Monday, March 19, 2018

Fearless Healing

Fear is a powerful motivator. It can push us beyond rational thinking and behavior. It ignites anger.
In fear and anger, there is no love and no joy. There may be an adrenaline rush in the "gotcha" moments when we believe we have overcome an enemy, but that is evil and short lived. In those moments, we damage our soul and turn our backs to the universal power many call God.
I often return to the simple command from Jesus, "Fear not!" All his teachings revolve around this command. His ministry was fearless. He did not fear the leper, he healed them. Turning the other cheek is a fearless act. Nothing he did was based in fear.
Some point to his turning over the money changers' tables in the temple as example of justified anger. But first consider his motivation. It was based in love of the people being cheated. He did not call for rebellion. He did not stoke the fears of his followers to act out against anyone. He made his point the moved on and continued his ministry of love and healing.
Fear does not heal. Fear does not resolve problems. Acting in fear and anger can only grow more fear and anger. It is debilitating and destructive. It hardens our heart and weakens our spirit.
As fear grows within us, we seek ways to protect ourselves. We build walls in expectation that isolation will keep us safe. We angrily defend and protect those walls while others shout from the other side. It grows more fear which causes us and others to seek retribution or retaliation.
Fear cannot drive rational problem solving. Fear drives justification for destructive acts. The longer we let it fester and grow, the greater the destruction.
It's difficult to look our own fears in the face and recognize the power they have over us. We all believe our fears, and resulting anger, are quite justified. The laws of the universe (of God) are not in our favor. Fear is the opposite of love. We know we are operating in fear when we cannot look at the other and express love. Something is wrong in our soul.
If we want to heal this nation, if we want to heal this world - we must first heal ourselves.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

It's about fear...

What is conservative? What is liberal?
Long ago, as I have written about before, in a single day friends chastised me. "Don't try to convince me that you are a liberal, I know you are conservative at heart." Later that day a friend said, "Don't try to to convince me your are a conservative, I know you are a liberal at heart." Of course, most of you reading this will now say, "Good God, we all know you are a liberal!" The truth is that I am somewhat both. And so are you.
Having the great honor of working up close with a wide variety of people in leadership on boards, committees, organizations, political endeavors, I've witnessed heart. When we are faced with decisions to help someone, we do. When we know there is a need, we will. It does not matter if we are conservative or liberal. We do and we will. It's not liberal or conservative. There is a need and we do and we will.
What separates us is what we fear. When we see risk, we grow conservative. When we see little risk, we are liberal. If we want to bridge our divides, we need to address fears.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

When I grow up....

Even at my age, I'm still working on who I want to be when I grow up. Lately I'm thinking that might be to become so at peace with myself and the world around me that no storm, natural or human created, derails me from the pursuit of love and peace. What does that look like? What does that require of me?
As that's been floating around in my head over the last 6 months or so, a song sprang into my consciousness that a group of us sang out for the first time recently. Singing it with this group first in my living room brought great joy. I see so many faces when I sing these words.

But that song is just an expression of a moment and a sentiment. How do I find that peace with myself and the world in the way I desire? My friend Mary Morgan came to mind and the four agreements she shared one evening.
The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

If I can focus on these and sing out my heart, I just might be ready to grow up. And when I finally do, I know it will be time to go to the next level of understanding. Therein lies my Salvation.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

More Guns????

Gun ownership in the United States has doubled since 1968. There are 112 guns for every 100 residents. In other words, there are enough guns to arm every man, woman and child in the country and still have a surplus of guns in the hands of citizens. We are number 1 in gun ownership followed by Serbia with 75 guns per 100 residents. (2015 data and reports of exact numbers/100 vary but the overall ratio is consistent with our first place status)
Meanwhile, we also lead the world in firearm related deaths with 10.2 per 100,000 people. We are also number 1 in mass shootings with 78 compared to second place Germany with 7. We have more than 10 times the mass shooting of any other country in the world!
On the heels of each mass shooting, gun advocates float solutions that revolve around more guns in the hands of "good guys". If having more guns is the solution, why aren't we the safest nation in the world already? If the number of guns we have isn't enough, how can more fix that? That "solution" defies logic.
The issue is not about good guys having guns. The issue is that those with nefarious motives have easy access to guns - especially those designed to kill many people in a short amount of time. To me and many others, it's obvious that our first step is to make it difficult for anyone to access weapons intended to be used as mass killing machines.
Of course that will not stop everyone who is intent on killing people. Yes they may try one of a hundred other ways but let's not make it easy for them. It's too easy to obtain and use guns with high capacity. If knives and bats were as deadly as guns, we'd be arming our military with knives and bats.
The other argument for unfettered second amendment "rights" is that we need protection from government tyranny. Really? Your AR-15 may make you feel better but if our government unleashes the military in some tyrannical force against us, you won't stand a chance.
There's a better solution to government tyranny. Get engaged. Vote. Talk with your legislatures regularly. Run for office.
Limiting access to high power weapons is just the first and most obvious step to take. We then need to focus on solutions that address those who feel disenfranchised, angry, and are mentally ill to the point of lashing out at innocent people. That's going to require hard work, diligence, and deep systemic changes. We need national leadership that outlines a multi-pronged approach but it will take local muscle and resources to make those changes.
Let's stop talking about what can't be done and placing blame. Let's get serious and solve this.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Serve because you can!

Many who have "served" will tell you that they received much more than they gave. You will hear that from volunteers everywhere. Quite often it's true of many who have volunteered to served in the military. I am one of them.
That has often left me speechless when someone thanks me for my service. In that moment my heart aches for those lost in service and for those who cannot say they received more than they gave. In that moment, I see the faces of the men and women I have known who were irrevocably scared by events of their service. They humble me.
Having worked at the Survival School, I heard first hand accounts of the many situations faced by our men and women in combat situations. I've met former POW's. For many veterans, physical survival was the easy part. I've heard their stories. I see their faces. Mine is not one of them. I am humbled.
If I pause and lower my eyes when you thank me, it's because of them. It's because in that moment I wish to honor them.
And so, I seek that path.
My job in the Air Force was to entertain those men and women and to tell their stories. My job was to bring a part of home to them as comfort in lonely times away from home. In a stroke of luck or fate, I was honored to serve in the elite Armed Forces Radio and Television. There were only about 500 of us worldwide while I was serving. These were the days before internet and broad satellite access to broadcasts. We had teletype service and MARS stations. And in Greenland, we often felt as though we were in Mars.
Across all branches in the military, there are many serving in non-combat roles. There are accountants, mechanics, electricians, computer techs, doctors, nurses, guards, clerical workers and on and on. They are all serving.
Is all service equal? I would say not. Is all service valuable? I would say so.
Throughout our community are volunteers who serve. Many will say they have received more than they give. It's true of those who volunteer as firefighters and it's true of those who volunteer to set up an event. It's true because your focus is on lifting others and by lifting others, you lift yourself.
Service should be recognized as valuable. But it is not all heroic. The act of service should not be heroic, it should be a way of life. We should all be seeking to serve, not for recognition but simply because we are all lifted up by it.
That's not to say that there are no heroic efforts. Some are able to do greater acts by fate or by design. Some find it within themselves to rise above. Some find themselves in situations that cause them to find something within themselves to do much more than they they ever imagined they could. They are heroes when the rest of us wonder if we could have or would have been able to do what they did.
And so, I will be focused on a more positive response as kind souls recognize my small service. Something like, "may we all embrace the service of our abilities", while remembering those who served beyond what they knew their abilities to be.
However you are serving, wherever you are serving, Thank you for your service! It matters!!! May it lift you as much or more than it lifts others. You will be my hero when you rise beyond what you thought you could possibly do in a most unexpected situation. You will also be my hero if you steadfastly serve because you can.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What the walls say.....

What stories these walls could tell! In just the time this 102 year old house has known me, it's filled with to brim. Many I know and many I don't know, could be told if these "walls could talk". And then there are all the stories that happened long before my time.
The downstairs bathroom was once a very early ham radio room. What communications took place in that room? Who did he talk to and where were they from? How far could that ham radio reach? Where was the antenna? Could it reach overseas? Why was he interested in ham radio? In what years was he tuned in? If only these walls could talk....
I stare at the covered hole in the wainscoting of what is now the dining room. A stove once sat there when that was originally the kitchen. What kind of stove was it? Where was the sink? Did they have an ice box? What did the table look like? Was there a more formal dining room in what is now the family room?
Why did M.R. like doors so much that there were originally 11 doors? Why did every room need to be so closed off? Why a door even on the back stairs and three into the hallway? Was it to regulate the heat?
M.R. Henderson, the first owner of this house, was ,by trade, a carpenter. He lived next door first and had this house built. Did he actually do any of the building? Certainly he had a hand in it's layout and design. How did his family use these rooms? What was his purpose for the third floor walk in attic? Was the interesting tool I found under the surface in the yard his?
I learned some things through his son James who visited once while I was away but his stories were collected by a friend who was here. Sadly, I missed that opportunity and now many years later have many unanswered questions.
What stories these walls could tell!
Though the walls don't tell all that has happened here, they resonate with the combined energy of all who have crossed through the threshold. Many who have spent much time here will quickly tell you that there is something special and unique about this place. I knew it the instant I walked in just over 17 years ago and I know it still. It's an old house with endless needs but there is indeed something special and unique about this place.
It's walls quietly speak it.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fake News

What does the term "fake news" mean? Does it mean that someone is reporting false information? Or does it mean that someone is reporting information as though it's important news and it's not really important.
This term "fake news" is such a new thing that it's very confusing especially when spouted by someone who so often provides false information. Meanwhile, most of the things labeled "fake news" by this person are provably true and as such, quite important as news.
There is not a single person, a single reporter, a single news source that is correct 100% of the time. I'm not. You're not. We get things wrong. Hopefully, most of us try to get things right as much as possible. We need to be slow to make blanket statements and diligent in our deliberations. We need to remove barriers and blinders that may cause us to dismiss true information because it is not what we hope to know or learn. When we get to a point where we call truth and discussion of truth "fake" because we want it to go away, we have lost our sense of reality and have lost our moral compass.