David

David: (n) a king of Israel.

Faith might occasionally be interesting if it weren’t so damn religious.

Rather than being a state of spirit, where we seek to know ourselves better and understand God by loving other people, it is turned into a mortuary, where we sit and perform all sorts of religious exercises that make yoga appear to be not such a stretch.

One of the more interesting characters in the Bible is David.

He’s not interesting because he prays, and he’s not fascinating because he wanted to build God’s temple.

He’s intriguing because any time, day or night, when he removes his human will from religious pursuit, he goes to town—just a’sinnin’ away.

David knew how to repent. That’s how he pleased God.

I understand David. When he saw a naked woman bathing, he immediately conjured a plan to get inside her.

You see—that’s human.

I am not impressed with people who only sin and am completely terrified of those who claim to refrain from it.

David has a good story even without the Bible.

Why? Because David was human and didn’t try to pretend he wasn’t.

He was a rotten father yet never touted his children as being anything but the renegades they were.

He had a huge ego, which created problems with the King of Israel before him.

Early on, he had a really good day when he accurately tossed a stone and killed a really bad giant.

It doesn’t happen again.

But I guess if you do it once, it can last for a lifetime.

He is called “the apple of God’s eye.”

It isn’t because he was very religious.

It isn’t because he never sinned.

It isn’t because he went throughout Israel, trying to get everybody to be judgmental and mean.

David found a gear.

He knew exactly how far to go before he drove himself off the cliff.

Short of that disaster, he stopped and got himself right.

It’s a great talent.

Because he understood sin, he didn’t judge the sinner.

And because he understood grace, he did not advertise the sin.

Crucify

Crucify: (v) to nail the hands and feet to a cross

Origins.

The Greeks created gods.

They were empowered with practicality—for war, romance, wine and domination. Gods of convenience.

Buddhism has no god.

Instead, Buddha insisted that our weakness as humans is how human we are through flaunting our emotions.

Judaism is really a journey through a family of Bedouins led by a man named Abraham, who established their uniqueness by cutting off the tip of the foreskin of the penis.

The Muslim religion was formed to counteract the domination of the Jews and establish a people of purity, who spread their message throughout the world, using violence if necessary.

Christianity worships a man who was nailed at the hands and feet as a criminal who allegedly committed sedition against the Roman Empire.

The symbols are not terribly inspiring, are they?

The origins of faith don’t seem to be grounded in inspiration, brotherhood and equality.

The message of Christianity remains disheartening—the Prince of Peace visited the Earth, sharing a message of global unity. Our response was, “Fuck you—take some nails as you leave.”

I’m told that Jesus allowed himself to be crucified.

I’m not very fond of martyrs.

Is it possible that he was killed by the ignorance of all the other religions coming together to protect their financial security, and that God, in His infinite grace and mercy, decided to use the violent act as an opportunity to offer salvation to “whosoever will may come?”

Now, there’s a story I can walk with.

No, there’s a story that makes me run toward hope.

 

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Coroner

Coroner: (n) one who investigates deaths

Then there’s the joke.

“I went to the morgue to see the body. I asked the receptionist where I might find the corpse. She pointed to her right and replied, ‘Just around the coroner.’”

(I didn’t say it was a funny joke.)

But when you talk about things like the coroner, you have to use some humor. A little tongue-in-cheek is helpful.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I have personally dealt with an actual coroner only once in my life. My son, who had been involved in a hit-and-run accident six years earlier, which had left him in a vegetative state, suddenly developed pneumonia and died in about a four-hour period.

We were in the state of Oregon, and according to their statues, anybody who dies that quickly has to be observed by a coroner and have an autopsy.

I probably should have looked up “coroner” and found out what was involved with the profession, but there was no Internet at that time and my encyclopedias were packed away back home, two thousand miles away. So I entered into the whole situation very ignorant.

He was a nice enough fellow—just creepy enough to fulfill the parameters of the occupation. I was emotionally disturbed from the death of my son, so I began to yammer without much awareness, trying to explain to the gentleman some of the extent of my loss. In doing so, I offered a very child-like request. “Please be gentle with him. He’s been through a lot.”

I remember the look on the chap’s face—a combination of tenderness, surprise, confusion and mercy. For after all, he had already done the autopsy and chopped my young son into many pieces.

Fortunately, I didn’t think of that in the moment. I was granted a blessed ignorance, and a bit of grace, by a man who had to deal with death every day and realized that I would not benefit from any further understanding of his plight.


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Conviction

Conviction: (n) a fixed or firm belief

There is a new rule. If the word “rule” sounds too stodgy for you, then call it a guideline.

If “guideline” is still too restrictive, you may consider it an insight.

If “insight” gives you the creeps, then let’s just call it an idea.

Here it is:

You are allowed, permitted and granted an opinion, as long as you’re willing to be wrong.

The very second that you—or I, for that matter—start insisting that our opinion is really a conviction held by millions and even, maybe, heralded by the heavens, we probably need to be hauled off somewhere to live in a poverty-stricken situation until humility settles into our souls.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Discussion would be no problem if we actually discussed. We don’t. We enter discussions with convictions.

Disagreements would still be fine if we were conscious of the need to evolve. But we aren’t, because our convictions arrived to us engraved in stone.

It would even be possible to argue—as long as our convictions didn’t cause us to be arrogant, feeling that we’re pleasing a political party, a science project or a deity by being stubborn.

I used to have many convictions. I used to scrunch my face up when I heard people advance their theories or share their preferences.

Whenever I did this, my ass always found my hole and created an unrighteous unity.

Over the years I have abandoned, ignored, walked away from and giggled at many of my convictions, realizing that the majority of them were hatched in the henhouse of speculation. Let’s be honest—your speculation is as good as mine, and mine is pretty worthless.

So now I listen, I get an idea of what’s going on, and from that idea I develop an inkling which I take into the discussion, only to discover that much of my inkling needs to be trimmed away.

I am not impressed with convictions.

What truly touches my heart is seeing human beings who have the mercy and grace to be wrong while still smiling.


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Continue

Continue: (v) to last or endure

He bowed his head and began his prayer.

“God, who by the way I consider to be my Father since You made me and everything. I’ve been doing some work on me lately instead of worrying about them. It seems like every time I get concerned about other people, I get bratty and start believing my efforts are sufficient and theirs are bullshit. It’s actually a lot of fun.”

(He paused his prayer, waiting for an answer. There was silence. So, he continued.)

“Well, anyway, I just wanted to stop off and talk about the fact that healthy eating is all right if you’ve got the time to think about it and can actually find the four or five foods you like which contain vitamins. Or maybe it’s minerals. I do feel better. What do You think about that?”funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

(Once again, he sat still, waiting for a divine response. There was none. He pushed on.)

“I’ve been thinking about that ‘loving my neighbor as myself’ bit and I realize that one of the problems I have pulling that off is that lots of times I secretly am so pissed off at myself that I am pissed off at everybody else. Therefore, I kind of do treat everybody the way I treat myself. I know I’m not supposed to be conceited, but if I’m not confident in where I’m going and who I’m trying to be, I will never believe that anybody else is worth the time of day.”

(Once again, he sat motionless, listening very carefully for some murmur or mumble from His Majesty. It was quieter than a mouse since they do occasionally squeak. So, he concluded:)

“I won’t hold You any longer. Just understand how I depend on Your grace, subsist on Your mercy and I’m trying, in my simple way, to imitate Your class. Thank you for your time. I hope You heard what I had to say, and I would welcome any recommendation You might have for my life.”

(He finished praying, said his amen and then, in a very small, still voice, he heard, deep within his soul, “Continue.”)


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Communicate

Communicate: (v) to share or exchange information, news, or ideas.

Sometimes a gentle breeze of wisdom will blow my way and leave behind a noble idea.

It happened to me recently.

I was at a store, considering buying a product, when I looked down at the instructions on how to put it together. Please understand, I was very impressed with the item–but very put off by the length of the instructions. Matter of fact, I walked away from that particular situation and found something simpler.

Is it better? I don’t care. It’s simpler.

Now the breeze that blew across my brain, depositing a universal precept, was this:

We do ourselves a disservice as human beings when we come with too many instructions.

When people need to be aware that they “can’t do this” or “shouldn’t do that” or “the following subjects are taboo” or “never bring up the state of Hawaii”… Well, after hearing all the instructions and you realize what would be involved in putting together a relationship with this person, the wise choice is usually to move on down the road to less complicated possibilities.

For verily, verily, I say unto you, the most difficult thing in life to do is communicate.

We shouldn’t put ourselves in the position of needing to do it often. The less we have to communicate, and the more that is worked out my mercy, grace, compassion and understanding, the better off we are.

So here’s a word to the wise:

Work with your design until you don’t have a helluva lot of instructions, and ideally, it’s better to show up already put together.

 

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Colon

Colon: (n) large intestine or large bowel

Talk about “it’s a dirty job but somebody’s gotta do it.”

How’d you like to be a colon?

“What’s your job, Mr. Colon?”

“My entire function is to take the shit to the hole.”

I’ve had two colonoscopies in my life. That’s where they go into your intestine with a camera to make sure that it’s ooey-gooey and doing its job. They want to confirm that you don’t have cancer or polyps, which are possible precursors of the disease.

The first time I had a colonoscopy I went into the hospital feeling really bad. A beautiful young woman from China was my doctor. She was so sweet–but I knew
she thought I had cancer. It’s not that I believed I was free of the affliction, but I saw no particularly good reason to etch my tombstone until I had more information.

So they prepared me for the whole process.

The day before the event they brought in a gallon of fluid and told me to drink all of it in as short amount of time as possible. The drink loosens the bowels and empties everything inside–or at least, everything that is willing to be dislodged.

I was faithful. I pooped until my poop looked like water. (And that is a little weird.)

Well, long story short, she went in with her camera and found out there was no cancer and gave me a clean bill of health.

What I remember most about that experience is the legitimate joy on her face when she came to tell me I was alright. It was so intimate, tender and childlike that I teared up and cried.

Was I crying over her gentleness, or was it releasing tension I didn’t know I had about the possible diagnosis?

I don’t know. But it was beautiful.

So every time I go to the bathroom–well, nearly every time–I think about my colon and how patient it is to do its job.

And I also think about someone who was a complete stranger to me–a doctor–who possessed such empathy that she took a moment of grace and the memory of it will last for my whole lifetime.

 

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Codicil

Codicil: (n) an addition or supplement that explains, modifies, or revokes a will or part of one.

It was probably a Saturday morning, and the young fellow was perched in his tiny office in the back of the sanctuary, wondering what in the hell he was gonna talk about the following morning during his sermon at the church.

Although he wanted to be a minister, he forgot how terrifying it could be, to try to come up with a twenty-one minute homily once a week which would both appease and inspire. (Unfortunately, those two words–“appease” and “inspire”–often tend to contradict each other.)

So imagine his glee when he came up with the thought that God’s love–which he had taught about many times–was unconditional.

How good that was going to make everybody feel! The classic warm-and-fuzzy and oh-so-cuddly. He certainly had enough Bible verses to back up his contention.

So when he shared it the following morning it became so popular that it spread across the town, the Internet and eventually became a phrase that evoked tears and deep-rooted reflection from everyone who uttered it: unconditional love.

Unfortunately, the young minister who began this tumbling dice of good feeling failed to remind his congregation that there are codicils.

If love is the will of God, then we must sit down like good attorneys and read over the “will” a bit more carefully to understand how it is executed.

Just as grace demands that we be gracious and mercy is obtained by being merciful, God’s love is possessed by expressing affection and concern for those we deem to be “the least.”

If we fail to do this–in other words, be gracious–He resists our pride.

No mercy? Well–no mercy.

And if our love is not extended to those whom we psychologically view as untouchable, then God is completely willing to view us as equally uninteresting.

If I were to sum up the Bible in one word, it would be “if:”

  • If you want love, give love.
  • If you want mercy, share mercy.
  • If you want grace, be gracious.
  • And if you want understanding, try to understand something that you pretend is completely unacceptable.

 

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Clueless

Clueless: (adj) having no knowledge, understanding, or ability.

Three categories.

No knowledge: Hardly seems likely. In this information age, a decision to go without knowledge has to be a purposeful dodge to avoid it. It’s feasible, but even if we’re trying to escape, some of the volume still pierces our defenses. Therefore it’s difficult to use “no knowledge” as an excuse for avoiding responsibility.

No understanding: The ability to interpret the circumstances around us and come up with a suitable solution does require engaging our souls. If we’re just looking into a pool of self-interest or trying to ignore becoming connected with the people around us, we can certainly pretend we did not understand the severity of the situation.

Yet if you’re around someone who’s crazy and they threaten to do something drastic, it is unlikely that you can claim ignorance of the crime.

No ability: We might lack expertise. Expertise is achieved when we take the ability we have and teach it to be useful.

The concept of “natural talent” is humorous. The idea that our ability arrives intact and ready to go is mind-boggling.

Ability demands an obstacle course before it can be classified as capable of overcoming obstacles.

Clueless is a choice.

Attempting to remove oneself from knowledge, understanding and ability might temporarily give us the free pass of grace, but ultimately exposes us as charlatans who run away from the heat of the battle.

 

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Chide

Chide: (v) to scold or rebuke

Some of the more painful moments in life are when we experience disappointment or defeat–and after the sting of the failure is dying down–the chiders show up.

They have three distinct approaches that really do stink:

  1. “I had a feeling this wouldn’t work.”

It’s usually not a feeling they shared with you–and certainly not based on any sentiments they previously expressed. No, after the fact they create new facts.

  1. “I’m disappointed in you.”

Oh, I see. It’s not enough that life has slapped me in the face. You have brought fresh salt for the wound. It doesn’t even matter if I’m impressed enough by you to be hurt by your disappointment. Disappointment is often the straw that kills many a camel.

  1. “If it were me…”

Yes, folks who have all the facts available to them have now seen the outcome and understand the complete situation, but relentlessly explain how they would have done things just right.

We talk about love all the time. It’s a good thing.

We talk about kindness. Certainly valuable.

But the greatest gift a human being can offer is mercy.

Since life has kicked you in the teeth, I promise not to remind you of the high cost of dental bills.

A great man once said that merciful people are happy because they have the confidence that the mercy they express will be given back to them.

Because most certainly, each one of us takes our turn at being the fool.

So to withhold chiding is opening the door to grace–which can cover a multitude of our deluded efforts.

 

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