It is all good.

Our separation from God was simultaneous with our eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  At that moment, we divided our world into pieces, instead of being whole.  We no longer saw as God does, in entirety, in completion.  We began at that moment to judge – to raise things up, and to put things down.  We chose to forget that God made all things and said that they were good.

As stated by Placido, an Andean shaman in the film “Humano” (currently free on Amazon Prime) – “The only thing you need to understand is that everything is there to be understood, and not to be rejected or judged. As soon as you start judging, you enter into dualism.”

The Hebrew word “Shalom” means peace.  It is related to the word “shelemut”, which means “wholeness”.  Meanwhile, the Hebrew word for sickness (choleah) is related to the word for emptiness or hollowness.  It is also the word for secular or profane.  Thus, sickness is a body without a soul – devoid of spirit.  To be whole, we must have body and soul together, complete.

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Wisdom 11:24-25 is talking about how God created everything, so it has to be good.  The “you” in these verses refer to God.

24 For you love all things that exist,
and detest none of the things that you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
25 How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?

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Poem – snow day

snow day

Remember that feeling you have
when you look outside
and everything
is covered by snow?

It was forecasted
but they didn’t know exactly
when it would happen –
what time of day,
or even if this day or the next.
But it was coming,
that was certain.

And while you were asleep
the snow appeared,
silently
making everything white,
everything new,
covering the world
with a silent calm,
a soft pure light.

Every prayer,
every reconciliation,
every bridge mended,
every addiction cured,
every honest conversation,
every deep listening

is a snowflake.

The world will change
because we will change it
because we were changed
one
by
one
by
one
a light comes on
and we share it, we shine it.

A new day is coming.
A new day is here.

Peace is possible

We tend to have a set of blinders on when it comes to peace. We forget that the world isn’t always at war. Let us focus on times of peace that have happened – times when long-standing disagreements have been resolved. What “could never happen” has happened before and can happen again.

I invite you to recall specific moments of peace –

The end of apartheid in South Africa.
The removal of the Berlin wall.
The peace accord in Ireland.

All of these conflicts seemed to dissolve overnight, yet they required the intense energy and attention of many people who prayed and worked for their resolution. All along it seemed hopeless – too big to fix, too large to solve.

Do you feel the energy of the change? A huge shift in energy occurred that made it possible for peace to flow.

Now take that energy and push it towards today’s issues –

Israel and Palestine.
Race relations in America.
Refugees fleeing war and poverty.

These seem bigger than us, impossible to resolve. And yet the past tells us otherwise. There is hope. Change is possible.

Keep pushing.
Keep believing.
Keep working.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (and) Jesus’ gift of peace

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will. You will live because I live. Then you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am within you. The one who loves me is the one who knows and follows my teaching. The one who loves me is also loved by my Father. I will love him as well and I will reveal myself to him.”

The other Judas said to Jesus, “Lord how are you going to reveal yourself to us but not the world?”

Jesus said “Anyone who loves me follows my teaching. Then my Father will love him and my Father and I will make our home within him. Anyone who doesn’t follow my teachings doesn’t love me. What I’m telling you is not from me. It comes from the Father who sent me. I have told you these things while I’m here with you. But the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of what I have told you.”

JN 14:19-26

Jesus’ gift of peace

“I leave you with the gift of my peace. I don’t give gifts to you like the world does. Don’t let your heart be troubled or afraid. You’ve heard me say that I am going away but I’m returning to you. If you love me, you should be overjoyed that I am going to the Father, because the Father surpasses me. I’ve told you this now so you can believe when it happens. I’m not going to speak with you for much longer because the Devil, the ruler of the world, is coming. He has no power over me because nothing of him is within me. Instead, I’m going away to show the world that I love the Father and do as he commands me to do. Now get up – it is time to leave here.”

JN 14:27-31

Restoring a brother

“If your brother sins against you, you should confront him about it in private. If he listens to you, you have won him back. But if he won’t listen to you, then take one or two other people with you to speak with him again, so that these witnesses may be able to establish the truth. If he still won’t listen, then tell the congregation. If he won’t listen even then, treat him as you would treat an unbeliever or a tax collector.”

“I’ll share this truth with you – whatever you unite on earth is united in heaven, and whatever you let go on earth is let go in heaven. Here’s another truth – if two of you agree about anything that you pray for then my Father in heaven will do it for you. Wherever two or three people gather together in my name, I am there with them.”

MT 18:15-20

Reconciliation

To reconcile is to make your checkbook work out. The debts and credits need to be entered. The balance that you have needs to match the balance that the bank has.

Reconciliation is also between people. The good (the deposits) and the bad (the withdrawals) need to be entered. If you pretend that all is well while harboring a grudge, you are imbalanced. Your relationship is unhealthy.

Jesus tells us that if we have issue with someone, we need to go make peace with them before we take our gifts to the altar. We have to get straight with others before we get straight with God. We take our gifts to the altar to “pay” for our sins and our wrongdoings. We don’t have the Temple or the altar anymore, but the idea is the same. We don’t have to “pay” for our sins with sacrifices anymore either – Jesus has picked up that tab. But we still have to do the work of balancing the relationship checkbooks.

I’m also reminded of the work of John the Baptist – “Make straight the way of the Lord.” He came to make things easier, to warm people up. He was Jesus’ opening act, if you will. He made it possible for Jesus to come.

Reconciliation does that. It makes it possible for God to come among us. When we make peace – when we do the work of making peace – then we make straight the way of the Lord. We make a path for God to come in. It isn’t something we wait on, passively. We have to do the work. If we want healing, we have to be healers. If we want peace, we have to be peacemakers.

God can only get in when we open the door.

Cornered – physical boundaries and confrontational conversation styles.

One of the worst things you can do is make someone feel threatened when you talk with them. It is important to be mindful of the physical space between you and another person. A safe rule is to put out your arm, fingers extended, at a 90 degree angle away from your body. Don’t stand any closer than that to a person you don’t know unless they have given you permission. If you want to make them feel even more comfortable, stand even further away.

Just because you work with someone doesn’t mean you have permission. The boundaries are even more important if you are a manager, or of the opposite gender. Physical space is the same as people’s homes. In the same way that you wouldn’t invite yourself over to someone’s home you don’t know, you shouldn’t stand right next to someone you don’t know.

Cornering is another thing to think about. You may not be close to them, but they may not be able to leave. Your conversation will go much more smoothly if you pay attention to their physical comfort. If you are mindful of their physical comfort, they will mentally feel more comfortable as well. A simple conversation can become a confrontation if someone feels physically threatened.

Consider whether they are literally up against the wall. Are they able to physically back away from where you are when you’re having a conversation? Even if they’re not up against the wall are you blocking their method of escape? They may not want to escape but if you physically block them then they will feel like they need too. If you are essentially trapping them in a room it is very threatening.

If you need to talk to a person who is sitting in a chair at a desk, be mindful of cornering them there. They are blocked on their front and back, and depending on the chair they are blocked on their sides as well. If you are within an arm’s length of them at the same time, you’ve just doubled their discomfort. If they have to look up into a light to talk to you, and at an angle, you’ve achieved the trifecta of terrible communication styles.

Having a conversation while standing up is also a bad idea. It will make the conversation more confrontational. Sit down if at all possible, and make sure you are both at eye level. Having a table between you can make the other person feel more comfortable. Be mindful though that it might establish a sense of hierarchy. If you are a manager and the conversation is at your desk, it will not be an equal conversation.

Also it is important for you to consider your body posture. Is it open or closed? Do you have your arms crossed in front of you? Do you have your legs crossed? Are you looking away from them? All of these are “closed” body postures and indicate to the listener that you aren’t listening to them. Do the opposite to let them know you are fully present.

If you want them to listen to you, then you have to make it look like you are listening to them by altering your body posture. But you have to get some sort of middle ground. It is important not to fling your arms around a lot. It is important not to open your legs up wide and scoot your pelvis towards them. Both of those are very aggressive moves. They are too open. Look for a balance and remain neutral, not too forward, not too far back.