Love Cannot be Forced

Love Requires Free Choice

We believe that God created the world, and all of us,
in order that we can
love our neighbours as our selves, and especially our enemies,
and that we can love God with all our hearts, minds and souls.

Love
requires that the person who loves,
freely chooses to love.

Love cannot be forced from another, it must come freely from the person who loves.

And that also requires that we can choose to not love,
that we can choose to hate, to seek vengeance, that we can break ourselves and our relationships, even our relationship with God,

the consequences for which, since we all make this choice again and again,
are suffered by not only by the person who chooses not to love
but by all of us.

There is so much sinning and suffering, only God can make it right.

So he gave his son
(more on that another day)
to pay the final and complete price for our failed choices, our choices

not

to

love.

God not only pays the price, but stays with us, even as we suffer the consequences of our own and other’s sins.

God again and again re-creates in us the ability, willingness, and possibility
to choose to love.

And we choose to love, even those who make themselves our enemies.

Dance.

Dance and choose to love.

Dance and love and choose to give thanks.

Dance and love and give thanks and choose to hope.

Be hope-filled, thankful, loving and full of the dance,

so that you can know against all odds and evidence and experience to the contrary that

all will be well,
all will be well,
all manner of things will be well.

All Saint’s Sunday

All Saints Sunday

Jesus is deeply upset, even angry, when he learns that Lazarus has died.

Mary and Martha, and  many with them blame Jesus, if only he had been there to keep Lazarus from dying.

Jesus is upset again, he weeps.

Then Jesus makes it happen.

He has the people remove the stone in front of the grave.

Calling him to come to him Jesus brings Lazarus back to life.

Then Jesus tells the people to take the bindings off the hands and feet of Lazarus.

 

It takes people, doing as Jesus tells them.

It takes people to blame Jesus for the only end there is to life, death.

It takes people like Martha to protest the stench, before the miracle.

It takes people to free Lazarus from the bindings of death.

 

It takes Jesus, calling on the Father, to bring Lazarus back to life.

 

What is it that needs new life in your life, or is it your life itself that has died, even though you still breathe and your heart beats?

 

There is a long history of the church selecting people who have lived special lives and canonizing them, making them saints.

I grew up, studied and am ordained as a Lutheran, with the essence of my being to bring the visible grace of God into the experience of as many people as I encounter.

So I inherited and embrace a tradition that says all this special saints stuff is okay but misleading.

We don’t make ourselves special. Only God can.

We don’t usually see how it is that we or others are special, only the Holy Spirit can show us that.

And most importantly, God makes each and everyone of us into saints, even though we remain sinners, both at the same time.

Simultaneously saints and sinners,

is the phrase,

is the reality.

No perception is reality, or the other’s lies are made into reality.

We are all saints and sinners simultaneously.

So this is All Saints Sunday, it is our day, our day as we are by grace who we are not otherwise, children of God, and the people who reflect the light of Christ in the world.

 

Where did you shine to this day?

 

The snow hit this afternoon, as we made the last canoe ride across the lake against the wind that would become strong and filled with wet snow.

So we packed the canoe up, tucked it away, safe until Spring, and should have brought out the skis, because the snow is deep enough now for the first ski of the year.

 

Later we will walk on water again.

As the lake freezes and snow covers it we will ski on water frozen.

By grace, until the propane runs out. Then, who knows.

 

I suppose there will be those who will blame someone, maybe Jesus, that he was not here. But he is, by grace also suffering and celebrating life.

 

By grace, those who wish me dead and gone, will be disappointed for yet another year or twenty.

 

That’s life. That’s new life. That’s the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus has done it more than a few times.

 

Be alert. Jesus will do it in your lives, too.

Catch your breath now, for later, in the aftermath of new life, you may have little time to catch it. It’ll be filled by the Holy Spirit blowing fire and spirit through every fibre of your being.

 

All Saint’s Sunday.

Here’s to you, Spirit made saints, all.

Breathe.

We are all still sinners.  And one can expect sinners’ effects to roil into our lives.

Breathe.

Jesus is still raising us back to life, giving us new breath in spite of our expectations that we will no longer breathe.

Breathe.

It’s all gift.

Solipsism and Perception is Reality

Solipsism and Perception is Reality
Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders -> Chaos
OR Beauty

Solipsism is a way of defining how it is that reality can be known, and it limits that knowing to only the individual.
Everything else is at most something that the individual mind makes up or knows.
So interesting
So interestingly subjectively hopeless.

Defined per Wikipedia solipsism is “is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.”

I am not patience enough to list the foolhardy problems that arise from such a position. There is a mound of evidence to contraindicate taking such a position, if one thinks or feels at all. But then this idea is to deny all that one thinks exists or feels outside of one’s own mind.

Nonetheless this manner of approaching the world is very alive and active as is reflected in many people’s behaviour.

Take the two truck crews that showed up for a weekend of drinking hard ice tea, a fire and lots of smoking. One truck had a camper in the bed, the other brought in … well what passes for firewood if one thinks the world does not exist outside of one’s own mind:
This is after a few snowfalls covered the worst of it and the cans and garbage were already cleaned up.
Any intelligent being will recognize that these pallets are a number of pieces of wood (which burns) assembled using many nails (which do not burn, adaaah.)
And that partially burned pallet sits on the ashes of at least one and likely a number of other pallets.
No effort was made to clean up the nails after the fire went out …
Or the cigarette butts, packages, broken cigarettes, all the aluminum hard ice tea cans or other garbage left strewn around the previously well kept campsite.
The real stupidity is that there is a fire ring just a foot further to the right in the photo from where the pallets were burned. There at least the nails would be contained with others through the years left behind and only partially cleaned up, not for lack of trying by myself and others. But we just do not have a strong enough magnet to make the work plausibly possible.

Of course there are laws against not packing out all one’s garbage, but apparently only what is in these people’s minds exists, nothing else …
Including punctured tires, feet, and injured children … oh did you all get your tetanus shots lately?
Solipsism … a fool’s excuse for living with no respect for the land and other people … and even for one’s self.
Which leads to some pretty dark experiences in life:

There are other variations of this destructive take on life as if it was all about oneself. High Functioning Borderline Personality Disorder hfBPD sits right there at the top, along with Narcissistic Personality Disorder NPD.
We used to have such respect for the neighbours to the south’s leader, but everyone knows his proclivity to extreme and extremely destructive narcissism. Now it is more than a personality disorder, it’s nationalized and affecting world order/chaos.

The hfBPD is perhaps less well known, and partially therein lies the fact that it is much more disruptive to order, more chaos producing, chaos so severe that those close to the effectively ill person end up trying everything to mollify, contain and then escape the chaos, even going so far as killing themselves.

Spouses, friends, parents, children, no one is exempt who is close.

The destructive force is so severe because the hfBPD person learns very early on in the disease, usually with roots in childhood abuse or trauma, to write a ‘script’ for every situation in their lives. There is no room for self-failure or critique of self. Anyone in the script is absorbed into the person’s life without border or restraint … at first.

But then the craziness starts: control and abuse of every kind overwhelm life with vilification and projection of fault, relentless criticism, isolation, financial control, sexual control, gaslighting …

The hfBPD person uses everything and anything that will manipulate the other into fitting into their part in the script. Everyone in their script must adhere to their role or they are exiled. And exile is brutal: by manipulation to suicide, or ruination of reputation or even charges and convictions before the Courts for what one has not even possibly done.

But the hfBPD person is so adept and convincing and charming and adroit at creating scripts (it’s been a daily requirement since childhood) that the rewrite of one’s ‘history’ to bring ruination is believed by nearly everyone … and the Court’s love it. The false story is so simple, so easy to believe, so naively familiar … and the courts go to all sorts of contortions to convict without any solid evidence, transforming obvious truths to be judged lies, and blatantly obvious lies to be facts.

Truth is lost, as if everyone watching lemming-like agrees that ‘perception is reality’. That’s solipsism in its most recent and destructive form:
It’s true if we perceive it to be.

There are many pieces of life that must be ignored in order to embrace solipsism in any form, and that is true of embracing ‘perception is reality.’
Perception is wonderful. It can, under good circumstances, provide us hosts of information about reality.
But perception does not determine reality, and oh what a spiral out of control into dark chaos it brings when a person starts to behave as were that true and reliable. When one embraces that perception determines reality then all truth is lost in a meaningless competition to make up history from as many falsehoods as one can string together… all so that one comes out on top of the heap of chaos that one creates.

There is reality and we can experience it.

The pink west sky at sunrise is real, a pastel touch of beauty.
Yes, the sun rises in the east and yes, at this moment in the pre-sunrise suspense the western sky is lit up and the east is still dark. That’s just a matter of physics to understand the sunshine of the morning sun hits the western clouds before it shines below on us on the ground observing the sun’s progression, which is actually the earth’s progression in it’s rotation.

The gentleness of the red against the blues and greys on white of winter entice one to marvel.

Looking across the sky the colour paints a small piece of the morning.

It is when one submerses oneself in the place and the moment that one marvels that such beauty follows so dark a day just hours before.

 

And then after the sun rises bright white above the eastern trees the brilliance reflected off the snow is mesmerizing.
Waves of blown snow provide contour and depth perception to the otherwise too simple snow covered ice.

It is here that reality, not perception, touches one’s soul and inspires one to also recognize a corollary truth, similar in words but universes distant from solipsism in all it’s forms:
How we respond to reality, to all that happens to us, determines more of our lives than what happens to us.
Or to say it another way, if you cannot notice beauty, you cannot know it either.

Reality offers perception.

And if you choose to experience reality informed by faith, hope and love then you will know beauty,
And you will be one that contributes to the world by inspiring others to see the world, wrinkles, evil and all, in all the beauty that it can convey.

After all the sunrise, the pastel sky, the brilliant sun on waves of snow … all this or any other day’s experiences are all that more precious and beautiful
when one also does not deny the reality of willful lies and destruction, ugly chaos, and evil.
One can fight that part of reality, or one can choose to forgive it, in order that one can still notice, with faith, hope, and love all the beauty that the world has to offer.
And then one shares the ability to see beauty with others … or not.
Which will you choose to be today?

After the Storm Does Anyone See Us

After the Storm Does Anyone See Us?
It was not much of a storm
just snow and white and wet and cool and windy windy windy …
but
when it passed
the beauty is by comparison
even more wonderful

 

 

The trees shine

Red on green in winter.

 

 

 

And on the sun setting the fog catches and holds the red for all to see.

The trees hold the sun one last moment in light.

 

 

 

 

 

The tracks go off as always

To just another nowhere, anywhere, here-where.
Here, does the world know that we are here?
I know you have got people who know you are there, but
Do you even know we are here? Do you know where here is?

Do you know who we are?
Do you know who you are?

Isn’t that the joy … of being able to ask,
And not know but think it’s possible to consider an answer is possible
Eventually?
Like the storm that eventually passes,
and leaves a beauty
that is that more enjoyable.

Who are we?

Who are we?
Who are we if we have not learned with all those who have gone before us?
Our lives are not fully lived if we are not willing to die for those we love and for what we believe.
Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma AL.

Can we find our way home?

Who are we if we are not willing to die for our children?

Who are we if we are not willing to protest, non-violently, against injustice?

Who are we if we turn a blind eye to the injustice that separates those of one color or heritage from another?

Who are we if we ignore our sisters and brothers and those who identify with neither of those gender designations, as there is only one certainty, and that certainty is that justice will not be available equally to all?

Who are we if we ignore who ends up on the streets? Who cannot find work? Who fills the jails?

And who gets to travel? Who frets about what can be taken away from them? Who has nothing to fret about, except where food and shelter from the cold will come from this winter?

Can you see in the darkness?

Can you see beauty even when there is no future to see?

Who are we?

And who are you?

Who am I?

Can we see the water for the weeds? The ice for the snow?

Will we find the safe path through what is before us?

Are you, are we, am I able to love your/our/my enemy as your/our/my neighbor as your/our/myself?

If you/we/I are/am unable to love unconditionally, even the enemy, then who are/am you/we/I anyway?

As for me and my household, since I am only one, I will serve the Lord,
and if that means I will die, then I will die for those I love and what I believe.

There is little sunshine among the treacherous cold rough waters ahead.

But I believe justice needs to be equal for all.

I believe by grace alone we all still stand

as long as we can still stand.