The Rev. Dr. Paul Smith Weblog
http://blog.revdrpaulsmith.org
The Rev. Dr. Paul Smith Weblog

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE

                                                
 
     Our home is quiet as I write this entry.  Would you please join me on a gentle walk through my silence. The sounds of silence are seductive to my spirit and to my soul.  All by itself the silence has invaded my spirit. The scars from my heart surgery remain as a reminder of the skill of the medical teams that performed my operation.  In the silence I am overcome with gratitude for the many cards and emails from so many of you who responded to my thoughts about my heart attack.  In the silence I see the faces of many I have not seen for a long time.  What faces can you see?  In the silence I hear voices I have not heard for a long time. It is like soft and sweet music to my spirit. In the silence I can see the faces of grief and sadness of those awaiting news about their loved ones who were on the Malaysian Flight. My cup runs over momentarily as my Spirit tries to absorb the enormity of their loss. The old spiritual comes to mind: "way down yonder by myself and I couldn't hear nobody pray."  For a nano moment I hear the shouting and the anger of the CPAC members gathered at the National Harbor. I let it pass. In the silence I see the bloody face of one small child with eyes aglow caught in the madness in Syria.  I take a deep breath and I allow the silence to fill me as I seek wholeness for my body.  Take a deep breath with me and listen again to the silence and hear yourselves saying out loud" I will not allow myself to succumb to life's tragic fact. " Instead I will ask for peace. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for serenity.  I ask for positive energy to lift my spirit.  I ask for humility.  I ask for love and to be loved.
 
Now continue with me to my sacred place.  If you do not have one then I ask you to create a sacred space. Stay there for just a few moments . . .this is your space where you can be you.  This is the place where all of the freshets of our daily rounds of life are deposited.  Let the silence in. . .let it in?  Here is our retreat.  Here is where the God of your life and mine awaits us.  Always, always God is there.  It may be the silence itself which allows you to see that God has not abandoned us.  It may be the quietness of the moment that triggers something deep inside of you and it lifts your spirit and gives you pause.  Take it in. . .take it in. Again I hear the words of the Spiritual  "I'm so glad, I'm so glad trouble don't last all ways."  Now take another deep breath and let it out slowly.  Feel the calm settling inside of you.  Remember this exercise whenever the water in your well of life is getting low.
 
Say this prayer or create one of your own. O God, my God.  Hear our prayer and bring us into everlasting peace.  Please don't move that mountain in front of me, just show me a way around it.  Breathe your Spirit into my silent moment so that I may regain my strength and resolve to walk in Your light.  This is my prayer.  Amen.  

And so it is!  

Peace and blessings,

 Dr. Paul

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

                                           
Some of you may have heard I suffered a heart attack two weeks ago.  I knew something was upsetting my daily rounds but I could not exactly identify what it was.  I had chest pains that came and went but these pains were different than any I had ever felt.  I have had stents for four years so I felt secure that whatever was ailing me would soon pass.  How wrong I was!  You already know how I pay attention to the clues life provides to us so this was no different.  I confess I probably should have listened to my body as soon as I began feeling the chest pains. In retrospect I would have avoided emergency care had I listened to my body.  I did finally realize I was in denial about what I was feeling and went directly to the ER at Shady Grove Hospital.  I was admitted immediately and within minutes I was being prepared for surgery.  I am now in the recovery stage and will enter cardiovascular therapy in about two weeks.  To God be the glory.
 
I have been trying to understand what caused or contributed to my heart attack and I have some theories. First, I cannot continue to be "joy maker" for everyone.  This is difficult for me personally because of my role and profession as a pastor.  I have strong bonds and relationships with people from all around the country.  I must learn to say no which for me is very difficult.  Since leaving my second pastorate in Atlanta, I have continued strong ties with many of the members of the congregations I have served.  I have conducted funerals, weddings and other celebrations of life without thinking of the impact they have made upon me.  Some relationships go far beyond pastor and member but those are the easy ones.  Now that I am older I am aware that I cannot make the turn around as easily as I did when I was ten years younger.  I know this now and must be more selective in accepting requests for my pastoral services.
 
    Secondly, I must recognize that I cannot always solve the problems of communities where I no longer reside.  Recently, I resigned from two boards in NYC where the expectations were unmanageable and time consuming.  There were many people who felt my presence added much to the success or failure of the organizations and I did not want to disappoint them.  Mistake!  I am sure these two worthy and wonderful organizations valued my participation and I thoroughly enjoyed serving them, however I did not realize the toll it was taking on me.  When I began my term with these two organizations I was in my early 60"s.  I am now in my late 70"s and my body keeps telling me to slow down.  O yes, my pride got in the way because I was a part of something exciting and challenging and my being present made a difference.  I knew this but my body knew better and said to me "slow down or I will slow you down."  It took two mild heart attacks for me to get this message.  I have the message now!
 
There is something quite rewarding and special being "the joy maker" and feeling needed.  Last years I conducted three funerals of very dear and close friends whose families would not have anyone other than me to speak on behalf of their family member.  It was assumed and expected that I would be the one to speak for the families and I never waivered when the requests came. What I realize now and did not realize earlier is the toll these memorial services were silently taking on me.  The deceased were like my own family members and their children were like my very own.  I had baptized them, performed their marriages sent them off to college and was present when their first child was born.  Of course, I had to be present.  I will continue to be present in the years to come but I will be honest about whether I can emotionally handle the assignment. 
 
Finally, I must be completely honest with how I am physically and emotionally prepared to continue being the "joy maker."  I will always be the person I believe God has intended me to be.  Nothing will ever change that.  Once again the clues are ever present in my decision making process.  As I look at many of the entries in my private journals I am drawn to these words: "word has come that . . .has died."  My antenna goes up and I began bracing myself for the name of the person attached to the entry.   Just a few days ago, word came that yet another dear friend had died however, I recognized immediately that I would not be able to preside even if I wanted to or was asked because I am grounded by my heart attack.  Instead I have written about our friend and his family in my journal.  I have remembered with gratitude the great times we enjoyed.  These memories gave me strength and comfort.  That had to be enough!  Why? Because that is all I am able to do.  My physical condition makes it impossible for me to do any more than remember those beautiful times we spent together on the tennis court.  That is enough for me and I will send a note to our dear friends family instead.
 
In the meantime, I will remember to limit my doses of television and instead find a good book to read.  It was not until the news about the Ukraine did I realized how emotionally upsetting  it was to me.  I was agitated every time I heard CNN so called analysis of the situation in that region.  My blood pressure goes up whenever I heard John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Sarah Palin attacking President Obama's decision on the matter. Why does anyone need to hear from them?  Why does there need to be a paralysis of analysis of every step taken by the Obama administration?  Why do we need to hear from Newt when we already know what he consistently says about the President?  They are sorry losers.
 
I said it before and I say it again turn on your Spirit before turning on the news. Find that quiet space within where you are surrounded by positive energy.  My spiritual partner Marsha continues to send me positive energy and expressions of peace and quietness post my heart attack.  I remember her words whenever I find myself slipping into the abyss.  I have received so much positive energy since my heart attack and I am convinced were it not for those words of comfort and strength from so many of you, I could easily go over the edge.  I pray for continued strength and inner peace as I deal with my illness.  And so it is!  

Dr. Paul

WHEN WE LOSE OUR FOCUS. . .

                                     
 
            I was doing just fine as I reflected upon the legacy of Rev. Dr. M.L.K. Jr. and how he and former U.N. Ambassador Andy Young literally changed my life.  I remembered how Andy Young encouraged me to come to Savannah, Georgia to learn about the Civil Rights movement and how the Movement needed young college graduates like me. I had met Dr. King during my senior year at Talladega College, in Alabama. My fraternity invited Dr. King to be our speaker.  Andy says that Richard English and I introduced him to Dr. King at that event in 1957 and he rode back to Marion, Alabama with Dr. King after his speeches at the college. It was on the ride to Marion, where Dr. King's wife and Andy's wife were expecting their first child.  Little did either of them know their paths would become one in the days ahead.  I was riding high as I usually am during the many celebrations and documentaries about this incredible human being and prophet.  But I made the mistake of reading the heartless and racist and plain ignorant comments being made about Dr. King by those commenting on him via the media.  Alas, none other than Sarah Palin, for some reason was asked to comment and I foolishly read what she had to say.  Clearly, I had lost my focus!
 
      When we lose our focus we fall prey to misinformation that eats at the very core of our being.  Perhaps that is why I found myself feeling angry and sad having read the nasty comments about Dr. King!  I allowed their comments to cause me to lose my focus and I became no different than they.  You see, when we lose our focus we are in immediate candidacy to become angry and cynical.  When we lose our focus we also lose our ability to think rationally and objectively. This is dangerous to our health and to our personal humanity.  When we lose our focus we lose our ability to allow "the dust to settle" before making a response.  I confess, that is exactly what happened to me a few minutes before I started writing this entry.  So I want to recommend a few things you and I can do when we lose our focus.
 
   1. Rid yourself of the toxic thoughts that caused you to react negatively in the first place.  Dump your anger, resentment and accusations.  Acknowledge within yourself that what led you to a place you did not want to go. 
 
   2.  "In one minute you can change your attitude and in that minute you can change your entire day" says Spencer Johnson.  It is up to you.  I did just that and so can you.
 
   3." Let others (those who make the cryptic comments that grate on us) lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, not you" says Jim Rohn.
 
   4. Give as much energy to what you truly feel and believe in as you do what caused you to lose your focus in the first place.
 
   5. Learn from your experience of losing your focus and turn it into something that improves YOU.
 
    Losing our focus most often means we are headed for a great fall.  For example, I already knew these toxic comments from cyberspace would make me lose my focus.  I fell into the trap the media set for me.  One moment I was flying high with memories of my time in the Movement and the next moment I could feel the anger welling up inside of me. What a waste!  It is up to me to determine how I will or will not respond to the via negative.  Whether you like Governor Christie or not, he probably is wondering how he lost his focus and in such a short time period.  The media had crowned him as the surest challenger to Hillary Clinton were they their parties' presidential candidates.  Neck and neck said the polls and Christie was on cloud nine.  The media turned its ugly and toxic words on the Governor and  today he is trying to figure out how he lost his focus so quickly?  The media can make us and it can break us but that is a topic for another time. Frank Clark, a writer says succinctly what I would say to you and to me: "if you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere."  When we lose our focus it generally means obstacles have been set in front of us.  Since we know this we can say what one of the "spiritual songs" tells us: Lord don't move that mountain give me the strength to climb it. . please don't move that stumbling block, but lead  me Lord around it."  Find your path and stay on it!  And so it is!  

Dr. Paul

HOW LONG LORD, HOW LONG?

                                
 
      Claire Davis, a young 17 year old high school student remains in a coma having been shot by one of her classmates who then took his own life.  How many more times do we have to witness such tragedies in what was once thought to be the safest place for our children to be-our schools? Like many of you I am becoming numbed by the recurring violence against our children.  They are the innocent ones.  They are our future and our hope for tomorrow so why are they becoming the targets of unspeakable violence? 
 
      The Governor of Colorado has asked the nation to offer prayers for Claire whose condition has worsened so I am encouraging all who might be reading this entry to join with me in prayer for her and for all of the children who have died this past year while in school.  Pray this madness will cease so our children will no longer have to fear attending school.  How long Lord, How Long?
 
    One speaker at the Celebration of Life for Nelson Mandela said: "how we treat our children is the most important job we have."  I must however, ask the question "how can I protect our children while I am in search of a lost humanity?"  How can you and I learn how to navigate the shark infested waters of a world searching for its own soul?  I am baffled by my words and I find myself struggling to find ways to keep myself from sinking into the abyss of despair and hopelessness.  When this happens to any of us we are prone towards depression and cynicism.  We retreat into ourselves to shut ourselves off from the matters of the world.  If we do this we are doomed. 
 
   I am really struggling to keep my faith intact in these turbulent times.  I confess the water in my well is running low these days and I am trying to maintain my balance so that I don't accumulate grievance nor wallow in pity.  I want desperately to believe the words of the old Spiritual: "I'm so glad trouble don't last always." These are indeed challenging times for you and for me so we must find an opening.  I realize the importance of staying strong and faithful when the storms of life are waging war against our spirit.  But somehow I am having trouble maintaining my spiritual balance as I am being smothered by a humanity searching for itself.  How long Lord, how Long" I cry?  When will the storm pass over?  How long will I be trapped in the wilderness of life?
 
1. I admit that I am trapped.  I admit that I feel powerless.  I admit that I am struggling to find a discipline for myself that I can share with others who may feel as trapped as I am.
 
2. I confess that I, Paul Smith am standing in the need of prayer.  I confess I am baffled by what is happening in and around the world.  Unless I am brutally honest about what I am feeling it will take me longer to find a place of healing.
 
3. As difficult as it may be I must find some place, some person or some music or some time for deep silence and listening.  My issue is not with the God of my life as much as it is an issue with my self.  Until I can be stripped of all that I thought I knew and understood and throw myself upon God's mercy, I am a long way from healing.
 
4.  I remembered! I remembered! In a previous entry where I reflected upon my experience while attending the Celebration of Life service for President Nelson Mandela. I remember several sacramental moments when I came alive again.  I was totally absorbed in the music and the singing of various choirs.  I shouted "amen" and "yes" on several occasions as I absorbed the words of songs like "Safe in his Arms and Even Me".  I felt the warmth of strangers sitting next to me who later became friends as together we found common ground.  My weeping hours had turned into sounds of joy.  My anxieties and my longing for relief from turned instantaneously into new possibilities for me.  My quest for answers to my restlessness became questions that touched me deeply.  In that moment I got my groove back and my hope was restored.
 
   How Long Lord, How Long? remains-not long Lord, not long! I am learning not to lament too long but find ways to celebrate.  I find ways to respond to life's tragic facts with love and freedom. I learned that I should never underestimate the power of hope.  Hope has revealed itself to me in countless ways these past two weeks so I must maintain my gait and maintain my strength. I am learning to remain focused, determined and disciplined so that I may continue to be what I believe God intends for me and what God intends for you. I close with the words which have defined my ministry, my service and my life: I don't feel no ways tired. I come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy, I don't believe God brought me this far to leave me."
And so it is!  

Dr. Paul

FAREWELL NELSON MANDELA

 
      I knew Nelson Mandela's time of life was nearing an end.  So did many of you too.  We watched his highs and lows of health issues but always lurking in the back of my mind I wanted to believe he would somehow defeat them.  Another part of me wanted to believe this great man of history would teach the world a lesson in his dying that he taught us in his living: live a good and worthy life of service to others and reap benefits that will be everlasting.  Like so many of you I have been watching the news about the incredible life of this extraordinary man.  An entire book could be written about all of the tributes to President Mandela from world leaders as well as the common folks.  In the end it becomes clear that Nelson Mandela was special; revered, respected and beloved by people all over the world.
 
     It was not until I visited South Africa in 1995 that I truly understood the magnitude of this man's influence upon the world.  One has to taste the soft winds and the dark nights of Soweto Province to fully understand the enormity of this great man.  As I walked through Soweto with my South African pastor and his wife I saw first hand the aftermath of Apartheid and its impact upon the people.  I went from shanty to shanty where there was no electricity and only a stand pipe for water. I watched residents taste freedom for the very first time.  They were not bitter and there was little anger in Soweto.  They had hope and gratitude because their leader and President demonstrated the true meaning of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Nelson Mandela emerged from the Robben Island prison after 27 years to become President which showed those held in captivity by the cruel and inhumane system of Apartheid they themselves could also be free. President Mandela endured his imprisonment and he was not become bitter so they followed his example.
 
 While in South Africa I sat in on a session of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where I witnessed first hand the meaning of forgiveness.  Nelson Mandela re-defined forgiveness by forgiving those who had imprisoned him.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu caught the attention of the world as both men forgave those who had imprisoned them.  When Nelson Mandela looked straight into the eyes of those prison guards to forgive them, the world looked on in disbelief. To this very day I am convinced President Mandela and Bishop Tutu caused a stir in theological circles by living out the true meaning of reconciliation and forgiveness.
 
As I sat in the great nave of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. surrounded by hundreds who had come to pay tribute to this remarkable man, I came alive again.  Do you have a need for coming alive?  Is there a stirring deep inside of you requesting your permission to find a purpose for your life? Do you wish to hear the singing of angels so you may come alive again?  What is keeping you from realizing your potential?

I had an epiphany while being at the service of celebration for Nelson Mandela and the stirring deep inside of me was yearning for something that is greater than myself.  Do you know what I mean?
 
I could not stop writing or thinking as I listened to the words and the music transforming my soul.  I felt a closeness to the people around me whose lives had been touched by this man.  I learned what it meant to be cut off, to be despised and resented, yet finding the courage to resist these negative thoughts.  I learned never to underestimate the power of hope.  I learned not to lament but to celebrate. In moments of jubilation I freed myself from being absorbed by the via negative. I was buoyed by the softness and calm renderings of the Pacific Boychoir as their music charmed my soul.  I was electrified by the WPAS Children of the Gospel choir whose energy and sound filled the sanctuary of the Cathedral. 
 
I came alive over and over again as I understood there is "enough room to have a home in glory."  There is enough room where ever you may be for me to be more involved in serving others.  There is enough room for you and for me to turn our anger and distrust into new possibilities for forgiveness and reconciliation.  I learned the importance of leaving my bitterness, my anger and my fears at home.  I learned the importance of responding with love rather than responding with hate.  I learned how not accumulate grievances but to find ways to eliminate them.  There are  always unintended consequences for my actions so you and I must find ways to navigate the shark infested waters of hatred and deceitfulness and revenge.
 
The words from songs touched me deeply, words like "where there is beauty in the person there is harmony in the home; where there is honor in the nation there is peace in the world."  Clearly, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela lived out the true meaning of his faith and name his father gave him at birth "Matiba" or one born to be a trouble maker.  He was a trouble maker for justice,  He was a trouble maker for the rights of all peoples.  He was a trouble maker for South Africa yearning to be free from the oppression of apartheid.
 
Thank you Matiba for lifting up the nations.  Thank you Matiba for leaving your footprints on my heart and soul.  Thank you Matiba for making an imprint upon my heart.  Thank you Matiba for making our world not a perfect place but a better place because you were here.  Thank you Matiba for teaching me to not only becoming a revolutionary but also teaching me to become a reconciler as well.  Thank you Matiba for dreaming the world another way than the way you found it to be.  "You died but we who continue to live must do a harder thing than dying is, for we must 'think' and ghosts shall drive us on."  And so it is!  

Dr. Paul

A MEDITATION

             
 
       Much of what I am about to write has to do with the visit to my spiritual partner's home a couple of weeks ago.  I had mentioned in an earlier entry the importance of finding a place or space where you can let the dust settle and where you can go deep inside of yourself and where you can be made whole again.  Such was my visit with Marsha and her husband Richard. It was good to sit at table with them and to catch up on our experiences of the past three months.  So much has happened in our lives and it was important for us to be in what has become for us "sacred space."  I want to encourage you to find a place where you can be authentically you and not be afraid to face whatever concerns and unresolved matters may come to mind.
 
    There is a sense in which I regained my spiritual groove while being in that sacred space again. I had lost my gait having been in the storm too long.  I had forgotten some of my own spiritual disciplines and I was not feeling creative nor prophetic.  Marsha was spiritually on fire as she shared some of her experiences of coping during difficult times.  She gave me simple offerings that allowed me to explore my own thinking and praying.  For example, she talked about how she was taking time to be quiet and reflective resulting in a new discipline of being aware, alert and alive. Do you know what that means for yourself?  Try journaling your own thoughts about those three words Marsha offered to me?
 
      Being in the sacred place in Marsha's "upper room" helped me to regain my creativity and thoughtfulness. I had forgotten about the wealth of Howard Thurman materials stored in a special place in my study. One meditation in particular touched me deeply and I want to share some of it with you with the hope it may inspire you as it inspired me. He wrote it in 1953.
 
     "The dark places of my spirit are of two kinds.  There are things in me that shun the light because light means death to them.  Sometimes they are thoughts merely-thoughts that are not generous, not kind-even negative and destructive.  When the light falls on them they are stopped before they find expression and thus become living instruments of betrayal of the good.  Sometimes they are fears and anxieties  that I nourish because, in some strange  way they keep me warm and comforted.  The light reveals them for what they are-fears and anxieties.  There are dark places of my spirit that are not seen by me as dark places at all.  Until the Light of God spread over them, I did not realize what they were. I thought the deed was a kind one; I did not know that it was, in essence, an act of exploitation. When does a man or woman's light become darkness? The question can be answered only as their acts are illumined by the Light of God.  Thus in the quietness of this day I pray: Lighten, O God, the dark places of my spirit." 
 
      The dark places of our lives are often revealed when the Light shines brightly upon them.  For me the Light was revealed when I returned to that sacred space at Marsha's.  Maybe you can create or find a sacred place where your darkness can be turned into light.  I was able to turn my "sniffer on" while in that sacred space.  I became more aware, alert and alive following our time together.  I listened to what was being said around me.  I could feel the spirit moving in my soul again.  I was attuned to the via positive that caused me to leap with joy.  I heard a quote from words from what he said was an old African American writer: if you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go slow go together."  I like to think I  might have missed the importance of this quote had I not spent time in my sacred space.  I would like to think many of us miss a lot because we are moving fast and alone.  I think the affect of instant news causes us to dwell in the dark where there is no light to shine upon us. 
 
    Take seriously the words from Howard Thurman's meditation.  Find the Light that shines in the darkness of your spirit.  Find that inner peace that comes when we are stripped of all pretenses.  Find that place where you can be authentically you for that is the place where your darkness whatever it may be, becomes light.  My next entry will be about Simple Acts of Kindness a practice of my colleague Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Keaton.  And so it is. 

 Dr. Paul

THE GIFT OF SIGHT

          While watching "breaking news" I was poised to hear the verdict of the ML case as well as to hear about the outcome of President Obama's meeting with legislators on ending the government shut-down.  I could fee the tension rising in my body and I feared the via negative would once again consume me. But then something wonderful happened to me a few minutes later.  I heard the story of The Gift of Sight and I found myself in a completely different place, one that gave me a feeling of joy and hopefulness.
 
      The Gift of Sight is the story of thousands of people in Mekelle, Ethiopia who have cataract blindness.  Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, Ophthalmologist who volunteered his services to do a 7 minute procedure that restored the sight of many.  People who had been blind for years, including lots of children could be seen smiling as their eyes were opened for the first time.  Old men and women placed their hands upon Dr.Tabin as they were able to see this miracle doctor for the very first time. I was so deeply moved by the story because it reminded me of what is truly "breaking news."
 
      I will be visiting my spiritual partner Marsha in a few days and I am looking forward to it because we have not seen one another for quite a few months.  She is the source of many of my deep thoughts and reflections and I can hardly wait to sit in her sacred space again.  The story about Ethiopia reminded me that I had been wallowing in the sea of negative thoughts.  It reminded me that I had not created that sacred space where I used to spend so much of my time, especially when the water in my well was running low. The via negative of the news had overwhelmed me and it took that story in Ethiopia to draw me once again to my center.
 
     It is so easy to be drawn into taking the low road especially when we are trying to understand life and all of its vicissitudes.  I was so deeply moved by the story that I immediately was drawn to my journal where I began to write. I reminded myself of a previous entry where I asked my readers to turn on their spirits before turning on the news.  A simple discipline that I had sat aside because of everything taking place in and around the world. As I watched scabs coming off the faces of the Ethiopian people my heart melted in gratitude.  They were receiving sight for the very first time and I too, was receive the sight I had lost wallowing in the via negative.
 
   The energy vampire had sucked so much out of me that I had forgotten the simple blessings before my very eyes.  It only takes something small and simple to overturn the visible images of meanness we see all around us.  In those instances I must create for myself a sacred space-a place where I can soak in all of the via positive (like the gift of life story) that makes me whole again.  I guess that is why I am being made whole again.  Maybe that is what all of could use-something that restores and renews our hope and our faith in humanity. 
 
      Now I have an assignment for you!  Create a space or find a place where you can be authentically YOU.  Create a space where you can renew and reinvent yourself on a disciplined time table.  Set aside a time each day where you stop all you are doing and take a few moments of silence.  Take a deep breath as you remember a few of the kindnesses extended to you.  Remember it is the little things in life that make us whole and receptive to life.  In that space or place you have created, open yourself to the energy that comes when you are "still and reflective."  In that space or place think of the people or events or songs that made you come alive.
 
    Two of my daughters and our youngest granddaughter spent the weekend with us.  After a 4 hour train ride our granddaughter was anxious for some down time so she went immediately to her sacred space (the place where she keeps her dolls, her toys and games in our house) and within minutes we heard here happily singing and speaking to her dolls.  This space has been in our house from the time of their births and we have kept it there for them.  Just having my daughters together and exchanging ideas with their mother was restorative for me.  Were it not for their visit I might have missed the essence of the story of the Gift of Life.  Sometimes it takes something like that to open up the "air waves" of our spirit so our soul is receptive to the unknown. 
 
I encourage you to find or create a space just for you where you can go to when the water in your well is low.  Find a space where the scabs of your eyes come peeling off and you are able to truly see again.  And when you get to that sacred place you have created remember with gratitude that the Spirit of the Living God will come and visit you and give you peace.  It did for me!  

Dr. Paul

I HAVE AN IDEA . . .

                                       
 
  Maybe there ought to be a protest March on Washington in the next few days where every one of us in attendance would surround the U.S. Capitol and lock the Congress in so they could not literally exit the building until the agreed to stop acting in their own interests, stop the finger pointing and begin to do the business of the nation-the actual reason they were elected for.  Former President Bill Clinton said it best a few days ago: politicians believe they do not have to get anything done. They just have to demonize the opposition.He goes further to say "the Republicans want to see America fail."
 
  Were such a protest March on Washington to take place and the Congress was held hostage perhaps then they would understand what hostage taking really means.  I doubt most of them have ever been held hostage and are using their elected positions to hold the American people and the government hostage.  Poll after poll from every sector of public opinion reveals nearly 50% of the country say they are against a shut down of the government. Mis-information from both political parties defies explanation.  Grand standing on the floor of the U.S. Senate for 21 hours has catapulted Ted Cruz into his fifteen minutes of fame but at the expense of our government.  A very small group of people who call themselves the tea party along with a small number of Conservatives are holding the entire budget process hostage.  President Obama said it eloquently tonight when he said: you don't get to extract a ransom for doing your job, for doing what you are supposed to be doing anyway . . just because there's a law there that you don't like.
 
  I believe it might be time to overhaul our political system in the United States.  The politicians are wasting the nation's time, resources and funds.  The President is yet again on the verge of a breakthrough of historic proportions with Iran, Russia and Syria yet the Congress continues silly political games and tries to vilify President Obama at the expense of the American people.  O sure these politicians are clever because they could not stand the embarrassment of having to face the very men and women in the military so they of course, exclude them from the list.  The unbelievable charade taking place in the seat of government has taken America's eyes off the prize which is to do the business of the nation for and by the people who put them into office. 
 
  Enough is enough and there is serious business the country must deal with.  Immigration Reform is at the top of the list among other agenda items facing our nation.  Every time the President succeeds there are efforts to demean him, to not give him credit or support for any of his accomplishments. The President is not without fault nor blame and I suspect everyone know that.  His desire to make a military strike on Syria because of its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people was met with great resistance from the American people so it was taken off of the table for the moment.  However, his reaching out to Iran's newly elected President is of historic significance and has temporarily put the U.S. on a still more excellent way. 
 
  For the sake of the hundreds of thousands of people around the nation who will suffer greatly if the Congress shuts down the government; for the people who benefit from government services responsible for their welfare and the welfare of the nation; for the sake of the loss of revenue of those whose livelihood depends upon the resources of the federal government; and for all whose lives and futures will be changed dramatically, I call upon every member of Congress to stop demonizing one another and stay focused upon your responsibilities as elected officials and do what is right and best for our beloved country.  The American people are counting on you.   And so it is!  

Dr. Paul

TRYING TO FIND AND TO KEEP A BALANCE

                                
      I am trying very hard these days to maintain a healthy balance in my life.  I confess that I sometimes do not know what a "healthy balance" is.  Yet, I am drawn to the word "balance" as I try to discern much of what is happening in and around the world.  I understand that I must work harder at balancing the pros and cons of a political or sociological point of view.  I do however, have to work hard at listening to Fox News whose views are diametrically opposed to my own views.  But every now and then I tune in just so I will know what is being said.  I try hard to listen to Newt but I am generally unsuccessful and click him off.  As you can tell from my recent blog entries I am failing miserably in balancing my views on the Republicans and the Conservatives. 
 
Maintaining a balance in most things in life is a tough assignment  for me.  I am better at balancing my thoughts when I am writing in my personal journal.  Every now and then I do make public thoughts from my journal however, I also have a huge number of unsent comments and letters contained there.  I am not as balanced as I would like to be with thoughts and feelings of those whose point of view differs from my own.  Some things conservatives believe in and actually say e.g. cut $40 billion from the food stamp budget or shut down the government to make their point becomes difficult for me to give a balanced response.  Some decisions are just plain wrong regardless.  I am wondering how President Obama maintains his balance when he is politically and often personally attacked every day of his presidency?  I wonder how he balances his own feelings when he has to stand before grieving family members whose lives were changed when a shooter snuffed out the lives of their loved ones?  Just today President and Mrs. Obama met one on one with each of the 12 families who lost their loved ones before bringing comfort and peace to all who gathered to grieve.  He has had to do this more times than any president in the last 10 years and it takes a toll on him. How do any of us balance our emotions when we are visited by the experience of the agony?  Can any one of us balance the pros and cons of yet another mass murdering of innocent people at the Navy Yard?  I dare you to!
 
I am learning the importance of stopping to take a deep breath when the water in my well is low.  I am trying to believe the words of the Spiritual " I'm so glad trouble don't last always" when trying to make sense out of the nonsense of daily living.  Life is antecedent and consequence, reaping and sowing, good and evil and I know this all too well.  Try to remember to balance the good things that have happened in your life when you become overwhelmed by the violence of one human being against another.  I do try to find a still more excellent way whenever my cup is running over.  I do try to maintain my balance when I feel my own anger welling up inside of me.  I do believe there is always a "still more excellent way" for me especially when I balance my feelings about what ever is happening to me in my life.  I may have to retreat sometimes when I am unable to take the high road and I begin to lose my balance.  Sometimes it is good to retreat to a quiet place or to let the dust settle before trying to regain my balance.  Someone said to me how they maintain their balance when life is waging war against their spirit.  She said: when I come to the end of my rope, I tie a knot and hang on."  So my friends who are trying to maintain their balance I say to you  and to myself as well: I don't feel no ways tired, I've come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy, I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me."  And so it is! 

 Dr. Paul

SO HAVE YOU NOTICED . . . .

                         
     Have you noticed how the stock market had its greatest performance in its history last week? Have you noticed the day after that historic performance the Republican leadership voted to de fund Obamacare, cut forty billion from food stamps and made a pact to shut down the government?  Did you notice these politicians had a celebration party immediately following those votes?  Have you noticed how that vote in Congress spooked the markets and caused all of the good feelings Americans were beginning to feel a bit better about completely disappeared?  Have you noticed a pattern with most Republicans where they will intentionally derail anything positive about the Obama administration regardless whether or not it is good for the country?  Have you noticed how the Congress is basically incapable of getting very little bipartisan support for practically anything?  Have you noticed how quickly our attention was intentionally refocused from the tragedy at the Navy Yard to the attacks on President Obama?  The President is not perfect and certainly he deserves to be challenged but why destroy the economy and put the country in danger because of fear of being recalled (if you are an elected official) or be threatened by the tea party an organization created to wage war on the first African American president (which to their minds was never supposed to have happened)?
 
Have you noticed how the NRA controls gun legislation and it controls many elected officials who can be defeated if they do not vote the way the NRA expects of them?  Have you noticed how President Obama has stopped everything to bring comfort and solace to the victims and families of those killed at the Navy Yard, a theatre in Colorado, a school in Newton, Connecticut and still huge sums of money is being spent for TV ads that are scary, misleading and  down right wrong?  And for some reason a large segment of the American people are too frightened to know what to believe so out of fear and intimidation from tea party members and conservatives paying for these ads they become vulnerable.
 
Have you noticed how John McCain and Lindsay Graham were supportive of the President's threat to make a military strike against Syria until he asked for approval from the Congress and the American people?  You may remember how I warned about these two men in particular were wolves in sheepskin clothing a few weeks ago.  I also sent a letter to President Obama urging him not to strike Syria and I was joined by a long line of people supporting no military strike against Syria.
 
Even with all of the negative energy swirling around in the Congress of the United States there are some positive signs that ought to encourage each one of us to demand that our do nothing and bickering Congress stop fighting in the sand box.  Have you noticed a simple act of kindness by a homeless man who returned $42,000 in cash to its owner triggered a positive response from people who reportedly have raised over $100,000 for this person?  And what about those brave men and women who protected their co-workers and their students during the horrific tragedies at the Navy Yard and the Newton elementary school?  We can be better and we can do better and we must find a still more excellent way to live our lives as "one nation, indivisible, with freedom and justice for all".  We can live with our differences and our challenges without threatening each other because our beliefs may differ from yours.  We can find ways to break bread at tables where we all can share our stories of love and respect and honor and pride because these are things that matter.  My hope and prayer continue to be for us to take the high road, find common ground, love our neighbor and those whose ethnicity and culture may differ from our own and work harder and harder for peace within ourselves and for peace around the world.  As the late Steve Jobs said to the graduating class at Stanford in 2005  "don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. . .don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuitions. . they already know what you truly want to become."  And so it is! 

Dr. Paul