OSLO, 1964

Martin Luther King, Jr. accepts the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” isaiah 11:6

in the arms of an angel

“In the arms of the angel, fly away from here.                                                                        From this dark, cold hotel room                                                                                                          And the endlessness that you fear.”

Written as “ANGEL” by Sarah McLachlan about the heroin overdose death of Jonathan Melvoin of the SMASHING PUMPKINS

Namaste

“We need to be more concerned with following Jesus, which he told us to do numerous times, and less with worshipping Jesus—which he never once told us to do.”

richard rohr

Whomever we name as Lord and Savior has to be the guiding essence in our lives.  As one brought up in the Christian tradition, I of course have Jesus as my reference point.  I believe the teachings and the words attributed to this messenger of God are the entirety of what a person needs to live life successfully and compassionately.  His disciples addressed him as “Rabboni” meaning teacher or master.  He was not viewed as a preacher, a figure we are more comfortable with in Western Christianity.  He did not chastise his followers with threats and condemnation from his pulpit.  No, the Jesus we see in the Bible was always in the midst of everyday life, enjoying the company of fellow Jews, partying at weddings, consoling hurting friends, and practicing what he knew as the truth.

That is what western Christianity has lost in its zeal to convert the world.  It exhorts proselytes to bow and worship before crosses and man-created theologies rather than to get out there, rub elbows with all of God’s creation and humanity, and be a light in a darkened world by following the examples set by Rabboni.

Jesus endorses freedom of thought and justice for all humanity through actions of love, peace, compassion and inclusion.  I must believe that if Jesus and Buddha had met , they would have smiled on the world and greeted each other with Jesus saying, “God’s peace be with you.”

Buddha would have folded his hands, bowed his head, and returned with, “Namaste”, meaning I bow to the Divine in you.

What a wonderful world we could have if we all pretended to be Jesus and Buddha bowing and respecting each other’s chosen path to enlightenment.

take stock & regroup

When I undertook this format for writing several years ago, it was with the intent to share my experience, strength, and hope in my personal quest for sanity and serenity as a recovering alcoholic.  I had no aspirations for a blog that would draw thousands of readers or ambitions for a post that would go viral.  And, I have not been disappointed.

The events of the past year have tilted my concerns and attentions to the political arena.  Certainly my personal opinions are valid, my voice needs to be counted, and my vote will continue to be registered, but, continual attention to a situation which is beyond my control exacts a toll on serenity and composure.

Today, I realized that common sense will ultimately prevail, that goodness and mercy will prevail, and that life will go on with or without my input.  But, I also came to understand that our culture ( Western, specifically American) is driven not by a sense of spirit, but rather by a sense of self.  We are a culture of egoism and self-absorption.  It is the only explanation for the politicians we have installed as leaders of the free world.

A wealthy friend, let’s call him Joe, is a minor millionaire who spends more money on a pair of shoes than I can spend on monthly groceries.   Joe has called our current President a pig.  He has questioned our President’s shady connections.  He is one of the voters who voted for the least worst of the worst candidates in decades.  Yet, Joe confided that the stock market is doing great, he is making money and therefore he is happy with the pig with shady connections who is currently posing as POTUS.  Another pair of designer shoes for Joe and maybe a Rolex are in his offing.

Yes, today has been a time of refection and redirect.  I know who I am in God’s world, I intend to strive on for a compassionate, caring, communing interaction with the world’s peoples, creatures, and environment.  This is the only wealth which is worth chasing, it is the eternity detailed in the chapters of the great scriptures, it is that which the greatest of God’s messengers have attested as truth; it is the way of Jesus, the path of Buddha and it is available to all who will subdue themselves to the greater power so simply presented in the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Oneness which we call God, or Allah, or Brahman will continue with or without us.  The universal, omnipotent power of the Oneness will do this…with or without us.  Our reason for being here on this earth in this life is to promote and assist the physical/spiritual welfare of our brothers and sisters, to cherish the creation and to protect the environment.  We are not here to promote our version of God, to defend our version of God, or in any way assist our version of God.  The one you name as God, the one I name as God is perfectly capable of handling those details.  Let’s appreciate the simplicity of our solidarity.

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TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS

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Peggy Lee, a popular contemporary vocalist of the 1950s and 60s, recorded a song which reached into the top of the charts in 1969.  “IS THAT ALL THERE IS” expresses  disillusionment and disappointment with a life which should be filled with unique experiences.  She suggests that we “break out the booze and have a ball—if that’s all there is”. Peggy Lee died in 2002.

Sometimes our life’s experiences parallel the lyrics of this song of hopelessness and melancholy.  We strive to achieve, to find acceptance within our communities, to perform according to the edicts of our traditional religion.  We fear the god of vengeance and punishment portrayed by exhortations from the pulpits of our churches while we fervently pray to that same god for forgiveness and redemption.  Yet in the secret recesses of our inner selves we intuitively know that the god of our religions and churches somehow misses the mark of truth, compassion, and relevance which we earnestly desire in our lives.  This inner search drives us to search for another day when we can sincerely say “yes, Lord, I will follow”, when we can finally change the word god to a capitalized God.

“9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9 KJV

That day of transformation from god to God reveals to us an inner trek which fills our lives with the beauty, mystery, awe, and inspiration which God intended for us.  It is not a new realization; rather, it has been practiced for thousands of years by Teachers sometimes called “mystics”.  They and their followers shared the wonderment of God residing within and without, present in all beings and all creation, available to any who would seek.  The Kingdom of God is not reserved for the righteous; it is not a distant, heavenly sphere of religious correctness; it is not the eminent domain of any of the world’s religions.

“21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  Luke 17:21` KJV

The writings of the New Testament attribute the above verse to Jesus, one of the Teachers who understood the mysteries of the inner search for truth.  When his sayings, as recorded in the Bible, are processed in the realm of spiritual rather than worldly understanding we become keenly aware of the depth of inner communion with a God who becomes intensely real and personal.

Luke 17:21 is the essence of “TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS” and the basis for a necessary life-changing redirect.  If our “rock and fortress” dwells within then surely hatred, bigotry, intolerance, government agents, worldly oppression shall be powerless in the presence of the great “I AM”.  We are proclaimed to be instruments of and witnesses to that which is Truth and Light.  We are destined to walk the earth fearlessly pursuing for all people equality, social justice, and personal liberty.  Doing so is our birthright and our Supreme duty.

A MOST DIFFICULT MILE

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Perhaps one of our greatest challenges in life is walking that mile.  We have endured painful obstacles in promoting a healthy family atmosphere.  We have worked in jobs that were nothing more than a weekly paycheck.  We have served our country to the best of our abilities only to be spat upon and denigrated.  We have given beyond expectations and then been told “that’s not enough.”  We have sacrificed personal comfort and security in vain attempts to be the people we thought we ought to be.

Yes, we are good people; no, we are GREAT people.  None on earth can dispute America’s generosity and charity as shown through numerous relief agencies and private funding of world need.  Good will is synonymous with the United States of America.

Yet, individually, many of us are unwilling or spiritually unable to walk a most difficult mile.  We are quick to point out another’s deficiencies, to make judgements, to take inventories and absolve ourselves from personal responsibility for that person’s well-being.  We no longer value our role as the keepers of brothers.  Ego and self promotion are the founding principles in our lives.  Perhaps we have always been this way and only now in our condensed, sardine can society it is more obvious.

How much more effort and sacrifice would be required of us to take that most difficult mile, the one walked in another man’s shoes?  We have all heard this bit of wisdom; some say it’s American Native folklore.  But what would happen when, instead of condemning a man for his behavior, we could change places with him, envision our behavior in his situation, consider what we would do given his circumstances?

Even then, when we have walked that mile with him and our attitude remains harsh, our HP takes us to another principle of his Kingdom.  Forgiveness, for most of us, is just as difficult but, equally necessary.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others” is a fundamental tenet of our fellowship and for anyone who seeks a ‘clean and serene’ life.  As recovering brothers and sisters we believe our HP has forgiven our lifetime mess and continues to forgive our human nature while we continue in His service.  To deny forgiveness to others is akin to denying that God has forgiven us, that our sins were too great to be forgiven even by the most awesome and omnipotent power in the universe, and that his example of forgiveness is not applicable in our lives.  When we don’t forgive, we are rejecting the power of HP to transform our lives.

We do not aspire to perfection.  Growth is our objective.  Let’s be willing to walk that difficult mile with our brothers and sisters and then extend the forgiveness which our HP has accorded to us.  For most of us this is the most difficult mile we will ever walk.  But, it can also be the most beautiful, enlightening experience of a lifetime.

“Father, we honor in holiness your name;  we seek your kingdom as we yearn for your will in our lives.  Let it be here within us that you dwell.  Give us spiritual food for this day.  Forgive our trespasses and guide us to forgive our brothers and sisters just as you have forgiven us.  May our fellowship with others in sober living and our love for You keep the temptations of alcohol at bay; protect us from our demons.  We recognize and revere your omnipotence and power which is everlasting.  Amen.”

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GOD’S WILL

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“We have an opportunity at this time in history to completely change the course of human culture.  That opportunity is not simply an option anymore, it is a gauntlet thrown down by the forces of history before a generation still not decided whether money and power or love and brotherhood should form the basis of our civilization.  And we will decide, or life will decide for us.  The human species will learn to become profoundly compassionate toward itself and toward all life.  We will learn it through wisdom, or we will learn it through pain.  But we will learn, because it’s God’s will that we become the people he has created us to be.  It’s not up to us where we are going—but, how we get there and when is determined by every choice we make, every moment of every day.”

Marianne Williamson, “EVERYDAY GRACE”

Whom are we created to be?  The world’s movers and shakers today chase after money and power while over 75% of our world’s population lives in poverty only dreaming of having enough food or proper sanitation or potable water.   Corporate and personal wealth in the United States is mind-boggling yet one in five  American children go to bed hungry.   The compassionate world our God intended was not one divided over issues of power, wealth, and theology.  The world’s massive wealth was not intended for just 1% of the world’s population.  Every sacred scripture points to enlightenment as a civilization where all are created equal, where all are deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, where all share a piece of God’s blessing in brotherhood. 

We seem to forget that our Creator had a game plan.  Whether you believe in the creation story of the Jews and Muslims, the Hindus, or the Buddhists is unimportant.  We were created as a compassionate species whose sole purpose was to please and venerate our Father.  We seem to forget that God is holding the trump card, that his will shall prevail with or without our approval and cooperation.  So, how do we conduct ourselves?  Shall we learn through wisdom or through pain?  It’s our call.smiley-face-2

 

LET GO, LET GOD

The world which we see on broadcast media and in newsprint is a world based on fear.  From this fear the news stories evolve depicting terrorism, murder, abuse, desolation, and human depravity.  We read, we process, and usually we respond shaking a fist at and cursing the perpetrators.  Anger is our most readily available response and we allow it to overwhelm us, to defeat us, to negate our innate spiritual bearing.

Our anger only encourages the darkness.  Our anger allows that darkness to trespass upon our natural, God-ordained state of serenity and peace.  It colors every thought we harbor until we get on bended knee and return to the inner peace which is our true and natural state of being.

We believe that love is compassion in action.  We believe that the opposite of love is fear and indifference.  We believe that, although the arising emotion appears to be anger, when we question ourselves about what is driving that emotion the response could be:

“I am sad, very sad, and frightened.  Sad over what this world is and frightened about where this world is going, what it holds for the children and grandchildren.”

When we take ourselves from the fist-shaking, cussing realm of anger into the deeply honest and soul-searching realm of concern for others and the world they are inheriting, we transcend the ego of self to the eternity of love and compassion.  When we turn it over to God and ask blessing on those who make us angry, we are putting the world into the hands of the only Power who can transform and enlighten.  As people in recovery state so perfectly:

“Let go and let God.”

No, we should never give up or not be concerned about the world’s hatred and bigotry.  We should always uphold the worthiness of all people and endorse their right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  But, when we do it prayerfully in obedience to a Higher Power we are connecting to the powerful stream of light which no darkness can conquer.

 

 

JOHN LENNON

“I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind.”

Lennon/McCartney 1968

 

OK, so the Beatles were not the poster boys for sober living.  But, unlike many of their contemporaries, they did survive the drugging and drinking and left us with numerous memorable lyrics.  Lennon, the peacenik, the rebel, the political activist who found himself on the FBI’s “watch list” for subversive activity wrote “IMAGINE”, the lyrics of which could be a blueprint for world peace.

Ironically, Lennon’s  life ended prematurely in 1980 when an assassin gunned him down in front of his apartment building.  A man dedicated to compassion, love, and peace was taken from us by a gun-wielding madman.  Today, 50 years after the Beatles and 37 years after Lennon’s death, the music and the words continue to remind us that there is a better way to live this life which our HP has given us.

“I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind”  resonates with the comfort and good will which has always been intended to be God’s gift to us.  For a man of immense wealth and talent to write those words offering everything he’s got for a little peace of mind should reveal to us that what is important in life is not riches nor fame.

Peace of mind is especially difficult to capture in today’s violent, unstable world.  We will not find it in church, religion, or philosophy.  It will not suddenly appear through the right ritual or prayer.  It is an inside job which only our connection with a higher power can accomplish.  When we realize and accept that nothing of this worldly existence is greater or more important than the God connection, then we will know the beginnings of “peace of mind”.

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