Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, Dec 1, 2008

I'm working my way toward divinity.

- Bette Midler [The Divine Miss M!]

Now, who would have thought that the Divine Miss M was a ….. theologian! And highly influenced by the mystics and by the Fathers/Mothers of the Early Church to boot! You just never know, do you.

Actually, we’re all working our way toward divinity. This has nothing to do with thinking that we are going to “become God”. Who in their right mind would want to be God anyway. Too much responsibility, let alone stress! [Unfortunately, I know a lot of people not in their right mind who are working hard at being God, but I shall refrain from casting direct aspersions!] Nor does it have anything to do with becoming “perfect”. Attaining “perfection” is essentially antithetical to being human, at least in this Earthly life - so you can relax if you have been plagued by this fantasy.

Working your way toward divinity is simply another way of saying that we are Learning How to Love. It’s quite a trip, as most of you will know! Some steps forward, some back - and yes it goes on until we die. The successes and the failures, the learnings and re-learnings, the exhilaration and the hurt, the surrender of so many things that we thought we had to hold onto to be “happy” - all part of the mix.

Learning how to love isn’t a goal. It’s the ongoing definition of becoming human, where learning is the operative word. Christians have decided that God is Love Itself, and is Perfect, for theological reasons I think I comprehend. But interestingly, God is often portrayed in Scripture as a Learner, determined to be nasty at one point, but then “changing His mind”. I think that God let that sneak into Holy Writ so we wouldn’t get too discouraged. God is kind, yes?

I’m with Bette. Working my way toward divinity. Glad of every minor success. Trying to learn from the failures and not to take them “personally”. It’s the faithfulness to the work that counts!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 24, 2008 (Late afternoon PST)

A man's face is his autobiography.
A woman's face is her work of fiction.

- Oscar Wilde

I am a fan of Mr. Wilde ….. in general. Now, I wonder what he meant by this comment?? Knowing Oscar a bit, it could mean anything!

One might be tempted to think that Mr. Wilde was lauding men for their honesty, and criticizing women for their deception. But I don’t think so! I’m going to “read” it this way: (given, of course, that generalizations are odious ….. but this is “Farting Around” Week !)

Men can’t hide their insincerity, their greed, their shallowness, their deception, their contempt. Their “face” reveals the truth.

Women are wiser, and kinder. They know what men are really like ………. but they have the sympathy and kindness to hide it most of the time.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, November 21, 2008

For us, genocide was the gas chamber - what happened
in Germany. We were not able to realize that with the
machete you can create a genocide.

- Boutros Boutros-Ghali, of Egypt, becomes Sec-General
of the United Nations on this day, 1991

You don’t even need a machete. All you need is what the Bible describes as the smallest organ in the body, but which causes the most evil and pain and suffering. Namely ….. the tongue.

There is a “commandment” (which I interpret as a positive guideline) in the Hebrew Bible which says, Do not bear false witness against your neighbour. Have you read the book Constantine’s Sword - if you haven’t actually paid attention to “History”? It takes only a second to realize that hundreds of years of barbaric, unChristian, self-serving, words of arrogant so-called Christians and others caused the suffering and death of millions of Jews. The same dynamic is true today: what people are saying about other human beings leads to the horror and suffering of millions of human beings. Words can kill. The Turks wrought genocide on the Armenians (which they refuse to admit, so accusing is their shame, all for the sake of “face”). The Hutu’s massacred a half-million Tutsis. Serbs against Muslims. Chinese Hans against Tibetans. On and on it goes.

More and more I ask myself, as I age, and after 40 years in Christian ministry - What is the point of Religion? Is it at all useful? Or is it basically a tool in the hand of Evil, bringing out the worst in us, and only heaping the burdens of suffering and hate upon humankind?

I have to admit that there is a part of me that leans towards what I just said. But there is also a part of me that simply has to believe that human beings are capable of Love, Compassion, of belief in the holiness of all human beings and of Creation.

How we can get this truth imparted, I don’t – after decades, I have to admit - know. “Eschatology” (End-time talk) is useless: the fact that God may come to judge at some near or distant time has made no difference in how people behave. Nor does any talk about punishment in Hell. Nor does a death penalty. I am beginning to see that many people can only be compassionate and kind and just when there are no persons who are deprived of the blessings of Life which “God” has writ into Existence. Until that goal is embraced by all and seen to be earnestly worked for, we shall kill and hate and demean.

How shall we help people understand this? I think in only one way now.

Give up one’s Life for one’s “friends”. What does this mean for you?


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 20, 2008

We find them smaller and fainter, in constantly increasing numbers,
and we know that we are reaching into space, farther and farther, until,
with the faintest nebulae that can be detected with the greatest telescopes,
we arrive at the frontier of the known universe.

- Dr. Edwin Powell Hubble, physicist & astronomer, born on this day, 1889

Hmmmm. A parable about “God”. Alas, we cannot even say that we have begun the “finding”. I would be thrilled if we were at the “frontier of the known universe” in terms of our knowledge of the Mystery we call “God”, thrilled that we were gazing out from that point on the frontier of beginning really to understand what we mean by “God”.

But no, I think we have only just begun the journey of the “reaching”. I fear we have a lot further to go just to get to the point where we can actually “begin”. Strangely, this gives me hope! It would make my heart break to think that where we are now, in all religions and faiths, was at any “advanced” place. It calms me to understand that we have only begun to reach “into space”. And amazes me to ponder just how long this process of becoming fully human is taking, will take. I have let go of my frustration and impatience ….. well, somewhat!

So much about being human drags us back! Often it seems that we have to start anew in every generation, that we gain nothing in those generations. Is this the way it will always be ….. until we learn, make some quantum leap? Or several? Maybe.

However, perhaps the point simply is that we must embrace the Journey, wherever we may be from the frontier. Believe in ourselves, spread the vision. Take simple steps. Recommit to Compassion, Justice, Kindness, every morning. But perhaps more important, we need “shepherds” who will guide us into the Vision of God. We have begun. Let us call them to us.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, Nov 19, 2008

… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . .
and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . .
shall not perish from the earth.

- President Abe Lincoln, giving the Gettysburg Address, in PA, on this day, 1863

I wish to be candid. I have a clear opinion about the politics in the USofA for the last eight years (with which of course you may disagree). For all of the talk about religion, and about Christianity that has accompanied this administration, I see absolutely nothing that, in my view, accurately reflects the Gospel of the Christ of the God of Compassion, Justice, and Peace. Period. Full stop.

Do I think that those in governance who took the positions they did believe that they were being Christians (those who professed to be)? Yes, I do. This is one of our critical problems/issues, as it has been for 2000 years. It is a problem concerning the Bible, and all so-called “religious” texts. They can be interpreted any way that anyone wishes. Then, they can be used to undergird any behaviour – and many rulers/administrations/leaders have done just that. Hitler. Dick Cheney. Martin Luther King – who got it right.

But. If you eliminate the Jewish Scriptures. And the later-introduced eschatological writings. And the prejudices of the early persecuted Christians. And the cultural prejudices of the later/Pauline Christians. It is clear – at least to me – that Jesus was about Love, Justice, Fairness, Forgiveness, Community, providing for the needs of the marginalized (if not “fixing” the marginalization), equality, sister/brotherhood, and above all, SERVANTHOOD to each other as the path to and definition of Greatness.

I do NOT agree with Lincoln’s decision to wage the Civil War. Or any other “American” war – Korea. Gulf. Antigua. Vietnam. Bombing of Libya and Sudan. Iraq. Afghanistan. All war is an admission of Humanity’s failure to be Human. To my mind, anyone who even hints that Jesus would approve of war is a blasphemer, a “taker of the name of the Lord in vain” (to use a style of language I abhor).

My daily tugging for “revenge” is softened by the President-elect’s desire for cooperation. So each day I pray that the USofA will be transfigured in the days ahead. That I will be too – becoming more like the Christ Who refused to do other than love, and Who loved the poor and rejected. And gave His life for us.

Until now, I have despaired that the USofA could be moral. Today, I have hope – that God’s vision shall not perish from the Earth.


Monday, November 17, 2008

I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not
to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark
menace of the future that makes cowards of us.

- Dorothy Dix, advice columnist, born on this day.
1861, in Montgomery Co., TN

This is my eulogy and my tribute to Mt. Calvary Monastery and Retreat House. Founded in 1947, a year after I was born, by the Order of the Holy Cross (of which I was a member for 15 years), and having survived many fires, it was completely destroyed by fire on Friday, November 14th, 2008.

The Mount was a glorious place! It perched high on a hilltop above the historic Santa Barbara Mission, looking out over English Bay, and Goleta, backdropped by the hills of the Los Padres National Forest. Filled with Spanish colonial furniture and liturgical objects and books and paintings and icons, filled with light, scented with jasmine, and settled in an atmosphere of quietness and contemplation and beauty, it was a place where, no matter how one felt when arriving, it wrapped you in healing and peace and the balm of silence. It was, to me, exquisite in every way.

Now it is gone, having changed very little in the 38 years since I first drove up its windy road to be enchanted by its utter beauty. How I remember standing by the wall as the sun rose out of thick white mist to bathe Mount Calvary in light, while the city below lay hidden.

What will happen now is as yet undetermined. We are all still, including the brothers, in shock. But, Jesus Himself reminded us not to worry about tomorrow, that today has enough worries of its own. Live in the Present moment – which, in Christianity, is all there is, since the Present Moment includes all Time and Space.

For us, there is no “menace of the future”. It will unfold. The brothers will seek God’s guidance. They will make their decisions. The future is not fearful, nor makes us cowards. Things come things go, including our lives at sometimes unexpected moments. Any of us who have embraced the Gospel know that they are to be held lightly – but thoroughly enjoyed.

Thank you, exquisite Mt. Calvary. We have treasured you. Whatever future unfolds is ok.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 17, 2008

Someone asked me once what my philosophy of
life was, and I said some crazy thing. I should have
said, how the hell do I know?

- Rock Hudson, actor, born on this day, 1925;
a closeted Gay man, died of AIDS

I met Rock Hudson once. At a party in Santa Barbara CA. If it were possible to judge a person by one encounter, I would say he was unattractive, in many ways. But it isn’t possible. Who knows? Or, to use his words, How the hell do I know? Best we remember this, in terms of making assumptions about people.

The older I get, the more clear I become about what my “philosophy of Life” is. It hasn’t narrowed in the process; it has broadened. Theologically, culturally, philosophically …. and of the heart.

There are a lot of things now of which I simply must say, How the hell do I know? I am more and more aware that what I think is determined by my prejudices, my fears, my failure - or lack of courage or moral strength - to live up to what I believe through my Faith Journey in daily Life. Will there be a time that I will do this? Is this the anguish of every person who wants to be transfigured, but who struggles with being human?

My bottom-line philosophy of Life is, Love One Another as I Have Loved You. I wonder why it is that I can’t stay focused on this??? Is this my personal equivalent of St. Paul’s “The things I want to do I don’t do”??

I am now 62 years old. I am in Weight Watchers. I have a hole in my heart that needs to be fixed lest I have a massive stroke. I have a replaced heart valve and a reversed colostomy. Why am I telling you this? Because it amazes me that I have been on the path of the Gospel for over 42 years and still can’t walk out onto a new day and stay focused on the path of Love!

However. This does not send me into a tailspin of despair. It simply reminds me that Divine Grace is critical. We human beings have enormous capabilities. But something has to undergird all that. And what undergirds it is the Mystery of Divine Grace. Freeing Divine Grace. With it, every day, I can get up and laugh and shake my head and shuffle off the burden of not living up to what my mind and heart envision and burst into today as if on eagles’ wings. I believe that we “invented” God to clear the path to our humanity ….. and I wish that people would stop creating images of “God” that diminish the image of our unerring imagination of Who We Truly Can Be.

Beyond my short-sightedness, Rock and John McCain and Sarah Palin are but versions of me, as is Barack Obama. We are all Mysteries, we all fall short ….. but by some Mystery we can radiate the Divine that makes us worthy of Love. Surrender to it.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Sat/Sun, Nov 15/16, 2008

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master,
I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering
where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in
the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master replied, 'You wicked and
lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I
did not scatter?

- Matt 25: 24ff (Gospel for Sunday)

This is a parable (and a ripping good one at that!!) about one of the central themes of the Bible. (No; it is not about getting punished by God; God does not punish and is not wrathful.) Namely, we human beings are indwelt by the Divine; it is the divine spirit that gives us full human life; and what a waste it is if we do not enter into that full humanity.

When we recognize/understand who we are, then we begin using, at various levels, the gifts that we have been given in the combination of our unique humanity and the eternal, unchanging nature of God.

This parable uses all the imagery it can to make the point that it is sad - very very sad - when a human being never gets the point, never takes the steps to embrace the God Within, and who basically fails to be human.

Wonder what that looks like? Look around the World today; it is staring us in the face.

And now is a good time to look at ourselves too. We have been called to a glorious destiny as human beings. Have we buried it in the ground, never to bear fruit? Or, are we making that initial “investment” grow wonderfully. The more of us that “bury our talents”, the harsher and more barren the World is.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 14, 2008

Fog makes the world a painting obscure.
Even close trees are half unseen.
But a lonesome crow won't stop calling:
He objects to being in this dream.

- Deng Ming-Dao (Taoist)

I have thought about this business of Life as “dream” or “reality” for many decades. I was raised in the Christian culture, centered in the theology of Incarnation, so my mind wasn’t shaped to think of “this World” as delusion, as unreal. I was trained to see this World as not just a reality, but a holy reality, inhabited by the Divine, including “in me”. Important, critical stuff went on here! This World wasn’t just a thing to be endured, to be “gotten through”, either in one try or several. What one did/does here determined what happened to you after you died. So you had better get it right!

If I had been “raised” a Buddhist, or a Hindu, or a Platonist, I would have a completely different understanding. I would think that indeed this World is just a delusion/illusion, a “painting obscure” of the real Reality, “out there”, or “in Heaven”.

But I have always heard that “lonesome crow” calling. I’ve been in many a foggy place, literally, in this World. Paris on a Fall evening; Vermont valleys on damp early summer nights; San Francisco, with just the red tops of the arches of the Golden Gate Bridge and the top of Mt. Tam shining in the moonlight; the Arizona desert where you can’t see car lights ten feet in front of you; charming, seductive Portofino on a winter dawn. They have all been a metaphor of how Life on this planet, in this body, can be confusing, mysterious, tempting one away from taking it seriously.

But the “crow” is always there ….. and it is I. I object, strenuously, to those who pretend that this World is a dream. It isn’t. Essentially, this is the only Reality. The Past, Present, and Future are Here. Heaven and Hell are Here. Love and Hate are Here. The Immortal and the Mortal are Here.

For Christians, the Cross is planted firmly Here, where matter and spirit meet. We either live Here with all the passion we can muster, or we misunderstand it all.

If we can’t live Here, there is (if I may quote Gertrude Stein) no There There.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 13, 2008

I don't really view communism as a bad thing.

- Whoopi Goldberg, actor, born on this day, 1955

We Americans (most of us) tend to shudder at the word “communism”. Or it’s apparent cousin, Socialism. Devious people tried to discredit Obama by linking him to either one. But remember: “communism” is from the same root as “communion”. It comes from a 13th century usage, ultimately from the Latin, meaning “shared duties”.

Now, what’s wrong with that?? I think Jesus preached, and early Christianity did, “shared duties”, leading to the benefit of the whole community. If Communism tends to be reviled, it is because we remember only the abuse of the system. The same is true with any social or political system ….. and we are experiencing it now with “capitalism”. People have taken it over and perverted it’s essential focus on the welfare of the whole community, the whole people. There is no reason that either Communism or Capitalism can’t fulfill it’s essence as a way to provide, by shared common duties, for the welfare of the whole people.

“Communion” is at the heart of sacramental life. The sharing of Life (God’s, and ours). The sharing of gifts and abilities. The sharing of each others’ sorrows and joys.

Forget the “bad” remembrances of Communism. And of Capitalism, through which we suffer now. Let’s all focus on the “shared duties” of being a global community. As I understand the Gospel, and the “Kingdom of God”, A global community centered in compassion is God’s hope for the World community.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The greatest block today in the way of woman's emancipation
is the church, the canon law, the Bible and the priesthood.

- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “saint” in our Episcopal liturgical
calendar (Feast Day: July 20), born on this day, 1815

And here we are, the Episcopal Church, celebrating the life of S C Stanton as one of our “saints”!! A great lady! Brought up a strict Calvinist, she organized a group of women to write a Commentary on the RSV version of the Scriptures, since no women had been on the translating committee. She and four other women organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls NY in 1848. She held the Church accountable for oppressing women by using Scripture to enforce subordination of women in marriage and to prohibit them from ordained ministry. She held society accountable for denying women equal access to professional jobs, property ownership, the vote, and for granting less pay for the same work.

I have issues with the Episcopal Church – a lot! The only reason I am still a member of it (and it requires an enormous amount of self-discipline!) is because we do eventually get to seeing the error of our ways. I attribute this to the fact that we expect the Spirit to guide us and actually pay attention now and then.

My annoyance with the Episcopal Church (and believe me, much more with the “Church” in general) is that we do not seem able to learn from our experience. We know perfectly well, or should, from people like Elizabeth Stanton, that God indeed sticks our face in “it”, like one does a baby cat or dog, trying to teach it something important. So we learn God’s ways: Women: equal! Slavery: bad! Racism: Bad! Etc. Infuriatingly, we are still flim-flamming on the issue of homosexuality, basically (say I charitably) because we are concerned about our friends in the Anglican Communion. My view is: Look! We have LOTS of experience in the Episcopal Church with Gayfolk. For God’s sake, get a move on!

My point: Religion is highly susceptible to use by “the Devil” to block God’s plans. Cady Stanton knew better.

And we should too.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around,
and don't let anybody tell you different.

- Kurt Vonnegut, author, born on this day, 1922

What can I say??? When Wisdom speaks, it comes through loud and clear!

Remember the words, from the well-known song based on Ecclesiastes? For everything, turn, turn, turn / There is a season, turn, turn, turn / And a time for every purpose under Heaven. Well, we have been through a lot of very stressful stuff in the last few years, including the entirely inaccurately named Religious Right, and Neo-cons, and hurricanes, and 9/11, and wars (ongoing), and Global Terrorism, and overwhelming health costs for lots of people …….. and a host of other stuff. It has been tough!! It’s been hard to relax.

So, being my own Grand High Religious Poobah (and God having whispered in my ear that I had Her authority to move on this), I hereby proclaim Nov 23-29, which includes Thanksgiving (in the USofA) as National Farting Around Week. We are all to take it easy, and be silly, and hang out with each other, and play with friends on FaceBook, watch cooking shoes or football or Nova, and do all manner of crazy, wonderful , unserious things. I challenge my friend Bob to find a different silly hat to wear every day!

Then we can get back to pondering how we can all help solve a few serious issues we have facing us in the World. (No, you may NOT start planning Christmas!) If this goes well, I have been granted permission to make this a yearly event. Enjoy!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, November 10, 2008

Deeper and bolder truths be careful, my friends, of avowing;
For as soon as ye do all the world on ye will fall.

- Friedrich von Schiller, poet, born on this day, 1759

Hmmm. Now I know why Jesus warned His followers that they would be persecuted. President-elect Obama is going to have the same problem. Jesus was crucified. Many who voted for Obama will likely be calling for the same fate for him when they realize that he isn’t going to fulfill his hopes without ….. them! No magic bullet here, dear World.

I have often quoted Joseph Campbell, the guru of Myth’s Mysteries, who said when asked what the most difficult thing Jesus said in the Gospel was said, “Love your enemies”. That includes those we think are our enemies. And we forget that often, we are our own worst enemies. If one is following a “deep and bold truth”, there may indeed be others out to get us ….. but we had better remember that we just might do ourselves in by being stupid, by not thinking through the situation, understanding our goal, and proceeding with, well, reasoned Love on all levels.

America is a “deep and bold truth” - like the Kingdom of God ….. though I am not equating them! The time has come again to avow it. To retrieve the vision. To understand what constitutes it. And, like all who believe in the power of radical unconditional Love as the foundation of Truth, anticipate the “World” falling, and together push it back.

[ I’m Brian McHugh, and I approve this message. ]


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Sat/Sun, Nov 8/9, 2008

The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. 6
"In the middle of the night someone yelled out, 'He's here! The bridegroom's here!
Go out and greet him!' …[ the “smart virgins” with extra oil go in; the ones without
are excluded ] …. Stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.”

- The Gospel called Matthew 25, Gospel reading for this Sunday, Pentecost 27

I understand the home to which the Bridegroom arrives to be each of our hearts. He is coming to marry His divinity with our flesh, to make us a whole human being. But in reality, the Divine Bridegroom is always there, or we would not be alive. So the issue is, are we prepared to Welcome Him? All of us have lamps: our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our senses, our intellects. But do these lamps have adequate fuel?

The true Kingdom of God cannot manifest itself until each one of us realizes that “God” lives at our core, in our heart. Only when we are on the way to being fully human - flesh infused with Divine spirit - will the “Kingdom of God” begin to manifest itself.

Our work is to keep as many lamps as possible well fueled and burning brightly, creating a welcome for Holy Wisdom, like a plane honing in on a runway at night. It is up to us to discern which lamps need oil.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, November 7, 2008

Life is not an easy matter... You cannot live through it
without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you
have before you a great idea which raises you above
personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of
perfidy and baseness.

- Guess Who? (see end)

A Great Idea. There are, God knows, lots of great ideas to choose from! From religion, from philosophy, from novelists, from powerful thinkers and feelers in every walk of Life.

I have several, which I keep on a List and consult every now and then. I added a “new” one today, from Alice Walker’s Open Letter to Barack Obama: “We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise.” There is a lot of Wisdom out there. I keep a little book with me as I read and think (yes, an actual hand-written Moleskin journal). I write things in it that come my way, simple great ideas. These are what I think on sometimes during my day. They come from everywhere.

But for me, the one at the heart remains, Love one another as I have loved you. It joins the mind and the emotions/heart/feelings. I have spent over 40 years looking at Jesus, who He was, what He said, what He did, to try and understand what He meant. Oh, I may have copped out, and just chosen from the tradition I was brought up in. But I have thought about it, and decided that this one Great Idea would get me along the path as well as any other. Along with all the rest. The wonderful thing is, I gather new things every day.

A Great Idea simply can’t be selfish, or mean, or vicious, or merciless, or unjust. It can only be great if it calls us to a high ideal, a “high theology” of what it means to be human.

I think I believe that the man I quoted thought his idea could enrich humankind. Perhaps ….. but unfortunately, as so often happens, human self-interest and the seductive nature of power got in the way. It has happened with the Church, Mosque, and Synagogue and all faiths as well.

But. I think we need the Great Idea. At it’s best, it ennobles and inspires us.


[ Quote from ….. Leon Trotsky]
Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, November 6, 2008

I care not much for a man's religion whose
dog and cat are not the better for it.

- President Abraham Lincoln, elected on this day,

I guess we have no idea what might have provoked Mr. Lincoln’s comment. But it sends my mind two ways at least. And both are obvious.

One is, “religion” is an everyday affair. It is usually anchored in corporate weekly worship, and by daily affirmation of some sort (prayer, meditation, reflection, acts of self-remembrance, etc), but, to be authentic, it must extend to the cat and dog, metaphorically and literally speaking. It must be whole, and include every aspect of one’s Life. If one is a materially blessed cat or dog, then one has a responsibility to the poor cat or dog. You get the drift.

The other is, all Life is connected. The whole Creation is a living organism. The health of one effects the health of it all. If Mother Earth is suffering, or neglected, or exploited, the effects of that will poison us all.

I choose not to support any entity, be it corporation or politician or nation, that doesn’t care about the dog and cat.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The Morning after the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States

I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the
Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination.

- John Keats

It is not about money. It is not about power. It is not about Self.

It is about caring for the poor and marginalized, especially by the privileged. It is about using the power that comes with privilege to bring peace to God’s people, that being all of us. It is about finding one’s own strength in unconditional Love, and joining with others to build a World community of Justice and Compassion.

May our collective Heart thrive on affection for all people, and our Imagination blaze with the vision that our Truth is together.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: November 4, 2008

Change will not come if we wait for some other person
or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting
for. We are the change that we seek.

The people of Israel, around 30 BC, wanted and needed change. This was not new in their history. Read the Hebrew Scriptures. Lots of wailing and lamenting. About hardship. About oppression. About bad leaders. And yet, we human beings are very odd. God is depicted as listening to His beloved people, hearing their cry, and reaching out to them. Sending them judges and prophets. Almost all were rejected by the people to whom they were sent. Jesus was no different, then and still now.

No Christian of any stripe or denomination would disagree that Jesus came to His people offering comfort, wisdom, guidance, authority in teaching, acts of compassion and wonder. He offered a path towards liberation and greatness, by which people could understand where true freedom from oppression comes from. It comes from within. From choosing what seems at first a “hard” difficult path, but which, when embarked upon, carries us upward on eagles’ wings.

What a World we live in today. Division, hatred, war, fear, selfishness, oppression, indifference to suffering, cruelty, militarism.

Perhaps we can choose another way. It is, and has always been, our choice. God never forces us to change. We are the change that we seek.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, Nov 3, 2008

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
ne mellow smile through the soft vapoury air,
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds ran,
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue Gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skim the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.

- William Cullen Bryant, poet, born on thus day, 1794, in MA

Well, you can tell that William Cullen Bryant did not, as we do, live on the CA Central Coast!! Piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air are definitely not a part of the Pacific coast, thank God! (Though, to be fair, it can be a teense frosty here in February, though not piercing by any means! And by noon it will probably be sunny and 60F.)

Yesterday it was All Souls Day. The bright red geraniums, the pink and red Old Roses were blooming in the front yard, the new hibiscus we planted are daily putting forth lovely red blooms, the lantana is hardy and bushing out, and even a few defiant California poppies are waving their jaunty heads. Lots of flowers. And the juniper bushes are seeding, bringing two lovely Townsend Warblers, in bright yellow and black array, to feed right outside the window. Ah, the California winter!

I understand the Eastern November as a metaphor. A somewhat “gentle” warning of the dark night of the soul, of which we all go through many on Life’s Journey. The Left Coast of CA is a softened version, and a metaphor of Hope. There will be dark and snows and bare meadows regularly in a human Life. But soft vapoury air and the blue Gentian flower remind us that this too shall pass. God has given us California (and maybe Key West and Tucson) just further to encourage us that we shall make it through those dark nights.

Oh you out there on the Right Coast, remember the Gentian flower. But if it gets too bad, hop a plane to sunny California for a little Heart’s Ease. But remember: California too is a metaphor - for Surrender to Grace and to the Healing Love at the heart of all Existence.