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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Fix... A Love That Grows In Us & Between Us

How do we repair the breach that frustrates us, and that divides us against ourselves and from one another? How do we renew ourselves and find the oneness of being that characterizes sound, healthful living? We may begin, as has long been established, by recognizing the need to fix ourselves, and then proceed to seek the restoration of our relationships wherever possible.
Of some afflictions we are the authors; of others we may be the victims. With honest reflection we find ourselves needing to forgive ourselves our own indiscretions, and seek forgiveness where we have been the source of pain. In the course of this healing initiative we will find it necessary to forgive those who have trespassed against us.  We will also discover that we cannot fix every relationship around us that have in some way impacted us. It becomes necessary here to just walk away… let time and distance deal with those. Forgive where you can, forego where you must.
There are many stumbling blocks in our personal journeys that can make our way forward rather treacherous. Some of these are there as facts of our lives, others we may have had a hand in creating. Instead of continuously tripping ourselves up, we must eventually find ways to make these potential obstacles into stepping stones… (cliche intended). This becomes possible when we harbor the wisdom… and the courage… to avoid or navigate our way over and around the scandals that give life to our personal and interpersonal dysfunctions. Wisdom enters into the places where we live our lives when we allow humility to open our doors to her. She enters in when we are ready to accept her help. She takes our hands when we are ready to let her lead. She speaks when we are ready to listen.
In a culture that celebrates the rambunctious, unproductive argument – we must learn to face the circumstances before us with resolve, and speak the truth to and about them without malice. Deep breath… deeeep breath. This is never easy, but there is a reward for trying. There is certain liberation that comes from diffusing our anger. That freedom to act creativelycomes from our restraining the impulse to “let the other person have it” – verbally and otherwise. We can learn how to free ourselves from our own harshness. Truth spoken without venom has a certain healing quality. Instead of creating discord, it acts as a tonic. Instead of depressing us, it acts as an elixir. Instead of poisoning the discourse, it acts as an antidote. This way of engaging makes us stronger. It helps to restore our joy. Ultimately it might be the remedy we need for what ails us.
The freedom to act creatively is enabled by two dynamics… Forgiveness and LoveWhile this season is still new, we are forcefully reminded to focus on seminal events that figure significantly in effecting our redemption. This is that moment in time when we seek to facilitate the birthing of the Christ among us. This Christ is the universal Influence that seeks to redeem us… to restore us to our best selves, and to reconcile us to our Creator and to each other.
Our redemption necessarily begins with the recognition and admission of our need to be forgiven for our own tendencies to miss the mark… to mess up… to sin. Our lives are works in progress. None of us have any claim to perfection. This being the case, we can relieve ourselves of the burden of guilt that accumulates over time because of that naivety which evidences our lack of wisdom. If we can face the fact of our own unfinished-ness, then we might not be so terribly judgmental in our assessment of the shortcomings of others.
We begin our own healing with understanding the need for forgiveness in ourselves, and in others. First we admit our flaws and our faults… and those of others around us, and then we make a commitment to walk away from them. Forgiveness is the unburdening that comes when we act to leave our faults and those of our neighbor in the past where they belong.
The other aspect of the freedom to act creatively has to do with the cultivation of that resource which is in fact the ultimate expression of our wholeness. That resource is Love. A meaningful and durable expression of Love must go beyond any romantic notion of being together. Romance most certainly has its place, but we should all be aware that Eros has always been, and will always be a transient. Feelings come and go based on the culture of convenience and the fatuousness that typifies many of our interactions. The cultivation of a true Love must be grounded in a sense of selflessness – not in the shallowness of our egos. A ‘love’ which does not serve us beyond the moment, and beyond the trappings of an infatuation that is mostly concerned with our own self-satisfaction, is never durable.
Love in its purest and most lasting form is an unconditional commitment to what is just. A true love is rooted in a genuine concern for the growth and well-being of the lover and the loved. That kind of love rescues us from the miry clay of our own self-indulgence, and from the tricky self-indulgence of others. We will not always like each other, but we have a moral/ethical duty to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. The carried consciousness of this duty becomes the agency for enhancing what is best about us, and what can be really good between us. Love grows in us and between us the grace that enables us to be vessels of the Christ who comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry, is the healer of the broken-hearted, and the liberator of the oppressed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Witness

...And I awoke in the arena of my intrigue
To witness the dark tales of my surreal anticipation...
A lion embracing a bear
And littering reality with the offspring
Of an altogether illicit affair...

I saw the marriage of an old stumbling empire
As she fell in time
To the capricious wiles of an enticing romance...
Whore to whore wed-locked
And vowing allegiance
Till death...

I saw the prophet led to his death in chains
While a bootlegging pharaoh and his sons
Aspired to throne after throne
Dying death after death... but aspiring still
While young lions slept...

I saw the priests of an untenable union
Inwardly and outwardly frocked
In robes that hid them from the uncomfortable truths
Of a time when lions lay down with lambs
Having crushed the capricious existence
Of an abominable union...

...And I pinched myself
To confirm that I was not dreaming...
For all around me the earth shook
As whore ran to whore for shelter...
The rock of their convenience
Having been obliterated

And rising out of the earth like gods...
The prophets' sons
With swords and shields... advancing

I have witnessed the weeping and wailing
Of those who mocked and scorned
When righteous men bade them
Behave

From the book "In My Element... Inspiration For Empowerment" by Roy Alexander Graham


Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year... New Ways of Seeing, and Believing, and Behaving

It's a new year... Happy New Year!

It's a time of new resolutions. Many are the desires to become more than we have been. Many are the opportunities for growth and renewal.

Taking charge of our lives is about being purposefully creative. We potentiate the process with acts through which we call ourselves to a spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual housecleaning. This requires us to truthfully unburden ourselves of those experiences that weigh us down in the miry clay of pain and regret. The objective is to rid ourselves of the hurt and guilt associated with bad experiences we have had, or caused. This is absolutely necessary before we can embark on the journey of renewal.

As we re-embark on this journey toward a more fulfilling life, we must walk away from the psychological, spiritual, physical, and social instruments and actors that are complicit in the life-thwarting episodes we want to turn away from. Talk is cheap. This is where the “rubber” of the commitments we make meets the “road” of our willingness to act out those commitments. This is where the demands of our renewal become real. It may mean new friends and associates. It may mean moving away from your familiar environment. It may require a new way of eating. New ways of thinking and acting and behaving are required for the renewal we seek. You may have to go back to school as you give up your old job in the club...or at the investment firm. The new you that you seek will need a new foundation from which to grow and develop.

Our personal journey to renewal demands that we commit ourselves to new habits. As humans we have come to think of ourselves as “creatures of habit”. Habit formation is a function of the repeated practice of the skills and behaviors we need in our improved selves. It is believed, and often said that, “practice makes perfect”. The remaking or redefining of our lives demands that we become new creatures through the renewal of our minds that come from the repeated practice of acts determined to speak with clarity about who we are and who we want to be. No longer must we be defined by the old habits, but by our new ways of seeing, and believing, and behaving.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas... The Season of Forgiveness and Love

The freedom to act creatively in our world is enabled by two dynamics… Forgiveness and LoveWhile this season is still new we are forcefully reminded by the celebration of Light all around us, to focus on the seminal events that figure significantly in our redemption. 
This is that moment in time when we seek to facilitate the birthing of the Christ among us. This Christ is the universal Influence that comes to redeem us… to restore us to our best selves, and to reconcile us to our Creator and to each other.
Our redemption necessarily begins with the recognition and admission of our need to be forgiven for our own tendencies to miss the mark… to mess up… to sin. Our lives are works in progress. None of us have any claim to perfection. This being the case, we should seek to relieve ourselves of the burden of guilt that accumulates over time because of that naivety which evidences our lack of wisdom. If we can face the fact of our own unfinished-ness, then we might not be so terribly judgmental in our assessment of the shortcomings of others.
We begin our own healing with understanding the need for forgiveness in ourselves, and in others. First we admit our flaws and our faults… and those of others around us, and then we make a commitment to walk away from them. Forgiveness is the unburdening that comes when we act to leave our faults and those of our neighbor in the past where they belong.
The other aspect of the freedom to act creatively has to do with the cultivation of that resource which is in fact the ultimate expression of our wholeness. That resource is Love. A meaningful and durable expression of Love must go beyond any romantic notion of being together. Romance most certainly has its place, but we should all be aware that Eros (the source of our erotic nature) has always been, and will always be a transient. Feelings come and go based on the culture of convenience and the fatuousness that typifies many of our interactions. The cultivation of a true Love must be grounded in a sense of selflessness – not in the shallowness of our egos. A ‘love’ which does not serve us beyond the moment, and beyond the trappings of an infatuation that is mostly concerned with our own self-satisfaction, is never durable.
Love in its purest and most lasting form is an unconditional commitment to what is just. A true love is rooted in a genuine concern for the growth and well-being of the lover and the loved. That kind of love rescues us from the miry clay of our own self-indulgence, and from the tricky self-indulgence of others. We will not always like each other, but we have a moral/ethical duty to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. The carried consciousness of this duty becomes the agency for enhancing what is best about us, and what can be really good between us. 
Love grows in us and between us the grace that enables us to be vessels of the Christ who comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry, is the healer of the broken-hearted, and the liberator of the oppressed. As we go about our celebrations this season, let us highlight the gifts of Forgiveness and Love that are an inseparable part of the reason for the season. Above all else, let us strive to place those gifts at the very root of the tree of our lives.
One Love! Happy holidays to all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Day of Judgement Comes

There is a part of us that does not want to be governed. This is as true of us as individuals as it is for every group that is a function of our communal experience. The discipline that the operation of the common good among us demands is an unflagging inconvenience for that part of us, and for those among us who seek to satisfy their basest instincts at the expense of the potential for a healthy individual and communal experience.

The basic tenets of any well organized and prosperous social unit are expressed in values of mutual respect, a healthy regard for justice, and mechanisms for protecting each and every person from the disgusting excesses of the unconscionable among us. Societies and individuals that disregard these tenets are inevitably headed for their own doom. They may flaunt their ill-conceived and ill-gotten wealth and influences for a while, but eventually they all come tumbling down to their final resting place - the garbage heap of History.

Many among us live to scratch the unnerving itch that is the demand for self-satisfaction. The soothing of ourselves becomes in and of itself the number one preoccupation of our lives; we do so at the expense of our own existential integrity, and to the detriment of any and all who we come to see as obstacles in the way of our own comfort. Self-soothing becomes our raison-d'etre, and Selfishness our creed. To these ends we accumulate wealth and influence by any means we can. We cultivate a terrifying disregard for the ambitions and well-being of others. We devise and articulate in our behaviors a crassness that makes reasonable people scratch their heads. And we build alliances with those whose insecurities are compatible with ours.

Spiritual philosophers like the apostle Paul talk about the above tendencies and behaviors as "living by the flesh"; and he goes on to project that this way of being leads to destruction... self-destruction, and the ultimate failing of all the structures built to support this way of life. I agree with Paul. The well regarded advice that we should do to others as we would have them do to us is well taken. The other side of that coinage is that ultimately we do to ourselves what we do to others. We would do well to heed the wisdom inherent in this commandment. It applies equally to kings and peasants. Justice calls us to do right by each other. The Righteous Judge is no respecter of persons.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Time To Look Inward

Autumn... what a wonderfully exhilarating season of our lives!

 The changing hues all around remind us of the multifaceted nature of everything in our universe. They make us aware of the necessity to reevaluate all the many simplistic assumptions that go into the daily operation of our lives. This is a great time to take a new breath and look with clarity at the many relationships that we are part of.
This is a season in which we are reminded of the inherent beauty of nature. We look outside our windows and are inspired by the wonderful display of colors. Leaves become orange and yellow and red and brown and colors that, my wife will gently remind me, I am not able to name. Summer’s verdant green becomes a multi-colored display of the many wonderful hues that are always there, but seldom noticed. This is a great time to get away from the clutter of our congested lives. A leisurely venture into the the open country at this time of year is awe-inspiring.
Fall is indeed a time to turn inwards. It is an occasion to retreat from our “heat”, and reflect on all the ideas that we take for granted. It is a time to become aware of the inconspicuous parts of all our lives. Now is when we recover the truth that beauty is more than “skin” deep. This season presents us with an opportunity to repent of the snap judgments that too often sabotage our social discourse. By not doing so we render inconsequential the vital roles we play in each others lives and in the world around us.
And then the leaves fall. An oh so solemn reminder to us of the necessity to take inventory of ourselves. We can, and we must separate from ourselves those things that have become redundant. Let us let go of those rude attachments that weigh us down. Let us find again the strength to forego those superfluous conveniences that we allow to clutter our lives.
This is a season to unburden ourselves of the inessentials. This is the time to lighten our existential load. Take a moment to reevaluate your worries. Act now to separate the substantial facts of your life from the superimposed fiction that fogs and distorts your way forward. Recognize and reaffirm your truths. Assume a position of strength in your life. Expose and obliterate the falsehoods that can, and do corrupt your vision of a life well lived.
After Fall comes Winter. This is a season when many animals go into hibernation. It is a time of dormancy for many. Let us be aware that beneficial rest is always preceded by a process of unburdening and proper positioning. Fall provides this opportunity. Periodic renewal of ourselves during which we reposition ourselves as required, is a necessary prerequisite to growth and prosperity.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Courage Silences Fear

— If you do not know who you are… you will end up as someone else. If you do not know where you are going… you will end up someplace else. —
The statements above express the ultimate dilemma of a lost soul. In the truest sense of the word, life is a journey of discovery. The mantra of the soul in discovery mode… the soul that would claim his or her power to be, is courage. Contrary to the belief that many have come to assume to be true, there is nothing inevitable about our destinies. We have heard many people put forward the false notion that our journey and destination in this life is set. Some people believe that one’s fate is predetermined, and that there is nothing one can do about it. To live meaningfully we must divest ourselves of the untruth of such a way of thinking. As a way of effecting the release from such ideas, one must courageously apply oneself to the discipline necessary to do so.
Mantras are understood to be powerful words/ideas that we repeat verbally and in our actions. To adapt to the mantra of courage is to walk step by fateful step into a future full of possibility. It is to moment by moment; event by event, deny the hold that fear would have on us. Through the repetition of a mantra, the meanings and manifestations of the ideas we want to commit to are imprinted in our subconscious. In time they become the template for the change that we desire in ourselves. Through the daily practice of our mantric exercise we are able to create a new template by which we connect with our most deeply held intentions. This eventuates because we are actually inducing a deep connection with the Creative Spirit …the source of everything in the universe... God.  The more adept we become at connecting with this deeper consciousness of life, the more we are able to silence the ideas that are contrary to our most deeply held ideals.
A template of courage silences fear. The mantric exercise by which we replace thoughts of self-defeat with thoughts of self-fulfillment; strengthens our minds,  bodies, and wills to accomplish the higher ideals of the Creative Spirit. This practice trains us to quiet the noisy internal dialogue within with all its under developing cross-talk about who we are expected to be, and who we can be in the worrisome… sometimes ego-degrading opinion of others. We determine our destinies first and foremost by speaking and subsequently acting them into being. And so, to begin with, I tell myself that I am who I think and say I am. Subsequently, I will act in accordance with that logos …that creative thought/word. That word is always becoming flesh in my life…in my world. My ideals take shape and find expression in my daily experience. My thoughts become flesh and live all around me. I become who I say I am. 
Find your truest self. Cultivate courage. Silence the fear that keeps you from finding your way...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

FILLING THE EMPTY SPACES IN OR LIVES


Image result for oil lamps shining in the dark
There lived a wise farmer who owned a vast orchard of various kinds of fruits that were in high demand all year round in the surrounding towns. He had tended to his farm with great pride for many years with the help of his three children and a number of other employees who loved working for this wonderful gentleman. As a businessman he treasured the great benefits his farm enterprise had brought to his customers, and the prosperity that had accrued to himself, his heirs, and his employees.

After many years of hard work, the time came for this  well regarded farmer to retire. And so he gathered his three children around the family dining room table, his task being to choose the heir who demonstrated the greatest wisdom to continue the development and further the prosperity of his well known orchard. This decision would not be based on any favoritism, but on the demonstrated ability of his successor to resolve issues that would invariably arise - with wisdom. To this end , he gave the following task to his three children.

After telling them of his plan for retirement, he took from an envelop three crisp twenty-dollar bills, handing one to each of his children. "You are all familiar with the empty barn that stands between the old outhouse and the first line of apple trees" he began. They all nodded knowingly. In fact that barn had been a fixture of the farm long before they were born; and they knew it very well, it having been the location of many of their childhood ...and young-adulthood adventures. "Well I want each of you to use the money I have just placed in each of your hands to purchase something that that will fill that barn to capacity. I will be inspecting and judging your efforts, and the management of this orchard will go to the one of you who accomplishes this task most completely. This place is sacred to our family, and to the communities around us. It is my desire to see it continue to flourish under the wise management of the one of you who demonstrates the wisdom and the discretion that the task requires." To this they all agreed, and having clarified the outstanding details of their father's instructions, they sat down to dinner together.


Now this is how each heir filled the barn up...

The first to attempt the task went out and gathered a large amount of straw and dried leaves, which was then used to stuff the barn to what they thought was its capacity. So much was forced into the available space therein that the door could only be closed after the application of much force. Feeling very accomplished, the old farmer was then summoned with great excitement at the end of the day to come see the completed task. "And with what did you fill the barn?" he asked the first of the three to complete the task. "Well father, I used all the straw and loose leaves we could gather. I paid one of  the field hands to help me stuff the place, and I still have a dollar left over!". The old man thought for a moment, and then with a wry smile he said "OK then. Lets take a look at your effort in the morning and see how you did." By morning of course, the stuff had settled under its own weight... as it usually does. Thus effort number one came up short.

The second effort suffered a similar fate. In this case a large quantity of loose dirt which was slated for disposal was instead brought in, and with the help of "one of the men", used in the same way as the straw and trash to fill the empty space in the barn. Three hours of labor at minimum wage brought the project in under budget. The father was now more than a bit concerned, but he held out hope. He had spent time raising his children, teaching them the many things he had learnt throughout his life. He had faith that his efforts to meaningfully raise his three children would bear fruit. He was not to be disappointed. 

The third effort to fill the barn was nothing short of inspired. With the money given, a lamp was bought... Oil was bought for that lamp... And matches to light the lamp. As darkness fell on that day the remaining heir called his father and the other two siblings to the barn. Wondering what he could have done that was not already attempted, they all approached excitedly. By now it was dark. They entered the barn to find the glass lamp lit and hanging from a beam in the very center of the barn. Realizing the genius of this effort, they all smiled and embraced each other. The place was filled with warmth ... and  light. There was no doubt in any of their minds as to who the new steward of this orchard should be.

Our attempts to fill the empty spaces in us, and around us, will benefit greatly from thoughtful approaches that go deeper than the usual dirt and trash that we are often drawn to as solutions to the challenges we face. The progress and  prosperity we aspire to will come to us when we make ourselves available to the illumination that comes with Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding. It is this illumination that we will need as we seek to emerge from the dark places in which we will find ourselves from time to time along the many roads of our lives.