Dear Friends: To be poor in spirit is not the same as to be poor materially or socially. Even so, material wealth and social authority tend to obstruct our view of the long arc of history that bends towards a world of justice and kindness. Although anyone is capable of recognizing justice and kindness as fundamental purposes of humanity – even persons with wealth and authority – all too often, wealth and authority masquerade as justice and kindness themselves, a tricky sort of bait-and-switch that distracts us from keeping our eyes on the road.
If we’re moving along at a pace that feels safe and comfortable, it’s easy to believe that we’re going in the direction we were always meant to go, easy to deny the possibility that we might be lost. The poor-in-spirit ask for directions constantly. The magnanimous-in-spirit leap to the head of the line and show the way.
Nothing is more intimate to life than rhythm. Even “dead” matter, gliding on entropy, throbs to the beat of E=MC2. The mystery of particles and waves as different aspects of the same reality, the mystery of being and doing as equivalent expressions of the same existence – these mysteries point to the great Mystery, which requires us to stand before it in awe, to love it with all our hearts and all our souls and all our strengths and all our minds.
We have been created with gifts – awareness, comprehension, will, empathy – to do the work of Life. We can play with these gifts – and it is only by playing with them that we learn to use them well – but in play we risk falling into traps of self-indulgence, we risk blunting and distorting the vital purposes of our gifts and our lives.
Religious institutions too often resemble MMORPGs – Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. A group of individuals agrees to support a particular storyline, to play a particular set of roles, and to reap particular rewards. God is raised up as a sort of flag over the whole endeavor, to signify its righteousness, and to signify that disruptors need not apply unless they’re willing to get with the program.
Dear Editor: I deeply appreciate your publishing my poem “On Garbage” in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Western Friend, but I was disappointed that a word was omitted from the penultimate line. It should have read:
Only love matters. Only love turns junk into jewelry,
A crown of thorns into a crown of light.
The word “ jewelry” was omitted, spoiling the rhythm, alliteration and meaning of the final two lines. Having been editor of this magazine, I know how easy it is to overlook typos like this, so you are forgiven this minor but significant mistake. As Mark Twain aptly noted: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
– Anthony Manousos, Orange Grove Meeting, Pasadena, CA (PYM)