I may not understand it at the time.  I am different since I have found God, and yes, I wanted to be different.  I am different because I am secure.  He might be the big CEO in the sky; but I am surrounded by His “angels.”  Sure I want God to take all my problems away, but I know that He won’t.  However, He doesn’t leave me stranded.  He is always right in the middle of the mess with me.  I have found that God has nothing to do with our suffering.  We take that on ourselves.  My mind can run rampant with negative thoughts if I let it.  So I keep a tight lid on the messy stuff.  By the way, it isn’t easy. Following God is the hardest and the most rewarding thing one can ever do.  How do I feel since I found the Creator of the Universe and Master of My Soul?  As James Brown would sing, “I feel goood…”

I understand beauty, and love, and sadness, and gladness.  I understand that now, in this world, I am on a special trip.  If I get lost, I never say, “Where are you, God?”  Rather I always pray, “Please come and find me, God.”  He always does.

Judgement or Tolerance October 20, 2014

Matthew 7: vs 1-5   “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.  For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck our of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck our of your neighbor’s eye.”  The New Oxford Annotated Bible.  New Revised Standard Version

How many of us have used that often quoted phrase about judgement?  I know I have.  And I believe I have even said and written that the hardest thing is NOT to be judgmental.  But, judgement starts with a declaration of what is good.  Jesus follows up with a warning.  We will all be judged by the same measure we use.  If we cannot hold to our standard, we should not apply that standard to others.

In today’s culture the popular opinion is “tolerance.”  But what Jesus really means, I think, is that we should amend our own behavior and live properly – according to the morals and ethics and standards of our own cultures – before exercising judgement, and help others do the same.  I am not talking about extremists.  What they do is not remotely about love and kindness.

As long as we hold to our own faults, we will see them in everyone else.  Judgement, like charity, begins at home.  Don’t judge hypocritically.  If we see the faults in someone else, we should probably examine our own.

Lest We Forget October 11, 2014 Melba Black Boiler

Nothing is more sacred than someone’s life, and no words more precious than words that celebrate someone’s life.  So remembering the gift of the life of Melba Black Boiler, we thank God and celebrate.  Melba was my Mother.  On October 8th this year, she would have been 89 years old.  Instead she passed on October 18th, 2007 in her 82nd year.  Every year I write on her birthday, but this year was particularly hard, and I just had to wait a couple of days.

Who was Melba? She was a wonderful Mother of four children, a wife married to a military officer and she loved every minute of it.  She was a funny, joyous, beautiful woman who was always for the underdog.  She liked nothing better than doing for her family.  She told me once that marrying Dad enabled her to see the world and experience and do things that she would never have been able to do otherwise.  She never complained.  In fact I remember once we had just moved and I said, “I hate this place!”  She said,  “Well, you are lucky, we will be gone in a couple of years.”

There was another time I was trying to make some stupid points with Mom, and she said, “I want you to remember something.  You are not the commander of the Universe.”

“How do you do it, Mom,” I asked her one time.  Her comment was amazing, she said, “I just keep walking on and look and touch and love.”  Mary Oliver wrote something like that in one of her poems.  My Mother was wise and devoted to the Christian precepts she knew.

So in celebration of an extraordinary woman, I quote some of Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese.  It is what Mother would have said and I know that is how she felt.  “You do not have to be good.  You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert reflecting.  You only have to let the soft mind of your body love what it loves…..whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exiting over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

I have heard it said that we are born, we die, and we are forgotten.  I do not believe that.  Until I take my last breath, I will make sure a few people remember my Mother.  Her spirit lives today, and will continue to live long after we are all gone.

This time seven years ago was hard and painful for all of us.  But you handled it with such dignity and grace.  May the Lord richly bless you, Mom.  You were the best, and I love you.

If you are fortunate enough to still have your Mother, tell her how wonderful she is.  It is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Fall Into The Big Truth October 7, 2014

Jesus said, “If you remain in me and I remain in you, you can ask for whatever you want and you are going to get it.”   John 15: vs 7

Now on the surface, that sounds pretty fundamental, doesn’t it?  As I understand it, if one is a fundamentalist, he or she believes in the inerrant word of the Bible.  While I do not follow that belief, I have profound respect for their dedication.  I believe the Bible is in some way inspired by God, written by what scholars call redactors who wrote in story form to teach us life lessons.  We read interesting and fantastic metaphors.

Now John was written some 65 to 70 years after the death of Jesus. Please know that I do believe in Jesus who showed me how to live, in our Creator who is master of my soul, and in the Holy Spirit who resides within me.  I do not know if Jesus absolutely said that quote, but I will bet anyone that He said something like it or close to it at sometime.

So what does this mean?  Well, I can share only what I believe it means.  One of the reasons I believe so profoundly in prayer is because it keeps us connected to the Source.  If we are connected to the Source, we are connected to everything else.  When we are connected, there are no accidents anymore.  The Universe conspires to keep things on the right path.

Prayer is like exercise for the soul.  When I can get lost in the breath of God, I can fall into the big truth, quantum mishmash if you will.  So that’s why Jesus’ statement makes sense to me.

May you be blessed by the same peace.