Friday, January 28, 2011

Try friendship. That's what touches.

I was asked to give the keynote address to the snow-rescheduled NAACP celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Maine State Prison today.

Theme of talk: Martin Luther King Jr. and Friendship --
What do we have to fear? Some points for conversation

Some excerpts:
Dr King said the victory, what winning would look like, is “friendship and understanding.”

So I ask myself -- and you might have this conversation with yourself: What is it I, or we, fear?

For me, three things come to mind:
1. We fear that we’ll look foolish, be played, be laughed at, be betrayed.
2. We fear that others will try to own us, buy and sell us, hurt our loved ones, steal our names, detour our integrity, inhibit our future.
3. We fear that we will learn that we, too, are afraid, a little cowardly, full of excuses, full of bullshit, inclined to hide inside our anger, blame, shame, resentment, and even what we think of as hatred.

These three fears that come to mind arise in all environments -- here in prison, out on the streets, in shopping malls in Tucson Arizona, in the desert stretches and devastated alleys of Iraq, the harsh hiding mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the difficult rhetoric and harsh insensitive words of our countrymen, and in the quiet hours of human life lived anywhere throughout this world, time and history. We’re fragile. We’re uncertain. We’re trying to figure out who we are and where we’re going.

Martin Luther King Jr. understood fear. He was no fool. But as often as he must have considered the absurdity of speaking a truth he felt and believed in to a society and power structure he knew to be threatened and frightened about the injustices they hid behind, -- he kept moving through his own fear. He moved through his life, his philosophy, his faith, his demonstrations, campaigns, and causes -- until there was no place else to go. I suspect this “no place else to go” is the surrender and submission to friendship and the conversation it requires. You do what you can, you do your best, and -- at end -- you come to realize that friendship is what remains when everything else falls away.

Dr. King presents us with the invitation to enter the conversation.

There’s a line in the introduction to A Course in Miracles that says: “The opposite of love is fear, but that which is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”
Imagine, living in a world with no opposite!

Our job in life, and Martin Luther King Jr. was a strong model of this, is to ‘be-there.’ We’re meant to show up in our lives, in difficult places, and bring the truth of who we are to the situation -- and by doing so to help others through the difficulties.
The philosopher Martin Heidegger said that ‘being there” (in German, Da-sein) is the word that means a human being. A human being is someone who “is there.” They are there, as they are, are they there. This willingness to be present is the goal of friendship. And friendship is a vehicle of life.

I think it’s a worthy conversation, this “friendship.” We have many needs. Mostly we need conversation and friendship.

Kahlil Gibran wrote On Friendship
 in The Prophet:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
I’ll end my remarks with 3 possible antidotes to the absurdity we often experience around us. (“Absurdity” defined as “utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; something laughably foolish or false. The quality or condition of existing in a meaningless or irrational world.”)

1. Invite others to participate with you to discover meaning from its hiding place.
2. Create a community of genuine friendship where to speak and to listen is the norm, is respected, is a radical foundational reality.
3. Recognize that no one can own you -- that you are free: free to see things differently; free to be kind; free to feel; free to think; free to speak to one another about things that matter.

Try friendship. A friend is someone you can be silent with. A friend is also someone who will speak when speaking is called for.

Here’s a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. It is a quote that can cut both ways. He said:
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Dr King leaves us today with a riddle, a koan, to sit with, and ponder, in our own presence.

I thanked them. They thanked me. And we went our ways. In friendship.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here's something to ponder.
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
(-- Martin Luther King Jr.)
It cuts both ways.


And, cryptically.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The President says the State of the Union is strong. He waits until the end of address to say it.
Two Tercets To Remember

Everyday is our day.
The fact that I know you're alive and breathing
is like sun, moon and star (to me).

So much begins with your smile and laughter.
Your sadness and blues is what makes me believe in prayer.
Your beauty will always be my path to God.
(Poem by E. Ethelbert Miller)
I think the state of the union is okay.

Or will be again.


Monday, January 24, 2011

May all find warmth tonight!
Frigid January Haiku

Even firewood
can’t stand below zero night
outside kitchen door

One more piece of wood on fire.

The headline in the Bangor Daily News caught my attention: "MDI cross-country skier found dead at Acadia National Park. (1/23/11 01:36 pm Updated: 1/23/11 07:08 pm, By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff)

It touched close to home. So I reflected in the comments section:
My condolences to family and friends!
Last night on Ragged Mtn in Camden I, too, went out to snowshoe for an hour in moonlight at 11pm.
I trust Mr.Rosborough felt the beauty and quiet of his experience as did I. The thought occurred during my many stops to rest that I might come to my own end as a 66yr old man in this Maine paradise of snow, moonlight, meditation and exertion.
I say a prayer for Mr.Rosborough and am sobered and humbled that a member of our community of winter night aesthetic solitude pilgrims has been stilled.,164641
Everytime I row alone out into Penobscot Bay or snowshoe alone the inclines of Ragged Mountain or when I cross the kitchen floor to pour a cup of coffee, I am aware of impermanence and transitioning.

With gratitude.
For it all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Only God is, nothing else is.

Nor is there death. Neither sin.
So now we say that the person must be so poor that he has no place in himself wherein God can work. Where the person still holds a place within himself, he still holds differentiation. Therefore, I pray God that He will make me free of God; for my essential being is above God, insofar as we take God as the beginning of all creation. Namely, in that being of God's where God is above all being and all differentiation, there I was myself, and knew myself, and created myself. And therefore, I am the cause of myself in my being, which is eternal, but not of my becoming, which is temporal. And therefore, I am unborn, and in my unborn nature, I can never die. In my unborn nature, I have been eternally and am now and will remain eternally. What I am in my born nature, that will die and be destroyed, for it is mortal; therefore, it must decay with time. In my eternal birth, all things were born, and I was the cause of myself and of all things; and if I had wished, neither I nor all things would have been; however, if I were not, Got would not be: that God is God, of that I am the cause; if I were not, God would not be God. (It is not necessary to know this.)
(from Meister Eckhart, Sermon 32 Beati pauperes spiritu,
We are all well within our moving through. And through. And through.

Meister Eckhart says three things about poverty:
1. That person is poor who wills nothing.
2. A poor person is one who knows nothing.
3. A poor person is one who has nothing

Contemplate the mind;
This king of emptiness
Is subtle and abstruse.
Without shape or form,
It has great spiritual power.

It can eliminate all calamities
And accomplish all merits.
Though its essence is empty,
It is the measure of dharmas
- Master Fu (497-569)
Of course I could eat fewer desserts.

It is a cold, cold, winter night.

Say 'thank you' and allow yourself sleep.