Monday, November 18, 2013

Mystical Meerkat

There are many little quizzes going around the social media circuit now, all trying to figure out who we are.  Tests on spirituality, are we left or right brained, what type of animal or Lord of the Rings character are we according to Myers Briggs – all seeking insight into our inner ways.

I tried to take the Lord of the Rings one…but it was so long, I ran out of time…or grew bored. Not sure which.

I know the animal I would be if able to choose…a wolf. But according to what animal reflects my Myers Briggs type? That would be a Meerkat – ethical and idealistic, loyal to family and closest friends, guided by a desire to live a life according to values, curious about those around them, but unwilling to accept threats to the security of their adorable babies or their morals…even when it means a substantial loss of income! Oh well, the trade-off was fantastic, actually.

Why do we take these things? And I admit that I do take these quizzes…at least as long as these do not take more than a few minutes. What are we seeking?

I just took the Upper Room’s “What is Your Spiritual Type?”  My answers resulted in the answer of Mystic. The results?

You are a Mystic, known for your imaginative, intuitive spirituality. You value peace, harmony, and inner silence. Mystics are nurtured by walking alone in the woods or sitting quietly with a trusted friend. You may also enjoy poetry, meditation, wordless prayer, candles, art, books, and anything else that helps you connect with God.
Mystics experience God best through rich images and symbols. You are contemplative, introspective, intuitive, and focused on an inner world as real to you as the exterior one. Hearing from God is more important to you than speaking to God. Others may attribute human characteristics to God, but you see God as ineffable, unnamable, and more vast than any known category. You are intrigued by God's mystery.
Mystics want to inspire and persuade others, and need to live lives of significance. At times you push the envelope of spirituality, helping the rest of us imagine who we might become if we followed your lead.
Sometimes you may feel a bit guilty about your need for solitude and silence. If so, you probably have bought into the American myth that says being alone and doing nothing is lazy, antisocial, and unproductive. Stop it -- now. Give yourself permission to retreat and be alone. It's essential for your well-being.
On the other hand, don't get so carried away retreating that you become a recluse. That only deprives the world of your gifts and deprives you of the lessons that come from being with others. Some Mystics may have a true vocation for solitary prayer, but the rest of you need to alternate retreat time with involvement and interaction.

What I want is for this to be true. I don’t care about the label so much. What I want to be true is that these characteristics fit me, that my life fits into these characteristics. Once upon a time, I think these did. Now, I feel more seriously inclined to just run and hide, fully aware that I am too stressed, too crazy, too exhausted to do anything but go until I drop.

What I wish is that I could sleep at night without grinding my teeth, without awaking into a worry about one kid or another, or about money… What I want is for God to just give me what I need so that I can do all the things I need to do.

Peace, harmony and inner silence may be what I value but these are certainly not in my present scope of being. Whatever imaginative, intuitive spirituality I might have possessed once upon a time have been pushed into a corner with a tiny hope that one day I might once again pick it up again and use it.

I do have an inner world – I am well aware of it. It has always been there…I have even been inside of it often. However, lately…I am on the outside catching only a narrow view of the inside, knowing I am on the wrong side of the door.

I know that the life I am living at this moment is significant. I know how important some of the things that I am doing are. Yet there is such a heavy unrest in the midst of the nonstop activity. There is so little down time. It results in a feeling of ineptness, a wastedness…a feeling that I am on a never-ending treadmill looking at a screen of where I am going rather than actually going anywhere.

Maybe a retreat would help…but then, how do I afford it? How do I make the time for it? It is a luxury to enter into a retreat. Plus, it seems so very selfish…I am sure I am not the only one in our house who needs a retreat! Actually, what we both could use is a week on a Caribbean beach together! LOL

These little quizzes are fun but I wonder what better good these serve. I think there must be a better good. One of the things I know about me is that I do not believe things happen without purpose. Out of every instance, a lesson can be learned.

We are spiritual beings. We seek a higher level of living, an insight into the mind of God. We want to be enlightened, to experience an ethereal light that assures us that we are an integral part of the Creation. We want to know that there is a reason for our existence and that what we do does matter for the good. Sadly, as with so many other things, what we want and what we get are two separate things.

Basically a lesson I must relearn every day is that change begins with me. High ideals come at a price; few good things are easy.

My lesson is that I have to give up on finding peace and harmony through sleep. I have to find another way because I am just not finding it there. Reading, reflection, study, meditation…time will never be found for these things. Therefore, I must make the time, even if it means taking part of the precious time so desired for deep sleep.

If one can believe these quizzes, surely it is true that these things are essential for my well-being.

I accept my mystical meerkat-ness and strive to make it a holy experience.

What’s the use of taking these things if we aren’t going to pay attention? 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ordinary


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Obviously, chaos is the order of the day…an ordinary occurrence. Regardless of the era, what is has been and will be again…and again…and again.

So it is that I find myself in ordinary circumstance. To many it may seem extraordinary, but to the majority, I believe it is too terribly ordinary.

From my perspective, it appears that greed, hunger, fear, and uncertainty are far more ordinary than their opposites for even in opulence, there can be these things. All of these cross economic lines, racial boundaries, ethnicities. There is always one whose greed is his/her god. There is hunger regardless if it is a hunger born of the physical need for food or for the psychological need of love and acceptance. Fear motivates us to act in far too familiar ways, often creating greed, always perpetuated by an uncertainty of steadfastedness.

I would guess that if people were asked for one desire to be granted, that regardless of what that wish was – wealth, peace, happiness – the one thing that they seek is happiness.

Perhaps it is our culture that equates happiness with wealth. Yet we know for so many stories, fiction and non-fiction alike, money does not ensure happiness. Nor does it alleviate stress. Yet, while it does not guarantee a healthy diet, money, at least, allows one the choice of a healthy food source.

So, while money does not make people happy, it does, in several senses, allow a person more choices that might create positive factors that can increase happiness. Therefore, it seems to me that money can indeed by some things that help ease stress and dis-ease.

Look at the rate of heart disease, the number one killer in the United States. Mississippi is the number one poorest state in the Union. It also ranks as number one in the number of deaths due to heart disease – 244.1 out of 100,000 people – according to the CDC. Heart disease can be attributed to a diet high in fats, low in nutrients which can result in obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use – all conditions that can lead to heart disease.

It is a fact: organic foods, fresh vegetables, seafood are more expensive. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetable, whole grains grown without of pesticides and nutrient-depleted soils, and omega rich seafood are shown to be healthier.
It is also a fact that money will buy insurance and easier accessibility to healthcare which in turn includes preventative measures that help keep a person healthy because concerns are addressed prior to becoming complex or lethal.

These facts are compounded by these:

44 million in this country have no health insurance while 38 million are under insured.

According to the National Poverty center, in 2010, 22% of all children under the age of 18 live in poverty. Within that 22%, 38% of those children are Black while 35% are Hispanic. Whites and Asians split the remainder almost equally.

The quandary for me is this: Why does greed drive a person to such an “all or none” type of ideology? Why must one person’s wealth demand that others are impoverished? Perhaps it is simply the number of people in need that scares those with wealth. 44 million is a very large number. Even if all of those people were only given $1, that would be an extreme total. Not that the dollars would come out of any one person’s pocketbook…still, the amount staggers the imagination.

We live in a time of vicious regulations. The laws of the land, rather than being legislated to protect the people, are set up to protect those whose wealth can be perceived to increase the well being of the estate itself, in this case, Corporate America. But that is not representative of the historical greatness of the American Dream.

The “Dream” was always based upon the idea that one could begin as an immigrant with nothing and rise up to great wealth and power. That “Dream” was played out throughout the history of the United States…until recent eras.

Yet, the historical idea of “immigrant” was of a Caucasian nature. The immigrants, for the most part, were white men, immigrant in that they were born in another country or perhaps were sons of immigrants. Those who “pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps” were the same – white men. They certainly were not Black men or Hispanic men…or women of any color.

However, those most in need of a break are those very men and women…and children…especially the children. If our hearts can be touched and our pocketbooks opened up to help those little foreign children on “$1 per day” why in the world can we not do at least the same for children in our own nation? Does the threat of death have to be eminent for our hearts to be moved to action?

I have far more questions than I do answers but I do believe a few things. I believe that fear is the god that too many worship. Fear makes us live out of our scarcity. We live in fear of losing what we have, whether that is a lot or a little. Fear makes us greedy. Fear demands that we think of self before thinking of others.

Fear demands that God be nothing to us.

There are so many discussions as to why the church is declining. We preach that we are to love God and love our neighbor but we elect people who do not care about neighbors…and give only lip-service to a belief in God. We bring people into government who talk a lot but whose past records do not show proof of their good will toward others. We elect people who accept huge amounts of money from corporate sponsors and from lobbyists. Their allegiance is owed to those donors. God has nothing to do with it.

Those laws could help that very large population of people living on the edge of uncertainty. But I go further and say, if we began to legislate so that we intentionally help those who are living in or near poverty, those who have no healthcare, the ones who are in need of a “hand up”, our children, our elders, lower income, we would begin to help all of our people living in fear.

If there was less need, there might be less greed.

Ordinary could become extraordinary. 


http://www.pbs.org/healthcarecrisis/uninsured.html
http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/maps/national_maps/hd_all.htm