My Brother Is Dead- A Good Cause

I know a lot of visitors to this blog have found Miranda’s blog (My Brother Is Dead) via my page, and are fans of hers. This is a way of saying “thank you” to her and her family for sharing their grief (and Miranda’s writing skills) publicly, in such moving ways..

A scholarship fund, in her brother Kyle’s name, has been set up at San Francisco State University for students in Latin American history. My check is in the mail. Act fast, and it is still tax-deductible for 2007, too!

New Year Promises (to myself)

 

To see, as God sees, I must quiet my imagination. I must see only what is there in front of me, and not what is being pushed in from the sides of my vision by others. I must see blue in its own magnificence, and not in the remembered shadows of a swimming pool. I must see you in the image of God and not in the reflection of myself onto you. Therein, are the visions of God.

To hear, as God hears, I must focus on that which normally cannot be heard over the din of human chatter and mechanized noise. I must hear the wind, and the cicadas, and the sounds of grass, in their symphonic harmonies. I must hear the sun on my skin and listen for my pulse. Therein, are the sounds of God.

To touch, as God touches, I must caress rather than grab, cup rather than pull, and learn of what I am touching rather than manipulating it. I must know that which I touch as a part of myself and not as a thing distinct and separate from me. I must be gentle in both love and fear. Therein, are the textures of God

To smell, as God smells, I must breathe deeply and discover the essence of the flower, the food, or the person toward which I lean. I must not evaluate, categorize, or criticize; I must seek the smells which are unique to every being, the eternal signature of their very nature. Therein, are the fragrances of God.

To taste, as God tastes, I must open my senses in anticipation, and not close them tightly in defense of memory. I must seek the ocean’s saltiness, the sky’s freshness, the kiss of winter cold, and the satisfaction of springtime rain. I allow tradition to act as a condiment rather than a definition, and permit even that which is bitter to be revelatory. Therein, is the palate of God.

I must run toward opportunities to experience that which is not-yet-known, with the same speed I move toward the comfort of that which is God-affirming. I must be ready, anticipating, and excited about the new, even as I am strengthened by that which is already known.

Why I Think Religion Is A Bad Bad Thing..

Two news items today form an envelope around the many, many reasons why religion should be scoffed at, run from, and seen for the parasitic phenomenon that is:

Priests brawl at Bethlehem. Read it; Armenian and Greek Orthodox were swinging mop handles and fists at each other yesterday, over whose ladder was resting on whose part of the Bethlehem stable floor.

When my brother and I were kids, in the back seat of Dad’s ’53 Chevy, we would fight over exactly the same thing: Space. We’d draw imaginary lines down the middle of the seat then we’d each push on that imaginary line by leaning toward it, edging comic books to the edge of it, or intentionally putting a knuckle’s-worth of finger on the other side of it.

“Mommy, Denny’s not staying on his side!”

“Daddy, make Dave stop!”

Later on, at some point in the post-toddler, pre-pubescent years, we stopped that particular type of spatial competition. Apparently, there are priests who have never been out of the back seat. They like it there so much, in fact, that they won’t even give up their seats to Jesus.

Benizir Bhutto killed in attack. Even Allah is not allowed to be powerful enough to fight Islamic factionalism. Muhammed (blessed be his name, as I spit on the ego-driven doctrines of some of his so-called followers) unified the various warring tribes of Arabia. But then, just as happened with the Jesus movement, the institutionalists moved in and a religion developed to protect, preserve, and defend the rules and regulations that his early followers devised to protect, preserve, and defend their positions of power.

Now, one of the symbolic personages of Muhammed’s original intentions of unification has been killed by one who was more comfortable following human egos in the name of his religion, than he was in following Allah or the prophet.

There are many more such stories in the naked city of rotten religious relics: like this, this, and this.

As a follower of Jesus, and as one who respects the genuine unifying motivations of Muhammed, the Buddha, and other spiritual leaders, I’m not left with much choice: I must do what I can to eradicate forever the imaginary lines drawn by self-centered children riding in the back seat of the Planet.

If we’re not successful doing that- you and me, and soon- then we are bound for a stupefying crash.

Rumi – Why I love him..

A Teacher’s Pay, by Rumi

God has said Be Moderate with eating and drinking,
but never, Be Satisfied when taking in light.

God offers a teacher the treasures of the world,
and the teacher responds, “To be in love with God

and expect to be paid for it!” A servant wants
to be rewarded for what he does. A lover wants

only to be in love’s presence, that ocean
whose depth will never be known.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love Rumi. It’s that simple. I know, I know: Join the bandwagon. But there’s a reason bandwagons exist, isn’t there?

There are those men and women who are able to reach far beyond the superficialities of gender, nationality, or even time, and expose that which is in themselves in such a way that it is begun to be revealed in ourselves. We are probably not- not yet– as eloquent as they are about what we have discovered in ourselves, through their courage in writing; but isn’t it thrilling to know that what they have uncovered strikes a chord within us- one that we are able to begin to hear?

I love Rumi because he makes my body sing.

He tells me why I can lose myself in the magenta of a swamp mallow, or in the flight of a heron from one side of the lake to the other. I look up at the sky and know almost nothing about what I’m seeing, but I love looking anyway. And I share that ignorance with everyone at some point in the depths of space- we are all a part of a Mystery whose depth cannot be known, yet we are attracted to it, bound together by our attraction to it, and each other, and all that is.

My curiosity is insatiable. Don’t tell me to put a lid on it or tear away at the edges of it! There is Light there somewhere and what I know is that the Light will lead to more Light, and that it someday will absorb me and on that day I will be a part of the symphony and I, and you, and the swamp mallow, and the heron, and you, too, will resound eternally.

Rumi tells me it’s OK to think that way. I believe him.

Connections

I wrote recently about my lack of enthusiasm for chicken-fried steaks.  I’ve gotten comments and emails from people in Alabama, Utah, Washington D.C., Louisiana, California, and- of course- Texas (El Paso, Dallas, Arlington, and just down the street), who all say that their CFS would change my mind.

So, besides the point I am leading up to, let me say this: have at it, you optimistic CFSers. I will take up you on your offers anytime we are in approximate vicinity to each other. Except don’t ask me to slather anything with white gravy. I just can’t do it.

OK, now to the main point. As I thought about those who made this offer to overturn my CFS bias, I realized that I am looking at a group of people who would, in the same room at the same time, enjoy each other to no end and come away from such an encounter with their circles of consciousness made wider, thus better.

What they all have in common, right now, is a love for good CFS (is that possible?) and some knowledge of me. They could bounce those two subjects back and forth for a few minutes as a dialectical means of establishing some community, but then..I know this is true..one of them would say something which would cause another one to say “Aha!”. The rest would lean in to hear what followed (because all of them know- I also know- how to listen), and a human explosion of thought would begin that would leave everyone there reluctant at evening’s end to go home. But everyone would leave nourished and grateful for another community of which they were a part, but which had also taken them beyond themselves.

Evolution

We all have the opportunity to make connections with people: between ourselves and others, and between others and others. In doing so, we advance humanity. I’ll go ahead and say it this way, so you know how important I think that work is: By bringing certain people together, we can change the world.

And, of course, that can be for good or for bad. At some point, in the late 1920s, someone said, “Adolph, I’d like introduce Hermann to you.” But for those of us with genuine concern for the world and all of its creatures, for those of us who feel the circles of our love straining for larger diameters, the opportunities to affect the ideas that could affect goodness in the world, are present almost daily. We all know people who don’t know each other who should know each other. We all know of synergy which is waiting to sizzle if only two or more special minds whom we also know, could be brought together.

At that’s all we really have to do. If we trust that our instincts and forethought are correct ones, the natural desire for creativity on the part of others will take over.  We, then, can sit back and be a part of the synergy instead feeling like we must lead, form, and guide it according to our own personal expectations. My group of CFS aficionados might not come from their evening together with a solution to end of world hunger in hand, but they might be ready to get together for a CFS cook off, from which there might emerge, in a generation a two, an idea for the speedy transportation of surplus foodstuffs from one nation to another. Who knows?

Which is the real point, I guess to all of this wondering: nobody will know what the potential results of such a meeting of like-minded individuals will be if it never happens. Each of us can be the estuary where new relationships, new community, and new ideas evolve from their present forms.

And there is no way to make white gravy palatable. That’s the only thing I will not allow on the agenda.

Update: 12-18-07

Here’s a picture of white gravy from a breakfast I attended this morning. The breakfast was wonderful. But I didn’t try the gravy..

white gravy