Struggling with myself…

When you struggle with your partner, you are struggling with yourself. Every fault you see in them touches a denied weakness in yourself. ~ Deepak Chopra

Meditation: When we are living very closely with someone, we get to know all her faults, all his”warts”, all her habits. Some we like, some drive us crazy. Those attributes we especially dislike in our partners might be an invitation for us to look at.

Why am I so judgmental about his/her particular behavior? Does she have a freedom I wish I had? Does he have a way I dislike because I can’t allow myself to be that way? Our families of origin, our cultures, our fixed values can box us in. We have preconceived notions of seeing and projecting on our partner. We begin to struggle within the relationship.

What if I became curious: “How does he see himself? Why is she acting the way she does? What values does she hold? What values does he hold? How do we complement each other?

When we move out of our perceived boxes of “right and wrong”, “strength and weakness” thinking, we might discover that our partner’s way of living is an invitation for us to broaden our horizon, to heal from our past, to open us up to new possibilities of seeing and living.

Prayer: God of opposites, you often bring partners together so that they would learn about You as the “holder of everything”, “the holder of opposites”. Free us from judgment and help us learn from each other. Amen

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. Romans 8:28

Religious/Political Pretensions

As a Christian, I’m passionately opposed to American pretensions that we have special standing with God; to political office-seekers who play on our religious differences; and to the religious arrogance that says, ‘Our truth is the only truth.’ Parker Palmer

Meditation: Jesus embodied and taught the inclusion of all. He questioned all those who believed they had a special standing with God. Jesus revealed and opposed where religion was used for political gains and political power. He disappointed even some of his disciples who hoped he would use his spiritual power for political gains. Jesus never wanted to become an “idol” as a form of abstract and intolerant “truth” that some Christians have made out of him. As those worship their own dogma, they try to control and kill others’ souls with words from the Bible. They randomly rip words out of its historic and cultural context and confuse everybody. All these three described spiritual estrangements (“sins”) are happening at this time, in this country. And so I join my teacher Parker Palmer in his passion for the inclusion of all, for spiritual freedom from manipulative political power and for truly listening to Jesus’s challenging words of the beatitudes instead of following an image of Jesus as an idol of our own making.
Prayer: Jesus, Your name is being abused more than ever before. Your message is being distorted. Christians worship a Jewish Old Testament God image of wrath and revenge to justify their rage  and their war and violence hungry ways. Religious practices from more than 3000 years ago are being used to legitimize their “eye for an eye” mentality. Jesus, it is as if You never came. We pray that You will convert this nation from their lost and distorted ways of worshiping violence, exclusion and war back to your message of non-violence, inclusion and peace. Jesus, have mercy on us. Amen

To those who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Adapting to lunatics…

It is remarkable how easily children and grown-ups adapt to living in a dictatorship organized by lunatics. A. N. Wilson

Meditation: Usually adapting to change is a healthy survival mechanism. However, if humans adapt to toxic and destructive environments, the outcome is not necessarily health. Survival possibly, but not health. A worrisome development of the recent past is that world center stage is being taken by several “lunatics” whose use of their power and position threatens the well being of whole nations. Dictatorship can be experienced either literally or implicitly.  Dictators are unable to relate in a mutually beneficial way. They demonstrate the inability to listen to anybody. Dictators take huge risks without taking humanity into account. All that is being decided only serves themselves and a few who are loyal to them. Others are being eliminated quickly. A dictator fears threat and therefore becomes a threat. I wonder if institutions and the media have not caught up or might even collude with what is happening. Are we pretending “all is normal” when things are really “crazy”? How can societies adapt that quickly to dictator (like) realities?

Prayer: God, our current reality is “mind boggling”. We are unconsciously adapting and conforming every day a little more. You call us to not conform, but be transformed. You want to be the one to renew our minds. Help us discern what Your will is. And Your will is good and pleasing. Your will is for us to be of sound mind. You want us humans to be whole and not fragmented. Liberate us from all “crazy” things we are seduced to adapt to and that are destructive. We seek refuge in Your presence. Amen

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Perpetual, constant and regular violence…

The very first essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment of violence. The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it. Adolf Hitler

When somebody challenges you, fight back. Be brutal, be tough. Donald Trump

Meditation: Intimidation and violence are the principles of a totalitarian regime. Democracy at its best is built on the principle that people agree to disagree and allow the majority to make decisions in dialogue with and in consideration of the minority. Calling democrats who do not clap for him “treasonous” is the behavior of a despot and not of the president of a democratic country. While Hitler took violence to an extreme physical level, this president employs constant and regular emotional and verbal violence. And after two years he is now using right wing radical terrorists to actually inflict physical violence. He daily publicly shames certain people or organizations and bullies them in his Twitter tweets. The congress GOP majority lies or remains silent about what the president has said/done or did not say/do. They fear professional retribution. And so the great “strength” of our president (according to Hitler) is that he forces those who fear him to imitate him. Even his supposedly level headed high ranking military chief and staff are beginning to use derogatory language towards immigrants. What recourse and protection does our democratic country have against the employment of totalitarian principles?

Prayer: God, we are sickened by the constant use of violence that is being strategically used by the president of this country. The media either promotes his violent behaviors and words or tries to overcome them by rational argument. God, show this country that democracy as an “intellectual and educated form of government” will not withstand these new principles built on pure instincts, violence and emotions. God, make us passionate about our democracy, so we can save it. Amen

Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3 (NRSV)

Totalitarian Rule…

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists. Hannah Arendt

Meditation: The current president creates fiction by lying wherever he goes. The people he put in charge of major federal agencies do not believe in science and do not adhere to facts. Everything is up for “interpretation”. Own agendas are being pushed, under the premise that reality is “just perspective”, and that random narratives can be created that will replace scientific reality. Scientific and proven facts are called “fake news”. It is deeply concerning that major players within the current government collude upholding this fiction creating philosophy. The recent federal legal investigation is being called a “witch hunt”, while government bound news channels create a reality for its constituents where there is no distinction anymore between fact and fiction, true or false. Our democratic country is being undermined and at war from within. Totalitarian rule is what our current president idealizes. He uses the white nationalist movement to lead this war and stir up racial violence and fanatic ideas. We call upon religious leaders and scientists to join forces. The alleged conflict of the modern era between religion and science suddenly feels ridiculous. Today’s mandate of religion and science conjoint is to hold accountable an emerging totalitarian regime that hides behind a democratic façade while slowly dismantling it.

Prayer: God, we mourn the increasing elimination of ethics, morals and science as pillars of our culture. Any lie can claim to be truth, and corrupted media are being used to brain wash and manipulate the masses. God, we experience not only the total attack on and undermining of spiritual values and of science, but we fear the takeover of democracy by totalitarian forces. God, we pray that Your Spirit of truth may empower science, law and religions to join forces, so we as a nation might withstand what is happening. Amen

“Why can’t you understand one word I say? Here’s why: You can’t handle it. You’re from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” John 8:42-44

Role playing as coping with mental illness…

Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma. Robin Williams

Meditation: Mental Illness is still something our society does have difficulty talking about. Many have to hide their depression or other mental health diagnosis and pretend all is well. One way of coping is through humor and through acting or playing “the clown”. Being “funny” can serve as a way to remain part of community, as nothing is worse than struggling with mental health and then becoming additionally isolated. Building a relationship with a therapist can be a way to stop hiding. It can be a place to grieve and talk about the traumatic experiences that have happened and the consequent emotional challenges. Finding a relationship that is caring can feel like the image of the eagle hovering over its young. When we reveal our vulnerabilities without being judged, healing can happen. We discover more effective ways of coping than just pretending, using humor or acting. God uses people to emotionally and spiritually care for us. I wonder where we need to be found and attended to? What is our “barren and howling waste or desert”?

Prayer: Gracious God, You are seeking us. We pray for all who are in need for a safe place to heal from trauma – be it abuse, neglect, assault or tragedy. We pray that our society becomes less superficial and sees beyond role playing. Let us all become more aware of our own and others’ mental/soul health needs. Thank you for providing shelter in the presence of those who are trained to be with people who went through trauma. Let us all find healing and relief in our emotional struggles. Amen

In a desert land God found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; God guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. Deuteronomy 32: 10-11

Generosity- an antidote against fear…

The only things standing between you and the compassionate, wise, and creative person you want to be are matters of choice. Your choice. No one can occupy your generosity except you. Gary Zukav

Meditation: When we are afraid and angry about “not having or being enough”, we hold on for dear life. We start hoarding. We start being competitive. We compare. We have to dominate. We envy. We hate people we don’t even know. We develop a mentality of scarcity. We feel that the universe is hostile and that there is no “good will for all”. This fear and dominance mentality has caused much harm in the history of this country, and it is once again intentionally created by the current political leader. The goal is to divide this country into many fractions and have mistrust and fear win people’s hearts. For when people are afraid and divided they forget where they come from and that they are really “one”, and they either follow the leader blindly or attack each other…

However, when we remember our history as a country of immigrants and allow the Spirit of generosity to heal our fear, we can open our hands. We start letting go. We start sharing and giving freely. We no longer need to compare and measure. We don’t have to judge others. We don’t hate, but develop a stance of generosity. We believe that the universe will take care of us and through us also of others who are in need. We believe that there is a universal “good will for all.” This country of immigrants was built on this Spirit of generosity. We would not be here without it. Let us choose to remember the oneness that comes with generosity and that has shaped and healed this country many times in its history…

Prayer: Generous God, stop the Spirit of hate, envy, and fear from winning the hearts of the masses. Instead pour out your Spirit of generosity into this country’s soul once again. Remind us that this is a country of millions of immigrants that sought refuge. Let us mirror your generosity by welcoming and sharing the abundance we have. Amen

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25