Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Election Charade Begins

Have you also noticed how many candidates running for office this time around are NOT identifying whether they are Republican or Democrat in their TV ads?

I’d be ashamed to say I was identified with either party too if I wanted to be elected. I think many citizens have figured out the ploy, but in case you haven’t, PLEASE research beyond the ads for who these people really are and who is paying their political bills.

Congress has the lowest approval rating in history—because they DO NOTHING if they can possibly avoid it. After all, committing to something may upset some of the fat cats who send them money. Yes, I know, some good acts have been passed, but the bottom line is that elected members of Congress have only one goal—getting re-elected—and if it takes lying to you and me to do it, by all means lie they will.

I am still trying to decide whether I will even vote for dogcatcher this time around. I am totally frustrated by the mess in Washington that we call Congress, the White House and most of all, the Supreme Court. I have voted in every election since I first became eligible. That’s a LOT of years! I have considered it a privilege to be able to voice my opinion by the marks I put on the ballot. And, like many, I mostly feel the representatives in my own state know what they are doing and truly represent MY interests. It’s those other guys/gals in other states who are fouling things up! Now I’m not even sure that is true. Maybe it IS time to throw them ALL out!

Whatever YOU decide, do it intelligently, which means STAY AWAY FROM THE FOX NEWS NUTBALLS! There! I’ve said it. Now you can do as you please.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where Have the Mentors Gone?

I suddenly realized that all of my mentors were gone!

I am not sure what prompted the realization.  It may have been out of some shadow in a dream I had just as I awakened from a nap.  In any case I found myself thinking of the major mentors I have had in my life, all of them physically gone now.  At the same moment I felt the loss and the deep value their lives and example had on me.

I do not remember whether as a young child I had mentors.  I know I had “heroes.”  Heroes are somehow different from mentors.  Heroes come in uniforms, like Superman and Batman, the Green Hornet—icons like that.  Mentors, on the other hand, are often the ordinary humans who stand out in our experiences, people we look up to.  They may seem like everyday people when viewed by others, but to me, they are special.

It was while in seminary that I discovered my first mentor.  Ed Rabel was a fellow student, several years ahead of me.  He was already an extraordinary and insightful person who had grasped a unique understanding of the secret doctrines tucked away within the covers of the Bible.  His ability to take well-known allegories, parables and characterizations and weave them into everyday life experiences brought a guiding light to my heart and mind.  His path to understanding the Bible led to his becoming a singular authority on metaphysical Bible interpretation at Unity School.  He took the Bible out of the past and into today using the stories as templates for how the interactions of our thinking and feeling created both our challenges and the means to overcome them.  He was a great friend and teacher who also shared his love of music with me.  I thank him in large part for my appreciation of the classics.

My second mentor, James Dillet Freeman, was the Director of Ministerial Training at Unity School.  I had the privilege of serving as his secretary for two years while preparing for my student years.  He personally tutored me in philosophy, comparative religion and public speaking.  As Poet Laureate of Unity he was the author of numerous books and poems that brought inspiration and hope to millions of readers.  He and his wife, Billie, were the God Parents of my son, David.  Astronaut James Irwin on Apollo Flight 15 took his poem, I Am There, to the moon.  Earlier, on Apollo Flight 11, his Prayer for Protection was on the first moon landing.  Here is that prayer:

The Light of God surrounds me;
The Love of God enfolds me;
The Power of God protects me;
The Presence of God watches over me;
Wherever I am God is!

From Mr. Freeman I learned to view different possibilities when considering decisions.  Sometimes we would spend what seemed like hours debating some subject.  He would lead me on in the debate until I almost reached a point of agreement with him.  Then, he would switch sides and force me to support the opposite.  This invaluable exercise provided me with practical understanding of and appreciation for the views other people might hold on any given matter.

As I viewed these important people in my life I realized I still have mentors.  They guide me in different ways than when I was embarking upon my education and career in the ministry.  Now my mentors are the friends I hold dear, those who support me, but also who care enough to tell me when I fail to maintain my objectivity.  Thank goodness for these new mentors.  As we age it is very easy to become more entrenched in our attitudes, beliefs and actions.  In and of itself this is not a bad thing.  However, if we become more isolated and disengaged from our relationships with others, we may lose sight of those who care about us and who want to be a part of our lives.

So, I choose to not lose sight of these new mentors in my life.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Sacred Sound

Over a year ago I received an email that included a story with a message that impressed me enough that I saved it in my writing file with the thought that at the right time I would weave it into an article for my blog.  As I recently reread the story and researched the author and the book containing the story, I realized it could only be shared just as it was written and not as an example used by me to illustrate some point of my own.  I hope you can connect with the story as I did.


A man is driving down the road and his car breaks down near a monastery.  He goes to the monastery, knocks on the door, and says, "My car broke down.  Do you think I could stay the night?"
The Monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, and even fix his car.  As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a strange sound . . . . a sound not like anything he's ever heard before.  The Sirens that nearly seduced Odysseus into crashing his ship comes to his mind.  He doesn't sleep that night.  He tosses and turns trying to figure out what could possibly be making such a seductive sound.
The next morning, he asks the Monks what the sound was, but they say, "We can't tell you. You're not a Monk."
Distraught, the man is forced to leave.

Years later, after never being able to forget that sound, the man goes back to the monastery and pleads for the answer again.  The Monks reply, "We can't tell you.  You're not a Monk."
The man says, "If the only way I can find out what is making that beautiful sound is to become a Monk, then please, make me a Monk."
The Monks reply, "You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of grass there are and the exact number of grains of sand.  When you find these answers, you will have become a Monk."

The man sets about his task.

After years of searching, he returns as a grey-haired old man and knocks on the door of the monastery.  A Monk answers.  He is taken before a gathering of all the Monks.
"In my quest to find what makes that beautiful sound, I traveled
the earth and have found what you asked for:  By design, the world is in a state of perpetual change.  Only God knows what you ask.  All a man can know is himself, and only then if he is honest and reflective and willing to strip away self deception."
The Monks reply, "Congratulations.  You have become a Monk.  We shall now show you the way to the mystery of the sacred sound."
The Monks lead the man to a wooden door, where the head monk says, "The sound is beyond that door."
The Monks give him the key, and he opens the door.  Behind the wooden door is another door made of stone.  The man is given the key to the stone door and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby.  And so it went that he needed keys to doors of emerald, pearl and diamond.
Finally, they come to a door made of solid gold.  The sound has become very clear and definite.  The Monks say, "This is the last key to the last door."
The man is apprehensive to no end.  His life's wish is behind that door!  With trembling hands, he unlocks the door, turns the knob, and slowly pushes the door open.  Falling to his knees, he is utterly amazed to discover the source of that haunting and seductive sound . . . .

But I can't tell you what it is because you're not a Monk.

"The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price.  If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all.  But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise. I return from one walk knowing where the killdeer nests in the field by the creek and the hour the laurel blooms. I return from the same walk a day later scarcely knowing my own name. Litanies hum in my ears; my tongue flaps in my mouth Ailinon, alleluia! I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff." ~

Grateful appreciation to the author, Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Check out the monks of Glenstal Abbey