Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Better with age...

“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better” is one of our core principles at the CAC. Just do it better yourself, and don’t waste any time criticizing others or the past! writes Fr. Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation.

I can get so lost in words. Is there a continuum from evaluation to criticism? Does "practice of the better" mean passing judgment (maybe harsh) about "bad?" Is there a continuum from humility to arrogance, and is it possible to stray into arrogant humility? Am I speaking of a circle rather than a fulcrum-balanced line of continuum? Am I lost in a word circle?

Let me return to the breath, the simple breath, and watch the robin in the dogwood tree, so curvy-limbed with its mid-green leaves looking like the most beautifully arranged Japanese art work. There goes the robin, flying away.

No still life, this world. Active, very active with change. The most constant thing I know of is mathematics, and it's hard to translate a mathematical formula into a moral, ethical directive for change. Yet I do believe in the surety of natural sequence and consequence. I do believe in the scientific method as the best means to evaluate cause and effect.

My life question: How can I go forward in this day to practice a better way of being in this world than I was able to practice yesterday?

Best outcome for the day, in gentle, easy, clear steps. Best outcome, soonest.

Friday, July 19, 2013

So disconcerting...

Yesterday experienced workers with chain saws, a bucket truck, skid loader and brawn took down three tall, old trees near our house, cutting from the top down. Today sawdust blows from surrounding trees. The light and atmosphere is so different that sawdust blowing out of the trees is just one more element of this too-startling day.

Connection and being human

For years I listened to a weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir radio broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word from the Crossroads of the West. 

There was a time when such vibrations put out from a great distance could only be heard―how? by magic, maybe priestly or mystical magic? by the aborigines who can also literally hear the music of the stars in a rich night sky? under the influence? But then came a clearer comprehension of how those vibrations could be translated.

Today we do not have a means to perceive how everything is connected with everything else, how even what we think matters. So much wonder beyond our direct comprehension. Yet just because we lack the means to perceive, measure and manipulate the full nuance and complexity of the idea does not mean our inextricable connection with everything is not deeply and profoundly true. Just because we cannot measure love, for example, or the precise effect of being bullied or abused (trauma) doesn't mean there is nothing real about those things, that they have no effect. Just because we cannot comprehend the crying out of the trees, the amoeba, the rock, does not mean those cries do not exist and/or do not matter.

In his article "God, Revised: The Atheists Are Half Right," ( Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior pastor of All Souls Church, NYC, writes:

"...scientists have come to (this) conclusion...: In our universe, the fundamental laws of nature have existed from the very beginning, they apply everywhere, and they do not change." 

(Yes. Isn't that, by definition, God? Existed from the beginning, applies everywhere, does not change.) Guengerich goes on:
"Seeking God, finding faith and participating in a religious community is more than a personal exercise. If we fail to adapt, our increasingly empty houses of worship will become a sad symbol of a deeper vacancy in our lives and our culture. We'll each be left increasingly alone with our spiritual hunger and our longing for a place to belong. Self-centered entertainment will increasingly substitute for moral education. Political expediency and religious zealotry will increasingly triumph over a commitment to common good.

"In our modern world, we need to understand where we belong―that deep connection to everything that is present in our world, as well as all that is past and all that is possible. For this reason, a revised understanding of God isn't an optional aspect of life today. I believe it's necessary―not to explain everything we don't know, but to make meaningful sense of everything we do know."

I weep for my country where political expediency and religious zealotry already seem to have triumphed over a commitment to a common good, weep for my grandchildren who will inherit this world where lack of such commitment to the commonweal holds sway. I have no good, large answer. 

Guengerich says he, also, does not believe in the god atheists don't believe in. I don't either. But I do believe Life, and some things I have from my own lifetime so far of experiencing and noticing.

I have spaces between words. I have some inklings of the power of words and story to transform the astonishmenteven the shock
of direct experience into useful life understanding. I have breath and pulse and the music of the spheres. I have poems to provide me with that which is beyond me, found in the spaces between formulas and words. 

I find myself in realizing that in this real, living world we always stand in relationship, mysteriously connected to all and every thing there is.