May you find some of these and more during 2011
peace and prayers to all the beloved
You Tube Music Video: Crowfoot
Yesterday as I was out with Tritty I met my neighbor on the road walking with his son. My neighbors son moved to Boston and had become a pediatric heart doctor. He was always a very fine boy and he had grown into a very fine young man. He had recently become a father and he asked us to stop by to see him. I asked him what he had named his son. He answered Matthew. It gave me reason to pause because my nephew Matthew passed away seven years ago a few days after Christmas. After a third relapse Matthew succumbed to Leukemia at the tender age of sixteen.
Later that evening my family gathered at Matthew’s home for a wonderful Christmastide celebration. The house was packed with the aunts, uncles and children of four families. The food, drink, music and gifting created a festive air of joy but the mirth of the season is always tempered by Matthews absence and the association of his death with Christmas. This time of year is particularly difficult for Matthew’s father. They were exceptionally close and my brother-in-law carries Matthew’s absence in a somber heart that seems to grow a bit larger this time of year. As the evening passed I related my story about meeting my neighbors son on the road that day and the appearance of Matthew. This news uplifted my brother-in-laws spirit. He smiled and said “thats Matthew letting us know he’s around.” Matthew continues to be a real presence in the lives of those who knew him and loved him. In a most real sense he continues to dwell with us.
Emmanuel, means God is with us. God dwells with us. Many believe this to be patented nonsense. They point to the endless string of calamitous events and abhorrent tragedies that plague humanity. If God was loving why does the Benevolent One allow such misfortune to befall his children? If The Omnipotent One is all powerful why does he not come to their aid? If God is the embodiment of love why does the power of evil and the treachery of man seem to multiply and grow laughing in the face of an impotent God? I must admit as a person of faith it can be difficult to answer these questions. Asked in the spirit of truth they are not easily dismissed. A Pollyannish response is not sufficient to halt the eroding power of pessimism, the ambivalence of fatalism and the cynicism it voraciously breeds.
What is our answer?
We have sifted through the rubble strewn streets of Port-Au-Prince.We have extracted our beloved ones from their prisons of concrete and twisted rebar. We worked until utter exhaustion overcame us. We labored in the fervent hope that our exertions would not be in vain to find and liberate one more soul awaiting deliverance. We administered inoculations to ward off the plague of cholera. The awful stalk of the grim reaper has been arrested. The indiscriminate threshing of souls has abated. The construction of new dwellings arise out of the rubble to house those saved from the prisons of concrete and the sickle of disease.
America’s wars rage on. The conflict has mercifully ended for some combatants. Some will experience the joy of a reunion with families, others will find rest in an eternal heavenly peace. A fragile peace reigns for yet another day on the Korean Peninsula. Dispassionate reason has cooled the temper of belligerence as blessed ones continue to witness for peace to end the abomination of all these unjust wars.
The egregious ecological wound of The Gulf of Mexico is beginning to heal. The good work of vigilant environmental stewards deeply engaged in the work of restoration remain in attentive loving service to our gracious Mother Earth.
The economic distress of the unemployed has been salved with government service and the kindness of family and friends.
The plight of the evicted has been eased. The foreclosures on millions of families has peaked, homes have been opened to those seeking a places to live, shelter workers keep the light of rooms brightly burning so the those in need of a bed may find one.
Sudanese huddling on the windswept desert of the Great Rift Valley, Mexican immigrants crossing hostile borders of the Sonoran desert and the terror stricken LGBT community will come to realize that it will get better. That their situation is not hopeless. The ardor of intolerance will abate and the peace of reconciliation will reign on the throne of understanding and acceptance. All will find sanctuary.
Israeli’s and Arabs with a dogged determination come to the table yet again to talk about the prospects for peace in Palestine.
Missionaries of hope spread the message of peace and reconciliation.
Healers without borders doctor to the distressed.
Carpenters are building hospitable habitats for the homeless.
Teachers are reaching troubled children and adults most needing to hear kind, thoughtful instruction.
Emmanuel! God is with us. Yahweh is forever faithful. The Beneficent One moves across the trouble waters of time to unite Gods Children in a single river of humanity, where justice flows and the Good Shepard finds all lost sheep. Allah softens the hearts of the zealous. God informs a sober reason to the obstinate. The Holy Spirit swaddles all in a blanket of divine love. The Prince of Peace is with us.
As I walked through the doors for Christmastide services I was asked by a church brother if I would sit in with choir. Like the Prophet Samuel I heard the call and answered “here I am.” It was a special unanticipated grace to process into the church on Christmas Eve. The Lord asked me to make a joyful noise and walk with him on this Holy Night. It is a blessing to walk with the Lord as a real presence.
After the nights services as I was leaving the church I witnessed two brethren sitting side by side in the now empty pews. They were father and son. About the time that Matthew died, the boys mother, the mans wife passed away after a heroic fight against cancer. As they sat in the presence of their God, father and son were present for each other. I imagined them also to be in a rapturous communion and loving embrace of their very present mother and beautiful wife.
God is with us.
Our expectant hope is realized.
The Word has been made Flesh.
God has broken through.
God remains ever faithful.
God dwells with us.
A good and present helper
guide our hands
open our hearts.
You Tube Music Video:
We welcome the arrival of Kwanzaa. People of good will everywhere welcome this opportunity to bring more light into a world shrouded in darkness. Kwanzaa celebrates community as a vessel to receive and dispense the flow of hope and service required to minister and serve others. It is a wonderful reminder on the importance of community and excellent opportunity to strengthen the bonds of the individual within communities.
The Seven Principles
- Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
- Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
- Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
- Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
We welcome Kwanzaa and wish its celebrants an enriching and transforming experience.
You Tube Music Video: Herbie Hancock, Don Cherry, Kawaida, Kamali
Risk: holiday, culture, faith
Best wishes to all for a very Happy Holiday.
Our hope remains that the blessing of abundance finds you and that you are led to generously share it with others.
We pray that the grace of peace surrounds you and you joyously carry it to others.
May the love of family and friends embrace you as you reach out to offer a welcome to those that are alone.
We thank you for the blessing of your friendship. You have enriched us beyond all measure.
We wish you a challenging and rewarding 2011.
Peace and Prayers for All the Beloved,
You Tube Music Video: Nora Jones, Peace
Risk: happiness, peace, serenity
Hanukkah reminds us to bear faithful witness to the miracle of hope. The lamp burned for eight days on oil sufficient for one. Yahweh is the author of all hope. Its light will never be extinguished as long as we remain mindful to tend the candles and trim the wicks by vigilantly guarding against cynicism, pessimism and hopelessness. Hanukkah commands us to stand firm in resolute faith. Celebrate Hanukkah, meditate and rejoice in the light of hope. Darkness is banished. Yahweh is forever faithful.
Thanks be to God.
You Tube Video: Lich’vod Hachanukkah -Chaim Nachman Bialik – Chanukah song
Risk: pessimism, cynicism, hopelessness
For this years Thanksgiving, I have decided to focus on developing a sense of gratitude. The world is full of real bad stuff happening to too many people and its easy to let the darkness of our times cast long shadows of resentment, anger and ill will over our outlook on life. So today as I travel to a relatives home to gather for our national day of thankfulness I choose to leave resentments at home and cultivate a sense of gratitude.
I’m grateful for my eyes. My sight allows me to perceive the million graces The Almighty abundantly confers upon the inhabitants of the good earth each and every day. My eyes help me to discover the pressing needs of others and respond to it. My eyes help me to discern light from darkness, distinguish the forest from the trees and eschew pedestrian views to behold a beautiful vista. My eyes are a pathway to my soul moving me to contemplate the good, forsake the bad and move against evil in service to truth.
I’m grateful for my ears. The grace of hearing permits me to listen. My ears alert me to the cries of my brothers and sisters and enables me to understand our shared human condition. My ears tune my spirit to the chords of exquisite music and the natural symphonies of Mother Earth’s angelic chorus of singing birds, heaving oceans, the majestic pause of silent mountains and the fleeting rush of the swelling wind are all divine voices singing the joyful hymns of life.
I’m thankful for my sense of smell. Graciously my nose breathes in the inviting aroma of a lovingly prepared home cooked meal, the wholesome scent of baking bread wafting from the door of the corner bakery, a briny snort from the boundless sea, the rich compost of the deep woods after a soft summer rain, the bouquet of an infants hair and the perfume of a lovers embrace.
I give thanks for my ability to touch. Hands engaged in productive work and gainful employment is a blessing absent from too many Thanksgiving Day tables this year. We yearn to connect and the sense of touch invites our ability to feel. Feeling is the father of empathy and the mother of compassion. Caring for our animal friends we live in communion with all sentient beings. As we touch one another and allow others to touch us; the hardest of hearts is softened, the most grievous wounds are healed to liberate the sensual yearnings dwelling in the deepest recesses of ourselves. Feeling allows us to become fully present, fully aware and fully alive in the celebration of what it means to be fully human.
I’m thankful for my sense of taste. As Sinatra croons “from the brim to the dregs” the wine of our lives may not all taste good but it all flows clear and true. Sample, savor and learn. Taste and see the glories of the Lord’s banquet so abundantly placed before us. The bitter herbs, the sweet cakes, the leisure repast, the fortifying meal and unrequited hunger is the daily bread of being human. Pause to consider those that are lining up for the tenth Thanksgiving Day meal in Afghanistan and Iraq and pray that the awful rations of war fed to our young soldiers be supplanted with the good manna of peace.
Perhaps we loose our sense of gratitude because expectations of ourselves and others always seems to come up short of the mark. Imperfection is our most endearing quality. It informs our ability to forgive transgressions, form bonds of friendship and unconditionally love each other. I remain grateful for the sense of my imperfection as I overlook your imperfections and remain ever hopeful that you will extend your hand to help me over come mine.
You Tube Video: Jean Ritchie, Shady Grove
risk: resentment, gratitude, peace, metal health,
Today marks the arrival of Diwali. Diwali is widely celebrated by the Hindu, Jain and Sikh religions. Diwali, known as the Festival of Light, is commemorated over five-day period around the mid point of the autumn season.
Diwali speaks to the timeless human desire for victory to triumph over evil. Diwali celebrants light lamps in the hope that goodness continues to illuminate our hearts and homes to assure that the light of goodness remains ascendant over the darkness of evil. Diwali asks everyone to be stewards of goodwill by mindfully tending lamps to eradicate the darkness of evil and light the way for the spirit of truth revealed and made manifest in the good light of divine love.
We welcome the season of Diwali and wish all celebrants a most meaningful and spiritually fulfilling experience.
You Tube Video: Origin of Diwali
Risk: darkness, light, good, evil
Today the High Holy Days begin with the observance of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah 2010, marks the 5771 year on the Jewish Calendar. Rosh Hashanah , The Day of Awe, is a day of awakening. The Shofar is sounded to rouse those from a sleep of spiritual and moral ambivalence calling all to a season of personal introspection and examination. The new year provides an opportunity to identify character flaws, meditate on the impact of our actions, make amends and take corrective steps that honors affirmative relationships and breeds transformative growth.
The High Holy Days will conclude in ten days with the observance of Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement. The culmination of a period of deep examination and action, Yom Kippur offers all a clean slate to begin again. Opportunities to start anew are truly a divine grace that should be eagerly embraced with intentional gratitude. An opportunity to make amends with those we have injured, forge news bonds of trust, restore integrity and stand upright and unstained in the presence of God is a miraculous grace.
Year 5772 will not arrive for some currently present to mark this years Rosh Hashanah. Indeed some of us will not see tomorrows sunrise. The day of transfiguration has come. We must examine ourselves to discover what must heal. We must engage our neighbors to understand what rifts must be repaired. We must open our eyes to banish the darkness of self serving pursuits. Doing so will allow us to stand in the restorative light of God’s unconditional love. It is up to each of us to take the needed action to reinvigorate, restore and set things right. Lift up your ears and hear the piercing peal of the Shofar. This Day of Awe calls to us.
You tube music video: The Klezmatics Araber Tants
Risk: opportunity, restoration
A new year begins
of the future
It is possible to realize
the seemingly improbable
Visualize the ideal
begin the ernest work
of the necessary
Yoko likes to say
“peace is yours
if you want it”
Do you want it?
We must have it.
The Lords peace
rests on you.
May you carry
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