Thursday, March 31, 2011

Today is Thursday


Good morning, dear ones far and near.  Winter had not quite released it's grip on us here in Carolina, though Spring has been teasing us with her presence for several weeks, with everything in bloom. For the past several days, however, nighttime temps have been dipping into the 30s, with daytimes only in the upper 40s and filled with chill rain.However, we need the rain...and the redbuds seem untouched by the cold...dogwoods still hold the promise of blooming soon...and trees are budding leaves everywhere i look. 

Counting my blessings this morning, as I snuggle under my down comforter, waiting for the heat to warm the house. First and foremost, i count each of you...for the beauty and richness and companionship you bring to my life...my precious family, most especially my dear children and the grand grands who color my life with joy and delight, with love and support and encouragement.

Then, of course, there are my comfortable house and bed, the dependable heat, and a refrigerator and pantry down in the kitchen, stocked with food. Add my HD radio which brings me classical music whenever i want it, as well as the news of the world, whether i want it or not...my computer, which these days mostly helps, confounding and frustrating me less and less...my car which, being a hybrid, is keeping expenditures on gas to a managable level in these days of rising prices...my stacks of books-to-be-read as well as those already read, a ready source of information and entertainment...

I could go on and on, but you get the idea, i think. Gratitude fills my heart this morning, as i await the rising of the sun, which is, i've discovered, a good way to begin my day. Gratitude crowds out complaint, resentment, discouragement...leaving no room for them. Gratitude opens my heart to compassion for those in need, for those in pain. 
gratitude
It isn't about being
                 somewhere else...
It isn't about having
                 a different life...
It isn't about being
                 problem-free...
It isn't about changing
                 anything...
                 except your perspective...
                 stepping back and seeing
                 all you have & are through
                 thanks-filled eyes...
                       and realizing
                               IT IS ENOUGH.    
And so i enter my day in this contemplative frame of mind, breathing in the early-morning peace, in the hope that i can carry this awareness with me throughout the day...that i can LIVE what i say i believe and value...that i can be truly grateful for every moment, every breath, whatever befalls. May gratitude breath through you today, dear ones; may joy and hope surround you; and may you know, without any doubt, that you are loved.
love, linda


re-valuing...
What values do I live by,
really? Faithfulness to
friends...care for family...
maintaining connections...
living in thankfulness...
and a lot of other “stuff”
I SAY I value, but don't
LIVE as if I do...
Keep my feet on the
path, O God...push, pull,
prod me, for I am indeed
like that wayward sheep
who strays from the path,
believing greener pastures
lie over the next ridge,
unaware that danger also
lurks there- alluring,
seductive, waiting to
pounce upon my unaware,
unsuspecting heart.
Help me to LIVE the things
I say I value, I believe...
help me to BE the person
I most want to be, the
person I have been created
to be. Grant me the grace
to accept my failures &
foibles...to rejoice in my
blessings & blessedness...
Open my eyes & heart
to the wonder of life's
journey, to the miracle of
every step & misstep...
Companion me, Mother
God, and grant that I may
companion others along
the way, sharing this
journey with my fellow
pilgrims in love & awe &
gratitude.
     Let it be so-
     let this be my path
      today.         

Monday, March 28, 2011

Seventy Years and Counting...

It was the best sort invitation from a dear friend in Pennsylvania, asking me-and other friends- to send cards to her parents in April in celebration of their 70th wedding anniversary. Seventy years! It absolutely takes my breath away, especially since i will never even know the joy of celebrating 25 years with the same man. Seventy years! It nearly stops my heart to contemplate it...

Two marriages have been part of my life...the first ending after a mere 12 years with the untimely death of my young husband at age thirty-seven; the second ending after 14 years with a divorce when that husband decided i was no longer the person to whom he wanted to be married. That marriage ended in 1994, and in the intervening years- seventeen years, to be exact- i have not been in a relationship with a man. Not complaining, you understand- just acknowledging. 

Sometimes the lack of a partner has been hard...and i have experienced a longing for which words seem inadequate- though as a poet and wordsmith, i have tried. Occasionally, the lack of physical contact has brought out a longing in me which some might find unseemly in a woman nearing seventy years of her own. But other times, i have found that the single life can have deep meaning, especially when i keep myself open to the many gifts life still holds for me...especially when i see the many couples struggling to hold it together over the long haul...especially when half of all marriages end in divorce... 

But when i think of Charlie and Margaret and their seventy years, i admit to a deep and abiding envy, even as i send them my deep and abiding love. 

(written a couple of years ago)
honest reflection...
I have longed- for years- for a
man in my life...one willing to see
and love all of me...who would
accept and cherish the broken
person I really am...
but at sixty-seven, I have
pretty much convinced myself-
and accepted- that this will
never, ever happen.
And so, a piece of my heart
is broken...lying in wait for
love's true breath to bring it
back to life...to restore it to
full health...

Yet I cannot lie in deep
mourning for long. Life is
too lovely...the birds sing, the
sun rises, the violets and azaleas
bloom; a stranger at the deli
counter speaks with delight about
finding blouses she loves at
half-price, and the hairnet-topped
woman behind the counter
waits on me with a smiling
countenance, offering her kind
benediction- "Have a blessed day."

I who have so much-
I who want for nothing-
I who have never been truly
   hungry or without a place
   to lay my head-
I who can walk and talk and think-
   how can I complain of lack?

Yet- if I am to be completely
honest- I carry a bereftness
deep within...a sense of wanting
something more...
   which is perhaps the reason
    I seek God...                    


(written earlier this year)
ecstatic longing
my body aches for love's
sweet touch, not felt
for seventeen long years

i know- a woman my age is
not supposed to yearn for
the sweep of passion's wave,
much less confess the
longings of my body
and my aching heart
the height and depth and breadth
and soaring, breath-catching
emotion reserved for the young-
or at least younger

but, i confess,
my body aches for just
one more moment of
sweeping ecstasy
                                                                 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Morning Musings

Mind meandering in many and varied directions this morning, as i watch the lightening sky, aware that my body has still not adjusted to this change in time, flatly refusing to awaken when the clock reads 5:30, and insisting on sleeping until 6:30, the real 5:30...sun-time. Just can't believe this upheaval of circadian rhythms is worth it, but that's only my two-cents' worth...i know others who greatly enjoy and appreciate the "extra hour" of sunlight at the end of the day.

Which leads me to another reflection on difference and differences...

creative differences...
difference does not have to mean d   i   v   i   s   i   o   n
creativity emerges from differences...
      coloring outside the lines...
      refusing to connect the dots in order...
      thinking ouside the proverbial box...
      dancing to the beat of a different drummer...
new ideas
different solutions
re-birth.
      is this perhaps why we often find it
      so threatening?
                         i wonder...

And the mind meanders yet again, as i wonder how many others found some irony in the fact that it was near the 8th anniversary of the war in Iraq (March 18, 2003) that we became involved in yet another conflict- this time in Libya. Oh, i know...no ground troops...no real "war"...but what, then, do we call bombing? And just whose interests and welfare are we protecting, anyway?

Another dog-leg in the road my mind is taking this morning...as i realize that all of my morning readings are talking about the birds...even as i listen to the wren outside my window singing with great gusto in preparation for the rising of the sun.
   "Regard the birds," said the carpenter from Nazareth.
   "We, like birds, are meant to fly and sing- that's all- and all our plans and schemes are twigs of nest that, once outgrown, we leave." writes Mark Nepo.
   "God sends ten thousand truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away" said Henry Ward Beecher.

And last evening at our discussion group at church we talked about the ways in which birds seem to live in the NOW, to fulfill their destiny as birds without the angst and navel-gazing and soul-searching of we humans...simply doing what they were created to do, being what they were created to be...and doing it beautifully, i might add. Would that we could learn from them to be far less anxious about our own lives, about our own plans, about our own successes and failures.

May i take yet another turn on this road we're traveling together this morning?
Some words of wisdom from Joan Chittister, which she attributes to her mother:  " Of two possibiities, always choose the third." Don't you just love it? Speaks strongly to my stubborn, indepedent streak...and it seems to bring my musing full circle, back to difference and creativity and living life as fully as possible, fully aware that the path i walk will be my own, even as i welcome companions now and again, fully aware that we will each experience it a bit differently and celebrating the fact that those differences are what give light and meaning and color to the warp and woof of this life tapestry.

May your day be beautifully and creatively colorful. May you honor and celebrate your own beauty, as well as the beauty of others you meet. May you live each moment fully, aware it will never return again. And may you know with deep certainty, that you are loved...even when it doesn't feel like it.
love, linda

P.S. Just for Nancy, i'm sharing this writing from Life Lines. 

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.
-Emily  Dickinson
sick to death…
“I am sick to death of it…”
an expression we use…
       SICK TO DEATH…
though we don’t mean it
literally, do we? not really…

But what about when life has no
meaning, but death is too frightening?
Then those hurting ones become
the walking wounded…
                   the living dead…
                   like the old horror movie,
                      “Night of the Living Dead”…
         
Have you ever felt like that?
Well, I have…unable to see the light…
life one long, dark night…
feeling more dead than alive.
But NO ONE KNEW!
How could I be walking around
bleeding…totally dis-membered…
    and NO ONE KNOW?

Why did no one else know I was
coming apart?
Was I totally invisible?
Or did I do such a good job of
covering up my wounds?
    and WHY did I?

Because people were depending on me
     to help them…to heal them…
and after all, no one wants their ‘savior’ to
be wounded…to be hurting…and if they are-
well tough! Suck it up!
    I want you to tend to my wounds, they say…
                        take care of me…

Perhaps that’s why so many people
avoid church on Good Friday…their
‘savior’ isn’t supposed to bleed & die…
isn’t supposed to cry out in pain…
isn’t supposed to feel forsaken.
So let’s run past the ugly cross
with its pain & suffering…let’s
run to glory!
       to sunlight!
       to triumph!

But the truth is, the hard truth,
the dark, painful truth,
the walking-through-the-fire truth…
           you have to die
           before you can be
           resurrected…
           re-born…
                and I am sick to death.




             

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Spring!

Greetings, dear ones, on this lovely fully spring morning! The sun is promising a beautiful day, though i believe we're supposed to get some showers later. But nothing can dim my spirits on this glorious day, as last evening, my friend, mae, and i confirmed our flight to Kenya in July. Hallelujah!!!! Step one accomplished in this lengthy process of putting a 5-week trip together. Oh, for those of you who did not know, i'm returning to east Africa this summer with Mary Martin of the Nyanya Project to visit our present projects and begin work on at least one more. And i'll get to see the amazing women i met last summer, to see the lovely children at our preschool in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya, and to experience the incredibly gracious hospitality of the African people. Do you get the idea that i am excited?!

Spent some time this morning reading about "Differences" in Uncommon Gratitude. If you have never encountered the writing of Joan Chittister, i commend it to you. She is deeply spiritual at the same time as being wonderfully practical and inclusive. May i share a few of her reflections with you, for your mornng consideration? We live in a "copycat" society, Joan muses. (i remember when "copycat" used to be a term of derision when i was a kid...no one wanted to be accused of that! it meant you had no originality, no imagination! wonder when that changed...) Most human beings find difference very threatening and wear sameness like a security blanket, since sameness makes us feel accepted and secure. However, it is in the DEVELOPMENT of our differences that we thrive...in our respect for the differences of others that we grow.

From the Maxims of Syrus: When two do the same thing,
                                               it is not the same thing after all.

(you wonderful artists out there know that, don't you?)

It's important to remember that different isn't bad...it is only DIFFFERENT. Differences broaden us, make us think differently about the world, cause us to ask questions, enlarge our perspective, increase our understanding...if we let them. They cause us to ask ourselves what is really important in life, what really must have priority. They challenge our small assumptions about the world; they open our respect, widen our acceptance, and deepen our appreciation. And so, with pen in hand, i wrote...

Don't
Isolate yourself
From a sense of
Fear or
Entitlement, but
Rather allow differences to
Enlarge your perspective,
Noticing as you do that they
Challenge your assumptions and
Enlarge your view of the world, realizing your
Small slice of life is not the whole loaf. 


May your Tuesday be wonderfully full of hope, joy, peace, and meaning. May you rejoice in the differences you find before you. As i sit here picturing each one of you, i am overwhelmed with thanks for the amazingly beautiful variety of colors you represent and present...a veritable Crayola box of hues, making my life a painting of riotus color! May you KNOW your value; may you honor the value of every "other" you encounter...and may you know that you are loved. love, linda

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sigh...Sunday...

Well, dear ones far and near, the supermoon did not materialize on the horizon here due to cloud-cover. And though i watched and waited, i could finally only see Lady Moon about an hour later, through the trees in front of my house, and then again early this morning, through the back hall windows. No "supermoon"...just a lovely full moon like so many i've seen and enjoyed and appreciated over the years.

But that's the way of life, isn't it? So often we build up our expectations and when the event finally happens, the purchase finally made, it just doesn't measure up. So...what has gone wrong? Perhaps, in reality, nothing...except that we, in our desire for the "special", have failed to see and understand that we can view whatever happens with eyes of joy or eyes of judgment...the choice is always ours.

May your Sunday truly be a sabbath for you, filled with beauty and rest and good company. May you know that you are held in heart and prayer, and above all, may you know that you are loved. love, linda

from Life Lines by Linda Faltin
  
moon musings
Full moon...a glorious
reflection of the sun's light
on a lifeless piece of rock,
moving around our larger
piece of rock rotating on
its axis, following its course
around our life-giving star,
and all of it moving
through space to who-knows-where?
Who watches?
Who knows the course,
the trajectory, the destination?
Far too complex to be
mere chance, even the chance
of quarks & quirks...
and I bow my head & my heart &
my mind & my knee to the
Greater Immensity I call
GOD.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Slow-Moving Saturday

somewhere...
somwhere a mother is grieving her
   child lost in the tsunami
somewhere a young man is grieving his
   friend, killed in a senseless shooting
somewhere an elderly woman is grieving her
   children, dead from AIDS
somewhere a child is grieving the
   inability of his parents to pay school fees
somewhere a man is grieving the
   loss of his job as his company downsizes
somewhere the relentless tide of poerty
   is killing as surely as the tide of the
   Japanese tsunami
somewhere the comfortable sit and contemplate
   what they will do today-
   while worlds away, the poor and stricken
   wonder how they will get through
                                           another day.

And so Saturday begins...as i sit here in my comfortable home, knowing i will have enough to eat today, i will be safe and warm,
i will have a comfortable place to sleep, i will be able to choose how i spend my time. Am i ever really grateful enough for those gifts, i wonder? Perhaps, for those of us not directly affected by the earthquake, the tsunami, by the depths of poverty, (though of course we are, in the interconnectedness of all people, but you know what i mean) the "gift" of such events is to heighten our awareness of just how fortunate we are- not by virtue of anything we have done, by any merit on our part, but simply by where we have been born, where we live, by the circumstances of life beyond our immediate, individual control.

And it has nothing whatever to do with God's favor...let's lay that old heresy to rest once and for all. If my life is good, it is not because God has chosen to bless me more than someone else; rather, it is because i have taken the gifts of my life- my talents, my abilities- and honed them for use...ever mindful that where i was born and to whom has impacted that ability forever. Guess i'm not saying this very well, but i'm frankly baffled at how we can justify prejudices of all sorts to ourselves by falling back on "the will of God". Sorry, but i don't think God "wills" poverty- or earthquakes or tsunamis or traffic accidents or any of the tragedies which regularly befall human beings. The God i have come to know is LOVE and wills LOVE...and though we have the capacity to love, too often we fall back on our need to grab and grasp, to have security, to fear the other, to hold the stranger at arm's length, to slide into violence when we feel what we have is threatened. WE do this...so how can we blame the squelae on God?

Okay- enough sermonizing on this lush and beautiful, blooming day.
Actually, i am filled with joy as i contemplate lunch with a dear friend, knowing that my three "big kids" will be getting together in Charlotte for some "face time"...and tonight, the "supermoon"- here, cresting the horizon about 7:30p.m. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for all of you, yet overflowing with pain for the people of Japan and my grandmother friends in Kenya, thankful it is big enough to hold all of the conflicting emotions and still go on beating. May your day be beautiful...filled with meaning...filled with laughter...the presence of friends...all the hugs you need...and may you always know that you are loved. love, linda 

Friday, March 18, 2011

TGIF

As many of you know, dear ones, i spent nearly a month last summer in East Africa with The Nyanya Project, and much of my heart remains there with the wonderful people i met in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda...people whose lives have been impacted by HIV/AIDS in ways we here in the U.S. cannot even imagine. In our country, AIDS has virtually become a chronic disease, with ready access to ARVs (though they still tend to be expensive, but that's another story...), but in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS has been having an impact which will be felt for generations.

I know the eyes of most of us glaze over when we are presented with statistics, but i invite you to put these numbers into some perspective.
We have all been captivated and horrified by the recent events in Japan. News stories tell us nearly 6500 are confirmed dead, with more than 10,000 missing- and that may be a conservative estimate. I simply cannot imagine having to face the devastation and rebuilding that will need to be done in the coming months, years. And we here in the United States remember vividly Sept. 11, 2001 when more than 4000 of our citizens were killed in the terrorist attacks on our soil,
both of these events devastating, and forever etched upon the minds and hearts of the people who experienced them.

But imagine, if you can, 6000 people dying EVERY DAY of a treatable, preventable disease. This is what HIV/AIDS is doing in sub-Saharan Africa. This is nearly twice the toll of 9/11 and almost as much as the present death toll in Japan...but it is happening EVERY DAY!

Now, lest you think that i am in any way minimizing the devastation, loss, and emotional tribulation of either 9/11 or the earthquake in Japan, be assured i am not. The people of Japan have been in my thoughts and prayers ever since the quake and tsunami happened. But my heart remains with the grandmothers i have met, caring for their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren...women who have lost 1 or 2 or 3 or more children to the disease...women who have worked all of their lives and now, in old age, instead of being cared for, have taken over the role of "parent", "caretaker", "support" for their grandchildren, often having as many as 7 or 8 of them of varying ages in their small homes. And lest you think this is an insignificant problem, here are some more statistics:
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS orphans account for 10-12% of ALL children.
  • Of the 16 million AIDS orphans worldwide, 14.8 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • And the reality is, if it were not for AIDS, most of these children would not have been orphaned.
So, even as you remember the people of Japan, lifting them up and giving whatever emotional and financial support you can, remember the quieter catastrophe which continues to happen on a continent few of us ever visit, about which few of us think, about which far too few of us really care. Remember, if you will, women named Eunice and Beatrice and Devota and Martha and Mary and Emmanuela whose every day is filled with the difficult reality of leaving their heavy grief behind in order to feed, clothe, house their grandchildren...women whose greatest hope is to keep those grandchildren in school so that a better life might be in store for them. And in the midst of all this, if you have food on your table, a roof over your head, a comfortable bed in which to sleep, clothing to wear, and a bit of money in your pocket, don't forget to consider yourself among the wealthy of the world...don't forget to give thanks...and don't forget to remember. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No Quiet Old Age for South Africa's Grannies

No Quiet Old Age for South Africa's Grannies
Dear ones, to read this article which tells a great deal about why i am heavily involved with The Nyanya Project, a non-profit which helps grandmothers like these learn practical skills so they can support their grandchildren who have been orphaned by AIDS, simply click on the above link. And to learn more about The Nyanya Project, please go to our website: http://www.nyanyaproject.org/

A Green and Glorious- and Thoughtful Thursday

Top o' the mornin', dear ones. The yard outside is St. Patrick's Day green, thanks to recent rains, and with temps promised near 70 today and tomorrow, spring will truly be "busting out all over".

Things of a more serious nature rattling around in my mind this morning, though. In light of the news on NPR, i've been thinking about Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima...nuclear power plant disasters all, the first 2 caused by human error, the latest by an act of nature. What all three have in common, it seems, is government cover-up about the severity of the problem And this says to me that all too often our leaders do not sufficiently trust the people they govern to handle the truth with equanimity and wisdom instead of terror and panic.

Are they right, or just arrogant with the arrogance power too often imbues? Truth...openness...integrity...congruence...respect- are these too much to expect from those in our governments, especially from those duly elected by the people? And when did "we the people" stop expecting, demanding them? I wonder...

A wonderful quotation from one of my morning books, The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo spoke loudly to me this morning:
     There is a great battle raging: for my mouth
       not to harden and my jaws not to become like
       heavy doors of an iron safe, so my life may
       not be called pre-death.  -Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai

To look or not to look at the problems and realities of this world;
to see or not to see. Those are the questions i find myself faced with, WE find ourselves faced with, dear ones. How much do i really want to see/know...and yet how can i turn my back? How can you? How can any of us?

Heavy matters- and yet, the sun is shining brightly and the birds are singing gloriously and the flowers are blooming beautifully and life is a gift- every moment, every day...totally a gift for which i have to breathe a "thank you", even in the face of the difficulties, the pain, the anguish, the seemingly-insoluble. I wish for you a lovely St. Patrick's Day, especially if you are Irish. May the hours ahead be filled with the company of good friends, the satisfaction of work well-done, and the comfort of a warm bed at day's end. And may you know, every moment, that you are loved.
love, linda

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Wet Wednesday

A wet and windy Wednesday morning to you all, dear ones, wherever you are. Sitting here in my little rattan chair, waiting for the sun to rise, or at least for more light to appear on the horizon, my mind is filled with images great and small, sad and hopeful, dreadful and lovely...the devastation which continues to rock Japan set alongside the very real progress being made by my son, Paul, as he negotiates his way out of depression and hopelessness with the help of medication, therapy, and loving support. The scary news of the seemingly-overwhelming problems with the Japanese nuclear power plant set beside the blooming of daffodils and forsythia and Bradford pear trees and tulip magnolias throughout our small city. Oxymoronic images, it seems...and i can let them pull me into despair, bounce me into elation, or i can dwell with them, one at a time, letting each wash over me, enter into me, so i can hold and consider and FEEL what each one engenders within me. It takes time, doesn't it, this business of living life?...of permitting yourself to understand that you are part of the whole, the cycle of life which is continually unfolding...to know, to believe, that what affects one affects all... that knowing empathy and compassion are conditional on taking the time to FEEL what you feel and dwell with it for a while.
 As the sky becomes ever lighter and i can see down into the yard where the violets are beginning to bloom, i am thinking of each and all of you, holding you in my heart, and wishing for you a day filled with precious moments of pause...of peace. May you find purpose and fulfillment, and if you fail and fall, may there be someone to pick you up, give you a hug, and send you on your way once again. Most of you, may you know you are loved.
love, linda

taking time
The images race across
the TV screen...sound bites
barely allowing time for
one to sink in, to be felt, to resonate,
before racing on to another...
discombobulating my thoughts,
my emotions, my reactions...
the rip tide of what i see bearing 
me along with my head barely above water,
swimming for my life!

Oh, for the sound of the singing wren,
the swaying branches of the maple tree
outside my window, the slow, lovely
lightening of the eastern sky...
oh, for the deep, gentle sound of my
breath, reminding me of life's presence...

BEING ALIVE TAKES TIME...
attention...breathing deeply into
the present moment with its thoughts
and feelings, and abiding there,
instead of racing on to the "next thing"
whatever that might be.
HERE is where i am...
NOW is what i know...
Let me dwell in its reality-
its pain and sorrow as well as its
joy and delight- for a time...
Let me stay...breathe...open...
experience...appreciate...
Beig alive- fully alive- takes time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Musings on Faith...

Dear ones, with the on-going tragic news from Japan, more deaths, continual aftershocks, the meltdown at the nuclear plant, i have heard any number of people reflecting that "God" should do something...wondering why "God" caused the earthquake and tsunami to happen. And it has made me wonder yet again about this thing we call "faith"...what it is and is not.

This morning, i began a thought-provoking little book by Sister Joan Chittister and Archbishop Rowan Williams, Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All that Is and found that the very first chapter was entitled "Faith". The words of Joan Chittister rang so true with me as i read that i happily share them with you with the hope that they will provoke thought...reflection...discussion.

   The fact is that it might well be that deep down we are still substituting a kind of magic for faith. God we make a cornucopia of human desires, a vending machine of human delights. We coax God to be on our side and call it faith. We cajole God to save us from ourselves and call it devotion. But those things reduce God to some kind of popular puppet...

   The truth is that faith requires the awareness that God is and that God is holding all of us responsible for the other...We do not have the right to loose havoc on the rest of the world in the name of the God we have made in our own image. It is not getting the rest of the world to think and worship as we do that qualifies as real religion. It is giving ourselves for the welfare of the rest of the world to which we are called...

   Faith is belief that God is leading us to become in tune with the universe, however different we see ourselves to be.
   Faith is belief that the God we call "our God" is either the God of all or cannot possibly be God at all.
   Faith is confidnce in darkness, for the willingness to trust in the deep-down humanity of others as well as in our own may be the deepest act of faith we can possibly devise.
   Faith is the willingness to see God at work in others- in their needs and ideas, their hopes and plans- as well as in ourselves.
   Faith is the certainty that God is working through others just as certainly as God is working through us for the good of all humankind.

   ...faith is not about understanding the ways of God. It is not about maneuvering God into a position of human subjugation, making a God who is a benign deity who exists to see life as we do. Faith, in fact, is not about understanding at all. It is about awe in the face of the God of all...

   Faith is about reverencing precisely what we do not understand- the mystery of the Life Force that generates life for us. It is about grounding ourselves in a universe so intelligent, so logical, so clearly loving that only a God in love with life could possibly account for it completely...
   Faith in what we cannot control, do not see, cannot understand destroys the idol that is ourselves. It is only the deep-down belief that we are not the be-all and end-all of the universe that can save us from ourselves...
   Faith is one long alleluia sung into a dark night, the only end of which is another challenging dawn.

Writing which gets to the heart of the matter...writing which comes from the heart of the matter...writing which speaks to and from my own heart. And tomorrow's chapter is titled 'Doubt', an invitation for me to meander along the spiritual path with one of my favorite writers once again, musing...reflecting...writing...

from Life Lines
We judge and punish based on facts, but facts are not truth.
Facts are like a buried skeleton uncovered long after death.
Truth is fluid. Truth is alive. To know the truth requires
understanding, the most difficult human art. It requires seeing
all things at  once, forward and backward, the way God sees.
                                                              -Greg Iles

questions without answers
Differences without divisiveness-
   shouldn't that be possible?
Shouldn't it be possible to
   agree to disagree?
Why should it be a necessity
   that one opinion or set of beliefs
   wins out over another?

And yet, there ARE issues which matter...
   issues of peace & justice & respect for
human dignity & the care of this earth...
            and how do we back off from those?
How do I honor the beliefs
of someone whose position on matters                                    
          which go to the core of
            my beliefs is diametrically             opposite mine?
How do I refrain from taking
          a stand which to some might seem
          naive or foolish, even heretical,
          when my heartfelt beliefs call
          me to do so?

What is the price of silence?
                          of debate?
And whose "truth" is true?
                                  I don't know...
                                  I'm just asking...