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Each miracle writes for us in small letters something that God has already written, or will write, in letters almost too large to be noticed …

C. S. Lewis, in Miracles

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Growing in faith improves your eyesight because faith grows your heart.  With the eyes of faith you see more and see more clearly.  Yes, you see the works of God more readily and life, as a consequence, becomes something to be cherished – and, in truth, you can separate out the godless words and deeds of those who have not grown in faith.

I give you two examples of sight that is informed by faith.

My little granddaughter Fiona, 14 months young, arises from sleep each day and seeks out Minnie Mouse, and Gorgeous George (her two little pals) and picks them up, pulls them to her chest for a morning hug.  No one teaches her to do that.  There are no standard parental instructions to do this.  It comes from a child’s heart.  It is an innate expression of love.  This is evidence of God – a small but critical miracle that God has written over and over in the hearts of small children.

And then there is this: a recent snowfall presented grandson Jack (age 3) with the opportunity to ride a neat plastic toboggan (shaped like a banana peel without runners on it) down a short backyard slope.  Joy abounded as snow-suited Jack squealed “Weeeee … look at me!”  Innate joy, like innate love, a miracle that God has written over and over in the hearts of small children!!!

This is the product of seeing with the eyes of faith … and evidence of God’s work, God’s miracle-making.  Why would a culture ever want to dismiss the presence of God?  Why elect a loss of sacred vision and the evidence of God’s love and kindness???

Shalom.

 

 

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We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice that thorns have rose bushes.

Alphonse Karr, in A Tour Around by Garden

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Complaining has a limited shelf life.  No one likes to be quartered with those who constantly carp.  This sort of behavior has killed many a marriage and friendship.

Such constant complaining wears one out, drags others down.

In public discourse, the Left is wearing thin.  They are the constant voice of complaint.  They are the snowflakes, the resident disgruntled.  Their taste for idiotic demonstrations makes protest nothing more than a proclamation of their sour and childish disposition.  Yes, constant complaining makes children of adults.

Make no mistake the tables turn.  People prefer optimists to pessimists, joy to anger, good to bad, palliative to caustic, calm to hysteria, life to death.

Yes, it is the rose that is the beauty – the thorn pales in comparison.

Want to annoy the Left?  Be optimistic, cheerful – turn their complaints into what they are: annoying and slightly crazed childishness.

‘Tis the season for happiness, joy, renewal, optimism, faith, strength of soul, belief and good will.  Yes, in mature people that is the season all year, year after year.

Shalom.

TV and Roses – TV is (and always has been) an opinion-shaping instrument.  Roses are not.  Roses are roses.  TV is largely aimed at shaping how you think of things like marriage, adultery, homosexuality, religion, country, race, free markets, centralized government, politics, etc.  Roses in contrast do not spread propaganda.  They just are.

Want to just be who you are made to be.  Ditch the TV.

Susan Rice – Former Obama foreign policy maven objects to Trump’s America First view.   Love that one percent growth, do ya’?  Hard to understand.

To learn to see – accustom the eye to calmness, to patience … defer judgment – grasp(ing) a case from all sides.

Friedrich Nietzsche, in Twilight of the Idols

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Far too many people point to Donald Trump as the target of their discontent.  How silly!

He is a late arrival to the disorder in this country that has developed over the last five decades and accelerated dramatically in the last eight years.  

Those who blame Mr. Trump for the mess are of two stripes: (1) they are partisans responsible for the mess we are in, (2) those with knee-jerk reactions to the unsavory culture we now occupy.

The truth of the matter is we have been deconstructing this culture for most of my adult life.  Essential institutions have been weakened.  All sorts or pagan ideas and hedonistic practices have de-normalized American life.  Idiotic ideology that has proved its complete failure has been stubbornly advanced.  Few see the sickness so evident today, despite the daily evidence.

None-too-smart, the Left wishes to double-down.  Their only justification as I see it is this: hitting yourself on the head with a hammer feels so good when you finally stop.

Frankly few see at all.  As a consequence, only discreet listening is advised.  And, common sense would tell a reasonably intelligent adult: get rid of the old crowd who brought us to this broken place.

Shalom.

Knowledge can only be gotten in one way, the way of experience.  There is no other way to know.

Vivekananda, in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

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A culture does itself harm when it glorifies formal education at the expense of experience, for it is experience that teaches, imparts wisdom, provides confidence, humanizes, teaches you about your adversary, brings you into contact with God.

We are a culture that glorifies education and mistakenly elevates certain once venerable colleges as being magically able to make mere graduates “wisdom figures.”  Ridiculous.  Silly.

Those with wisdom have lived and experienced.  It is in experience that we learn – the greater the challenge the more wisdom we acquire.

Look with care at those on the public stage.  Most of those who appear know little – have no particular expertise, have lived unexamined lives, are far from wisdom and maintain personal lives of chaos and confusion.  They have nothing but foolishness and self-promotion to offer.  They lack insight, are at best trite … not worth your attention.

In contrast, you are far better served by maintaining your spiritual life, coming to know your ancient text and its story.  A Christian’s relationship with God is rich in wisdom and truth – something, incidentally, that those in the public space seem to lack, or willfully neglect.

Your religious narrative and the faith to live what is presented to you are all that is needed to prosper and grow in wisdom and courage.

Shalom.

There is for all of mankind but one felicity – a gracious God.

Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews 

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Well, there you go.  Written in 75 A.D.  If only we had the wisdom of Flavius Josephus!  But alas it is absent.

Nowhere in public discourse is there much thought of God, of life in the Spirit, of our historical record or wisdom of the many centuries.

No, in its place – talking heads, the chattering class of ill bred, poorly schooled, ideologues incapable of holding two contradicting ideas in their head at the same time.  And yet the most astonishing thing is this: their words pass as worthy of our attention. Who is the greater fool there?

RETREAT while you can.  Take safety in wisdom and reality.

Imagine a God of felicity – a gracious and loving God.  Such a novel thought today in this deflated culture flooded with harmful utterances and ideas.

In contrast, I can offer this.  I have never doubted that there is a God and that this God had an interest in me and all others.  That is not to say that I acted without sin, nor that I did not attempt a life of self-reliance, a life in which I acted as if it all depended on me, my efforts.  Yes, we are foolish for a time until we prove ourselves less than we think we are.

There is nothing, by the way, like tragedy and injustice, chaos whose actions abound to your loss and pain to bring you to God … and, in due time, to Flavius Josephus and his insight.

In retrospect, I can now express daily sincere gratitude for the grace to have always known there is a loving and merciful God – and that God, not man, reigns over mortal and eternal life.

After years of life, I know the valuable gift of humility, in knowing that I am His subject … and you are too.  Likewise, I know in that reality, that relationship – the priceless value of intimacy … God’s love of me, of us and our divine opportunity to love others as God loves each of us.

Imagine if we knew what Flavius Josephus knew, we would not live in fear and think in that fear of the world as governed by race, or gender, or class, or force, or power, or money, or intellect, or sex, or status, or nonsensical ideologies.

No, on the contrary – tension and anxiety would dissipate; we would know certainty, live in confidence and gratitude, know peace and fellowship.

Best of all – if we were as Flavius Josephus – there would be no place for those who spread words of hate, who divide and speak so carelessly, so ignorantly.

That, Dear Friends, is a step toward Eden and you have been given the opportunity to step toward that Paradise.  Alas, seize it … or suffer more, and continue to hurt yourself and others until you die and face this question: Why did you not take the path I gave you?

God help us all.

Shalom.

God, let the words of Flavius Josephus rest in our heart and animate our every thought and action in the confidence of your gracious and loving dominion.

We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it normalizes by mass media and rendered unproblematic.

Bell Hook, in Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism

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I have been alarmed recently by the loose talk about racial conflict.  Some talk of the need for violent racial conflict aimed at “white oppression.”

Words can inflame.  Their use requires care.

The above words are ideological.  Their base: racism, feminism and socialism.

Ideology is a no guide to good.  It narrows the sight and hardens the heart.  Where ideology appears, faith better serves.  You see if peace is to prevail, God is required.  Our best actions do not separate by gender, race, antagonistic political fiction.

I know of no problem that can be solved without kind, honest, conversation.  I know of no peace that is made without care, no embrace that binds without humility and love.

People do bad things.  All people.  This is the human dilemma since the beginning of time.  It is embodied in the story of Adam and Eve – the Fall from Grace, Original Sin.

Our only path to love and fellowship is through growing our relationship with good, becoming wiser, more humble, thoughtful friends and neighbors.  Peace can never be insured through divisive ideology.  Ideology is the language of the lesser heart, its pitch is calibrated to hatred.  Yet, relationship with God dissolves anger, raises us up by bringing us to our knees.

There is an inmost center in us all where truth abides in fullness.

Robert Browning, in Paracelus

Shalom.

Lord, give us the strength of faith to know the truth about ourselves so we might live in peace as one.

Almost nothing need be said when you have eyes.

Tarjei Vesaas, in The Boat in the Evening

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Well, these words only work apply to those who look and see.  All looking is not seeing.

I give you an example.  My friend John looks and sees.  Recently he observed that the looters in Florida hit shoe stores but left the work boots.

When you look and see you learn … eyes can lead to reality, insight, understanding. Remember the eyes are a direct path to the brain … and the heart.  What we see moves us to feel, think and ponder and grow.

Look and see.

Shalom.

Writing is like oil painting.  You work in quiet and create a picture.  Time means nothing.  It stops.  Everything is just now, and now is eternal.

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O soul of mine, will you never be good and sincere, all one, all open visible to the beholder more clearly than even your encompassing body of flesh?

Will you never be fit for such fellowship with the gods and men as to have no syllable of complaint against them, no syllable of reproach from them?

Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations, Book Ten, Para. I

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Most of what you see and hear is chaotic.  Most people make noises and do things that say: “I am sick.  Disordered.”  The wise man knows that having this warning it is best to say free of these people and their noise lest he becomes sick too.

Washington and other large cities are like glass jars full of heated molecules with a tightly affixed lid.  When you listen to the noise of the sick, you reside in that glass jar constantly assaulted by molecules over which you have no control.

Why enter the jar?

Find a quiet place to be alone and sit.  Calm yourself so that you might hear the rhythm of your breath, your heart’s work.  This is the predicate for meditation. In silence look at yourself – your habits, expectations, desires, history – from these come your discontents – the heat that hastens the speed of your molecules.  Discard these things, and accept yourself – your sacred being itself – a being that divinely created cannot be harmed but by you who have expectations dependent on the conduct of others.

Marcus Aurelius lived more than a century before Christ.  He saw the glass jar with lid and heated molecules.  Emperor of Rome, he lived on the extreme edges of his empire so he might know peace and quiet, so he might know himself, others and the gods.

Knowing your divine being your needs drop away, contentment comes to be and you see others as ones in injured state … but when you are free of expectations, housed in your sacred being compassion comes freely.  Nothing those sick ones who routinely behave in hurtful and upsetting ways can rile you, upset you, suck you into their chaos, their drama … nothing that they might do can throw you off stride.

Separation, quiet, solitude, self-understanding, knowing your divine self, suspending wants and expectations (unnecessary to the divine self which is our natural and independent state of health and existence).  In separation, quiet, solitude, self-understanding we see the jar, its lid and its heated molecules – but we are not captured.

… Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness to pray.

Lk 5:16

Marcus Aurelius, Zen and Jesus.

Shalom.

 

The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical.  (Emphasis added.)

Albert Einstein, in Out of My Later Years

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Do you remember the story of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary?  (Lk 10:38-42)

In that story Martha is busy preparing a meal for Jesus and others while her sister Mary is seated at Jesus feet listening to him.  Martha asks Jesus if he does not care that Mary has left her to do all the preparations alone.

Jesus answered Martha – “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This is precisely the wisdom Albert Einstein expresses. We all have the capacity to experience the mystical.

A life lived within mortal limits is a life not lived.  It is a life without fullness.  It is “the mystical” that makes a life, that alone completes a life.

Feodor Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov this: “Much on earth is hidden from us, but to make up for that we have been given a precious mystical sense of our living bond with the other world, with the higher heavenly world.”

We have many like Martha.  And few like Mary.  Which are you?

Those like Mary possess calm, certainty.  They see and they are not lured into all that is earthly.  They are not worrisome.  Addicted.  They are not egotists.  They are not trapped in the nonsense that prevails among the masses.  They are not captured in the present day and all its false gods and endless foolishness.

Our culture is full of Martha in many forms.  Ignore them.  They have chosen the lesser things.

Are you Mary or are you Martha?

Shalom.

Russia and Us.  It is interesting that for all the hubbub about Russia over the years, we have not been smart in dealing with them.  We have been, because we have “leaders” who do not live life on a mystical plateau, unable to see the undeniable truth about Russians which is this: Dostoevsky reveals their core, their heart – their orientation to life (even as they try to supplant him with Marxist nonsense).

The truth of who they actually are is their soft underbelly and, not being well and fully formed, our “leadership” cannot see it.

When the blind confront the blind – it is always an “eye for an eye.”  Endless folly. “Clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right.”

… (Thomas) Merton described himself as journeying towards his destiny “in the belly of a paradox” … He sought the monastic life because he desired hiddenness and solitude, but his writings brought fame and demands.

Lawrence S. Cunningham, in Thomas Merton & the Monastic Vision

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When we flee the world in favor of aloneness or have aloneness thrust upon us, we most often find God and in finding God we find ourselves, others and the world. God, of course, is our solitude and in Him and with Him we then proceed … never to be without Him.

There is no hiding, though many do so in plain sight using status, title, appearance, celebrity, power, wealth or what-have-you to separate out from the mob.  As for the individual, there is no unitary escape, no disappearing act.

In seeking one’s particular solitude you will most surely find self and God – for solitude is the door to contemplation, to self-examination, reflection, infused wisdom, understanding, compassion, mercy, patience, love, forgiveness, intimacy, contentment … and in each of these the gateway to Truth, to what alone is True, to you and He who makes you as you have been made.

Once God is known aloneness is proved a lie, for then one is never alone and realizes that one was never alone.  Paradox ends, then – and all fits a divine rubic.

Our path – seek to withdraw as if to the desert, or sit under the lotus tree in quiet and soon enough God is present and hiddenness is impossible, unnecessary for then we are called to life as it is intended.

The Sacred Paradox is this: aloneness presents God and aloneness is no more.

Shalom.

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