September 2020 Archives



“I’ve never been happier about being a Canadian.”

I received this text message from a friend this morning to which I replied:

“And I’ve never been sadder to be an American.”

Before I even received her text, I woke up crying. I did not watch the debate between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. Too much seemed to be at stake, so I prayed. I did not need to watch what I knew would be a loathsome and spiteful performance by Mr. Trump.  My friend’s uncharacteristically insensitive comment only added to my grief and quite frankly made me feel angry—no, not just angry … F***ING pissed off!

I could not imagine what would cause her to be this flippant.  I do not know the circumstances surrounding her citizenship status and have never thought to ask. I never saw her as “Canadian.”  I thought we were beyond labels. Our friendship is based on a spiritual kinship of caring for all God’s beloveds. We have discussed politics and share the same progressive bent, but her statement felt like she was kicking me when I was down.

In what identity of separation did I appear to be caught?

Her sentiment seemed to be lacking in awareness, compassion and kindness. What does one say when tragedies happen anywhere around the globe? When the building exploded in Syria, would one say “I’ve never been happier about being a (fill in the nationality)?” Does one think one’s citizenship or lack thereof will save him or her from dying of COVID? Would anyone really state he or she is glad to live on the east coast of the US while the west coast is awash with devastating conflagrations?

This is the problem! Too many people continue to see through the eyes of judgement and condemnation, as if one nationality, or ethnicity, or religion, or gender or any imagined identity of separation is better or worse than another—they are all delusional anxieties. Tragically, the US has a “leader” who inflames those labels of separateness and alienation to his demonic-like pleasure.

Some of you may be thinking that I prayed for Mr. Trump to lose the debate or that I prayed for Mr. Biden to win. I did not pray for either of those short-sighted and limited  outcomes! I prayed for the eyes and minds and hearts of all people to be open and to really see Mr. Trump’s true character.  I did not differentiate my prayers based on anyone’s citizenship or nationality.  I prayed for Mr. Biden to endure the onslaught of Mr. Trump’s satanic-like attacks—which Mr. Biden did with decency, empathy and great feeling.

I prayed for the choice that is before us and how our nation will move forward after all the votes are counted.  This 2020 US election is not about making America great again.  God forbid.   This election is about reducing/eliminating world wide suffering because Trump, like any despot, is utterly unaware of the interconnectedness of all of God’s creation.

My tears were a mixture of many feelings–tremendous relief that the debate was over. I was unaware of how much tension and disquietude I was holding within my spirit.  Millions of lives quite literally hang in the balance as we await the results of this upcoming election.  Another feeling was doubt. Can the hardest of hearts be softened? Can blind eyes really be opened? Can ignorant minds be unlocked? I do not know.  I am heartbroken and bewildered that any American needs to be convinced that Trump is not fit for office.

Mostly I cried because it is all so painful. We are a nation in mourning. Hell, we are a world in mourning and the last thing we need is a bully kicking sand in our face.

In the meantime, I’m going to talk to my friend, I’m going to celebrate the little things in life, and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing—listening, praying, grieving, healing, being …

… that is more than enough for the times in which we are living.

I already voted, that was easy!



Mr. President,

Should I become sick with COVID and/or die as a result of becoming infected, I will hold no ill-will against you; but you would be responsible–as you are for the 6.75 million COVID cases and the 198,000+ resulting deaths in the US, as of this writing.

If I became sick I would let you off the hook, NOT because you deserve it or have done anything to have earned it, but because you have no idea what you are doing–it’s called Grace.

You believe in an illusion and you are not even aware that you are completely unaware. You have believed and continue to believe in something that simply is not true—that we are separate from God and separate from each other. You have put your faith and trust in wealth, fame, sex, power, and all manner of man-made, ego-centric delusions and ideologies.

You hold a Bible in your hand in front of a church to make people think you are a moral man, all the while your misogyny, bigotry, and blatant racism increasingly informs and inflames social, economic, and political division. You pander patriotism while holding illegal rallies, criticizing peaceful protestors, and kowtowing to Putin. You claim to be pro-life, while threatening to rescind healthcare, deregulating hundreds of environmental laws, and reinforcing intolerance through violent “Law and Order” tweets.

I can only imagine the pain and hurt you must have endured and carry with you to go to such extremes in building irreverent walls that only reinforce your separation from all that is holy and sacred.

You are blind to the interconnectedness of all of life which is why you use and abuse anything and everything in your way. Because you fail to see the eternal value of all God’s beloveds, people become a means to an end in your over-indulgent, one-man narcissistic and morbid theatrical performance.

There is a better way! Unfortunately, I fear your heart is so hard that you cannot hear Her calling you.

place your trust in Allah. Surely, Allah loves those who place their trust in Him.” (Q. 3:159)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. [One] experiences [oneself] . . . as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of [one’s] consciousness. . . . Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. —Albert Einstein

Since tomorrow only exists in theory, it is not too late for you to change, to come to terms with your pain and heal, to let Light and Love flow into your heart in order to begin the awakened journey.

Your pattern and past practices of selfish, self-absorbed behavior, however, suggest this may not be possible.

I can only hope for your sake that when you die—because all would-be tyrants do—somehow your eyes will be open and you will recognize the Divine and accept the mercy that is freely available to you even now.

With respect to the office you will hopefully be voted out of,
Susan Fridinger



What is really important to you?

Having been given the order to evacuate, my cousin put some things in his truck and waited. His apartment is located in Talent, near I-5 in southern Oregon, in the middle of where fires swept through beginning at the northern edges of Ashland and reaching into the southern edges of Medford, before it was stopped. With his truck running to keep his laptop and phone charged, he used his phone’s wi-fi hotspot to listen to fire & police scanners on his laptop, in an effort to discover how the fire and all the various efforts to stop it were progressing.

As he sat and waited, he could hear propane tanks and electrical transformers exploding, over and over. Over the tops of trees and the roofs of some town houses he watched the glowing orange light and billowing smoke of the fire seeming to be very near, pushed along by a strong wind, not sure for several hours if it was passing by or coming closer. The glow and light of the fire would flare up, the smoke even blacker against the night sky, whenever a structure burned – someone’s home or business.

Nearly all in his apartment complex had evacuated, but one neighbor returned, saying all the roads were a mess due to road closures and backed up traffic. The neighbor went to bed, knowing my cousin would come get him if the fire got too close.

He sent me several texts reassuring me he was fine and not to worry – that all was in God’s hands. Around 3 am, when it finally became clear the fire was not coming any further in his direction, he went into his apartment and to bed, after being in the front seat of his truck watching the fire for over eight hours.

When I talked with him on the phone early the next morning, he said he was happy to be alive, with his furnishings and personal belongings intact, and with a place to live. My father and I were happy about that too!

Through it all, I kept wondering, “what did he pack to take with him?”

What is most important to you? This seems to be the question the year 2020 is asking us. Fires, floods, hurricanes, civil unrest, COVID … all asking the same question.

Of course, that has always been THE question, but the rapid-fire succession of tragedies and disasters these last couple years seems to be heightening and intensifying our awareness of what really matters most. At least for some of us.

I find it difficult to assign degrees of importance to the items and furnishings in my home most of which belonged to my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Gifts from my sons and grandchildren have just as much significance and value to me as do the family heirlooms. Everywhere I turn, I am surrounded by mementos and keepsakes that connect me to the beloveds in my life. If I had to evacuate, what would I take with me? What would you take?

What did he take?

I was pretty sure I knew and my suspicions were confirmed when we talked and I asked — a few changes of clothing, a winter coat, sandals in addition to the shoes he was wearing, some bedding and pillows for the back of his truck, toiletries and shave gear, important documents, A Course In Miracles, laptop, cell phone, iPad, tea, water and means to heat water, and a little bit of food. That’s all.

He also said: “Even if I could have somehow chosen just the very few personal things I had room for beyond the basics, out of all the many and various sacred belongings that shaped, informed and gave meaning to the inner dimensions of my home and the long and intricate weavings of my life, it would diminish and dishonor all that I could not take. If my past and its symbols and representations were to burn, then all of it needed to go together, to keep each other company.”

Ultimately, the precarious nature of just having the very simple essentials—food, water, clothing, shelter—especially in light of cataclysmic events, should give all of us plenty of pause for gratitude.

After my cousin’s experience, and watching on-line through social media platforms how his community is coming together to help one another, my heart has been finely tuned to gratitude.

My father has always said the vast majority of people are good at heart.

My cashier at Martins on Monday morning was genuinely and sincerely kind as we chatted about life. She asked me if the number of canned fruits she placed in one bag was acceptable, not wanting it to be too heavy for me to carry. I have never been asked that before, which I said to her. She explained that she asked the same of a gentleman who appeared to be of a muscular stature and he had replied ‘no’ because of a shoulder injury. She gladly put fewer cans in separate bags to ease his burden.

Margie—that is her name—said, “we shouldn’t judge people because we don’t know what they might be going through.” I heartily agreed with her.

Additionally, I found out that both of her parents had died at the age of 66; so now when she and each of her siblings reach the age of 67, they have and will celebrate with a big party. Remembering this now puts a smile on my face.

After this early morning cheery conversation, I used my Martins points to get gas. As I was getting out of my truck, the attendant approached the pump with a bag of cat food. While we exchanged ‘good mornings’ she filled the bowl that was under a cinder block display of windshield wiper fluid. Her thoughtfulness was deeply touching.

Gratitude can heighten our awareness to kindness and goodness. Gratitude can make all our words and actions more poignant and every breath precious. Gratitude is an act of humility and selflessness that assumes nothing but compassion and generosity for and towards all God’s beloveds—all creatures great and small.

Just like a fish in water, gratitude should be the environment in which we walk out our trust in God.

This is a lesson the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk highlights. Known as the “complainer” by many Christians, Habakkuk spends most of his short book complaining to God about the coming destruction and judgement of the nation of Israel by the Babylonians which took place during the sixth century BCE.

After spending much of three chapters fussing and grumbling to God, he ends with this:

For even if the fig tree doesn’t blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines,
even if the olive tree fails to produce,
and the fields yield no food at all,
even if the sheep vanish from the sheep pen,
and there are no cows in the stalls;
still, I will rejoice in ADONAI,
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
ELOHIM Adonai is my strength!
He makes me swift and sure-footed as a deer
and enables me to stride over my high places.

Verse 19 in another translation reads:

The Sovereign LORD is my source of strength.
He gives me the agility of a deer;
he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain.

Most of, if not all, the time …

It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world. Mary Oliver



For several months at the beginning of the pandemic, my church went totally on-line for worship using Zoom and other social media platforms. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would have such a deep and meaningful sense of unity and belonging as I experienced. We continued to use our same worship format and litany, but there was something very deeply connective in the “being in it together” mentality of that time.

Our building has resumed in-person worship using strict protocols, while maintaining electronic platforms for those still not comfortable worshiping in person due to COVID concerns.

I am almost sorry the building has been re-opened for services because the sense of unity I felt when we were all on-line seems to be missing, for me anyway.

I find myself asking questions like: why am I tithing to keep an essentially empty building maintained when I could be giving it all to boots-on-the-ground charities and missions?

What if worship was a group of people meeting at an elderly person’s house and doing their yard work? What if the church building was repurposed for housing the homeless and giving them responsibilities to clean and keep up the maintenance in exchange for a place to stay? What if we continued to worship online but it looks more like a place of sharing our joys and concerns within a non-judgmental, grace-filled space? How do we do this?

What if the monthly mission focus was weekly and people shared what they did for missions or better yet an interactive bulletin board of needs in the community?

I am concerned that our current church model is no longer a fit for the times in which we are living and that the technology that united us so strongly and which could be used so creatively, is now being taken for granted until we can return to “normal.”  I don’t know what to do about any of this other than ask questions.

But it is not just my church with which I am dissatisfied.

In a larger sense, we are being called to do and be differently in every way of doing and being. Unfortunately, people have not been listening—some have, but many have not.

I would not say I am depressed or even alarmed; just a quiet reverence for what is and has been calling through this collective illusion of misbelief and a deep yearning for a vision of something more.