Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Mission Accomplished"

In a peaceful oak tree-studded hillside near downtown Lafayette, CA, lies an impromptu reminder of war.

By today's count: 4071

"Can anything be more ridiculous than that a man has a right to kill me because he lives on the other side of the river, and because his ruler has a quarrel with mine, although I have none with him?"

-- Blaise Pascal

"I've been to war. I've raised twins. If I had a choice, I'd rather go to war."

-- George Bush

"There's a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other. I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves. But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn't a forest but an orchard of graves. Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature."

-- Barbara Kingsolver

"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

-- Hermann Goering

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."

-- Dwight Eisenhower

"All we are saying is give peace a chance."

-- The Beatles

"Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy."

-- St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Flesh, Blood and Beyond

Rev. Ray Anderson, our guest Minister, gave a profoundly personal and engaging sermon this past Sunday. I can’t help but refer to these talks as sermons, a relic from my old ways. In a new day, a new earth, and a new consciousness, these talks are more like “shares”, a sharing of divinely-inspired aha moments, spiritual eurekas or enlightened realizations. There is always a refreshing absence of “Thou Shalt Nots” in these talks, an acknowledgment that whatever missteps we’ve taken, mistakes we’ve made, or sins (Self-Inflicted Nonsense) we’ve committed, it’s all a part of our life’s journey.

The title of his talk was “Remembering Who I Am.”

The philosophy that Rev. Anderson espouses is that our essence is divine. All of us – not just popes and priests, saints and sinners – but all of us, whether we realize it or not, are borne of divinity.

There is no bone of contention there. The bone that supports the framework of all spiritual traditions is that there is an Invisible Power back of all things, underneath all, in all, through all. It is this Invisible Power -- most often called God, sometimes Father-Mother-God, this “No Thing” (in Buddhism) -- that created us. As a creation of this Invisible Power, we are a part of it, animated by it.

As we become more and more conscious of this fundamental Truth, then we cease living as humans with only occasional glimmers of our own God-beingness, and begin to live more like fully-aware spiritual beings with only fleeting moments of human difficulties.

Not to be airy-fairy, of course. As our Muslim brothers like to say,

“Praise Allah

but tie the camels down.”

Rev. Anderson shared his story about the death of his daughter, an all-too human event, this past Valentine’s Day. According to the Reverend, his daughter’s quick and untimely transition from the physical realm to the “other side” was cause for grief and profound loss, but it also presents an opportunity for him to develop a different kind of relationship with his daughter on another, deeper level – the spiritual level.

I was in rapt attention listening to Rev. Anderson when my seatmate at church started weeping. Her mother had just died the month before and the talk broke her. I hugged her close as her tears ran down my shoulder and soaked my arm.

I don’t know why the talk didn’t break me. Instead it fortified me. This Sunday was the 29th death anniversary of my father who I love and miss with every breath of my life. I don’t know if time has healed the wound. But somewhere over the years I had learned to develop a relationship with my father beyond death.

When I need help and cry at night, I cry out for my father. I cry out for my mother, too. They made manifest to me all that I believe now to be God qualities – unconditional love, generosity, joy, compassion, creativity, courage, power, abundance, prosperity, forgiveness, faith and mercy. They gave me everything I ever needed and wanted during their lifetime, and I feel blessed and grateful. Even now, when they are no longer in this physical plane, they are present in me. In my heart they will always be, my Indwelling Father-Mother-God, beyond mere flesh and blood. My deeply felt connection with them is the springboard for my conviction of our spiritual essence.

“The personal life deeply lived

always expands into truths

beyond itself.”

-- Anais Nin