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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

LISTEN



Do you hear echoes within?
 I suspect most do; Family, money, romance. 
The list is infinite.
For a while now, I hear, “listen.” 
I have always talked too much, like a motor running. 

In the silence, I am free. The echo caresses, listen … listen.
What might we listen for;   birds calling out a symphony, 
wind tossing pollen laden trees,
 the creak of the house as it settles its bones?

 I fall inward to breath; in … out … inhale … exhale.
The masters say,  observe the space between,
 the space where swirls of light murmer in the darkness,
" come to me … come to me … now."

Blending in vibration, He comes:  
Conscious,  subconscious, super conscious. 
We join the supernal universe. 
“I am”, the sound of God.

Listen, Silence's truth, 
beyond flesh and bone. We are He,
 one and the same.
Made in the image of Father, 
seeking,
listening,
 always, 
always,
 returning,
 home.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

DICHOTOMY?





A while back an activist friend posted her experience and it troubled me. As a meat eater, I was touched and sought to balance my perspective knowing that in this life there is yin and yang, ebb and flow, dark and light.

I reached out to a family member that I know is kind, loving and hard working, steeped in generations of farming life and experience.

Knowing many are home bound with more time than usual I post this now in the hopes that it might carry a message. I came away wishing my activist friend could visit the farm and meet the farmer.

Herein lays the core of what I would say. Like in my twenty’s when a friend came out as gay, or loving  a family with a transgender child or having an African American friend or a Muslim friend: when you put a face to ideology, when relationship bleeds into perspective we find the truth.


                                                                         ACTIVIST/YOGA TEACHER

     
 Y’all my heart f______g hurts. I witnessed so much suffering today, completely unnecessary misery. Fellow activists and I stood in the unrelenting heat (90+ degrees in Tar Heel this afternoon) to document truckloads of pigs and chickens on their way to slaughter. Packed tightly together, crammed up against hot metal bars, unable to move or find any relief. Terrified, exhausted, sick, dehydrated, dying, and some already dead, I’m sure. Their eyes all seemed to ask “Why?”, and that’s what I want to know, too. These are living, breathing, feeling beings, but to most people, they are nothing more than commodities. In the cold, dark world of animal agriculture, their only value lies in how many dollars and cents can be made from each pound of their tortured flesh. They know nothing but deprivation, abuse, and sorrow. Saying I’m disgusted with humanity for allowing this to continue doesn’t even begin to cover it. My soul cries for these poor creatures every moment of every day. I wish they could be seen as the precious individuals that they all are. With every fiber of my being, I wish this atrocity would end for once and for all, and I hope you will join me in co-creating a world in which all are treated with kindness and compassion.

                                                                                   FARMER


Yes, I often wish there were more humane ways on the commercial end of farming. We would have a big problem in this world with feeding the masses in an economically advantageous manner without the technology used today. The current processes were created for sustainability, and though they might not seem like the best options, they meet the demands. Those that can afford to purchase more humanely raised meat should do so to support small time heritage farms like mine, but the problem is that people don’t want to pay for it. It is extremely difficult for farmers like me to survive. Think about this... a farmer today makes the same for a bushel of wheat or corn as in the 80s, but it cost more to produce. Monsanto allows farmers to get more bushels per acre that are resistant to disease and bugs, so the farmer can increase yield and retain some bit of profit. Then small farmers go to buy that same bushel of grain for their animals and the cost has tripled. Many of my friends have already watched their farms go under because they can’t afford to feed their animals. What about pastured animals? Cheap way to feed, right? Well, unless you move to Missouri, you are going to pay $10,000 per acre or more for “farmland” around here. I make nothing off my animals. I essentially do it out of love. Sadly, a big heart doesn’t pay the bills. I understand how those on the outside looking in must feel about commercial farmers and killing of animals, but they shouldn’t assume that we like it either. It is a necessity, because not everyone is willing to sacrifice and become vegan.


In summary, all forms of divisiveness are grounded in selfishness. There is a martial art called Aikido. The founder worked his way to a spiritual awakening, took the core of combat arts and created an art that sought to neutralize violence with a minimum of harm. The goal was to blend with the attacker in a way that took their balance and immobilized them without damage. This idea, to protect your perceived adversary permeates theology and war throughout history yet the common response is to run headlong into conflict with the intention to destroy.

 The truth is we are all rowing the same leaky boat. Either we find a way to blend our energy or we will either row in circles or sink. I suspect our goal should be to help each other until we all find our way to safely to shore..


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Covid 19: A Perspective


 In the throes of the Covid pandemic, I have been compelled to write something, anything meaningful, helpful.
Warm and fuzzy has its place but mostly when you are home and protected by the love of family. Out in the rugged world you have to be careful that your love does not digress into naivete or you are liable to get your ass kicked.
 I am fortunate to have a daily spiritual practice. My goal is, “Love God, clean house, serve others.” Nothing original, but for me the K.I. S.S. theory works best. (Keep it simple, Stupid)
As we move forward into the maw, if I could offer anything it would be this. When you are at a bottom there is a part of you that wants to give up. I spent half a lifetime trying not to fall to my knees only to realize I was constantly doing just that. What ended up mattering was what I do once I’m there.
Bottoms are kind of like falling into a shallow well. You are waste deep in water and there is light way above reaching into the darkness where you are. You are hungry, thirsty, wracked with pain from the fall and all you can do is look up at that light and scream HELP    HELP … PLEASE HELP ME!
Some give in to that despair and this life comes to an end. Others realize that they must wait. Once that realization occurs the human psyche will begin to organize, observe and in that stillness the answers will come.
Suddenly you become aware that you are standing in clear, clean water and all you have to do is drink. After the panic and subsequent surrender to your plight, the mind begins to still and in that clarity the light above begins to grow until the only thing that matters is that light.
The fact that your skin is crawling, you are bone cold, hunger is gnawing at your guts recedes and you  cease to be afraid because you have accepted the fact that all you can do is wait.
The light is hope. In the water we are reborn. Our minds cease to produce enemies and instead are transformed by a surrendering heart … a heart that has given itself over to hope until they hear your cry for help.
And in the light they come … HE comes and you are delivered from your darkness.
The hard part about all of this is the not knowing but from that ignorance is born the most powerful tool humans possess … love. When I say that word I am not talking warm and fuzzy. I am talking the love of a warrior that fights for his or her brothers and sisters and strives with every breath to serve them.
There is scripture that has beat steady these past few years and that is what I would offer here:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Playing In the Tub

I’m not sure if it’s time or age or a learning to wait, observe and listen or all of these things but of late I am ever mindful of our fragile natures.
I am surrounded by young men and both observe
and interact with them daily. In that process I see that though they strive with such ardor to appear strong and capable (and they in many ways are) they are affected by each comment, nuance, mood.
In their minds, explanation and direction become criticism. If one is not careful an attempt to teach becomes little more than an admonishment.
My goal is to teach without criticism. To guide as much as possible by example. Yet there is often a time when lecture is necessary to avoid problems.
Among one another they joke and tease. Yesterday that devolved into a battle between two of them in which attacking the softest spots of  became the goal. I must say that listening all I could think of was immaturity yet I let it go …. Listening … thinking.
The next morning I heard one apologize for his part but heard no response from the other. It is possible that he gestured yet I wonder. If you cannot speak your position is there any truth in it? I know that he is prone to grudges.
The apologizer is prone to bait others and tease a lot so I expect it began there but I realize that where it began doesn’t mean much.
We have our 3 year old God son for the weekend. Last night as I watched him play in the bath tub I couldn’t help but notice how attentive was his play. In that focus I saw vulnerability. My heart flew out to him as I recognized his future in a world that will not love him as much as I do.
Society will not be careful with his heart. This morning my heart goes out to these young men. What happened yesterday was that the child in the bathtub playing was slapped and left to process his feelings.
The last thing I had heard the grudge carrier say as he slammed out the door was, “It was an argument but I don’t see why you would want to demean somebody.”
I hear the message loud and clear.
Be careful with people’s hearts. From the grizzled construction worker to the Mother of children we are all  on one level just children playing in the tub.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

BEDS


                                                                                   



Our lives are full of beds, some folks more than others.
We moved a lot when I was a kid. The bed changed location but one thing was always the same; the strangeness of the new surroundings, the loss of the familiar.
I was at times distressed yet lying there smelling a house that wasn’t our smell yet, I would always wonder what could happen next.
There was the trampoline place on the corner. The thought of it made my heart jump.
The gaggle of kids my age down the way ogling while we moved.
The wall when I lay on my side, blank as my heart because we’d left the gaggle of kids.
The scrawny golfer with hairy Adams apple my mother had framed as a stab at humor for a boys room though moving up in neighborhood when you're 13 is bad if your clothes are different and your Dad is loud.
Bunks in frozen Michigan during boot camp with snoring strangers and the thought that, “Boy have I made a mistake.”
Rats scrabbling under the bed because I got lost. Had to pee but just stayed rather than creep across the nasty floor in my already soiled socks or try to find my shoes in the dark down near the rats.
The strange roommate, white skivvies, kneeling in prayer while I was trying to put myself back together.
Toddlers tumbling until the covers are so tangled it’s annoying but their giggles make it ok.
Next to my son as the chemo pump drones.
Fan blowing as I let myself fall through a star lit sky and speak to God until the light envelopes me.
Predawn darkness casts silhouettes as I tip toe to prayer and all those beds lay to rest in my mended heart that sits in wonder waiting for Him …
And all the years,
All the fears,
All the sweat soaked beds are nothing more than stepping stones to light and God and the love of all mankind.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

On Forgiveness

There’s a small child in our lives of late. We try to keep him once a week to help the single Mom and Grandmother who both work. For some reason he and I have a bond. He comes to me and grins and we just know we’re glad to be with one another.

I love him. If I try to call it anything else I do not articulate. He doesn’t speak yet. A part of me doesn’t want him to. There is a beauty in his silence and fear not … he communicates well.  He’s a happy child, always smiling and curious. He doesn’t like when you lay him on his back yet has come to accept when we do.

My wife sends me videos and photos at work. Every time I look at one I find that I feel transported somehow … affected. He’s exhausting. You’re concerned he’ll fall or get hurt on your watch. I spoil him because I can.

The thing is, I kept being moved by it all, tearful. So I texted my wife when she sent a photo as he was “operating” a small blower with our cousin explaining that my feelings confused me until suddenly … it was there.

This child, his beauty and innocence, the difficult yet loving family dynamic, his very presence in the universe breaks my heart. He begins his life and all the things that make us hard start to happen. All he knows is curiosity and want. He doesn’t understand when he doesn’t get it but he’s only sad for a few short moments then something else pops up and he’s forgotten.

If only we could forget. If only we could forgive. Then we could move on with the curiosity of a small child and our lives would be so much better for it.

Yet we will remember. Our resentments will, drip by drip, rob us of the beauty, power and grace we have been so freely given. Or will we ... can we ... each day, "let go and let God?"

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

If Only I Can Sing


 “Why do I write?” All my life I have needed to say something, many things I'm sure most folks would say. When I struggle to say these things it often sounds … somehow stilted.

Yet there are frequent times when my heart makes it to my brain and I “see” something. The words flow, my heart usually races and I am left with a thing that speaks from my inner self.

I have taken classes where we will read our stuff to a small group. My voice waivers and cracks. My heart will pulse in my ears until I am finished and sit rather stunned, lacking words to speak. That’s when I know God has “spoken” to me.

You see that’s the whole point. Some might say I am a simple, deeply flawed searcher. I began to write in young adulthood because I needed to. I stopped for a long time. Now I know I stopped writing because I stopped listening.

I stopped listening to God. Sometimes I stop listening now. Then the words will dry up and I will become angry. I have learned that I am angry with me but it wants to look like I am angry at the world around me.

Long ago I took a path that was wrought with violence and desolation. It laid me low until I asked for help. That help was given freely and I began a little at a time to listen again. Now that is where I begin.

Each day I seek from the core of my being to listen. I am not an educated man but what I am is a believer that came to it by trial and failure and yes … humiliation. I know the sound of rats scratching under the bed. I have seen through the picture window from outside on a cold winter night as a family broke bread, fire in the hearth, while I trod dejected … to nowhere.

I have seen war and known hunger. I have stared at my mortality and welcomed the end of it all. I know abuse and psychological torment, hate, prejudice, rage ... and disgust.

Yet I also know the unconditional love of other souls who are listeners. They saved me and inspire me to tell the story however I can. So I tell it with wavering voice and vivid memories. I sing a song of brokenness that I pray can help heal others … if only I can reach the notes He has given me.