Offering Grace Before Eating

I was raised on a farm in Saskatchewan in a religious, Lutheran environment where it was Law One to offer grace before you even dared put any food or drink to your lips at mealtime.

 

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“Why do we have to thank God for our food?” I remember asking of my mother. After all, living on a small, mixed farm where we raised our own animals, grew our own grains that we consumed, why thank God for what we ate? In fact, I felt that if anyone deserved thanks for providing all the healthy and nutritious food, it should be my Dad, and my Mother for preparing it in a delicious manner that made it so fun to eat.

“Did Dad make the cow that offered her life so that you can enjoy roast beef you’re now eating?” my Mother asked as she poured a generous amount of beef gravy on my potatoes. “Who provides the rain that makes the potatoes and carrots grow? And even more important, who designed our earth with such perfection and beauty that makes it possible for us to live in abundance and health that we enjoy?”

“Hmm!” Well, that gave me something to think about … “But it was Dad—and, well—I—yes, even I helped in butchering the cow to prepare the meat, and I helped dig up the potatoes and carrots so that we’ll always have plenty to eat.” I countered. I still wasn’t fully satisfied with Mom’s answer as to why we should thank God when we, ourselves, did so much of the work in preparing our own food.

“Well, not all of the world is as beautiful as our farm is,” I thought I had her cornered on this one. “There are a lot of places on earth that are desert where nothing grows, and thousands of people have little or nothing to eat—some even starve to death! What about them? Should they thank God for having nothing?”

“O.k., time for some scripture study!” my Dad playfully poked his finger against my forehead. “Get your scriptures, and turn to Matthew, Chapter 25 and read, what’s called, The Parable of the Talents, and I want you to pay special attention to the servant who had been given the one talent.”

I started reading. “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents—”

“Never mind that verse,” Dad interjected. “Read the next verse.”

“Why?” I protested. “Sounds to me it’s what an angry God would do to someone He didn’t like, like the guy with only one talent. Punish him!”

“Read the next verse,” Dad repeated, not making a comment on my thought. “and see why God took that one talent from the man.”

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” That verse didn’t make sense to me at all! I still say it sounds like what a mean God would do—”

“There’s a word missing in that verse. I want you to read—and remember from now on—to read that verse by including that one missing word.” Dad read this time, “For unto every one that hath Gratitude [it] shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not Gratitude,[it] shall be taken away even that which he hath.

In that light, I suddenly I understood!  “You mean, because we say Grace at every meal, God gives us even more than we need? And the people who are starving, because they never bothered to give thanks, have nothing?”

Dad skewed his face, as if he didn’t quite agree with me. “In a few cases, this may be true. “But, most often, when we see poverty, it’s God’s way of allowing us, who live in abundance, to develop compassion in our hearts. And, since we’ve been given more than we need, we share that abundance with those who have not. Therefore, we can usually  be assured of having lots.”

I sighed. I’ll sure be glad when I grow up so that I can be as smart as my Dad and Mom. I still don’t fully understand this thing about gratitude—but then, I guess, that’s why we have the old saying, “live and learn.” That sure applies to me.

“Besides, it’s a grateful heart that is willing to share without hesitance,” my Mother continued, removing the empty dinner plate from in front of me and replacing it with a slice of warm apple pie—by the way, I’d like to add, apples that I, myself, picked from  our own apple tree in our back yard.

“That’s what’s so wrong in the world today,” Mother finished.  “People are greedy and angry and give no forethought as to the many things we should be grateful for. And, far too often, the more they complain, the worse it gets for them.”

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”   Zig Ziglar

 

 

Living a Meaningful Life

Some people die at age 25 but aren’t buried until they’re 75” –Benjamin Franklin

Destination: Earth!
Destination: Earth!

If you’re married and have small children, I know you’ve heard them complain, “Dad, I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!”

I can understand such feelings and comments coming from young children. After all, they’re still quite new to life on earth and depend heavily on their parents for almost everything, including instilling meaning and purpose into their lives, but it really is the problem when you hear adults complain that life is boring?

For me, even as a kid, I was seldom bored. My whole life has been an exciting adventure! I’m a senior-senior now, and know that soon it will be time for me to “return home.” But I’ll go with satisfaction, with no regrets or remorse, knowing that I’ve lived my life to the maximum without malice or harm to any of God’s creatures, including man.

I am blessed with a great imagination—maybe that’s why I love the craft of writing: writing allows me to creatively visit exotic places and do exotic things that normal finances or physical ability wouldn’t allow me to do. I’ve always been that way. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.”

Sometimes, in my more serious moments, I wonder, “Why am I hear? Is there a purpose to my life?” In order to find an answer, I have to go back to the beginning … way back … pre-earth beginning. In my mind I envision myself being bored, living somewhere in the spirit world: a place we call home. My problem in this ‘home’ is, I’m bored, doing nothing all day but float around on clouds—at least, that’s how many of us envision life at ‘home’—or also referred to as heaven! To overcome my boredom, I visit my favorite spiritual Travel Agency. Actually, I suspect this guy’s my Soul, assigned to me as a Nanny by The Boss, while I playfully, and even irresponsibly, wander through creation until maturity. My Nanny can be a little blunt and abrupt at times, but then, there are times when my actions deserve such treatment. After all, I’m not the easiest guy in the world to get along with.

“I want to go on another holiday,” I tell my Soul. “A nice holiday this time, not like that plaque infested, volcanic lump of hot sand you sent me to last time!”

“Serves you right for being so egotistic and hot-headed! Hope you learned some manners while there,” he smirks, then takes me to his massive, almost endless vault of tourist and holiday files and pauses at the shelf titled “Best Spots” and begins searching … and searching … endless searching. I become impatient.

“Why don’t you digitize all these files?” I ask. “It would be a lot easier for you to find things.”

He doesn’t reply, but keeps searching. Finally, he stops, points his scrawny little index finger to some sparsely populated area on the outer fringe of the galaxy.

“There! Earth!” He exclaims. “Best planet in this galaxy, where I only send my best friends!”

“And I only want to be born to the best parents!” I demand another condition. “Not like that three-eyed toad with the long nose you ported me through on Java-Hava-Ho way back when I was still young and more trusting.”

At that remark, my soul laughs hysterically. I never heard him laugh that hard before.

“You think that was funny?” I got a little peeved. “I nearly committed suicide over that prank of yours!

“O.k., o.k., I admit, that was a bit of a joke I played on you that time,” he wipes the tears of laughter from his eyes. “But you shouldn’t be so gullible and think for yourself once in a while instead of having me do all your thinking for you.” Being satisfied that he found the best place for me, he closes the near endless rows of tourist information points and turns to me.

“Tell you what. To make up for it, I’ll port you through the best, most decent parents available on earth during this cycle.”

“Well … it better be good this time!” I hesitantly agree, pouting a little to show my disfavor for having ported me to some of those previous, more nasty places. “When do I leave?”

“You have to wait nine months. You can’t go sooner because you first have to make a few adjustments to your personality. Not my fault you still have problems with women!”

Nine months!” I exclaim. “I’ll get all mouldy if I have to live in those damp clouds for that long—”

“Nine months, no sooner!” my Soul insists. “Boss’s orders! Just because your royal stock doesn’t mean you can just go traipsing, willy-nilly, through the universe having a jolly old time without also learning a few things—and maturing in the process. You know you’re going to be a god yourself some day, so you better start taking that role seriously, and I’m offering you a chance, while on earth, to become more serious.”

“Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  –  Scott Adams

Well, that wasn’t exactly a word-for-word conversation that I had with my Soul on that fateful day when plans were made to port me through to earth for another interesting holiday, but you get the idea that my time here has been, as I said earlier, quite an adventurous holiday! I’d sort of like to stay here a few more years, but I don’t know exactly when my “school year” will be over. My Soul—Nanny—wouldn’t reveal that info to me. “Depends on how well you behave yourself,” is all he muttered then pretended to dismiss me by turning his back to me. But I hope you get the idea from all this talk that, for all of us, much of our time on earth has been pre-planned, and we, ourselves, had a lot to say under what conditions we’d come here. I like to think of it like entering school here on earth. The School Board, your teacher, and all others involved in your education (angels, spirit guides) have a loving, pre-planned course laid out for you. It’s all to your best interest. However, how well you do, depends on you, personally!

Our time on earth can be a nightmare, or it can be an adventurous holiday like mine has been so far. Because of our royal status, we do, individually, have a lot of say if we wish to learn and mature or not. That’s always a choice open to us! I would just like to offer a final remember: we are of royal blood, and predestined to co-rule with our Father and Mother in an Infinite Universe.

Don’t screw it up!

Can Do

“You may not be the CEO of a large company, but you are the CEO of your life.” — Jon Taffer

It’s not just a recent thought with me, but ever since I was adult enough to really take note that society consisted of rich and poor people and, of course, a wide range of what one would call rich or poor in between.

Why were some guys forever unemployed while others rarely had the need to visit an employment office? And, of course, the in-between that I mentioned above. Some become great successes at their jobs, while others barely managed to keep their bills paid.

All of us can point to someone in our life and say, “Yes, I know him. We’re friends. He’s rich,” you emphasis. You secretly envy him and wish that you were as successful as he is.

So, why aren’t you as successful?

That question immediately brings up reasons for failure or success. Failure reasons might include, “I never had the opportunity to be a success like my brother had!”

“He was the oldest in the family, and my parents doted more on him than on me!”

“It’s easier for men to get ahead in the business world than for a woman!”

“I’m not as brainy as he is!”

… ad nauseum.

You’ll notice that the blame for failure is, in all cases, shifted away from oneself. It’s not your fault that you’re a failure!

O.k., so those were the reasons (excuses?) for failure. My next question obviously follows, “if your brother is more successful than you, why? What circumstances/reasons/excuses does your brother blame … scratch that – what circumstances does your brother contribute to his success?

Notice the difference here? The successful person analysis his situation and accepts his circumstances and works with what he’s got, while the person who considers himself a failure blames his failure on a bad roll of dice he got out of life. Again, it’s not his fault he’s a failure!

I’m sure that you’re familiar with the saying, “If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”

You say, you don’t know how to make lemonade, learn how! And you’ll be almost guaranteed to be as successful as your brother.

A Sunday Chat with Myself—”Our Passion to become Zombies”

“Marijuana is a much bigger part of the American addiction problem than most people – teens or adults – realize.” —John Walters

The Canadian government will be legalizing the recreational use of marihuana on Oct. 17 of this year, making Canada the first of the Group of Seven countries to do so. The government, in its great compassion and foresight, has placed some restrictions on who can use the stuff, but we know how well our youth follow adult advice! Right? I mean, we were youth once, and remember what we did when our elders told us not to do something? The news media isn’t throwing much common sense on the topic, either.

Dr. Robert Schwartz of the University of Toronto has some concerns. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Dr. Schwartz said, “One of the biggest accomplishments of tobacco control was to de-normalize the act of smoking, so there’s a fear that as smoking marijuana becomes more accepted, the act of smoking on a whole will [again] become more accepted.”

Marihuana has a known 33 carcinogens in it, so my question this Sunday is, “Why is our world suddenly become so fascinated with this drug that obviously has dangerous side effects?” Are we becoming a suicidal nation and, like lemmings, following each other to our eventual demise?

While giving a reason for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, our Prime Minister first had to admit that the present regulations on the non-medical use of the drug have not worked! So, is legalizing marihuana a better choice? Instead of financing expensive G7 summits and globetrotting on other “charitable” and business ventures, might it not be more financially sound to spend that money educating, especially the young, on the dangers of recreational use of marihuana?

Just imagine how great Canada could be if more of us spent time pursuing ventures that would benefit us and our neighbors, instead of selfishly indulging in harmful activities that just thoughtlessly lead to destruction!

I have a saying: Education, not Legislation!

Our society professes an absolute “free to choose” attitude. We’re “liberated!” That’s true, and it’s a good thing, but limiting ourselves with a need for only half truths can also be dangerous! The First Commandment our God—our Creator—has blessed us with is freedom of choice, but the Second Commandment, following very close on the heels of the First Commandment, states that we are responsible for our choices and no number of bailouts is going to prevent this! In other words, reaction to action—Karma—usually leads the unthinking person into a situation they hadn’t anticipated!

I have a saying that I love: “Education, not Legislation!”

In an article in the summer, 2018 edition of Apple, published by Alberta Health Services titled, “Clarity on Cannabis,” the magazine states, “Canadians use cannabis at some of the highest rates in the world. In 2015, one in five youths and nearly one-third of young adults said they used cannabis within the last year.”

Furthermore, in my view, to add insult to injury, financial investors are making huge profits on investing in companies that sell this stuff to the public. Money Morning, an investors email magazine, states: “Last year in 2017 the North American market for legal weed was just under $9 billion.” That’s a lot of money that could have been spent by the public on more healthy form of recreation!

And we all know that the financial market, as long as they’re getting good returns on their investments, aren’t going to concern themselves much about whether marihuana is safe to use or not! This is no different than our multi-billion dollar drug corporations concern about making us healthy by selling us their way-overpriced drugs; there’s just too much money involved for that to ever happen, and too many politicians in the pockets of these drug companies to ever hope for wisdom in legislative change—unless, by some freak of circumstance, the public unites and demands change!

Yes, there are some medical benefits to the use of prescription marihuana, like end-of life care; severe pain or persistent muscle spasms and spinal cord disease, where marijuana has been proven to be of benefit in lieu of equally(?) as harmful drugs. However, this doesn’t excuse the uncontrolled use of recreational marijuana.

Science Museum, London, explains it this way: “When part of your body is injured, special nerve endings send pain messages back to your brain. Painkilling drugs [like marihuana] interfere with these messages, either at the site of the injury, in the spinal cord or in the brain itself.” It’s the effect that this drug has on the brain that is of great concern to me. There is overwhelming data out there to prove that indiscriminate use of marihuana can make us into a nation of zombies, and there will be those who will recklessly venture that far! Are horror movies about our streets filled with zombies a portend of our future?

I’d like to close this ‘conversation’ on a positive note. in our Homo Sapiens’ 6,000 years on this earth, we’ve weathered equally as great, if not greater, disasters than the marihuana threat. During those brief 6,000 years we’ve been nearly wiped out as a species several times. So, instead of fear, let’s concentrate on the millions of us who are sensible enough to find our recreational needs through safer alternatives, so that Homo Sapiens can, again, live to tell our grandchildren about the stupid things some of us did when we were their age!

It’s just so unfortunate and sad that in this recreational marihuana craze we’re going to lose so many close friends, and even relatives, simply because many believed in liberated ‘half-truths,’ and not valued their lives more than they did!

“I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.”  —Ronald Reagan

A Sunday Chat with Myself—Opposition in life

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness”  —Genesis 1: 3-4

Right from the beginning, our Creator—”God”—made it plain that His third dimensional (third density ) created universe we live in at present had to have its opposites in order to manifest. Light-dark; cold-heat; good-bad; love-hate. Can we comprehend joy without knowing what it’s like to have felt glume?

I firmly believe that there is an Intelligent Mind behind all this sophisticated, complicated universe. Only intelligence can create: unintelligence—ignorance—cannot create; it can only destroy, because it’s the opposite of intelligence that can and does create!

I also  believe that, among God’s other creations, He created us—humankind—loved us very dearly, and wanted us to grow up and be gods in our own right. To accomplish this, Intelligence had to create a ‘school’ for us to learn in. Then, we—our souls— had to ‘fall’ from the higher densities that we originally lived in,  to live in this lower, third density, so that we could experience ‘good’ from ‘evil,’ and eventually grow into being gods ourselves.

By the way, this ‘school’ we’re in was created complete in every detail: water, land, sea animals, land animals—everything—before we were finally allowed to ‘attend’—born—into our school, not much different than a modern, earthly school division would first lay out the plans and needs for the students, then build that school according to those specifications before admitting a single student into its classrooms.

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” —Genesis 1:31

The so-called “fall” that we took from the higher realms was a choice—a gift from our Father to His children that we were free to accept.  Our brand new school would be a tool so that we could learn the destined “good from evil.”

Few men and women that I know of who have reached their greatness in the world have reached it without having first suffered their share of setbacks. To some, their birth into poverty and low status was their springboard to riches and fame.  To others, personal sickness, or the death of a close family member may have been the springboard that made them become outstanding doctors in the field in which they had experienced that earlier emotional or physical setback.

It takes dedication and determination to earn a college degree. Partying all night, skipping classes and general irresponsibility will not get me that degree that I would like to have! Glancing around, I see where irresponsibility has had a negative effect on a former college classmate: I can learn from his mistakes; I am free to choose a better path for myself. God has given me that choice in my continuing spiritual development! And, in that understanding of choice, He has shown me the responsibility that each choice carries with it. I can continue to destroy myself, or I can reach for the stars!

Children do not always appreciate what parents do for them. It takes patience, long-suffering and love to raise a child; the opposite of impatience, intolerance and indifference. And yet, without understanding impatience, intolerance and indifference, I would not be able to exercise my will and devote myself to raising my children to be responsible adults. and to understand, I must know the difference between ignorance and intelligence: good from evil.

I may be working at a mundane job that involves a lot of physical routine. I get an idea: I know a way improve on this physical routine and make the job completion faster, and less boring. Should I keep the idea to myself, thinking that, why should I tell my boss about it? He probably wouldn’t appreciate the idea anyway? Or should I explain the idea to my boss and, even if he wouldn’t appreciate the improvement—forget about a possible raise, explain the idea? The choice is mine. God has given me the freedom to make a choice—a chance to grow, spiritually—a gift that He has not bestowed on many other of His earthly creatures!

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”   — Albert Einstein

The Placebo Effect

I’m fascinated by our opinions and habits that we, as humans display. Many of us carry ‘Lucky Charms’ , or eat lunch with a certain fork, or wear a specific undergarment just before an important event in our life to invoke  a specified luck or result. Why will one Lucky Charm work for one person, while another will vehemently poo-poo that belief?

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine, and at one point, the topic turned to our health–how we were feeling. I commented that I had finally found relief for my Restless Leg Syndrome. All my life I had suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome, a painful nervous condition that can cause uncontrollable ‘jerking,’ or shaking of the limbs in order to relieve the pain. I mentioned that, outside of painkillers, nothing seemed ease, or cure my situation. In desperation, I tried Acupuncture–and it worked! Although not completely gone, now I could at least live with the pain.

My friend scoffed at the idea of submitting the body to Acupuncture.

“Superstition!” he claimed. “It’s a medically unproven superstition. If conventional medicine doesn’t have a cure for an ailment, then none exists–at least not until medical science can find one!”

I didn’t feel like arguing the point, so just changed subject. However, I could not help but wonder, is Acupuncture really only a superstition? I knew that my friend was quite a religious person: a Christian. Being a Christian myself, I also know that religion expects a fair amount of belief from its followers, for it to be effective in one’s life–but, hold on. Isn’t belief just another way of saying “Placebo effect”? If I believe such-and-such, and it works for me, while you believe that another something-or-another works for you, the common factor here is “Belief.” It is the power of belief that manifests results in our lives. I’ll give an example in this fictional conversation between Jack and me. Jack came to pay me a visit, as he does every Thursday afternoon. He came just as I had scooped some ice cream into a small dish and was about eat it while watching TV.

Me: “Hi, Jack, come on in. I just bought myself a pint of Baskin-Robbins ice cream. Peppermint flavour. Would you like some?”

Jack: Takes off his jacket and moves closer to the kitchen counter where I was dishing out the ice cream. “Baskin-Robbins! Peppermint, my favorite brand and flavor. You bet I’ll have some!”

I absently pick up an empty dish that happened to be nearby on the counter and without examining the dish closer, dig out two large scoops of the delicious ice cream and hand the dish to Jack.  We amble towards the living room and I turn on the TV.

A few minutes pass.

Jack: “You know, I think Baskin -Robbins makes the best ice cream in the world!” He’s already gobbled down half of his bowl’s content. “It’s sure good!”

Suddenly, with horror, I take a closer look at Jack’s ice cream dish. “Jack!” I exclaim. “I’m so sorry, but I mistakenly put your ice cream into my cat’s dinner dish.”

Jack’s hand, holding his next spoonful of ice cream, freezes in mid-air. He stares with horror at his dish, a sickly, greyish looks envelopes his face.

“Yes, it’s the cat dish–but it’s clean,” I quickly assure him, “I just had it washed this morning in the dishwasher–”

Suddenly, Jack vomits all over my carpet and chesterfield. “I’m sick!” he moans, dropping the dish. “Take me to the hospital!” .  .  .  .  .

My point here is, was it the ice cream, the clean cat dish, or Jack’s fixed belief that made him sick?

Yes, we are what we believe!

 

Ayahuasca

I just finished watching a video on Gaia TV titled “Ayahuasca: Vine of the Soul.” Ayahuasca is a South American vine whose Shaman use the bark and stems to brew a potent psychedelic brew. It has also become popular way of entertainment in many North American  social groups whose participants use it to get a feel-good high. But that’s not the goal of the Shaman. To them, the drinking of the brew of the Ayahuasca plant is a sacred–indeed, even a religious rite, that allows the participant to learn the wonderment of his own creation.

I must admit that I found the video appealing and sort of, secretly, wished that I could join the Shaman’s group as they sipped the nectar, chanted, and whispered to each other of  sacred experiences they were having somewhere deep within the noisy, chattering South American jungle … but something made me hesitate. It wasn’t fear, nor lack of desire to know more about myself. I’ve always, as far back in my life as I can remember, been a student of spirituality and metaphysics. Not only did I want to know myself and everything around me, but, like Einstein, I even went boldly as far as to desire to know the mind of God! So why didn’t I hop aboard the plane to South America and join my friend–let’s call him Jake?

I believe the answer lies in the fact that there many roads that lead to life’s destination, and Jake decided to take the highway: the quick way to spiritual maturity, while I preferred the slower, grow-spiritually-as-you-experience road. To demonstrate what I mean, let’s throw Jake and me into an adventure!

“Jake,” I said. “If you take the highway, the fast route, you’ll be in the Jungle Camp months before I’ll be there.”

Jake shook his head. “M-mh! Remember what the Shaman said? Even if one of us arrives before the other, he will not give us our box–the key and instructions to our next goal–unless we are both together.”