Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What do you really believe?

"What is it you REALLY believe?" a friend asked in her weekly e-mail. She posted the question two days ago and I am still pondering the thought. What does it mean to believe? Does belief come from within oneself, or from others? Does belief exclude doubt or does it include the choice to believe despite doubt?

Then there is that question of "Really." For me, "really" places the responsibility for belief on my shoulders. But does "really" exclude the acceptance of belief received from others and accepted as true. Does "really" require that we start from scratch to determine what it is we believe.

Are any of our thoughts really our own? Think of it, from the time you are a child, others are telling you what is true, what is right. They even tell you who you are, or who you ought to be. But, do you know who you "really" are?

Truth is, I'm not sure who I am but I'm trying to find out. And this partially "found" person can say right now, based on my own experience and on the experience gleaned from others and tested against this experience that I believe:

In gratitude. That Life is gift. That all that happens within Life is gift. That gift includes that which we might label good and/or bad because both are part of the journey toward Self-discovery. Self-discovery is good. Self-discovery means openness to Life and Life is that divine creative force I call God.

My friend sends me weekly questions like these. They are called "On the Waterline." If you are interested in receiving such questions just send an e-mail to mhyatt@boreal.org.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The self of fog and sun

We biked into the fog this morning and rode home in bright sunlight and I was reminded that just as fog does not negate the sun, neither does doubt and uncertainty obliterate our power to find the light. The sun keeps shining whether concealed behind clouds or hidden on the other side of the earth. To move ahead despite our doubts is to find the answer that was always ours.

These geese were hidden within the fog on Lake Superior one morning. When the fog lifted there they were -- not just one goose but a whole gaggle of them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Color of Good and Evil

Remember the days when color consultants popped up like mushrooms throughout the nation to coordinate skin tone for wardrobe and makeup. These Color-Me-Beautiful consultants analyzed clients’ skin as being spring-, summer-, winter-, or fall–toned. Don’t remember? Well I do. I fell for that fad and went for my own analysis (Fall, in case you’re curious).

This morning while reading the Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, I was reminded of that Color Me Beautiful analysis when I came across a story adapted from Anthony De Mello’s Song of the Bird.

“A preacher put this question to a class of children. “If all the good people in the word were red and all the bad people were green, what color would you be?
Little Linda Jean thought mightily for a moment. The her face brightened as she replied: “Reverend, I’d be streaky.”

“Streaky.” Isn’t that a wonderful description of being human? Linda Jean knew she was neither all good nor all bad but was a mixture of both good and bad.

Despite the fact that we all play host to a similar combination of good and bad we seem more inclined to view things as "either/or."

For some reason, judging someone (something or some nation) as bad seems the more dangerous. Substitute “evil” for bad and we make seeing “good” almost impossible. We had the perfect example of such blinding to goodness the day President Bush slapped the term “axis of evil” onto Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

Though we can be incredibly hard on ourselves, we are not quite so tough on the people we’ve already judged as good. When we see evil within them, we make excuses. They are only human we say.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of being streaky.

About Me

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Beryl is the author of The Scent of God: A Memoir published by Counterpoint NY in 2006 and A View of the Lake published by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. in 2001. She’s been living on Lake Superior for seventeen wonderful years, and spent 10 years writing two popular columns for the Cook County News Herald: Newcomer Notes and Putting Down Roots. Beryl is past president of the Schroeder Area Historical Society and a long-time chair of its Oral History and Marketing committees. She is a past board member of the Violence Prevention Center in Grand Marais and committee member for the Grand Marais Art Colony’s first ever annual North Shore Reader and Writers Festival. She’s been published in the Sun Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Lake Superior Magazine, and The Trenton Times and in the anthologies, Surviving Ophelia published by Perseus Publications in 2001 and The New Writer's Handbook, Vol. 2, published by Scarletta Press in 2008 and was named Best of Minnesota Writers by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on her third memoir: the sequel to The Scent of God.