The Reason Why…

To quote the old song, “Love is a Many Splendid Thing”.   It represents the greatest end in life.  Love has the ability to drive us to excellence and it also makes humanity act insane.  What power!  What promise!   No wonder people find themselves acting so irregular in elusive pursuit.  The crazies come out and march in lockstep with the possibility of becoming one with love.

Love is not something found by a logical journey nor through designated actions.  Our best efforts to capture it’s evasive hold finds us banging our heads in frustration.  The struggle leaves many so devestated they no longer function effectively in society.

Maybe the problem is that of common definition.  If there were a clear understanding of what love is then some confusion could be eliminated.  The problem is, to define something limits it and keeps that something from ever being completely true to it’s full potential.  Love is a lot like that.  It is not made to be understood instead it exists for the purpose of being experienced.

Love is not an object that is found for love is a true seeker not a hider.  Love looks for hearts that are willing recipients not demanding hearts that only look for fulfillment.  Love is not an emotional filler, it is a joiner of two beings into one.  Love does not create healthy beings from the unhealthy, instead love finds the healthy and makes them stronger.  Love is the great rewarder.

I find myself the very fortunate receiver of love.  I also find my desire to be a giver of love continually growing.  This I’m sure is a direct correlation.  Funny thing…the deeper love gets into your person the greater its need to be poured out upon others.

The sadness is greatest with those who have never participated in the complexities of love. Those who seek love only as a means to be appreciated.  One sided love is a lie.  Taking in love without giving it back is greed, it is selfishness personified.  True love is manifested when the joy of giving exceeds the pleasure of taking.

For many people their faith practice describes a loving God who is passionate about creation.  God greatly desires to become one with us and seeks to bring mankind into communion.  This love knows no boundaries.  It’s this kind of love that teaches how we are to likewise love others.  Let this love infuse your heart and the desire to be one with others then becomes instinctive.

“All you need is love”…to quote the Beatles.

Imagine the world that would create!

Love has taken me personally from the filth and despair I created with my life.  It has since provided me comfort and security.  It has formed a longing to expand my heart.  It has brought me back to life.  Love pushes me to new extremes.

Love to me came wrapped as a brunette named Maria.  What a gift.  I live with great thankfulness.

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Lesson on Oneness

My time spent as a missionary in the mountains of East Tennessee were very memorable.  It was an area that seemed separated from the rest of the world.  The people were terrific but very content with letting life continue as it always had been.  Change seemed, way beyond the scope of their reality. 

Part of my job was to visit the different churches in the area and speak about the project I was assigned to perform.  I tried to enlist churches to support both financially and physically the effort in the area.  So like a good politician I glad handed my way through the community overlooking the obvious differences.

There was this one church I was asked to attend that emblazoned a memory in my small mind.  This church was further away from town than most, past the railroad tracks and limited on its visits from outsiders.

As I walked into the church my focus was drawn to the object in the front of the church.  I had never before nor since seen anything like this.  I approached to determine it was what my mind told me.  A recliner.  It was an over sized recliner somewhat worn but sitting there in all its glory.  It took a period of time to accept in my mind this chair sitting there and eventually I moved on.

I went to sit in a pew only to be told I was sitting on the wrong side.  Again, I slowed down my emotions to listen to what was being told to me.  I was kindly told that the men sit on the other side as this one was for the women.  I tried to suppress my laugh as I thought they couldn’t be serious.  They were.  So I moved to the other side.  My mind told me I was in for quite a show today.

As the men settled on their side and the woman settled on there respective side a hush began to take over the sanctuary.  Almost as if on cue, the doors to the church burst open.  Sometimes life writes a better script than anything conceivable in the mind.  The sunlight burst forth through the suddenly opened doors.  It was extremely bright and an image appeared in the midst of this explosion.  Before I could see clearly this person, I heard him.  The breathing was so loud and so labored…almost like a creature in a horror movie.  Then one of the largest men I have ever seen began to shuffle in.  He had on overalls that contained a tee shirt that was two sizes too small and his feet where barely kept in a pair of worn out slippers.  I watched in amazement as he slowly made his way to the front of the church.

When he got to the chair found in the front he adjusted himself in an ungracious manner then dropped into the recliner.  It made a loud popping sound followed by a slow squeal as air was rudely forced out of the seat.  I sat there in shocked silence.  As the preacher moved to the pulpit I heard another unfamiliar noise and watched as the giant put his feet up and laid the chair all the way back.  My inside were screaming needing to release the hounds of laughter I tried to hold back.  I began to taste blood from my lip as I bit down trying to distract my thoughts.

This is beautiful…I am in the middle of something completely out of the ordinary.  It is in moments like these we understand life is found in the oddities of existence versus the ordinary.  I wonder if God was giggling ever so slightly as this unfolded.

I heard my name being called, yet my mind was elsewhere, when I snapped out of my moment the preacher was calling for me to open the service in prayer.  Finally, a moment of sanity…or so I thought.

As I began to speak I think I got out “Dear Lord, We” and then there was an explosion of voices shouting from every part of the church.  As I peeked to see what this commotion was I noted people were running around praying in what seemed like loud screams.  I stood in shock and considering what had happened already this was saying a lot.  I watched as these men and women tried to outshout each other and see who could last the longest.  It came down to two older men both who were starting to repeat themselves as new ideas and needs were running out quickly.  At last we had a winner, and when he finally said “Amen” he was so horse he could hardly be understood.  I shook my head and walked back to my seat as the preacher thanked me for my prayer.  HA…now that was funny.

Probably this story should conclude here as this is enough and your getting tired of reading my meanderings.  But you MUST hear about the preacher.

He began his message sounding raspy as a close runner up in the prayer derby earlier.  He was an “AHA” preacher.  For those not familiar with this style, it involves speaking (yelling) both while inhaling and exhaling.  This technique doesn’t let a single breath get wasted in the service of the Lord.  Which sounds terribly spiritual but in actuality is quite scary to listen to. 

The pastor got himself so worked up at one point he spit into the third row.  Fortunately it was the men’s side and no women were harmed in this act of worship.  Then it happened.  While yelling through an exhale he blew the largest booger I’ve have the bad fortune of seeing with my own eyes.  This booger grabbed his bushy mustache like it was holding on for its dear life.  Now boogers are never something to focus on and polite society allows one to wipe away such an exposure.  He had no need.  He just went on flailing about slapping his face each time he jerked suddenly to make a point.  Finally it dropped onto the pulpit and just sat there.  After what seemed like forever he reached over and grabbed that green goblin and wiped it on his pants. 

He finally ran out of inspiration and sat down in a weary heap.  I wanted to stand up and shout while clapping loudly.  This was great…this was fantastic.  Thank you..Bravo! Encore! This would surely be a church service I would never forget.

As I left the church there was a line greeting the pastor on the way out.  He went to shake my hand but I would have no part of that.  I gave him the biggest hug imaginable.  “Terrific”,  I told him as I skipped away in delight.

Probably to them I seemed weird and to me they seemed nuts.  I’m so glad there is room in God’s kingdom for us all.

AMEN.

Sometimes I Wonder

I am often accused of having too strong of an appreciation for my dog.  My dog is extremely bright, kind, and loving.  I’m prone to overly indulge my dog, even spoil him to an extreme.  He is so completely worth it.  My boy and me…we got a good thing going on.

His name is Buddyboy and he is the most handsome dog around.  He is attached to me in a manner that is just shy of unhealthy.  Seldom is he not found either lying next to my feet or resting his head on my lap.  He is a young dog with an old soul.  In many ways…otherworldly.  I try to encourage others to see my boy as something other than just a dog often with mixed results.

Buddyboy is a Chow and is by nature very territorial and protective of his people and palace.  He has taken the role of protector and friend to our Chihuahua Bailey and In-laws Pomeranian Bella.  He also keeps tabs on our two cats and the neighbors Yorkie.  It makes for quite a sight when his “pack” gets together.  They move en-masse around the neighborhood making sure everything is up to standard.

I feel like I communicate with Buddyboy in an ethereal kind a way.  It almost seems like I understand what he is thinking and he likewise understands me.  From an outsiders vantage point, our relationship is bazaar.  He is the ultimate Zen Master who acts with such calm and purpose and I am his willing student.

Recently, Bella decided to give chase to a car that happened to drive by our house.  Bella, being the fierce Pomeranian that she is thought any car that drives by without an invitation needs to be chased away.  Unfortunately the car didn’t see Bella and even with the screaming of adults to stop, she continued her charge into the path of the car.

All were fearful as to what was about to be witnessed.  Nothing could persuade her to stop and keep the inevitable from occurring.  This was to be a sad event.  Everyone felt helpless and watched with horror. 

Then seemingly out of nowhere came a dark flash that ran alongside Bella.  It was Buddyboy.  He managed to get himself between the car and Bella.  With a quick flick of his head he tossed Bella away from the oncoming car .  Bella rolled away from the road safely into the yard.  None the worse for the potential damage that surely awaited her.  Buddyboy just casually walked over to her as if to say, “you alright?”

Everyone just stood there in stunned silence not really sure they just saw this take place.  Buddyboy took care of his friend Bella risking his own life in the process.  He didn’t ask for any special acknowledgement or recognition, for him it was just a matter of doing the right thing because it needed to be done. 

I told you this dog was special! 

Not only is he a hero but also a teacher of profound spiritual lessons.  Just do the right thing.

Letting Go…

I’ve been reading a wonderful book called “Taking Jesus Seriously” subtitled, “Buddhist Meditations for Christians” by John Cowan.  This book isn’t an easy read, in fact, it’s very challenging to stay with it for any length of time.  There are those books that flow from thought to thought and make for an enjoyable, pleasant  experience.  This book doesn’t fit into that mold.  This book demands confrontation with self.  It doesn’t allow simple pat answers to the same questions asked ad nausium.  As far as being challenged this book makes the reader look at himself and the reason some beliefs are held sacred.  I both love and hate this book.

Below is a passage that caught my attention.  I think it is worth sharing…

…Most of us would wave off the fact that our body limits us as an issue not worthy of note.  But it is worth note.  That is the basic pain the Buddha sees.  This extraordinary spirit that we are is stuck with corns and back aches and hang nails, and is its heavy, heavy self.  Even on it’s best days this lump of clay does not move with the speed and grace that my soul hopes of it.

This is why I cannot pay attention in the moment.  I view the moment as too dull, boring, and worthless for my attention.  This moment is a burden.  And indeed it is.  I am sitting at a stop sign.  I don’t want to be here; I want to be at my destination.  I am driving my the van.  I don’t want to drive the van; I want to be driving my motorcycle.  I am taking off my coat I don’t want to be taking off my coat.  I want to be sitting down in a restaurant.  I am reading the menu.  I want the food to be on the table.

So I do not pay attention to all those irratating moments forced on me by my entrapment in a body and therefore my entrapment in time and space.  If I can come to accept this ordinary pain then I can live into these moments.  The stop sign flashes with glory.  The van purrs with power, rain bouncing off its solid roof.  My coat’s craftsmanship and warmth provokes thanks and admiration.  The menu is a small work of art providing a universe of memories of tastes and the excitement of the unknown.

I do not want to spend the rest of my life groaning about the fact that I have a body, but nether do I want to forget that this is a weight I bear.

This is one reason Jesus has a predilection for the poor and suffering.  It is that they know they are poor and suffering.  Those who do not mourn are not paying attention.  Mourning is a doorway to the dawn of reality.

To not see pain in my life is to edit reality.  It is to be seduced by a subtle form of delusion.  If I edit reality, I shall also edit out the reign of God.  If I close my eyes, I not only ignore the monsters, I also ignore the angels.  In order to love my body I must love it in its entirety, both as pleasure producing, and pain producing.

Learning to look pain in the eye, not desiring to be otherwise puts it in its place an allows me to move forward without fear.  Why am I not open to the Spirit?  Why am I afraid to abandon myself to the will of the Father?  I am afraid that the prompting of the Spirit will bring me down a painful path.  I’m afraid that God’s will will hurt.

Somthing to think about.

Momma Mia and Me

Recently, I took my family to see the movie “Momma Mia”.  This fact alone makes me very sad.  Not only did I enjoy this event I clapped with excitement and cried with sheer joy throughout.  That’s right real tears.  What has happened to me?  When did I become this sensitive guy bursting forth with so much raw emotion?  I really liked the stupid movie.  Momma Mia was a delightful romp filled with hope, passion, and unfulfilled dreams.  How did I come to even notice these things?  The true question is why am I even watching a movie like this in the first place? And secondly, why am I crying in a movie theatre?

Let me back up.  I am by nature a fan of sophmoric humor.  I like movies with big explosions and suprise endings.  Even though I am a pacifist I somehow relish movies with lots of guns and bad guys getting theirs in the end.  Sports movies with predictable endings used to provide me contentment.  Old black and white horror movies, bring em on.

I blame this raw edge of emotion on my children.  All five of them.  Along with my wife these six ladies have turned a grunting, scratching cave man into  a soft, caring, compassionate metrosexual.  For goodness sakes…I pee sitting down.  What kind of a man am I? 

Let me list some of these movies my girls have entreated me into watching.   When I say watched I mean repeated viewings over and over and over.  Hairspray, The Notebook, Steel Magnolia’s, Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle, Music and Lyrics,  geeez!  How come I haven’t convinced my girls to the hard edge drive found in Dirty Harry movies or the relentless pursuit of self on Cool Hand Luke or even justice Billy Jack style?

Maturing is a funny thing.  Along the way crazy things happen to what we once were.  If we’re lucky we become something that allows us to become comfortable in our own skin.  If we are truely lucky, we become someone that others desire to be close to.

I wouldn’t trade a single thing for the journey that has become my life.  Even the part about liking chick flicks.  The sacrifice of the “Blues Brothers” for “My Best Friends Wedding” or “Miss Congeniality”  seems small when I see the pleasure these movies bring them.

Isn’t bringing happiness to others a great purpose for life?  Even if it means a little changing.  Good News!  “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” is coming out soon.