Energy

What sort of energies am I putting into the world? What is my role in this greater cosmic scheme? How can my space, my self, my existence continue to expand and in what ways can I make that expansion a real and lasting reality?

I don’t really have any answers and as is usually the case, the more answers we seek, questions bubble to the surface in abundance. If however, I become a person who surrenders to the flow of this cosmic sea, understanding that all things are connected, then maybe true goodness is within reach. Many scholars and mystics alike suggest that words have power, not just the power of persuasion or converting anger, but actual, physical power. 

Again, if all things are connected, including my desires and the pulse of the universe, what happens when I align those things? If my hope for life is to become a being who is fully awake, wrecklessly loving and infinitely generous, why would I not speak those things into my present reality and begin to live as if those things are actually true? With that in mind, maybe I should start operating under the assumption that in our intimate connectedness with the ENTIRE universe and all that is created and continually evolving, that these desires are not in fact a selfish desire, but a movement toward good that envelopes my wife, my kids, my neighbors, friends, family and hopefully, the whole world. 

If something is truly good, it must be good for everyone, the whole of all that we know. Likewise, I agree with Rob Bell in that, if god is love and love is good, it must be a good for everyone, not just the ones who make intellectually decisions about what to believe and what not to believe. That love must in fact penetrate into every crevice and corner of the universe, covering everything. In a sense, we are swimming in a massively interconnected ocean of love, expansion, growth and plenty. 

It is in that sense that the pin cuts to my very core to see certain leaders of an enormously rich country… choosing not to live in love and compassion, but rather divide and label, it’s us and them and thankfully we are the good guys… Really?

My Christian upbringing taught me that if I say the correct prayers, read my bible enough, attend church enough and intellectually decide that Jesus is my own personal savior, having achieved all those things, I would have a place in heaven when I die, somewhere else (yes, it was as bad as it sounds). That mindset released me of joining the life and movement of this world for so many years. But now, I could never go back. The current that I am caught up in is taking me forward, yes into suffering, of course into pain, obviously into places that scare the hell out of me, but that’s life. I can’t ignore the Syrian refugees because we are connected. My heart aches for the native tribes in the Dakotas because we all are created from the same stuff. I can’t turn off that pain with a prayer, and frankly I don’t want to. 

So coming back around to energy. My desire is to be fully integrated into this thing we call life. I refuse to bury my head in the sand. I deeply desire good for ALL people, not just a lucky few. I hope for the freedom and the resources for my own family that we can be in a place where we join our family, friends and neighbors both locally and across the globe, in life, the be love and compassion for the “least of these.”

What is happening?

Of course we all have political leanings and ideally, we celebrate the diversity of thought because it adds value to life for all of us. 

That being said, I have some thoughts. First, my heart is heavy. Over the past week or so, I feel like I’m kind of staggering around, a bit disoriented, having just been clubbed on the head by a dude telling me he did it to keep me safe. 

Here’s the thing. I’m a white male, the archetype of what supposedly “makes America great.” I really don’t have much to worry about (yet…depending on how much longer one is allowed to voice dissent without arrest, or worse), but that is not true for a vast number of people both in this country and those trying to get into this country. Of course many will and are arguing that this is not the soul of America, while others believe that banning certain people from this country will keep us safer. 

This leads to my next point. Many have said and even still maintain that this is a Christian country. Let me be clear, no it isn’t. There are things that we do, either in smaller communities or token charity from the federal government, of course, but there simply is little-to-no biblical precedence for the current set of policies, and specifically the current barrage of executive orders. 

Which leads me to my third point. Early on, being a follower of Jesus (as Christians claim they are) was never a safe, state sanctioned activity. As I understand him, Jesus was not interested in creating an alternative political party to topple the Roman rule. His interests were primarily focused on the people who were under the boot of the empire. In our current context: refugees and migrants, LGBTQIA folks, minority groups, black lives matter, women, federal and state prisoners (many of whom I fully understand have committed atrocious crimes), among many others. These are the people Jesus was interested in. 

If one were to say to Jesus today, we are doing this to keep America safe, I imagine he would say something like, “Safe? The very work I do is not safe. In fact, it’s probably going to land me in prison. Are you still willing to follow me, because if so, get ready. Shit’s about to hit the fan.”

We can talk all day long about being loving, Christian people, but if we’re not willing to take an honest, authentic look at that person and still follow, let’s do everyone a favor and drop the Christian badge. We’re entitled to believe whatever we would like to believe, but if the way we behave, interact and participate in the life of this world isn’t wrecklessly compassionate, dangerously loving and fully aware of “the least of these,” then our god is misguided and the Jesus we say we follow is quite obviously not the one the Bible paints a picture of. 

As the great line from a Gungor song goes, “If it’s us or them, it’s us for them.” The world I see painted through such beautiful stories in the Bible is not one of separation, but of connection. There is no us-and-them. There is only WE and we are all in this together. We all are part of this great story of love and it is up to is to realize that story and make it happen for ALL OF US. 

Be political. Stand up for human rights. Speak out against injustice. But don’t let that be all. Follow the divine into the real, actual lives of people who are in desperation, hoping someone will speak for them, stand up for and with them, and give them a taste of what compassion is in a real, tangible, touchable, smellable way. 

Parenting 101.1

It seems like there is an entire library of information about parenting that no one really knows about. Now don’t hear me wrong, I love being a dad and I wouldn’t change it for anything…but still, this gig is a surprise every day. 

Let me highlight a few parenting gaffs, childhood wonders and some just plain crazy moments in our home. 

I mentioned in the last parenting post about the rivaling chorus of Tron Legacy and Star Wars. Now, the latest sliver the boys keep pushing under our fingernails is singing a single line of the music playing under Sam Flynn’s first trip to the grid. (If you haven’t seen Tron Legacy, it’s a great movie with a fantastic score composed by Daft Punk.) not only have they been attached to this single line, they sing it over, and over, and over, and over… when we say, “please stop singing that,” or “okay, time to choose a different song,” they sing that much louder with a giant goofy grin smeared across their “innocent” little faces. 

Or here’s a good one. You know when you ask your kid to do something and not only do they not do what you’re asking, they in fact do the complete opposite. For instance, we have a no video policy during the week, especially in the morning when our oldest is getting ready for school. What does my wife find when she gets out of bed yesterday morning? Both boys glued to YouTube, our old hasn’t even gotten dressed, eaten breakfast or made his lunch… needless to say, he got a sermon, and not a snoozer like my old church. 

One of my favorites as well is when my wife and I are in the middle of a conversation trying to work out some important details and the youngest asks a question. Understandable, right? Until we say, “just a second buddy.” Then he proceeds to increase the intensity and frequency by which he is is asking the same question, blatantly ignoring any previous requests to wait. And the stuff that’s not written in any parenting book is how I’m supposed to respond when I’m basically arguing with a door. Usually ego wins out and one of us explodes and the moment between us is lost and we are supposed to try to carry on our conversation 4 hours later when the boys are in bed…yeah, nothing to it. 

Some of the good stuff though, that no one tells you about, is when they put on costumes and march around like house like they really are in a storm trooper battle or ninjas sneaking around the house shooting is with poisonous darts. Or when we have a fleet of paper airplanes that cover the floor. Indoor snowball fights, wrestling matches, crafts, food in every nook and cranny, boogers on every piece of furniture, clothing and bedding. 

Oh the stuff off parenthood that no one tells you. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had. Hopefully they turn out okay because I feel like I’m wrecking them most of the time. But the responsibility and joy we share as we raise these two boys into loving, compassionate (we hope) individuals who will grow up to have a positive impact on the world, is something I will always cherish and take very seriously. 

These kids are awesome and all I’m really doing is hanging on for the ride, trying my best to learn the things they are teaching me rather than the other way around.