- We can never be sure where we are going with our life—
where our life is going with us.
We await inspiration, direction, clarity, focus, invitation, chance, grace, luck, the reappearance of the white rabbit…
The white rabbit is always coming again,
and we have to be ready, watching, waiting.
This is the kind of eschatological promise we can count on—
the coming of the white rabbit is always at the end of time for one time in our life
and the beginning of time for another.
The Second Coming is not the Final Coming,
just the one after the first and before the third.
How many comings are there?
Depends on how well we respond to them.
Could be thousands.
Could be only one,
waiting and waiting for you to wake up to its calling and get on with your new life.
How many new lives are there?
We live as many as we can cram into a lifetime—
if we are up for it.
In each moment we stand before an infinite number of futures and choose one.
It could always be the same one we chose in the last moment.
It takes a mixture of courage and curiosity to take a chance
and follow what appears to be the white rabbit,
and it could be a wild goose,
or a red herring.
It takes a while to know,
which means we cannot be afraid of being wrong.
The roots of tomorrow’s Right are grounded in today’s Wrong.
We are internally guided, self-correcting beings but.
To be guided and corrected we have to be moving.
We can’t wait long trying to decide if it’s a white rabbit or not.
It will be gone by the time we make up our mind.
We have to go to know.
- There are questions we cannot ask,
trains of association we cannot allow ourselves to board.
This is where the conscious, willful, ego comes to the rescue of the invisible inner world,
where we “save our soul.”
Soul drifts toward the woeful sloughs of despond from time to time,
and needs us—the conscious ego us—
to will ourselves forward,
to call ourselves up and on.
In this work of gathering all of us for the work that is ours to do,
our conscious self relies on an aspect of the invisible world other than soul: Spirit.
Think of soul as the interface, the connector, between body and Spirit.
As such, soul tends to be “of the earth,” moist, wet, sensual, passionate, etc.,
and can “lose the way” in its desire to experience fully the physical side of life—
and can “give up the ghost” when physically things seem to be, or are, hopeless,
“taking over” and “possessing” us with its moods.
At this point, we have to remind soul (Talk about a role reversal!) of its connection to Spirit,
and speak for Spirit sternly to soul.
Spirit is “of the air and light,”
high, clear, the source of highest value,
always calling us to the best we can bring forth
in every situation and circumstance.
Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-discipline”—
and all the other values as well,
including courage, compassion, grace, mercy, justice and perseverance.
So, we call on Spirit to urge soul on,
which gets us to the questions we cannot ask, the thoughts we cannot think.
“Why are you so downcast, O my soul, and why are you so disquieted within me?”
The Psalmist knew the ways of the soul,
how it can “turn on a dime,”
bright and shiny one minute and dull and down the next.
Carl Jung says that there is no reason to think that all of our moodiness,
or our shift in mood,
is our doing,
because all of our feelings don’t necessarily belong to us.
He says that as participants in “the collective unconscious,”
we may carry the unresolved emotional baggage of psychic entities we do not know.
Heraclitus said in the 6th century BCE,
“If you went in search of it,
you would not find the boundaries of the soul,
though you traveled every road, so deep is its measure.”
There is more to soul than we have likely considered.
One thing to consider is its propensity for moods.
We think we are feeling the mood when it may well be that soul is feeling the mood through us—
we are the vehicle for making conscious soul’s moodiness.
If that is the case,
then we are in position to wake soul up to,
and be responsible for,
its own mood of the moment—
and refuse to carry a mood that does not belong to us.
If we are to stop indulging soul’s propensity to deepen its spiral downward,
there are questions we must not ask, thoughts we must not think.
They are: “So what? Who cares? Why try? What’s the use? What’s the point? What good would it do? What difference does it make?”
And: “Nothing I do matters. Nothing will come of it. It isn’t worth it. It’s a waste of time to try.”
Things are difficult enough without our taking sides against ourselves.
Our place is to look to the Spirit within
as the everlasting source of encouragement and value,
and live toward the best we can imagine in each moment,
in each situation as it arises,
“Anyway, nevertheless, even so!”
- The dance dances the dancer.
The song sings the singer.
When the dancer tries to dance the dance,
or the singer tries to sing the song,
it is apparent to everyone that things aren’t working.
During my last eight years in the ministry (I’m retired),
I enjoyed the freedom of an early service
which allowed me to invite local singer/songwriters (not outwardly religious)
to share their music each Sunday in lieu of traditional hymns and praise bands.
I relished the time with these folks and their but,
a few of them looked at the music as a way of making it big.
The ones who actually made it big—one recently won a Grammy,
and another enjoyed several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion,
and has written music for plays and orchestra productions—
were at one with their music, loved their music, and were in it—
are in it—
for the pure joy of the music.
The others, the ones who were looking for success and using music to get there,
are still looking.
I translate this into photography by telling myself,
“Don’t step into a scene looking to take THE photo of that scene.
Step into every scene bent on taking all of
the photos that scene affords as though each one is THE photo.
Enjoy the entire process,
the looking as much as the seeing,
the seeking as much as the capturing.
It’s all photography.
What’s making it big going to do for you
that you don’t have going for you right here, right now?
You have a camera and you have a scene,
what more could you possibly want?”
- We cannot be self-directed, self-determined, self-correcting
without being self-reflective.
We have to think about who we are
and what we are about,
and how we decide to do what we do,
and what we mean,
what we intend,
with our lives.
Our life is not automatic.
Our life does not flow naturally from being 98.6 and breathing.
We can live without being alive.
The idea is to be fully, vibrantly alive in the time for living.
We don’t do that accidentally.
If we are going to be alive,
we have to work at it,
asking, seeking, knocking, looking, listening, inquiring.
Ours is the work of developing eyes that see,
ears that hear
and a heart that understands,
so that we might see what we look at,
hear what we listen to,
grasp what is before us,
and bring what we have to offer
alive in each moment of living
as a blessing and a grace to the moment
and to all who share it with us.
May we always see things as they are
(which includes how they also are),
be clear and correct about what needs to be done in each situation as it arises,
and have the courage to do it.
- It’s easy to love God when all is well with our life,
or when we think loving God is the key to having all things be well with our life.
As long as things are fine,
or as long as we think God is in charge of things becoming fine,
love is in the air but.
Let life have its way with us,
and we are right in their with Job,
railing and ranting at the God we loved,
or curled in a fetal position wondering where God is
and why the God we loved so
allowed things to be as they are.
That Which Has Always Been Called God is not our ace in the hole
or our heavenly hedge against the complete loss of everything
(or everything that ever mattered).
That Which Has Always Been Called God
is our partner in making this moment all it can be,
in doing what truly needs to be done in each situation as it arises—
which may not have anything in common
with what we think needs to be done,
or which we are told (by Those Who Know Best)
needs to be done.
what needs to be done varies from situation to situation,
and it is hard to predict what it will be in any here and now—
which means we have to take chances,
and hurl ourselves into what we think needs to be done.
And if we are wrong,
we see what we can do to redeem it, resurrect it,
in the next moment or the one after that.
We live to bring ourselves forth in the life we are living—
to live life as it needs to be lived in each situation—
to live our life better than anyone could live it in our place,
even if we only get only having done it out of it.
That’s playing the game the way the game was meant to be played.
- Is it a blip, a glitch, a snafu, a dreadful mistake, a portent of things to come, the threshold to all things good?
It takes stepping into it
and living with it to know.
The problem is that we want everything to be all right,
right now, but.
Our lives move in and out of all right and good enough all our lives long—
and each time, we don’t trust our ability to adapt
and wait it out,
one more time.
We have enough stress in our lives when things are fine.
Even when it’s easy, it’s hard.
We don’t need the roof to start leaking,
the toilet to back-up,
the dog to barf on the floor
and the cable router to need resetting.
What helps you through?
How do you soothe your soul?
Find your peace?
Provide yourself with the wherewithal to step into the situation
and do what is needed one more time?
I write it out.
Sit quietly, watching the inner turmoil.
And I carry with me always
the happy fantasy of a community something like the regulars in Cheers,
with the difference that the community
would be focused on helping its members face up to,
and find ways of dealing with,
the reality of their life.
Talking it out.
Saying what needs to be said about it.
Sitting with it.
Seeing it—all of it.
Including what needs to be done about it.
Absent this kind of “community of innocence,”
talking becomes writing for me.
Becomes sitting quietly, watching, listening, waiting.
Whatever squares us up with our lives
and enables us to look the angel of life in his/her ugly red eye,
and say to him/her,
“I’m not letting you go until you give me the blessing!”
is exactly what we need to walk with the angel into every day.
May we all find what we need to do what we need,
and dance daily with the angel of life!
- There are no secrets.
Everything is out in the open.
It only takes seeing things as they are (which includes seeing them as they also are)
to see what needs to be done about them in each situation as it arises.
We interfere with the process
by tilting the table toward what we perceive to be our advantage, our gain, our profit, our benefit, our best interest.
What needs to happen takes a back seat to what we want to happen.
Stupidity trumps everything.
We stand poised to play the Stupid Card in every moment,
scoop up our winnings
and head for the house
to bask forever in the glory
of our own, personal, good.
We have to see our propensity for playing the Stupid Card,
too, as a part of the way things are,
and listen carefully, look closely,
for what needs to be done,
knowing that we really want to be stupid at every opportunity,
and see if we have what it takes to resist the temptation this time.
- We wake up gradually, over the course of our life.
Living with our eyes open wakes us up.
You noticed the catch, I’m sure.
Reality wakes up those who can be awakened.
Some people can sleepwalk their way through anything.
Too many of us dismiss, discount, deny and ignore
all that we don’t want to consider.
We expand our theories about the way things are to explain away
the discrepancies, contradictions, incompatibilities—
and continue snoring,
dreaming that the world is how we wish it were.
Waking up is coming to terms with the differences
between the world as it is and the world as we would like for it to be.
I’m getting older by the minute.
I cannot pretend that away
and live as fully as I’m capable of living
for as long as life is possible.
My living has to take the reality of my life into account.
So does yours.
We consciously adjust and adapt—
reconciling ourselves with the facts that define our existence
in each situation as it arises.
This is waking up to how things are
and what can be done about them
and what truly needs to happen in response to them.
Every moment is not a call to action.
Every situation is not one that asks us to Do Something Now!
Often, we can only wait, watching,
for the time to be right to act.
Being awake to the moment,
waiting for the time for action to come upon us
is the key to the door of the Way.
- We work hard to make things work.
We do what we can think to do.
Working harder isn’t the answer.
Trying to force our way isn’t the answer.
Not having a way is the answer.
Every living thing has preferences,
but not every living thing shouts,
“Damn the shoreline! Full Speed Ahead!
What we need is a perspective that takes everything, itself included, into account:
the way things are and also are,
what needs to be done about it,
how our gifts and genius can be used
in the service of what needs to be done…
Nothing beats a perspective that sees into the heart of the matter
for settling us into what needs to be done and doing it.
- Doing what needs to be done
doesn’t mean it all works out to our satisfaction.
When we place ourselves in the service of what needs to happen,
the outcome is out of our hands.
That’s where luck comes in.
When I talk about luck, someone always says,
“There is no such thing as luck! It’s all Providential! God’s Providence takes care of us all.”
My stock reply is to say, “Aren’t we lucky that God is so providential?”
Luck, you see, is a matter of perspective.
Luck or Grace or Providence—
it’s all the same.
Call it what you will,
it comes down to the fact that there is that which is out of our hands.
If it is to our liking, we thank our lucky stars,
or the universe,
or the grace and providence of God.
If it is not to our liking,
we have to wait it out and see what can be done to salvage what can be salvaged—
and make of it what can be made of it.
Farmers put everything into a crop that is washed away by a hurricane.
We can only control our effort, not the outcome.
We do what we can imagine doing and take our chances.
When we are flat out of luck, we think of what to do about that—
seeing things as they are and also are,
what needs to be done about it and doing it.
Nothing is harmed by the prayer, “O God, Let me be lucky today!”
- I spent five minutes yesterday watching two snails making their way into their future.
It’s astounding how far a snail can go in five minutes,
given the fact that it isn’t moving at all.
Handed this illustration of the Taoist principle of accomplishing everything without doing anything,
I recalled a favorite truism: “You can get anywhere if you go slowly enough.”
Clearly, there are different ways to get to the top of a mountain.
The eagle has its way, the snail has its way.
The best way, or the right way, is dependent upon many factors.
Left to find our own way up the mountain,
we would distribute ourselves over the mountain side
in a pattern that would reflect a “normal distribution curve,”
with some racing to be first,
and some being happy to be last,
and the rest spread out in between.
We would not be all bunched together in a sprint to the top.
Just so with everything else about our lives.
We find our own pace,
our own rhythm,
serve our own interests and inclinations,
and spread out over the entire spectrum of life,
loving what we love,
and doing what we do in ways that are commensurate with who we are,
collaborating with soul and Spirit to come up with
what is right for us in the time and place of our living,
and letting the outcome be the outcome.
- We live on two levels at once.
We walk two paths at the same time.
Physical and spiritual.
The physical realm has its requirements and demands, duties, obligations and responsibilities.
So does the spiritual world.
We balance, integrate, reconcile, make compatible the two worlds.
In practice, we tend to ignore the spiritual world in favor of the physical world.
Sometimes we talk, talk, talk about how wonderful and important the spiritual world is, but.
We live in the physical world as though we have never heard of the spiritual world.
Which was Jesus’ complaint about the religious authorities of his day.
Nothing has changed.
Our work is the same, then and now—
bringing the spiritual world forth, giving it equal billing in our lives.
We do that by paying attention to “the other side.”
Our dreams, for instance.
Our intuition, our instinct,
the things that catch our eye,
the things that resonate with us,
that strike a cord, that turn our head.
We give these things a place in our life,
and live in this world as though that world is real.
Which it is.
It is the realest world, and the oldest.
It was there before this one ever thought about coming into being.
All of the primal peoples knew
that the visible world is grounded upon,
and upheld by,
the invisible world.
It is our place to remember
what has been forgotten.