28. I Don’t Know A Thing About Love

November 9, 2017

We turn to love like sunflowers.
— Anne Lamott, from Small Victories

I don’t know a thing about love. Never did. Nobody does really. We imagine something unimaginably wonderful, and then when something even more wonderful than that happens, we call it love. We are beyond ourselves with joy, and we want that feeling to last forever. But usually it doesn’t.

Once in a while, it does, and all the rest of us sigh in awe of those two rare people in our world who actually did find that kind of love. The kind where both are loving and both are loved, and they cherish each other all the rest of their lives. My mother and father had that, and maybe my teenage girlfriend Mary Frances Butler’s mother and dad had that, I don’t know for sure, but maybe.

I know something about lovemaking. I have both given and received some of that, very sincerely and lovingly. I had a beautiful love once that lasted seven years. But then it shattered like one of those pretty crystal orbs from near the top of the Christmas tree, fallen onto a hard stone floor. Shattered in a quiet explosion that everyone else hardly noticed, into bits so finely fragmented that they could never be put back together. A poof of dust almost. Simply gone. I had wanted it to last forever. It didn’t. It couldn’t. But it tried.

The only thing I know for sure is, love is still the best feeling in the whole wide world. I have never felt so happy, so joyous, ever in my life as I did when I was loved. And giving never feels so good as it does when you’re giving from love. The pain of losing that love was immense, overwhelming. It took a long time for me to heal, and it left scars. But if I had it all to do over, I would still do it.

We learn, or don’t learn, how to love from our parents. That is their greatest gift to us, but sometimes they don’t have that themselves. They can’t give us what they don’t have, though they would if they could. That makes it harder for some of us, maybe most of us– we have to figure it out for ourselves. It’s a good thing, to love, and it’s good thing to be loved, and because of who we are, human beings, we will always seek for some kind of love the same way flowers always lean toward the sunlight. It’s our nature.

If you can get some love, you should. If you can give some love, you should. Even if the two things don’t come at the same time. If you can have both at the same time, then you are the two most blessed beings on the whole Earth. Don’t expect it to last forever, don’t require it to, but always believe it might. Then cherish every day, every little moment of it.

My mother and dad are gone now and they are out there in the cosmos somewhere, but they’re together, and still loving each other. Truly, forever.

It is not impossible.

27. Step Into the Light

October 31, 2017

Most of us live our lives invisibly, floating like a dust mote in the air, unseen until the light catches it drifting through a sunshaft, golden for an instant, then gone again.

Life is short. Spend as much of it as you can in the sunshaft. Be willing to be seen. It’s actually not as scary as you think. Step into the light and let life shine on you.

Try something different. Do something more. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Step out of the shadows and onto the water.

Miracles happen every day, but it’s like my granny used to say, “You’ve got to walk out under the sky and let the blessings fall on you. They’re not going to come find you hiding under the bed.”

We don’t exactly hide under the bed, except figuratively speaking. But technology has removed many of the necessities of ever having to speak to each other, or look at each other, or God knows, touch each other. This is not really a good thing.

Consider getting old-fashioned now and then. Openly care about somebody, and don’t worry if they know it. Maybe even, tell them you care. What a radical idea!

Try it. You might like it. What have you got to lose,  except a little loneliness? And really you don’t need that anyway. Love is better. Friends are better. Neighbors are better.

Go ahead, try it. And get back to me with how it worked out for you.

26. The Cancer of Trump

October 1, 2017

It’s Sunday, my day of reflection and spiritual peace. It’s also Yom Kippur, the time of atonement, and I find within myself something ugly growing. Trump has succeeded in making me hate him. Hate is something I never engage in, and this has been my chosen practice for all of my adult life. Yet this man is so totally evil and soulless, and so constantly attacking every decent thing in my country and the world, always in the headlines destroying, destroying, destroying, our spirit of unity as a nation, and every ideal of democracy, decency, and honesty

Hate is something I never engage in, and this has been my chosen practice for all of my adult life. Yet this man is so totally evil and soulless, and so constantly attacking every decent thing in my country and the world, always in the headlines destroying, destroying, destroying, our spirit of unity as a nation, and every ideal of democracy, decency, and honesty our country was founded upon, and always, before, has represented in the world. He carelessly and arrogantly commits acts no decent or sane person would ever do. I cannot help hating this monstrous being, and the damage he is eagerly doing to us and the planet. He takes pride and pleasure in it, and that’s the hardest part I cannot forgive.

I struggle with this. But when I meditate and pray about it, even though my heart is deeply troubled, the still-small-voice within assures me again, that we are all called to stand for something, and to protect what we know is right, in the face of what we know is wrong. Those are my thoughts today.

I am still the same compassionate person I have always been. I was a public servant (8 years in ALCO Fire Service) and a medical caregiver (20 years in E.R.) where I was able to have genuine compassion for some of the worst forms of our human lives – EtOH, heroin addicts, crack heads, wife-beaters, even a few murderers. But I cannot muster up any compassion for the vicious relentless cruelty, hideous racism, and insatiable greed of Donald Trump, which no one in America can honestly deny. When we have removed him from his illegal dictatorship, and stopped his systematic destruction of my country and it’s decent hardworking people, then I will try again to forgive.

25. In the Eye of the Storm, Where Is God?

September 23, 2017

This morning’s First Waking Thought:
I am still seeking the ineffable God.

It’s hard to let go of the belief in separation, and today I realized why it’s still so hard for me.

Jesus, and many others since, said “God is within.” New Thought faiths reveal that “God is all there is.” But if I accept and believe that I am, myself, an embodiment and Expression of God, “one with all that is,” then in a way, there is no more God to turn to. No God to thank, no God to look up to. And if there is only an in-here God and no more out-there God, there is no more help. We’re on our own in the cosmos. That might be the loneliest thing that can possibly be experienced. For me, and for a whole lot of human beings I think, “oneness with God” almost feels like an abandonment.

Yesterday at twilight I prayed. It was not my usual silent or softly-spoken prayer. It was one of those out-loud-prayers where you rant at the evening sky like a lunatic. At one point I broke down in a flood of tears when I said out loud to God,
“It’s just so big.” (The work, the book, my soul’s assignment.) “it’s so much bigger than I am. You’ve GOT TO help me do it! You’ve got to help me!”

The skies didn’t open up, and no bush caught on fire, there was no sudden shift in consciousness, no revelation, and no epiphany, only the absolute silence. It’s hard these days not to believe that God is mad at me.

But I know that this image of a rewarding-and-punishing, loving-and-abandoning God is not real. It’s something we human beings made up, one of many versions we created, trying to help ourselves understand. These versions of God were, and are, as real as we make them, and what we believe, we receive. The constant loving and sheltering God of my childhood still exists, but only if I can become a child again and live life with a child’s trust, and I can’t now. I know too much, I’ve seen what life can do. I have too much work to do, and I fear the ever-faster passing of time.

In the empty calm at the end of that prayer, I remembered the first time I did this, or rather, it happened. It was twilight that time too. Someone had told me many years earlier, that he believed twilight was the time when the mind was at its thinnest and weakest point, and that there was a danger of slipping through to the other side, and maybe not being able to get back. That worried me, but I was very young and I soon forgot about it.

Then when my first out-loud-prayer happened, it was so spontaneous and unexpected that I had drifted into it without realizing. Then suddenly I heard myself talking to Something, all by myself in an empty room, and I was startled and scared. I stopped, and listened to the silence, and I wondered fearfully whether I had lost my mind.

I hadn’t, but somethjing had happened. Something had broken through to a different level. I was sobered by the experience, and I would be again, four years later by the first “message” I received from “somewhere else,” which I eventually came to call the Inner Counselor. Just before I came to California and my whole life changed, the inner voice had said:
“Take faith in yourself, for God has had faith in you, and the gift is already given.” I didn’t understand it then, and still don’t entirely understand, but I knew then and I know now, that it was real, and it was a personal gift to me. In my 40 years since then, I have learned that it was no big deal. Everyone has this. Most of us just don’t listen.

Life rolls on. The world is crashing around us now, violence, death and disasters in great numbers never before seen in history. And yet we hardly notice, because we are so bedazzled by our amazing techno-toys, devices that take us to instant fantasy worlds. Mass killing has become normal to our children now, because they practice video murder-games several hours every day and see hours of  violence on TV every night. The Nightly News is not much different from their video-games. Most kids start practicing the skills of cold-blooded murder at age 5.

Then there is the relentless loud clamor of  flashy advertising, everything exploding in flames just to sell cosmetics, obscenely rich googd-looking people driving insanely dangerously just to sell cars, and the increasingly frequent explosions of rage, hate, and assault among perfect stragers in fast-food restaurants and drive-by shootings on the “Breaking News.” All of these are so much louder than the still small voice within. It’s more important right now than ever before in history, to find a small space of solitude for yourself, turn off the tempting illusions and fantasies, and listen to what is true, in you.

Most of us are dangerously brainwashed and hypnotized without realzing, unable or unwilling to wake up and see reality, because reality has become technologically counterfeited in so many beguiling and entertaining ways that massive numbers of humanity have slipped through the thin membrane of sanity to the other side, without even knowing it.

You have the choice, and you have the power at any time, to wake up. To turn off the noise, and come back to your own voice of truth. It can give you back your life.

24. Earth Demonstrates in Protest

September 14, 2017

Mother Earth is trying to tell us something. Did you know, as children and tradtional Native Americans knew, that the earth itself is alive? And it has a consciousness that although different, is directly connected with our own? Metaphysics, quantum physics, and cosmologists have shown us that what a human consciousness thinks and feels affects the earth itself, the weather, each other, and may reach beyond our solar system. I believe the Earth is staging a massive demonstration in protest against our treatment of it and each other.

In the last few weeks there were an incredible number and intensity of disasters in the United States. In two horrific hurricanes, millions of people lost everything they had in life but but the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry in their hands. In Mexico another massive 8.2 earthquake devastated cities and left people homeless and helpless. In all of these disasters, people in the millions have been suddenly left without the most essential needs of life, water, food, or shelter.

Along my own stumbling way, I’ve learned a few lessons from life. One of the most valuable ones, though hard at first to accept, is this seemingly paradoxical truth:
“Hidden within every bad thing that happens, every tragic experience, suffering or loss, there is a blessing.  Look for it. 

So now when some incomprehensible event happens, I begin at once to look for the blessing. I might not find it right away, but when I do, it does help soothe the sorrow by making it no longer meaningless.

One blessing I can’t help seeing now is the outpouring of human compassion and help to the people of Texas and Florida from all over our country. I know of course, it would have been far better for no one to have had to suffer so much. But when I look for the  blessing, it presents itself clearly:
Times of despair give all of us a shocking wake-up that calls on us to give a damn. It gives us an opportunity and a challenge to care.

When we do good things for someone else, give even a little something to someone who needs our help, it feels good. It feels good to do something good, and for some of us that’s a fascinating experience, perhaps one we haven’t felt in a long time. Maybe ever since we grew up and started measuring our own worth by success and money.

To give help is to give love, unselfishly, without expecting a payback, just for the sake of the feeling itself and the experience of it. As more people wake up and discover how good it feels to do something good, more people will recognize this as an option, instead of the loneliness and bitterness of hatred, greed, power, control, abuse and manipulation of other human beings, which seems to be “the way of the world” these days. It’s the lifestyle of the new “Great America” standard practiced, proliferated, and promoted by the misbegotten “president” of our country now. (With apologies to the rest of the world, I ask that you please understand that the people of America did not choose him.)

The truth is, you own your own life, and your own mind. Each day of your life, you choose and create the life you have at any given time. We all do. That’s the way it works, whether we’re aware of it or not.  The choice is always yours, and yours alone, to be who and what you are.

This is the best opportunity in the history of our country and possibly the world, to wake up and choose differently. I urge you to try it … You’ll like it. Do something good just for its own sake, and experience for yourself how good that feels. How wonderful it feels. Try kindness and get hooked on it as a habit. It’s a fabulous high.

P.S. Please do not give money to the Red Cross, as they are one of the lowest net of money or services actually distributed the people they advertise. They keep almost 97% of your money for “administrative expenses” even though all of the actual work is done by unpaid volunteers. DONATE  INSTEAD  to legitimate agencies that are specific and local to the people you wish to help: the city, county or state Office of Emergency Services, or a genuine certified organization like World Food Programme or Doctors Without Borders. Thank you.

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