Shadows of Optimism

771758341_dfc19794aa_oHalf full, half empty… How many times have we heard that cliché? I guess the answer may depend on what the liquid is: water, milk, beer, wine… prune juice. But, what if I said,

“The glass is full!”

Regardless of the liquid in the glass, the remainder is filled with the contents of the air we breathe. It is mostly nitrogen with some oxygen and a little carbon dioxide mixed in. These invisible gasses are crucial to life. Nitrogen is essential to plant life, plant life to plant-eating animals; like cows, giraffes and vegetarians. Oxygen and carbon dioxide work synergestically to keep plants and animals respiring on their preferred gas. While each element invisibly balances the needs of our earth, to keep us alive, we ponder whether or not we are a pessimist.

To take the cliché a step farther; say the liquid is us, how we live our lives. Let’s face it, some people live water lives while others live like a Long Island Iced Tea. There are so many ways to add interest and variety to our lives, but most of us probably fit somewhere in the tea and coffee to beer and wine arena. But what of the other half; the invisible element which unfailingly and completely fills us? Can scientists, who thrive on questioning and posing hypotheses, prove that the Divine aspect of life is real? Can they come up with an experiment, like a glowing ember inserted into a container, bursting into flame, proves that oxygen is present? They attempt to understand everything from the expanse of the universe down to the most minute hint of matter. The truth of their theories rest on the ability of many to repeat those same experiments and get the same results.

Testing for spirituality stands on a different premise. Rather than large numbers of individuals believing through repetition, spirituality is the many studying information saved over time, resulting in individual encounters with God. The Bible, our church, our traditions corroborate that encounter. Some people undergo a dramatic life changing event. Most, I surmise, learn about God through little, everyday events. This has been my path to faith.

One way I am inspired to trust in God’s presence is through the lives of the saints. Saint Therese, the Little Flower, grew from childish desire to please herself to having childlike trust in God. https://www.littleflower.org/therese/  Saint Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes is another well-known saint to Catholics. She was given the gift of seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary. The strength of her faith sustained her through the trials of those who tried to discredit her. https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/february-11-our-lady-of-lourdes/ Saint Teresa of Calcutta dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor. She lived as they lived and died as they died. http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20031019_madre-teresa_en.html The example of holy men and women who have lived before, remind me to look beyond myself, to trust that God is in control, to persevere in difficult times, and to see the needs of others.

One of my favorite Saints, St. Anthony of Padua helps me in a personal way. He is known as the finder of lost or stolen items. https://www.stanthony.org/st-anthony-of-padua/ Through the years, I have found many items (mostly my car keys) through the intercession of St. Anthony. My prayer is something like, “Dearest St. Anthony, I’ve done it again. Could you ask God to help me find my…. fill in the blank.” After praying, I go to whatever place pops into my head and, nine times out of ten, the item is there. Sometimes I remember putting the object there. Other times I wonder how it could possibly be in such a random place, but it is.

Another little way I know that God exists is through the faith and failures of those around me. Especially the failures… they give me hope. They give me hope because, if good people can pick themselves up from epic failures and move on in their faith life, so can I.

Finally, the most powerful way to know that God is real: peace. Like the feeling of the first warm spring breeze on a sunny day or floating lazily down a quiet river. It Is the sound of Cardinals chirping from a nearby branch or children playing happily in the distance. It could be a dog soaking up the sun, a newborn baby snuggled in your arms, or the sound of a gentle rain. Even these images are not peace, they are merely physical shadows of optimism to what peace is.

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Understanding Truth

Truth is truth, it does not change. Understanding of truth, well, that’s a different story.

Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”

I don’t remember hearing a lot about Hell, but I certainly remember the narrow gate. Because the road to hell was wtightrope walkeride and easy, I reasoned that the road to Heaven must be narrow and difficult. I felt as though I was living on a tight rope, high in the air. Each step a struggle to stay balanced, the rope swaying under my trembling feet. One wrong step and I would plunge down into the dark cold, wide expanse of sin. I could only imagine how difficult it would be to find the ladder, whose wide rungs I could barely reach, palms sweating as I struggled to climb high enough to find the tight rope and start again.

Then one day, I had a new thought. What if that tight rope wasn’t high in the air. What if it was simply a path on the ground. I suddenly imagined an immense field, so large it would take a lifetime to cross. I could see the path, straight and smooth and shining in the distance, what must be the gate. But then I began to look around. Among other things, I could see: stands of tall majestic oak trees, valleys filled with yellow daffodils to red roses, to Black Eyed Susan’s, rivers whose waters gurgled and bounced over jagged rocks before opening up into a swamp.pngwide quiet expanse too broad to cross. We, the travelers through life, don’t take the narrow path. We slog around in the marsh or stumble through thorny brambles. We struggle over rocky outcroppings or just sit amongst the wild flowers, smelling their sweetness while we wonder if we’re getting closer to the gate. We go forwards and backwards. We circle and zig zag. Most of the time we have no idea where we are going. Luckily for us, I believe God has a sense of humor. He looks at us, struggling to free ourselves from a thorny mess, smiles and says, “I can work with that.” Then He casts an extra little glow, from the gate, so we can see it.

Now, I try to imagine what it would be like to be in a place, beyond time. God is; and can see it all. He sees the fall of Adam and Eve and His promise to send a savior. He understands the suffering of mankind. He knows our faithfulness too. From His position outside of time, He determines the exact, best moment to place Jesus among us. Through the power of God, all other moments unite, becoming the whole of time and space in that moment. The Annunciation, birth of Christ, three years of public ministry, the Last Supper, Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection occur simultaneously. Each prayer, each church service and each celebration of the Eucharist happen in this same moment. As we move methodically through time, we can choose to be in this presence with Christ, or in time with the world.

This presence is Love. Love so powerful that it left the image of the crucified Christ on His burial cloth, the Shroud of Turin. This power is demonstrated in a recent article which suggests that the image of the crucified man was created by “a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation.” We, with our technology, can only make a faint image similar to the one on the shroud.

(Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2076443/Turin-Shroud-created-flash-supernatural-light.html#ixzz55dp8d3yx )

In the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, God’s power filled His body, bringing Him back to the physical world. He offers that same power to us most completely, through His true presence in the Eucharist. And, just as He is hidden under the appearance of bread and wine, His power is usually hidden in us. Those moments we can sense Him, we can know we are standing with Jesus, the gate of Heaven, united with the present, which is all of space and time.

I am in awe of God’s power and His desire to share it with us. I am dismayed at how much time I still spend in the weeds, stumbling over roots and ragged rocks, only to walk straight into sticky spider webs. I can only imagine what it must be like to trust God enough to let go of the world and enter eternity. I look forward to that reality.

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THOUGHTS: Fragmented by Social Media ALMOST Never Become Blog Posts

I hate the commercial that says, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” An elderly woman lies on the floor, presumably in terrible pain, hoping someone will hear her and come to her aid. The commercial’s product solves her problem by enabling her to connect to help from where she is. Tonight, however, I see that the one who has fallen is me, and there is no product to help me get up. I need to pick myself up, but I lack self-control.Broken mirror

In addition to my dislike for saying no to myself, as I have said before, my focus shifts from activity to activity. But it is worse than that, I become obsessive. Sometimes I binge watch a new favorite TV show and then hyper focus on making videos about it. Then graphic design, then a blog. “And now, it’s taking pictures with the hope that someone will see one and buy it for a whopping $5. I have put so much time and energy into this new pastime that I’m struggling to know what to write for my blog.” (I wrote this a while ago. That phase is already over.) Now, for real, it is Twitter.

I’ve been debating, arguing… secretly cursing… disagreeing and agreeing on Twitter. On the flip side, I have been attacked, accused, supported, insulted, complemented and downright slandered. All of this takes time. A lot of time. Along the way, I have actually learned some things about different views that I didn’t know before. I can’t not get on Twitter to see if someone is posting the same picture for the third time, or if there is some new, interesting question to ponder.

Meanwhile, New Years has come and gone, my delusions of writing great things this year are already covered in cobwebs. I had aspirations of writing about questions atheists ask and how I answer. Why free will is a real thing. I’d discuss my opinion on the damage fragmented Christianity is doing to our faith. Alternative lifestyles and genders contain a wealth of material. At some point I had wanted to put together some information on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Shroud of Turin and Eucharistic Miracles.

Then it occurred to me:

it’s still January,

it’s still today.

In this present moment, the only moment any of us have, I am writing. Sometimes, fragmented thoughts actually do become a blog post. Happy New Year in each new present moment.

 

 

 

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How Do We Stop the Killing?

stopEveryone is looking for answers, while feeling like their side is the only side trying. I have a lot of ideas about this, but I’m struggling to put them together in a coherent way. While I work on that, read this post. It says what I would like to say and so much more.

https://billdyeministries.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/the-problem-of-evil/

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Faith and Synergy

The battle of good versus evil brings up the question as to whether God exists or not. Rather than try to answer the unanswerable, how about we tackle the question: does faith exist? Faith is what it takes to believe something even though it cannot be concretely proved or disproved. Atheists are adamant that there is no God, yet believers won’t be swayed. God fearing individuals are certain that atheists are ignoring the evidence of God’s presence, yet disbelief persists.  Well, that was easy. Faith exists!

White-grape-3Next question: what evidence is there of God’s presence? Hmm, I’m no scholar of any type, but I’m just going to point to the eclipse anyway. First, the sun, earth and moon work synergistically to allow life to thrive on this planet. Next, despite the staggering difference in size, the moon can completely cover the sun during a total eclipse.  I read that, if the earth was the size of a grape, the moon would be about the size of a pea. The sun would then be about the size of a 4-foot beach ball. (Thank you, Pete Harris, for the visual aide.) The sun is 400 times farther from earth than the moon. This puts them in the correct position for a total eclipse. Some say this happened by accident. I say it happened through the power of God. Both sides have faith in their opinion. I guess my only point today is this. I’m taking a road trip to visit my parents and to watch, in awe, the splendor of a total eclipse.

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Pointing Fingers after Charlottesville

pointing-1991215_1280People are angry about the recent violence in Charlottesville, VA. They need someone to blame, and many of them are pointing fingers at President Trump. As much as I would like to point my accusing finger at President Obama, I realize how equally wrong that would be. These are individuals. They are not that powerful by themselves. The direction our nation is taking is a group effort. Shall I accuse an entire political party? Both political parties? I think there is a much simpler answer, at least in defining the issue. This is a battle of good versus evil.

Evil, aka the devil, is an interesting creature. He tells us what we want to hear, hoping we won’t notice where he is leading us. These deceptions can be large or small. For example, during my younger years, I began smoking. I didn’t want to tell my parents, because I knew they were totally against the nasty habit. One day, my mother asked me if I had ever tried smoking cigarettes. I said, yes. Then she asked me if I liked it. I said that I had not. After all, who likes their first cigarette. Basically, I played the part of the devil. I told her what she wanted to hear and no more.

She was so relieved that I knew I would need to hide my habit forever. This would require more deception, like the time I burned a hole in the seat of their car, and had to come up with a story as to how it had happened. I think this is about the time that guilt and anxiety began to build up. I knew I had to come clean, but my mother’s words kept ringing in my ears. When I had said that I didn’t like the cigarette, she replied, “Oh, good,” with a sigh of relief, “you don’t know what it would do to me if you ever walked in the house with a cigarette in your hand.” I was totally miserable. I loved my mother and didn’t want to lie to her, and I didn’t want to hurt her by telling her that I smoked. Through deception, I had created a no win situation for myself.

So, what do cigarettes have to do with rioting protesters? It has to do with motivation. I was motivated to smoke, even though it was bad for my health, it cost money I had little of and it went against my parent’s wishes. In today’s terms, I was offended that they didn’t want me to smoke, so I smoked anyway. The Charlottesville disaster began the same way.

For reasons I don’t understand, people began being offended by statues, like the one of Robert E. Lee, after the senseless deaths of nine black people in Charleston, South Carolina. A crazy person killed nine people. He was a white supremacist; therefore, the statues are offensive and they have to go. That is like saying: I smoked cigarettes against my parent’s wishes. They knew I probably used matches to light them, so, they became offended anytime they saw matches and threw them all out. The conclusion is illogical. Nevertheless, this is the conclusion we have to work with.

Some people were offended. They asked the city council to take the statue down. The city council, rather than preserve a visible reminder of our history, told the offended what they wanted to hear. Because the city council agreed to take the statue down, opposing groups decided to protest. Next the protesters taunted and threatened each other like middle school bullies. Fights broke out. People were injured. No one noticed where evil was going until a crazy person drove a car into the melee, injuring many people and killing a woman.

Perhaps we are growing more offended (intolerant) because we can’t admit that we feel helpless. We need a deception, like taking a stand against the existence of a statue, to give us the false sense that we have done something to make things better. Just as throwing out all the matches in a house will do nothing to stop me from smoking. The Charlottesville protest clearly shows us that this approach didn’t work. I wonder if we have the courage to discover and abandon our deceptions. Only then can we fight the battle of good versus evil instead of each other.

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President Trump: What a Relief!

declaration of independence

I agree with the Declaration of Independence when it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Just to clarify, this was written during a time when everyone (men and women: there were no other gender identities) understood that the use of the pronoun “men” was all-inclusive. This was also written during a time when individuals were not demonized (demons, of the devil) for admitting that there is a Creator, aka God. The writers assumed that everyone already knew the facts they were about to include when they said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,”.

This quote from the Declaration says that we have three unalienable rights. Three things that no man (remember: all-inclusive) or government can take away. They are life; as in not dead. Abortion makes you dead. “Assisted” suicide makes you dead. These are choices that individuals make, no one can force you to give up your life without your permission. Liberty; the ability to exercise free will. The pursuit of Happiness; the action an individual takes to be happy. This does not guarantee success, only the right to try. So, who, in 2016, supported this ideal? Was it the candidate who wanted more government control or the candidate that pissed people off, but wanted to allow individuals to choose their own future?

I sense there is still some confusion, so let’s do some comparisons. Liberals tend to be pro-choice while conservatives tend to be pro-life. The term pro-choice, on the surface, seems to fit with the stance in the declaration concerning life and free will. The truth, however, is that abortion ends the life of a child without that individual’s permission. Assisted suicide preys on people when they are at their weakest. This is not the best condition to be in when making life and death decisions. Next, liberals seem to believe that to be pro-life means to prevent women from getting abortions. The truth, again, is different. Pro-life people offer women an alternative to abortion. They hope that the mother-to-be will choose life for her child, and take advantage of the help they are being offered. Let’s see what else we can compare.

The ideas of liberty and the pursuit of happiness are closely intertwined. We exercise free will to pursue the things that make us happy. (Wow, our country is all about that.) Liberals pursue happiness with an anything-goes attitude. They work to exclude God from public society, because the ideals of faith would tell them they are doing things they should not be doing. Conservatives pursue happiness with the idea that there is more to life than this life. The Creator, God, wants us to be happy with Him in Heaven. This limits the choices we should make to those that help us become better people. This is a very big difference in thinking; a difference that is no longer represented by the republican party or the democratic party. It seemed as if liberals were the only people being represented, and the rest of us are told to sit down and shut up,

Then Mr. Trump strolled onto the stage and began to wreak havoc on the worn out boring political environment. He knew how to get people’s attention and he didn’t worry about whether or not it hurt someone’s feelings. He didn’t use meaningless, feel-good phrases to lull voters into lockstep behind their preferred party. He told us exactly what he would do concerning terrorism, immigration, taxes, foreign affairs and more. Finally, someone was telling us that he would address the issues that we find important.

As voters, we didn’t know if he would follow through with his promises, but he was the only one really offering to try. Since his election, he has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Accord. He has taken steps toward building the border wall, which will slow the hemorrhaging of the resources our federal government provides through tax revenue: infrastructure, education, police and fire protection and welfare services. He temporarily stopped immigration from the few countries known to harbor terrorists, and has worked toward increasing defense funding. These are some of the promises he made, and has kept, to help make the United States a great country again.

Recently, President Trump violated the liberal concept of “placate every whim and desire” when he banned trans individuals from serving in the military. This simply adds one more reason to a long list of situations that can make a person ineligible for military service. Each soldier in the military needs to be tough, both mentally and physically. They need to be highly disciplined, trained and focused. This is why, just as with any specialized job, the standards to get in are rigorous. People who don’t get in the military, don’t curl up and die. They get a different job.

Ultimately, I voted for Donald Trump, despite his often irreverent comments, because he understands the difference between aggressive business practices and socialism. He doesn’t cater to the ever changing complaints of his opponents. Instead, he has offered to do his part to restore the principles that have made our country the most wealthy, most generous, most free country in the world: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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