Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day remembrance

                                    Rose Petals
There is no glory in War,
Say goodbye to this wretch, to this whore.
Stolen love from a son or a daughter,
Needless suffering and aimless slaughter.
Peace, a marriage for the bride and the groom,
Brings wonderful flowers to blossom and bloom.
But some soldiers or sailors will never be wed.
The stranger, the grave hath claimed them instead.
Some like to wear war pins in their hats,
and join clubs to have their war chats.
But I took all my ribbons and medals,
and buried them neath the rose petals.
In the spring when the roses come callen,
I remember the warriors! the lovers! the petals! that hath fallen.
To this wretch, this whore.
There is no glory in war.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Growing in Love

We humans tend to expand and shrink our social circles , due to the circumference of the circumstances.

This explains the social makeup of human nature , we are effected by circumstance including human social reasoning and yes- love. When our family is in need we will covet our food to feed them, when there is plenty it is often shared with the local community. This often relates to love and caring for others. In the ultimate survival ploy - we become alone . The circle completely collapsed to the church of one. Was this the plan that God had for humanity being subject to the circumstances of life , not growing beyond ourselves, our family, our community.

When we think of God's love - we think of love that is not effected by circumstance. Not self love or mere survival. Not just a love of family or community -yes, it must dwell in those circles also. To grow in God's love is to be willing to love even our enemies. To love even those who despite fully use us and endure the hardship without regret. Many times our charitable intentions are abused and we seem to want to get angry. I have been in this position it can be discouraging- we give expecting nothing in return and it is seen as annoying to the unbeliever. Like we are trying to be self righteous only God knows our intentions are to just be obedient to God's spirit.

We hear the songs and the sacraments teach us to let our light shine. This is divine love exceed your present circle and try to make it to the next. We hear lots of sermons on Gods love but how far does that love reach. Amazingly , I recently discovered it is inter dimensional. It reaches not only our world but beyond. We live on planet earth - God's love is spread throughout the universe. How great thou art Oh God!  to create such a celestial opus beyond our own.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Grace the divine element

 While we often fall short in faith, Grace is in abundance. It is like oxygen the very air we breath. Grace if compared to the planet would be the ocean. It is Grace that keeps all of us afloat in an ever changing world. Amazing Grace is a gospel favorite , and certainly one of mine.
 How did mankind come by Grace - did it always exist? Can we see it - can we feel it? Is it the same as faith or forgiveness -  they are often used in the same context. Grace however has a divine essence that far exceeds any other spiritual element. Is there a definition for Grace that is adequate. It is often said' it is Grace that will see us through', or 'saved by Grace'.
 One thing that is commonly accepted among all theology is that Grace is divine. It is from God, we cannot fathom it or define it. It is often thought of as a gift from God. We sing about how God shed his Grace on thee, like rain pouring from the skies Grace pours upon all mankind. It is the element that makes our faith grow like watering a plant. When our faith seems to waiver Grace never waivers. Forgiveness and Faith are held together by Grace, miracles are performed by Grace. When Jesus walked on the water - I believe he was teaching us divine Grace. When we are baptized by water - we are sprinkled with Grace.
 It is an undeserved element and it is without reserve. God will never withhold Grace - it is given freely and continually to all men and women. Like oxygen it is essential to life itself , it is needed to produce fire , Grace is the divine element.
 Noah found grace and was spared the flood, Jesus was the messenger of Gods grace through salvation. It was Grace that replaced the Law , the divine element when mixed with others such as faith , forgiveness , mercy is essential to our salvation.We are told the Son of God came from the Father abundant in Grace and Truth.

 Never beg for mercy just ask God to show the divine Grace that is already abundantly there. Take a deep breath and breath in grace , this is an exercise - exhale emptiness, sin and doubt- breath in grace. Whenever in need of Gods intervention it will be through grace it is received. Let your grace permeate my soul oh God! Let me receive your grace even though unworthy, let your grace heal me spiritually and bodily, thank you - amen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Conformity and Compassion

 I recently attended a catholic christening of my best friends new baby girl last weekend. He and I ate lunch together every day for over 10 years. He knew where I stood spiritually and it was an honor to be invited and I had a wonderful visit. His daughter , Elizabeth Anne was anointed with every spiritual oil and sprinkled with water and a candle lit for her and given to the godfather. Now I was not selected to be the godfather as not being a catholic, someone from the church of their faith was.
 To be perfectly understood I am married to a catholic and all my children are christened (baptized) in the catholic church. I have no grievance with any of their practices which will attend if invited. I have held - presided at catholic funerals, given catholic prayers and services to the dying. I have also attended and spoken alongside of rabbis at Jewish services. Buried and prayed with dying persons of Jewish faith. I also will speak at an Islamic or Hindu service, Buddhist or Aboriginal if invited.
 What religion am I? I am not a religion - my belief is not to withhold compassion to anyone. There is a difference between conformity and compassion. My beliefs are Love, Hope and Forgiveness leading to Word , Thought and Deed. My God is all these.

Family Gathering

Family Gathering-
 It seems like more and more family gatherings are becoming scarce, we have evolved to interactive media types where people are easily replaced by virtual entities. Facebook and My Space has caught on like a storm and it seems one on one contact is being replaced by all this phenomena.

 I have a lot of relatives who are up in age not into the social media - who may not be here next year. Along with that there are lots of new babies being born who I may have not been invited to the baby shower, usually women are invited but men left out. I personally find babies interesting and like to watch them grow and keep track of their well being.

 This year we are having an annual re-union at a local park under a gazebo of approximately 200. I am especially involved being the family secretary. That means making many of the arrangements and often tell myself this may be the last year, but remember the reasons for such gatherings. We always have the few complaints about the location , the food or the dates. You cannot please everyone and it is really about the quality time together. If it is important enough they will show up otherwise enjoy the ones who do.

 What does family have in common with faith - it is not really a time to get preachy - it is not church.
It is a time to show love and set an example to the younger kids and youth. Play a baseball game or basketball, horseshoes, sing-a-long or whatever. We can get things off our chest - perhaps a loved one had recently passed and it is good to be with family that remembers that special person. Maybe you did not know uncle John or aunt Jane had cancer and it might be nice to share some happier last moments rather than wait till they are in a hospital.

 As I observe each person, it is evident that whether they belong to a church or had a marriage breakup they at least know they have a family bond. It seems to me more important than ever to continue this bond and enjoy the gatherings and not create excuses.

 I often speak of expanding circles , it reminds me of the old song May the Circle be Unbroken. That is really what it is about keeping united and being there for each other. I pray for all the families and tribes of the earth not just my own - that they find happiness and a keep a close bond for each other.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Quiet Man

The Quiet  Man-

 Some who know me will also know I have a son with downs syndrome. I do not speak of him often but he is sitting in the next room laughing occasionally listening to the radio. This year he will be 30 years old and I remember every day of his life. The day he was born until now how he got his name from an old John Wayne movie  - The Quiet Man. His name was Sean Thornton and that is my sons name. I remember the grave disappointment finding out he was disabled and the self pity. It was scarey there were a lot of unknowns and not  a lot of support back in those years. The doctors and nurses  advised us to give him up to a care facility and forget.
 We took Sean home soon realizing there were a lot of special needs , physical and learning. He would be slow in speech and physical development. He would not learn to crawl until he was two and walked much later - he spoke very few words and it took all the money we earned to pay for speech therapy at 70 dollars for a half hour a couple times a week. Actually it did no good , he eventually picked up at this own pace and we supplemented with sign language his communication skills.
  Financially and emotionally the toll of several ear surgeries mostly tubes to aid in the tiny canals that seemed to collect infection. His eyes were operated on to correct a disorder where his eyes went outward opposite of cross-eyed and a few other eye surgeries. He endured heart surgery - a dual chamber pace maker. Tonsils and adenoids - mental effects of the brain with seizures and some violent reactions. Going to a restaurant was not an easy task and we often opted to stay home. We bought a pool and he seemed to enjoy that the most of all - swimming.
 Years went by and we met a  lot of loving and supportive people - teachers , doctors and neighbors. We also dealt with the jeers and the other kids teasing as they will do. Sean did eventually get through school - high school he got an honorary diploma. He has a dog named Harley who stays at his side day and night - a Samoyed husky we got from a rescue that has been with us several years. He often gets upset if Sean spends an overnight at his brothers.
 Everyday I prepare Sean dinner and we eat together , my wife works in a state hospital till midnight. Often we will watch a movie or read - sometimes we play the Sony Wii (ha! ha!). I can honestly say he is a happy person, if you ask him he will say happy - happy! My advice would be to any parent not to expect too much and to be patient- very patient. Eventually your child will develop to a wonderful person and be all that they can be. Don't expect others to understand what you are going through because they will not. It is a relationship between you and your son or daughter, and take some quiet time to pray together. I find my son really appreciates everything and always is thankful.
 My wife belonged to the original Down Syndrome congress and was a board director of ARC (the association of retarded citizens). We always helped in the community and we raised several foster children of various backgrounds while their parents were in prison. I can say my life was full and have no regrets. I was a little league coach for 4 years and manager of challenger league baseball
for the handicapped. Looking back it is amazing we found the strength and Sean just tagged along - the quiet man observing everything. Perhaps it was he who gave us the inspiration to help others , maybe God did know best.
 Well it is time to put the quiet man to bed and tuck him in another day in our world.

The Mountain Goat

  The Mountain Goat -
 The very first sermon that a young minister ever gave was about a mountain goat. Yes- that was my first sermon to an assembly. It was about walking in high places but carefully along a jagged pass in the mountains. Here I am 35 years later still walking the jagged  pass not unlike the mountain goat. That is what it takes to survive in the world as a christian.
 Carefully taking each step and not being afraid of new heights, making sure those who follow are safe in their journey. The mountain goat can find food where there is seemingly none to find under a rock or lick the dew off a slope. Possibly the most equipped creature to survive harsh circumstances anywhere, they can stomach just about anything. I even seen one eat the tire off a car - it was my car.
 They are placid creatures but can stand on their hind legs and give good shove or lock horns when provoked. My grandmother had an old goat in her yard and we knew better not to tease her - (the goat that is). In many lands goat cheese is prized and milk is often a delicacy. It is rich in nutrients and something we all could use some  instead of the frozen containers of homogenized and treated milk we get from the store.
  How do goats get across these mountain passes with only seemingly inches to spare. Is it by faith do they have a sixth sense. They seem to know when to lean and when to jump and they always land back on the trail. Perhaps that is the secret - to know the trail and remain on it. Jesus said, follow me he did not say it would be easy. He remained obedient to the Father staying on the path of righteousness , perhaps obedience is the key to walking in high places. Sometimes we get off the trail and slip - we should always remember the Lord will never leave us or forsake us. We have the free will to get off the trail but also to get back on.
  There is no greater feeling than knowing where you are going - and to know the path that leads there.

The Story Tellers

The Story Tellers-
Before the papyrus was invented men and women scratched their experiences on cave walls or mountainsides. Using the tools they had available they told of droughts , of good hunting even of romance. Chiefs and braves, shamans and story tellers sat around the campfire with the tribes women and children alike and told of their beginnings. They told of a garden where the Creator had given them all they needed, they spoke of hardship caused by disobedience to the Creator.
 Ages passed by the same stories told and it was all unwritten, since no paper yet existed. In the eastern and western world paper soon became available books were written. All the divine stories were put at last to writing. Except in the continent we now know as North America. The story tellers were still the main source of revelation and knowledge - the Great Mystery. Now it was in another part of the world a child named Jesus was born. He was of great knowledge and had divine insight - as the story was told of his life and miracles, his death and resurrection. Jesus never wrote a book or set of rules - all that was written about him was by the apostles or church fathers , much of it by Paul of Tarsus who never met Jesus in his natural life. Paul met Jesus after the resurrection on the road to Damascus. Yet - in the bible most of the material was written by Paul as if he were a first hand companion.
 We also read of doubting Thomas who had to put his hand into the side of Jesus to believe it was truly him, even though Thomas was a companion of Christ. Here we have today millions if not a billion people who are fully devoted to the witness of these apostles of Christ after his natural death. Can Jesus reveal himself today and just how would he do this. Some believe in relics of Jesus or saints can bring them closer to God. Some have had visions of angels or actual encounters and some Yes- have met Jesus on the road somewhere.
 My experience has been the Holy Spirit leads us into becoming more like Christ. Is my focus the translation of all these stories told through the ages and written to papyrus. No- my focus is on the transformation of the human spirit into the divine. This remains a constant revelation - I know I know nothing, we only have a inkling of what God is willing to reveal. The current church has grown out of story tellers and some of the same stories mysteriously are told on the one side of the planet as the other.
 The many sects of Judaism and Christianity have unfolded through time, some inspired by prophets others by apostles but mainly by the story tellers. Jesus himself was a story teller often telling a parable or story to signify a lesson. Where did these parables come from - what is more important the story or the lesson. Certainly if we miss the lesson , we miss the whole point. Things can not always be described in the language or manner of human understanding. To bring us into divine understanding stories are often used. Wisdom comes in all forms better to learn from a story than have to experience the hard lessons life can deal us.