Why?

Why?

Pentecost 156

 

What we think is based upon what we know.  So first one has to establish what it is that we think we know.   Hegel once defined or described philosophy as “the study of its own history”.  I might define it as the “Why?” that follow the “What?” once the “What?” is answered.

 

Theology has been, throughout time, one way of answering the question “Where did we come from?”  In answering that, the study of the meaning of life, also known as metaphysics arose.  That  led to questioning the nature of gained knowledge, the study of which is called epistemology. 

 

Epistemology asks questions.  How is knowledge justified?  What are the sources of knowledge?  How do we know what we know?  Rationalism believed that pure reason was the most reliable source of knowledge while empiricism maintained that experience was.  Skepticism purported doubts about various states of knowledge based upon external world skepticism (How can there be a world outside our own minds?) and what is called “other minds skepticism” (We have no proof of other minds other than our own.).  It also led to solipsism which stated “Only I exist”.

 

Our living becomes quite ordinary in solipsism because while it may seem like it would boost one’s focus and lead to greater things, it really limits us.  The person who only thinks of themselves is limiting their world.  The one who believes the world revolves around him has made him or herself the center of everything.  They fail to fully understand their place in a very large world with many other beings.

 

Logic and philosophy became elements of our living as did a multitude of philosophers and theologians.  IN addition to the theological texts and the great many who interpreted them,  people studied Plato and Socrates, Aristotle and Descartes, Fichte and Schelling…. The list is plentiful.  These philosophers agreed and then disagreed with each other, though since they occupied different periods in history, not unilaterally.  All sought to explain life while the religions and spiritualities of the world explained mankind’s relationship with life.

 

Two years ago this blog delved into various religions and spiritualities.  In discussing these, we found certain common truths.  The rule for living one with another often called the Golden Rule is found in eastern spiritualties as well as the Old and New Testaments.  It is difficult to have any discussions about theology that do not include philosophy.  The” Why?” that religion seeks to answer is part of the greater “Why?” that philosophy seeks to determine.

 

Where we do go wrong, how we limit our world and our potential is when we believe a form of solipsism that says not “Only I exist” but rather “Only my thinking can exist”. We cannot seek respect and then fail to respect others.  We cannot believe only one group or gender deserves life, education, or basic human rights.  Man is a varied animals with different colors of mane, eyes, skin; different shapes of eyes; different lengths of body, noses, arms and legs.  What we look like is about as important to our classification and right to live as the various colors of a rose.  The hues of a rose are beautiful and interesting but they do not change the fact that it is a rose. 

 

We must reach out to others as we seek to discover “Why?”  Our lives should include helping others because then we truly help ourselves and answer not only the “What?” but also the “Who?” and the “Why?”  Once we realize we are all in this thing called life together and need each other, the future is not only limitless, it becomes extraordinary.

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Harvesting Life

Harvesting Life

Pentecost 155

 

Autumn is harvest time.  It is also that time in which farmers and gardeners begin to prepare for the next growing season.  It is easy with an infant to see growth.  After all, from one six month period to another, many changes occur, physically and emotionally.  With toddlers the intellectual growth becomes evident as they learn to test the boundaries they previously took for granted.  No longer can one put the child in a crib and rest assured the baby will remain there.  As the child grows intellectually, their problem solving skills develop.  Hungry?  Push the chair over to the counter, climb up, open the cupboard, and find the cookies hidden at the back.  Bazinga – instant resolution for the hunger!

 

Somewhere along the later teen years we seem to stop emphasizing our own personal intellectual growth.  Once our heads stop growing, some think so should our brains and minds.  Ancient cultures told stories to keep educating.  Regardless of the  age of the stories or the listeners, these stories still packed a powerful punch when told and retold. 

 

AS the nights grow longer and the days shorter, we spend more time inside and with each other.  The family stories and cultural myths get retold, gathering a new audience and reaping a new and different harvest.  With the coming holidays, these myths and stories are enacted and retold.

 

It is easy to get wrapped up in the telling and to forget that myths are like neighbors, the neighbors that the cultures of mankind truly are.  While one culture was developing one skill set, another was not necessarily sleeping.  Rather, they were busy doing their own thing.  Before Alexander the Great had reached the Indus River, what would become the farthest point of his empire, Buddha had been born and buried as had Mahavita, founder of the Jain religion.

 

Karl Jaspers, a noted German philosopher, described the period between 900 to 200 BCE as the “Axial Age”, a pivotal time in the development of mankind’s spiritual growth and religious development.  Axial refers to relationships, the axis being the central point around which things revolve.   Jasper pointed to this period during which four main world traditions developed:  Confucianism and Daoism in China; Hinduism and Buddhism in India; monotheism leading to the Abrahamic faiths in Israel; philosophical rationalism in Greece.  Many believe we are still in this period while others feel we have diluted the messages they presented to the world. 

 

Today we consider the mythologies of our ancestors as being either religious or spiritual.   To these cultures, though, they were similar to the stories we tell today.  Whether the stories were of Thor striking the heavens with his hammer to create lightning or an offering of either material sacrifice or whispered prayer to a deity omnipotent, the intent was the same.  The purpose of their believing was to create change, positive change in one’s living.

 

These were not just stories told to an primitive audience that had no meaning.  These are primordial stories, a genealogy of mankind.  If our lives are to have any meaning today and for tomorrow, we must recognize our origins and those things that gave life meaning.  We need to harvest the truths from the past in order to move forward today.  We could learn quite a bit from those early beings that lived what we might consider very rudimentary and ordinary lives. 

 

In her book “The Great Transformation” Karen Armstrong emphasizes this:  “What mattered was not what you believed but how you behaved.”  The intent of all the mythologies we will explore during this series is that5 fact that they were told to explain and improve life.  The worships, the sacrifices, the rituals were not merely drama or entertainment.  Their purpose was to profoundly change the believer.

 

All too often today we go through our daily lives like robots or lemmings following the current trends as we attempt to swim upstream to some imaginary prize or status.  The mythologies of the past were all about creating a better tomorrow, inhabited and lived by a better mankind.

 

Tomorrow will be determined by what we do today, how we live today.  Who we harm, who we ignore, what will attract our attention, where we will spend our money…These are the things that define us.  These are our mythologies of today that we ourselves will write.  The future is ours to harvest but it will be based upon what we do and plant today.

Fright and Sight

Fright and Sight

Pentecost 154

 

As stores prepare for the final two weeks before Halloween and costumes receive their last minute drops of blood and ghoulish masks are fitted, many of us look forward to the future with great trepidation.  When the prospect of looking forward is too scary, we simply try to avoid it.

 

“I think, therefore I am.  I think, therefore I fear.  I think, so ….I’m gonna go to sleep!”  Change is not something many of us easily accept.  Whether it is a big change or small, the body perceives it as a threat and reacts accordingly.  Perhaps our reaction and the emotion we experience which we call fear is due to its etymology.  It is a most interesting history but could its scariness really be that simple?

 

The noun form of the word “fear” comes from several Middle English words such as feer, fere, and fer, which meant danger, as well as the Old English faer which meant danger.  It is also related to the German “fera”, defined as danger but also the Proto-Indo-European word “per”.  Unlike the modern English usage of the word “per” which is used to single out, this earlier “per” translated as an attempt, to try or research, to risk.

 

Our modern usage of the word “fear” is three-fold.  It can refer to the uncomfortable emotion of fear; ir can be a phobia which is usually defined as an irrational amount of fear.  Fear can also refer to how one worships or holds a belief or deity in reverence.  Psychologists such as John Watson, Robert Plutchik, and Paul Ekman consider man and woman to have only a few innate or natural emotions.  Fear is one of them.  Many believe fear to be the backbone of evolution and the fear responses the reason mankind has survived.

 

I am particularly interested in the connection between the definitions of fear.  When we hold something in great esteem or reverence, it can be said we “fear” it.  Does that threaten us?  After all, fear we fear something when we perceive it to be a threat or to pose a danger to us.  Fear is not the same as anxiety and that is an often overlooked fact.  Anxiety is our reaction to threats that are uncontrolled or unavoidable.

 

We have discussed the fight or flight response to fear in past articles.  The body perceives a threat and it does what it thinks best to protect itself.  It varies based upon personalities, cultures, and genus/species, but it really is something all animals have in common.  Fear exists to protect us.  Anxiety, however, is another matter.

 

Anxiety is all about our perception.  Some anxiety can be useful.  It can remind us to check and double check situations, making sure we have all our bases covered, so to speak.  Often, though, anxiety is very limiting.  What we call a fear of change is actually an anxiety of change, even though change is one of the constants in life.  The following quote is sometimes attributed to nelson Mandela but was originally said by Marianna Williamson: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?”

 

Could that possible be true?  Do we fear or become anxious about change because we worry about being successful?  What could we accomplish if we embraced change?  What could be the repercussions if we embraced change and it…gulp… failed?  Is that even possible?

 

At a recent wedding rehearsal, the mother of the groom was heard to remark: “I’ve had two weddings; don’t worry.  We will all get to where we are supposed to be and if not, we’ll have a great anecdote to tell for the rest of our lives.  My first wedding was a training exercise so the second has been wonderful because of what I learned the first time.  Relax and enjoy!”

 

Weddings are the perfect example of how we fear change and yet, at the same time, often embrace it.  Many believe civilization is on the brink of its greatest change since the ACE began.  Maeterlinck said: “At every crossroad on the way that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past.”

 

Those believing in this great change feel that the world is going to be divided into thinkers, who will lead, and non-thinkers who will follow.  Bertrand Russell believed “Men fear THOUGHT, as they fear nothing else on earth.”  I disagree.  I don’t think people really fear thinking as much as the fear the results of our thinking.  What husband hasn’t felt a stab of intense fear when, after settling into his easy chair, heard his wife utter these words:  “Honey, I think….”  That husband fears a list of chores is about to be uttered, all the result of his wife’s “thinking”.

 

Some would say war is the result of thinking, some thinking they deserve to be the leader and are willing to make that happen regardless of who must die.  Is that really thinking?  Let’s go back to our definition of fear and the Proto-Indo-European word “per”, Remembering that this earlier “per” translates as “an attempt, to try or research, to risk”.

 

Most of us have had a great idea – that one thing that will make everyone’s life easier. Few of us take it to the next level.  Why? We are afraid of failing.  Nothing has ever been invented on the first try and had instant success.  Even if the first generation of a device is successful, the inventor(s) were not newborn babies.  They used their gained knowledge from their life as their teaching tool and their thinking which led to the invention was predicated upon that living.

 

Clearly the woman in our wedding story was at peace with her past.  She had taken the risk of getting married the first time and used it as a life lesson.  Most of us would rather only have one marriage for a number of reasons.  Allowing ourselves to be victimized because we made a mistake, however, is not healthy.  We all make mistakes.  That is how we learn. 

 

Peace comes when we accept our human-ness.  I know several people for whom spiders are a wonderful creature, delightful in their movement and fascinating in their varieties.  For me spiders are not pleasant.  They may be, in some varieties, warm and fuzzy but the feelings I experience upon seeing them are definitely NOT warm and fuzzy.  I do not remember which spiders can be harmful and so, I fear them all.  I realize, though, that my anxiety about spiders should not take center stage.  The best thing to do is for me to remain calm and simply remove myself from the area…or ask someone to remove the spider.  Occasionally, I even move it myself.

 

Tony Robbins is often quoted:  “Change is inevitable.  Progress is optional.”  There are many justified instance where we will feel fear.  It might save your life.  There are also many instances that will bring about anxiety.  These can either be opportunities to check and recheck to make sure we are doing things correctly or they can be crippling, life-stopping events. 

 

When we realize that anxiety is simply a yield sign and not a stop sign, then we can grow and learn and yes, even think.  Change is the hallmark of being alive.  As we live, we evolve and evolution is simply change due to living.  Peace comes when we embrace our living and hang on for the ride of our life. 

 

The foundation of peace is knowing we are strong and can overcome whatever the future might bring.  We do not do this alone, however.  Living the ordinary and making it extraordinary is a group effort.  Together we can face the future and do so without fear.  The choice is ours.

Ordinary Opportunity

Ordinary Opportunity

Pentecost 153

 

We’ve all had “those days”.  Yesterday was one of mine.  My tech provider which affords me the opportunity to not only have Internet service but also cable television and telephone was making some repairs or changes or… well, something.  All of the services were down for ten very long hours.  I called to report the outage and was told to check back in twenty-four hours.  I thought it must be an automated response but eight hours later when I called back, I was told “Issues will be resolved sooner than expected; service should be restored within eight hours.”  Sixteen hours will no land-based technology?  Instead of reveling in the peace I had just been offered and the opportunity to catch up on much-needed tasks not technology related, I instead felt a panic.

 

I first became aware of the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation when working at a public library.  I had prior computer experience and was picked to write training manuals for the staff.  The Gates Foundation had gifted the library a computer lab so that inner city children could have access to computers and the Internet.  Only three people on a staff of thirty had a personal computer.  As one of the three I ended up mentoring and teaching computer usage as well as drafting manuals.

 

The local library had, as most do, a foundation that provided monetary support.  At an unveiling of the new lab several days before it opened to the public, members of the foundation were invited to a reception and the computers were on display for the foundation members to try and appreciate.  I had been paired with the oldest member of the foundation, a 96-year-old architect who was not overly impressed.  He saw no need for computer educational support when we had three stories of books and were part of a national and international book exchange program.  Computer screens to him were blank nonsense that would not inspire nor provide opportunity or anyone.  In fact, he was certain they “would suck all opportunity from the children who sat in front of them”.

 

I walked over to the front desk and retrieved a blank piece of paper.  I then gave him a pencil and asked him to draw a simple outline of a three-story building or, for that matter, any object he saw on the paper.  He gave me back my pencil and proceeded to make a building using the ancient Japanese art of origami.  It took him about two minutes and we were all fascinated.

 

I then took his old, gnarled hands obviously showing signs of rheumatoid arthritis, in mine and said:  “I gave you nothing and you created wonderment.  With the resources available to a child on the Internet, just imagine what he or she could create.”  This stately, elderly gentle man then smiled and said: “Oh, you then need to call the computer what it is – a box full of opportunity and potential.”  He served as a volunteer in the computer lab for two years until his passing, and then we learned of his bequeath to the computer lab which provided support for the computers long after the original grant had expired.

 

We all can create opportunity for another person.  The Gates Foundation has moved on to things beyond computers.  In 2016 they have made three resolutions or promises to serve as goals.  The first involves their continued efforts regarding vaccines for some of the world’s most deadly diseases, especially in underdeveloped countries in Africa and the Far East. 

 

They also have women and girls in their “hearts of our endeavors”.  They plan to invest time, funding, and efforts towards empowering women.  Better healthcare and wellbeing for girls and women means a better world.  Third, they plan to invest in innovation.  The future is all about science and technology and that includes drug therapies for such things as elephantiasis which alone affects over one hundred and twenty million people.

 

Give yourself the gift of some “down time” and interact without technology.  I am not dissing our friends via the Internet but sometimes we need to connect person to person or self to soul.  I wish I could tell you I used those sixteen hours and got completely caught up.  I did get some things done but I also used some of that time to refuel my soul.  I simply sat and enjoyed life and some solitude.  My to-do list would require more than sixteen hours but yesterday was a gift.  Instead of being “stuck”, I found peace and happiness of self.

 

The world today is a world with many needs and the future will be dim until we all take steps to do our part.  We can do better and everyone has a vital role to play.  “You never know how far reaching something you may think say or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.”  B. J. Palmer’s words are very true and they are speaking directly to each of us.  We need to make living an opportunity for success by taking action, by seeing the extraordinary opportunity in our ordinary time. 

Changing of Seasons

Changing of Seasons

Pentecost 152

 

We are in that time of year known as fall or autumn.  It is a time when the weather hints at what is to come while still giving us a taste of what has been.  It occurs four times a year but this time of year, the bridge between summer and fall seems the most… I’m not really sure what to call it.  For those that are generally in the path of hurricanes, it can be a time of waiting and praying.  For those who have eagerly anticipated the return of American football, it is a time of rejoicing.  For those who thrive on holidays, it is the beginning of three heavily celebrated in the United States and worldwide – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa. 

 

It is that time of year that spans a period of laziness and summer vacations with the start of many school terms, much like Egypt spans three continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Egypt is the world’s only Eur-afra-sian country since it is bordered by the Mediterranean on the north as it shares a northern border with the Gaza strip and Israel, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the south as well as Sudan, and Libya on the west.  It was an area that connected the earliest beginnings of man with the spread of mankind, both to the Far East and to Europe and beyond.

 

This past week, a hurricane traveled into the Caribbean and then visited Florida to travel up the Atlantic coastline.   There was no last goodbye as tourists had hoped.  They were deprived of celebrating the passage for summer, no bridging of summer and fall.  Weather forecasts have now tracking another hurricane and the bridge between seasons appears lost as those in the affected areas continue to feel the effects of the most recent past while others once again prepare for the eminent future.

 

Often life gives us chances that somehow seem to fall flat.  IF we could only tweak the timing or change just one little decision, we might have become something better or greater, something extraordinary.  We are encouraged in such times to look for the silver lining but often, seeing the positive will be difficult.  It often is hard to see past our disappointments to find the positive, to bridge one hour of our life to another.  A shaman was quoted as saying, “A story is like the wind: it comes from a distant place and we feel it.” 

 

Today you will write the story of you.  You may not have control over the setting, the characters, or even the action to a large part, but you do have control over yourself.  We make a choice each and every hour whether to act or simply react.  The story we write today will connect the seasons of our lives.  That story will either give meaning to our lessons learned or illustrate lost opportunities.

 

Steve Jobs knew the value of making each day an opportunity:  Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. 

 

We cannot help others if we fail to help ourselves.  The changing of the seasons is nature’s way of reminding us that each day is a new beginning, a new change to make the ordinary extraordinary.

 

 

End and Begin

End and Begin

Pentecost 151

 

Do one good deed every day.  Sounds like one of those New Year resolutions, doesn’t it?  It is actually the first step to improving your health.  Who knew?   Performing charitable acts, even very small ones is one of the surest steps a person can make towards having a healthy and happy life.  This series has as its focus the spirit of our living.    Practicing philanthropic acts is one of the simplest yet most rewarding things we can do.  Giving works both for the giver and the recipient and there is no better day to remind you of this than today, Yom Kippur. The Jewish day of atonement and beginning anew.

 

In 2013 over forty international studies were examined and the evidence compiled indicated that volunteering and doing good deeds can lead to over a twenty percent reduction in mortality rates.  In other words, living, even just a little bit, for someone else means you yourself can live longer.  Pentecost is often call the “Ordinary Time”.  This Pentecost, Pentecost 2016, we are exploring how to improve our own living by giving.  I have suggested one way each day to improve another’s living as well as your own that did not require a great deal of money or time.  Hopefully we are living each day so as to make this ordinary time extraordinary living.

 

Many people think only millionaires can be philanthropic but the truth is we all have something to give.  For example, we each have twenty=four hours each day.  Seven to eight of those hours need to be allocated for work while another eight are usually set aside for work.  A healthy travel time to and from work is no greater than one hour each way and eating meals should take between forty-five and sixty minutes.  That still leaves three hours:  8 + 8 + 2 + 3 = 21.  Of course personal hygiene and getting dressed should factor into the day as well as some light entertainment.  Still you could probably find time to volunteer one or two hours a week. 

 

One study yielded the results that senior citizens who donated at least one hundred hours a year were twenty-eight percent less likely to die than their peers.  That is one hour every three days, give or take.  It translates into two hours a week or 104 hours.  “But that’s not a magic number—it could be 75 hours or 125,” says study coauthor Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. “The important thing is that you’re doing it regularly.”  Doing good is not just good for older people, either.  Another study revealed children saw a drop in their cholesterol when volunteering.


Not everything needs to be done for someone else.  Starting the day off with doing something good will help us be fit.  Take for instance the seven minute exercises that are so popular right now.  You can google them or search for an app on your smart phone but here are seven that take seven minutes to do.  I know what you are thinking – I have not any extra time; my schedule is packed.  Well, there are one thousand, four hundred and forty minutes in each day – yep, 1440.  If you do not think your body is worth 1/205.714286, then you have some serious mixed-up priorities.  Seriously, mixed up priorities.

 

I mentioned these exercises when we first began this series but I think they are worth repeating.    Sometimes we tend to reject doing the same thing when really we should appreciate the experience and value such effort can afford. 

 

First let’s start with every school-aged child’s favorite exercise – the jumping jacks.  One jumps into a position with arms stretched upward and out towards the sky and feet also outward.  The body resembles an “X” when this is done properly.  Some of us, however, have passed the age of jumping.  You can still put your body in this position.  Do this rapidly for one minute (or longer.  There are no penalties if you managed to spend fifteen minutes a day doing these instead of just seven!).  Starting with your feet together and your arms at your side and then jumping or hurriedly moving into position with your arms above your head and your legs wide apart is great for your cardiovascular system.  This is a great exercise to improve one’s stamina and endurance and life does require that.  It will also, over time, increase your flexibility and circulation.  The human is not a vase.  It was not created to sit still.

 

Exercise number two is a wall sit.  Stand with your back flat against a wall and slowly lower yourself to a sitting position or halfway down the wall.  In other words, pretend there is an imaginary chair and you are slowly sitting in it.  If you are really stiff or have knee problems, take this exercise very slowly.  None of these should be done without considering your own personal condition and health status.  Remember each of these exercises is done for one minute so don’t try to win a world record doing wall sits on the first day.  Doing it has benefits, even if you only manage two or three at first.  Going slow is fine.

 

Next comes the squat and this is simply doing the same thing as the wall sit without the wall.  Hold your arms out front and slowly lower your body to a squatting position, going as low as you can.  If you need to, start holding onto a chair.  Again, we are aiming for flexibility and mobility, not a gold medal.

 

The next two exercises also involve the entire body and can be done holding onto a chair if you need.  The lunge is everybody’s favorite silly walk.  Move down a hallway, taking a bit longer steps than normal and lower your body as you go.  Ideally, the knee-bend results with your leg at a ninety-degree angle but any angle is fine for the beginner.  Most of us do not sleep in our kitchen/bathroom/closet.  Even someone in an efficiency apartment has to move around their living space.  Doing lunges while you go to the closet or the bathroom to shower combines the act of getting ready for work or school with exercising.

 

Another great exercise to do while getting ready to leave for your busy day is high knee running.  The high knee exercise involves lifting your knees to your waist and yes, holding onto a chair to do this is fine.  Please lift as fast as you safely can – emphasis on safety, especially when you first begin this.  Like the lunge, this exercise helps improve your core or central body’s strength.  Our torso supports us so we should support it, after all.  Both the lunge and high knee running also improve flexibility and balance as well as tone your abs, thighs, and derriere muscles.

 

The next exercise is one you can do in the shower or immediately after toweling dry.  If you are into exercising daily, then you probably are already giving your body seven minutes and push-ups are a regular part of your daily regimen.  If they are not, then please add them.  However, for the rest of us, doing a push-up, even the thought of one, stops us.  You can do a standing push-up, though, against a wall; hence, the shower.  Standing facing a wall, place your hand at should height.  Position yourself about eight inches from the wall and with your palms flat against the wall, lean in.  Then push yourself back into standing up straight.   Moving on to regular push-ups is permitted but this form of push-ups will also provide you benefits.

 

My last suggested exercise is really the first one you should do because you can do it in bed.  Of course, doing it on the floor is also permitted and again, don’t be surprised is your small pet think you are a new couch.  This exercise is called the plank and wins the prize for all-round benefits.  In fact, because it seems so simple you might just skip it but please don’t.  In exercise, as in life, sometimes the simplest things yield the best results.

 

To do a plank, one simply holds one’s body off the bed or ground in a straight line.  This is done by bending elbows and resting the arms on the bed or floor and then pushing up with toes remaining on the bed or floor.  Your body will have the appearance of an incline or plank.  This may sound really simple but trust me, it is not.  Getting into position is easy; holding it is difficult and requires great overall strength.  Most of us do this in bed at some point when turning over.  Start out small and hold for ten seconds and work your way up to one minute.  The plank is wonderful for core conditioning and also for good posture, balance, and other muscles we need to go about our busy lives.

 

Give yourself seven minutes a day.  You will burn more calories, build muscles, improve your blood circulation and have more energy.  You cannot be good for anyone else if you are not good to yourself.  While you are doing these exercises, remember to repent for those things that were not – shall we say – in anyone’s best interests.  We all make mistakes and even sometimes are unkind.  While you are inhaling and exhaling, take a few thoughts of “I’m sorry; I want to do better; I hope to be better. 

 

Maya Angelou once said “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.”  One does not have to be Jewish to recognize the need for review, confession, and optimism in tomorrow.  It is something we should all live each and every day. 

Knowing and Doing – Part 2

Knowing and Doing – part 2

Pentecost 150

 

Matter is composed of atoms separated by empty space through which the atoms move.  Atoms are solid, homogeneous, indivisible, and unchangeable.   All apparent changes in matter result from changes in the groupings of atoms.  There are different kinds of atoms that differ in size and shape.   The properties of matter reflect the properties of the atoms the matter contains.

 

The above paragraph contains the five basic principles of atoms proposed by Leucippus and Democritus in the fifth century BCE.  We may not think much about atoms but we should.  There are, after all, the basic building blocks of all matter, of all that our senses perceive.  There are ninety naturally occurring types of atoms and scientists have created another twenty-five in laboratory settings.  As the smallest units of ordinary matter, atoms represent much of what we consider to be life.  They still are a subject of debate, however.

 

Water is a perfect example of the confusion around atoms.  After all, we walk through air every day and yet, it seems unified.  The individual atoms do not feel as raindrops on our skin.  Even the rain is a mystery of sorts.  Water would appear to be continuous.  In fact, all matter seems continuous.  We drink water every day and yet, we cannot divide it into nothing-ness.  Try this experience.  Fill a glass with eight ounces of water.  Divide that into two glasses of four, then two more glasses of two, etc.  While the water matter is finite we never reach a point at which we cannot continue to divide it.

 

If all life is composed of atoms which create matter which seemingly is continuous, how do we explain death?  Not just the death of beings but the death of projects, the death of ideas, the death of desire for such things as extraordinary living?  The knowing of the continuity of atoms is a far cry from the doing that which creates the continuity.

 

My volunteering is an example of separate people moving through empty space.  Each of us who will volunteer becomes living, breathing human-size entities of atoms moving through the need or void of helpers.  We are individuals from differing backgrounds, often with different income levels and certainly with different faith philosophies. We become rule one and two of Leucippus’ theory of atoms.

 

The work of volunteers often creates opportunity where none existed.  The grouping of volunteers and their fulfilling the assigned tasks create changes in the function of the organization for which they are volunteering, usually creating greater usefulness and extraordinary outcomes that would not be possible of not for the volunteers.  This is rule three.

 

I will be present at this training with people who will not be my exact size, nor have my skill set.  My life is extraordinary in that it is unique to me.  No one else has lived my life.  Siblings grow up in the same house, attend the same schools and might even go into the same career but they each respond in their own individual manner to life.  No two volunteers will be the same.  This follows rule 4.

 

We are volunteering for an event to be held later this month and we each will work in various locations throughout the venue.  I already know I will be working with children but some will register people while others will be guides, ticket masters, chaperones…the list is extensive.  Most of us will be wearing costumes while others will be in regular dress.  Our appearance might assist us in our duties but they will not hinder our effectiveness.  What will do that is the energy and effort we put into our duties.  The outcome of the event will, in part, reflect what we have contributed.  This is rule 5.

 

We often forget that we are not only living on this planet, we are a part of it.  We create its future with each action we undertake.  Knowing is important and I was selected for the duties I will assist with because of my past knowledge and experience.  However, that skill set would be useless if I did not put it into action.  That knowledge would serve no purpose in the continuity of matter if it was not utilized.

 

We create extraordinary living when we live, fully and for not only ourselves but for others.  We enhance our own living by realizing that we should not fear those who are different but embrace them as being part of the whole that makes us strong.  We know that water is not in an endless supply and yet, we cannot fully divide that glass of water into oblivion.  The two components, hydrogen and oxygen work in harmony.  Perhaps if man worked together in such harmony with love and knowledge, nothing could truly divide us into oblivion.