Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On Turning 80

The fact that I have been working on this blog for months interests me, along with another fact…that I am now considering my life in terms of decades rather than just years, even though I could have been doing this already for a number of decades. A scattering of years seems indeterminate, but counting decades sucks you right into serious accountability of time. Equally daunting is the awareness that I now obviously have much more physical past than future to consider. Time seems to be speeding up as the years begin to clump together more. Do I fear what eventually lies ahead? I may have once, but not now. I am no longer searching for who I am; I’ve figured enough out. What I do notice lately is that I have many days when I look in the mirror and ask, “How in the hell did this happen?” I haven’t decided whether turning 80 is an accomplishment… or a shock!


I have lived long enough now to have created a history of my own, and from it I have gained a thing called perspective. I have discovered that the gaps between my successes and failures have narrowed quite a bit. In some ways they have almost evened out. Don’t mistake me, though; the genuine loves have never dimmed, and the great losses still ache, but most everything else seems not quite as important as it once did. The job that didn’t pan out is just a memory, and the man I thought I’d never forget I can barely remember.

Walk with us...

I know this much. If the people who come into our lives do not get to be themselves, we will eventually be very lonely. Others cannot possibly be who we want them to be, and they cannot possibly fill the empty holes in us. They were never meant to. They walk with us…and we with them…along the multiple paths our lives will take.

A work in progress...

When I look in the mirror at the face I did not plan on, I ask myself: Am I growing old? Then I remember a current TV ad that asks: Doesn’t growing old mean living longer? This is a really, really good question. On the other hand, growing old is an established condition. Not much we can do about that…but growing old-er is a work in progress, open ended, not fully established, still malleable. Given my choices, I think I’ll opt for the latter.  And maybe, as Dr. Christiane Northrup suggests, I can become an "ageless goddess!"

So…80’s here.... Nailed it.... On to 90.

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You might enjoy "Thoughts from a Genius"

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On The Drought


You know there’s a drought when farmers and fishermen alike cut back on water usage. You know there’s a drought when we pour leftover water on plants…or take showers only every couple of days…or rinse out the sink using a cup rather than a stream of water. You know there’s a drought when the weather mavens determine whether we have rain or drizzle by the size of the miniscule droplets of water. In California these are the things that get our attention these days. And when the late-night comedians take them on, we know we’re in trouble because they’re doing what they do best…making fun of things that aren’t funny!

A One-Time Gift...

Some decades ago it blew me away to discover that water was a one-time gift. Like so many other non-critical thinkers, I thought that water rained on earth endlessly from the heavens. Not so, it appears. Apparently water was bequeathed to the planet just once over the billions of years of planetary formation, and we are now part of its great, recycling systems. This means we must take care of our seas, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and underground aquifers, for once emptied, they take a long time to refill. And such a strange, recycling pattern it is. Parts of our country wash away in floods, tornados, and hurricanes while California and the American southwest parch and blister.


Barring some elegant technology that we know nothing about yet, the drought stricken among us have our marching orders. Conserve, conserve; use as little water on outdoor plants as possible. Brown is the new green; pray, perform rain dances (works for me), and become more ingenious as we can at living lives a little dirtier than we might like.

Looks like the term, “no sweat,” is going to become a call to action!

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

On Sanctuary


On a recent Sunday I had the pleasure of listening to a ministerial colleague comment on his topic for the day…Sanctuary. The moment he spoke the word into the room, I felt a profound depth stir in me, something primal and beautiful. I was reminded immediately of the old, medieval stories that told of people’s fleeing into churches to avoid persecution or prosecution. Once inside the church walls they could claim sanctuary and be safe from harm. As long as they remained inside the church, they were safe. Safe…at ease…secure, that’s it, isn’t it? Sanctuary. My colleague defined sanctuary as “a place of refuge, safety, comfort,” which churches and holy places still provide in their special ways. We expect them to be places where we may be received without judgment, where we may be uplifted by enlightened thought, where we may be immersed in an atmosphere of prayer and lifted Godward.


But my friend also broadened his scope…and mine…as he considered a much larger field of sanctuary. Quoting from a favorite scholar, Thomas Troward, he read, “The whole world is a temple of the spirit and you, yourself its sanctuary.” I had to ask myself: Is there a place in me so broad, so God-filled that those in my orbit can feel safe…secure…loved…in a place of refuge? Can others hide out for a while in the wings of my own atmosphere. Could I be like a great, leafy tree where birds come for shelter? I know this can happen. I have been with people who carry sanctuary with them wherever they go, and they are not necessarily great church leaders but often just vital human beings living their lives, knowing who they are.

Temples of the spirit...

My next question followed naturally. Could we begin to see ourselves as temples of the spirit, places where the divine resides so that we have light to share, gifts to bring…and refuge to offer? Think of what this could mean to a world so harmed by fears and uncertainties. What if we brought the best of ourselves into every day, not judging, simply loving as well as we were able at any given moment and making this a natural way of life?

Imagine what the world might become if we said yes.

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You might also enjoy "On God"

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On New Technology

Our grandson is the best kind of computer nerd. Not only is he very skilled in what he does, he also happily keeps his grandmother from falling into a 20th Century sinkhole! I can operate technologically enough to work with e-mails and create manuscripts, but the increasing number of new, electronic gadgets frequently leaves me at a loss. Is it necessary to be up and running on every new toy that Apple puts out? Can’t I just wear a watch that simply tells time without beaming me into everything that’s happening in the tech world? And whatever happened to hand-written notes?

Staying current...

Seriously, though, I know of the importance of staying current and inviting new knowledge. Even I cannot now imagine how much more effort it would take to work without a computer. And I do feel sorry for the world of organized religion which becomes more and more undone by the encroaching world of scientific knowledge and modernism and left behind by increasing numbers of young people.

"settled" knowledge...

Still, I miss being able to rest on what used to be thought of as “settled” knowledge. How much biological content we must now rethink, how many more connections we must embrace in simply trying to live together as human beings. It is much more difficult to just sit and talk over a cup of coffee when we can whip out our phones and text a message without ever uttering a sound. I have to wonder if we aren’t in danger of walling ourselves off now that so much communication can be done so impersonally.

Bring on skype...

However I am not yet willing to become the older relative that the kids indulgently wait for, the one who taught them to drive who must now ask them to help translate my iPhone to me. So…bring on skype; bring on the apps so that I can order a pizza without talking to a living soul.

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You might also like "On Brailling"

More Essays About Everything is now available on Amazon


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On the Many Faces of Love

I like to play with ideas…toss thoughts around and see what unfolds, especially lately around the current decision put forth by the Supreme Court which legislated that same-sex couples can marry. Since I am in the business of spirituality, I considered what I could know about the Nature of the Infinite, and I asked: Does the Infinite distinguish between the many forms of creation? Does It “like” some better than others? Does It, for instance, like the planet earth better than little, demoted Pluto? Does It prefer men over women? Does It find some forms of love more acceptable than others? Or, in Its creative process, does It make no real distinctions at all? Does It only delight in Its creativity and leave the distinctions, and therefore discriminations, to the objective forms of creation themselves?

Closer to the truth...

I think that the last question is closer to the truth. All we need do is see how punitive, how judgmental, how exclusionary human beings can be toward one another and how much pain this promotes. Who needs a God that is better at this than we are??

Get to know the "other".....

Over and over, from the wise to the simple, we have heard the admonition to get to know the “other” and discover that walls and resistances disappear when we find we all want the same things…the opportunities to love and be loved, to create homes or secure communities, to feel safe in our surroundings, to enjoy healthy families and to bring our special good to life. Why should something so universal, so obvious and so desirable become so complicated?

Another chance...

Well, the Supreme Court has torn down a wall and taken some of the forms of Love out of the shadows and into the light. We have another chance yet again to see ourselves, as Wayne Dyer likes to say, as “spiritual beings living a human life.”

Forms of Love....

There are many faces of Love that await our recognition and acceptance of one another. The law of the land now demands it. Our hearts have been open to this for years. Let’s step into the fullness of our humanity once and for all.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On The Long Road to Love

Another tragedy has occurred due to ignorance and blindness. A young man who does not know who he is and therefore cannot know who anyone else is killed nine people in a church in Charleston, S.C. Nine people who were loved and valuable lost their physical lives, and one young man has forever lost the chance to become loved or valuable.

Unconscious patterns...

Once again the unconsciousness patterns of racism, sexism, tribalism, homophobism, elitism, consumerism and exclusivism have come to the fore and were made very conscious, resulting yet again in the deaths of the unsuspecting by someone rabidly aware of his racist motivations. Lest we turn away in disgust, saying that we are not like this, let us remember that all come into life with unconscious patterns. They are the inheritances of the generations of ethnicities and cultures from which we spring, and to say that they are not present in us is to refuse to look at the mind sets that lie within us. Most of us may truly be unconscious of them and only get flurries when we are upset. Others, however, like Dylann Roof, live keenly alive to the fires of hatred that racism stokes within them.

Mental/spiritual calling...

Nevertheless we cannot linger over the bloody memories of the past as the media would have us do every time a Charleston or a Sandy Hook or a Columbine occur. If we do we will always be reliving the past, reinforcing the old, unconscious patterns and never, as ontologist, Ernest Holmes, puts it, turning from old, inherited conditions and turning to some part of God, the Universal Healer, the best part of ourselves. The spiritually minded all know of this as a mental/spiritual calling every day of their lives, whether there is calm or crisis. If we do not engage this calling we will never see the end of unprovoked killing and violence, no matter how many guns we take off the streets.

The road ahead...

Former President Bill Clinton in his efforts to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together, said it well as he admonished them to forego the “easy habits of hatred” and attend to the “hard tasks of reconciliation.” Let us heal both obvious and unseen wounds in ourselves so that anyone so full of hatred and misunderstanding cannot find a fertile field anywhere. Let us mourn and grieve and do the healing work for Mother Emanuel in Charleston and its congregants and learn from the faithful that forgiveness is the road ahead, and unforgiveness is the path to hell. And let us never, never get off track as we move along the long road to Love.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

On Character Building

  Those of us who are fans of the PBS Newshour know that one of its weekly guest commentators is David Brooks, the noted journalist with the New York Times. Recently in an interview he spoke passionately about one of his new books entitled The Road to Character. In it he explores the lives of a number of people he believes to have truly built lives of character, lives not built so much on career success as on what he considers “consequential living” …Bayard Rustin, Dwight Eisenhower, Frances Perkins, and St. Augustine, to name a few. According to Brooks it is in combating our weaknesses and building ourselves from within that brings true breadth of character. He says that it is the humble me that creates a life of value rather than the “Big Me” that is so celebrated today.  He speaks of "radical self awareness from a distance."  In other words, who or what outside myself needs me?

Good points...

Brooks makes good points. We in this culture often do a lot of breast beating when we accomplish something, which may be wonderful but perhaps not as lasting as we think. How much greater and stronger might we become, how much more essentially valuable might we be if we worked to corral our weak places until we became strong in them? What if we could stand on the shoulders of our own flawed personalities to become the genuine vital beings that live inside us?

Pure gold...

Some things really are worth the effort, and certainly the emergence of who we truly are as spiritual beings living a consequential life in the world is one of them. Real character building does not involve self laceration for mistakes or self aggrandizement for successes as much as quietly and continuously doing what is ours to do. Sometimes it may seem thankless and lonely but what comes forth from us in our devoted efforts to bring our good to life is pure gold.

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