Saturday, May 26, 2012

Always a Choice


Since the early part of January, I’ve recounted stories of how peace and justice issues have impinged on my life. I began on January 12 with “Call Me Stubborn.” In my following posting, I introduced the woman who has most influenced my way of thinking about these issues—my mother: Hellen O’Mara Ready. She gave me “My First Lesson in Respect.” Basically, all I’ve ever tried to do throughout my life is respect others.


Hellen O’Mara Ready in the early 1930s.

           Before I relate the final story of how peace and justice issues have changed my life, I want to introduce you to Yeshua, the man who has most influenced my lifeMost of you know him by his Greek name, which came down to us in Latin usage as Jesus. I call him Yeshua because that is what his own Hebrew parents would have called him and that is my way of being respectful of his culture and its names.
            What is there about this man that has influenced my life?
            Early on, when I was a practicing Roman Catholic, I thought of him as the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Having departed from the Christian tradition, I no longer believe that. What I do believe is that he is as much a son of God as you and I and all people are. We are all syllables of Oneness. We are all sparks of divinity. He and you and I.
            And yet he differs from me because he realized within himself—all those years ago in first-century Palestine—a fullness, a wholeness, of humanity. Did he live only one life and achieve this wholeness through the grace of the Holy Oneness of All Creation? I don’t know. I know only that his life, his words, and the meaning he found in relationship draw forth from me my deepest admiration. He is, quite simply, the love of my life.


This is the oldest icon of the “Christos.”
It can be viewed in Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai.

            It is Yeshua whose actions, like my mother’s, taught me how to respond to others so as to bring peace into our world. How to respond respectfully. Compassionately. Empathically.
            I’ll end this series with a story in which a magazine article used the word outcast. Immediately, I thought of Yeshua. He reached out to the outcasts of his world—those whom his society castigated as unclean. For the people of Palestine in the first century, these would have been thieves, lepers, prostitutes, the sick, the possessed, the crazed. And even women who were menstruating.
            Why were they unclean? The general public believed they had sinned. Sickness was a result of sin—either by the person affected or by the parents of that person. To touch an unclean person was to become unclean. So cast them off, run them out, berate them, ignore them. But always steer clear of them.
            And in every culture throughout history, we have witnessed the deep fissures that can arise between a people when they begin to look at others as unworthy or unclean or "not like us."
            Through words and actions, Yeshua taught that we must cease to separate people into groups of the clean and unclean. We must cease to judge one person more worthy than another. We must cease to look at those around us and see “them” and “us.” We must embrace differences and see these only as varied facets of the single diamond of Oneness.
            Hellen O’Mara Ready and Yeshua are the two people who have taught me that we must seek out those whom others ignore and treat as unclean, unworthy, disreputable. We must choose Oneness.
            In my next posting, I will share with you one final choice.

Afterword: If you have any interest in learning more about how Twelve Habits of Successful Cats and Their Humans came to be, please read my guest posting this past Tuesday on the blog ecwrites.  

Icon from Wikipedia.

50 comments:

  1. Beautiful post!
    Have you seen this video, Dee?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiC_9RHTvsA
    Now there is a man who's spark of god is bright enough to bring tears to my eyes.

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    1. Dear Rita, thank you for suggesting that I view that youtube video of Narayan Krishnan who is "A companion to the Forgotten." He truly is a man whose "spark of god" is bright enough to bring tears to my eyes also.

      I will add his youtube video to my next posting, so that others can meet him.
      I'm not sure that the link, which is

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiC_9RHTvsA

      will show up here. Let's see.


      Peace.

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  2. Dee, This post is beautifully written and so moving. I really appreciate learning about your beliefs and how you came to them. I also appreciate knowing that Yeshua is the correct name in Hebrew. Since I was fairly young, I have believed that it is very important to show respect for people by pronouncing their names correctly. I also try to pronounce words from other languages correctly. Americans are not alone in this world, and I think we need to try much harder to demonstrate respect for other cultures. So many Americans just give up and tolerate having their names mispronounced because the name comes from another language. We are our names. It is so cruel to make fun of someone's name or to out and out refuse to pronounce it correctly. You're the best, Dee -- always so kind and definitely respectful.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Dear Janie, names truly are powerful. Some names terrify us--Hitler for instance--while others names, like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, fill us with a sense of well-being.
      Peace.

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  3. Lots of people like to point out Otherness rather than admit to Oneness. It is nonintrospective & self-serving, & fear-based. I believe there is a panic pounding inside people who constantly gesture toward Otherness.

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    1. Dear Mary, so good to hear from you. I've missed your comments and your postings. I do so hope that you will begin to post again because your postings are filled with the reaching out toward others in Oneness. Peace.

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  4. This is a beautiful expression of the two guideposts in your life, Dee. "We are all sparks of divinity." What a wonderful miracle that is, isn't it? I'm busy today with my hands in the dirt, working with what isn't really mine but all of ours. I'll visit a friend and her husband who just had a brush with death a little later and then a quiet dinner for us at home. Through it all, I will move with a little more purpose as I feel this divinity. Thank you.

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    1. Dear Penny, I can see you there, working with the soil and feeling attuned to the mystery of death and renewal. Your day sounds complete. Like you, I, too, will try to stay centered and focused in divinity. Peace.

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    1. Dear Fishducky, thank you.

      Peace.

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  6. With models of inspiration like these, no wonder you became the inspirational woman you are, Dee. The reason that Luke's Gospel is my favourite is because he shows most clearly the Jesus who reached out across the man-made barriers with which we surround ourselves to draw the outcasts to himself.

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    1. Dear Perpetua, thank you for your kind words. I, too, favor Luke's Gospel. Matthew seems to go out of his way to demonize the Pharisees and I've read enough now to know that they were much honored at that time by the general population. And John seems so esoteric to me. There is, however, a freshness to Mark's Gospel that delights me. He has such telling details. Peace.

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  7. A very intriguinn post, for sure. Have you written at length any other posts about your mother? She sounds like an amazing woman~

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  8. Dear Shelly, yes, there are other posts about my mom. Look at the right side of this blog where the topics under which I've written are listed. You might enjoy reading the one entitled "Encountering Hate." You can also find it in the January 2012 listings.

    Peace.

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  9. I feel much the same way now, this late in my life. I wish I could send this to certain members of congress who spend their days stirring up fear of otherness, separateness, Kenya, educated and intelligent women, etc., instead of running this country based on togetherness and caring about their fellow citizens.
    The last photo was an enlargement of the Indian paintbrush flowers, the second was just a lichen covered rock that must have been in the vicinity. I'm glad you liked them.

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    1. Dear Inger, the partisan Congress we now have and the extremely divided country in which we live both have me wondering just what we can do to heal divisions.

      Thanks for the explanation of your photographs. I think that posting them each Friday is a splendid idea.

      Peace.

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  10. I love that picture of your mother, Dee. I am into the third habit of successful cats and their humans, and I am enjoying the book very much. Today I spent in the garden and hopefully will NOT fall asleep tonight before making it into the fourth habit. Beautiful book! :-)

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    1. Oh, DJan, I'm so glad you are liking the book. That's a relief because as you know I've been uncertain about its value. Thank you. Peace.

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  11. Such a brilliant post. You see it so clearly and it really is quite simple but sadly most people still live in the worlds of them and us. How wonderful life would be if Oneness were adopted by all. Wars, hate and abuse would end.

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    1. Dear Arkansas Patti, I so agree. But as Yeshua said, and I think truthfully, "the poor ye shall always have with you." He may have meant many things by "poor." Poor in spirit, poor in health, poor in resilience, poor in courage and fortitude, poor in being able to compromise. All of all, I believe, are poor in some way. Peace.

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  12. I'll echo the other praises for this post, Dee. Yeshua, by any of His names, has been the most influential one in my life, as well. I've gotten acquainted with a few icons since becoming an Orthodox Christian, and I sure appreciate the one you've pictured.

    My parents taught me to respect each person, also. What treasure one possesses to have received that teaching from a young age. :o)

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    1. Dear Deanna, Yes, this is a lovely icon. So old and yet so new in its affect on the viewer. I am indeed blessed to have had a mother who taught me so much.
      Peace.

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  13. Dee, This post is amazingly well written and so moving.

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  14. This is the essence at the root of God's love, that we are all one, and that none of us is to be cast aside or judged as lesser or unworthy. What amazes me is that these same beliefs arose among peoples all over the planet and became the basis of their spirituality in Buddhism, in Native American beliefs, the essence is the same. It makes me especially sad when people speak and act in complete opposition to this teaching, and do in the name of some religion. On a different note, I've received your book and look forward to reading it!!

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    1. Dear Melissa, I'm glad you have "Twelve Habits." I hope you enjoy it. And I'm with you on just what essence is! Peace.

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  15. My dear Dee, isn't it the basis of so many established religions, particularly the more fundamentalist ones, to search for and accentuate the difference between the various faiths? And then to discriminate against and revile those not of your own faith? Or those of no faith who have their own path towards humanity and respect for all creatures?

    It is the reason organised religion has lost all meaning for me. I was deeply impressed when you said that you have departed from the Christian tradition; it is an enormous statement for an ex-nun.

    Thank you for the series about your years both in and out of the church. it has been an experience for me. I am still searching.

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    1. Dear Friko, yes, I think that the basis of many established religions, especially those that are termed "fundamentalist" do stress differences. In fact, like some people, they define themselves somewhat in terms of those differences--just as many people define themselves as what they are not.

      I'm still searching too. I think that is a life-long task.

      I'm going to tell more stories, but I'm moving back to the convent years and the growing up years to find inspiration! Peace.

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  16. Ah Dee! We may disagree my friend on Jesus being the Son of God but we don't disagree on the rest of what you said above. I hope your work is going well this month and know that you are loved my friend.

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  17. Dear Melynda, cordial and civil disagreement can be the glue that holds a friendship together! Peace.

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  18. Thanks, Dee, for the beautiful reminder of our Oneness and the true meaning and outreach of Yeshua's /Jesus' words and life work. It's all so different from the hypocritical, self-righteous messages we get from all too many religious leaders and followers. It really soothes the spirit to be reminded of the messages of love and caring and giving to others that form the basis of so many enduring values.

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    1. Dear Kathy, I agree with you that love and caring and giving to others is the foundation for "so many enduring values." I've learned this from so many of the people who raised me and educated me and befriended me. I have been blessed in the messages they have given me about living generously. Peace.

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  19. Hello Dee I popped on over from Rita's blog and what do I find this awesome post about a topic that is close to my heart I am one who does not belive in judging others it is not my place to pass judgement.......I like the word Oneness yes that is what we should be striving for...........

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    1. Dear Jo-Anne, thank you for "popping" by. I appreciate your comment here and the one you did for the posting about my mother's generosity of spirit. I'm glad the one Oneness speaks to you. It was given to me by a friend many years ago to catch the essence of what I was trying to describe about my belief system. Peace.

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  20. Your mother was a lovely woman who sure taught you well. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the Son of God and my Savior but I respect your thoughts and beliefs and you express them eloquently! I believe respect is so important and try to treat everyone as I want to be treated! :)

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    1. Dear Nancy, for me, the thing is that I don't expect everyone to agree with me, just as I don't agree with everyone. All I ask of myself and of others is respect--that I respect your beliefs and you respect mine. And that seems to be the same way you approach this. Thank you for that. Peace.

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  21. Like Melynda, I will have to agree to disagree--but totally agree with all other that you have written! Would love to view that Icon. I wonder when it was created.

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    1. Dear Susan, like you, I would love to view that icon. I found it on Wikipedia, so perhaps there, under the heading Monastery of St. Catherine's we can find when it was created. Peace.

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  22. What a wonderful way to end my day...reading this post. I am truly moved by your devotion to both your mother and Yeshua. I, too, have been very influenced by the gospels, and in fact chose as a Master's Thesis topic an exploration of how the Social Gospel of Christ is often ignored from the Evangelical Christian community. That tie was at the time very personal...I didn't necessarily mean to simply indict Evangelicals, but that is the tradition in which I was raised. I, too, have made many changes through the years, but I follow the teachings of Jesus with a desire to be more congruent between my beliefs and my actions! You are a constant encouragement in this journey, Dee. I will look forward to your third choice! Debra

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    1. Dear Debra, the choice I spoke about at the end of the posting is the final social justice choice I made after the various others ones about which I've also posted. Really,in the years that passed after I moved back to Minnesota in 1973, I mostly lived my life and worked and didn't get involved in anything that had to do with justice and peace--I concentrated on being a good friend to other though and I think that too is a way of seeking out peace and justice. However, I made two choices in the eighties and nineties that did show that the old fire in me hadn't died! Peace.

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  23. I believe the people of this world are more alike than different. If we treated each other and the world we live in with compassion and respect our lives and world would be all the better for it.
    Beautiful post, Dee. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Dear Pam, oh how I agree with you. Peace.

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  24. I went back to all your latest posts. I can’t believe how mean the Scout troop leader was with you. I did not go into the Girl Scouts but had thought they were fair enough. I’m sorry that you had such a hard time with sewing. We had sewing in school too, we had to turn a man’s shirt collar. I did it but did not like it either.
    I really enjoy reading about your background – it’s so different from mine. I need to write about my background instead of my trips – I started with my mum and I’ll get back to it. You certainly are a strong lady. I hope you will find the home in Minnesota that will make you happy. Your mother shown in your last post looks quite attractive inside as well as outside. Thanks for coming to my blog. Yes I like to read mysteries from time to time, like the books of Agatha Christie. I’ll look up at the library the author you mentioned who writes about New York, thank you.

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    1. Dear Vagabonde, thanks so much for reading so many of my posts. I appreciate all the time that must have taken. I, too, hope I'll sell this house and find a home in Minnesota. I'm trusting that all shall be well.

      As to your blog. I so enjoy your travelogues with all the marvelous photographs you take and all the history you provide. But what you say is always so interesting that I"m sure whatever you write about will delight all of us who read your blog.

      Peace.

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  25. "We must choose Oneness."

    Those are just the words I needed. Thank you.

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    1. Dear Emily, You're welcome. There is so much serendipity in our world. Peace.

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  26. My mother, Elizabeth O'Mara, taught me those lessons also. Our life should be about lifting people up and giving, when we can, the hand of kindness.

    Your mom did well.

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    1. Dear Arleen, Elizabeth was my mom's name--Elizabeth O'Mara. Her family called her Effie. I so agree with you about what life needs to be. What we need to bring to it. Peace.

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  27. This is lovely, Dee. I, too, prefer the notion of "oneness" to any particular Christian doctrines and believe that we are all part of a much bigger microcosm that we affect in ways we cannot know completely. That is why it is so important to live the values we want to see in all of humanity and the world. Thank you for the reminder.

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  28. Dear Kari, I think we share the same beliefs. I've thought that often as I've read your reflective and considered beliefs and philosophy on your blog. You truly do walk the walk.
    Peace.

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