The Foolishness of Nature Worship

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The Foolishness of Nature Worship by King Solomon.
(Reflections of a royal philosopher)

For all people who were ignorant
of God were foolish by nature; and
they were unable from the good things
that are seen to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan but his works.

They supposed that either fire or
wind or the circle of the stars, or
turbulent water or the luminaries of
heaven were the gods that rule the world.

If through delight in the beauty of these
things, people assumed them to be gods, let
them know how much better than these is their
Lord, for the author of beauty created them.

And if people were amazed at their power
and working, let them perceive how much
more powerful is the one who formed them.
For from the greatness and beauty of
created things comes a corresponding
perception of their Creator.

Can we blame them? Perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.
For while they live among his works,
they keep searching, and they trust in
what they can see, because the things
that are seen are beautiful.

Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
for if they had the power to know so much
that they could investigate the world,
how did they fail to find sooner the
Lord of these things?

Credits:
Text – Paraphrased from The Book of Wisdom (Chapter 13) – NRSV Edition
Image – Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

The Aftermath – What Remains?

 

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Credit: Pixabay

The shaking is intended for certain heartbreak and our fainting.

How do we deal with the aftermath?  The consequences of a significant unpleasant event lingers like a bitter aftertaste. It is the rumble left behind when our foundations are jolted out of alignment by an unexpected earthquake. It is when embedded chains even invisible to us are brought into full focus and we have to deal with our new reality. Are we going to stay bound or break free from false foundations? Anything that can be shaken should not have been trusted in the first place.

I would not confuse
the bogus
with the spurious.
The bogus
is a sore thumb
while the spurious
pours forth
as fish and circuses.  (An excerpt from Spurious by Rae Armantrout.)

We hold fast to wrong  foundations as the definition of our core identity till a slip-up exposes the hollow circuses  we’ve allowed to define and be responsible for our happiness. I held on to the love of a certain boy long ago, whose lopsided smile took my breath away till fishes and circuses rained on my parade. It was a fantasy interrupted by a rude rap on my door.

Who goes there?

Rain.

I’ve been a Californian for so long –  I don’t know how to behave in the presence of rain.
Especially a torrent propelling me down fury’s road of liquid drama featuring three deranged and frazzled people needing Dr. Phil’s intervention. Metaphors are always adept in helping me manage painful realities. I closed my eyes and refused to see rain – messy, distressing and unwelcome.

Marriage, friendships, job or career, beauty or charm, money, wealth, sexual orientation or even race, make pretty wobbly foundations.  I’m not sure race should even make the list but in the context of self-worth for some pathetic folks, it is an over-aching standard.

Still I refuse to give up on family and children – pain and joy comes with the territory and privilege of loving and being loved by others. I found out through my experience that only faith can withstand the tremors and earthquakes.  Faith is what remains. God is able to turn what was intended for our unravelling for some sort of good – like stripping us from clutches, laying a new foundation of greater faith and exposing our false gods.

“When you connect your purpose to your perspective, nobody else holds your keys.” Pastor  Steven Furtick 

The venom of anger and hate would only serve to shackle my future to my past. Praise is the only tool powerful enough to break every chain. Indeed life is so much more than these disappointments that now loom so large but in a few years will be so insignificant when compared to God’s greater vision for our lives.
May each aftermath find you and me standing in faith, with hands raised so high the chains are broken. There is only One worthy of our trust because He will always be faithful in His love for us.

Peace to all our broken pieces.

 

Facing December

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Hello December, bring it on! This should be my favorite time of the year – after all there’s great anticipation almost every week – my birthday, Christmas, and a brand new year hovering on the horizon, but this month feels like it’s fixing to beat the crap out of me. Like me, for many of you, this is a tough month. We have to deal with the pressure of performance, expectations, lost loved ones, being far away from home and sagging under the weight of the entire year resting on our shoulders.

The truth be told. Lately, I haven’t been a first-rate version of myself but instead of wallowing in self-pity and rehashing the  disappointments for the goals that slipped through the cracks of  poor-timing, paralyzing fear and just plain, unflavored indolence, I’m going to love myself a little more this month, just because my hypothalamus still works. It secreted enough acetylcholine to wake me up and boy – where there’s life, there’s hope!
I am facing this December head on.

Every morning this month, before self-damning thoughts assail my brain, I’m adopting the life-changing mirror ritual by Dr. Christiane Northrup – I’ll be kind to my soul.

I’ll reach out with understanding to my broken heart over the dreams that crashed and burned this year. I’ll pat my laugh lines and double chin tenderly, smooth over my crow’s feet and the furrows on my brow. When my eyes mist over, I’ll remember there’s a still river inside me and let it overflow its bounds. I will stand in awe of all God created in me. Then I will whisper, so only I can hear, “I love you.” over and over again. Till I believe with all my heart and mind and soul, that this gimper staring back at me will be okay.

Happy Days Ahead!

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=57402

Lessons from Playing Monopoly – When the Game is Over

Monopoly

A few weeks ago, I spent an entire Sunday afternoon playing monopoly with my son and before he rolled the dice, I said, “Honey, remember  you are already valuable, it’s not what you have that determines your worth. Ok? ”

Well, I could have saved my breath because he was completely and irrationally obsessed with acquiring every property his bronze, horse token landed on. If he could buy the jailhouse, he would have. The thrill of acquisition dissipated when his cash reserves ran low and he needed to liquidate properties, houses and hotels to pay rent, bank levies or taxes. Sean, still without guile at thirteen, started bending the rules and kept eyeing the bank vault, trying to keep his game afloat. My strategy was simple – service versus greed. So I set my targets on utilities, railroads and a few choice properties .

In life, we are valuable because God loves us, even before we were born. Our performance or accumulation of things like badges of status will not endear us to Him. His love is sure and does not waver.

monopoly

A life that has meaning does not hold on to riches and its inherent lie that money defines us. There are no tight fists in the casket. People with the intentional posture of opens hands believe in generosity and are channels of God’s goodness and love. Anything you own turns around and possesses you right back. Imagine the aggravation from every dent in your brand new car or the shattered screen of your new iPhone, your obsession with your home security etc.  I agree with Al Watt from  LA Writer’s Lab, “…hold your (story) elements loosely.”

“You have to ask yourself: When you finally get the ultimate possession, when you’ve made the ultimate purchase,when you buy the ultimate home, when you have stored up financial security and climbed the ladder of success to the highest rung you can possibly climb it, and the thrill wears off–and it will wear off–then what?” — John Ortberg

A modified version of a story I heard at a church service goes like this  – A grandson (Pastor John Ortberg) finally beat his grandma at monopoly one weekend after summer vacation and she lauded him,

“I see you’ve finally learnt that this game is requires a 100% commitment to acquisition.”
“Took me a whole summer, but well worth it!” He said, gloating in victory.
“Now you are ready to learn a second lesson – everything goes back into the box.”

Life is a game that ends at some point and player after player – the truck driver asleep at the wheel, a business mogul in a plane crash, a young model with a life of glamor in her sights shot by a jealous boyfriend, a dictator beheaded by rebels (all pretty grim huh?), a grandfather passing away in his sleep… we all go by way of the box, so why stress over stuff?

As King Solomon wisely said, ” All this is vanity…I hated all my labor in which I toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? ” (Proverbs 2:18-19 para.)

That’s why we hold things loosely, and love fiercely. When our game is over, we will not leave this planet with a single penny or one solitary thread.
The Beloved Sean and I now recite this declaration by Bobby Schuller (The Shepherd’s Grove):

I’m not what I do
I’m not what I have
I’m not what people say about me
I’m the beloved of God

That’s who I am and no-one can take that from me…

Lord, lead us by love to our authentic selves.

Credit: Chuck Lorre Productions

Chuck Lorre’s Vanity Cards – Life Lessons and More

Credit: Chuck Lorre Productions

Never say never while you can still breathe. Don’t give up on a dream that still wants to live. I might be late on this bandwagon but sometime last year, I paused my DVR after an episode of The Big Bang Theory on CBS, like millions have done over the years to read  Chuck Lorre’s Vanity card #463. The last one. He succinctly explained, “It’s time to write the last vanity card. Which is what this is…All things that never should have happened in the first place must come to an end. Don’t cry for me Argentina. Or West Covina.”

I was sad…OK, a tad depressed. “What? After 18 years why stop now?”

For those living in a cult or under a rock, the unique vanity cards for Chuck Lorre Productions have become a “trademark” appearing at the end of nearly every episode of his acclaimed productions like Grace under Fire, Cybill, Two and A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Mike & Molly and many others. They are usually editorial snippets, personal musings or random observations.

I considered launching a virtual protest march demanding that we, the viewing and more importantly, the reading public,  not be starved of the non-literary gastronomical delight of peering into Chuck Lorre’s brain. Then it occurred to me – Nah… maybe without this little distraction he could have more time. Time to volunteer at a nearby shelter, become a crossing guard at any school of his choosing, you know, do something more wholesome.

So, imagine my surprise at reading  Chuck Lorre’s Vanity Card #464 after the next episode. It was a short, terse card, written by a clearly pained Chuck who realized that nobody cared enough to protest or beg him to re-consider. All he got were a few, nonchalant “literary shrugs” that didn’t cross the ear threshold. Yes, the world would still spin on its awkward axis, pigeons will still desecrate hallowed Hollywood Boulevard where knock-off stars have obstinately ( I’ve always wanted to use that in a sentence) refused to twinkle, and people were far more interested in a YouTube video of a child falling asleep after 14 strokes of soft tissue paper over his cherub face. Yep! Nobody really cared.

Credit: EmmyTVLegends.orgBut I did. It would be sad to see these “self-congratulatory snippets of a mind, screaming for attention” end. They are at least are better than the deplorable selfies assaulting our  virtual spaces, (No thanks to the inventor of the selfie stick.) even as I wholehearted agree that Chuck’s Official Vanity Card Archives are nothing short of a “Herculean attempt at curating a set of pointlessly unique, haunting, very painful, also petty, most times personal thoughts.” (All quotations are his words)

Well, if I piqued your interest, you would be very pleased to know that at this time of writing, there’s Vanity Card #500 and I hope counting. For one, I am glad. Sometimes like Chuck Lorre, we have to pause and reflect on anything we’ve been doing maybe, mindlessly for a while –  like a marriage, a friendship, a job or the attempt to immortalize oneself (a.k.a. blogging) and ask yourself:

  • Does it matter?
  • Do I matter?
  • Will anyone even miss me if I stop?
  • Why? For sanity’s sake, why am I doing this?
  • How does this promote world peace (*_*) ?

Question everything. That’s what makes us human, but never say never or give up on something or someone you love. Don’t walk away if it still wants to live. Let it.
The 2.0 version might be refreshingly more meaningful, wiser as it matures just as Lorre’s post-463 vanity cards have become. Curious? Check out card  #482 , my new favorite.

Image Credits: ChuckLorre.com & Google Images.