Thursday, July 21, 2011
New Moon Rising, Jamestown, NC
Cloud Spirits Rising, Jamestown, NC
Water Spirits Rising, Jamestown, NC
Human Spirits Rising, Chicago, IL
There is a magical moment near sundown during the monthly full moon where both the setting sun & the rising moon face one another to pass the light along to earth. We can follow their example by either being the source of light or its reflection to others.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Soul Mates I, Destin, FL
Soul Mates II, Greensboro, NC
Helen Reddy had a big hit song in the 70’s with “You and Me against the World”. She was actually singing to her child, but Kansas City’s own R&B diva, Ida McBeth, most assuredly has the most soulful cut for soul mates. The lyricist must have known a lasting love to pen these words that struck such a cord with so many including my wife and me. It’s pretty obvious when you look around that being married isn’t necessarily synonymous with being soul mates. A soul mate has your back and has your heart. A mate is one of a matched pair. You spend years together through all of life’s mountains and valleys, all of life’s triumphs and failures, all of life’s joy and tragedy. And all the while, you are two independent and sometimes head strong individuals who have resolved to become one flesh, one soul—one day at a time. That fusion of spirit is tempered in the crucible of everyday life when it does indeed many days seem like it’s you and me against the world. And soul mates never give up on each other.
I like the very real image of “we seldom get our due and when the day is through, I bring my tired body home and look around for you”. Because when the slings and arrows of the world around you seem to have almost beaten you down, it’s uplifting to come home and converse with your soul mate to sort things out. Then you have the spirit and energy to start the new day with the resolve necessary to try again. Life is truly not as much about getting knocked down as it is about getting back up as many times as it takes to persevere. And our creator understood that it’s good to have a soul mate there to reach out a supporting hand to pull together and keep your life between the ditches. As the lyrics continue, “for all the times we cried, I always felt that God was on our side. And when one of us is gone and one is left alone to carry on, well then our memory will have to do; our memory alone will get us through. I’ll think about the days of me and you, you and me against the world”.
We’re making memories every day of our lives in this world whether we’re conscious of it or not. And I guess we are seldom aware that these present moments may just be the ones we later cherish the most. So, make the most of your present moments together with those you love and the memory of these days will bring you much comfort and peace in the sunset of your life.
“Marriage is not a simple love affair, it's an ordeal, and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one.”—Joseph Campbell
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Lamb of God, St. Louis, MO
Our Carolina church celebrates old time “camp meeting” services for a few Sundays in the summer time. We sing old time gospels and imagine folks gathered in gingham dresses and shirts goin’ down to the river to worship from their small church in the wildwood. At the conclusion of his sermon this morning, our new pastor even asked any who felt the need to come forward to kneel and pray at the altar to alter their lives and receive God’s healing touch. And folks of all ages and probable reasons did come forward to be closer to the sweet, sweet spirit of their creator to receive His blessing. As the kneeling rails were vacated, I noticed the young little blond girl sitting next to me nudging her parents. She then reached into the busy bag they had carried with them into the pew and retrieved a small, well-loved, wide-eyed, white lamb. Then the four of them made their way up to the altar and kneeled to pray, as the little girl placed the little lamb at the altar among the family. The symbolism was quite touching as the Lamb of God revealed His presence within the tie that binds that family and our congregation in fellowship to shed His grace among all of us on a bright summer’s morn down by the riverside.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Creation, Jamestown, NC
At some point in the life of all human beings there does seem to be at least some time to pause in a rare, still, absolutely quiet moment where we ask either ourselves or perhaps an unseen spiritual being the age old question of Why. Why do I exist? Why do we suffer and die? Why do other human beings do such terrible things to themselves, others and our world? Why does God allow all of this to happen?
Well, I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and study. And perhaps that is one outcome that is expected. Showing an interest in these basic questions of our existence indicates an interest in doing something about it. Attempting to think like God might be considered waaaay too presumptuous. On the other hand, the biblical writings we’ve been given reveals a lot about our God. And we are told there that we were created in His image. So perhaps we’ve been imbued with a bit of insight if we search it out.
I’ve come to believe that we were given the free will to choose our path in every step of the way on our life’s journey. I think it has a lot to do with why we were created. The creator of this universe, both seen and unseen had already created eternal spiritual beings like the Seraphim that spend 24/7 in the spiritual realm worshiping God. Perhaps there was a lingering thought that it would be better if those in relationship actually had a choice in the matter. Haven’t you found that a relationship is much more deep and loving when it is heartfelt and freely given when other choices are available? That’s how free will works. But for free will to be genuine, both good and bad choices must be on the table. And a collaborative relationship is much richer than one in which only one member makes all the decisions.
Why do we have to experience the pain and suffering of death—many times for both the dying and those loved ones left behind? Have you ever had to patiently wait for something you wanted? Isn’t it true that if something is easily handed to you, it has a lesser meaning for you than something you truly sacrificed and worked hard to acquire? Perhaps there was a lingering thought that eternal life could be more appreciated if there were a limited, more difficult life preceding it. But it was revealed that this eternal life was available if we tried our best to live a temporary good life in preparation for it. It’s been said that the trials of this brief life pale in comparison to the eternal prize that awaits us in the next. We just can find that a difficult concept when we’re immersed in that trial at the time, but it does provide hope.
Why does a good and loving God allow and perhaps direct bad things to happen to us? Well, for openers, a vast majority of the bad things that happen to people is perpetrated on them by other people not God. There are consequences to bad decisions, although they are not always obvious and may only be realized in the next life. The rains in this life fall on both the good and the bad fields and sometimes we are left to question if there is justice. I don’t believe God kills people with cars or earthquakes. But He did create the basic laws that sustain this universe that can also result in people dying when these forces are set in motion and they are in harm’s way. Is everything that happens in our life predestined by God including all the bad things? I’ve come to believe that God may in fact have a plan for each of our lives, but we were given the free will not to follow His chosen path. Basically, I believe He wants us to live a good and just life and trust in Him as a loving father. That life can take an infinite variety of paths of our choosing and how we respond to events. And I believe that God is in control of His creation for the big picture of the overall direction history is moving and for all the eternal truths and laws He set in motion when He created our universe. Perhaps there was a lingering thought that it would be a grand experiment to create a universe where it would be extremely interesting to set the environment in place and let it play itself out to a conclusion of primarily its own making, with minimal interference and general guidelines. The era of the Great Flood that destroyed all human life except one faithful family indicates that humans still may not get it right. But day in and day out these guidelines direct the winds and our hearts in whatever direction they are steered.
God has told us that He will be with us at all times and never leave us—but we can exercise our free will and turn our back on Him. He may interfere at His option if invited or if He perceives an extreme need known only to Him. After all, it’s His creation. Evil can be defined as the absence of goodness, like darkness can be defined as the absence of light. And God will always work with us to bring some goodness out of all suffering and evil to help mediate the harsh reality of this mortal life. Perhaps I should close with one final lingering thought that given the alternative of never having my soul created and the opportunity to experience this adventurous life, I’ll accept the trials of this life, trusting in the knowledge that my creator is with me every step of the way on the path to a restored life in the spiritual world beyond this broken mortal one.