Tuesday, June 26, 2012

HEAD SHAKING WONDER JUXTAPOSED WITH ABSURDITY


Everything about nature and the cosmos just freaks me out in a really really good way :-)

 I think this has become my all time most favorite and most steadying book. I go back to it often. There is a challenging subtext down below the beautiful poetic prose of its surface.

 "To awaken a sense of our ancient longing for Nature can help us to anchor our longing. When we go out alone and enter its solitude, we return home to our souls. When you find a place in Nature where the mind and heart find rest, then you have discovered a sanctuary for your soul.

 Perhaps Nature senses the longing that is in us, the restlessness that never lets us settle. She takes us into the tranquility of her stillness if we visit her. We slip into her quiet contemplation and inhabit for awhile the depth of her ancient belonging. Somehow we seem to become one with the rhythm of the universe. Our longing is purified, and we gain strength to come back into life refreshed and to refine our ways of belonging in the world. Nature calls us to tranquility and rhythm. When your heart is confused or heavy, a day outside in Nature's quiet eternity restores your lost tranquility."
~~~ Eternal Echoes

 And why have I come to see this as so important? Read this. I think it describes perfectly the soul diminishing stuff people are up against everyday in modern culture:

 Duncan Campbell: And so we really are in that mode. For instance, just this month (March 1999), Harvey Cox of the Harvard Divinity School wrote a brilliant article for the “Atlantic Monthly” about the Market, with a capital “M”, as “the new religion”. Many people don’t recognize it, but this is seen in the whole sense of the commodification of human experience, creating a certain kind of end of innocence that is taking the life from people rather than opening up deeper vistas….Instead of awakening people to the mystery, this “new religion of the Market” actually closes us down. It makes people more alienated. It makes them feel even more the hole in their soul, but not in an inspirational way. Instead of that yearning being directed to what you call “the sense of the great belonging”, the all embracing divinity that is ever present, it gets directed through the daily barrage of all-embracing advertising towards the market for Gap uniform-like clothing or to the local supermarket. It keeps our society functioning in a way, but it never ever gets satisfied, the desire for “more” continues, to try to fill that hole in the soul….

A LACK OF WISE MENTORS

I've been doing some untangling of some stuff inside myself once again. This vocation of being a parent can be tricky, and at times treacherous, for both children becoming young adults and parents alike. As an adult, watching the wild idealism of youth, with its edge of danger and adventure, has a way of continuously recalling myself to that wild idealism and dangerous edge of my youth. I've found, awakening to that once again, to be one of the most important happenings in my adult life, to date. I have my daughters and their friends to thank for that. But it has all, from time to time, been a journey defined by the pain created by the idealism and wildness of youth getting falsified by the falsity of modern culture.

 What saddens me is the apparent deterioration in our culture of the relationship between youth and wise mentor. And from my experience in purposefully looking at our culture and this apparent loss, something more tragic has been revealed. This culture seems to have not produced many wise mentors. I see as many scattered, nerve shaken, unmoored adults as I do among the young. This realization serves to keep me awake and alert and attentive to what is going on around me and inside me....most of the time.

 One thing I do not want to do, is to live with my daughters in a way that quenches idealism and pushes out the danger of adventure and discovery that is in them, and replace it with some bland, boring, soul diminishing idea that conforming to the script is safer and a more sure bet when it comes to making it in this world. Like I said....it's a tricky balance made even more tricky due to the difficulties of communication and the ever present misperceptions of intention. And then there is the ever present possibility that we adult's intentions might be less then admirable or helpful to begin with, because we too have been/are being shaped by the falsity of the script of this culture. And even when we awaken to it, and our minds and our way of being begin to find freedom from it, we have to remain vigilant because it's malforming presence never takes a break or vacates the environment in which we and those younger than us reside.

 It's been a bit challenging around here recently. But do I ever love these girls and their friends. And do I ever feel for them as they wander through these turbulent times, made reality, simply due to the internal struggles of the season they are in....made only more difficult by the lack of wise mentors who understand freedom and who through the example of their lives demonstrate a better way. A way that will serve in the days ahead to recall them back to themselves, out of the false belonging they have unknowingly wandered into.

Monday, June 25, 2012

LIGHT

The transfiguring properties of light can take one's breath away.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

WORDS ARE PRESENCES...MEANINGS ARE IMPORTANT

It's a conversation I have with clients and friends often. That there are several words/realities that are vitally necessary to hold a community together in a healthy manner. When real love, freedom, friendship, and individuality get hijacked and replaced with false notions of what they are, there is nothing to hold community together anymore. When it happens, anything can be said or done, and the beautiful reality available to us all gets replaced by something that is rather ghostly and destructive. The culture that distorts these things seems to also shape into the self absorbed individual this idea that it is imperative that they fight to defend the distortion at all cost.

 I read an article awhile back from an author/war correspondent who I have grown to really appreciate his perspective. The name of the article was Welcome To The Asylum. He makes the case that all throughout history, with all the world's Empires, that when one begins to go into decline, it goes insane. You don't have to look too hard at the government, the economic sector, and the religious and social systems of our day to find behavior that looks like insanity. All the things people have grown accustomed to hanging onto for security seem to be shaking.

 My hope in it all is that we find others on this earth who aren't shaken by it all. But who trust in something larger, and who reclaim those necessary realities of love, grace, compassion, freedom, friendship, and an individuality that is bigger than our little false selves, and that we can exhibit a stabilizing healing hope-filled presence in the midst of the shaking. I've come to believe that it is our greatest witness to the reality of the Divine...to the something larger....more beautiful...more real.

Friday, June 22, 2012

PERSONAL HYGIENE

At some point we all have to come to the realization that it is our responsibility to own up to the personal mess of our lives. My messes, your messes don't belong to anyone else, and to act towards others out of the mess as if they have something to do with it just creates more messes and doesn't help me/or you out at all. It will just serve to keep us stuck in the mess. And maybe sometimes the messes are joint adventure and might need to be addressed together. But being able to see the difference just seems rather important to me.

I often think this is one of those areas where the Christian notion of "Come to Jesus and he will wipe it all away and make you clean and give you a happy life" just doesn't serve anyone well. I don't know about you, but I don't know of any examples of that having happened to anyone I know. I once heard it said by someone that the notion of "Born Again" and how it is presented just didn't work for them, and that they really didn't want to be that clean anyway, but wanted to remain true to the mistakes they had made, so as to make them right if at all possible, and to the messes still present in their lives. I like that honesty and responsibility and willingness to own those parts of ourselves that are still acting out in destructive ways to ourselves and to others. And to be willing to do business with ourselves in a way that will lead to a healthier quality of presence.

There is no giant divine eraser that is going to sweep down from the heavens and wipe clean the blackboard of our lives. There is no abracadabra moment that is going to come upon us and set us all right in an instant and give us the life instantaneously that we desire.

But there is an affectionate loving and accepting patient belonging/presence that is real and that will walk with us as we do the work of owning the responsibility of our own personal spiritual and mental and emotional hygiene. And part of that owning up is paradoxical. Part of it has to do with getting down to some serious business with ourselves, and as equally important is, the act of accepting ourselves and where we are presently at and giving ourselves a break by calling off the personal tormentors that can hound us unceasingly. And it's a good idea to stop opening the doors for them and allowing them in.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

RESTRAINT IS A PART OF FREEDOM

Here is one of those applications taken from the Creation account of Judeo Christian tradition, in regards to the two trees in the garden, that leaves the question of whether it was an event that actually happened, irrelevant. There is much to learn here and the applications are endless.

 RESTRAINT

 Just because you can doesn't mean you should. And if you choose as the story says they chose, all is not lost. It's to serve as a good judgment/bad judgment teacher. The human activity of choosing sets in motion many things. It produces fruit. Either good fruit or bad fruit.

 The act of choice is ours. But that act is not freedom. It's just choice. All things are lawful....but all things aren't profitable. Personal restraint, in this regard, actually opens up into sweet freedom.

 Restraint in this consumerist shaped, if-it-feels-good-and-you-want-to-do-it culture....is a rarity.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A CHANGE OF PACE WILL DO YOU GOOD

Create some space for some critical reflection or maybe just some much needed rest. Learn to linger. Your body, mind, soul and spirit will thank you. You and others will begin to notice something...you becoming a much safer person to be around. And if you don't think you can create a special one for yourself....nature has many that have already been created for you to use.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER

The natural garden we all live in assists us in many ways. And then sometimes we humans can add some of our own reminders to it. The 5 stones (that represent the 5 members of this family) at the front edge of the area with the raked gravel, along with the intersecting ripples that encircle them, hopefully will become a gentle daily reminder to my daughters and to Julie and I of the importance of mindful presence. None of us are islands. Our choices and the way we choose to live out each moment of our lives, are never just about us as individuals....they are choices that ripple out and contribute to the creation of the experience of a community.