Monthly Archives: June 2016

Be Perfect II

Pointing to some children, Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Which implies we can’t be perfect unless we can be like children.

Since we all have been children, we’re able to take real or imaginary journeys back to the places of our childhood, and to the people and dreams of that part of our lives. And once we get there, we can let those places, people and dreams refresh our minds and help us cast off jaded parts of ourselves, and go to the territory on the boundary of the kingdom of heaven where the spirit most often seems to reside.

When I first got married and started a family I became someone other than who I am. I became somebody I’ll call “Responsible Man”. My ex-wife and probably my grown children might argue, “You weren’t all that responsible.” But, though I did quit jobs and spend what I otherwise might’ve saved on the time and opportunity to write, we always had a home and food. We never had to shop in thrift stores, except for furniture.

Master Jeong had us students sit in meditative posture. “Think about who you are,” he said. “Not what you do. Think about who you are at your essence.”

We are not who we generally feel we are. What we feel we are is what we’ve become. Who we really are is closer to who we were as children.

Therapists sometimes guide people to seek their inner child. New Age gurus take men out into the woods and have them yowl and wield big sticks.

I tell myself to banish “Responsible Man.” I can do that now that I own a home in California and my big kids are grown and educated and have real jobs, and my little Zoë has a professional mama and income from me that she’ll get no matter if I land in some asylum. But “Responsible Man” won’t let go of me. He has become a parasite. Maybe he’s my evil twin. Or maybe he knows that without him I’ll go wild and wreak havoc upon the world. “Okay then,” I tell him, “at least go to sleep when I’m writing.”

All of us artists would be wise to learn how to put whoever we have become asleep long enough every day to let us be who we essentially are, because that person is closer to perfect than the one we’ve become. And the closer to perfect, the less programmed and jaded, the more like those children Jesus pointed to when he proposed that to enter his kingdom we needed to become like them, the better at hearing the spirit.

From Writing and the Spirit

Love Everybody?

I try to write a Church for Writers post at least every month, and this month I meant to offer some thoughts about the religion of evolution. But then a man entered a nightclub in Florida and killed and wounded almost a hundred people. And the next day, a radio personality commented: “We need to start acting kindly to each other. If everybody did just that, the world would be a safe and happy place. And though we can’t make other people be kind, we can behave kindly ourselves. That much is easy.”

Her comments were quite appropriate, I thought, and right in accord with Christ’s command for us to love our neighbors. And though I was touched by her passion and innocence, I need to note that being kind to everyone is not so easy.

Before I go on, I should point out that in my vocabulary, to love our neighbors and to be kind to people are practically synonymous. Psychologist and author M. Scott Peck defines love as a willingness to sacrifice, which could translate to being kind even if it hurts.

Kindness may be easy when people treat us well and don’t get into our way. But when they attack or demean us or frustrate our plans or desires, being kind to them is hard. It’s something we need to work at. Something most of us need to learn. And kindness to the degree it becomes sacrificial love is, for many if not most of us, mighty hard.

Following my first divorce, I began to detect that I was not good at loving people. So, being an avid reader, I began reading up on the topic of love.

I could recommend quite a few books, but I’ll start with Soren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love . Kierkegaard maintains that when Christ instructs us to love our neighbor, he is issuing a command, not making a suggestion. And Christ clarifies the command with the parable of the good Samaritan. In this context, to love our neighbor means to love without distinction. Everybody. Even those who believe or act in ways we find odious. Even those who may have done us grievous wrongs.

Being truly kind, not just friendly, is hardly easy. But it’s possible, if we put our hearts and minds to it.

Please try to love without distinction, and consider reading a book on love, and pray something like this: “Lord, teach and help me to lover better.”

The rewards of love are many and miraculous.

Please subscribe to this blog and read about them, maybe next month.