|Issue #07-02 June 2007|
One of the interesting things about returning to the old ways of putting out a newsletter when the Spirit moves me, instead of a pre-determined schedule, is that, while it sometimes can be a long time between newsletters, it is also possible you could receive another one after only several weeks Ė like now.
Quite some time ago I read an analogy, or modern parable, which had Jesus as a hitchhiker by the side of the road and each of us driving along in our car (representing our life). Will you stop, letting Him into your car? Where will you put Him? These are the primary questions of the parable. Will you put Him in the trunk, hidden away from others and yourself? Perhaps you will allow Him to ride in the back seat. Does He need to duck down in certain areas, so friends or acquaintances do not see He is with you? Do you let Him join you in the front seat ó on the passenger side? Or, can you go so far as to invite Him to drive? And, if on the other extreme, you did not stop to pick Him up, did you look the other way and hit the accelerator as you sped by? Or, did you look into the sadness of His eyes as you drove past Ė waving? Ė feeling a tinge of sadness yourself? Ė or giving Him the finger?
The Teaching & Sharing Center grew out of the mission statement of a touch of william. One line talks about a "spiritual reality." Once you get past deciding what color to paint the living room, it does not take much depth of thought to realize there has to be more to all this than the tangible (physical world). The mere existence of anything, is so preposterous, as to beg the question of Ė what else? That "what else" is the spiritual dynamic. The Scripture words which come to mind are "things unseen." In New Age parlance, it is the metaphysical. I find it interesting that so much of Christianity sees that word as threatening, when it simply translates as "beyond the physical." After all, isnít that how most of us see God Ė as being beyond the physical? Yet is He? Is that only where He is? Or, can He be a very real part of your worldly, tangible, everyday life?
The slogan we use; Nature - Spirit - Expression, also derives its origin from the atow mission statement. Although, when I penned it, I altered the order. Reading normally from left to right, Nature (the physical) connects to Spirit (the metaphysical) which then leads to Expression (enlightened sharing). Spirit is intentionally placed in the Center, as the core.
Having said that, I will emphasize that these words are not making any divine proclamation beyond that which is available to every one of us. My oneness is not that of purity of action and thought, but the purity of honest desire. I have heard it preached that Yahweh, in His holiness, is not present where there is sin. Indeed, some go so far as to say He cannot be, because of His very nature. I tell you, that is totally contrary to my experience. While I am not as quick these days to readily declare what is, or is not sin, it is precisely in the midst of the questionable that I most fervently ask Jehovah to be present. Even others have remarked that they sensed a difference because of this.
How do you see God? Where is He in your life? Have you allowed guilt, shame, blame, anger, imperfection, low self-esteem, or simply waiting until you clean up your act, keep you separated from a full relationship with your Creator? How about the flip side? Do you see Unelanvhi as a killjoy, just waiting to spoil all your fun if you open up to Him? Do you live, running from what you believe will be sure destruction, because you see Allah as some sort of terrorist, seeking the most opportune time to "get" you? Perhaps He is envisioned as the absentee landlord who expects to collect the rent from a distance, but is nowhere to be seen when there is difficulty or something breaks down? Or, maybe you see Him as (one of my favorites) the incompetent CEO. In this scenario, you are afraid to surrender your life to God because you fear He will send you to Africa, as a missionary, or someplace you are totally unsuited for in skills, personality, likes and dislikes, etc. As if Wakan Tanka did not give you all of these, and will be unaware of them, or indifferent to them, as He unfolds your life. If you listen to enough preachers, or read any number of isolated passages in Scripture, without keeping the broader picture in mind, it is easy to become afraid of a close relationship with your Creator. Good grief, Charlie Brown, does that make any sense? Is Yahweh really a sadist, looking for ways to bring pain into your life? Or, is He your best bet to blossom into the full expression of who you really are? The person He created you to be. With all your likes and dislikes in place, complete with your own personality, faults and sins, mistakes and blunders, how can He not accept you as you are? After all, He either created you that way, or with the propensity to choose it for yourself. Either way, you came as no surprise. Do you understand that? Then, can you allow God the opportunity to show you all the pluses He placed within and around you.
The T&SC mission statement is a little longer and wordy, but our purpose statement says simply we are here to:
"Help people grow closer to their Creator in their daily lives and express the gifts with which they are blessed."
I call it my dance with God. Care to join us?
Honesty, Energy, and Enthusiasm
I closed williamís perspective using a phrase I have often voiced; "my dance with God." This statement is not meant to imply that I can always follow His steps well, or keep up with many of the wonderful moves I see Him make. Nor does it preclude times when I feel no enthusiasm to find the energy to get up out of my chair (or bed in the morning) and step onto the dance floor.
If you read the last newsletter, you may have picked up on the fact that my energy and enthusiasm have been waning for some time. The two are sort of a chicken and the egg thing. Does loss of enthusiasm lead to lack of energy, or vice versa? The mental, physical, and spiritual are so intertwined, it is difficult to know for sure.
Being ever aware of the lack of broad based support for what I (now a we) do is just one dynamic which makes it difficult to place myself into motion each day. Some say such honesty is self-defeating. I had a discussion a few years ago with the director of a non-profit corporation on whose board I had previously served. We were talking about the wisdom of honest disclosure. The financial statements for that organization never really showed a fully accurate picture. A happy face (not really lies Ė just not the whole truth) was put on for the public, and even members. Though the organization historically struggled financially, sometimes severely, the director said it was unwise to reveal those "details" because Americans, in groups and as individuals, support what appears already successful, not that which looks like it could close up at any moment. That organization has been around a long time, so it perplexed me the director saw full honesty as a potential negative rather than as a possible solution.
I recently watched a PBS American Experience special about Alexander Hamilton (one of the founding fathers of the United States). They say his honesty and sense of honor were both his strongest assets and the tools of his destruction. There are no monuments to Alexander Hamilton in Washington DC. Honesty and politics do not mix well. Yet, much of our way of life, the American dream, and our prosperity, we owe to this manís visions and endeavors. He stated, "I always speak the truth, as things are, not as they ought to be." His life was both heroic and tragic.
It is a rare occurrence, but every few years or so, someone will ask to be removed from the mailing list right after receiving a newsletter. It always causes me to wonder if something I wrote offended, or simply turned them off. Like Alexander Hamilton, I am absolutely committed to the truth, even with all the failings and flaws showing. And, also like him, I am occasionally caught off guard by how others react to honesty. Still, without honesty, how do those who cross the bridge after me, know that when they run into obstacles, or discover their own flaws, it is OK. Because, even we, fully committed to truth and God, struggle, doubt, and sometimes lack.
The good news is that even in such times as this, of low energy and little enthusiasm, I am able to relax into the belief that God is yet in the driverís seat. And so can you.
Figure It Out?
Did you pick up on the fact that all those unusual names used in williamís perspective were either God, in other languages, or names by which He is called. If there is truly a single Creator, as we profess to believe, then itís the same God, by whatever name, and in spite of whether we have interpreted well or badly how He would have us live our lives, treat others, and relate to the rest of His creation.
Yahweh, Jehovah (Scripture translations of the Hebrew name for God, which had no vowels)
Wakan Tanka (Lakota)
The Cherokee above is the using English letters (not phonetic) version. Written in Cherokee it is:
Did You Know?
You can access the Center by appointment, including evenings or weekends. It was never intended to be a retail hours operation. Just call. If you have friends or family visiting and you want to see if you can get in right away, you might try calling me at home (627-3462) also.
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