Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, Oct 1, 2010

We should live our lives as though
Christ were coming this afternoon.

President Jimmy Carter,
born on this date, 1924.
[ He is 86 today]

There is no Past, there is no Future. It’s the “old old story”: The Past is Gone, and the Future may never come. As concepts, they can’t be effectively lived in.

“… as though Christ were coming this afternoon” means NOW. It is in the present moment – as it unfolds moment by moment, in every shifting and changing – that “Christ comes”. To my mind, this has nothing to do with the Future, or Time (chronological). “The coming of the Christ” is like being caught in the strobe light of the resurrection of Jesus on a dance floor of Life that resembles the floor of The Garage at 2am. (God bless any of you if you are old enough and debauched enough to remember The Garage!.)

The President does however have a point – if one believes that a Christly Coming points to some standard of “Judgment” - Judgment not by some capricious Deity, but by the consequences of faithfulness or lack of it to the principles by which one has determined to live.

I don’t think that we should judge our integrity by any perfect adherence to our principles. But rather by two other things: (1) by our intent, and (2) by our ruthless assessment of our failures, and our willingness to acknowledge our failures, and our taking up our chosen Path again and again with self-forgiveness and with gratitude that no failure need diminish our humanity.

A person who knows the God of Compassion lives only in the Eternal Present, where Failure, Forgiveness, and renewed Courage are one instantaneous Reality; in an Eternal Present where there is no regret, no gaps of the collapse of the Vision, and no impediment to stepping forward on the path of Compassion and Justice.

Believe it. Live it.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friendship marks a life even more deeply
than love. Love risks degenerating into
obsession; friendship is never anything
but sharing.

Elie Wiesel, Survivor of Horror,
born on this date, 1928

I don’t agree with everything that Wiesel has said or done. You wouldn’t agree with everything that I have said or done. But I honour him for his witness – a witness that is needed in our World: the speaking against the inhuman brutalizing of other human beings.

I disagree with Wiesel about Friendship ….. though I deeply believe what he says about true Friendship marking a Life. Friendship equally runs the risk of “degenerating into obsession”. Have you read Jonathan Franzen’s book “Freedom”? I just finished it. I was exhausted! Are many people and families like that in America???

I have many many wonderful true friends ….. including a man I have know for 59 of my 64 years, whom I adore and delight in and am grateful to share so much of our lives with. I am so grateful for them! One has been a friend and my true Mentor for over 25 years – always “speaking the truth in Love” to me; how I value her! More than anything else, Friendship has marked my Life even more deeply than Love – and that blessedly includes the man I both love and who is blessedly a dear Friend.

I know the depth of what Jesus meant when he told his followers that He called them “Friends”.

I wish every one of you many true Friends. They are the greatest of gifts. And the ability and generosity to be a Friend.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, September 29, 2010
[ In the Christian Kalendar: The Feast of St. Michael & All Angels ]

I have said repeatedly that in this country we track
Library books better than we do sex offenders.

Mark Foley, Republican congressman; he resigned
on this day, 2006, after being confronted with sexually
explicit computer messages he'd sent to former male
House pages.

Have you heard a word about Mark Foley since he fell ignominiously (but later protected by his Republican friends) from grace?? I haven’t ….. but then I don’t go looking, and I rarely listen to any “news” at all these days. Too much about hate and deception and hypocrisy and killing and blatant injustice. An acquaintance told me today that, when he went to his doctor with an ulcer, she told him to stop watching all the “News”; it would kill him. Point taken.

As to Mark Foley, I, as a Gay man, am deeply disgusted that this hypocrite, or, to put a better light on it, deeply morally and emotionally warped man, should be Gay. He is a disgrace to the 99.9% of Gay women and men who have personal and ethical integrity.

You can Google Mark Foley and see all the hypocritical things he said and supported. Two examples: 1, he lauded his Florida state beauty and attractiveness to tourists ….. but towed the Republican line about the non-reality of the degradation of the environment; and 2, he said he supported good public education ….. but he continually sought the support of right-wing Roman Catholics by praising their separate, non-public educational system. Enough said. There are many more examples.

My point? This. The inner struggle is monumental – and we forget it at our peril. In Thy Peace, The newsletter of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Turlock, California. The Rev. Kathryn Galicia writes…

It seems as though many of the people who consider themselves to be model Christians have completely forgotten about the One who is the basis of Christianity. Perhaps it’s not so much a matter of forgetting who Jesus is, but a matter of reconfiguring Jesus to fit the mold they believe He should occupy. The Jesus I keep hearing about now is not the Lord I know and love.

Nor the Jesus I know. People like Mark Foley and the present Republican party (and some Democrats), who often claim to be Christians, seem to have forgotten the same thing. And as well, they seem to have forgotten the same thing about the Constitution of the United States and its message.

But here is the principle “spiritual” point: it is vitally important to do those things which keep us firmly in relationship with the core of our spiritual heart. And I firmly say here: the likes of Glen Beck and Sarah Palin and present political “righteous” people do NOT represent the Jesus of the Gospel. They have been co-opted by that great seducer called Power that now runs the United States of America and much of the World.

If any part of Christianity (and of other faiths) have any integrity, they will speak and act boldly against the perversion of the Gospel of Jesus and the Torah and the Buddha and the best of the Prophet that now seems to have taken hold.

There is a Mark Foley in all of us: a part of our human nature which remains oblivious to the self-deception to which we all so easily give power. This is the work of the Dark Power, the Evil within us all.

I do not think that Mark Foley was ever held to account for his self-deception and the pathetic acting out he did. But this should not be our path as human beings with integrity.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, September 27, 2010

The heart of [persons] is, so to speak, the paradise of God.

Alphonsus Liguori, “saint” of the Roman Catholic
religion, born on this date, 1696, at Marianella,
near Naples [brackets mine]

Metaphorically, I think of the Big Bang, by which the Universe we presently comprehend came into being, (without any need of “God” as Stephen Hawking says in his new book which I am reading, since – my take - God is a greater and older Mystery than this present Universe-among-many) ….. I think of the BB as the Heart of God, so densely compact with Compassion that it must blast out to shape a new Universe!! For, as Fr. James Huntington OHC said, “Love must act as Light must shine and Fire must burn”. And here we – you and I - are in it, flying through Space and Time on our Little Blue Planet, chasing Divine Compassion, breathlessly trying to catch up!

Thinking about the vastness of the Universe takes one’s breath away. And to think with humility that we are but specks in It, whirling about our Sun in a remote corner of the spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy! But that does not diminish either our sense of our own nature as atoms of that Divine Compassion, or our sense of destiny to plant the seeds of that Divine Compassion wherever we are flung. Oh, the places to which we are flung, willy-nilly, by Life! Yet wherever we land is fertile ground for that cast seed which Jesus mentions in His lovely parable. It matters not where we land; good soil or bad, we can blossom into the flowers of Compassion, be it for a day or for a Season, small harvest or large.

“God” is a vast and unknown Mystery, more vast than any of us can describe or voice. Once every passionate heart and every brilliant mind has spoken, the Mystery has been only remotely touched. But it is enough. It is enough.

And to think that the vastness of that Mystery lives in your heart and in mine and in every human heart! That your heart and mine is the “paradise of God”. Where God walks in the cool of the day and sits to talk with us.

Jesus said that “this day” had enough trouble of its own. True. Worry not about tomorrow. Blossom with Compassion wherever today takes you. As the parable of the Talents reminds us, we have only to use what we have, little or much. Nothing else is required.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Hades, where he was being tormented, [Dives] looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.'

Luke 16: the Gospel reading for Sunday, September 26th RCL

[ the full reading can be found here: ]

This is a parable of Jesus about the human choice for Life. On Sept 20, I wrote a Reflection in which I said:

The search for God is the search for our Humanity, individually and corporately. As the mystics tell us, in speaking of the Unitive Way, there is no distinction between the two. Jesus was clear in His deepest Prayer: “May they be One as You and I are One”.

As long as we think there is a distinction between “God” and “Us”, we live in that dreaded gulf which the rich man Dives discovered. He died to find that he was separated from God and that the destitute beggarman at his gate lay in the bosom of Abraham. He could only gaze - and never the twain should meet.

There is no “separate” God Who sits outside of you or me, acting like some temperamental, spoiled, petty, feudal, Oriental monarch, to whose whim we are arbitrarily and capriciously made victim.

God is You, Me. Until we accept this at its deepest Mystery, we shall only gaze like Dives across an unbridgeable Gulf, where our true Self lies in God’s bosom and we cannot be whole.

The parable today is not about being rich or poor in worldly terms. It is about either being one with “God” or not. Unity with “God” leads to the “bosom of Abraham”; the lack of unity with “God” leads to “Hades”.

As you worship this Sunday, think about what you understand by “God”. This is the key question. The understanding of “God” is very disparate across the religious World, including the Christian world. Frankly, most of the Christian understandings of “God” I reject. They are usually projections of human fear, ignorance, venality.

God, for me, is only ultimately Compassion: the unity of all human hearts with the struggle, suffering, beauty, and wonder of being Human.

Live not your Dives. Live your Lazarus.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, September 24, 2010

"You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.
You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left."

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel); he died
on this day, 1991, age 87

I confess: I was never read a Dr. Seuss ….. and I have never read one myself! Not even The Cat in the Hat!!! Is it not deplorable how culturally deprived I was as a child?! But, I’ve made up for it. Tomorrow I’ll go to the Library and see what I can find.

I chopped a bit off the end of my thumb making dinner tonight. So I can’t type very well; it feels quite awkward. Suffice it to say that Life is indeed a Great Balancing Act. There are moments when one has to jump off the fence and be unilateral and decisive and bold. We ought all to have a few experiences like that! But a lot of Life is Balancing. It’s Moderation between extremes. We have too many unbalanced people in the World today, especially in religion and politics. May that change soon: we need a lot more acceptance and respect and enjoying good food and drink together! And more Fun.

We’re all “strange birds”. “Care and great tact” in our common dealings should be the norm.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our conscience is not the vessel of eternal
verities. It grows with our social life, and a new
social condition means a radical change in conscience.

Walter Lippmann, American newspaper commentator
and author, born on this date, 1889 [died 12/4/74]

Exactly. I wrote recently about “relativism”. I’m “fer it”, as I remember saying. The only “absolute” I choose to believe in is the Unconditional Compassion of the Universe/God/Whatever You Want To Call It. But remember: this is a choice of mine. This is the way I want the Universe/Life to be. There is no proof that God/The Universe/Whatever IS Unconditional Compassion. We make our choices, and presumably try to live by them.

I am a perfect example of what Walter Lippmann has said. Just because Plato and others have, in their own way, said that there are “eternal verities” does not make it so or make it “true”. They too did just what I have done – and what most thinking people have done. This is also true of those who believe in so-called “divine revelation”; they have made their choice from among many – including from among many so-called revelations by deities.

I started with what I was “taught” from my early childhood, by parents, ministers, family, by what I saw in the community that surrounded me, etc. That includes everything from reading Dick and Jane to seeing the Blessed Sacrament in a golden monstrance paraded through the streets of Verdun by gold-cloth-clad priests under a golden canopy. At every stage of my Life, new things have entered my consciousness, and I have made choices along the way based on those things. This process has not changed. At 64.5, I am still having experiences and reading and learning – and I am still changing my mind. Practically every day of my Life, I am changed by my society, and “radical change” happens in my Consciousness.

This is what it means to be human. I can’t tell you how radically my ideas and concept of Life and God and Meaning and the Universe has changed through the years! I see this a what it is to be Alive, to be growing, to be reaching for the most wondrous truth about what it means to be a Human Being, and to be the unique Me.

The lovely thing is: I think I have actually caught a glimpse of that mysterious thing that God is reported to have said to Moses: “I am Who I am”. It has required going beyond most of the things I have been “taught”, required taking the next step.

I find it fills me with Joy, Wonder, Peace.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I've always known that I was born
to sing, ever since I was a child.

Andrea Bocelli, songbird, born
on this date, 1958

Three things “collide” in this Reflection, as Dennis and I wander around exploring the Mendocino area of California.

It is Andrea’s 52nd birthday! What a gift to the World! We have a delicious old friend who, bless her adventurous heart, once, as a San Diegan, bought a 500 year old flat in Lucca in Tuscany. And she spent a great deal of her time running around Italia to see Andrea Bocelli! What fun! We send up a cheer for her and for Andrea.

Today is the Autumnal Equinox!! It will “occur” at 11:09pm on the Right Coast, and 8:09pm on the Left Coast. This is the moment when the sun is directly on the Equator; the Earth now tilts away from the sun, leading to the shortest day and longest night on Dec 22nd. At precisely 8:09pm here in California, Dennis and I shall pour a glass of wine upon the Earth, giving thanks for Mother Gaia, and for the Mystery of the Universe. How much vaster is the Mystery we call “God” than “established religion” presents it!

The third thing is Jim Larsen. And his restaurant, called “The Restaurant”, in Ft. Bragg, CA. Dennis and I love good food, elegantly prepared and presented. Last night we went to dine – there is a difference between dining and eating! – at The Restaurant. A bottle of Navarro Chardonnay, local, light but solid, cold, reasonably priced; chewy, fresh-baked bread just as we like it; 2 crab cakes each, fresh Dungeness crab from the area, perfectly sautéed and browned, with Jalapeno mayonnaise; Bourride a traditional Provençal Seafood Stew
 with Rockfish, Scallops, and Prawns in 
a light, saffron-scented broth,
 served over rusks and Aioli for me, gently breaded local sole for Dennis. At this point, Jim the Chef came out to say hello – a tall, rangy prickly-bearded man in his 80’s, charming and gentle and delightful. We profusely lauded him for the meal he had prepared – the whole experience; we told him that, unexpectedly in of all places Ft. Bragg CA, it was one of the best meals we had had. He beamed. We ordered our favourite Crème Brulee for dessert – and bless his heart, he comp-ed it for us! It was as near prefect as it could get. If we ever come here again, we will be there, and I recommend it without reservation to you! Just as Andrea was born to sing, Jim was born to cook!

Perhaps each of us is “born” to do or to be something. I don’t know. But I do know that, if you discover there is something you want to do or be, DO it, BE it if you possibly can, or get the closest you can.

And as a person, participate in the Andrea Bocelli’s and the Universe and the Jim Larsen’s and in what they offer as fully as you can!

Happy Autumnal Equinox and all it offers you!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, September 21, 2010

In dreams the truth is learned that all good
works are done in the absence of a caress

Leonard Cohen, poet, songwriter,
born on this date, 1934

Did you know that Leonard Cohen was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature for his lyrics? He was. And justly so, I think. He is a poet of the first order.

He is also a “theologian” – a “Talker of God’s Ways”. And here he expresses the essence of Love!

One day in about 1972, I arrived back, ill, at Holy Cross Monastery …….. with what turned out to be viral dysentery. It was hell! Rectal bleeding, and lots of pain. It took the Benedictine Hospital ten days to understand what was going on. But I survived.

The greatest lesson I learned from this episode was how to care for others. One of the brothers looked after me perfectly. He never did anything for me, through several hours, except what I wanted. Not what HE wanted or what met his needs. Just did exactly as I asked. Otherwise he sat and prayed. Perfect.

Love seeks no caress. Learn this and we are Free.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, September 20, 2010

Regardless of the name a person uses for the Infinite Force
that holds us together, it is the source of our miraculous,
unpredictable creativity and our dignity.

Ashok Gangadean
"Towards a Culture of Peace," Elixir Magazine, Autumn 2007

I really have a difficult time in “church” these days. Not with “church” as “community” – as the Body, to use a Christian image, where we gather to support each other on the Journey. Our dear friend Connor has no problem: “church” one “does” to worship the Deity. Period. One may have a preference – as do I! - about how that is done. But, bottom line, if prayer and the Holy Eucharist are offered – a lifting up of the World, our Selves, all things, offered in Thanksgiving to “God” to be renewed and changed by that Mystery we call “Divine Grace” - then “church” is renewing of our Life. “Church”, worship, is the opening of our human lives with the Mystery we call “God”.

What I have a difficult time with is this conception of God as a “person” Who acts like a human being, making decisions about who to help, who not to help, who’s “worthy”, who’s not, who offended by sin, who didn’t, etc. It all sounds, after over 50 years at working at this, absolutely crackpot! Nutters! It can be nothing else but human projection – and very feeble projection indeed as an understanding of the glorious Mystery of “God”! I am more and more appalled by the number of American (and other) Christians who seem to believe in such a God.

What “Religion” offers us is a language – an inadequate one, but that’s to be expected – of approaching the Mystery of “the “Infinite Force” that holds us together”, as Gangadean puts it. And we must all – every Religion – recognize and admit that it is inadequate. Humility starts here. The minute we begin to think that we have any surer comprehension of the Infinite Source, we have fallen victim to Arrogance and Pride and Ignorance.

The search for God is the search for our Humanity, individually and corporately. As the mystics tell us, in speaking of the Unitive Way, there is no distinction between the two. Jesus was clear in His deepest Prayer: “May they be One as You and I are One”.

As long as we think there is a distinction between “God” and “Us”, we live in that dreaded gulf which the rich man Dives discovered. He died to find that he was separated from God and that the destitute beggarman at his gate lay in the bosom of Abraham. He could only gaze - and never the twain should meet.

There is no “separate” God Who sits outside of you or me, acting like some temperamental, spoiled, petty, feudal, Oriental monarch, to whose whim we are arbitrarily and capriciously made victim.

God is You, Me. Until we accept this at its deepest Mystery, we shall only gaze like Dives across an unbridgeable Gulf, where our true Self lies in God’s bosom and we cannot be whole.

If we have the courage to offer a radical prayer today, may it be the one Jesus – Who IS our truest Self – prayed: “May You and I be One”.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, September 17, 2010

Life is a very narrow bridge between
two eternities. Be not afraid.

Rabbi Nachman of Braslav

Any Wisdom that can help us not to be afraid is a good thing. Most of us would probably agree with that. And like many great teachers, Rabbi Nachman here makes a simple, clear statement to make a single clear point: It does not help us to live Life if we are afraid. This is a principle we all need to know or learn. And readers of the Gospel will remember how many times angels and Jesus said simply: “Be not afraid.”

However: the rabbi’s words could be taken to mean that human Life – that narrow bridge – is of little consequence; that what’s important is the “two eternities” - if indeed the two eternities exist. Here I profoundly disagree – and I don’t think the rabbi means to imply this.

How long or short the “narrow bridge” is is unimportant. What is important is to be as free as possible to live Life as superbly as possible – the “good” and the “bad”. It’s our Life’s work to learn how to do this, and we all need a lot of good teaching, advice, and support.

Bottom line: the “narrow bridge” has a beginning and an end. For us all. Whatever else I have appropriated in my Journey to help me, I find it really helpful just to know that Life began mysteriously and it will end probably mysteriously!! I have only to walk the span, give it my best, and take the best it has to offer.

It won’t last forever. It’s full of possibilities.

Be not afraid!

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, September 16, 2010

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has
turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents
machines and devices that increase noise and distract
humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.

Jean Arp, French sculptor, painter & poet,
born on this date, 1887

I am one of the very fortunate few. We live in a quiet place – a “seniors’ park” in California, in an area on the Central Coast where there are many places to go “in the country” where nothing can be heard but the wind and the song of birds or the ocean. We must be in the top 1% of human beings. And, we can go to monasteries or convents or other such places for time in a place where Silence is valued and nurtured.

Plus, Dennis and I are “contemplative” folk. We talk when we wish. But we can be together for hours and say little or nothing, enjoying the Silence, aware of each other and our surroundings, but not driven to chatter. This Silence we find nurturing and humanizing.

Even in the midst of “machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity”, Silence can be deliberately created. I agree with Jean Arp: inner and outer Noise breaks down “the essence of life” and shuts out the contemplation and meditation what all humans need to remain sane and atuned to the Mystery that Life is.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between
what people need from you and what you need for yourself.

Jesse Norman, opera diva; born on this date, 1945

The first time I heard Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs”, as a teenager, they were sung by Gundula Yanowitz, a Viennese soprano, preeminent in the 60’s and 70’s, who is acknowledged as one of the great singers of the 20th century. I was thrilled and mesmerized. I will never forget the moment in the third song, called “Going to Sleep”, where the voice enters as the exquisite violin solo closes: it was impossible to tell when the moment of change occurred! For me, it has become a paramount symbol of the seamless flow between God and ourselves. Absolutely thrilling.

Here are the words of that song, "Beim Schlafengehen", written by Hermann Hesse:

Now that I am wearied of the day,
 I will let the friendly, starry night

greet all my ardent desires
 like a sleepy child.
Hands, stop all your work.
 Brow, forget all your thinking.

All my senses now
 yearn to sink into slumber.
And my unfettered soul 
wishes to soar up freely 

into night's magic sphere
 to live there deeply and thousandfold.

It will be sung at my funeral. But if you have never heard it, I hope you do soon. Alas, I have lost the scratchy tape of Yanowitz. But Madame Norman does a beautiful job!

Ms. Norman is right about the balance between what “people need from you and what you need for yourself”. I have never believed that God demands that to love Her or others truly we must neglect ourselves. It is a contradiction in realities. It is also to dishonour the miracle of the human nature that we are. I have never seen any virtue or a true understanding of either God or ourselves in abusing either our Self or another. The “Shema O Israel” has it balanced rightly: Love God, Neighbour, and Self - and the circle of Love cannot be broken or weakened.

Tonight, may the “friendly, starry night” gather you and me into its “magic sphere”, renew us, and return us, our needs refreshed. What others need from us will flow to them from a “cup that runneth over”.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely
certain of: almost every student entering the university
believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.

Allan Bloom, American philosopher, author, teacher,
literary critic, born on this date, 1930

Well, I’m way beyond the university student age – by 43 years now. And I still believe that “truth” is relative. “Absolute truth” may, in some utopian or Platonic dimension, be a conceivable possibility. But not, I believe, in this Earthly Life. Human Life is, itself, relative.

“Relative” means “dependent upon”. My experience is that everything we humans “know” is dependent upon many factors. Some being: where we are born, what we are taught, and the list goes on. There is, of course, the machinations of “Religion”, which purport to tell us, by the dubious process called “revelation”, that there is such a thing as Absolute Truth – often by which they mean “God”. I rejected this self-serving proposition in my 20’s, and I still reject it in my mid-60’s. “Revelation” is a human invention used primarily as a tool for gaining control over others. Every tyrant has claimed or used it.

The only “absolute truth” I would warily entertain is Compassion. But Compassion itself is relative, since defining Compassion depends, like everything else, on what we are taught or learn. Great hearts and minds have spent millennia seeking to come to an agreement. At last look, we are no where close to unanimous agreement. Remember: medieval Christians thought it compassionate to burn “heretics”, witches and Gayfolk at the stake. And modern Islamist militants consider it compassionate to chop off peoples’ limbs, for they are administering “Allah’s justice”.

I think it is important that we understand that Truth is relative. It reminds us no one of us – individual, community, Religion – has a monopoly on Truth.

Should the moment arrive when we all agree on The Truth, I shall happily alter my opinion.

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, September 13, 2010

The Divine Beloved longs to play joyously
and rest peacefully
within the heart of the consecrated lover.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Great Swan by Lex Hixon

What’s up today, friends? Its walk time here on the CA Central Coast for Dennis and me, after Scottish Oatmeal. It’s near lunch-time for those on the “Right Coast”; someone I know will be munching a deli sandwich in Bryant Park. Many of you still working (dig, dig, from the Retired One here!) will be dealing with all manner of stresses and strains as well as creative stuff (I hope). And if I can paraphrase a song, “I wonder what the Mid-Westerners are doooo-ing mid-day!!”.

Just a reminder to us all today that using the mind and figuring out “mysteries” and “believing” and “taking action” are all part of the Wholeness Journey. (I’m looking for other words than “spiritual”; that word seems to me to create that spirit/body duality that I don’t agree with.) But the core of it all is closer to what the swami says. Bottom line, we are closest to Wholeness when “the Divine Beloved” rests peacefully and plays joyously in the core of our Being.

In the midst of the day, I wish you a consecrated heart and the gifts it brings.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Saturday, September 10, 2010

"Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing
one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilder-
ness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?
When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.”

The Gospel called Luke, chap 15 [Gospel reading for Prop XIX_C_RCL]

I look at this parable metaphorically, as I do all the parables. Remember: there is a “cryptic” saying attributed to Jesus saying “they may hear and hear but not understand”. This reflects the early church’s view that people needed to be challenged by “strange” things, and be encouraged to look deeper within to see the truth. Jesus did this challenging constantly. Though, charmingly, His tender compassion for his disciples and their human dull-wittednesses is highlighted in that He chooses to “explain” some of the “strange sayings” to them!

I do not think that Jesus intended this parable to be understood literally. It is not about sheep and coins.

The parable (along with the one about the “Lost Coin”) is essentially about the Journey each of us must undertake towards becoming One with the Christ Within. The "sheep" or the "coins" are those dimensions of ourselves which need to be brought into the Healing Light. The Shepherd is - as would be consonant both with the Ancient Mysteries and with the Pauline and early understanding of the Gospel - the "Christ in Us", in other words, our Self, which is One with the Deity Within. It does point to the courage needed by each of us, and the trust and perseverance, to set aside those “spiritual”, psychological, emotional aspects of ourselves which don't need "tending to" but which we are comfortable with and which are of course easier for us to dwell with, and permit those aspects which need transfiguring to be touched. This is the work of the Holy Spirit Who, when presented with our honesty and humility, can and will polish them with Her holy fire.

Given that this is (for Americans) 9/11 – nine years ago today was the apocalyptic day of the airplane crashes into the Twin Towers, the Pentegon, and a PA field, accompanied by the stunning assault to the collective American self-concept, to which I hope we will never become complacent – this Gospel passage should remind us that, if we are called to make the “Kingdom of God” visible on Earth, we have a lot of inner and communal work to do. Hate, Fear, zenophobia, prejudice, the illusion of separateness, arrogance: all must be refined in the fuller's fire.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, September 10, 2010

Eating is not merely a material pleasure.
Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life
and contributes immensely to goodwill and
happy companionship. It is of great impor-
tance to the morale.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Italian designer,
born on this date, 1890, in Roma

Eating. It is critical to being Human, both physically and “spiritually”. Have you read any of M.F.K. Fisher’s books? My favourite is “The Art of Eating”. I have found it available for my Kindle/iPad – and now it is with me as one of those things that sustains my Life and Spirit!!

Do you know how many stories/myths/legends there are of “eating with the gods/godesses?” Thousands! From every tradition and religion. Christians gather around a meal in which the “body and blodd” of The Christ are shared. Muslims celebrate the great season of Ramadan – a central aspect of which is breaking the daily fast to share a meal with family and friends. Eating together sustains Life.

Half to two thirds of the World is starving – including tens of millions of children in America. Can you believe it??!! What does this say about the morality of the politics (and religion!) in America these days??

We can’t change the whole World. But we can help another hungry person, either physically or spiritually, to a meal.

Simple enough, yes?

Let’s get on with it. We can each do something.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, September 9, 2010


Motto of the State of California.

Archimedes is famously said to have shouted this when he discovered a method of purifying gold. The word has appeared on the California State Seal since 1849. It is thought to refer to the discovery of gold in CA, Jan 24, 1848. An attempt was made to change the motto in 1957; Californians rejected this. Today the motto of the State of California remains, “I Have Found It!

On this date, 1850, California became the 31st state of the Union. Happy 160th Birthday California; I am happy to be living here, despite the idiocy of the budget, the religious nuts, and governance by proposition.

I began a search at about age 6 for Holiness. It has been an interesting and amazing Journey! I started boxed in. Fifty-eight years later, I have become unboxed. I see the Wonder and the Unity of all things. I understand what “God” is. I experience the Peace that “passes all understanding”. And I shall try more diligently to manifest these realities in my Life. Many chains have fallen away from my body, mind and spirit, for which I am grateful to the Gospel and to many enlightened friends and companions on the Way.

Today, for me, Being blazes like the Light of Transfiguration.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion. Respect others in their views
and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your
life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and
of service to your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day
when you go over the great divide.

Tecumseh (1768-1813) Shawnee Chief

I can respect other peoples’ religions. No problem. I can respect “others in their views”. No problem.

Except I do have a problem. I can’t do those things when others determine to impose their “religious” views on me. I do indeed “demand that they respect mine”. When the Romans and the Mormons spent millions to promote Prop 8 in California (which denied civil marriage to same-sex couples), it was clear to me that they were determined to deny me my civil rights under the Constitution of the United States. It was not enough for them to live their religious lives as they wished. They sought to make me a slave to their religious beliefs. This is not, in my book, Respect; nor is it what America is supposed to be about as I understand it. I am with Tecumseh: I cannot respect other peoples’ views unless they respect mine. I demand it.

But I have adopted, long ago, Tecumseh’s further advice, which I learned on my spiritual Journey, centered in the Gospel of The Christ, but also informed by many other faiths and traditions.

I can’t say that the “fear of death” on some level never enters my heart. But I am 90% free of it. It is a blessing.

I love my Life. I know it to be equally important with all others’ lives. I know that unless I love my Life I will not be able to honour the lives of others. I expect others to honour mine equally with theirs.

I have spent 40 years of my Life in service to others. It has been – in most of it! – a Joy, and I regret none of it.

I’ve written my sermon for my funeral. It is my “noble death song for the day that I go over the great divide” – though actually I do not believe there is such a thing as a “divide”; I believe that all existence is a seamless reality.

I ask all others to respect my “religion”, and to live out in theirs the universal principles of Peace, Compassion, and Justice, rejecting all of the human selfishness we have projected on “God”.

The World can be a place of Peace and Respect – as long as each of us is willing to relinquish the sin of two things: Being the only Right, and deifying Control.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

If you want to build a ship,
don't herd people together to collect wood
and don't assign them tasks and work but rather,
teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A Life. A People. A World. A Faith. To build any of them successfully, one – someone! – has to have, acquire a Vision. One has to look up from, be taught to look up from, the clutter around one’s feet; to raise our eyes to the Horizon and sense the Wonder lying just beyond our comprehension.

Impossible possibilities.

For me, this is what “God” is: “the endless immensity of the sea” – while holding too the Mystery that the opposite is also true. Paradox is always the greater Reality. God is the vastness, and God is the particularities.

If we can see the immensity of Peace, we will create it.

If we can see the immensity of Love, we will pour it out.

If we can see the immensity of Justice, we will demand it.

If we can see the immensity of Hate, we will kill it.

I think the thing we need the most are Seers – those who imagine for us, those who teach us to see, the Immensities.

If we are just “collectors of wood”, if we are just treated as doers of “tasks and work”, we are but slaves.

People like The Christ lift us up. Reveal our own Immensity. Only then will the Ship be built.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Sat, September 4, 2010

"Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife
and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot
be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me
cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower,
does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has
enough to complete it?

Luke 14: from the Gospel reading for this Sunday,
September 5 [Proper 18, C, RCL]

Do you seriously wish to believe in a Deity who asks you to hate your family and those you love?? If you do, I suggest that you are spiritually and psychologically ill.

The issue for us in this Sunday’s Gospel is this: Nothing must stand in the way of becoming the person, the human being, that each of us can be. (The description of what that IS is a Life-long work of discovery.) Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Jesus’ language is strong and powerful, so we don’t miss the point. If we put anything before this primary inner work, we will fail.

To “carry the cross” means to be willing to Love. To be a disciple of Jesus means to learn His path of Love. We must love our Self equally with “God” and our “neighbour”. Unless we radically commit ourselves to becoming our most authentic Self, the rest will fail. Every day of our Life, we must ask ourselves, “Am I walking the right Path?”

Others are precious: family, friends, lovers, and yes, ultimately, every human being. But it will be impossible to value that preciousness unless we ourselves are precious and valued. As Jesus said, “A bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit.”

Grow well!


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, September 3, 2010

Courage is as often the outcome of despair as of hope; in the
one case we have nothing to lose, in the other everything to gain.

Diane de Poitiers, born on this date, 1499; she was the French
mistress of the English King Henry II

Always the way in human Life , isn’t it? Thinkers of every stripe have written about this since the ability to write and express the core of our brains and hearts came about. Why not? We are Human. To be Human, to be a Person ….. this is the greatest Mystery of all. Equal with the Mystery of that which we call “God”. Because they are One.

Despair and Hope are what that lovely “saint” Francis of Assisi would have called Sisters. From either of them we can learn the great virtue of Courage. When we are in the depths of despair or in the ecstasy of Hope, with either nothing to lose or everything to gain, we explode in a possibility of new Life. New understanding. New wisdom to lead us on.

The key is seeing how Life is. Every moment of Life offers opportunity to enter more deeply into who we Are. Not only Jesus but every other great spiritual Master I have read invites us to the same Path. Whether it exalts us or humbles us, we can learn and grow.

“Religion” is meant to be the agent of this Growth. Alas, so very often it is the opposite. Many decades ago, at the age of 18, I discovered the Anglican/Episcopal Church, at a Eucharist. I encountered the “Sacraments”, in particular the Sacred Eucharist ….. the mystical path of absorbing “God”. My Life has never been the same, for which I am deeply Thankful. I have lived nearly 65 years, and should I die tomorrow, I would be content. I understand both Being and Myself, and the Being of each of those I have met along the way and continue to meet.

Diane of Poitiers understood this over 500 years ago. It is in our blood.

Despair or Hope. They will both lead us to Life. In other words, everything offers Life. What we must learn is to discount nothing as “God’s” Handmaiden.