Politics in its Rightful Perspective

I had an awakening this past week. I realized I had politics in the wrong perspective. My goodness, I have been confusing the two kingdoms, heavenly and earthly.

In high school I took civics. I don’t know if this is still taught in schools…it sure should be. A citizen of any country should understand how his government functions. I recall the definition of politics: The work of the People. Yes, I learned the definition, but I failed to grasp its meaning. Work brings to mind words like effort and labor, trial and error, differences of opinion on how to do something, the dangers of cutting corner. It is healthy for me to look at the work of politics in the same way. It is less judgmental. When we are less strong-willed, judgmental, and cooperative, outcomes tend to be better for all. Working together. Many hands make light work.

More important than all of the above is the awareness that politics is about the kingdom of earth, the one Jesus suggests we ought to penetrate with the other kingdom. “Thy kingdom, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I realize that even as people make political decisions they hope will make life better for others, they are still operating in the earthly kingdom. Bringing the Kingdom to earth is bringing into each moment the spirit of love. It is transformation from within. The reality of the earthly work is still there, but one can look into it with the new eyes.

I would compare it to an adult watching children play. When a child pushes another to keep them from taking their toy, we don’t go into a panic. We see a learning experience in process. We are looking from a lifetime of experience and an understanding of child development. This is a perspective I need to have. A political idea put forth may be flawed as hell, but it is just an idea. It may be tainted by greed and power mongering,  but from a higher place, one can observe like a parent expecting lessons to be learn, sometimes the hard way.

I may sound like I am placing myself higher than others. Worse, I may sound like I am diminishing the serious harm people are doing to each other, individuals and whole communities because of bad legislative decisions. I know. I know.

I am only a member of the human community. I live the sins of the world every day, inside myself. I have done harm to others by stupid decisions. I have struggled with the same pride and greed I can accuse any legislator of. The only difference is the the scope of influence.

I can also be a channel of God’s love…this is the calling of all. It is our purpose for being here. Bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth. Be free of judgment, pray for transformation for oneself and others and for the whole country. Mourn the pain humans cause one another.

The earthly life is messy. We can’t fix it but we can do something about one part of it…ourselves. And we can assist others who seek to change. One day, one moment, at a time.

Carl Jung’s Wisdom

I happen to love Carl Jung. He has made a difference in my life. I found on the web a list of his most insightful quotes. I would like to share a few of those today.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”

This one really strikes a chord with me: “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”

“The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”

“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.”

“There’s no coming to consciousness without pain.”

“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase of knowledge if he knows what it is not.”

“The privilege of a lifetimes is to become who you truly are.

from “22 of the Most Insightful Quotes from Carl Jung” by Justin Gammil

Emily Dickenson on Fame

Emily Dickenson wrote a poem years ago that for some reason resonated with me even though I was young. I think I intuited that being known, being famous, has its downfalls. In my responses to the blog I wrote about Trump the other day, I alluded to the problems that come along with fame and power. Here is what
Emily wrote:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Blessed is the man who has fame but understands it’s pitfalls and chooses righteousness. He knows himself.

 

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.

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.

 

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.