Open the book

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What is a book other than a collection of words lying dormant hoping for someone to activate its story? Perhaps I assign too much power to an inanimate object by using the word “hoping” but a book, to me, contains life whether sitting on a shelf or clutched in my hand.

Photo taken at Carnegie Resource Center (a former Carnegie Library) in Mitchell, South Dakota, July 2017.

 

My heart skips a beat

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It’s a last minute thought to look straight up at the dusk sky before going inside my house. And I’m stunned by the clouds gathering overhead, holding tight to the moisture that gives them shape and life. I snap a picture, as I’ve done so many times before, of clouds. But this time, and I don’t know why, my heart seems to skip a beat or two as I contemplate our place on this planet and our relationship to those things outside us, like clouds and space and matter and eternity.

 

A bridge to peace

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Early yesterday I hiked to Hidden Falls at Curt Gowdy State Park in southeast Wyoming, just 20 miles west of my home. Despite living here for sixteen years it’s the first time I’ve entered the park. I’ve been missing out and hope to go back many times.

While hiking to the hidden falls (last picture in gallery below), I crossed the pictured bridge. The bridge took me over the stream that flows from Hidden Falls.

I hiked early enough in the day that I had the trail to myself until the very end of my 2-hour hike. Being alone in nature (well, not alone as I saw deer and a bear was reported in the area) was somewhat of a spiritual experience. Not in any organized religious sort of way as I’m moving away from that approach to life but more of a I’m-part-of-the-cosmos sort of experience. The quiet hike felt like a bridge to peace and awareness.

Losing my religion

The popular 90s song of the same title by the band R.E.M. was apparently not about anything religious but thinking about it always evokes for me the idea of giving up things that have defined me for most of my life.

Not so much an active throwing away of labels like Republican or evangelical Christian or other similar terms but a slow release. A letting go as forces and changes and realizations finally take one to the point of loosening his grip and finally saying “goodbye, Label.”

Because the labels no longer fit. Not when I can’t reconcile the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity with the political parties, religious groups, and others warring against and amongst each other.

I’m sure it’s my fault, having back slid into unbelief in the political and religious realms. My fault or no, I don’t have the stomach to align myself with groups claiming piety on one hand and adamantly supporting political leaders who demonstrate no moral standing on the other (yes, I understand it’s subjective).

I’ve looked for other labels to adopt but nothing fits these days. Life’s too busy to fight all the time. Align oneself with a party or movement or religion and it immediately pits one against those who align differently. The art of civil dialogue and compassion and compromise appears broken and I can’t and don’t know how to fix it.

I understand that letting go of labels sets one adrift into a sea of uncertainty and (some would say) being blown about by the winds of this thing or that thing. I’ll take my chances because I don’t want to be associated with certain groups, parties, or belief systems.

Will I become a Democrat? A Buddhist? An atheist? A Green Partier? Nah, I’ll just wear the label “human being” and attempt to navigate life with a smile for strangers and a kind word for neighbors no matter their color, religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, etc., etc., etc. The approach may land me in heaven, purgatory, or hell (if they even exist) but I’m okay with that prospect.

And I’m thinking I just might find a growing crowd of human beings in that mix who’ve walked away from their labels in search of something different too. And maybe that’s where the conversation will really begin…