Dee's Blog
Mon 12/31/2012
Last-Minute Resolutions
Topic: Making Changes

The breaking news, at this very moment, is that they've reached a last-minute deal in Washington!  Like all New Years Eve promises, we'll have to wait and see if it's worth the paper it's written on.

Seems to me that most resolutions just scratch the surface.  They center on things external, without the revolutionary changes we need to make if we are going to see personal transformation.

I just get sick at heart every year when "turning over a new leaf" seems to be no more than going to the gym and pushing back from the table more.  Not that these aren't important.  They are VITALLY important for the physical well-being of our ailing population.  We are killing ourselves by not doing the basic self-care that used to be so much easier in leaner times when most of us earned our living by the sweat of the brow.

If we are to cease colluding with evil, we must break habits in our thinking that keep us stopping short of taking responsible actions on matters even more important than the superficial resolutions that keep us locked in nothing more than gazing at our own spiritual navels.  Or getting to the point we can even see them.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:23 PM CST
Fri 12/28/2012
A Plea for Forgiveness
Topic: Making Decisions

My husband was the recipient of the most memorable gift in our household this year.  A bumper sticker!  It reads:  "Father forgive Congress, for they know not what they doest." 

Let's dream of the day when they will wake up and ask seriously for genuine forgiveness from the people being harmed by their lack of moral intelligence in the face of so much suffering!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:06 PM CST
Sun 12/23/2012
The Patriarchal Planet

Seems I need to clarify the last statement in the last blog I wrote.  When I referred to people who, for whatever reason, seem to live on a planet where light does not exist.

My reference was intended to be broad, rather than centered on people with serious mental health pathology that would render them immediately dangerous to self or others.   Certainly, these would be included in the total mix.

Light cannot exist for those who have a conscious or unconscious goal to control others through oppression.  This can include severely depressed people, but not necessarily.  Many, many depressed people sense that there is no light on the planet where they dwell, psychologically.  Yet sensing this does not make it true.  The focus is often the problem.

Situations can also make us feel this way for a season, even if we are not clinically depressed.  Life can be overwhelming for those who normally have a healthy outlook, yet are faced with abnormally stressful problems or tragedies.  A good friend and blogger puts it well in her recent blog that also addresses the issues of darkness and light in reference to the tragedy at Newtown.

Another friend, Olga, talked recently about "the patriarchal planet."   Those of you who know me well, regardless of gender, know that I do not speak of patriarchy in regard to gender at all.   It does, where applicable, refer to male privilege.  Yet I use it in reference to the much larger scope of things.  So, borrowing from a phrase of Joan Chittister's, let me say that Light does not dwell where concepts of "elitism without merit" reign--whether in our hearts or the nation that is now looking at a perfect example of this in the extreme.  In what I see as spiritual warfare, framed in political philosophy, we are seeing it play out before our eyes in Washington, D. C.!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:12 AM CST
Updated: Sun 12/23/2012 9:18 AM CST
Wed 12/19/2012
Finding Focus in Spite of it All
Topic: Christmas

Days before the shock of last Friday's school shooting, I was already writing about the darkness of Christmas.

Suddenly, Christmas, 2012, was shattered for us all by a young man whom nobody would have predicted to be capable of making a name for himself, in such a way, on the last day of his life!  A young man who must have felt immensely powerless until something snapped.

For Ron and I, we had just finished a quiet, elegant meal with dear friends, at our own dining table.  Conversation suddenly halted when Ron picked up the news from the radio, turned down low, in another part of the house. 

This makes us stop and think about our own children and grandchildren.  It forces us to re-visit discussions that have kept us in gridlock on gun control.  They are age-old questions about freedom and rights--the same philosophical questions that surround so many other issues that divide our nation today.

If we are honest, the tragedy makes us also stop and think about the blend of darkness and light in ourselves and all of the people who cross our paths.  We are confused.  We are puzzled.  We are troubled.  None of which makes Christmas seem like Christmas.

Seems to me the only thing left for most of us is to search our own souls, so we do not lose sight of "whatsoever is good....." For only by keeping our eyes on things that "have virtue and are worthy of true praise" can we most contribute to the changes needed in our world, especially in the United States.  I'm talking about limits on people who, for whatever reason, seem to live on another planet where Christmas cannot be found.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:26 AM CST
Updated: Wed 12/19/2012 10:30 AM CST
Sun 12/16/2012
When the Blues Turn to Black

Every year, about the middle of December, I start hearing from people whose worlds look a little bluer.  Some a lot bluer, especially those who may be struggling with collusion with evil, coming from people in high places.

This week we have witnessed the most extreme of darkness imaginable--the horrific murder of so many little children and the teachers who were trying to protect them!  Our world has turned pitch black because of this.

Collusion with evil, which is the topic that continues to draw people to my writing, has a way of reminding me of Herod in an odd way of connecting things.  Herod and the current "criminal of the week," neither one of them, valued the lives of anyone.  They must both have felt utter darkness inside, unable to imagine a world where they could be a part of making things brighter for anyone.  For the abuse of power and true Light can never occupy the same heart! 

Both the Herod of Christmas past and the murderer of Christmas, 2012 bring the dark side to Christmas.

Herod did benefit, though, unlike the 2012 perpetrator. At least, he benefited by keeping his job, for what it was really worth! Remember that Herod could only keep his job by oppressing others.  That was what he was paid to do.

Well, a lot of people manage to keep their jobs by  joining the "good old boy system" that continues to oppress people in many ways.  Of course, when it gets done through the institutional church, as we are seeing a lot these days on many issues of oppression, then the blues can feel totally black. 

If you are one of the recipients, whether a member of the GLBT community, a woman who is being "kept in her place" in spite of being ordained, a member of a minority group, a victim of abuse, or perhaps a person whose story the church does not want to hear for whatever reason, may you find some comfort in knowing that power bases are being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses like never before in history.

The truth that's larger than all of us manages to shine through in this world at surprising moments, just like the bright lights of Christmas, even if your heart still sees navy blue.  Or even black that's as solid as if you yourself were a perpetrator of evil!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:53 AM CST
Updated: Sun 12/16/2012 9:04 PM CST
Tue 12/11/2012
The Real "King of the Jews"

Herod had a big job.  As a puppet of the Roman Empire, he could only maintain his power through abusing those that he was expected to control.

Having lived in a country that was theoretically a police state, I can tell you that people under such a leader do everything they can to avoid showing disrespect.  The control is not because anyone is fooled.  It's because they are petrified--if not that they will personally be victims of violent outbursts, the fear is that they will starve trying to pay outrageous taxes.

This is the world into which Jesus was born, the world to which he was destined to speak with such boldness!  This is why he ended up being born in a stable. It's why his family had to change their plans rather than taking their newborn back home as they must have longed to do.

The oppressed aren't the only ones that have to be on their toes, constantly watching behind their backs.  So do the oppressors, fearing that the truth will be found out.  Does this remind you of anything you've ever experienced or witnessed?  What in today's news stories does this parallel?

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:27 PM CST
Mon 12/10/2012
Finding Temperance at Christmas

The skit we saw yesterday, in the little town of Lecompton, KS (population 844), carried a message about temperance during the Christmas season. The performers might look askance if they heard me say this.  Yet that was what I thought, for I've been thinking a lot about temperance after reading John Bradshaw's book, Reclaiming Virtue

Over and over, the skit reminded us of all the ways the Grinch can steal our Christmas--in the shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, card sending, baking, etc.--if any of them are done in excess or in an attempt to keep up with the neighbors or the expectations of our family.

Moderation is the key.  This is born out of a maturity that allows us to be self-controlled, rather than having what is often called "an external locus of control." Only people who cultivate an internal locus are able to shine in the darkness or commercialism, oppression, and ignorance.

Next blog, I'll be talking about how Jesus was born into a family that knew fear and oppression because of the most dangerous of the non-temperant.  That would be people who hoard immense power and abuse the opportunity to use it for good.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 1:00 PM CST
Updated: Mon 12/10/2012 1:02 PM CST
Tue 12/04/2012
The Myth of the Peaceful Christmas
Topic: Christmas

If you think Washington is in chaos now, the movie Lincoln may help put things into perspective!  What I took away, certain that I will never forget, was the stress and violent discord that was going on in Washington, far away from the battlegrounds!  It seemed that, at any moment, the elected officials might break forth with an actual war in the capitol!!

As I think on Christmases past, compared to Christmas today, I am reminded that there wasn't peace, joy, and abounding love on the first Christmas either.  The hate, oppression, manipulation, patriarchy, and evil was of epic proportions.  The baby Jesus, as a Jew, was one of the hated!  He was also a light shining in the darkness, while not eradicating the darkness. 

Cynics say Jesus changed nothing.  Idealists see the light getting stronger and speak of a time when all will be peace, love, and joy.  Pessimists see the world getting worse and worse.  Whereas realists are likely to focus on the mixed conditions of our world, our nation, our families, and each of us. 

Christmas is a time for each of us to center, once again, on the inward peace, love, and joy that can be found in each of our hearts through the application of principles of good spiritual and mental health.  That is all we have control over.  That is, in fact, our only hope.

Let us return to the things of old as all things become new!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:34 AM CST
Fri 11/30/2012
Halo Missing an Angel
Topic: Christmas

Since writing about my angel, who's missing half a halo, I heard from a reader who tells me that her Christmas tree always has an ornament with the opposite problem:  the halo lost it's angel!  What the angel represented to the family must have been really precious for them to continue revering the halo she left behind.

My dear reader didn't know, but this comment reminded me of her.  You see, she's been going through some tough times, coming to grip with difficult things from her past. 

Because she's needed time and space to find herself, she has chosen to leave her career in ministry--something she loved and was really good at it, I'm absolutely certain. 

Now..... because I believe she's one of those people who has lots of halos, despite the possibility that some may be a little cracked or discolored, I'm quite certain that one of them is still shining in her former congregation.  For her words, her smiles, and her actions are not gone.  These are the seeds that remain, clinging like glitter to the halo of memories that will continue to work in the hearts of the people she loves.

My guess is that she also will be getting light from all the halos she brought with her. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:54 PM CST
Thu 11/29/2012
The Broken Halo
Topic: Christmas

Almost twenty years ago, while still recovering from breast cancer, I brought home a beautiful angel.  Her face and lovely clothing were illuminated by a single light that has never yet burned out.  She carries it in her hand.  Like a live doll, she stands thirty-two inches high and keeps constant watch throughout the night, if I don't remember to switch her off.

Initially, I thought the light was moving.  It was only after placing her in our front window that I noticed:  the light wasn't moving at all.  The angel was--her body slowly gliding while supporting her two large wings and halo.  Just watching her each evening brought me to a place of inexplicable peace!  The effect is still the same today, though she has stood in the front window of three houses now.

Last year, as I carefully pulled her from the packing where she had lain during the move to Kansas, my heart skipped a beat.  Half her halo was missing!  How could we possibly display an angel with a broken halo?  Then again, I wondered, how could we not?  Our grandchildren have never known a Christmas without her!  Besides, she was still perfect in every other way. 

In fact, perhaps more perfect because of what she now illustrates to us all, as if the neighbors even notice what's missing.  We all have broken halos; but as long as the Light keeps shining in spite of our brokenness, it doesn't matter at all!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:23 PM CST

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