Meditations Category


Sunrise

Sunrise

Am I aware, in this moment of formlessness, functioning through this form? from The Grace in Aging Kathleen Dowling Singh

The sunrise was spectacular … dynamic shades—almost neon–of pink and orange reflecting on the underside of what looked like an army of slate-hued, altocumulus clouds set against a brilliant cyan sky. In fact, the vibrant contrast of colors added to the three dimensionality of the billowy puffs making them look like poofy swirls of cotton candy floating across the airspace.

“C’mon, c’mon, you can do it … go, go, go …” I cheered inwardly, as a trio and a separate duo of geese were straining to close ranks on a larger vee of fellow Canada flyers. I was captivated by the wonderous spectacle of their simultaneous flying and honking. Wide-eyed, I stood in place until the feathered skein was a tiny dot in the sky.

“Gases move from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas. And the bigger the difference between the pressures, the faster the air will move from the high to the low pressure. That rush of air is the wind we experience.” (scijinks.gov) Having taught sixth grade science for years, these words reverberated in my soul as I stood listening to the whooshing aria echoing on the needle-limbed pine trees. Variables such as the tree height, branch fullness, and wind speed contributed to the artistry of the sacred hymn.

Contentedly curled up on the couch together, my four-year-old granddaughter and I listened to the “Carol of the Bells” as sung by music box cardinals. She asked, “You know Papa?”
“Yes.”
“You know Vicki?”
“Yes.”
“You have GGDad.”
“Yes, I take care of him.”
Aside from the sound of crooning songbirds, a cozy silence follows and we snuggle in the warmth of mutual love and affection.

And then there was this …

My father’s car needed an oil change and inspection so I drove to a local automotive shop. The young man who did the work was quick and efficient. When he finished, he backed the car out of the bay in order to place the new inspection sticker in the window. I stood off to the side, but close by.

As he removed the old sticker, washed the window and glued the new sticker in place, he was chatting with a young woman. They seemed to know one another. She had a very sweet-looking labradoodle puppy—a tawny brown curly coat, full of energy, prancing and tugging on his leash.

I knelt down to pet him when he danced close to me. The woman seeing this, forcefully yanked on his leash—the puppy yelped–her jaw and head jutted forward spoiling for a fight—looked me dead in the eye and screamed “NO!!!” She then returned to her conversation with the mechanic as if nothing happened.

I maintained a calm demeanor throughout the encounter and may have said “sorry.”

Within the span of a few seconds, the mechanic stepped aside when he completed his task and I thanked him. As I climbed behind the wheel, my would-be canine friend jumped all over me … yet I did NOT touch him.

“What the frack was that? It’s not ok for me to pet her dog, but it is ok for him to jump all over me,” I sassily asked God as I drove home. Mostly, though, I genuinely felt sorry for the dog. I harbor no ill-will towards the woman and wouldn’t even recognize her if I saw her again.

When I shared this experience with my cousin, he said he could easily have told her–“f*** you, looking her in the eye with a direct and present demeanor, willing for whatever additional response or engagement she might have”–which could certainly be one response to such nonsensical ire.

On the whole, I do not like confrontations and work to avoid them; but this wasn’t that. I did not feel any anger or negative emotion towards her in the moment … not while I waited, not while I got in my car, not even when I was being cheeky with God, and not now.

Jean-Yves Leloup in his commentary on The Gospel of Mary Magdalene says the following:

Offering the other cheek means presenting an entirely new and unexpected way of dealing with the problem. It means to oppose violence with consciousness, to look the other in the eye, to regard the other as subject like oneself, and to refuse to be a predictable object. To be in harmony is to enter into resonance with other subjects, and with other liberties …

To be in harmony with our enemies is to skillfully allow their violence to pass through us without contaminating us. Just as in the martial arts, this attunement to our attackers can then awaken a consciousness in them that could help them to get out of the trouble they are in.”

Additionally …

As long as our peace is dependent on any kind of external reality, it is not Peace; as long as our love for others and for the world is dependent on attitudes and feelings toward us, it is not Love.

I do not know if this explains my response or not. I wish I could say I walk around that consciously aware. I think I just got lucky.

Our purpose on Earth is not to manipulate things … but to meet each other in living encounters. Life is too short to be lived by exploiting each other. There is something better for us to do, and the time we have is barely enough to learn how to love one another. Jean-Yves Leloup

Ain’t that the truth!

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts

I remember my mother warning me to warm up my freezing hands with cold water not hot. I had come in from playing outside in the snow and my hands were icy-cold. I did not listen to her and used hot water instead. I was instantly sorry.

My hands felt like they were on fire! Right away I turned the tap to cold and like magic my burning frigid hands became warm.

This made me think about various Bible verses that point to God’s judgement as a refining fire.

Like …

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2-3

For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16

… among others.

What if fire in this sense is really a metaphor for Love? If a person’s heart is cold and/or hardened, perhaps Divine Love feels like flames burning off the chaff or dross as it transforms one’s heart. This perspective could certainly alter our viewpoint and experience of God’s judgment.

Frankly, I have come to believe that the only way anyone and everyone is judged is in and through the lens of Love. All life is judged worthy of Love, to be Loved as Love.

For those who are lost, could this judgement of Love feel like an unpleasant scorching sensation in their souls … much like my cold hands under the hot water?

One evening I was in Dollar Tree looking for shelf milk for my father. Since I was having difficulty locating it, I asked a clerk. A tall young man with multiple tattoos and piercings, ear lobe plugs, long dreadlocks and a pleasant countenance gave me detailed directions to my item in the next aisle over. He was so present and loving I almost hugged him.

When I found the milk, I playfully said loud enough for him to hear me “I found it. Thank you.” And he responded in kind, “Your welcome.”

A couple of days later, I had a similar experience at Xfinity where I was taking care of some business with my internet/TV account. This time the sales representative was a stunning slim-built person, again with tattoos, piercings, ear lobe plugs, and red-dyed hair swept up in curls. I told them what I needed and they amended my account quickly and efficiently. I thanked them profusely.

I have no tattoos, two pierced ear lobes for earrings I rarely wear, and long, straight brunette hair with a gray streak. On the outside, I seem to have little in common with these human beings. On the inside, both encounters, and other similar ones, have left my heart smiling. I hope their hearts were smiling too.

Twenty years have passed since the movie ‘Love Actually’ premiered; it is one of my favorites. Diane Sawyer interviewed some of the actors from the film in a recent television special. The last question she asked each of them was to fill in the blank, “love actually is ___________.”

What would you say?

United Methodist congregations all across the United States are making decisions to disaffiliate with regard to openly LGBTQ+ clergy and the denomination’s stance on same-sex marriage.

Should a congregation decide to disaffiliate, stiff financial penalties will be enacted upon them by the larger Methodist governing body. Because of this, some churches are pursuing legal recourse to protect their assets from what they deem as punitive and unfair actions in the hopes that, should they win the lawsuit, the lack of penalties will make the vote to disaffiliate appear ‘fair.’

Other congregations—those choosing to remain affiliated with the historical UMC denomination–are listening to the often, painful stories of LGBTQ+ congregants and deciding to “err on the side of love.” By choosing to embrace the disenfranchised, they are bringing healing into this hurting world.

How would you vote?

The fog was as thick as pea soup when I was coming home after dark from a Holden prayer service at church. Even though I knew turning on the high beams would not help me see better, I still tried it a few times opting to continue with low beams. I kept looking for familiar landmarks, but everything looked different. Even a large four-way stop light on a dual highway, was engulfed in misty eeriness.

Ordinarily, I would have become frightened in this type of situation … but I didn’t. As I watched the light play out on the murky gloom, I thought about the seasons of Advent and Lent. Two seasons in the Christian year where light and the absence of light have significant allegorical meaning in preparing one for the holy days of Christmas and Easter.

My views about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus have changed dramatically over the years. By asking questions, my spiritual growth has moved from a “private notion of salvation” to my “communion with everybody else”—as Richard Rohr says—from an ‘escape plan’ to a universal Christ awareness where Christ is in everyone and everything thus making all things Holy–as characterized by Brian McLaren.

Christmas … not a birthday celebration, but God reconciling the world to Gods-self by becoming one of us. Easter … not the punishment for our sin, but Jesus demonstrating that NOTHING—not even death–can separate us from the Love of God.

In God we live and move and have our being.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Love actually is … ALL that matters.

… maybe these weren’t random thoughts after all.

*My dog Polly Ann loves everybody, which is why I am using her image for this post.

**Dedicated to KEV and JN.

All Means All

All Means All

I woke up this morning thinking of the men, women and children living and dying in the drought-stricken areas of Kenya

The latest IPC report (July to September 2022) on the drought situation in Kenya indicates that; in the ten ASAL (Arid and Semi-Arid Land) counties, where AHN members work, more than 40% of the population is facing high levels of food insecurity compared to 24% in all ASAL counties of Kenya and this figure is projected to increase to 47.5% in the period October to December 2022 and will continue to worsen over time.

… then, while walking Polly, my mind wandered to those managing to survive through the catastrophic devastation in war-torn Ukraine

Millions of children are in need of humanitarian assistance as they continue to suffer the deadly consequences of a brutal war not of their making. The war has sparked displacement on a scale and speed not seen since World War II – with far-reaching impact across the region and beyond. By November 1, 2022, more than 7.7 million individual refugees from Ukraine had been recorded across Europe, while millions more people had been internally displaced in Ukraine.

… and a little later, before I left to volunteer at Meals on Wheels, my heart ached for the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs.

Sadly, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and / or queer (LGBTQ+) people face higher risk of becoming victims of gun violence.

I do not feel as detached from these events and other similar tragic occurrences as I once did. Generally speaking, I have in the past felt the sorrow of global, national and local disasters over the years, but now these cataclysmic happenings are much closer at heart and felt with an incarnate intensity in my spirit.

I am not sure what the difference is; perhaps it is because I am in that decade of life where the deaths of people my age start appearing more frequently in the obituaries.

According to World Bank statistics, my current life expectancy is 77.28 years. If that is the case, I have a very short 14 years left—if that–to make a difference in whatever way, shape or form that may be. I find myself hoping that I have demonstrated more love and given more joy than pain and sorrow.

Those sorts of scales matter not to the Divine, I know. Grace and Love look only through the lens of Grace and Love, yet I still wonder.

I met a really beautiful human being at the grocery store one morning. Their deep resonate voice suggested they were male, but their mannerisms and other qualities suggested they were female—which is why I am using the non-binary pro-nouns ‘they’ and ‘their.’ I really do not know their gender and I really do not care. All I know is that during our short interaction, I was deeply affected by their kind and gentle soul which is really all that matters.

Before his death, James Lipton hosted a show on Bravo called ‘The Actor’s Studio’ where he interviewed famous actors of stage, screen and TV.

At the end of the interview, he would ask each actor a series of questions inspired by the show ‘Bouillon de Culture’ hosted by Bernard Pivot. Among the ten questions were: What is your favorite/least favorite word; what sound or noise do you love/hate; what turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? And the one for which I always had a definitive answer: What turns you off?

Man’s inhumanity to man … our lack of empathy to one another is indefensible—how can we continue to treat each other so cruelly?

My mother was a great admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor Roosevelt was THE driving force behind The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages. The UDHR is widely recognized as having inspired, and paved the way for, the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties, applied today on a permanent basis at global and regional levels (all containing references to it in their preambles).

Have you ever read it? If not, you should! Personally, I believe it to be a more sacred and holy document than the Constitution of the United States simply because it undertakes to include and unify ALL of humanity! Not just Americans and certainly not just MAGA Evangelical believers.

Article 1 states …

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

… and it only gets better from there!

All human beings … not some, not a few … not just whites, not just far-right radicals, not just cisgendered heterosexuals, not just males … ALL human beings.

ALL!

ALL means ALL!

This lack of awareness of our global personhood as a “normal” part of life is where all of our problems, calamities, misfortunes, devastations begin … and can end.

I am not suggesting we do not find ways to solve our problems by enacting laws and regulations. Neither am I suggesting that offenders go free. I am saying that those “fixes” are only temporary.

But how do we get to an awakened knowledge of our interdependence?

By unraveling deeply held beliefs, by pulling at the threads of our conditioning, by untangling our theology, by seeing our lies, by dissolving our illusions, by disarming our egos … the result?

… a very different and collectively shared human journey where systems that once seemed necessary in the beliefs of separation would naturally disassemble and we could truly begin to see and realize what has always been true …

… all means all …

Question Everything

Question Everything

Dear Grandchildren,

I have pondered for a while now about the one thing that I could possibly tell you as your grandparent that would have the most abiding and valuable effect on your life.

Here it is: question everything!

Listen up … I am not promoting the intentional rejection of authority or rebelliousness just for the sake of it! Rather I am encouraging you to use your God-given curiosity to explore, examine and analyze your own intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth.

Question why you believe what you believe about politics, about religion, about spirituality, about God, about authority, about institutions—and do not let anyone make you feel bad about doing so!

Jesus said it this way:  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

In other words, it is perfectly acceptable for life and beliefs about life to be messy. This messiness is not a reflection of who you are or to whom you belong; therefore, lean into the mess.

Better yet, let the mess pass through you. This way of being often feels unsettling at first—that’s to be expected in your metamorphosis. As you deconstruct and evolve, you will eventually grow accustomed to the process and it will become second nature to you.

Somewhere along the way, though, someone is bound to tell you to simply have faith or “you’ll just have to take it–whatever ‘it’ is–in faith.” I am not certain that is true at all, mostly because it makes faith sound so passive.

I have been walking with Jesus for 50+ years as of this writing, and I am still asking questions.

For example, what does “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” really mean?  Is it simply an “escape plan” or could it be something more?  And if so, what?

I am still making choices; fine tuning my beliefs. I am still letting the mess pass through me. Surprisingly, the more I learn, the less I know. Sound ridiculous? Yes, but THAT is what faith is—a paradox–to know without “knowing,” to be without doing. Paradox is anything but passive.

As we learn to question our own beliefs, we also begin to realize it is possible to CHOOSE what we believe even when we are uncertain.

Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Just prior to saying this, one of the twelve apostles, Thomas—often called Doubting Thomas—said, “unless I see the holes in his (Jesus) hands and feet, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe (that Jesus had risen from the dead).”

I can just hear Jesus telling Thomas, “Right on, man! As soon as you are sure about something, question it some more because faith is admitting that you do not know and therein lies the path of Freedom and Oneness.”

The Christian faith calls that freedom and oneness atonement or at-one-ment; as Richard Rohr says our “union with God and all things.”

Some folks may tell you that your grandmother is wrong, that she is off her rocker.

All I can tell you from my own experience is that in ‘not knowing,’ I experience God’s presence more deeply and more genuinely, than at any time in the past when I was absolutely certain about what I ‘knew’ to be my beliefs.

Certainty can breed contempt. Dualistic thinking is seemingly fixed and therefore cannot lead one into transformation. Paul in the book of Romans says “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Ask questions, be your own person with your own ideas and do not let anyone–especially “religious” people–make you feel guilty about it!!

It is in the Not Knowing or Unknowing that you will know Love and Peace and Forgiveness and Truth and Beauty, because that is who you are—as Christ is, so are you!

There is much more that could be expressed here, fine tuning to what I have written that could be done but I think it best if I leave you wondering.

I love you all so very much and I hope that I am alive when you read this so we can talk about it in person. If not, I will still be around.

Love,
Nana

Hospital-ity

Hospital-ity

I failed …

I saw God and I failed to acknowledge him.

She was standing on the sidewalk outside of Martins Grocery Store. Pregnant, heavy with child, she held a sign that said, “homeless, please help” and I drove right by her.

I drove right by her!

Because any money I would have given her wasn’t easily handy, I made the excuse that she was working a scam … and I drove right by her … even after she waved at me!

Talk about guilt …

I drove my grocery laden van home, quickly unloaded my bags, and headed back out with cash ready in hand, praying the whole time, “please let her be there, please let her be there.” A thunderstorm had been brewing and was in the midst of erupting as I drove, so I did not know what I would find when I arrived a short ten minutes later … “please let her be there.”

She wasn’t.

God was still standing there, though not a pregnant woman this time, but a rangy, scruffy homeless man. I did a U-turn in the parking lot, rolled down the window on the passenger side, waved at him and gave him the money in my hand.

Through a semi-toothless and gentle smile, he said, “God bless you, ma’am.”

What a humbling experience!

I felt—and still do feel—like Jesus washed my feet.

He’s blessing me?! A woman—with all of her adult teeth–driving a recent year mini-van, who lives in a modest three-bedroom home with her father and dog, with a nice yard, a closet full of clothes and a pantry full of food, and more ‘nice things’ than I care to count … and he is blessing me?

And yet all of my ‘stuff’—as wonderful and of sentimental value as much of it is—means very little in light of his blessing. My heart feels deeply touched, warmed, and moved–burning in fact.

On the way home, I wondered if I had really seen a pregnant woman at all. Did anyone else see her? Was the bedraggled fellow really standing there? Was my mind playing tricks on me? Both beings and their energy seemed very real and vibrant to me.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

As I meditated on the above Bible verse that came to mind afterward, the word that struck me was hospitality, “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” (Oxford Languages) Somehow, though, that did not quite feel like the whole of what I was seeking in my heart, which led me to search for synonyms for hospitality such as friendliness, kindness and helpfulness.

All good replacements, but still lacking insight.

How about hospitable? … “friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests.” (Oxford Languages)

That’s not it either–not really much different from hospitality.

Then I saw it … hospital-ity. As I scrolled down further in my Google search results, I found the following Wikipedia entry:

Why is it called a hospital? The word “hospital” comes from the Latin hospes, signifying a stranger or foreigner, hence a guest. Another noun derived from this, hospitium came to signify hospitality, that is the relation between guest and shelterer, hospitality, friendliness, and hospitable reception.

In the movie “The Green Mile,” Tom Hanks’ character, Paul Edgecomb, is explaining to an employee the importance of remaining calm in the death-row facility of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary where they worked as prison guards. He quietly explains, “Men under strain can snap; hurt themselves, hurt others. That’s why our job is talking, not yelling. You’ll do better to think of this place like an intensive care ward in a hospital.”

“You’ll do better to think of this place like an intensive care ward in a hospital.”

I love that line because that’s it! Isn’t it?

Here and now, in this form and in this space, we are all literally and figuratively living in a hospital. You could say our planet is in the intensive care unit and all of its inhabitants are in one ward or another due to the tremendous strain and pressures of the current times we are living through. We are hurting ourselves and others because of it. Additionally, we are all merely visitors here; this is not by any means our permanent home. We are just passing through and at times we take the role of guest or we take the role of shelterer.

The suffix -ity is defined as: “quality: state: degree.” (Merriam-Webster)

How well we inhabit guest or shelterer depends upon how mindful we are that God is in and among us.

This is an important consideration to bear in mind especially now that Christianity has been hijacked by ultra-theocrats like MAGA Evangelicals and men like Trump, Carlson, Orban, etc. who would have us endorse exclusion, hate, judgment, power, greed, and control.

By heeding the Spirit within us and each other, we can live in and act out of trust, forgiveness, love, compassion, mercy and generosity.

To that end, whatever your spiritual inclination may be, I conclude with the following prayer by Richard Rohr.

Lover of All

Lord, lover of life, lover of these lives,
Lord, lover of our souls, lover of our bodies, lover of all that exists . . .
In fact, it is your love that keeps it all alive . . .
May we live in this love.
May we never doubt this love.
May we know that we are love,
That we were created for love,
That we are a reflection of you,
That you love yourself in us and therefore we are perfectly lovable.
May we never doubt this deep and abiding and perfect goodness
That we are because you are. Amen

… this deep and abiding and perfect goodness that we are because you are.

Freedom

Freedom

When DOES life begin?

Does life begin at conception? Is a fetus a human being with rights? Does abortion stop a beating heart?

For some folks the answers to these questions are quite clear. Yes, yes, and yes.

Me? I am not so sure.

I am uncomfortable with clear cut, black and white thinking and answers especially to complex and multifaceted situations like abortion. In fact, in the last six years, I have come to treasure vagueness, ambiguity and doubt because it allows me to ponder, and meditate on anything and everything more deeply allowing for transformation.

But to answer the question, when does life begin, I contemplated death first.  When does one’s body die?

“If brain death is confirmed, why does an individual’s heart continue beating? As long as the heart has oxygen, it can continue to work. The ventilator provides enough oxygen to keep the heart beating for several hours. Without this artificial help, the heart would stop beating.”

When brain death occurs, beloveds must make the gut-wrenching decision to withdraw life support from their dear one.

I had the utmost honor of being present when my mother crossed over. The first thing I noticed as she got closer to the finish line, was how her breathing changed.

My father and I were immediately alert to the fact that her end in form was near, as her breathing became more shallow with longer intervals between breaths. We huddled near, holding her and watched, grieving, as she gradually stopped breathing and gracefully slipped toward glory. For me, it was the most profound experience of my life to witness her transition.

Breath …

“Then ADONAI, God, formed a person (adam) from the dust of the ground (adamah) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

… “the breath of life.”

If life ends when one stops breathing, then life must begin with breath. Neonates delivered at 36-38 weeks after confirmed fetal lung maturity are at higher risk of adverse outcomes than those delivered at 39-40 weeks.”

Just in case someone gets caught up on the word ‘person’ … “A well-known Hebrew name, Adam means ‘son of the red Earth.’ Its meaning comes from the Hebrew word “adamah” meaning “earth,” from which Adam is said to be formed. The name also refers to the reddish color associated with human skin.” All the elements are in place … hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen—the potential for life exists. Yet the formation of all those elements is not a “living being” until the lungs gasp their first breath.

I am not sure why this is unclear to some Christians …

… which makes me wonder. Are their objections to abortions really about when life begins or whether a fetus is a person with rights, or whether human rights begin as a beating heart? Is the issue for them really about babies?

I raised three sons. On more than one occasion, we talked about birth control, relationships, and the responsibilities that accompany engaging in sexual activity.

I wanted them to know that sexual activity and pregnancy were matters that were not to be taken lightly. I told them point blank that birth control was NOT the woman’s total responsibility—that they were responsible too. This included getting a vasectomy when their family was complete, should they decide to have children, so their partner did not have to continue taking birth control pills due to all the possible side effects.

They also knew if they did get a woman pregnant, that I would be there to help and offer support in any way I could if they needed me.

Some reading this may think I went too far. Maybe, maybe not. I never wanted any women to find themselves in a position to have to decide to have an abortion or not … because it is NOT a simple decision!

What IS simple is forcing people to do something without a thought or care to their physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. The “just do it” mentality allows the enforcers to metaphorically wash their hands of the whole business.

“What do gays believe?”

This seems to be the question du jour within circles surrounding the contentious split in the United Methodist Church. “After decades of rancorous debate over the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists, a special session of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference and three postponements of a vote to formally split the denomination, the schism finally came …” and the conservative Global Methodist Church is born.

However much there is conscious choice and desire, I suspect gays believe God loves them, that God cares about them and that God is active in and through their lives just as God is active in and through everyone and everything.

I love that the rainbow flag is the symbol for the LGBTQ+ community.

Is the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet—spectrum of light really as straightforward as it looks? Or are they infinite hues and variations from one color to the next? Of course there are, so why would it be so difficult to believe that gender and sexuality are also a broad, multi-diverse spectrum?

Yes, I know what the Bible says “… he created them male and female; he blessed them and called them Adam [humankind, man] on the day they were created.” Genesis 5:2  Notice the use of the “them” pronoun referring to “humankind.” Do you really think the “them” is referring to just Adam and Eve … standing there … naked?

Suppose male and female represent the polarities of the human spectrum just as red and violet represent similar for the rainbow. Allegorically speaking, this seems like a more logical approach rather than a literal rendering and understanding of the book of Genesis.

Consider the variety, range, span, scope of all the animals and creatures that are and have ever walked the earth. Our feeble minds cannot comprehend the length and breadth of God’s creativity and diversity. So why would God confine human beings to simply heterosexual male or female? Just so we can be fruitful and multiply? Could ‘be fruitful and multiply’ mean something beyond simply having babies?

Now is about the time in this writing that some folks would quote the Bible verses that they believe condemn homosexuality. Don’t bother. I have read them.

Isn’t there the slightest chance those verses are referring to something else? What could be more sexually offensive, deviant, perverted than pedophilia? I am not judging nor justifying in any way this complicated behavior.

All of this to say that I think peoples’ objections to the LGBTQ+ community have more to say about what is lacking in their own hearts and minds rather than the hearts and minds of gay folks.

You know what I think is really bothering the indoctrinated, judgmental Christians?

Freedom …

… freedom is really what is at stake here …

… women’s freedom of autonomy over their own bodies, freedom for diverse genders and sexualities to marry whom they choose … freedom to marry inter-racially … among other freedoms.

Those who want to maintain control cannot stand freedom.

When I was a teenager, the 1971 musical, “Godspell,” by John Michael Tebelak, was popular. The youth group that I attended actually performed it several times one summer. Suffice it to say, I listened to the album over and over and over again. To this day, I know the lyrics of all the songs by heart.

As I think about Trump, DeSantis, Abbott, Graham, Tucker, Locke (Greg), McConnell, Greene, Cordileone, Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Cavanaugh, Barrett, et. al., I picture Jesus singing to them “Alas For You,” particularly this second verse:

Alas, alas, for you
Lawyers and pharisees
Hypocrites that you are
Sure that the kingdom of Heaven awaits you
You will not venture half so far
Other men that might enter the gates you
Keep from passing through!
Drag them down with you!
You snakes, you viper’s brood
You cannot escape being Devil’s food!
I send you prophets, and I send you preachers
Sages in rages and ages of teachers
Nothing can mar your mood

Because their hearts are so hardened and controlling, theocratic Christians have reduced Christianity to an artificial set of polarized beliefs in duality–dos and don’ts—aimed simply at getting into their imagined afterlife. This is not freedom. This is superficial hogwash and completely denies the God-given free will of Grace.

“ADONAI, God, gave the person this order: ‘You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.’” Genesis 2:16-17

Is this passage really about ‘original sin?’ Or could it be that this is the death of our awareness that we are direct descendants of the Creator? There was a choice to be made. Eat the fruit of polarized duality and separation and buy into the Big Lie, or not eat the fruit and lose the opportunity for Love to be conscious of itself in and through each and every aspect of Creation.

Without being forced, we get to choose to know and be Love in relationship with Love.

Between 1892 and 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance went through two different rewrites and additions. In 1954, President Eisenhower “in response to the Communist threat of the times” urged Congress to add the words “under God.” Personally, I think that was a huge mistake.

One phrase, however, was never altered in all three versions …

… that phrase is “… with liberty and justice for all.”

Synonyms for liberty include freedom, independence, autonomy, self-determination among others.

Seems rather hypocritical to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while removing Americans’ freedoms. Do the words ‘under God’ justify the hypocricy?

There is nothing set in stone with this writing, I understand anyone’s disagreement with what I have written.

These wonderings of a 63-year-old, white, heterosexual, cis-gender female who has doubts about her faith, is disappointed for and worried about all women—whether cis, trans, queer or straight of all ethnicities–and is disillusioned about the direction in which her nation is going are my way of working through my feelings.

Thank you for walking with me.