leadership

Many in America are in a state of denial.  They refuse to believe that the most powerful country on earth has been brought to its knees by a virus, something unseen that can lurk within, undetected until it lashes out with deadly consequences upon its unfortunate victims.

For some of them, a popular conspiracy theory is more acceptable – the Chinese have done it for economic control, the medical community is inflating numbers to make covid-19 appear more dire than it actually is thus receiving more federal aid, and the Democrats have conspired to use the bug for political advantage in November.  Damn those Dems anyhow.  I had no idea we were that powerful.😁

What cannot be denied is that a divided nation has become even more divided pitting those who mask against those who don’t mask, those who practice social distancing against those who freely interact, and those who prefer to be safe until a vaccine is developed against those who call the lockdown a politically motivated drama.

Political leadership is the key element in this division.  We do not enjoy the leadership of a uniting force in government.  From the Tao Te Ching we learn the following wisdom:

The best of leaders,
his people hardly know that he exists.
Next is the leader his people love and praise.
Next comes the one they fear.
Next comes the one they shame.

Nonchalant and reticent.
When work is done,
His people say, ‘We did it all but naturally!’

–  Lao Tzu

 

amendment 4 – a bright spot in today’s dismal political news

In the 2018 elections Florida’s voters passed overwhelmingly Amendment 4 which stated that people with past felony convictions who had completed their sentences could not be locked out of the democratic process in future elections.

Governor Ron DeSantis and a majority of Florida’s lawmakers countered with SB 7066 which required people with past felony  convictions to pay fines, fees and restitution before they were allowed to vote.  Essentially, they would be forced to pay for the right to vote.  The state government, led by DeSantis, undermined the voices of millions of Florida voters.

“In a landmark decision yesterday, a federal court affirmed the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of Floridians and ruled that a pay-to-vote system is unconstitutional.

This victory with our partners means that Floridians with past felony convictions cannot be banned from voting if they are unable to pay fines, fees or restitution.”

SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER

FREEDOM

What does freedom mean to you?  Picture6
What price will you pay for it? 
Would you be willing to die so others could enjoy freedom?

I’m not sure what the motives were for my father and three of his brothers.  They all enlisted in the military service of their country during WW2.  But, whatever their reasoning, they are my heroes on this Memorial Day.  Returning to civilian life after the war, they continued to serve their families and communities.  In my eyes they put everything on the line to ensure the freedom of every one of us for generations to come.  That kind of courage and selflessness is rare in today’s America.

Freedom is not free.  It comes at great cost.  I often wonder if I have paid my dues – have I paid the price for the freedoms I enjoy today?  Perhaps that I.O.U will come due sometime in the future.  What do I owe and to whom?  Will I have the courage and selflessness to pay my debt?

The greatest gifting of freedom, aside from the sacrifices of our fallen military heroes, has been the adventure of sobriety given to a helpless, hopeless drunk.  Undeserved and unmerited, this gift of amazing grace has allowed a life of celebration and thankfulness rather than one of dread and misery.  John 8:36 says it all:

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

This is not a freedom with conditional clauses and a litany of ‘thou shalt and shalt not’.  It is not tied to any particular faith walk or theology.  It does not consign me to hell for being bad or promise me heaven for being good.  There are only two requirements for enjoying this freedom forever.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all you mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  JOHN 10:27

Pretty simple stuff.  Freedom can be costly, but need not be difficult.

LOVE

 

“hear our prayer this day” by Austin Fleming

Flags waving,
patriotic music filling the airwaves,
picnics celebrating,
picture1kegs of beer overflowing,
tables laden with ribs and beans,
corn on the cob and slaw.

Just another holiday that’s lost its meaning?
Or a time to remember that our freedom is at great cost.

Hear Our Prayer This Day

by AUSTIN FLEMING

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on the One whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing …

You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone …

Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs …

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice …

Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace …

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts…

Hear our prayer this day
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.

The peace of God be with you.

JESUITRESOURCE.ORG

 

the JOURNEY

Not knowing the answers is a wonderful experience leading to asking more questions, continuing the search for wisdom and knowledge.  We often look to the ancients who also walked the paths we are on.  They were often labeled heretics and blasphemers for proposing thoughts and ideas contrary to established cropped-speaking-truth2.pngtraditions.  They were the holy men, the mystics who searched the truth which lies within each of us.  Not claiming to have unraveled the mysteries of the soul, they lived lives awed and amazed by that which was not meant to be understood, but merely accepted and practiced.  That is who we are – when we believe we have arrived, we have only begun the journey.

compromise

What are we willing to compromise for government protection or assistance?  Perhaps another regulation or federal snoop is not too great a price to pay for those promised benefits – or is it?  When should we stop giving away another little piece of our liberty?

No, I don’t have the answers, but the words of ancient wisdom would advise this:

"When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.

Act for the people's benefit;
trust them, leave them alone."

verse 75, the TAO

When fewer demands are placed upon me, I demand less of myself.  I embrace a freedom (john 8:31-32) to commune with nature, watch my garden grow, read verses, write or

JUST DO NOTHING 😄

t-shirts

 

animals-elderly-forest-40873
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.

My trips to the grocery store are usually uneventful.  The most exciting things are bumper stickers on cars in the parking lot and t-shirts with messages draped on the shoppers.

Today’s winner of the BOOOO award was  a busty woman with these words on her shirt:

I WILL FIGHT FOR
MY GUNS
MY GOD
MY CONSTITUTION

Somehow, in my silly rationale, those 3 sentiments simply do not belong together.  What do you think?

sad emoji

the PRODIGAL returns

We delve into the world of non-believing, into the emptiness of denial, into the realm of anti-religion looking for answers.  We look to worldly pleasures and comforts for fulfillment.

Wherever we look,
there you are, the One who never deserted,
mercy, grace and goodness cropped-candle.png
patiently awaiting our return.

We are the seekers.
We yearn, we search
in realms beyond us
for that which has always been within.

The prodigal returns. LUKE 15:11-32

Turn Your Eyes

I know your troubles, I know that your heart is heavy with concern and fear, that you are severely challenged by the violence and insecurities of this world.  Look into His eyes, see what I have seen and know that my Father, and yours, will gently guide us through the difficult times we are facing.

Picture1.pngconfession (2)Just imagine Jesus holding us in loving arms, soothing our hearts, asking us to trust him…

I have been there, I understand.  Have you ever read what they did to me?  They called me a heretic, a blasphemer, and a charlatan.  All I wanted was peace and brotherly love, to live my life as a beacon for the Father whom I worshipped.  I believed that all people were equal in my Father’s eyes, that all should equally participate in his abundance. They hunted me like a criminal, beat me, stripped me of my clothing, humiliated me, flogged me, spat upon me, and then nailed me to a wooden cross to die an ignoble death. 

But, I survived.  2000 years later people still quote me and read about me.  Now, loved ones, you tell me who died on that cross?  Those who persecuted me and drove the nails are nothing more than ashes and bones, but I am still alive and well in the eyes of millions of people.

I have been there, I know your pain.  The illness and devastation in your world today – I understand.  The possessed, the lepers, the lame, the plague ridden were part of my world.  The corruption, the crime, the deceit, the hypocrisy were also part of my world.  Just trust me for I have endured it all and I have conquered everything put upon me simply by dying to the things of this earth and turning eyes to a power greater than any on earth.  I AM ALIVE!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  MATTHEW 11: 28-30 NIV