spiritual beings?

                                       “We are not so much human beings trying to become spiritual. We’re already CANDLEinherently spiritual beings and our job is learning how to be good humans! I believe that’s why Jesus came as a human being: not to teach us how to go to heaven, but to teach us how to be a fully alive human being here on this earth.” cac.org

Trying to become “more spiritual” has led me down many paths.  Most of them dead-ended into a briar patch filled with thorny theology and noxious self-righteousness or a deep, dark, ominous forest filled with fairy-tale goblins and witches.  Yes, my best efforts aimed at becoming a more spiritual man usually began with an honest desire for growth, but then resulted in a retreat to a comfortable position which put Larry down here on earth and God somewhere between Pluto and the ends of the universe.  I liked it that way.  “Don’t get too close, God.  I don’t like change and I know growing closer to You requires change.”

Fortunately, the return trip to a somewhat sane reality, even if not a true reality, has always taken hold before my sobriety or sanity was compromised.  (Some would argue the sanity part).  The church fellowships which painted an extremely bleak picture for my soul if I did not acquiesce to their theology,  the book which promised eternity if I followed every paragraph of its treatise, the do-gooders who sincerely tried to save my soul with a litany of “thou shall and thou shalt not” all appeared real and salvific from afar.  But, up close and personal, they failed to make Larry a better human being.  I continued to wallow in my universe of self, accepted God’s forgiveness and grace when times were tough, then , wandered off into self-absorption until the next crisis arose. Never could find true north, never could understand what in the world was missing with my faith.  I read the books, studied the theologies, and explored the religious traditions, but I knew I was not growing.

Today, I continue to be amazed by the ways in which God comes aside me and says, “Listen to me.  Follow me.  Live for me.  I am the salvation for which you are searching. I have the answers. It’s all in a neat little package called Jesus.  Read him, know him and follow his Way.  When you do that you will also know me and you will become a better human.”

“Yeah, God, easy for you to say.   Do you know the sinkholes on that path, the fallen trees crossing it, the raging rivers to ford, the giant animals waiting in the forest to devour me, the savage natives wanting to cook me for dinner?  You do remember that Jesus got crucified for following the Way, don’t you?”

“Of course I know all about that.  I created it, remember?”  God’s reply is not always encouraging and it rarely is easy.

Father Richard in his daily meditations points to the facet of mystic teachings that can be elusive in today’s Christian teachings.  That forgotten aspect of Christianity says that I am not separated from God by space, time, or physical limitation.  I am a spark of the spiritual entity which I call God because every member of humanity was created in the image of God and every man/woman has that divine DNA within.  We are spiritual manifestations of the creators.  I am inherently a spiritual being dwelling in a limited physical body. My task here on Earth is not to search for ways to increase spiritual acumen, but to recognize who I am as a child of God, what God taught through the man named Jesus and thereby morph into a better, more compassionate, more loving, more altruistic human.  For me, that makes much more sense than chasing after spiritual gurus and distant heavenly salvation.

22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23rainbow-solidarity

These are not external qualities which need to be acquired through good deeds and righteous behavior from a heavenly source. Rather, they are within each one of us waiting to be nourished and then shared with the remainder of humanity and God.

 

FLASHBACK: 1970

Recently a family member threw a term (not a term of endearment) on me which was common and expected back in the protest era of the 1960s and 70s.  My broad shoulders back then and determination to live my life as my conscience dictated deflected comments and words meant to belittle and diminish.  Our cause became a mantra for equality in the courts of law and acceptance in our communities.  I thought we had made great strides.  But the election of 2016 exposed through the candidacy and subsequent election of Trump an America still saddled with bigotry, hatred, and intolerance for people like myself who follow the beat of a different drummer.

Thank God I am at an age when I truly don’t give a rat’s butt what others think of me.  It’s a blessing.  But insensitive language from a family member still hits home.  As a  society which promotes itself as the bastion of egalitarianism and tolerance, which claims to be the greatest people of the world, which boasts the largest Christian population anywhere, perhaps it is time to evaluate and do a self-inventory.  Are we what we think we are?  Is there honesty within us or do we deceive ourselves?

I have found peace through a lifestyle which teaches an inner search to truth and enlightenment.  It is not found in the church I attend or the people with whom I associate.  It’s an inside job which painful names or hurtful people cannot touch.  That revelation within continues to tell me, even when behavior and speech of others attack, that we are indeed a universal brotherhood dependent on each member of this earth’s humanity, dependent on a healthy ecosystem, and equal in all respects.

“Solidarity: I am you, you are me, we are one.”

rainbow-solidarity

The current political atmosphere and social divisiveness are a test of what America truly is as a people.  Our responses to the challenges we face will determine if this great experiment of ours is real or merely a flash in the pan as so  many great societies before us.  Let’s celebrate Flag Day remembering that our ‘red, white, and blue’ represents all of us, not just those who have assumed an exclusive and intolerant brand of patriotism.