Archive for the ‘spiritual guidance’ Category

Vengeance via Weather is Mine, Saith the Lord

Raise your hand if you know someone who ever suggested or even truly believes Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for all the evil contained in New Orleans.

Mine’s raised. I know people who believe it.

Oh, and that Sodom and Gomorrah thing….that was a direct action of the Big Guy, too, wasn’t it?

<insert dripping sarcasm here>

I mean, after all, the Bible says it happened that way and we all know the Bible is absolutely historically accurate because it was written by God himself, right?

So my question today is if those cataclysmic natural disasters were God punishing his horribly disobedient children, what the hell did the eastern half of the United States do to make him mad enough to send 100+ massive tornadoes including the longest touchdown in recorded weather history?

I mean really now. Alabama is supposed to be the heart of God’s faithful. What could THEY possibly have done that was horrible enough to warrant a punishment like this?

It was a punishment, right? Because if Hurricane Katrina was a punishment for New Orleans, and fire and brimstone (likely a volcano, if in fact it really did happen) were punishment for Sodom and Gomorrah, then reason and logic would insist that this week’s horrific tornado event must also be some sort of punishment.

Ah….reason and logic.

Two of the greatest enemies of faith.

The same reason and logic that says if homosexuality is an abomination before God, then wearing clothing woven of two different types of fibers is, too.

Except it isn’t.

The same reason and logic that says the Bible is completely timeless and fully applicable to our lives today, except that part about performing miracles and women keeping their heads covered.

You see, here’s the deal…..

Either it is or it isn’t.

Either natural disasters are punishment for evil, or they aren’t.

Either the Bible is completely timeless and fully applicable to our lives today, or it isn’t.

You just don’t get to have it both ways.

So which is it?

Oh, and the fact that Amarillo got rain earlier this week and my town 50 miles south didn’t OBVIOUSLY means God likes people in Amarillo better than he likes us down here. After all, he answered their prayers. He is still ignoring us.

There’s some logic and reason for you.

What Would Jesus Say?

Yesterday I posted the following video on my Facebook page:

My comment that accompanied this video said simply, “Good message. Worth the watch, even if your stance is “worth the wait”.” Worth the Wait is a curriculum us Bible Belters use to terrorize our children into keeping their venereal diseases and their penises to themselves until they are married. It does have some merit. Probably not a bad program all in all, once you get past the fear tactics. It really does present some good information.

One of my high school classmates, who has recently discovered religion, proceeded to start preaching about the video I posted. His comments were, “Nothing good about this video… it facilitates the idea that living outside of the will of God is appropriate and acceptable, for Him it is neither. Mark 9:42. If you really wanted to save planned parenthood…get a husband and wife back to church and into the will of God. Teach your children. Quit allowing the school systems, television, and radio…videos and others to mandate the upbringing they should be receiving at home. “Good Message” = God Message.”

Personally, I love how the religious zealots can make my points about religion without me saying a word. They tend to make themselves (and thus religion) look ridiculous with very little effort on my part.

However, my blog gives me opportunity to pick his preaching apart one little piece at a time.

First, I must confess. As a teen I would have been holding one of those signs. Now before you jump to the conclusion that I had loose morals, let me clarify. I would have been the one holding the sign that says, “My friends have sex.”

Because they did. Some of them, anyway.

And as for the argument that getting husband and wife back to church and into the will of God…teach your children…etc., let me say that my parents rocked on this one. We were there every Sunday twice a day, and every Wednesday. I was at every youth group activity. I went to at least one church camp every summer. I even chose a Christian college and sent in my application as soon as they would take it. I was pretty much convinced that sex outside of marriage (along with drinking, smoking, etc.) was a one-way ticket to hell. Plus I was scared to death of getting pregnant.

And then I met him.

He was so handsome. His kiss was intoxicating. He made my heart race when I was in his presence. He pushed my boundaries to the edge. I was captivated. I was a tease. I wanted him and I wanted him to want me.

And then I turned 18.

And having educated myself on a variety of “things” related to the female reproductive system, I made a decision that I wanted him worse than I wanted to please God or my parents. I wanted him worse than I feared the fires of hell.

I got lucky. Because we were both “informed” about the facts, I made it all the way to my college graduation without getting pregnant. My post graduation (from that Christian college) Christmas present was an engagement ring, and my New Year’s present was a pink stick. Our April wedding was moved to January 14th, and the following September, my beautiful baby girl arrived on this planet into the loving arms of her new parents.

Four beautiful princesses later, there is NOTHING I would change. I am still intoxicated by his kiss, and he is still gives me butterflies. He still pushes my boundaries, and I am still a tease.

So, Preacher Boy, your argument fails. My parents did everything right. For that matter, I think his parents probably did a pretty good job, too, yet I’m pretty sure there is at least one of the signs in the video he could have held as a young adult.

Flinging God and Bible verses around as justification to ignore the facts of life is nothing more than shoving your head up your arse and ignoring reality.

Religion aside, the point of the message is Planned Parenthood takes a very small amount of the overall federal budget as compared to the bucketloads of cash thrown at corporations in the form of corporate welfare. If the so-called leaders of our country want to make effective reforms, there’s a good place to start.

With that said, I personally think many government services should be relegated to the private sector for financial support. Those who believe in the importance of planned parenthood should signify so by hitting the Donate Now button on their website. My neighbor who thinks PP has ruined America shouldn’t be required to support it. Same thing with NPR, and to some extent poverty welfare.

…Which brings me around to the early morning shower thought that triggered my need to respond publicly to the mini sermon I received over the posting of this video.

What would Jesus’ response be to this video message?

I mean, after all, we are supposedly Christians around here, so it would seem appropriate that we turn to none other than Jesus himself for guidance on this thing.

Would Jesus pick up the nearest scroll and begin pounding it on the lecturn as he proclaimed the evils of modern day school systems, television, radio, and the internet?

Would he point a finger at the teens holding those signs and say, “You kids need to stop having sex and get right with God!”

Would he turn to their parents and say, “This is all your fault! If you would raise your kids with an appropriate amount of God in their lives, they wouldn’t be having sex.”

Or would Jesus turn to the teens in this video and say, “It’s pretty tough being a teen, isn’t it? There’s a lot of pressure and a lot of mixed messages out there. It’s never as simple as just following a rule, is it? Oh, you over there, the blonde. Your name is Samantha, right? You are 18 and already have two kids by two different men. I bet that’s been tough trying to raise them and finish raising yourself. You keep looking for someone to love you for who you are, but you haven’t found him. Maybe I can help make your life a little easier by showing you how things work so you can make better choices. Maybe I can show you a different kind of love. ”

The woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well are the Bible stories that haunt me today.

How often do we pick up “stones”  in the name of religion rather than loving and teaching a better way?

What is that better way?

The bottom line is that for teens, relationships (and in many cases sex) are more appealing than religion. Fear works for some, but not forever. Middle aged adults can shove their heads up their arses and keep them there while they spew their religious crap about getting right with God and pleasing God, but it won’t push religion any higher up the priority pole for teens. In most cases, the desire to feel perceived physical love trumps the desire to obey  an unseen, unheard, unfelt imaginary entity.

And so we educate them. We protect them as best we can. We teach them that sex is a beautiful and incredible thing when with the right partner. We give them information that allows them to make educated choices based not on fear, but on what’s best for them and their future. If  something goes “wrong”, we love them and help them through it, and get them pointed back down the road to success as best we can.

Religion fears education in all forms. Once educated, people can make intelligent decisions and often times that leads them to the realization that religion isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. They take their checkbooks and their beliefs and walk away.

Hence, the religious right hates programs like Planned Parenthood.

I personally think Jesus would have been standing at the door of PP welcoming people in.

 

The Making of a Deity

If you’ve been following Catholic news in recent months, you may be aware that Pope John Paul II is on the fast track to beatification and eventual sainthood. The current pontiff has set a date to give his official validation of the necessary miracle required to point the deceased church leader in the direction of eventual sainthood.

Pope John Paul II, like Mother Teresa, was perceived by his followers as a  good person, a good teacher, compassionate, giving, caring, and helpful.

Soon, he will likely be identified as a saint. He will be, in the eyes of many, a deity as proclaimed by humans, although Catholics typically do not label saints as deities.

I can’t help but wonder……

Is there any possibility that Jesus was just a man? A well-studied teacher? A good person? A compassionate, giving, caring and helpful human being?  A natural born healer?

Is there any possibility that he  never intended to become the object of worship?

Could it be that he never intended to save humanity in any way other than through his teaching them to love one another and experience the “kingdom of God within”?

Is there any chance that Jesus was no different from Ghandi or Buddha in his promotion of peaceful and passive resistance?

Could the salvation he brought possibly have been as Renae says, “…(to show) ordinary people that they were not beholden to those systems in order to ensure their fate?”

Could it be that he came to show us a God that was different from the vengeful God of the Old Testament scriptures?

Could the deity of Jesus be the result of the posthumous elevation of his character to “saint” status by his devoted followers who admired him much like Pope John Paul II’s followers do?

The tragedy in all of this is that many miss the message of Jesus  while attempting to worship the death, burial, and supernatural resurrection of the Christ.

In a sense, it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus came to earth as deity or was elevated by man to deity status. It doesn’t matter whether we take communion the right way, worship on the correct day of the week, or play a piano when we sing. It doesn’t matter whether or not we are given a special bath by a designated church member.

What matters is NOT the message of Paul or Peter, or John.

It doesn’t even matter whether we believe there is a mansion in the sky somewhere or a fiery pit of torment below the surface of the earth.

The only thing that really truly matters is our demonstration of love toward everyone we encounter every single day. What matters are those things Jesus taught as a human being who lived an extraordinary life.

The deity part is irrelevant. It distracts from the real point.

No one who really matters cares whether or not you’ve been saved by the blood, recited the sinner’s prayer, or accepted Jesus as Lord of your life. They only care whether or not you care about them.

End of story.

Asking Why

A lot of why’s have been on my mind lately. When I was a kid, growing up in the somewhat conservative Church of Christ, there were plenty of adults in my life life willing to tell me what I should believe. I didn’t ask a whole lot of why’s where church matters were concerned.

That was always pretty black and white.

My left-brained, orderly sequential self just needed the list of rules to follow. The only why’s that were necessary were the answers that we were taught to use when attempting to convert someone.

Fast forward twenty years.

My why’s have changed significantly.

Why do we accept the Bible as the inerrant divinely inspired word of God when it was written by men, translated by men, and compiled by men?

Why do we say the Bible is perfect for all times when we pick and choose what we will apply to our lives today and what we assign as “having passed away”?

Why do we tolerate and explain away the glaring inconsistencies of a supposed divinely created library?

Why do we accept as perfect for all times a collection of writings that promote slavery, oppression of women, racial bias, and discrimination?

Why do we ignore those teachings that make us uncomfortable or no longer fit our culture, yet we embrace those teachings that endorse our remaining prejudices?

Why are we okay with a God who gives ten commandments, one of which says “Thou shalt not kill,” then turns around and tells the recipients of that commandment to slaughter  every human being in the land of Canaan?

Why do we feel compelled to justify that slaughter by saying it was because those people were evil?

Why do we accept as our loving father a God who required a human sacrifice to be able to forgive us when we have stupid moments?

Why do we demand that the ten commandments be posted in front of our publicly funded facilities, when Christianity was about releasing that old law?

Why do we accept as literally truth the notion that the earth is only about 6,000 years old when there is significant evidence to the contrary?

Why will we believe that a virgin birth happened in Christianity, but deny that it actually occurred in other religions and mythology?

Why do we accept as logical an all powerful God who supposedly wants us to love him, gave us a free will so we can choose whether we will love him or not, but threatens to banish us forever to a fiery place call hell if we do not choose to love him?

Why do we call ourselves Christians, yet pay more attention to the teachings of people other than Jesus Christ?

Why do we believe that there is a magical age of accountability when a child is instantaneously transported from not responsible for his/her actions to responsible and subject to the fires of  hell?

Why do we participate in organizations that promote exclusivity and “I’m right, you’re wrong” ideology when we don’t truly agree with their extreme views?

Why do we believe the writings of authors who were not even eye-witnesses to events 2000 years ago, but doubt the testimony of those who claim to have been abducted by aliens or visited by a ghost?

Why can we accept as gospel, legends of miracles from two millennia ago, yet dismiss as coincidence the spontaneous healing of an organ previously labeled as diseased?

Why can we easily detect when modern day evangelists are playing us (or others) for our money and loyalty by using promises of prosperity, fear of infirmity, and the threat of eternal torment, yet we cannot see that an organization did this very same thing 1800 years ago by proclaiming their work divine, destroying documents that would cast doubt, and killing anyone who disagreed with them?

And finally,

Why do I feel so much anger and resentment toward religion? Why am I unable to simply let it be and release any emotion associated with it? With whom am I angry?

My answer to all of these is quite simple.

I do not know.

Preaching on the Gay Gene

Apparently one of our small town religious groups has awakened enough to recognize that just maybe it can acknowledge that science is suggesting there is a gene for homosexuality.

Glory be.

HOWEVER, apparently like the alcoholism gene, one can choose whether or not to act on that genetic urge. At least that’s what Sponge Bob Square Pants is reported to have said from the pulpit to his captive audience. And of course, if someone does choose to act on that urge, well…..we all know how “God” feels about that. <insert dripping sarcasm here>

The way I see it, that’s akin to saying to someone, “Wow. You got the gene, eh? So God screwed up when making you, and as a result you don’t get to experience happiness and sexual satisfaction on the level that ‘normal’ people do. Better be careful. If you do decide to choose happiness, God’s gonna get you in the end. Don’t worry though, we’ll still love you because we rock like that. We’re so Christian and all. We’ll love you, the sinner, but we’ll still hate your sin and do everything in our power to prevent your ever having rights equal to ours.” <insert even more dripping sarcasm here>

As for the comparison between homosexuality and alcoholism, acting on one destroys a person’s life. The other, if handled properly and given appropriate support can result in a well-adjusted human being in a normal, committed relationship who contributes to the betterment of society in a multitude of ways.

Charlie Sheen or some of my gay friends?

No comparison. None. Not even on the same planet with this one.

I officially dub that one of the most ignorant comparisons ever to come out of a preacher’s mouth. In all fairness, I’d be willing to bet he is a victim of religious abuse growing up. I’d also be willing to bet he’s never taken time to get to know someone who is GLBT. There is a video on YouTube that suggests no one chooses their sexual orientation. They just recognize it and evolve into it, sometimes with love and support of others, and sometimes enduring brutal persecution and torture.

I might also point out that the same book that is used as justification for persecuting GLBT’s also says women should keep their heads covered, slaves should be loyal to their masters, and it’s okay to annihilate entire nations of people who don’t believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

It even says that we all can have the power to perform miracles, and that children who disobey their parents should be killed. Oh yeah….and there’s that little bit about stoning people who commit adultery and that remarriage after divorce is adultery.

Raise your hand if you know someone who has divorced and remarried.

I know I won’t be throwing any stones. I love them and want them to be happy.

Anyone out there for making a law that says no one can marry another after a divorce?

What’s the difference between that law and one that bans gay marriage, or only recognizes the commitment of two people if they are a heterosexual couple?  There is no difference. It’s the same thing.

So help me to understand the logic that says since the Bible condemns homosexuality, we as a 21st century free society must do the same. However, even though the Bible condemns other things, we can conveniently sweep those under the carpet and look the other way.

Either it all applies today, or none of it applies today.

One simply cannot pick and choose what is for today and what isn’t to use as a means of persecuting those who experience life differently from our narrow view of what should be.

That is where my religious convictions died. The day I realized that I had allowed myself to be conditioned to accept inconsistency because someone said I should was the day I walked away.

It’s never been the same since.

I caught a glimpse of a bigger picture. It’s a beautiful picture. I think it’s the one that artists like Jesus and Buddha worked on.

Maybe I’ll have a few opportunities to add some brush strokes to it.

Who Made Christ?

Who made Christ?

Now there’s a loaded, cage-rattling question. I’d venture to bet the typical responses would range from “He’s always existed” to “God did” and everything in between.

Now here’s my loaded, cage-rattling answer.

Humans made Christ.

Yep. I said that. I went there.

“How dare she suggest such a thing?!,” you might indignantly exclaim.

Well, see, it’s like this.

There was a man. He was born of a woman. Some say she was a virgin. Science says there is no way. History presents a few problems of its own. The faithful say God can do anything he wants, including impregnating a teenage female. Maybe so, but I think going that route misses the whole point of the man named Jesus.

This man was a gifted seeker, wise beyond his years. Was he a gift from the heavens? Possibly. Extraordinary people are born from time to time:  People who do amazing things in their lifetime.

Buddha.

Mahatma Ghandi.

Muhammad.

Abraham Lincoln.

Joan of Arc.

The grieving parents of a dead teenager who choose to take a message of safe driving out into the world.

Many others.

The point is, he came, he lived, he modeled, he taught with amazing wisdom, he empowered the underdog and in many ways saved them from their own poverty mentality, he angered the ruling class, and he was martyred.

In the process, he created a very loyal (although somewhat divided and disagreeable) following of disciples. As happens frequently when a person dies much too young, his legend grew as the years passed. His goodness was magnified into the miraculous. It happens.

The stories evolved unchecked through word of mouth.

Many, many years after he ceased to exist in the world that we know, the stories began to be recorded. The earliest known accounts do not involve a virgin birth. They do not mention salvation. They recount the stories of a man who taught people to forgive each other and take care of one another, especially the poorest and most helpless among them, and who offered his services as a healer for free.

He overstepped a lot of boundaries that had been placed on the common people of his time. He bucked the system.

And he was murdered.

Or martyred. Whichever floats your terminology boat.

As the old saying goes, “If you can’t shut ’em up, figure out a way to get their money.”

Oh, that’s not how it goes? My bad.

Along come the second, third, and fourth century marketing gurus, a world leader looking for a purpose, and a few fast talking fourth generation prophets.

Scripture is written. A resurrection is added.

Contradictory writings are destroyed.

Haters are killed en masse.

Non-believers are labeled heretics and killed.

Pretty much everyone is killed.

And suddenly (okay, so it took 400 years), we have a world religion complete with a new deity who defied all laws of nature and a divinely inspired, inerrant canon of scripture.

Jesus of Nazareth who taught compassion for neighbors and enemies, Jesus of Nazareth who was the ultimate socialist, Jesus of Nazareth who probably studied the teachings of Buddha, is now Jesus Christ, hater of all things not Christ-y.

Jesus Christ doesn’t even really resemble Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus Christ has evolved into a hard-line, right-wing conservative with little compassion for anything or anyone.

Jesus Christ saves people who call on his name and believe he is the son of God. And that is necessary because according to this doctrine, we are all born evil. And yes, you should be a good person and help others, but that is secondary to believing and getting someone else to believe. After all, the brightest crowns in heaven will go to those who take the most souls with them, right?

I actually believed that at one point in my life.

I wasn’t such a great “proseletyzer”, so I figured I was probably screwed on that whole heaven thing, even though I believed and was buried with Christ in baptism—the…ahem… right way. My “I’m right, you’re wrong” method of beating people over the head with a club wasn’t much of a soul-winner.

Somehow Jesus of Nazareth has gotten lost along the way. He was over-shadowed by the human creation that is Jesus Christ. The way I figure it, Naz Boy is the one who is the son of God. And I am the daughter of God. And my husband is the son of God. And my brother is the son of God. And my girls are each the daughter of God.

…Whomever God is…….that’s another post in itself.

Each and everyone is just as capable of doing amazing things to improve life on planet earth. Each and everyone is capable of being someone’s savior. Each one could easily anger the leadership to the point of being “erased”. And each one could become the stuff legends are made of.

Even to the point of having a world religion created in their honor.

Cage rattled. You’re welcome.

The Connectors

Prejudice. Bigotry. Racism.

These are very ugly words. So ugly, in fact, that when my first child was born over 20 years ago, a made myself a promise. As she and her sisters grew, I refused to use race as a descriptor in identifying their friends.

I did not want my children to grow up seeing race as something that separates people. I did not want them to struggle with the same stereotyping ignorance that I have struggled with all my life.

I love watching how this effort has evolved. I also love seeing how my own beliefs and ideals are being pushed and tested in a way that makes me question whether I truly feel the way I say I feel.

It’s a “put your money where your mouth is” sort of push.

It feels as though I am part of a bridge between what once was and what is to become.

My parents witnessed and experienced public school segregation and subsequent integration. They remember a time when skin color and even religion determined the level of opportunity afforded a person. I am proud of the fact that my dad had a good friend from the “wrong side of the tracks” even when that was a bit unusual. He has had many such good friends throughout his life.

My children only know about it through history books.

Unfortunately, my children have witnessed the self-destructive poverty mentality that tends to attach itself to certain ethnic groups in our part of the country. I have seen it as well. In spite of my best efforts to protect my children from connecting behavior to race, to some extent, it has happened anyway.

Therein lies some prejudice that I never intended my children to acquire. In many ways, they have chosen to separate themselves from the behaviors that they find unacceptable. In doing so, their opportunities to experience a variety of cultures has been somewhat limited.

My oldest child has stepped away from this place and out into the world. She is a connector, seeing people for who they are, not who they appear to be. She challenges me and my stated beliefs on a regular basis. She has landed in a place where diversity does not necessarily equal poverty mentality and self-destructive behaviors. It exists as an equal opportunity as does goal-oriented focus and success.

Her new friends have many roots, yet they are all connected. She connects and she helps them to connect with others from all over the world. It is a true melting pot of interdependence and compassion.

This generation, both here in the U.S. and in countries like Egypt, want so much more from their world. They desire peace and cooperation, and many of them know exactly how to make it happen. They have been nurtured to recognize that God is not a divider separating people into categories of worthiness. They do not see skin color, religious beliefs, or sexual preference as qualifiers. They understand that God is within them and will be experienced by others through their compassion, their vision, their passion, and their love for one another.

In a sense, they are collectively…..God. Aya. One.

They are the indigos, the crystals, and the rainbows.

They may very well be the catalysts who usher in an age of true interdependence.

They are The Connectors.

I am glad to be a part of the connection.

Analysis of an Attitude

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the story of Jesus speaks directly against the things embodied in American Christianity (at least, its most prominent forms). It’s amazing how far it’s come when people who (frequently, loudly) call themselves his followers are most commonly associated with mocking people who seek peace, with lambasting the poor for their condition, with demanding vengeance in all things foreign and domestic, and with their unquestioning support of a financial system that inevitably promotes the accumulation of useless shit.” –Rob, in a comment on Nakedpastor’s website.

That just about sums up perfectly where I am at this point in life. As you may have noticed in previous blog posts, my current spiritual quest is to find and follow as best I can the real Jesus.

Not the one created in 70 C.E. and the 300 years that followed.

Not the one created by Constantine, Peter, or Paul.

Not the one most of us hear about on CBN, the Angel Network, or even Pat Robertson (although I’m considering becoming a fan since he suggested legalizing pot might actually improve this country).

Not the one who died for our sins so that our poor, wretched, miserable, sinful, self-loathing, unlovable,  pathetic, awful, unworthy selves could sit at the feet of a lightning-bolt-wielding, angry, bitter, resentful, all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing male God for all eternity.

Not the one who didn’t go down to Georgia and didn’t make a deal with the Devil.

Nope. I’m in search of the guy who walked the earth in leather sandals, said love is the greatest commandment, told his disciples to go above and beyond in their compassion to others, even when those others are their “haters”, and used the healing power of touch and energy transference to change people’s lives.

I’m looking for the one that showed people how important it is to take care of one another‘s basic needs.

The one who was killed because the church of the day saw him as a subversive.

Yeah.

That’s the one.

I want to be like him.

Maybe minus the “killed” part.


Jesus Feeds the Multitude–A Miracle Retold

It was one of those epiphany moments. It was an instant in which everything came into clearer view. Something I always thought I knew and understood suddenly shifted into focus. The outcome was the same, however the details of the process were different.

More importantly, my view of the message and purpose of Jesus shifted once again.

Imagine the scene. It’s easy. It’s a story with which we are all familiar. Crowds have begun to follow Jesus and his rag-tag bunch of loyal trainees. He was their guru. They were his disciples. Better than Connan O’Brian or Jimmy Kimmel, this Jesus guy was a boatload of contradictions: sarcastic and straight-forward, funny and serious, aloof and compassionate, wise and seemingly foolish, positive and cynical. People who could get close enough to him were forever changed.

He was simply irresistible.

It’s a typical day in the countryside areas of Judea. The crowds have found the guru. Everyone is gathered in close straining to hear what the guru called Jesus has to say. He’s not some televangelist asking for money. He talks about sharing, but asks for nothing for himself. He mentions loving not only neighbors and friends and family, but also enemies. He says a neighbor isn’t necessarily someone of the same race or clan, but the one who shows compassion.

He mentions how lucky the poor are (this crowd is full of peasant men and women) because they don’t have wordly possessions weighing them down. He shares how the kindgom of God is not something guarded by the priests, but rather is contained within and attainable by each and every person there. He even says little children already “get it” and that becoming like a child is a good way to experience the kingdom.

His words of wisdom continue until later in the day. The disciples begin to let the cares of the world move in as they lose site of the day’s message.

“Jesus, it’s getting late, and these people are bound to be hungry. What are we going to do? We can’t just send them away.”

Here’s where the story takes a turn for me. Most of us are familiar with the only miracle story that appears in all four of the New Testament Gospels. Jesus tells the disciples to see what’s available. They find a small boy with five barley loaves and two small fish. Jesus takes the food, prays over it, breaks it, and miraculously it feeds thousands with baskets of leftovers.

And then this morning, my epiphany.

What if the miracle wasn’t a “powerful deity” miracle, but a “changing hearts” miracle? What if the sudden appearance of plenty of food had nothing to do with the magical duplication of five loaves and two fish, but was instead the magic of an example of sharing as set by a small boy?

What if absolutely nothing supernatural happened to the food supply that day?

And so our story continues, my way.

The disciples reported back to Jesus that a small boy, a child too young to know better than to hide what he had brought with him, had eagerly begged the disciples to take what he had and give it to those around him who were hungry.

After all, his hero, Jesus of Nazareth, had just said the way to experience the kingdom of God was through giving and sharing.

Then Jesus gratefully acknowledged that little boy and showered him with love and adoration. “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'” Luke 18:16-17

Jesus blessed the small meal and began to share it.

And suddenly the hearts of the crowd began to soften. Jesus words about giving, sharing, and being like this little child affected them deeply. Many had brought along a lunch that day. It would have been foolish to travel out to the countryside empty-handed. They never went anywhere without at least a few provisions. Everyone present began to share what they had with the person next to them.

After the crowd had satisfied it’s hunger, Jesus asked the disciples to go around and gather up all that remained. Several more could have been fed from the leftovers.

Jesus made a beautiful point that day. If we take care of each other, share what we have and meet the needs of our fellow humans, not only will there be more than enough for everyone to be satisfied, but there will be plenty left over.

What good does it to do collect and store and stash and hoard if rust and moth ravage the loot? Mother Earth (God) is good to us. There will always be provisions enough to take care of everyone if set our sights on sharing what we have, not from our abundance, but from our very sustenance.

That little boy shared his lunch. It was all he had to eat that day. He didn’t know any better. By doing so, a miracle happened. His example opened the hearts of the entire crowd and everyone shared the little they had brought with them. Before the little boy opened his heart and his hands, no one seemed to have anything to share. Everyone was keeping the meagerness of their poverty lifestyle food to themselves.

One little boy opened his heart, and Jesus used it to open so many others.

Through sharing the most meager of resources, abundance was produced.The kingdom of God was experienced by everyone present, and  Jesus lesson was beautifully illustrated.

I like this version much better than the one that assumes deity must do some type of magic to turn five loaves and two fish into a banquet feast. It puts the power and the responsibility back on us……

….right where it belongs.

What if this were to happen today? What if we suddenly had no need for welfare because we simply took care of our neighbors?

It would take a miracle.

I’m pretty sure there’s a political statement in here somewhere. I bet you can figure it out.

2010: Looking Back So I Can Look Forward

Looking back is not something I typically do. There’s nothing a person can do to change what’s been done, and spending time dwelling on it is pretty much a waste of time.

This year, however, I think it is important for me to look back at the past twelve months so that I can recognize how much has changed and how far I have come, not to mention the many adventures that I experienced this year.

Twenty ten saw me take my first REAL yoga classes.

It was during one of those yogic moments of peaceful reflection that I made the decision to resign my job of 18 years.

That decision and its subsequent public announcement led to an energy shift in my workplace that was nothing short of miraculous. I don’t know who was more relieved, me or my co-workers.

It was the year we decided that maybe building a house at the farm wasn’t the best idea. We realized my in-laws wouldn’t be with us very many more years and that no one else in the family had a desire to live in their house. We couldn’t bear the thought of it sitting empty or being sold. We began to create a vision that involved once again restoring what we had rather than buying brand new.

Twenty ten was the year my sweet man helped move his aging parents to a nursing home. We didn’t realize how quickly our prediction would come to pass.

It was also the year we said “see ya later” to his handsome daddy.  We miss you, Charlie.

I realized this year that keeping forty years worth of mail and magazines is not a good idea.

I learned that while some things aren’t mine to discard, the rest of the family appreciates not having to do as much of it.

This year I figured out that it is possible to simultaneously be mad at my man for something he can’t fix and feel guilty for being mad at him.

I discovered that when meltdowns happen, I don’t really want anyone to fix or analyze the problem. I pretty much just want to be held by my man and allowed to blubber like a moron into total exhaustion.

I also discovered that sorting through 40 years worth of mail can trigger the aforementioned meltdown.

I messaged my dad and told him I’d haunt him in the afterlife if he left all his crap for me to sort through.

Sometimes having an entire week with no massage clients is a blessing to allow one to work on a more important project.

I really need to clean out my crap so my children won’t have to.

This year also saw the ongoing work on my wellness center progress from slightly nicer than trashy (requiring closed doors and plastic sheeting) to something that has become downright adorable.

My massage clientele has grown from about five on January 1, 2010 to about 75 today and from a few sessions a month to multiple sessions a week.

I have a gift. I don’t know what I do differently, and many times I feel very inadequate to help someone, yet people keep telling me I really do make a difference.

2010 was the year I realized how much I need to feel as though I am making a difference.

This year was the first year since 1992 that I have not attended August Staff Development.

I miss my friends.

I don’t miss the beaurocracy and protocol.

Twenty ten was the year I said goodbye to windowless cinderblock and electromagnetic fields.

It’s the year I discovered how amazing it is to give a massage in a thunderstorm.

It’s also the year I learned that the sound of geese flying over head is another sweet background symphony for giving a massage.

This year gave me time to can 100 pounds of apples, oodles of tomatoes, more jalapeños than I will ever need, and even make some apricot jam. I haven’t done that in probably 18 years because I was always back at work by the time the garden was ready.

This year we took our cowgirl to the state horse show, sent her off to horse camp, sent our oldest to Germany for a month, and then moved her to the far corner of New Mexico to go to school.

This year found daughter number two with a drivers license and an appreciation for the freedom even a 12 year old mini-van can bring.

It was the year my baby played on her first club basketball basketball team and decided she could live with an occasional bloody nose.

This was the year I told a man in leadership that I wanted strong female role models in my daughters’ lives.

It has also been the year I’ve had to remind myself that I got what I wished for and that everything else is secondary, even though there is some frustration.

This was the year I gave up on my hybrid car and helped my oldest get her first car.

This was the year I learned to be really really patient with licensing agencies. It took three months, but we finally got my oldest licensed to practice massage therapy in New Mexico without making any state agency enemies. The holdup was one of semantics. Terminology.

It was also the year I was glad my oldest didn’t have a job, because after completely missing Christmas last year due to work and snow, she has been home with us for a whole month. I kinda like having her around.

I hope she never gets a job, but rather finds a way to make a living on her own terms.

This was the year that 85% of my 18 years worth of retirement savings disappeared. In all fairness, it did a lot. It did things that couldn’t have been done if I had continued to work at my former job. It blessed my girls.

This was the year that I finally told my story.

And the year that I released some resentment in exchange for recognizing the gifts.

This year saw me let go of the guilt of “should” and simply enjoy “being”.

I learned that sometimes procrastination simply means the time isn’t yet right.

Twenty ten is the year I learned that there is a big difference between being a Christian and being a disciple of a man named Jesus.

I don’t want to be a Christian.

I want to be  like Jesus.

This year saw my eyes open to the historical origins of the Bible and let go of my blind belief in its divine authorship.

It also saw another major shift in my belief system.

I think I might have been wrong about a few things.

Twenty ten was the year I found some amazing people who are also on a quest for enlightenment and truth: Ronna Detrick, Renae Cobb, Don Rogers, and Chris Ledgerwood to name a few. I am grateful to have made their acquaintance and experienced their encouragement.

It was the year of a broken leg for cowgirl and a broken nose for my mom. Note to both: Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes you get your wish, but with a bit of an inconvenient side effect. Good lesson for me. I wonder if I caught on or if I’ll have to learn that one for myself sometime?

Twenty ten will go down as the year that I took a leap off of a cliff and had to build my wings during the free-fall.

My wings are in place, and now the ascension begins. There’s a pretty good climb ahead, but I have a hunch the view from the top of 2011 is going to be exhilerating.

That’s a big word that means really scary but very much worth it once the mountain is climbed.

Bring it on.

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