Sunday, 21 October 2018

Seeking a Moral Compass in a Post Moral Age

“It Matters What We Believe” by Sophia Lyon Fahs

It matters what we believe. Some beliefs are like walled gardens. They encourage exclusiveness, and the feeling of being especially privileged.
Other beliefs are expansive and lead the way into wider and deeper sympathies.
Some beliefs are like shadows, clouding children's days and fears of unknown calamities.
Other beliefs are like sunshine, blessing children with the warmth of happiness.
Some beliefs are divisive, separating saved from unsaved, friends from enemies.
Other beliefs are bonds in a world community, where sincere differences beautify the pattern.
Some beliefs are like blinders, shutting off the power to choose one's own direction.
Other beliefs are like gateways opening wide vistas for exploration.
Some beliefs weaken a person's selfhood. They blight the growth of resourcefulness.
Other beliefs nurture self-confidence and enrich the feeling of personal worth.
Some beliefs are rigid, like the body of death, impotent in a changing world.
Other beliefs are pliable, like the young sapling, ever growing with the upward thrust of life.

The other Sunday afternoon and evening Sue and myself attended a friends birthday celebrations. It was an interesting time. It began with yoga sessions at the center in Altrincham. he yoga was followed by a meal at a Sushi restaurant followed by a Gong Sound bath. This was what I was looking forward to the most. From early in our relationship Sue and I have shared these wonderful things together, led by lovely couple that we have nicknamed the “Wizard and his Wife”, they could quite easily be characters from a Tolkein novel and they do love what we call them this.

By the way a Gong sound bath is created from a selection of Gongs that are played over an hour while you simply lie there sinking into the ground. It is a wonderful and powerful experience, I highly recommend it to anyone.

Now as we arrived we greeted the Wizard and his wife, they welcomed us in, and Sue took out her phone and found her compass. She wanted to find East. So she found due north and we took our spot. We then shared with many others in a truly wonderful experience.

As I lay there, sinking into the ground and the sound washed over me, I began to think about her compass and its northward facing needle. As I was doing so the phrase moral compass came into my mind. How we do we find our moral compass, how do we find the right direction in life, the way to face in order to make the appropriate moral decisions in life? Sounds simple, I know, but I’m not certain it is so easy.

Now morality has been on my mind quite a lot in recent weeks. I have just finished reading Bob Woodward’s (of Watergate and all the President’s Men fame) excellent new book “Fear: Trump in the White House”. It is an incredible and frightening book. The president’s morality has come into question for various reasons. The suggestion is that it is not so much that he is immoral, more that he is amoral; that essentially he is not ruled by a particular foundational moral code, other than the situation he is in. If he has a moral compass he is ruled by fear and instilling fear. There is a quote on the back of Woodward’s book in which Trump says “Real power is – I don’t even want to use the word – fear.” The suggestion being made is that if he lives from a moral compass it is one based on fear.

It brought to mind something I read many years ago “Leviathan” by Thomas Hobbes, written just after the English civil war. It is a striking, disturbing and bleak view of human nature.

Hobbes wrote

"Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre (war), where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."

I will just repeat the last few words

“And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short” Gosh that is hard.

For Hobbe’s what is required to overcome this state of fear is an ultimate authority to bring order to wayward humanity and subjugate our anarchic and brutish nature.

I suppose that you could say that this is some form of moral foundation, that this is something to aim for, but I am not convinced, although I do from time to time struggle with human nature, mine and others too.

Now while I reject this fear based view of humanity, I do have a sense that there is a goodness at the core of life, an ok-ness, I acknowledge that it is not always easy to find a guide. How do we find our true north? How do we find the right direction and make moral decisions about life, so as to give positively to the melting pot of humanity. It is suggested that there is no longer a single meta-narrative, that the foundation stones that we once built our lives on no longer have value. I am not convinced, I do find certain truths that have been with us for centuries and keep on resurfacing. I do believe that there is an ultimate goodness that we can connect to, a goodness that can be found in everything, in you, in me and in everything. A love that can always overcome any fear. For fear ultimately corrodes the soul and reduces life to nothing.

Last Sunday John Midgley led a wonderful service at Dunham Road, celebrating 50 years since he took up ministry here and at Queens Road, he will be delivering something similar at Queens Road next month. John was my first Unitarian minister at Cross Street in Manchester. While there he introduced me to the wonderful Carl Scovel. Now at the heart of his faith was something he described as the “Great Surmise” at a talk he delivered at the 1994 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly he described what he meant by it:

“The Great Surmise says simply this: At the heart of all creation lies a good intent, a purposeful goodness, from which we come, by which we live our fullest, and to which we shall at last return. This is the supreme mystery of our lives. This goodness is ultimate-not fate, not freedom, not mystery, energy, order, finite, but this good intent in creation is our source, our centre, and our destiny...Our work on earth is to explore, enjoy, and share this goodness. Neither duty nor suffering nor progress nor conflict-not even survival-is the aim of life, but joy. Deep, abiding, uncompromised joy.

Life really is about how we see things, our perspective. Is life “Nasty, brutish and short”...Maybe, maybe not?

Or is it a “Deep, abiding, uncompromised joy ”...Maybe, maybe not?

I have discovered the simple joy of living even in life’s most challenging times. I have found that there is a love at the core of life. It is our moral task, I believe, to find it and being it to life through our own human being. To me this is essentially what Jesus meant when he spoke of the Kingdom of God, what I like to call the kin-dom of love. This is no easy task, but then again it never has been. There has never been an idealised time for any of us. The people Jesus spoke to 2,000 years ago were not living easy and comfortable lives. Those people knew about conflict, oppression, tragedy and almost constant grief. He told them that all that was wonderful, life-giving, life affirming, all that is meaningful was theirs. He said to them “Enter into my kingdom with joy.” He also told them that “This is my commandment, that you love one another.”

So maybe this is the key, to live by the “Golden Rule”, to love one another, to love our neighbour as ourselves. That though requires a belief that there is a love at the core of all life, our lives. Do we see this when we look in the mirror, do we see this when we look into each others eyes?

It matters, it really does.

I think the greatest danger to humanity, past present and future looking forward, is this idea that some people are superior to others, have greater value. It is a voice that we hear more and more, a voice that leads to separation, that breeds this idea of us and them. It is there in religion, but also secular society. Some religious groups talk about the saved and the unsaved, others talk of being God’s chosen people. When they speak this way they are talking of a God I do not recognise. The God I know accepts and loves all universally. Experience has revealed to me that we are all chosen by God, it’s just that so many of us turn away and cannot believe that there is a spirit that is there in all life.

Then of course there are the anti-religionists who ridicule people of faith; who see it all as purely infantile projections. They mock, they poke fun, they separate people into the stupid and the wise. In so doing they are saying that they are better than them.

When the epistle Paul talked of the oneness, the unity in Christianity, he wrote that in Christ “there is no longer Jew or Greek.” He did not say that there are no longer Jews or Greeks more that people are no longer separated by these distinctions; that they are all one in love, in body and in spirit; that if all people are viewed in the light they are brothers and sisters to one another.

As Tenzin Gyatso XIVth Dalai Lama has said “Mentally, physically and emotionally we are the same. We each have the potential to be good and bad and to be overcome by disturbing emotions such as anger, fear, hatred, suspicion and greed. These emotions can be the cause of many problems. On the other hand if you cultivate loving kindness, compassion and concern for others, there will be no room for anger, hatred and jealousy.

These words very much chime with a favourite story of mine, “The Two Wolves"

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It’s a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, ego and it makes me cynical about life.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith and it fills me with enthusiasm for life. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Maybe this is how we can find a foundation on which we can make moral choices and decisions. It begins by believing that at the core of life is a goodness and that if we feed that in the right way it can grow within us and that we can live in ways that will serve life in loving and positive ways. It will require us to believe that this same spirit is all life. It will require us to live from a place of love and not of fear.

The choice is ours. Do we live by the power of fear, of hate, of separation or do we take the risk to live by love? It’s up to us…Our lives and all life depend on the choices we will make.

It matters, it really does…But then again everything matters…Every feeling, every thought, every word and every deed.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

We're Made Out of Water

“Living Waters” by Stephen M Shick 

We float on a sea
hidden beneath dry surfaces
covered by stones.

Isn’t this why we drink and dive so deeply
go down to the sea in ships
risk drowning, again and again?

Isn’t this why Moses parted the waters
to begin his journey?

Why Jesus crossed the waters
to comfort and challenge us?

We were born in water.
We float free in water.
We are washed clean by water.

Isn’t this why we long to find our inward sea?
To help us wash clean the world?

From “Becoming: A Spiritual Guide for Navigating Adulthood”

“We’re only made out of water, the full moon gets us high. We can bend our shape into anything, as often as we like.” 

I was pushing myself hard, the other morning, in the gym. I was truly present, in a kind of deep meditative state. I felt at one with what I was doing, with my own body and being and with life. There was no separation. I felt like water, just one droplet in the deep wide ocean of life. I noticed the salty water pouring out of my body and the water I swallowed as I re-hydrated constantly.

As the water poured out of me I remembered something a friend had said, in the meditation we had shared that morning; he spoke of the harvest moon he had observed that morning. It got me thinking of the moon and water. How it looks so beautiful against the water; it also brought to my mind how the moon controls the tides and made me think how much it is said we humans are influenced by the lunar cycles. I wondered if this was because, like the surface of the earth, we are mainly water. I thought about how we change shape, maybe not so much physically but in other ways, much like water. Although I am an example of someone who has changed shape and continues to change shape these last few years. As Chris they man who trained me in recent times once said. You have changed in shape so much these last few year. You were skinny fat and went to skinny and now you are bulking up to your natural shape. So we can bend our shape into anything, well at least to some degree, if we really want and truly try.

Oh yes “We’re only made out of water, the full gets us high. We can bend our shape into anything, as often as we like.”

Water is perhaps the most precious resource on this earth, our lives depend upon it. Just think about the number of times you have used water already today. Life is water, it is vital life. It is not lost on me that one of the companies that sell bottled water is “Vitali”. 71% of the earth is made up of water. Yes most of it is in the oceans and glaciers but there is enough of this vital resource for every one to have access to clean water, on this our shared earth. That said “Water Aid” state that “There are still one in nine people across the world who don’t have access to clean water near their homes. That is shocking in this world at this time. Clean water is vital to life, it is “vitali”, surely everyone on this our shared earth ought to have direct access to enough water to grow food, wash the food, cook the food and clean the pots afterwards. Water is vital to the food that we share and the people who care.

Just think about the last time you were without access to clean water, probably only for a few hours, just imagine what it must be like to live like that every single day of your life. Water the most basic element of life, both of the external life and our own bodies.

“We’re only made out of water, the full gets us high. We can bend our shape into anything, as often as we like.”

With water being so central to life it is hardly surprising then that it would play such a large role in the many religious traditions of humanity. It is central to many of rituals of most faiths. It symbolises birth and re-birth and is seen not only as a sustaining substance but as a cleansing and therefore purifying one.

God or the Divine is often portrayed by water. This is hardly surprising when you think of its many qualities. It can bend into any shape and cover and over power all life. It is life giving and sustaining and can be immensely powerful. It brings to mind some words by Forrest Church on God. Forrest said “God is not God’s name. God is our name for that power that is greater than all and yet present in each.” Isn’t that what water is a power that is greater than all and yet present in each.

You will find images of water throughout the Gospel accounts. These images symbolise chaos, rebirth, and new life. Jesus began his ministry by stepping into the Jordan River. As he rose from the waters he awoken to a new spirit symbolised by the dove. He saw a new vision and was awakened or re-shaped, re-formed by the spirit. I don’t see this as a once in a life time experience we can enter into the waters and awaken to a new spirit each and every day. We can bend our shape into anything, as often as we like.

The spiritual, the religious life, is about living in a certain way. The question I suppose is what is the right way? Well maybe water or the qualities it possesses can teach us the way. Perhaps the way is to live like water; to live with the qualities that water has.

Taoism teaches this, claiming that we must go with the flow of life, like water:

Nothing in the world is softer than water,
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong.
This is because nothing can alter it.

That soft overcomes the hard
And gentle overcomes the aggressive
Is something that everybody knows
But none can do themselves.
Therefore the sages say:

The one who accepts the dirt of the state
Becomes its master.
The one who accepts its calamity
Becomes king of the world.

The Martial Artist Bruce Lee offered similar advice when he said:

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You can put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You can put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

I believe that there is real wisdom in this. We can’t physically bend and shape exactly like water does, but I don’t think this is what is being meant here. I think this is talking about how we live. It’s our persona, our spirit, it is this that needs to bend and shape in order to be in harmony with all life and that eternal spirit that flows like water through all life.

There is something in this formlessness and the bending and shaping that speaks to me of truth, particularly religious truth. In the introduction to “One River Many Wells” Matthew Fox states:

“Meister Eckhart says: ‘Divinity is an Underground river that no one can stop and no one can dam up.” Fox himself says that “There is one underground river – but there are many wells into the river: an African well, a Taoist well, a Buddhist well, a Jewish well, a Muslim well, a Goddess well, a Christian well, an Aboriginal well. Many wells but one river. To go down a well is to practise a tradition, but we would make a grave mistake (an idolatrous one) if we confused the well itself with the flowing waters of the underground river. Many wells, one river. That is Deep Ecumenism.”

Again this teaches something of the qualities of water that we can learn form. We can access water as we can access truth but we can never get the full picture, the whole truth and how ever we access the truth is always limited. That said if we come together we can drink from one another’s sources and share the one universal river of life.

We are one, we are interconnected, as we are with all life. We are water...

Water is the basic element of life. We are mainly made from it and we depend upon it. It unites everything that lives on this earth and links us not only to one another but to all that is. It is a power that we can work with and therefore live successfully or against and therefore struggle with. If we remain rigid in all things we will struggle but if we can be moulded and bend ourselves to fit with life and that spirit that permeates all life we can be in harmony with everything.

Today on this harvest Sunday I offer praise to water, that power that is greater than all and yet present in each. That vital resource that we cannot live without.

Water the most basic ingredient of all life, may we absorb the lessons you offer us.

Bend us, shape us, form us in your image.

“We’re only made out of water, the full gets us high. We can bend our shape into anything, as often as we like.”

Sunday, 23 September 2018

A friend in need is a friend indeed: Weaving the threads of life

They say a friend in need is a friend indeed, well don’t we all need a friend? Oh yes indeed. Aren’t we all in need of a friend at times? Oh yes indeed.

I have recently spent some time with old friends. I attended an old friend’s wedding recently. It was great to spend time celebrating with them, it was also wonderful to spend time with mutual friends, some of whom I have shared so many experiences with in the past. Some wonderful, some deeply painful. It was lovely to sit and talk and share with them as I re-felt and remembered. We also remembered old friends no longer with us. A few days later I met up with some old recovery friends as we celebrated one of our numbers 16th sobriety "birthday". Again it was deeply moving to remember old times and friends and re-feel these experiences. Then a few days later I spent time with one of my oldest friends, someone I have known since I was a teenager, we were even in a band together. It was wonderful to talk about old days, to reconnect, to remember, to re-feel all kinds of emotions. Some so happy and joyous and again others much sadder, especially as we remembered old friends no longer with us or current friends who are struggling with life.

The wonderful thing about being with old friends, people you have been through so much with is that as soon as you come together it’s as if you had never been apart. We are bound together by threads, so strong and in some strange way so deep.

I think the greatest blessing of my life has been my friends. I have many friends, loyal friends and loving friends. Friends who have stood up for me and loved me at some pretty dark times in the past.

I have always been blessed with wonderful friends…What about you? Perhaps that’s something to think about…the friends who have blessed and continue to bless your life…

As I look back at my friends and friendships I wonder what it was and is that allowed the connection, that made the connection, or do I mean connections, a web of connections of mutual love. Some people became my friend quickly, while others took longer. I have weaved what Emerson has described as social threads of my own, a new web of creation. I wonder how many threads will be weaved what new web of creation will I become a part of. I love the way that these threads intertwine with the threads of others as new webs are weaved.

There is an old Chinese proverb that states the fifth cup of tea between friends is the best. In days gone by Chinese Tea was made by simply pouring hot water over loose tea leaves in a cup. So it did not come in bags like today. When Yorkshire Tea claims “like tea used to be” it is not exactly being truthful. By the way a good friend of mine gave me some Lancashire Tea for my birthday last year, it’s nice to have good friends. I didn’t drink it of course. As I said at the time “Are you trying to poison me!?!”

Anyhow, back to the proverb…

The Chinese proverb is teaching that when friends meet, busy and tense from the outside world, the first drink shared is done hastily and with little grace. The second pouring of water takes longer to steep the tea leaves, by now the friends are more relaxed and thus the tea is better. The third cup requires even more time, so by now the friends are truly relaxed in one another’s company. By the time they get to the fifth cup it has to stand for quite some time to reach the required strength. It is this fifth cup that becomes the symbol of friendship at its best. This passage of time, measured in cups of tea, defines the deepest friendship. This fifth cup brings wholeness to the relationship, it is the quintessence, the fifth essence, which of course means wholeness.

I was thinking of this as I and my friend shared cups of Yorkshire Tea together as we caught up with one another the other day, as our souls caught up with one another’s bodies.

The great nineteenth century Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson recognised the true value of friendship and the many webs of relationship that make up our lives. Here follows his thoughts on Margaret Fuller after her death, as he describes his understanding of the value of friendship.

"She wore this circle of friends, when I first knew her, as a necklace of diamonds about her neck. They were so much to each other that Margaret seemed to represent them all, and to know her was to acquire a place with them. The confidences given her were their best, and she held them to them. She was an active, inspiring companion and correspondent, and all the art, the thought, the nobleness in New England seemed at that moment related to her and she to it. She was everywhere a welcome guest."

For Emerson “a friend is a sane man who exercises not my ingenuity, but me. My friend gives me entertainment without requiring any stipulation on my part…so that a friend may well be recognized the masterpiece of nature.”

For Emerson it mattered enormously that we matter to others, that we are not isolated beings drifting through life. Gosh how true is this? Doesn’t it matter enormously that we matter to others, and that we are not alone; that are lives are made up of webs of relationships; that our lives thread through many others and that this really matters? We are not isolated beings floating through life, only concerned for ourselves. To me this seems to strike right at the heart of what friendship is all about.

This becomes clearer as I look at the web of relationships that I am part of, but what about you, what are threads that make up your life?

Emerson said “Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine, — a possession for all time. Nor is nature so poor but she gives me this joy several times, and thus we weave social threads of our own, a new web of relations; and, as many thoughts in succession substantiate themselves, we shall by and by stand in a new world of our own creation, and no longer strangers and pilgrims in a traditionary globe.”

All life is connected, everything is connected all of life is relational.

This brings to mind a rather lovely children’s story, that illustrates both friendship and unconditional love. The story is “Charlotte’s Web”.

Near the end of the story Wilbur the pig is confronted with the awful news that his 'true friend,' Charlotte, is going to die and will not return to their shared barn with her babies. Charlotte had saved Wilbur from the smokehouse and the Christmas dinner plate. He asks Charlotte 'Why did you do all this for me? . . . I've never done anything for you.'

To which she replied 'You have been my friend, that in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I like you. . . . By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone's life can stand a little of that.'

To which Wilbur replies 'I would gladly give my life for you — I really would.'

Wilbur lives on and as he does he carries Charlotte’s love with him. He takes charge of her egg sac. He returns it to the safety of the barn and protects it until the spiders hatch, most fly off on the sticky webs, but three remain with Wilbur to continue Charlotte’s lineage in the barn doorway. As Wilbur lived on he had many friends, but none of them took Charlotte’s place in his heart.

Charlotte’s Web is a beautiful illustration of the power of love and friendship, of these threads that weave these mutual webs of friendship that make up our lives. It is a story of unconditional love, of friendship grounded in giving to one another. It’s about relationships rooted in humility, love and giving of ourselves to one another. It’s not about selfishness and self-centredness, but mutual webs of interconnection. Isn’t this the nature of life?

A friend in need truly is a friend indeed, we all need good friends. Yes, we do indeed. We all need and we all need to be friends at times. As I look back at the web I am a part of I see many threads that make it up and I see there are many threads that will continue on when I am no longer weaving my own. We are all a part of the web of creation, we are all weavers of the social threads of life.

So lets keep on weaving those threads of mutual love and intertwining our threads with others. For a friend in need truly is a friend indeed.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Teachers Teach Us

Well this may shock some of you, but perhaps not all of you, but I have to admit it. I am a very naughty boy. I do hope I will be forgiven. A little while ago I received a letter through the post informing that I had been pictured travelling at 36 miles per hour (mph) on the Washway Road. The speed limit there is 30mph. I had two options pay a fine and 3 points on my license or go on a speed awareness course. I chose the latter and I am glad that I did. It was actually four hours well spent as it got me to think about my driving once again. As the course went on I remembered, I relearned, some things that I had forgotten. The course was taught well by two driving instructors. Yes there was one or two dissenting voices, who didn’t want to be there and thought that it was unjust that they were there. For me though it has had a very positive effect on my driving ever since. I am grateful for the lessons learnt and particularly the teaching.

I’ve been thinking a lot ever since about the many lessons I have learnt and re-learnt over the years and the many wise teachers I have known.

It came to my mind once again this week. I noticed picture after picture of friend’s children, in their uniforms, returning to school after the summer holidays. I’m sure that they had mixed feelings about this, some excited and others not too keen on the idea. I had thought about it too as I was returning to work last week after three weeks away. The day before I had experienced what I call “The Bulls Eye” effect. It is a familiar feeling to anyone who attended school in Britain in the 1980’s. It was a feeling that came on during Sunday teatime as the program “Bulls Eye”ended and I realized that in the morning I would be returning to school. I was talking about this feeling the other day as I was playing a board game with Sue. During the game I was asked which job do British people think is the hardest? I got the answer right, it was a school teacher. Now I’m sure that this would not have been the case thirty or forty years ago, but it is now. I can’t imagine what that feeling must be like over the Atlantic in America where some are suggesting that the teachers ought to be armed, due to increasing number of school shootings. Then of course there is the headteachers, there jobs seem the toughest of all.

It brought to mind the following…

Early one morning a mother went to her sleeping son and woke him up.

"Wake up, son. It's time to go to school."
"But why, Mama? I don't want to go to school."

"Give me two reasons why you don't want to go to school."
"One, all the children hate me. Two, all the teachers hate me, ..."

"Oh! that's no reason. Come on, you have to go to school!"
"Give me two good reasons WHY I should go to school?"

"One, you are FIFTY-TWO years old. Two, you are the PRINCIPAL of the school."

So I want to offer thanks and praise to the teachers I have known in my life, there have been many. Yes the ones from school days, but also the many who have taught me many lessons throughout my life.

There are teachers all around us, as there has been throughout human history. Some have specific names such as masters, gurus, crones, rabbis, elders, sages, priests, sheikhs, even ministers and they have played vital roles in revealing spiritual truths. They have done so both directly and or indirectly through parables, koans, stories, sermons and personal example and they have recommended methods that can lead us to enhance our spiritual lives and therefore open us up to everything and that which is more than everything and yet can be found in everything. Sometimes we need such people to get us started on our journey.

That said we can learn just as much from the ordinary people in our lives, the ones who encourage to give life a full go. You see everyone and everything in life can and is a teacher, even seemingly negative and painful experiences, if we remain open to them. As I look back at my own life I reckon I have learnt more from suffering than joy, from getting things wrong rather than getting them right for these experiences have humbled me and therefore opened me up to more than I could ever have even begun to imagine.

Rabbi Jesus is one of the great examples, maybe the greatest of simply teaching what it means to live in and by love. He taught in the fine Jewish rabbinical tradition, but he did so in unorthodox ways. He had the courage to break the rules of form and he put the people first, before the rules. This seems harder for teachers to do today. A classic example of this was in the healing of the crippled woman on the Sabbath. He was criticised for healing on this holy day of rest, but taught through his example that compassion out trumped societal rules, he lived, taught and died by the rule of love.

The example I see from the great sages is that the “way” that they speak of is truly about love, good teachers teach truly from the heart. The real lessons of living that matter the most is about teaching others to live by heart. This takes courage, which as I have taught many times is rooted in the French word for heart. As Parker J. Palmer has highlighted “Good teaching requires courage—the courage to explore one’s ignorance as well as insight, to yield some control in order to empower the group, to evoke other people’s lives as well as reveal one’s own.”

Good teachers help us to fully engage with life and encourage us to overcome the fears that can hold us back from living the lives we were born to live. It’s not about finding ways to rise above life but to fully engage with life, in its messiness and its rough and tumble. Again as Palmer has highlighted “Fear, not ignorance, is the great enemy of education. Fear is what gives ignorance its power.”

The great sages, the great teachers lived in the mess and muck and life, in the rough and tumble, they did not live apart. Those who have taught me how to bring my spirit alive have shown me the same. They were simple ordinary people and yet they were the professors of the heart. Again to quote Palmer:

“In is original meaning, a “professor” was not someone with esoteric knowledge and technique. Instead, the word referred to a person able to make a profession of faith in the midst of a dangerous world. All good teachers, I believe, have access to this confidence. It comes not from the ego but from a soul-deep sense of being at home in the world despite its dangers. This is the authority by which good teachers teach. This is the gift they pass on to their students. Only when we take heart as professors can we “give heart” to our students—and that, finally, is what good teaching is all about.

I have known some great teachers in my life; my life has taught me many lessons. Sadly though I have forgotten far more than I ever thought I could have known in my life. This is why I have to keep on learning and re-learning these life lessons, as I discovered during the summer at the speed awareness course.

Life and the people we share our lives with have so much to teach us. All we have to do and be is awake, to keep our hearts open enough to be fully awake.

Life is the greatest teacher of them all and we as a part of life can teach just by our presence in this world. People have taught me many things, in so many ways without ever really realising it. I have often only realised those lessons many years later. Lessons I have tried to pass on to others.

You don’t have to be academically inclined to be a true teacher, just a professor of the heart. The best lessons in my life have come from ordinary people living in the mess and much of life. One of my greatest teachers was an ordinary man, from Oldham of all places, who taught me , amongst many other things, how to listen. This all began by practising and noticing when I wasn’t listening, especially when others were talking. He taught me to observe when my mind wandered off or to notice when I was listening how much of my time was spent on working out what “brilliant” response I was going to make, in an attempt to refute what the other person was saying. He taught me that when we are listening to another we are extending ourselves to that person, we are giving them a gift; a gift that we can both share in. In making space for the other, we create a sacred space, we make space for God and we get a taste of heaven.

This truly opened me up to people in a way I had never been before; it brought me alive to life in ways I had never been before. Now of course not all the great sages come from Oldham. Those of ancient times taught similar lessons to this ordinary man. That said I am not sure that I could have accessed what they taught all those years. It required simple language from an ordinary man. He spoke the language of the heart and I was prepared to listen. I learnt a valuable lesson that day; I learnt that the language of the heart is universal, it can break down any barrier. Those simple words opened me to experiences I never knew were possible. Those experiences opened my senses, particularly my ears, I finally had ears that could hear and I began to finally hear so much more than mere words. The ears of my heart were opened and as a result I began to live by the heart and found the courage to truly be.

Everything, all life, can be our teacher if we are open to it. If we have ears that can hear, if all our senses are awake to everything and that something or perhaps nothing that is are the core of everything and yet beyond everything.

We can all become professors of the heart.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Pass it on, pay it forward

recently spent a beautiful week at Great Hucklow, attending and participating in the annual summer school. The subject this year was “How then shall we live?” We were exploring how we live with the fact that we will inevitably die; we were looking at grief, love, loss and legacy. The legacies of those who have touched our lives and are now gone as well as what might be our legacy when our time comes, perhaps the ultimate question. It was said that the panel had been brave in choosing the subject. I agree with this sentiment, it was very brave indeed.

Forrest Church said that “Religion is our human response to being alive and having to die.” Surely the ultimate question for all of us. That said I would add a little more, the theme of the week, knowing this…then how shall we live?

Now the week did not go exactly as planned. We were given a big dose of the ups and downs of life. The troubles started before I’d even set off. I was to be co-facilitating a group exploring grief and our legacies of love and loss. I had spent some time with the co-facilitator preparing the group we would lead throughout the week. On the morning I was setting off I received a message telling me he was unwell and would not be travelling that day. I received news the next day informing me he would not be coming at all. So I had to quickly make adjustments and do things alone. People were very supportive and the group was a truly moving experience. More beautiful than I could ever have dreamed possible; a beautifully deep and engaging experience that I was blessed with leading and experiencing. Thank you.

Now this was not the end of the challenging experiences. Early in the week trouble began to strike. First all the water went off in the whole village. As this occurred people began to be struck down with what we used to call sickness and diarrhoea but is now called the norovirus. Each day three or four would go down with it and would have to quarantined for 48 hours as all kinds of measures were put in place. The quarantine room became known as the leper colony as they were fed and socialised together until they were deemed fit enough to join the rest of us as they were no longer infectious.

Great Hucklow is only three miles from Eyam, something that was not lost on any of us. Now for those who don’t know Eyam is known as the “plague village”. It was the village that basically quarantined itself during the plague of the seventeenth century. It cut itself off from all the surrounding villages so as not the spread the plague that had arrived on cloth from London. Of the 350 village inhabitants only 83 survived. Incredibly one of the survivors was the grave digger.

Sue and I decided to pay Eyam a visit one afternoon. As we drove towards it there were signs saying the village was cut off, due to roadworks, it gave us a deeply earie feeling. A local told us to ignore the signs and to just drive through, which we did. We walked around for a couple of hours and took in the sights and sounds, visiting the church yard and reading the history of the place which was sign posted everywhere. I was particularly moved by the list of dead outside each little cottage, I felt the pain and grief that they must have experienced as one after one family members died. Whole families were wiped or just one or two survived. I also noticed that commemorative service which was to be held in open at near by at Cucklet Delph. The church services were held in the open air at the time of the plague to stop the spreading of infection.

As we left Eyam and returned to Hucklow I thought how incredibly faithful these people must have been and how willing they were to sacrifice for a greater good. A wonderful and beautiful example to us all as to how we might want to live. The village is a beautiful example to humanity of how we can be at our best. By isolating themselves they protected others, by not infecting others with the illness they had passed on something beautiful, a legacy of love and self-sacrifice, an example that still lives on today many centuries later. Just a beautiful counter to the selfish and self-centred ways in which so many of us live today.

Now this sounds like the kind of infectious disease that ought to be passed on; the kind I would love to see grow and pass on throughout the whole world. A kind of blessing to humanity that could spread through us all.

It brings to mind the old nursery rhyme “ring a ring o’ roses”

Ring-a-ring o' roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down.

Cows in the meadows
Eating buttercups
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all jump up.

It used to be thought that this is about the Great Plague, although folklore scholars do dispute this, some suggest that its origins maybe the spreading of disease amongst the early American settlers in New England. Who knows, certainly not I.

The reason it came to mind is the A-tishoo! As I’m one of life’s great sneezers. Oddly one of the things that Sue first noticed about me was my unapologetic sneeze. Now whenever anyone sneezes don’t we all say “bless you”, we wish one another well for the sneeze may be a sign of impending illness. We pass on a simple blessing, gosh don’t we all need more blessings.

As the week at Summer School went on and we explored “How then shall we live?” I thought a lot of all the wonderful people who have blessed me with their loving presence. I thought of how I could possible pay them back, to give back to them the blessings that they had so freely given me. And then it came to me. I don’t need to pay it back, in order to live out the legacy, what I need to do is “pay it forward”

Pay it forward is an interesting term. It is a phrase I have heard many times before. Now just like there are disputes as to the origin of ‘ring a ring o’roses’, there are also disputes about the origin of “pay it forward”

Some say it began with the ancient Greeks. Luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson made reference to the principle. In a letter to Benjamin Webb in 1784 Franklin wrote “I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. When with another honest man in similar distress, you must pay me by lending this sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.”

In his essay “Compensation” Emerson wrote: “In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.”

During the 1950’s the phrase “Pay it Forward” was popularised by Robert A Heinlein, initially by being referenced in his book “Between Planets.” Heinlein preached and practised this principle in his daily life and this led to the formation of the Heinlein society, a humanitarian organisation based on this principle.

In the year 2000 Catherine Ryan Hyde published the novel “Pay it Forward” which became a best seller and was soon made into a film by the same title. This led in time to the formation of the “Pay if Forward Foundation.” It even has its own day. Did you know that April 26th is “International Pay It Forward Day”. This is a day when millions of people intentionally commit to acts of kindness and caring.

Pay it forward is based on what is known today as the “ripple effect”, which is really based on Confucius concept of “Concentric Circles of Compassion”. Like a pebble dropped into a pond, our actions create ripples that go out and affect others beyond what we can imagine. It works on the premise that we can make our world a better place if we share, if we care as much for others as we do for ourselves. It is firmly grounded in the ethos of the “Golden Rule of Compassions” a concept found at the core of every single one of the world’s great religious traditions. It is an effort to change the world one small act at a time. Everything we do and everything we do not do really does matter. We affect our world, for good or for ill, with every feeling, every thought, word and or deed.

One of the great movements for social good of the twentieth century is enshrined in the concept of “paying it forward”. Alcoholics Anonymous and the near two hundred other fellowships that have sprung from its principles have brought about recovery for millions of people from all manners of addiction. When a person is released from their destructive addiction they are not asked to pay back what was freely given to them, instead they are asked to pass on what has been given to others in desperate need and when doing so to also pass on that they do not have to pay back what has been given to them, instead they too must pass it forward. This is the basis of the simple movement that has saved millions of lives.

When I look back at my life it blows my mind to think of all the good that people have done for me. During the group, I had the privilege of leading at Hucklow, we spent time remembering the gifts that had been given to us the blessings of the lives that had touched and inspired ours, that deep love that had turned to grief when those lives ended. As we considered how we should now live, the conclusion that we came too is that surely what we need to do is to make of these lives acts of remembrance by passing on these beautiful examples to others, in the hope that they would be caught up in the love and pass it on also. This is the kind of infection that does not want to be quarantined, this is the kind of blessing that the whole world needs and is a true antidote to the disease of selfishness and cynicism that seems to be taking hold in humanity these days.

To bless the world all we have to do is remember those wonderful examples that have touched our lives and blessed us with their loving example. No we cannot pay back to them what they so freely gave to us, but then we don’t have to, all we have to do is pay it forward and become the blessing that we have all been waiting for.

It is easy to look at our world and despair and give up and say “what’s the point? Everyone is out for themselves. If I go out of my way to help another, they’ll just keep on taking advantage and what will I ever get back in return?

There is though another way; this other way is the purpose of the “Pay it Forward” movement. We can change our world, one act at a time. This is religion in its deepest and simplest form, binding up the broken manifesting God’s love in life. At its core is this life affirming principle that in spite of a great deal of evidence to the contrary faith, hope and love do in fact still remain. You see these ripples touch everybody both the giver and receiver and all who are eventually touched by them; both the giver and receiver are transformed by the experience; both giver and receiver are blessed abundantly.

So let’s become the blessings we have all been searching for; let’s remember all those times in our lives when someone has gone out of their way to help us with no expectation of anything in return; whether they have helped us materially, intellectually, emotionally, or spirituality; let’s re-feel these occasions and to meditate on them and to come up with ways that we can pay these debts forward; let’s think of ways we can give back to our world; let’s create ripple effects that can impact in our shared world in ways we perhaps can’t even begin to dream of.

We can change our world today; we can become the blessing that we have all been waiting for… Atishoo…Bless you…

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Gratitude: The gift of the night

Whenever I hear someone speak of gratitude a phrase always comes to mind. Seven simple words awaken in my heart, my mind and my soul; the seven are “gratitude is a gift of the night”. The phrase is a slight misquotation of a principle put forward by Eli Wiesel. I know this as a while ago the following quotation appeared on my facebook feed:

“No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them.” Elie Wiesel

Sowhile I misquoted Wiesel I had grasped the principle.

The point he made is that gratitude is not something that comes from the wonderful gifts we are given, including life itself. It is often not something that is expressed by someone who has the whole world, as it seems that the whole world is still not enough. It is said that when Alexander the Great had conquered the whole known world that he wept as there was nothing else to conquer. He had the world and it was not enough. He died soon afterwards. Or so I remember once being taught in a history lesson back in school.

The idea that gratitude is a gift of the night comes from the sense that it comes not from being given things or even gaining things but truly learning about the value of what makes up our lives. It comes from almost losing everything and somehow surviving and learning to appreciate what is left after the dark night of our souls. It is important to note that Wiesel wrote “The Night”, is seminal work, reflecting on his own survival of the Holocaust. He certainly knew what it meant to experience the night.

This brings to mind a story a friend once posted on facebook.

A grandmother was walking with her 5 year old grandson on the beach, when suddenly a rogue wave came and grabbed him and carried him out to sea. She looked up to the sky, held out her fist and cried "God, this is unacceptable, unbearable. You cannot take an innocent child" and just as the words came out of her mouth, another rogue wave came and deposited the child smiling back at her feet. She then picked up the child in her arms, looked up to sky and said, "This child had a hat!"

We really are a funny lot. We focus and complain about the things we don't have or the things that we once had and have now lost. So much so that we fail to see the very fruits that we are surrounded by. We are an ungrateful lot. We can be a real glum lot.

Most of us are ungrateful; most of us practice being ungrateful. It's almost become a religious ritual in itself. We moan and complain about our imperfect jobs, our imperfect bodies, our imperfect family, our imperfect relationships, our imperfect religious communities, our imperfect football teams, our imperfect life, our imperfect world, even our imperfect God who doesn't give us exactly what we want when we want it.

This joylessness can become habitual and all consuming so that pretty soon life can look pretty bleak and empty. Is it any wonder that depression, mental illness and addiction are on the increase? If this is the view that we have of the world in which we live. We can be a glum lot. The problem with living an ungrateful life is that it eats away at everything that has any meaning. Until in the end life has no meaning.

Can you ever imagine wanting to spend time with or be near a person who has no sense of gratitude for life as a gift, a precious gift; the kind of person who only sees life purely as his or her personal entitlement that must be grabbed at and clung to.

If these things are lost there where is the value in our lives?

Where do you find value in your life?

I recently went to see the film “Generation Wealth” by Lauren Greenfield. The film is a truly depicts our growing obsession with wealth, by weaving images shot over her twenty five year career as a photo journalist. It narrates the story of a nation and wider world through sharing the stories of individual lives. It begins in Los Angeles spreading to Moscow, China, Iceland, Dubai and Europe exploring materialism, celebrity-culture and social status throughout the world. Greenfield powerfully bears witness to the global boom-and-bust economy that began in the 1980’s and has carried on into today documenting its complicated consequences that we now live with.

The film tells stories of ordinary people and families who become overwhelmed by crushing debt in the pursuit of buying a life or lifestyle for themselves and or their children. It depicts some who rose to extreme wealth and then lost it all due to the crash of 2008. It also depicts the lives of the elite whether in Bel-air, Moscow, Monaco or China. It depicts this overwhelming desire for wealth, fame and or status at all costs.

Greenfield does not spare herself and or family in her critique. For while she and her parents may not have been driven by the desire for wealth they were driven by the desire to succeed in their careers often at the cost of themselves and their families.

It is the personal stories that make the film. They are disturbing and harrowing. It shows some of the rich youngsters driven by search for fame in LA and the horrific consequences that followed for many. There is the story of bus driver who hated her body so much she went into horrific debt to have years of plastic surgery. She ended up living in a car and her poor daughter hated herself and own appearance so much that she ended up deforming herself and eventually taking her own life. The story of a business woman so desperately wanting a child, who for most of her life was driven by the desire for success and power. A Las Vegas party organiser who dragged her poor son through the lifestyle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more damaged individual in my life. A couple who dreamed of building the biggest home in America. A former child beauty pageant winner and so many more. And there standing in the middle of it all is the image of Donald Trump becoming the president of the USA.

The film was a distressing and disturbing documentary about the destructive nature of the power of mammon. That said it did end in hope. As it showed an alternative and the many of lives actually finding love and meaning, finding gratitude for the simple and important things in their lives. This came as they returned home or began to build ordinary simple families as they saw and experienced the things of real value in life. It showed that love can grow when we step out once again from the kingdom of the night.

To repeat Wiesel

“No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them.” Elie Wiesel

So the question perhaps is how we find that sense of gratitude for the gifts that are our lives? There are spiritual practices that do help to focus on what we have, to love what it is ours. In my nightly prayers, for part of the time, I focus on the gifts that I have experienced that day. I also take time to look at the beauty that I'm surrounded by, whether it's the bustling crowds in town or the beauty of nature. Beauty in ordinary everyday life comes in many guises.

That said I'm not convinced that this is enough. Religious faith, for me, is all about action and this action is frequently ignited by life's trials. These events can often be painful and almost utterly destructive. In my experience gratitude emerges from what has been called the "dark night of the soul". My own life experiences have proven this to me.

I’m with Eli Wiesel that gratitude and appreciation for the lives we have and the love we share only truly emerges from the night, when we have lost virtually everything. Just as so many of those people in “Generation Wealth” discovered too.

Gratitude is not about the things we do or do not receive; it is about being in relationship. It is about being in relationship with ourselves, the life we have, the people we share it with, the planet we inhabit and the universe we are a small but vital part of. It is also about being in relationship with whatever we understand is at the core of this. For me this is God, others understand this differently or give it another name. What we name it is almost irrelevant. What is really important is how we respond to this mystery that is life. All of us can pray for a grateful heart, for the gift that is life itself and for the opportunities that life offers to us. And if we fall many times, this is not the end.

The truth is that no matter how far we wander, or how often we stumble, love can find and bless us, if we are open enough to receive it.

That said sometimes we only really begin to appreciate the grace present in life after we have come through the kingdom of the night.

Sometimes it is only then that we begin appreciate the gifts that are present in our lives, Sometimes it is only when “We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering” and in so doing we can begin to learn to share them with those who we share our lives with.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Dedication: To bless the space we're in

Last Sunday I attended the 80th birthday celebration of Peter Sampson at Cross street chapelm in Manchester (England). It was a joy and blessing to be there and celebrate this wonderful human being’s life. Peter is one of my favourite people and in so many ways epitomises what it is to be a Unitarian. Peter has dedicated his life to living Unitarianially, if such a word exists. He has also been a beloved member of Cross Street since even before the new chapel building was built in 1998. He travels in from Lancaster,sometimes three times a week. He has blessed this place with his dedicated service and loving presence. He has helped to truly make it holy ground. It was Peter who greeted me as I first walked through the door there some 14 years ago, as he has done for so many others.

Now during the celebration Rev Cody Coyne spoke of Peter’s dedication to Cross Street. I listened carefully and as I did my homiletic consciousness began to awaken. It got me thinking about dedication, about how we show our love through what we bless with our presence, it got me thinking about holy places, holy ground and how life becomes sanctified by loving dedication.

Now the word “dedication” itself is one of those words that has changed, nay been reduced in meaning as time has gone by. So here’s a little etymology for you. Dedication comes from an old French word “dedicacion which meant “concecration of a church or chapel”, coming from the Latin word “dedicare” meaning to concecrate, proclaim, affirm or set aside. It later came to mean to give yourself to a purpose. Over the years people have dedicated books and music to people as a thank you for inspiration and support.

When I think about Peter Sampson it is plain to me that he has dedicated his life to living Unitarianally. He has done so by blessing those he meets and living a life of loving presence. He has been his unique self and in so doing he has encouraged those blessed by his presence to become all that they could possibly be. He has dedicated his life to making the ground at his feet holy by blessing it with his presence. Peter is a man of dedication.

As Roy Castle sang as the end of "Record Breakers"

Dedication. Â Dedication. Â Dedication.
That’s what you need.
If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Â Dedications what you need.

Whenever I go to Cross I am always filled with many emotions, so many beautiful but also heart breaking too. My days there, many years ago, were so important to my spiritual development. It even has a special place in my early relationship with Sue. On the day of our first date we called into the place as we were waiting for the theatre to open. Cross Street is one of my holy places, I feel like I am on holy ground when I am there. I suspect that Cross Street is one of those “thin places” that the ancient Celts described. A place where there is only a very thin divide between the past, present and future. It certainly feels like that for me. In this place I reconnect with my past and perhaps get a glimpse into the future which enables me to truly connect with the present. Oddly in those moments time actually feels very “thick”, in the sense that I experience it richly and deeply. As a result of these feelings I tend to feel this blessing in most places, as I connect to the love present in life.

Once you have felt the power of sacred space and time you can experience it everywhere and as a result I have discovered that you can dedicate your life to love and learn to bless all time and place with your loving presence. Something I see clearly in the life of Peter Sampson, a man of true dedication.

Dedication. Â Dedication. Â Dedication.
That’s what you need.
If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Â Dedications what you need.

If we live in dedication to love and life we begin to bless all life, we make the ground at our feet holy ground as we consecrate it with our loving presence. This brings to mind perhaps one of the best known references to holy ground, found the Book of Exodus. It describes Moses catching sight of a bush which is on fire, but which is not being consumed by the flames. An odd sight indeed, which draws Moses nearer, to get a closer look. “God calls his name from the bush.” “Moses, Moses.” When Moses answers, “Here I am,” He is told to remove his shoes for he stands on holy ground.

Moses is called to deliver the Hebrew people out of Egypt, to free them from slavery. God says to Moses, “I have seen the misery of my people. I have heard them crying out and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come to rescue them from the land of the Egyptians. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharoah to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Now Moses wondered why on earth the people would follow him, so he asked for a sign, he asked for a name that the people would believe. To which God told him to tell them that “I am” had sent him. He was not offering them certainty, just mystery. They would have to risk everything in order to reach the Promised Land.

Now all this sounds a little strange, but there is meaning here, hidden in the beautiful universal mythos, a truth that can speak to all of us. When I read scripture I do not do so as history more meaningful mystery. For me the burning bush is about Moses uncovering his own meaning, his own purpose. It’s about him being caught by the flame. It’s about him paying attention to the ground at his feet and the people he lived with. It’s about him seeing that the ground at his feet is holy ground and that his task was to lead his people to the Promised Land. So they wandered for forty years in the desert looking for the Promised Land. Something we can all do in our lives searching for Heaven, for Nirvana when the truth is we are already in it. All we have to do is truly live on the land in which we find ourselves and to truly bless it and one another with our loving presence. We don’t need to be led to the Promised Land we just need to realise that we are already standing on it. We just need to bring this space and place alive. We need to risk everything by giving our love away.

We can all hear the call of the Holy from deep within us and from all around us, all we have to do is to listen is to pay attention. All we have to do is risk everything by giving our love away. We too can be like Moses and the Hebrews we can come to find ourselves, after many trials in the Promised Land by learning to live in the land that are feet are firmly planted in. all that’s needed is dedication.

All we have to do is live with dedication, to consecrate the ground at our feet and the people who we meet, all we have to do is live with dedication and become the blessing that we have all been searching for. In so doing we will find ourselves instantly in the “Promised Land”

Dedication. Â Dedication. Â Dedication.
That’s what you need.
If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Â Dedications what you need.

To live in dedication all we have to do is shake off our shoes and live our lives recognising that this truly is a holy place. Sacred living, holiness, dedication is about being fully alive. Holiness is a life fully lived, a life where we truly pay attention.

All we have to do to awaken the holy is to truly pay attention to the world and the people around us and truly inhabit the space in which we live and breathe and share our being. All we have to do is come to believe that we all walk on holy ground. All we have to do is wholly live our lives. All we have to do is live our lives in dedication to the holiest of holy purposes, to live in love.

All we need is dedication… 

Dedication. Â Dedication. Â Dedication.
That’s what you need.
If you wanna be the best,
and you wanna beat the rest.
Oo-ooh! Â Dedications what you need.