I hurt for everybody as I watched 60 Minutes last night. I felt a significant aspect of what’s really happening in our country on a deeper level than I’d felt before, and I realized, we’re going to have to dig deeper to heal what’s happening.
First, it’s important for people like me to honor that President Trump does have something to offer. He’s an effective cheerleader for his views because he sincerely believes what he believes, and he understands some significant things about economics. While he lies when convenient for him, he is not the complete “liar” many make him out to be. But he will not seriously consider things that do not support his perception of reality or his agenda. That’s a human weakness we can all fall prey to - that’s why we have to watch ourselves when we decide we’re not going to listen to someone who raises views contrary to ours anymore. We can find ourselves in the position of, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” Our president is there. That in and of itself is unfortunate, but would not necessarily have to be of grave concern. Presidents on both sides have been there before.
What is of grave concern was the president’s attitude when he walked away from the interview. Moments earlier he denied that he said “lock her up” of Michigan Governor Whitmer at a recent rally when he actually said something worse - “Lock ‘em all up.” That’s exactly the kind of thing that leads to good people being kidnapped or locked up down the road in a no longer thoughtful society. As Stahl pressed him on a couple of other things, tensions rose and so did he.
The president just left and didn’t come back. He was simply done with Leslie Stahl. She was no longer worthy of his time, no longer worthy of the respect of finishing the interview he agreed to, of finishing their time together as people or even saying goodbye or goodnight in a proper manner as human beings. She was part of fake news for him, “the enemy of the people,” and he was just done with her - not only as a reporter, but as a person he was just sitting with, she wasn’t worth another moment of his time. Not even worth a brief explanation of his decision and a “Goodnight.” He was just gone.
After awhile, Pence came in and defended the president’s leaving, saying "And the American people know that-- in this time, it's, it's-- it's less about the back and forth with the media, and it's-- it's really more about how we bring this country all the way back.” I saw his point, and could admire his quick reasoning to a degree but felt deep inside what he must not realize - his dismissing of the president’s disdain for those he disagrees with is the main tragedy here. It’s what leads good people to justify doing bad things to other good people - just because the others don’t support their views. It allows inappropriate and unnecessary demonizing of others. Once that’s happening in earnest, all hell can break loose. “Lock ‘em all up” can become quite literal and be applied to good people who are simply on the “other side” and are now seen as the “enemy” because they are on the other side.
If you are still planning on voting for president Trump, please consider what I am saying. If you know me, you know that I am not an extremist. I was a middle of the road, United Methodist minister for 20 years who now runs a pretty chill spiritual center, where I know that we have Republicans, Democrats and Independents, and I am very thankful for each and every person there. I am saying this as clearly as I can for everyone’s sake - what we’re witnessing here is serious stuff. What’s involved here is genuinely unhealthy on a basic, human level. If it goes much further, things could get very serious. It won’t be a question of is America great? It will be a question of is America even on a path that can lead to good? It’s not just that the ends don’t justify the means. These means simply do not lead to good ends.
Basic human respect is basic human respect. We call it “basic” for a reason. It’s foundational to building anything worthwhile. You cannot build anything great among people without it.
Thanks and blessings,
The other day, I was feeling sad, confused and overwhelmed at what’s happening in our country after looking at Facebook - especially as I saw some of my friends now getting into some hostility with each other. Everybody had a point, but respect and appreciation for each other was waning. I wasn’t sure what to say, if anything. So I went out to work on resealing the driveway, because I knew I could do some good there.
As I was getting ready to start, I was thinking about all that’s happening while untangling my power cords. Then two big pileated woodpeckers flew over and started pecking on a dead, hollow tree near me. It was surprisingly loud and really attention grabbing. I was also amazed because it’s pretty rare to see a pileated woodpecker around here, and I've never seen two here at one time. I decided to make a video using the untangling of the wires and feeling one's way through the noise as an analogy, and then all of craziness unfolded that you see in the video . . .
The movie was Under the Tuscan Sun, and a bird pooping on you is considered a good sign (great movie too)! I looked up woodpecker symbolism and was struck with how some shamanic traditions and even Carl Jung associated it with primal energies, the womb and the root chakra. Some Native American traditions associate woodpeckers with wise and powerful home-making.
Hearing and seeing Red-headed woodpeckers is like a call to get back to our roots and what’s most important. It's about using our heads as we get back to the heart of what provides a home and nurtures life. Not too far off from what I wanted to talk about. More power to you in centering yourself and settling into the heart of who you are! I hope The Center supports you in that, and that the rest that works is a practice that helps you make a home with God within you.
Good for a laugh, and hopefully a little food for thought! (Oh and by the way, it’s a good omen!)
Preview YouTube video Good for a laugh, and hopefully a little food for thought! (Oh and by the way, it’s a good omen!)
Good for a laugh, and hopefully a little food for thought! (Oh and by the way, it’s a good omen!)
Our world is such a mix right now! Big wheels are turning driven by deep, very real issues. It's messy but there is a lot of good in the midst of the mess - there are some big diamonds surfacing in the dirt though they are often hard to see. The key is to align ourselves as we might align with a sunrise. Then as we see the diamonds reflecting the sunlight, we can discern how to encourage the dirt to fall away.
For me, clarity comes from centering in love. It's like positioning myself to see and feel a sunrise. Then I can work to create solutions aligned with love rather than fear or hate. This is why asking for help in getting to loving is my main purpose in turning to God in prayer and meditation. It's also why I so value our freedom to practice our spirituality as we choose in America.
I think that Divine, Creative Love desires expression through each and every one of us. It’s not a theoretical thing. It’s a felt thing. It can stir in us as we watch a sunrise. We can sense it in the unforced yet powerful grace of our breath. It moves in the passion of our heartbeat. It can be felt in our personal desire to love and be loved, and live lives aligned with love - which means being fair and treating others as we’d like to be treated. These are things we all have in common. They are shared, connecting points between our divinity and humanity, and when we live in touch with them, we offer society what it needs most - genuinely loving people.
When we center ourselves in our inner well-spring, it’s like there’s a sun shining in us. We find ourselves wanting to connect with others from that deeper, loving place. We don’t have to force ourselves or fake being kind and loving or respectful because we’re actually genuinely feeling that way. We treat others the way we want to be treated because we get it - they’re a lot like us emotionally in their fears, hopes and dreams even as the details of those dreams can be very different.
Created in the image of The Creator, we want to live from a place of creative love because that’s who and what we truly are, for God is Love. So I think the main thing is to connect inside, get divine love active again and clear the way for its flow, inside and out. This is why The Center exists, both for ourselves and society. What helps in connecting is different for everyone - that’s why we support so many different practices at The Center. We hope it supports you in your pursuit of what works for you, and you feel the freedom and power that comes from within when your inner well-spring is flowing.
As always, thank you for all the ways that you make The Center the special place it is - hopefully for you, others and society! (And also as always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to share ideas on how to improve it in serving its mission).
After a short intro by Howie, these are my best thoughts and a meditation for engaging life from a faith/heart perspective right now. It's an important time in which big wheels are turning. It's work to really bring our hearts to it, but it's so important to do that - for ourselves, for others and for our society and world. More power to you in that.
(About a month ago, I was invited to speak at Unity Christ Center on June 7th. The planned topic was loosely “joy” based on the Daily Word devotional from Unity. We were both socially distancing properly and Zooming. Thanks for the invitation Unity folks. It was great to be with you!).
Some ways to get back to love within when we get out of sync.
There's a profound lesson here from Mother Nature and the Mom-side of God that I can only point to at this stage with inadequate words. When I pray about it, lots of good energy comes through, so I'm going to keep going to God with it.
The main idea is how to include where we feel broken and open ourselves to what it offers, especially when it comes to our sense of self. That helps us to expand into a greater capacity to flow with genuinely creative love for ourselves and others. I hope the image and reflection is helpful for you.
(I stepped back for the meditation part of the video and it was hard to hear, so I cut it out and added a meditation on Flow from Dr. Lorin Roche's translation of the Radiance Sutra's below for you to use if you'd like. I'll get a new microphone before next week😊).
Thanks and blessings,
The life essence carries on its play
through the pulsing rhythm of outward and inward movement.
This is the ceaseless throb, the rhythm of life --
Terrifying in its eternity, exquisite in its constancy.
The inhalation, the return movement of breath, sustains life.
The outgoing breath purifies life.
These are the two poles between which respiration goes on unceasingly.
Between them is every delight you could desire.
Even when the senses are turned outward, your attention on the external world, attend also to the inner throb - the pulsing of the creative impulse within you.
(Roche, Lorin. The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight (p. 37). Sounds True. Kindle Edition).
It's been a long time since I posted here since I've been sending things out through The Center email. (If you'd like to be on that list, please go to thecenterec.com).
I hope that you are doing as well as possible during this Coronavirus pandemic. A friend of mine named Eric was just put on a ventilator yesterday. Please add him to your prayers (and let me know in the comments if there is anyone you'd like me to pray for).
The saints of old sometimes described God as a Lover. Through prayer and meditation, they discovered God's Presence within and without as being subtle but powerful - like the awe we feel when we're in love. That kind of language is weird for us these days, but it invites some opportunities. I imagine what they experienced was like when our soul says "Yes!" as we see, hear or experience something really beautiful or truly awesome - something that moves us and we find ourselves "in love."
The rest that works is about feeling and aligning with the creative love of our Creator - like a branch might respond to becoming more fully aware of the awesome tree giving it life. The more we feel that creative love, the more we want to align. The more we align, the more we feel. The saints were "saints" because they learned how to get into alignment on a regular basis, some even as their way of life.
I hope that the rest that works helps you to experience and develop that alignment in your life. Every step in that direction is more than worthwhile.
Thanks for journeying together!
(P.S. For those who have been following my blog, I apologize that I basically took a year off as Bri was diagnosed with cancer again. It's been a year of surgeries including amputation of her leg, chemo and recovery. She's doing well now and we're very happy with where things are headed for her. I'll probably write more on that later. Thanks).
I really appreciate this. In many ways, it's the rest that works in action. Nate even says he gave his judgements a rest, and then they both sought to approach one another as they would want to be approached - with respect and a listening ear. I appreciate the whole of what is here.
The key is that they didn't cast suspicion on each other's motives. They approached each other respectfully, especially because they knew there was potential for conflict. This is the approach our country desperately needs.
Thanks Colin and Nate!