Shout Out from My Colostomy Bag

One moment you’re fine, the next pain, and then you’re in surgery. Life throws you curves and you swing. I came out of surgery with a pain as deep as the near foot long incision running through my abdomen and a shame as vile as the colostomy bag clinging to the side of my belly.

No point in talking about what’s fair. It’s unfair for civilians to be running from barrel bombs in Syria, for little boys and girls to be dying on high seas trying to escape to places that don’t want them so they can have a chance to live in peace in this world that God gave to everyone. It’s unfair for millions of young girls to be victims of human trafficking, for people to be going to bed hungry in the 21st century, and the list of things truly unfair goes on and on.

So it’s not unfair for this to be happening to me, but it’s damn hard to bear nonetheless. I want to close my eyes and never wake up, to fall into a deep sleep and float away into the imagined peace of nothingness.

But I’m not going anywhere. I open my eyes and there’s the love of family, there’s the caring of friends who are family, there are the comforting words of strangers, even a woman, Bag Lady Mama, https://www.facebook.com/bagladymama/?ref=nf,  blogging about the joy of pregnancy with pictures of her colostomy bag to boot. I come home to the peace of utter chaos in the beauty of a house pulled apart to adjust to my present infirmity.

I‘m in so much pain I don’t want to go on, but I can’t go out either. The love of God is all around. It lifts me up into my seat of consciousness and I look down from the place of the observer and understand. Adversity is not about the body but the soul, and when the soul opens to give and receive love it flourishes with life even in the presence of physical pain.

So you take a swing at the curve, and discover that with love you can always get a hit.

The Spirit of a New Election Year

One of the blessings to the cyclical rhythm of life is the opportunity to start over again. It is present in the seasons of nature, and in the offer of forgiveness and redemption in our religious heritage. And the beginning of a new year is an opportune time to reflect on where we are individually and corporately on the path to becoming better than we have been.

Better for present purpose is being further along the path to creating a just society. Our ability to achieve this is directly related to our ability to feel connected to the other; to see ourselves in the other and recognize either through faith in the divine or our own reason that safeguarding the other’s welfare is the best safeguard of our own welfare.

One whose needs are satisfied is far less likely to threaten our own needs.

In a recent documentary on Paul Simon’s making of the Graceland album with the South African group, Black Mombaza, Simon defied an international boycott of apartheid South Africa and traveled there to record the album. He was blithely unaware of the situation on the ground in South Africa and when he was advised that the black liberationists were opposed to his efforts, ignored their opposition on the grounds that their attitude infringed on his artistic freedom. The South African black musicians who collaborated with him were vilified. Even today 27 years later, many of the liberationists remain deeply disappointed with them.

Ironically, the acclaim of the album raised the profile of the genius of South African musical talent, and did more to galvanize worldwide attention and opposition to apartheid than almost anything else at the time.

The spirit of the anti-apartheid sanctions was to benefit the oppressed people of South Africa. The breaking of the letter of the sanctions turned out to be more in keeping with their spirit than abiding by them.

This illustrates how often we forget that the spirit of the law is more important than the letter, and that we must be careful as we make choices in our personal and corporate lives that we remain true to the spirit rather than to rigid adherence to the letter of the law.

This precedent exists in Christ’s teachings. On one occasion he picked corn and fed his disciples on the Sabbath and was accused by the authorities of breaking the law against working on God’s holy day. In response he observed that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The spirit of the law was intended for the benefit of the people’s welfare.

In this election year many of our political debates suffer the same failing. Issues from war and peace, to immigration, income inequality, racism, and gun violence all risk suffering  this flawed analysis as the populist cheerleaders forget the original spirit of our democratic experiment, to form a more perfect union with justice for all.  

This is the spirit to which we as a nation must be dedicated. The beginning of this New Year is a perfect time to push the reset button on trying to live it.

My Christmas Promise

I blog because I love to write. I enjoy the artistry of words, the creative process of writing prose to the heartbeat of a poet.

One of my core beliefs is that the value of a life is measured by the contribution we make to community. This has given me a passion to contribute to my community, and mine is the world, I’m a child of all of it.

I’ve allowed insecurity and fear to prevent me contributing my talent to write. It may not be very good, but it’s the pursuit that gives me the greatest joy. I can write all night and welcome daylight refreshed.

I don’t have anything new to say.

This is the story I’ve told myself to come to rest with the neglect of my talent. But my rest is troubled by two of my other core beliefs. I believe there is a God, and I believe she gave me the joy of this talent for her own purpose which is always, and only, love.

I’ve learned from history that the pen has more power to do good than the sword has ability to do evil. I do not know the big picture. Perhaps what I have to say will be of no importance to anyone but me. But even so, I will still gain the satisfaction from acting on my trust in the supreme force of creation. It may well empower me to fulfill some other purpose of hers.

I may not see the big picture but I trust the artist’s ability to complete painting her portrait of love.

My promise this Christmas is from this moment to use the words she’s given me to strike the pose she wants for the work she’s creating.

CONNECTED TO FAITH BY DOUBT

‘When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Matt 28:17

The older I’ve become, the more complex the response to the question of what is it that connects me to my faith. From the crucible of my recent past, however, the simplest answer is doubt.

The only absolute belief I hold today is in the supremely creative and redemptive power of love, and I will always be a disciple of Jesus, the messenger of love. Any act of love stirs in me my sense of connection to the divine; because for me by definition, all love emanates from the divine.

Because of my culturalization my faith was rooted originally in an acceptance of certainty about doctrine, from the existence of God to the details of the Bible. But the circumstances of my life did not square with this and I began a youthful search for absolute truth that evolved with ‘maturity’ to a quest for spiritual principles with which to live consistently.

Scholarship exposed the divergence between religion and spirituality.  I discovered that religion, however sincere, is the product of humanbeings. Every culture creates God in its own image, and expresses its understanding in their image rather than God’s image being expressed in them.

For someone who once believed there was an absolute truth this was a difficult passage to navigate. I lost faith in my religion. This was extremely troubling because I had to chart my own course through uncertainty, and I was distraught from my doubts.Among other things reading Mother Teresa’s own painful words of doubt helped me.

Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God—please forgive me.” Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. New York: Doubleday

I realized doubt and weakness were consistent with our mortal existence, and turned to the certainty of my personal experience for places where I felt a tangible connection to the divine. Not surprisingly, those were in places where I shared in unconditional love. So, now embracing my doubts I try to orient all my life around unconditional love.

JE SUIS CHARLIE

Charlie Hebdo rallies across France

I stand with the people of France.

I stand with all people who advocate for justice. Justice, someone once said, is what love looks like in practice for all people, and I believe it is the only way to peace for us all.

The terror attacks this week in France are shocking; perhaps no more so than other acts of terror that have taken place in other cities, or the reprehensible violence which occurs in the many wars, in places such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine or Afghanistan, or even the annual loss of 30,000 plus lives from gun violence on the streets of the United States, but nonetheless, they are shocking.

But what is different this time is the character of the response. The groundswell of the response across the spectrum of French society, and beyond to the broad swath of humanity has been remarkable for all the right reasons. It is not simply the universal condemnation, but more important, the strength of the demonstration that we as a people will not be afraid, and we will not be divided. There is a tidal wave of energy to include, to tolerate, and even to accept.

Charlie Hebdo rallies across France

The millions unified in the streets is a forceful affirmation that we overcome evil with good. The enlightened path of our cultural traditions all teach that evil is overcome not by resisting it, which usually excuses us doing more evil, but by doing justice, and bringing everyone into community.

There is no question that there are many different and even contrary agendas present. To some this is about freedom of speech, or freedom of the press, democracy, shared values, or our way of life. Some are simply political, or opportunistic. I do not think it matters.

These acts of violence were wrong, however provocative or offensive the cartoons may have been to some. This most basic human right must transcend all humanity. The taking of life may be excusable but it is never justifiable. And this time the people of France got that right.

Citizens carrying a banner which reads, "We're all French today" take part in a Hundreds of thousands of French citizens solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris

The world is more crowded and grows smaller every day. It is our destiny to become more multi-cultural. This is a good thing. Our evolutionary experience makes us afraid of change, keeps us tribal, and afraid of the other. But life is change. Our very bodies are changing at the cellular level.  Not to change is to die.

The problem of religious extremism is complex. Religious conflicts are rarely ever really about religion. Their root cause, as with most conflicts, is injustice. Injustice is the engine that drives these conflicts, religion is simply one of the high octane fuels used.

We keep responding with more security, and greater violence. These alone have only spawned more conflict, less security and less freedom. Standing in solidarity with the marchers in Paris will not solve this crisis, but it is an important, and often overlooked first step to finding a solution.

The values of tolerance, respect, peace, and love are the guiding principles that will heal our divisions, and this will occur when we demonstrate justice with an inclusive and collective voice. Je Suis Charlie is a good place to begin.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

2015 Happy New Year Strands Line Glow Dark BackgroundABC News photo

 

I resolve to be more compassionate and generous to all people this year by living truer to the principle of unconditional love as I am blessed to discern it from the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

New Year’s resolutions are justly viewed with skepticism because so often we fail to keep them. But this is a mistake. We should make more resolutions not less, and remake them every time we fail. The fault, after all, is not in the resolution but in what we do to keep them.

It takes between 3 to 6 weeks of consistent action for something new to become a habit. And, this is more difficult when trying without others for support and accountability.

Generally, resolutions represent our perceptions of being better persons, and the root of their failure lies in the frustration of the inevitable backslide.

I find I’m more successful when I focus on creating new habits rather than breaking old ones. So, I focus on the positives of new behavior that contradicts or steals the time from the old habit, and when I fail, as often as I fail, I recommit to my resolution again. How often will I repeat this? As often as it takes to accomplish my goal.

I am constantly recommiting to my writing. I’m by nature a night owl, but I’ve discovered I’m more successful if I write early in the morning. Getting to bed earlier is at the top of my resolution list again. I’ve already failed, but I am resolved never to give up because writing is my passion, and this will be the year I publish my novel.

So dismiss all cynical frustrations, and refresh old resolutions from losing weight to saving the world. And when you fail, remember your resolution is a response to your better self, and in the words of Kipling, “…if you can meet with triumph and disaster (a)nd treat those two imposters just the same;… (y)ours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man my son!”

Happy New Year

New Voter Restrictions Discouraging Votes in Several States

Washington DC – Election Day voting was beset with problems impacting voters in minority communities across the country reported the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Election Protection (Coalition) from Washington, DC. “These are the most unfair and confusing election procedures in the last 50 years … and come as no surprise in the first election since the U.S. Supreme Court case in Shelby County v Holder,” said Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s premier human rights commission. “In a massive manipulation (since Shelby) to make it harder to vote 14 states have made changes to their voting laws, and (the Coalition) has no idea on how many counties have done so.”

http://gbmnews.com/wp/archives/12784  for complete article