When Reason Fails

Many of us have spent a lot of time discussing, and sometimes arguing, political thoughts and beliefs. For some of us the current human condition, masked as political belief, has appeared to be an uncovering of a dank underbelly of humanity. We have seen bias verbalized as a norm, and for many it feels much like “here we go again”. I have personally verbalized “how can we still have so much bias and hatred in ‘our modern society’.”

When blessed with the wisdom of perception, I have recognized that for every season of humanity the thought that the human race was evolved or become modern has been paramount to holding on. Thoughts of “we are evolved, we have made it, and this time we know the answer” have plagued humankind from the beginning. There are multiple religions based solely on this premise; governments as well. There are a multitude of ancient writings attempting to understand our place in the universe in relation to God.

Most of these ancient text attempt to define the relationship between humanity and God. In a vast number of writings, dating from the earliest written text to those coming to creation in this moment, one thing remains constant; we do not know the answer, and neither did the ancient prophets and teachers, simply because there is no eternal answer in a constantly shifting universe. This statement seems sacrilegious. But I ask the questions; sacrilegious to what written history? Sacrilegious to what society? In order to address this question I contend we need context, and to be clear, I don’t wish to finish this thought with answering the question of context for any of the ancient text; instead I seek today’s answer. What is relevant to the now; do we recognize that culture, language, and society is defined by the actions it takes when the Universe proves that we are not in control, and do we recognize that the answer for today will not be the answer for tomorrow?

Experiencing life cannot be the same for me as it is for you; how could it be? I am not having the same experiences that you are; nor does anyone have my interaction with my experience. Even those of us sharing life with another do not share the same interactions with experiences. If you hesitate to believe me watch a movie with others or join a book club. Have you ever questioned “how did you and I see the same movie, or read the same book, and have a completely different experience?” Why then would I believe that my experience with God, and with life, would look exactly like yours?

Uncertainty floods us when reason fails, and we look to someone to make sense of uncertain times. Humans tend to seek someone else’s answer to uncertain times, and to complicate it more, most of the time we seek someone else’s understanding of truth. To be bold I am going to ask you to dive into my last statement. Question yourself; is this my truth or is this truth my church’s definition of truth, is this my political parties truth, is this my spouse’s truth, or my parent’s truth? I cannot direct you to your answer, but I can suggest that you dive in and determine your answer.

Why do I think this is important? It is important because in 2020 reason failed. This is an opportunity to define individually who we want to be collectively. Do we stand alone or do we stand strong as a world population? The paradigm shift forced by COVID will have a vast effect on our reentry plans. As individuals we must define our truths and recreate the world in our vision. Don’t fool yourself into believing that the world we are leaving behind was created outside of this thought; the world of division, war, and hatred of those who look different than us was created by us. It was created by a collective of ancient and ongoing group think defined by others.

Not believing in coincidence I believe that COVID during LENT is telling. Do we stand united in crucifying those whom we do not understand, or do we stand as fully integrated human beings for the creation of a one world mentality? Built on fully understanding our individual truth brought into a collective belief that all of the world population is creating together. Creating a future collective of higher thought; supporting our brothers and sisters as one world united, creating a world we can be proud of, and breaking down the regions of divisive national boarders.

This is our season; what are we going to plant?

True to the title of my blog, this has been a moment of my musings.

Peace all.


You Can Get Back To Who You Were

On Friday evening, Bill and I went to see Beautiful Boy. Beautiful Boy is about the relationship between a father (David) and a son (Nic); the son begins experimenting with drugs in his early teens, and he becomes addicted to meth. Beautiful Boy is a mash up of the father’s exploration of addiction and writing of his experience as Nic’s father, and the son’s writing of his story while being David’s son.

My personal experience of the movie was emotional from both points; I am a recovering addict and I am a father. As I experienced the telling of the story I found myself identifying mostly with Nic; the truth of his love for his father was evident, and yet the love of the drugs continued to be bigger than a father’s love.

There were a couple of statements in the dialogue that were glaring to me; glaring to the addict in me who is still alive and well; he may not be an addict that is fed currently, but he is an addict that continues to attempt to become strengthened through any type of additive behavior; he waits all of the time. The two statements in the movie brought to me an awareness of the language of awakening that my internal addict listens for, and my addicts reaction to the language of normalcy.

During one of the moments when David and Nic are discussing treatment, David tells Nic, “You can get control of this, and be the person you were before”. My immediate reaction was, “oh my God, that’s the thing, I never want to be the person I was before drugs”, and then the father that I am asked “why, what was wrong with you before drugs?”

The thing is my family and friends remember me as a happy child with a sparkle in my eye. What I remember is always thinking I was separate from everyone and everything; I remember trying to figure out if everyone felt separate and different all of the fucking time, and I remember that I didn’t even know how to ask. How do you describe the feeling of separate and different?

For addicts, for this addict at least, there is no concept of normal. To this day I see what society, television, and relationships present as acceptable; I see the degrees of these presentations, and I either have to settle for or strive for any of those concepts. As a child I never felt that I was enough and I was constantly accused of always wanting more than I deserved. How could I tell the people who were around me that I was always on a razor’s edge of existence? Although I continue to learn to accept what is while striving for what can be, the razor has not dulled; I have simply become acquainted with recognizing it for what it is; life. I will honestly tell you, for this addict, this is the truth, and so is the fact that I think the answer sucks.

The second statement in Beautiful Boy that glared at me was in a scene where Nic was visiting his family; Nic had, at this time, put together a bit over 400 days clean and sober; he was playing on the beach with his little brother; they had not seen each other for a little over 1 year, and Nic asked his brother “is it weird seeing me again after so long?” His little brother said “I thought it would be, but it turns out you are just the same old Nic?” I knew that Nic would be triggered to relapse as soon as his brother said it. How did I know? I knew because the black hole that addiction fills does not like to be compared to who I have always been. You see, who I have always been is the guy on the razor’s edge of existence; please try to understand, I may not have wanted to physically die; however, I set out to kill the feeling of separate and different. It is imposable for those of you comfortable with normalcy to understand my aversion to anything normal.

I cannot state the level of my gratitude for the many years of sobriety that I have; however, the longer I am sober the more I recognize my truth; I never want to be the person that I was before drugs, and I never what to be the same old Ken. I may understand David, but I really understand Nic;  love is stronger than addiction; however, for those who are suffering from addiction, disease, or depression, I beg of you to allow us to let go of who we always were; I promise you that no one who is suffering wants to go back to the days before while fighting to get to the days after.

Peace All


Have We Lost Our Belief in Magic


As I watch King Arthur: Legend of The Sword; I am struck by the magical qualities of good versus evil, or if you prefer right action versus wrong action. In this movie, as well as most movies where evil prevails and periods of darkness ascend onto the earth, there are legends of magical beings; in this case the sword of the true king (Arthur). The prevailing king killed his brother in order to obtain power; this king chose to use the powers of the underworld in order to achieve his dream of power.

It stuck me that legends and mythologies are created in order to explain opposing viewpoints, and the powers that drive these power centers. It is important to note that there are few morally acceptable actions on either side of the argument. For instance, in this particular movie, Arthur is raised in a brothel and builds his own fortune by taking from those who appear to be less moral than he. When Arthur finally takes action against a Viking who is in the coffers of the king, the story is allowed to take hold.
These legends personify good versus evil by creating characters in which the reader or viewer can become emotionally attached to. Although Arthur is himself a thief he is a beloved character; a character that creates a visceral reaction to the reader, a reaction that causes the viewer to cheer for Arthur to prevail. All legends and mythologies follow the same story line; Jesus, Mohammed, The Buddha, and all such religious leaders are part of these story lines. Each of these stories contains the Magic of other worldly sources in order to allow the protagonist to reach his or her full potential; whether in dream or through suffering of some sort; usually through both, in order to allow the growth necessary to prevail.

These stories, whether legend or mythology, should remind us to continue to believe in magic. Legends create magical swords or any number of other such things in order to bring about better times for all of the land; mythologies tell stories of prophets and leaders past who have caused humanity to remember who we are. Of course there are different paths to this remembrance, the Abrahamic religions tell the story of a God who directly intervened in humanity; Buddha laid down a path where one can become his own protagonist through self discovery; whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or simply a non-religion-practicing human on a journey of life, we are all called to find right versus wrong in our own way. It is the legends and the mythologies that remind us to tap into the magic that is greater than the day to day doing-ness of human existence; these stories reminds us to tab into the greater story of humanity as the whole.

There is a yin and yang of existence; it would be impossible in this physical universe for it to be otherwise. We are all part of the physicality that is existence. Legends and mythologies remind us that we are also part of the magic that is the driving force of life; this is yin and yang. Storytellers throughout history have passed down stories; are we listening; do we remain capable of tapping into the magic that defines our purpose? I invite you to read the legends and mythologies and believe; believe in the magic that allows humanity to remember its vastness; not in wealth but in our personal affinity with the magic of creation; we are yin and yang and we are all capable of magic.

Peace All!

Reclaiming Life on Step at a Time

In March of 1987 I was sitting in a bathroom in Longmont Colorado with a knife in my hand deciding if I would have the guts to ram it into my throat and end my life. I had reached the end of my usefulness as a human being. This is not drama; this is instead what my bottom looked like as an untreated alcoholic. I was not quite 26 years old and I had drunk myself into a state of total failure. For some months I had been living with friends of mine who gave me a place to live after I had been asked to leave my job, because of my addiction. Kevin and Donna didn’t allow me to be homeless; Kevin and I were friends because of our addictions, and my way of saying thank you was to start sleeping with Donna.

On that March day Kevin and Donna were out of the apartment and I was falling apart; I didn’t chicken out on killing myself; I did see a vision of Donna coming home and finding me, blood pooled around me and flowing into the attached kitchen, and I didn’t want to make Donna and their daughter have to live with that memory; that vision kept me from taking such an action. Instead I formed a plan; I would drive my car off of Peak-to-Peak highway between Nederland and Allen’s Park; it would look like an accident and everyone, including my own family in Illinois, would believe that I was probably drunk when the accident happened. Luckily I was so financially broken that there was no way to buy the gasoline to get the car to Nederland.

I stayed at that bottom until April 6 of that same year when I came to with one thought in my head “if you drink today you are going to die, if you should chose to stop I will be with you always.” I haven’t let go of that thought in these 30 years and I continue to experience new heights of experiencing life since. However, it was not an easy transition from that bottom; I made it clear to Donna that I was going to get clean, from alcohol and drugs; I also made it clear that I was not going to do any of that AA shit! By April 9 my detox had become so hard that I threatened to kill Donna and her child; the same people that I did not want to damage by allowing them to find me in a pool of blood just 1 month before; I told Donna my plan, I also told her that when Kevin came home I was going to kill him as well; “I just want someone to feel as broken as I do” I said.

Donna very calmly asked me if I would allow them to contact the Alcohol Recovery Center (ARC) in Boulder and she asked if I would go there to finish detoxing; I told her that it was probably a good idea; she did and I began the process of rising up. There was a policy with Boulder County that I would need to have a blood alcohol content in order for them to accept me; I begged them to make an allowance, I was so convinced that one more drink would be my last and that I would not, I could not, drink in order to be accepted; they took me in and for the next 6 months things became worse. For a second time I was introduced to AA; the people in the rooms took me in and taught me how to sit on my hands so that I wouldn’t pick up a drink, and slowly I was able to put multiple one-day-at-a-times in a row until I had put together some time.

In the beginning not drinking and realizing that my life was completely unmanageable were the only two things I did correctly; even these 30 years and a few months later, I believe that my first year of sobriety had to be hard, and sometimes miserable, so that I would continue to have the resolve to continue. I have often stated “I stayed sober for the first 5 to 7 years because I didn’t want to suffer through getting sober again.” It is deeper than that, I stayed sober then, and I stay sober now, because I believe with all of my heart and soul that I don’t have one more drunk in me; I truly believe two things; 1) I turned that part of my brokenness over to God and God and I both know that the next drunk will kill me, and 2) God loves this broken ass drunk enough not to allow me the freedom to test my theory.

The only thing I have been perfect in doing in these past 30+ years is not picking up a drink; I have had to learn, through other life lessons that God is all or God is nothing. Today, July 23, 2017 I am sitting on my patio feeling humble, happy, joyous, and free; not because I have adhered to all of the 12 steps of AA in a perfect manner; but because life is a beautiful and profoundly real experience that I am blessed to continue to experience and grow from. My successes in these sober years have been successes of allowing myself to live, even when I don’t understand what is happening, and to get up, suit up, and show up for the day in front of me.

Peace All.


The biggest creator of oppression is the illusion of freedom. We create this illusion from the time our children are born. We use society, schools, and churches to support oppression and we call it freedom. The Christian faith celebrates the death and resurrection of a savior, Jesus the Christ, who conquered death in order to save God’s people. However, in order for the children of God to enjoy the freedom that The Christ Suffering offers we must sacrifice those qualities within us that the Church deems reprehensible to God. Good saintly people must profess, I am not worthy of God’s grace, or, I fail more than others, but it is when asking forgiveness that I find my grace in God  or some such sentiment to make oneself less than they are.  The problem with this freedom is it is not freedom at all; it is an illusion that creates oppression.

Where am I going with this? Is this an attack on basic Christian principles? No, it isn’t; this is my confession of sorts, my confession of misleading others and myself in the truth of freedom. I, for many years, lived in the joy of oppression in order to attempt to become the man that God had created me to be, only to finally find that the more I attempted to find the man that I am in another’s eyes the less of the man that I am was honored.   People outside of my immediate family, who knew me as a child, knew how blissfully oppressed I was. How empty the celebration of my attempt at holiness was. Over the course of the past five years I have become the man that God created me to be, simply by discovering my truths. These truths do not fit into the mold of the freedom of oppression. I no longer feel the need to be in your face with my truth because I am no longer trying to prove my truth to myself. I am a God loving gay man who is loved by God.

There has been an abundance of freedom offered to my kind in the past few years, and there is a big consensus of fear that these freedoms are going to be taken away. I want to take a couple of minutes to share in what ways these freedoms can never be taken from us. These freedoms are not granted by the state; the federal government does not grant these freedoms; these freedoms are instead granted because we accept them to be true. Just as in my understanding that I am more of a man of God today in my fullness of understanding who I am, I am also free to love and be married to my husband because I choose it to be so. Bill and I were married for 18 years before we could celebrate our Civil Union. It was just before our 19th anniversary that we were legally allowed to be married. Although I am sure that the next couple of years are going to be challenging, and possibly painful to many of us, I want to remind you, and me, that our freedom is not being taken away. The legalities may be challenged, but our freedom does not reside in the legalities, our freedom lies within each of us, and the legalities are simply a luxury. Don’t get me wrong, my legal marriage is a great luxury, however, the current political climate will not destroy my freedom unless I allow it to do so, and I will not.

There are those within the Christian world that wish to believe that my gay life is an affront to God, Church, and therefore American Liberties. Simply stated, fuck them and what they wish to believe. I can reflect back to when Bill and I sent our Civil Union party invitations; I received a message from a well-meaning friend who said, “I love you and Bill but as a Christian I don’t know how I feel about this Civil Union.” Today I can thank her for that statement. Why? I can be grateful for that statement because it finally made me understand one thing, “the only person who needs to come to terms with how God views homosexuality is the homosexual.” So remember, our right to be gay is not being attacked, even if we as a group or an individual should be attacked, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we will thrive, love will win, and we cannot react to hatred with hatred. Hate in reaction to hate has never created peace and it never will. There are only two base emotions afforded to the human animal; these emotions are love and fear. Remember those who are coming into power are reacting out of the emotion of fear; statements such as “we will make America great again” affirm for me that there is a fear that America is not great, and in many ways it is true, America is far from great, but that does not make me afraid, it makes me accept the challenge.

“From those who have much, much will be demanded” is a statement made in the Christian bible by Jesus. The statement is true. America is not great and it never has been, simply because those who have much wish to hold onto it all. And I am not talking about the 3% who hold all of the supposed wealth; I am speaking of all of us living in blessing every single day; those of us who ignore the oppressed. The oppressed of whom I speak are those oppressed who live in the illusion of freedom; those who believe that Christianity is under attack. Could it possibly be our calling, as those who have broken free from the illusion, to show the true grace that is God in our lives, in our freedom; the true freedom that is our existence?  Because let me make one thing abundantly clear; we, those who want to hold on to our rights with the same vigor that the 3% want to hold onto their wealth, created the next four years of pain just as sure was those who voted for the Trumpacy, and it is we who will be responsible to love our neighbors out of oppression. Believe me when I tell you that loving someone or something out of oppression is not a simple statement but an arduous action required by the blessed.   Let’s step into the garden and plant our future. In his last hours Jesus said, ‘he who lives by the sword will die by the sword”. We cannot change the reality of the past three months, but we can affect the reality of the next few years. Working together love will prevail. Michael Jackson told us how; begin with the “man in the mirror”.
Peace all.

The Rock Has Become Heavy

Our precious Addie reached the end of her journey on August 31, 2015, and Sisyphus’ rock was once again put in my care; it is a heavy rock and it seems to be resisting my influence, or at the very least in this moment it seems to be more attuned to gravity. Gravity in the sense that the rock is heavy, and gravity in the sense that this moment in and of itself is heavier than I thought it could be.
In June of 2005 I decided that we needed a dog; Bill was not really in agreement, but during our negotiations we came to an agreement, “we have spent the past 9 years without a dog and now we can spend the next 9 years with a dog, and at the end of that time we will decide which 9 years was better.” Prior to Addie coming into our lives our home looked as if we were getting ready for a photo shoot. The lawns, the gardens, and especially the house were always pristine. Bill exercises great pride in keeping a beautiful home and I am forever grateful to him for that. But that all changed quickly, the back lawn began to have dead spots, the carpet had paw prints, and I did not keep my promise of vacuuming at least once per week. To be honest, I really did plan on being helpful, but I just didn’t feel motivated to do so.
But with all of those truths, the bigger truth is, Addie brought to us so much life and purpose beyond our imagining that none of the rest of it seemed to matter. I readily adopted the mantra “who cares about the grass, Addie is so much more important than a perfect lawn” and I continue to believe in this mantra. However, part of the weight of the rock is, we are left with a less than perfect lawn and we are left with a carpet that has been lived on by a big dog; when I look at these things now, I am forced to see them without following through with a kiss to Addie’s beautiful face. Bill doesn’t get to lay on the floor and cuddle with Addie and decide that he just doesn’t care about water spots on the wood floors, at least in that moment.
Addie was the security blanket that we hugged when life seemed bigger than we could handle; when we closed our floral business in 2007 Addie dried the tears from Bill’s face; when we both had major medical issues in 2009, 2010, and 2011, Addie listened and loved the partner while the other was busy being the patient. When I returned home from my father’s funeral Addie greeted me at the door with the love reserved for a pet owner from his pet. But today, as I attempt to pick up the rock of grief Addie is the cause and not the cure.
I am so blessed to be a human who understands the need for physical healing of spiritual and emotional pain. Pets fill this need so beautifully, and although we have our little Mario, a precocious Min Pin, and we love him so very much, Mario cannot fill the space that Addie has left; Mario is experiencing his own loss. In the last year of her life Addie’s needs changed the ritual profoundly. She could no longer make it up the stairs from her kennel in the basement; we moved her to a dog bed in the middle of the living room, and we placed Mario’s kennel next to the fire place. The dog dishes had to be moved upstairs also; they became a decorating fixture between my chair and the French patio doors. The feeding schedule became shoving Addie’s meds down her throat while Mario did a happy dance waiting to have his food dish placed on the floor under Addie’s elevated dish. The evening of August 31 all those changes became moot and Mario gets to learn a new ritual.
Today, as I reflect on the negotiations of June of 2005, I am reminded that I promised to ask the question; “which was better, the nine years without a dog, or the nine (actually 10) years with a dog?” And as heavy as this damn rock is, as much as I want to reach the moment when her beauty is more paramount in my existence than the profound loss that I feel, I can tell you with no hesitation, Addie was given to us prior to our understanding how much we would need to have her, and there is no comparison to life before Addie to life with Addie; if only I could find peace with life after Addie I could begin the journey up the hill to at long last leave the rock at the summit in honor of our beautiful girl.
Peace all.

On the Subject Of Trees

I love trees; I love the majestic and serene quality that a tree expresses in its very existence, and today as I was walking through campus I was drawn to an oak tree and a Colorado blue spruce that are sharing a particularly tight space; the way that these two trees share that small space opened my heart to balance. Have you ever noticed two or more trees that are sharing a space? I mean really looked at the trees and paid attention to their energy.

I realized that in nature we are given every indication of how to live on this planet; I noticed that each of these trees is forced to give up a part of itself, and yet neither tree becomes less. Both of these trees maintain majesty and strength yet neither is able to be perfect, in the everyday sense of the word. The oak tree has spots where the branches are stunted and the same is true for the spruce; both trees are growing to full height; they are each a bit bowed; but the important thing is they share a small space and create beauty in their unity.

As a part of nature humans have the same ability to share our space, and for the most part we do this well, except for the desire to express our perfectness. You see, in order for either the oak tree or the Colorado blue spruce to be perfect they would have to stand alone; they could not share space; they would have to remain separate; when we insist on being mighty we must stand alone or at the very least force others to loose themselves for our mightiness; we may look good, but we don’t learn to deny ourselves so that others may grow.

Humans tend to think in terms of us against nature; as a whole we no longer look at how we can live in balance with nature but more to how we can be a power over nature. The problem with this is we are created in balance with nature and in this balance we are a power; what we do not do is stand alone; we stand in unity with our surroundings. Pondering how the oak tree and the Colorado blue spruce tree share space and allow the other to exist brought me back to this simple and profound truth.

Peace all.


“Anti” is As Harmful as “Only”

“Anti” is As Harmful as “Only”

Before I begin this musing, please accept the knowledge that this is merely a musing; I am not attempting to be academic; however, this musing is heartfelt and necessary in today’s politically charged religious climate. I have been compelled to write this because of my reaction to a sampling of postings on Facebook.

I have argued in more than one academic essay “the American public is becoming less churched, and as this happens that same public is receiving ‘spiritual’ teaching from the religion of politics instead of theology.” Anti religious rants need to be directed toward the correct source, religion in politics, and not those who profess their faith outside of politics.

I was raised in a typical Christian home; we did not attend church, we did not study Christian scriptures, and yet we were called to live up to an ideology based on the mythology of religion passed to us from our societal influences. As I grew into a religious slumber I began to receive my understanding of God through the attitudes of those around me not from religious scholars or theologians. In my adulthood I have chosen to study religion in academia; studying the history of religions and the impact that society has had on that history causes me to discern the difference between theological religious teachings and the current political attempt to affect religious understanding.

While it is true that I am becoming less confined to Christian ideology in my beliefs, it is not true that I am becoming “anti” Christian; I feel that “Anti Christian” or “anti anything” is as harmful to my well being as “Only Christian”. I also find that as I move out of the box of mythology around Christianity I am becoming encompassed by the vastness of God through the teachings of all world religions; I am also profoundly aware that all world religions, including Christianity, are historically defined by society; although it seems as if in the modern world this is true for Christianity more so than other religions (possibly more on that in a future musing).   But suffice it to say that there are fundamental reasons that the term Christianity is a huge umbrella that includes everything from the Orthodox Catholic religions to the storefront churches that can be found in any-town USA.

When I read posting on Facebook discrediting Christianity I am saddened; not by the attack on Christianity but on the falsehood about Christianity that compelled the writer to react. It is disheartening to experience the opening and closing of a mind within a single moment; most of the anti Christian postings are based on pseudo Christian based rants that are anti something, be it anti-abortion, anti-same-sex-marriage, anti-Muslim, or anti-any-number-of -things. The loving and healthy approach to these statements of concrete anti… is not another concrete anti statement; we cannot remove the blinders of limitation by inflicting yet more limitations.

As I become less boxed into my religiosity I am becoming freer in my religious beliefs. As I become freer in my beliefs I am more able to allow others to disagree with me simply because I too have been at that stage of religiosity at some point in time. In other words, I am becoming more able to allow others to grow and discern in the timing that their soul calls for, not in the timing that makes me comfortable. And so I reach an end of this musing, or rant if you prefer, and in the end I ask all who read this to please meet resistance with positive pressure by meeting anger with love, and to give understanding when you receive no understanding. The fight is political not spiritual; however, our spiritual well being, both personally and societal, depends on freeing the spirits of our neighbors; negative energy expended will create negative energy in return; if you don’t’ agree simply watch your own reaction to those who do not agree with you; how readily do you meet that disagreement with loving understanding?

Peace All


Churches Have Failed

In the past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to visit with two men who are homeless.  One of the men, Matt is in his mid to late forties, the second, Robbie, is in his early twenties.  Both of these encounters allowed me to exercise my greatest freedom, to feed the poor and to listen to their stories.

After meeting Robbie, I drove through a neighborhood with a number of churches and I wondered “what would have to change in our society for churches to be opened to the homeless?”  That question was followed by the thought “opening churches would just enable people to stay in their current condition, it would not help them to make better choices.”

Recovery groups, counselors, and self help books seem to advise against enabling; I get that, I understand that helping someone should be about helping that person to rise up and walk, as one of the stories in the Christian scriptures puts it.  However, who determines when someone is healed enough to make that ultimate change in direction?

In my early sobriety I was unable to function; I was unable to produce a coherent thought; how then was I supposed to hold a job? The people who rescued me, those people who enabled me had no way of knowing that I earnestly wanted to survive and later thrive; they only knew that I needed shelter and food. Just as I was in those early days, there or those who are down in life, the hungry, the homeless, the broken, who need what I was given, the time to heal and become strong enough to walk upright.  I was able to provide sustenance for both Matt and Robbie, and believe me  they both needed to be fed; however, I was not able to be a part of either of their lives long enough to provide them time to heal; but our churches can be and should be.

One of the greatest spiritual tragedies of humanity is enabling a church to act like a charity; what I mean by that is, giving tax free dollars to the business of churches and in return the churches using those funds merely to pay its overhead.  If we want to feed the poor and provide healing time to the broken we must start by fixing our churches.

One simple way to restore churches to their purpose is to tax their income; the churches in turn can receive tax credits for the charity that is given; in the current tax free world churches are not held accountable to charity, and yet they are building structures that are functional a few hours out of the week from the moneys that they collect.  What could happen if people such as myself in early sobriety, or Matt and Robbie were given the opportunity to survive and then to thrive?  You may say that the answer is up to them; but is it?  No matter where a person is in their life, if they are contemplating a career change or trying to get off of the streets, the truth remains the same, all decisions and changes need time to come to fruition.  If people such as Matt and Robbie were given time to heal and not merely the breakfast sandwiches that I could provide, they would have a better chance of thriving.  If churches were in the business of enabling people to heal all of humanity could begin to thrive.

I have worked within the Catholic Church organization a couple of different times, and I always had the same argument with the priest that I worked for; I proposed “give the people what they need and the people will provide for the needs of the Church.” Unfortunately the reality is opposite and the churches, just like a household, pay their overhead first and let charity be damned.  I continue to ask “when did the church become the charity that receives instead of the charity that gives?”  When the church is called upon to provide for those most in need it is rarely able to do so, instead the congregants who have already provided for the overhead and salaries of the business of the church are called upon again to dig deeper and provide charity; not because they, the congregants are not charitable, but because the church has become a poor excuse for a charitable organization.

We must help the structure to change, we must stop enabling our churches to operate as a poor  business model; because like all businesses, if the church is not doing its job well, it should fail, and its job is charity. Remove the tax free status of all religious organizations and force churches to be accountable for who they profess to be, charitable organizations, if churches want tax breaks make the churches earn the tax break.  If churches are truly in the business of charity and not in existence merely as a business they should agree with no reservations what-so-ever.

Healing Shores

My favorite of the Christian resurrection stories is the story when Jesus met his disciples on the shore.  The disciples, who had been fishermen prior to Jesus’ calling them to ministry, had returned to fishing after the crucifixion, and they were not having much success in their new “old” way of life; in the story someone from the shore yelled out to them, “cast your net from the other side of the vessel” and not thinking that it would do any good, the disciples followed the direction anyway, and when they did they could barely pull the net from the sea because there were so many fish.  But, this is not the part of the story that I love.

The disciples figured out that the man calling from the shore was Jesus; he was appearing to them yet again after his resurrection, and they jumped from the fishing boat and joined him on the shore.  Jesus took some of the fish that they had caught and made breakfast for them.  Although there are many lessons in this story my favorite part comes after breakfast when Jesus has a conversation with Peter.  Remember, prior to the crucifixion, Jesus had told Peter that he (Peter) would deny him (Jesus) three times before morning; Peter who was very sure of his faith was incensed that Jesus would think so; yet, as the story goes, Peter did deny the Christ three times in the last night of Jesus’ life; Peter’s guilt made him blind in understanding the value of the resurrection.

Jesus saw Peter’s guilt and he asked him.  “Peter, do you love me?” and Peter replied, “Yes Lord”, and Jesus said “feed my sheep”.  Jesus then asked Peter again, “Peter do you love me?” and Peter again answered, “Yes Lord”, and Jesus said, “tend my sheep”, and then a third time Jesus said to Peter, “Peter do you love me” and in a distraught sort of way Peter answered a third time, “You know that I love you lord” and Jesus replied for the final time, “then feed my sheep.”

It is within this story that Jesus makes it perfectly clear that he is giving all of mankind permission to be healed.  I like the concept of healing so much more than the idea of forgiveness; in healing there is a sense of “I own this outcome” and in forgiveness it is so much more about giving the other person all of my power, both in being the cause of my “sin” and in getting past that “sin”. Jesus did not ask Peter to explain himself; Jesus’ purpose was not to cause Peter greater guilt, but instead to help Peter to understand that he could release himself from his guilt, simply by understanding his priority of love of himself and others.

This is not to say that Peter did not fail.  Of course Peter failed. But Jesus was not one to focus on failure. And I don’t think that Jesus asks his followers to focus on failure either; I am convinced that Jesus’ message is one of “moving on to the better you.”  If the better “me” were the norm, than spiritual growth would not be necessary; and yet this statement does not mean that I am broken or unworthy, it simply means that like all children I must grow.  Peter grew in his ministry with the knowledge that he had failed and yet he had also moved on; my hope is that Peter would then be able to allow his students the same freedom.  My question is, can I afford the people in my life a chance to heal?

The trick it seems is in understanding that there is still a truth to the pain caused by poor action.  I must realize that I have affected someone by my actions, and I must take ownership and command of that action. In the 12 Steps this action is taken when I admit to harm, and then seek out those whom I have harmed in order to make amends.  Making amends gives me the ability to move on; but, and this is a big caveat, I must not create further problems when cleaning up the first problem.

Peter may have felt the need to deny his failure but Christ did not support that need; instead Christ offered Peter three opportunities to profess his love; the same amount of times that Peter had denied him. When we encounter those whom we have harmed, we cannot expect for them to give us Jesus’ understanding; however, we can approach them with Jesus’ acceptance of ourselves and of them; more importantly we can give them as many opportunities to profess their love to us as we feel they have harmed us.

In the past couple of weeks the power of healing has been a bright spot in understanding for me.  C.S. Lewis once wrote, and I paraphrase, “just because one has discovered that they are on the wrong path, does not mean that they are now where they want to be.” In other words, if I am driving to a destination north of my home and I enter the highway going south and drive for some miles it will take more than my recognition of my mistake to amend those miles once I turn the car around.  It is in the journey back toward my original location that healing takes place; of course unlike a physical journey such as and errant car ride, a spiritual journey probably will never take one back to the origination point; the importance of this is, give yourself, and others, the time to heal from their error, and in that time not only will all parties heal they will also find the destination of forgiveness.

The story on the shore helps us to understand that our wrong actions do not create us; however, our reactions to our wrong actions do. We are offered the opportunity to feel our guilt, own our “sin”, and make corrective actions. Jesus basically said feed those who may have harmed you and give them the occasion to remember that they love you. Most of us do not feel harmed by random people on the street; we merely react to those people based on a hurt that we carry with us. Healing from our hurts, and allowing others to heal from their hurts will give us a much smoother ride once we realize that we were driving south and our destination was in the north.

Peace All.