Siamese souls

And then he reached the end of his quest. He hadn’t thought it was going to be this soon. Not like it had been fast, by any means. It has been years he’d trod the path before him, years of loneliness and darkness. Often the only light he had to go by was in his heart, that still small voice that urged him on when the world said it was pointless to go on – pointless, and worse. He’d been mocked by family and friends alike. But now he was here. It finally happened. He expected it on a more auspicious day than a Tuesday, but who was he to question? He was finally here. He paused before the ornate doorway, and admired the crenelations on the archway and the wrought iron fixtures on the door. Should he say the blessing now, or after he crossed the threshold? When could he say he’d truly arrived? Perhaps twice was better. He fished around in his satchel and located his notebook to find the words for the prayer. He’d been through three such journals in this journey and mailed the full ones back to himself. He felt an odd sense of otherness the first time he wrote his own name on a parcel. He wouldn’t be there to receive it. Or would he?

What would it be like to be in more than one place at a time? Ben had known all his young life that this was his destiny, to discover the space between the atoms, to transcend the limits of the merely physical. Some people were astronauts, exploring outer space. He was a psychonaut. His unexplored territory was inside himself.

It had all begun when he was four. On a return trip from Christmas in Florida with his parents, everything stopped near exit 66 on I-75. He didn’t see it coming. How could he? He was safely (or so they thought) strapped into his car seat. He could see nothing of the danger ahead. His view was filled with his favorite bear and a collection of books. He was a great reader for his age. His parents, both scientists at the university, doted on him and read to him every day. He cherish the books he’d been given as gifts as well. He equated books with love.

All he knew then was that day they were going, and then they weren’t. Suddenly he was out of his body, floating around in the car as a spirit. His body was too damaged by the crash to return. If he’d been read any faith stories he would have known where to go, but his parents had no truck with such foolishness. Religion wasn’t logical, and as scientists they couldn’t be bothered to waste their time on myths. So he did the next best thing. Like a scared puppy, he retreated to the only safe place he knew – his mother.

He’d been apart from her for four years now, but he had no other choice. She was alive. Her injuries were slight. This couldn’t be said of his father. One look in his eyes and Ben knew that ship had sailed. Sure, he still could have stepped into that body, but he didn’t know that, and time was in short supply. He had to choose soon or find himself without a choice.

So he slipped back inside his mother, returned to the first home he’d known in this dimension, this place of noise and sound and touch and bright colors and busyness.

The return was easier than the exit. A sidestep, a little bend, and there he was, back inside, but seeing the world through her eyes, hearing the world through her ears. It was odd, this other way, this borrowed way. Now he began to understand her anxiety, for she had forgotten how to see the world of spirit. Maybe that was why she’d become a scientist, forever needing to prove the unprovable instead of simply believing.

After the accident, his mother felt the usual grief for her husband‘s death, but very little for his. Grief being a new and unexpected feeling for her, she had no way to know what to experience. She chalked up her low affect to many things – his young age, her energy spent on her own recovery, the sudden reversion of all household duties to her. It was more difficult to go from a couple to a single then she had expected, and her grief for her only child got folded up within that period. Or so she thought.

Because he was there, alongside her. He was within her, part of her. He was four, and 28th at the same time. Over the years, he grew along with her, and she with him.

That was why now, 15 years later, he was walking the pilgrim’s path. She was 43 now, and remarried. He was 19, and still partnered with her, sort of a Siamese soul. He was the one who had eased her back towards the faith of her childhood, the faith she’d abandoned. He was the reason they were walking the Camino now.

To her mind, the God of her ancestors had abandoned her, but it was the other way around. She didn’t understand that faith is a lot like any other skill. You get out of it what you put in. But her anger and questions at the unfairness of the accident (and her ghost son’s persistence) edged her back over the threshold of her parents worship hall..

That first time, she simply let the familiar chants watch over her as she sobbed quietly in the back pew. She left before anyone could ask her what was wrong, because she knew the answer would take too long. So she went to the library instead, reading all she could about faith, and God, and spirituality, preferring the safety and anonymity of books over the intimacy of public worship. Over time, she learned of a pilgrimage that took a month of walking. People went on it to find answers, or release their grief, or find a new direction for life. All of that sounded ideal for her. So she left on a summer break from the university, grateful to not have to use vacation time, but more grateful to be able to leave in a way that she didn’t have to answer her coworker’s questions. “Where are you going?”  “Why?”  “A pilgrimage? I didn’t think you were religious.” She could hear the questions already, and already she knew she didn’t have the answers. Sure she knew where she was going, but why? And she didn’t think she was religious either, but here she was. All she knew was that if she had to face these questions, she might lose her nerve and that was the last thing she wanted. So a week after final exams, she was standing at the airport, a plane ticket to Bilbao and a bus map to Pamplona in her hand, kissing her new husband goodbye for a month.

And now it was almost over. They were about to walk through the door – that door, the one where countless thousands of other pilgrims had trod.

And then it happened. He felt the shift when both her feet had crossed the threshold, when she felt the sudden but soft awareness of his presence within her. Quietly, calmly, she knew she was not alone, knew who was with her. It was a gift she’d not even dared to ask for – not even known it was possible. She made her way, (they made their way), to a nearby pew and quietly begin to sob tears of relief, and joy, and hope for the future. They had a lot of catching up to do.

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Consumerism is the new religion

Consumerism is the religion of the world.

It is destroying the planet.

It is the antichrist

– the opposite of life-giving, of healing, of resurrection.

It is about trust in yourself,

not sharing, greed.

It creates war and poverty.

It builds present presents and walls.


Time to cast out this false God

this idol of “you deserve it”

this spirit of “me first” and to hell with everybody else.



It pits person against person,

creating nations that war against each other

blinding us to our true nature

of oneness of unity,

that we are all in this together on this life-raft we call Earth

and if we don’t pull together we’ll discover

to our horror

there is no planet B.



Instead of trying to Terraform Mars

why don’t we re-form Terra

(which is the old name for Earth)?

Imagine

I

Imagine:
The Church no longer has a “worship service”. 
Instead, service to people is its worship.

Imagine all that money and time spent on feeding the hungry, healing the sick, housing the homeless – instead of hymnals, a band, a podcast, a live-streaming service, etc.

Imagine:
a world where we are 
no longer divided by money, 
where all people are seen as equal.

Imagine:
Keeping Christmas in your heart all year long.
Not the commercial Christmas, but the real one.

Imagine:
If Christians were known for their love. 
We must be the change we wish to see in the world.

And I don’t mean any of that “love the sinner, hate the sin” business because Jesus never said anything like that. Just love people, and let God take care of the rest. Love heals people.

It is time to stop, period.

I don’t understand the necessity for products to prolong sex after it is necessary. We have prescriptions for men and women to make it possible for them to be sexually active after they are able to have children. Viagra for men, and pills and creams for women are intended to prolong something that has no need. It has turned something normal into something abnormal.

This ad keeps coming up on my home page. It is impossible to ignore. It takes up half the page.

I clicked on it to show you this –

It is “used in women after menopause to treat moderate to severe pain during sexual intercourse caused by changed in and around the vagina that happen with menopause.”

There is no need for this. Menopause isn’t a disease.

It is time to learn other ways to be intimate. Try talking. Try playing board games. Try going on vacation together. Use a different part of your body to connect with your mate – your heart.

This obsession with sex as the only way to connect is what has lead to the disturbing amount of unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and child abuse and neglect, among other avoidable tragedies. Imagine how our world would look if we focused our energy and time towards something meaningful instead.

Jesus on the side of the road

And then there was the time

Jesus walked up to the man

on the corner.

You know the one.

The guy with the cardboard sign

that says

“Homeless. Please help.”

Or “Will work for food.”

And Jesus

(well not really that Jesus,

but a Jesus,

like a Santa Claus,

someone who is said
“yes, I’ll take on that role”

walks right up, not even in a car

like everybody else in a hurry

on their way to their job,

or the Kroger,

or Starbucks

but never here,

always on the move –  

that Jesus walks right up

and sees the man on the corner

 the leper, the blind man, the lost sheep

and looks him in the eyes and says

”Hey. What do you need?”

And he says

money,

 or home,

or a job,

but really he’s saying

Healing.

Freedom.

Grace.

He’s saying he needs to be

released from this prison

without bars

he found himself in,

or maybe locked himself in.

He forgets.

And Jesus reaches out a hand and says

do you believe you can be healed

(do you think there is hope for you

or have you given up already)

and the man hears the music beneath the words,

sees the light peeking out from the clouds

that have rained on his parade

for so long he wonders

why he keeps showing up

and thinks

maybe,

today is the day

that I no longer have to define myself

as homeless,

or chronically ill,

or abused by my parents,

or widowed

but instead

as a precious child

of God

chosen, and  loved, and whole.

And the healing happens,

right there on that corner,

with all those cars rushing by.

And then Jesus disappears,

 this latter-day Jesus,

this vagabond messiah

and the man

is still there,

on the side of the road,

still homeless,

still divorced,

still without a job,

but now he’s awake

 and he thinks

is this what healing looks like?

Psalm 37 for people in a hurry.

(You can get the gist of Psalm 37 by just reading the first lines of each stanza, up until lines 35-38.  Then the whole stanza is necessary to understand the meaning. )

Do not be agitated by evildoers…

Trust in the Lord and do what is good…

5 Commit your way to the Lord…

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him…

Refrain from anger and give up your rage…

10 A little while, and the wicked person will be no more…

12 The wicked person schemes against the righteous…

14 The wicked have drawn the sword and strung the bow…

16 The little that the righteous man has is better
than the abundance of many wicked people.

18 The Lord watches over the blameless all their days…

20 But the wicked will perish…

21 The wicked man borrows and does not repay,
but the righteous one is gracious and giving.

23 A man’s steps are established by the Lord,
and He takes pleasure in his way.

25 I have been young and now I am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned…

27 Turn away from evil and do what is good…

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom…

32 The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous…

34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way…

35 I have seen a wicked, violent man
well-rooted like a flourishing native tree.
36 Then I passed by and noticed he was gone;
I searched for him, but he could not be found.

37 Watch the blameless and observe the upright,
for the man of peace will have a future.
38 But transgressors will all be eliminated;
the future of the wicked will be destroyed.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord,
their refuge in a time of distress.

(translation from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

The Prince of the Invisible

The door had been bolted and barred longer than anyone could remember. It seemed better to go in through the side anyway. Long-ago one insistent person had begun the slow process of removing the plaster and stones, chipping away at the mortar with a spoon as if he was a prisoner breaking out. And yet he was free, he was outside. It made no sense to the passers-by, what he was doing, but he wasn’t in their way so they let him be, free to scratch and scrape as he pleased.

The ownership of the building had passed into public domain by this point so not even the police or the insurance company felt the need to get involved. So he scraped away day by day, but only when the shadows protected him. His skin was too fair to risk being out in the Guadal sun for very long.

He thought he’d be through in a week, tops. But the builders had done their job well so it took nearly 2 months to make a hole big enough for him to crawl through. And what treasure did he find on the other side! You would have thought he was Howard Carter in his excitement. He could barely keep his joy to himself. The neighboring shopkeepers hurried over for the whoops and chortles. They’d long gotten used to this strange visitor but this was something else. They stooped down and peered in – and saw nothing, nothing save the unusual prospector with his spoon, sitting in the middle of the empty room, talking up a storm to the air.

And that was that. Nothing to see here. Move along. The town, collectively but silently, agreed to let him stay there.

Who cared if he was a little weird? Who minded if he saw things that weren’t there? They left him to himself the same as they left people who didn’t see what was there. Maybe he was more advanced than they were. Maybe it wasn’t time for them to see the treasures yet. Who could say? So they left him be, but they contracted to have a window built in the gap he made. It wouldn’t do to have people coming in to bother him. Only those who were persistent (and particular) enough to go in via the window were worthy of an audience with the Prince of the Invisible anyway.

Because that is who he had become. Or maybe he’d always been? Maybe this was who he truly was, underneath the mask of normalcy he’d always put on when he was around everyone else. Maybe he’d always seen the spirits the same as solid people. Or maybe the potential had only been unlocked on that day when he’d finally crossed the threshold, especially on such an unusual way. Perhaps the spirits took note of his persistence.

Perhaps it was none of that and it was just finally time for the talent to be revealed to the town, like he was at a debutante ball. Now he was fully himself, out in the open, at large. Now he was multidimensional and could openly use all of his senses.

He held court with the spirits in that room for days at a time, seemingly unaware that time was passing. He didn’t grow tired or hungry while he was with them either. It is as if he took on some of their characteristics while he was with them. When he would leave the room, he would return to the world of the physical and require all the usual things and be subject to all the usual limitations. No wonder he seemed to prefer his time inside, where the spirits acknowledged and even respected him. It was much better among them than with regular people.

For the spirits were people too, no doubt about it. They were just as real, just as present as the visible ones. Many were quite powerful and opinionated, just as they had been in life. Some were the spirits of those who had lived before. Some had yet to incarnate. Some had been around the wheel of reincarnation so many times it was difficult to say whether they were coming or going.

All that mattered now was that they’d found each other, this unusual sort of kinship, a family cobbled together out of people who were unexpectedly able to interact with each other. And wasn’t that better anyway, better than the usual family where the usual people could barely stand to be in the same city with each other, much less in the same home.