Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Coming out the world of Covid feels strange, tentative like stepping out on early ice. I have received both of my shots and have gone to meetings where people either wear their masks or they don’t, but social distancing is observed. I continue to mask up shopping or going into any business. I know we have a way to go, but our family members are almost all vaccinated and we plan a late Holiday gathering in May.

I wish my mind was brighter and my mood more positive.  People have said that we have been through a long dark journey as a country, as a world, and coming out of it will take time. For many, it meant depression, a rise in addictive and violent behavior, fear and confusion. I think we are all desiring serenity and joy.

I belong to a community that has a saying : “Fake it ’til you make it.” I am going to try that today. I have several opportunities ahead when I can put on a smile,  wish someone a happy day and listen closely to whatever is being shared. I can thank God for the rain on behalf of the fauna and our feathered friends. I can sing to myself as I exercise and appreciate the tastes of the foods set before me. How do I feel npw? Not quite a perky as this all sounds, but if I fake it, what I do on the outside might sink in and become true on the inside.

Simply Thoughts About Love

Walking out to greet the sun this morning a song came to me that we used to sing in church…the 60’s and 70’s I believe. It was simple, a quote from the scriptures:

“God is love…and he who abides in love, abides in God…and God in him.”

I thought to myself, is there anyone out there that actually believes this? Then I thought about Paul’s beautiful piece on love as he wrote to the fellowship in Corinth:

“…if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned – but if I have no love, this does me no good.
Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud;
love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable;
love does not keep a record of wrongs;
love is not happy with evil, never gives up;
and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. “

I suspect love has never really been tried, Jesus being one exception. Mahatma Ghandi said that one person following the teachings of Jesus would change the world. I take issue with that. Jesus surely followed his own teachings and I am not sure how much impact that had on the world.

I don’t know where I am going with this. As I read Paul’s words, I think about my marriage, my family, my friendships, my neighborhood, my work. I think about the world about me, churches, the political world, the world itself. All I see is bits and pieces, an expression here or there. Someone helping a person on the street, someone visiting a shut in, someone listening deeply.

In the end, I am left with my own abiding, I have no control over anyone else. There is a veil. One cannot see the good that one does. One cannot know if a word spoken has been heard. But one can know that God is love and one can know when one’s own thoughts and actions speak something other than love. Abiding to me is paying attention. God is here now in this place and time.

Abide in love so deeply that you carry it with you always.

Poetry in Four Episodes

I am itching to get back into the habit of blogging. When I first started, I committed to daily writing. I can blame my book, of course, since that was about all I could handle for a good while. But now she is published and I have failed to pick up the old commitment. Yesterday began the Easter Season. The Lord has risen and so must I.

In October of 2017, I wrote in my journal of a number of mini-spiritual awakenings. I had just come off of a recovery retreat which I myself hosted. I had also signed a contract with a publisher and the work to do the final editing on my book was before me. Here are the entries in my journal, poetry in four episodes:

October 1
Connecting – we are One – all is One – all is Now – I am Here – I walk and my Here changes but Here is where God is. Here – so close – Herein. I Am.

October 19
I feel a glow – I thought it as a break in the clouds, or my opening up to this higher place. Like bobbing my head above after swimming under the lily pads for so long. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale.

October 27 
My soul is healing from the last two years of darkness. I am beginning to experience slip-slides. Moments when it seems the planets are aligned or I am sliding on black ice…it is time!!! All is well – wood is in – a fire is burning.

October 30
This is how I operate – I water the flowers and ignore the weeds.

Being Black in America

One of the stories in the photo journalism masterpiece by Brandon Stanton, Humans, is told by a father in Accra, Ghana. He said that he and his wife discussed whether to raise their son in Africa or move to the United States. In the U.S. he could expect better job opportunities. Both he and his wife are professors. Healthcare, he said would be better. “You don’t hear of people dying in America because they can’t find an open hospital bed.” (This was clearly pre-covid). What attracted him to staying in Ghana, he said, is there his son would not have to worry about the color of his skin. He would never have to explain to him what it means to be black or tell him the rules necessary to keep himself safe.

The father said that one day when he was living in America, he received an Amber alert on his phone and all it said was, “tall black male.” Being the only one in sight it caused him to panic. Then another day, he was walking to his dormitory at three o’clock in the afternoon and someone drove by in a red truck and threw a hamburger at his head and called him the N-word. “I don’t want to explain that stuff to my child,” he said. “It is exhausting to be conscious of your skin all the time. You either become a militant or you become defeated. And I understand why it happens, but extremes of anything aren’t good.”

This father’s story troubles me. It doesn’t make me proud to be an American. Not today, anyway.

The Joy of Being a Dog

…just watch your dog. Dog’s don’t stop the ecstasy. You get tired of them, jumping up and licking you, but they don’t. It’s pure unadulterated fascinated enjoyment being a dog, apparently. And then most of them just lie down one day and die. No drama.
The dog doesn’t question reality.
It doesn’t anguish in existential malaise, beating its paws in the dirt and asking, “Why aren’t I a duck?”
Apparently, dogs just like being dogs, mulberry trees like being mulberry trees, and bees like doing what bees do. Rje Joyed snapper does not mind if we name her ‘red snapper’, although she knows her real name. All things give glory to God just by being what they are.

Richard Rohr in Divine Dance

Me and the Iranian lady

My granddaughter gave me my second work by photographer Brandon Stanton. The first Humans of New York was given to me by my daughter and now this, simply Humans  It fills my soul to read the brief stories and look at poignant pictures of people on the streets of wherever in the world Stanton wanders with his camera. There is always something to relate to: stories of joy, fears, dreams, pain and recovery. Ages, races and cultures do not matter…all are human. I am human. I relate.

Here is one story I saw a few days ago, the same day I was reading an old journal from 2016.

From Humans, a woman from Rasht, Iran, says: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.

I, at 72, December 2, 2016 write: “I can’t not read and write in the morning. What would I do if I were kidnapped and whoever took me didn’t grab my books, paper and pens? Solitary confinement? Just me and walls. I mean, am I even a real person without my stuff?”

Self-Care

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on this earth to offer to others.” (Parker Palmer)

In my journal of October 24, 2014, I reflected on this quote and wrote: “All I have to give the world is me. This is what God gave me the vessel for – to transport me from one place to another. No matter where I am, that is where I am meant to be with my cargo. Like a lunch wagon.”

Be yourself. Care for the vessel and the soul that is in it. You are God’s gift to the world.