Friday, August 25, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, August 26, 2017 - Family By Choice

    As I write this I am mere hours from becoming a father. My husband Jamie and I are adopting. She’s a bit older than infant. About 22 years older than infant, to be exact. As many in my community will already know, a young blind and autistic woman with a remarkable singing voice whom we call Lavender is becoming an official part of our family. Her chosen name will become her legal one.
    Adult adoption seems like a curious concept to most people. If they’re of legal age, why would adults want to be adopted? It’s about belonging. Having kin. Trusting in a family unit for support, safety, and a place where holidays and happy occasions most warmly reside. Lavender needs a family and we are honored to be that family.
    This brings up questions for me about the depth of choice. There’s an oft-spoken idea that adopted children are special because they were chosen. Biological children are not chosen so much as they are a natural result of multiple factors, most of which are beyond our control or choice.
To adopt someone, legally or emotionally, is the paramount use of free will. To be a deliberate participant in the deepest kind of relationship among humanity, that of parent and child, without the influence of a biological connection, may be among the most sacred in the world. What a bell in the universe it must ring!
      I am overwhelmed and awed by what this day holds for me and my husband, and of course Lavender. But also our own families as well. Today is my mother’s birthday. She is getting a new granddaughter. She’s coming to family court with us because she was also at the “births” of her other grandchildren and didn’t want to miss this one. I am touched and grateful to see my choice become hers.
      As happy as I am, I find that my gratitude today is mostly for all those who choose others to be family in a world that needs a lot more of them. All forms of chosen family have a special kind of sacredness. Our society is deeply blessed by this custom and all those who participate in it.
We all choose people to whom we feel connected. We think of them as brothers or sisters. Honorary aunts and adopted grandfathers. The son we never had. We designate them as family. Notice these relationships in your life and honor them. They hold in them the full measure of all world scripture. To be loving and compassionate. Hospitable and empowering. To be patient and forgiving. To do more than simply help someone, but make them equals.
      From these we increase our capacity to love. In witnessing them around us we expand our ability to enjoy the same for ourselves. Notice family. Notice love. Notice people finding one another, just for the sake of it. Find it in your heart to be grateful that such a paradigm exists in the world. You will be changed by the mere act of it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, August 19, 2017 - On love and light

    I believe we are made of two things: love and light. Perhaps that sounds like wispy new-age speak, but my personal sense of faith tells me that love is the directive force in the universe. Love is what informs the crafting of all that is. In this thinking, the atoms themselves have assembled according to the greater intent of something larger than they.
    And of light—science concludes that we are but light conforming into the appearance of matter. Everything we see is literally made of light. In fact, it’s light reflecting off of light that we actually perceive with our eyes. Which are, of course, made themselves of light.
    To the second ingredient, love. Perhaps love is actually a thing with substance. What’s interesting to me is that people can’t define God any better than they can define love. Ask someone what love is and you’ll get an answer that is clear only for someone who also knows what love is and can read between the lines of words that do no justice. The same is true for God. The words feel like they come close, but describe more of the soft edges of truth than truth itself. What if the reason we have such a hard time describing them is because they are actually the same thing? Does God have substance?
    We try to concretize God in the same way we like to make rules about love. But that is the true meaning of idolatry. That’s why it’s on the list of ‘commandments.’ These things cannot—should not—be fixed in stone. The more we try to do it, the more frustrated we become. The more we cling to our islands of contrived reality, the fewer people are welcome upon them. Stop trying so hard to make sense of the world. That’s not the point of why we are here.
    Again, I believe we are made of two things: love and light. We are the literal intersection of science and spirit, but we pit these two ideas against one another when they actually support the other’s existence entirely. And now that old way of thinking feels like it is tearing us apart. Because we know better and are rebelling against old rules being forced upon a new age.
    It’s why we see what we see in the world today. We have matured enough as a society to recognize the error of concretizing creation. It cannot be fixed in stone any more than light or love or God. We are much freer than we are comfortable admitting. It’s terrifying to think because it feels untethered. But freedom still coexists with belonging. Individuality still lives within the framework of unity. We are many, but we are one. We are free as a photon, but choose to restrain and refine our light for a greater purpose. Much like a laser.
    When looking at the world and all its apparent turmoil, remember one thing: you are connected to it. You have an invisible influence over how things work out. Reach inside that awareness. It will make you feel better. It will influence the attitude of those around you. It will show in the way you choose your words. It will have a ripple effect that will vibrate throughout the universe.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, August 12, 2017 - This too shall pass

    What do you think about the state of the world today? Is there a silver lining to all this turmoil? What does your personal faith tell you? Notice the answer.
    I watch a lot of news. Both liberal as well as conservative. The powers of the world appear to be tightening their fists lately. It used to be that they didn’t have to work so hard to maintain control over their people. Many were of course brutal and corrupt, but pure viciousness appears to be on the rise. Why might that be? It looks a lot like panic.
Each culture is experiencing it in its own way according to its own societal paradigm. In the US we are arguing our revolution along the strata of transgender bathroom rights and healthcare. In Saudi Arabia women want the basic right to drive a car. They are very different issues, but each are along the exact same tectonic crack: I have a right to thrive. You do not have the right to stop me.
The effects are as far reaching as the Internet itself. Venezuela, the Philippines, Romania, Russia. These are just a few of the governments which have each taken shocking measures away from their already flimsy democracies toward emboldened dictatorships.
    What’s happening? Why does it seem that “conservatism” has taken on a much darker quality to it? Why do terms like “alt-right” now exist? The political left is no better at its extremes either. There is a schism occurring. It is fracturing an ever-widening crack across the full spectrum of all human culture.
    It’s because the world has already changed. The shift has occurred, and we are now sifting through the aftermath of it. Some have embraced the new ways, some are desperate to retain the old ones. Each is together with their like-minded on opposing sides of the fissure. The smaller group is slowly inching away from the main plate. I would be afraid, too.
    Over the past decade especially this planet has received a crash course in the getting-to-know-you game. The Internet has opened our eyes to the common plight of humanity. The more we get to know our neighbor the wider the crack becomes. Along one side are those who are now seeing themselves in the eyes of their old enemy. But along the other are power structures who fared better when you were afraid of your neighbor. Their old rhetoric devolves even further into the trap of fear-mongering. Cornered dogs bark the loudest. And most viciously.
In days past, when a despotic ruler wished to exert its authority, the rule was: divide and conquer. Keep them apart and they won’t be able to realize there are more of them than there are of us. Now that the repercussions of worldwide communication are forcing changes to the old school way of making a profit, they are reflexively trimming the sails to that same old tack. Repression is the only solution they know. But the old method doesn’t work like it used to. Build walls between us and we will just continue our chat on Facebook.
    For those who are giving conservatism a bad name right now, you are overplaying your hand. For those who are doing the same to liberalism, you are operating from your wounds, not your scars. Neither is a playmate with progress and you are both being left behind together.
    The hope at the bottom of the box full of demons is evident in the sudden extreme behavior of the demons themselves. They have always known that one day they will have to return to the box. The natural world is not natural to them. The one difference between today and the day Pandora first opened it is that we all now know it too. They are giving themselves away in their panic. They are exposing themselves in a world where big brother is not who they thought it would be. It’s us.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, August 5, 2017 - Thank you for the way

    Thank you for the way.
    That is usually the full extent of my prayers. Those five words. Thank you for the way.
    Thank you for the unexpected solution. For I have faith enough and reason both to conclude that to my concern there is a likely answer. Somewhere. In a drawer or in a thought. It already exists. Perhaps I am courageous enough to hope there might even be a win-win situation. Just out of my view. Just around the corner. But real enough. Connecting with its likely existence is the first step to finding it. The first step away from despair. I believe the solution exists. Even if I can’t yet see it, can’t imagine how it could possibly get here, and wouldn’t believe it if you told me. Thank you for the way.
When praying on behalf of someone else it’s the same thing. Thank you for the way. Thank you for whatever it might be that can bring this person or this situation a relief from suffering. Thank you for anything which might soothe their fears. Thank you for whatever peace exists in the heart of my enemy. I may not see it but I am still going to say hello to it.
    I have chosen to refuse to believe that evil is the predominant force in the universe. I don’t pretend to know why bad things happen. But I believe that we are connected to one another for a reason. I feel a deep sense of knowing that love is the predominant force in the universe. Only fear can distort it. Like an awkward lens. Thank you for the way through fear.
    Thank you for the way we have been shown how to love one another. Thank you for every time someone embodies the teachings. No matter to what god they pray. Thank you for mercy.    
    When everything is going well and life feels good I am always sure to say it. Thank you for the way. I remind myself that, yes, there was in fact a way. And I didn’t give up and eventually I found my way to it. I let gratitude rest upon me.
    It’s like putting on a different pair of sunglasses. The old ones were scratched. But you were used to it. You were used to having a slightly dim view of the world and the people in it. But that’s all about perception. Our perception influences the opportunities and solutions we are willing to pay attention to.
If we really think there’s a perfect job out there for us we will literally never stop looking for it. And those who don’t give up usually end up getting what they believed already existed for them. They became attuned to noticing every possible pathway toward that direction.
This is the intersection of the logical and the spiritual. This is also where two roads then diverge as to why things happen the way they do. Some will say that there is no God or God has nothing to do with it. Some will say that everything has to do with God. But the truth is, it is irrelevant to what we credit our solutions and salvations. What matters is that we choose to believe the answer already exists whether or not we see it. Notice and be grateful for every step in the direction of your dreams. Thank you for the way.