Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dark of Winter

We have passed the solstice, the longest night of the year, so we know the days are supposed to be getting longer, but in mid-January we don’t notice it yet. It still feels like the dark of winter.  A mysterious time, I go to bed early and sleep long, with many strong and strange dreams. Snow has fallen through the night and continues through this day. The air is full of it. The gusts of wind swirling about the windows are white. Little birds flit out of the woods to our feeder and disappear again.

A comforting flame dances behind the glass of my woodstove. It is time for rumination and introspection. It can be a sad time because in winter many lives give over the struggle, and they are taken from us. In Mashpee two elders have departed only last week. I was with an old friend on the tennis court of our fitness club on Thursday when he got tired, sat down on the bench and collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital but never recovered. The hardest loss, to me, was that of our old and devoted friend in Germany, Hubert – a victim to cancer. He was such a shining light, spreading his kindness and caring all around him. It was a joy to watch him playing in a circle with his two sweet little boys. At camp he would spend a lot of his time giving attention to all the children. I would tell others if they wanted to know how to relate to children: just watch Hubert.  It’s sad to think of his wife and sons now without him, but I know their lives and the lives of all of us who were close to him were touched and made larger and stronger because of Hubert Hüttinger.

So in the dark of winter our thoughts may turn on death and loss. At my age the thought of death is never far away. Not that I dwell on it for myself. But I have lost so many by now, not just elders, but most friends my age and many much younger than I. And I think, why? Why am I so fortunate to still be running around the tennis court, playing in my rock band, going into the prisons and traveling all over to be with so many who come to be with me and my wonderful wife. I can’t avoid the thought that the Creation has something more in mind for me to do and keeps me around to get at it. People ask what is my secret. And I don’t know. I say what Satchel Paige said, keep moving.  But I suspect it is really love. The love of my dear dear Ellika, my family, everyone I meet on the journey, and the journey itself, the world and all I do.  When I think of my own death it’s only in relation to all I want to do and have not finished. So much I still want to accomplish, to learn, to write – especially to write. I see the misery and confusion in the world, and I see the hope, and the dream of how it can be.  And I know how to build it. Like Rev. King I know I won’t be here to see the dream realized, but I want to leave sufficient notes of all I have learned and discovered for those who seek to build a truly human society.

So I dream in the dark – but another spring is coming soon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Here We Go Into 2011!

Wishing each other a Happy New Year. We deserve it. You deserve it. It is not wrong to be happy. Your happy expression gives everyone a lift. If they are a bit depressed your happiness provides a contrast that helps them discharge. And you an sympathetic. Because you are happy.

There is a lot of misery in the world, but your being miserable wont help that at all. Being happy, you are balanced, calm, confident and clear to do things that help reduce human misery: oppression injustice, violence, for starters. Being happy you have a lot of love to give. Which, as we know, is “what the world needs now.”

Hope is reborn with the New Year. With good reason. The world has had a couple of wake-up jolts in the past decade. The terrible tragedies in New York and Washington in 2001 woke us to world-wide terrorism, affecting us still, how we live and how we travel. Our response has caused death and destruction to thousands without reducing the threat – in fact, spreading it wider.

And the unchecked greed in our system caused an economic crash that has thrown millions out of work and made thousands lose their homes, causing global suffering, anger and confusion

Now more and more people are aware that things are wrong and are looking for reasons and answers. And more people are communicating through the Internet and the media.  Information, facts and opinions fly further and faster than ever before in our evolution.

There’s lots of discussion. Lots of argument. And that’s good. But perhaps why we need most is to focus on our areas of agreement. And there we have great reason to hope. Because fundamentally all human beings want the same things. Everyone wants peace. Freedom. Security. Basic human needs – to be warm and dry and rested and nourished and healthy, and to have these things for our children and loved ones.

We only differ in how to achieve thee. But since everyone wants them it would make sense to support each other and help each other.

Jesus said, love your enemy. I say listen to your enemy and you both will discover you are not enemies.

Meanwhile let us just refuse to be enemies.