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Posts Tagged ‘faith comes from hearing’

Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  115                                               Days Blogged: 100

New Mileage: 12                                                               Total Trip Mileage: 843

As I climb on the bike today I am reminded of a previous blog when I noted two certainties in life.  One certainty had to do with the numerous gifts of life whether it is the beauty of a blossom, the sound of children’s voices, friendship or the profound connection we find with the divine. The other certainty was the fact that life presents us with humbling experiences.  In the last day I have again been presented with both certainties.

A gift from the divine!

Yesterday a colleague who has very different opinions from my own cornered me and peppered me with questions about the most current political face-offs.  After a brief discussion I told him I was growing tired of the incessant fighting and the win-lose stances taken by all participants. He commented: “well that’s just the way it is, you’d better get used to it.”  I told him that I refused to accept that finding middle ground was impossible.  He shook his head and walked away.  This left me unsettled and sad for I believe that we must find common ground if we as a nation and world will ever solve the problems we face.

The Monks of Gethsemani.

This afternoon I was searching the web looking for pilgrimage sites and retreat centers to add to my growing list.  I came across the Abby of Gethsemani in Kentucky.  I was struck by the simple and sincere message expressed by the monks: “Communing with the Lord requires a measure of solitude, a stillness and an emptiness, a waiting on and attending to the Spirit.” I was reminded of the profound silence I had experienced at various times and places and of the connectedness with the divine that accompanied it.  I studied the beautiful images that accompanied the words of these humble monks.  The joyful faces on a group of robe clad monks, and deep sense of solitude and conviction in the image of a lone figure.  Then I pulled up another images and immediately recognized the thin monk in the colored robes, I smiled as I read the title: “Dali Lama’s visit.” 

The Dali Lama visits!

There he was, deep in conversation with a monk in a white robe.  They walked across the landscape, two humble men sharing a moment of time, creating a simple but profound image of connectedness.  Each of them is a gift, this moment is a gift, and their image is a gift for all of us.  If these profoundly serious men, each deeply embedded in their own tradition can meet, walk, talk and smile together, then there is hope for all of us.

Solitude and Silence

The website noted that hospitality is an essential element of the monastic life.  It quoted Saint Benedicts 5th century rule: “Let all guests that come to the monastery be received as Christ. For one day he will say: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

I was very moved by this simple image of two monks working to find common ground.  I was reminded that there are those who see past our surface differences; past the names we use for God and pass the Holy Scriptures that we follow those who find the common ground of compassion and love.  Here’s what I found on my blog site when I checked for comments and messages. 

Stationary Pilgrim

Thanks for the civility and honesty.  We are humbled by and grateful for your gracious apology.

There is so much misinformation out there and if anyone really wants to know more they could just visit our website. Thank you for taking the time to actually look deeper into the story and making a fair judgment.

Jon

Faith Comes By Hearing

I was deeply moved and smiled to myself as I responded:

Thank you Jon

We all have a right to speak up but with it come a responsibility to be both honest and humble.  Keep up your good work.  I hope our paths cross again!

 The Stationarypilgrim

Find the Light Within and Then Reach Out!

There is reason to hope, when two monks find common ground, when apologies are extended and accepted, when pilgrims reach across the divide in recognition of each other.

If you like the blog please consider joining the stationarypilgrim’s e-mail list by visiting the subscribe button on the top right corner of this page.  Have a wonderful day!

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Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  110                                                 Days Blogged: 98

New Mileage: 10                                                               Total Trip Mileage: 817

Two Certainties!

As I ride the bike this morning I am reminded about two of the “certainties” of life.  I recognize the wonderful uplifting and unexpected gifts that life, the universe, the divine places on our paths. Last night I sat in the audience as a local theater group presented a musical called Lying to the Sea Gypsy. The cast was comprised entirely of young actors. They sang and danced with an infectious joy and youthful energy. 

This morning I woke to find the landscape blanketed in a beautiful, pristine covering of snow, highlighting the greens of the holly bushes and evergreen trees.  You can be certain these gifts are always there, even if they are not always recognized or appreciated! 

The second certainty is that life will always deal you “humbling” experiences!  In the last several days I have experienced two such situations.  Perhaps it’s just part of the aging process. You know you‘re getting old when you wake up with an ache or pain and you cannot remember what you did the day before to account for it! Last Thursday I spent some time clearing out brush from the woods near the house.  I don’t remember any problems with my ankle, but Friday morning I could barely walk.  My students got an unexpected day off from my classes as I worked with heating pad and ankle wraps to nurse it back to health.  The best laid plans are just that: Plans. Sometime life intercedes and you can do little more than follow its lead. 

Us versus Them Again!

My ankle pain was not the only humbling experience I was in for on Thursday.  I posted my blog expressing my opinion about solar powered bibles being sent to Haiti.  I received a number of comments, several voiced opinions supporting my position.  However, several of my Christian friends pointed out  that the group Faith Comes by Hearing, is also providing the solar powered bibles and  in fact has  teamed up with a long standing Christian relief organization called Convoy of Hope who is providing much needed medicine, food and shelter to the people of Haiti.  In addition, they noted that the bibles had been requested by Convoy of Hope and other Christian relief organizations.  So my visualization of pallets  of unwanted electronic solar powered bibles sitting on some loading dock, taking up valuable space and “getting in the way” does not appear to fit with the reality of the situation. With a deep sense of humbleness, I noted to one of the commentators:  “Anytime you open your mouth there is a good chance you will show your ignorance!”

What is the lesson here?  Perhaps we should not speak before we have all the facts?  Is it that we should in fact not speak at all and just keep our opinions to ourselves?  Is it that we should speak softly and humbly, don’t shout or scream from our soap boxes, realizing that we may discover later that our interpretation was lacking and needs tweaking?

I went to the site posted by one of the Christian commentators and found an article entitled: Audio Bibles, Haiti and atheist hypocrisy.  It presented the information about Convoy for Hope that I referenced earlier, but went on to make this statement: “Certainly, atheists, being absolute materialists, do not see human beings are anything but bio-organisms and require nothing but bio-organic fuel. Yet the Christian view is holistic and thus…. Provide food for both the body and food for the soul.”  I cringed at this statement!  I’m often called an atheist, because I do not experience the divine as a personal deity.  I know God and have a relationship with God, but in a manner more commonly found in Eastern faiths. I and the other atheists I know have a “holistic” view of not just man, but of the whole world and its many ecosystems.

The effect you were looking for?

 And what about this “atheistic hypocrisy” he mentioned?  He notes: “The fact that for at least the last couple of years atheists worldwide have been literally wasting… donated money not in order to help anyone… but in order to purchase anti-theistic and pro-atheist bus ads and billboards in order to demonstrate just how clever they consider themselves to be.”  I hesitate to respond to this statement with the criticism that it begs to elicit from atheists and all other non-believers: What about donated Christian money? How is it being used?  For ads on billboards that say: “Don’t make me come down there! (from)God.”   Or perhaps it’s used to build higher, larger, shinier monster churches?

This author goes on to note: “Now, they (atheists) suddenly anoint themselves the charity police, complain and condemn based, by the way, on relative-subjective-personal preference based “morality.” Ow! A very sweeping statement, lumping a lot of people (different backgrounds and experiences) into a cut and dried category!  Who is sounding “self-anointed” in this presentation of positions?

While I values each person’s comments and opinions and I certainly feel that we all have rights to hold and express them.  I have to again point out the questions I raised in my last posting: What are the consequences of your stated opinions?  Do they take into account not only individual perceived needs, but those of the “others”, whether they are the survivors in Haiti or a bunch of atheists?  This individual received kudos from others who are/were critical of the atheist’s criticism of the audio bible plan.  I suspect some felt he had “scored points” for his side. But has it brought anyone together who was not already talking (i.e. preaching to the choir), has it helped find common ground between peoples of different faiths or no faith? Let me note that my criticism fits for both sides of this debate, for as I was searching for photos to use in today’s post I came across numerous sites, atheist sites I guess, that associated all Christian churches with hypocrisy, and in one case blasted them for: Believing in a paranoid sky fairy!  Such rhetoric can do nothing but inflame negative emotions.  It feeds into an “Us versus Them” stance that benefits no one in the long run.  We, people of all faiths and philosophies, can do better. We must do this if we are to break out of our destructive cycles.  I will start the process by apologizing to the backers of Faith Comes by Hearing for my uninformed criticism! Anyone else? 

I will not accept it as an impossible dream!

 Thank you for visiting my blog, if you like what you read or the process we have undertaken please consider joining stationarypilgrim’s e-mail list by clicking on the tab at the upper right corner of this page.  Have a wonderful day!

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