Don’t talk, baby just move with me.

Last night/early this morning I wrote about the 3rd week of Advent.  It’s the 4th week, I can’t keep up.  Anywho, listening to the daily prayer and I was struck again by the text but I made that “WhachutalkinboutWillis” face. The scripture is Luke 1:26-38, another long, single reading.  I’m rather enjoying those.  It talks about the interaction between the Angel Gabriel and Mary.

The narrator invites you to set the scene with your imagination but I was more concerned with, what I perceived to be a double standard.  See, in the text, the reader notes that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, greeted her and she, being human “Pondered what sort of greeting this might be”. He told her of her favor with the L-rd and what would come to pass. Mary then said to the angel “How can this be since I am a virgin?”  Gabriel explains the Immaculate Conception and adds that her relative Elizabeth, Zachariah’s wife, in her old age has also conceived a son, to which Mary respond “Here am I, the servant of the L-rd. Let it be with me, according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Now, 6 months earlier, the Angel Gabriel visited Zachariah and gave him a message.  Him being human asked “How will I know that this is so for I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.”  Gabriel explains who he is and why he is there, then says “But nigh, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak until the day these things occur.”

Now is it me, or does there seem to be a double standard here?  “How will I know?”  “How can this be?” both seem like valid questions to me, particularly when someone out of the blue appears with news/a message that is going to significantly change your life.  You can’t help but wonder, so why then was Zachariah “punished” for his disbelief/doubt and Mary was not?  The reader nor the text offers any indication as to whether or not Zachariah followed up his comment with acknowledgment and affirmation the way Mary did but it also doesn’t offer any indication that he was given opportunity.  May Zachariah should have spoken faster.

A lot is made about questioning G-d but if Mary had questions/curiosity, it stands to reason that we would too.  I believe in questioning G-d.  I will never know what I need to know if I don’t ask questions.  Now if I ask a question and he tells me “don’t worry about it, let me do what I do” okay.  I’ll stay in my lane.  We are taught that we should give all our problems, troubles, cares, woes, etc. over to the L-rd and he will take care of it all.  Eh, I’m not so sure.  I listened to a live streaming of my cousin’s husband preaching and he said something that was so spot on, I literally said “That’s it!” out loud.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have my notes, wherever he was in life, whatever he’d achieved, it wasn’t all G-d.  G-d helped but he helped too.  It was a partnership.  I think that ties into that whole faith without works is dead thing.  If G-d sees you working, then he’ll work.  If you aren’t working, he’ll still work but maybe not as hard.  Isn’t there something about G-d helps those who help themselves?  Maybe that’s how faith works.  He starts you off, you have to take it and do something with it, once he sees you doing something with it, he’ll help a little bit more.  The more you do, the more he does.  Seems fair to me.  But I digress.  I’m still on this double standard thing.  Why the difference when both people responded in a similar manner?  Could it be that Zachariah was fearful and Mary was perplexed? Fearful, perplexed, isn’t that just semantics?

Wikipedia defines double standard as: the application of different sets of principles for similar situations.

Merriam Webster defines double standard as: 1) Bimetallism, 2) a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another; especially :  a code of morals that applies more severe standards of sexual behavior to women than to men.

This is why I love the Advent season. It allows me to go deeper and learn more.  Yeah, I’m always learning throughout the year, but the learning seems to be better around this time of year because of the expectation of something so great.  Much is made about Christmas, Jesus, Santa. It’s not really his birthday, there is no G-d, there is no Santa, etc. Not preaching, just making a written observation.  Why does it matter to someone else what another person believes?  Whatever a person believes, that is their truth and who are we (society) to tell them otherwise?  This includes all the crap that went on with this, I can’t even really call it an election but for the sake of being consistent, this election.  Some things are blatantly wrong but if the person perpetrating the wrong thinks they are right, do you really think you are going to convince them they aren’t?  This “election” has, IMHO, made us all Zachariahs and Marys: fearful, perplexed, dumbstruck.  And if ever a double standard were present, it is never more so than with the current POTUS and the POTUS-elect.  #whatailsya

Definitely, Maybe.

As the third week of Advent gets underway, listening to the prayer of the day put so many thoughts in my head, I jumped out of bed to try to empty it, lest it be another sleepless night.  The reading comes from Luke 1:5-25.  Normally the readings aren’t this long but I appreciated the singular reading, as they usually read it again and offer different points of reflection.  Tonight, as I listened, I was immediately struck by one particular thing, Gabriel, the angel who appeared to Zachariah told him because he doubted, he was struck mute/dumb until fulfilled in time.  Now let that sink in.  He was struck mute/dumb because he doubted.  He did not believe what the Angel said would come to pass because he and his wife were of advanced years.  The power of doubt.  It gave me great pause because I have doubts, about quite a few things, sometimes that includes G-d.  It gave me great pause because maybe the people we encounter are sent to bring good news to us, after all, the power of G-d most often manifest itself through the actions and words of others, so why is it so difficult for us to believe?

It’s so ironic the things we will and won’t believe.  We believe the meterologist when they attempt to predict the weather. We believe people when they say they will do something or show up somewhere.  We believe people when they say “I love you”.  Zachariah was, at least he is characterized as, a G-d fearing man. Did he lose hope after so many years of not having his desire come to pass?  Seems that way.  Can you imagine being struck mute because you doubted something someone told you, only to have it come to pass later?  Truth be told, I’m not all that convinced he doubted but maybe he was curious as to how.  But, I guess that’s the same thing huh.

When a person gets hired, they are told when they will be paid.  I’ve never heard of anyone asking “How will I know?” Because the person may reply “It will show up in your account or in a live check” that’s how.  Maybe Zachariah had doubts because there was n0 precedent, nothing to show that what was being told to him had ever happened before.  He, like most of us, wanted proof.  He, like some of us, could not, did not want to take Gabriel at his word.  Why do you think that is?  His age?  His wife’s age?  The fact that they’d been “trying” for years with no results.  There was nothing to suggest that a baby was in the cards for them.  I know a few couples who’ve gone through IVF and other measures to have a baby and had no luck and when they stopped “trying” along came baby.

That one passage in this scripture has left me convicted because there are times when my doubts get the better of me.  I don’t mean for them to but human have a way of bringing out the cynic in you.  Our past and current actions tend to dictate future belief or doubt.  The proof is there, we must decide whether or not to believe what comes out of the mouth.  This passage saddened me and inspired me.  It made me reflect on my own doubts and beliefs and questions why I doubted what I did.  Where does my trust lie: in myself, in man, in G-d?  This is always hard to answer because if the Spirit of the Living G-d is housed within us, then if a person says something rather profound to you/about you, why shouldn’t you, wouldn’t you believe it? I’m not saying take all the negative things people say and accept and receive them, that’s nuts. But if someone speaks positivity and it happens to be something that you’ve been secretly or openly desiring, why not believe it? It’s human nature to wonder how but instead of asking How, ask When!  Little children rarely ask how, when told to expect something.  When conveys that you are ready and expecting it to happen.  How conveys you’re not really sure and want to know more details.   I’ve been working on removing How and replacing it with When.  If I can expect good things based off of what a human has told me, then surely I can expect good things from one who has never lied to be, never been wrong – at least not that I’m aware of – and pretty much keeps his word.

Think about this.  Think about the last thing you wanted, doesn’t matter if you verbalized it aloud or kept it hidden in your heart and you actually received it.  Now, imagine if someone had told you, you were going to receive whatever it was you desired but you didn’t believe them and you were struck mute until it happened.  Let me make it simple for you.  Someone says they are going to pick you up, you ask “You sure?” Boom, you’re mute until they arrive to pick you up, whenever that is.  Goes to show there really is great power in the tongue.  Every thought doesn’t need to be verbalized.  But then again, I suspect G-d knew he would doubt, thus using him as a message to others.  He had to point, gesture and use his body to convey his thoughts and the people knew he had seen a vision from G-d.  He will get his point across, BAMN.  Guess that’s why most men today are dumbstruck when a woman tells them she’s pregnant. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?

#whatailsya

Places Everyone

I was watching a PBS special and there was author Richard Leider speaking on “The Power of Purpose.”  In his presentation, he discussed the 4 roles he felt each person should have filled in their lives… a committed listener, a catalyst, a wise elder (at least 10 years older), and a wise younger (at least 10 years younger).

Most of us probably have at least one of the 4 roles filled and probably fill one or two roles in the lives of someone else.  The part of it that struck me was the committed listener.  Now in this media driven age, getting anyone to be a committed listener has become something of a glittered unicorn.  I myself, at times become so disconnected that I’ve taken to requesting people notify me if I should pay attention.  Not that I’m not paying attention but obviously, I’m not being a committed listener.

It’s not that what the person is saying isn’t important to me, not at all.  The content of their discussion and they themselves are important, but we (I) are often inundated with so much information that it becomes quite difficult to determine what and when to sift.  This self-inventory made me reflect on a conversation that I recently had with a friend.  As you know, I’m funny about titles – which is why I had and still have such a hard time with FB’s “friends” label – but she is a friend and I realized, she had become a committed listener for me and I didn’t have to tell her pay attention.

It’s not often that I have to request people to tell me if I need to pay attention, only when I find they’ve been talking for an extended period of time or I find myself distracted.  I believe in giving people my attention, particularly if they wish to discuss something that they have deemed important.  It is important and they are important, so as with all ships, it takes a crew to make it operate efficiently.  I met one of my wise elder’s during my undergrad years.  She worked in Financial Aid (some of us have plenty of stories to tell from that office!) and to this day, she continues to help guide me.  Initially, I didn’t particularly care for my wise younger, but now, I cannot imagine life without him.  Catalyst is a bit tricky because I’m so picky.  I tend to fill that role myself.  The Committed Listener seemed to be the most important and that role can be difficult to fill as well.  It is said that if you are the smartest person in your circle, you need to expand your circle quick.  Thing is, expansion is difficult when prospects are few.  I know of so many people that I encounter on a daily basis who employ uncommitted distractions as committed listeners.  Like any position, it is important to screen applicants carefully.  True, some people interview incredibly well and sometimes the luxury turns into a lemon.  These are the trials of life but like the melon thump test, if you listen committedly, I’m sure the right candidate will present themselves.

Try it yourself.  Do you have these roles filled in your life?  If no, do you want them filled?  If not, no need advertising if there isn’t a position available.  No need to keep applications on file, that creates clutter.  For those of you who follow my page, like my FB page, and in any other way support my efforts, I deeply thank you for being a committed listener.  As always, there is one committed listener who can and does fill all 4 roles for some of us.  During this Advent Season, I’m particularly glad and thankful for his mother, being the catalyst for my best committed listener.

What ails ya?

You sure do ask a lot of questions

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I’m getting more comfortable with it but in the beginning, I was utterly resistant to it.  I’ve come to see it for what it is, a communication tool, TV reinvented – the new face of news reporting complete with commercials and infomercials, and like Playboy, it’s read for the articles.

So, one day, while watching “TV”, I came across this “sitcom” titled “Break Time w/Michael Jr.” and it’s about a stand-up comedian who, in the middle of his comedy routine, takes a break to interact with his audience.  It was episode 5 – “Amazing Grace” that prompted me to the show to my favorites.  In this episode, Micheal Jr. asks an audience member his occupation (music teacher (i believe)) and asks him to sing Amazing Grace.  The gentleman complies and does a very nice rendition.  After the round of applause, Michael Jr. then instructs the gentleman to sing Amazing Grace as if he’s singing it for one of his homies based on a scenario I cannot recollect right now.  In his second rendition, clearly, the gentleman is tapping into the very essence of “why” he is singing because people are breaking into applause and standing up waving their hands and yes, he brought cherch up in that auditorium.  Michael Jr. then remarked that when you figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Growing up as an only, my “whys” were always encouraged.  Asking questions is the only way we learn.  It is how we educate ourselves and elevate ourselves from the murky levels of ignorance.  Today, and I’m sure some of us may have encountered this in our lives at least once before, we often hear children being told – “stop asking so many questions.”  I recall a “regular TV commercial” where a little girl is engaged in a conversation with an adult and for every answer the adult gives, she responds with “why.”  Now, I cannot recall the ending but that part has always stuck with me.  For me, why is the motive and motive is often given a bad name but it’s just another name for purpose.

When we understand “why”, we are better able to fulfill the “what” within the “why”.  In fulfilling the what, we often derive greater joy through the why and thus elevate ourselves out of ignorance.

Each time I take pen to paper, fingers to keys, voice to recorder, I often ask myself, why exactly and I doing this and no sooner as I’ve finished the last letter, the answer reveals itself.  It’s what I was born to do.

During this Advent Season, find your why.

What ails ya.

Day 12 – Powerless to Save Ourselves

“I have to surrender, become passive in the presence of a power greater than I.” Fr. Robert Barron

I’m a fan of the 12 Step Program ideology. It is my belief that everyone in life is covering or needs to recover from something. Everyone needs to getmended. I won’t beat this rug til the fabric frays but a while ago I wrote about Step One, so scroll through and reacquaint yourself with that post.

I think passivity gets a bad rap. One of MW’s definitions states c-1 lacking energy or will. I think it takes a great deal of will and energy to surrender and/or not act. With all that is going on in the world, everyone feels that they HAVE to stand up for themselves or others and while that may be true, sometimes surrender is the greatest weapon. I cannot speak on what I would do in situations, my temperament tends to betray logic, reason and common sense but I recognize the Power of Passivity in that none were more passive than Jesus yet none is more powerful.

I surrender all

All to thee my blessed Savior

I, surrender all.