Posts Tagged ‘randy hasper’

This morning my wife corrected me, and she encouraged me to think differently. “Think less about yourself,” she said.

Perfectly fine.  She was correct. I’m too self-focused.

Yesterday on the phone my youngest daughter gave me some help by referring me to three good Ted’s talks. I listened to them and learned a lot.

Today I spent much of my day in silence. Not typical. It’s because I’m sick. It happens.

In the afternoon I sat in my backyard and listened with my eyes to the sun, then the trees and then I saw a hummingbird eat. A blur, a hard stop, a hover, a sip — gone!

I also spent some time silencing my mind. That seldom happens.

The following thoughts come to mind.

Which one speaks to you?

………..

To the watching ear the sun speaks of consistency; the trees speak of provisionality; the birds speak of dependency.

We need other’s ears to help us understand what we ourselves are saying.

We have trouble hearing because we won’t stop whispering — in our own ear.

We can hear without ears and speak without a tongue.

God gave us a powerful inner ear of empathy, and he gave us a powerful way to use it —  compassion.

The brain keeps hearing after the body stops speaking.

Silence heals the listening eye.

Nerves have loud voices; they need to shut up!

Nobody can keep a secret; what isn’t said is spoken by eyes, signed by muscles, articulated by hands.

Mindfulness has a gentle ear.

I’m particularly shocked by how bad our hearing is — all of us. People talk, we miss so much.

The environment speaks; we walk through it uninformed of what it is telling us.

What to do? Stop paying so much attention to words.

The numbers are debatable when it comes to communication, but all the experts agree that tone and body language communicate more than words do.

Words are a small part of communication in our world.

The wind is blowing the leaves my orange jubilee trees outside my window. This tells me the sun is at work heating the earth, and that warmer air is rising and cooler air is moving underneath. The dancing leaves are telling me that the consistencies of our solar powered planet are functioning well.

“Yea, says the plant, life will go on!” But there are no words.

This is consistent with scripture:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19

It is fundamental to the universe to communicate without words. Yet voices surround us from the stars, from the galaxies, from our sun. The earth itself is filled with unheard voices. Even the rocks will praise, said Jesus, if we don’t.

So much more hearing needs to take place, the nonverbal kind.

My wife came home from a medical appointment today where she waited for more than an hour to get a few stitches out and left with no help.  Her first words upon arriving home conveyed frustration. Her tone told me most of what she wanted to communicate.

People speak far more in feelings than in words. Look closely and you can hear.

Liars will often deliberately hold eye contact in an attempt to cover up the fact that they’re lying.

Raised eyebrows signal discomfort.

Exaggerated nodding signals anxiety about approval.

A clenched jaw, a tightened neck, or a furrowed brow are all signs of stress. Crossed legs or arms signal that a person is mentally, emotionally, and physically blocked off from what’s in front of them. It’s not intentional, which is why it’s so revealing.

We can hear what isn’t said; it’s spoken in the eyes, whispered by the muscles, shouted by tell tale legs and arms and hands. 

One can hear without ears, speak with no tongue.

I think of the deaf and hard of hearing community.  There are many in this community who resent that idea that to have a normal life, a good life, they need hearing, for example cochlear implants, small, complex electronic devices that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. 

Some deaf find the pushing of cochlear implants on themselves and their children as  insulting, biased, discriminatory. We who think sounds and words rule need to listen to them.

Deadness is not a disability in need of an oralist’s prescription; it has created a fully-gifted culture of it’s own facilitated by sign language and sign culture. Oralism, the system of teaching deaf people to communicate by the use of speech and lip-reading rather than sign language is sometimes pushed on the deaf community. But sound is no more superior to sign than male is superior to female.  

Our biases may make this hard to understand, but we are so confused about disability and normalcy. What is normal is usually simply the way we live, but their are other normals. The signing community is a fully-gifted community. They are enriched. They have enough.

Why so much emphasis on words, talk, sounds. So much of the universe communicates in silence, in sign. We all need to learn the sign language.

I want to become a student of sign, universal sign, of silence, a listener to behavior, a watcher of movement, an interpreter of tone, being, essence, identity.

To do this I must open to listening with my mind, listening with my eyes, listening with my fingers, listening with my nose, listening with my taste buds. I must let the plants, the wind, the sun, the people who are different from me teach me. I must listen with my spirit. I must listen with my soul.

Everything and everyone is saying something. How exciting to begin to try to hear using different modalities.

Everything is speaking; are we listening?

Today I wrote a few proverbial thoughts that came to mind about listening. I love short pithy truth. Hope you like a few of them too.

Listen before you leap.

All things talk; very few things listen.

Listen to words; act on body language.

Listening is not a art; it’s a choice.

Listen to those who disagree with you.

Invite criticism; edit yourself.

The most important thing to listen for is what’s not said.

Listen to them with your eyes; watch them with your ears; touch them with your heart.

Be wise; listen to silence.

About each moment, movement and memory your body speaks to you — listen.

Don’t let your listening stop your thinking.

Hang on words; swing on sentences; beware long speeches.

More like this at http://www.modernproverbs.net

Beauty, fun, pleasure, good — look for this in the minutia.

Earlier today I was in a bad mood.

Tonight much better.

The difference?

Small stuff.

Forcing my self to get out of the house, just out, small, better.

Writing several emails that took care of needed business — small but relieving, stress-reducing.

Lying on  the back patio in the chase lounge talking to my brother and feeling the warm evening breeze blows across my legs and the sun on my face — small but comfortable.

Stopping at the taco shop mid-day for a treaty, a crunchy pollo asada taco, that last bite, with the corn and peppers and grilled chicken and peppers popping in my mouth on top of the crispy tortilla — small but pleasurable.

Making bread with my wife tonight — small but personal.

Getting the cat the right amount of food — small,  but it didn’t barf tonight!

We want so much, the best is found in so little.

The bullseye of life — want to hit it? Don’t aim at me!

The bullseye is us! Shoot us!

“That they may all be one!” the wise one, Jesus, prayed, so there you go. He set up the goal of life, the ultimate movement and goal of history. The target is oneness!

My daughter called me this morning when I was still in bed. Her voice traveled out of the holes in the bottom of my mobile phone, hit the sheet, and bumped over my pillow to me: “How are you, dad?” — my ear said to me — from her.

What is precious in a life,  despite the fact that we have overused the word precious?

The small, microphone voice of my daughter in my ears is precious because it is her, her being connected to me, us there for each other, neither one alone.

The exact, perfect center point of all existence lies within us being together.

Exquisite — those not-doing moments, those being-moments — someone else’s existence allowed to come within ours. It has been said by a wise one, Paul “In him [God] we live and move and have our being.” Therefore, there really is no being alone! It’s impossible. Life is inside of another. All life moves within God!

My life isn’t me, or you. It’s us. Your life isn’t you, it’s us. Being is always plural. We go along together or not at all. If you could somehow get out of the divine presence and be alone, you wouldn’t exist.

I have long lived like the crux of my consciousness and my experience was me as an individual, my eyes, my actions, my choices, what makes me stand up and stand out. Silly! It was always all of us. Essential being is a pile of us. We were made to live like kittens drooped and draped and sprawled on each other sleeping and playing and eating together. Consciousness, being, life — it’s a pile of kittens; it’s a pile of presences.

I texted a friend yesterday and asked, “How are you doing?”

She texted back that she has been struggling with her sense of “worth on a deep emotional level.”

“Let’s call and talk on the phone tomorrow,” I said, “We can talk about our it.” So we arranged for the divine moment. And when we talked — bam — we came aware that we live in God for each other, two presences bonded in him with the glue of shared struggle, as it was always meant to be.

Being an individual is good. I love autonomy. My doing is good, but you’ll notice every doing hinges on being, and being requires beings, and good requires being present to each other. If I linger near you, and you listen to me, if I absorb bits of you, and you breath in what I feel, the mystery of our separated being crosses time and space and merges. It’s magic, the fusion. It’s supreme, matchless, nonpareil — when we apprehend the quintessential us and we!

It’s the “when two or more are gathered in my name I’m there.” Two creates a magnetic, drawing spiritual gathering, and three can conjure a whole community of oneness. This is the virtuosic movement of history that was always meant to be — a unified us.

Last night in the same room with my wife, I was writing, she was reading, breathing the same air. It was perfect being!

I “liked” a friend’s picture yesterday on Facebook. A “like” is a validation of existence. The social scientists say social media may raise our anxiety levels, looking for likes, addiction to likes, superficial social media likes, jarring hits of pseudo affirmation, or not, but this popular activity tells us a bit about who we are. We are ones with the need to be liked, to be known, loved, to have another person validate our being, to connect. That why 2 billion people use Facebook.

We always have and always will need each other’s validation of being in some form in order to be more aware that we are a presence.

I stopped on my walk last night to talk to a neighbor. This is better than Facebook. We did some lingering, listening, absorbing, merging. He talked about losing his wife last year, a tragic accident, how he has struggled to go on. We hugged three times before we left each other — and I wouldn’t say that before this we were close — but standing on his driveway in the dark we bonded over shared pain.

A moment together, a call, a text, a like, a love, a hand up to greet, a hand on a shoulder, a hand out to help — that is being. You and I can do nothing better with the time and space we have on this huge, distance-making planet than to be safely and warmly present to each other.

Today I saw happened to be walking by the house of an old friend in my neighborhood as he drove up. I waited for him to get out of his truck. We greeted, then chatted about the landscaping remodel of his front yard, now half finished.

I brought it up, his wife, acknowledged his wife, what had happened last year, how she was tragically killed in an accident. He talked about her, how he is working at surviving, going to groups, going on, doing the landscaping she had wanted. We hugged — three times. We were present to each other. He mentioned the need for a new hairdresser. I gave him the name of my friend who cuts hair in a shop and told him, “This guy has this awesome personality and doesn’t charge too much. You’ll love him.” Then I texted him the phone number.

After I left and returned home, he texted me.

“Thanks for stopping by and for the hair contact. Pretty much available to stop and talk anytime (if no appts or nap pending)? Great to see you.”

What is precious? Presence. Another person’s presence — that is of the highest value. Being with, being near, being proximate — this is superlative! Stopping to talk, standing within another’s magical realm — this is nonpareil! Lingering, listening, absorbing, merging with another being — it is always a mysterious encounter with a stunningly significant life form. Such moments are exquisite! Not doing, being, not doing business, but letting someone else’s state of being be our business — transcendent!

You and I can do nothing better with our time and then be present with each other.

According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was built in 10th Century in Jerusalem and dedicated by Solomon to Yahweh.  

One of the more fascinating historical notes about the construction stands out.

In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

 1 Kings 6:7

God, our God, often builds his temples in quietness, because God, despite all the hollering from Christians about him, is a quiet God. 

God dresses blocks in one place, so he he can quietly place them in another.

I called my dad one day last year. I was missing him. 

I caught him up on us, then I asked him what he had been thinking about.

He had been thinking about the “quietness of God’s presence.”

I asked him, “Dad, what does that mean?”

He said, “I often can’t sleep at night. I wake up. I don’t know what to do so I just enter the quietness of his presence.” 

“I don’t say anything. I don’t pray. I just silently worship.” 

“I’m dumb before him.”

Years ago, as I was finishing up at the University, I felt far from God. Lonely. Confused. Uncertain of my future. I began reading the Bible. I was drawn to Isaiah 30:15. This became a very personal word from God to me, speaking to exactly my issue.  

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …'”

Lately I’ve suffered some serious health problems. As a result I’ve experienced some very significant levels of pain. At times there have been a whole nursery of babies crying inside of me.

I’ve done a lot striving to connect to God to fix my situation, to move my health forward, to get back to normal. This is something all praying people do. Rightly so, we are told in the Bible to bring our sickness and problems to God, to seek, ask and knock, but too often our approach to God isn’t healthy or helpful. We don’t knock on his door. We bang on his door. We pound it down. We break in in our demands for the life and body and health and activities that we want. We want God to enable our plans and then — although we won’t admit it much — step politely out of our way so we can get on with our work.

This isn’t just a personal issue. A lot of churches are set up this way. They are on a mission to control God for their own good, to enlist Him to help them win the culture wars, to use him to hammer the deviant, to chisel at God’s words as a way of promoting its own political agenda. This kind of blunt-force approach to the way forward is motivated by our efforts to  move the church up and to the right on the field of public success. It’s ecclesiastical egotism. The agenda is to get more people, to take in more money and to promote politics of privilege that protect the church while not worrying if any ones else around the world is protected. It’s political stealth, physical health, a bunch of wealth and get some for myself.

I’m not saying the church shouldn’t want to do well, be excellent, succeed.  I’m not saying the church shouldn’t look to God to guide us and to make us well. I’m not saying I shouldn’t ask God to help me.

But a bunch of begging, a lot of trying to force an our agenda on God, the big push for the quick fix, the big push for the big fix, looking for the perfect road map that makes all  road blocks go away — perhaps that is a recipe for being disappointed in God. There are are some big moments in life where God comes though for us and his church in big ways, but that isn’t the whole story or even the typical story.

Perhaps what I need, and we need, the most is the sound of “sheer silence” as God builds his temples the way he wants. The American church has lived the loud Christian life of the hammer and the chisel. We’ve lived pound, pound, pound, push, push, push. It may have done some good, certainly the church is God’s chosen way to love the world, even the imperfect church, but wow! Our passions are too often too selfish.  

What we need now, and maybe more back when too  — and what I need now —  is not more begging, more controlling, more work, more progress, more pushing, more kingdom building or more empire building.  Perhaps what we need is simply this: A quiet resting before the divine. What does God want to do? How does God want to build? Can we quietly wait on God for his quiet language, his silent leading?

Thomas Keating has said that in “order to understand [God’s silent language] we ourselves must learn to be silent and to rest in God.”

Yes.

In God’s loving silence there is perhaps much more than we know or expect —  his presence, healing, rebuilding, affirmation, care, his a way forward, his love.

Recently, in my physical struggles my wife has been present for me, holding me, patting me, just being in the same room with me. She has said some sweet things, but nothing has meant as much as her presence, her quiet loving presence there in the room.

God silent, loving presence — we all could use more of that.

 

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

John 5:6

This sick man had endured his condition a long time, but he was full of excuses as to why he couldn’t get treatment. 

So Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 

John 5:8

Jesus was spot on.

To get better, we often need to do something.

Many times it is simply the the next thing the doctor, therapist, friend or family member tells us to do.

We have to get up from somewhere we have been lying a long time. Or we have to pick up something that we haven’t picked up before, or we have to go do something we haven’t done before that we may not want to do. This is relevant to social, financial, relational and medical problems.

Recently, I’ve taken medicines I didn’t want to take, had medical procedures I didn’t want to have, trusted doctors and nurses I had never met before, found myself submitting to experiences I had never imagined possible.

It hasn’t been easy, risking, trusting, making  decisions about problems I still don’t fully understand. Paralysis tends to set in quickly, apathy, excuses, denial. “I won’t go now. Someone else is ahead of me. This probably won’t work.”

But we must, we must embrace the here and now, make friends with the present no matter how hard, advocate for ourselves, ask that we be helped. And we are always responsible to stay in the game, that is choose between options, to say “yes” or “no” because no one else can or should fully decide for us.

Lots of us want attention, friends, guides, helpers, cures.

We best speak up.

We best get up.

We probably have to do something.  

We probably have to stop making excuses for not getting help. 

We may need to pick up an old mat.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

Psalm 133:1

Good stuff, unity, but several times in life I have had a front row seat to how painful and unpleasant it is when God’s people live together in  disunity.

I have watched long-standing and loyal friendship fray, unravel and fall in pieces to the floor in a matter of a few weeks.

It happens. I’ve seen it in several forms. It happens all the time. High-minded, principled, moral people in government, church and business settings shred each other.  It’s probably happened to you. If not, get closely involved with good people. Be patient. Be honest. It will come.

What causes what’s good to get so bad, so fast?

The answers are simple, present for anyone who wants to see them.  We humans, even we so called good ones, we mature one, we are very fragile in ego and self-image, and when we perceive that someone is taking from us something that we want, when we feel that we are losing control of our property or earned status or long-fought for identity or social place, we get crazy inside — fast.

And crazy inside  goes crazy outside to try to get things back to our way. In a panic to be recognized, hyper-anxious to be valued, obsessed with preserving some gain, we say or write stuff that harms others.  Crazy to appear successful, crazy to be known, crazy to be on top blows up families and friendship and organization right and left. 

I watched Jobs last week, the story of Steve Jobs and Apple computer’s rise to success. There it is. What’s mine is mine, what I made is mine, and if you try to take it away from me you’ll pay for it. Jobs pretty much had the mindset that his success, Apple’s success was more important than his precious relationships.

This is true of many of us, although not all. Many of us carry a bit of  Steve Job’s selfishness inside, me too.  We want what we want and when we don’t get what we want we are tempted to sacrifice dear relationship in order to get what we want.

But, back to the Psalm.  When we do dwell in unity, man how good that is! It is peaceful, safe, good, the best! And it shines even brighter after we’ve seen how bad it is when we choose to  reside in darker and more harmful places.

The solutions? Again, they are simple, like the problem. Practice humility. Choose to love. Be willing to listen. Be open to solutions that both sides can live with. Promote unity. Have the wisdom to realize that our most precious relationships are far more valuable than our public successes.

Lately, my wife has been a good example of unifying love. She has loved me unselfishly and tirelessly.

Ah, how good and pleasant it is to dwell with her.

Theology and pain — there much to process here. Let’s put aside the questions of causality for the moment and consider our own reactions to pain. Let’s take a look at our side of it.

Paul, the great spiritual thinker, the consummate church founder, the exquisite theologian himself once wrote, and he wrote in the Bible, for God sake:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”

2 Corinthians 1:8

Everybody can be broken, including the great ones. Paul broke. The pressure was beyond his ability to bear. Paul was human. He was like the rest of us.

Pressure, physical pain, emotional pain or relational difficulty is always rough to take. It creates fear in us, sometimes it creates the fear that a time will come when we may think and feel: “I am broken and in pain beyond what I can endure. I can’t take it anymore.” We can all say or imagine saying that kind of thing if we arrive at a point where our soul is very eroded, where our spirit feels completely broken. I’ve been there several times in life. Most others too. But one of the promises of scripture is that God will save the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:17-20

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all;

he protects all his bones,

    not one of them will be broken.

What does that mean, “saves,” and “delivers”? It might mean many things? It could mean solutions, it could mean healing, or even mean strength to endure when there is no physical or emotional or relational healing. It might mean heaven. I would think it is case specific, but for all believers an ultimate saving and delivering will be heaven.

But what if we aren’t delivered in the here and now, at least not in the way we want? How are we to think about lasting hardship and pain? Well, we need to acknowledge that lasting pain is not necessarily ennobling. It doesn’t always get better or make everything eventually intrinsically better. Pain isn’t something we should minimize or deny the terribleness of. Paul didn’t; Paul despaired. Jesus didn’t minimize his pain. In great spiritual and psychological pain, Jesus wept.

But lately, I have noticed that my pain — at times — has clarified my mind, helping me to see what’s important, what’s not, helping me to the correct reading of others — adding empathy and understanding of their pain — and helping me to know what’s true. I have recently had opportunities to speak very truthfully and lovingly about some very complicated issues to some empowered people, and I found that they were able to accept what I said, the truth, in part because it came from a place hacked out in me by pain, a place of gentleness, tenderness and understanding of both my own pain and theirs.

In pain, we may — not always — get some clarity, some proximity to truth. Yes, suffering and broken-heartedness can sometimes leads us to the wrong conclusions, and can cause us to be angry, pessimistic or negative or inpatient or unkind, but not always. What I am learning is that sometimes pain and difficulty refines us, makes us more mature, give us a perspective, may clarify what’s of value and what’s not and may give us fresh, helpful language to talk about old experiences and ideas.

Sometimes our pain helps us take the mash of life and ferment it, distill it, and produce some good, clear, strong stuff. Pain, like a still used to make strong whiskey, may drip best things out of the bottom of heat and loss.

And when it does, we must also say that this too may be from God. This is sometimes part of God’s saving and delivering. He saves and delivers us and our neighbors not from pain, but from untruth.