Epiphanies Can Be Painful (or when ‘aha!’ becomes ‘oh no!’)

I have been having some epiphanies lately that have been painful – painful in that they have shattered what I have previously called reality.

I realized this morning after a particularly poignant ‘Aha!’ moment when I was walking Juno along beautiful Lake Champlain that epiphanies can be painful. I went from divine moment to darkness when an encounter with another dog owner, all precipitated by my mishearing what was said, the beautiful view became scarred by my darkness.

Some quick history: my sweet girl, Juno, tries to eat most dogs she meets mostly because for the first three years of her life she was abused and trained to fight by her previous owner. Since I adopted her in 2008, I have been trying to love her back to herself, but she still lunges after larger dogs and growls on a daily basis.

The owner of the lovely Labrador – who just wanted to play while Juno is all puffed up, teeth and slobber turning her into Cujo – said something. I thought he said, “Too bad she can’t be loved into gentleness.” I took issue with what I thought was a judgment of my ‘parenting’ skills. I screamed at the guy, got all puffed up myself, got all wired and wound up, lacing my response with salty language and “threatening” to unleash my dog on his.

What the heck?!? Where did that come from?!?!

This man did nothing to me. He did not say what I thought he said. Yet, I went from zero to 60 in less than 10 seconds. I raged up all over this guy.

The end of that story is that I apologized, we made nice, and I walked off. A few blocks away from where all this happened, I began to sob uncontrollably. I was enraged at myself for being so stupid. I was saddened by my violent response and how much rage is still within me. I was scared at how such a minor event triggered such a deep, rage-filled response.

I walked back to my car and, of course, there is a parking ticket on my windshield. Getting a parking ticket is stupid because all it takes is being a normal person and putting some change in the meter. Then I hear this song on the radio that sledgehammers me: “I knew a guy who quit his job, moved to NYC and had to learn the hard way that he’s still running from himself.”

And the still small Voice within said “that lyric is for you.” Ouch. Continue reading

“Evening Primrose” (M.C. Richards)

Some days, good poetry is what the Soul needs; for poetry is one of the many languages of God.  So, today I post one of my favorite M.C. Richards’ poems…she is a royal gem in the crown!  EnJoy…

Sitting in the roofless tent, listening…

See all natural forms, he said, not as forever fixed
but as expressing a tendency toward another form

I saw you last night, evening primrose, preparing to open:
in an instant you changed from bud to bloom,
pulling back the outer sheath as the petals expanded and
became flower. And the tendency then, barely visible,
to lose moisture, to wilt, to droop, to shrink, to drop,
to become earth.

I feel in myself the growing tips of age:
to travel without an agenda, to seek a new furniture
of emptiness and silence where I can voluptuously sit
as in a pool of warmth, living toward dying,
blooming into visibility.

In a Word, Love

“[And] all the other commandments are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

“…love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)

It’s all summed up in one word: love.

Even Paul, the oft portrayed angry zealot more accustomed to social purity than hippie love, clarified it emphatically by saying that no matter what laws are written and spoken; they are all summed up in the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Period.

More importantly, Jesus unequivocally spoke to exactly who are ‘neighbors’ are: anyone we see or know of in need, whether those who are like us or those who are not.  Remember, in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25), Jesus said the only difference between the sheep and the goats was what they did and did not do lovingly to the poor.

Neither Jesus nor St. Paul mentioned love our neighbors if they are of the correct politics, heterosexual, Christian, white picket fence, etc. In truth, it would be more divine and godly to love our neighbors if they were an African-American lesbian couple or a devout Muslim family from Gaza than if they looked and thought the way I did.

You could say that love is the Executive Summary to all the words ever written about God.

I do not believe in my heart of hearts that God cares much about my theology or my politics (unless they are used as justifications and weapons of hate); I do get the sense that God only cares about love: do I love God? Do I love all people equally? Do I make my choices in life from a place of Love? I think God is ‘concerned’ about things of that nature.

So, I truly do think that it is all summed up in the one word love. Some quick etymology: the word “sum/summed” comes from the feminine Latin word meaning “highest.”  That is poignant, the sum of life is not love reduced to the lowest common denominator but rather to its Highest.

It should go something like this: Love is our ‘doctrine’ and our calling (vocation) is found in becoming the Beloveds of God and treating all others and all of creation as if they are the Beloveds of God. The Scriptures are clear and concise: God is love and to love in God’s name is to imitate God.

The actor Jeremy Irons said it best in the movie “The Mission” when he was challenging Robert De Niro and he said, “you gave your life to God and God is love!”

For you see, love is the highest summation of how God responds to us. And love is ideally the way we are to respond back to God and to each other.

And make no mistake about it, love is an action verb, much like God (yes, God is a Verb as well as a Noun).  This relentlessly loving God is a God Who proactively seeks us out, seeks to express divine love to us in word and deed. The Creator created this world out of love and because of love, there is no other reason for you see God has no need of anything created or otherwise. The only rational (sic) reason that God creates is out of love – love for the creative act and love for the created and for all of creation itself. And all of this creative love is dynamic not static.  That is the very nature of God’s love: dynamic in nature rather than static and rote.

Far too often, if I am honest, my friendship with God is sometimes more of an historical fact than a dynamic, living relationship based on love. If I am even more honest, the way I love is that way as well. When it comes to loving my neighbor, I will often point to what I have done, or how I used to live rather than how I love God or people today, right now.

But I am learning to live more from a place of divine love because what I have learned (especially in the Rooms of A.A.) is that love is a baptism of fire and water. One that burns away the dross and washes and cleanses the brokenness, the resentments, the little angers and self-righteousness I so often cling to because they are safe, giving me a false sense of control rather than letting go and letting God’s love tenderize them into pure, divine love.

I am learning, albeit slower than I’d prefer, that if the love of God abides in my heart (which it does because God dwells there) then love will become my response to the world around me. Love becomes the question. Love becomes the answer. Love becomes the reason.

So, I practice turning it all over to the love of God. When in doubt, turn it over to God’s love; when in anger, turn it over to love; when in fear, turn it over to love; when in pain, turn it over to divine love; when in darkness or joy, and turn it over to God’s love. I try and let divine love become both the movement and the motion.

So…in a word, LOVE.

“Cutting Loose” (William Stafford)

Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.

Arbitrary, a sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell where it is, and you
can slide your way past trouble.

Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path—but that’s when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on the earth, again and again.

Random…

Random: without definite aim, reason, or pattern.

There is no rhyme or reason, aim or pattern, just words falling from my fingertips glossed over in prayer, prayers that you draw near to the God Who draws near to you and loves you no matter what church or state says. Words.  Simple enough to be understood, strong enough to make a heart break, or make a heart blossom.

Life begins at the point where my comfort zone ends.

God’s greatest gift is unconditional love. God’s greatest promise is eternal Presence.

If I am unable to see God in the profane as much as I do in the profound, then I am missing half the story.

Worry is the activity of a mind (not heart) which does not believe or understand its’ connection to God.

Remember this every time you meet someone, especially someone you do not like or agree with: everyone has a past (everyone!); everyone has a story; and everyone is on a Journey. And at the end of the day, what I do not like about you is just a reflection back to me of what I do not like about myself.

God is present in all circumstances…all of them. There is divine purpose behind everything, all things, and therefore Divine Presence in everything. So as painful and hard as it is to grasp, all things and all circumstances stand with the will of God. It is hard to grasp that when looking at the pain of loss, death, violation, poverty, abuse and violence. But in truth, God has given us all the power, presence and perseverance we need to prevent and end these, but we have not employed these gifts to their higher purpose. Remember, there are no victims and there are no villains and in the end of all time, everything will be swallowed up in Love and Mercy.

Prayer is a conversation with God which leads to a friendship with God which in turn leads to deeper communion with God which ends in total union with God.

Still random. Still musing.

Here are three things I have surmised in my 47 years of life on earth:

  1. God rarely operates with my (or any person’s) frame of reference;
  2. God does not operate under any timetables, because God is infinite and eternal and time is a human construct to try and capture and quantify time and space, here and there.
  3. God operates in the place and space of ‘no time’ so every time is the perfect time, all time with God is Now.

That one hurt my brain.

And finally, God’s ways are not our ways; and, God is way more comfortable with chaos than we are, because we experience chaos as the subjects of it, and God experiences chaos as the Object of it. So, to think that God is going to do anything within the neat confines of finite flesh and blood, limited capabilities, understanding and comprehension, and do so within a scripted frame of reference using societal norms is simply preposterous, asinine and absurd.

Done for now.

P.S. Grace is Absurd.