Apr 19, 2007

Asheville, NC

Of all the places on the earth I have been, of all the places I have imagined visiting or living, the mountains of western NC, specifically Asheville, must be "IT". NOTE: Unsolicited Truth post. I am heading there next week with family. Interestingly enough no one out of 5 people invited previously could go. I was actually begining to look forward to a solitary road trip, full of relaxation, and zero schedules/agendas. But something said invite your family...so I did, and they're going!!! Its great. It was meant to be. I can hardly wait to get up early in the morning, get some breakfast at the local Waffle House take my time reading the newspaper and hit the road. I get to show my dad and stepmom my perception of heaven on earth. I get to take them to the places not many others may know of and show them how I would like to live. We get to go hear Loreena McKennitt play at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and just relax.

It'll be fun, inspiring, refreshing and renewing. I need it. Asheville is an artsy, ecclectic mountain city, surrounded by the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are coffee shops, thrift stores, restaurants pubs, numerous galleries with local crafts, art and music. Biltmore Estate is located here and I have been many times over the past few years.

There are many "spiritual" people in Asheville and a large number of different spiritual disciplines or religions are represented. There are hippies and energy healers, poets and playwrights. Its full of creativity and intriguing individuals.

Its believed by many that people are drawn here because Asheville is located on or very near a ley line, a portal if you will or vortex of unseen dimensions. I am not sure about this, but I can say from personal experience it has always felt like the place I belonged...it feels like home.

I can hardly wait to wake up to the smell of early morning dew, hear the sound of a rushing stream and feel the cool crisp mountain air.

Plan your next vacation in Asheville www.asheville.com its well worth the trip!

Communication

Whewww, it was a 14 hour day not counting the 2 hr commute (rounded up -45 minutes each way). But somehow I managed to do it again... "Think"... I was thinking about old friends, some I still communicate with, others I don't for no particular reason, about my late mother who passed away in 1998, about the relationships we have with co-workers, family, strangers, this blog. It's all about communication isn't it? Thats what really matters when it comes down to it. I mean consider how significant a death of someone you love would be if you knew all your life that when they died, you would still be able to communicate with them every day, or at least once a week. Communication is the essence of any relationship,communication is the link to a connection.. whether its through conversation, touch, even through vision or gestures. Once a week or so, I pass by the same car/person on a back road and each time we see each other we wave. Maybe once or twice a month I see a few people but we never speak, just smile. All communication, all a connection even for a moment. It makes me think of our relationships with ourselves, the constant dialogue that is played out in our brains, silently.

What happens when the communication stops? Its the equivalent of death to me. The vehicle in which we used to share ideas, hopes, dreams, fears, frustrations it all goes away. It ceases to exist and the person that the connection was linked with.

It makes me further think of God. Am I communicating with God? Is there a connection? Has there ever been? Yes.. I think so, but what about everyone else. Hmm, I wonder how it makes God feel when He/She doesn't hear from us? Doesn't communicate with us. Is God bitter because we didn't return his/her call, or passively acknowledge him/her on the street? Do we communicate with God only when we need something or when we're feeling down, and lonely?

Communication is the evidence of relationship. Granted that relationship may last only for a few minutes, like opening the door for a stranger. Or giving a hug to an old friend, and moving on. These relationships exist only when we're communicating. The inbetween time, is just a time of expectation and hope. Hope that the relationship will be validated again and again with a call, visit or just hanging out together. Or maybe not. Maybe the communication consisted of goodbye, or so long, and the relationship ends.

Who are you going to communicate with tomorrow? How, what and why? Think about it.. you have the power to build relationships with Hello and the power to end them with silence or goodbye.

Apr 16, 2007

Peanuts and Scripture

For a few years now I have questioned many of the fundamental things I have been taught to believe. Notice "taught" to believe. There is a contradiction in itself. How do we truly believe if we are taught. Shouldn't belief come from our own conclusions and thus warrant questioning, research, perception - shouldn't it be a way of life, rather than life lived a certain way?

To stay on focus, the topic is scripture and while my belief that our traditional bible as we see it today is fundamentally the truth, I do feel strongly that it has been tampered with. So on my way home today, as usual commutes would have it, I thought. I have always said that there is "truth" and there are "greater truths". Somehow I see that in the bible we have today. I also have said to myself more than to others that the truth that God purposed for us to live by is fundamentally intact. It is no mystery or secret these days that someone else decided what books were included in today's bible and what books were removed. It is also no secret that the books that were chosen have been translated and rewritten to fit a more modern society, some even using slang words not found in the earlier writings. Suffice it to say, the bible of today is much different than the original.

The analogy I often use is that of describing a car. If I was speaking of a vehicle - you could be thinking of several things - most would think of a car, but maybe I am speaking of a truck or SUV, perhaps its a hybrid, and its blue with leather interior. It's equipped with blue tooth technology and has a sunroof. If I only spoke of a vehicle with no further details it leaves much room for interpretation and therefore much more room or margin for error. However the fundamental truth remains that I am speaking of a vehicle. Surely you see the difference details make.

At first thought, this doesn't seem to be a big issue. Most would write it off and say well its all intact, its all there - in the scripture. I must agree - this is the direction many of us take and for a long time so have I. But today.....today I thought of another analogy that does make a difference. Perhaps even the difference between life and death, ultimately.

If you were visitng and being a good host I offered you something to quench your thirst, some water or soda and along with that some finger food such as pretzels and nuts - but didn't tell you what kind of nuts, would it make a difference? Perhaps you're blind and can't see for yourself....but you are deathly allergic to peanuts (like many are). As a precaution you even ask, if they are nuts that are ok for you to eat - of course I say yes, because I assume all nuts are the same the difference doesn't make a difference. But it does. Because of my assumption and because of your trust in me, not meaning any harm, you are very possibly a very few minutes away from death.

If you are seeking Truth, and every dimension of it, great or small, you know what I am saying and you "get it" - if you aren't then maby this analogy will stir your consciousness awake and you'll start asking questions.

Don't go through life settling for peanuts without asking questions and demanding more for yourself. It could be the difference between life and death. It could be difference between having life and having it more abundantly.

Apr 6, 2007

Unsolicited Truth

Here is some unsolicited information… the truth.
(Letter to a friend)

The truth is, I want to move to the mountains, because I am looking forward to one hopeful day when I can just get up and go out on the deck with a cup of hot tea (or not) and look out over the mountains early in the morning and watch the sun lift the fog from the nooks and crannies, the valleys, the ups and downs of the terrain. The greater truth of that is, I want to move to the mountains because it’s the one place on earth I feel the closest to God – and the closest to God, means the closest I can get to Heaven in this world. And still an even greater truth, is that I can hardly wait to get to Heaven, I anticipate it, dream about it, search for it, long and ache for it in my heart, at the very deepest part of my soul its where I always want to be. So on one hand, some could perceive that as my desire to die, others would perceive that as something else. But from this vantage point, it seems a bit morbid and so I don’t speak about it to those who really can’t understand it. The “experience” I had many years ago, did expand my awareness, opened my eyes and my mind to something much greater than anything this life or this earth could ever afford us. So I have some knowledge perhaps, that many don’t or that many choose to ignore. On one hand it’s a blessing, a tremendous blessing and on the other, it’s a curse. The blessing, well it speaks for itself, but the curse…. Imagine knowing that there was a cure for all the diseases on the earth, but as a healthcare provider, you are bound by your education and your profession – to do what you were trained and taught to do, treating for the most part signs and symptoms. Wanting to share what you knew but couldn’t. It’s the same for me only a little different. There isn’t some secret knowledge, some formula or prescription that would make the world aware – its almost like being placed on foreign soil, where you don’t speak the same language. You are void of any method of communication to instantly bring such a great revelation to others. And even if you were able, not many would believe. So you find yourself caught between worlds, aching for others to see and hear what you do, but realizing they can’t, unless they seek it for themselves… the truth.

The peace, comes from the knowledge (not an idea or even a belief) but the knowledge of something greater. Its not a what if, maybe, could be, or might be – It simply is. Others can have the same peace, through their beliefs. But many refuse to believe. Instead they live their lives caught up in a trap… and realize like you have many times, that day in and day out, it’s the same. We get up go to work, only to do it again the next day. The reward is the paycheck, the things we accumulate, the money in the bank, the places we get to go and the security of a future that is limited to this world. But we have forgotten or perhaps never knew, that we are immortal and this life is just one small part of the journey and many are hard pressed to make any kind of investment in what comes after. I live in that same trap, knowing some day I will be free, but in the meantime I have to go through the paces just as everyone else, but try my best to balance out becoming tied to this world with all it’s trappings, and holding on to that something that is greater. A constant battle is being waged within me – and I get angry with myself to think – I have built up treasures on earth – and with those treasures my soul becomes intertwined with something that has no value. Wood and vinyl, bricks and mortar – in a pile it appears as rubbish, but carefully placed and pieced together it becomes a home – or just a house. A place I choose to dwell in, a place for this body to rest.
I at times hate the thoughts that stream through my mind, the distractions of preparation for something that means nothing in comparison to “something greater”. And who am I, who am I to subject myself to such slavery to earn that reward of a paycheck to be such a prideful creature as to squander it away on fancy decorations, manicured lawns, such vanity and haughtiness. Who am I to do these things, when a week’s worth or even a day’s worth of income could save the life of another human being who doesn’t have the means to pay for life giving food, or water? Who are we to hoard our riches while another suffers? It’s what we were taught to do, its what we feel provides security, it’s the American Dream. And yet, I do nothing – I subscribe to the dream just like all others, all the while imprisoning myself to a day in and day out habitual life we all seem to live.

At times, I am so sad, my heart is so heavy, that I feel like I am dieing. Knowing I belong somewhere else, but finding myself here. Knowing I am addicted to this life, to this way of living, an addiction no twelve step program can resolve. A sickness of society that no intervention will cure, and I am part of it.

But “something greater” gives me refuge. Because I seek, because I don’t settle and because my soul demands it. On the outside I suppose I appear like any other. On the inside – I am growing, learning, moving toward something else. My actions, words, thoughts and deeds are challenged to catch up with what is taking place on the inside.

The truth is, I know (beyond belief) that this world is not my home, and home is where the heart is right? Imagine knowing you belong somewhere else, and the only way you can think of to get there is to die. On the surface that seems pretty terrible but in reality it’s a truth we will all face. Or do we? How sad and finite is the mind that only knows of this life and seeks nothing more. And death is only a transformation, not an end. I know what it means in the scripture when it speaks about if a man loves his life, he will lose it, and one that hates his life will obtain life everlasting. Most days I hate my life, because I know another. Perhaps it’s the same thought the monarch might have while it’s existence is spent crawling and becoming fat with food.

My dreams are like journeys, a vacation from all that has taken place during the day. Answers to questions we don’t think to ask. They are rest for a weary soul, and refuge from a war that many don’t even realize is being waged.

How does one share with the world, the knowledge of something greater? How do you right all the wrongs, and prevent them from happening again, while trying to keep your own nose clean? It’s impossible or is it? How do you see a sick child, or someone in terrible pain, and heal them, give them peace? How do you deal with dreams of heaven, only to awake to what seems like hell, over and over and over again? How do you convey something you don’t have the words to describe or the language to speak? Most days I give up, and step back on to that assembly line of what we call life and go through the motions. I do what’s expected to fit in, I subscribe to the same crap as the rest of the world and become part of the problem. But the older I get the less I can do this. The frustration grows, the anticipation, the restlessness. But I don’t get to caught up in daily issues, and problems, and try more and more to remove myself from them. They are distractions and distractions delay and delays only keep me from where I am going – and where I am going, right now, is to that place on the side of the mountain. Where I am going is where my heart is, where I am going is home – because I have been there before and no other place can satisfy my soul.

So the truth is… we’re human with superhuman potential. The truth is we are spiritual beings having a human experience. And if we’d just take time out to step off that conveyor belt of life and actually live even only for a few moments out of each day, our eyes and hearts would begin to open up to another reality… one that makes the chaos of our busy lives seem quite small and irrelevant to eternity.

I’m disgusted by the fliers I receive in the mail that speak about what XYZ Church offers, stating that what you will find there is: “ a live band, practical and creative messages, a safe place to ask questions and a friendly casual atmosphere” while at the same time telling you that they can tell you what God’s plan for your life is. But yet they failed to mention where you could find God. Perhaps you might run into God in between socializing with the friendly crowd, someone may mention He is the drummer in the band, or maybe He’s the one teaching the junior class this morning… who the heck knows because I have no indication He is there, only that He has conveyed to someone else, what His plan for my life is. Are we to stupid to hear from Him ourselves, or is that we are to distracted, perhaps we aren’t as worthy as someone else… All the while, the flier is promoting the word “Success” and what it conveys… one big sign on the front and another on the back… and to this world, to this society, what is Success? I’ll tell you, its money and lots of it, it’s a good job, a happy marriage, it’s being accepted and promoted in man’s system, it’s a higher education. They even go as far to say: “Some of us need to win something or make a lot of money to feel successful while others feel like they have won if they can just make it through the day. But living a successful life isn’t about where you start as much as how you finish”.. What could be farther from the truth??? In a nutshell,the message seems to convey that it doesn’t matter how you live your life as long as you are successful (whatever that means) and how you finish. And when referencing God’s plan, to be successful they touch on your life, your home, your marriage, your occupation, your finances… it all seems a bit confusing to me, they all point to different types of relationships –with yourself, your home life, your wife/husband, your relationship with money – but what about the relationship with God? Oh I forgot… He wasn’t one of things listed on what you’d find there. I get angry, and frustrated, but at the same time I forgive myself for the same and those around me who may not know any better. We each approach life, God, living and everything in between the way we feel is the best (at least that is my hope) no way is the wrong way, but some work better than others. But for God’s sake and moreso our own, can we not think for ourselves? Can we not forge our own relationship with God, or has he become another fast food item we pick up on Sundays while we are being entertained? It’s disgusting.

You know, most adopted children if they know they were adopted, or eventually find out….never feel complete if they can’t know about or actually meet their biological parents. In fact many spend their lives wondering, thinking, and hoping they would meet them some day. Many take action to do just that. Why don’t we do the same? If God created us, sustains us and gives us life, why don’t we truly seek HIM? I will tell you why, we are distracted. Distracted because we give life to the things that delay us, distracted by the hope or promise of something else, or someone else. Thinking that’s what we need or want, when the truth is, what we need and want is love. And an even greater truth, is that God is love, why not just seek Him? We hear about him, we even have strangers telling us they know what His plan for OUR life is. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to seek those answers ourselves? The point here is… how many close, intimate relationships do you have with someone that are totally controlled, managed, maintained by someone else? The answer to that question is a big fat ZERO. Good intentions don’t outweigh truth any day. So you see, I get angry, frustrated, I can be labeled a hypocrite, a sinner, a saint, a fool, a lunatic – I can be just as vile and evil as the next person, I can be less than “Christian like” I can be all those things and then some… I can be viewed as an outcast, or I can subscribe to the same regimen as everyone else, but I choose not to, I stand out because I am different because I am doing something different – I think for myself, make my own mistakes and make my own decisions most days. I seek truth, I ache for it and if it means getting dirty in the process, then so be it. I’d rather get to where I am going battered and bruised, filthy and funky than not at all. So maybe it is important how you finish and not so much how you get there?

I am torn constantly, ripped apart many days, caught between what the world says is right and what I think is right, what is wrong and what I think is wrong. My soul says one thing while my mind says another – it’s a toss up sometimes what my actions stem from, what words I speak. But I tell you, the truth is, this world is not our home, we are in it, but not of it. I know that I know that I know there is a greater hope, there exists another world where it doesn’t matter what you look like, how educated you are, or how much money you have in the bank…it doesn’t even matter if you are male or female, the color of your skin, the language you speak.

I can’t give you peace, or hope, or security. I can’t give you Heaven or God. The only thing I can do is share with you what I have been given, and invite you to jump off that conveyor belt from time to time to really live. Maybe together we’ll find what it is we seek no matter the path we each decide to take.