Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A few more of my favourite things: 2014

This blogspot is a collection of material that has inspired me these last few months...I hope it catches you, in the heart of your souls...You can find the different blogspots that the pieces helped inspire if you spend time searching the last few months contributions...

These first two pieces inspired some thoughts on the question "Can there be a right kind of selfishness?"

"Selfishness and Self-love" by Erich From take from "The Fear of Freedom"

Selfishness is not identical with self-love but with its very opposite. Selfishness is one kind of greediness. Like all greediness, it contains an insatiability, as a consequence of which there is never any real satisfaction. Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.

Close observation shows that while the selfish person is always anxiously concerned with himself, he is never satisfied, is always restless, always driven by the fear of not getting enough, of missing something, of being deprived of something. He is filled with burning envy of anyone who might have more.

If we observe closer still, especially the unconscious dynamics, we find that this type of person is basically not fond of himself, but deeply dislikes himself.

Selfishness is rooted in this very lack of fondness for oneself. The person who is not fond of himself, who does not approve of himself, is in constant anxiety concerning his own self. He has not the inner security which can exist only on the basis of genuine fondness and affirmation. He must be concerned about himself, greedy to get everything for himself, since basically he lacks security and satisfaction.

The same holds true with the so-called narcissistic person, who is not so much concerned with getting things for himself as with admiring himself. While on the surface it seems that these persons are very much in love with themselves, they are actually not fond of themselves, and their narcissism - like selfishness - is an overcompensation for the basic lack of self-love.

“Voting For Yourself” by (Sadly I have been unable to trace the source)

A friend told me of her entrance into electoral politics when she ran for office in elementary school. One thing she particularly recalled: It was a terrible breach of etiquette to vote for yourself.

That was true in my school too. Whether by show of hands or even by secret ballot, it was considered tacky to cast a vote for yourself. The neat kids would never do that.

This lesson was driven into me with such force that when I became aware of national elections, I wondered: Did the candidates actually vote for themselves? (My suspicion was that Democrats were too humane to do such a thing while republicans probably voted for themselves – just early prejudice.)

In retrospect I wonder why that was such a taboo. If you go through the effort and risk of putting yourself up for office, surely you must think you’re worth your own vote. Why was that so bad? One reason was the dread of being thought ‘stuck up.’ Another was our belief that if we really were good enough. People would know it. We didn’t think we had to deal in self-promotion.

It was an innocent view of the world. But in growing up most of us learn that sometimes we’ve got to vote for ourselves. When no one else will stand up for us, then we’ve got to do it ourselves. When we have a belief that no one else is adequately articulating or defending, then we have to do that ourselves. When we are being hurt and no one seems eager to rescue us, then we have to take responsibility for ourselves. When it looks like no one else is voting for us, then at least we can count on our own vote.

My friend lost that big election in elementary school. She lost, you guessed it, by one vote. (The person she voted for won.)

Never let yourself lose by that one vote you didn’t cast for yourself.

The nest three pieces inspired some thoughts on friendship

Aesop's Fable - The Hare With Many Friends

A Hare was very popular with the other animals in the jungle who all claimed to be her friends. One day she heard the hounds approaching her and hoped to escape them by the aid of her Friends. So, she went to the horse, and asked him to carry her away from the hounds on his back. But he declined, stating that he had important work to do for his master. "He felt sure," he said, "that all her other friends would come to her assistance." She then applied to the bull, and hoped that he would repel the hounds with his horns. The bull replied: "I am very sorry, but I have an appointment with a lady; but I feel sure that our friend the goat will do what you want." The goat, however, feared that his back might do her some harm if he took her upon it. The ram, he felt sure, was the proper friend to ask for help. So she went to the ram and told him the case. The ram replied: "Another time, my dear friend. I do not like to interfere on the present occasion, as hounds have been known to eat sheep as well as hares." The Hare then applied, as a last hope, to the calf, who regretted that he was unable to help her, as he did not like to take the responsibility upon himself, as so many older persons than himself had declined the task. By this time the hounds were quite near, and the Hare took to her heels and luckily escaped.

Moral of the story :

He that has many friends, has no friends.

From "Caring and Commitment" by Lewis B. Smedes

Not even mutual admiration is, by itself, enough to keep a friendship alive that long. For one thing we discover somewhere along the line that even people we admire have feet of clay. The best of us is flawed. Our flaws show through eventually; we disappoint our friends, and sometimes their disappointments hurts enough to wound our friendship. Or even worse, we may discover that the traits we so much admired were put-ons, cosmetics hiding a shabby interior. . . .

Besides, even friends who admire each other a lot drift a part when one moves to another part of the country. If I move away and don’t see my friend for 5 years, and do not stay in close touch, our friendship is likely to die of malnutrition, with dignity maybe, and peacefully, but with the same result of dying. I may still admire him [or her], but I would admire him [or her] as a person who used to be my friend.

I feel a good deal of melancholy when I think of it, but it is true that we cannot count on mutual admiration to make friendships last forever, any more than we can expect friendships to last because friends like each other or are useful to each other. If friendships like these happen to last a lifetime, it is probably because they are more than friendships of affection, or usefulness or admiration. Most likely, they are held together because the friends are committed to each other.

Many years ago I came across the following poem, it is very popular within recovery communities. I remember at the time I dismissed it in my arrogance. Over the years I have learnt to appreciate it and the truth I have discovered within it. It is by that prolific author “Unknown”.

“Reason, Season, or Lifetime”

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

The next two pieces inspired an exploration of the subject "Amazement" the second a poem by the amazing Mary Oliver is dedicated to my dear friend and colleague Rev Jane Barraclough who sadly died this year. She signed off ever email she sent with the words   "When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms."...God bless you Jane, you amazing human being...

Extract from “Alone yet Not Alone,” by David Brooks

…There is a yawning gap between the way many believers experience faith and the way that faith is presented to the world. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel described one experience of faith in his book, God in Search of Man: “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement...get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal. ...To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

And yet Heschel understood that the faith expressed by many, even many who are inwardly conflicted, is often dull, oppressive and insipid — a religiosity in which “faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion.”

There must be something legalistic in the human makeup, because cold, rigid, unambiguous, unparadoxical belief is common, especially considering how fervently the Scriptures oppose it.

And yet there is a silent majority who experience a faith that is attractively marked by combinations of fervor and doubt, clarity and confusion, empathy and moral demand.

“When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

The following pieces inspired something I created on the lessons that the animals can teach us...

“Dog Days” by Gary A Kawalski

Everyone needs a spiritual guide: a minister, rabbi, priest, therapist, or wise friend. My wise friend is my dog. He has deep insights to impart. He makes friends easily and doesn’t hold a grudge. He enjoys simple pleasures and takes each day as it comes. Like a true Zen master, he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired.

He’s not hung up about sex. Best of all, he befriends me with an unconditional love that humans would do well to imitate.

Of course my dog does have his failings. He’s afraid of firecrackers and hides in the closet whenever we run the vacuum cleaner. But unlike me, he’s not afraid of what other people think of him or anxious about his public image. He barks at the mail carrier and the newsboy, but, in contrast to some people, I know he never growls at the children or barks at his spouse.

So my dog is a sort of guru. When I become too serious and preoccupied, he reminds me to frolic and play. When I get too wrapped up in abstractions and ideas, he reminds me to exercise and care for my body. On his own canine level, he shows me that it might be possible to live without inner conflicts or neuroses: uncomplicated, genuine, and glad to be alive.

Mark Twain remarked long ago that human beings have a lot to learn from the Higher Animals. Just because they haven’t invented static cling, ICBMs or television evangelists doesn’t mean they aren’t spiritually evolved. Let other people have their mentors, masters, and enlightened teachers.

I have a doggone mutt.

“Cat Calling” by Elizabeth Tarbox

The cat entered our lives with her tail up and her eyes alert for possibility, stalking her calling in our home, in our chairs, up the chimney, in every closet, and behind every impossible obstruction.

She stares with magic eyes, inscrutable, all-knowing. She is all cat: stealthy as a winter breeze that skims the top of the snow bank, impertinent as the sudden blast that blows smoke down the chimney and out into the room.

She seduces, lying back in our arms with the wanton abandon of Aphrodite. She exhorts, rumbling like an old volcano or yowling like an exorcised poltergeist.

I am seduced by her unabashed affection, mystified by her eyes which steal my secrets, envious of her unquestioning delight in the warmth of an armchair. It is serious, this partnership between the cat who stalks her calling and we who are called. I am in the presence of Isis, our home is her temple, and we are called to serve.

“How it is with us, and how it is with them” by Mary Oliver

We become religious,
then we turn from it,
then we are in need and maybe we turn back.
We turn to making money,
then we turn to the moral life,
then we think about money again.
We meet wonderful people, but lose them
in our busyness.
We’re, as the saying goes, all over the place.
Steadfastness, it seems,
is more about dogs than about us.
One of the reasons we love them so much.

The next two pieces explored "Circles" and ideas about inclusion...

"As the crow flies" by Elizabeth Tarbox

I aspire to live as the crow flies.

A crow is said to fly in a straight line from point of departure to destination, but that is not what I see. Crows fly in sweeping circular arcs across the apron of the sky, using all the available space from horizon to horizon before settling on the top swaying branch of the tallest tree.

You may think crows caw, that their voices are harsh. But I tell you a crow can whisper to its mate across a density of pines, and its voice is comfortable and reassuring. A crow is mighty in its passion, voracious in its appetite, and fearless in its flight. So I aspire to live as the crow flies and stretch my soul to meet the sky.

"Epigrams" by Edwin Markham


FOR all your days prepare,

And meet them ever alike:

When you are the anvil, bear--

When you are the hammer, Strike.


He drew a circle that shut me out--

Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!

The Avengers

The laws are the secret avengers,

And they rule above all lands;

They come on wool-soft sandals,

But they strike with iron hands.

The next two pieces inspired some thoughts on "Consciousness and Self-Consciousness"

Extract from “Summer of out content” by Forrest Church

Consciousness and self-consciousness are opposites, by the way. When we are self-conscious we are self-absorbed. There is no room for the present, only for our shopping list of fears and grievances, wants, desires, and dreams. Consciousness grows in direct proportion to the retreat of self-consciousness. When conscious, we become a part of everything we experience, not apart from it. We are absorbed not in ourselves, but in others and our work and pleasures. That insight is what underlies my mantra – Want what you have, Do what you can, Be who you are.

The present is not only a dimension of time – it is also a gift. This very moment is the only moment we are surely given to redeem, for the past is over and the future remains uncertain. When we open the present, we enter a world that is completely ours. We receive the gift of life.”

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful-
The eye of the little god, four cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

The next is a beautiful piece of wisdom by Robert Fulgham. I have included this because he is just a genius. I love the way he sees the world and the way he feels, thinks and writes about it. Following it are further pieces about uncertainty...how things are not yet sealed and how it is never too late to begin again...

“Belum” by Robert Fulghum

"Americans, it is observed, prefer definite answers. Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay. Yes or no. No grays, please.

In Indonesia, there is a word in common use that nicely wires around the need for black and white. Belum is the word and it means ‘not quite yet.’ A lovely word implying continuing possibility. “Do you speak English?”

“Belum.” Not quite yet. “Do you have any children?” “Belum.” Do you know the meaning of life?” “Belum.”

It is considered both impolite and cynical to say, “No!” outright. This leads to some funny moments. “Is the house on fire?” “Belum.” Not quite yet.

It’s an attitude kin to that old vaudeville joke: “Do you play the violin?” “I don’t know, I never tried.”

Perhaps. Maybe. Possibly. Not yes or no, but squarely within the realm of what might be. Soft edges are welcome in this great bus ride of human adventure.

Is this the best of all possible worlds? Belum.

Is the world coming to an end? Belum.

Will we live happily ever after? Belum.

Have we learned to live without weapons of mass destruction? Belum.

In some ways, we don’t know. We’ve never tried. Is it hopeless to think that we might someday try? Belum. Not quite yet."

“Rebirth” by Elizabeth Tarbox

When the day is too bright or the night too dark, and your feelings are like an avalanche barrelling down the mountain of events outside your control, when you look down and you are falling and you cannot see the bottom, or when your pain has eaten you and you are nothing but an empty hungry hole, then there is an opportunity for giving.

Don't stay home and cover your head with a pillow. Go outside and plant a tulip bulb in the ground; that is an act of rebirth. Sprinkle breadcrumbs for the squirrels or sunflower seeds for the birds; that is a claiming of life. And when you have done that, or if you cannot do that, go stare at a tree whose leaves are letting go for its very survival. Pick up a leaf, stare at it; it is life; it has something to teach you.

You are as precious as the birds or the tulips or the tree whose crenellated bark protects the insects who seek its shelter. You are an amazing, complex being with poetry in your arteries and charity layered beneath your skin. You have before you a day full of opportunities for living and giving. Do not think you know all there is to know about yourself, for you have not given enough away yet to be able to claim self knowledge. Do you have work to do today? Then do it as if your life were hanging in the balance, do it as fiercely as if it mattered, for it does. Do you think the world doesn't need you? Think again! You cleanse the world with your breathing, you beautify the world with your thinking and acting and caring.

Don't stay home and suffocate on your sorrow; go outside and give yourself to the world's asking.

“I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone enough” by Rainer Maria Rilke

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.

I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.

I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.

Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

“Each New Morning” by Penny Quest

Each new morning two choices are open to every one of us:
The choice to live that day in the joyfulness of Love,
Or in the darkness of Fear.

Each new day, as the sun rises,
We have another opportunity to make that choice.
The symbolism of the sunrise is the removal of shadow
And the return of Light.

Each new morning we have another chance
To rid ourselves of the burdens, sorrows and fears of the past,
To rejoice in the joy of the present,
And to look forward to a future of fulfilment
On every level of our being.

Each sunrise is a fresh opportunity to release fear,
To choose a different life-path,
To commit ourselves to joyful, light living,
To trust in ourselves and in the Universe,
To trust in the forces of Nature and in Mother Earth,
To trust God, the Creator, the all-That-Is.


I love the next piece which explores the question "What is God's work?"

“God’s Work” by Elizabeth Tarbox

What is God’s work? If God is immanent and transcendent, in and out of everything, then how could it be possible not to do God’s work? Surely all work is God’s work – there is nothing which is not of God. Is there?

But that doesn’t do it, somehow. There are times when what I do is strictly for me. God or no God, I’m working for myself, even during those times when God would probably approve. Mostly what I do for myself is compatible with what I believe I would do for God.

But not always. There are times of conflict, when the prompting and urging of my desire are up against the sentinel of my conscience. They square off, these two strong voices somewhere deep in the thick of me where there is no judge, no referee, and mercifully no spectators. “Do it,” say I. “Don’t,” says God. One of them wins and the other goes grumbling away, threatening and complaining in the basement of my being like a boiler with an excess of steam. And I am left to live with my decision, to forgive or applaud, to bask in my nobility or blush in my shame. And God and I make peace once more.

Then there are times when I can’t tell which is God’s voice and which is my own. What about those times when God seems to be saying “Do it” and I am saying “No.” When god says, “This is the right thing to do,” and I, shaking with fear, confess, “I can’t, I’m just too scared.”

“I’ll be with you.”
“How do I know?”
“You can do it, be not afraid.”
“I might fail, make a fool of myself.”
“Yes you might. Do it anyway.”
“But people might not like me.”
“That’s right.”
“But how do I know this is good? How can I be sure?”
“You cannot be sure. This is a risk.”

Yes, those are the toughest times: wanting to do right without losing my safety, not knowing if I am doing God’s work, or using God to do mine. There is no superhighway named Right Way. There are no signposts, no guides, no promises, no guarantees; only the lonely voice of conscience and the cringing cry of fear wrestling each other in inner space. Those are the times of lying awake at night and staring at the detail of the day through a haze of worry, working and reworking the “oughts,” the “should,” and “yes, buts” of the thing.

And what’s to be done, but to listen to the voice that seems to be speaking a consistent truth, move through the fear to trust the moral judgements we have lived by, and pray for courage.”

The next two pieces inspired some thoughts on how we respond to life, do we "resent or rejoice"

“Moments of Joy” by Lindy Latham

Perhaps one of the most difficult things that we have to do during our everyday lives in this troubled and demanding world is to discover how to embrace and experience moments of joy as they are offered to us. It is possible for them not to be dimmed through our awareness of the pain and demands of others, which can also include a feeling of guilt at our good fortune in the face of their difficulties.

I believe that we can do this without denying the suffering of others, or turning our backs on their needs, or indeed by just leaving them temporarily on the back burner whilst we delight in our own joy.

For me it’s about learning to hold them together, so that by being alive to our own wonders and delights this feeling can flow out to individuals and the world in a way that is both healing and enriching.

Equally as important, during the times when we are feeling overwhelmed and crushed by our own personal situations, is to find a way amongst the chaos to let those glimpses of joy move in. This is not to remove the pain, but to remind us of who we really are, and give us the confidence that “this too shall pass”. In the words of Kahlil Gibran, talking about joy and sorrow.

“But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

"Joy I want to believe it is something more." by Terri Pahucki

I have been wondering
what the morning glories
know. Is it envy
that compels these vines
to strangle other flowers
arising in their path?

Or perhaps self-preservation,
to climb these walls, forsaking
humbler beings, winding
greedy stems around the trellis
in their hungry pursuit of light.

Still, every morning,
basking in their spiral shadows,
I want to believe it is something more

this fevered yearning
to open purple flowers,
yield bold-throated Glorias
to the sun,
and in the blaze of afternoon
curl petals softly into shyness.

And every morning, I plead
with the dew-moist buds
to know their secret joy:

to open and close without holding,
to surrender all to light,
to sing
I am completely yours
over and over again.

The next pieces explore the "Impermanence of Truth"

“Changing our minds” by Pat Womersley

Countless times every day we make choices: in an emergency urgent action may be called for, and occasionally we find ourselves struggling to make decisions in agonisingly difficult and testing circumstances.

Whilst we may seek advice and support from others, we probably assume that we should be competent to rely on our own judgement. After all, as Unitarians we claim and cherish the right to make up our own minds in matters of religious belief and practice.

Is it always desirable or appropriate, though, to reach a firm conclusion? What are minds for? Maybe they’re not intended so much to be made up, as to be kept open and receptive to change so as to achieve deeper insights, and inevitably experience potent reminders that human life is far more unpredictable, complex and mysterious that our limited and often reductionist explanations have ever envisaged.

In a recently published book entitled Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith reveals that as a writer she has always used as a lodestar a remark made in the film Philadelphia Story by Katherine Hepburn: “The time to make up your mind about other people is never!” That gnomic, paradoxical sentence might, I believe, serve as a useful touchstone not just for writers, but for all of us in every aspect of our living.

If we make up our minds too firmly and conclusively about ourselves and others, the nature of the world we live in, and what it might mean to be more fully human, we risk imprisoning ourselves within increasingly narrow boundaries. Here we may feel safer and more in control, but at the cost of denying the inescapable truth that we are part of a reality which is always in process, offering us new opportunities for developing and growing and discovering previously unimagined dimensions of being.

Zadie Smith concludes that all writing should ‘make a leap into otherness’. As people of faith, who believe in the transformative power of love, how ready are we, I wonder, to make that challenging ‘leap into otherness’ in our daily living?

From “Theology Ablaze” by Tom Owen-Towle

We’re called to live with open hands that both hold those near and serve those afar, and to live with open eyes – or as the Buddhists phrase it: to see life with ‘unfurnished’ eyes . . . that is, eyes empty of clutter and inherited furniture.

Openness means living with minds receptive to surprise inklings of the holy. It also summons us to open our throats: loosening our jaws in order to unleash our voices in singing the wonders of creation, or in bellowing against its wrongs.

As spiritual travellers, we must enter ever-widening circles of respectful, loving engagement. Our Unitarian Universalist faith affirms the supreme dignity of every person . . . trusting in an Infinite Spirit that holds every creature in its loving caress and challenges us to follow suit.

The faith which binds us contends that all of us, in one way or another, are the caves in which others might find shelter and kinship and we in them. Friends and strangers, hosts and guests, constitute one humanity groping toward our essential unity.

These final three next pieces inspired some thoughts on the question "Can we live as one?"

“God Has No Borders” by Rod Richards from “Falling Into the Sky: A Meditation Anthology” 

We humans are the line-drawers. We are the border-makers. We are the boundary-testers. We are the census-takers. We draw a line to separate this from that, so we can see clearly what each is. We create a border to define our place, so we can take care of what's there. We test boundaries to fid if they are real, if they are necessary, if they are just. We congregate within those boundaries in families and tribes and cities and countries that we call us. And we call people on the other side them.

But our minds seek boundaries that our hearts know not. The lines we draw disappear when viewed with eyes of compassion. The recognition of human kinship does not end at any border. A wise part of us knows that the other is us, and we them.

Let justice flow like water and peace like a never-ending stream. Let compassion glow like sunlight and love like an ever-shining beam. The rain, the sunshine, the breeze, the life-giving air we breathe -- they know no boundaries. Neither do our empathy, our good will, our concern for one another.

God has no borders. Love has no borders. Let us lift up the awareness of our unity as we celebrate our awesome diversity on this beautiful day.

Diane Ackerman in “Rarest of the Rare”

Leafing idly through The Home Planet, I stop at a picture of Earth floating against the black velvet of space. Africa and Europe are visible under swirling white clouds, but the predominant color is blue. This was the one picture from the Apollo missions that told the whole story--how small the planet is in the vast sprawl of space, how fragile its environments are. Seen from space, Earth has no national borders, no military zones, no visible fences. Quite the opposite. You can see how storm systems swirling above a continent may well affect the grain yield half a world away. The entire atmosphere of the planet--all the air we breathe, all the sky we fly through, even the ozone layer--is visible as the thinnest rind. The picture eloquently reminds one that Earth is a single organism. –

“Kaleidoscope” by Elizabeth Tarbox

Through a kaleidoscope the world becomes fractured, divided twenty-four ways in symmetrical pieces. A single candle flame becomes twenty-four flickering candles, each a perfect replica of the other. The mundane is made exquisite when it is placed in a pattern of identical squares; the ordinary becomes the mystical when it is seen through a prism.

Is this how life is, if only we step back far enough to see it all – a kaleidoscope of event joining, merging, dancing in rhythmic harmony? Could we appreciate the order of life, if we were not one of the fragments? But we are in it, of it, not observers of the pattern but part of the very texture of which is constructed.

There may be a plan, but we will never be able to stand back far enough to appreciate it. Somewhere life may make sense to a great cosmic someone, but not to us here, not to us, splintered in a struggle to do what is right in a world that presents us with complex, competing options. We may never see the larger picture, creation’s perfected whole; we may be forever flickering fragments, fractured by the raw reality of immediacy from which there is no escape while we are alive.

Well then, let us dance in the flame that we see. Let the arc of our creativity embrace our moments of time, and let us add our light to the kaleidoscope, trusting in the unity of the whole even as we seek symmetry with the part. 

I wish you a fruitful 2015 may it be deep and rich in meaning...

May you know the blessings that life has to offer us all and may you can those blessings with you...May they inspire your every feeling, every thought, every word and every deed...

May God bless us all...

No comments:

Post a Comment