Monday, July 30, 2012

Teenage Truths, Revisited

Friday is my birthday. I will be 63. That doesn’t seem remotely possible. 50 years ago, I was in 8th grade, and there are ways in which that seems like yesterday; the wonderful lessons I learned from teachers Kay Nietzsche and Sara Jane Moore, the ways my mind and heart opened to new ways of thinking - new possibilities.

I remember walking home one day with friends Karraine Ann and Karen and we were having such a deep discussion about communism and fascism (which we were studying in Mrs. Nietzsche’s class) that we could not end it. When we got to the point where our paths were to diverge, we sat down on a stranger’s lawn and continued our conversation at least another hour.

That girl, with her passion and her clear sense of right and wrong still lives inside me. Fifty years later, her sensibilities guide me. Perhaps on this 50th anniversary that is coming up, I need to resurrect her life force. I need to re-awaken to the deep Truths I knew unequivocally then.

That is the girl who, a year or so later, realized the Truth being spoken in the first few verses of the book of John. I want - no - I claim that curiosity, that energy, that passionate focus again in my life.

I had not given my birthday much focus as I moved through preparation for the Asilomar Conference I attend each year. This morning, I realize that this birthday is the 50th anniversary of my becoming a teenager.  My!

I can never underestimate the power of young people, because I still have such clear energy and memory around what it was to be one. I am ready to spend the next 30-40 years exploring what it is to be fully and completely alive.

It has been said that, as much as we profess to be afraid of dying, in truth, we appear to be afraid of living - of fully committing to the life that is ours right now. I choose to enter into this birthday and this week with the passion of a zealot. Life is awaiting my commitment. I shall not leave it wanting!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Finding My Way from Fear to Love

In my understanding of Life, there are two emotions, two motivating factors, two ways of living. One is Love - which I consider to be the creative power, the expanding energy, the nurturing source of all that I call comfortable and good. The other is fear, which is at the root of all lack, limitation and resistance - those emotions and activities which I consider to be negative in nature.

In Reality, there is actually only Love - for just as darkness is not a force of itself, but merely the absence of light and cold is simply the absence of heat, fear is what happens when I believe in the absence of Love. Fear, and all of its attendant emotions of anger, jealousy, mistrust, helplessness, hopelessness and the like, can only exist when one is disconnected from a sense that there is Love, wholeness, truth in the world.

We live in a world where fear and mistrust are everywhere around us. From commercials on television to articles on the internet, we are told there is something wrong with us, there is something wrong with everyone around us, and anyone unlike “us” is the enemy. Love seems to be the farthest thing from anyone’s mind, and it is the only thing that can bring us back to sanity.

What causes an individual to move so deeply into fear that they become a danger to people around them - and to themselves? “Why” is really a crazy-making question, because there is never one, easy, direct cause to any situation. Everything is complex in nature - and still we cannot look at fear and try to fix it with more fear, anymore than we can fight a fire by adding more fuel to it.

There is a Biblical quote that affirms “perfect Love casts out fear.” It does not say more fear or bigger fear casts out fear. It does not say punishment casts out fear. It does not say hatred casts out fear. Only love has the power to do that, and still we want to get the last word - to make sure that everyone gets justice - but what we mean by justice is often simply retribution.

The great teacher of 2000 years ago said “they will know you are my followers because you love one another.” I think we need to remember that injunction to love. Now, more than ever, Love is the answer. Even when it makes no sense. Especially when it makes no sense. So, slowly but surely, I am finding my way from fear, to Love - I am finding my way to wholeness as I survey the world around me and see past the experience to its essence, which has always been Love - though often cleverly disguised.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Growth on the Journey

I feel a bit like Dorothy as she prepared for her return from Oz - "There's no place like home! There's no place like home" - Except my 'ruby slipper' was actually an Amtrak train. What a delightful experience train travel is - I have traveled by train since I was a child, and feel it is highly undervalued for the amazing means of transportation that it is.

But this is not about trains - or even Oz... though Seattle has been known as the Emerald City. This is about the willingness to be a life-long learner. Perhaps it is the process of aging, or wising up - or just the normal way of things, but I am finding that there is always more to learn, more to understand, more expansion of horizons that needs to happen in my life.

I am never so "there" that I couldn't use a bit more input to enhance my experience of life. In fact, the more I teach, the more I become aware of how much I have to learn. This thing called life involves an incredible amount of stretching!

The late Dr. David Walker gave a talk once wherein he said that you really can't ever honestly say "This is as good as it gets," because the Universe is infinite in Its capacity to provide. So, no matter how good it is, there is always room for it to be better.

I arrived home yesterday from an Ongoing Education Conference geared to Ministers. Twenty five of us gathered for the better part of a week with four stalwart guides to help us expand upon our ministries. We had to open up and share and allow ourselves to be opened to greater ideas of ourselves and our spiritual communities.

The beautiful part was our willingness to be vulnerable with one another, and our instructors modeled that humility for us beautifully. No one has ever grown into leadership without some stumbling points along the way, and our teachers were truly humble in sharing their own experiences with us.

Where does all this go? All I can say with any degree of surety is that I find my role in the coming years is more of receptive student. Even as I teach, I am learning what I need to learn to teach what is coming before me. And that excites me.