Saturday, June 29, 2013

Snap! Crackle! Pop!

Where does your mind go when it's not in the present? To the future, or the past?

Some friends recently discussed that question in a small group setting. Most people said their minds went to the future. I was the lone dissenter, saying that mine wanders to events or conversations of the recent past. Here's a recent example:

It's a few minutes after six when I roll out of bed, pull on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and go downstairs to make a cup of coffee. Jake is waiting for me, tail wagging expectantly. He knows it is his favorite time of the day.

Ready to go for a walk, Jake? I ask. He literally leaps in the air, all feet off the ground, in anticipation.

A few minutes later we are on the trail, ready for our four mile walk. I slow my pace, take a few deep breaths, and listen to the birds chirping. A few weeks ago I hadn't even realized the variety in the sound of a bird. Some have a high shrill tone, and others are melodious. Some have just a short single sound, repeated again and again, while others seem to carry out a melody. Some seem to sing only to themselves, while others are carrying on a conversation.

So what's this Unitarian church you visited? 

It's not Unitarian, I replied, it's called Unity.

Is it a denomination or what?


How is it different than other denominations?

Well, I think most denominations limit themselves to Jesus and the Bible. This church sees spirituality as having a wider range than that.

So they think that Buddha is just the same as Jesus?

I didn't say that. I just meant they might quote Buddha as well as Jesus. You don't hear Buddha mentioned in most churches.

That's not true.

Well, I've never heard a pastor mention him before, at least not positively.

So basically you are putting people like Eckhart Tolle on the same level as Jesus. 

No, I'm just saying that all truth is God's truth, no matter who says it. I mean, if Eckhart Tolle says two plus two equals four, and Jesus says two plus two equals four, they are both true.

So you don't believe Jesus is the only way to God? Do you believe he died for our sins and rose from the dead?

I'm not sure what I believe about Jesus right now. But I don't want to argue about it.

I'm not arguing. I just want to understand.

I wanted to say that if you really wanted to understand, you would read the books yourself, or visit the church, and then draw your own conclusions. But I knew that conversation wouldn't go anywhere, and I felt myself becoming frustrated. I didn't respond.


I take a few deep breaths, and notice the green surrounding me. I'd never realized there were so many shades of green in the woods. Each tree, each bush, each clump of grass, seems to be a different color. Some are a deep green, others light and glossy, and some seem almost translucent.

Not only that, there are so many shapes. Each tree, bush, and flower has leaves of different shapes.

A beautiful woman is jogging on the path towards me, shoulders back, head high, and chest out. We smile and nod as she passes.

There are so many stories of women who get attacked and raped as they are jogging in the woods. What should we do to someone who does that? Kill him? No, that seems a little extreme. Put him in jail for 20 years costing taxpayers millions of dollars? At least he won't be raping while he's in jail, but who knows what he'll do as soon as he gets out. Maybe we should castrate rapists. No, that's probably not a good idea. There are sociopathic and vindictive women out there. It's easy to imagine an angry woman accusing a former boyfriend of rape just to see his balls cut off. 


Jake stops, totally focused on the deer standing less than 20 feet away. They glare at each other. Jake lifts his front paw. The deer lifts his right foot, stamps it on the ground, and does the same with his left. 

The beautiful jogger passes again, this time on her way back. Looks like your dog and that deer are having a real staredown, she says.

I give a tug on Jake's leash, and we continue down the path. A minute later, I hear a rustling and turn around. The deer is following us. She and Jake repeat their same routine, with the deer stamping her feet, and I again pull at his leash. A minute later I turn around, to see the deer still following us. She and Jake seem to be infatuated with each other.

Do you know what Obama did today?

I replied that I didn't, knowing I was going to hear it now. A 60-minute commute on the Beltway listening to Fox News complain about the President is enough to put anyone in a combative mood. I wonder how to say that I actually like and respect him and his administration, and don't appreciate hearing an unending stream of negativity about him.  But I don't say anything. I just listen, trying to pretend I'm interested.


I notice the chaos of the woods. Dead trees and branches are lying everywhere in the midst of beautiful live trees and bushes. Sprouts are pushing their way upward from the ground. Birds that were alive yesterday are now dead, with Jake rustling in the bushes for their bones. The cycle continues of birth and death, chaos and beauty.

I think of the phone call I received from my daughter yesterday. One of her friends was married last August. This weekend her husband of only a few months was hit and killed while riding his bicycle.

What do you say in a situation like that? How do you try to explain that the universe - or God or whatever you call it - just pushes us into the world and then takes us back again? Some people get to live 90 good years. Others are taken at the beginning of a new, joyous life.

Jake's tongue is hanging out now - it's been almost two hours on the trail - so we stop at our favorite watering hole and he drinks from the fresh flowing stream. We come back to the house. He collapses on his bed, and I make a fresh fruit breakfast smoothie. 


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're back. I was checking periodically and was a bit worried when you hadn't posted for over a year. Sounds like all is well.

Unknown said...

i like reading your blog, glad youre back.. snap crackle pop! interesting food for thought!

Anonymous said...

A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

Quotable Quotes: said...

thanks for the comments. I thought the blog was dead and even had the snap response for people who asked me about it "blogs are like relationships - they have a birth and a death". but there is always resurrection. this time the blog is going to be more focused on self-awareness, not looking critically at islam as in the past. not that i'm a fan of islam (as envisioned and practiced by muhammad), but my thoughts and conclusions on that subject are always there for people to go back and read.

Katie said...

Learning more and more about the unity church, I think their followers (those who claim to be Christians) should read 2 Titus 4:3 "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

aemish said...

Bravo bravo bravo... what a privilege to witness this side of you