Sunday, September 27, 2009
I took my 12 year old (who is now 15) trick-or-treating last night on the streets of neighborhoods around my house. I took the car and kept it warm, because it was cold, and he would dash from house to house and then take refuge in the car to keep warm. So I spent some time alone...musing.
Halloween when I was a child (and I'm 53- now 56) was a neighborhood thing. We would all meet at the Revard's (because there were 7 of them so they had a group all by themselves) and then we would go door to door in groups. This was before I ever conceived of anything involving getting dressed up as "evil" or "harmful" or "bad". Halloween was more innocent then...I hadn't met any Christians to tell me it was evil, no one had poisoned candy or put razor blades into apples so we weren't in danger of dying, and there weren't any terrorists in our world so we didn't know to fear.
Last night, I literally sensed the fear. Long lines of dark houses...people peeking surreptitiously from behind drawn drapes and blinds...don't knock here, i don't open my door to strangers..
Streets that just a few years ago were strung with lights and lit with pumpkins, now dark. Children guarded closely by parents, don't run too far ahead.
I wept for my country. For the fear, first, that we are supposed to be combating but that imprisons us. For the sensation of the "puritanism" in our history that has reached forward again and longs to control us, telling us halloween is evil and bad and the celebration thereof will send you right to hell. For the joy and delight future children will not have in their lives.
Halloween is not a major holiday for most. Most people probably will not even blink when it's gone. Like Mayday, when it left us. I don't think there was a murmer...but we lost something then, and we are losing something now. The innocent abandon of children, dressed as that which they are not, running full tilt into the joy of discovering what the next house has to offer them...
I drove, and watched, and wept and grieved knowing that I will miss it. Wondering if anyone else will...
Friday, September 25, 2009
THE INDWELLING PRESENCE
How can I be God’s conduit?
[Notice that] all of the great liturgical prayers of the churches end with the same phrase: “through Christ our Lord, Amen.” We do not pray to Christ; we pray through Christ. Or even more precisely, Christ prays through us. We are always and forever the conduits, the instruments, the tuning forks, the receiver stations (Romans 8:22-27). We slowly learn the right frequencies that pick up the signal.
The core task of all good spirituality is to teach us to “cooperate” with what God already wants to do and has already begun to do (Romans 8:28). In fact, nothing good would even enter our minds unless in the previous moment God had not already “moved” within us. We are always and forever merely seconding the motion.
Behold, I am with you always.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Yesterday, there was a family member I'd been praying for and thinking about all day. When I laid down to sleep last night, there she was, at the forefront of my mind, and suddenly I had an overwhelming rush of thoughts, which normally I try to go to sleep THROUGH and then try to remember in the morning...which never works. So I sat up and wrote the thoughts down...
The past is a ephemeral house you can haunt, but you can no longer live there. You can "see" the memories, but you cannot relive them or change them in any way.
The future is a house which is not yet built on shifting sand, changed by every decision we make (some small, some dramatic) in the now.
The NOW is the only house in which we can truly live.
Every kindness we show brings more light, joy & love into our now.
Every meanness we show brings darkness, pain & sorrow into our now.
Live your life as a shining beacon of love, kindness & compassion. Remember, each person you meet is carrying a heavy burden. Smile & lighten their burden.
Be kind & compassionate to yourself...
Be kind & compassionate to others...
Out of this kindness and compassion will grow great love...
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Someone hurt my son this summer...someone we trusted not to do so. And I was LIVID that this person would take the innocence of my son and slime it with such poison and hate and anger. I've been working with my spiritual director on this issue and her assignment was to "work through the anger". Sigh...
First I thought, OK, I can make a dartboard and put her photo on it and throw darts at it...
Not very "working through"...
Then, I thought, I could take a photo of her and burn it...
Once again, not very "working through"...
So, instead I put together a dream/vision board of all the things I would like to see for her in her life. Because truly, if someone has health and joy and happiness and friends and family and money and flowers and good food and pets and a home, they should be able to find the kind of healing that would allow her not to hurt people anymore, right? That will be my prayer.
Friday, September 11, 2009
"In a garden, many things are planted. And whatever you care for thrives. If the garden is ignored and despised, weeds will strangle what has been planted from the beginning, and everything that is good will die. It is not until the gardener comes along that things are restored to the way they were intended to be. Like the garden, whatever is planted and nourished in us will take root and grow. If we believe we are poor and cursed, we shall grow as poor and cursed plants. If we believe we are loved and cared for, then our beauty will shine for all to see. Whatever you think you are in your heart is what you become. If you plant fear, you will be scared. If you sow hate, you will be hated. And until these seeds are weeded out by the true seed of love, the garden would be better if it had never been planted to begin with." from "" by Jacob Israel.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I hang out in a Christian chat room on Yahoo...Christian chat room #3 (I started in CC2 many years ago, but it was taken over by some foul mouthed youths and we had to move to CC3) to be exact. Christian chat has been very challenging to me over the years, giving me insights into how some people think about Christianity, how some people think about Christians, and how some people simply don't think at all.
In Christian chat I have learned about theologies I never knew about before like Preterism and Calvinism (I cried for 4 hours upon learning the precept of Calvinism) and the Kenite Theory (don't get me started).
And I have also had people attempt to heap guilt upon me for my faith...the lack thereof, the quality thereof, the trusting thereof...all on behalf of my 15 year old son, Sean.
Sean was born with a congenital heart defect called Pulmonary Valve Atresia. In essence, he was born without a pulmonary valve to pump oxygenated blood into his lungs. By 30 minutes after his birth he was blue. He also had a hole in his heart and a leak-like-a-sieve tricuspid valve, but that was less worrisome at the time.
At 1 day of age he underwent a heart catheterization. At 3 days of age he underwent open heart surgery. He was still blue...about 60% oxygenated. I had nurses come up to me on the bus and grab his little hands and confront me with, "Are you aware this child is cyanotic?" Well, duh.
At 10 months of age he had another open heart surgery and for the first time in his life he was pink. You'd have thought the whole flock of us had lost our mind gushing over his pinkness, but it was such a NEW thing for us and he had been so bluish and was now so pink we just couldn't help ourselves.
When Sean was born most of my friends were very literalistic/fundamentalist in that they believed the Bible is the Word of GOD, literally, and that is their fundamental belief on which they stake all other beliefs. And it is this belief that led to my guilt...
You see, if I were a woman with "the right kind" of faith, or a woman with "enough" faith, or if I "trusted in GOD and not man" my son, Sean, the light of several of our lives, would be healed WITHOUT NEED OF A SINGLE HUMAN DOCTOR/SURGERY. BUT, evidently, I don't have "the right kind" of faith, or "enough" faith, nor do I "trust enough in GOD and not man." And therefore, by this leap of logic, it is MY FAULT that my son is not healed. In full. Never needing another medication (he was on meds from birth to age 14), or operation (of which he has now had 3).
Now, when I left literal fundamentalism behind, I thought I had left this guilt thing behind. I spent a lot of time wallowing under the weight of this guilt for many years, to the point of almost wanting to kill myself...and I THOUGHT I had walked away from it. Until last night...
Last night in CC3, a man challenged me again on this very issue. And all of that guilt and the resulting pain which comes out as anger just reared it's very ugly head. And I am ashamed to admit I yelled at him. For about 2 minutes. Sigh. About how I am not taking that guilt back, and that he cannot make me, and that I was done with this trying to make my son's heart not being fully healed "my problem/my issue". And then I left the chat room...
But you see...in some ways they are right. I don't trust. I don't trust hardly anyone. And I don't trust GOD much at all in things like healing. Oh, yeah, you hear that occasional story of GOD healing. But when do you actually see that in your life? How many people in your life have something wrong that simply isn't getting better. And these are good people, Godly people, loving people, praying people...and they aren't healed.
I've seen this all my adult life. Parents, desperate over their child's condition (or their husbands, or their friends) run from one healing service to another DESPERATE to have their child/husband/friend healed. They pray. They beg. They weep. They prostrate themselves on the floor. They beat their heads against the walls. They tear their hair out. They tithe. They give...until they can't do it anymore. They are broken over it. And although they say, yes, I believe GOD heals, that's lip service. Because to say less than that causes such a whirlwind that you cannot, emotionally, bear it. So it's safer just to say, yes, I believe GOD can heal. And I believe GOD sometimes does heal. But no, I do not believe he ALWAYS heals. Or that there is some formulary out there in which you put in the right combination of syllables of prayer or weeping or begging or crawling and your child, your baby, your object of adoration, is fully healed on the other side. Because, trust me, if there was a formula out there, we parents would have found it by now. We'd have moved heaven and earth and we'd have memorized that formula and we'd be going around teaching it to others because NO ONE wants this feeling that some THING within their mind/heart/faith keeps their child/husband/wife/lover/grandmother/WHOMever from being healed.
And that all welled up in me last night. And poured down on that poor unsuspecting fundamentalist man...to whom I will have to apologize tonight (or whenever I see him again). Because he didn't deserve 15 years of guilt spewing forth onto his personal being, anymore than I deserved the heaping of guilt in the first place.
So the moral of this story is this: Be very careful how you word things when dealing with the healing issue. Some people have had more than they can bear and will fall apart at the merest wisp of you trying to show them how far off the literalistic healing track they have wandered...And each and every one of them is raw under the outer layer. You aren't the first, and you won't be the last, to point out their loved one should be healed.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Why Is Universal Health Care ‘Un-American’?
by Rev. Jim Rigby
Last week supporters of health-care reform gathered around the country, including in Austin, TX, where 2,000 people crowded into a downtown church to hear speakers talk about different aspects of the issue. Asked to speak about the ethical dimensions of health care, I tried to go beyond short-term political strategizing and ask more basic questions. This is an edited version of what I said.
Is anyone else here having trouble with the fact that we are even having this conversation? Is anyone else having trouble believing this topic is really controversial? I have been asked to talk about the ethical dimension of health care. Here's one way to frame such a discussion:
If an infant is born to poor parents, would we be more ethical to give medicine to that child so he or she does not die prematurely of preventable diseases, or would we be more ethical if we let the child die screaming in his or her parent's arms so we can keep more of our money?
Or, let's say someone who worked for Enron, and now is penniless, contracted bone cancer. I've been asked to discuss whether we are more ethical if we provide such people medicine that lessens their pain. Or would we be more ethical to let them scream through the night in unbearable agony so we can pay lower taxes?
I can't believe I am standing today in a Christian church defending the proposition that we should lessen the suffering of those who cannot afford health care in an economic system that often treats the poor as prey for the rich. I cannot believe there are Christians around this nation who are shouting that message down and waving guns in the air because they don't want to hear it. But I learned along time ago that churches are strange places; charity is fine, but speaking of justice is heresy in many churches. The late Brazilian bishop Dom Hélder Câmara said it well: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." Too often today in the United States, if you talk about helping the poor, they call you Christian, but if you actually try to do something to help the poor, they call you a socialist.
Some of the other speakers today have been asked to address what is possible in the current political climate. I have been asked to speak of our dreams. Let me ask a question. How many of you get really excited about tweaking the insurance system so we just get robbed a little less? (silence) How many of you want universal health care? (sustained applause) I realize that insurance reform is all that's on the table right now, and it can be important to choose the lesser of evils when that alone is within our power in the moment. But we also need to remember our dream. I believe the American dream is not about material success, not about being having the strongest military. The American dream is that every person might have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It's amazing to hear Christians who talk about the right to life as though it ends at birth. They believe every egg has a right to hatch, but as soon as you're born, it's dog eat dog. We may disagree on when life begins, but if the right to life means anything it means that every person (anyone who has finished the gestation period) has a right to life. And if there is a right to life there must be a right to the necessities of life. Like health care.
I believe the American dream was not about property rights, but human rights. Consider the words of this national hymn:
"O beautiful for patriot's dream that sees beyond the years. Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears."
Doesn't that sound like someone cared about the poor? There are those who consider paying taxes an affront, but listen to these words:
"O Beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life."
"Mercy more than life" -- have you ever noticed those words before? Supporting universal health care does not make you socialist or even a liberal, it makes you a human being. And it makes you an ambassador for the American dream which, in the mind of Thomas Paine, was a dream for every human being, not just Americans. As we struggle to get health care to all people, we may have to settle for the lesser of two evils, but remember your dream -- the true American dream, a human dream. Whatever we win through reform is just first step toward a day when every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I think the films have it backwards. They seek to get out of the Matrix. I see us as born outside the Matrix and our goal is to be linked in. The Matrix is the underlying maze of energy that is GOD, that holds all things together, that lives and breathes and has it's being in our reality. Beneath the surface of all things. Our goal is to get PLUGGED IN to the Matrix, because it is only then that we are at one with GOD.