Monday, October 22, 2012

The Best Bargain

Most of our preparedness is in the physical world in response to our understanding of local perils.  Our physical preparedness is certainly important.  No less important is spiritual preparedness.  Adding this aspect and state of mind to having preparedness supplies and knowing how to use them may be what separates the 'prepared' from the crazed hoard.  An important foundation for this is your spiritual clarity -- what you hold to be true at your core.  Our moral clarity often springs from our spiritual clarity.

If you haven't contemplated the difference between intellect and spirituality, now's a good time. Knowledge without wisdom can be empty and dangerous.  The core belief and practical experience of being connected to something beyond yourself is the foundation of hope. Hope without that faith and the resulting charity is child-like fantasy. 

Years ago I watched as a coworker, Curt, transformed for the better over the course of several months. One day I mentioned noticing the positive change and asked him what was going on. He opened up and told me he had finally started going to AA and it was helping. He had resisted it for years because of the 'God' thing. He had a friend who suggested to him that his Higher Power didn't need to be 'God' and maybe he should just think of doorknobs his higher power. Huh? As long as he was on the non-drinking side of a doorknob, he was in the right place.  He teared up and continued. The hope that that this tiny bit of faith brought him opened his eyes to the potential for miracles.  He began to see the good, the beauty and the wonder of the world around him. He started seeing the good in others and finally, in himself. He also started seeing the invisible hand of a power greater than the doorknob and began to trust it. He connected with the universe of good. His Higher Power was now much greater than the doorknob. Curt was becoming a new man. Hope and faith began to fill the gaping gray sucking hole in his soul, the drive to self-medicate it with alcohol was loosening its hold on him. Love and charity began to flow in him. He could finally see beyond himself to make better decisions.  He saw the impact he could have on others, for better and for worse. From that mustard seed came true faith. Wow.

Back in the dark ages when I was in elementary school, the teachers rotated who read a Psalm to get us off to a good start each morning (yes, I'm that old!). Of course, I was always looking for a short one. That's how I found the 121st Psalm. It has become a spiritual foundation passage for me.  I hope to have it read over me when I am laid to rest. It begins with faith and hope: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help." It continues (though briefly!) with a message to comfort us in tough times. It gives us confidence that if we keep covenant with our Higher Power, and keep in mind that we must take actions to be our own first source of help, that we are connected to the good within the universe. The Psalm finishes with that promise "The Lord shall preserve they going out and thy coming in from this time forward and even forever more."

I don't believe that my Higher Power (HP) is like a soda machine -- you know, insert prayer and wait for the goods to drop out.  My HP knows I need to grow spiritually and that I'm stubborn as a mule. I tend to learn spiritual lessons through struggle and I struggle a lot.  My greatest continuing struggle is to stop pounding on the door I want to open, stand back and see the open windows inviting me to move forward. It's a great feeling to conclude one struggle, rest a little and notice another one miraculously appearing. What a gift when I am open to receive it.  Not to worry, though. If I decide I'm too tired to wrestle with a spiritual issue now, my HP will present it again fairly soon, only larger and more noticeable so I can't skirt it again. What a bargain!

I'm not a religious person so I'm not advocating a specific one. My Dad was military, so I grew up as a 'general protestant.' You are unlikely now to see me in Sunday service. But my faith is deep. I believe we each will be tested so we can grow in our love and wisdom. We will have opportunities to test our beliefs, these may have started for you--on a daily basis! These may not be easy or simple situations.  Getting started today on learning and living faith is a good way to prepare for emergency situations. It is not easy, especially to bring it into our daily decision-making. Our faith sets our limits of what actions are acceptable, both from us but also from others. It helps us define the difference between good and evil and start to recognize each -- especially in ourselves. It can clarify our responsibilities and what we are willing to die for, or perhaps worse or more importantly, what (or who) any of us are willing to kill for.

We are living in a society where too many dark behaviors now fall into a murky gray area of  "acceptability." In an sustained emergency situation, that is a trap that can kill us or those we love. Now is a great time to decide which side of the doorknob we want to be on. There are lots of free resources out there. What a bargain! We shall find if we seek and act.

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