Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Sacred is Found in the Ordinary

The Sacred is Found in the Ordinary
Written for the Tar Heel Tavern [Edition 85]
The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary,
that it is to be found in one's daily life,
in one's neighbors, friends, and family,
in one's backyard.

- Abraham Maslow

The greatest example of courage, faith, and love in my life was set by my mother. The unconditional love she gave to all her friends, neighbors, and family came back to her and to my family in her last days. Because of the example of her great and unconditional faith and love, I have been emptied of cynicism and firmly believe that I have been able to become a more capable vessel for the sharing of that unconditional faith and love for my own friends, family, and community.

A year ago today, Mother was fighting a cancer from which she would never recover.

Through the darkness of those days, neighbors came to call on her and on the family. They brought small gifts - a homemade bread, some lovely fresh flowers, a card with a message of love drawn in crayon from a child's hands.

Family came to help with household chores and to sit by Mother's bedside. They read her books. They talked about old times.

Father and brother pulled out their musical instruments and sat by her bedside playing and singing as if there wasn't a care in the world, even though their hearts were breaking.

The parish priest Father Michael and the Hospice spiritual advisor Dave came to hold our hands and remind us that faith is the little bird that feels the dawn breaking, yet goes on singing while it is still dark.

Then there were the ones who came from years out of my past just to hold my hand at Mother's funeral. Their simple gesture was enough to fill the empty pages of the lengthy time we'd spent apart.

There were beautiful cards filled with caring and sympathy.

Looking back, my last days with Mother are not remembered as an unscalable mountain. Instead they were a revelation of God from and within those who joyfully participated in the cycle of her unconditional love. They all helped me to rise - to find my way around the stumbling block of darkness and doubt.

Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with
grateful hearts and no one to thank.

- Christine Rosetti

Meister Eckhart believed that if the only prayer you ever say in life is "Thank you," it is enough. My thanksgiving goes out in prayer for all of my blessings. Life can deal you any blow. You can be forced reap the bitter harvest from unimaginable sorrow and witness it being spun into hope and light by those who love you. What a joy to understand that the commonplace is the sacred. The consciousness that designed and created existence is also the intelligence that is programed into the core of every atom. We are interdependent walking miracles.

In my own life, the mysteriously endless cycle of love and the awakening example of truth that everyone is a divine instrument of God was created by my mother. In a particularly memorable act of empathy and kindness on the day Mother passed away, a Muslim friend told me that his faith taught him that there is no stronger love on this earth than the love of a precious mother. Her love for you is the closest thing to God while you live here on the earth. But the love of God is even 70 times stronger. Imagine that.

E.J. Dionne Hurls Boulder Through GOP "Family Values" Facade

E.J. Dionne Hurls Boulder Through GOP "Family Values" Facade

In today's WaPo, E.J. Dionne blows the lid off the phony "family values" vibe the GOP tries to embrace. He asks the question that sends a bullshit-detection boulder through their "family values" facade:
"When confronted with an issue, do politicians focus on narrow political imperatives or do they care most about the well-being of children and families? The politicians should have asked that question in Foley's case, and they should ask it about a lot of other issues, too."

Don't miss this R-rated hymn straight out of the GOP Family Values Hymnal at American Street.

It's so juicy..

..that it might even raise this dude's eyebrows!

Jonathan Alter on Barack Obama

Jonathan Alter on Barack Obama

Barack Obama was not a member of the U.S. Senate when he opposed the war in Iraq. Both John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were in the Senate, and if there's one thing we all should understand, it's that it's a whole lot easier to say "No" when you are not directly responsible as an elected representative for the security of hundreds of thousands of constituents and when you're a representative from a state with key military bases.

If we value inexperience over our leaders actually having been there/done that, then I suppose Jonathan Alter is 100% correct that Democratic primary voters will find Obama to be "perfectly positioned" for 2008. However, that's not at all what I witnessed in 2004 when Democratic primary voters flocked to John Kerry, who had voted for the Iraq War resolution. To the primary voters, Kerry had had a decided air of gravitas that comes only from life (and war) experience. The voters didn't use Senator Kerry's vote for the IWR against him then. Armed with plenty of real knowledge and 20/20 hindsight about the Bush administration's failures, misleadings and outright untruths, I cannot believe that Democratic voters will punish those who voted Yes to the IWR in 2008 because they will understand that it was not the Democrats who commanded this disastrous war. Many of the same Democrats who gave good faith and trust to the POTUS in 2002 are now being labeled as cowards and traitors in stump speeches by the President.

I trust that Democratic primary voters will understand that both Edwards and Clinton have been no less than repulsed by the gross inefficiency of Donald Rumsfeld, who offered many times to step down but was begged to stay by an incredibly incurious President who clearly never understood how to lead a war or the dangers of rushing your nation into an unjust and unwinnable type of warfare.

The truth is that it wasn't at all easy to vote "yes" OR "No" in October, 2002 to give the POTUS the authority to press the UN on Resolution 1551. A year had barely passed since the worst attack on American civilians in U.S. history. The cherry-picked intelligence being shouted from the Bush bully pulpit proved out to be a horrifically negligent, if not intentional misleading, but no one knew it or could prove it then. With weakness and inefficiency from CIA head George Tenet and the false stories from journalists like Judith Miller along with the rest of the pliant Oval-office stenopad-MSM, our leaders were put between a rock and a terrible place.

Collectively, we all learn from mistakes of our past. The question should be: What has Senator Edwards learned? What has Senator Clinton learned?

We'll never know what Barack Obama would have done had he been called on the floor of the Senate to look every American in the eye on the CSPAN camera and risk American lives (and his own reputation) just because he had a hunch that Bush was a dishonest broker. He never had to be there. I imagine he's glad of it because he won't have to answer for it one way or the other.

What the Democrats did in 2002 was not easy for them. Their floor statements will tell you that they were torn. Regime change in Iraq was the policy of America when President Clinton left office and it was still the policy at the time of the IWR. Would President Clinton have impulsively and inefficiently done what Bush did? I doubt it, but he wasn't POTUS at the time. He didn't have to make that decision, and I imagine he's glad of it because he won't have to answer for it one way or the other.

I know Barack Obama has a brilliant future ahead of him. I admire him. He's a fantastic orator and he shows a firm commitment to American progress. When it comes to voting for the Iraq War resolution, he could only second guess Senators like Edwards and Clinton. Even he, I'd imagine, would have the grace to understand that they were in a far different place than those outside the halls of federal leadership in those dark days.