The Beloved Path

I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s. Deep South, Pensacola, Florida. Episcopalian Mother, Assembly of God Grandparents. My Father pretty much walked away from anything religious, be it practice or conversation.

Pop AM radio was my window to the world. Discovered the Beatles just as they broke up. Didn’t matter, bought all the records. The “hippie” movement for lack of better terminology, was quietly ingrained in my spirit. The spirit that said it was not only good to question things of life, but necessary. A spirit that said it was ok to take a different road. Looking back it’s easy for some to poke fun at the “hippie’s”, but aside from the natural missteps that come with pioneering, the spirit of that movement had a good, true heart.

My Maternal side stayed in the North after arriving in this country somewhere around 1631. My Paternal side approximately 1670, making their way through Virginia, North and South Carolina, and into South Alabama. Fear was a part of our spiritual lives. Part of the makeup that laid some of our foundation. While fear was alive, it wasn’t alone. Shame was there too. The Episcopalian side didn’t operate with as much fear, but the falling short brought shame. Pretty lethal combination.

Back to the “hippies” ! While much of my culture thought this new generation was cause for all the worlds ills, my Mother directly and my Father quietly tapped me into a deep belief in the goodness of people. To live and let live. They saw the spirit more than the outward appearance. That it was just a generation asking questions and drawing some lines in the sands of “it’s always been this way- so it’s the way it’s always gonna be”. My folks weren’t hippies by any stretch, but they shared an optimism that things usually work out well. They wanted my sister and I to enjoy the natural gifts of this life. The beauty and simplicity that God has created. Sounds a little commune-ish, doesn’t it !? Sounds like Jesus to me !

I was listened to by my elders. I was given a voice and they were quietly teaching me to use my ears. I don’t really know if this post has a point or if I’m just exercising a few old ghosts that seem to dog my trail from time to time. In the shadows of the upcoming elections, Car dealer ads in the morning, and media in general, it makes me wonder if listening and not just hearing is a part of culture anymore. Is someone else’s point of view honored at all. With the political process it seems like the headlines are something important, you know, those issues are what we want to sink our teeth into, but it all fades away after the last word of the headline. The body of the story is always nonsense. It’s shuck and jive, the old shell game. I wonder where conversation went to; whether it be about Gays, Right to Life, Republican, Democrat, Iran, Korea, Christianity, Native America, the list goes on and on. I really believe if you could sit quietly and talk with people that we’d find we are a hell of a lot closer to each other than we think. It’s the ones, the loud ones that garner TV time that divide us. This isn’t the depth of truth, but meant to be a place where the exchange of thought is made.

As I grow older and move around this beautiful circle of life I am seeing things from an angle that I never even knew existed much less would have believed in. It’s wonderful to listen. It’s a honor, for all of the ones we point fingers at, are all from the same Maker. Muskogee people call it the Beloved Path. They were right , it is. Paths have bridges not walls. Just trying to stay connected to and in harmony with the Creator, the Master of Breath.

Ok, as usual I don’t know how much sense all of that made, but also as usual, I’m not going to edit, and just going to let it slip on out there and hope one line, maybe just one resonates with someone.

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Dialog

Maybe one of life’s big questions is the on that that lurks in the backs of most our minds is “If we began a relationship with God, would it feel good?”. The answer is apparently not a given, right, or we’d all be signed up. I continue to have thoughts deepening in my spirit that believes we are all connected to God whether we like it or not. All we have to do is awaken and participate. That will have to wait for another post. Not everybody feels good about God. Most of us have not been allowed to have our own experience. We’ve only seen the Creator in the box in which we were given. I think we are all hungry to understand the big mystery, we’ve just never had the permission to ask the questions.

I hear controversy all the time. Who is right, who has never been right. Rob Bell has stirred a hornets nest and he is talking about the abundant love of the Creator. So go figure, but anything that is said will have another side to debate it. Like any of us are rarely right about such matters. I think we will all be surprised beyond our mortal abilities when we find out the real deal. What does it say? “The peace that passes all understanding”.

I had coffee with a friend this morning, and every time we get together, I walk away feeling so refreshed and full of light. We dialog. We discuss and we listen; really listen to each other. Listening is lost on most of us. This friend listens really well and it makes me feel like I then do it better. Point is, the dialog. The openess to question all that has been taught, all that has been passed on to us. To shake out the pieces that don’t fit and examine them.

But our spirituality, our journey isn’t static. Isn’t it ever evolving? Who feels about things at 50 the way they did at 15 or 25? Is anything really static? Doesn’t feel that way to me. If views and emotions are constantly growing and shaping, then dialog is key. We learn when we listen, we grow when we are challenged and the glimpses of peace are so wonderfully sweet when we find them.

The two things I left our coffee time with today were, being present and being awake. Two tough tasks for us over worked, over driven members of western society. To slow down and be present in any given moment, taking it all in, is an exercise of difficult proportion. And to be awake to our world and our emotions, and how we are in the world, is a complex notion, but a rewarding one, once the practice is begun.

So there we were two guys in their 50’s, talking of family, children, heritage, God, life, mystery and journey. Sharing our stories, listening, trying to remain as present as possible and to be awake to all that our Creator has for us in those moments. We were dialoging, freely, safely exchanging views and fears of life. Trying our best to shed a layer or two of the fear and shame that our cultures have laid upon our spirits.

It’s good to talk. To share. To dialog. When I find myself in conversations with people that know it all, I do give myself a pass on being present. Then that isn’t dialog at all. I want to say that we are not alone. That we are not the only ones having these thoughts. There are many of us in the human family digging for a truth, a view of our Creator that makes us feel connected. It’s ok to look at things differently, from a non traditional slant. Remember that the word tradition goes back to day one, and history and tradition are different things.

Anyone want to weigh in on this? Do you feel honest questions are a valid thing for us to do, or should we cling tightly to the tried and tested ways of the ones that came before us? Is there a middle ground; a way to do both. A way for each of us, with our remarkably different natures, to find peace and contentment with our beliefs?