Memorial Day Message

I watched President Biden’s Memorial Day Speech today. It is the best speech I have heard from him thus far. Here are a few of the highlights for me:

He talked about the Right of Remembrance. He may have meant “Rite”, but I thought about the current efforts in the country to keep particular parts of our history out of the history books our children will be using in schools. Every community’s history needs to find a place in those books. Our children should know the truth even the bad so that we can learn from mistakes and continue to grow.

He refers to the United States of America as “the Great Experiment.” Of all expressions this stirs patriotism in me the most. This nation is attempting to make a democracy work in a world where many in the world believe it can’t. It takes work, honesty, willingness to tell the truth and to change when needed. This phrase stirs me to be part of those who keep trying to make the country better.

“They died for us, for the freedom to…” I have heard this phrase multiple times. This morning I ask myself “freedom to do what?” For many Americans, it mean freedom to do whatever they want. But Biden stressed the importance of oneness…which for me, means caring for our fellow Americans. It is the golden rule applied. As I seek my own freedom, I seek the freedom of all Americans, especially those who have been deprived of their rights thus far.

He said, “Empathy is the fuel of democracy.” YES! As I implied above, Democracy only works if we are working for one another as much as for ourselves. Empathy is the capacity to see and feel experience from another person’s vantage point.

This was my favorite: “Every year we get a little more inclusive.” This gave me hope. When we are studying history, we need to tell the truth about the harms we have done, yes, but we need to also acknowledge the lessons we have learned and the improvements along the way. Sometimes I lose sight of these and that is when my patriotism wanes.

Today I thank those who gave their lives for my country. I hope to make their sacrifice worth it as I try to work with others toward the American ideal:  One Nation Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

CRISIS IN AMERICA

So far this year, in our United States of America:

Over 200 mass shootings
7,500 plus killed in shootings
23% increase over 2020

This past weekend, in our United States of America:

13 mass shootings in 8 states
13 dead and 70+ wounded,
each shooting involved at least four victims killed or wounded

This is a nation “Awash in Guns”
Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey

 

Meditation – Why Do It

Over the years, I have had a couple of experiences  (one is still strong for me) that occurred as I practiced meditation.

But for the most part, meditation itself doesn’t lead to any kind of psychic bliss, which some folks assume is its purpose. Peace, perhaps, but not bliss.

I see the fruits of meditation in the rest of my life, developing an eagle’s view, a deepening of hope, openness to the teaching offered me by nature, a consciousness of time, of connection, cause and effect.

Understanding of people, their struggle to be free, seeing them in their bondage.

So life in this way, is changing.

But do I feel bliss when I meditate? No. And somehow seeking it is to set myself up for disappointment.

So I do it because it seems the path chosen for me, an act of obedience.

And yet, I think of moments when I feel true Oneness, especially with nature, when I can call the trees and flowers or a blade of grass “companion”, when I am prodded to listen to critters, birds and four-leggeds, for the message they bring, when a word from a friend, a child, an author – that strikes me as a word from my God – a revelation, a direction, an assurance, a comfort.

Moments when I have peace and serenity, akin or close to moments of Oneness,  stillness in the midst of drama, often someone else’s drama, an “okay with the world”, accepting “life on life’s terms”, Okay, with a touch of joy.

From my journal September 8, 2014.

Reading my thoughts of 7 years ago, I see that I was on to something. I had practiced meditation for years in search of an experience of some kind. By the writing of this reflection, I had learned that spiritual experiences are not to be sought, they are given unexpectedly and uninvited. Their timing seems perfect most often in hindsight. They are not necessarily blissful or even good feeling. Think of the proverbial, “When God shuts a door, he opens a window.” Having a door slammed in your face is not pleasant but it is a spiritual experience.

Extending the door metaphor, over time one can stop before hitting the wood. They can ponder, prepare, rest in the awareness that God has another path that we might consider. Bliss comes when we trust that so totally that every experience feels right.

Today is always a good day. It is always, as my mother would say, “an adventure.”

 

Decisions and God’s Will

I wish I could say, at 70 years old, “Now I know how to live.” But that never happens. I keep trying new things when a way I’d chosen  doesn’t seem to get me where I want to go. Sometimes I get real and say, “I don’t know where I want to go.” or “I don’t know what I am supposed to do.” I don’t even know if there is a “supposed to.”

I heard a friend talking about this idea of “God’s will”. She is about 10 years behind me in age. She just finished 2 years of intensive education to qualify for specialized work in education. The study was so hard she often questioned whether this direction was God’s will for her. Even now, finally applying her new knowledge, she asks the question, “How do you know what God’s will when faced with a choice?”

I’ve grown weary of the question. I look back on my life with decisions and I think, “What if I’d chosen the other path?” The answer is simple to me: the place of arrival would be different. My path would have been different. Today, I would have a whole different set of friends. Would I appreciate them as I do the ones I have now? Would I be married? If so, to someone else? That would change the whole dynamic of my family. Would I be better educated, more worldly or the opposite? Are there opportunities that would have presented themselves that didn’t on the path I did choose?

(Sounds like “what if” and “the road not taken.”)

This I believe: Had I made a different choice that would have significantly altered the circumstances of my life. There would be something of me that would be the same as I am today. And there would be something else of me that would be different.

Back to my friend’s question. I think we expect the wrong thing of God when we expect him to make our decisions for us. I don’t think God cares much what job we take or education we pursue or where we live. Maybe, not even who we marry or how many kids we have. God creates us to be the special self, a unique presence in the world, no matter the choices we make. “Go into the classroom you’ve chosen,” God says. “Bring into it the shining light I have created you to be.”
“Go into that committed relationship and bring the your true self into it.” “Go into that job and be who you are as I have created you to be.” Because, YOU are the divine present in whatever spot in the world where you are standing.

That changes my mission. I see it now to become fully the person God created me to me to be. The decisions are mine to make. God suggests only that we make them lovingly.

From my journal, November  10, 2014.

On President Biden

Bernie and I listened to the president last night. I had posted on Facebook people should watch because it was their civic duty. I meant it, but the truth is, I didn’t watch the former president when he spoke to the American people. It had nothing to do with civic duty. I was protecting myself from what felt like abuse. I find it hard to sit in a room with anyone who gossips and berates others present or not or is basically trying to entertain people instead of being real. It is exhausting. If such a person is the president of the United States, I would rather listen to what others tell me he or she said later. Of course, this isn’t the same as having my own reaction, but it does protect my soul from being wounded.

I have always liked Joe Biden. He is a real person with compassion and lots of life experience in politics and who grew from his personal tragedies. People don’t need to agree with his policies, but at least appreciate the calmness and kindness that distinguishes him from the last president. In his message to the Nation, he refrained from blaming the opposing party for anything, even mentioned the good work of Republican leaders. Not a diminishing word!

I happen to agree with his priorities. I have to trust that those folks who know about how to manage  such huge amounts of money know what they are doing. There are just a few things I disagree with, but overall, I approve. But this blog isn’t about his policies. It is about the kindness, the peace, the love that I feel he has in his heart.

I remember when President Obama went to support the parents who lost their children killed at Sandyhook Elementary. He was brought to tears as he spoke. The response by those who were against him? “He is faking it.” They couldn’t accept the possibility that someone they hated so much could have even one good thought or emotion. This is black and white thinking. One is either all good or all bad. But this is not reality. None of is is all one or the other so we must know this is true of others as well.

I heard a commentator on TV yesterday say, “Biden is exactly what the country needs right now.” She wasn’t talking about his policies. She was talking about his healing demeanor. I agree with her. Let’s all take a breath, invite spring, look forward to reuniting with our loved ones, and appreciate the good things in life. Disagree with the President’s plans, write to your congress people, complain all you want. But follow the example of this good man. Don’t berate individuals for their beliefs. Listen to people. Speak only kind words.

You, along with our new leader, can help heal the nation.

Notebook

Writers often carry notebooks with them much like a visual artist might carry a sketchpad. I will often take notes during meetings which I sometimes have to explain to people. “I may repeat what you said, but no one will know who said it.”  It is my way of gleaning knowledge. People don’t know that they may have been quoted in my book coming from the lips of Jesus or Matthew or Mary Magdalene. Nice, thought? I hope so.

I keep a notebook in my purse, one by my reading place in the morning and one by my chair before the TV. Some of what I record are books I want to some day read or movies that sound interesting. I even recorded categories and answers from Wheel of Fortune. They came in handy when our family turned to zoom during Covid.

When a book gets filled up, I will go through it before tossing it to take out notes that I might still use and put these into a new notebook. That is what I did yesterday with one of these notebooks. As I went through it once again, I thought that some of the ideas I had were worth keeping so I thought I would share them here with you.

At a recovery meeting, someone commented on slips: “We start to depend on being able to come back until we can’t.”

“There is a committee in my head.”

“Your need is God’s Opportunity.”

“We want to be perfect so we don’t have to deal with the consequences such as humiliation, guilt, people not liking us, and harm to self and others.”

“Praying for someone I dislike is an act of humility – I admit that I don’t really know this person, but I trust God does because I believe in God’s love. I trust that there is something there to love.”

“If I am drawn to the black, I have to choose to move to right thinking until that becomes as automatic as the black thinking.”

“By avoiding someone I am giving that person power over me.”

“Of all the things I miss most in life, I miss my mind the most.”

“Capitalism is better when you mix in a little morality.”

“Sometimes discussions are more performative than informative.”

“Life is not fair, but government should be.” Anne Richards, governor of Texas.

“There is no community unless between equals.”

“The purpose of art is to describe hell and heaven as experienced in life.”

The first person to get the Covid 19 shot was Sandra Lindsey.

“Donald Trump is the Confederacy’s last stand.” Joy Reed.

“Just because you have a broken system does not mean that the everyone in it is broken. Stop defending bad cops. It is not a reflection on good ones.”

Thanks. Now I can toss that notebook in the trash.

 

What To Do About the Children

If an 8-year-old child showed up at your door, alone, what would you do? I know what I would do, I would ask her what she needs and if she said she was lost, I would invite her in, call the police and give her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

If three children, ages 7, 12, and 13 showed up, what would you do?

What if 11 children, ages 3 to 15 showed up?

And then what would you do if 63, children showed up, or 150?

And if the police said they couldn’t come because they were busy find places for the 78 kids they already picked up.

Would you scramble to get more peanut butter and jelly? Would you regret taking in the first child? Would you try to figure out why there were so many displaced children?

Children keep coming to our borders because we have a reputation for caring. Most of them have relatives in the United States but the numbers are overwhelming and we are in the midst of the covid crisis.

Rather than lock the door, we need to feed them, attend to their health needs, and find their families. We also need to discover where they came from and why they fled.

They are children, for God’s sake! Have a heart!