***We talked about this amazing man, husband, friend and minister who had experienced a phenomenal transformation from prisoner/drug seller/addict to your minister. For years now, he's been speaking the language of the youth, he shared about his own broken life and how he was able to be forgiven and forgive himself.
***For years he's been doing contemporary music and counseling, ministering in a church as assistant pastor as well as on the beach in Florence, South Carolina where my son had lived, worked and attended his church for about a decade. Then suddenly, this amazingly transformed minister and healer died (to this life) at the old, old (??) age of 50 -- shocking everyone who loved and knew him. (Including my dear son who'd just seen him full of life at a wedding a few weeks ago. A large church in SC has lovingly opened up to accommodate the huge crowd expected.
***I felt like writing a blogpost about how WE CAN'T LET ANYONE HIJACK OUR FAITH IN LIFE, GOD, LOVE AND OTHERS. You see, as I was listening to her sing some of the same spirituals I used to get all choked-up over, I felt compelled to tell readers here about how she and my current life of prayer was helping me to both get back and FORWARD with some of what I used to believe AND A LOT MORE.
*** (You need to know -- you might understand -- that I've felt terribly let down over the last few decades -- not by folk I've grown up with -- but by so-called high profile Christian leaders who have proved deceitful not only to lots of us former evangelical Christians but also to Americans at large who know about their shenanigans in manupulating votes for a certain party and candidates...)-- at approving of nuclear proliferation, of torture, intimidation, lying, locking persons merely SUSPECTED (and often set-up) without any hope of a decent lawyer or fair trial, ignoring of our own US and US/international aggreements, etc.
*** So you can see how folk like me (kind of a former non-drug-using hippy/artist type) as well as a lot of our very young today don't want anything to do with a Christianity and a Christ who's been co-opted for Empire America at the detriment of a whole lot of decent, innocent folk out there who are caught in their cross-fire.
*** Anyway, to get back to my story, as I opened up my computer, I was aghast to hear of the very recent TRAGEDY which JUST happened in DENVER, COLORADO. All the innocent folk who were merely watching a Batman movie when suddenly their lives were POOF over or changed forever. What a tragedy for all these beautiful people and their loved ones and neighbors! What an horrific event for ALL the people involved, the killer's family, his acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, friends, schools and the city of Denver as well. And perhaps most hellish of all is to imagine what might have happened to turn a scholarly, decent person (if the suspect turns out right into a killer! How will he live with himself now? What kind of dead end does he now face?
*** Again, I want to plead that we who are a part of seeking to end the Death Penalty ALSO do all we can to help PREVENT such a tragedy.
*** There are many many ways we can do this. We all know plenty of these: encourage help for self and others where there is a need we see and know.
*** Some of these are actually free or nearly so: 12-step programs of all kinds: NA (Narcotics Anonymous); AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) Al-Anon (for family and loved ones of Alcohol Abusers); Adult Child Programs (for Adult children of addicted; Methodone Treatment for those who've tried and failed at everything else; many youth programs; etc. etc.
*** We who are working can each pitch in: drive someone to a program where it's safe to do so; fork out part of the funds needed for rehab and raise more; ask a church or compassionate group to help out; do an INTERVENTION with professionals; make SURE our schools don't cut funding for good school counselors and if our town and community doesn't have alternative schools, scream (theoretically) until the town council keeps such a process on the agenda UNTIL THEY HAPPEN!
*** We are living in especially tough tough times...let's be part of the solution...
*** AND let's not let ANYBODY else no matte what come between each of us and the amazingly loving, accepting, unconditional GOD of our own understanding. Let's each ask every day: what counts?
*** For myself, when I've asked for help, I'm quite amazed how specifically I get answers... I suppose I have the many years I've asked for help as well yet never noticed because I used to look in all the wrong places: I don't mean these were always the usual suspects -- sometimes these wrong places were people familiar and who looked like one of my status quo, background and faith family...
***yet when I look back, I was helped in a HUGE way to understand forgiveness by a man on death row!
***I also felt such calm and healing from a fellow human rights expert's willingness to take time out with me...because of him, I overcame great big fears I carried concerning my dear adopted children's issues with lots of childhood trauma.
***Then there have been both victims' family members and family of death row inmates and prisoners -- then people of all manner of faith backgrounds, income levels, professions or the lack there-of, homeless, all manner of races and plenty of people in and from so-called "foreign countries."
***Most recently, besides my husband and children, I've been helped most to understand forgiveness by a Bangladeshi/American Muslim who forgave his would-be killer who blinded him in one eye -- even tried to stop his execution! (See Rais Bhuiyan and The World Without Hate web and movement)... I've been brought back into a truly new and creative view of history and a recognition of my own capabilities as writer/thinker/mystic/poet by some incredibly deep, heartfelt and artfelt scholar/Sufi/historians and writers. (In fact, the painting thumbnail above under the friends hugging is from the front cover of a book for children and child-like visionaries by
an amazing poet/philosopher, Allama Igbal, who had a visionary dream of Rumi showing him a spiritual meaning of history and the future.)
THE VARIETY SIMPLY DOESN'T END...
*** The last few days, I've been helped personally by a gifted writer -- woman who's mission is to empower women to be all that they can be and of all things, by a former Southern Baptist from Texas who while leaving that behind seems to indicate no bitterness...just going on to become an inter-faith expert; doctorate of Asian culture; and an expert on Mindfulness.
*** Altready, I've again learned a HEAP about forgiveness and lovingkindness from this mindfulness expert...including a few mantras that I know have changed me overnight into a better person. He looks kind of goofy in his photo, but so what?!
***IN CONCLUSION*** So, how about we all enter into a conversation about WHAT REALLY COUNTS?