Archive for the ‘Awareness’ Category

I Stand In Awe

November 8, 2022

On my walk this morning. The moon is uncovering from the full eclipse. I took this photo with my iPhone 12. It’s as good as it gets. I should walk with my Canon, I guess, where I have more settings to play with.

I had a vision of the first human inhabitants in where I now live. We know what is happening with the alignment of the sun, earth, and moon. They would have wondered about some mystical force. We call this the “Blood Moon”. What would they have called it 1,400 years ago? I call it beauty.

We can explain how this event happens. We can look beyond the Earth to understand.

Sort of like how we need to look beyond ourselves to understand more about us and our relationship to God.

It Is All In The Pause

November 4, 2022

Through meditation, I journey deep within. Sometimes I see thoughts and actions which bring shame. Sometimes I’m presented with memories of being on the right path.

As I am the dispassionate observer, I also begin to see how God has been there. Sometimes as a path finder. Sometimes as a corrective influence.

The pause brings it all together. Life is nothing without the pause. The pause between  thought and speech. The pause between impulse and action. The pause to look within and find God meeting with me.

Church Walls

October 18, 2022

I drive the car into a parking space. I look at the building, the destination of the trip. Perhaps I will spend the day there at work. Perhaps I will make a sales call. Or try to solve an engineering problem. Or try to help someone in need.

Walls and a roof enclose the space. Outside where I am temporarily, nature and atmosphere and freedom. Moving inside everything changes. In there hierarchy, drama, politics engulf the spiritual atmosphere.

Madeleine L’Engle must have realized this. “Sometimes the very walls of our churches separate us from God and each other. In our various naves and sanctuaries we are safely separated from those outside, from other denominations, other religions, separated from the poor, the ugly, the dying.…”

I have felt that many times. When I enter one building and others from the community are entering another. And others enter buildings not churches. And others stay outside. And we are all separated by those walls. Wars have been fought with people killing neighbors because of which building they entered.

And I weep.

She writes further, “The house of God is not a safe place. It is a cross where time and eternity meet, and where we are – or should be – challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently.”

Some people lift a sentence from a letter of the Apostle Paul and rejoice in being separate. I’m not so sure Paul would rejoice. Reading his entire opus, the theme seems to be the desire to bring everyone together as followers of Jesus. And Jesus didn’t love the walls.

Kindness

October 4, 2022

In ancient times, the Temple was the place where God was present.

The Apostle Paul taught us that our heart is now the Temple where God is present.

We are to treat that Temple with reverence, taking care of its well being.

Jesus taught us that we should love one another—do to others as we hope they do to us.

The essence of that command in our daily life is kindness.

Show that God is within; be kind.

Are You Smart?

September 21, 2022

I picked these ideas up from Seth Godin. He is an acknowledged marketing guru. But his thinking is broader than that. An example follows.

Smart is no longer memorization. It’s not worth much.

Smart is no longer access to information. Everyone has that.

Smart is:

• Situational awareness

• Filtering information

• Troubleshooting

• Clarity of goals

• Good taste

• Empathy and compassion for others

• The ability to make decisions that further your goals

The good news is that smart is a choice, and smart is a skill.

This thinking applies broadly. People memorize great amounts of the Bible. Yet, nothing in their lives reflects any awareness of this knowledge. Jesus confronted the Pharisees of his time on this very point.

The question for us today. Where have we stopped with mere memorization? Where have we acted like someone “smart” putting the knowledge into action?

Content Within Our Own Skin

August 17, 2022

Walking through the Beatitudes in The Message translation. Here is the third one, which is akin to the first two.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

The theme of the first two of these theme points of Jesus’s talk concerned emptying yourself so that there is room for God to enter.

This one talks of emptying yourself of all the delusions you have about yourself. Maybe you think that within you are the seeds of being a gazillionaire technology entrepreneur. Maybe, on the other hand, you think that you are worthless–someone who can’t do anything.

Neither is true.

I was lying on the ground staring up at a circle of faces. Below one face was the body of a boy my age wearing boxing gloves. We were maybe 12. I also had on boxing gloves. I don’t think he hit me that hard, but I was down. At that moment I saw the entire scene as if I were above it. I saw the stupidity and futility of living with anger and fighting. More than likely that was the moment I became a pacifist and sought peace in life. Perhaps I was on the way to being content with who I was.

Jesus said that when we empty out the illusions, when we, as Scottish poet Robert Burns said to “see ourselves as ithers see us,” then, at that moment, we own that which cannot be bought–God.

Waterfall in Iceland

August 15, 2022

I have lots of words running around through my head. But, we grabbed a holiday in Iceland last week. We contemplated ocean waves, geysers, and waterfalls. Here is a waterfall from southwestern Iceland. What can I add?

Waterfall from Thingvellir in Iceland

Debilitating Power of Stress

July 21, 2022

I have lived through many stressful times. For some, the pandemic and economic slowdown may be their first. Some feel stress constantly from just trying to survive.

Check the Christian scriptures. Jesus dealt with daily stresses, but then there was the night before he died when he was sweating blood. He could see what was ahead. That’s stress.

Or Paul having rocks thrown down at him and escaping a city in the dead of night hoisted over the city wall and running away. And other pillars of the faith like James and John and Peter. They all experienced times of great stress.

Yet, the message of them all was founded on the fruit of the spirit that included peace, joy, calm.

Living in the spirit and experiencing that fruit is often not easy. Stresses large and small eat away at our inner balance.

Even so, follow their example of periodic withdrawal to have silence and alone time with God heals. Awareness of God’s surrounding presence helps us through those times.

We must not neglect intentional time to connect. Probably more often than five minutes every morning.

Knowing Your Soul

July 8, 2022

Every time there is an incident it happens. For every politician or executive in the news, there it goes again. For when the crazy neighbor complains again on the community Facebook page. For all of these, we (and the crazy media) love to speculate about the psychology, the inner thoughts and fears, the soul (or lack of) within that person.

I picked up this thought from the writer Virginia Woolf, “We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others.”

Yes, hubris pops up everywhere. Hubris, that feeling that we know everything about everything. We can psychoanalyze anyone from a distance. We can know the state of someone’s soul by reading about them on social media.

We assume we’re OK. We assume we’re not OK. Either way we are wrong. And right.

Our actions reflect the state of our heart. If we were to step back from ourselves and look at our actions as though we are outside our bodies, what would we see? Would we look like someone who possesses the heart of Jesus? Would we look deranged? Do we really know enough about ourselves to pass judgement on another?

Probably not. There is where our work lies.

Equanimity

July 7, 2022

I found a new word to learn and apply. Equanimity.

This appeared in a book describing characteristics of the various Enneagram types. Evaluations I’ve taken are somewhat conflicting sometimes typing me as a 4 and sometimes a 5. Reading through this latest book, The Road Back To You, I’ve settled on typing myself as a 4 with a strong 5 wing. That may not mean much, but 4s tend to have more mood swings. You can’t always tell mine from the outside, but sometimes this writing reveals them.

So the author, Ian Morgan Cron, brings out this word for 4s–equanimity. “Fours need to cultivate what’s called equanimity, a sorely ignored virtue in the Christian tradition. Equanimity refers to the ability to remain emotionally composed and steady regardless of what’s going on around us.”

People almost everywhere in the world live on a diet of social media and biased TV news specifically designed to unbalance us emotionally. We too easily get sucked into the vortex of hyped up emotions. Some people thrive (emotionally and financially) on being perpetrators.

We, the recipients, must cultivate this virtue called equanimity. We need a daily (hourly?) reminder.