speak to me of God

“I said to the apple tree: ‘sister, speak to me of God,’ and the apple tree blossomed.”  Nikos Kazantzakis ( attributed to St. Francis) 

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photo by DIDS

Don’t you think ours would be a much better, more peaceful world if those who profess a god could keep it this simple?  It’s as if my God is saying to me, “Just look around at the Creation which you attribute to me; it is there you will know me.”

Followers of the mystical path believe God is immanent, meaning inherent and indwelling.  From the moss under the trees to the king of the jungle to the man known as Einstein, the essence defined as God exists and propels the God image through all that was, that is, and that ever will be.  All that is necessary to know God is to look out the window and observe the butterfly fluttering, the bird winging across the sky, and the flower blooming.  Look at the bees pollinating, the farmer planting, and the mother giving birth.  Everything on earth contains the essence which some call God, others Yahweh, still others Allah, while many do not name it at all.  This earth is a continuum of birth, death and rebirth.  It tells us everything we need to know about life.  So why look to the heavens, or why dread hell, why sit in judgement of others, why condemn ourselves in attempts to earn God’s approval?  If that power which we label God did not approve and indwell, we would not be here.  No theology, no doctrine, no “ism” could save us.

 

PRIDE & God

god loves everyone….if not, She would have annihilated us by now…

“Why not?  Why not pretend for now that the Absolute (the Great Mystery, the Ground of Being) sometimes expresses itself in the body of a woman?  Pretending that God’s a dude hasn’t exactly worked out for the vast majority of the human family, let alone the animal and plant communities or the air or the waters.”  Mirabai Starr (1)

(1) cac.org

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“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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oh, for Pete’s sake

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Pete Buttigieg

A heckler yelling Sodom and Gomorrah at a Buttigieg rally in Des Moines, Iowa, was drowned out by supporters chanting, “Pete, Pete, Pete.”  Then from the podium came a response from the candidate.  Looking toward the heckler he said simply,

The good news is the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, ” 

and then back across the crowd to his supporters, “but the Iowa caucuses are up to you.”

The amazing rise of the latest of Democrats to declare his candidacy for President in 2020, Pete Buttigieg has stunned pollsters by coming in 4th behind Bernie, Biden, and Beto.  Commentators have marveled that this scenario could never have happened just 10 years ago.  An openly gay man in a committed marriage standing in front of millions of viewers nationwide with the audacity to believe he has a chance to win the Presidency.  Unheard of!  Oh, how the literalists, infallibles, and inerrants must be flapping jaws .  Sodom and Gomorrah indeed.

“Did you see it, ” the thumpers must be muttering, “his husband had the nerve to give Pete a peck on the cheek in front of the cameras with the world watching?  What will people think?”

Just my personal and biased opinion, but I think the world might exclaim in gasps of relief, “Thank God those folks across the water have finally come to their senses.  The Yanks could possibly elect in 2019 an intelligent class act, a monogamous married man, a Rhodes scholar who served his country as a Naval officer in Afghanistan and then returned home to dedicate to public service.”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s what our European friends are saying because Pete Buttigieg, the gay mayor who publicly introduced his husband on national TV with a kiss does not rock their sensibilities nor ours nearly as much as the current political regime in the USA which protects a draft-dodger, a racist, a womanizer, and a liar.

The good news is that the condition of my soul (and yours) is in the hands Of God.  No man, no religion, no theology, no President, no world leader, no spouse, no friend, no pastor has a claim on what we know to be our truth.  Just let that resonate for a moment.  Do you feel the freedom, the assurance, the joy?  The chains are broken not because a priest or minister says so, but because the master of your life, and the God of my life have stepped into the picture and overruled all those who tell us that we are immoral, evil, misguided, unworthy and headed for hell’s fires.  That human assessment simply is not true.  If the book which you read for inspiration and instruction condemns you and if the people you choose as spiritual leaders condemn you, then you need to give up that funny book and its associated church, mosque or temple to find a  fellowship that speaks love and compassion.

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IT’S A GREAT DAY! – yes, I can

Whether I say I can or say I can’t, either way I will probably be right.

cropped-curve-dark-dawn-327316.jpgThink about those words.  They are saying to us that the choice is ours.  Yes, I can; no, I can’t.  What is your choice going to be?  

Too often we give that decision-making to others.  As children, we heard parents say numerous times, “you can’t do that.”

Usually that instruction was in our best interests, a warning about pending danger or a word of advice garnered from experience.  We knew our parents loved us and would not betray our trust.  Then, as we matured, the natural response was any action which opposed authority.  Dad can’t tell me what to do, my teacher can’t make me do it, my preacher can’t tell me what’s right or what’s wrong.  It was a healthy, self-discovery process which wet our feet in the world of hard knocks and errors.  And we survived, did we not?

Parents no longer direct your life.  Educators and preachers have given you a means of earning a living and a moral compass by which to live.  So, you are well equipped to face life on life’s terms, right?  You are confident in your decisions, right?  You do not doubt your own intuition and rational thinking, right?  You know that who you are today is as perfect as you can be today, you are worthy, right?  You can do anything which you set your mind to doing, right?

Any ‘no’ answers to the above dialog are wrong.  ‘I can’t’ is unacceptable because today, in this moment, I have the tools within to accomplish anything I attempt.  No, we’re not talking about physical feats, performing miracles, climbing Mt. Everest, or entering a marathon.  My body, not my mind, tells me ‘no’ to those endeavors.

Recently, after years of jogging and hiking, my knees and hip said, “No more.”   X-rays indicated that age, wear and tear had deteriorated those joints to a painful reminder with every movement.  “I can’t,” was my mantra for about 6 months accompanied by serious depression and stress.  At age 71, I was ready for the transition to the next phase.  That, however, was not what happened.

In a motivation video on YouTube, the voice speaking said, “Don’t lament what you can no longer do; rather, focus on what you can do.”

Really?  That was the jumpstart necessary to regroup and redefine who Larry is.  Not a jogger, not a hiker, not even a brisk walker.  Instead, this body discovered yoga, isometric exercises, low impact aerobic workouts that it could do.  Our minds can carry us over any hurdles when we allow the ‘can do’ attitude to direct us.  I can do this, you can too.  What will your answer be today?  “Yes, I can,” or “No, I can’t.”  It’s your choice.

When we say, “I can,” inner strength will provide the means to fulfill those determined words.  You and I were designed magnificently in the same image as all of creation.  We were intended to be survivors in a sometimes heartless world.  When we say, “I can’t”, we are admitting defeat without a battle and we are denying the divine strength within us.  The Lord of my life, the force which you trust as a greater power whether you name it God, Allah, the One, Brahman or Higher Power will honor the words, “Yes, I can.”

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IT’S A GREAT DAY!- don’t argue

Silence the noise of others; listen to your own voice.

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Did you hear that?  Should I repeat it?  Don’t give more credence to the thoughts and rhetoric of other people than you give to your own.  “To thine own self be true.”  Polonius speaking to his son Laertes in Hamlet has been interpreted by many to mean many things.  But, let’s just keep it simple.  You and I have each an internal dialog that speaks from a place of experience, of guidance, of direction, of inspiration which often is amazingly ‘other-directed’ arising from the wisdom of the cosmos dwelling in our inner sanctum.  Call it soul, call it God, call it Spirit, call it a higher power.  It is ours and it is unique to each one of us according to the gifts blessing our lives.

So, why would anyone not listen to his or her inner voice?  Have you ever said any of the following?  “That man is better educated than I am, therefore he is more intelligent.  She is a psychiatrist, therefore she has deeper insight.  He is a preacher with a Doctor of Divinity behind his name, therefore he is more spiritual.  He’s my father, he knows better.  She’s my mother, she wouldn’t misguide me.  They are high school counselors, they know what is my best course of education.”

Just stop!  Stop it!  They all may be wonderful people, but only you know what speaks from your heart.  Some of them are not wonderful people, they are playing the control game for  selfish reasons.  Don’t allow others to call your shots.  This is your life and it’s your choice what you will do with that life.  Choice is life’s golden ticket.  Don’t give that ticket to someone else.

When you wake up in the morning, after you have said ‘thank-you’ for this day and this opportunity to breathe air into your lungs and pump blood through your body, after you have stretched your legs and arms, after you have smiled at your spouse or cat or dog lying beside you, get up and rejoice.  Rejoice over the opportunities ahead of you to be fully involved in an active and productive day plan with household projects or with your job.  Or rejoice exceedingly as you anticipate with zeal the coming day of rest and relaxation.  Maybe it will be a day at the beach, or a hike in the woods, or a shopping trip with the grandkids, or a special lunch with a dear friend.  Embrace it!  Cherish it!  You are a miraculous treasure brimming with options.

I can hear some of you saying, “Oh, zip it , Larry.  Life sucks.”

Maybe it does.  Loss of loved ones, physical ailments, poverty, social injustice, hatred, intolerance, prejudice, divorce, injuries remind us every day that this is not a Pollyanna world.  Stuff happens.  But, all that turmoil is processed by the same mind which also says that you are special and you are worthy of goodness and mercy.  You can walk the path of life with an overflowing cup.  You can rest in green pastures by still waters.  Or you can wallow in the mire with creepy, crawly things.  Again, it’s your choice which scenario you decide to internalize.  Don’t sell out to negative circumstances which are predominantly beyond your control while diminishing the spectacular essence within. Listen to this internal voice which  you have proven as truth through experience and reasoning that tells you, “Wow, I am going to have a great day.”

It’s not easy staying out of the pits.  Visit a grumpy neighbor, watch the national headlines on TV, look at your overdue electric bill. I understand because I have been there, I sometimes visit there even today.  Life has to be a daily, if not hourly, surrender to that inner voice telling me that, contrary to my negative thoughts, I can enjoy a perfect day because for this moment at this time I am a perfect version of me.  I hope to evolve and enlighten with each tomorrow, but for this moment in life I have everything I need within me to live a day far beyond my greatest expectations.  Believe it absolutely with heart, mind, and soul.  It will happen.  Guaranteed! Today’s another great day.

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IT’S A GREAT DAY! – ‘individuated’

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“The second half of life presents a rich possibility for spiritual enlargement, for we are never going to have greater powers of choice, never have more lessons of history from which to learn, and never possess more emotional resilience, more insight into what works for us and what does not, or a deeper, sometimes more desperate, conviction of the importance of getting our life back….” (1)

richard rohrRichard Rohr nails it, my friends.  We now have experience on our side, emotional maturity, insight and conviction.  Taking our life back from the clutches of family, friends, clergy, co-workers, tribe, and ego is the end result of becoming what the supreme universal energy has intended for us from the beginning.  It is a concept presented by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung as individuation – not self-indulgence or individualism, rather surrender of our ego’s agenda of security and emotional reinforcement in favor of humbling service to the soul’s intent.

Do you know what the soul’s intent is?  Do I?  Some could say, “Yes, of course.  My faith, my theology, my religion has taught me everything I need to know about soul.”

Really?  Then you would also know that your soul’s intent is for you to have a meaningful experience today and every day for the rest of your life.  Yes, the dark valleys will appear, the depression will knock, the sorrows will challenge, but any day in which you have awakened to the miracle of life and expressed appreciation to the God named according to your faith walk, is a great day.  Even darkness must give way to light, life’s uncertain vagaries will be overcome by understanding, and inconceivable circumstances will bow to positive action. “This too shall pass” is not just a cliche.  It is truth.  Claim it as yours.

Take control each morning of the day’s mindset before engaging in whatever activity you need to accomplish.  Don’t just roll the dice taking chances with the day’s outcome; instead, direct your mind upon arising to positive thoughts and a realization that what occurs in the first moments of wakefulness will set the tone for the entire day.  Envision yourself as being victorious over all difficulties and celebratory in all accomplishments.  See yourself handling confrontation with family and co-workers effectively and it will happen.  Picture yourself enjoying your day on the beach and it will happen.  Feel the satisfaction of finishing the household project awaiting and it will happen.  What you project onto the day’s activity will prevail.

Meditation, motivational videos, yoga, light exercise, inspirational reading are all great ways to start a great day.  Those few minutes or hours are an investment in successful living as a joyful, contented child of that eternal, universal force flowing throughout the entirety of creation.  Grab onto this power by creating your day rather than enduring it.  Believe unabashedly that the choice is yours.  You and I can make it the day we want.  We can also make it the day we don’t want.  What a realization!  We are powerful and dynamic forces in our worlds.  Have a great day!

(1) CAC.ORG

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IT’S A GREAT DAY! – dice roll

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So, you’re a gambler?  How often do you win?  Excites you, doesn’t it?  The thrill of the bet, the risk-taking, the ecstasy of a win, the personal satisfaction in knowing you have beaten the odds.  Ok, good for you.

How often do you lose? How much? A lot?  Really?  Sounds like you might be losing more than you win.  Yeah, I know it’s just entertainment; after all, you’re not addicted, right?

Do you gamble with your life?  A risk-taker?  Do you jump out in front of moving traffic?  Do you play Russian roulette with your friends?  How about unprotected sex?  It’s just gambling, right?

Life is more than just a roll of the dice.  When you wake up in the morning, rolling those blocks of chance, giving the day’s promises to Lady Luck is going to guarantee one of three outcomes.  You will either win or you will lose or the day will wind up a wash-out. That’s just 1 in 3 chances of having a great day.

Try this instead.  Open your eyes, look around the room, appreciate the bed in which you slept comfortably,  and let the first words out of your mouth be a sincere “Thank you.  I am so greatly blessed.”

Monkey brain will attempt to engage.  Will you allow it?  Got to clean the bathroom, must call the pharmacy, need to get groceries, Johnny needs a clean shirt, the cat has fleas, North Korea is going to bomb us, the world is ending, I’ve got to vacuum the rugs…..”oh Lord I’m so weary already!”

STOP!  Don’t let monkey brain begin your day.  Instead, breathe in.  Air is rushing over your lungs, aerating the blood, pumping fresh life into your organs, bringing life to limbs.  Wiggle those toes, shake out the cramps from sleeping on your arm, wipe the sleepies from you eyes, hold that breath and then…..exhale.  Release the thoughts trying to capture your thinking, inhale again.  Exhale, inhale, exhale.  Envision your body parts waking up to a great new day.  Breathe in, then breathe out.

Now, you are ready to swing those legs out over the bed and rise to greet this day ahead of you.  Are you going to roll the dice?  No, of course not.  You will make this the best day ever, the beginning of the rest of your life.  Imagine how you want to enjoy today.  Have a cup of coffee or tea on the patio listening to the melody of songbirds in the nearby oak trees.  Watch the mother duck leading her hatchlings to the pond.  Become amazed by the roses sharing their aroma in the morning air.  Are you feeling it yet?  Life is wonderful and a great day lies ahead.

Of course, if you would rather roll your dice, go for it.  Read the morning headlines, turn up the volume of the TV.  Fuss at Johnny for not putting his dirty shirt in the laundry.  Scold the cat for being a cruise ship for fleas.  Yell at your spouse for being such a slob in the bathroom.  It’s your choice.  Roll the dice and hope for the best or give the day a fighting chance to be terrific by waking up to the splendor that surrounds your life.

Wasn’t it Erma Bombeck who wrote, “If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?”  And remember what Confucius said?   “When life gives you a bunch of lemons, make lemonade.”

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IT’S A GREAT DAY! – just don’t

You are not the product of your circumstances.  You are the product of your decisions.  Steven Covey

old codger

 

Today’s words are especially for the senior crowd shared by one who is duly qualified to pontificate.  Following are five DON’Ts that will create harmony and bliss in our final season of life.

DON’T – believe any of the hullabaloo about the ‘golden years’ because the only golden element of these years is increased incontinence and dribble.

DON’T – believe that your social security check will increase your sense of security.  There is no security in the senior years.  We can have contentment and peace, but nothing will guarantee security.

DON’T – believe that the younger generation will venerate your wisdom and experience.  That’s a lie from hell designed to cast scales over our eyes as the young-uns put us in nursing homes.

Okay, okay, okay.  Perhaps a wee bit too much cynicism and sarcasm?  But, here are words you can take to the bank.

DON’T – allow your life to reach its final earthly transition believing this existence has defeated you.

DON’T – forget in whose image you have been created, that the trials and tribulations were mere learning lessons, that what others point out as failures in you were actually steps to a higher realization of your innate perfection.  That force of nature which knew and understood you before you were conceived has not deserted you.  It would never allow you to be defeated.  No! Never!

You have always been one with the One.  Call it Higher Power, call it God, name it Allah or Krishna, or refer to it as the Supreme Being.  You are now and always have been a product of divine intervention.  Your life has not been a failure doomed to defeat.  If you think that is true, then you are also calling the God of your life a miserable failure.  Just don’t go there because

we are not products of our circumstances, we are products of our decisions

You, senior citizen, get up out of bed today and smile with a ‘thank you’ on your lips for another day to excel in living life.  Tell yourself how wonderful you are and that you are very special in the eyes of the force which makes the earth rotate, the sun shine, and the stars twinkle.  Accept that perhaps today you cannot do the things that your younger self did, but you can do amazing new and exciting things.  The world is open to your ingenuity and experience and wisdom.  Don’t sell yourself short on your amazing, innate ability to not only survive, but thrive.

Defeat is for wimps.  Surviving the senior years with physical pains and financial insecurities is just another stepping stone to becoming the perfection intended for us.  Look up, lift those hands to the sky and receive another day to be functional, grateful, and integral in your world.  Old age is not for wimps and we were not created to go down in defeat.

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IT’S A GREAT DAY! – Ilia Delio

We must consciously evolve; we must orient our being toward new life and growth because the unity that we really are, the deep connective tissue of oneness, will not let us rest with separateness. Ilia Delio

(Ilia Delio is a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC, and American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics, and neuroscience and the import of these for theology. Ilia Delio)

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We cannot allow the insanity in the world to alter our destiny, our inherent design.  Ancient literature reinforces the truth that we are made in miraculous fashion following the pattern of the Maker.  We are the image of that very same energy which permeates every being, every creature, every organism on earth.  We are cosmic, we are universal, we are filled with the same intentional love and compassion that originally designed mankind in the beginning.  We are one with the One.

Wake up this morning to those fantastic truths.  Don’t deny your heritage.  Don’t slight your innate divinity.  Grab this new day with gusto and live as if you are loved more than anything on this earth.  Love yourself unconditionally and magnificently.  Look into your reflection and repeat the words, “I am worthy, I am wonderful, I am deserving of the best life imaginable.”

And then, go do it.  Make today the beginning of a new you, one never imagined before in your wildest dreams.  Chase after your dream and claim it for yourself.  Nobody can stop you unless you give them the power to do so.  Don’t squander what God has instilled in you.  In this mystery of earthly existence, the ignorance of the world will challenge your peace of mind, your integrity of soul, and your resolve to rise above the insanity.  But you have the power to say, “No!  I will not accept this in my life.  Stop!”

We will pass through valleys of darkness which we do not understand.  Hatred, intolerance, unfathomable violence will stand before us in attempts to make us doubt our heritage and destiny, that we are not very special at all.  It’s a lie.  It is not the pattern by which we were eternally designed.

We must fix our eyes on the future, on forging new relationships of love that include the earth, all peoples, all religions, all planets and all galaxies. Ilia Delio

This new day has your name on it.  Claim it and make it yours.  Love yourself in all your activity, accept yourself as perfect in this moment, know without doubt that the eyes in the mirror are filled to capacity with insight.  Trust that you will create a great day, that wonderful things will fill your day, that you will infect others with joy and peace.  It is going to be a blockbuster day.smiley 3