About Me

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I am a pastor and a clinical psychotherapist. My life's passion is defining healthiness from a human perspective and paralleling it to the holiness of God, divine perspective. Shifting perspectives creates a paradigm that is alongside of rather than over and against. The parakalein of God and the paradoxes of humanity are redefined. Humanity is all about winning and yet we are losing ground everywhere. Divinity is all about letting go of the desire to win and the fear of loss. The Divine embraces the world with loving care regardless of anything.

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What you don't want to see is how you grow

Posted by Don Paine

Perspective can be everything.

In I Corinthians 2 we read "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the mind of humanity what God has prepared for him".  I love thinking about all God has prepared for me in heaven and reviling in it but that is not the context of this verse.  The context implies that it is the reverse.

What we do not want to see and hear or even imagine is that what God has for us is suffering, frustration, grief, loss, pain, difficulties etc.   Why because they are part of life and God is with us helping us to grow and have insights we would never get without the suffering.  As C S Lewis once said, "Jesus suffered not so we would not have to suffer (that is what we want to think and see) but to teach us how to suffer".  How to grow thru the suffering when our eyes are on what we do not want to see and hold on to the faith that sees Jesus in the suffering.  I have learned this thru the suffering I have walked.

It is why the passage goes on to say if the rulers of that day knew this secret, "they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory".  Thankfully they did not know this secret.  So they caused Jesus to suffer and die thinking that would get ride of him only to discover that that emboldened the message and empowered our salvation.  Thanks be to God.

The secret:  "Christ (the divine Self) is in you and with you always.  The most in the difficult times.  Eyes on Jesus you will learn incredible things beyond what you can imagine.

Thanks be to God.

Liar, Lunatic or the Real Deal

Posted by Don Paine

Several years ago in an effort to represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the thinking world, CS Lewis posed the following:  Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic or who He claimed to be the son of God, the savior of humanity. CS Lewis posed that he was an ego maniac that believed and taught something that is just not true:  that Jesus was the Son of God and the only way to heaven, which would make him a lunatic, a crazy person self-deceived and deceiving of others.  Or what was worse is that he knew he was not the son of God but lied, presenting intentional untruths about himself and others to deceive.  Or Jesus was and is who he said he was and is, the Son of God, the Savior of humanity.

Here is CS Lewis reframed from a look at the Gospel in us as the church,  in a new and fresh way...

If I say I have compassion and sit in judgment condoning or condemning other communities of faith, I lie and do not the truth. I lie to myself, others, and to you while believing you are going to hell and being okay with that despite a little sadness.  Would that sadness be with me for all eternity and therefore interrupt the joy of eternity.  How sad that my theology about who Jesus is would create such a dilemma.  EIther I reject the Christ I love and embrace or I embrace the sadness that you will be in hell and I can do nothing about it just embrace that sadness forever.  How sad.  How unacceptable to the balance of love and peace to embrace sadness when there is a better way.  Either it is a lie that I care about you, or I am crazy to believe such a splitting Jesus, or Jesus is the the Son of God and Savior of humanity but in a very different way than I have though.

 Jesus is the only way to heaven, as heaven is governed by and promoter of the way of love and peace. Earth is about being governed by the alienation of opposite ideas, and beliefs.  It is either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic or the savior as I frame him.  That is ecclesiastically splitting, theologically exclusive, and antagonistic.

Jesus and the community of faith that embraces Jesus must give up the internal lie, "that we care about people". Even though they are going to hell we keep that to ourselves and live in love and peace with them.  That is lunacy and we are not lunatics.  We do not impose of belief in Jesus as the only way because we know it is not true but then we do not shift how we believe that that allows that truth to not sentence our loved ones and colleagues to hell while we pretentiously stand by apparently indifferent though saying we are filled with compassion and care and calm.  Rather with compassion, care and calm, we learn to shift our frame and not our belief.

Jesus is not the way (in an excluding way), nor is Jesus a way (as if the way of Jesus is just another way), the way is Jesus (the way is defined not as a particular ecclesiastical belief or theological postulate about Jesus that others must assent to, The Way is the way of love an peace regardless of loss or defeat, win or victory, sacrificing life itself only to embrace life beyond death, which is the message of Jesus resurrection).  All who live in love and peace are living in the way of Jesus even if they reject the theological and ecclesiastical Jesus they are going to heaven for they are living out the way of heave, teh way of Jesus and that living sacrifice is the essence of the gospel.

The gospel is good news for all for it is in all to live in "love and peace".  It is not a lie, and we are not lunatics, and Jesus is who he said he was in a new and refreshing way that fulfills his will not through ecclesiastics or theological antics but through reality living.  God's will, "that they may all be one".

I am either lying to you about my compassion for you or my sadness toward you if I am okay with your going to hell but say nothing to you about that

Lie to myself and say it is okay that u do not believe in Jesus because I do not really believe that all who do not believe in Jesus will go to hell.  He'll god will figure it out.  I just live the Gospel but do not use words.  How crazy.

Jesus is who he said he was is forever shall be, a person who in his person remains at peace/balance and with compassion/ love for all.  The way of Jesus is not a particular way defined by a particular
religious group, with words  The way of Jesus is a particular way of being and living that is beyond words.

This is the good news of the gospel. It dispels the religion of words, repels the way without God, and expels all that denies the truth that The Kingdom is Within and must be released from all restraints and constraints.  Free to be is the Gospel.  It is good news.www.peacecripplers.blogspot.com


Posted by Don Paine

I was preaching today on "imagination" and quoted John Lenin's hit song "Imagine".

The wonder and witness to love and peace is amazing in that song.  Imagine there's no heaven,  It is easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky, imagine all the people living for today.  Imagine, there are no countries, nothing to kill or die for, no religion too.  Imagine all the people living life in peace.

Sadness grips my soul as I read these words.  I sang them years ago but today I am different.  I am the same person but I think so differently.  Years ago I had a friend tell me that she would not be a Christian if it were not for heaven.  So maybe that is what John was thinking about.   Some people, good religious people, really believe that this life is just a pass through to the next life.   They see living for today in a negative way. They say they love their neighbors but they gossip about them and to them.  They do not sow peace but conflict by maintaing a position that the only way to peace is to believe the way they do. They do not get that the Lord's prayer suggests the we would bring the will of God in heaven to the way we live on earth.  "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".  Elsewhere Jesus said God's will is "that we all be one" even as he and the father are one.  Living life in love and peace, now.  Just imagine if people really did that.

This is why sadness gripped me.  John said for love and peace to be, there has to be no religion.  What is sad is that it is true that religion has fueled more wars, and conflict than any other singular cause when the teaching of the church is to foster love and peace.  Why the disparity, the inconsistency, and the antithesis?  I want to live in love and peace so that life is full of love and peace, and the world would be a better place for you and me and everyone else on the planet.

What if religion could lead the way by cultivating love and peace toward all people of faith regardless of anything.  Would the line change: "Imagine religion leading the way to peace (by setting aside their distinctive and different beliefs in favor of the common goal of), living in love and peace, with everyone."

Thank you John as you challenge the church to be the church.  The place where all are loved in peace regardless of anything is a sacred place.

Create sacred space for sacred peace and love everyone.  I rejoice to think that we can make this shift:  Love and peace nurtured in us and lived out toward others.  The word perfect is connected to two realities:  perfect peace and perfect love in Isaiah 26:3 and I John 4:8.

Peace on earth promotes good will toward all people which results in greater peace.

Wings of Power, Wait of Patience

Posted by Don Paine

The Robins, all three of them flew away, all that was left was an empty nest.
We watched each day as Mother Robin (nature) and Father Robin (time) worked together to nurture the strength in their wings to fly away and the strength in their character to wait for the right time.  This morning I mused about this lesson of nature.  I became a student.  I realized that the empty nest is focusing on what was and is without the balance of what is to be and what was.  Both the empty nest next step of growth are symbolically present.  When we as humans get caught up in the empty nest of loss we miss the wonder of gain.  The empty nest gives way to the expanding universe.

I had three children.  Their mother and I watched them grow and leave the nest.  Today they expand my universe.  One lives in the country and is happily married, with two children, and loves God and serves her neighbors, friends and family well. My wife and I  love to visit with them and expand out universe. One lives in New York City, a city we love for lots of reasons so we get to visit them and the city often.  They are happily married and serve their community, friends and family well.  One lives in Seoul, Korea, the country of her birth, where we have visited and experienced the kindness and goodness of that land.  She serves in the home of her birth as a volunteer at the orphanage she and her brother lived in, does art ministry among mom's and kids, like her years ago.  She and her son live and grow in that land of her birth because of her growth in the land of her nurturance.  In time she flew back to reclaim her dual homeland.  All three of them have added immensely to "expanding our universe".

So the Robins lastly taught me.  It is not about the empty nest.  It is about an ever expanding universe while respecting the nest that was, I embrace the wonder that will be.

The wings of power to fly away are strengthened by the wisdom of the weight of patience.  Power and patience provide the balance for respectfully living. At first I saw the weight at the center of the robin's torso.  Then I realized that the weight was actually in the wings.  A little weight guiding the impulse to fly away to soon or stay too long.  It was just enough weight to provide the right amount of wait.

So the robins continue to teach me.  Now that power to be must be balanced by the power to wait.  To fly away to achieve something not to avoid something.  To stay not to invite harm but to embrace fear and faith in balance for right living and loving.

The wings of power and the weight of patience crete the power for love and respect,  peace and responsibleness.  The empty nest and the expanding universe.

Footprints a New Version

Posted by Don Paine

Many people love the saying of "Footprints".  thousands have it in one way or another on their walls or in their hearts.  It is ubiquitous and uplifting.  It presents the idea that when I am in trouble GOd picks me up and carries me through that troubled time.  I do believe that happens sometimes.

When I went through my dark time of the soul.  I pleaded for God to rescue me, pick me up and carry me through but when I never felt God doing that I became more depressed, more isolated, more despairing.  Either God did not care for me or there was something wrong with me that God could not care for me.

After I came out of the darkness of despair into the a new perspective of presence, I rewrote the footprints saying in different words.

I was in a dark place, the valley of the shadow of death.  It was a place of darkness and light but at first all I could see is darkness.  I noticed that as I walked though the valley of the shadow of death, I was walking on  the sandy seashore of God's presence.  I  noticed there was only one set of footprints on the sandy shore.  Previously there were two sets of footprints mine and God's.  I had felt God with me, walking with me and talking with me.  God was alongside of me.  I loved those times.  They were great times.  But now why was I alone.  One set of footprints?

Then I heard God whisper to me.  Those were the times when life was so rough, things were so terrible, you lost sight of me.  I was inside you, not just alongside of you.  Hidden in the hurt and pain or your living I was there giving you strength from the inside out.  When you do not notice me I am the most present in you.

I realized that God had not rescued me to teach me of God's inner presence greatest when I feel alone.
I am never alone.  Sometimes I am carried through difficult times other times I am strengthened by the sense of God is in me regardless of anything that goes on outside of me.

Walk in love and peace and love and peace will be in you.  Nurture love and peace in you and you will walk in peace.

Footprints of peace help us to walk in love.

The Wonder of With

Posted by Don Paine

I watched out my window here in the Berkshires as the three robins born just several days ago continue to grow and develop their strength.

I noticed that the mother and father Robin are more away from the next than present.  They are at a distant very present.  In fact if we walk out on to our porch which we are sharing with them these days, they come at us.  Nature teaches us.

I began to think that as humans we attend to much to the every need of out children, stay close to protect them, and they become selfish but with out self strength.  The robin stays at a distance.  Sometimes when close seems to be ignoring the needs of the chirping little ones.  But they are not ignoring but training the little ones to be strong in themselves

I began to realize that this is the message of nature about God.  The creator rolled into creation this truth that began to role out to me.

The idea of "with" which we as humans associate with on my side and at my side, is not the "with" God has in mind.  Are you with me?  Means are you in agreement with me, on my side against someone or something.  So when we feel God is not present, that we are being ignored, that God does not care, it is because we have a human understanding of "with".  Like the Robin, God is with us at a distance, sometimes in with seems ignoring posture, sometimes in what feels like an uncaring position, sometimes in an up close and different personal position.  All positions are personal and caring just some do not feel that way.  When attending to our physical need of presence we think of God as in a feeding and nurturing position.  When God feels absent God is not absent.  God is attending to our social psychological and spiritual development in feeding and nurturing us with a sense of presence beyond what feels like presence.
The goal is to have us trust that God is with us always.  God is. God is Emmanuel.  God with us.  the I will be with you God of promise is "with" you always.  Promise.

In good times and in bad times, in times when you feel God's presence and in times when you don't,  God like the Momma and Papa Robin are there always.

"With: means with, without condition, without restriction, without an agenda, and without limits.  Regardless of anything God is with you.

The Feeling of Abandonment

Posted by Don Paine

"I feel all alone"

Many people in crowded cities and in large families, in isolated villages and small families say these all too common words.

When I fee all alone, it is an accurate statement of how I feel.  It is not an accurate statement of reality.

When Jesus hung on the cross he said,  "My God My God Why have you abandoned me".  It was how he felt.  He felt abandoned detached.  In our day many feel abandoned and detached.  Attachment disorders and  abandonment issues are rife.

I have heard the explanation of Jesus words above as:  God cannot look on sin so when God put our sin on his son he turned away, and Jesus experienced that as abandonment.  Really?  the God who created all things, who looks on all things, and is never seduced into anything.  God could not look at his son suffering or on sin without being engulfed in that sin?  Really?  So here is an alternative understanding of this from my life, experience, and understanding.  It may not be accurate but it is a true thought.

First, I am easily drawn into wrong thoughts because of blinders in me.  God not so much.  God looked on his son and the suffering and saw the work of redemption being done.  He hated what he was watching but did it out of love.  God did not abandon Jesus no matter what it felt like.  God loved the son through this valley of the shadow of death, God was with him!!!  In Psalm 22 which Jesus was quoting, the psalmist concludes with that reflection, "you did not leave me".  So here is the amazing truth for your soul today.  Regardless of how alone you feel and literally are in the physical plane of life, you are never alone in reality.  When Jesus said, "Lo I am with you always, even to the end", he was speaking accurate truth.  When you feel abandoned, it is a true feeling it is just not a true reality.  Reality check:  God never leaves you.  There are no qualifications to "Lo I am with you always"except the "to the end" part.  That is because "in the end there is no end" to God's presence.  we will know for all eternity what we sometimes question in the is reality:  God with us always.

Be comforted by the truth that you are not along for God is with you no matter what.  Whatever takes on a new meaning if we say, whatever God is there! Whatever!

The Secret Garden

Posted by Don Paine

Musing about the Garden of Eden I wondered what the curse is all about.  I had three children and there were times I was frustrated and mad at their behavior and choices.  Truth be told they were probably frustrated with some of mine.  I never wanted to curse them as I loved them.  I also did want to bless them and nurture them.  So why the apparent posture of God to put before humanity a blessing if they obey and a curse if they disobey.  It does not make sense.  We must have missed something.

As I mused about this I realized something.  If God was saying that when we do wrong our inner being knows it and we suffer from the wrong we do as an internal offense or curse.  The curse though is not a called down curse but an inherent curse.  If we choose to do good and sow good in the world we feel good and are blessed.  If we do wrong we feel wrong, we have wronged ourselves, and so we feel curse and we will do self-sabotaging things.  So when God puts before us a blessing when we obey, that means that we affirm our good nature and we feel good when we do good.  This is not doing good to feel good as that doe snot work.  It is being blessed as we do good, think good and even transform evil into good.  The secret curse is to lead us to grace.  The secret blessing is the love and peace that is inside regardless of anything but gets covered up by the self punitive part.  This is the curse and the blessing.

As someone said to me recently.  I knew it was wrong.  I did it anyway then I felt like I had to punish myself as I did not know the way of grace and blessing.

Another person said they knew they were bad and there was no good in them as they felt cursed, sentenced to a life without hope faith or love.  They felt cursed.  they were cursed by the internal critic, judge, and curser.  the purpose of that curse is to call them to look for inner grace peace and hope.  It is there no matter what.  This is the blessing.  Click on the cursor of blessing and the curse fades.

The real secret is that while we fear the curse of the internal curser, it is the pointer to internal hope and healing.

Tucked inside the fold of adversity and curse is the hidden veritas of life, the seed of hope, love faith they are the forever faithful friends.

No hope no faith no love.  Cursed.

Hidden in the oppressive reality of that truth, is the truth that you are loved and you are loving regardless of anything that you have done or you have had done to you;  regardless of anyone telling or treating you differently.

The original sin idea is real, oppressive, depressive, impressive of anything but hope.However it is only part of the story.  The original blessing, you created in the image of God with the essence of God in you, is the other half of the story.  It is all about faith hope and love.  They are internal and they are eternal.

That is the secret garden of eternal hope. faith and love.

4 Steps to Peace with God

Posted by Don Paine

Many years ago I served as Vice Chairman of a Billy Graham Crusade, earlier in another city as a member of the crusade task force.  One of the ongoing witness within evangelical faith is the pamphlet introduced by Billy Graham through a book with the same title:  Peace with God written in the 60's.  The pamphlet:  4 Steps to Peace with God led many people into a relationship with God that was of peace.  I dare not say that it was not an instrument of peace nor that it was or is wrong.  At the same time I recently imagined an updated version for the 21st century that was equally true, an effective instrument of peace, and more globally acceptable.

The Four Steps to Peace with God would embrace the same first step and expand it:

Step One:  God is love (compassion) and loves you and all people of earth without any condition or agenda.  God's love is in everyone and everything points to the God of love who is in, around, and above you.  Empty yourself of the human self and embrace the love in you for everyone regardless of anything.

Step Two:  God is Peace (calm)Step out of the controlling of people, events or things, or seeing God as in control and step into the peace of God that passes human understanding.  Give up trying to control life, events or people and find life most abundantly.

Step Three:  God is Spirit (courage) Step out of the focus on the physical world, trying to fix others or be fixed, into the wisdom of Spirit of love that believes all things, hopes all things, imagines all things working together for good and for the good of all.

Step Four:  God is Free (Creative) Step out of any agenda about any other person or for any other position.  Make no conditions regarding your loving or being loved and see God in everything and everyone.

These steps will lead to peace with God, from God, of God for all God's children and all God' creation.  Wisdom form above is first of all peaceable then kind.

Live in love, out of peace, into spirit and with creative freedom.  Let go and let God, you and everyone be.

The Secret

Posted by Don Paine

I watched a Robin warming her eggs on our deck.  She was brave, courageous, carefully carign for her three soon to be born children.

I began to think of how the creator watches over and warms us all with love and care though sometimes seems distant God is always watching form a distance.  God does not stay distant.  Even though we may think of God as distant God is both distant and up close at the same time.  God is under around and through, above and beyond while within and intimate, alongside of and in front of, behind and underneath, God is everywhere all the time regardless of anything.

Maybe this is the secret to know that as silent as God may seem God is always present all the time in and around everyone!

I enjoy when good things happen to me because they make me happy.

I learn to enjoy all things that happen to me and don't when I realize that good is not just a object or subject it is a verb.  It is what I do when I have the Spirit of God in me.  God turns all things that would be everything around for good.  (Romans 8:28)   Even though it may not be good, in kind, it can be good, in effect.  It is up to me to turn the perspective and prospective of good from assessing the event but by shifting my perception of the event.  It may not be good.   Good can be found and it can be transformed into good as I shift my view of it.

I do not believe God does things to me with a good purpose.  If I believe that then one day God sends me a good thing that I say is good the next day God sends something that I label bad.  God is teaching me to no label anything but simply name it then have control over it rather than it controlling me.  God doe snot purpose bad things to teach me a good lesson.  Bad things happen and if I have learned the lesson of goodness I see good, some good, it it for me and even for the world.

Have a good day keep the secret.

A Piano that makes good music

Posted by Don Paine

So often I have felt boxed in, restricted, constrained by a box that someone wanted to put me in or that I put myself in.

I have a part that remembers being "harnessed as a child".  AS I have worked with the memory and the pain of that memory I have learned that what felt like a harness of restraint was intentionally a harness of protection.  A shift in perspective changes the perception that changes the power of the image.

I was presenting a workshop on shifting from a point counter point focus of conflict that is counter productive to a counter balancing focus of conflict that is counter intuitive yet produces a shift in power.  Power becomes the power to understand and utilize while balancing out the power to demand and dominate.  An image came to my mind of a piano.  While still engaging the Q&A time of the presentation that went os well, I was internally musing about this image.  People are more important than internal musing and it is hard to stay focused.  The part of me that wanted to stay focused on the piano imagery stepped aside being assured that we will invite it back at a later time but that it was at present getting in the way  but that it had value and would be welcomed at a later time.  It and I relaxed into a calm place as I said to the group attending the workshop.  It is all about remaining in a peaceful place regarding not regardless of anything going on inside.  Trust me something was just going on inside my mind that threatened my staying focused on you.  It was intentionally disruptive but it was potentially disruptive.  I assured it of value and would return to it.  The key is if I do not then the parts learn to not trust me and I lose the sacred space of calmness.  I lose the sacred space of connections as well.

This morning as I was walking the image returned with clarity and creative reality.  The part was welcomed and the systems integrity sustained.  I saw all the tension and conflict in the world as the tension and conflict inside the piano.  It was a piano that I had seen earlier in the lobby of a hotel.  A stunningly impressive grand piano of ebony.  I began to see all the strings of the piano, some long some short, some very tight with tension some less.  The top of the piano was open allowing the tension to be seen yet contained, open to sacred space of observation and openness and in sacred space of containment and constriction.  then I realized that without the containment of the piano and the connection to the key board no music would be forth coming.  I also realized that without the tension inherent in the piano there would be no music.  With the balance of containment and tension was the key board to beautiful music that harmonizes in the soul and creates harmony in the universe.  Containment with contentment is great gain!

The intention of the creator of the piano was to provide containment, to harness the tension within so that music of living would be good to the listener and the learner.  What I learn is to let the tension be, let the conflict teach me to be in balance and harmony so music comes forth.  A cacophony at times and symphony at times but always music to and for and from the soul.

When we face conflict we often think it is about resolving the conflict which we try to do by "appreciative inquiry", by lively debate, by the power of words, by the power of strength over the other.  In all points it is about who gets to win.  The only point everyone gets is sharp hurt and pain that dissolves community and relationships and makes sour music.  When power is about winning or losing the strings in the piano start snapping, shift their tension, and create "un-tunement".  What if the atonement was to get back into a tuned in state: to welcome all tension and all parts without the need to win or lose but with the capacity to value and validate.  (I mused for another time: maybe atonement of Christ was not about making me one with Christ's sacrifice for me but being in tune withe the one who is peace within me) When we step out of the win lose paradigm of power over, we step into the power to be alongside with equal value to all parts.  The result is that rather than trying to resolve the conflict issue we dissolve the negative attention to the tension that is behind the conflict and invite intentionally to pay attention to the value of all parts within the piano of life.  Music comes forth and it is good.

As I was walking I became aware that I was in a calm place were music was filling my soul.  I thank ed the parts of me that trusted I would get back to them.  They thanked me for honoring them and not forgetting about them.  The system was in balance and harmony and I could feel it form deep within.

"Be the piano I made you to be" was the message and the song.

Life is Fragile, Love is faithful

Posted by Don Paine

I met a man today at SYNOD who reported many moments on the threshold of suicide.

17 years ago a baby was born.  Her mother was not married to the father at the time, though they did marry later and had other children.  they raised them in a loving Christian home..  I was pastoring a conservative evangelical church that had a group of deaconesses who dod not want a rose to be put on the altar as it seemed to them that such an action would condone sexual activity outside of marriage.
I choose as a pastor to confront this narrow mindedness and placed a rose on the altar and dedicated her to the Lord as well as her mother.  God's love looks beyond the condemnation and condoning that we as people get caught it.  God and our church celebrated life and love on that day.

I really do get that we can sometimes inadvertently and unintentionally condone things but condemning a child seems ludicrous and libelous.  God's love is greater than the condemning heart for God knows all and still loves (I John 3:20).

Not long ago,  I received word that this beautiful, promising, loved young woman took her own life.  I know nothing of the reasons for or the details of this act and I do not need to know to express the challenge to the church to love through the agony of suicide.   I know suicidal parts in all of us are the result of hurt and pain that we feel hopeless and helpless to overcome, in fact those feelings are actually overwhelming.  Two years ago when my brother died suddenly and my professional colleague both died suddenly I entered into a place of deep and dark despair in which I had a suicidal part that at times seemed overwhelming.  I know the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.  I, most importantly, know that God is the God of and for those who feel hopeless and helpless. God is love.

17 years later in a different way I stand up for her life and her love for and of God.  the God of love and grace has welcomed her into his glorious heaven because that is the nature of God to do.  "For I am persuaded that neither life nor death, not anything in this world or the next shall be able to separate me form the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord"(Romans 8:38-9).  I place a rose in my mind on her yet again.  Standing for a God of love and grace who wraps her and all of us in "arms of love"

Life is temporal but love is eternal.  Life is fragile but God's love is faithful.

That is independence day.  Free at first and free at last.

Thank You is pretty powerful

Posted by Don Paine

I recently received a simple, short thank you from Dr. Richard Naum of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center.  I was moved to say thank you back so here is the letter I sent him:

Thank you Richard Naum,

So I received your letter and felt like someone had been talking to you.  I am a preacher. You may sense this as you read.  I was preaching a series in a church in Westfeld MA when I used a letter from Memorial SLoan Kettering as a lead in illustration of my message.  Two duplicate letters of thank you form Fred's Team, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  The topic for the day was: things that I hate and what to do with them.

I said, "one thing I hate is that people cannot just say thank you they have to say thank you and ask for more, say thank you on their way to complaining, thank you and or thank you but etc.  I received this letter form MSKCC.  Some of you know I raise money for cancer research and some of you contributed.  I love this cause and have given to it for 18 years. They think that asking me for more money makes me feel appreciated!  It actually depreciates as it makes me feel I have not done enough.  Really!  Do they think that if they did not ask me for more I would stop giving.  Do they really think this form of manipulation will make me give more.  Do they not realize if they just said thank you, I would no doubt motivated internally by the  part that obviously is self motivated.  No one asked me to do this in the beginning because I was motivated to do  it as a thank you to Fred!!!!  Then I got a second exact same letter and I hate that even more.  When an organization sends duplicate mailings spending money unnecessarily that I have raised confidently that it will go to research not to waste.  Then I realized that I was letting my feelings of hatred control my behavior and so I opened the letter as I read the testimony included, I did not let hatred direct my response but set hatred aside not because it was wrong but because it was wrong to let hatred rule.  I endorsed my feelings without letting my feelings rule my behavior or process.  So because I was able to honor my felling but not let it control me, here is what I read:

Winston Churchill once said, "when you find yourself going through hell keep going".

Grete Waitz found herself in the hell of cancer which only those who have been there can imagine.  She also "imagined a world without cancer".  Thank you Grete."

So Richard, Thank you for a simple letter of thank you that asked for nothing.  I rejoined Fred's Team immediately.  I would have done so anyway but your simple and profound, just saying thank you was well received.

Thank you.

Don Paine

PS  Below please find a tribute I wrote to Grete and had forwarded to her family fyi:
When a failure is a success! A TRIBUTE TO THE RICH LIFE OF GRETE

Grete Waitz failed in her fight against cancer on Tuesday, April 19th.  She succeeded in living her life to the end in the way she lived.  She was a woman of valor, vision, and victory.  She did not fail at living she just failed at winning the battle against this horrible disease.  It was not about her lacking faith it was about the courage of her faith, the conviction of her mind, and the compassion of her heart.  These three qualities that are the essence of faith were in her in distinctive and distinguishing expressions.

What a failure.  He died.  Descended into Hell.  Jesus a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief, embraced death as a friendly passage way back home to heaven.  Death loses its sting and its apparent victory when we know that it is just a passage way not an enemy.

I met Grete in 1988 during the height of her career.  She supported along with Fred the idea of a “Worship Service for Runners by Runners”.  A unique experience, at the INGNYCMarathoin, “the race that is like none other”.  Grete was a woman like none other.

In 1992 she ran the New York City Marathon with Fred Lebow who at that time had been diagnosed with brain cancer and given months to live.  She wanted to run with him out of her love and compassion for the man who had put the victory crown on her head 9 previous years.  A fete never paralleled in the running world.  He knew and felt she had one more win in her.  The number 10 sounded better to him, no doubt this was his competitive and caring part of and for her.  She won this battle and ran with him.  I joined them for a mile or two in the Bronx.  She was helping her friend stay focused and her open heart for and with him was giving him courage and strength to finish the course.  He did they finished hands stretched high, in victory.

Grete had been willing to sacrifice her potential win for the wonder of the courage a compassionate heart can give to a friend. She did not count the number of winning New York City marathons as anything compared to her being a present friend in his struggle to beat cancer.  That was a winning moment in her life.

Grete herself said, “Fred really wanted me to win 10 New York City Marathons.  But I say that race with Fred makes up for the tenth I never won” (Boston Globe, April 20th, 2011, pB13.

When Fred died she mourned but celebrated that moment so special so eternal in her heart.  She became the first captain of Fred’s Team, a team of runners who run to raise money for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.  Six years ago she contracted the same disease that took her friend.  She lived and died with courage and compassion. These are the core elements of a spiritual person.  They are the core elements that we see in Jesus.  “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and so is now set down at the thrown of God.  The true victory is in living free of anything mattering more than “courage and compassion” for other human beings.  For Grete, that was true.  Fred was one special illustration of there inner truth and spirit.  She won a record 9 straight NYC Marathons.  Her greatest victory was finishing with her friend in an expression of what really counts.  Love for others and oneself in a balanced compassionate and courageous way.

She never did return to try for that 10th win.  Not because she could not have done it.

She wanted to honor the greatest victory of all her finishes, crossing the finish line with a friend.  The freedom to live in courage and compassion always triumphs over the imprisonment of competition and constraint.

“The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to freedom” the ultimate victory over death is knowing that death is a passageway into the eternal presence of eternal love and peace. Grete is there with Fred and many others.

She is, this Easter Sunday, a great illustration of what Jesus died to lead us into:  “living free from all that would constrain us, the extravagant loving” that he lived before us.  AS the apostle Peter said, “follow in His steps”.  Grete did.

She was and is free and alive because she lived free and alive, the way of Jesus.

This is not the Jesus of any particular theology or church, this is the living Jesus who is the living sacrifice and who calls us to live sacrificially.  Grete did and is!

Thank you Grete.

Grace be to your family and all those who knew and know you.

When I received word of her death I noticed I was wearing a bracelet from Fred’s Team and the Sloan Kettering Research Center.  I will continue to run as a part of Fred’s team. Maybe Fred’s Team should be renamed Fred and Grete’s Team, uniting two great winners as we imagine a world without cancer and filled with love and peace, uniting a man and a woman for one c=great cause that attacks all of us.

Running with courage and compassion.

Don Paine

24 year finisher of the INGNYC Marathon

A Balancing Note

Posted by Don Paine

I was out walking early this morning, a long time before dawn.  As I was walking in the dark along Bayshore Drive (the longest continual side work in the world) in Tampa, FL I inadvertently and obviously unintentionally stepped of the side walk and lost my balance.  I began to fall to the left was Tampa Bay to the right was a grassy field.  I chose right then was able to catch myself and not actually fall.

I had a thankful moment.  Then I had two reflective thoughts.  First, I recalled the scripture Psalm 37:24 "The Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm, though he stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand".  I thanked God for his presence.  I though what about the times I have fallen.  God was there in the fall and in the getting up, the fall was temporary. Another translation says: he may fall bu twill not be utterly cast down".  The second was how God made humanity with an internal balance system that swings into action as we are falling.  I had these strung together thoughts:  The body is a balanced system.  Things happen to us that through us off balance.  We then can right our balance system by simply acknowledging the balance system of our body.  The yoga in you, if you know yoga, may already know or clarify some of what dawned on me, namely:
I felt a sensation of truth of balance in the system as I pictured my body and felt the inner truth of the passing of strength of balance in the system form the top downward. First the head,
the mind is the center of peacefulness and calm thoughts, then into the chest where the breath is protected by the ribs of protection and so is the center of courage.  Then I traveled to the heart as the core of compassion, then to the reproductive organs the core of creativity.

These are the four elements that help us all to stay balanced internally and eternally:  Calm, courage, compassionate, and creative.  These are the core of humanity and they are in all of us.

As I righted my fall I was aware that God is there to help us to right ourselves as long as we release our fear and embrace our core values of calmness/peace, compassion/love, courage and creativity.  They are all in the center of the body.  Other parts of equal importance can pull, push, and prod while the core simply welcomes all parts regardless of anything.

Balance is the key to the system right itself from within where the wisdom of the Kingdom resides, inside.