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

come and rest

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. 

Our society (read between the lines here – the greed of Western culture) is insane with its preoccupation with material goods and financial success.  In the years leading up to 2008 and the economic meltdown, I was part of that insanity – accumulation of unmanageable debt, an absence of a savings plan, and basing self-worth on net-worth.  Then, the year 2009 brought a major adjustment to my life’s vision.  Bankruptcy including the loss of my business, my income, and my home at the age of 62 involuntarily initiated a different style of living.  It was called simplicity, something I had always admired, but never truly embraced.  It was fine for other people, however, I saw it as poverty.

I learned to love simplicity after the necessary adjustments were made to spending habits and lifestyle.  I gained a freedom never before experienced, an opportunity to escape the treadmill called the American dream.  It affords hours daily to simply be, to commune with one’s nature, one’s Maker and the beauty of the earth given to us as a dwelling place.  Resting in awe of the incredible life process we experience is a daily ‘activity’.  Would you like to come and rest with me?  Sit under my palm tree and gaze at the horizon?

Jesus, who escaped to the serenity of a garden frequently, said it this way to his disciples: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” MARK 6:30  Productivity and success are radically redefined when pursuing this lifestyle advised by the ancient mystics.

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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….

 

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….

mysteries

 
lao tzu

“Ok, so I was thinking.  Back in the 600-500 B.C. era in China, good ole Lao probably didn’t have as much about which to be depressed or anxious as we do today in 2020.  The environment was just fine, the economy was thriving, the government was stable, the family was well fed, and he spent his days writing clever things while sitting in gardens filled with butterflies and hummingbirds.

Yeah, I know.  Lao Tzu was probably just a figment of China’s imagination, but the writings attributed to him in the Tao Te Ching have inspired humans for centuries.  It’s like Jesus of the New Testament.  We can’t really prove the historicity of his existence, but, haven’t the verses assigned to him enriched our worlds?

The mysteries that beguile us are probably best left to be just that – mysteries.  If we would spend less time trying to conquer and understand the complexities of the universe and more time simply enjoying moments of inspiration and joy, maybe then depression and anxiety would leave us.

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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….

undying love

Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus shows what it means to have one person hold fast to us in our hour of need, despite the apparent hopelessness of it all. cac.org – RICHARD ROHR

This magnificent woman of the Jesus story has been horribly maligned over the centuries since the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries.  The male dominated Church chose to depict her as a sinner suffering seven demons within, healed by Jesus, then becoming a follower of the Jesus and the Way.

In 591 Pope Gregory I delivered a series of Easter messages blending Mary Magdalene with the “sinful woman” of Bethel who anoints the feet of Jesus with precious oil and then wipes his feet with her long hair.  This led to the theory that Mary, the apostle, was a repentant prostitute.

Even more interesting is the theory that Mary was in reality the wife of Jesus as popularized in the book and movie the Da Vinci Code and that they possibly had a child.  And why not?  Considering how the Roman Church had bastardized the teachings of Jesus, why can’t we believe that a healthy, devout Jewish man in his early 30s would  have a wife and family.

I’ll answer my own question – that would negate the basic foundation of the priesthood of the Roman Church – chastity and celibacy.  It would also question the Church’s premise that men were superior to women in spiritual affairs thereby justifying that women should be relegated to submissive roles in family life.

I have digressed from the intent of this writing:  one’s undying love for another.  Have you ever loved another person so deeply and unconditionally that even in the greatest times of despair you refused to give in to hopelessness?  In a family unit trying to  navigate the despair and hopelessness of an alcoholic loved one, we hang on to faith and hope, don’t we?  We pray, we plead, we beg, we threaten, we cry, we yell…and then we pray some more.  Why?  Because we still have hope in the face of hopelessness.  That’s what our Higher Power gives us.  The examples of undying love which we see around the tables of AA, the power of another’s comforting words, the personalities we read about in Scriptures all give us reason to go on for yet another day.  We cannot allow despair and hopelessness into our lives.

Mary Magdalene was that kind of person.  She loved her Jesus, stood by his side, wept at his cross, went with him to the tomb, guarded the tomb, and then arrived first at the tomb on the 3rd day to see it empty.  Not quite understanding, even though Jesus had told them in numerous conversations that he would indeed resurrect, Mary thought the body had been taken away.  Perhaps, briefly, at this moment she gave in to despair and hopelessness thinking the recipient of her undying love was forever lost:

“They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him,” was her reply to the angels standing nearby who asked why she was crying.

The resurrection message from John 20:10-18 continues to tell us that her Lord was there all the time even when she did not recognize the presence.  Mary Magdalene stood by her Jesus through the good times and the bad, through the trials of being a rebel, being an outcast from the Jewish hierarchy, being an insurrectionist in the eyes of the Romans, through the humiliation of his crucifixion, and finally through her perceived loss.

My loved ones were my Mary Magdalene through the difficulties, the heartbreaks, the disappointments, the betrayals, the lies, the drunkenness.  Theirs was an undying love.  Today, in sobriety, I hope to be the same to the ‘still suffering alcoholic’ who shares my life.

for my best friend, with lovecropped-cropped-picture40.png

 

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….

Rev. C.T. Vivian

On August 8th, 2013, President Barack Obama named C.T. Vivian as the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom with these remarks:

“C. T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal. In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.” 

Left to right, John Lewis, the Rev. C.T. Vivian, Martin Luther King Jr., and Lester McKinnie at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 4, 1964. Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images.

UBUNTU – one’s own humanity is inextricably bound with that of others.
DESMOND TUTU

America has lost a great statesman and civil rights leader with the passing of Congressman John Lewis on July 17.  Less known was one of his and Martin Luther King’s spiritual advisors,  the Rev. Cordy “C.T.” Vivian who died at age 95 just hours after John Lewis. (1)

Much of present day Christianity (read: white Christianity) bases its theology on the tenet of ‘salvation’ and the hereafter.  Suffer or enjoy life in this world because there is assurance of an eternity in a heaven with palatial homes, gold paved streets and choirs of heavenly voices singing “hallelujah” forever and ever. Amen.

Unfortunately, African-Americans have not been able to share that dream of the hereafter.  Or, perhaps, it is fortunate as their earthly experience has led many black civic and religious leaders to present an alternate view of religion, specifically Christianity.

“They interpret religious teachings through the prism of the injustice in the here and now.” (1)

Speaking of King’s influence, John Lewis said:

“He was not concerned about the streets of heaven and the pearly gates and the streets paved with milk and honey. He was more concerned about the streets of Montgomery and the way that Black people and poor people were being treated in Montgomery.” (1)

What we do here matters, how we live matters, how we treat others matters.  We are ‘inextricably’ bound to every human on earth regardless of faith profession, absence of faith profession, skin color and nationality.  Somehow, Christianity, infused with the gospel of prosperity and exclusiveness, has missed that key ingredient of the teachings found in its scriptures related to us as the story of Jesus Christ in the NT.

We are ONE.  The African-American’s journey in this country enduring slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, discrimination and present day racism has invigorated within blacks the concept of UBUNTU as voiced by Desmond Tutu.

(1)  yes! journalism

 

Honoring the divine in every aspect of Creationcropped-candle.png

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….

National Historic Landmark

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….

Edmund Winston Pettus was a Confederate brigadier general, a U.S. senator and a grand dragon of the KKK.  In 1940, Selma, Alabama, needed a bridge across the Alabama River.  A steel arch bridge was constructed and named the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

On March 7, 1965, civil rights movement demonstrators attempted crossing the bridge to march to the state capital of Montgomery.  They were met by mounted police who attacked with billy clubs and tear gas.  The day became known as Bloody Sunday.  On February 27, 2013, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named after a KKK racist, became a symbol of the African-American plight in America and was declared a National Historic Landmark.

John Lewis met Rosa Parks when he was 17 years old, met Martin Luther King, Jr a year later.  He was born in 1940 in Troy Alabama to sharecroppers and by the age of six had seen only two white people.  In1961, John Lewis became one of the thirteen original freedom riders who were determined to ride from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans in an integrated bus.

On March 7, 1965, Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus bridge.  When confronted by police, the marchers stopped to pray and the police attacked.

Presidential Medal of Freedom – February, 2011

from his acceptance remarks at ceremony of President Barack Obama presenting the civil rights warrior with the Presidential Medal of Freedom –

“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…”

Congressman John Lewis
February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020

freedom or license

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….

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”  MARK TWAIN

GOD, GUNS, COUNTRY – I am moved to waves of nausea when I see this political sign in my neighbor’s front yard.  It does not matter which political affiliation is being endorsed.  How on earth can anyone associate God with guns with country?  Truly, if there is a rational answer, I do not see it.

I overheard while entering the grocery store, one of three first responders shopping for lunch say, “I’m not wearing any damned mask.”  Okay, you could say he was exercising his freedom, his 1st Amendment rights.  But is that a right if it infringes on the rights of the other shoppers who want to walk through the aisles safely with a modicum of protection from covid-19?  That fireman’s declaration of his freedoms is more accurately defined as ‘license’, a motivation driven by ego and self-centeredness.  Not a good thing, not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s not confuse freedom and license.

Nationalism is part of our political conversation these days.  Again, good or bad?  I am proud of my country’s people, of the diversity which melds us into one great society advocating justice and equality for all.  I love my country when it humbly takes its place as one nation among a multitude of other nations recognizing its virtues along with its sins.  On the other hand, I shudder when I hear, “America, love it or leave it,”  “America first,” “my country, right or wrong.”  

……and I still get nauseated when I have to look at my neighbor’s political sign, “God, guns, country.”  I suppose there are some things that are not meant for me to understand.

FACE MASK

 

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

 

perseverance

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

“Did you grow today?”

Well, yeah, as much as a nearly 73 year old man can expect to grow.  Actually, I am shrinking.  I stand 5’10 whereas a few years ago I was 5’11.  I wear a size 34 waist that was last year a 38.  So, maybe I have stopped growing.

“Did you grow today?” 

Dangit, where is that question coming from?  I maneuvered through the masked and unmasked crowds at my grocery store, I read the news headlines without losing my religion, I stayed within my diet plan…what do you mean, did I grow today?

“Are you feeling uncomfortable and unsettled about today’s problems with racism and white supremacy?”

Of course, I am.  I am very concerned regarding our nation’s course, about the lies we have been feeding ourselves.  I don’t like being a ‘privileged white man’.

“Good, then you did grow today.  Now, what will you do about it?”

Oh Lord, just how much do you want me to grow?

“Back off, sonny.  I ask the questions, you come up with the answers.”

From today’s reading in REDLETTERCHRISTIANS.ORG:

These uncomfortable and unsettling conversations we are having about racism and white supremacy aren’t really on the same scale as the trials endured by marginalized communities, and yet they are necessary. If you have felt unsettled by the news cycle and the reactions, good! That is what we, especially those of us with privilege need to experience, not just for endurance sake, but for the sake of our marginalized human family. 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” JAMES 1:2-4

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