Musings close to Anniversary of Significant Man’s Murder

IMG_1472

My good friend sent me an article from the Washington Post today titled, Opinion \ Crucified man had prior run in with authorities. 

After having a chance to finally sit down and read it tonight, my soul was stirred by a more accurate picture of the man of Jesus Christ, both fully human and fully God when he lived and walked on this earth. PARADOX (but I won’t get into that now.)

Jesus WAS radical, he was unconventional and he showed us by his actions aligning directly with his words, how to deeply and genuinely love one another. It seems often that we take this phrase at face value, “love one another as Jesus did” or just, “love one another.” But what does this look like? Actually? Truly? Practically?

At the end of the article by the Washington Post, I watched the video about a Kentucky doctor being pulled off a United Airlines plane for failing to “volunteer” himself to deplane because it was overbooked and they needed space for company employees to travel. When I watched the video, it was shocking and made my stomach turn. He was an Asian man with a heavy accent, but a doctor from Kentucky. The cops who pulled off the plane were not Asian…

This is the ensuing texting conversation that followed with a close friend, with whom I have rich conversations about the current state and climate of our nation. We do not see eye to eye religiously. I will not speak for her religious beliefs, as those are her to share, but I follow the Bible, and Jesus, seeing him as the perfect role model and seek to live like him and honor God in all I do (realizing this is impossible, but also accepting the fact that relationships are not perfect and God loves me unconditionally). We enjoy hashing things out and at the end of each conversation I feel that we have gone deeper and stripped away the surface level getting to the root of what really is going on and truly laying in the depth of our minds and hearts.

Me: I loved that article [you sent me about Jesus in the Washington Post]. But did you see the video of the doctor being dragged off the plane? (the video at the end of the Washington Post article). How awful, it actually makes me sick and my stomach turn

Friend: I couldn’t watch it, but I read about it. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

Me: It’s worse when you watch it. [My other friend] was telling me about it today but I honestly didn’t believe her and thought she was being dramatic. I feel bad for not trusting her. When I watched, it was horrifying not to see people stepping in. Poor, poor man. He kept saying, “I want to go home, I want to go home.” Did you hear about the Air BnB….?

Friend: The Asian woman who got denied? Or a different (ugh that there can be so many)

Me: Who was verbally (over messaging) abused…yes, when the woman said, “one word…Asian” and then something like, “Trump will take care of you” or something hideous like that.

[A bit more texting dialogue occurs between us about a previous article she sent me regarding an interview with a Black doctor who performs abortions but is a devout Christian. Before you get your blood boiling either way, I highly recommend reading the article, or his book for that matter http://jezebel.com/dr-willie-parker-on-why-abortion-rights-are-a-moral-im-1794180318]

Friend: So how do we bridge the gulf between our individual experiences? How do you create enough shared space experiences to encourage empathy? Is that even possible? Sorry, I am in a rhetorical mood.

Me: (apparently didn’t heed friend’s ‘rhetorical mood’ comment) Hmmm, yes it is possible because Jesus did it and he did it being fully human on this earth (and fully God at the same time) PARADOX! Ah! But yes, I think it IS possible, but we have to be very clear about our beliefs, the fundamentals of our existence and why we do what we do. And I think at the end of the day, this world is pretty messed up and people at this point in our history can do anything and justify whatever they want. Morality is relative and that is a very dangerous place to live in. The ‘you do you’ and “I’ll do me’ doesn’t create shared space. I believe it creates a distanced morality where it becomes acceptable, for example, to sit in an airplane seat and do nothing when we see a man being molested and abused. Ya know?  I think you’re right, the abortion issue is so polarized and heated [Referring to previous dialogue not included here].

Friend: It feels like EVERY issue is going that way :/

Me: Which is all the more reason for us to be very conscious about what’s happening around us and to check ourselves when empathy starts going out the window within ourselves…like when we lose our sense of empathy. Also the more reason to know what we are going to do and how we are to step up when we see something wrong. I wonder if I would have been arrested for trying to pull those cops off of the passenger, or if I had helped the passenger, if the cops would have tried to stop me, if I would have even felt at liberty to physically and actively step in or if I would have let fear overcome me. I’d like to say I would have been brave and humble enough to stand up for the man, but I don’t know.

Friend: I know…I ask myself that a lot. The gap between who I would hope I am and who I may actually be seems wide sometimes.

Me: Yeah, it seems there will be/is always a gap…and it often is wide.

Friend: Yeah, I guess sometimes it seems exceptionally wide.

Me: But acknowledging that is to acknowledge that we are not immune from acting like the Nazis did in the Holocaust or any of the other many atrocities in our world history.

Friend: Yup. Precisely.

Me: If we think we are immune then we are deceiving ourselves – seems ironic.

Friend: Yeah totally haha It’s like that poem. You know it? Like “first they came for x and I stood by”

Me: Oh yeah, sounds familiar but can’t place it…yeah yeah, now I know what you’re talking about.

Friend: Basically it requires an incredible amount of effort to act like we are personally being threatened on behalf of another when we are not.

Me: Profound. Instincts kicking in for others, counter-nature.

Friend: Yea. Instinctual response is so strong and yet on behalf of another…

Me: Yeah – or when it’s in a group setting, I think that’s almost harder. Because it happens in just an instant when you have hesitation, then no one steps in. There is always the pause and people go dead silent and don’t step in and speak up. But once there’s momentum and you have one or two people that start stepping in, it opens the situation up for the rest of the group to act.

[More texting dialogue relating group dynamics to a youth group “coffee house testimony” night we had last week, I am a youth group leader, where students shared their stories and relationship with God, and the real struggles they are going through. Also, me reflecting on my opposite experience being in full-time youth outreach ministry for Young Life versus being a youth group leader – such different dynamics.]

Me: As hard as it’s been to lead this year, it has been an honor to be a part of it and watch the youth pastors have such solid and healthy relationships with the kids, with each other, and with the church; like who I was in Young Life is the opposite of who I am at youth group. I’m learning a lot from a different perspective and it hit me last night that the kids we worked with a few years ago are the same kids that come to youth group – just from different socioeconomic backgrounds, but the same struggles. It’s humanizing and humbling.

Friend: Good thing to be a part of 🙂

Me: And it makes me think of what I’m learning about Full Service Community Schools, and goes back to what we are talking about – we do ‘good, philanthropic’ things to help the marginalized and the extreme outliers in our society, but essentially, life is one big, hard mess in general and everyone has the same needs as everyone else. That empathy needs to be extended to everyone – especially our enemies. Ugh, because we all act out of our wounds, personal experiences, and perspectives on life.IMG_1615

UNASHAMED

I can’t lead people where I won’t go.

Groups are as strong as their level of unity.

Be content with what I have.

Wake-Up

 

A cry out to the Lord last October, this is what I wrote:

Dear Gracious Father,

You know I’ve been increasingly struggling, overwhelmed and frustrated. Help me.

I need your wisdom, not more than that I need you and your comfort, your arms around me, your hugs and your love – I need you.

I’m stuck in a cycle of behaviors I am not happy with, yet I do what I don’t want to do and that which I want to do, I don’t do it. 

Lord, I lift my thoughts and burdens and doubts and dreams and stress to you – take it please.

This is what I would imagine His response to be:

I love you sweet child. You are mine and will never cease to be. I have put in you great wisdom. You have my thoughts; THAT is my gift to you. What you struggle with is the condition of mankind. Hy heart is always for you, never against you. There is so much more going on under the surface than you realize. My daughter, you are lovely and beautiful in my eyes. You walk in purity and my strength is with you. Oh daughter of the King, walk confidently, for my plan, the tapestry of your life, the tapestry of my kingdom is GLORIOUS beyond any imagining. 

Let me be your comfort. Let me be your hope. Hold fast to me and love others passionately, for then they will know me. Stop trying to beat the world because I already have. You are secure in me.

Isaiah 66:2 
This is the only I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit. 
Isaiah 57:15
For this is what the high and lofty one says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. 
Psalm 37:23
If the Lord delights in someone’s way, he makes his steps firm, though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord uphold’s him with his hand.
Psalm 37: 7-8
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do no fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath: do not fret – it leads only to evil. 

Back in California

(Written April 11, 2010)

I’m back (imagine in Governator accent).  So a week after being back, I had a mini-revelation where I came to accept that even though I wish I was back in Berlin and miss everyone terribly, I can’t do anything about my situation now.  I have accepted where I am now and am enjoying my time here as much as I can.  Each day, I gain more insight on my experience in Berlin and how it has changed me for the better.

Emotions are so stirred up now, though, that I realize it will take time for them to settle, to be able to see more clearly.

Rain in Hawaii

(WRITTEN APRIL 2010)

More recently I have been finding myself “connected,” more in tune with the universe, picking up the endless energy that is provided to us everyday by nature.  Those moments are precious and peaceful; finally bringing a sense of calm into my life.  The secret is trying to live in that space each and every moment. 

At the moment, I find myself in Hawaii…..>Berlin>Ojai>Hawaii, not a bad progression.  As the autumn turns to winter to spring and soon to summer, I find my mind, body and soul adjusting themselves to come into harmony with each other.  It has been and will be a long process, but slowly it is happening, and happening more frequently.  Life has so many struggles, challenges and amazing qualities.  Why can’t I hold onto the peace and reassurance?  My doubts cloud the little confidence I have built up, the fears squeeze through the faith and my tears shed uncertainties in the dry parched ground. 

What is to become of my life? Who is to be in my life?  Does it matter? Life is too short, but there is a long way to go.  Can I do it on my own?  Should I live life on my own?  As the rain finally pours in this dry drought-ladden land, it seems an appropriate release of energy, of emotion that has been bottled up inside.  The ground can finally soak up the tears of energy that has been so long repressed.  And what will result from these tears, this rain?  Fruit?  Green lush fields of birds of paradise, orchids, plumeria?  Or will it be landslides, flooding and mildew?  Either way, I guess the point is to see beauty and growth in any perspective.

Life is about perspective…and attitude.  How we perceive and label something determines the size of or self-created bubble.  The size of the bubble is not the problem necessarily, it’s what we allow in and out of the bubble, it is the beliefs that the bubble carries…..is it one of love and acceptance, or one of fear and rejection and judgment? Letting go…

Letting go is one of the hardest things to do.

Leaving selfishness, Returning to Gratefulness, Compassion & Love

(A LATE POST WRITTEN IN 2009)

The world and life continue to amaze me.  Everything is so beautifully connected and humanity is such a wondrous phenomenon. 

Moving to Berlin is all part of the process; it was necessarily the next step in my life. I acted without fully knowing or understanding what this move would represent in my life.  Here, I feel as if I am becoming more complete, I am healing and becoming whole again.  Somewhere, in my short time on this planet, I went astray, I created a world of unnecessary pain for myself, closing everything around me so tight that there was almost complete darkness. At least that´s how it felt. 

Hindsight it always SO much clearer.  Life is necessarily this way or else we couldn´t reflect on and learn from our past.  I watched The Curious Life of Benjamin Button again with my cousins, and a quote stuck with me.  This is how I remember it,  paraphrased: death serves to remind us what is precious in our lives, without it, we would take everything for granted.  It is so true.  We are constantly sucked up in our own world, negativity and self-centeredness that we forget there are others on this planet too, who struggle just like us.  We are not the only ones, we are not alone in suffering.  And this is what leads me to the quote that I received this morning:

“You watch your mind to see who you are not. I watch my mind to gain a sense of its content, which has always been my pain. As I watch it, I get a sense of its impermanence. Thoughts come and go as part of a process. I see how content dissolves into process and begin to see the patterns in the process. Realizing it isn’t MY suffering, MY pain, it becomes THE pain. I’ve gone from the tiny, the small, and the individual to the universal. I feel OUR pain. When we do, we go from fear to compassion. Fear is MY pain, compassion is THE pain.”

— Stephen Levine

The new year has brought a new awareness to my selfishness, my self-centered and complete absorption into myself.  I am embarrassed by it, especially because my talk is always of helping others.  My words were never grounded in anything, they flew into the air and dissipated as easily as they came out.  Now, I am learning that, just like everything else in this world, we need to cultivate trust, love, compassion and altruism for it to flourish in this world.  We can´t expect things to just happen to us, and unfortunately, I have lived in this extreme delusional world for the past three years.  But I do not fully regret it because I see how everything is happening as it should; that I would not be where I am today, the person I am today, without my past, without the past events; things necessarily had to happen this way, and I am eternally grateful for it as I learn to accept myself and the way the world works.

It is to easy to fall into a narrow-minded view of the world.  Someone who I have grown to deeply cherish in my life, sent me the book “Ethics for the New Millennium”, written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  His words couldn´t have come at a better time.  It never ceases to amaze how true the statement is, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  Every step I take, every time I need to know the next direction, it comes into my life in some form.  It appears, in the most unlikely ways, but when we are open to it, the signs are there, the many signs that we so often fail to see, are there.  In fact, they are always there, we are just looking in the wrong places. 

The Dalai Lama gives a great logical, rational and philosophical argument for being happy.  He argues that it necessarily arises out of cultivating altruism, compassion, truth and virtue in our lives.  If we don´t water a garden, then of course everything will die.  It we neglect ourselves, then of course we are going to get sick.  It is basic physical principles of the natural world.  Whatever goes up must come down.  You can´t plant a peach tree and expect it to bear apples (Kung Fu Panda).  There are so many miraculous miracles at our fingertips and so often we ignore them, preferring self-indulgence.  This I believe, stems from the lack of love that so many people experience early on in childhood.  It is so necessary to have the strong foundations of unconditional love when we are in the womb and immediately coming into the world.  Without that essential altruism, we suffer.  We don´t realize our worth, we punish ourselves for not being good enough to receive love, when in fact, we did nothing.  Babies are perfect, they come into this world as perfect human beings, as the perfect embodiment of love.  Then when we don´t receive this natural love, we question ourselves and our value.  We think, something I did, who I am or how I am isn´t good enough to receive love.  So then, throughout our lives, we seek constant attention, whether it be negative or positive, to confirm that we are worth it, that we are important enough to receive love.

This is where addiction comes in.  Addiction to food, sex, exercise, alcohol, etc..  Anything to the extreme shows that there is something out of balance.  When something is out of balance, there is a lack of peace, a lack of inner peace, which is eventually manifested externally (we can see this in the current wars, political strife, glorification of violence on TV, film and the media).  When we can bring this peace to ourselves, as no one can give it to us, it always has to come from within, then we can experience and give true love –  unconditional love. 

I am ashamed at myself selfish nature that past few years.  I see now how wrapped up in my world I was.  But I also see that I was not truly acting to my fullest potential, that I was not me.  I was being someone who I am not and the best way to find out who we are, is to be who we are not, correct?  We know that we don´t like Brussels sprouts when we try them and can say out of experience that we do not like Brussels sprout.  If we don´t try it, how do we know?

This leads to the next point.  Judgment and relativity.  Despite my selfishness the past years that is not who I truly am.  Berlin is bringing me back into my body.  It is bringing me back into balance with myself and reflecting more of my soul.  Many people´s actions arise out of their suffering: projection.  We project onto others the pain that we suffer.  Therefore, we can never fully judge a person because we never truly know their circumstances, their personal pain, their inner motives and their thoughts processes leading to their actions.  At the same time, a positive action carried out in one situation could be completely inappropriate in another situation.  Everything is relative.  No answers are black and white.  Nothing is set in stone and nothing is ever so urgent that you cannot step back from it and observe it from an objective point of view. 

My spirituality has grown tenfold since I have been here.  Peace has returned to my life and I am learning to let go of the negativity that has ruled my life for so long.  I am accepting more of the way the world works, I resist it less and I find my enjoying life more.  I am more fulfilled and content.  I am moving with the river, not against it.  I appreciate life, the little things, the bigs things and most importantly, the teachers we have been sent to guide us on our journey here on earth:   Jesus, Gandhi,  the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther king Jr.,.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be and do the things these people did for human kind. 

I would also like to add how grateful I am to all the wonderfully beautiful people that have blessed my life, no matter how small a role the have played, because in truth, there is no small part (Shakespeare?).  The kindness that people have shown me has been so genuine and true that I am forever grateful to them for their patience and love.  There are so many angels and guardians in my life and I can only hope to one day be able to act as selflessly as they have.  This quote comes to mind as I write this blog:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I ask for the strength, courage and wisdom to live life to its fullest, to be love, and to show compassion to others.  To stop suffering when I see it in others and in myself.  I  promise to do everything in my power to act out of selflessness, to act only out of unconditional love. I ask for the clarity to let go of attachment, to let go of the fear of rejection and give of myself freely to others to help end their suffering and bring them happiness.  I ask to be cleansed of all my suffering, negative thoughts and punishing patterns.  I ask for confidence and acceptance.

I am endlessly grateful to the experiences that have led me to where I am in my life.  I am grateful, with a couple of people in mind specifically, to those that gave me everything of themsevles, asking nothing in return.; for accepting me just as I am.  I am grateful for all my amaying friends and family and all those that have touched my life.  Thanks be also to God for his faith in me:

One night I had a dream.
I dreamed I was walking along
the beach with god.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed
two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to me and the other to God.

When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the
very lowest and saddest times in my life.
This bothered me and I questioned God about it.

“God, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life there is
only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when I needed you most
you would leave me.”

God replied “My precious, precious child,
I love you and would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffereing,
when you see only one set of footprints in the sand,
it was then that I carried you.”

He has carried me and continues to carry me.  I am humbled and strengthened by the faith he has in me and how he shows me daily, by sending people into to my life that have endless faith in me. 

Little Girl

Little girl, little girl

inside of me

who wishes to grow and 

from all of her pain to flee

The little girl

always will I hold

in this 30 year old body

up until I am old 

some of her pain will resolve

some will remain

but her innocent child-likeness

will be her refrain

for its good to have dreams, and hopes

like a child

to remind one of life

its essence

          to remind one to smile

Feeling God’s Grace and Power

Friday, October 22, 2016

I haven’t written in awhile…..so I’m back.  

I’ve been praying to God or faith….I pray to God about a lot of things, and find that I don’t take much time to actually LISTEN to him. 

Dear Gracious Father,

You know I’ve been increasingly struggling, overwhelmed, and frustrated. Help me. I need your wisdom, but more than that, I need you and your comfort, your arms around me, your hugs and your love – I need you.

I’m stuck in a cycle of behaviors I am not happy with, yet I do what I don’t want to do and that which I want to do, I don’t.

Lord, I lift my thoughts and burdens and doubts and dreams and stress to you – take it please.

The Lord: 

I love you sweet child. You are mine and will never cease to be. I have put in you great wisdom. You have my thoughts. That is my gift to you. What you struggle with is the condition of mankind. My heart is always for you, never against you. There is so much more going on under the surface than you realize. My daughter, you are lovely and beautiful in my eyes. You walk in purity. And my strength is with you, oh daughter of the King, walk confidently, for my plan, the tapestry of your life, the tapestry of my kingdom is GLORIOUS beyond any imagining. 

Let me be your comfort. Let me be your hope. Hold fast to me and love others passionately, for then they will know me. Stop trying to beat the world because I already have. You are secure in me. 

Isaiah 66:2 “This is the one I esteem, he who is humble and contrite in spirit.”

Isaiah 57: 15 “For this is what the high and lofty one says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'”

Psalm 37:23 “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm, though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

Psalm 37: 7-8 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath: do not fret – it leads only to evil.”