Rumi and The News

Wayne Dyer in his book There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem shared a poem by Rumi that spoke to me this morning:

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house:
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house.
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.
(The Essential Rumi; translated by Coleman Barks; HarperCollins, 1995;p. 104)

Every morning as I pray, I close with thoughts about the day ahead. What will I hope to accomplish and who might cross my path as I walk? I ask my Higher Power to grace me with love to show each person.

This poem, though, causes me to extend my idea of who I might meet. When I eat my breakfast I usually turn on the TV to catch up on the news. I listen to liberal stations but that doesn’t mean that I approve hook, line, and sinker with what or how they are reporting the news. I don’t know about you, but I think first…then look to learn more, to broaden my beliefs. I also am open to changing my beliefs. I hold on to the world like a loose garment, as my friend Jesus taught me to do.

The poem makes me wonder if I should include these faces on the screen with the same gratefulness that I hope for as I ponder the check-out person in the store or a nurse at the clinic. Those faces are not stickers on a plane of glass, after all. They are people who come to the microphone with knowledge, ignorance, love, fear. I can tell by their voices how strongly they feel about what they are saying. Sometimes I note their feeling more than their words.

I know that not everything said on TV news is true. Even-well meaning commentators  speak too quickly before all the info is in. “Breaking News” is the name of the game. I have to be careful as I listen just as I do every time I encounter anyone. Rumi might suggest I look more deeply at those who come into my view each day. It is difficult when I fear a person might be leading others astray, but that shouldn’t cause me to discard them. God put them in front of me for a reason, perhaps to pray for them, perhaps to appreciate them, perhaps to worry about them as persons.

There was no TV when Rumi walked the earth. A town-crier, I suppose, got the news out. He at least could ponder “the other” as a flesh and blood person standing on a haybale in the town square. His spirituality didn’t have to extend very far.

We’ll see how I do applying Rumi’s thoughts to the “criers” of the 20th century.

Thought for the Day

A friend commended a delightful little book Brother Lawrence: A Christian Zen Master. Lawrence was a Carmelite monk born in France in the 17th century. He left no biography or theological treatise. He considered himself to be clumsy and awkward…an ordinary kind of guy. This book presents some Zen sayings alongside words of Brother Lawrence. I really related to this one:

Brother Lawrence: “I can’t always maintain my focus on God, of course. I’ll suddenly discover that I’ve barely given God a thought for a good long while. Usually, what gets my attention is that I’ll notice how wretched I’m feeling-and then I’ll realize I’ve forgotten God’s presence. But I don’t worry about it much. I just turn back to God immediately. And having realized how miserable I am when I forget God, my trust in God is always that much greater.”

Mahaparinirvana Sutra: “When the moon sets, people say that the moon has disappeared: and when the moon rises, they say that the moon has appeared. In fact, the moon neither goes nor comes, but shines continually in the sky. Buddha is exactly like the moon; He neither appears nor disappears; He only seems to do so out of love for the people that He may teach them.”

 

Two Kingdoms and Politics

For those who have read my book, The Memorial of Jesus, you know that I make a distinction between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Earth. We live in both at the same time. Remember when Jesus taught his follower’s to pray?  He mentioned these two and suggests we pray that the Kingdom of God come to the Earth.

That brings me to politics. I do, now and then, talk about politics in this blog, but I have always tried to do so without getting into personalities, but rather principles. Today, I would like to touch on politics in terms of kingdom.

When I was a kid, we took a class in civics. I don’t know if it is being taught today, but observing how people talk about politics today, I doubt it. Civics taught me how government works. What I am recalling today is the definition of politics: “the work of the people”. Interesting that the word “work” is used implying that politics is not an easy thing. Like any job you take on, the more people involved in getting it done, the messier it gets. Lots of opinions. Lots of different abilities. The bigger the project, the worse it gets.

If everyone reads the same instructions and if roles are well defined, that should make things go more smoothly. A constitution helps when we are talking about running a country. Our United States Constitution has lots of instructions and definition of roles and duties. I can’t say things are going very smoothly right now. I even wonder how many of those in leadership have even read the Constitution.

Managing a group of people…a LARGE group like the population  of a nation…can be messy indeed. But I maintain that this is all about the earthly kingdom that Jesus was talking about. Remember he said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. By golly, pay them taxes but don’t get the two kingdom’s mixed up. Open your eyes…know the difference.

I love the phrase that was popular a few years ago: “What would Jesus do?” I would suggest that Jesus would do exactly what he implied in his Caesar statement. He would go along with the government as long as it didn’t come into conflict with the Kingdom of God. In fact, I think he understood that living the Kingdom of God within the earthly kingdom is how the Lord’s Prayer finds its fulfillment. But again, don’t get the two mixed up. Know the difference.

Jesus, and the Christian community that followed later, were pacifists. For them, all are children of the same heavenly Father and pacifism is a character of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, when a person follows this pacifist path, it has led to death imposed by the other kingdom.

For those of us who follow Jesus, we have to ask ourselves which kingdom we are living in at any given moment. Are we bringing the Kingdom of God into the matters of the Kingdom of Earth? We need to pay attention to legislators who speak for us…which kingdom are they serving?  We needn’t judge them as persons, but we can open our eyes and measure the work according the values of the Heavenly Kingdom.

 

Keepsakes

When my husband’s mother moved from her apartment into a nursing home, it was up to us to clear out her place. We brought home a few furniture pieces and  boxes and boxes of dishes and collectables.  We still have a few of the furniture pieces, a couple of chairs, book cases, end tables. Some pieces were taken by any children who were setting up housekeeping at the time. It is Bernie’s family that blessed us with the dishes that we continue to use for holidays. There are also knickknacks that we kept and sit out on shelves around the house. Many items we just packed away for sentimental reason. The rest went into a garage sale.

I can still recall the well-dressed woman who came to our sale and scooped up a bunch of the little figurines that, as far as I was concerned, were just dust collectors. After paying for the items, around 10 cents each, the woman handed me her card. She was an antique dealer. “Call me if you get more,” she said. Ugh.

Clearly we will be leaving this house at some point. What will become of all the items we have saved over the years? For the most part, it isn’t important, but I can imagine a grandchild some day wishing to have a keepsake that reminds them of us or speaks of their ancestry. Since our grandkids are starting to marry we decided to give each of them one of these treasured items as part of their wedding gift. Along with each item, we write a note describing its origin.

Looking through the boxes for an item to give the most recent grandchild to marry, we came across a tall glass vase that neither Bernie or I can recall seeing before. Should we not give it because we can’t think of a story to tell? Bernie suggested looking the vase up on line since there is an identification on the bottom of the vase. I did so this morning. While I didn’t find this particular vase, I found other items by the same manufacturer that were produced around the 1940’s the right time for his parents to have acquired the vase. The prices ranged around $500 to $1000. Well, go figure!

We may not be able to tell a story to tuck into the package when we send our granddaughter the gift, but I think it would be a good idea to suggest she not ever put it in a garage sale.

 

Exploring New Things

It is fun to explore new things. Last week I bought a piano keyboard and I am expecting a learn-to-play book for adults next week some time. I am hoping playing an instrument will improve my thinking.

Also, I am sick of not contributing that Covid seemed to impose on me. I find myself bored and feeling without any purpose on this earth. I was talking to Bernie about it the other day. I said that I would make a wonderful volunteer to work with kids. In addition to motherhood and grandmotherhood, I had a career in youth ministry and another as a parent educator in early childhood. The Morrison County Record had an article this weekend about the Foster Grandparent Program. I think I will check it out this week.

No more feeling sorry for myself being stuck in these winter days.

A Walk with Dyer

I went to the New2You store in Little Falls on Thursday, senior discount day (25%).  For those unfamiliar with the store, it was opened a few years ago to help support the Boys & Girls Club next door. My husband Bernie had a hand in it and he continues to serve on the store board and volunteers hours each week helping out in the office.

I stopped by to take a quick look at their used books and ended up walking out with 6 for which I payed $2.50. How’s that for a bargain? Two I will give as gifts and I expect to read the other four.

One that I picked up is Wayne Dyer’s There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem. I liked the title because without even reading the book, I believe it. I just think reading Dyer’s take on the idea will deepen this belief. I paged through the book and read the Foreword and Introduction. I find I can’t wait to get into the meat of it.

I took a peak at the Index and found that he refers to David Hawkins several times throughout. I will often do this when buying a book. If I am drawn to one philosopher or spiritual teacher, I find that I can usually trust another who is drawn to the same. At 77, I have read many ways of looking at how the worlds work and have come to settle on some ideas of my own. I imagine my spirituality will deepen and grow but not likely change. Reading insights by others on a similar path helps me with this.

In the forward, Dyer talks about surrender or turning a problem over to a higher power. Already we are on the same page. For me this is the first step in recovery. It can be a slight turn that aims one in a totally different direction. He also talked about helping others as a path to joy. Bingo.

The third idea that stands out for me I shared with some friends this morning and these dear sojourners all nodded with recognition. He said we can shift out of low energy patterns and access spiritual guidance in a matter of moments…simply a thought away. Bingo again.

 

Cathedral Ceilings

My husband and I went shopping today for new counter tops for our kitchen. The old counters are just fine, but the color green is 21 years old and we thought something lighter might brighten things up. It is our second update on the house since we built it. The first was a new sliding glass door out the back onto our porch. That was three years ago. Don’t want to move too fast when it comes to change.

I just got up from my nap which always takes place on the couch that butts up against the tallest wall in our house, about 14 feet from floor to ceiling. When we built the house cathedral ceilings were “the thing”. You could buy a tiny little house with very little floor space that looked spacious because of the high walls. What a scam! Cathedral ceilings belong in cathedrals.

First of all, repainting the walls is out of the question. We are both 77 years old and ladders are no more a sensible option, so this is a job for professionals. The new owners whoever and whenever that may be will be blessed with that chore. On the wall behind my couch we have a hung a 4′ by 8′ Aztec design blanket. I think we got it from my daughter and her husband when they went to Mexico years ago. My daughter doesn’t remember giving it to us and we have never been to Mexico, so here is no sentimental attachment to it. But what in the world would we put on such a large wall if we didn’t have it? Cathedral ceilings belong in cathedrals.

Heat rises so we have a fan installed to force the rising heat to the floor so our feet don’t get so cold. Not a bad idea until one has to clean the fan…another ladder chore. I remember a friend who had such a fan but it was so out of reach  she had to have a professional come in just to dust the damned fan. Cathedral ceilings, ugh, belong in cathedrals.

Sound, it seem, also rises and bounces off of things like walls and ceilings. That is great if the sound is a magnificent organ or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In our house, my husband can be talking on the phone in the kitchen and I can’t hear the television in the den which is a totally different room down the hall. Yes, yes, I know. Just turn up the volume and I have done that…and Bernie yells from the kitchen, “Turn down the TV! I am talking on the phone!” Cathedrals can keep their ceilings, as far as I am concerned!

How did I get from counter tops to ceilings? If you give a mouse a cookie…