Love as a way of being. Is it naive to suggest that love in action could be the answer to the world’s problems? It is so easy to over simplify things.
Never believe someone who says, “this product is the answer to all your pains”.
That said, how often is the way of love actually practiced?

The reference here is not to sentimentality or shallow emotionalism. The love that can make the world go round, is a conscious act of the will. It is driven by a genuine interest in the good in the other, the good in the community and in the world. It wants the best outcome for all.

Pure, unconditional love may be a bit of a stretch for us humans but with practice we can begin to look beyond ourselves. We can overcome selfishness and seek the greater good. It is not easy for it does not come naturally.
Let’s believe its possible & imagine a world running on love instead of hate.

Maybe the thin edge of the wedge is learning to love our next of kin, especially those who pitch up unannounced and abuse our generosity. There are many others. The child who resists structure of any kind, the parent whose expectations are unrealistic, the spouse who won’t allow for his/her partner’s idiosyncracies.

When irritation, impatience or assumption threatens to bring down the curtain of hatred, maybe a pause is needed. A pause long enough to provide space for reflecting on the appropriate response to the perceived misdemeanor. A teaspoon of understanding together with a tablespoon of respect may dilute the conflict and promote the growth of love.

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Looking carefully out of the soaking wet trench
Caught sight of a man all in white
Was I overcome by the dead awful stench
Or simply carried away by the unusual sight

Was nearing the end of the war
And hoping soon to be sent back home
Could this be a warning I must not ignore
Or a caution not too far from the lines to roam

All at once there was a blinding flash
My mate blown to pieces before my face
Me stunned but sporting not even a gash
Why him and not me, is that grace?

Remembering the end of the Great War 1914 – 1918

The driver in the following car was clearly frustrated, she gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles and her eyes were focused on the back of my vehicle.
Lady, please enjoy the ride! Feel the slick controls of your car, enjoy the view, note the passing scene, be grateful that you have your own transport.

The diner at the opposite table was wolfing down his food like there was no tomorrow. He dealt with the waiter in an aggressive manner and banged his glass down on the table.
Sir, please enjoy your meal! Cut the steak into small, manageable pieces. Chew slowly and savour the different flavours the chef has produced. Be grateful for the fact that you can afford such lovely food.

The student hurried past, attention fixed on a slim new ‘phone! There was no awareness of the autumn leaves, the dew covered grass or the homeless person lying on the park bench.
Young person, please enjoy being alive! Switch off your ‘phone, breathe deeply, walk a little slower, take in the sights and sounds around you.

A sparrow chirps from the roof of a shopping centre…
A dog barks in the neighbour’s garden…
A rose bush has started budding…
A store assistant smiles at me and bids me have a good day…
A fresh cup of coffee steams on the table in front of me…
Isn’t life great when we become aware of the small things!

I went unwillingly to the breakfast feast
The hour was early and my steed was a wily beast
The black knight stood at head of table
And challenged all there who were able

His beard was as of coal and his eyes were of an uncertain hue
The two-edged sword was ready to run anyone who crossed him through
I bowed and slid up to my precarious perch
And waited for the thud of birch

He ruled his men with ruthlessness and scorn
The moon turned black the day he was born
Finally he sat and called for wine
And I silently cursed the swine

On the left of the city street stands a modest house behind a chain mesh fence.
It could do with a little attention. There is no garden to speak of and the grass peeps through the rough ground in small clumps.

A shirtless boy of nine or ten tears around the yard kicking a pink balloon. Perhaps he is preparing to be a great footballer? He is completely engrossed and quite oblivious to the boy on the other side of the street.

On the right side of the street a large, double storied building dominates its surroundings. A grove of tall, leafy trees populates a well maintained English garden.

A boy of nine or ten heads out of the driveway dressed in substantial and colourful protective cycling gear. His father rides alongside him, equally attired. The boy looks up at his Dad with pride. He is unaware of the boy on the other side of the street…

Contrast!

A different interpretation to “being in the zone”; deeply identifying with a historic event. This dates me but I find myself living right into certain wartime experiences (WWII).

Night falls in the Western desert of North Africa. Rommel’s troops are rampant.
The Allied forces are taking a severe battering. The young infantryman digs a shallow “grave” just big enough to try to sleep in. He crawls in and pulls a sheet of corrugated iron roofing material over the opening.

He dreams of home and sweetheart. He feels claustrophobic. He shivers as the temperature drops sharply in the early hours. All is quiet. Then in the distance, an unwelcome sound. German dive bombers approaching. He holds his breath as the air begins to vibrate with the sound of throbbing engines.

The colour drains from his face and his stomach churns as the engines pitch changes and is accompanied by a blood curdling whistle! The planes are diving vertically at the troop positions. A few seconds of silence are followed by deafening explosions in every direction.

The murderous squadron turns and heads for base. Men scream in pain, officers bark orders, smoke and flames are everywhere. He pushes back the flimsy covering and climbs shakily out of the hole. Medics run to and fro with loaded stretchers. Here and there men are quietly shoveling sand over their stricken comrades.

My throat is dry, my eye is wet, my hand trembles slightly…I slowly close the book.

Don’t let your dead friends go; remember them, honour them, respect them, be thankful for their love. Grief is a process but the culmination does not have to be a denial of someone’s existence. Recovery does not have to entail a trashing of someone’s life. “Moving on” does not have to be a brutal thing.

Sometimes I move on too quickly…maybe because the pain is too great…I don’t know but I suddenly realise that “he’s gone!” How did I let that happen?
Why do I no longer pause to think of him; recollect his manner, smile, turn of phrase, humour?

The hours we spent together were so real, so special and now so unrepeatable.
Oh, where have you gone to my friends, to a lonely hole in the ground? I will not allow you die in my memory, weak that it so often is! I will regularly call you to mind and walk, and talk, and eat, and drink with you again.

When the stress is just too much…breathe
When you feel you really need a crutch…breathe

When the frustration fills your head…breathe
When you feel you need to stay in bed…breathe

When the irritation drives you mad…breathe
When you feel you will never find the peace you had…breathe

When the anger tightens your chest…breathe
When you feel you have already done your best…breathe

In the full knowledge that I am not saying anything new, it distresses me that the church has kept the historical Jesus firmly under wraps while promoting the biblical Jesus as if it is the only and primary version of the story of Jesus’ life.

One of the first things that most theology students learn is that the bible is not inerrant, that it is a fully human library of books that can be read or interpreted in several different ways. A literal interpretation is usually avoided.

Later in their studies students may be taught that some doctrines are essential to the Christian faith and others not. The virgin birth and the physical ascension are the first doctrines that do not stand up to critical analysis.

As long ago as the Enlightenment, German biblical scholars pointed out the differences between the historical Jesus and the Jesus of the gospels. Much more recently, the Jesus Seminar emphasized the same hypothesis. The gospel writers aim was to present Jesus as divine, a God/man, the only son of God.

They were writing a long time after the life of Jesus, using oral records and seeing the life of Jesus through apologetic lenses. They were not trying to mislead people but they were unashamedly apologetic and evangelical. They were promoting a new religion built around the Christ figure.

And it is this original model, I call it the party line, that has been plugged by the church from the very beginning. I don’t believe that the church would disappear if it decided to come clean and admit that it has been knowingly supporting a myth for hundreds of years.

There is a new movement afoot, it is generally referred to as the Emerging Church. It tries to be faithful to the historical Jesus. A human being, a son of God, a mystic, a Jewish rabbi, a movement initiator, a radical thinker whose life and teaching brought him into conflict with the religious and political authorities of his day. He chose a path that inevitably led to his execution.

Believing in Jesus as the only Son of God whose sacrificial death on our behalf guarantees eternal life to all believers has always been a bridge too far for some of us. Following the teachings of Jesus, who revealed an authentic and new way of living, is what the church should be encouraging. Jesus did not focus on the hereafter, he was fully grounded in this world.

Let the fundamentalists, conservatives and charismatics continue to enjoy the certainty of their faith but allow thinking church members to make up their own minds about Jesus. Allow them to skip the creeds and rather concentrate on trying to live in the Jesus way.

One of them at once grabbed a sponge. He soaked it in wine, then put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus.
Matthew 27:48

A man, a retired air force officer, lay dying in the hospital where he had been treated for multiple sclerosis. He had battled the condition bravely for many years. His two sons came to visit him hours before he slipped away.
He could not open his eyes but licked his lips when they offered him a taste of Guiness. They dipped a small sponge into a glass and squeezed a few drops into his mouth…
RIP Lt.Col. Jay