No going back


With all that’s happened in 2016 – especially during the last two months — a lot of people are ready to say good riddance and let’s move on to a new year. One that hopefully won’t be so sad and discouraging.

We’re ready for change.

Well, kind of. Well, not really.

Isn’t it interesting how we have this love-hate relationship with change? We crave change in some aspects of our lives, and we do everything we can to block it in other areas.

None of us is totally comfortable with change, which is kind of surprising in a way, seeing as how it’s one of defining human and divine qualities. Change is deeply within us and all around us, who we are and what we’re about.

Our lives begin when two cells meet, create something new and spark a lifelong process of change. Even now, countless cells in our bodies are dying and being replaced by new ones. At our deepest level, we are constantly changing.

All around us and within us

We grow and develop mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And our lives play out in a world that’s also immersed in nonstop change. Life is born and dies and is born again, seasons come and go, our planet zooms through space without pausing for an instant.

Nothing stands still. Ever.

Each of us is a little vessel of change.

Given how change is woven into our very fiber, you might think that we would be a little bit better at accepting and handling it. We all know people who hate change of any sort, and others who crave change and get quickly bored with repetition. I’m guessing that most of us are somewhere closer to the middle of the continuum.

We like new gadgets and changes that make parts of our lives easier. We also have routines that are designed to create a comfort zone and limit change.

Many people resist change when it comes to how they act and think. That’s a tough one for all of us. Change always starts with open-minded questions: Why am I doing this? Can I do it differently and better? What am I missing? How are others doing it? What can I learn from all of this?

Such questions make us uncomfortable. We’re tempted to keep doing things the same way – our way – and pretend there’s no other way. Our minds become closed doors that keep everything in place and rule out any growth.

No going back

We might even fantasize about going back to sometime in the past – the “good old days” – when people who thought like me enjoyed more prominence and never had their ideas questioned. A time when we weren’t challenged to adapt to all the change that is the nature of life.

Of course, those olden times didn’t really exist the way we imagine them. Change has always been a constant. We really can’t freeze ourselves in time.

And the really sad part is that when we try to stay stuck in the past, we become an acorn that’s never planted. Our hard, impenetrable shell prevents us from becoming what we’re meant to evolve into.

We never grow.

Sadly, much of what passes for religion has become this way – heads in the past, resistant to change, devoid of the growth that is the signature of Life. So many “religious” people have abandoned a core trait of spirituality: Openness to a Creator who makes all things new every day and wants to transform each of us a little bit more each day.

Too bad. They’re missing out on what life and love are all about. But they always have the chance to change, if they wish. That’s the great part of change – it’s always there to be celebrated and lived, even if we’ve wasted a lot of time trying to resist its all-inclusive embrace.

A New Year’s wish

So, in the coming year, may you experience many amazing changes.

May you have some new insights each day. May you grow into someone even more beautiful than you already are. Maybe your thoughts and your attitudes and your spirit be touched and transformed by Love.

May you be planted anew in some ways and sprout from the warm ground and reach up to the beautiful sky. May you be watered by all the change around you. May you bloom for all to see.

May you become wiser, more loving, more at peace.

May you change the world for the better.

Cell phones and dead spots


Do you remember that commercial for a cell phone carrier that involved a man walking a few steps and then stopping and asking: Can you hear me now? The idea was that there are dead spots around us and we need to locate and fix them.

In a sense, the commercial is also parable. If we’re honest, each of us has dead spots, too. And like the fellow walking around the countryside looking for better connections, we need to locate our dead spots and let some life back into them.

We all could use a little more life, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes life itself feels pretty bleak. Divorce numbs us. A spouse or a child or a parent dies and it’s as though Life and Love have left our souls and taken up residence somewhere over the rainbow. Toxic chemicals go to work at killing the cancer cells, and our bodies feel like a battleground and a tomb.

Then there are the small, daily dead spots that we all develop. The places inside of us that we wall off out of fear and anxiety. We won’t let people in or take the risk of letting our true selves out. Instead of connecting with others, we find a dark space and roll a rock in front of the entrance for protection.

And parts of us begin to decay and die.

We see this happening in our politics right now, don’t we? All the harrumphing about building walls and pushing others away because we’re afraid of them and we don’t like them. We long to hide inside a heavily-armed fortress, one that’s more of a tomb than a home.

A collective dead spot.

We all have dead spots. We carve them a bit deeper every time we make a choice driven by fear and despair and hatred. We settle into our dead spaces and get comfortable. Nothing can hurt me now, right? We even become so accustomed to the stench of decay that we ignore what the smell is trying to tell us.

Something is dying. Parts of us are dying.

But here’s the fantastic thing: We’re never trapped inside our tombs. Even when we’ve rolled a heavy stone across the entrance, there’s always Someone relentlessly pushing the stone away and inviting us to step out of the putrid air and come alive again.

Death-and-resurrection is our daily experience.

The Giver of Life loves us enough to let us choose. And often, we choose darkness and dead spots. We let our fears seal us off from each other and from love. But the Giver also loves us too much to let us stay in those deathly places.

Instead, Someone is relentlessly rolling away our stones and inviting us to step outside, feel the sunlight, hear the music, and take the risk of joining in the great party. We’re encouraged to dance with those whom we fear, to love those whom we dislike, to heal those decayed parts of ourselves.

To be resurrected.

It’s OK that we’re still broken in many ways. We might be covered with dried blood and sweat. Unsteady and unsure. Doubting and wondering. But all we need to do is take that first shaky step out of the darkness and head toward the music and the bright party lights.

It’s OK if we’re not in a party mood. We don’t have to feel festive. We can sit in a corner and keep to ourselves for a while as the music plays and people dance around us. We might even notice Someone sitting next to us who is eager to hold our hand and hear our story.

Eventually, we recognize that we’re hungry and there’s all of this amazing food and drink available to us. And who knows, maybe we even get a little energy back and we feel like dancing with another grimy soul who has just left their own tomb. We summon the courage to extend a hand to someone whom we once feared, acknowledging that we’re all suitable dance partners at this party.

Once dead, but now alive again.