In the mid- to late-1970’s, the concept of the apocalypse began expanding in my mind, like the seminal singularity into the entire universe. The plagues, disasters, and fiery end of life on our planet that I learned in church simply did not mesh with my intuitive sense of how things were going to happen. I certainly do not claim to be a prophet, nor do I suggest that I have an understanding of the spiritual or physical universe beyond my own experience. I’m simply a man with an idea that, to many, will not seem new. These thoughts are solely my perspective on an ancient question.
The word, “apocalypse,” means to unveil or move away from the hidden. To me, that means that during this upcoming spiritually evolutionary shift, we will become aware of our lives, with a capital “L,” in a new way… a new clarity of vision.
Over the years, as I’ve watched people prepare to die, and there have been several, I have seen them perceive life with a changed focus. They are dramatically more aware of the meaning of life. These living entities can sense, or even see, beyond the spiritual veil to those who have transcended this planet before them. They have a view of this existence that is very, very different than our own and almost without exception, they grow more peaceful. This viewpoint can be different, too, from the ones they espoused throughout most of their lives. That which was previously so important to them tends to become less so. The intensity of their own spirit seems to grow, in the same way that a small watt light bulb would increasingly glow during a dynamic power surge, until eventually and inevitably, it burns out.
We have, throughout our terrestrial history, seen horrific tragedies befall our people. Earthquakes, fire, plague, draught, famine, infestations, and many other terrifying events. We have lived through them with the primary remnant of that history sadly being the further development of our fear. Some, however, have recognized that we have survived these calamities and, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a spiritual inferno, allowed themselves a new wisdom and strength; though, the majority fret that we will once again suffer the painful consequences of those processes that have touched us so terribly in the past.
The foundation of our apocalypse, I believe, will be the tearing away of the veil of our spiritual sight in a way that has rarely been seen before, perhaps only by the most elevated masters. The new sight will be on the grandest scale imaginable. I believe that in the year 2012, during the month of November, there will be new, indisputable evidence regarding the presence of our spiritual essence, and in that proof we shall find a new illumination.
There very well may be cataclysmic events, in which the alignment of stars and celestial landmarks will certainly play a part, that will simultaneously occur; however, they will transpire only to assist us in recognizing the intrinsic value of our own spiritual lives.
Through the process of this tumult that will engulf our world, and particularly at the end of that journey, there will be those who welcome the new vision of spirit. They will find joy, peace, and transcendence in this revelation. Beyond all previous notions of hope will emerge secure trust. Faith will give way to knowing.
In the same way as was described by the Buddha, there will be others who simply choose to suffer; and the suffering will, indeed, be their conscious choice by this time. The message will be that when we choose joy over suffering, it is joy we will experience. That doesn’t mean that the horrors we have witnessed will not have happened, nor does it mean that we will not be saddened by them. It simply means that we will have a significantly improved clarity about their meaning.
As we prepare for the unavoidable changes coming in 2012, those described in so very many traditions, we must begin the choice-making toward a clear and hopeful vision immediately.
I happen to believe that there is no hell and that there is no evil. Human fear alone is what has created these dreadful concepts in our culture. I happen to believe that all of life is a reflection of God’s perfection and that there is wisdom and peace and joy available in everything that happens to us, if we permit them to take their rightful place in our lives.
I know that there are those who will spit on these concepts as they remember the death of a child, the slaughter of tens of thousands at the hands of a monster, or the other genuine tragedies that befall society. I, too, have felt that pain. I merely suggest that we can now, or will then, envision life in a new way, as part of a continuum of life experiences that are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong, black nor white. This continuum begins long before our birth and does not end, even at our death. I offer the thought that these moments can been received neutrally and in gratitude as opportunities to learn and grow in love, compassion, and hope for all our brothers and sisters. Certainly, we must use discernment when assessing what and who we choose to have surround us; however, our critical, emotional judgment serves only to isolate and divide us. This division is contrary to a healthy preparation for the coming wisdom.
Only when we welcome the loving universal vision as our own will we truly experience the approaching enormous changes with which we will be faced in an open and humble way, full of unity and peace. Only when we unite in trust in the foundation of spiritual truth, releasing the sanctity of religious dogma, and making our Universal Spirit alone the focus of our holy sight, will we enter into this new era of fearless, crystalline wisdom and vision.
Buildings and cultural structures will crumble under the powerful weight of truth. All that we will be left with is the broad horizon of spiritual vision and wisdom.
December 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan Long Calendar’s 13th b’ak’tun, or world age, approaches. Are we ready?
There was once a shampoo commercial that said, “…she tells two people, and they tell two people and so on, and so on…” By the end of the commercial, the screen was filled with seemingly hundreds of tiny faces, each connected to one another from that first person with clean hair.
This last week has been just that kind of week. Our best friends’ daughter, and my former student dating back to 2001, Rindy Sumners, died as a result of injuries received in an horrific traffic accident on Wednesday, August 26, 2009. This death has left me numb, incredibly busy helping the family, and struggling to find peace in the midst of the undercurrent of my chaotic emotions.
Rindy was an amazing young woman, whose intense vitality was matched only by her inability to know just how much she was admired, loved and respected. At twenty-one years old, Rindy had continued working toward a successful songwriting and singing career that had begun as a small child, banging out notes on her little electric organ her father bought her and dancing around the house singing all the time.
Her freckled nose and startlingly blue eyes gave the impression, even in adulthood, of a young girl; however, this was a motivated, dynamic woman who knew her goals, grew her faith, and struggled with her most intimate relationships. Rindy’s foundation was her parents. Rick and Sandy each offered their unique gifts to their daughter in significantly different ways.
Rick, an ambitious man, whose passion for music imbued Rindy with that same historical desire for performance and creativity. Rindy was the third generation professional musician in her father’s family. Bob Sumners was a founding member of the chart-topping Axidentals in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Rick, known professionally as Rick Dean, has performed as part of a rock band and as a solo artist since the 1970’s. Rick’s brother, Randy, was a professional musician and composer in his own right before his death in the 1990’s. Rindy came by her talent honestly and she truly made the most of it. Her prolific composition, as well as performance has been a compelling musical force in every creative community in which she engaged.
Sandy, on the other hand, was Rindy’s touchstone at every point. The relationship between these two was beyond understanding. They spoke without words. They relished their shared spiritual gifts and love of friends and family. Sandy made sure Rindy had everything she needed on a day-to-day basis while Rick provided the overarching motivation to focus on her goals and get the job done. It was a magical symphony of love, discipline, laughter, and abundance.
When Rindy died, we completed the obligatory tasks required of every family when someone they love passes into the next leg of their journey. One of those tasks was creating an obituary. As one can imagine, Rick and Sandy were simply too distraught to write this obituary. That job fell to me and I was honored to write the sad message to our greater Sacramento community.
It was published in the Sacramento Bee, reprinted on Facebook and MySpace, and shared on the telephone from one friend to another. Her family always knew that Rindy had an immense impact on those around her, but they were to find out just how far reaching her touch had been.
From the day Rindy died, we had only four days to prepare a memorial service for our lost songbird. In those four days, programs were printed, the venue was selected, the pastors were conferred, and the video presentation was completed. It was a rigorous series of responsibilities that many of us shared to get to Sunday.
When we were discussing the number of chairs that we should set up and the number of programs to print, we figured between 250 and 300 would be more than adequate to accommodate everyone who wished to attend. It wasn’t too long before Facebook entries and MySpace comments gave us a good indication that Rindy’s memorial was going to be more than we expected. Finally we determined that the number of chairs to be set was 350. That number would last only until Sunday morning when we added another fifty chairs.
As the memorial began at 2:00 PM, Sunday, August 30, 2009, the same day that Rindy was supposed to give a concert, Pastor Scott Hagan gave his opening remarks to an assemblage of over 500 people. The number, for us, was staggering. Family had come from all over the country. Fellow students from as early as first grade were present. Friends of friends who had heard Rindy perform or knew of her by her reputation chose to be involved in bidding this angel good-bye.
Four days was all it took for the greater Sacramento and Woodland communities to come together to love Rindy all the way to heaven. It was a profoundly powerful day.
She touched two people, and then two more, and then two more after that; then, they touched two people, and so on, and so on, and so on.
After the incredible memorial service, and the small family reception afterward, we sat on the Sumners’ back patio, and we wondered what would have happened had we waited one week more before we had the memorial service. It was beyond our imagination to think how many people would have been in attendance. Rindy had moved people with her voice, changed their moods with her smile, and elevated their lives with her love and faith. She was just that powerful; and she was only twenty-one years old.
The post script to this story is that because Rindy was such a prolific songwriter, although never having finished a CD of her music, she had a wealth of material from which to cull her audio production. Upon her death, there was a concern that the CD would never get finished. We thought that perhaps if people were willing to provide a gift toward that end, the CD could finally be completed posthumously. Gifts we did get, one after another.
The final shock was when one of Rindy’s friends wrote to me to say that she had been in discussion with other Sacramento musicians who wanted to put on a free concert to honor Rindy and if the concert-goers wanted to give a gift to the Sumners family to help defray the cost of the CD, all the better. This would be a RindyFest, so to speak.
How is it that a perky, loving, smart little girl who had grown into a dynamic, creative woman could have such a stellar impact in such a short time? I don’t know. I just know that I’m very lucky to have been a part of Rindy’s life and that I will miss her very much. Her music will certainly live on and the love that reached across the country will continue to impact others’ lives for many years to come.
God bless you, Rindella. I miss you. I’m so very proud of you. Watch over us as we continue our journey here on Earth. Apparently, you got it right and so your job is now done. Our is just beginning.
For those who say one must tell the truth in their writing, stripping themselves to their raw vulnerability, here is my offering. No fear. No subtleties. No apologies. This is me right now.
There are moments when I look around me and all I see are people who are afraid. They are afraid to engage in life, especially when it’s hard. They hide behind their alcohol, their food, their smoking, their drugs, their gambling, their sex, their spending, their silence, and their obnoxious behavior…
…and, our judgement.
The naked truth is that there are days when I sit in my ivory tower/office, working my ass off, while others around me sleep, and drink, and whatever else they are doing and I get so angry. I get my work done. I produce. I provide for my family the best I can. I am present for their needs. Yet, when it’s time to depend on them, they slink away into their holes to hide from their obvious call. It all feels so unjust somehow.
I abuse food. I don’t get enough exercise. I smoke. I have my own issues, of course. They do not, however, get in the way of my accomplishing the necessary tasks for taking care of business.
The diagnosis of bipolar disorder was given to me by two psychiatrists in my early twenties; of course, then it was called manic depression. Even with this diagnosis, my bills are paid, there’s food in the refrigerator, my work is done, and my house is clean.
The root to the avoidance of our weighty responsibilities is fear. I know that. After four decades of working to earn a living, after rearing five children to adulthood while helping nine grandchildren grow up healthy and strong, I’m tired. I’m simply tired. Add onto that a husband who has worked less than two full cumulative years in the eleven years I’ve known him, and you have a recipe for explosion.
Yet, I know… I’ve seen first hand… so many others do the same as I’ve done. They’ve even done it singlehandedly in the home. Single mothers and fathers around the globe have reared their children without much assistance from anyone else. Do they complain? No, except to themselves, perhaps. Who would listen?
It’s not as though I’m not loved. I am loved deeply by wonderful people. The challenge is that these people need me more than they know. Having chosen the path of caretaker for so many years, the rock in times of crisis, the nurturer in times of sadness, and the rebuilder when everything seems to have fallen apart, I am constantly having to remember that God/the Universe/our Ancestors, have provided enough in my spirit to keep going. So often, I just can’t see it in my external world. It’s not that it isn’t there, I’m sure, it’s just that I can’t see it, I suppose.
Is this a tragically pathetic selfpity-party? Certainly. It is unwarranted? Perhaps to someone on the outside. Will it end? Of course. Soon? Who knows.
I just felt as though I had to scream out loud for all of us who have borne the grinding weight of others’ inabilities to get started in the morning, or rest peacefully at night, in their attempt to hide behind their fears.
My only true fear is that no one is going to step in and help, and other than walking away from everyone and everything I hold dear, I will be doing this thankless job for the rest of my life, until I’m dead. And, who will be there to remember? Only those who will be too busy getting drunk, or sleeping, or finding a new way to bury themselves away in their living tombs.
Nah! I’m never going to suffer in silence. I’m never going to be the victim to my own choices. It ain’t gonna happen. It’s simply not my way.
This is just the first step of digging myself out of the canvernous rut I’ve created for myself. It’s time for a new adventure; one that serves me much better than what I’ve been doing so far. Check your calendar for September 1, 2009. I suspect that will be the date of massive movement.
It should be interesting.
A strange man walks up to you and, in moments, he reflects your past like the mirror in the face of a pristine and placid lake. Do you look away or do you stare deeply into the watery image? Do you splash your laughter toward him to avoid the truth of what you see or do you contemplate the intimacy of this long-shadowed history in the glassy ripples. Perhaps one does a little of all of these things.
Eventually, the night comes and erases these fluid images; however, the memory lingers as you fall asleep, only to buoy you in its black-aqua arms during dreamtime.
The poignancy of entertainer extraordinaire, Michael Jackson’s death, the resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and the family scandal of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, while extremely different events, remind me of the humanity that must be recognized about our celebrities.
As we peer through the glass of our televisions and computer screens onto the countenance of one luminary after another, we tend to forget that they are whole human beings, as flawed, gifted and sometimes confused as any of us in the mundane world of suburbia.
Each of these individuals are parents. Their children are so deeply affected by the events surrounding their famous father or mother, that we cannot fully assess what that impact is, yet. The challenge is, of course, that none of these people, particularly Mr. Jackson, will be able to do much about it by the time the issues fully fulmigate.
There have been several articles written in this blog about the need for compassion at a variety of levels. There seems to be a bit developing in some arenas; however, we are still focused on consuming every scrap of information thrown to us, like hogs scurrying for their slop.
Is it possible for us to step back, even for a moment, and call out to ourselves for restraint and compassion? I certainly hope so, if not for ourselves and the energetic quality of our spirit, but for our children. They are learning how to be from whom they see us choosing to be.
Remember, my friends, that behind each face lies a mind that holds sweet and bitter memories just like ours.
Behind each toned or surgically altered chest, beats a fragile, insistent heart that loves and is made sad in the same way ours are.
Under their feet lies the dirt of thousands of miles they have trodden on their paths, exactly in the same way we find the dust on our sandals, as well.
In the same way that 50 is the new 30, and gay is the new Black, compassion could be the new vision.
I wonder if it will catch on?
It sounds so corny when I say it out loud, quite honestly. “I love the United States of America.” The reflection in the mirror I half-expect to see as I walk past as I speak these words is my rotund countenance draped in stars and stripes. That’s how silly it sounds to me to say it… at first.
Then, as I mull the phrase over in my head, I contemplate a few things that soften my attitude about this compilation of words.
First, I think about my Dad. (I always capitalize the word, “Dad,” when I refer to my father, whether it’s grammatically correct or not). My father fought in World War II. He was a decorated Pharmacist Mate. He served in both the Mediterranean and Asian theaters. He was a hero. Although he rarely spoke about his time in the Navy, I was always in awe that he fought the enemy and through his efforts, helped win the war. He fought for the freedoms that I have today. He, along with all the men and women who so valiantly served our country over the last two hundred-plus years, made a difference to us. I never forget that. I suppose that’s why, when I hear the National Anthem, I still get choked up. It happens every single time.
Second, I wonder where else on Earth I could walk down the street with the fearlessness I do. As a gay man, a Latino man, an older man, a man of lower-moderate socio-economic status, I am greeted warmly, loved openly, and respected for who I am, with all the diversity I embody. There are laws that protect me. I am, relatively speaking, safe.
Third, I can write to the President of the United States of America and say exactly what is on my mind. Because I have no desire to threaten anyone, I’m secure in the knowledge that my words count just as much as anyone else’s. It’s a sweet knowledge I carry inside my heart about my place here in the good ole U.S. of A.
I get angry, sometimes, at our legislators and our judges. I am often frustrated by our media services. The cost of things is abominable and the challenges to acquire health care for many is untenable. “Skinny people are too thin. Fat people are too fat.” Everyone has an opinion about everything.
We are, thankfully, able to express our opinions as freely as we belch. Unfortunately, some of our opinions are worth about the same thing. At least, we are able to send our thoughts out as easily as we throw a frisbee at a Fourth of July picnic.
We have had presidents, from Washington to Obama, that are nearly as diverse in thought and history as those of us in our neighborhoods. There were builders, deceivers, heroes and scoundrals, activitists and do-nothings. They were Americans.
Today, on this Fourth of July, 2009, I am not a hyphenate-American. I am simply, joyfully, and proudly an American.
So, as corny as it may sound, I will reiterate my feeling that I love the United States of America. God (or whomever you choose to believe in, if anyone) bless America!
In the last few days, we have lost three distinctly different personalities. I was watching CNN and there was a blog entry read that talked about Ed McMahon and his distinguished service as a colonel in the military. This person referenced Farrah Fawcett’s valiant struggle against cancer and her work against domestic violence. The individual then referred to Michael Jackson’s criminal trials for child molestation and his drug use.
It breaks my heart that at this point in our history, we are still looking at others with such a jaded eye. The truth is Ed McMahon was in debt up to his eyes. Farrah Fawcett began her career as simply a pretty face. Michael Jackson was worked far beyond any reasonable level by his own parents during his entire childhood.
The point is that every single person on this great big planet has a story and that story is a complete one. It has really beautiful parts to it and it has hideously ugly parts to it, as well. Such is the nature of life. For those who feel that they have not been touched by severe tragedy or extreme joy, allow me to express my deepest sympathy to you because it is most likely because you have chosen to live a life of fear, keeping yourself safe from every possible danger or sadness. That’s not living. That’s existing.
Without risk, there is no glory. (I wish I could find who said that first). Of course, I’m not talking about fame when I use the word, “glory.” I’m talking about that feeling of basking in one’s ultimate success. Without scars, there is no character. Without pain, there is no healing. Without horror, there is no joy. Life, as we know it, is full of polarity. It’s the nature of the beast.
Ed McMahon defended our country as a valiant and honorable soldier. Farrah Fawcett struggled against misogyny and violence, bringing at least one wonderful movie to light in that effort. Michael Jackson changed the face of pop music from the time he was ten years old. Each of these actions has value and will find longevity.
Their agonies are not ones we will ever understand because we have not walked in their shoes. So, what they offered us personally was joy, creativity, and abundance. I suggest we simply say, “Thank you, Ed. Thank you, Farrah. Thank you, Michael.”
There have only been two celebrity deaths that affected me so personally that I wept. One was when George Burns died. I respected his power and his humor and I felt he represented
the best of comedy and sophistication in the art form. The second was Katherine Hepburn. Again, she was a pinnacle of class, sophistication, directness and artistry. Their passing was deeply moving to me because with them went a level of talent that we will rarely see again.
It would be trite, I’m sure, to say that there are angels everywhere, no matter how true it is. Here is a simple story nonetheless.
This morning, feeling overwhelmed by my life and responsibilities, while also feeling that everyone else has their priorities in place and that I’m not really one of them, the pity party began in full force. As someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, although a mild form of it, every so often, my depression does take hold. This morning was a prime example of that experience.
This afternoon, a new friend of mine wrote to say how grateful she was to have me as a friend and to be working with me. She had already offered to help me with a project that, in my current state, I simply couldn’t handle right now.
This angel lighted upon my shoulder and in doing so, she took a burden off of me that has helped me feel more peaceful. I am so deeply grateful to my friend for this gift. Of course, I wrote to her to tell her thank you. That, too, made me feel good.
I am consistently in awe, too, because these angels, in the masks of humble, loving people, keep finding those of us in greatest need. Their intuition and desire for healing with others is enormous. I have such profound respect and love for these wonderful entities. The funny part is that they never, ever know just how important they are to others.
As I prayed to God to help lift the weight off my back, he responded in the sweetest way possible. He sent someone to offer me her hand. It seems to work that way when I need it most. I live in constant gratitude for these unexpected gifts.
I believe in miracles. They happen every day.
I believe in angels. They are all around.
I believe in God. God’s light shines on everything.
I believe in gratitude. It’s what makes us recognize the value of every gift we receive, even the ones that look like challenges.
I just wanted to share my experience. Consider this my Commendation of Perpetual Aid to those who stand by me in love and support. Today, especially, I extend my gratitude to my new friend. Thank you, one and all.
There is a dichotomy in these United States of America that is so vividly being presented in the State of Connecticut regarding our freedoms. In the second of five states in the country to allow gay marriage, there comes a video from the Manifested Glory Ministries that shows a sixteen-year-old young man having a “homosexual demon” exorcised from his body.
Prophet Patricia McKinney, and the church overseer and McKinney’s husband, Calvin McKinney, have apparently performed several exorcisms on young people who are attempting to release themselves from the perceived grip of their homosexuality. The video, as one can imagine, is dynamic in that the young fellow, whose name was withheld, was seen thrashing on the floor, eventually vomitting during the twenty minute, vociferous event.
As revolting as the concept of a “gay exorcism” is to my mind and heart, one question is raised, “Is the family’s freedom of religion alive enough to practice their faith as they see fit?”
If the child’s parents gave the McKinneys permission to perform this rite, the McKinney’s were willing to perform the rite, and if the child himself agreed to experience it, does the family of the parishoner have the right to practice their religion in whatever way they choose, so long as the boy wasn’t injured physically?
Some might say that the boy should feel free to be gay if that’s what he is. If that is true, which I believe it is, as well, then shouldn’t he also be allowed to participate in the rites of his church just as freely?
Concern is correctly expressed that the exorcism will damage his psyche and sense of self because he is not being supported by his community for being who he genuinely is. We must invite the question as to whether there are other religions who, perhaps not so vehemently, do the same thing to their beloved children. Families often criticize and shame their offspring because of their sexuality. Doesn’t that also do horrific damage to the child to have people he or she loves dispense separation, vitriol, and, perhaps, violence against that individual because of the child’s sexuality?
How obscene should it be to us as a people to wag our fingers at the McKinneys for doing what we do to our own children in other ways?
“God, I wish my son wasn’t a freakin’ fairy.”
“Jeez, why can’t my daughter just find a nice man with whom to settle down and have a family, instead of that horrible dyke?”
The high horse on which many are riding right now is growing more and more lame. The pedestal on which many of our fellow Americans would like to believe they sit is cracking under the pressure of our own hypocrisy.
In this video, there appeared to be a belief that this child harbored a demon named, “homosexuality.” Isn’t that what many in our country believe? Those who fight against the equal rights for marriage certainly are making that statement to their children. Those who sit idly by and watch our junior high students commit suicide because they are being perceived as gay are saying the same thing.
Let’s see things as they are for a change. We are culturally a bigotted and judgmental people on the whole. We see ourselves in distinct and separate groups and we like it that way. The good news is that we are slowly recognizing it and the damage it is causing. We are changing. We may even arrive at a place where, for example, in this country, we are all Americans first, instead of insisting on being hyphenates, such as Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, or Straight-Americans.
Change is hard. Cultural therapy is phenomenally painful and difficult. We will, however, survive and flourish once we get to the other side. At that point, we will be able to better see our brothers and sisters as equals in every way.
What a great day that will be.
What we must not do, though, is lose sight of the fact that for each of our rights, there are those who will show us the extremes of what having them means. The McKinneys are just those people. For some, Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen Degeneres would be just those people, as well.
There must be room for everyone if we want our equality and rights to live in the broadest possible way.
The only exorcism I’d like to see is the banishment of hatred and ignorance. I’d go to that ritual today!