Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, August 1, 2011


An act of love that fails is just as much a part
of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds,
for love is measured by its own fullness,
not by its reception.


Harold Loukes


I have often thought that God is deeply disappointed that all that God did/does to draw the Human race to a life of holy love seems to have been and continues to be such a colossal failure. All that compassion, concern, outpouring of love, gift of the Christ in the person of the Son, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection - the Christian Story lays it all out there in an anthropomorphic manner by which we can be touched and moved and transformed.

Nope. God is up there sitting on the Sapphire Throne; Handel leading the orchestra and chorus (Tina Turner and her band are in another soundproof area, and everyone can choose what they want to hear); mounds of heavenly shrimp rest in huge silver ice buckets; cool water and crisp Riesling (God is partial to a little sweetness!) are to the ready. The Holy Ghost is a little cranky at not being able to be there, but She is keeping busy trying to push the human race along on the Path of Divine Love, nothing of not persistent. All the Saints have come carrying huge baskets of golden crowns which they cast in reckless abandon as tokens of their delight.

Yes, today waves of pain have washed over the vast Throne Room - the wails of all the poor of America, of aging workers deprived of so much of the benefits they paid for in health care and a decent living in retirement because of a need to finance war, drenched in the contempt of the gloating super-rich and politicians and corporations benefiting no one but themselves. Yet again the reception of Divine Love has been rejected. In an unprecedented action, God, weeping, called for three hours of Silence ….. unprecedented since the Crucifixion. A muting of celebration has been called for the duration.

But “love is measured by its own fullness, not by its reception”. Failures occur; God knew this would be the case from the beginning of the experiment.

God will go on loving ….. always hoping that the human race and the American experiment will soon come up to speed. And God will continue to bless all who seek to live the Life of Compassion and the Way of Justice and of Peace, the Life of “bearing one another’s burdens” and so fulfilling the Law of Christ. (Gal.6)

Brian+

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Sat, July 30, 2011


Jesus said to them, "They need not go away; you give them
something to eat." They replied, "We have nothing here but
five loaves and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me."


The Gospel called “Matthew”, Chap 14
[ for Sunday, July 31 – Pentecost VII – Proper 13A - RCL ]


[ The full text(s) can be found at: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=153 ]


This is from the story usually called “The Feeding of the Five Thousand”. I think it is essentially a story about becoming/being a fully-functioning human being. It is, therefore, about discovering, unearthing, what we call the Divinity Within.

Human Beings who do not make the Inward Journey to the throne where sits the Fountain of Life are like the normal use of the human brain: we are firing on only a couple of the potentially available number of cylinders - “five loaves and two fishes”. We are like Adam the first Human in the second Genesis Creation Myth, before the Divine Breath enters him. A sack of stuff. An empty vessel.

Mind, Heart, and Spirit must flower for us to become a true and Living Being.

“Bring them here to me.” The story in Matthew appears to be Jesus taking material things, making more material things by Divine power, and physically feeding people to sustain their hungry bodies. But the story is really about Jesus taking the material of human nature, binding it to Himself and therefore to God, and transforming the crowd into complete human beings.

This, I think, is what each of us is being invited to today.

If we “have ears to hear”, then let us hear.

Brian+

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Don't take life too seriously.
You'll never get out alive.


Bugs Bunny; he made his debut
in the Warner Bros. animated
cartoon "A Wild Hare", on this
date, 1940 (Imagine! 71 years!)


Bugs. Very wise! Of course I used to watch him on our Westinghouse (or was it RCA?) black & white TV when I was a kid in Canada. Munching, note, on his healthy carrot! No Cheesy Poofs for Bugs!

Not taking Life too seriously is, of course, a paradox. The less seriously we take it, the more seriously we do, because we’ve fathomed one of those magical principles of Life. I’ve certainly seen that being able to laugh at the crazinesses and weirdnesses of people is the first step towards being liberated to love them - and it certainly changes how we “see” each other and respond to each other.

We may “default” - though why that should be a bad thing for a country that has to borrow over 14 trillion dollars just to manage is beyond me - people who owe a hundred thou on a house keep getting deprived of their homes, so why not the United States of America? (I know, I know: I OBVIOUSLY don’t understand world economics, right?)

So, each morning after Dennis brings me (bless his heart) my tea in bed, I listen to about 3 minutes (not more, or I get stoked up in anger) of way-too-serious politicians puffing out their ideological chests and acting like Wiley Coyote or Yosemite Sam, and chuckle. Then I get on with prepping myself to do my best to be a caring, thoughtful, compassionate person.

Financial default might just be a spiritual blessing in disguise! Carrots instead of Starbucks at $3.50 a pop and $5.00 muffins. Yum! I can already hear my intestines rumbling their roughaged thanks!

Brian+

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, July 25, 2011


Paradoxically, we achieve true wholeness only by embracing
our fragility and sometimes, our brokenness. Wholeness is a
natural radiance of Love, and Love demands that we allow the
destruction of our old self for the sake of the new.

Jalaja Bonheim (in Aphrodite's Daughter)


Hmmmm. I work on the principle that the Universe, Life, the World, the Mind, whatever, offer us various wisdoms and principles by which to live. Gazillions! Even given the fact that there are various processes that try to organize all this into categories we can deal with - religion, philosophy, art, fiction, etc - the fact remains that it is quite a job to test them out and make our choices. At least I find it so. But eventually we have to choose a path ….. or not, I suppose - and I often wonder which group is the most successful.

Bonheim offers three Principles here. Where am I with them? Where are you? In the limited way of 65 years and of an only rather modest capacity for courage and risktaking, I’ve tried all three out. Without going into all the gory or lurid details, Do I find useful, practical wisdom in “Wholeness is a natural radiance of Love”? Yes. I’ve satisfied myself, my own desires, my longings; that has been somewhat pleasurable. When I’ve loved and cared for others, I’ve felt more whole - more like what I wish to be.

“Love demands that we allow the destruction of our old self for the sake of the new”. Yes; I agree. I’ve resisted change and I’ve embraced change ….. and found that one must change in order to mature as a person. The “old self” is designed to self-destruct. No destruction, no butterfly, metaphorically speaking.

“Paradoxically, we achieve true wholeness only by embracing our fragility and sometimes, our brokenness.” I have tried at times in my Life to eliminate, deny, ignore, repress my fragility and my brokenness. No luck. Eventually, it sneaks up and smacks you up the side of the head. Fragility and brokenness (think of Jesus on the cross, a core metaphor of this truth) is Who We Are. Wholeness must include everything.

What’s the message? As I see it: Be Real. Reject nothing that we discover is part of being Human. Love all that is, perhaps especially the brokenness, the fear, the helplessness, in ourselves and in others. I think there is enough evidence that this leads more to wholeness and peace and serenity than not.

Brian+

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Sat, July 23, 2011


The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed …..
is like yeast …..
is like treasure hidden in a field …..
is like a merchant in search of fine pearls …..
is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind …..


The Gospel [Proper 12A, Pentecost VI, Year A];
from the Gospel called “Matthew”

[ The full texts can be found here: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=152 ]


So. What is “IT”? The mustard seed. The yeast. The treasure. The fine pearl. The net.

IT can be thought of as a soul open to Radical Love. IT is the seed of that Love.

Radical Love knows: Things change. Human beings … and God … change . Human beings have the capacity to sense when we can expand the wonder of being human. It is a sense of “pleasure” in mind, body, spirit. It has to do with power, yes; but not the deceptive power that derives from control. Rather from the pleasure of seeing oneself in others and sensing shared Life.

Radical Love gathers all in ….. like the mustard tree. Radical Love expands the capacity for Life ….. like the yeast. Radical Love is so valuable for being fully human that we must desire it above all things ….. like the treasure hidden. Radical Love is worth giving all for ….. the pearl of great price. Radical Love draws in every aspect of living and experience that makes Life luscious and mouthwatering and rich.

Some editor of the Gospel version called “Matthew” added the apocalyptic business with its typical “end times” focus. Often these additions detract. But in this case, I think it can be helpful. They remind us of the urgency, in terms of living Life fully, of understanding the critical importance of embracing Radical Love as the path to Joy, of Ecstasy, of inner Peace.

I think the Gospel teaches that Radical Love is the heart of being Human. Jesus’ life tells us to die to anything less.

Brian+

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, July 22, 2011


Honesty has come to mean the privilege of insulting
you to your face without expecting redress.


Miss Manners


No. It is not the birthday, death day, or any other significant day in the life of Miss Manners (aka Judith Martin), the inimitable doyen of modern day good manners and etiquette. But it is the birthday, in 1908, of Amy Vanderbilt, the self-appointed earlier such doyenne to another age. I couldn’t find anything really interesting to say about Amy, but it was (well, for me anyway!) a natural segue to Miss Manners!

You know the classic “old joke” yes, about ingenious segues? A priest preached always about confession. An annoyed group of parishioners determined to sidetrack him, so they asked him to preach on a Biblical text, which would be placed in the pulpit just before the sermon time. He agreed. The text the priest found was , “Now Joseph was a carpenter.” He announced the text and said, “… and Joseph made church confessional boxes, which leads me to my theme for the day.”

In general, I agree that “Honesty is the best policy”. But there are exceptions to every rule, yes? The New Testament says, “Speak the truth in love”. This adds an important if not critical dimension ….. presuming one wishes to be both honest and kind. Then there is the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all”. One can speak the truth “nicely, i.e., with respect and caring. And there is the wonderful Buddhist/yoga saying concerning “mindful speech” oft quoted by Sai Baba: “Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true.” This assumes one wishes to be mindful of the feelings of others.

And if you should get caught in a tense moment when you wish not to lie but also wish to be kind, remember the line of a husband whose wife, wearing a hideously ugly dress, asked him how she looked as they prepared to go out for the evening; he said, “You’ve never looked better!” This can be adapted to great advantage. (Just kidding, just kidding!)

But the bottom line is: Insult is not a privilege of Honesty. As well, it is not practical – for most of us do not hear Honesty if it devoid of thoughtfulness, respect, or love.

Hope you have a delicious weekend!

Brian+

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, July 21, 2011


Death is just life's next big adventure.

Humans have a knack for choosing precisely
the things that are worst for them.

I really don't believe in magic.

Indifference and neglect often do much
more damage than outright dislike.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.


J. K. Rowling, author; her final Harry Potter novel
[Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows] went on sale
on this day, 2007


I don’t do this very often ….. but can I do a stereotypical Gay male riff here?? Rowling is going to be 46 years old on July 31. She is fabulously rich (even more rich that the Queen of England) , after being homeless and living in her car. She is wildly successful. She is smart. Do you not just hate this “b**ch ??!!

OK. I’m recovered. I am thrilled for her. And while I have pangs of it, I’m not jealous ….. really. So, here are some of Rowling’s thoughts. Good thoughts! Think on them today. And here are my short but pithy remarks.

What gets you to the point of being able to say “Death is just life’s next big adventure”? I’ve worked on this for decades. I am at the point presently where whatever comes after this earthy Life - be it Nothing or a tasteful Palladian mansion in Heaven or something in between - I’m OK with it. I’m just hoping that getting to the dispatch moment won’t be filled with too much pain. I’m a coward.

Boy, do we ever have the knack for choosing the worst things! Why is that?? Did some Deity design it that way? And if so, why? Do we humans only learn from disaster?? My experience says No; we really learn from success. So, it behooves us to help each other to succeed.

I don’t believe in magic either. “Magic” is a metaphor for Imagination. I think that Imagination is one of our greatest gifts. It allows us to “see” possibilities. And if we’ve paid any attention, and been taught well, we know that we humans have the capacity to figure anything out!

The opposite of Love is indeed ….. Indifference. Not caring is inhuman.

Actively Living is the Goal. But dreams help.

May you have a wildly uncontrollable loving day!

Brian+

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Often have I wondered with much curiosity as to our
coming into this world and what will follow our departure.



Petrarch, poet and scholar; he was born at
dawn, on la Via del Giardino, Arezzo, 1304


Haven’t we all!

Some think they have it all locked down, whether it’s golden streets or the bosom of Abraham (who says you have to be a Christian to get to Heaven?!) or golden harps on cloudy cushions. I may have entertained such glitzy ideas of Heaven when little, though I have to say that I remember very little being said in Presbyterian Sunday School about Heaven. But from my teens on I seem to have understood that “Heaven” was a metaphor for being gathered into the arms of Love, being safe, free from any lasting burden of sorrow and suffering.

Just when I came to understand that that state was a creation of the Imagination, that there were many such imaginings, and that they were a sublime method for coping in this Earthly Life, creating hope and trust and the courage to grasp hold of Life and live it as freely as possible, I don’t know. It wasn’t by study, of that I’m sure. It came by a subtle seeping into my Being of some mysterious working of the Universe. I now believe that it came at my conscious and unconscious bidding ….. the bidding of a young man needing an anchor that would “hold in the storms of life”. Somehow I knew I was going to have a struggle!

If there is a Heaven, it is, now to my mind, frosting on the cake. I hold in my heart, mind, body and spirit its promises – the same promises I heard told of in my childhood: unconditional love, joy, peace, delight, a welcome into the eternal community of Life.

These are the tools I need to live this earthly Life, tools that banish discouragement and fear. When I die, I will need them no more. Yet, I stay open to the Mystery of what yet may be revealed.

Brian+

p.s. We lift a glass to Neil Armstrong, on the 42nd anniversary of his being the first human being to set foot on the Moon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,
but only saps today of its strength.


A. J. Cronin, Scottish physician and novelist;
he was born on this day, 1896, in Cardross,
Dunbartonshire.


Worry is, I think, a consequence - self or other-inflicted - of the failure to grasp one’s own power . It is also a way of refusing or of being unable to live with the Truth. I remember all the times in my Life that I refused to see what was right in front of my face, or was overcome by the conviction that things were not right and there was nothing I could do about it.

But, I was blessed enough to have stumbled my way to an inner path that would lead to both some courage to see the Truth and to a willingness to trust myself ….. and to take risks, in trust. I left my homeland and family at age twenty-one in pursuit of “holiness” ….. though I didn’t consciously know that was what I was doing at the time. Over the course of forty years, there would be three times that I looked the Truth in the face and knew only I could take responsibility and do something about it ….. and that the health of my soul depended on it. As I look back, the positive far outweighed the negative.

We need teachers! Teachers in how to face Truth, especially about ourselves. Teachers who not only show us the importance of examining our lives, but leave us our freedom and integrity to make our own choices. That is why I have always loved the story of the encounter between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler. Or when Jesus tells His disciples that they can leave Him if they wish. They all had to have sensed, however fearfully, their power. And I know what a freeing thing that is. Many might think that it frees one to be irresponsible. I have found the opposite to be true: it freed me to want to be a person of integrity.

“Worry” derives from the Middle English “werien”, and the Old English “wyrgan”, to strangle. Worry does strangle our Life Force.

If you find yourself succumbing to Worry, I would say that this is a sign that you have forgotten who you are. You are a person in whom dwells the Living God, the completing “Christ”, the Spirit who reshapes and makes new. Life always has its sorrows and worry does not banish them; rather the reverse. I am glad that Cronin has reminded me that I have power to stare down what is false, exile those demons, and live every day as strongly as I can.

We all do. And each of us is hopefully an instrument of this strength for each other.

Brian+

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, July 18, 2011


“Ah! bleak and barren was the moor”

Ah! bleak and barren was the moor,
Ah! loud and piercing was the storm,
The cottage roof was shelter'd sure,
The cottage hearth was bright and warm—
An orphan-boy the lattice pass'd,
And, as he mark'd its cheerful glow,
Felt doubly keen the midnight blast,
And doubly cold the fallen snow.

They marked him as he onward press'd,
With fainting heart and weary limb;
Kind voices bade him turn and rest,
And gentle faces welcomed him.
The dawn is up—the guest is gone,
The cottage hearth is blazing still:
Heaven pity all poor wanderers lone!
Hark to the wind upon the hill!


William Makepeace Thackery, poet,
novelist; he was born on this date,
1811, in Calcutta, of Anglo-Indian
parents.


A perfect metaphor - or parable - for thought and reflection today. In a sense, we are all “orphan-boys” or girls. I was thinking about my childhood in Verdun. Of course I had a home, and parents. Except for a couple of instances, I felt I had a safe home, where I was wanted. But I was a lonely child; I often felt “out of it”, not a part of my “peer group”. But, I could go to my maternal grandmother’s after school and drink tea with milk and sugar, and she would give me a dollar to go buy ice cream. I could go to my aunt Elsie’s for tea and watch the budgies she raised. I could go to my Auntie Ann’s and drink tea and eat her terrific Scottish shortbread. I could go to my dear friend Martin’s house and his dear mother would serve me tea while I waited for him to get up and get ready for school. I could go to my aunt Molly’s and drink tea and be coddled. I’ll never give up tea with sweet and milk; it is a profound symbol of being cared for! In many ways, there have been those through my Life who have, mostly unawares, been the “kind voices” and “gentle faces” who have seen that inner part of me that was/is the “orphan boy” and have “bade me turn and rest”.

I think in many ways we are all, in some way, “poor wanderers alone”. Yes, we are all part of the Human Community, yes, we are assisted (hopefully) by friends and family. Yes, there are those who walk with us through Life. But it is also true that we must each walk this Life alone, things that we must do that no one can do for us. And we must in the end leave those who wait with us and Journey with Death alone. Often, “bleak and barren” is the “moor”.

I have been blessed in being shown, and then in having nurtured and shaped for myself, a Mystery. A Mystery with which I am One. A Mystery that is I. A Mystery that is Being and Life. A Mystery in which I am held and in which nothing can demean me. It is like the “cottage hearth” that is “blazing still” – and it always will. It’s hearth will always be there to welcome me in from the cold.

And it is for us all. I hope you have found it.

Brian+

Friday, July 15, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, July 15, 2011


I daresay anything can be made holy
by being sincerely worshipped.


Dame Iris Murdoch, author, poet; she
was born on this date, 1919, in Dublin


“Worship” has its roots in the Old English concept “to give worth to”. When we worship something, we - yes, we - assign it its worth. Anyone remember the marriage vows in the 1662 marriage rite?: “with my body I thee worship”. At its fullest, it was meant to indicate that, in marriage, two people acknowledge and create the worthiness of each other.

God, or The Holy, is what we make it. We human beings forget that we have this power. And we must not. Because Murdoch is, I think, correct. We can make Goodness Holy ….. or Evil “Holy”.

There are a lot of people these days giving worth to Unholy (in my view) things. Including Ignorance, Hate, Unkindness, Prejudice, Discrimination, and more.

As we go about our day today, what will we be worshipping? What Gods will we be making?

Brian+

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, July 14, 2011


Art is amoral; so is life. For me there are no
obscene pictures or books; there are only poorly
conceived and poorly executed ones.


Irving Stone, author [The Agony and the Ecstasy];
this quote is from his book “Lust for Life”. He was
born on this date, 1903, in San Francisco


Shakespeare said: “ There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. (Hamlet, Act II, scene ii) But my God, how we human beings have spent so much of our time and energy “thinking it so”! The first Genesis Creation Myth tells us that all was made Good. And yet I would say that the majority of human thinking – fueled by Religion, alas - has focused on the “Bad”. Sex is bad. Females are inferior and menstrual, i.e., bad. Poverty is bad, and riches is bad. Desire is bad. Freethinking is bad. Homosexuality is bad. Certain skin colour is bad. Enjoyment is bad. Diversity is bad. the Other is bad. The List is endless.

I think we human beings are spending far too much time poorly conceiving and poorly executing Life. Philosophy and Religion have failed us. We are producing way too many examples, with the result that “bad” and “obscene” and all sorts of negativity has become the norm. No wonder we are always at each others’ throats.

Today I shall try to think of everything that comes across my path as “amoral”. Even politicians ….. shudder. I shall try not to invest anything with an immediate judgment of “good” or “bad”, but “simply is”. And then see what my mind does with it all. Especially with the thought that I know what is just and right and so many idiots don’t!

Wish me luck. I don’t know if or when I will have the humility or courage to report back!

Brian+

p.s. I’m hoping that my compassion and understanding will deepen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Homosexuality is a population control plot by the
”Illuminati” (??) who want to whittle down the
World’s population from billions to millions.


The Democrat’s health care reform plan is a
population control effort for our “culture of
death”.

Baal is a supposed demonic god who lays
hold over homosexuality.

The Statue of Liberty is a “demonic idol” and
a “false goddess” created to turn Americans
away from God.


Dr. John Benefiel, of the Heartland Apostolic
Prayer Network, and endorsed supporter of
TX Governor Rick Perry. *


I finally get it! God is trying to lift our spirits! God is offering us Americans a chance to laugh in the midst of all the stress and strife we live under in a culture where Corporations have taken over rule of the country, the military budget is over a third of our national budget, 50 million people have no health coverage (one sixth of the population), countless millions of children live under the poverty level, and in a brilliant blaze of American morality, a religious leader shot and killed his 4 year old stepson because he thought he might be Gay.

I mean, what else would a rational, moral, sensible person do in the face of all this?? You have to laugh, whatever else you might feel called to do in response. Up until now, I’ve been letting outrage and disgust take me over. But I’m finally realizing that whatever else I do, I have to laugh at these weirdo nuts ….. otherwise I’ll go nuts!

So this is my new spiritual practice! First thing upon awakening, after a few short things I do to connect with the wonder of the Universe, I am going to picture these modern American crazies and certifiable (in by view) nuts and psychopaths in my mind ….. and I am going to laugh. Because that’s what they should be seen essentially as: laughable. And hopefully this will de-stress me and help me to get on with doing whatever I can do to counter their destructive effect on this beautiful country of ours.

Thanks God! You’re subtle, but You’re always working to set us free.

Brian+

* As reported by The New Civil Rights Movement

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, July 12, 2011


As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe
will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude,
poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.


Henry David Thoreau, author, philosopher; he was
born on this date, 1817, in Concord MA


I am told that the Universe tends to greater and greater complexity, and that complexity is a character of higher intelligence. So ….. that is my excuse that, though Dennis and I said when we moved into this house that we would “simplify” - there is not a space on any wall, and new and gorgeous and charming and interesting Things keep appearing! The last being, of all things, an English porcelain covered chamber pot that I absolutely had to have, and which now sits on our bathroom counter holding/hiding various tubes, beard and hair trimmer, eye drops, Preparation H, etc. It is a great consolation to know that our house is an ever-growing manifestation of our exalted intelligence!

And to be perfectly candid, Thoreau’s house in Concord is perfectly nice, and anyone can live in a charming cabin on Walden Pond for a little while! Though I lived just down the road for 18 months, and I must admit that the damp winter might have been a challenge …… at least for me!

Regardless: Thoreau is I think correct. Life gets more and more complicated, and the more complicated and full of “stuff” it gets, materially and spiritually, the more stress there is. And Stress is the greatest of the Unseen Killers in a society like ours. I know this from one example: when I was working, I dashed around with only seconds to spare, racing in my car from one thing to another, usually speeding, and very unconsciously stressed by the specter of police and a hefty fine. Now, I drive the speed limit – and it’s balm to the soul!

Go with the flow and patterns of the Universe. Befriend yourself and enjoy your own company. Eat little of good things. Let go of unnecessary control. Follow the Golden Rule.

Life does indeed get better!

Brian+

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, July 11, 2011
[Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia in the Christian Kalendar]


We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy,
even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.


E. B. White, author [Charlotte’s Web] and critic; he was born
on this date, 1899, in Mt. Vernon NY.


What really gives me Joy – and has all my Life – is contemplating the great Mystery of Life, of Being, and participating in it. I am so very glad that God made me a priest in the Episcopal Church! My core “work” was to stand at the altar and “channel” as openly as possible the Mystery. Bliss!

What I learned a long time ago is that there is a lot of other … uh …. crap we have to do in Life as well. So, I realize that it is a little na├»ve to say to people that they should only “do what they love”. The World doesn’t work like that. What I think we do need to know is, as White says, what indeed gives us Joy. Then we have to find a way to make sure that we can do that in the midst of all the rest of the stuff that we have to do to “make a living”.

Confession time: there were LOTS of things I hated about being a parish priest! I did the stuff I had to do ….. but there were lots of things I didn’t do well. And while I do not chastise myself for that, I do apologize to my congregations that they didn’t get my “best” in some areas. But in the midst of it all, I got to immerse myself in the Mystery of Life, and in the Mystery of that perhaps greatest invention of the human mind and heart: God. Sometimes the God we have invented has been ….. well, not so hot! But at it’s best, God has made manifest the very best and most glorious of what it is to be human.

Every moment can’t be doing what “gives us Joy”. But we can at least try our best to make sure that we build what gives us Joy into the mix!

Brian+

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, July 8, 2011


Competition is a sin.

John D. Rockefeller, industrialist,
philanthropist; he was born on
this date, 1839


I have never liked competition, and almost never succumbed to it in my life. The only thing I remember being competitive in was playing raquetball when I was younger ….. yep, I actually played a lot from about age 20 to 40! I played hard to WIN. Can’t really picture it can you! Venting built-up energy I think.

Competition means win-lose in “modern” usage. It means defeating your opponent, your “enemy” - and I have always hated that approach to Life. Including climbing the career ladder in the Church.

But the word “competition” in origin doesn’t mean this. It comes from the late Latin verb “competere”, meaning “to seek together with”, to strive together, to coincide, to be suitable.

I don’t know where in Rockefeller’s career he made this comment. It is possible he was just a ruthless businessman and moneymaker. But, he did give away about a half billion dollars in “charity”. I would like to think that he, at least at some point in his life, felt that people who were good at making money should work together to better the World. And that working against each other, to defeat the competitor, was an obnoxious and anti-social way to live.

So, I’m going with my interpretation: Working together, “competing together”, to better the World, striving together, coming together for a “suitable” building up of the common good.

American Congress (and other political bodies), Religions: Take Note.

Brian+

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, July 7, 2011


I have had a delightful, fascinating, surprising Life ….
because of wild shifts, changes
discrimination & hate, as a Gay man and priest
glorious Journeys around the World
time as a monk
fabulous fabulous faithful Friends!
many divine parishioners ….. and many disappointing ones
horrible, near–death illnesses
lies told about me
a great brother
a terrific friend I’ve know for 60 years
a charming, thoughtful, generous, fun, loving husband
the opportunities to guide, support, affirm many persons
times to be with and learn from the poor and the rich
countless GLBT, “straight”, and beautiful weird friends who enrich the World
countless Wisdom teachers
little money, to learn frugality
a priestly calling to learn to appreciate human beings
inundations of Beauty
65 years of human experience.


The pros have far outweighed the cons.


I’m 65 today. I never thought I’d make it. Thank You to ALL that has made Life worth living.

Brian+
Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I take a simple view of life. It is:
keep your eyes open and get on with it.


Laurence Sterne


Dennis and I have had a lovely week wandering through California and Arizona to the Grand Canyon ….. which I had never seen. Very calming, I found it. I felt anchored properly into Nature. The thing that impressed me the most, actually, was that flowing water shaped it!

Of course, anything I say will complicate Sterne’s simplicity! Oh well.

Most important re keeping one’s eyes open? Open on ourselves. I find it so easy to avoid or deny what we are really like. “Know Yourself” is Wisdom. The more we know and accept about ourselves, the more simple and clear Reality looks. Self-delusion makes a mess of everything.

I think the two greatest enemies of “getting on with it” are Ignorance and Fear. Jesus didn’t offer freedom from the reality of Fear and Sin and Death, but from the power they have to diminish Life. Self-knowledge - including the knowledge of that great Mystery we call “Grace”, where we accept the possibility and power of the Universe to free us - is the key. “God” can do nothing with lies - and that is why “Satan” is often called the Prince of Deceit.

Today is upon us. “Keep your eyes open and get on with it”!!

Brian+