Posts Tagged ‘human suffering’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 134                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 116

Today’s Mileage:  5                                             Total Trip Mileage: 943

Ideals at what costs?

Yesterday I blogged about the Canaveral National Seashore and then did an abrupt shift to talk about the faculty recital that I had just witnessed.  Clearly we can spend time analyzing the meaning of things, like nature, and their significance in an intellectual way.  We can also “be in the moment,” turning off our analyze functions and just experiencing the music and lyrics.  I’m reminded that the importance of nature is not in what it stands for, as much as it is in the experience it provides to us.  It can be a unifying and transcending experience that I believe is available to us if we open ourselves up to it and listen.

Hoping for a different outcome!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog on today as we continue to ride up the coast.  Tomorrow we will turn west to catch an important pilgrimage site before we turn toward Jacksonville and St. Augustine.  I started the day drinking my coffee and reading the newspaper.  I had to chuckle at a cartoon which showed two people living in a cave when the man says to the women: “if you keep harping on the $#@! Results, you’ll NEVER be able to see what a perfectly sound economic theory it was!”  I have had similar discussions with individuals about political theory, theological theory, and psychology theory.  It is important to have a theory to guide our decisions.  However theories must be tested with the “data” and adjusted accordingly.

Years ago I had a colleague who spent twenty years researching a particular area of study.  He had published books on the topic and was a nationally recognized expert.  Then after a series of new discoveries, made by other researchers, it became obvious that his theory no longer explained the data, and that a new competing theory was better.  Like a good scientist he published a statement acknowledging the validity of a new theory.  It takes a strong and secure person to admit that their ideas are no longer supported.  Only then can a person truly move on and make good decisions, otherwise you are just doing the same thing and hoping for a different outcome.

As I drove to the university I heard a piece on the radio news announcing a proposed law in my state.   The topic is a hot button issue for many people and occurs against the larger backdrop of stories about people sufferings (e.g., Haiti, unemployment).  Politicians in Washington struggle with how to deal with so many people out of work, so many people running out of unemployment, so many people losing their homes, so much suffering!  With this backdrop of human suffering what I see is a need for compassionate responses.  A need for decisions that actually take into account those who are suffering!

In the mean time, a state legislator from my state has proposed that coverage for any abortion, for any reason be dropped from all state health plans.  If this proposal becomes law my state will turn to a young woman, a victim of rape carrying a pregnancy she did not want and tell her, sorry there’s nothing we can do!  My state will turn to a young woman a victim of the most hideous breach of trust, a victim of incest, who is carrying an unwanted pregnancy and say to her, sorry there’s nothing we can do!  My state will turn to a woman in danger of losing her life because of a threatening pregnancy and say to her, her husband and family, sorry there’s nothing we can do!

Ideals for all of us!

Why can’t we do the obvious and offer them the option of terminating the pregnancy of resuming a somewhat normal life or saving their life?  We can’t because we are striving for an ideal, an ideal world in which there are no abortions.  If we create such a law are we really moving closer to this ideal world?  Will there be less rape, less incest, fewer unwanted pregnancy, fewer pregnancy related deaths.  Is this ideal world a place without compassion, where the only concern is for the “pregnancy” whether wanted or not?  Ideals are important, ideals are benchmarks we can work toward, and ideals help us redouble our efforts toward our goal.  However, an approach that champions “ideals at all costs” ignores the cost of their positions, ignores the victims and becomes another variation of “ends justify the means.”

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 66                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 67

Today’s Mileage:  7                                           Total Trip Mileage: 579

The red line marks our progress.

Just need mixing and time!

I continue to approach with a joyful sense of discovery, the process of creating a daily blog. When I first envisioned this journey a friend told me it would be “far too difficult to find topics.”  Another friend, an artist, laughed and stated: “Oh no, how to turn off the ideas will be your problem!”  I am finding that blogging is a bit like being a baker.  Ingredients come together from a multitude of sources (e.g., thoughts, sensory impressions, readings, statements of friends, news reports, church sermons) to name just a few. The dough is mixed and kneaded then set aside to rise. The topic I intended to speak about today was not quite ready; it needs a bit more leavening time.  What to do?  Driving to work on a foggy morning, thoughts like swirling ingredients fill my head, and then without warning, a scene unfolds before my eyes:

A light fog

Hangs over the landscape

The tall pine trees  

That line the damp roadway

Fade off into a distant white


I notice first one

Majestic soaring figure

Then a second and a third

Gliding silently overhead


Close to a dozen birds

Giant wingspans

Fade into and out of view

In the dense fog



Making silent circles in the sky.

Like ghosts


Like spirits

On a spiral staircase


How beautiful I think

These feathered beings

Gliding and banking

In some group dance


I frown and sigh

Realizing what this

Choreographed event

Must mean


Then I see it

Lying still

Feet from the roadway

A dead deer


A sacrifice to man’s

Need for speed

A feast for circling vultures

Just a single scene

In the greater dance of Life

I am struck by the synchronicity of this poem as I was thinking about a comment from a visitor to my blog.  They told me about a friend who left their childhood faith for another, but then returned when he realized that  he was not measuring up to the demands of this new faith and that he might not achieve Paradise in a single lifetime.

To worry, to struggle and suffer is to be human.  Do we ever measure up to the ideal?  Are we ever the parent we could be, the spouse we expected to be, the perfect son or daughter?  Are we ever worthy of being held up as a model of perfection, as a goal for others to strive toward?  Don’t we all fall short, whether a spiritual pilgrim, a celebrated athlete, a governor, a senator, a President?  We all fail to measure up in some way. We are all human! 

 People seek new relationships, new jobs, new churches, and seek new paths because they don’t measure up to the ideals of their previous choices.  Especially if these alternative choices promise to be easier, or faster, or less lonely, or to possess more of “the truth”  than the old path.

Share a slice of your gifts with others.

Death and vultures are an inevitable final act to be encountered upon all physical creatures’ journey. In my view, the lesson of this poem and a fellow pilgrim’s story is in the importance of the process of the dance of life.  Rather than ask: How am I measuring up?  Ask yourself: What have I done with the daily gifts I receive as my clock “ticks down?”  Have you tried to hold on to youth, hoarded resources you can’t take with you, have you made your choices based on a future goal rather than the present circumstances?  Have you focused on the needs of the people within arm’s reach, of those who overhear your words, of those who oversee your actions?  Has your goal been far off and unattainable in this lifetime?  As the saying goes, the past is history, the future is a mystery, and the present is a gift! 

I struggle to make the most of my gifts and to share them with others.  There will be a final curtain call for all of us.  Whether you believe in a “hereafter” or just an end, we all share in the gift of the present.  We all have the choice of how to celebrate and share it with others.  How will you celebrate and share it today?


In the end, what have you shared and who have you touched?

A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside.

 The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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