Leonard Cohen

unshackled-2So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

“For the millions in a prison
That wealth has set apart—
For the Christ who has not risen,
From the caverns of the heart

For the innermost decision
That we cannot but obey
For what’s left of our religion,
I lift my voice and pray;
May the lights in the land of Plenty
Shine on the truth someday.”

—Leonard Cohen

“pig in the python”

 

 

“sharp statistical increase represented as a bulge in an otherwise level pattern.”

young, mature, old

Picture a python that has just eaten a pig.  We are the bulge in that python’s belly.  We are the baby boomers.  Born between 1946 and 1964, we were part of the phenomenal birth rate increase following the end of WWII.  Life in the USA was good.  It was a time of jobs, prosperity, security, enforced peace, a resumption of  families supported by dads returning from the sacrifices of war time.

We grew up with the images of “Ozzie & Harriet”, “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father Knows Best” teaching us how life should be.  Beginning in 1959 we watched 14 seasons of the Cartwrights on “Bonanza” showing us how ‘real men’ lived.  Back then the “Nightly News” was a reporting of factual events rather than an attempt to entertain or politicize.

Our parents intended for us to have it all, a better life than they had.  Job security was the norm enabling dad to spend his entire career with one employer.  Mom stayed at home keeping house, prepared great home-cooked meals for her loved ones, chaired the local PTA, drank socially with her Wednesday afternoon card club.  Junior and Sis went to segregated schools, attended sock hops on Saturday night, dreamed of being the prom King and Queen, prepared for college and an independent life with families of their own.

Remember those days?  Me neither.  Here’s how it really was.  Bobby’s dad was escaping to the city on ‘business trips’ to meet the young, hot secretary from the office for a few hours of sex.  Betty’s mom was sneaking martinis every afternoon before the kids came home from school.  Junior was getting high with his friends and Sis was given to bobbing in the back seat of her boy friend’s car.

And we became emancipated.  Woodstock, the Beatles, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war protesters, the political corruption all met within the 1960s to create a generation of young people unwilling to accept the status quo.  We were called radical and degenerate for rejecting ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ and the ‘Cartwrights’, following, instead, a desperate departure from our parents’ dreams.  Much of that idealism was relinquished with the passing years, and most of us settled into responsible adult relationships and behaviors just like mom and dad.  But, a few of us became ‘forever dropouts’.

My name is Larry and I am a baby boomer.  Today marks my 73rd birthday.  Still haven’t figured out if I’m still a dropout or just an anti-social senior citizen.

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peace like a river

disconnect

Welcome to my little get-away.  Do you like it?  Before we settle in let’s toss some of the excess baggage.  There’s no room for those resentments about the past nor worries about tomorrow.  Get rid of that backpack of responsibilities weighing you down.  Settle in under my palm tree and let’s look just beyond the horizon.  It’s calling us, isn’t it?  Rest for the soul. 

What we see beyond the horizon is merely a reflection of that which we know is indwelling.  Steadfast and unchanging, it is the arm into which we lean in feast and famine, in light and darkness, in joy and sorrow, in peace and conflict.  Comforter, counselor, redeemer, shepherd – faithfully waiting for us to quietly enter Presence.  Don’t wallow in yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow for today in this moment we are reassured that sitting under our palm tree, gazing into the horizon is soul work of the utmost importance.

When peace like a river attendeth my soul,
when sorrow like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
‘it is well, it is well with my soul.'”
Horatio Spafford

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  unshackled 3

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

 

stuff

disconnect

Welcome to my little get-away.  Do you like it?  Before we settle in let’s toss some of the excess baggage.  There’s no room for those resentments about the past nor worries about tomorrow.  Get rid of that backpack of responsibilities weighing you down.  Settle in under my palm tree and let’s look just beyond the horizon.  It’s calling us, isn’t it?  Rest for the soul. 

You have probably noticed that there is not a house under my palm tree, not even a hut or tent.  Running water would be nice, but what use is a bathroom without a house?  There is no shed for excess belongings, no lawn mower, no shovels, no wheelbarrow.  No need for a storage unit across town in which to store all the stuff that won’t fit into the attic or cellar or garage.  Pretty sparse by American standards – actually downright spartan.

Stuff – it’s the American way.  More, more, more to satisfy an insatiable thirst for possessions that will prove to our friends and neighbors how successful we are and to ourselves that we are special.  Then, when we tire of our stuff, we throw it into the dumpster and immediately run to Wally World to buy more stuff.  Stuff, stuff, stuff.

As we ponder the horizon from under our palm tree, let’s consider what our greed and Madison Avenue’s advertising genius have done to us as a society.  The USA consumes an enormously disproportionate share of the earth’s resources to produce all the conveniences and goods we are accustomed to having.  One would think, therefore, that we are the most content, well-balanced, satisfied nation on the surface of the planet enjoying the most advanced living standard.  Really?

What went wrong?  We bought into capitalism’s promises of fulfillment and happiness hook, line, and sinker.  We were snookered by the rich cats living in opulence surrounded by all their stuff which, by the way, is much better than our stuff.  Oh no.  Not only did they lead us astray, they got away with the really good stuff and left us with the junk!

Head spinning yet?  Come back, back to our horizon, back to our palm tree, back to what is important – living in the now.  Surrender to the wisdom of the ancient mystics who told us that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enjoy a place of peace (heaven) while saddled with his stuff.

pride8

unshackled-2

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

time to unplug

 

A steady diet of shameful news, government corruption, political shenanigans sometimes needs to be met living a few days unplugged.  No FB, no news feeds, no front page stories cropped-35.pngin the newspaper, no diversions from self-imposed exile on my front porch…or maybe  a visit to my brothers on Constagos, my Mediterranean get-away island.  Love you all.

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

coming soon to your town

No, I’m not talking about a circus, a new movie release, a new box store.  Federal agents have invaded the city of Portland, Oregon ostensibly to quell the rioting ‘anarchists’ who, according to WH reports, are overtaking the city.  Local Portland and state of Oregon officials are saying the protests are mostly peaceful and demanding the feds get out of their city.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has sued multiple federal agencies alleging agents in unmarked vehicles have grabbed people off Portland’s streets without a warrant in recent days.  USA TODAY

The AG says the tactics are similar to kidnapping.  Should we be surprised?  The same WH has caged children on our southern border, condoned police brutality publicly and excused the Charlottesville fiasco stating that there were ‘good people’ among the neo-Nazi torch carriers.

We can not afford to turn and look the other way, to be indifferent to the vile force posing as government protection.  Non-violent protest is our trump card.  MLK,Jr. and Gandhi have proven that violent government intervention cannot win over non-violence.  The feds can intimidate, kidnap, beat with billy clubs, and arrest, but cannot crush the spirit of non-violent protest.

In the 1960s and 1970s peaceniks and flower children led the marches.  The feds called my brothers and sisters cowards and communists.  But, old passions won’t die, will they?  We simply became older peaceniks.  We ended the Vietnam War and we got Civil Rights legislation passed.  We, the peacemakers, prevailed then and we can do so today.

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

indifference

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

Speaking to a friend today, she shared her recent experience when her son and grandchildren came to visit.  Their conversation turned to the Holocaust.  Her 15 year-old grandson drew a blank stare of unknowing.  Looking to her son, my friend asked,  “He does know about the Holocaust, doesn’t he?”

“No,” replied the son, “they don’t teach it in school.”

They don’t teach it in school!  Over 6 million people were systematically murdered in one of humanity’s most wretched schemes of genocide less than a century ago….and they don’t teach it in schools.  Survivors have related their tales of horror at the hands of Nazi Germany, SCHINDLER’S LIST was an epic fact-based movie portraying the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany,  Elie Wiesel, several years after his release from Buchenwald, wrote in detail the horror at the hands of Nazi Germany…and they don’t teach it in schools.

Today I think about what I would do if the same thing happened in America.  Would I have the courage to stand up and defend a persecuted, demonized, scapegoated man with an odd last name, a Muslim woman wearing a niqab, a black man in dread locks, or a Hasidic Jew?  Of course, I would.

Oh, by the way, what if my country has embraced white nationalism and has become a bustling hub of neo-Nazism?  What’s the answer now?  “Well, that certainly will not happen,” I reassure myself.

Really?  Do we think that in Germany, in the early 1930s, the gentle, God-fearing, Lutheran citizens anticipated Hitler and a Nazi Germany with goose-stepping soldiers wearing swastikas on their arms would parade the streets, that Jews would be rounded up and put into death camps only a decade later?  Can we afford to be that naive?

And the question again is whether I would risk my life and liberty to defend someone less white than me, less privileged than me, someone who is Jewish, Muslim, or any of the others on the target list of white nationalists and white supremacists?   Or will I stand by the railroads and watch cattle cars loaded with humans pass by on the way to the ‘final solution’ and turn the other way?

  1. We must remember and teach to our children the sad episodes of human depravity including American slavery, the relocation of Native Americans, the unwillingness to aid the Jews in WWII, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII, and the horrors of the Holocaust.
  2.  We must confront the cowardice of white supremacy and the neo-Nazi movement in America.
  3.  We must remember the words of Elie Wiesel:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

The late Congressman John Lewis reflected in his remarks upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama:

“never get lost in a sea of despair…have this abiding faith that there are things that are so right, so good, so necessary that you are willing to die for…”

What mountain am I willing to defend?  What things so good, so right and so necessary am I willing to die for?

alone calm faith light
Photo by Garon Piceli on Pexels.com

GLAAD – ROSS MURRAY

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

Ross Murray is the Senior Director of Education & Training at The GLAAD Media Institute a founder and director of The Naming Project, a faith-based camp for LGBTQ youth and their allies. Ross is a consecrated Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with a specific calling to advocate for LGBTQ people and to bridge the LGBTQ and faith communities. 

Looking for inspiration to write today’s post, Ross Murray crossed my radar screen.  One of my morning reads is RED LETTER CHRISTIANS. ORG.  It’s commentary began with a verse from Isaiah 58, verse 1:

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.  Raise your voice like a trumpet.  Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.”

Mayor Pete, in his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Presidency, often referred to the faith walk he and husband Chasten embrace in their lives.  Yes, America, many gays do profess a God and many choose to express that profession through Christianity.  Ron Murray, an advocate for the LGBTQ community, claims a calling to bridge the gap between us and faith communities.  The use of Isaiah 58, verse one, to urge us forward into action regarding social injustices is surprising as many Christians would use the same verse to condemn those of us who do not fit into the boxes which they have created for us.

Check out the link GLAAD MEDIA.  It’s another resource for the LGBTQ community. According to the home page of its blog –

“GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change.”

PRIDE7

 

life-sustaining society

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

“If there is to be a livable world for those who come after us, it will be because we have managed to make the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society. . . . While the agricultural revolution took centuries and the Industrial revolution took generations, (the Great Turning) has to happen within a matter of years. It also has to be conscious—involving not only the political economy, but the habits, values and understandings that foster it.” —Joanna Macy – Pace e Bene

Can we do that?  We, who have been the most voracious consumers of this earth’s resources, who have built an empire on the backs of slave and immigrant labor, who have tilted the political process in favor of the corporate elite, who have widened the gulf between the prosperous and the poor, who have thumbed our noses at environmental consciousness….can we do that?  Not over the course of centuries or generations, but within a few years we must make our decisions.  Can we build a life-sustaining society which honors the entirety of creation?beard-beggar-face-35015

 

RESTORATION

photo of path in between woods during autumn
Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

YES MAGAZINE

Years ago when living in Pennsylvania, it was a short Sunday afternoon drive to the mountaintops of the state’s share of the Appalachian Trail.  An autumn trip on interstate 81 provided spectacular color and views of the surrounding countryside.

Unfortunately easy access to this mountain interstate also provided to the city of Philadelphia an inexpensive place to dump their garbage and to international corporations cheap land for construction of gigantic distribution centers.  Landfills and warehouses began to dot the views along the roadway.

Strip mining for coal also became more profitable because of the interstate access.  It was cheaper and easier than the shafts and tunnels of traditional mining.  Huge gouges appeared in the previously pristine landscape.  Pennsylvania was not the only victim as other states such as West Virginia suffered the same pillage and rape.

I receive newsletters from YES MAGAZINE via e-mail.  Today’s mailing details the recovery efforts of one such mining area in West Virginia.  Dedicated environmentalists, enlisting local residents facing unemployment due to a decline in coal mining, are attempting to build farm communities over the filled-in mines and covered-over landfills where the devastation occurred during the past decades.

Granted, it’s an economic undertaking to improve the lives of local residents, but can we also see these works as acts of love directed to restore our Creator’s creation? Love is not only for mankind, but for every mountain, every river, every forest, every tree, every creature put here for our enjoyment and need.

“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce.  But you came and defiled my land and made it detestable.”  JEREMIAH 2:7

Scroll to the bottom of the page provided above in the YES MAGAZINE link for a free subscription to their newsletters.