Become a Follower of the Big Dude!

Meet the divine Dude in this blog. This Dude has had and seen his share of sacred shit. He's not afraid of it or of its language. I can't relate to a god that's been crucified, but I can relate to one whom my government has imprisoned and humiliated. I can relate to one who's been raped by his own holy men. I can relate to one who grew up playing baseball or soccer and who dated the Prom Queen. I can relate to the god who knows the working of corporate conglomerates, pimps, and teen-age girls who are pregnant. I can relate to the god who loves alcoholics and drug addicts just a tad more than wall street hotshots. This Dude thinks all of us are mortal particles in an ocean of sacred shit. This Dude recycles.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wisdom Bytes

About two weeks ago, I was feeling bleak and I demanded a miracle from the Big Dude. I didn't ask in supplication or meekness; I was seriously pissed with his failure to right the terrible natural events occuring in the world and the minor losses occuring in mine.

Let me recount the big and small events and words that appeared after I made my demand.

EVENTS

I fell apart with a trusted friend and surfaced frightening and sorrowful feelings. It was as if my heart broke open and spilled allowing room for the series of mini-miracles that followed. At the end of our conversation, the friend said to me, "You need to spend time with people who love you."

My little sister through BBBS is one such person so we got together, baked a pizza, and watched a movie while snuggling under my down throw with the dog. Afterwards, this little "Goth" person with her heavily blackened eyeliner and piercings asked me what I thought about God. That precipitated a half hour conversation about black holes, creation, heaven, faith, and the end of the world. She shared her fear of not being. All I can say is that I was channeling my dad in this interaction. I remembered having these kinds of conversations with him, sharing my fears with him. He was always calm and rational in his responses making me feel that such thoughts and feelings were natural and normal. I had the privilege of passing that gift along to my sis and also of re-experiencing those moments with Dad.

Then, I broke my toe the day before my birthday. People who loved me flocked to help me. Friends almost carried me to a restaurant. My housemate returned early from a trip. The neighbor children walked my dog. I sat with my foot elevated on an ice pack and watched the Ophrah Winfrey final shows. In her last episode, she spoke words from the Unity Church services and songs--"Be Still and Know That I Am" and "To God Be the Glory." As a former choir member and pianist at the Unity Church, I hear these words in music--the words of two of my favorite songs. I was struck by her use of Unity phrases and felt a oneness with her. I would never have watched if I hadn't broken my toe.

WORDS

That brings me to the wisdom bytes I've come across in odd places. You could say that the coversation with my sister was one such place. I heard myself say to her, "I don't think faith is believing in god so much as it's accepting life as you find it and believing it is good that way." Those words were as new to me as they were to her. They "came" to me.

Oprah's invoking of Unity principles sounded another chord of wisdom that resonates in my soul and has done since the first time I heard a Unity Church service on television thirty years ago. I have had the tenets of the Unity Church clipped to my refrigerator every since, following me through 6 different houses since then. "Be still and know that I am [God]." Those words summarize my hope of spirituality--to be able to do just that would be enough and everything.

At 7:15 a.m. on my birthday, my younger son called from Germany and sang "Happy Birthday" to me on the phone. Since our contact is always by video chat, I was completely surprised and burst into tears. In that precious conversation, he shared that "everydayness is what we have." He said, "It's what we have to work with." Wisdom byte.

My international student mentee emailed me and said, "I listened to you and I respected my mother. You were right that I needed to respect her as I'm forming a relationship with a girlfriend." Wisdom byte bouncing back to me.

On a conference call with work colleagues, the speaker opened by saying, "Some things that can be counted don't matter, and some things that matter can't be counted." The call was about institutional evaluation and such a phrase was the last thing I expected. It's so true though. Love, wisdom, joy, hope can't be counted but they matter.

Perhaps I wouldn't have been able to recognize or receive the miracles coming to me if my heart hadn't broken first. When we're in a dark night of the soul, it's good to remember that we're composting the sacred shit so the dahlias and peonies can shoot up through the ground and burst into riotous bloom.

Wisdom bytes are in the most unlikely places. Roxie

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saved!

Walking the dog just now, I realized that I am saved--one way or another, I'm saved, ok, acceptable, just fine. You might imagine that I write this blog because I know that, because I know something about spirituality. On the contrary, I write this blog because I don't know that.

Earlier in the day, for example, my mind was running its tapes about how I'm to blame for my husband's bad decisions, for my mom's lack of love, for anything that my kids have done badly, even for my dog being off her feed today. Then, out of the blue, as I was walking outside, I remembered, "I'm saved." I'm saved even if I could be blamed for anything I named. I'm saved even if I have done far worse things.

What does that mean: saved. Perhaps it means forgiven as Christians believe, or perhaps it means acceptably unfolding in a more Buddhist interpretation. I read an essay today by Eric Wilson called "The Miracle in Melancholia" (something like that). It claims that we, Americans, are addicted to happiness and that we've forgotten that the greatest gifts and miracles come from our darkest moments.

That's a truth that I know. My best writing, best blogs, most creative moments come from going into the darkness (Wendell Berry). Wilson wasn't saying that happiness doesn't bring any gifts just that in only wanting THOSE gifts, we miss the miracles composting within all the shit (the sacred shit, remember?).

So, I'm remembering the voluminous creativity of being in love. Love poems fall from the soul, pour onto the page. Both sides of our experiences, in would seem, yield enormous crops even if some seem more bitter than sweet.

The salvation of today is about being at neither extreme. Sometimes we're on automatic pilot, sleep-walking, numb. At those times, the muses and miracles seem far away. Isn't it strange to think of being in the middle as "sleep walking?" Isn't "in the middle" where we are most of the time? We're not usually in chaos or in bliss; we're in the relentless routine of everyday. That's when we may most need saving. Roxie

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hit the Pause Button

The pause button on our technology puts the drama in a holding pattern enabling us to take a break--walk the dog, answer the phone, get a bite to eat. It's a great invention and the metaphor applies to the spiritual domain as well. When life comes at us fast and hard, sometimes we need to hit the pause button.

Life can come at us hard externally. Death and taxes, as the saying goes. Also, love lost, physical aches and pains, hurricanes and disasters, crime, divorce, and all the hurts of a full life. Don't you wonder as you think about your own hurts or watch the devestation of others play out on television what the Big Dude is thinking as HE watches the dramas of earth play on? Perhaps he hit the pause button long ago and is off wandering in some eternal galaxy with his version of a dog.

Life can also come at us hard internally. We mess with ourselves. If we really were living in the moment, things might not be too bad, but our mind is reeling out catastrophic thoughts or bad memories or worries about the future. And so, we drink or gamble or read voraciously. We watch TV, play video games or golf. We try to numb the endless thoughts that threaten to bury our creativity and optimism.

So, here's where the pause button comes to the rescue. We can stop, take a breath, and bring our attention to a focal point. The last few days, when outside walking the dog or gardening, I've tried this. I've stopped physical movement, taken a breath and looked at the tree tops framing the sky. I experienced a sacred moment. Everything seemed to pause. Colors seemed brighter, shapes seemed both sharper and more muted at the same time.

I wonder if the Big Dude gave US the pause button and we haven't yet become comfortable or familiar with that spiritual technology. You've probably heard the saying that we're spiritual beings in a physical world. So, we have to live our our physical nature; it's our task in this realm of existence. I'm thinking the Big Dude didn't want us to forget our spiritual essence and he engineered us with the capacity to reconnect in an instant by halting all the physical/psychological shit. That's all we have to do, really. Just halt it, hit pause. Then, there's room for the sacred hush of grace to show its face. Just for that moment, we remember what's real.

Turn off the technology of our humab condition or at least pause it. Oh, there you are, Big D. Roxie

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother

To mother is to give birth. This can be physically growing and bringing a baby into the world from the womb. As amazing as that transitional moment is for the mothering one and the one being born into a new existence, it's just the beginning of the mothering act. Countless moments birth the personality and the spirit of the other.

While most religions encourage us to love ourselves and, in that sense, to birth ourselves, we can't do it alone. An infant, a puppy, a plant, even a star must be taken in to a loving world for it to survive much less to thrive. In vain do we try to love ourselves if someone, usually many someones, hasn't loved us along the way.

The ideal mother is personified in Mary, the mother of Jesus. She carried and birthed a mysterious life. She protected and loved it. Ultimately, she gave it back to the world. She realized she was a caretaker with a life on loan to her for the good of all.

This ideal of "mother" lives in all of us, men and women alike. We all have opportunities when we are called to carry a life and help it develop into its potential. We do this more or less gracefully. Even the most heinous criminal may have moments when he or she does carry and help someone become better than they are. We don't necessarily hear about those moments when someone commits a vicious action. Too often, we let the vicious action(s) define one of our brothers or sisters instead of looking at the whole of this person's existence. We are capable of murdering one person and generously loving another.

This ideal of "mother" sets the bar really high and most of us don't have one mother who reaches that level of perfection; likewise, most of us don't achieve that level of perfection in moments when we are called to be a mother. We have to look at the whole when we look at who mothered us and who we are as mothers.

In my case, for example, my biological mother fed and clothed me well. She nursed me when I was sick. She was incapable of birthing my spiritual and emotional well-being. My father did those things with the help of many others--Aunt Agnes, Sister Michaelene, Sister Amadeus, Winky and Emma, Aunt Rosy, Grandma Kolarik, Tom K., Mrs. Finn, and my best friend, Joan. It took a village of men and women to birth me. If we're honest, it takes that many mothers to birth and raise all of us.

As mothers, it's important that we welcome other mothers into the lives of our children. Step-mothers, aunts, grandmothers, fathers, teachers, and mentors contribute to the development of the lives put in our care by the universe. Our children need endless mothers.

I'm grateful to the ideal of mothering and to the many mothers who contributed to my well-being. This blog is for my mothers and the mother in all of us. Roxie