ADAGIO FOR STRINGS – samuel barber

“the first casualty of war is the truth.”  SENATOR HIRAM JOHNSON – 1917

I’ve been sitting here at my desk for over an hour trying to compose an appropriate, patriotic weekend post for this Memorial Day.  I’ve been sitting here remembering past holidays when I proudly displayed American flags in the front yard for Memorial Day and July 4th.  And, sadly, all that fills my mind are the mournful strings of Barber’s Adagio for Strings.  I remember those sounds from the movie, PLATOON.  It was a somber commentary on the truth of our 1st defeat as a country in battle.  It was  a story which needed to be told about Vietnam, the divisive war which lined the coffers of the American munitions/defense/industrial complex at a cost of 1.4 million casualties of which 58,220 were courageous American warriors.

I won’t put my flags out this year and probably not for years to come.  I may die never again displaying those flags.  Absolutely, I continue to honor and revere those who serve and those who gave their lives in service, but today I kneel with sadness rather than salute with respect the flag which represents a once proud nation led astray by greed and corruption.

A friend recently reminded me that we don’t have to agree politically or theologically to continue loving one another.  I hope he is right and for today I will hold on to that thought for the comfort needed to survive this darkness.

MAY GOD BLESS OUR NATION AND MAY WE ALWAYS SALUTE THOSE WHO SERVED AND DIED.

MAY GOD BLESS ALL THOSE WHO SACRIFICED COMFORT, SECURITY AND LIFE TO DEFEND FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION.

 

$$ MONEY $$ – is it overrated?

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Lord knows I have carried a basketful of stupid decisions and irrational choices in my lifetime which have determined my ‘prosperity’ status.  But truly,  my recollections from years past point simply to a contented life earned and learned by living a simple life.

We were not prosperous by today’s standards.  But, in my eyes, we were the most affluent and blessed people on earth.  Stuff and money did not matter.  We did not compare to the Joneses.  I never went to bed hungry, never walked to the school bus in rags, never slept without a blanket.  Life was good.  In retrospect, what made life good was the fact that just about everybody we knew lived as we did.  We counted our blessings everyday, helped those neighbors who had fallen onto tough times, worshipped in a beautiful country church with other folks who knew the meaning of sharing, compassion, and humble faith.  Oh, a few thought they were special and had the inside track to God, but most of us just accepted that maybe we didn’t really know all the answers and we tried to live a life that pleased family, friends, and neighbors and in doing so, hopefully pleased God.

Yes, we had abundant security even if we did not have money.  We depended on each other knowing that the world would have to end before any one of us would abandon the other.  Do we have that security today?  Do you know your neighbors’ names or where they were born?  Would your community feed you, house you, and clothe you if hard times hit or would you need to pitch a tent in the woods and eat bugs and lizards?

Compassion prevailed back then because we were a community of individuals who knew each house and family along the country roads leading to church, to the general store, to the Ford dealer, to the Grange hall, to the telephone office where an operator manned (or womanned) the switch board 24 hours a day, and to the undertaker’s house to which  each of us would someday take a quiet journey.  Everybody knew everybody else – Mrs. Johnson’s bouts with depression, the Mitchell children needing new shoes, the insurance agent’s penchant for Jack Daniels, and the milkman’s weekend trips to the city to walk on the wild side.  We did our best to live right, but none of us were cocksure of eternity and none of us claimed to have the answers.  Life was a mystery and we knew it was wise to leave it as such.  In that simple, uncomplicated, unsophisticated bygone community of farmers, our lives had meaning.  Life was precious and each member of that community had a sense of belonging.

Today’s times are troubling.  The ones who proclaim to be spiritual leaders seem to be speaking from both sides of the mouth, their lives betray the words coming from the pulpits.  Some houses of worship have become palatial with a senior pastor, junior pastor, assistant pastor and a staff of office help.  Preaching hell and damnation for those who don’t adhere to their narrow litany of thou shalts and thou shalt nots, they go home to an equally impressive mansion with amenities and ‘stuff’ which most of the congregation cannot afford.

The gospel of prosperity and exclusion which I am hearing from numerous religious leaders nationwide starkly contrasts to the teachings of Jesus that I remember from my little country church years ago.  Humility is lacking, compassion is lacking, love for every member of humanity is replaced by an attitude of tribalism.  The strident position of excessively cocksure Christians evidenced today is alarming.  “You are going to hell, but I’m not because I have discovered the path to salvation.  I am a believer, you are lost.”

I don’t remember in my younger experience that Jesus taught any of those things which extreme-right fundamentalists are pumping from their pulpits.  Maybe I wasn’t listening well enough, maybe I missed the spiritual boat just as I missed out on the prosperity boat.  But, you know what?  I would not trade the soul security and contentment which I learned in that country church attended by simple folks who practiced a gospel of humility and social justice.  I would not trade the peace of mind I have for all the promises today’s prosperity preachers dangle from their pulpits of hypocrisy and intolerance.

Just a few thoughts from a simple man who still believes there is more to life than money.

 

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON – candidate

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MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

What can I say about Marianne Williamson?  If you have not read her books or listened to her motivational seminars then you have missed a great opportunity to know a woman who is uniquely spiritual in a non-religious way.  She has paid the dues of growing up in the 1960s and 70s amidst the rebellion, protesting, and ‘experimenting’, found her way to the sanity of sober-living in a drunken, crazy world.  She has remained grounded in her personal faith walk through the same challenges and travails which we all encounter. Humbly and graciously Marianne leads others to an understanding of what the world needs to do to ensure the earth’s survival in these tumultuous times.

Her prayers speak to and for a hurting, broken world system seemingly intent on self-destruction.  The verses address the realities of hatred, intolerance, greed, racism and xenophobia.  The answers are always the same – humility, self assessment and surrender to a power beyond earthly restraints.  We do not have the resources within ourselves to address the depths of our depravity.  Only a Higher Power can look upon us with enough love and forgiveness to change humanity’s destructive course.  Call that power God, Love, Spirit, Enlightenment, Source, Oneness – it is universal and available to all mankind.

Read with me now excerpts from Marianne’s prayer for America. (this was published in 1994 in her book ILLUMINATA)

“……We give thanks in our hearts for the founding of this country.  We give thanks for and bless the souls of those who came before us to found this nation, to nurture and save it.

cropped-candle.png…..May this nation be forgiven its transgressions, against the African-American, Native American, and any and all others.  May our lives be turned into instruments of resurrection, that the sins of our fathers might be reversed through us.  May the beauty and the greatness of this land burst forth once more in the hearts of its people.

…..May this country once again become a light unto the nations of hope and goodness and peace and freedom.  May violence and darkness be cast out of our midst.  May hatred no longer find fertile ground to grow here.

…..May we be repaired, may we be forgiven, may our children be blessed, may we be renewed.”  Amen

Marianne Williamson has declared her candidacy for President of the United States.  My initial reaction was shock and disbelief.  She’s too nice, she’s too honest, she’s too spiritual….she’s too easy a target for all the slanderous, devious, spiteful, dishonest rhetoric which we have learned to accept from the political world.  She’ll never survive the hatred.

But, she’s a perfect candidate!  Who better to neutralize the quasi-religious element of Christianity posing as America’s savior?  Who better to return a sense of decency and decorum to our nation’s capital?  Who better to restore our standing in the world as a people with an unmovable moral compass?  Who better to heal America’s soul sickness? Who better to resurrect the Lady in the harbor?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

In Marianne’s world miracles happen.  Mine too.  She’s not a polished politician, just a decent human being.  Let’s have the audacity to be kind, to be loving, to be great as a nation.  Let’s wage peace.

A DEEPER LOOK AT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

 

“you said come just as you are”

 

photos by LARRY PAUL BROWN

There’s a place I go where the eagles fly high, the rivers run deep, the grass is lush.  In that place it is peaceful and kind, no violence nor intolerance.  Wildflowers wave in the gentle breezes as the freshness of nearby pine forests fills the air with breath after breath of luxurious serenity.  I sit in the grass, admire the beauty of the flowers and  marvel that truly there is a heaven on earth.

And then, when that which is called reality reins in this escape to a quiet place, I return reluctantly and sadly.  But, I know that someday this kind and peaceful place will be a permanent home where I also shall soar with the eagles breathing in the freshness of eternity.  Come with me, won’t you?  We can go there just as we are.

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Every one of us has a story to tell.  It usually reflects on the brokenness of a past life which carried us to places that were more like a living hell than heaven.  Sometimes it involves drug addiction or alcoholism. Often it is a story of abuse and deprivation at the hands of someone whom we trusted.  Or we may return to the horrors of sex abuse and physical assault when telling our story.  The common thread with each one of our stories is the final surrender of the pain and suffering to an unseen, unfamiliar power.  We somehow, miraculously, discovered healing and acceptance.  We recognized and embraced our inner beauty and greatness.  We became willing to believe that our past lives, though never to be forgotten, should no longer be baggage to slow down our journey through sobriety.  And with each passing clean and serene day we discovered a special place where eagles soar, water runs deep, and grass is green, a place where peace and kindness greet our morning sun.

Drunk and reeking of alcohol, I met my unseen, unfamiliar Higher Power in a bar room as I staggered past a man who grabbed hold of me and said, “Son, do you want to be free?”  My blurred vision couldn’t really focus on the man and upon finally making my way to the door, turning around to see who had spoken to me, he was gone.  I demanded of the bartender,

“Who was that man that just grabbed me by the shoulders?”

“Sir, it’s just you and me in this bar room.  Nobody else has been here in the past hour.”

Do you want to be free?  Free of substance addiction, free of behavior addictions, free of self-imposed hell?  Lean into the Master and receive your miracle.   Matters not whether we name it Higher Power, the Source, God, or Spirit, the salvation we seek will welcome us with open arms and a hearty,

“Welcome home, son.  I have been waiting for you.  Now, come just as you are; sit with me for a while.  We have some catching up to do.”


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NAOMI KLEIN – capitalism

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photo by PIXABAY

NAOMI KLEIN, “NO IS NOT ENOUGH” “With unleashed white supremacy and misogyny, with the world teetering on the edge of ecological collapse, with the very last vestiges of the public sphere set to be devoured by capital, it’s clear that we need to do more than draw a line in the sand and say ‘no more.’ Yes, we need to do that and we need to chart a credible and inspiring path to a different future. And that future . . . has to be somewhere we have never been before.”

We know, we all know that the violence, hatred, greed and intolerance in today’s world cannot be sustained.  Most of us also know that the destruction of the earth’s resources for financial gain cannot be sustained.  We must transcend to a place where polar bears and rain forests are more esteemed than stock portfolios and asset holdings.  The consequences of ignoring the pleas of nature will be dire.  Do you hear Mother Earth screaming?  No, she’s not calling to us for assistance; rather, the scream is at us for being so stupid and self-indulged.  She knows the earth will recover and flourish – we, homo-sapiens, will not.

Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, referred to the melting polar ice cap as ” a wonderful economic opportunity for international trade…..West to Asia shipping routes across the ice free Artic would cut shipping times by 2 to 3 weeks.”  Perhaps Mike would be ecstatic with the prospect of Atlanta, Georgia, becoming a major Atlantic seaport after the waters have risen to cover the entire eastern seaboard.  Charleston and Savannah will have gone the route of ancient fabled Atlantis.  That’s right, Mike.  Who needs polar bears?

Naomi Klein, in her book, is speaking to unfettered capitalism, the kind that doesn’t value polar bears and rainforests.  But, run-away capitalism relies on all of us playing the game of consumerism.  It’s a relatively new game plan that did not exist generations ago when the wood cook stove was an heirloom handed from generation to generation or the wooden furniture was truly made of wood and lasted for centuries.  My grandmother’s first encounter with “throw-away” was a roll of paper towels.  She washed out the sheets and hung them behind the stove to dry.  😍

We can beat the capitalists at their own game.  Don’t buy their products and the money flow reverses.  When the bottom line for stockholders declines, management and ownership will need to change the game.  It’s not at all complicated.  My grandparents mastered consumerism out of necessity.  The family car was not replaced until the wheels no longer turned.  The old Frigidaire refrigerator in the kitchen was not replaced just because it did not have the latest gadgets and dials.  It served faithfully for 30 years with a freezer that served up hundreds of gallons of home made ice cream.  Designer clothes for school were not purchased every year because we all wore clothes without fancy name tags until they had no wear left in them.  Our shirts were JC Penney hand-me-downs.  We learned how to conserve natural resources because we had a deep reverence for the earth.  Too simplistic, you say?  Just learn to say no to the incessant flow of advertising on your media screens and half the battle is won.

Of course the consequences of allowing the corporate world to rape the earth are huge.  But, so are we.  Collectively, we have a voice bigger than anything that comes off Madison Avenue or Wall Street.  Each one of us can decide today to put off that new phone or flat screen.  We can choose to have a vegetarian dinner tonight instead of beef raised on land that once was a rain forest.  We can wear that same old pair of sneakers for another year.  Grandma and Grandpa will be proud of us.  The polar bears will love us.

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“This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.  All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.  Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”  TREATY ORATION 1854 CHIEF SEATTLE

 

 

let’s try Christianity

I had another post prepared to share, but a more pressing issue blipped onto my radar screen and I believe this post from a while back is appropriate for today’s religious dialog. 🙏

via let’s try Christianity

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“Imagine no heaven or hell….and no religion, too.  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”  JOHN LENNON

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HERE COMES THE SUN – “we are the world”

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photo by ABHIRAM PRAKASH

The sun also rises on those other than Western Caucasians.  Think about that for a moment, will you?  From the tranquility of Pacific islands to the teeming humanity of India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to the mountains of Tibet and Nepal to the deserts of the Middle East to the common ancestry we have in Europe – they all see the same sun which we see.  So, how can we believe that the sun and all its blessings belong only to us, that only we deserve to be warmed and nurtured, that only we are the rightful recipients of the bounty created by a non-discriminating Source, that only we have the keys to the spiritual mysteries of a universe lit by the sun’s daily light?  Really?  Rather obtuse thinking, isn’t it?

I abhor intolerance and discrimination in any form, but especially that which is fueled by political and religious philosophy.  The sun which we welcome each morning with outstretched arms doesn’t really care about mankind’s learned hypocrisy and prejudice.  It does not withhold its warmth and light based on political leaning or theology.  It has no choice but to rise each morning and make our earth fruitful and sustaining.  To us is left the task of discerning right from wrong, moral from immoral, and justice from injustice regardless of race, creed, nationality, skin color or sexual orientation.  Just as the sun lights the earth, our inner light has to be the moral compass which illumines each step of our daily trek from the moment of awakening in the morning to the stillness before retiring for the night.  The choices we enjoy every day are ours because someone before us cared enough to keep the fire of love, tolerance, justice and compassion burning.

My trek is not that of a preacher or moralizer.  I merely arise each morning giving thanks for the new day and asking for the grace to live up to my inherent potential.  Over 2 1/2 billion humans across the globe live on my earth, bask in the same sun.  I must share with them what has been freely given to me.  Too tall an order, you say.  Not really.  Day by day and one step at a time we can conquer a million  differences in creating a communal eternity capable of sustaining and embracing all of creation.  The source of our energy gives itself freely.  We should, too.

We are the world, we are the children – it’s up to us.

FOR FURTHER READING

FRANCISCAN ACTION NETWORK

“Stand up!  Shout from the mountaintops that you are one of the disciples who is here, not preparing to go to heaven, but to create the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.”

 

HERE COMES THE SUN – psalm 23

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photo by BRUNO SCRAMGMON

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

The wisdom of the ancients gifted us with beautiful prose which gives  rise to joy, reflection, admonition, encouragement and fearlessness.  We awaken each morning to a plethora of opportunities to chase and beauty to behold.  It’s our choice how we will respond to the new day.

Some mornings we open our eyes and want to simply roll over and return to a comfortable slumber.  Some mornings we awaken to an unexplainable soul darkness which we don’t want to entertain, but cannot shrug off.  Carryover words from a contentious conversation yesterday which were not resolved.  Mind-numbing news reporting which has led us to dwell upon mankind’s inhumanity to man.  Personal challenges which require action in our new day.  All can easily be denied by simply rolling over and snoozing for the rest of the day.  We can deal with all those issues tomorrow.  Or we can enter that dark valley and, trusting in the goodness of a kind Source, carry our inner lamps to light the way.

The valley of darkness is often translated as the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ in scriptures.  In my younger days this was a mainstay of any Christian burial service.  But, Psalm 23 goes on to indicate that, after passing through this dark journey, there is light, hope, goodness and mercy beyond.  My head is anointed and my cup is overflowing.  That journey of darkness shall be behind us as we enter onto the next plateau of brilliance.

Therefore, if your day, or mine, is clouded and dreary, embrace it, walk through it and know that there is a lesson to learn.  Perhaps it is a necessary time of reflection and meditation, a time to recalibrate the inner soul workings, a time to inventory ‘what is’ in relation to what we want it to be.  Don’t be afraid.  Rest in the opening words of Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

If you are conflicted today, if you are not seeing the rising sun on the horizon, take a few minutes to listen to Psalm 23 put to music.  The ancients intended these words to be sung.

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HERE COMES THE SUN – serenity prayer

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photo by JOHANNES PLENIO

Perhaps it’s an age thing – at this advanced chronological time in life, the ways of personal survival which have been learned and applied successfully over a lifetime, no longer hold validity in the eyes of the ‘younger ones’, those who are far more intelligent and cognitive.  Perhaps their ways are more sensible for today’s times; but, my way is exactly that – MY WAY.  And I still like my way.

Ahhh, did someone get out of bed this morning with an attitude?  You?  Spouse?  Children?  Neighbor?……Me?  Even the normal yoga, meditation, and exercise routine did not prepare for the annoying, “Well, you should do it my way, it’s better,” from the first interloper of the day.  Hmmm, go back to bed and start over?

Politicians, telemarketers, door-to-door salesman, Bible-thumpers can be annoyances.  Car salesmen, loud rap music, insurance agents, Republican neighbors, slow drivers in the passing lane can be annoyances.  But, loved ones should not be.  We call them loved ones because we love them and they love us.  And that’s all we need to know.  Let’s not categorize them as annoyances.  So, how can we do that?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things (insert people) I cannot change….”

“…courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Yes, a few simple words with a huge promise can redirect my day, and yours.  Memorize the serenity prayer, say it out loud, repeat it again and again and again until you mean it.  And then receive the blessing of unbridled serenity.

and now that you are calm and serene….here’s an annoying thought from a Texas lawmaker

Responding to a vaccine researcher who urged Texas lawmakers to reverse the upward trend in vaccine exemptions – ” state Representative Jonathan Strickland told Dr. Peter Hotez to ‘do our state a favor and mind your own business.  Parental rights mean more to us than your self-enriching science.'”  VACCINATION IS SORCERY

PLEASE GIVE 4 MINUTES OF YOUR TIME TO LOVE OUR EARTH

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be still and know

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Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.

Be persistent in asking.  When in that quiet inner space, don’t be timid with requests.  The answer will always be ‘yes, no, or not now’.  But, whatever the answer may be, be assured that our internal GPS has got us covered and will bring us safely to the next plateau of life – if we heed our inner voice.  Very simple, degree in rocket science not required to know what our conscience tells us in those quiet moments.  The secret, if there is any secret, is to slow down, be silent, still the wandering mind, and listen.  Ask for guidance and it will be given.  Be still and know.

Seek joy and happiness relentlessly.  Life around us changes with every passing moment.  We must also adjust.  Our central core of understanding has an amazing capacity to adjust.  What was yesterday’s ‘golden oldie’ is today’s old fogey flashback.  When we hang on to the ‘way things used to be’ we are stifling what needs to happen now in our continuing growth.  Doesn’t mean we should give up values, the moral compass which has been a lifetime beacon; rather, it means evolving those values to make sense in today’s crazy world.

Centuries ago when one element of society disagreed with the beliefs and actions of another, it could find a new, uncharted continent to settle and follow its philosophy.  Vacant, unexplored land has disappeared and it has become a matter of species survival to learn co-existence with a variety of races, creeds, and religions.

Namaste🙏