Tag Archives: Reflection

8 miles

3 May

Not to run away
Not to chase a dream
Not because I’m late
Simply to feel alive

I get it!

14 Jan

Ok, I get it. I’ve inundated you with photographs mostly of simple things and every day  life. It has become cliché and you’re tired of seeing it.

Ok, you get it. There’s beauty all around us. It’s all about perspective and where we choose to focus our attention. We each have our own pill to swallow.

We all get it. Yet there’s still so much inhumanity, ugliness, and unhappiness in the world. And we still overlook the little things and the mystery in the moment.  I wonder, do we really get anything at all?

True beauty

30 Dec

The artist knows true beauty is not in the object,
but in the perspective.

The philosopher knows it is not in a changing perspective,
but in understanding.

The warrior knows it is not in a limited understanding,
but in sincere faith that there is more to true beauty than can be perceived.

A walk downstream at sunset

8 Dec

Special time with my daughter

30 Nov

A walk in the forest
Exploring nature together
Simple memories to last a lifetime
Shared wonder, love, and peace

Candid self portrait and a lesson in physics

23 Nov

Up and down are relative terms based on perspective.
Water only appears to flow to the lowest point to us.
As the moon moves the tide,
any stream, however turbulent, seeks itself and the gravitational center.

image

The universe speaks

22 Nov

Late November-ese
Rustling of leaves that have fallen
Dreams flow like water

A man said to the universe:
“Sir I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.” — Stephen Crane

There is something about fall after the colors have faded, that causes us to look back and face the relative insignificance of our own inescapable mortality. The pause can be quite unsettling. But then somehow, there amid the dry leaves blowing, we’re re-energized. We give thanks for having made it thus far, and look forward to better things to come.

Reflect on the mystery

5 Nov

image

As we gaze into the natural mirror of the soul,
we see that among the major and minor parts we think of as ourselves,
lie broken pieces from forgotten times and discarded debris left by others.
Only by considering the whole – complete with awkward parts,
can we embrace who we truly are and appreciate the beautiful mystery of life.

Accepting reality

24 Oct

You have more to give than you believe,
fewer needs than you imagine.
You know less than what you think,
and are more blessed than you know.

Finding peace in God

24 Oct

Care more to listen than to be heard,
More to see than to be seen,
More to love than to be loved,
More for who you are than what you’ve been

Two things

23 Oct

image

Two things to push the noise aside
And assure me of God’s love:
Quality time with my Lady
And a walk through the forest in Sunshine.

Conversation with the id

21 Oct

image

If you wish to walk
wholly in the Light
accept in peace
your relentless shadow
which will accompany
your every step
both left and right.

– Dennis Ference

If we shift the truth to illuminate our own self image, we will always be in a shadow.

– WOW

What I need:
– Something to struggle against
– Something to strive for
– Someone to love
– To know that I make a difference

We should have had this conversation a long time ago, my id and I. It might have saved us a lot of trouble. Or maybe not, considering where it comes from.

Skip the long personal treatise I just wrote and deleted…twice. Our fundamental needs are as inescable as our shadows and most evident in the brightest light. By knowing what they are, we can more effectively channel them in a positive direction.

Looking back, mine have driven everything I’ve ever done and every relationship I’ve ever had – good and bad – at home, at work, in the community, at church, even how I respond to abstractions like politics, religion, or my own conflicting thoughts.

Our base needs (they are needs not mere desires) are with us all the time, neither something to be overcome nor celebrated. They are as much a part of us as our bodies or interactions with God, that unfathomable omnipresence of the universe we give a name to. They make us who we are.

When I alternatingly redirected and lost some of the foci of my needs over the past few years, I drifted. Maybe with this spark of personal revelation I’ll really get going again.

What drives you? What is always there at the base of your every thought, every feeling, every action? It isn’t easy to silence or dim the ego, sometimes we just need to let quiet sneak up on us so we can see our shadows…in the darkness …before the dawn.

image
From today’s Ben 10 cartoon…
Ben: “It’s ok. I did the same dumb things when I first got the omnitrix.”
Best Friend: “You did the same dumb thing last Tuesday.”

It is what it is. Peace 🙂

Reflecting in the dark

8 Oct

A gentle rain falls outside as I listen to the drops crescendo and decrescendo with the wind. It’s a soothing sound reminiscent of the flow i imagine in a mother’s womb. Traffic whizzes by on the distant highway, its hum muffled by intervening trees. My lady reads a book beside me as we wait a little longer to ensure the children are asleep. The soft ringing in my ear, such a familiar sound, grows louder as the air quiets. Amidst the patter of rain I can no longer tell if it is insects chirping or the tinnitus the VA lab tech told me I don’t have. I wonder how she knows what’s in my head…
image

3 a.m. awake again, the typical dreams replaying in my mind. This latest was a reminder of other times and that soldiers will be soldiers good and bad. Anxiety subsides as I become more fully conscious and I reach down to pat the unseen box for final reassurance that it was only a dream.

The rain outside is gone and the moon shines brightly overhead. The crickets and other night callers are busy with their songs. The ringing in my ears now clearly distinct as I hear both the ringing and the insects’ shrill singing at once.

The dog is aware of my waking and slowly cleans her paws, …slurp… slurp, in the dark. The clock on the wall chimes the hour, distant traffic continues to roar beyond the forest, and my lady breathes softly beside me.

These are the times of true faith. Reflections on the dream, questioning of the VA, and the muffled traffic all conspire to remind me of the mundane vulgarity of man. Meanwhile my lady’s gentle breath, the serene music of the insects, and the warmth of such a faithful dog, join to remind me of the mystery of God’s love.
image
I do not understand how or why the universe exists. I do not know why I’m here. I know only that I can feel His presence and that is enough for me. To know this peace and serenity while simultaneously confronting the world’s madness, resting, and feeling loved is a wonderful experience.
image

I chalk up the mystery to my own lack of understanding, and blame Him neither directly for my lot, nor through a nebulous concept of indirect divine guidance that somehow willed me here. I don’t find myself in this state completely under my own fruition either, regardless of how much at times I want to believe I do. Even I, with my frail ego, can see that a myriad of things outside my control have brought me here.
image

It is what it is… far beyond any human understanding. I can reason through it. I can insist on my own authority. I can lay it all on chance. I can invent philosophy and religion, even politics to manipulate and overpower other men, but I still won’t have complete control or any better understanding of the mystery of existence or the nature of God.
image

But I can feel it. I feel it in the shared laughter of my family, a kind word between friends, the trusting loyalty of my dog, the sweet melody of nature’s song. And I bask here blissful in the darkness never completely alone with my thoughts.
image

It has been two hours now since waking, in another comes the dawn. My sweet lady still slumbers beside me, her warmth and steady breaths reminding me that whatever we think, whatever we feel, whatever we do, life, love, and the great mystery of existence go on.
image

Image

Believe

6 Oct

image

When your hands are tied and all you can do for a friend in need is to send love-filled thoughts, do it… and raise a solemn prayer of hope for Sunshine.

Blaming God

5 Oct

image

We reduce God to an academic argument. Something we can define, study and understand, something separate over which we have complete control. We name God He (or She), implying gender, and call him omnipotent, omniscient, yet immediately pour limits on ‘Him’. “God cannot lie. He cannot be wrong. He is infallible (i.e., cannot make mistakes). What God wants is [something other than what He gets].” The list goes on.

Of the semitic peoples, Jews believe they are God’s chosen people. Christians believe they are the redeemed. Muslims believe they are the true believers, given a second chance because Jews and Christians screwed up the message. All are good at defining themselves in terms of one another, yet even today they ignore that at the same time their civilizations were developing, so were others that had no ties with or knowledge of them at all. And each of those foreign cultures had their own legends of salvation. The implied message is ‘God is the god of all, but He only pays attention to us. He created the universe, but only really cares about this part – my little world that I experience. And oh yeah, God thinks amazingly like me.’

image

Perhaps it is not God who is limited, but our understanding. Perhaps not God’s attention, but our own perspective. Perhaps the all knowing, all powerful, all encompassing creator of existence exceeds our limited human ability to comprehend.

We blame God for wars using Him as an excuse for crusades or jihad, each side claiming always that ‘God is on our side’. We set up rules for man, dogma and doctrine, and claim they are holy decrees, yet rage with bitterness against the injustice of the world. If it is truly God’s will, should we not rejoice at the injustice? Or is it perhaps simply man’s inhumanity to man that we’d rather not take responsibility for, so we blame a deity instead, figuring it won’t push back. Then we act with impunity thinking no one’s going to stop us. Buddhists who claim there is no deity, only a universal balance, do the same. Atheists claim to believe there is no god, yet also claim offense at the mention of His name. Offended by a non-entity? That makes no sense. Or perhaps they do believe, and like all the rest don’t understand, such that atheism – like Christian salvation or hasidic or sharia law – is their attempt to seize control of an existence beyond their ken.

image

Ultimate truth, what is that is, surely transcends and includes all of this. Despite human desires and dreams, I doubt we will ever understand. I think we know this, we feel it. We sense something greater than ourselves that we know we do not understand and it scares us. So we put limits on it and decide how it must act and how it must feel, what it must want. And we claim divine right as our justification. “We are called. We are acting rightly, logically, smartly.” Really? Do you believe that in your heart, with everything you are? If you say yes, I don’t believe you. Self doubt is what keeps humans alive. Wondering what that was moving in the grass, thinking we missed something, creating tools to overcome our frailty, feeling easily wounded pride – these things all betray our confidence in our own abilities and understanding. And they all keep us fighting to survive.

No, blaming God for wars or religion, bad weather, disease, or any other harshness in our lives might make us feel better. It might let us absolve ourselves of responsibility, or avoid facing the randomness of chance (another name we give to causal chains too complex for us to understand). But it doesn’t change anything.

image

Ultimate truth, the all mighty, all powerful, all knowing, all inclusive ever presence of the universe still is what it is… Whatever it is. I call it God and it is undeniable to me. God with a capital “G” is the only name I can imagine that comes close to what it might be. But I have a limited imagination, just like those who believe God is literally a ‘he’, or that God picks one group over another, or that universal balance is somehow not connected, or that God is an old man sitting on a cloud. (This last group still makes me laugh – people who claim to support objective study or to be inspired by impressionistic art, yet who define their concept of God by some painter’s fantasy from the Middle Ages. They just don’t seem very smart or deep, but I digress…)

So why do bad things happen and why is our world in the state it is today? Honestly from my perspective, you answered your own question in that little word before ‘world’. But that means we’re responsible for it and to fix it, but our self doubt tells us we’ll almost surely make mistakes. And our pride doesn’t like that. So it’s easier to blame God or someone else. But if we blame others they might fight back, and we know somewhere deep in our hearts that God can take it.

image

Early fall

3 Oct

At the end of the lake
At the start of the season
Summer green gives way
To variegated hues.

May the cool fall air
And shimmering waters
Help us each to pause
For reflection and peace.

Reflecting on Jesus

2 Oct

image

Ministry by walking around, isn’t that basically what Jesus did? He was a Jew, his ‘religion’ a birthright. Although he attended temple and partook in the most common traditions, he spent much more time wandering around, out with people or taking time alone. He both loved and had unparalled compassion for people, those with genuine faith anyway, and yet at times grew very frustrated and angry with people, especially those who made a show of their religion or lacked genuine compassion for others.

Drinking at a wedding, and enabling others to do so, consorting with lowlifes, protecting harlots, eating grain straight from the fields – on a Sabbath no less! Even his biggest fans say that’s the kind of thing he did. He had no job despite some technical training and there’s no indication he even tried to find one. He went as far as encouraging others to leave their own productive work, and disappeared for over a month without explanation simply to ‘find himself’. Eventually he quit going to temple altogether except to criticize it or stir things up. And he had the audacity to claim to have a personal relationship with God, and to speak as with authority about God without even having the proper pedigree or training!

This poor uneducated man from a questionable family dared question the authority and sincerity of the chief priests. This rascal who told his followers to arm themselves, and yet also to submit to a heathen government (that politically backed the chief priests by the way), publicly mocked the temple’s respected leaders. He dangerously ‘healed’ the sick without adhering to the generally accepted practices, and cast out demons simply by telling them to go. Who did this impudent bumpkin think he was?!

Well, the church can thank their lucky stars they don’t have anyone like that causing problems or leading people astray today. We’ve got that old time religion. Good pious, god-fearing missionaries and evangelists who study the book – Christian believers every last one. Why I bet that guy wouldn’t even come to one of our special fun meetings. Doesn’t he see what we’re trying to do here? Where’s his sense of propriety? We don’t need some insolent brute like that asking questions and doubting our faith, no sir.

Or maybe we do. Maybe he did see exactly what the chief priests were trying to do, maybe that’s the problem and why he isn’t here today. Maybe he did have a direct line to God. There were a lot of gods in Jesus day, he knew they were nothing to fear, just empty idols. Likewise with the self-appointed authorities in the temple. He knew who his real father was and what he believed. It was his life, he lived it and didn’t need other people to see or approve. But some did anyway, mostly others who felt aliented or questioned the accepted ways. And the truth and their faith set them free. Not their religion, religion just got in the way. Jesus was a Jew – not a Christian – because of ethnicity and who his earthly father was. He was a child of God because of who God made him. He lived his life in the beautiful, loving way he did not because he was told to, not because he had a political or activist agenda, certainly not because it was a good career choice. (They killed him for heaven’s sake!) He lived as he did simply because that’s who he was in his heart.

Don’t be mistaken. It might have been the Pharisees who turned over Jesus the man for slaughter, but it is the earthly church and the sactimonious hearts of Christians that kill Him every day. There’s more to gathering in His name than calling it a church group. There’s love and compassion and integrity and self honesty. Whenever two or more gather in His name and have THAT, like he did, like He does, then…and only then…there is Love.
image

Skipping church to get right with God

29 Sep

Three days in the dirt and grime. I hadn’t expected it to take so long, but it was cleansing both for the garage and for me. The garage part, at least, is finally finished.
image

The family and I skipped church on Sunday to take a much needed pause. In the afternoon the wife and kids met friends at a farm, and I got some quality time alone to continue cleaning the garage and reflect on things. Old music reminded me of a former lover I was once head over heels for. Our paths diverged, but our time together was a true blessing and she is a wonderful person. We stay in touch via shared posts and an occassional brief personal message on social media. She is now married to a good man, they are happy, and have a lovely family. Thinking of her, I realized I wasn’t reminiscing about us, but appreciating what a good person she is and how happy I am that she and her family are happy. That is a true Christian woman. She brought me closer to God and helped me become a better person both then… and now.

So the most important thing I did this weekend by skipping church and Sunday school was to get closer to God. It isn’t supposed to work that way, is it?
image

When we first joined our current congregation we felt welcome and gradually at home. Attending services was uplifting and the extended coffee hour that served as adult Sunday school led to some great discussions. But lately church has become more aggravating than inspiring. Internal congregational politics and showmanship have been growing over the course of this year (or perhaps I’m just more sensitive to it now). In addition, the strongest voice of reason in the group recently moved away. And with that, more divisive personalities have siezed the opportunity to push their own agendas.

I admit I have not handled the situation well, and have become increasingly frustrated in much the same way that I am with more overt politics. After a long discussion with my wife, we decided to skip this past Sunday altogether. She also suggested that if Sunday school is bothering me so much, but I still like to hear the sermons, maybe we could just go to worship service and skip Sunday school like many other parishioners do. It sounded like a plan.

I’ve never been particularly religious, but have been more and less active in the various congregations I’ve been a part of over the years. (I used to move a lot, mostly due to the Army.) If I felt I was spiritually growing with a particular group, I stuck with it. If not, I would let go and simply read, pray, and study on my own.
image

Either way, two ideas have always stuck with me concerning church-going. The first a friend of a friend posted eloquently on Facebook last week. As she wrote, “remember it was the religious people who were the real enemies of Christ.” I’ve never liked the idea of the Pharisees or their modern inculcation in the Christian church. (Remember Jesus was a simple Jew.) I have much more respect for someone whose faith I can see in their eyes and feel in their heart, than I do for a scriptural scholar or simply a licensed minister. I’ve had the privilege of befriending several very devout and genuinely loving chaplains. I’ve also had the misfortune of meeting some very self-righteous career-oriented ones on their own power and ego trips. Preaching afterall can be a lucrative profession for money and/or prestige. Although many ordained ministers make little to no money at all, it begs the question of each whether one is doing it simply as a vocation or truly for the love of God.

The second idea is one expressed in various ways throughout the Old Testament and which Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians: “cast out the wicked from among you.” Now, to be sure, many have used this passage as justification for exclusivity and judgmental divisiveness in the church, but as with many teachings its real meaning has been twisted. On one level it does mean to separate oneself from those who would lead you astray. On a deeper level, however, it means to separate out the evil in oneself. So on one hand, skipping church did help put distance between me and those who would use the church for political activist means. It alleviated the accompanying frustration and allowed for a more relaxing Sunday afternoon. But one of the hardest things to do is to recognize and face the corruption of evil in one’s own heart. By skipping church, I reflected more on how I contributed to the growing tension in the congregational body. It helped me see myself and my antagonists for the simple, flawed, very human creatures we are. Coming from a fairly large family, I learned quickly that you can love some people dearly up close, some others are much easier to love from afar. So it is in the church and with the greater family of Man. By separating myself from certain people, I could better appreciate them as human beings and more easily recognize and drive out the evil from my own heart.
image
We’ll see what the wife and I decide to do on Sunday. I did miss hearing the sermon, and so listened to it last night before going to sleep. (The church webmaster records it and posts it to the web.) It was interesting and I could recognize select voices responding to the pastor, but it wasn’t the same as being there in person. Maybe we’ll do as my lady suggests and just go for the service next Sunday, then come back later (after Sunday school) to pick up the kids. We’ll see.

Some things still bother me. I feel the purpose of the church is to bring people closer to each other and to God. If it doesn’t do that, it has no reason to exist. I question a church body that searches for another role, or longs to put itself ‘on the map’ in the community, the larger corporate organization, or the world. It also bothers me that I no longer feel welcome by certain members of the congregation. My wife is a very good person, the kind who when you look into her eyes you feel as if you’re looking deep into her soul. It isn’t just me, others have said the same thing about her. Even she has said that the few people in this congregation who aggravate me have always given her an uneasy feeling too, and struck her as cold or insincere from the start. Looking into their eyes I see only darkness and pride and bitterness, the empty heart of a Pharisee. But when I step away from them and my own burning pride, I see a person afraid and in pain, struggling to make sense of a confusing world. I feel the kind of genuine sympathy I think Christ would feel…but I’m not Christ-like enough to feel that up close. So like I said, when it comes to attending next Sunday’s service, we’ll see.
image

Thus begins shemitah and the latest leg of my spiritual journey. For most people it might seem strange that skipping church could bring one closer to God, but it helped me, at least temporarily. I’m still not very religious and don’t see that changing. But it would be nice to feel a sense of community with fellow believers. There are some really good people in that church, quiet, who don’t say much, but sincerely believe. I missed seeing them on Sunday. I just don’t want tension between me and others make the sincere ones uncomfortable. Like I said, it is hardest to see the evil in our own hearts, and maybe – likely – I’m the one who’s screwed up, at least in part. Anyway…

What do I believe? Well, that is another story – one that cannot be found in doctrine, observation, science, or even scripture alone. I think God is an all-encompassing living Being, both us of It/Him and Him/It of us. He/It must be felt to connect with, not studied, but whether felt or not, He is still always there. He/It is the all-knowing, unknowable Existence of the universe, the One and only Truth of all. But no words can describe it. And none of us holds exclusive rights to it or has perfect knowledge of it. Right or wrong, life and this year of getting closer to God have begun. So far it’s off to a great start, as time marches on we’ll see how it goes. Peace.
image

Getting right with God

28 Sep

Shemitah has begun.
image

I’m not Jewish and had never really heard much about this septenniel Sabbath celebration until recently, so I will leave the technical explanation for others. I’m not into numerology or prophesy either, so I will not comment on the many connections some people have drawn between significant events in western history (especially American) and the shmitah or the jubilee year, another semitic tradition. image

One thing I am, however, is a very conceptual person who respects a well drawn idea. The gyst of shemitah, as I understand it, is dedicating every seventh year to clearing accounts and getting right with God. And that, my friends, is a concept I can readily get behind.
image

So with this post, I begin what will hopefully be periodic reflections over the course of the next year on getting right with God. It should prove to be an interesting leg of this journey, or at least a good exercise in humility for me…as was proven today, as you may soon see.
image

But first, I am very tired so my written reflections will have to wait until morning. Or until I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, that is. (It happens often, but hopefully tonight I can sleep.)

image

So, till we meet again, whenever that may be, may your life be filled with blessing, your heart overflowing with love, and may your soul find everlasting peace.
image

Together To Be

15 Sep

image

There are times we get lost in our own thoughts.
Out of our routine
We lose track of time, drifting out of place,
And we begin to question who and why we bother.

image

Though unproductive by societal standards,
These times can be an excellent source of renewal,
A chance to re-evaluate what our life has become.
They allows us to reflect,
To find perspective,
And make sense of where we are.

But don’t drift too long.

Man is a social being,
Independent and apart, yes,
But without value alone.
The universe by itself is cold and desolate,
Showing us that existence alone has no meaning.
But to exist with another –
You and the universe together
In harmony, peace,
And the chaos of it all –
That has purpose.

image

Thoughts, words, ideas, and reason,
Have no significance in and of themselves,
For one can easily imagine something contradictory
Without consequence.
But with shared experience,
Action and reaction,
Every cause has an effect
And ideas shape reality.
When acted on, they make a tangible difference.

image
Thus a word alone is nothing,
The Word shared requires meaning.
So it is with the creative force of the universe.
Alone it is merely potential –
One of countless possibilities.
Through creating It becomes real,
And shares existence with Its creation,
Giving both meaning.
It is what It Is,
I am that I Am.
Together we exist,
And that is our reason to be.
Peace.
image

Thoughtsalone2017

Thoughts and images for reflection and inspiration

Laced up Lutheran

Theology that is Approachable, Enjoyable, and Relevant

IAmRisingHawk

Poetry . . . mostly

john pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs To Be Said

Renee Writes Here

Here’s my story. It changes almost daily, and sometimes hourly.

jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

helenvalentina

Writing to express the Elements

Eleventh Stack

A books, movies, and more blog from the staff at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main.

a north east ohio garden

an ongoing experiment in the dirt, 35 plus years

Friendly Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales and Poetry Celebrating Magic and Nature for Kids of all Ages

Dorian Wacquez

The Diversity of Language

Third eye view

People, places and photography

Patching Cracks

Manhood, Marriage, and Family From a Biblical Perspective

Phil Kneen Photography

I shoot people...

Sparkonit

Science - Simplified

The Wordy Rose

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

a cherry on fashion

Fashion, style life, Food, Fitness

RoatenEggs

This site is all about fun…!!! Nothing Else…!!! So Enjoy…!!! :)

Ruins + Relics

Travel, Art, and Culture in Italy and the Wider World

lijiun

Smile Always

Out of the Rabbit Hole

A journal of healing

familydoctormom

A fine WordPress.com site

kiwissoar

flights of fancy from New Zealand

Life in a pic

World pictures

spanishwoods

thoughts from the forest

Merging Traffic

Poems, Musings, Quotes and Prayers by Dennis Ference

My Botanical Garden

Tamara Jare blog around plants, art, culture

e-Tinkerbell

Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

Just Bliss

Spread bliss and Stay Blissful!

FICTIONAL MACHINES

J. E. LATTIMER

From the Desk of MarDrag

Inspiration for Navigating a Difficult World

Eye Will Not Cry

"Eye Fly High"

Daylight Tune Ministries

Vision: Word of God Change Lives & Draw close to God personally

Paul Militaru

Photography Portfolio

theempathyqueen

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.

tornadoday

...might I be found in words I leave behind

Kone, Krusos, Kronos

A personal forum to express ideas, experiences, stories, etc.

The Project: Me by Judy

The Tools I Wish I'd Known About Sooner

Ajaytao Quotes Blog

Enlightening our souls

%d bloggers like this: