Posts Tagged ‘Intolerance’

Practicing Presence

February 6, 2017

Mozart, our Shar-Pei, is a lover so to speak. He loves affection and attention. Ignoring him is usually not an option. He loves to be loved. Our car Frodo, on the other hand, is a one person cat for the most part. He sits on TruDee’s lap if he sits on lap at all. It only takes a look from me to cause him to flee across the room, he pretty much doesn’t want anything to do with anyone or anything except TruDee.moz-and-frodo

He will acknowledge our two dogs as long as it’s his idea and not theirs. Mozart really wants to interact with Frodo, but most of the time Frodo is not having it. I noticed the other evening Mozart scooting across the floor close to Frodo. Mozart finally stopped and simply lay his head close to Frodo and just waited.

Perhaps he learned this from our older dog Simeon, I have often referred to Simeon as my Zen master. Simeon for the most part is about presence. He doesn’t need a lot of attention or petting, he is generally content just laying or sitting near you in a, “I’m here,” presence.

I think about so many instances and situations in our culture and society, our state and nation, our government, politics, even in the church and I wonder what we might learn from such an example of Mozart and Simeon? It seems to me there is so much incivility, vitriol language, intolerance, lack of understanding, and too much talking at one another rather than listening.

I wonder, if we focused more on the practice of forgiveness and grace, a practice of a patient listening presence rather than how we are going to respond in accusation or proving another wrong and we right, if our world, our churches, and our lives might be a little more open to the common good for all? I wonder.

Take some time this week and beyond to consider how we could all spend a little more time on inward reflection on our own behavior and reactions. Take some time this week and beyond to reflect on how we all might practice patience and an intentional listening presence to understand rather than to be right.

Mozart’s attempt at practicing presence did not result in a new best of friends scenario, but perhaps it will lead to a more understanding and friendly relationship between two who must live in the world together peaceably and gracefully. Practice patience. Practice presence. Practice Love, Kindness, and Humility.

It is one of the many of the ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community.  Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light…and Presence for Your Journey!

Pastor Kent

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The Witches of Salem

October 22, 2011

As we planned our time in Massachusetts I had a different image in my mind when we talked about a daytrip to Salem. I suppose it has been those horror movies I have watched or books I have read that rather set the tone. While we were on our way yesterday morning I had a number of images roaming through my mind of what we might encounter.

I must confess I had the typical, rather cheesy images firmly in my mind as we snaked through the streets to downtown Salem. I had imagined witches with pointy hats, caped mysterious figures, black cats, ravens perched on windowsills, and all the things one might conjure up in preparation for such a day.

There was some of that imagery present in store fronts and on the streets, but I suspect not a great deal more than you might find in most business districts this time of year. There were a few in costume but very few. As we left that night there seemed to be a little more of what my mind’s eye had envisioned but still not a great deal more.
What did catch me a bit off guard, though I knew the history to some degree, was how I felt as I pondered this place of storied witches and mystery. As I listened to the tour guide, watched the reenactment at the museum, but mostly as I sat and reflected at the Witch Trial Memorial was the somberness I found. I walked the memorial reading each of the nineteen names who had been killed during that period in 1692 I was moved to sadness and a bit of anger as well.

It was religion gone terribly wrong, tragically wrong at the expense of the least of these at the hands of the powers that be who would not be questioned. I found myself rather speechless as I sat among the stones placed in their honor and memory and reflected not only on these nineteen but on all who have been persecuted by religion in our history and world; religion against religion, because of gender, color of skin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, nationality, and the list could go on and on.

I found myself with the ponderous question, “Why?” Why do we as humans continue to need a “scapegoat?” Why do we continue to need someone to blame, to persecute, to belittle, to attack? I hear from the Psalmist, “How long, O God?” How long will it take to realize we are all in this together? When will we finally embrace that rule that spans across almost every religion to “do to others as we would have done to us?”

Take some time this week to ponder such things. Take some time to reach out to someone who needs to know they matter. Take some time this season when you see one of those pointy hats who have come to your door for a treat and reflect on the tragedy of power gone too far, and say a little prayer, take action, speak up and make a little difference in your corner of that world that such tragedy never happen again.

It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.
Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Digging a Hole

January 11, 2011

     I suppose it is a mole that has been digging just under the surface in our yard since sometime last summer. Whatever it is, or was, it did not seem to affect the grass much as it continued to grow and flourish through the warm days. The “tunnels” though make for treacherous walking across the yard when one’s feet sink into the soft soil.
     The un-invited intruder did not seem to draw much attention from Simeon at least not until now. For whatever reason Simeon has evidently decided he needs to find the critter and has proceeded to dig two rather large holes in the back yard. Actually I am not certain it is a critter he is looking for or whether he has just decided he likes holes, but the one makes him out to be a good watchdog and the other just a knucklehead who likes to dig holes, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
     Last Saturday while I was still bundled up from being out to the gym I filled a wheel barrel with dirt and filled the holes. I stood on them and tamped them down as best I could and told Simeon to leave it alone, after all you know he understands English. Well, you probably know where this story is going, yes; it took him until Sunday to get one of the holes emptied back out! Obviously I had some nerve to fill a perfectly good hole!
Simeon is really good at digging a hole in the ground and perhaps he thinks it serves a good purpose. But for the rest of us around the house it is a nuisance, irritating, and not to mention could be dangerous in the dark of the night or for an unsuspecting person walking in the yard.
     I continue to look at our world and our society and culture and the violence laden language, the finger pointing, the obstinate posturing, the hate, intolerance, well I could go on for a long time with descriptors, and it grieves my heart. Watching the news brings tears to my eyes often enough that I have almost given up watching it.
     I listen to the pundits, commentators, spin artists on all sides of the issues talk about the recent tragedy in Arizona and at this point here is a part of what I think. Whether the current vitriol political and philosophical rhetoric influenced this young man or not, this horrific event should bring us to a screeching halt and force us to reevaluate our priorities. Life is too fragile and precious to continue shouting hate-filled language and innuendo at one another. Whether it happens in the political arena, the religious arena, business world, or in our homes, I pray this event and others will give us pause and cause us to reassess not only who we are, but whose we are, and who we should be.
     I have to wonder if it is a bit like Simeon and his holes, those who continue to spew such hate and violence may think it serves a good purpose, but at best it is a nuisance, irritating, and unbecoming. At the worst it is dangerous to our own being and as we have learned of recent days, dangerous to our children.
     I will continue to try and move Simeon to a more productive activity as he plays in the backyard. And I pray our society and culture find compassionate and understanding ways to be together and fill the dangerous holes we have been digging with grace lest we find ourselves filling them with more victims of our words and actions. I pray we find the Way soon.
     It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table.