Sunday, July 21, 2013

Breaking NEWS… We are “EXPECTING”!!!!

This news flash may shock some friends and family... but it is true!!

Oh, many of us have been through the “We’re EXPECTING” experience before… receiving the good news, buying a crib, bassinet, diapers, painting the room. Days filled with joyful anticipation. We know it will be good, exciting, a new page in our lives, new experiences, fun and laughter, joyous times.
But, to the undoubted relief of friends and family, this message is not about an addition to our family. It is about EXPECTING GOOD, anticipating God’s blessing, spiritual inspiration, love and kindness, new revelations of life’s secrets of happiness.

And it is a GOOD thing to be Expecting!!

Recently, watching the evening news on television it became apparent that there was a negative tilt to almost every story. It seemed that each report carried gloom and doom, broadcasting the dreary outlook that “there is no expected relief”, “a good outcome is not expected”, and promises that “things will undoubtedly get worse before they got better.”  They remind me of the statement from a 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter, Pollyanna... 
"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will find it."

Some media reports seem to be more negative than others, their stories leaving one feeling helpless, discouraged, upset, while others, the more positive views seen in other sources may tell the same story but offer a brighter view, maybe offer possible solutions or positive steps we can take in light of the stories.

We may all know someone whose views reflect a worrisome attitude, always expecting the worst possible outcome, frowning and fretting over each situation.

I am inspired by the Expectations of professionals. It is hard  
to imagine a baseball pitcher going out to the pitcher’s mound expecting that everyone will hit a home run and that he will not strike anyone out.   Or picture a concert pianist taking the stage convinced that she will hit many wrong notes and disastrous results.… and we won’t even discuss the fisherman who is doubtful of landing “the big catch” and preparing thought to settle for empty nets at the end of the day! 

Turning to the Bible we can see how through the thousands of years wise men, prophets, even ordinary people in all walks of life EXPECTED GOOD, looked to God, the Creator, searching for Truth, expecting to see solutions and help take place in their lives. The story of the three Wise Men en route to the birth of Jesus demonstrated the lengths they were prepared to travel based on that Expectancy of Good, the promise of redemption, or  seeing God’s presence on the human scene. In stark contrast, Job, at the height of his discomfort and challenges lamented, “The thing that I most feared has come upon me.” I have always thought that Job’s lack of faith and expectation of God’s help precipitated his problems.

In another instance, a young boy destined to become King, courageous David, ran towards Goliath, a giant of overwhelming strength and experience, expecting God’s power to carry the day in this lopsided contest.    And, as Christ Jesus walked the hillsides and along the seaside, eager people gathered, expectantly, as recorded in Luke 8:40, “And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.” Waiting for healing and uplift, confidently, and their high expectations paid off.

All good fisherman love the story of Jesus disciples
improving their "catch' by throwing their nets on the right side, the Expecting Good side of the boat!!
These examples of Expecting Good are not the result of Pollyanna  or “goody-goody” thinking, or a naive trust in Chance. They are documented proofs of the fact that God, Spirit, which is chronicled in the Bible in such terms as Mind, Love, and Truth… delivers nothing but good when we are faithfully listening and watching for signs of His presence.  Thoughts of doubt, discouragement, fear and uncertainty cloud the Divine purpose, make us miss the mark, (a definition of sin), and become obstacles to realizing God’s power and presence, available for us to use, right here!!
But HOW does it work? Jesus set the example. He encouraged us to know and understand that we are God’s ideas that like rays from the sun carry the light and heat out from their source, so we are the emanation of God's qualities, the rays of goodness showering the earth.   For example: God is Love, and we are Love’s expression, here, in this place, right now!   God is Mind, and we are the outcome of that Mind, intelligent, aware, and alert.  God is Spirit, and we, His offspring are spiritual and eternal, not just little bundles of flesh running purposelessly through a span of time.  
Expectancy is the active application of faith, and we need not just sit back helplessly watching problems accumulate, feeling out of control, hiding from life, but we can actively participate, running forward like David did to meet Goliath carrying that expectancy that God is more powerful than evil. We can live the realization that we are the very evidence of God’s life and being and we can overthrow the claims of sin and disease, defeat the lies of corruption, infidelity lack… the plethora of problems that would rob us of our heritage as God’s loving ideas.
Jesus gave this counsel:  If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."  Matt. 17:20

When we face each day with Expectation of Good as our outlook, Seeing Good as our Goal, our lives become
more active, more fruitful, and more productive. Racing out to meet the Goliath problems, getting on the mound to pitch a strikeout, sitting at the piano keyboard to play life’s classical tunes, just going out to LOVE and let our light shine, is today's challenge and opportunity!!
Theologian Mary Baker Eddy set the stage for our anticipation of Good when she wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures",  “When the destination is desirable, expectation speeds our progress.”

A favorite hymn carries this promise, a promise proven over and over again in my own experience:

"We expect a bright tomorrow, all will be well;
Faith can sing through days of sorrow, All must be well; 
While His truth we are applying, And upon His love relying,
God is every need supplying, All, all is well."*

*     Christian Science Hymnal 350

For those who have inquired about the book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, referenced in some of my articles, here’s the information. This book is used in Bible study by students of Christian Science and people of many different faiths.

It explains the scientific laws behind the teachings and healings of Christ Jesus. From the first chapter, “Prayer,” to her exegeses of Genesis and Revelation, the author invites readers to deeply consider the allness of God, the perfection of man as God's spiritual creation, and how an understanding of these facts brings healing—just as it did in biblical times. For over 135 years, readers have testified that reading and studying this book has given them a spiritual sense of the Bible and their permanent relationship to God, and has also resulted in physical healing and spiritual uplift. For more information or to purchase this book, click here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Remember Notchey…

“What would you name a pet raccoon?’

A dear friend asked that question yesterday  as she told me that a raccoon had been sullying her garage and grounds, getting into everything, and reasoned that it was because her husband had been leaving food out for it. She is a hopeless animal lover and mused the question innocently, but it brought back memories.  

Well, I named my pet raccoon “Notchey”. Now she might technically not have been a household pet but she was precious. A dainty little girl, fleet of foot and with beautiful sparkling eyes, she was a charmer. She had a little notch in one ear, probably resulting from some scuffle with another animal and had survived with minor casualties so we named her Notchey.

We first met Notchey when she came to our kitchen door one night and I threw out a couple of pieces of bread. She returned often, timidly at first, but as the food got better, moving from stale bread steadily up the scale to meat and bones, the frequency of her visits increased in direct proportion. As our friendship progressed she became more confident and would come and knock on the back door in the early evening. 

Our relationship was almost ended prematurely by my "not so eager" wife who liked the raccoon, but more at a distance. One evening Dear Wife had been in another room and she came into the kitchen unexpectedly. Notchey and I just happened to be sitting together in the kitchen, chatting and sharing some pork chops. In all fairness, I can appreciate Gail's surprise but to me she really overreacted. You would have thought I had an elephant in there instead of a raccoon. Here you could paint a mental picture of loud screams, a frantic wife, a scared raccoon and Peacemaker Pat trying to calm everyone down and sort things out.

I will admit that no one had ever really explained to me that clearly about how horrible it was to have a raccoon in the kitchen, until Gail introduced the subject and spoke at some length in terse sentences, interjected by something that sounded like "I can't believe you let that THING in the house!!!" 

We didn't see Notchey for some weeks but then one night she came back and knocked at the back door. My heart was bubbling over as I looked out and saw Notchey with five little baby raccoons. She had given birth to darling little black eyed love bundles and brought them to visit us. We then knew why she hadn't been around much. 

I hurried to rustle up some dinner for my guests and plopped down in the driveway feeding Notchey’s offspring while she looked on proudly, showing off her family to her friend. My neighbors thought I was crazy for getting so close to a raccoon but I love animals. I can just see my dear friend, our wonderful local Veterinarian, Doc Mitchell, the kindest animal lover in the world, peering with a raised eyebrow, giving me a quiet word of caution about dealing directly with wild animals.

Love for animals, that deep feeling of joy that they bring to so many people in the world is another proof that life is Love expressed, that above and beyond the threats and fears of this temporal dream of material existence, all creatures live in safety and harmony in the Divine Consciousness, in God, Mind.    And we can, at times, experience this kinship and sense of  “oneness” with all life right here, when we are open to seeing and listening spiritually.

True Love is always loving, always forgiving, always freeing. 

On the wall above my desk hangs a birthday gift from my forgiving wife, a very large picture, a professional photo of the most beautiful little raccoon face staring down, watching over me as I write. 

And I remember Notchey.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dad and the Pope and the Pope

"He is complete simplicity; down to Earth, a man with the people. I know him," a CBS News Vatican consultant told CBS News shortly after Pope Francis appeared. On that exciting day recently the world's 1.2 billion Catholics welcomed a new leader. He will be known henceforth as Pope Francis Bergoglio's chosen name, Francis, a nod to the patron saint of Italy, Saint Francis of Assisi.

I am not of the Catholic faith but I watched with a warm heart and admiration for this humble man as he took office and immediately demonstrated that he was his own man, not necessarily tied to convention as he put his own imprimatur on the office.

All of the talk about the Pope brought to mind the excitement of a day years ago, a day when I met another Pope.  I was so excited and knew something good was going to happen when Dad came in with a smile that lit up his whole face.  He wanted me to come outside.  He had something to show me. 
The POPE - Columbia Model
I had wanted a bicycle, a real bicycle, for a long time.  I was always a short little kid but I wanted a regular size bike.  Matter of fact, there weren’t many, if indeed ANY, little bikes back then.  I doubt that training wheels had ever even occurred to the folks at Pope or Schwinn.   This was a time when there were no bicycle helmets, no extreme playground safety devices, no real worries about kids getting hurt.  If you fell down, you got up, if you skinned your knee, you got over it!!!   If you got a bike, it was get on and ride!!!! 

As we stepped outside, Dad leading the way, there it was!!   My eyes really popped open when I saw that beautiful red Pope Columbia bicycle.  I guess it really wasn’t all that pretty to some people. It was a used bike, paint not so shiny; a little worse for wear, but it was priceless to me.  

Now you’d have to picture that bicycle with me standing beside it. The bicycle was as tall as I was.  Picture a little guy whose legs couldn't reach both pedals at the same time, seesawing left to right as the pedals traveled up and down.     It proved to be quite a challenge for me to negotiate “mounting up” when my Dad wasn’t there to help. I developed a system where I would push the bicycle over to a fence, climb up on the fence, jump onto the bicycle and pedal away as quickly as possible. When it came time to stop I would slow down the bike and just as it began to teeter I would jump off and the bike would crash.

In today’s antiseptic, “don’t hurt yourself Johnny” society the neighbors may have  called the police on my Dad, locked him up and put me in Child Protective Services,  for putting me in a situation where I could learn by trying, maybe failing, then trying again. But I made it work and I loved him for it.  These lessons were so helpful later in life in the military and in business where sometimes you "just gotta’ climb that fence, jump on and pedal…",  you’re on your own, No Coddling!!!  

To me, his most wonderful example of fatherhood was that he didn't set up limitations for me. The red Pope was a bike that was available, he wanted me to have it, and he was confident that I could handle it. Isn’t it wonderful when parents don’t limit their children by their own narrow, fearful  or constricted thoughts? Dad knew that I had enough intelligence to make decisions for myself.

Times were tough in the United States following the Wall Street crash and subsequent depression and World War II, forcing Dad to quit high school in the tenth grade to help support his family.   Everyone had to pitch in to support large families.  

But, Dad didn’t recognize that obstacles were in his way.  With only a limited formal 
Paper Machine - Dad's Specialty
education he worked hard, became a mill manager in the paper industry and ended up as Manufacturing Vice President for a prominent paper manufacturer. An entire chapter of the book “Paper with Presence”, a history of the Gilbert Paper Company was devoted to Dad and his talent and skills as he became the first person from the large corporation that bought Gilbert Paper Company to go into that newly acquired company and take over operations. The chapter was titled, not surprisingly, “The Diplomat”.  

It was probably a miracle that I had this man for my Dad.  There had been incidents when things could have gone the other way. For example the time when I was helping him shingle the roof. I was pretty young but he let me carry a few shingles at a time up the ladder to the roof. On one occasion just as I was climbing up the wooden ladder he had set up on the roof, Dad hit his finger with a hammer and he shouted out a bad word.  My rather injudicious response was to scramble down the ladder as fast as I could, yelling at the top of my voice to my Mother that Dad had cursed.    It could have turned out a lot worse.   I have always respected him for not throwing me off the roof when I sheepishly rejoined the project!!

When I was in trouble, infrequently but too often for Dad, he was always there, supporting, encouraging trusting.   He exemplified the description one Cardinal made of Pope Francis, “Setting an example of wisdom and humility.” 

As I have learned more about God, the infinite Father/Mother, from whom all life and being originate, I see how much Dad reflected those nurturing qualities, and how much greater are those "fathering" attributes of our Creator.  I can see how completely we can trust our Forever Father, and All we need to do is ASK.. and then LISTEN.   Jesus painted a picture of God as a giving, loving, comforting, always available presence when he compared dads to God:   “what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”   Matt 7:9

Thanks Dad, for being an example, a gentle, constant beam of God’s Love, shining brightly in a small child’s life, and glowing even into maturity.  God must love me very much to have made me your son.     And… Thanks for the bike!!!