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.

the sick & homeless – WWJD

YES MAGAZINE

This referenced article in YES MAGAZINE details how immigrants to our southern border are “disinfected” to prevent the spread of vermin and disease.  I shudder remembering what I have read about the arrival of Jews to the concentration camps and the subsequent disinfecting process.

The article describes the methods used in these ‘holding camps’, the pain, humiliation,  and suffering being caused.  But, the nagging question which bothers me and which we all need to answer is this: are they less valuable, are they less human, are they less loved simply because they are not American, because they are refugees seeking asylum and a better life for themselves and their families?  What if the asylum seeker was me and the family huddling around me was my family?

Initially when this current governmental regime assumed power, it was a fight against drug dealers, thugs and rapists crossing the border that we were warned against.  Today it is the same people approaching our border but, with a different MO.  They are, whether intentionally or unintentionally, spreading covid-19 and other diseases in our midst.  They are causing a health crisis.  Incredibly, listening to government authorities, we should believe that they will sell drugs to our kids, steal our possessions, rape our women and boys, and now infect us with a deadly virus.

Really?  Seems to me that we, as a leaderless nation, have done a fine job of creating our own moral and health crisis – don’t need any help from immigrants.  Those who refuse to mask up, refuse to practice social distancing, refuse to see this pandemic as the killer which it is and then ridicule and threaten others who take covid-19 seriously…..those others are the prevailing threat about which we need to worry.

How much are we willing to believe from a government which has lied repeatedly over the course of history?  How long must America suffer the delusional mindset that because of race, nationality, creed, or alliances, it is superior to the rest of mankind who share this earth under a merciful and gracious Higher Power?  How long?

diversity

made in the image

It doesn’t say white or black, short or tall, handsome or rugged, sailor or land-lubber, farmer or hunter.  It doesn’t say intelligent or obtuse, mechanical or artistic, straight or cropped-larry-rebel.pnggay, musical or tone-deaf.  Verse 27 of Genesis 1 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

That’s who we are whether we believe we have descended from hairy jungle dwellers or from a colony of extraterrestrial voyagers or whether we emerged from God’s test tubes fully human six or seven thousand years ago.  The wisdom of the early sages is saying that we are all alike, made from the same stuff.  The mystery of this image covers all humanity.

Okay, I can hear you saying, “Larry, the verse is not talking about physical appearance.”

You are probably right.  Then what is God’s image?  Maybe love?  Maybe compassion?  Maybe faithfulness?  How about hope and righteousness?  And don’t forget joy.  That is who we are, whom we were designed to be, so why would we choose to live otherwise? God’s DNA is the stuff from which we were made.  We are not ignorance, intolerance, hatred, weakness and fear.  We were not made unimportant and inconsequential.

That shared DNA makes us brothers and sisters, doesn’t it?  I may not know my Asian brother in China, but we are related.  My sister in Iran may not follow the same political philosophy which I do, but we are related.  The names given to the God whom we worship may be vastly different, but we are brothers and sisters in the universal oneness.  Do you see the common thread developing here?  As much as you or I desire to be different or distinguished, more handsome of prettier, smarter than all others, we are one humanity born into the image of the One, the original creator.

Our survival as a species is not God-dependent.  God did the birthing, but it is our choice to live in harmony with others and with all of Creation.  There have been messengers to lead and guide on this journey, to redirect as necessary, but in the end, living or not living in solidarity will determine the chances of our survival.

My skin color does not make me more worthy.  Your intelligence does not make you more like God.  Our financial success on earth will mean nothing on heaven’s society page.  Our personalities, our physical appearances, our possessions, our bodies will stay behind when we die.

“All go to the same place; all come from dust and to dust all return.”  ECCLESIASTICS 3:20

The author of the Jesus story has tried to tell us that this life is birth, death and then resurrection – what is so difficult about that?  The most significant part of us will return to the energy pool in preparation to become part of another human’s God energy.  The cycle continues forever.

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magnificent

When living in Pennsylvania, I attended a small, country church, St. John’s Lutheran.  The members were an accepting, loving congregation of people who, in my humble opinion, practiced the Gospel, they walked the talk.  The pastor was ordinary, the service was ordinary, but the choir was magnificent.

These simply farm folks were renown for their ancestral singing talents back to the early 1800s when the community was founded.  A special treat on Sunday mornings was when the men of the choir sang a cappella.  It was absolutely, stunningly pure inspiration.  I never could fathom how men who spoke English with heavy Pennsylvania Dutch accents could sing together in perfect English enunciation.

I discovered, on YouTube, videos by ACAPELDRIDGE.  I want to share with you one of my favorite hymns done a cappella by an amazingly talented young man.  Soak it in and be inspired.

1 Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to thy God to order and provide;
in ev’ry change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
thro’ thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2 Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3 Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.

4 Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Jean Sibelius from FINLANDIA

Just another day?

Really?  Do I remember where I was last night, whom I was with, what I did?  Do I know where I parked my truck?  Am I reeking of stale cigarettes and whiskey?  Must I extend apologies (again) to my friends and family?

NO!  Today is not just another day.  Today is a spectacular day in the sobriety journey.  It is a day to rejoice and be grateful.

You and I are sober today – get up, get motivated and let’s give ourselves and our HPsober emoji a hand.

KINSHIP

namaste11

Most of us know our kin, sometimes wish we did not.  Can we imagine a world of kinship, a place where the man who is black, the woman who is Muslim, the neighbor who is gay, the co-worker who practices Buddhism, the homeless man on the corner, the drunk in the gutter – can we somehow see each of them as kin?  Related?  Worthy of our love and compassion?

Society, governments, and religions often, inadvertently or overtly, put separations between us defining our differences thereby reducing relationships to a status of “us” and “them” in denial of the paradigm which the great wisdom leaders throughout history from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Gandhi, to Muhammad, to Jesus of Nazareth to Lao Tzu to Gautama Buddha tried to teach during their lifetimes.

Even when placing our lives in service to others, we are not recognizing God’s dream for his/her Creation – being one with the other and not separate.  Kinship is what Jesus practiced.  He was one not standing outside the circle, but in the midst of those “… whose dignity had been denied…with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless….the easily despised and the readily left out…the demonized…the disposable.”  cac.org

We, who are eternally hopeful that the time for non-violence, for peace, for kinship has arrived, read the words of one of the revered prophets of the Judaic tradition, HABAKKUK, who said, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time, it speaks of the end and will not prove false.” 

“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together, the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.  The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them.”  ISAIAH 11:6

It paints a beautiful picture of what life on earth could be – was intended to be.  Do you see it?  Are you willing to live it?  It’s our choice.

unshackled 3

SOLIDARITY

WE ARE ONE HUMANITY ALL LOVED BY THE ONE NAMED GOD.

Matters not whom one prays to, the color of one’s skin, or whether one lives in Minneapolis or Memphis – WE ARE ALL ONE UNDER ONE GOD. Is that so difficult to understand?

“AS YOU DO UNTO THE LEAST OF THESE, YOU ALSO DO TO ME.”

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

 

t-shirts

 

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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.

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