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BEFORE WE DIG IN:

I had a week filled with lots of important people stuff, so I hardly had time for movies, great television or martial arts. Hence, my only recommendations are (seriously) start that shopping, and have yourself some fun week.

Did you see the Supermoon? My review: "Huge. 5 stars."

We got about six inches of snow yesterday. Looks like my golf season is over. Sympathy cards most appreciated.

Today I reprint something I wrote a few years back. It took me hours to write and much discussion with very bright friends--to get the tone and thinking as sharp as I could make it. It is not short, but I think it is very much worth your time. I would delight in your feedback.

Having trouble reading this Dig? Read the fully formatted Dig on my website, www.FindWisdomNow.com. It will look much better, have proper spacing, and be easier to read.


"CHRISTMAS" DISPOSITION

to the memory of Christopher Hitchens

The great danger of our day, when it comes to almost anything, is that a lot of us are overwhelmed. We can easily dismiss things out of hand-in fact, we have to. We are saturated by so much noise, so many messages, that we cannot possibly pay attention to everything. It is hard for us to even give the time of day to some of what matters to us, let alone entertain new possibilities or revisit old ones that we have gotten used to. We are also all programmed to pay attention to certain realities and ignore others as a matter of course. To make matters worse, we have rightfully lost a lot of basic trust in certain institutions that have failed us beyond our wildest dreams. It is easy, then, for some to slip into a nonchalant disconnection and not even notice.

In light of how easy it is to dismiss things ("miss" is the operative word in "dismissed"), I want to share an idea I have never put in print and have only told to one person. It concerns you, me and Christmas. I am well aware that I can easily be misinterpreted, so allow me some background.

You might be attending services for Christmas in the coming days. For some of you this is a very meaningful occasion. You love the tradition, the music, the stories, and the faith in God affirmed through these sacred moments. I know that some of you have no interest in what you view as madness, being quite convinced that such activity is a relic from a very bygone era. You are curious and bewildered that people not only take this stuff so seriously, they also seem certain about it. Mighty strange, you think, mighty strange indeed.

I imagine that some of you will attend a worship service or two out of family tradition or pressure from a relative or your very own conscience. You'd feel bad in some vague way if you didn't go, but it is not your thing. You know that you once were captured by such goings on, but somehow you have lost your way when it comes to faith in God. The whole thing does not seem very real. You are not quite sure what faith you have or what you really believe in, other than you just go about your business and hang on for dear life, knowing that you are not an atheist or a true believer of any stripe.

Here is my provocative idea.

I would recommend that if you are going to attend a service that in some way is meant to worship the Divine that you do not go, unless you really want to. If you have to go because of outside pressure, do your best to go with an open mind and, more importantly, an open heart. I further recommend that if you run into someone of a certain type of robust faith, that you either really listen to them or politely and quickly excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.

Here is why.

Imagine that any of this "religious" stuff is true. The improbable, crazy, highly unlikely, unfathomable story is true. God cares. God visits the planet. Moses had his burning bush. The Israelites were saved at the Red Sea. And, in a far away place, a long time ago, angels did sing, shepherds rejoiced, wise men came and worshipped Jesus.

At its best, this is a story about love.

We should listen to stories of love with our whole heart.

A man proposes to a woman.

A friend comes over to your house to help you out since she gets how lonely you are, how unable to help yourself over the next hurdle.

A wise woman writes a book and she is telling you something that applies to you, that will warn you in the right way and steer you in the right direction.

All of this is love being offered. Imagine what suffering, what hard work, what passion, behind such love. The man saved for two years to buy the diamond ring. Your friend is busier than you, yet makes time for you. The wise woman man had to go through years of therapy to get past her shame and fear at letting her light shine. What a pity, then, if any of us are asleep at the wheel whenever any richness is offered us. A diamond ring. A helping hand. Some wise, wise words. The tradition of Hanukkah. The Christmas story of love.

Imagine Bach writing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." Imagine St. Peter hanging upside down as he was crucified, refusing to deny his faith. Imagine Mother Theresa doing her sacred work. Imagine Handel writing the Messiah and truly believing that God had visited him. Imagine your poor, old boring relative speaking about his faith and knowing that people are not really listening to him, but he goes on speaking anyway because something has touched him, because he knows that what he has to say at his boring worst has at its heart something that is far better for us than most of the drivel that is here today and gone tomorrow.

What if these people are onto something?

I would not be writing this, of course, if I did not think they were on to something. Yet I know that Jewish and Christian history is littered with human folly and monstrous evil. I know that the Bible has passages that I do not understand. I despise the exclusivism and meanness that I have seen in Christians who consign people to damnation and do not shed one tear. I have known and still know the silence of God-as a little boy I remember breaking another bone because of my bone disease and as I laid in a ditch sweating with pain I begged God to give me one miracle and heal me on the spot as I cried "Not again! Not again! Not again!" No miracle came. As a former minister I remember praying at the bedside of a good Christian woman who had cancer of the spine. I visited her for months and prayed every time for a miracle for her. One day she grabbed my hand in the middle of a prayer and said "Bob, no more-do not pray for a miracle, it isn't going to happen. Just pray that I will die peacefully and die soon." Who on this planet, in looking around, in looking within, has not known the silence of God? And the silence of God may mean there is silence at the heart of the universe; after all is not said and done, no God. The silence of no God.

And yet in the world of Jesus and the Bible there are words of comfort and truth and wisdom that match any in existence, there is hope in the Easter story that surpasses any story ever told, and the breathtaking regard that Jesus had for all people has launched in the hearts of millions the deepest intention to do good and the hard effort to fight the evils that are within all of us and so evident in the world. And even I have to say that there have been moments in my life, and certainly in the lives of people whom I trust whose stories I have heard, that despite the darkness of the world and the silence of God, every now and then the Divine seems to touch us in some way. And of all the things that impress me, it is the hard effort to be good that seems to me so necessary, and this search for goodness and the Divine is so much more laudable than the meager efforts of those whose lives are self-centered to the max, dismissive or, saddest of all, violent. Violence is the ultimate dismissal.

I do not mean to imply that all those who do not believe in God or search for God are leading dismissive or violent lives. Christopher Hitchens, for example, the famous atheist who passed away a few years ago, led a life of massive attention. He fought violence in all its forms, religious violence included. Who could blame him? His life was anything but glib and trivial. I wish we would have met. I believe that he was an ultimately a good man, even though he would view me as an idiot for entertaining a jaunt in the Christian world. I actually hope and believe that he is on the side of the angels and he is in for some good surprises, angels and otherwise.

But what if those who seek the Divine might be onto something? What if this is one of the highest searches, one of the noblest intentions?

It seems to me, then, that it would be a huge mistake to go to church or synagogue this holy season and give it half an ear for, if that is the case, you might likely tune the whole thing out. Better to go when you are ready to hear it, when you are looking for its power, when you are at least hoping it is true. In other words, it is a very good thing to be in the habit of listening to those who might be onto something, because among that crowd are people who change the world, who light the world with fire. Otherwise, you pass by things as a matter of course, and you might miss the fire that is wanting to torch your life with enthusiasm and passion and a wild sense of your own holy existence.

If you are going to Divine worship this holiday season, pay attention. Do not be dismissive. Be ready for something, perhaps, that you might never want to miss. Of course, it may turn out to be different than I would wish. However, you looked, your searched, you kept your ears and eyes open. You gave it your best shot. And so down the road you will be more ready for the depths of life, the wonder of existence, the light that will find you and help you on your important way.

If you are not going anywhere "religious," I wish you well and I hope that the things you attend to will be rich and meaningful and that you will give them your full attention. Your loved ones around the table. The grandchildren ripping open their presents. The memory of those who have passed away. The lump in your throat. The music that stirs your soul. The words from an old poem that call you to a better place. Your pride at the courage it took to make the decision that was years in the making.

Finally, here is the heart of things. Love is not the Bible, the church or the midnight service. Love is the unexpected gift to the child that has unemployed parents. The meal made for the folks that were going to have bologna sandwiches. The things that swell your heart. I think more of that would be great. It's Hanukkah and Christmas. Let's make someone's heart swell. We can all agree on that. We can all agree on that.


Who knows what The Dig will be next week? Maybe something on long term planning. Or Christmas. Something short, though!

Chat then;

Bob Beverley

P.S. Sharing wisdom is absolutely necessary in this oft foolish world. I'd be honored if you pass THE DIG along to your friends.


Copyright 2017 FindWisdomNow.com.

Bob Beverley is a psychotherapist in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State, USA. He has written Peace Etc. A Journey Through Open Heart Surgery and Other Scary Things, Written to Lessen Your Anxiety, Whatever It May Be; Emotional Elegance (with an Introduction by David Allen; Dear Tiger: A Book for Tiger Woods and For Us All; How to Be a Christian and Still Be Sane and The Secret Behind the Secret Law of Attraction (with Kevin Hogan, Dave Lakhani and Blair Warren). All books are available on Amazon, except "Emotional Elegance" which is available at www.emotionalelegance.com

Bob is available for motivational speaking, consultation, and psychotherapy. Bob is the leader of a unique, life-changing experience called THE SHARP CLUB.

His website is FindWisdomNow.com where you can discover advice that has, as Bob says, "been road-tested in the emotional emergency ward I have always worked in. What I have to say is not a stage show. My audience comes back next week." Bob can be reached at Bob@FindWisdomNow.com