are you a secret?

Am I a secret?

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.”
13 th chapter of JOHN verse 35 

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photo courtesy of PIXABAY

Does my life leave doubt in anyone’s mind that I am a Jesus disciple?  Will people remember me as a Jesus follower?  Or, is my life a secret?  People know my story of drunken betrayal and subsequent recovery, but how many people have heard my story of resurrection?  It is the story of a redeemed alcoholic following the man whom scriptures call Jesus of Nazareth.  If there is one solitary nugget of truth in Christianity’s Bible, it is the narrative set down by writers in the 1st and 2nd centuries as a blueprint to live life in peaceful co-existence with all of God’s creation, all of humanity and nature.  It is the design by which a wretched, lost man can rediscover wholeness and learn to peacefully co-exist with himself and fellow man. It is a story of forgiveness and redemption attributed to the man called Jesus.

The nucleus of the Way, the Truth and the Life is ‘love for one another’ as written so simply yet eloquently in 13 John 34-35.

A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV 

Were we, the human species, to hold that one statement on our hearts in all our affairs, the world would know peace.  There would not be deprivation, poverty or war.  There would not be murder, genocide, or racism.

I can hear many of you saying, “Larry, that’s a nice dream, but it will never be reality.”

It starts with me – it starts with you.  One by one we can find a better way to live in this world even as we are surrounded by intolerance and hatred, even as men despise and revile us because of the love we show for those of different color, those who live in distant lands, those who come to our border as refugees.

The Jesus story does not put qualifiers on the love which he taught us to practice in our lives.  It is not written to love only those of same skin color, same nationality, same religion.  No, the words say, “Love your fellow man as you love yourself.”  Perfection is impossible, but willingness is necessary.  The insanity of this world, of its politics and politicians is unimportant.  The vile names hurled at us and the injury intended for us will be forgotten in the next chapter of life.  All I want to hear when this chapter of life is closed are the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I want to be known as  a disciple.  I don’t want my discipleship to be a secret.  How about you?

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emma gonzalez

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photo by SIMON MATZINGER

“So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” EMMA GONZALEZ

We rise every morning anticipating a great day filled with joy, happiness and safety in our daily endeavors.  We hug our loved ones as they go out the door about their day’s agenda.  We expect to see them later, don’t we?

We know life has no guarantees, but we trust in goodness and mercy.  Emma Gonzalez chatted with friends before classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas not knowing that there were a few whom she would never again see alive.  Shots rang out, young people were murdered and Emma’s life was changed forever.

One would think that fellow Americans would rally around the survivors who, on that morning in Parkland, witnessed life’s hell.  That’s who we are, isn’t it?  Many good people responded with open arms and words of consolation.  One would think that a nation in mourning over the losses in this tragedy and so many prior school shootings would come to terms with its obsession for weapons and violence.  One would think that, wouldn’t they?  So, what happened?  No, seriously, what has happened?  Emma and many of her protesting friends were ridiculed and name-called.  Some were mailed death threats.  Congress debated, state governments passed band-aid laws to placate their constituents and then the next school shooting devastated more families and communities.

It seems like years ago, but the Parkland shooting happened just last year on February 14th.  We saw the rally in Washington, D.C., we were amazed by the crowds and dignitaries attending and marching.  We said that this event will surely change the minds of politicians and effective gun legislation will be enacted.  Seriously? What happened?

In her new release, Madonna gives a shoutout to Emma Gonzalez incorporating parts of her speech in the lyrics.  Please take a few minutes to listen and reflect not only on the events of that horrific day, but also what we have become as a people.

May 03, 2019 · Madonna, in a statement shortly after the release, revealed that she wrote “I Rise” as a way of giving a voice to all marginalized people who feel they don’t have the opportunity to speak their minds. She added that as 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of pride, she believed the song will encourage individuals to be themselves, speak their minds and love themselves. MADONNA – “I Rise”

“They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun — We call BS! They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars — We call BS! They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred — We call BS…” EMMA GONZALEZ

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good vibrations

My friends, this is happy music.  “Good Vibrations” was a hit in 1966 composed and produced by Brian Wilson.  It’s the stuff which entertained us at sock hops, cruising down Market Street on Saturday nights, picnicking at the beach.  THE BEACH BOYS popularized a genre of music which did not focus on the Vietnam War, protests, and street violence.  Their toe-tapping sounds gave way to the soul’s underside with the advance of THE ANIMALS, ROLLING STONES, BOB DYLAN, JANIS JOPLIN, JIMI HENDRIX, DOORS carrying us to darker spaces.

A blogger, unless blogging for profit, tends to trek through hills and valleys of creativity.  Some days simply do not inspire anything worth writing.  It could be laziness, but the truth of the matter is that quite often the weight of the world is overwhelming.  Wearied to the core by social, political, and religious upheavals continually bombarding all the media screens and soul’s conscience, there are times when retreat is necessary.

For many Vietnam War era men and women, the protest days are over. Instead, there’s a place to 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.  Whenever solace and rest are needed, this internal heaven can be right here and right now or it can be a million miles away.  Joyfully, in that space the good vibrations of the soul embrace a higher calling.

Namaste. 🙏

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Why are you surprised?

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The Good News of the Gospels is usually relegated to back page stories in this newspaper called life.  Every new day brings increasingly savage and violent news of mankind’s failure to understand our purpose during our visit to this life.  Perhaps people are unaware of the necessary path we must take to ensure our species is existent a few millennia from now.  Deadly armaments and unbridled displays of man’s inhumanity to man foretell a fiery demise.  Is there any hope?

Days like yesterday and today leave me questioning.  The salient media story has been about one man intent on killing as many other men and women as possible with his accumulated stash of weaponry and ammo.  Disgruntled about political differences and incited by racial hatred this one person had a desire to destroy the world.  Can you fathom a crazed mind that intent on having his will let loose on mankind?  I cannot.

Several books of our Scriptures prophesied the “end times.”  Some of us believe the writers could indeed foresee the future of man as related in their writings.  Some of us who are less inclined to agree with prophesy call today’s world circumstances a coincidence.  I certainly don’t know the answers.

However, I do believe those ancient men of scripture knew instinctively the nature of man.  They knew and experienced the violence and hatred inherent in humanity since the beginnings of time.  We do not descend from peaceful stock.  Our genes do not comprehend the words love and compassion and tolerance.  Our primal tribal nature teaches us to kill that which is different from us.  We have millions of years of DNA driving us to be killing machines.  So, why should we be surprised when one man sets out to destroy as much as possible of God’s creation?

Understanding the aggressive, violent nature of mankind does not excuse the task set before me which is to evolve to the highest levels of peaceful coexistence with all races, creeds, nationalities and lifestyles possible within my broken, human condition.  I can never do this perfectly, but I can make progress.  How about you?  Together, maybe we can modify those genes and change our world.

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BEGGAR & WANDERER

Is my faith walk measured by correctness and certainty? Or is it filled with intense need and desire?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5: 5

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Matthew 5: 6

None of the above verses from the wisdom of the ancient writings say anything about getting it right or being sure about my thoughts concerning God.  As a matter of fact they point to the need to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to hunger for righteousness. I do not have the answers to the mysteries nor will I ever in this lifetime, but there is a way to search for those answers and that searching is in itself the purpose of faith.

Knowing that I just don’t know is sometimes difficult.  It is not an inherent human trait to admit that the object of my searching is an undefinable, indescribable, unspeakable mystery which is the driving force in this earthly life.  Many men and women have taken a stab at descriptions and definitions, but in the end they fall short of certainty.

But, we do know what a God-driven life produces in our lives.  It is love.  Not the warm, fuzzy feelings associated with a friend, family member or spouse, but the gut-wrenching compassion for victims of violence, for the hungry and needy, for the financially stressed, for asylum seekers.   A God-driven life produces peace makers rather than war-mongers, stewards of the earth rather than exploiters, givers rather than takers.

We can know this as truth because the Spirit (conscience) within says this is right and this is love.

“All we have to do is receive God’s gaze and then return what we have received.  We simply complete the divine circuit, ‘love returning love’ as my father St. Francis put it.  This is our spiritual agenda for our whole life.” Richard Rohr

Can’t get any simpler than that.  Look at God’s gaze (the Spirit within – love) and then return it to God and every other creature on earth.  I am a spiritual beggar and wanderer filled with an intense need and desire.  This is all I need to know.35

Today – Pittsburgh

 

LOVE

What is love?  Is it that warm, fuzzy feeling that is felt when in the presence of special friends, family, a spouse?  Maybe.  But, what if love is not an emotion?  What if love is an action shared with the world encompassing all of creation including humanity and the earth itself?  Compassion, tolerance, understanding, non-violence, stewardship – perhaps this is the love that will save our earth and its inhabitants.  Perhaps this the love which the author of 1 Corinthians was setting before us as a challenge?  Let’s try it.

Today, the day after the horrific mass shooting in Pittsburgh in which eleven of my brothers and sisters were murdered, it is extremely difficult to practice what I know the Lord of my life wants me to do – love.  Today, I am rebellious.  No, I will not love those who hate enough to kill.  No, I will not forgive those who hate enough to be unforgivable.  No, I won’t.

Then Jesus says, “But, you must because that is the beginning of healing.”

So, I will experience what humans experience.  I will allow the anger, the disappointment, the horror, the disgust, the sorrow, and the denial.  I will allow this and move on to the necessary work of forgiving.  And trust me, this is work.  It is soul work which is not inherent in our human condition.  I too want to lash out at those who are hateful.  I want to beat them to the ground and scream, “What is wrong with you?”

But  that would be giving them the victory.  That would be denying the instructions of the One who lords my life.  I would become an instrument of hate rather than love.

“God make me an instrument of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”

Pope Paul VI

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”orange tree

 

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

 Pope Paul VI

 

As a precursor to thinking about world peace, it is necessary to recognize that governments and government agents cannot enforce peaceful co-existence.  Governments desire power above peace,  governments covet profits from its nation’s war machine and munitions industries above peace, and governments employ military might as an insurer of peace within its own borders at the expense of violent oppression elsewhere in the world.  The great Roman Empire was created on this principle.  The American experience also became an empire in this manner.  Peace on an international level is unattainable without the intervention of a supernatural mediator.

Perhaps that is what Pope Paul VI is inferring in this quote.  Wise men know that mankind is violent and warlike and that the governances created by man are equally so.  The peace envisioned is not going to happen in the halls of government but rather within the temples of man.  Man is a spiritual being housed in a physical body, his temple.  When that spirit is tuned in to a greater universal force, the process of peacemaking can begin.  It is a miracle of interior transformation which prepares each individual to journey to the destiny of enlightenment offered by his/her Creator.

The transforming process begins with a recognition of inherent ego and its continual demand to be self-satisfied.  Slowly ego is replaced by sacrifice and awareness of surrounding suffering.  The injustice of world systems becomes increasingly apparent as the individual reaches out to live in solidarity with all brothers and sisters, to seek justice for all people.  Justice mothers the driving desire to share resources equally, to treat others compassionately, and to extend peaceful co-existence to the entire creation.  Striving for universal justice becomes the life work which will usher peace into the worlds existing within the temples.  No government can deter or destroy that which dwells within.