Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Being Great

Time to Ponder

            So I find myself home-bound due to this beautiful snow falling outside my window.  I enjoy scattering birdseed and filling the feeders for those winged creatures who seem to rejoice in the resources I share with them.
            Alas it gives me time to ponder just what is happening in our land.  As I listen to the “news” it seems that we are a people who have fallen victim to fear.  We fear those who have transgressed and gotten into our country without deserving it.  Does anyone understand why they came?  Or do we care anymore?  We used to care, didn’t we?
            We are afraid someone is going to get something without paying the dues.  What dues did I pay?  My dues came at the hand of being born to the right parents and having the means to get an education.  My earning came from being brought up in a white, middle class church and listening to both the Gospel and the “gospel” of success which became part of my very being.
            We are afraid that under every rock is a terrorist which means they are winning the war while we think we are.  We are afraid that health care should be for those who pay the price instead of thinking of it as a basic right because we are all children of God who get sick under the same umbrella.
            We have allowed the mantra of making our nation great again to erode what it means to be really great.  Being really great is not about being number one or having a flag that reads “Don’t Tread on Me.”  Being great means having a great heart that cares, especially if you have the liberty to be able to care without worrying where your next meal comes from.
            What is happening to us?  In that gospel I mentioned earlier, not the one about success, I was taught that being great means being willing to be a servant.  I learned from a tutor that said that being great means getting at the back of the line sometimes.  The teacher I learned from talked about the being great means paying attention to “the least of these.”  His teacher must have taught him from an ancient book that portrayed God as being angry at people because “they had sold the poor for a pair of shoes.”
            The word “repent” in my sacred book means to turn and go another direction.  It means that there needs to be a change of heart.  O well, it is snowing and it is beautiful out there.  The birds of the air who “neither sow nor reap yet their heavenly father provides,” are outside my window enjoying seeds that they did not earn.  Of course the truth is that it seems that Heavenly Father is depending on me to help out…so I do with joy.
            Let us find joy again in being family with all creatures great and small.  That includes our brothers and sisters who walk on two legs.  Let us find true greatness again by “turning” and having a change of heart.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Intolerant of Intororance

Who is In and Who is Out?

            The older I got and the more I served as a pastor I found myself becoming intolerant of intolerance.  A lot of the religion I encountered seemed focused on who is in and who is out.  I call some of what goes under the name of “faith” simply security based religion that is based upon the certain feeling that a person has to know that they are a “card carrying” believer who is most sure that those who do not carry the proper credentials are and will be on the outside.
            These days this same kind of thinking seems to be very prevalent in our political rhetoric which leads to policies.  We become afraid of those who are not like us.  We label them so that they lose their human status and become members of groups.  In my opinion this is not only bad “policy,” it is unhealthy religion.
            Healthy religion begins with a good dose of humility.  Balanced religion is based on the realization that life is a gift.  It was not ordered out of catalogue.  No one “deserves” to be here.  We are created from a Creator who wanted us here.
            The Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard supposedly stated that we are all born and then given sealed orders.  Life then becomes a process of opening those orders to discover why we are “here.”  So what do you think would be in those sealed orders?
            I think one of the orders that might be common in each of our “packets” is a phrase that comes from Judaism; Tikkun Olam.  It means “to heal the world.”  Yes, we only have to watch the evening news to be reminded that the world is broken but it seems that some religious and political perspectives want us to curse the darkness and allow it to settle into our souls.  This kind of thinking breads the security based perspective that is based upon certain people being “in” and others being “out.”
            How about we open our orders and realize that one reason, and maybe the main reason, we are here is to help God heal the world.  As a pastor countless people came to me saying something like, “Pastor, why is there so much darkness in my life?”  I would listen first and then gently remind them that is has always been dark.
            According to the latest scientific discoveries the cosmos is made up of 95% darkness; dark energy and dark matter.  Only 5% of the universe is made up of light.
            Creation is full of darkness so it is no wonder that our lives contain darkness that includes tragedies, illness, dreams that die, and the constant reality that even nature creates havoc and destruction.  So what are we to do?
            In my tradition we are told from our sacred scripture that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it.”  That does not mean that is not real dark out there.  It is.  But we are to be light bearers.  We are to help the Creator heal the world.
            That healing begins with the recognition that we are all in this together.  It continues on a path that refrains from labels and choosing who is in and who is out.
            Another phrase comes to mind from a different tradition.  In that tradition you do not reach your hand out and shake another hand with the greeting like “How are you.”  In this tradition you cross your arms over your heart and bow to the person in front of you and say, “Namaste,” which means “the divine in me greets the divine in you.”
            So to all of you I say, “Namaste….let us be about the healing of the world…together.”
Jody Seymour

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Distant Knock: Ann Inkeeper Remembers

A Distant Knock
(An Innkeeper Remembers)

Sleep was a friend that
night so full
Tired of disappointment
I no longer responded
to knocks
at my door

No fault of mine was
the forced assembly
My trade was to house
people not excuses
so my words
were clear-
“No room”

My retreat was the night
so in a dream I
heard a distant knock
Wanting not to awake
but I did
to find them

“With Child”…his words
 waking my slumbering soul
What kind of man would
take this risky journey
into the unknown?

Wishing I had stayed dreaming
I led them to my stable
saying not what
was in my heart and mind-
“What kind of world
this must be”

Then in her pain she put
her hand upon my face
and whispered haunting words-
“Bless you dear one-
You make space for
God’s child
this night”

Her kindness contained no judgment
and her words wrapped
me like some blanket
Not ever have I felt
such an accepting

I walked back to my
place of dreaming
wondering about that
distant knock
and what kind
of God
would do this

Jody Seymour –Christmas 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wanting a White Christmas? a poem for Christmas

Wanting a White Christmas?

Again this year that old
sweet voice will echo
through our journey
toward hope

He sings of dreaming
in the midst of
of his warmth of a
day filled
with snow

So it is with us as
we hear the melody
for we yearn to
know and believe that
the desert will bloom

So far away are those
stars where dreams
are often lifted
…so we wonder if
dreams will come true

But listen children of
all ages
A special dream was birthed
long ago though
there was no snow

God’s “white Christmas” came
surrounded by sleepy
animals who wondered
about the strange
visitors who
arrived late

So when next you hear the
song, smile and
know that God’s
dream is real
for you
and this world.
Jody Seymour-Christmas 2017