Sunday, April 6, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, April 7, 2008

When I sing, I don't want them to see that my face is black.
I don't want them to see that my face is white.
I want them to see my soul.
And that is colourless.

- Marian Anderson, great soul, who died on this day, 1993

There it is folks, so let’s get it into our psyche. My friend Peter said this to me many years ago in a very adamant way – that we must stop “distinguishing” people by colour of skin or any other exterior reference.

Human Beings are Human Beings. And there is only one human race, not sub-species of the Human Race. Since he had been legitimately “taken on” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said firmly that he wished to be acknowledged as a black person because that was important at this time in history (with which I agree), in the end, Peter is ultimately right in terms of where we as a human community must be headed. We are human, period, and the soul is “colourless”, as Marian Anderson says.

So, OK folks. Time to bend our minds and hearts to this aim. Lets all do our best to live to the Myth – i.e., to the Truth-story, to the Ultimate Reality. We will only “get there” is we set our feet on the narrow path. “I lift up my eyes to the hills” - and it is there, as the Psalm says, whence our help will come.

“We are One in the Spirit, we are One in the Lord”. Tedious hymn, after a few years; but: the theology and the sociology are true.

Our Life is a song! Let us sing our lives! Let us bear our souls – colourless in one sense, but as we all know, “colourless” is the reality of all glorious colour.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Saturday, April 5, 2008

High expectations are the key to everything.

- Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, who died
on this day, 1992, age 74

I wonder if Sam and God were chums in some other Age of the Universe???

I tend to have low expectations – except of myself, where I am dualist - “expecting perfection” from myself but knowing that I don’t really want that because I isn’t fun, and having to deal with the fact that I often don’t do my best because I’m rejecting the perfectionism, and dealing with the constant clash between the two. God, how complex Life can be!

But I really have low expectations of others – is this cynicism, or pompousness, or what? But I do. I have spent 40 years in ministry, 35 as a priest, 27 as a parish priest. As I look back after a week in “retirement” from full-time parish ministry, I realize with a shock that I have very often not called people to their best as a a person and as a member of the Body of Christ. I’m amazed at myself. How come I didn’t learn this in parish ministry?? I now see why I so hated Vestry meetings. Because I wasn’t focused on lovingly challenging peoples’ (including my own) personal and often manipulative (conscious or unconscious) agendas and calling them to a vision of the Kingdom and of a community of Faith as followers of Jesus. I had low expectations because I had lost the vision of renewal and of transformation in the Spirit.

See. I wasn’t perfect!

God has High Expectations. Of all of us. She knows all that She put into Humanity. This is why She keeps on, generation after generation, to hold to the expectation that one day we really will get the message of Compassion and Caring and Acceptance and Supporting each other, drawing the best out of every one of us.

I think High Expectations, laced with a healthy understanding of human frailty, will be my next approach re. the World, myself, and the church!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, April 4, 2008

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love
will have the final word in reality. This is why right,
temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

- Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated
on this day 40 years ago.

MLK understood the Gospel and Jesus. God, as I understand God, works on the principle that MLK voices. “The unarmed truth and unconditional love have the final word in reality”. And God will wait forever. Our impatience, our frustration, our anger, our outrage, our rejection - nothing will dissuade God. God will wait.

And why will God wait? Why will God not interfere? Why will God not wave a magic wand and fix it all? Because it is up to us. Only we can be the answer. Only our unarmed truth and unconditional love.

The message is clear.

If we want the World to be different, we must do it. Only so do we become ourselves.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, April 3, 2008

How beautiful the leaves grow old.
How full of light and color are their last days.

- John Burroughs, naturalist, writer, born on
this day, 1837.

I had a lot of “trouble” as a novice when I was a monk in the Order of the Holy Cross. I had a headache for months! That finally resolved itself when I just “gave up” to God and said, “You decide what the hell I’m supposed to do”. But before that, I would get all my work done by lunchtime. Then I would walk to Slabsides. (Though once I came across a stopped freight train, climbed on, and went down to the Poughkeepsie Bridge before I could get off – or wanted to! I think I was late for Vespers.

“Slabsides” was/is John Burroughs cabin in West Park. He was born in Roxbury NY, in the Catskills. He bought a small farm in Esopus, where the motherhouse of the Order of the Holy Cross is. But in his cabin, he wrote. It is there today, with much of the furnishings in it. I would walk there. I could see inside, but it was always locked - and I remember being surprised that it hadn’t been vandalized. It was a peaceful place.

Near it was a small pond. I would often strip down and swim - worried about a large snapping turtle I had seen - and then lie on the warm rocks. It reminded me of Montfort, in the Laurentian Mountains, where my grandmother had a wonderful little cottage and where my brother and I spent our childhood summers. I would look up at the sun through the yellow and gold and red autumn leaves and think how beautiful they were, “full of light and colour are their last days”.

Many people in our World don’t have the opportunity, given the enormous poverty of much of the World. I know that I have been enormously privileged, by sheer circumstance. It is my hope to grow old beautifully. To be filled with light and colour. To me, God dwells at the core – of us all, Light and Colour, Peace and Compassion.

I will do my best to allow the light and colour of a gracious loving God to radiate from me. To grow old beautifully. Perhaps to encourage others.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, April 2, 2008

If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you:
I came to live out loud.

- Emile Zola, author, born on this day, 1840, in Paris

Can’t you just hear the ancient gods and goddesses saying that? Isis? Horus? Jehovah? Jesus? The Buddha? Muhammad? All the divine or semi-divine beings conceived of by humans? And what a glorious tribute to the vocation of “artist”!

And yet we are all artists, made to be so, made to “live out loud”. It is said in the Christian Scriptures that we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus - and so we are all made to “live out loud” what it means to be human, to be made in the image of the Divinity. In incredible fact, to “be Divine”, as so many of the mystics of all faiths and religions have said.

Jesus said, “I came that you might have Life”. That’s living out loud, for sure! And I think that that’s what we are all about. Living out loud, manifesting the glory of what it means to be fully human. Most of us fail, most of the time. But I honour artists – their greatest value it to speak out loud about what it means to be human. They are the great prophets, speaking God’s truth to the human community.

But let’s bring it down to the bottom line: you and I are meant to Live Out Loud. That should be our goal. Find your voice and your way of being and hurl it out into the World. There it will become an energy refining and reshaping us and all that is into a blazing example of Beauty. Like Jesus, like so many others. Don’t think that you are not worthy; Jesus Himself said that we would do even greater things than He.

Artists create. You and I are called to create Glory and Wonder - a simple human community of loving beings.

We need to get busy. But it won’t be like Adam cast out to painful work. Oh no; it will be sheer giddiness!

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten -
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the City of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life
you will have the face of satisfied desire.

- Kabir, Sufi poet & Master

Well, I suppose that everyone has their own ideas, despite various religions trying to tell us what the “truth” is. Is Kabir “right”? That just because the body rots, the soul (whatever he means by “soul”) doesn’t automatically “join with the ecstatic”? If it doesn’t, where does that energy (or whatever) go? The questions about the nature of existence are endless – and I find them fun to ponder!

What I feel, personally, is that Existence is One. I have long felt that way. In mortality there are indeed “intimations of immortality” (Keats?). Christianity, by some interpretations, says that how you behave “on earth” determines whether you “go to Heaven” or not. I don’t understand this to be about reward or punishment ; that’s the worldview of religious control freaks. I understand this simply to point out that all stages of Life share a character - “what is found now is found then”. Things overlap, blend. Pre-earthly Life, Earthly Life, and post-Earthly Life (and whatever other dimensions there may be!) are not separate.

Well, if this doesn’t confuse your day, nothing will!

Bottom line: I love the phrase “an apartment in the City of Death”! It is definitely going to be the title of something I write. Could there be a better image of the utter sadness of missing what lies at the heart of Life?

Simple: No love here, no love there. The One Path flows through the whole Mystery.