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Archive for September 7th, 2009

I just watched “Horton Hears a Who” once again last night with my young niece and nephew, and I was quickly reminded of the genius of Dr. Seuss.

After this August (now thankfully in the past) of so-called “Town Hall Meetings” (more accurately characterized as Town Hall Brawls) ostensibly focused on health care reform , Horton and his courageous and undaunted defense of the “Whoville speck” has new meaning for me.

” I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent,” Horton declares, when his fearful friend warns him of continuing to discuss the presumed delusion of a populated speck that no one else can hear.

“There’s a tiny person on that speck that needs my help!”

What a perfect articulation of moral leadership and compassion, and how refreshing it would be to see more of it in the exchange among people of different political persuasions here at home.

The screaming acrimony about health care ( as it most certainly was anything but a reasoned debate) is spiritually toxic to both the screamers and all of us hearing it played in the media ad nauseum. It is the dark color of fear as embodied in the officious and opinionated Mother Kangaroo bent on destroying Horton for his vision, integrity, and commitment.

In fact, she argues that Horton is dangerous especially because he might influence the children. Aren’t we hearing the exact same thing in this most recent eruption of Obama-bashing rhetoric that the President of the United States, duly elected by the American people, cannot be entrusted with a message to the Nation’s school-age children without it first being screened; a message, in fact, to be delivered today?

So much fear. So much demonizing. So little reason, civility, decorum, and respect. These are not the fruits of spiritual living but the antithesis of it. One need only recall the iconic Star Wars and the method by which Darth Veder seeks to persuade Luke Skywalker to move to the dark side to realize the danger in all this: “Impressive. Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well. You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.”

Of course, were he to give into the hatred, Luke would have succeeded only in destroying himself as Veder did before him. Authentic positive spirituality across all spiritual traditions, in the Hearts that know and radiate Light, is measured by compassionate action, an inclusive and embracing temperament, a smile, warm laughter of love and joy in being together, and true sisterhood and brotherhood, not vitriolic name-calling and unbridled rage.

Am I my brother’s keeper? Horton doesn’t even hesitate. There are people in need. Will it cost him? Yes! But it’s the right thing to do. He reminds himself and everyone else that “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

The “Kangaroo” barbarism and cacophony of  this past rude August is a lesson in what the absence of authentic spiritual practice breeds ( since these are simply never the attributes we see where Spirit is genuine) – contempt and a rush to name a suitable enemy around which a fearful constituency can rally and declare common cause.

Is it just possible that health-care reform should be major reform, wholesale and profound change, whatever the expense, simply because it is the right thing to do?Is it possible that in doing so we can work through the cost issues and smartly manage efficiencies so as to reduce the deficit while caring for the “least among us?” Aren’t there so many other things on which billions of taxpayer dollars are spent and arguably wasted without anyone in Congress or the Country even batting an eyelash or raising an objection?

Horton stands up for what no one else sees or chooses to see or hear, and he does so at grave risk to his well-being in defense of “Who-ville”. May we see that “Hortonian” spirit rise again, I pray this morning, accompanied by the courage, imagination, and foresight to see things change with  intent to care for those who lack, and in the interest of seeing wellness placed first over corporate profitability.

I for one believe the “pachyderm” spirit is large, and bold out there across this country ( if sometimes very quiet and drowned out by cynicism and harshness) and desperately needed in our times. Leadership is seeing what needs to be done and doing it whatever it takes to make it happen with a better tomorrow in mind.

It all boils down to a choice: a choice about what kind of America we intend to be in this decade and beyond. Will we re-emerge large, as a nation of bold ideals in practice, or one of  hollow rhetoric powered by political expedience serving as ideological cover for what at root is actually narcissism, a “me first”, “get what you can get” mindset?

Will we be “faithful one hundred percent” and ” say what we mean and mean what we say,” or do little but congratulate ourselves instead through loud reverential sooth-saying in insincere Sunday pontifications actually concealing  mean-spirited rationalizations, acts of hypocrisy, and a flagrant disregard for others?

I hear the “Who” and the mayor needs our help. Do you hear the “Who”?

The parable of “Horton” raises in my own thinking a question I intend to meditate on this week with special emphasis as a personal challenge:

In hearing the mayor’s voice on the speck, do I have the fortitude of Horton? Is my own spirituality sufficiently engaged?

© The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Labor Day, 2009

Ah, I can almost see Maria singing and dancing in the hilly country of Austria, a postulant for life as a nun in the classic musical, “The Sound of Music.”

We easily recall the catchy music and lyrics of “A Few of My Favorite Things:”

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things …”

What is so captivating about Maria is her resilience and positivity, her love of the natural, and her virtually continuous communion with the Spirit of the hills and dales: a communion too intimate and personal to be bothered with such trifles as showing up on time for services and chapter meetings.

Maria’s innocence is all the more special because it arises out of a deep well of spiritual vitality, energy, and authenticity. Where others might come across as naive or childish, Maria quickly becomes a mature voice to which we are drawn. In this particular song, she builds a list for the pleasure of the children so that they too can join in the choir about the miracles all around that render needless and blind our usual complaints.

I wonder about the things around me that awaken me to the Divine presence: the small things that go right to the heart of the matter, stop time in its tracks, and elevate me to true Joy rather than to superficial and fleeting happiness.

So, here are 10 of my favorite things (in the same spirit as sung so delightfully and memorably by Maria) but with emphasis on where I especially feel the presence of the Beloved-

  • standing in a field of wildflowers
  • sitting by a mountain river nearby a waterfall
  • looking up at the stars on a perfectly clear night unspoiled by our own lights
  • on a desert path recently in Arizona at dusk, behind a retreat center and winding up and around a mountain
  • at the top of Mount Haleakala in Hawaii
  • wading at the beach at Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, Fl. in a heavy downpour
  • in the midst of thunder and lightning with the scent of ozone in the air ( the more powerful and dramatic the better)
  • in a hospital nursery
  • in the forest where no one else is in sight
  • in a cabin in the woods with little light save that from the moon, and the natural sound-scape.

It is interesting that while so many churches, temples, cathedrals, chapels, ashrams, and retreat centers inspire and present great beauty, they are simply not the first things that come to mind.

© The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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