The Seeds of Revolution in Canada

This week  I listened as Green Party leader Elizabeth May called on Canadians to take back political ownership of their country. She called on people to tell their politicians that they want this to be the Canada that it used to be, a country:  that stands proud and free among nations; a country with a good record for human rights; a country that cares for the environment, and seeks to make life better for future generations.  May left me with a feeling that there is something wrong with the way Canadians are now doing democracy. She left me feeling that many political leaders have lost their democratic souls, concentrating on the pursuit of personal wealth and power at the expense of future generations and the liberal democratic way of life that we have experienced in the past.

I spoke with May, and I think she agreed, that this malaise is far greater than politics and democracy. It is a sickness that has infiltrated all aspects of Canadian culture. We have forgotten who we are.  As we run the race of life, at its ever quickening pace, there is never enough time. No time to read. No time to think. No time to check our email. No time to worry about others. No time for politics or religion. No time for ourselves or for our loved ones…. unless they can skype once a month on the last Sunday afternoon, precisely from 4:30 to 5:00.

How do we turn this around? How do we regain ownership of our lives, our religious beliefs, our communities and our country?

The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Next, we must think about ourselves. who we are and how so much of what we believe in has quietly slipped away from our grasp. We must remember who we were and decide what we want to be. How do we want the people of the world to see us. We must re-take ownership of our lives: our country and our souls.

Tired of the Computer? Read a Book

Did you ever wonder about the amount of time you spend at your computer? Just too much email and too much spam? Do you need a break?

How about this old-fashioned idea… read a book!

For inspiration, consider the resolution of Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg who has chosen to read a new book every two weeks. Topics will cover new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.   See https://www.facebook.com/ayearofbooks/timeline/

On the page you can even enjoy a Q&A with the authors.

This type of Social Media discussion  is a great idea which could be used by Churches and others for everything from workshops to Bible Study.

 

 

Searching for the Spiritual

In 1969, I wrote a thesis arguing that the Spiritual was present in all drama. If I was writing that thesis today, I would argue that all life is Spirit filled.  The Spirit is like a sacred river, flowing through all things. There are points of contact, as  many wells tap into that river. Within the limitations of our language and thought we describe our experience of the sacred as best we can, hopefully realizing that our own experiences of the holy are just some among many. Even when we put our collective experiences together, still we are unable to see or experience the Whole. This does not stop us from trying, nor does it stop us from spiritual searching. We are often surprised, sometimes struck with awe, when the Spirit bubbles up in our lives.

Some might argue that all of this spiritual stuff is just an illusion. Humans attempting to justify their actions or rationalizing their paternalistic religious ways. Religion has been misused in both ways, but religions are limited by their supporting cultures and are only  guides to spiritual attainment and descriptions of that culture’s spiritual experiences.  Religions are not bad. They are just Spirit inspired constructs of the human mind as it defines the Spiritual presence.

The challenge today is for more people to risk stepping outside of their contextual limitations, to see the processes of Creation at work and to discern the existence of the Spiritual in their own experiences.

I prayed to win the lottery; but It didn’t work;

It was our first class in Romantic Poetry after the Christmas break. The only thing on my mind was how good the food had been at home, compared to the university cafeteria.  So great was the memory of my mother’s gastronomic delights that I hardly noticed the anxious looks on the faces of my fellow students. The professor arrived with his usual flourish, but just as quickly, questions and answer papers circulated around the class room. Surprise to me, we were about to have an exam! Results would make up 40 percent of the year’s final mark!

Perhaps I shouldn’t have skipped the last few days of classes before the break? Perhaps I should have asked a fellow student if the professor had given any assignments? With no exam mentioned on the formal “pre-Christmas” exam schedule, I had simply discounted the course and escaped to the comforts of home. Everyone else had spent their spare Christmas moments studying Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. Not me…  Who was Thackeray anyway? As for the exam… it looked like I didn’t have a hope.

Here is where prayer comes to a person’s life: when it seems as though all future life, perhaps even your continued existence, is dependent on what is about to, or not about to happen.  Life can be that way, through your own fault or through no fault of your own. It may be when you are hanging over a cliff for the first time on rappel, when you are suddenly alone in deep water and you can’t swim, or when you are sitting alone in a public place with people passing by, and nobody cares. All good times for prayer.

But what is prayer? To many prayer is a direct appeal to a higher authority, like “God.” But, I didn’t know if God had read Vanity Fair or not. In any case, I didn’t think God was going to share his crib notes with me. After all, I had missed the mark and brought the problem on myself. Plus, God hadn’t really been hanging out with me or chatting.

There is nothing like that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach and a shot of adrenalin in the brain to get the mind working. I pulled myself together, blocked out all distractions, and opened myself to anything and everything that I had ever known, seen or heard about Wordsworth. (That wasn’t too hard because the only thing I had read, and memorized, was Wordsworth’s famous poem: Daffodils.) From there, I too wandered like a cloud or vales and hills, my pen danced like the daffodils beside the lake. I’ll swear my words were as continuous as the stars that shine and twinkled like the milky way! I opened my soul to the poetic force of Wordsworth… and two full exam books later, I said: “It is finished.” Here is one for Ripley’s: I passed that exam! In fact, to my own utter astonishment and to the chagrin of some of my classmates, I ended up with the highest mark in the class!

That’s what happens when you open yourself in prayer.

To pray is to get rid of the distractions and to open up, as fully as you dare, to the very force that is the ground of our being, that is the basis and driving force of evolution and all of creation. That is to open one’s heart to the power of love.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to turn out. You don’t always pass the test, heal the wound, save the day or win the lottery. Maybe that wasn’t yours to do? But, through prayer, every aspect of who you are, does come into a closer relationship with that which powers all things.