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Showing posts from December, 2015

Another Year

I am not sure how old I was when it dawned on me (or someone told me) that Christmas and the New Year did not come at exactly the same time everywhere in the world.I am not sure how I felt when I learned the kids in Europe had opened their presents six hours before I did.And for sure, I do not think I could quite grasp the fact that Chinese kids had done their New Year’s party at noon my time.And by the time I watch an old year go out and welcomed a new one, the Chinese had just had their lunch!

Now I know fully that all this is due to the fact that our earth is round.It is a big ball.And it takes the ball twenty-four hours to spin around one time.I know this in my head, but honestly I have had very few experiences to convince me the earth is round!It still looks flat, except when you get in the mountains.But there is nothing even with the mountains that would tell us the earth is round.I don’t doubt the scientists, but I do have to take it on faith. 
What really intrigues me is the w…

Alone or Together

The title for this inspirational piece could also be written in a different way.I could have chosen to say “alone and together.”In either case the question in my mind is how people in general and how I in particular practice the spiritual journey.On one hand the answer is obvious.My spiritual journey is mine alone.You cannot do my spiritual journey and I cannot do yours.From this perspective to pose the question, alone or together, is senseless.It seems like my spiritual journey is done alone.
There is no way I can speak for the majority of Americans who actually would say they are on a spiritual journey.However, I would guess that many, if not most of them, are doing their spiritual journey alone.I would say this even knowing that a significant portion of people on their spiritual journey are folks who go to church, attend a synagogue or mosque. I say this because I do not consider going to worship---in whatever tradition that happens---to be the same thing as being on a spiritual jo…

The Servant Leader

I have been privileged to be able to see myself as a leader.I do bring some native talent to the leadership opportunities I have had, but I also have had a helping hand offered by many different people at a number of junctions in my life.I have had many good leadership models to help me get clear about what leadership style fits my personality and my own Quaker convictions.I also have watched some leaders whom I thought were not very good and were more of a negative model.They showed me ways I never wanted to be seen as a leader.
I remember getting some leadership opportunities as early as elementary school.In the bigger scheme of things, these were miniscule leadership chances.However, they gave me an early chance to practice being a leader.Much to my surprise, some other kids followed my lead!I guess you are a leader if someone follows you. As I grew, so did some of my leadership opportunities.In high school I became more aware there were different ways to be a leader.In my vainest …

Advent Season

For those of us in the Christian tradition, we are in Advent Season.Advent is a four-week lead-up to Christmas.I must admit, I enjoyed learning about this stuff since Quakers are not very liturgical.I am pretty confident I never heard about the “liturgical year” until my college days.It was that time in college when I became aware of what so many who grow up in the Roman Catholic tradition, Episcopal and Lutheran traditions, take for granted.Advent is the beginning of the Christmas season and matches, in some real way, Lent as the lead-up to the Easter season.

The primary theme of Advent is “preparation.”People are supposed to begin the preparation for the coming of Christmas.It is easy these days to see how bent-out-of-shape our preparation has become.These days preparation is likely to mean the beginning stress of Christmas shopping, etc.I already begin to sense the frenzy in some voices of those who talk about “taking all Saturday” to get the gifts that many feel obligated to buy.

Spirituality for All Seasons

Too often spirituality, and religion for that matter, is portrayed as the antidote to sadness, sickness and sundry other less than desirable aspects of life.Of course, no one told me explicitly that was the case, but it is true this was the implication I took from my young days.The implication was the truly religious or spiritual never would suffer from being sick, from being sad or other human maladies.When I was young, I guess I thought religion was a kind of inoculation shot against human problems.
Now that I am older (but questionably wiser!), I don’t think this is true at all.Religious and spiritual folks get sick just like normal people.We have bouts of sadness just like all humans.And we are not immune from any of the other maladies that afflict the human race.In fact, I would argue to be human is to be a sitting duck for sadness, sickness and sundry other aspects of life.That just seems to be the reality of the deal.So what does this suggest about spirituality? The first thing…

The Living God

In some recent reading I ran across a reference and quotation from one of my teachers in graduate school.Just seeing his name made me smile.Raimon Panikkar was an intriguing guy for an Indiana farm boy to encounter.His class was an amazing experience, but he may have taught me even more by being himself.Panikkar was born in 1918 in Barcelona, Spain.His father was from India and was Hindu.Panikkar’s mother was a Spanish Catholic from Catalonia.Obviously, he was quickly into the interfaith movement!And this he began teaching me, even when I did not have that language.

He looked like his Indian father.He was a small man with a graceful presence that calmed every room I saw him walk into.He had a charming smile that would have disarmed any malcontent.But it was his brilliance that I found arresting.That is not to say he was strong and arrogant.To the contrary, he was entirely humble and simple.He had doctorate degrees in science and theology.He was an ordained Catholic priest.
For a few y…