I read on Facebook about the Minnesota nurses who raised 2.6 million dollars to pay off medical debt of needy patients. I get pretty upset as I watch the drama unfold around the Republicans’ health care bill, so this posting was a breath of fresh air. It lets me know that, until my country gets it right, at least some of our citizens are being cared for. I wanted to write: “Jesus is alive and well and doing his thing in the world.”
When I read on Facebook about a kindness being done by my fellow humans, I have actually done this. “Jesus is here,” I might write and, interestingly, friends who I think are quite nonreligious are the ones who give my comment a “like”. I make my Jesus comments even for the smallest of things: a musician playing his music on the street so the passersby will put money into a hat for a homeless person sitting next to him; an engineer inventing a contraption that can get people with disabilities into places they could never go before; a child having a lemonade stand to raise money for the poor; a group of hikers freeing a bear from a trap.
This thing I do is not trivial to me. It comes from my own deeply held conviction that the Christ is truly among us and in each of us. This is the meaning of the beautiful story of the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of fire upon the heads of Jesus’ followers. I believe that the story is about their waking up to a truth: Christ, in the form of the Holy Spirit, is truly here. Jesus had told them repeatedly: “Open your eyes and see.” They finally did it and their hearts were aflame.
To those who are anticipating the second coming, I want to say, “Stop waiting”. The event already happened. They will know if they will only open their eyes and see demonstrations of courage in the face of adversity, the kindnesses that people do for one another, acts of justice, and nurses who raise money for patients who can’t afford to pay their medical bills.
I wanted to comment on a post on Facebook today but my comment sounded so holy-holy I had to pass. I don’t feel comfortable slathering my religious thoughts all over the place. The golden rule: don’t do things on Facebook that I get irritated when other people do it.
But my blog is another thing. I feel a special privilege here where I get to have the first and last word. I get to slather my religious thoughts all over the place because this is, in essence, my journal. It contains my personal thoughts. Those who read my blog understand from the get-go that it is my territory. They can visit or not and they can comment or not. I welcome comments because my guests often find holes in my thinking or they offer a perspective I haven’t considered. But they understand that it is my territory much like a column in a newspaper to the columnist.
Occasionally I will do the religious thing on Facebook. Sometimes the impulse is too great, especially when someone posts an image of God or of the servant Jesus that is so screwed up as to lead others down a dangerous path. (My own interpretation of danger).
Anyway, I needed to say this.
“Perhaps the concept of personal honor – once a crucial point of common ground between genuine liberals and genuine conservatives in Congress and society as a whole – is on its deathbed, collateral or intentional damage from the ‘populist’ movement that empowered the current Congress.”
(Brady Kiesling, archaelogist/ancient historian, “Being Honorable” in Spirituality & Health magazine, May/June 2017)
Sometimes this liberal will share with a conservative that I yearn for the old conservatives that used to share in the leadership of our country. I don’t know that any have ever believed me. I am truly aware of the balance between a conservative and liberal point of view and, as I see it, either one, without the constraints imposed by the other, could run our country off the rails. I myself am a fiscal conservative who believes in wise management of money. But I am also one who believes that the care of the poor and struggling in our society is in a large part government responsibility. Kiesling’s assessment speaks to what I feel. I so want to believe that balance will one day be restored, but right now it doesn’t feel that way.
I am writing from a cottage in the township around Becida, MN. The little house belongs to my daughter and her husband. I love it because it is separate from the main house, a dream spot for a visitor and no doubt nice for Kate and Jerry who can have part of their morning to themselves. I know that in my own home surrendering the quiet mornings is the hardest part of having guests. The guests are usually family members that I need to catch up with so I tolerate the temporary break in my routine.
So far today, I read while consuming a pot of coffee, did my yoga routine (outdoors facing the rising sun) and meditated, also outside. I don’t know where the mosquitoes were. And frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a damn.
I have some goals while here. I like helping my adult children when I am with them. There is always something around the house they don’t have time to do. Kate and I will talk over breakfast about what she may have in mind for me. We will do some exercising together. I want to support her in keeping up with the exercises she has to do to fight the Parkinson’s disease that has now come to occupy her body. We are going to work on eating, too. This last goal is always a goal when I come here but every time our resolve dissipates before we get to the end of the first day. This time I am determined. “I think I can. I think I can…I will. I will!”
Joan Chittister is a deep thinker so it took me a bit by surprised to read an article in Parabola about a dog that she wriggled into the convent. Danny is an Irish Setter and Joan tells how he moved from the garage to a spot at the bottom of the basement stairs to her bedroom, each time moving because of the raucous he made in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until Danny got his way that the middle of the night fussing ended. His way was to be in bed with his human…which is what every dog wants.
At the end of her article Joan shares words from Lao-tzu: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
“It is those times of acceptance,” she writes, “that our souls come to peace with the world. Acceptance becomes the sacrament of the present moment, the point at which our struggle becomes useless and the unknown becomes the next step in life. If we learn to accept life as it is, as it must be – despite our best efforts to change it – we can keep growing, even when we least want to.”
I have spent my life in resistance to what life places before me. But I have to say that I have found the same truth of which Joan speaks. It is when I stop resisting that I find peace. I didn’t need a dog named Danny to teach me though that would have been nice.
Reading the life of Carl Jung this morning, I came across this:
“Ah, these good, efficient, healthy-minded people, they always remind me of these optimistic tadpoles who bask in a puddle in the sun, in the shallowest of waters, crowding together and amiably wriggling their tails, totally unaware that the next morning the puddle will have dried up and left them stranded.”
C.J.Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections
One would think Jung was speaking of global warming deniers. And, given his teachings on archetype and universal consciousness, I am thinking that perhaps he was. Or at least he was tapping into the same message from “out there” that some of us tap into today but apply uniquely to our own world.
It popped up again on Facebook the statistics of gun deaths in the United States vs. in other countries. I took the time this morning to search the internet for other statistics and the findings were quite consistent. In the U.S. there are 10.2 deaths per 100,000 people per year. The next highest nation is Austria with 3 per 100,000. Our neighbor to the north has 2.3 per 100,000. When comparing the United States with nations we would assume to have more, such as the those in the middle east, I found that Afghanistan, a nation at war, has 13 per 100,000. Iraq has 6. As far as death by gun violence it is safer to be in Iraq than here.
I am not at all surprised. Years ago, I didn’t know anyone with a handgun though I knew many with hunting guns. I can’t even say I am shocked. That feeling has been watered down by exposure to news of gun violence and even by fiction media in which murder and violence are common feed. I have to confess that Bernie and I watch several TV shows that are violent and far more explicit than in former years. I don’t wince as much as I used to. I continue to react with sorrow and pain when I see violence of any kind in the news, however. I guess I am still able to distinguish between reality and fiction though the link between the two doesn’t escape me.
Here is the reason I think we have more gun violence than other nations of the world – we have a gun lobby that uses every means possible to increase the sales of firearms which include pouring money into political campaigns and using all forms of media to lie to the American people. When faced with dire statistics about the deaths of children or the fact that guns continually get into the hands of known criminals, they deny the facts. I believe the gun industry’s tentacles go out further than our own borders. Over and over again it has been found that attacks in foreign countries, even against our own, are done with guns manufactured in the US.
All of this makes me angry, though thankfully the feeling doesn’t linger. Worse is the feeling I get when I realize that my grandchildren are at least 3 times as likely to die from gun violence than if we were living in another country. People talk about the rights of gun owners. I feel my own right has been taken away – the right to be safe.
I don’t know what to do with all of this. I drop a note to a legislator now and then and forward statistics on Facebook hoping they will change someone’s mind about hand guns. I wore orange on June 2. I am not afraid to go about my life because I am not really afraid to die. But the increasing danger to the lives of my grandchildren eats at me. If I could swoop them all up and transport them all to Canada, I would. My love for my country doesn’t hold a candle to my love for them.