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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A New lyric an Old Tune: People Who Need People

Posted by Don Paine

The other day I was driving and listened to a delightful recording of Barbara Streisand singing "people who need people are the luckiest people in the world".

While enjoying the song and her singing it, I simultaneously began to change the word, that is right just one word and felt it a duller and deeper expression of a truth of life.  It is not that I do not get what she is singing or saying or what the song writer, I think Burt Bacharach had in mind but it was another perspective, a shift, an alternating idea.

What if we sang it,

"People people who like people are the luckiest people in the world"

I am doing some substitute teaching in elementary school and have noticed what I think some research is validating that when teachers genuinely like their students the students are more students and are less a management problem.  When they do not like the student (even due to behavior that is not likeable) the student feels the "unlikeability sensation" which exacerbates the behavior problem.

When we genuinely like people is it because we like ourselves in a heathy way with all our falterings, failings, and feral like behaviors.

People who Like people are just Happy People inside and it flows outside.

John reminds us in his epistle that, "We love Because He first loved us"

So "Be Happy"
Be Liked
Be Liking of otherstreisand

An End and A Beginning

Posted by Don Paine

This is my last post on this site of parakalein.blogspot.com.  Parakalein is the Greek word for “being at the side of another, or called alongside of another.   There are season for one thing then another.  There are beginnings and endings.  One era gives way to a new era. 

I have a friend Mark Kelso www.muddyangels.com who wrote a song during a season of grief and loss that has a line in it that goes like this, “and in the end, we find out that there is not end”.  Perpetual growth, eternal life, and eternal peace and love are the ingredients of a harmonious and balanced world.

Like the one in Genesis 1:31 which when God looked at everything that he had made and how everything is in balance and harmony, he said ”it is very good”.

So look for me to blog about those things that are eternal, faith , hope and love and relationships which are the only thing that lasts forever.  These are my passions: understndign God, making sense our of nonsense, and seeing God present even in the dullest and sharpest of painful experiences.

So look for me at www.painespresence@wordpress.org or on twitter

@painespresence or at my website www.parakalein.org where you can arrange for coaching/counseling appointments consultations and speaking engagements.

Discipline Defined and Deliverd

Posted by Don Paine

I listened to AndyAndrews www.andyandrews.com at Influence & Impact Summit <michael@michaelhyatt.com> going on thru Oct 13th.

He stated that "Discipline was acting in a way regardless of how you feel to get or accomplish what you want to accomplish".

I was in church yesterday stockbridgeucc.org and heard a message from pastor Brent that focused on Psalm 22 which expresses the feelings inside of the human Jesus as he was dying on the cross.  He said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me".  While he knew the history and knew God was good he could make no earthly sense of this feeling of abandonment but he knew he had to honor it which is to speak honestly about it.  A couple of years ago a series of events happened in my life that had me feeling abandoned, hopeless, deserted and depressed.  I was looking at just one thing, my feelings.

In verse 23/4, a remarkable thing occurs which I think shifted Jesus form his feelings to the goal of accomplishing what he came to do: "to give his life a ransom for many" (more on that in a later blog).
V.23/4 "All of you that fear the Lord, praise him!...for He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of his own, neither has he his his face from him, but when he cried out he heard so my focus is to praise God".  He shifted his focus from what he was feeling which he had to honor to what he was disciplining himself to do, the task of giving himself so others might live and learn the secret of discipline.  He shifted to as Hebrews 12"2 tells us "the joy that was set before hime while enduring the cross its affliction and pain. I believe that on the cross in the afflcition and in the feeling of abandonment, Jesus shifted to the comfort of the much shorter but focused Psalm 23.  He literally said in the inner regions and from the vision of his soul to, Yeas I feel abandoned but what I KNOW is that "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, He leads me in my mind the choice central of my will to green pastures, still waters,...He restores my focus...though I walk through the valley of death and feel abandoned I know it is not true for the rod of their affliction gone bad turned to good and your staff the sign of the shepherds care, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me (so in between me and my enemies) in the presence of my enemies (death, Rome, Religious zealots, fearful deserters, quiet onlookers, people of helplessness and hopelessness)  my cup overflows surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever!  Now that is a shift.

I have learned the hard way that that shift from the feeling of loss, misunderstanding, abandonment, hopeless ness, helplessness are true feelings that need to be honored but they do not need to direct our lives.  We can shift.  God can help us to shift to focusing on the discipline of doing what God has called us to do regardless of anything we feel.

God is good.  And His Goodness transforms the not good into something good for us, in us and for the world.

Praising God is not an act ewe do because God needs our praise but because our praise shifts our focus form our feelings to the fact of God's eternal presence in the pain through the pain into any pain that comes turning it all with creative genius into goodness and mercy that follows us all the days of our living

Thanks be to God.

The Sacred and the Scared

Posted by Don Paine

I am enrolled in an online course with Michael Hyatt <michael@michaelhyatt.com> called:  "Influence and Impact Summit" which I am finding very helpful in my reengaging the world and my readers.  In fact yesterday one of the speakers said that engagement of people not advancement of career or revenue had to be number one.  It can's be to influence poor impact people so you get the notoriety, or make more money but to really help people because you really care.

Michael Hyatt blogged http://michaelhyatt.com/start-here
 to day that he had fearful parts that had negative gremlins, well he did not call them that but I am, that chewed away at his confidence but in the face of fear he went ahead.

So Iwant to blog what I have realized that has helped me to step back into the land of the living, from the island of fear.  "Fear is a place where we let Scared Parts rule, Faith is a place where the Sacred Place of Hope overshadows the Scared Place"  What a difference the position of a letter or a though makes in the choices we make.

Be bold, courageous and find that sacred space.  It is in you and all around you.  I have found that out so I know it is true.

Pay attention, It is better than defending oneself with lack of Intention

Posted by Don Paine

I was walking and thinking in the early morning hours when the air is fresh and so are thoughts.  I began to think about how I heard someone say a hurtful thing but knew they did not intend that hurt so mused as to why that would happen.  Why do we sometimes hurt the people we love.  It is not an intentional hurt but it hurts just the same, maybe deeper.

Context and  compassion must be interwoven.

During introductions at a training, I recalled that I would jokingly say, mostly out of nervousness, that I was schizophrenic as I lived and had an office in MA and NY.  Some laughed but I realized supposing someone in the room was struggling with a diagnosis of schizophrenia even a mild case they would not hear this as funny.  In fact it would be hurtful.

At the same time I recalled being in a relay race on Nantucket Island where each team had 5 members each doing 10-12 miles in the sand around the beautiful island that at times seemed like it would never end.  As I approached my relay member and passed off to him I saw a female runner throw up her hands in disgust that her relay partner was still not in sight and by the way you could see for two miles down the seacoast.  As I fell somewhat exhausted I said,  "You need to know men are just more responsible than women" every one laughed and she said, "You are absolutely right I am never being part of a woman's relay team again, ever!"

I do not think it is true and I do not think it would be funny in any other setting ing=fact it woudl probably be received with disdain.

You just have to know the context, your audience, and not be so self focused that you offend while attempting just to be funny.  It is not funny if it hurts anyone even if there is not intention to do so.

So I am learning to pay attention rather that fall back on lack of intention.

Genesis Musings

Posted by Don Paine

So What is the Knowledge of Good and Evil/Not Good/Bad and why did God place this tree in the "middle" of the garden.

I often muse about this so want to keep my musing to a short concise statement but I am tempted to give you all of my thoughts.  Too much is just hat too much.  So let me do what might seem an arrogant or egoistic thing that is speak as if I were God which I am not.

So I want you to know that I put the tree in the middle of the garden because always and for all time the temptation to reach for that which is self destructive is right in the middle of whatever you are going through, wherever you are walking wether in a garden or in a storm the temptation to be irrespective of limits, of other people, and /or of nature is omnipresent.  In any given situation people can act in a self centered "reach out and take whatever I want" without concern for the impact and effect on anyone else is rife.  The freedom of choice I gave to humanity had to include the freedom to use that freedom in a self destructive way.  When Adam and Eve, who please note from Genesis 3:8 were together while the whole internal and external discussion about this tree was going on.   The discussion was about its fruit, the pleasant taste and sight of it.  It included why I gave it, and why I gave a prohibition about it suggesting that my fear was that the day they ate of this tree they would be as God, as me, knowing Good and Evil.  Really?  How absurd!  Here is the partial truth veiling the real truth.  It is true, they became as God knowing good and evil (cf Genesis 3:22) but it is not true that they became as God.  It is one thing to know good and evil without the moral fiber to choose the good and reject the evil.  It is another thing to know good and evil and have the moral capacity to always choose the good, to always work all things together for good, to always be good in your heart toward the bad that people do in the world.  That in a word is, God!

So I put the tree there to help you to know that respect for limits is good and healthy, and disrespect of limits, of people, of anything that I have given is itself the nature of moving a good thing to a bad/evil/or not good status.

So enough musing for today!

Amazing Power of Music to Strengthen the soul

Posted by Don Paine

I was listening to NPR today and they had on a vignette of the amazing story of a 17 year old girl from Iraq who after loosing her parents to natural causes when she was 11 years old.  She spoke of a passion and belief that music settles and comforts the soul.  Since ISIS has taken much control of the region, She has been operating out of Glasgow, Scotland.  All rehearsal's are done thru the internet at this time but people are faithfully practicing their instruments hoping that they one day they will be together and perform a concert as the Youth Orchestra of Iraq.  They originally had planed to tour USA this fall but the movement of ISIS made the visa process impossible, so they wait.

Patience and passion helped her to see and have a vision of music helping give peace in the presence of way.

Read more below


Reflections of Pope Francis visit to America

Posted by Don Paine

I sat with a friend who was at Madison Square Garden to see her pope, Pope Francis.  A Pope of the People, for the People, and with the people.  In this he was really a "with us" representative of the God who is with us.  She was overtaken by his presence, not his holiness.  She saw his holiness and respected that but it was his presence that moved her along 18,000 others who gathered that day.

Moving days, powerful words, momentous issues accompanied the popes visit.  Of all that I heard him say one thing stands out, "Only when the strongest among us care for the weakest among us is God's will being done".  The way of the world is that the strongest or at least those in power, abuse, misuse, or neglect the weakest through exploitation, oppression, or suppression.  The way of the God of love, hope, and faith is the way of serving the weakest, nurturing strength in them, and building them up to the equality of peers. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life that people in oppression might walk the path to redemption, that is finding their place as loved members of the community of earth.

Maybe when Jesus said the first will be last and the last will be first was his way of saying there is ultimate equality of rights, opportunities, and responsibilities for all, to all.  Only when this is true will there be liberty and justice for all.

Thank you Pope Francis for visiting America and challenging us a the strongest nation on earth to lead with humility conferring dignity on all people.  The strongest religious body is called to do the same. Amen


A Symbol of Hope in the midst of Suffering

Posted by Don Paine

20 Years ago after 20 years of church life ministry the idea of parakalein and the symbol came The symbol presents and portrays the parakalein of God as over us in a loving presence nurturing growth.  We are like a seed planted with the intention of becoming a mighty oak tree of righteousness (Isaiah 61:1).  This happens through the transformation of ashes to beauty, of despair to hope and of mourning into light.  Hidden in the darkness of the shadows of life is the light (white) of the Cross.  Seeing the Cross as the hope and source of growth rather than the point and pain of suffering is the transforming work of the "Alongside of presence of God's Spirit in, around and through our lives. When you feel the most alone know that you are not alone for the "I will be With You God is with you right then".  It is God's mysterious and mystical presence in the pain of suffering. The goal of our suffering is not to create pain and perseveration but to invite us to shift perspective and surely persevere.  

painespresence.org will soon appear as a new blog on wordpress.org.  Watch for it, please!

Genesis 3 a Jewish perspective

Posted by Don Paine

A Rabbi shares a new perspective on Genesis three.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is about Good and not good.  The sense of good, not good, good enough and bad are looked at in the context of what the Christian community calls the fall from union with God. Is it a fall, a trip, a planned event?  I call it the "fall into grace" as prior to this event the communion with God was natural and daily.  Now the communion is because God shows up regardless of their behavior as he demonstrates the attributes of mercy and grace, hereto fore unnecessary.  Grace is the way of communion with God


In this video the Rabbi Fohrman offers a different perspective on this "falling" into sin.  The Christian doctrine of Original Sin is introduced in the Christians perspective of this event.  I call it the "fall into Grace" as this event opened the door to God's grace ding visible.  Prior to this their was no need of grace or ,mercy for God and humanity were at one in their communion.  But some thing changed.

The Rabbi saw the action of Eve and Adam as independent acts of defiance.  They were told to eat freely of all the trees in the garden but of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Not Good (Evil they were not to eat of for in the day they eat of it they will die.  The part of humanity that does not respect limits imposed on them even if they are for their own good.  They wanted to "masquerade as the master" and so they wore a mask not just over their face by a mask ver their nakedness, fig leaves.  A poorly devised and implemented plan that God in grace and mercy upgraded to animal skins.

The Rabbi related it to a parent giving gifts to a child,  The child is feeling loved by these many gifts so is laying with them with joy and happiness.  The parent wants the child to enjoy (the first positive command in the Torah- "enjoy"), but the parent also wants the child to be appreciative not in a simple or even necessary thank you but in how enjoying they are of the gift.  Being thankful is expressed in that joy. When it is not enough or when the child wants more it is seen is ungrateful and unsatisfied.  It leads to ignoring any prohibition as to get that need of affirmation.  I can have whatever I want.  This moves the child from health=y appreciation for what he has to unhealthy greed and avarice that is unsatisfied by the moor. :By showing the discipline of respecting the prohibition one shows the discipline and resolve to enjoy what God has given"

The tree was there so they could demonstrate their resolve to enjoy what God had given and not need or think they needed more.  It was not the fruit that was good, bad, evil or not good.  It was the choice to set aside focusing on that God has given and rather focus on the restriction or prohibition until defiance kicked in. Having failed at the discipline of enjoying what God had given them they lost their sense of innocence and purity.  It was their perspective that was contaminated and so it is our perspective that needs to be addressed as the "faulty perspective" not the "Fall into Sinfulness".  It could be thought of at the fall into the propensity to lose perspective then act in sinful ways that sin against ourselves not just others and God as did this first act of betrayal.  Indeed betrayal of trust to enjoy what God had given is a true betrayal and the seeds (not respecting limits) of all betrayal.

Thank you Rabbi for your perspective.  I will give mine, augmented by his, in a couple of days.

Thank you for reading.

The Loss of Power to Negativity, the Power of Postivity

Posted by Don Paine

G K Chesterton was once asked what is wrong with the world, his response was simple,
"I am"
Sincerely G.K. Chesterton

Why is it that we the word negativity in negating way but
 we use far less often the word "positivity"in a positive way.

People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?  -Thich Knat Hanh

While the disciples went off into negative judgment telling a group of people who were casting out demons in Jesus name to "Stop it" then proudly told Jesus what they had done, they got a surprise. Jesus said, "If they are not against us they are for us" 
-Mark 9;38-40

Why is there so much judgment in the world from Christians who know the truth?  I think because they have let there sense of they are right, create a lens of deception that results in mis perception and mis representation of the positive heart and life of Jesus.

The Grip of Fear

Posted by Don Paine

When I was afraid that I had lost everything and everyone important to me I could see nothing positive.

Grey skies were black.  Black skies were blacker.  Blue skies were all gone.  Truly it was not true but it was true in my mind.  Negativity negates everything positive in me.  That is how it felt as I slipped into a "cave of hopelessness".   When light shone into the cave I began to have hope even before I was ready to come out of the cave.  Hope began the work of life in me.

So why are we so negative when a positive approach is more help.  Why do we sing it "Accentuate the Positive, "Accentuate The Positive"

You've got to accentuate the positive
eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
But don't mess with mister in between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
have faith, a pandemonium
Libel to walk up on the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the Whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
just when everything looked so dark

They said we better
accentuate the positive
eliminate the negative
latch on to the affirmative
But don't mess with mister in between

[One more Time]

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
just when everything looked so dark
don't mess, don't mess, don't mess
with mister in between

Posted by Don Paine

The Pope is a powerful and personal leader of the church.  He challenged all people to put faith and works aheads of anything and everything else.  He challenged people to take down walls and open up windows.


An amazing day for all of us.   Imagine what we as earthlings could do if we united around faith and works without disenfranchising or devaluing the faith in all creation and all systems of theology and practicology.  Building bridges is far better than throwing bombing them.

All Good or all bad

Posted by Don Paine

Theorists of all kinds have speculated over the centuries about the total depravity or badness of humanity.  In books form Dante's Inferno to The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness by Eric Fromm to I am Okay You're Okay by Dr. Thomas Harris the gamete and the gauntlet are laid down.  Is human kind basically and fundamentally flawed or is humanity basically and fundamentally okay and left on its own creatively self organizing and self nurturing.  Is humanity basically good or evil.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a catalyst for another idea.  What seeds are you watering is his fundamental question.  So what if their was in all of us a seed of goodness and a seed badness, a fundamental core of healthiness and destructiveness, of seed of hope and despair.
I was recently overcome by a hopelessness and despairing inside of me that felt like a core but may just be a part, I am not sure.  I also over time began to feel a sense of hope, a seed of faith, an experience of loving.  It also did not feel like a part but at the very core of me.  I had been watering the seed of despair and depression and it had nearly taken over.  When I began to water the hope, faith and love in me I began to resolve to heal from the inside out.  There is an internal redeemer and that was joined by a sense of an external redeemer who was also helping me to see the water, that is living water springing up into everlasting life. 

I first met the attached video song in Internal Familysm Systems training with Dr. Richard Schwartz and Dr. Ralph Cohen but I understand it anew as that which is in all of us is a seed of hope, faith and love.
My interpretation via experience  but it is how I see it today!

The God of Covenant Keeping Grace and Truth

Posted by Don Paine

God created the World and he made a covenant with his creation to watch over it, to care for it, to be present for it regardless of what happened to the creation, what the created choose to do or not do, and regardless of anything, everything would be by design for balance and interfacing and interloping within the created order of things.  God has always keeps this covenant with Creation.

Later, God made a covenant with Melchizedek and established the order of Faith in perpetuating Faith, Life and Love in the world.

Later, God established a covenant with Abraham and Sarah, who paid tithes to Melchizedek, and his descendants through Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah/Rachel, the twelve tribes of Israel where the new covenant people.  This did not nullify the previous covenants with creation, Humanity, or Melchizedek, it simply established another covenant relationship underscoring that God is a God of Covenant making not covenant breaking.

In the Book of Malachi where God presents the case for Israel and about their perpetual and persistent disobedience and indifference to the God of Grace, Truth, and Covenant.  Go declared that he would turn his heart toward all his children, the original covenant with humanity, and reframe a covenant of grace and truth through the messiah, the anointed one.  He was anointed to model the very thing missing in Israel: Humility, Honor and Honesty.  Truth and Grace Honor and humility would lead him to the cross and provide a model for all followers to embrace that same road less traveled.  IN Malachi when God speaks about hating divorce it was his hatred of the hurt and pain and suffering brought about when a covenant relationship was broken.  At the same time it made it clear that no covenant is ever broken as a covenant is always in force.  When scripture in Mark 10 speaks about divorce and the casual nature of Mosaic teaching on Divorce.  Jesus responds that this was because of the hardness of Moses people hearts and that no covenant can be broken and that the children of the covenant as well as the wife need to be cared for as part of the duty of the covenant maker.  Our society has was governing child care and spousal support but this was not true in Jesus day.  Jesus was simply saying "honoring a covenant is serious business always and even if for adultery a divorce is permissible the responsibility to maintain the caring covenant is inherent in the covenant itself.

God never stops loving humanity, the Jewish nation, each one of us.  God choses a bride of covenant of grace.  The Hebrews knew a Covenant based on Law and Grace.The "time of the Gentiles" begins with Jesus earthly ministry but is catapulted into prominence trough the death and resurrection and the persecution to follow of the church.  God made a new covenant based on his sacrificial blood and broken body, that invited all those who were hungry or thirty to come and drink freely from the water of Christ that waters the seeds of faith in all people.
Again this New Covenant, symbolized in the communion service and meal did not make the previous covenants null and void but simply offered a new and more heart oriented transformative experience of God's grace for all who would be open to that experience.

The Apple Watch and Strong Leadership

Posted by Don Paine

Michael Hyatt recently posted that he was wrong.

This caught my attention because I think the quality of "courage to admit wrong" is an elusive concept in general current thinking about true or quality leadership.

As a "Patriots" fan I was glad when the judge overturned The Commissioner of Football's suspension of Brady of four games.  Roger Goodell made his determination and judgment which is his right and "his job" (to quote Bill Belichick) I disagreed but respected his position.  When the judges ruling came out a week before the opening game on Thursday night when the Superbowl champions are honored the seat that the commissioner usually would be in was empty.  A strong leader would have been there not needing to save face, appear discontent, or just act like a hurt puppy dog.  He would have been there saying he did his job and that was his judgment and the judge did his job and that was his judgment meant and that he respects the process and the determination  even though he disagrees with it.  He could have said he was wrong.  But as the above statement indicates he could be respectful and present without saying he was wrong if he had a mind to be present.

Mature strong leadership does not always have to be right or vindicated.  Mature strong leadership does have to always be honorable, have integrity, and be visible.

Hats off to Michael Hyatt!
He is enjoying his apple watch!

"Human Centricity" a guiding principle

Posted by Don Paine

Ken Segall in his book "Insanely Simple" raises the flag of the geniuses of simplicity.  Simplicity is marketable in our day of complexity and multiplicity in an empowering way.

He comments that Apple's sign process is guided by a principle called: "human-centric" focus.  In commenting on this Michael Hyatt says, "Beauty delights us.  That's why Apple's elegance invites engagements".  It stimulates more than looking at a watch it is using the watch to increase engagement in the human cosmos.

While he does not convince me to buy the Apple Watch which I have seen was a symbol of extravagance of living.  I do see the watch very differently.

Human-centricity coupled with inner-being (Thich Nhat Hanh) may be a better way to evaluate all we do and the way to peace in our world.

World Day of International Peace

Posted by Don Paine

Some argue that there is no point to peace rallies because there will be no peace until Jesus returns and sets up the New Jerusalem or literally: "The City of Shalom/Peace".

Interestingly that theInternational Day of Peace follows the Lectionary reading for yesterday of James 4:1-12  Where do wars come from do they not come from inside where ether is conflict.  All human conflict from the domestic dispute to World War II, come from the inability to resolve inside of people the conflict that is inherently based on a win lose orientation to life and a winner take all concept.  This fosters the internal conflict of I either kill you or you kill me, or either I rule you or you rule me.  There is little room for cooperative, collaborative and communion building.  Our desire to win and our fear of losing foster the hostility that is justified by the hostility in others.  Mutual hostility creates mutual destruction.  Mature respectfulness and responsibleness fosters dialogue and resolve to be "sowers of peace who reap righteousness" (James 3:18).

So to those avid religious people who believe they need not be engaged in peace work.  How do they square that up with the clear injection into our mainstream of thought and injunction to our mainstream of Jesus to be "peace makers", to "sow peace", and "God has called us to peace" etc.

So I do advocate for peace in the name of him who is peace.  I do not abdicate the peace calling because of the futility of people but I engage in it as the utility of the peace of God available to all, for all, and intentionally in all.

Peace be to All in the name of the one w=at whose birth the angels sang:

"Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth (as it is in heaven) Peace, Good will toward all humanity"

Slogan #2

Posted by Don Paine


R    1

-the people of earth

Here for the obvious is easy to miss.  Instead of working to be one, become one we are to affirm that while our behaviors and thoughts often contradict it the reality is the though we are all different we are all the same.

Slogan for Our Day - Take 1

Posted by Don Paine

Great T Shirt Slogan for the Non-Violence focus we need in our day and society|>

"With Malice Toward None,


With Charity Toward All"

Abraham Lincoln
March 5, 1865

Gaining Perspective of the Fears and Desires that are in us

Posted by Don Paine

A number of year ago I began training in Internal Family Systems a life shift therapy that invites people to see their internal world as made up of "Self" which the core element of compassion, courage, calmness, creativity, consistency, communion, clarity, etc. (notice the C words) and Parts which include God given parts in the system, and parts that are borne to help the system cope with life and trauma that threatens the system and causes the system to make shifts of it survival.  In some instances these are coping mechanisms and in other instances these become "defensive, protective, polarizing, and generally work against the system trusting the caring center or Self to be all the system needs to care for and settle down the fears and desire of these parts.  The fears keep people from risking in a good way "manager parts" but help to negotiate life in the world. The desires propel people into what is called "firefighter behaviors" that while the intention is to put the fire out they damage the trust in the system that the Self offers.

Recently when I went through a very difficult time of internal fears and doubts that left me depressed then more recently experienced a jettison of hypomania which I now see as the "desire to do it all now"m I became convinced that these are two sides of the real enemy of internal peace and sowing peace in all relationships as an act of righteousness (James 3:18).

Recognizing and distinguishing between multiple parts that hold hurt, wounds, trauma, love, care is the first order of business in attaining to healthy perspectives of all parts.  Listening to their story without fear of getting lost in the story and listening to the story without the desire for gain through impression others with the story invite the system into a peaceful place where Self in all its light helps lighten the burden of the part.

Opening parts to the experience of Self is part of the healing work.  When you are so depressed that you cannot see that no one can help you see that.  Somewhere deep inside is a seed of redemption that once "tapped" can spring forth into healing.  I have come to believe that their is a seed of redemption infall of us that needs to be "tripped". (The Biblical parallel: "You has he (God) quickened who were dead in your trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).  This is why redemption is both internal and external.  It is not external in that tit is done to you without your involvement but it is external in that their needs to happen in you something that ignites the spark of hope.

For me it was a moment of dusk perhaps figuratively how I was feeling:  like I was a the end of my days.  When i saw the picture below:

I received the message:  I am the God of Heaven and Earth, I am with you, it will be okay. So just look and see the reflection of my love for you and know bros that it will be okay, so please just trust me, you know how so just do what you know to do......

It took 16 days before I was writing my first blog and feeling more positive like I had something to offer so it was not instantaneous but their was a spark ignited in my soul.  Where Self meets parts they are welcomed and cared for in ways that lessen their burdens, restore their healthier versions, and give hope.

Fear of Loss Desire for gain "Reversing the Curse"

Posted by Don Paine

Traditional Worship often has the congregants sing the 
"Gloria Patri" which I suppose in our day should be the "Gloria Matri".  In it there is reference to "As it was in the beginning even now and ever shall be world with out end. Amen Amen!"  What is the endless or eternal or preexisting world of peace and tranquility.  It may be what Sigmund Freud reverend to as "the quiescence we return to when we die".  Whatever it is, it is free of fear and lust.  The Fear of loss and the Desire for gain are dual drivers of self-destruction.

There is nothing to fear except fear itself.  Fear is debilitating as it keeps us form faith hope and love. If we could step out of our fears and desires, we would change the whole dynamics of the system that keeps us enslaved.  When Adam and Eve ate the fruit they did not loss their appetite for food they lost their perfect communion with God.  The enemy of love and peace sowed an idea in the hearts of both Adam and Eve.  The idea was that they could not trust each other, they began to fear that they were missing out on something, they began to s=desire what tastes good rather than being good, kind, loving, compassionate, toward each other.  Their union had slipped from being based on their communion with each other and God to basing it on sharing the choice of excitement of taking something that is forbidden and doing so together.  Conspiring replaced inspiring.  The result they began to hide in fear (unreasonable as Go always came to visit them every morning and even the morning after their eating of the fruit God came into the Garden wondering where they were.  For God nothing had changed.  The God of love still loved in fact loved in a greater way that ever. They didn't have the words, "if I gain the whole world and lose my soul what value is that to me?" 

What would happen to the thirst for power over others, of wealth, and of superiority (gain)was transformed into the satisfying peaceful place of former days where all they knew was love and peace. The Spirit who was hovering over the waters kept the balance and harmony of all living things.  The Spirit is the natural self organizing principle of nature once the fear of loss and desire for game are set aside.  This is a willful choice on the part of the Wise One:  To set aside fear and embrace faith, and to set aside"Desire" and embrace Contentment or Peace.    By the same "gift of choice" or free will given to humanity and used to eat of the fruit of fear and desire, they used that same :fit of choice: to choose to set aside fear and set aside desire and seek First the Kingdom of God and its Righteousness! 

We would "reverse the curse".

9/11 "With Malice Toward None and Charity Toward All" let us bind up our wounds

Posted by Don Paine

I was on my way to meet a friend who had stuck with me in a supportive way during the last many months of my personable "funk".  I was very early and was reminiscing of days long passed when I spoke at the SUNY Campus at a Campus Ministry Meeting.  As I passed the Interfaith Chapel that was not even there those many years ago.  I noticed that the American Red Cross that is everywhere there is a disaster was holding a blood drive.  I figured I could give blood and still make my lunch meeting which was at his office and I was bringing a homemade Tuna, Apple, Cran-raisins,  Pasta, and Dill salad.

I met a few muslims who were there and who had t shirts that said:  "Love for all, Hatred for none" as a them for the American Red Cross asking people to put all differences aside and give blood which we all have and we call can give rather than in bloodshed and violence spilling blood.

I spoke at length to two of the leaders of the Muslim (from Pakistan) group who were trying to change the opinion of many based on the radical and fanatic contingency.  I commented that CHristianity had to distance themselves and even today distance ourselves from the more fanatical and exclusive branch that can over shadow true Christianity.  They commented I was the first Christian to be honest about that bing in our history.  I asked them if they wanted to know a little more American History and told them in case they did not guess I was a kind of history buff!

I proceeded, with their interest growing as I told the following story (it was not 100 % correct but mostly correct and I give it here as I gave it to them without correcting dates etc with more exactness as it was a bout connectivity nor correctness.

In Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address on March 5, 1865, following the hurt and pain of bloodshed on all sides of the civil war, and weeks before he was assassinated on the night that three assassination plots were simultaneously attempted but only one succeeded, and on the heals of the need for healing at all levels and in all sates of the still divided union as war never settles things, Abraham Lincoln the 16th president of the USA stead in his speech the following phrase: "With malice toward none, and Charity toward all" let us bind up our wounds and heal our land.  So similar to "Love toward all, hatred toward none".

They looked shocked.  I am not sure if they were shocked by the symmetry and the parallelism or shocked they coincidentally ran into someone who could tell them that.  They did say they would be giving this report to their leadership team in NYC and they may want to talk to me.  I gave them a business card and by then was ready to give blood which I did.

You guessed it, I missed lunch with my good friend but I did drop lunch off for him and with his secretaries helped put it in his refrigerator for later. We will reschedule for a later time.  He is a good friend and understanding, does not get angry or annoyed, when this things happen which is why he is a "good" friend.

A Five letter F word over rules a Four letter F word

Posted by Don Paine

I have come to believe that one version of the multiplicitous message of grace and truth that is the essence of the gospel could be:

The Whole word is in a funk, funked up, funked down
God wants to Un-funk the world by giving the gift of faith, hope and love.

Love un-funks the world through the power of relationship, hope un-funks the world by inviting people to look beyond the funk and not see what is all they see, and faith helps them to see what they otherwise cannot see.

Join me in inviting all those in a funk to let God un-funk them which sets us all free to be all that God intended us to be full of life, faith, hope and love to the glory of God and for the flow of goodness and kindness in intentional ways toward all regardless of anything.

In a Funk, Faith is the way out

Posted by Don Paine

People who have never been in a funk have no idea what they are missing.  It is a lonely place even though there are caring people around you.  It is like you cannot see or hear them which creates frustration for them and you.  For them in that they are trying to help without doing it for you.  For you it is frustrating in that you do not want to be treated like a new born who cannot do for themselves but at the same time you do not feel capable even though you are.

In some ways everyone has been in a negative funk at some time in their lives.  It is a hopeless helpless place even though you are neither helpless or hopeless you fell that way.

Winston Church said, "When you find your self going through hell keep going".  When you find yourself in a funk look up to the one who is the maker of heaven and earth and hear him say, "I am the maker of heaven and earth, it will be okay, It is not okay right now but trust me really trust me I will be with you and we will get through this as brothers in suffering. So man what is your problem that the maker of heaven and earth cannot help with, huh?  Those words came to me as I looked out into the setting sun, the dusk of delight in which God had this message.

In the twilight of the impending darkness of night is hidden a message of abiding delight
"I am with you always, even to the end of whatever is for at the end of what ever is, 
is the endless massage of God's loving hands that hold you 
 the same hands that formed and holds the world are the hands that formed and hold you.

The maker of heaven and Earth is the Parakalein of presence in all times for all times.


Posted by Don Paine

Faith has come to mean two things:

1) The particular faith I live in and believe in, like Christian, Catholic, Presbyterian, Non-Denominational, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu etc.  My faith community.

2) Faith as a way of living and being separate from any particular religious community of Faith though it may be expressed through one of those communities of faith but not in an egoistic, self inclusive, other excluding way.  This is the kind of faith that moves mountains that fill pot wholes, that establishes justice, assures tranquility, and provides for a spiritual not physical defensive system.

When Jesus said when I come will I find faith on the earth it was not the first sense but the second sense that he had in mind.  It was not when he comes will he find Catholics, Jews, Buddhists as if the community of faith are the issue.  It was will I find people living into and out of a faith orientation that sees what others do not see:  Ways to alleviate suffering, ways to help people grow in grace through suffering, ways to teach people how to minimize suffering by healthier care of oneself and of others ("Loving your neighbors as yourself").

This kind of faith is inclusive of many communities of faith.  This faith though the size of a mustard seed can grow into a community that is not based on anything but faith, the community of heaven where all is forgive, all is understood, no one is misunderstood, where no one is first or last but all are welcomes to the head of the class.  The class of people who have learned to live by faith and not by sight!

What doe stour faith monitor read today?

The Flavor of God's Favor

Posted by Don Paine

Mark's gospel presents the shortened version (as he is want to do) of the Syrian woman who broke through all the boxes of societal restrictions and introduced the idea of "faith" being the essence of God's favor.

It todays liturgical readings it was couples with James 2 that makes it clear that God has no favorites and despises favoritism as antithetical to the true Gospel of Justice not Judgment, Gospel of Liberation not Enslavement, and the Gospel of Peace not War.   

The All people are welcome to have equal importance in the Kingdom of God seems to be offset by the account of his woman being turned away by the disciples, then insulted as underserving by Jesus.  "Why do you being a women and not a Jew feel you are welcome to the Children's (God's favorite people: the Children of Israel) bread.  She turned what seem have heard as rude, even crude rejection into what it was and that is a clear message of the Gospel for all people to all people:  "You are welcome to the Table of God's Favor for in the communion table that first night of celebration there was a thief, a betrayer, a denier, several deserters, and a Prideful self-protective one, all inconsistent expressions of true Christianity but all welcome at the table of those begin rebuilt, restructured, renewed in body soul an d spirit.

This woman who does not even great a name is a testimony to all the nameless that God knows, welcomes and ,ives you because (James 2:12) "Mercy always triumphs over Judgement".

Her argument was not an argument that Jesus was mean, crudely calling her a dog, sending her away empty with no healing for her daughter, and not a good representative of a God of love, she embodied the gospel more than the children of the bread.   All she said was, "even the dogs getting to eat the scraps that fall from the master's table".  Jesus announced her faith honored God so God would honor it and her daughter was a healed straight away.

The Flavor of GOD'S FAVOR IS NOT Favoritism but "Faith".

All people are people on whom God places his favor, their are no favorites and their are no exclusions of this favor.  God's favor is the bread of grace and mercy and even the would be wild dogs of gentileville are equally invited to know and experience God's favor even as the "children of the Promise".

Apprenticeship and the Will of God

Posted by Don Paine

Many people talk about the will of God and seek the will of God as if it were a specific thing like: teaching, selling, plumbing etc. the proverbial idea of a call to a certain job or task.

The old fashion idea of apprenticeship is learning from another via close encounters, present observations, and minimal book education.  I would never argue against education as I think it plays a vital role in the social and life development of our culture/

Ellen Frank revived the idea of Atelier.  Atelier is French for "workshop"
"I think it brings back an intimacy of mentor ship and training where the apprentice...learns directly from the experienced artist." As the disciples learned at the feet of Jesus we are to learn our way of doing and our way of being through and in relationship with others which is why community is so vital.  Relationships are what used to channel life callings and God is clear that he has called all of us into relationships.  In fact whenever the Bible specifically and contextually talks about the will of God for humanity it is always in relational terms.  The will of God is that you give thanks for all things. (Ephesians 5, Colossians 3:I Thessalonians 5:18).  Thankfulness for for people is a quality that is God's will for us.  Be Fruitful and ,multiply is another person centers will of God.

"In everything give thanks for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you"

Gods will is not a static or stationary thing as he wants to have life and have it most abundantly.   That does mean God will give us a lot of money. Good experiences. I co 1:9 is one of the most misinterpreted scriptures because we lift the verse out of text and context and create a pretext for explaining its meaning.

God does not will one person to get cancer and another to be a missionary but he gives all life and as they experience life as it comes to him it unfolds like a strong bud into a summer frenzy of light.
God s will is more who do with who we are or what vocation or avocation we choose. Or what path we walk on.  It is more about how we walk and how often we pause to reflect on where and by what relationship is God opening a door to work that is both meaningful and profitable.

God's Will what is it How do I know it

Posted by Don Paine

Many think of God's will as related to who they marry, what kind of work they do, what college they should go to etc.  What if those are natural choices we make as life unfolds and they are simply that, "Choices".  God's will then could be relegated not exclusively but primarily to developing characteristics, like the fruit of the Spirit, like being thankful, about knowing God's presence even when God feels absent.  Then God's will would not be a static thing, or a particular thing with particulars attached to it but would be a dynamic concept of abundantly living life in peace, justice, mercy, kindness, goodness, faith, love, joy, patience, gentleness, and self control (cf Galatians 5:22-23

Gods will is not a static or stationary thing as he wants to have life and have it most abundantly.   That does mean God will give us a lot of money. Good experiences. 

God does not will one person to get cancer and another to be a missionary but he gives all life and as they experience life as it comes to him it unfolds like a sting bud into a summer frenzy of light.
God s will is more who do with who we are or what vocation or avocation we choose. Or what path we walk on how we walk and how often we pause to reflect

Be thankful in all things for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (Ephesians 5:20)
In everything give thanks for this is the WILL of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (I Thessalonians 5:18)
It is gods will that no one perish but that all come to the glorious light of the matchless grace that opens doors and lights pathways  (II Peter 3:9)
Jesus came not just to do God's will in the "particularly doing sense" But to do god's will in "the being sense" in fellowship with the God, whose will he came to do.

Be filled with the Spirit and you will know what the particular thing you are to do is as it will flow from your relationship with God and with others as a true apprenticeship is.

What gives Life Meaning by Victor Frankl

Posted by Don Paine

Victor Frankl
Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl (Boston:  beacon Press, 2006)

3 things give meaning to life
1) a project
2) a significant relationship
3) a redemptive view of suffering


Posted by Don Paine

Life is full of surprises
God call you to a specific thing, then you have a difficult journey to get there

God controls and orders all things yet bizarre events happen that to put the control over, allowance of, or direction on God, is to do God a disservice.  We create a God after our own imagining no after looking at nature and what makes sense.  We told the youth group we managed a few years ago to being any teaching of the church about God that seemed wrong (they actually liked the more overt phrase of: "sick and twisted" and we would work to explore what alternative teaching or thought might actually be not "sick and twisted" but "healthy and untwisted".

God's holiness of character and will are healthy and wholly defined by compassion (Jesus going to the cross), calmness (the sea of glass in Revelation), courage (the creation of the world then letting it spin out of control but remaining connected to sand involved in the life of earth and its inhabitants), collaboration (Working out our own salvation, knowing God is at work in us), cooperation (Living life to the fullness of enjoyment and purpose), and creative (always working all things to gather for goodness to come out of them no matter how devastating they may be" 

God loves surprises when we discover something that was there all the time because we slow down. God says it was there all the time.  No surprise to him unless we really do what he tells us is good for us then there is a good and Godly surprise

All Are Welcome: The Jesus Way, the Buddha Way, The ________ Way

Posted by Don Paine

Just about every religious group that I know, have visited or been part of over the last 50 years have a sign out front that says a number of versions of this statement:

All Are Welcome!
Everyone is Welcome!
There is A Welcome Here for You.

Why is it then that few people feel welcome.  I recall the first church I pastored in CT was located within half a mile of a University that was alive with students learners and seekers of truth.  When I asked the board at the interview what hey had down to make students feel welcome they respond,
"We chose this piece of property to build our church on so they would know we care and that they are welcome here".  To this day I find this surprisingly predictable.  Welcome is both a noun and a verb.  It is something I am and something I do.  When I suggested that we go on the campus with a epic presentation entitled "Cry 3" which was a creative multimedia production on three screens simultaneously showing pictures of "Despair, Fear and Hope", they agreed.  After the showing, we began a college ministry and within weeks had 20 students in attendance.  We went to where they were, gave them a sense that they were welcome her and that we cared in an active and proactive way, soon they were coming to church.  They came not because of the preaching or the church's identity but because they felt welcome.

I was recently on Cape Cod and a church there had cancelled their early service in favor of cheering on Bicyclists’ who were in the Pan Mass Challenge which  is the largest single charity fund raising event in the USA.  They raised nearly $50,000,000.00 dollars/funds for cancer research and treatment.

It reminded me that when I pastured a church in Albany NY several years ago we gave water to runners as the marathon course came by our churches front door.  One runner was so impressed that we were out there creating a sense of welcome that he actually came into a service the next week in sneakers and shorts and running shirt, to see if he would be welcomed.  He, though dressed differently than any other person in the church that day, felt welcome.

The IFS model provides a model for churches to become more serious about doing what they are saying.  In other words creating a sense of welcome for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, sociological-economic position, political posture, personal habits, sexual preferences, level of neatness, need to control, entitled or excluded, even regardless of faith orientation or the lack of it.  Imagine if regardless of anything people really felt welcome.  The principle of Welcoming all parts has helped me to help the United Church of Christ and its leadership to identify more and more ways in which by welcome here to fore excluded people who engage in certain excluding practices are now thankfully welcome.  The church is to be a place of inclusivity, of “judgment free zone” the essence of which is to welcome all parts.  Really!  To welcome them so that hey can in the presence of light and love be released form their burdens and freed to live life in the most abundant way.  Which are the words of Jesus, Rumi, Buddha etc.

In a unique way, I have become the IFS Guy at AAMFT Conferences, at Social Work Conferences, and Clergy groups, and at the New York City marathon where for the last 27 years I have led a Worship Service that is progressively designed particularly influenced in the last 10 years by the IFS “All are Welcome” model: into what Thich Nhat Hanh calls an “Interbeing-Interfaith Experience”  It began as a service "for runners by runners”. It was not the church doing something and asking the worshipper to fit into a mold or structure of Worship.  It was the Worshipper creating a mold and model into which he and she felt welcome.  One Worshipper lsat year commented on the welcoming nature, the connectivity of the service, and the energy of oneness:  "This is the way the church needs to be". Not done for them but by them. In Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Living Buddha, Living Christ" there is congruity of thought and teaching and a "We are one" orientation that is refreshing. This is the IFS Way and I think more and more the Jesus, the Buddha, the  _______, Way.

Jon Lennon wrote over 50 years ago, Imagine

The World Lennon imagined is a world we have the tools to help happen, the energy to assist in the happening, and the resources necessary for it to happen.

In the “Gloria Patri” sung in many a Christian Church in every Worship Service we have the words that point to the divine welcome of all parts and to the divine internal redemptive resources, energy and tools to assist it happening:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,
As it was in the beginning (All in balance, all in peace and harmony, all welcome and cared for) even now and ever shall be, World without end, Amen, Amen.

So shall it one day be, that, the Way it was in the beginning, will become the way it shall be. The only world that is “without end” is the world “with” balance, grace, truth, and redemption. It is the world where all are welcome.

A New 4 Spiritual Laws

Posted by Don Paine

4 spiritual laws are
1)  What goes up will come down the power of prayer to illuminate the mind and eliminate perceived obstacles,

2)   For every reaction there is an equal but opposites reaction
Be careful to not get caught up in convincing others, convicting others, compelling anyone or anything. With gentleness and kindness be compassionate and as much as possible live In peace with all people

3)  Balance and Counterbalance are the laws of the universe.

4)  As in science "everything" is present for a reason and there is a reason to be found in "everything".   Forgiveness and Faithfulness are 'F' words you can live with.

God and the mystery of control and the mastery of the need to control

A Blessing to You

Posted by Don Paine

Blessed are you o Lord our God Master of the universe for you have made us holy with your commandments and call us to wash our hands
Blessed are you o Lord our God  Master of the Universe for you bring forth bread from the earth

Blessed are you o Lord Our God Master of the Universe creator of all living things and their needs.   You have given to us everything we need to sustain the soul if every living being Blessed are you for you are the life of the world
You are the light in All People being born into this world

A World of Hostility Looks for Courageous Humility

Posted by Don Paine

Hostility and belligerence is seen every day
In classrooms in street corners guns have their say
While people in churches pray for peace in our world
People with anger plan terror to unfurl

A new found stability helps me to be more calm
A new found understanding of the fatigue of compassion
Helps me to be decrease my feeling of the sweaty palm
A new found perspective, steadily creates life passion

It  helps me to be full of compassion without Losing my footing
To be fully human, the goal, includes mistakes after all
To be more forgiving, the commitment to stand tall
Honesty and humility are partners with sorrow teaming

Winning the battle is less important than the war winning
In the end it is not who wins the argument that truly wins
It is the one with humility and honesty that is a true friend
The only thing that last forever is relationships after all

by Don Paine

It was an Orange not an Apple

Posted by Don Paine

I walked out of church with my good friend from old days.  Stepped into a cab that would bring me to the airport.

For the next 45 minutes we spoke truth into each others life.  It was not telling each other what we wanted each other to know.
It was about being together in a way that invited the story.  It was not about telling him a truth that I know that he needed to know.  
What I know is the truth that I know is only important to me and if I try to impose my truth rather than exposing my heart.
 I err in the practice the true practice of faith. Story telling is what we as human used to do because there was no knowledge written.
I wonder, as I write, if it would be a better world if we had no knowledge.  If we only had the inner wisdom of love and peace would this be a better world. 
 How can we learn to be willing to put all the knowledge aside and just be in peace and love with another human being.

I did that today in a small measure and a huge measure of wonder filled my soul.  I may never meet this man again but he added to my living and I want 
to believe I added to his.  How did it happen?  He was born in Ghana, Africa and was driving cabs in DC, I was born in Massachusetts a white anglo saxon.  
The wisdom of loving others as we know we want to be loved and being at peace with other each other stories from our lives that contributed to our living.

Our conversation began rather normally.  He asked me why I was in DC.  I explained I was at a conference presenting a workshop.  He asked on what?  I gave him a short capsule:  I was presenting on accepting all parts and all experiences of life as instructors in the course of living life.  Like Jesus who had welcomed all people regardless of anything and helped them achieve peace of heart regardless of anything they had ever done.  He asked for more details revealing that he was a Christian plagued by guilt for 40 years  We talked more about God's grace.  About how God wants us to look him in the eye and tell him what we did wrong and accept the and grow through the consequences.  We people let us off the hook they do not do us a favor for being let off the hook though gracious does not relieve us of guilt and shame.  I reviewed the Genesis 3 story.  I had a part that felt like I was giving him too much stuff but another part of me saw his attentiveness. He nearly stopped the can tuned around and told me that I had just helped him to understand something that he had never understood before  He asked me if he could tell me a story that he had been plagued with since his youth an to this day feels guilty about.

We spoke to each other not out of judgement but out of open heartedness.  I had come from a conmference where I had spoken about things I think are so
important for people to know.  But my "know it part" has learned that it is not as importnatn as it thinks it is.  It is not my knowledge that people need it is the
authentic experience of authentic presence. It is "with" and "in" an openhearted way that we spoke.  We talked about lots of things  and eventually got to speaking about deeper things.  

I am temtped here to tell you the reader things about our conversstation as if you need to know them or I need to tell them.  But it is not about me, nor is it about needs,
It is about divine energy of being present without agenda and with no conditions then letting the moment create itself.  It did.  

So here is one story that came to me in a fresh way due to his story which he chose to share with me.  I told him I would see that story because it was better to make
the point I had than anything I had so he had improved me and my clarity of the compassionate message I want to bring to the world.  Not the world at large.  
But it is the small world of my human existence.  People like Larbi who I meet on my journey are most important. Everyone likes people coming to hear them speak at a workshop but that is incidental to these providential meetings.  It is not people who come to hear me or even who read this blog.  It is People connecting with people with stories, that is what living is energized by.

Larbi told me that at 16 he cut down a neighbors orange tree becasue it had one big juicy orange on it and he wanted that orange.  Inside of him he knew it was wrong.  41 years later he still knows it was wrong.  His father made him go to the person and look him in the eye and tell him that he knew it was wrong but did it anyway.  He was just hungry.
He just wanted the orange but it was wrong to cut the tree down.  He acted without thought for anyone else but his own appetite and need.
The owner of the orange tree told him it was okay as the tree was old and had only one orange on it.   A part of me wanted to scream because saying it is okay when it is not okay contributes to confusion.  It was true that for the owner it was not a big deal but that does not make it okay.  This is where the social system while intending to be gracious becomes confusing and chaotic.

The system of the world only works when there is balance of all truths and balance only works when all parts of the truth are spoken with equity and equanimity.  
It dawned on me that this cab drive just gave me the perfect illustration to make a point that God had introduced me to.  I asked him if i could use it and told him that
it was better that the story I had used to make my point.  He looked at me with curiosity and asked me to tell what it was that I was teaching.   I had by listening to him,
valuing his story earned the right to speak a truth.  ANother truth became clear through this experience. We cannot just tell people truths that we want them to know we need to be invited by our authentic presence in to
the opportunity to speak of truth.  Even then I was careful to speak the truth, that was in me, not as the truth but as a truth.  In the multiplicity of truth there is a greater truth.   This is not relative truths but truths from different [perspectives and perceptions that form different conclusions. This keeps the welcome door always open,  to a part in another person that wants to say no or yes or let me think about it, to anything I say.

So here is the teaching as a story:

When God came into the garden of Eden the day after Adam and Eve had sinned.  Nothing had changed in God.  They (an inclusive way of referring to the male vs female imaging of God - God is not maternal or paternal God is eternal and supernal) that is  came into the garden that day the same way they came in every preceding day.  The only change was in the mind and heart of Adam and Eve.  They were in hiding.  Were about to step over the threshold of peace and love into the world of blame and shame.  No one told them this.  They felt it inside because they knew inside that they had done something against themselves and the blessing of life as god had prepared for them.  They went into hiding because they could not face the God who they had disappointed and inside they had sinned against their own existence.
What died that day was their natural sense of peace and love for all God had given.  The original blessing was still there.  It was not lost.  What was lost was the capacity to see it clearly.  As an injured part that felt shame and to defend itself resorted to blaming someone else.  Thank fully God was above all that and still is.

Larbi told me the following story.  As a 16 year old he cut down an orange tree because he wanted an orange.  He knew it was wrong , no one needed to tell himit was wrong.  He did it because it looked good to eat and he knew that it would be good to eat.  What was wrong was that he cut the tree down to get the orange.  What was not wrong was his desire to eat, to be nourished.  It was a seed bearing fruit so had all the seed of God in it but also the seed of human desire and human fear.  What was wrong was the 16 year old boys willingness to risk wrong but not willing to face the eyes of those he had offended.  He wanted to hide, deny, protect rather than admit, be responsible and respectful. 

When people do wrong they know inside that they have done wrong what they do not know is how to come clean, accept their offending part and with compassion and kindness shift the focus form judgement against the behavior and punishment for the behavior but present a loving acceptance toward the person nurturing the experience of being loved and cared for rather than judged and punished.  AS John spoke: "perfect loving cast out all fear".

Larbi knew he had been wrong but he needed his father to force him to look at his part that did this, and at the person who he did it against.  In both instances the loving caring presence that transforms the conflict of judgment into the compassion of acceptance was present.  What was missing was the consequence for his behavior.  He did not want to get off scott free.  Or rather a part of him while glad for the immediate forgiveness knew it was wrong and the owner telling him that it was okay was not right.  As my mother used to say, "two wrongs do not make a right".  I was careful here and told him that it was not that he needed to be punished.  Punishment does not help.  Neither does just forgive it.  He needed to welcome this grieving guilty part and let it know it was right to look in to the eye of the one he offended and tell him he was sorry.  Then when the owner of the orange tree said it was okay, he needed to say no it is not, let me work on your farm for a day to show you that I accept my responsibility and accountability for wrong.  Just being forgiven is a mistake we often make.  It is when you forgive yourself for what you did that you are set free.  He looked at me as if a weight had dropped off  his shoulders.  I nervously asked him to stay focused on the road.  I will not take from God forgiveness that does not contain accountability and consequences.  Truth and grace are  both necessary for true freedom to be experienced. 

Imagine what would have happened if Adam and Eve after plucking the orange off the tree and eating it, choose to stay in the garden sitting on the bench and when God came into the garden they said:  "Oh God are we glad to see you.  We know we did something wrong in defiance of your standard but we knew you would not be angry or punish us but be present with us, to come alongside of us, to help us to figure out what we do now came into the Garden.  What caused Adam and Eve to go into hiding was their shame, their blaming of each other, and their guilt.  God came into the garden that day in the same way that God did every other day.  With loving presence God came into the garden with compassion and calmness.  It was the inability to look in the eyes of God and be honest and humble.

Larbi thanked me for helping him to get free of a 40 year burden.  I thanked him for giving me a story that makes it all fit together.  It was not an apple.  Apples do not grow in that climate, oranges do.  Oranges are peeled to get to the juice, the truth and to the seeds of life.  We had done that together.  I thank my friend as well who challenged me to not "do mu plan" but be open to another way.  Little did I know God was in that way.