May 2020 Archives


Prayer Two

Prayer Two

Mr. President,

Where are you?

In the past when our nation was in crisis and turmoil, sitting presidents gave stirring speeches meant to unite our nation. They evoked compassion and grit, and sought to comfort us in our troubles, and fill us with hope.

Consider George W. Bush’s “Bullhorn Speech” given at Ground Zero after the terrorist attack of 9/11. What about John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech delivered during the Cold War with Russia? Yesterday’s historic SpaceX launch is a direct result of his inspirational words.

You are too young to remember the fireside chats Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered between 1933 and 1944 when our nation was struggling through the Great Depression and WWII. My 91-year-young father remembers! He vividly recalls sitting in front of the radio listening intently to President Roosevelt deliver words of condolence and consolation.

Finally, I dare say no words of a presidential speech are more hallowed than Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Words that ring true now more than ever!

I have read your tweets and Facebook posts. Almost always you seem to choose words that incite hate, violence and division. Your re-election ads on television embrace a self-centered campaign rhetoric espousing only your own ego as the man who does things his way.

. . . “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom  . . .  and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” . . . is NOT about you! Being president is about being in service to the people, NOT to your wallet!

Your words, “I’m not a schmuck. Even if the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, I won’t lose a penny.”, do not sound like someone who is donating his presidential salary. Considering the world’s current circumstances, you would realize you sound almost prophetic–that is if you were capable of even the slightest bit of insight, which clearly you are not.

So, I ask again, where are you? Are you really that out of touch with what is happening all around you?

Yes, I am still praying . . .

. . . for your heart to be softened and for you to control your tongue.

James 3: 5-6 says:

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.

. . . for the families and loved ones of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and all those grieving to feel the warmth of love and peace being sent their way.

. . . for those people refusing to distance or wear masks—that the eyes of their hearts will be open to the pain and grief being endured by so many who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19; that they will see wearing a mask as truly THE MOST loving, kind, and humane act of compassion and protection for their fellow human beings.

. . . and for our nation, that we may awaken in healing and wholeness together.

With all due respect to the office you presently hold,

Susan Fridinger

 

John 15

John 15

John 15:10. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Take a few minutes to meditate on this verse . . .

This scripture takes place within the context of the Last Supper before Jesus is betrayed and eventually crucified. Jesus and his disciples are gathered together in the Upper Room. He has washed their feet, shared a Passover meal, and is explaining to them about his death and resurrection. Before they leave to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, he prays for his disciples and “for those who will believe in (him) through their message.”

The first part of the verse seems fairly straightforward.

His disciples, as devout Jews, would have known the 613 laws that comprise the Torah—“the first five books of Moses.”

At the start of his teaching ministry, Jesus explicates the moral intricacies of this Jewish code in his Sermon on the Mount, found in chapters five through seven of the New Testament book of Matthew.

For example, Matthew 5:21-26:
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister (without cause) you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult (abuse) a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell (Gehenna) of fire.

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

The three chapters that comprise the Sermon on the Mount, elucidate the “honorable dispositions of humility, mournfulness, meekness, passion for justice, mercy and peace” at the heart of God’s commandments.

Coming to the end of his teaching in verse 12 of chapter seven, he summarizes the core commandment that encompasses the old and new.

Therefore, in everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (NSRV)

The Complete Jewish Bible translates it this way:

Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.

What piqued my curiosity with intense fascination, however, was the latter half John 15:10 . . .

. . . just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Jesus could have been talking about these same Pentateuch instructions, but I sense something more profound in the mix.

What were the commands God the Father, gave God the Son? In other words, what were the commands that God gave Himself?

God Herself gave Himself divine instructions through which to be—to exist.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing made had being. John 1:1-3

In other words, what is the Heart of Consciousness?

I have been reading through John’s gospel and I think I found the answer. During his last Seder with his beloved friends Jesus says:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. John 13:34

Love.

Sounds easy, does it not?

No.

This is not an “I love chocolate” declaration or a Hallmark love story movie that stirs the emotions of infatuation, lust, passion, tenderness, sentimentality or desire. The heart of this Love is much more significant than what I feel for my sons, grandchildren, family and other beloveds—as much as I dearly love them!

This Love is THE conscious awareness IN which all thought, feeling and sensation arises in one’s lifetime.

Now more than ever, we should be regularly asking ourselves, “what is this Loving Heart of all experience enjoining me to do?”

Why now more than ever? Because all of life’s existence literally hangs in the balance due primarily to human caused pandemic, environmental destruction, political, social and economic conflicts, climate change among many other related and catastrophic traumas now deeply embodied in the human experience.

I confess this examination of conscious was engendered by recent events in the news.

The first was people’s reactions to wearing face masks in response to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. I am appalled by the lack of compassion, empathy and ignorance regarding this very simple act of kindness and love. Even our own President (yes, I am picking on him again), who should know that he leads by example, refuses to wear a mask.

Second, the heart wrenching and horrifying deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia; killed simply because of the color of their skin.

And last, the attempt of a Caucasion woman to “weaponize the police” against an African-American man who was bird watching. He merely asked the woman to leash her dog in accordance with the park directives.

How am I to respond to such virulent hatred? What should I do with the angst this creates? How does one manage the pain these loathsome deeds generate?

If I hold all my anxiousness, anger, sadness, and other emotions in the spaciousness of Her Love, the Peace that passes all understanding envelopes me. Then I can release it all through prayer, writing, singing, meditating, activism or some other constructive and loving pursuit.

It is not easy! It takes time, practice and patience. I fail and fall short more often than not . . .

. . . and so the practice continues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRfFuhrdGKM

https://www.chaimbentorah.com/2020/05/hebrew-word-study-to-know/

Prayer

Prayer

Mr. President,

Wow! After almost four years in office, you finally said something that is true and that I agree with: “We need to pray.”

Before you begin a temper-tantrum twitter to what you may perceive as an insult, keep in mind, I am a 61-year-old white, protestant woman—one of the key demographics in your bid for re-election. For this reason, it is in your best interest to continue reading.

Your uninformed determination to open churches for worship and prayer is nearsighted. You incorrectly assume that closed church doors are stopping the life and mission of the church. That, Mr. President, could not be farther from the truth!

In Matthew 18: 20 Jesus says:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Of the 7.8 billion people now alive on this planet, I think it is safe to conclude that there are many groups of at least two or three gathered together somewhere in His name. These assemblies may not be taking place in the traditional ways you are perhaps familiar with, but they are taking place!

The church where I am a congregant has been worshipping on-line since Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church made the decision “to honor local government directives” and not meet “on site until it is safe to do so.” This kind of technology is connecting billions of people worldwide in reverential awe of God and Her creation.

Jesus did not say “go build a mortar and brick structure, gather weekly, and then forget about me for the rest of the week.” He said, among other things, to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” “love others as I have loved you,” “feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned,” “take care of widows and orphans,” “where possible live at peace with one another,” and “pray for your enemies.”

None of these pursuits necessarily take place within the confines of a steepled edifice and can sometimes be more effective when they don’t!

This active mindfulness, or Christ consciousness, transcends the barriers of space, time and the labels of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, economic status, political affiliation and otherwise.

Unfortunately, I doubt you will understand any of this due to your white privileged, patriarchal psychopathic personality which only serves to exacerbate your misogyny, bigotry, narcissistic heartlessness and greed.

Be that as it may, I am praying . . .

. . . for you and for all those in authority and leadership positions all over the world to make knowledgeable and wise decisions.

. . . for Scientists to find a safe and effective vaccine/cure/treatment for Covid-19.

. . . for doctors, nurses, medical professionals, front-line workers and essential personnel to have a tangible sense of how very much they are loved and appreciated so they will not get discouraged.

. . . for those who are sick, grieving, homeless, unemployed, in prison, the abused and abusers, alcoholics and addicts, all those who are suffering and feeling hopeless—that they would trust that God is with them—loving them, helping them—even if it does not feel like it and even when the evidence seems to point to the contrary.

I am praying.

Take care and please wear a mask.

Sincerely,
Susan Fridinger

P.S. Will I be voting for you in November? I will let one of my favorite actors, Will Smith, answer for me via this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im_5QdHp04E

Post Script to those of you still reading . . .

As the US death total due to Covid-19 approaches nearly 100,000 people, I was (and still am) deeply troubled by President Trump’s lack of remorse over this traumatic loss of life. Additionally, his flippant attitude toward prayer only makes light of dire circumstances. These thoughts, coupled with my own discouragement at how sometimes situations seem to get worse before they get better while praying, prompted the above letter.

I know there are those among you who will be offended by what I have written about our President . . . I understand.

I hope you will take the energy that creates and join me in prayer. While we may not see eye to eye about President Trump, hopefully there is at least one thing on my prayer list above on which we can agree.

Please take care.

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2020/05/24/nytfrontpage/scan.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/05/24/us/us-coronavirus-deaths-100000.html

Water

Water

One of the highlights of my week, pre-pandemic, was choir practice every Wednesday night. Not only did I enjoy singing with these beloveds, but also sharing our lives with one another through prayer, laughter, and familiar communing.

Thanks to the technical expertise of our choir director, Jeff, we have continued to meet on-line via Zoom and other social media platforms every week since stay-at-home guidelines were enacted. While we do not sing, we have continued to pray, laugh and fellowship. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices of my dear friends buoys my heart.

Recently, Jeff gave us the following “assignment” for our next virtual gathering:

“I want you to share a story, experience, or anything about how nature past or present that moved you or drew you closer to God. For example: Was there a time in your life when nature or something in nature spoke to you, moved you or ministered to you in some new way? Have you read something about nature recently that spoke to you? Is there a Bible verse or song about nature that speaks to you?”

Here is my response . . .

. . . water . . . more specifically bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, ponds, pools, and oceans.

From the time I was an infant and into adulthood swimming, playing, wading in these liquid lounges has immersed me in God’s presence.

Swimming for me feels like gliding through flowing sunshine where I feel the deepest sense of peace, calm and at-one-ment.

. . . my mother’s brother-in-law and sister—my favorite Aunt Bun–had a small trailer along the Shenandoah River near Charles Town, West Virginia, where family and friends gathered to enjoy the water and each other’s company.

. . . swimming lessons at the YMCA. During one lesson, the lifeguard/instructor jumped in to save me because I came very close to going under.

. . . my paternal grandfather poling a flat-bottomed fishing boat filled with his brood into the middle of the Potomac River near Williamsport, Maryland where we enjoyed cavorting in the cool flowing ripples. On one such occasion, as the story goes, my grandfather dropped me into the river and said, “Swim, you’re a Fridinger.”

. . . paternal family reunions at my Aunt’s house. Being a farmer, my Uncle had huge tractor inner tubes he placed in his relatively large pond. Standing and balancing on the slippery serpents proved to have hilarious results as one after another of my kin (and myself) awkwardly flopped into the water.

It was here that I learned how to squeeze my fists in such a way that water would spurt through like a jet stream.  This eventually led to contests to see who could squirt water the farthest. Granddad usually won.

. . . many, many trips to Ocean City, Maryland and near by Rehoboth, Delaware with my church youth group, parents, and in due course my own sons—well into their adulthood—a beach-going tradition they now carry on with their own families.

I could not and still cannot leave the sandy shores without standing at the ocean’s edge in the early morning stillness, reveling in awe at the vastness of the sea lapping at my feet.

. . . my father teaching his three grandsons how to swim in the Potomac River above Damn Number 5 outside of Shepherdstown, West Virginia where he had bought a retirement home with river front property. A carpenter at heart, my father built a small dock which he ingeniously roped to the bank along with a short ramp from the shore to the jetty. Endless summer days were spent lazily frolicking, jumping, splashing, wading and floating.

I can still hear my sons saying, “Throw me off your shoulders, Granddad.” Taking turns, they would climb on his shoulders—my father would bounce up and down—going under water himself to get the necessary momentum—and releasing them in flight to their cannonball and belly-flop reentries.

Literally drenched and waterlogged, my memories are a fountain of God’s eternal presence wooing me into a deeper and ever-growing awareness of Her Truth, Beauty and Love.

In writing this, I was reminded of the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10: 38-42.

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

“There is need of only one thing,” or, the doing will take care of itself; just be . . .

Present . . . aware . . .

Awake.

The Divine Dance

The Divine Dance

The Divine Dance

Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell

“The Divine Dance” by Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell was a challenging book to read. Not because it was difficult to understand, quite the opposite; it is easily read. But because I could not decide whether to read it slowly, taking my time to savor the many, many insights and revelations. Or to read it quickly so I could read it again and again for the very same reason. I decided on the first and, quite possibly, will read it at least once more because I enjoyed the dance so much.

About this book, Irish lyricist and philanthropist, Bono says, “A beautiful choreography for a life well lived.” I couldn’t agree more.