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The Space Between (Part 6)

Are we at least willing to leave it all? The Hebrew tale of an invisible God calling a young Abram out of his home to a new land is such a perfect story of faith ventures. Even non-religious people can relate at least to the risk factor the unknown. “Go from your country, your people, and your father’s house” (Gen. 12.1). Gets right into it. Go. It’s the heart of all risk. Go. Leave what you know. And for what? In this case, “the land I will show you.” A future unknown goal is at hand.

That is the very heart of entrepreneurial risk: leaving what you know for some possible better future. That is really at the heart of the Scriptures throughout. Ironic that now religious people are seen as sterile, lethargic, and even lifeless.

Far from it in the beginning. The “father of faith” indeed shows a very different kind of religious model. It’s all about one’s willingness to leave it all for a promise of something better (a place with less space between). Are you willing to do that?

Some will argue the job of a great leader is to describe and inspire toward a vision of a preferred future. Their job, at least partly, is to understand and articulate where all this is leading. They are to help us know why it is worth our sacrifice.

That is precisely where we get the term visionary. Of course in today’s world that term is used almost exclusively for people working toward scientific and technological breakthroughs. Their “vision” is quite palatable and “usable” by the public.

Somehow all those breakthroughs make our lives “better,” or at least more comfortable. They are not visions of a preferred future exactly, they are visions of a preferred present. What can we do to make life better for humans now.

It is an interesting change. And most of the breakthroughs don’t necessarily lead us to be “better” humans doing “better” things, they lead us in most cases to greater comfort. That’s of course where “progress” and traditional vision fork in the road.

The goal of a true visionary is not to make life more comfortable for people, especially as we talk about artists. Their job in many ways is to make people less comfortable, or more irritable in their given comforts, to even “afflict their consciences.”

Sounds almost gloomy and downright mean, certainly a buzzkill. It also sounds like the “true” nature of real art is serious and confounding. While not the only purpose of the creative arts it may be one of most important.

“Better” generally involves growing, which generally does not come easy. Creative people have to keep pushing at the market to adjust expectations to include things that are good for them. That’s the heart of today’s creative entrepreneurs.

How do we sustain-ably bring good things to people? How do we take visions of a truly preferred future and get them into the conscious of the people? How do we reduce the space between people, natural resources, and the hope to carry on?

The Space Between (Part 5)

The Space Between (Part 5)

Ultimately the space between us can directly be related to death. Think of it. What would change if time were no longer a hinderance? What do we avoid because our time (and ensuing energy) is limited? Why is it limited?

All limitations ultimately hover around our impending death. Knowing that we are mere mortals and have a finish line sets everything else back. We are forced to prioritize our precious little time very carefully, often saying no to many good things.

We simply don’t have the time and energy to keep up certain relationships, even ones we really want to keep up. The demands of survival are fierce. Our time again is limited. Thus we are coerced into saying no to many things we enjoy.

Many times we say no to important things. Of course they are not urgent. They are relegated to the back-burner as nature’s demands increase. Time becomes are enemy, a stark reminder of our impending mortality and limited ability.

The Space Between (Part 4)

The Space Between (Part 4)

There is always the fear that inspiration will run out. Like our human fears of needing fresh water for survival, we fear our internal wells may one day dry out. If in some way we are responsible to “create” the water and its flow from within.

That’s the beautiful thing about springs. No one can take responsibility for them. They are made by the earth for the earth. They just are. Our attempts to manipulate or capture them don’t create more or even sustain them in the slightest.

They are gifts. Similarly life itself is a gift. Inspiration is a gift. Certainly there are conditions we cultivate to harvest the gift. But the gift fundamentally is a gift. Fortunately, though, the Spring is not restricted to one location.

We can find the spring and its life-giving water in an endless variety of locations. It is in the hearts of people everywhere. While we feel at times undernourished and almost forgotten, dry and parched, the water begins to flow from an unexpected place.

The Space Between (Part 3)

The Space Between (Part 3)

There are times that no matter how aware of our human connectedness we may be no one else can go with us. There are certain places we must endure perfectly alone. Mortality shakes our ultimate state of aloneness into sharp reality.

Moments of understanding this can lead to great fear. It is our ultimate end journey which no one else can share. No one else can go there with us. No one can ease the immeasurable weight of that transition into another world.

Some try to console themselves with fairy tale myths of the afterlife. Others do the same insisting life simply stops. Neither gets at the beautiful mystery and reality of our end, the perfect aloneness in reconciling our existence with itself.

What’s the exchange? How does the transition really go? One world at a time. And all we have are these delicate, utterly simple moments bearing the full weight of being. And in that perfectly alone moment, you guessed it, we are not alone.

For death has lost its sting. It is not an end in itself. It is a transition. It is a step in our necessary evolution to the next phase of human experience. It is our only way into the existence we can only now dream of and long for. It is real.

The Gift of Sadness (Part 6)

So attachments lead to suffering, or sadness. Maybe that’s ok. Maybe that could even be a good thing. Again, the whole basis of our discussion is that sadness can be a gift. (think old guy in the back of church yelling “Amen” to a sermon on suffering).

It’s not masochism, but it may be related. Masochism actually enjoys and longs for more pain. What I am suggesting is that we don’t avoid sadness or pain (not that we long for it). And as we endure it and its trials we find strength.

The old verse oft quoted in urban churches, “pain comes for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30.5) may get to it. In other words, “this is going to hurt, it really will. But only for a time. It’s worth enduring for what’s on the other side.”

So we learn to give sadness context. We know it comes with trials. We know trials build character. We know character is a very good thing. There are no shortcuts to producing character. It is etched in the halls of enduring struggle.

But it doesn’t feel good when its happening. And we are a culture very sensitive to our feelings. We are probably too aware of our feelings. Being mindful of your feelings (Jedi talk) is one thing, being controlled and manipulated by them another.

What the Jedi’s refer to as feelings is almost an intensely trained intuition. Remember they are taught and trained not to fear, to meditate, to clear their mind, to focus. That assumes emotions are being trained, feelings are in their rightful place.

To the untrained novice who minds his feelings it may not turn out so well. Not that our feelings are necessarily mischievous, but they sometimes will over-accentuate our current reality. “This hurts, it really hurts.” True, but for a gain down the road.

Our bodies when working out get “trained” to understand this. They will be challenge, pulled, strained, etc. but then given the proper nutrition and rest time to heal and strengthen. So our feelings can be trained to endure hardships.

And this is the pattern: “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.” The suffering here is not self-inflicted agonizing or reaping from bad decisions, it is the kind of suffering good people ache down deep.

It is probably better understood as longing. It can be aroused by normal setbacks and frustrations, the complications of good things moving forward, physical fatigue, any experience of things that keep faith dreams from blossoming into realities.

But enduring such set backs with grace (suffering or longing in the purest sense) builds a kind of muscle within. It produces a determination to withstand such obstacles and to push through the mundane. That is perseverance in the true sense.

Once we develop this muscle we begin to see the cyclical patterns of real growth. There are no straight lines in progress. We bump into ourselves constantly but hope is knowing that despite it all this thing is moving forward. We will make it!

The Gift of Sadness (Part 5)

In today’s world we are rather disgusted to see an animal being butchered. It seems barbaric and strange. For people who lack refinement. Mayne country bumpkins who live off the land do such things but we prefer our meet in a delicate salad.

But someone had to kill that chicken. Someone had to raise that chicken for the purpose of being killed and eaten. Someone had to deal with the emotional toil of birthing, raising, and killing animals for the sole purpose of eating them.

Blood was spilt. Be sure. But it is blood few of us will ever see. We are carefully distanced from the process so almost to dis-believe its reality. Now certainly there are more ethical farms and more humane ways of farming, but blood is blood.

We can rightly and confidently say (us meat-eaters at least) that in order for us to eat, blood must be spilled. It’s simply the truth. Life comes out of death. This is concept very familiar to any culture that lives more directly off the land.

As we move from this concept of food necessary coming from death, we enter into another foreign concept to “modern” people: sacrifices. Animal sacrifices were and still are in some parts a normal part of life and culture.

The concept of life in the blood is transferred from sustenance to forgiveness. In other words, there is a due penalty for our transgressions. There is a terrible sense of immanent justice due, not perceived but divinely mandated.

These are strong justice cultures. These are cultures that find the idea of forgiveness rather disturbing. They believe strongly in a moral code that demands a punishment when something wrong is done. The code can not be undone. It just is.

So either we die for our transgressions or something else dies in our place. Again, this was not in anyway a new or foreign concept. It was (and is) a reality for many civilizations. My wrongs set off a negative energy throughout the universe.

In the Star Wars Jedi world they were aware of this justice (sometimes called karma). The Jedi’s were held to a code of forgetting or transcending certain normal needs so as to avoid necessary entanglements in the system of love and justice.

The philosophy was simple. Attachments (love) would lead to fear (portrayed in Annekin missing his mother), fear of losing. Fear would lead to anger. “Why did I have to lose her?” Anger would lead to hate. “I hate who took her away.”

And ultimately hate would lead to suffering. But not the redemptive kind. The kind where joys were not permitted and where strings were always attached. This internal turmoil would lead to a giving over to the power of the dark side. [Not the Sun]

Remember: Jedi’s were keepers of justice and peace. But if that mission is built on suffering it is misplaced. Annekin probably should not have become a Jedi. Or he should have changed the Jedi code not to marry. Instead he internalized.

The Gift of Sadness (Part 4)

Sadness is logical. Especially for people who care. Who are aware. Who admit to the harsh realities of many in the world. The logical response to so much suffering is to be sad. But good sadness will never stop with the logical.

For just that much could tip the scales of the human experience toward despair. Instead of a healthy “suffering with” type of compassion, it ends up being a “suffering instead of,” it isolates from those people instead of bringing us closer to them.

In our attempt to connect with their pain we enter our own. Only too easily we get locked away in our own suffering and its ensuing coping mechanisms. It doesn’t bring us together and certainly does not offer hope. But it is logical.

So at some point a deal comes our way where we must choose understanding (logic) or peace (hope). Logically hope makes no sense. The odds are against us. Evil is too powerful. The suffering of the world too great. But who made logic king?

And the world of logic gets turned on its head when we really consider the non-rationality of the world from a theological context. Now certainly in today’s world there are those unfamiliar with or in dis-belief of a God beyond the universe.

But let’s consider for a moment the possibility that there may actually be One. Let’s consider the Creator God of the major world religions. This God was before all worlds, un-created, the uncaused cause. By definition the One responsible for this.

Most of the major world religions of the Book (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) do not have a developed concept of a God who interacts with and enters the world He created. In Islam and Judaism God is completely other, distant from the tainted world.

In Christianity, we have the unique concept of a God-man who helps create the world and then enters it, and we have the very unique concept of a God that is One (like Jews and Muslims) and yet three distinct persons.

The Christian-God is uniquely able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” because he became “fully human in every way.” Not to mention this God-man was sent on a mission of what appears like human failure: to become the sacrifice.

Some mis-understandingly think of it as suicide. If he truly was only dying for himself and was not actually somehow a sacrificial lamb who “takes away the sins of the world” than that would be true. Let’s just imagine for a second he maybe was.

The Christian-God is then one “familiar with pain, a man of suffering.” Jesus who knew no sin became sin, to the extent where for a time God dies. Christianity teaches that God died. Too much for most people. A lot of suffering, blood and guts.

And God has to sacrifice His Son, the only way to get back what was lost. Again, too much for most. Why doesn’t God just change His mind? Why does He need all this blood shed? Perhaps it is worth investigating further to shed light on sadness.