Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, March 1, 2012

Death is not extinguishing the light;
it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.

Rabindranath Tagore

Superb! Poetic. Insightful. But … it makes me uneasy. It seems to belittle the value of our earthly Life.

However, I think about it. And then I see the mythic import of it.

I could almost make this my “mantra” as I close my eyes each night and fall into that mystery we call sleep, of which we have no lasting memory except the shocking flashes we call “dreaming”.

To die is to let go of what is Past. “Tomorrow” we awake to a new Life. It is resurrection. Death and Resurrection is the Reality. Or, perhaps, as Strauss expressed it in his wonderful tone poem, “Death and Transfiguration”.

Every morning that we awake to Consciousness, it is “the dawn”.

And it is radically “New”.

The lamp goes out as we close our eyes. We “die”.

We open our eyes; a Dawn beckons us to Life.

One day, it will be different.

It will be a dawn we have never seen before.

But we will not be afraid. We’ve been prepared for it.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

But I remember the moment when my father died.
I wasn't a very committed Catholic beforehand, but
when that happened it suddenly all felt so obvious:
I now believe religion is our attempt to find an
explanation, for us to feel more protected.

Javier Bardem, Spanish actor; he was born on this
date, 1969, at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria,
Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Wow! Having put up the birdfeeder, today several birds “found” it. Two Vespers Sparrow came by (they are here in the winter); and the ubiquitous House Finches appeared. Plus a Sparrow I haven’t identified yet. I was thrilled. (Sparrows are hard for me.) I even saw a California Towhee trying to manoeuver the feeder, and a pack of Dark-eyed Juncos eating what the other birds cast on the ground. And did I mention the Juniper Tit??

The cardiologist I went to see was a charmer! He and his wife came to Silver City 5 years ago on a kind of medical Peace Core; they came from Colorado to provide service to an “underserved” community. He’s the only cardiologist serving 75,000 people! The wind finally died down, and I did my 1.5 mile walk with a pile of Silver High School students doing everything from hurdles to long jumps. I was in my Pendleton wool jacket and gloves; they were in tank tops! Ah youth!

Javier: thank you for portraying Tom Hanks’ wonderful lover in “Philadelphia”.

I may have mentioned that over the years my view of God and Religion has been in a state of flux. Actually it has become more real! Makes more sense. I’ve been thinking about the concept of “faith”. And how people say that “Faith” is something one does not have to “prove” … or justify. I think that that demeans the whole concept of Faith and Religion. Why? Because I have come to believe that there is – can’t honestly be – a separation between God and Us. My sense is that “God” can only “appear” in our consciousness through us … through out hearts, minds, brains, hormones, even psychoses. Or, as Javier says, through “our attempt to find an explanation, for us to feel more protected”. That, I am convinced, is how “God” is “revealed”.

I’ll get politically personal. Republican presidential candidates project a “God” who does not in any way provide an “explanation” for a Life that is worthwhile. I don’t know about you, but they certainly don’t make me feel “more protected” – in fact, I feel abandoned and threatened and alienated.

I think it’s about time that we human beings accepted our essential role in this business of “God”. God and we are mirror images. “God” is manifested through us, and we are defined by our concept of “God”.

The God that Romney and Santorum and the rest of the Republicans project? No resemblance to Jesus at all! And no resemblance to the finest of human beings I honour and respect. No resemblance to what I think of as the best of “American”.

Javier is on the money: “God” manifests through us. How others understand “God” will be shaped by their experience of you and Me.

What God do you or I proclaim by our Life?

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, February 28, ‘12

I care not so much what I am to others as what I am to myself.
Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.

Michel de Montaigne, author, philosopher; he was born
on this date, 1533, near Bordeaux, France

Silver City NM. The Weather Channel app on my iPad (it has an opening picture of a wonderful sunny meadow, which always cheers me) said “Sunny”. However, the sky is full of dark gray clouds. C’est la vie. I might have known; my sinuses started draining … a sure sign of changing weather. For a couple of days, a bag of birdseed has been sitting outside. This morning, when I went to put the garbage bin out by the road, the bag was empty and the chair on which it had been sitting was five feet away and upside down ….. hmmm: wonder what animal that was! And, finally, the birds have found the feeder I hung in a bush outside our bedroom window. The Chipping Sparrow has trouble – the perches are too small; but the Juniper Tit did just fine (first one I’ve seen in NM). The tea is still hot under the cozy, and the toast from the bread I made yesterday is unexpectedly delicious (with good old Earth Balance spread from good old Trader Joe’s) … so on the scale of things, Life is Good.

Thinking honestly about it, I have to admit that I have cared too much in my Life what others thought of me. I cared that I was called a sissy in school. I cared about not wearing stripes when I was at college, because I was fat and thought stripes made me look worse. I cared how my habit looked when I was a monk, because I wanted people to note how svelt I was having gotten to 145 pounds. I wore black shirts all the time to disguise (I thought) the huge bulge of two abdominal hernias until they got repaired – and that was only a few months ago. I dyed my beard until recently, hoping that people would think I didn’t look my age.

All the while, I thought that I was following the wise advice of Montaigne and caring more about what I am to myself … and of course in some instances, I have done that. But the balance has not been “right”, I see now.

But! I have learned something along the way. I have learned that there is no point in giving the Past too much power … learned to just acknowledge and move on. And I have learned that 90% of events are not governable … which has taught me what it means to find one’s place in the web of Being. I’m still working on the “govern myself” part - a lifetime work for all of us, I think … but I do know that the more I am authentically myself, the easier it is. What is false always evades governing. Surprise!

Well: off to shave and shower, do my daily 1.5 mile walk, and keep my appointment with my new cardiologist.

I really hope you have a day where you feel "at ease" with the World.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, February 27, 2012

In character, in manner, in style, in all things,
the supreme excellence is simplicity.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet; he was
born on this date, 1807.

God bless the Benedictines. A “simple” understanding of the Gospel. A ”simple” understanding of Christian/Human community. A “simple” and clear understanding of Simplicity. I can’t tell you how ….. though I have usually not succeeded … my life has been empowered by trying to emulate Simplicity. Oh, I’ve had far too much stuff … I’m always delighted by the creativity and imagination of human beings!

But there is another aspect of Simplicity. I call it simply “Live Free”. Things come; Let them go … when that is appropriate or called for. I’ve surrounded myself all my Life with lovely, beautiful things … lovely and beautiful to me. But I learned not to depend on them, or to idolize them. None of those things was a foundation for Happiness or Joy or Contentment. Things of this World are always transitory … that is the nature of this dubious gift of Mortality. But the transitory realities of being Human always have their exhilarating blessings if we can but “see” them. I have learned that Life is enormously enhanced by “sitting loosely” with Earthly Things.

I remember the first time I went to Gethsemane Abbey, where Thomas Merton lived. I sat in the balcony for Compline, in a darkened chapel. But I could see the Simplicity … little “decoration”. It it’s own way, such it is with St. Augustine’s Chapel at Holy Cross Monastery (where I was ordained both Deacon and Priest). And the chapel at Vail’s Gate of the Sisters of St. Helena.

Every chapel or place of worship is a metaphor for the human soul. If it so designed that the eyes and heart and mind don’t fly directly to the core … to that which sucks us into the Love of God … then it fails.

Longfellow points us to the path of Ecstasy … a simple Life. Which is to day: Never become encumbered. As Jesus did, always be ready to let go of Life … there is always a rising to a rich new one. That is the message of Death and Resurrection.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, February 24, 12

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror
every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the
last day of my life, would I want to do what I am
about to do today?' And whenever the answer has
been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know
I need to change something.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple; he was
born on this date, 12955, in San Francisco

Twice in my Life, I knew I was in the wrong place, a place where nothing contributed to the quality of my own Life or of others (though one never knows how one has affected people!). I quit and moved on … and yes it was hard because I had to grapple with all the issues of “failure”, etc.

I would say that “quitting” ought never to be the default position when confronted with challenge or difficulty or unhappiness. My experience has been that in most cases, whatever the issue is that’s causing the discontent, it’s a personal interior issue and it can only be “fixed” by changing oneself. Quitting is the last resort … but I think it’s an option that should be on the table.

The most helpful point that I think Steve’s comment makes is the reminder about Change. As someone once said, Change is the only constant. I would say that there is no growth without Change. The status quo is very often stagnation.

If Life is a misery, change yourself. Trying to change others is usually misery-making and a dead-end!

If it’s any consolation, I’ve done it several times, and while a challenge, it was always a relief and Life-giving!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit
to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The problem, of course, is the second line: “You have done what you could.” Most of the time I think I haven’t really done what I could – that I surely could have done more. But, when we think this way, maybe we are being too hard on ourselves? Maybe.

Whatever else we may be being or doing, what we are certainly doing by holding on to the past is limiting our possibilities for today, as Emerson points out.

We need the freedom to accept the blunders and the absurdities, or our laziness, or cowardliness, or whatever has gotten in the way of being true to our heart and spirit and love. If we don’t forgive ourselves and “forget them as soon as we can”, we just spiral further down.

Don Miguel Ruiz, in his “Four Agreements”, says (I think it’s number 4) “Always do your best”. He knows that even if we try, we will not always succeed, and will have to forgive ourselves. But his point is the same as Emerson’s: if we try to do our best, and accept our failures, we can start each day unencumbered with our old nonsense. On the Christian path, this is the core pattern of Death and Resurrection.

When I was a monk, we ended the day with Compline. It contained Silence to ponder what our day had been like, a “confession of sin”, and an absolution. We “forgot”, and prepared for the new day with serenity and a “high spirit”.

Good advice. Do your best. Forgive the failures. Embrace the New Day afresh.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To pray is to take notice of the wonder,
to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings,
the divine margin in all attainments.
Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.
It is all we can offer in return for the mystery by which we live.

Rabbi Abraham Heschel

It does not have to do with talking some deity into changing Reality.

That is not the way “God” works ….. and we should know better, if we have any common sense.

Prayer is not about negotiating with God. It is about connecting with the Source of Life ….. who wants nothing but our transformation into Fullness.

Relationship is not about Control. It is about “the inconceivable surprise of living”.

Prayer is letting go of our Life into the “hands” (metaphorically speaking) of Love.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, February 17, 2012

Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice,
here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word;
always doing the smaller right and doing it all for love.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, born Jan 2, 1873

The root of the word “sacrifice” lies in “to make holy”. The word has come, in “modern” times, to imply that if one made a sacrifice, it was a giving up of one’s self-worth or of one’s integrity. This is not the case. To sacrifice means to make choices that makes one’s Life holy, and enhances the core integrity of one’s essential Being.

Jesus made the “great sacrifice”. He chose to accept Death in order not to compromise His very essence as a Child of God. But most of the rest of us have simple daily choices to make … the “smaller right”. Kindness. Caring. Loving.

Example: our neighbour lady told us that her husband couldn’t find a good restaurant pasta meal. (Not surprising in Silver City!). We made him some. Why? Because we want small acts of Love to be at the core of our Life. Because it expresses what we believe it is to be a Human Being and a “child of God”.

Today there will definitely be an opportunity (or more) for each of us to “make a small sacrifice”. A kind word. A smile.

Let’s do it! For Heaven’s sake, we are not being asked to do anything spectacular.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'll let the racket do the talking.

John McEnroe, “bad boy” of tennis;
he was born on this date, 1959

His tennis racquet was his “instrument”, by which John showed his best self (though he could be very unpleasant), and his ability to do his best, exercising the gifts and skills he had been given.

McEnroe was known around the World for his anger, hostility, bitchiness, lack of control ….. and brilliance at his craft.

So, here’s how it pans out for us.

Our instrument, our “racquet”, our unique Being … Who We Are. It is how we “do our talking”.

What’s lurking behind the “racquet” can be troublesome. It can, badly employed, wreck everything.

But spiritually, our “racquet” is the mystery of the connection we have with the force that lies behind the existence of all Being. All Religion, all Philosophy, is about learning how to merge with this Power, and how then to let that Power lead us into Life.

I have finally discovered that Power. It is far beyond the puniness of what we, through lifeless systems of “belief”, have put in its place.

All Religions, however vivid they may be, are but a pale reflection of the Path that leads us to Union with the Divine …. to our Wholeness.

Most Religions have degenerated into pale ghosts of Guides to the Path of the Divine. Why? Because we Seekers have capitulated.

I say: Take hold of your destiny. Be a Christ. Transform your spiritual community, from a pawn of the secular to a witness of the Cosmic Christ. Let your "racquet" - your superb humanity - do the talking.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stretching his hand up to reach the stars,
too often man forgets the flowers at his feet

Jeremy Bentham, English philosopher, economist and
exponent of Utilitarianism; he was born on this date,

Why have we humans thought of Heaven? Simple, I think. Human life has its large share of pain and challenge. It’s a “given” of being human. Emotionally and psychologically, it is really helpful to have a vision ahead of us where that pain and challenge loses power. After all, we humans can benefit from a hope which not only calms our fears, but which also energizes us to make the best of this earthly life.

I long ago come to the conclusion that Earthly Life is a kind of parallel preparation for Eternity. To put it another way, if we don’t “get it” here, we won’t “recognize it” there. If we can’t understand how to love here in the Earth, “Heaven” is not possible. Heaven may exist … but we will have opted out

However: the Mystery is, We can’t fully know the “mind of God” ….. and God is infinitely more compassionate than we are able to be.

“Not forgetting the flowers at our feet” is a deep Gospel principle. It is what Jesus Incarnate is all about - that the Divine is found manifested in the Earth. It reminds us that if we are always “stuck in the hereafter”, living for what we gain after death, we will not understand Life … and God wants us to live this Life fully.

The “stars” can call us on, since we are all the children of stars. But, the stars are not now our “home”, despite what Paul says about “here we have no abiding city”.

I think we must passionately live this earthly Life. In doing so, we clothe ourselves in the garments of Eternity.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
[ In the Western Christian Calendar: St. Valentine’s Day ]

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day 

Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

Geoffrey Chaucer: “Parliament of Foules”

By the reporting in the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia, there are some 14 “saints” mentioned as Valentine. Three are more commonly mentioned. And: the Encyclopedia pointedly mentions that reportage has almost NO historical value.

A “tradition” arose in the Middle Ages in France and England that on 14th of Feb, birds began to pair. Since Valentine’s (which one?) feast day was Feb 14, the tradition arose that it was a date and a saint specially consecrated to lovers, and as the proper occasion for the writing of love letters and the sending of lovers’ tokens. And (may I cynically say) is it at all surprising that people decided to make money out of it!?

But. I won’t be further cynical. I am quite happy to see a special day dedicated to Love.

I have bought my Dennis a pot of fire-engine red tulips (symbol of “two lips”) and a card with a lovely sentiment from the acerbic Maxine … for a laugh.

I do hope you will resist/have resisted the crass commercialism of this day. Just find time to offer to those you love a simple token of that Love. And for heaven’s sake, gratefully accept any such tokens as you are offered.

The Beatles are right: “All you need is Love.”

I say this to a whole lot of you out there, whom I treasure and value and gratefully love:

Be My Valentine!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, February 13, 2012

It always comes back to the same necessity:
go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.

May Sarton, American poet

I am intrigued that we human beings are so mesmerizingly drawn to the evasion of Truth. Sensible spiritual guides know this. They teach turning away from what is False. Think of John the Baptist: in preparing for the appearance of Jesus, the Saviour, John called the people to come and “repent” – to turn away from self-deception and to embrace fearless self-awareness. Why? Because authentic spiritual wisdom teaches that we can’t in fact “go deep enough” unless we head fearlessly into Truth. Socrates/Plato’s teaching (we don’t know if Socrates actually existed) was “Know Thyself” ….. and that phrase was inscribed in the Pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Now: May Sarton seems to suggest that, if we can indeed go “deep enough”, there is a “bedrock of truth”. I don’t know if I agree with her. Though I would like to.

What I do know is that “hard” is a sign of authenticity. I also know that, when one embraces and welcomes “hardness”, something that Jesus said then makes sense: “My yoke is easy and my burden light”. In other words, when we learn to trust “hardness” and not to fear it’s challenge, Life lightens up, and Freedom washes over us.

There seems to be a “natural tendency” to avoid Truth. But Jesus said, “You will know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free”. If “religion” is useful and worthy of commitment, it will teach us to embrace the Truth … and that will set us free.

Go Deep. Find the bedrock of Truth. Do not be afraid (as Jesus often said).

There lies Peace.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, February 10, 2012

Why can't everybody leave everybody else the hell alone?

Jimmy Durante, entertainer;
he was born on this date, 1893,
on the Lower East Side of Manhattan
[ or maybe Brooklyn ]

When I lived in New England, I often heard the phrase “Live and let live” as a truism about the New England way of Life. And, having lived there for several years, I found there to be a strong commitment to it … as well as the need to control or dominate others.

The World at present, however, seems to reflect no appreciation to “Live and Let Live”. Alas. Now: I think that Jesus was a “Live and Let Live” guy! Oh, yes, He wanted everyone to Love each other. And He famously said, “Those who are not against us are for us”. Contrary to popular thought, Jesus did not (in my opinion) start, or intend to start, a new religion. He wanted His people to understand the true nature of the God of Unconditional Love and to live accordingly. Whoever they were, Jew or Gentile.

I understand why the various religions, particularly Christian (and the various Christian sects) and Muslim and Mormon, want to “convert” everyone, or condemn everyone who isn’t their faith. First: Ignorance. Secondly: Fear. Thirdly: they have serious control issues. Fourthly: lack of vision about what “God” is about and desires. They forget that God wishes us to love each other and embrace each other and honour and respect each other as sisters and brothers.

I would like to have 10 seconds on the Internet to speak to everyone within reach.

And I would say simply what Jimmy Durante … the Schnoze – said as the most profound prayer I could utter:

Why can't everybody leave everybody else the hell alone?

And just love and honour and respect and support each other.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, February 9, 2012

Take everything easy
and quit dreaming and brooding
and you will be well guarded
from a thousand evils.

Amy Lowell, Lecturer, critic, poet;
she was born on this day, 1874, in
Brookline MA.

OK. Yes, I know. One can’t always “take it easy”. Yes: one has to “dream”. Yes: sometimes it’s hard not to brood ….. though actually, brooding can be a form of meditation, I’ve discovered.

But. It is amazing how a “thousand evils” can so easily swamp your Life! If we let it happen. I think what Amy is saying is “Live the present moment”. And I think she is right. Living in the Past or the Future eviscerates the gift which the Present offers us ….. and the Present is really all we have, trite as that might sound.

I have my dreams ….. which I may or may not seek out. I do think about the Past, and what I failed to do that I “should” have done. But I think Madame Lowell is wise. Being vitally present to the Present will indeed “will guard us from a thousand evils”.

Here’s a poem of Ms. Lowell’s. She reminds me of just how much I want to experience the “glory of great suns”!


Before me lies a mass of shapeless days,
Unseparated atoms, and I must
Sort them apart and live them. Sifted dust
Covers the formless heap. Reprieves, delays,
There are none, ever. As a monk who prays
The sliding beads asunder, so I thrust
Each tasteless particle aside, and just
Begin again the task which never stays.
And I have known a glory of great suns,
When days flashed by, pulsing with joy and fire!
Drunk bubbled wine in goblets of desire,
And felt the whipped blood laughing as it runs!
Spilt is that liquor, my too hasty hand
Threw down the cup, and did not understand.

We could all do with being saved from a thousand evils ….. and knowing the “pulsing with joy and fire”.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The atheist staring from his attic window
is often nearer to God
than the believer caught up in his own false image of God.

Martin Buber, Jewish religious philosopher;
he was born on this date, 1878, in Germany

“Our own false image of God”. That’s our real issue, isn’t it? There many people today who think that they have the “right” image/understanding of God. And I have to confess, I’m one of them. To my heart and mind and learning, I believe I know what/”who” “God” is. Part of it is 40 years of study and thought and meditation; another part of it is my heart and in my personal experience.

Buber is not the first one to raise the question of the nature, the deep mystery, of who “God” is. It has been raised from the beginning of time. As I have gotten older, and as I have thought and pondered more, my own image of “God” has become like the mystery of the Universe: it has expanded and deepened into the vast depths of infinity and of Unknowing ….. just like dear Br. Lawrence entered into his “Cloud of Unknowing”. As that has happened, I have been forced to expand my understanding of the nature of Love, of Compassion, of Divinity, of Humanity, of “being made in the image of God”.

Much of Christianity in America today (and I would say much of Islam in the World today) has been diminishing it’s conception of God. Minds have long since become more and more closed and narrowed. “God” has come under the control of “believers”, who have consistently diminished the nature of God until God is made in the image of their limitations, their bigotry, their prejudice, their fear, their ego-centricity.

For Buber, “the atheist” is a symbol of a more open, approachable mind and heart. “Atheists” represent a person free from preconceptions, and therefore open to being touched by the Ineffable …. by the One that vastly outdistances our sorely besieged capacities for understanding ….. and our tribalism and our fears and our need to dominate.

The newly-consecrated Episcopal bishop of Washington DC , Marianne Budde, recently wrote: “Jesus said, “you will know people by their fruits.” St. Paul wrote: “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

As I gaze about American popular, highly franchised right-wing, literalistic, evangelical Christianity (which seems to me to demean what “evangelical” means), I see no love, no joy, no peace, no patience, no kindness, no generosity, no faithfulness to the spirit of Jesus, no gentleness, no self-control. What I see is fear and hate and ignorance ….. and in that I see “the sin against the Holy Spirit”.

As I age, my vision of “God” expands like the rush of the expanding Universe ….. and with it expands my awe and my joy and my wonder at the vastness yet to be known of who “God” IS. And with that, my awareness of what I do not know deepens my humanity and my own sense of who I am.

“Staring from” our “attic window” is, I think, the most authentic posture of the true seeker after “God”.

We do not determine Who God Is. The Spirit tells us. The Gospel tells us. God waits for us to recognize Her.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.

Charles Dickens, author; he was born on
this date, 1812.

In gratitude, we ought all to follow Dickens’ example.

Saturnalia (referencing the Sun); Mithras; Horus; Jesus, and many other deities and worthies ….. all their births are celebrated on Dec 25th.

But. More importantly. “Christmas” celebrates the “descent” of God into the human heart, the moment we become fully Who we Are, are born to Be.

The Christmas carol expresses it beautifully:

Thou didst leave thy throne and Thy kingly crown
When Thou camest to earth for me
but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity
O come to my heart Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for Thee.

Christmas is Everyday. Every day we celebrate our Oneness with God.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Monday, February 6, 2012

I don't stand for the black man's side,
I don' t stand for the white man's side.
I stand for God's side.

Bob Marley, fabulous artist; he was born
on this date, 1945 (a year BEFORE me!)
in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica.

I have no idea what Bob Marley thought represented “God’s side”. But, as I have often said, it really doesn’t matter to me; I use his words as a jumping off point.

The bottom line is: God’s side … if we are talking about God as reflected by Jesus … is “Love one another as I have loved you”. Period. So it follows that the primary life-work of a Christian is to plumb the depths of the meaning of Love. I suggest re-reading the apostle Paul’s word’s about Love; Google it! [1st Corinthians]

Religious folk are at a crux (if I may use the word) of decision today. At least, I personally think so. And I do think so, because for me it speaks to the success or failure of Jesus’ message ….. and to the drawing of all people into the Peaceable Kingdom.

Let me put it simply: either we can continue to think that our “job” as Christians is to lead people to a submission to the person of the Biblical Jesus; or, we can become practitioners of Jesus’ radical Love and, by doing so, draw people to the Path of radical Love and Compassion. [ Our preacher this morning emphasized the demand to be Lovers in the path of Jesus.] My observation is that following the former path has been unsuccessful. We are not called, as Christians, to be recruiters for a religious institution. We are called to be Lovers to the full extent that Jesus was a Lover ….. giving up His life as a witness of God’s Unconditional Love.

My deepest prayer and hope is that the human community can be One, under the umbrella of Divine Love. Jesus prayed passionately for this. I am absolutely convinced – because of my prayerful encounter with Him - that Jesus had NO interest in forcing the human race into one religious sect, dangling the carrot in “salvation” before them. That was the goal of followers who misunderstood Him. All Jesus was interested in was that we should be molded into the Community of Unconditional Love.

“God’s Side” is Compassion. “God’s Side” is to love our neighbour as ourself. “God’s side” is to break down all barriers between ourself and all of God’s children, to love them and to desire for them the fullness of Life He promised … not just to followers of Jesus, but to every single human being.

This is something to which I can give my Life.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, February 5, 2012
[ The Fifth Sunday of Epiphany in the Christian Calendar ]

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds
that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never
enter the kingdom of heaven." [ Matthew ]

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of
God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they
are unable to understand them because they are spiritually
discerned. [ 1 Cor 2. ]

"Why do we fast, but you do not see?

Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"

Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,

and oppress all your workers.

Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight

and to strike with a wicked fist.

Such fasting as you do today

will not make your voice heard on high. [ Isaiah 58 ]

From the readings for the 5th Sunday of Epiphany
[ Revised Common Lectionary ]

This Sunday is a Zinger! It’s about Self-deception and Blindness. To my mind, the readings are a window into the fragility and into the mysteriousness of being Human.

So many folk think they understand themselves. This is one of the great deceptions of being Human. Let me give you a contemporary political example: the United States Republican party today sincerely believes that their politics would please God. This is the height of self-deception. The truth is: we are indeed our “sister’s keeper”. Jesus made this very clear. Every time he blasted the Pharisees, it was because they – the popular icon of adherence to the Law - did not live up to their calling.

I would call this “Self-Awareness Sunday”. The readings are reminding us how easily we deceive ourselves. Many contemporary “Christians” are very good at appearing pious - just listen to all the self-righteous pap that is flooding the airways these days, without a resemblance to Christ’s beautiful and Godly Compassion!

“You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.” Most serious Christians think they know the truth about themselves. We do not. Just like the apostles did not. To know the truth requires a surrender minute by minute to the throne of God … a surrender to the sweet Gospel Message.

Fast … and SEE! Humble yourself and NOTICE! Serve and DO NOT OPPRESS!

“Give us the liberty of that abundant Life”. It’s the Life of Compassion, of self-confidence and self-oblation. It’s the Life that is accessible when you know that God made you perfect-in-fallibility, and only asks that you agree to be transfigured day by day by Her compelling Grace.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, February 3, 2012

For this is the journey that men and women make, to find themselves.
If they fail in this, it doesn't matter much else what they find.

James Michener, author; he was born on this date, 1907.

Oh, I read them all, ravenously: The Source; Hawaii; Chesapeake; Texas; The Covenant; Caribbean; Tales of the South Pacific; Caravans. His evocation of the topic was spellbinding. As a youth I spent many nights reading until the book fell on my chest as I fell asleep.

I guess I am in synch with what Michener says, theologically and philosophically. And I believe that what he says is correct: unless we find ourselves, and until we find ourselves, everything that we attempt to add to the World will be skewed in some way. If we have not “found ourselves”, whatever flows from us will not be a sharing of our unique gifts or charism ….. just a rehash of stuff we have “learned”. But God wants us to “find ourselves”, and make our unique contribution ….. that’s ’s what it means to be a “child of God”.

Alas, we seem to live in a time when this Journey is laughed at. Everyone must conform. Everyone must meet others’ expectations. And even more Alas, children are encouraged in this, lest they be bullied and singled out, and, in American culture, hounded and driven often to suicide. I can only feel that we have sunk to the lowest level of what it means to be human.

Why is it that people feel so threatened by what/who is different? It has to be a fault in our upbringing on all levels.

Michener is on the money. First we must know/discover that we are an expression of “the Divine” ….. which simply means that we are the offspring of the great and mysterious power from which drives all Life.

We must find out Who We Are. It is at that moment that we can then add our gift to the Universe.

And of course: we need to have a World which acknowledges and affirms our calling as a messenger of Blessing.

I hope that this will evolve soon!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Better pass boldly into that other world,
in the full glory of some passion,
than fade and wither dismally with age.

James Joyce, Irish Author; he was born
on this date, 1882, in Dublin.

[ Today is 02022012: I love configurations like that!]

Well I remember having to read both “Ulysses” and “Finnegan’s Wake” at university. Hopeless. I didn’t “get” a bit of it! It really annoyed me, as I thought of myself as a perfectly intelligent person. Good for the humility though! And I have to chuckle that when I decided a few years ago to re-read Finnegan’s Wake, I still couldn’t understand it! But, I have to say the same thing about most of the poems in the New Yorker!

I think that most of the great spiritual leaders had a passion. Jesus passed “boldly into that other world” refusing to deny the centrality of Love and compromise. The Buddha did the same, holding steadfastly to the passion of Enlightenment and simplicity. Martin Luther King changes America, living his passion for freedom in the knowledge that he might die for it. There have been countless such people in history, and they have blessed and enriched human existence ….. and shown us the way to Live.

I guess the message is: Each of us is given to gift of a Passion, which, if we embrace it, will bless the World.

What a superb thought!