Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PEACE... OR... WE WOULD RATHER NOT - POLITICS IN AMERICA




The world is an amazingly complex place with different cultures, national interests, religions, levels of thought and widely diverse goals, strategies, human opinions, and constantly changing patterns of war and peace. 

Perhaps the most frightening attitude of earth’s peoples  is one that has been extant over the centuries, that war is necessary to achieve national goals and objectives; to protect a way of life;  and, to further a nation’s goals, religious or secular.  This attitude rejects efforts towards forgiveness and peace.  

In other words, throughout history  many nations and their leaders have taken the approach that “only war will win the day”. 

As political campaigns and the heated rhetoric they will generate start to build for the next presidential election in the United States of America,  we will hear such attitudes expressed by candidates for that office as they discuss the myriad of conflicts and potential threats in the world today.

Political Discussions

We already see early criticism of efforts of the President and other world leaders who seek peaceful solutions  and rational negotiations,  and there will undoubtedly be loud shouts for military action over compromise and finding an acceptable pathway to peace.

 As we stand by awaiting the inevitable chest beating,  calls for “protecting our liberty and national honor” and derogatory comments about those peace seeking leaders, and even efforts to defeat their negotiations,  it would be well to remember the words of one of our country’s most successful generals, a respected president and a humanitarian of great intelligence.

General Dwight David Eisenhower


President (and General) Dwight D Eisenhower was certainly a brilliant military man, a 5 star General, Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces for the invasions of Italy and Normandy in World War II and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.   Great military credentials without a doubt.  But as a man of substance, goodness and humanity he also realized the futility of continued warfare. We need only look back over the past 3,000 years to see that warfare does not end warfare. The players change, the situations change but the inexplicable  inner desire of man to obliterate man is still seen across the centuries.


We should entreat our politicians and, indeed, all Americans to heed the call of President Eisenhower and consider his words as we are urged to turn aside peaceful efforts and support conflict today and in the future.

He said: "Every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war it is humanity hanging from across of iron."

And about our forefathers as they established America, Eisenhower said:
"The real fire within the builders of America was faith – faith in a provident God  whose hand supported and guided them: faith in themselves as the children of God… Faith in their country and its principles that proclaimed man's right to freedom and justice."

This man, powerful in war and government, but with a deep appreciation of  life and peace,  understood freedom, democracy and the importance of trusting God for the providence of all mankind.

A recent visit to the Eisenhower Museum several years ago in Kansas revealed  even more clearly that the choices of mankind are: Do we love, or hate?  Do we seek war or can we trust peace?  Are we fearful without carrying a weapon?   Are we humble enough to seek peace and understanding as a solution or must we be pumped up, arrogant and dominate the world?  

The founders of America came here to establish a nation built on peace... are we truly in tune with that spirit of peace and love today?  Have we betrayed those early settlers who saw America as a place where people could go to bed at night in peace, who didn't fear for their children's lives, who were tolerant of others? 

Yes, America has always defended itself and well it should, decisively and effectively.   "Ike" was certainly not one to bow down to oppression, nor should we let down our guard.   But we must not let the voices of fear and arrogance block efforts to live harmoniously with other nations and seek peace as the first and most desirable alternative.   As a case in point,  history reveals that many of the trusted  allies of the United States were at one time in conflict with us.  If we can be partners and work with countries that were at one time enemies, why can’t we cut out the “middle man” of armed conflict and go right to peaceful relations.  

Christians, should recall the words of the Master Christian, Christ Jesus when he said:
 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it  be afraid.”   John 14:27
We pray that our leaders will remember that one huge assignment that Jesus left for his followers:  Love One Another! John 13:34.  

 Religious Leader Mary Baker Eddy, author of Science and Health with  Key to the Scriptures wrote the definitive answer:   "Bloodshed, war, and oppression belong to the darker ages, and shall be relegated to oblivion.  (1   War will end when nations are ripe for progress.  (2      And when are politicians are ripe for progress, when they are ready to seek peaceful solutions whenever possible, they will be ready for office. 
 
 First Church of Christ Science and Miscellany Mary Baker Eddy  
1) 285:10

2) 281:28

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

THE HILL CLIMB - TALKING OR DOING!






I sat there staring at the hill in front of me. The engine of the hill climbing dirt bike was sputtering as they are wont to do at very low idle speed. That hill straight ahead looked very steep, and… intimidating.   The churned up dirt track leading up the hill in what seemed like a near vertical climb was awaiting my hesitant self. Sure,  other bikes  ahead of me had made it to the top, maybe more experienced hill climbers,  undoubtedly less cautious, but most had made it to the top.

My dilemma had started a week earlier. As a Sunday school teacher working with a teen age class it seemed like every week I was the one learning lessons.   Not a bad thing, but not the way I had envisioned things when I volunteered to teach.

As the class discussed the Bible Lesson for the week, we talked about fear.   One boy, about 16 years old, had shared with the class that he was going to do some hill climbs on his dirt bike. He told us of how it was a great bike and that he wanted to do it but that he had become fearful of climbing the steep hills.  He wondered if truly understanding  God’s love and protection the way that Jesus described Him could really help overcome fear?   Sure, Jesus urged us to “Be Not Afraid”, but how?   

I of course took the cue, jumped in and assured him that he was safe in God’s care.  I thought sharing my own experiences would help and the whole class shared instances of how they had experienced God’s protection in their lives.

With all of my talk, encouraging him to trust and to be courageous, I had no idea that this young man would invite me to come the next week to enjoy the sport, to give him encouragement and to actually ride his cycle up that steep hill, an opportunity for me to  demonstrate strength,  courage and trust in God’s protection.  Oh Dear!!!  Now what had I done?

Now, I was a motorcycle rider myself but not really into off road riding. Here again, as my dad used to say, I had talked myself into a pickle.  It is easy to “talk the talk” as some folks say, to make claims, to maybe go beyond what we actually want to demonstrate! 

So, sitting there, having gotten myself into this situation,  facing my challenge, I did reach out to the Father.   I was truly going to have to "Trust in the Lord" !    I asked for the silent voice to speak to me in thought and give me courage. And, He did.  

The story of David and Goliath, a familiar one to many, and one that has special meaning to me, came immediately to thought.   The exciting story is told in the Bible in  I Samuel 17  where the  Philistines gathered together their armies to battle  King Saul and the men of Israel.     The Philistines had a champion, Goliath , of Gath.  He was a huge man and was suitably armed.  Rather than array all of the armies in another bloody battle,  Golaith proposed that  the Israelites  send forth one man to do battle to determine the contest.    Whichever one  lost, their armies would be the servants of the other nation. 

The Israelites were afraid and only one, a young shepherd boy, David, had the courage to fight the giant.  While the Israelites were milling around in confusion, talking bravely perhaps but not willing to join the battle, David took the challenge.  To me this Goliath's very presence evoked fear and dread.    

Young David was undeterred, his confidence in the power and presence of God to protect him undiminished.   He cried out to Goliath,  “ Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.”  Now THAT is Trust.  Not just talking, but demonstrating!

Needless to say this young lad defeated the giant, symbolizing the defeat of error, the striking down of fear, as David relied on God for strength, wisdom, understanding and courage.  Sort of David’s version of a hill climb.

So, with the story of David’s courage in my thought, seeing the hill as my Goliath,  I grasped the bike’s hand grips, hit the throttle and went churning up that hill. At times when the bike seemed to waver and wallow, I opened the throttle even wider,  trusting that God would deliver me to the top. After all, my Sunday school class was counting on me!  What a wonderful feeling it was as I reached the top, exhilaration and a sense of victory over fear.  Doing instead of talking!!

Mary Baker Eddy, early American religious pioneer, Christian healer, preacher and teacher noted the importance of demonstration.     She said:   
While respecting all that is good in the Church or out of  it, one’s consecration to Christ is more on the ground of demonstration than of profession.   1.)  Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence.   2.)
 Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power.  These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil. 3.)

Jesus himself required proofs of God’s power. He knew that talk alone would not sway the world,    His overcoming sin, sickness of every type, death, lack, insanity, were all key to his acceptance by the world as the “son of God”, the example of the Christ.  Not words, but WORKS!

To confirm his conviction that the proofs were important, he said:  “ Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?   the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  4.)

We can trust God.  And we will not be afraid to replace talking with doing!! My student proved his own trust by joyfully making it up the hill too!  Several times!!

A favorite hymn gives us a gentle reminder of where we should put our trust:

O he who trusts in God’s protection
And hopes in Him when fears alarm,
Is sheltered by His loving-kindness,
Delivered by His mighty arm;
If ye God’s law can understand,
Ye have not builded on the sand.

O wait on Him with veneration,
Be silent in humility;
He leads you after His own counsel,
His will is done and still shall be;
All good for you His wisdom planned;
O trust in God and understand.  

Christian Science Hymnal  216

4.  John 14:11-12

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS - A Shepherd's View 2014!!!



The plane arrived ahead of schedule. In that sometimes quirky system in the Arab world, delightful really, but unusual, the Kuwait Airways jet left half an hour earlier than the scheduled departure time because the passengers were all there,  the plane was loaded so we left. Pretty logical I thought.

The taxi ride from the airport into the city of Amman, Jordan was uneventful. Wait, it WAS “eventful”!! As we drove the relatively short distance into town I saw the most delightful site. Along the road, up on the hillside, I saw a shepherd with a flock of sheep. Such a peaceful scene, it seemed so natural and so right somehow, even though I guess I had never actually seen a shepherd and a flock of sheep.  I’ve seen plenty of sheep in my time but never a scene like this where the shepherd was guiding and protecting them.


Living in the Middle East and traveling frequently among the Arabian Gulf states, one observes many sights which are perhaps new and unusual for them.  In particular, the camels roaming freely among the sand dunes on the drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai,  a scene straight out of the Arabian nights. Those wide stretches of sand with the undulating dunes always made me feel so at peace. None of the hustle bustle of city life but just seemingly endless expanses of shimmering sand and sun, a gentle breeze, a calming sense of peace.

But on this day near Amman, the city named Philadelphia in Roman times and described in the Bible as the City of Brotherly Love, the shepherd with the sheep struck a chord.  It brought thoughts of shepherds abiding in the field watching their flocks by night as described in the story of the birth of Jesus.  In this peaceful setting even though it was close to the city, that Bible scene became very real to me. How wonderful that the birth of the Herald of God’s love, Christ Jesus as he would become known, appeared first to simple shepherds.   

While a few “Wise Men” had indeed received the angel message that there was to be a significant event, this first close-up glimpse of the divine idea, heralded by Angel Voices came not to astronomers, not to priests or other religious leaders, not to King Herod or the secular higher-ups but to simple shepherds, those whose minds were perhaps childlike and trusting, as shepherds must always trust, in a power greater than themselves. Those stalwarts who face dangers every day with only a staff and sling shot to protect them and their charges.

At this Christmas time may your heart and mind be as humble, expectant, receptive to the Christ spirit and as full of peace and love as those early shepherds watching hopefully on the hillside.  And, may your flock, large or small, rest comfortably and abide with you, or in your thoughts, during this holiday.

Merry Christmas ... and Love...  Pat Collins

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fitting In and the Chameleon

Fitting In and the Chameleon



As we sat in our lawn chairs in the backyard enjoying the late afternoon sun, I was startled by the sound of splashing water. I quickly turned to see what was making that noise since our little Pekin ducks, which had been playing in the wading pool, were now out and walking around the back of the lot.

The source of the noise was quickly seen to be our dog Lucy, jumping around and splashing noisily in the pool like she was a duck.

Lucy was our loved Corgi that had come upon the scene  a
few years earlier, first appearing as a small head with big ears, dark eyes barely peering out from the woods. She obviously had no home and was living off the land as best a small dog can do. She soon became our dog and seemed happy enough to have a regular meal schedule and a warm bed.

Lucy quickly appointed herself mother and protector of our ducks and she was always with them, guarding them from the occasional coyote and from the hawks which flew overhead peering down at a possible duck dinner!  Lucy  seemed to love mothering and watching over the little quackers and the praise we gave her for being such a good guardian.  

On this day, she had been watching the ducks as they did their joyous “duck things”, frolicking and diving underwater, then surfacing and shaking, flapping their stubby wings, swimming, diving back down underwater, and repeating the process.  As the ducks finally got out of the pond and wandered away, apparently little tinges of jealousy started pulling at Lucy.   When we looked back at the pond, there she was  in the pool, ducking under the water, getting up shaking, diving again into the water mimicking everything that the ducks had done except her quack quack sounded more like a bark, bark.

She was trying to “Fit In”.
MAYBE FITTING IN IS GOOD IDEA HERE!!

She wanted to be accepted and loved  like the ducks were, I guess, even to the extent of changing her behavior and normal inclinations since she had never shown an affinity for water.  She must have thought those actions caused us to love those ducks and she wanted part of that love!.

In my own experience I have faced the temptation to ”Fit In”, to go outside of what I knew was right for me, to act contrary to what I believed in and what I stood for, and what I knew about myself. I wanted to  “Fit In”  and not stand out as different from the group as an “odd ball”, to not draw attention to myself, my ideas, my principles.   How much easier it seems to be “one of the gang” than to stand for something. It wasn’t very comfortable but it was EASY. Doing the wrong thing can be Easy but it isn’t very satisfying or comfortable.

 I remember a helpful slogan I heard years ago that said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.

In recalling some of those moments from years past I was reminded of the story a friend, Howard, told me long ago.  He cautioned me about being a Chameleon and explained how Chameleons change their color to “Fit In” with their environment.  He made it pretty clear that I should avoid that temptation and stand up for what I believed in, that I should reflect on the outside the qualities that I cherished in my heart.   
 While appearing to be one thing while you are actually something else inside, just to “Fit In”,  is good for a lizard, but it is often a treacherous trap  for humans

In a world where the lure of drugs and alcohol, the temptation to shortcut, stretch the truth, discuss with heated temper politics and social issues, to gossip about and show no respect for others…  so many temptations, we sometimes edge more toward being the Chameleon, perhaps hiding our true nature and feelings rather than standing firm on principle.

The Bible contains many wonderful examples of Chameleon disguises versus standing firm with honesty and integrity, and also shows that things don’t change very much from century to century, as the same temptations we face were present in Jesus' time as well.

In the lifetime of Jesus many people undoubtedly discussed disease, blindness, physical disability, deafness, leprosy, immorality, and many other issues.   Jesus didn’t fall in with the group and talk about how terrible it was that these diseases were present, didn’t spend time criticizing the government nor gather with the group to pass judgment and cast stones at sinners. . He stood firm with his understanding that God, who he understood to be Divine Love, the Mind that created ALL, did not create evil, disease or death,  but Life Eternal. He didn’t worry about being “different” and healed and uplifted those in need in spite of those who resisted or ridiculed him. 

In contrast,  Judas, one of the 12 disciples, typified the Chameleon in the most hurtful way. While in his chameleon outfit he was outwardly loyal to Jesus, but he betrayed him to the soldiers, an attempt to Fit In with the authorities.  Matthew 26

And, even Peter,  a loyal disciple who loved and was loved by Jesus fell into the trap.   He wore  the chameleon outfit when Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest,  and tried to Fit In with those who claimed they did not know Jesus, and denied being a disciple.  He was later so ashamed of his actions but he did prove that even those with high ideals and standards can fall victim to the lizard influence!  Matthew 26  

So, whatever the motive, we can and must drop the "act".  Mary Baker Eddy in her Miscellaneous Writings sums up helpful guidance for the principled individual. Urging integrity and sincerity in each of our lives, she counsels:  "The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the same,at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen.

He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be,full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain it by reproachable means. He never shows us a smiling countenance while he meditates evil against us in his heart. We shall never find one part of his character at variance with another.  Miscellaneous Writings pp147

And so, Dear Lucy, your  efforts were all for naught. Even though your attempts to Fit In were innocent enough, you
didn’t need to be a duck with stubby wings, web feet or a cute quack, quack.   I loved you for who you were.  


Just so, our dear Father/Mother God, loves each of us as we truly are, no frills needed, no change of costume or color,  no false pretences about who we are. We can be ourselves, the spiritual self we were created to be… the individual reflection of Life, Truth and Love that are ours as God’s perfect image.  As Jesus counseled:  "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. " Matthew 5

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

EARTHQUAKES AND OTHER SCARY STUFF




I could feel the floor starting to tremble under foot, first a jolt and then a gentle tremor. I saw my office door begin to swing slowly, then I realized...  Here we go again, still another earthquake. 

I happened to be on an important telephone call at the time and as the senior manager in my building I knew I should set a good example and evacuate immediately but, even though the ceiling tiles were falling, books being jostled from the bookcase and there were sounds of screaming in the hallway, I stayed on the phone for the a couple of minutes to finish the conversation. The guy on the other end, one of my staff members, was laughing at my plight as he was safely in his office in Oklahoma, far from my Southern California location. The screaming continued, I left the office for safety outside.

When the dust settled and we received an “all clear” from Security, we all returned to the offices and I addressed the source of the screaming. I called my administrative assistant
into my office. One of her duties was “Building Safety Coordinator. I told that I had seen her grab her “hard hat” and run out into the hall as the tremor started. That was good. But, we also discussed how that it was probably not appropriate for her, as the Building Safety Coordinator responsible for an orderly building evacuation, to run down the halls screaming “Run for you life! We’re all gonna die”!!!

I suggested that perhaps it would be better for her to give up that additional duty position and to accept another duty that was less stressful.

Now I personally know a lot about FEAR. I have sampled various fears many times in many of its disguises and know it intimately.

For example, Fear comes in many disguises. What is frightening to one may not be to another. 

SKEERD?  Not Me!!!!!
Panic Sets In!!!!

Fear is irrational. I have felt perfectly safe on a very bumpy flight, experiencing heavy turbulence, while the person next to me was reduced to crying and shaking. And, I have felt inexplicable fear in a packed elevator while others crammed in next to me laughed and talked, oblivious to what was frightening me, while I was about to implode.

If fear were rational, we would all fear the same things, which proves to me that FEAR is individual and within our own consciousness.

Courageous Burmese political figure, Aung San Suu Kyi is
quoted as saying: “The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.”   
Intellectually, we know that it is important to stay calm, and we should exercise caution. Author Neale Donald Walsch says:“Caution is what causes you to look both ways before crossing the street. Fear is what keeps you frozen on the curb forever.” 

When FEAR lifts its ugly head, we all react differently. Fear and confusion often block intelligent actions, sometimes we seem to become immobile. A Flying Safety magazine article some years ago reported that the Landing Gear warning horn was so loud and insistent as his jet fighter aircraft approached the runway, creating fear and confusion in the pilot’s thinking, that ironically, he landed without lowering the landing gear.

Since fear is subjective, in our own thinking, I have often contemplated Job’s observation and its relevance to myself. In the Bible, in the Book of Job, we find:" For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me." *1  

Is the fear, that "Gear Warning Horn" so loud and insistent,   “coming upon me” because I am entertaining it, giving it place, honoring its presence by believing it? If I didn’t fear, would the “thing” happen?

Now I am not saying that my Administrative Assistant caused the earthquake!! But her reaction certainly reflected a fear that was personal to her.   BUT, what causes fear? How can we conquer it? 

It seems that FEAR is a feeling that somehow we have become separated from our Creator, that we are alone without support. We may we feel that we are adrift in this world, vulnerable to something that is about to happen, or may happen, or will happen!! We feel a lack of firm foundation, and we ACCEPT those fearful, threatening thoughts and cling to them!

But do we have to believe everything that comes into our thought, everything we see, hear and feel? Are we “authorized” to sort the thoughts that come to us, do we have permission to keep the good ones, discard the bad ones, the fearful ones?

In her book, Rudimental Divine Science, Mary Baker Eddy cautions that :
“Accepting the verdict of these material senses, we should believe man and the universe to be the football of chance and sinking into oblivion'.”*2   In her Bible companion book*, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she challenges us, when threatened by belief of disease or any erroneous belief, to guard the door of our thought: She counsels: " Reverse the case. Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously." *

God’s plan for us is never frightening, never leading to danger, doubt, discouragement, disease. We are never separate from our divine Source, never out of the Mind that holds us in His consciousness never threatened by God, who is LOVE.

Jesus of Nazareth, the humble preacher centuries ago, knowing that he was ALWAYS hand in hand with his heavenly Father, faced every situation fearlessly. He said, “I and my Father are ONE.”*4   And the apostle Paul comforted us by assuring us of our inseparability from God when he said:   “In Him, we live, and move and have our being.” *5   Definitely a statement of our true, spiritual existence.



Regardless of how solid, or shaky, material foundations may seem, they are really not “the rock” that we need as
security. The assurance and peace of mind of being “at one with the Father” comes to us in a way that some of us hav
e experienced as children when, unexpectedly separated from a parent and experiencing that sinking feeling, looked desperately for their comforting presence. Then, reunited, hand in hand with our parents, we once again felt safe and secure. That same comforting presence of our heavenly Father/Mother is always available, here and now, and will bring that same sense of peace and well being.

This poem speaks of feeling God's everpresence: 

I walk with Love along the way,
And O, it is a holy day;
No more I suffer cruel fear,
I feel God’s presence with me here;
The joy that none can take away
 Is mine;  I walk with Love today.

Come, walk with Love along the way,
Let childlike trust be yours today;
Uplift your thought, with courage go,
Give of your heart’s rich overflow,
And peace shall crown your joy-filled day.
Come, walk with Love along the way.*6

*       The Holy Bible  - Job 3:25
**      Rudimental Divine Science - Mary Baker Eddy (MBE)
***     Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (MBE)
****    The Holy Bible  - John 10:30
*****   The Holy Bible  - Acts 17:28
******  Christian science Hymnal 427

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

LESSONS FROM THE PLAYGROUND

   



CRASH!! I felt the shock through my whole body!! What started as a fun experience on a Teetor Totter turned out to be a lasting life lesson for me.

My young friend from across the street and I had gone to the school playground to use the equipment and do what 8 year old boys do, running, jumping, recklessly enjoying the playground equipment.

We had been having a good time on the teetor totter, first balancing each other and then taking the ride up and down. As daring young men, of course, we went up and down as fast as possible, but suddenly, when I was at the top, my friend thought it would be funny to jump off. I came plummeting down hard on the concrete with a resounding crash. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that he did that.

But I soon recovered my pride and my sense of humor, and that experience has been a helpful reminder to me through the years that life sometimes hands us these “jarring” experiences.

More than just playground pranks, these situations reflect the precariousness of our joy, our attitude, our income, our career, our relationships, and other aspects of life when based on merely a material sense of the human experience.

Many of us may have received that jolt just when everything seems to be in perfect balance, just as we are experiencing success, the “top of the teeter”, so to speak, the bottom drops out and we come crashing down, and it hurts.

Recently, in the wake of several severe JOLTS in my own experience, a friend was talking to me about the challenges of maintaining a balance in our daily lives. We are constantly faced with balancing, trying to maintain a leveling of the perceptions of sickness and health, success and failure, poverty and adequate supply, life or death, happiness versus sadness. When this idea of balance gets out of skew, we come crashing down as I did on the teeter totter.

Apparently the modern versions of teeter totters now

have “safety springs” which can stop the riders from abruptly hitting the ground, gently cushioning the fall. But are there “safety springs” for us in our life experience? Can we soften the blow of “out of balance” situations? Can we make our “playground of life” a safe and happy one?

Students of the Bible have found that, through the rich and courageous experiences of those who have gone before, we can gain a better understanding that life is spiritual, and not based on the fickle nature of matter and its inherent problems. We can prove that balance need not be a factor in our lives.



HOLY BIBLE
In the Old Testament we learn of challenges faced by Moses, Daniel, the three Hebrew children, Elijah, David and others. These strong believers knew that God was protecting them. Understanding that this mortal, material existence is not the baseline of reality, they threw the entire weight of their trust on the spiritual side of the equation. They did not weigh their fate in the “Scales of Justice” or human logic, which are traditionally shown as weighing a cases’ support versus opposition. They trusted in the power of God, good, to save them.

Christ Jesus, a man who more nearly reflected God, his Father, than anyone in history, showed that there IS only one side.

Rather than weighing the good versus the evil, he
SCALES OF JUSTICE
demonstrated the Allness of God, his Father, our Father, and consequently the nothingness of sin, sickness, death, materiality, poverty, hunger, all of the woes of mankind. In so many instances he was faced with the pleas of the material world to balance things, to acknowledge the reality of matter, disease, sin and even death. But, he was unwavering in his understanding that life is spiritual, PERIOD. His view is reflected in his admonition, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt5:48) No wavering. No compromise.

He proved the unreality of disease, he healed leprosy by understanding that man is the pure image and likeness of God, Mind, untouched by the ravages of illness. He gave sight to the blind by his understanding that man’s vision is for seeing spiritually, seeing God and the effects of God’s radiance in our human situation.

In a world where sin seemed to attach itself to mortals, Jesus saw purity and forgave and lifted the burden of the false concept of sin from those who suffered under its illusion. He raised the dead by understanding that Life HAS no opposite. Life IS!! He dealt solely with spiritual truths.

He didn’t “teetor” about complete understanding of and placing his reliance on God, the divine intelligence in which "we live and move and have our being", as described by the Apostle Paul (Acts  17:28). Nor did he weigh whether a person was good or bad, whether they “deserved” to be healed, whether they were worthy of being fed or released from bondage, whether they were deserving of his teaching and counsel. His clear vision and understanding of God, described as LOVE, looked beyond the frailty of the human conditions and saw each person as God’s loved child.

How refreshing that model is in an age where blame, criticism and judgment are so common and widespread.

Not only did Jesus heal and support, he taught his disciples to heal also, to understand this total reliance on spirit. And they went about the countryside healing, uplifting, blessing.

And, he challenged us to do the same, and to do even greater works than his, because he was being lifted up above this dream of life in matter when he said:” Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (Jhon 14:12)  His "instruction manual" for us to follow can be found in The Bible, Matthew chapters 5-7.

We need no balance, no scales, no teetering, we need only to begin to understand that this material life is a fickle, poor substitute for the spiritual life, the love, the intelligence, the purity, the gentleness and kindness that is our heritage and the truth of our being.


And so, with all due respect and my deep love to my wonderful friends in the news media and medical fields who sincerely and loving practice their crafts, as the television blares out advertisements selling us on how sick we might
be,how that pain in our leg could be serious, how this pill or that surgery will cure our ills; and as the news readers sadly comment on the ravages of war and storm, the unkindness of man to man, the immorality of this singer or that movie star, we can choose to teetor with those stories and their tragedies, OR we can hold to the Truth as practiced by those early examples from the Bible, and of folks today who are living a spiritually rich life based on demonstrating love, and trusting in God’s gift of life that is spiritual. 

Mary Baker Eddy, early religious pioneer, who founded a

religion based on the teachings and healing practices of Christ Jesus, states in her 
book, Science and Health with key to the Scriptures: “Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause.” *(p 313)

And in perceiving how he used this Science in healing, she wrote: “Undisturbed amid the jarring testimony of the material senses, Science, still enthroned, is unfolding to mortals the immutable, harmonious, divine Principle,  — is unfolding Life and the universe,ever present and eternal.” (p306)

So Mr. Teeter Totter, you can stay on the playground of the mortal dream, and provide a fun time for many, but as for me, I have decided to stay on firmer ground of Spirit!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

GLOOM AND DOOM? NO!!!!



The klaxon rang loudly across the flight line at the U.S. Air Force Base, located some miles south of the North Pole.  At this air defense operation, well north of the radar net that is the Defense Early Warning system protecting North America,  our job was to protect the North American Continent while our citizens were sleeping soundly, or going about their daily routines, unaware that we were even there, or of our mission.

On this dark and frigid day, the alert came through our radio speakers loudly… Red Alert.. Red Alert.. Scramble Red.   

As an air traffic controller realizing that dense ice fog clung to the ground, visibility and ceiling were below legal landing “minimums,  my heart began to race.  The young fighter pilots did not have a choice, they had to go, the country was depending on them.

As the alert hanger doors opened and the 2 F102’s interceptor aircraft, Razor Red One and Two,  began to taxi, the lead pilot, voice stressed, yelled into the microphone that he couldn’t see anything, outside of the cockpit canopy.   He was led out to the runway by a Follow Me truck  and the two jets  made their turn, hopefully to line up with the long runway, then lit off the afterburners, pushed throttles completely forward,  and streaked down the runway  through the ice fog and darkness, climbing to meet the intruders.

At this northern most air base, the nighttime and total darkness lasts for many months and these pilots, depending on their ability to precisely follow their instruments and on the skills of the controllers, those calm voices guiding them, took off and climbed out.

Thinking back to that day recently,  it reminded me of another early experience.  Two years before the far north incident, stationed at an air base in Mississippi, situated just a few blocks from the U.S. Gulf Coast, we received reports of an approaching  hurricane.

The base aircraft were all ordered to leave immediately and to fly to a safer location hundreds of miles north of the coast. As I watched them take them depart I was amazed at their rate of climb. The winds had already picked up to about  60 mph and as the aircraft took off into the wind they climbed almost vertically, not nose up but just being lifted vertically by the force of the headwind, as if they were on an invisible elevator.

Also noticeable  was that as their landing gear left the runway,their last contact with earth, and the gear retracted into the fuselage, they climbed even higher, faster.   

As I left the base that day and went home to await the storm in a very small mobile home in a trailer park that an "airman last class" could afford, very close to the coast, I learned more about demonstrating courage and overcoming gloom and darkness.  Most of the airmen on base were protected in the concrete  barracks but I lived off-base with my wife and we had nowhere else to go. 

Through the hurricane, which devastated a lot of the coastal area, my
wife and I clung to each other, praying, as the mobile home shook and rattled on its flimsy foundation.  We made it safely through and felt God’s presence throughout the storm.

All of these experiences have been so helpful to me in relating them to how God provides protection and uplift in times of gloom and doom. They help us better understand God and our protection, in proving that we can trust more and be less frightened by conditions outside of our control. 

Here’s a summary of what I have learned.
·     That God, the Creator, our Father, as described in the Bible by Christ Jesus, is a very present help in trouble.  That God is Spirit, not material, not a human form sitting somewhere in space, but the essence of Spirit, unseen perhaps, but FELT by everyone who turns away from material sense of existence to seek the spiritual reality.    (God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  (John 4:24)   

·       That we can listen to the quiet voice of the controller for takeoff, climb and a safe landing.  Turning to God, that still small voice that calmly guides us through the fog of materiality, giving a clear signal when the outside noises of matter are silenced, is a safe navigation aid. (And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30 :21))

·       That we can face headwinds of trouble; lack of finance, love and understanding; illness, fear, sin and death because the once frightening headwinds put lift in our wings and help us climb higher spiritually. Those winds are an earthly phenomena, but God is Spirit, Love, untouched by matter and the whirlwind of mortal reasoning.  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5))
·        
    That when our landing  gear comes off the runway, when we turn loose of that last contact with earthly thinking, stop clinging desperately to a material sense of life,  and reach out to fly higher spiritually, we are lifted up even faster, higher.   As we release our tight hold on a material sense of life and existence, we begin to soar into an atmosphere of thought where fog dissipates and the sunshine of clear thinking reveals our true sense of life.

We can rejoice in our inevitable growth spiritward, to understand our own true identity as “the image and likeness” of God, knowing that we are not separate from God, but that  in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.  (Acts 17:28)    as the Apostle Paul observed. 



We don’t have to go somewhere else, at some other time or to some other place to be God’s image and likeness, we are there NOW.  Safe, Guided, Serene.

I love a poem written by John Greenleaf Whittier contained as a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal.   It often helps me clear my thought in times when I seem to be flying “on instruments”, almost written for a pilot or air traffic controller, or anyone who feels that they are flying blind in the face of earth’s storms.  

Just for a moment, please sit with me here in the cockpit with those courageous young fighter pilots as we race down life’s runway, and sing with them:

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on.
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Safe flight and happy landings.  God is whispering in your ear...  "Life is eternal, TRUST ME!!!"


(I loved a blog written by Kate Robertson that showed her love for this special poem as well.  Here is a link:  http://stoneriverstudio.blogspot.com.br/2013/08/proceed-as-way-opens.html     )