Journey on

I used to have a distant thought that there were two events that really connected us as humans. We were all born and we all must pass. The “dash on the tombstone dates” as Kevin Welch calls it, is where we all went our own way. While some similarities and parallel roads occurred, we didn’t reconvene on the big stuff till the end.

Now I’m beginning to shape the idea that while it looks different for us all, the “dash” is the thread that connects those two events for us as individuals of course but also as the family of man. The children of one Creator/ Creation.

I think that “thread” is answering in our spirits, the questions of the big mystery, or thinking we need to have the answer. When Richard Rohr talks about the impossibility of successful dualism, I think of how we understand it in our minds but our hearts refuse to get on board. But our heart, our spirit, is the Creator talking and in that there is no duality. The duality comes from the Creator, our spirit wanting us to progress and grow but our humanity, our culture, religion, fear and shame tell us we don’t really deserve it.

Those that dare to step into the dance of the unknown, to trust the Creator have never said they have all the answers. In reality the deeper they step into the unknown it’s understood that answers aren’t the interesting part. Answers are no longer the desire. Reality and connection, then relationship comes from the journey. The ebb and flow, the tides of the spiral. That’s where the meat is.

If not having the answers keeps us questioning and trying to connect everyday then that is a much better spirituality than thinking you have the answers. Because if you do think you have the answers, then the tendency is to camp out there and also to begin telling others what the answers are. Even reading that back to myself seems ludicrous, yet we all have participated in that. But hopefully we will trust that the Creator is bigger than religion, bigger than culture and that answers were never meant to be the goal.

If you don’t agree and you want to hold onto your traditions as though they are the holy part, then that’s fine. I just hope you give others the grace to hold onto what they feel in their hearts is the breath of the divine. If you get too far away from your brothers and sisters you will only see what separates you, not the thread of hunger to connect with the wonder and holy that lives in all of us.

Many Native people believe that those closest to the Creator are the infants that just came from God and the old ones who are about to return. They have a peace about them. I hope I can live in that peace with enough time to enjoy it and for my children to see it.

Peace to you all. Aho

 

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Holy as a Handshake

It is a profound truth to me and one that has been circling in my mind for years, I just never found a way to say it as clear. I was talking with a friend the other day on this very subject. We were saying how, we as a human family tend to think of receiving something holy, only from God. In ways we are correct but I think where we mislead ourselves is thinking ‘holy moments’ only happen in church or when praying, or when talking to or about God. If the Bible is correct in this narrative when it says that God “is the alpha and the omega”, then to me that means the Creator is in everything, everywhere, all the time. And that all moments are holy.
If you give a Native American a cigarette it can just be a cigarette, but if you give him cigarettes or tobacco as a gift, then it becomes something holy. It’s the intention to which we act or receive. It’s how much we are paying attention to life; To the beautiful moments. How many of us are so struck by the rise of a new day that we stop and give thanks? New life, our pets, our elders, all offer wonderful opportunities for holy moments. Life has wonderful textures of scents and feels, all offering glimpses of the Maker, of God, of Wakan Tanka, of the Great Mystery!
I tend to find holy moments upon reflection or see them as so in a memory. I’m trying hard to recognize living in the moment, and finding holiness in those moments. Every human connection to other humans, to plant and animal life are holy. Every breath is holy and I should find thanks in every one of them. That sounds kinda crazy, right? That would mean I’d really have to pay attention ! Maybe I’m full of it, maybe some things are holy and some are not. What do you think?

Lead, follow or get out of the way

I was in a conversation with a friend recenty, when he said “ya know, I have liked most people I’ve met individually, but when they become the “collective whole”, not so much”. That has kinda stuck with me, chewing on it a little, trying to shape it.

It did make me think about us as individuals vs. society or vs. countries. I read a quote one time by Willie Nelson where he said something to the effect that “the worlds problems won’t ever be solved politically, but spiritually”. That’s a scary thought to me, because we are as individually as far apart “religiously” as we are politically. So, is it the case where we all want the same things? We all want, peace, love and harmony, but have different ideas on what paths leads us there.

Everyone I talk to, even the loud ones, when you get them away to a quiet spot, want the same things from this life. I believe that true around the world. Every parent wants their children to be safe. To give and receive love. What happens to that once it is shifted to our religions and our governments? It’s like everyone digs Jesus, but when you make that shift to God or religion, they are out. From personal to a system, in that space there, it all changes for some people.

I read a book once that said every single response we have in life stems from two thoughts; love or fear. does our personal DNA direct us to systems that house these two responses? some are of the “shoot first and ask questions later” stemmed from fear. Others dialog, and seek to understand other points. Love. do we shift from love as individuals to fear as a group, and respond accordingly?

Ok, so I sure don’t have answers here. Just kicking it around, trying for it to take shape in my mind. Then again maybe it’s just time to go have a cold beer, and let it all go. What do you think about this? Do you see shifts in people as individuals vs. groups?

How do you see it affecting the world? Is it the brokenness of man? Perhaps a small sliver of light reminding man that left to his own ego and devices will self implode !

Does Everything Belong?

Everything belongs. That’s the assertion by Franciscan Monk, Richard Rohr in his book of the same title. When the phrase of everything belongs came across my radar a few years ago, I applied it to things that I felt comfortable with. Does Buddhism belong? Does divorce? Job loss? Well that kind of list could go on for a long time with a certain amount of personal comfort.

I am currently reading “Everything Belongs” for a discussion group I participate in. We are digging into what “Everything Belongs” means and digging deeper into topics like rape. Does that belong? Does molestation or what is going on in Darfur belong? Do the behaviors and practices of the priests and nuns at American Indian boarding schools belong in a world where God is supreme and can “save us” from anything at any given time?

Big questions. Questions with not a lot of answers. Where does faith come into all of that? Is one to just trust that God knows best, or that we will understand someday on the other side? For me, those seem to be answers someone would give just to not have to think about it. Answers given from someone that has just checked their spirituality off as religion, as an insurance policy, and they go on with their lives. In some ways they are right. I believe there is a great amount of mystery we are supposed to live in. We, as a world continue to make choices, and progress forward reaching for equality, but at the same time, living and pursuing a faith of much mystery. Maybe we should embrace the mystery or they gray and let go of our need for control and our need to be right.

So, how would you relate to “everything belongs”? It’s a heavy question, and maybe it is easier to defer it to “all things work together for his glory”. I do know one thing. When one of those “everything belongs” moments is fleshed out in my personal life, I am doing everything I can to change it. To control it. To influence God. But I suppose that just what happens when we are busy being human. I do think there will be a great understanding one day. I believe we will understand such people as Hitler and Dahmer. I believe we will understand the atrocities committed upon indigenous peoples around the world.

This human experience is hard and confusion abounds much of the time. Is that where trust and faith comes in? I would think so. It’s a great question, “does everything belong”. Maybe it’s meant to just begin the dialog and not answer the question.

 

Please weigh in and share your thoughts.

The Scope of Prayer

Prayer

For something that most of us raised in a Christian tradition have done since we were small children, prayer sure can get interesting the older we get. At least it has for me. As a child, I prayed for my family, both on the earth as well as the ones that had crossed over. Prayed for safety and happiness.

I never thought that God hadn’t heard my prayers when something like a death happened. Never thought my prayers hadn’t worked. I didn’t really connect my prayers to the events that played out in my life. Then again for many years, my faith really hadn’t been a deeply connected component in the way I saw my world.

I believe now, I was working through the “religion” that had been passed to me. I was doing that with my spirituality as well as everything else that my forefathers had passed down. It was all passed down with love. It was all passed down in good conscious. There has been much I have held onto but there also has been much that I have shaped in different ways, as I see the world through a different lens than they did. They used their own lens as they viewed their lives differently from the generation before them. Once I granted myself that freedom to pursue my life and seek my own views of my Creator, I believe my life opened up significantly to the endless faces of God.

So, back to prayer. I moved through my stages of life to a form of prayer  which now consists mostly of thankfulness. Thankfulness for another day on the earth, to see creation with all of its colors; all of its smells and tastes. To live in the moment. To be present with each breath. I admit that when it really hits the fan though, I pray out for certain things to happen. For certain outcomes.

But it doesn’t entwine with my beliefs of not seeing God as a puppeteer. I don’t think he chooses the Giants over the Cowboys. I don’t believe he chooses one person over another in a car wreck. I don’t think he does any kind of “1,2. 3, you’re it” kind of thing. I think all of that stuff is the product of free will and we are to look for God in everything. Even in sadness. Easy to say, not so easy to do, and as I face bigger life challenges, I know I will point a finger or two.

That’s just the way I see it, here at 50 years old. Ask me tomorrow and I’m sure it will shape out differently. I hope so, as I hope my relationship with my Creator continues to shape and grow.

How do you see prayer? There is no right or wrong, only your journey and how it speaks to you. I hope you feel free enough to seek the Creator in your own way. If God is in everything, if he is the alpha and the omega, then he is in the eyes of the old. The touch of a child, and the hawk that floats on the currents high above. God is in the Palestinian, Buddhist monk, Catholic priest, Lakota elder. In the sunsets and on the wind. God is right there in every embrace and the wag of my dogs tail.

Where are you on your journey? We are all in this together. I’d love to hear about your experiences, and how you’ve felt that presence of pure love.

Wanted to add this. I’d posted this and then the first thing I saw on Facebook was a friend in Florida that is dealing with some type of tragedy with her child. To see all of the people sending her prayers was extremely powerful. And we are all praying for a certain outcome, for something good to happen. So like she said, go hug your children. Hug your family, heck, go hug the world as we are all in need of love and prayers. Pray Pray Pray in your own and honest way………………….



Shine A Light: R. Carlos Nakai

This post will have few words. Most times words aren’t the best way to convey emotions. I tend to think if someone can’t find the beauty in this music, then this isn’t the post for them. Give it a chance before to click to close this out. If you like it, go to itunes and purchase R. Carlos Nakais’ music.

Simple beauty. Finding peace in those simple things of life. Slowing down. Reflecting. Taking slow deep breaths, as you think of those you love; those that have gone before you; and the world as a creation…..We are all related…Mitakuye Oyasin

Labels

Nowhere in the lyric of Imagine, did Lennon say “Imagine there’s no God”. He was just encouraging us to imagine a world without all of the divisions and labels, and to be able to live as one. I guess that’s what turns us to a higher power, and left to our own devices we will build walls instead of bridges.

What’s in a label? I think there is much more than we think, as we sling those terms around. Simply because beneath the labels are people. Other humans living out their own human dramas amidst births and deaths; smiles and heartaches; alcoholics and Godaholics !

We all feel pretty justified in the labels we wear. And there’s a ton of them isn’t there?  Christian, White Collar, Liberal and bleeding heart liberal. Democrat, Tea Party, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Free Will Baptist. Anglicans, Cultists and Republicans. We divide and divide and divide till we are just plum wore out. I get being with people that feel and think like you do, but I know I have learned much more from my friends that think differently than I do. They stretch my mind and shed a light I had not seen, or perhaps didn’t want to see.

I have friends deeply embedded in conservative thinking, both politically as well as spiritually. Some people would slam the door on them, but in the end they really want the same things as any other group of people. Peace. They just want peace and a safe world for their children to grow up in. “How do we get there?”. That has always been the dividing line. When we see the line being drawn, we break out our bag of rocks and start lobbing them into their camps, with pieces of paper attached calling them every name to be thought of. Wow, no wonder societal progress moves slow.

Blacks vs Whites, rich vs poor, Native Americans vs Europeans. Mini Van drivers vs sports car drivers. Rock stars vs Country stars….God vs Godless…Heaven vs Hell….

But among the clutter and confusion of life, I really find that when you get someone alone and quiet, where ideas can be shared, not forced, then we see just how close we really are. The color fades, Denominations embrace, and political lines in the dirt get kicked into oblivion by someones shoe. When we look into another’s eyes, that is when the rhetoric begins to fall apart and you get to the root of a feeling, not just the reinforcement of the CNN or FOX news sound bites.

Frustration is everywhere, patience is the thinnest line we’ve ever seen, and we are desperately trying to find solid ground. A type of ground where we can rest and put up our swords.Where we can let go of the labels, the divisions, for deep in our hearts we know they aren’t right.

Where we can see the simple truth, that we are all in this together, and you ain’t taking none of your stuff with you when you go. We will arrive in the presence of the Maker just as we are. People. human beings, nothing more, nothing less. Loved equally.

Tell me where you are at with all of this. Especially those that might disagree. There are gonna be those out there that are comfortable with labels and division, and only hang out with folks that reinforce what they think. It’s ok, I want this to be an open forum for us all.