Tag Archives: Peace

No Need for Eyes to See This

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This morning my granddaughter put on How to Train Your Dragon.  Again.

I sat nearby, reading and thinking, writing a bit, occasionally paying slight attention to the movie.

“In centuries of Vikings, I’m the first one who wouldn’t kill a dragon,” Hiccup sulked to Astrid. Feeling the failure of not living up to his culture’s expectations, feeling the sting of disappointing his father, Hiccup doubted himself. Astrid saw beyond this temporary setback:

“Yeah, the first one who was right.”

 

Hiccup had decided to spare the dragon when he looked into its eyes and realized, “He was just as afraid as I was.” Hiccup saw with the eyes of his heart.

His compassion, as it turned out, changed everything. It changed his father. It changed his village. It changed dragons. It changed him.

We like to think we are far more advanced than the world of Vikings and dragons. But are we?

Do we see with the eyes of our hearts?

Do we find the good?

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©Joan T. Warren

Hang on. Or, Let go.

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Walking out from yoga class tonight, I stopped. A beautiful clutch of autumn leaves held on, unashamed to be the last among all that was gray and dismal.

It is January, in North Florida.

 

I thought of all the times that I’ve heard people say, “Hang on. . . just hang on.”
 
I thought of all the times I’ve heard people say, “Let go. . . just let go and let God.”
 
I thought about how many times it’s been good to hold on, and how many times it’s been good to let go.
 
I thought about the years I struggled, trying so hard to hold on, or trying so hard to let go. Because they said so.
 
Now, at peace. . . with letting go. . . with holding on. At peace with wherever a person is in that process.
 
When it is time to let go, you will know it, and you will be able to let go. When is time for you to hold on, you will know it, and you will be able to hold on.

So hold on, or let go.

Namaste,  salmon leaves of January.

Namaste, Tree Maker.

Namaste, friends.

©Joan T. Warren

It’s not all about what’s inside.

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These days we have disposable containers, because what matters is what’s inside. Right?

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Besides, what’s inside is not the same as the container, right?

Not so, on either count. Often the two are so melded, so interactive, so mutually dependent, that we just can’t separate them. We can’t value them separately, either.

Take, for example, a good book and its cover. Oh, you don’t think so? Well, how about Uranium-235 and its core container? Or, here’s a good one: the inner self and its human body.

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Successful grandkids: My granddaughter contained my grandson the troll, in an unexpected snare.

We are quite attached to these bodies, our containers.

Think about it; when we were little, we’d fall and scrape our knee, and it hurt. We cried. Our inner selves felt as if the world was coming to an end; at least until some sweet and very tall human kissed it, bandaged it, and promised, “No Mercurachrome.”

As children, we saw dead bugs, dead flowers, maybe even some dearly loved dead pets. Our inner selves realized those dead ones aren’t coming back. Most of us learned to be more careful with our bodies, to avoid the pain–and, hopefully, not go away forever.

I know I did. I wanted to grow up to be . . . alive! Then, when I grew up, I wanted to live to raise my daughter. Then, to see my grandchildren succeed. Still, I want to live, to create gifts for future generations.

Speaking of grandkids, I’ve seen this generation grow up playing war and street-gang video games, with avatars instead of real people. They don’t even flinch as they gun down innocent bystanders in the midst of the game. On top of that, the heroes get right up and keep going.

But life is for real, and so is death.

Many religions teach us about the inner person, the spirit, and a glorious afterlife. These teachings are inspirational. They are vital, compelling and comforting. Yet something about this begs more.

Maybe it’s the poor track record religion plays in war and peace.

Maybe it’s the impersonal way many religions try to comfort those who mourn.

Or maybe it’s the fallout of valuing inner, spirit-life as eternal, while considering the containers disposable.

Ask anyone who has lost a loved one; it’s not easy to separate the person from the container that now is gone. There is no one in their arms to hold. The loved one’s laughter no longer fills the room. Yes, the memory remains, and gives some comfort. A little comfort. To the grieving widow, child, and friend, though, the container is gone, and so the person inside.

Last year on this day we lost our beloved . . . been in a daze for over a year. . .

 

Containers are important.

With so much talk about what is in the container, what about the container itself? With such emphasis on inner life, and on the glorious afterlife, do we devalue the precious containers that are vital to achieving our purpose here on earth?

Just tonight, I opened my refrigerator to get a salad I hadn’t been in the mood for yesterday. Having not been sealed in a container, the salad had wilted. I regrouped, and slid it into the juicer with the other veggies. As the juice flowed out, I wondered: what if there were no container to hold the juice? That juice would have spilled out, rather than fulfilling its purpose– to nourish my body.

Our bodies–our containers–are important. They are more than avatars in a game! Take care of your body and treasure what it holds. Encourage others to nurture their bodies. Respect life in others. Feed your bodies with healthy, organic food. Exercise regularly in whatever way you can, building up to and maintaining your best physical state. Take care of the relationships and the planet we need for our containers’ survival. Live in balance: work, rest and play.

For without your container, how will your purpose here be fulfilled?

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For we hold these treasures in jars of clay –II Cor. 4

 

Joan T. Warren
Heart to Heart in a Shielded World

This post grew from:

Containers | The Daily Post
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/containers/

And further developed into a mystery ending with encouragement from:
Mystery Ending | The Daily Post
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/telephone/

This is Where

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This is where blue meets blue, with open arms,
where rainbows signal safe from harm.

This is where dinosaurs meld into angel wings,
where sand crabs wiggle and sea gulls sing.

This is where sea turtles race to the moon at night,
where sailboats glide and swallows take flight.

This is where footprints hint the path behind,
where shoreline paints an easy line.

This is a place of reverence:

where things, once muddled, now make sense,

where troubles pale in light of Thee,

where souls connect in reverie–

a place of merging land and sea,

a place perspective calls to me.

 

photo courtesy Denesia Christine

photo courtesy of Denesia Christine

©Joan T. Warren

Part 3: Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People!

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Perhaps the silence is breaking. In the last few weeks, cbsnews.com, foxnews.com and washingtonpost.com reported violence toward Christian and non-Muslim targets in Syria and Egypt. I still haven’t heard a word of it on the morning news, but at least  three mainstream media sources are touching on this serious human rights violation.

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know I’m grappling with just how to respond to these atrocities. In part one of this series, I covered some personal background regarding author, speaker, activist and theologian, Brian McLaren. His recent blog posts (click here and here) discussed the issue, its relative silence in media and churches, and our responses to it. In part two of this three-part series, I delved into Brian’s first post, in which he posited six possible reasons for silence on the issue. I shared some of my concerns and posed many questions.

In this last installment, we will review Brian’s second post, in which he suggests six courses of action Americans, particularly American christians, should take. This is the post I’ve been looking forward to the most since beginning the series. After all, when people are being murdered just for having different beliefs, it doesn’t make sense to just sit on the problem, not doing anything to prevent future violence. Yet in all this time the most I could come up with actually doing about it, from here in my suburban life in America, is to write this series. I took some time to think about it, to read more, to develop ideas and share a bit at a time because, well, it wasn’t as though I could board a plane over there and step in the middle of it to break it up. Even if I could take the time and spend the money, my presence would only become another statistic, and probably not even make the news.

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Borrowed from donkeyphilosphy.tumblr.com

So, let’s take a look at the six courses of action McLaren recommends, and my responses to his framework. Again I invite you to join me with your responses. Here, again, is the link to Brian’s post; please refresh your memory and give it a read:

Muslims, Christians, Jews and Peace (2)

The first of Brian’s six suggestions makes perfect sense to me:

“We must join together to condemn human rights violations whenever they occur and upon whomever they are inflicted. We must become vocal advocates for the rights of religious minorities. . .”

Absolutely! There is power in numbers and unity. The only word I stumble on is the word “must.” As a recovering child of an alcoholic, there are a few words I am wary of, due to their power to subconsciously constrain me to live up to law instead of freeing me to live under grace, in free will, with choices. “Must” is one of them, along with its buddies, “should,” “ought to” and “have to.” I always try to replace those words in my mind with words like “can,” “it would be good if,” and “let’s.” Rephrasing this statement then, in my mind it becomes “We can join together. . . It would be good to become vocal advocates. . . ”

Having made this freeing distinction, I suggest we need specific means to help translate this into reality. How do we join together? Do organizations exist working to this end? What can we do to become vocal advocates for the rights of religious minorities? Is it enough to engender discussions around the dinner table, at the golf club or in the workplace, or does it mean more than this? After all, people are being slaughtered, shot, blown up, raped, imprisoned, tortured, their necks slit! Do we just timidly raise a hand in a meeting and whisper, “Um, excuse me, but they’re killing people over there?” If it were happening to me, or to someone next to me, I wouldn’t hesitate to shout it out, call for help, make a big deal out of it until someone intervened. How do we do that in this situation? Is our advocacy vocal only or shall we physically fight back?

The second point McLaren makes is a huge task, one which births more questions in my mind: Read the rest of this entry

Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People! Part 2

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“. . . writing from heart to heart toward healthy relationships and living, involves both personal lives on a small scale AND global relationships. After all, we are all individual people on this earth, and we are one humanity.”

Welcome back! This is part two in a three-part series. In part one, we learned some background information that is crucial to understanding this portion. Here is a link to part one:

Excuse me, Part 1

After reading Brian McLaren’s articles addressing the need to speak up about extremist Muslims targeting Christians for death, I shared some background with you on my history of personal experience with author and activist Brian McLaren, and initiated this series as a means to personally respond to his suggestions and to invite further discussion and thought on the matter with you, my readers. This series of three posts can serve as a platform where we can begin to speak about the rising tide of religious violence, and engage in meaningful conversation that has the potential, given form and shape by its partakers, to become a profound and guiding philosophy in our present day challenges.

Personally, I had many questions and concerns while reading McLaren’s articles. I hope that in sharing them here, our mutual engagement may advance my own thinking as well as, perhaps, our global consciousness. Here are my responses to part one of Brian’s article:

First, I must say that I agree with Brian’s assertion that the persecution and murder of Christians and other non-Muslims by extremist and terrorist Muslims is appalling. I agree, too, that the lack of reporting, discussing and acting upon these matters is also abhorrent. As Brian explores possible reasons for the relative silence on the matter, he suggests six possible reasons. Here, I review four of the six that, in my view, need further exploration.

First, Brian suggests that people are silent perhaps because we fear being counted as extremists, but that the resultant silence aides and abets extremism and is in itself evil:

“But wrongly and unwisely – many simply remain silent. In so doing, they aid and abet extremism in both Christian and Muslim communities. As Powers stated, quoting Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.”

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Bonhoeffer

On this point I struggle.  Read the rest of this entry

Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

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Excuse me, but, um, They’re Killing People–Part 1

A Little Background

A friend from the 1970’s is now a well-known writer, activist and speaker. When I first met him, he was probably about twenty years old. He was remarkable, even at that age, in his charisma, warmth, dedication, musical talent and ability to reach out to and relate to nearly anyone in an authentic and meaningful manner. He was the first person I met whose life called me to rethink my oh-so-well-informed-19-year-old-critical-judgment that all Christians are hypocrites.

imageBack then, remember, young people were idealistic. We were peace-loving activists who believed we could change the world. Brian exceeded all the other I’d-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-type activists I knew, as he embodied the notion of love and purity, doing his best to live as Jesus would in present day. No pot-smoking, let’s-all-love-each-other-but-I-really-mean-let’s-go-to-bed-sort was he. No, he was idealism at its best, and I loved him for it. I followed. I joined his family’s home church, meeting in an elementary school on Sundays and in their home on Wednesday nights. They meant to create a new testament church, similar to what the apostles in the early church experienced. We met in a circle, facing one another, talking about how we were doing, sharing a Bible verse that we felt encouraged by that week, praying for each other, singing songs together, breaking bread. I pretty much devoured every word, soaking up the lessons and applying them to my life as if they were the cure to all that ailed me. It was really quite wonderful, while it lasted.

Before long, the little church dissipated, dwindling away rapidly once Brian went off to college. It was he who was the main attraction, after all, in that time and place. Yet we who were impacted by those relational meetings remain bonded over time and space, even sharing a Facebook group today. Brian went on to an English degree, then became a pastor, and later a full-time author, activist and speaker.

Several years ago I stumbled upon him again, and found that he has not lost the ability to influence me powerfully. Through exchanging a few emails, reading a few of his books, his blog and Facebook page, Brian again spurs me to go beyond my working definitions in life, and out of my realm of comfort.

imageNot blindly, though: I am not a loyal follower of anyone like I was when I was 20. No, these days I’m more apt to think for myself. I’ve seen enough hypocrisy among Christian leadership to make me reconsider my 19-year-old-wisdom. I’ve met more dysfunctional, toxic and down-right scary folks in churches than anywhere else, and I’ve met some of the most sincere, authentic people-of-little-faith in the most ungodly  places.  So, now, when I read Brian’s writing, I don’t swallow it whole, but I certainly give it thoughtful consideration. Read the rest of this entry