Spiritual Awakening

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Special Tribune to Buster - A Friend I Never Met

I never had the opportunity to meet Buster.  Being a person who enjoys the companionship of a dog, Buster was one of the reasons I decided to stop in and see what Booman Tribune was all about.  His face truly reveals the patience and warmth that I just wish we all could show each day. Looking with love and anticipation of acceptance, Buster spoke to me in a way that no comment or dairy could never imagine.  I figured that if Booman could love such a wonderful creature, maybe I should stop and spend some time listening to the words he has to say.

I am so glad that I decided to rest at the Pond for awhile.  Stories of success and anger, desire and hope continue to spring up from the Pond day after day.  It shows us all that sometimes, the greatest inspiration we may find in life is not limited to just the people and places we see.  They can be found in the simple and loving eyes of a large and inviting creature whose only request is to be loved and treated with respect and kindness.

I can only imagine the sorrow that Booman and his family are feeling as they watches Buster take his last breaths in this life.  As tears rolling down each face, they wonder why at this moment and time, is Buster leaving us all.  My hope is that Booman, his family, and all of us remember the joy and warmth Buster has given us all in his only special way. Buster represents the qualities that we all search for each day.  Live in this moment with all our being.  Never reject the kindness of a stranger.  Find the hidden bones of the past and bring them to light. Show patience even though we would rather race after every squirrel we see or chase the cat next door.

I lived in Gander Newfoundland for three years and I was able to experience first hand the loving and playful nature that Newfoundlanders are so known for.  Their loyalty is unquestioned and their ability to warm your heart is just one lick away.  Such gentle giants with a heart so big, you can not begin to describe it!

So, as we continue to fight for the rights of others, speak out against racism, war, hate crimes and other issues of the day, let us remember that we had the opportunity to spend time, even though it was via the Internet with a gentle loving giant who captured our hearts and brought a smile to our faces each and every time we saw his photos.

To Booman and your family,

I can only say that losing a member of the family is never an easy thing to deal with.  Buster's life was not lived in vain because he loved you all with all of his heart.  Remember this prayer in the days and weeks to come:

Dear God,

This we know: every living thing is yours and returns to you. As we ponder this mystery we give you thanks for the life of Buster and we now commit him into your loving hands.

Gentle God: fragile is your world, delicate are your creatures, and costly is your love which bears and redeems us all.
Holy Creator, give us eyes to see and ears to hear how every living thing speaks to us of your love. Let us be awestruck at your creation and daily sing your praises.

Especially, create within us a spirit of gratitude for the life of this beloved pet who has lived among us and given us freely of his love. Even in our sorrow we have cause for joy for we know that all creatures who died on earth shall live again in your new creation.


To Buster,

Thank you for being in our lives, even if it was just for a short time.  Your face and eyes reflect the wonder and joy of life and know that we all learned something from you.  As you prepare for your next journey, rest in the knowledge that we will miss you dearly and know that you will be able to enjoy the rest that you truly deserve.  Goodbye to the friend I never had the opportunity to meet in person.  May you rest in peace!

To the rest of us in the Pond,

May we continue to chase the squirrels and cats that we face each day knowing that we had the opportunity to see true love and loyalty in action.  Keep digging up the bones of the past and defend those are in need and despair.  That is what Buster would want us to do and this will be his legacy that we will be able to carry forward in the months and years to come.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Curing the Disease and Not the Symptoms

This morning, I had the opportunity to read an interesting diary entry on Booman Tribune called Good Christians. The focus of this entry was to show how fundamentalism within religious groups is threatening to destroy the foundational principles upon which the United States was built. I can agree that religious extremists are ruling the day; however, the issue is more than fighting back to opposite these religious groups, in my opinion. The real issue arises when the discussion turns to dealing with the waves of “religious extremists” in a manner that is constructive and meaningful. The anger and frustration that is produced may not solve the problem, but only empower the extremists – otherwise know as “fighting fire with fire!” What is the end result? In most cases, tempers flare, name calling is the “tool du jour” and everyone ends up standing in their own corner of the room with arms folded, lips pouting and no real resolutions come to the surface. (The vision of two little kids standing in separate corners of a room glaring at each other comes to mind!)

The question is this: “What is the root cause for this push to impose a specific religious thought or dogma upon individuals who may or may not believe in that specific religious thought or dogma?” It is an answer that I believe needs to be determined before any meaningful progress can be made. To begin to see the answer, I believe that we have to stop trying to fix the “symptoms” of the problem. Anger is a result of emotional reaction to being pushed. But, anger, in and of itself, may not be the root cause. Individual religious beliefs vary greatly since we are all unique and have different life experiences. Many of the religious extremists feel current laws, policies, and rules do not reflect the religious foundation that “they believe” formed the United States. Feeling betrayed these extremists determined that political strength would be the only way to regain and change laws they see as “ungodly.” Having gained political status, the extremists have begun to pass new legislation to “right the wrongs” and “bring America back to God.”

These actions have brought opposition groups to the surface. These groups see the changes as “forcing a certain brand of religious dogma” upon their lives and it must be stopped to ensure individuals can live based on their set of beliefs. It is natural reaction to expect and no one should be surprised. As rhetoric grows on each side, anger begins to show with increasing intensity. Each side believes they are right and the other side is
“out to lunch.” The end results are no communication, understanding, or comprehension of the concerns being addressed. This produces a stalemate between the two factions. No real answers are known and finger pointing abounds.

So, what is the real disease? My opinion is it comes down to one simple phrase: lack of respect. There is such a drive to win, the goal has been forgotten. All of the hot button issues have one thing in common, a lack of respect towards the individual affected by the specific issue. There is no room to allow the individual to make a choice and live with the consequences of that choice. Forced compliance to a religious dogma demises the reason for belief in that dogma. Most religious concepts are based on belief, or faith in that concept. To impose that belief on others create tension and rebellion. Throughout known history, societies that imposed a specific belief system eventually were consumed and destroyed by opposing factions that did not see the belief system as applicable to their lives.

The next question would be: “Can we, as a society, have the patience to find the disease and follow the prescription for the cure?” That, I can not answer because patience is not I personally learned the easy way and human beings tend to want things resolve immediately. It is interesting to see that we, as adults, continue to revert back to our childhood when we can not get what we want. We see this kind of behavior in our kids and work hard to teach them that they just have to wait. However, applying it to our adult lives proves to be more difficult at times. This might be part of the disease as well. A lack of respect; the inability to find the disease; have the patience to follow the prescription to resolve the disease.

Each day I think about the issues we faces and wonder what can I do personally, to find the real and meaningful solutions to each issues. I believe that regardless of the issue at hand, if we can not identify the disease in clear and easy to understand terms, our ability to discover and follow the prescription to cure the disease will not produce the desired results. This is very important since our society and way of life will depend on finding that root cause (disease) sooner, rather than later.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Behold, I Stand at the Door and . . . ? Part II

Continuing our discussion on free will and its impact on our lives; let’s proceed to another important word that provides us with additional insight on our behavior towards others. For your reference, the scripture is provided below:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. – Revelations 3:20 (King James Version)

Previously, we discussed the definition of stand and its relevance to the decisions we make each day. The next word that we will address is knock. It is word that defines the action towards the object we are standing in front (i.e., the door in this instance.). It can be best defined as:

To strike a sharp audible blow or series of blows, as on a door

This action is used to gain attention of the individual on the other side of the door. It is similar to a phone ringing. Someone is trying to contact you for a specific reason and believes that reason is so important, you should respond. The knock is a simple request and it is up to the other person, behind the door, to decide if they will respond to the request. There is no obligation for the individual behind the door to respond, similar to not picking up the phone when it rings.

Knocking is audible, but not intrusive. It is not a battering ram that is trying to break the door down. Forced entry is not the goal of knocking, in this case. There is high degree of politeness and respect being represented within this scripture passage. There is no attempt to pressure or cajole the individual on the other side of the door. The entire focus being shown is one of patience and desire, not intimidation and force. It is such a relaxed and open action (combining stand and knock). There is a sense of comfort with knocking that shows confidence without arrogance.

The question arises: ”Why am I standing and knocking at this specific door?” This question goes back to decisions made prior to choosing a specific door to stand and knock at. The decision to risk acceptance or rejection is one of the most vulnerable positions any human being can take. From asking someone out on a date, offering a marriage proposal, requesting a loan, etc., these moments resonate within every person for a lifetime. The results greatly influence future decisions we make. Why would Jesus Christ place himself in such a vulnerable position in the first place? I am not sure that I have the answer to that question but I have my opinion as to why.

In all of my reading and study of the Bible with respect to Jesus Christ, I have not found any moment that Jesus forced his opinions on others except when:

1. Denounced those in the temple who were using people’s spiritual beliefs to gain a profit (money changes in the temple)
2. Questioning those, in religious leadership, who focus was on the actions of the law and not the “spirit” of the law

In today’s society, there is a strong movement to “force” others to conform to God’s Laws. These movements vary greatly in their beliefs and conflict between beliefs is bound to occur. There is no “kindness” or “thoughtfulness” in these movements. It is pure reactionary process with no boundaries or limits. There is no “grace” or “choice” being offered, just pure “change because we say so!” These actions do not reflect the way Jesus Christ dealt with human beings. It is based in anger and frustration, not in service or support.

This is what faces the Democratic Party as they strive to regain leadership in the Congress and the White House. They must not focus on the negative aspects and reveal the positive and progressive ideas to bring this country back together. The ability to be open to acceptance or rejection is a hard pill to swallow, but if done, will show that spiritual awakening that we need to continue into the future.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Behold, I Stand at the Door and . . . ? Part I

In pursuit of a better understanding of what free will means, let's explore a specific scripture in the New Testament (Christian Scriptures for the theological and political correct group) that I believe brings some new insight to this discussion.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.- Revelations 3:20 (King James Version)

This passage reveals some things that many of us may not see at first, but speaks volumes to the behavior that we, as human beings, should think about.  First, these words are associated with Jesus Christ, not one of his disciples or prophets.  This is very important since most of the critics that are raising their voices have identified themselves as Christians who follow the example of Jesus Christ. Keep this in the back on your mind we continue this examination of Jesus Christ's words revealed in this passage.

The first word that strikes me is stand.  This word have many definitions but the one that seems, in my opinion, to fit within the context of the scripture would be:

To be in a position of possible gain or loss

This infers that the final results are not predictable.  Just because you stand at a door, it does not apply that the door will open.  In fact, there is no way to determine the reaction to standing at the door.  The entity on the other side has no reason to approach the door just because you are standing there.  It is an action of anticipation.  No guarantee of a response is a realistic possibility.  Until something happens to cause movement, it is an initial movement with no real sense of purpose.  What is my goal for being at this specific door at this specific time?  Is this the door I need access to?  Why am I standing this specific door to begin with?  These questions are just the tip of the iceberg and I am sure you would have many more questions that you could add.

Many times in our lives, we walk to a door with no idea of why we choose a particular door.  It might look pretty, majestic or special.  It might even be because we just liked that door with no specific reason in mind.  I would hope that we understand why we are standing in front of specific door since our actions could be forever changed by approaching that specific door.

Any movement or cause has to realize the fact that choosing a door carries great responsibility.  All of the noble intentions you may have can not predict what is behind the door or determine if the choice is a correct one.  The fact that the door is not defined in this scripture passage is very important since the fear and trepidation that is inherent with approaching the unknown can not be known in advance.  Simply making that first decision to approach a specific door is critical to advancing to your final objective, whatever that maybe.

With respect to the Democratic Party, it will be important for us to choose our doors wisely (Yes, I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!) as the mid-year elections approach.  It is more than just understanding the door, but realizing why we are at the door.  It will enable us to better understand why we are approaching the door and prepare us for whatever the door, if it opens, introduces us to.

Next, we will explore the word knock and why this word enables us to better fight against the wave of "righteous folks who thinks they understand what we, as a nation, need better than the rest of us!"

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Free Will - Regaining the Democratic Soul

Any discussions about free will bring up a myriad of ideas, philosophies and contextual arguments that I must confess, spins my mind in many directions at once. I believe, however, that free will is central to current debates that consume our social and political landscapes. The increased focus of religious principles on our society has caused a defined split between those who view many of the proposed changes as divine (ordained by God [according to which God these individuals believe in]) versus others who see these proposed changes as edicts being forced upon them against their will.

Thus, the debates are being framed in such black and white terms, it is hard to see beyond the arguments and understand the principles behind them. Add to this, the U.S. Declaration of Independence states: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. You see how quickly things can spiral out of control and the end results are conflict and confusion but no real communication is derived.

It is important to understand free will is more than just "I get to do what I want to do because I want to do it!" This philosophical concept strikes to the core of our being. Each day we are presented with choices and we "decide" to do something. From waking up, going to work, eating lunch, seeing a movie, every human being makes decisions that they must accept the "consequences" of each and every day. Some decisions are easy to make, others are much more difficult. Since the focus of Booman Tribune is political activism, this diary will focus on how free will drives and motivates policy decisions within the United States.

I believe that it is an important discussion since most Democrats are viewed as God-less, amoral and spiritless beings trying to domain American culture down a path of immorality. The Republicans have done a great job at selling this image to the rest of America and it is time, in fact way past time, the Democrats stay up and re-connect to the spiritual power that has sustained this political party over the years. If something is to last beyond our time on this earth, it can not be based in slogans but true spiritual concepts that touch the human soul.

Numerous diaries have been written in the past few days that reveal a deep and spiritual foundation that has touched me personally. One slogan "Enough is Enough" (which I personally like by the way) has been presented as a possibility. My goal is to push beyond that slogan and give spirit, life and personal substance to the goals and policies we all feel are needed to bring a new "Renaissance" to the Democratic Party.

Please know that I am not a theologian, philosopher, or academic professor. I am just a father, husband, retired Navy veteran (22 years of service), Scoutmaster, and human being that would like to bring another point of view to the table. Having lost my first wife suddenly after 22 years of marriage, I experienced something that I can say now, enlightened me to see that every one, every human being, exists for a purpose and to stand by and not speak and discuss openly and honestly is to waste valuable time. I believe that free will is not just a phrase, but center to our existence. Understanding the choices we make is more than just because we did. It affects others as well as those around us.

Discourses and disagreement is bound to happen. My objective is not to dwell in arguments, but search for the commonalities and shape a spiritual message that can be used to uplift and inspire others to reach their potential. I feel this site provides me with this opportunity (I hope) and I look forward to the task at hand.

This is my way of fighting back against those extremists whose only desire is to dominate and order their ways, thoughts, and philosophies on others, regardless of the consequences. Please join me as we, together, begin the revitalization process to reach new heights and combat all extremists (religious and political) that truly threat to destroy mankind. It is not their world; they are just part of "our world!"