Fear keeps us playing it too safe. It's a space that will never teach you to fly. It leaves you instead, just accepting and settling into the misery, the familiar.
There are no guarantees in a life of freedom and love. Just a lot of adventure and discovery and possibility. It's certainly not safe. Dangers do exist here. That's life. But at least it's full of potential. And at least it's looking forward towards something better, and leaves us personally willing to pay the price for it. For ourselves as well as for others. And often times, actually most often, that something better remains formless, unshapen, or at least unseen......until we have the courage to just jump.
This thing that passes as life, where we hold back, hanging on tightly to what we have at the moment, thinking it provides us security, is just a way of being that just keeps us missing the point. And it keeps robbing us as well as robbing those around us.
Freedom and beauty and love call us back to the wild elegance we were created for. A wild elegance that just doesn't exist within the confines of the life dulling domestication of playing it "safe", which really isn't safe at all.
And that fear keeps us living too safely. Love isn’t that responsible. But by no means is love irresponsible. It’s just really different. Really different.
"There are times when you choose to believe something that would normally be considered absolutely irrational. It doesn't mean that it is actually irrational, but it surely is not rational. Perhaps there is suprarationality: reason beyond the normal definitions of fact or data-based logic; something that only makes sense if you can see a bigger picture of reality. Maybe that is where faith fits in.”
~ The Shack
I am not suggesting that nature is God. But I have come to experience Divine Presence in it. Nor was John Muir suggesting that nature was God. John stepped away from the tyrannical and harsh exclusive Christian religion of his upbringing, because it never made his soul sing in any real way, and found something that made him come alive. It turned his whole life, his whole way of being, into an act of worship of the Creator.
Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is the human being fully alive."
We've all been given a wonderful gift. The Creator turned us over to ourselves and said......go live.
Nature is the first born of creation. And if that speaks anything to us, it should speak that the creator is a most magnificent artist...a creator of beauty. And the human being is a part of that beauty, and is a creator also, made in the likeness of the Creator. But in the turning over of ourselves to ourselves, and giving us freedom, choice enters the scene. The way we see God, the way we see ourselves, and the way we see others, becomes extremely important. It guides us to what we become. Creators of beauty....or creators of something not so beautiful.
Religion too often hasn't helped us at all. Too often God is turned into something that is not beautiful. But religion twists the distorted view of God and somehow rewires our heads to where those who follow it will begin to believe that that twisted story of a tyrannical bean counting exclusivist parental super figure in the sky is somehow beautiful. Everything then gets turned upside down.
Getting back to the Beautiful is a most important endeavor for the human being to engage in. Don't let religion and fear stand in your way.
It takes a lot of courage....and trust...sometimes even in the reality you are having to abandon your views of.
Disabuse: to free from error, fallacy, or misconception
Too often, the religious narratives that get built upon over time around experiences human individuals and communities have with Divine Presence, end up being like a deep falsifying fog that shrouds the truth from us and serves as a wall keeping us out instead of a bridge that assists us in crossing over into new life. All we end up seeing are distortions of something that is far more beautiful then we are allowed to believe...imagine.
When fear enters (and fear is like a deep fog) and when freedom to explore is sealed off from us by the fear that religion usually promotes as a way of controlling people.....even if the people using it think they are doing it as a way of helping others, the result is the same. People get stuck in these famished fields that are so void of any real encounter, any real experience.
So then, the religious gig just ends up being a set of beliefs people aspire to reach some day, as well as a set of beliefs they cling to tenaciously, even when the beliefs aren't translating into reality.
We all accept a narrative/or narratives that shape our thinking. And then it is our thinking that shapes how we live and act in this world. Too often these narratives cause us and others unnecessary pain and cause great damage.
And then there exists those narratives that inspire us and shape a kind of thinking within us that leads us to a way of being in this place that can heal instead of harm....can set free instead of enslave and control and force...can assist us and others in seeing with more clarity instead of doubly blinding us.
The act of awakening and surrender is everything.
"We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender. Each morning we awaken to the light and the invitation to a new day in the world of time; each night we surrender to the dark to be taken to play in the world of dreams where time is no more. At birth we were awakened and emerged to become visible in the world. At death we will surrender again to the dark to become invisible. Awakening and surrender: they frame each day and each life; between them the journey where anything can happen, the beauty and the frailty. When the Celtic Imagination searched for the structures of shelter and meaning, it raised its eyes to the mountains and heavens and put its trust in the faithful patterns of the sun, stars, moon and seasons. Long before them the Greeks too had raised their eye beyond the horizon and recognized the heavenly patterns of the cosmos. There they glimpsed a vision of order which was to become the heart of their understanding of beauty. All the frailty and uncertainty was seen to be ultimately sheltered by the eternal beauty which presides over all the journeys between awakening and surrender, the visible and invisible, the light and the darkness." ~ BEAUTY...The Invisible Embrace
We've caused great damage to ourselves and others, and to the world, as we have severely neglected the inner life. Modern culture has left most people addicted to the external and haunted by a kind of belonging that can never care for the heart nor the soul. It's a way of being that actually causes a crust to form to where after awhile people fall completely out of rhythm with who they are, and oblivious of the immensity that dwells inside them, and inside the others around them, as well as inside all created things. Living in abusive exploitative ways of others becomes the norm and people end up thinking it's normal. When this happens, we are then just left wandering around, unable to sense the very wonder and beauty that is necessary for this life to make any sense and to carry any real meaning. When marooned in such a barren wasteland it becomes impossible to maintain any sense of graciousness and gentleness. It leaves people full of such devastating frustration that leads to a self absorption/self-preservation and produces a pain that can't help but go shooting out in all directions in all kinds of destructive/unhelpful ways.
What will it take for transforming beauty to come back into focus? Do many even have any inkling as to what real beauty is anymore? Has it been so marginalized now in our fast paced modern culture to where most minds find the nature of real beauty too boring? Has the quick titillating surface hit, and the corresponding response it seeks, that is produced by a perversion of beauty that dominates our culture and becomes so ingrained in the psyche, left people stuck in the equivalent of a drug induced stupor? It certainly seems this is the situation many have settled for. Beautiful people, lost in false belonging that is constantly sold to them as the real deal.
Until we as individuals make the personal choice to step out of the misdirection, nothing will change. We'll just go on and on feeling frustrated and empty and eventually hopeless and blaming everything external for our problems, when it was ourselves that made the choice to focus on the external, thinking that arranging it all in a way that we thought would make us happy, would make us happy. This script has always failed. It has never made people happy nor produced peace in one's life.
One thing I have come to believe is that beauty has never left us. We left beauty by running off from where life is found and settled for something that promises us something it can never deliver. And in that space we lost touch with our native ability to recognize beauty and to live well. Each of us, ourselves, are the only ones that can change this situation for ourselves. Until we return to a way of being that nourishes our inner life we will remain confused and blind and will live like we are paupers, when in reality, we are surrounded by astonishing abundance. It is the eye graced by an awakened inner life that can pick up the Beautiful everywhere and then sustain it in a way to where beauty and peace and joy and rest become constant traveling companions.
As the light was waking up the landscape around me, these words written by John O'Donohue came to mind.
"May your fragile harvesting of this slow light help you
release whatever has become false in you."
We need to give ourselves time. And that doesn't mean sitting on our hands. And it surely doesn't mean to continue just going along doing the things you have always done in the same way.
Our culture really has done a full frontal aggressive assault on time. And we have been complicit in it. And rest assured, the powers that led you there surely are not going to come and lead you back to a place where you can recover time and recover your life by recovering the other things that have been thieved from you. No, this recovery is going to require some counter-culture activity up in the region of your head. And this is where the counter-cultural act of slow harvesting comes in too. To slow down. To give ourselves time. To create some quiet space, externally, but even more important, internally.
The nature of power is that it will never choose to limit itself. So forget about the external forces that come at us with what seems to be unrelenting ferocity, ever calling off their assault. The only thing that will overturn power is when power runs up against something that is more powerful.
Silence, stillness, solitude, rest, and mindful presence are those subversive powers. They cut off the dis-ease that has come upon us through all the ridiculous voices and expose them for being exactly what they are.
If you can find the courage to face it, and learn to slip into this transition......your soul will give you a huge hug and thank you.
I pretend that it is a quiet, secluded outcropping on the side of the mountain in my own personal little rain forest.
These places in my life leave other things, things that seem impossible and unwise when looked at through the conventional wisdom of this culture, to where they actually begin to seem not only possible.....but so beautiful....so beautiful to where they become so worth the risk of thinking differently and acting differently. An entirely different way of being in the world.
I try to draw attention to it with everything I now do. A friend called me today, they had had a moment of clarity today in regards to the several adventures I have going on, and had to call me. She really nailed it.
Our lives have become so fragmented and we suffer due to it. Many don't even know it. They assume they are doing okay. They look around them and play the comparison game. But the reality is still this......we've fallen out of our primal rhythm. And we'll never fit anywhere ease. The substitute rhythms just don't fit the rhythm of our soul. And after awhile, they alway win out over the soul's invitation to come home. At least for awhile.
My friend has been brainstorming for awhile with regard to bringing all these adventures under one umbrella. I planted that seed of thought in her head awhile back ;-) just to get her thinking. Today she said something on these lines, "What you are doing is all about the well being of the whole individual in everyone you encounter. And all the things you are doing really do work together. You need to come up with something like a mission statement."
I immediately sent her this. She apparently hasn't been on my website :-)
There is a natural rhythm that pulsates through life. A rhythm Modern Culture has fallen out of touch with. If you slow down, listen, and watch, you will begin to pick up its presence everywhere in the natural world. When we fall out of touch with this nurturing rhythm, the depth of healing that can be found in the beauty and peace of this magnificent place, this garden, is missed in the rush. My hope is to offer here some things that might assist us in understanding a little better the importance of staying in touch with the ways of the garden.
~ Kent Burgess
Most people's lives have become an exercise of fragmentation. This is not natural. It's not healthy. And none of this actually should be a surprise. How could it not end up this way once we became distracted from the enormity of this grand adventure we are caught up in, still, even while our minds have been highjacked and a deep amnesia has set in with regard to who we are, why we are here, what really brings meaning to this life, and where our place is in it all?
The only thing left to do is admit it. And begin the journey home.
He became one of the most important voices for me to keep in touch with what he has already said in the books he has written, and to stay in touch with what he still has to say.
This is from the interview linked to below.
"To make a living is not to make a killing-it means to have enough."
~ Wendell Berry
It is the decency, sense of living justly with others, and common sense of this man that drew me to him a decade ago and kept me continuously leaning in towards him to listen and be challenged as well as encouraged.
It's the most egalitarian reality available to all equally. Nothing held back, and the vast majority of it impossible for greedy human hands to selfishly take for itself, where by in doing so, it then wouldn't be equally accessible to everyone else.
The Creator is way more just and compassionate and trustable than are we. The evidence of that is plainly displayed all around us. There are no favorites here.
This is why Nature has become the best thing for me to point to in regards to the goodness and overflowing blessings of God....towards EVERYONE....EQUALLY.
And human economic systems and their ideologies, and Religious systems and their ideologies, and Governmental/Political systems and their ideologies, are never respecters of this. And the reason we humans have fallen out of touch with this, and our lives fallen out of sync with the beauty of it and become so confused is that, it is those things that have had a greater influence on us.......than has the Creator.
And if me expressing that makes any of my more orthodox friends uncomfortable, I offer this. I specifically express it this way intentionally. And know this......it is not a rejection or replacement of what you might immediately be thinking. It is an attempt at recovering it.
There is no more a domesticated figure in the Western Tradition than Jesus....the way he is functionalized and used by all kinds of systems and turned into a very predictable kind of safe compromiser which he wasn't at all. He is dangerous. ~~~ John O'Donohue
A friend posted this to their Facebook page and I think it fits here, even if NT Wright might not agree with what I posted above. In many ways, what NT Wright is describing in what he says here, is very much my point also.
"The western world has been ruled by a dictator who paved over the springs of water with thick concrete, thus forcing the people to drink from his complex system of pipes. That worked for a while until people started pining for the distant memory of bubbling springs and fresh water.
Then, in time, without warning, the springs burst through the concrete in a sudden explosion.
Wright’s dictator is materialist philosophy, and the water “is what we call today ‘spirituality,’ the hidden spring that bubbles up within human hearts and human societies.”
"The official guardians of the old water system (many of whom work in the media and in politics, and some of whom, naturally enough, work in churches) are of course horrified to see the volcano of 'spirituality' that has erupted in recent years. All this 'New Age' myticism, the Tarot cards, crystals, horoscopes, and so on; all this fundamentalism, with militant Christians, militant Sikhs, militant muslims, and many others bombing each otherwith God in their side. Surely, say the guardians of the official water system, all this is terribly unhealthy? Surely it will lead us back to superstition, to the old chaotic, polluted, and irrational water supply? They have a point. But they must face a question in response: Does the fault not lie with those who wanted to pave over the springs with concrete in the first place?
“'The hidden spring' of spirituality is the second feature of human life which, I suggest, functions as an echo of a voice; as a signpost pointing away from the bleak landscape of modern secularism and toward the possibility that we humans are made for more than this."
People get all sweaty palmed and worried about all this wandering outside what they consider safe. Well, guess what? What was consider safe didn't turn out to be the doorway into LIFE. It instead too often functioned as a room with nothing but locked doors.
I really don't think the Creator is all sweaty palmed and worried. For goodness sake.....isn't it this Creator that turned us over to ourselves in the first place? The Creator continues to put trust in humans and than humans choose to disrespect that trust which is a precious gift.
What follows here is a link to a very profound presentation dealing with this.
The community shaped by religious belief shouldn't need the apostle Paul to remind us, that those with a surplus, their surplus is always for someone else's need. Nor does the community shaped by more secular thinking need the atheist man I mentioned a few days ago to remind those with a surplus that their surplus is always to help meet the needs of others in need.
Human nature tells us that. But we stopped listening. Instead we listen to fear and greed and those dehumanizing voices that are always spinning a different story and the voices in our heads that are so creative when it comes to justifying the stories that continue to deny human decency and living justly with others by living justly within ourselves.
This bird had come upon a huge cash out. But there was something this bird did not do. He/she did not begin building a silo to store up for some future time. No, it just took what it needed at the time.
Now I know many will say in the world of humans this is just not wise.
Well, here is what I say.......Look around and tell me what kind of world you see that humans have created having removed themselves from the natural rhythm of the created world?
And even saying that, the fact humans have removed themselves from that and attempt to do life in an unnatural way......we don't just upset the rhythm among humans....wehave upset the rhythm of the whole beautiful gig.
The wheels are coming off. Or maybe they have been off now for a long time already? Or maybe I'm just engaged with a unique cross section of the population and am seeing stuff/the fallout regularly that others don't run into and experience?
Relationships are blowing apart everywhere. People are in conflict with others and with themselves. It effects marriage relationships, parent/child relationships, boss and employee relationships, peer friendships, and on and on and on. It's dysfunctional....an exercise in false belonging. When there is control, manipulation, abuse, infidelity, cheating, using others to get what we want, etc. etc. etc., that's dysfunctional. It all leaves people malformed and hurting, and repeating the cycle themselves.
And to even say this in the times we live is risky. It often elicits all kinds of accusations of violating the personhood of others who demand that they are free to do whatever they want to do. "Who are you to act so uppity like you are so perfect!!!!!"
I'm not uppity, nor am I perfect. But I know what I see. And I know it is destructive. And I know it doesn't have to be this way. But this is what the narrative of this culture has produced. The community is not healthy. The environment is dysfunctional. The storyline perpetuates the mess. And people who are suffering under the fallout for some reason still cozy up to the narrative in all its forms and are somehow entertained by it.
Regaining our sanity and the health of our inner world demands we break free of the dysfunctional narrative that is constantly at work shaping our thinking and dictating to us how life is suppose to be. The ridiculous voices that represent the dysfunction and spread it, have to be tuned out. It's not a matter of getting rid of them. They are not going away. We as individuals have to decide between sanity and health, or the destructive madness.
Our public bodies and the life that flows from them are refections of the condition of our inner world.
"Religion, as it has been openly practiced in this part of the world, has encouraged people to believe that the world is of no importance, and that their only obligation in it is to submit to certain churchly formulas in order to get to Heaven. And so the people who might have been expected to care most selflessly for the world have had their minds turned elsewhere — to a pursuit of “salvation” that was really only another form of gluttony and self-love, the desire to perpetuate their lives beyond the life of the world. The Heaven-bent have abused the earth thoughtlessly, by inattention, and their negligence has permitted and encouraged others to abuse it deliberately. Once the Creator was removed from the creation, divinity became only a remote abstraction, a social weapon in the hands of the religious institutions. This split in public values produced or was accompanied by, as it was bound to be, an equally artificial and ugly division in people’s lives, so that a man, while pursuing Heaven with the sublime appetite he thought of as his soul, could turn his heart against his neighbors and his hands against the world."