Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thinking A Head


THEN:
There was a time, about 10 years ago when I wanted to ‘be delivered’ from my friend. We were at the beach and there was little to no recycling at the time in South Nags Head. So my friend, refusing to throw anything away that COULD be recycled, packed bags of garbage into their car (it could be composted at home), she loaded  cardboard boxes full of cardboard and cans (that could be recycled at home), and stuffed in bags of plastic bags because she knew a place on the way back that would take them. . .
    I was embarrassed and frustrated at the INconvenience.            

How my mind has changed!

NOW:
 Now, I am one of those people who hate to throw anything away that I can recycle -


so my car is often full of bottles and cans, boxes of cardboard and paper, and bags of plastic...I haven’t yet begun composting in our yard like we did in Warrenton, but I know Joan will do another ‘backyard composting class’ at the Reevesland Learning Garden ...soon.

I watched a series on TV that is set in the 1960s. I was horrified to watch the family get up from a picnic, shake out the blanket and walk away leaving all their trash on the grass. They tossed cigarette butts out the window into the park. (Where was Smokey the Bear?)
    and then I realized that many of us lived this way once.
Mad Men Cast

(Times change as I was reminded looking at pictures of my mom’s bathing suit from the 1940‘s and mine from a younger and thinner day.) that times changes and minds change.
Today, if I see a bag of trash that has cans and bottles in it it makes me feel. . .    frustrated and mad, and if I have on gloves, I will often dive in to rescue and recycle the stuff.

What about you? What is it that makes you cringe about things we once took for granted?
How have you changed - in your lifetime?
Most of us now think twice before throwing things away. “Can it be recycled? Better yet, can it be re-used?”
    And we have started “voting” our displeasure with manufactures that use needless packaging.
    Notice how all the deodorants that once came in boxes are now...

   
Our minds have changed.. .
    Yet today’s dialogue reminds us there are still things we need to pay attention to. Like gas usage and power consumption.
    Did you know Univ. Park CoB was petitioned by their neighborhood to allow solar panels on the roof of the church? They are part of a new energy coop that has their electric meter running backwards!
    For their church, times have REALLY changed!

Today we have heard and read from the Psalms. It is good to listen to these words because the Psalms express the full range of human emotions as we face life and change.

Ps 22 taken as a whole, is a bit of a see-saw, moving back and forth between trust and complaint. By the time we get to the verses we heard today, the writer is expressing praise and adoration for God AND for ALL God has created.1

In the psalms we hear feelings honestly expressed to God. We need reminding that we can tell God exactly what we are thinking - at any point in our journey.

As your spiritual guide, I know that our thoughts and feelings are important. They help us deal with life’s changes & help us recognize how and where we need to change.
    I won’t tell you where to change or what to think, but today I want us all learn something about the process of thinking our way into change.
How we THINK is foundational for how we act.

I read an interesting article by Frances M. Lappe’ who wrote Diet for a Small Planet and I want to share some of her thoughts today.

Lappe’ says we humans are creatures of the mind. How we perceive or think about our world is based on who we are. Some of us grow up in situations where there is not enough (of things or food) and we learn to compete for what is there. We can become territorial and soon we are acting a lot like our dog, Maggie with her football.
    Maggie’s football was a Christmas gift and it was love at first sight.
       She immediately began to be possessive. No one else could play with it, unless you were throwing it for her. Soon, no one could even be in the same room as the football, or she was sure you were going to steal it.     In no time, her territory expanded to the entire yard.     Poor Cole, our little and rather old dog, can’t even go out in the yard without a growling attack from  Maggie, who is afraid of losing what is hers.
   
We may not resort to growling, but at times we think & act as if the earth was our own, to do with it as we please.     When this happens we have forgotten the psalmist’s words, “When I look at YOUR heavens, the work of YOUR fingers.” and instead we have taken over ALL “Dominion” forgetting who the real owner is. “For dominion belongs to the LORD...” v. 28

When we think possessively, we can use WHATever we want, WHENever we want.
We can exhaust fossil fuels in a few lifetimes -that took countless years to form.
When the earth’s yard is ours, we can dig holes in the ground and fill them with trash, not caring if it will decompose.
We can take what we want from the oceans and put back into them whatever contaminants we choose.
    All because the earth is OUR yard.  It’s an issue of HOW we think about what is ours and what is God’s.

My car is an example. Beside often being filled with recyclables on their way to the Blue Arlington Bin, the backseat often gets full of trash and office supplies like resource books. the back has my gym stuff (not always the best of odors) and I have a large supply of reusable bags scattered across the back.
    What this means is that when I offer you a ride, the car is a mess. and truthfully, I don’t mind leaving it that way. It’s MY car. And if I offer you a ride...well . . .
    But my son has learned to keep his car in a different state. Other than a scarf and sunglasses, there is rarely anything laying on his seats. His trunk is organized with a plastic box for roadside emergency supplies and his reusable grocery bags. When I borrow his car I am careful to remove any trash, take all my stuff with me and return any grocery bags I use. Why? because it’s not MINE.

I believe we all act that way, whether we are borrowing a car, someone’s vacation home, or a tool. We try our best to return them in the same - or better shape than we found them. Am I right?

So, is the reason I act differently with my son’s car, because I am afraid of him so I cooperate?
    is it because I care more about his car or about him?
        Is it a matter of what is fair?
   
What is it about How I think that changes...me?

Lappe’ says humans have ways of thinking that result in our ability to change.
Do you like to cooperate? (Sounds like a K-garden evaluation; “does the student play well with others?”)  Science has discovered that “when human beings cooperate, our brains’ pleasure centers are as stimulated as when we eat chocolate!”2 
    When we cooperate, we separate ourselves from God’s other creatures by letting our THINKING effect our actions.
    We can even change our thinking to accommodate each other’s needs or to recognize God’s sovereignty.

We humans also distinguish ourselves from God’s other creatures by our empathy. It is so ingrained in our beings that babies cry at the sound of other babies crying but rarely at a recording of their own cries.”3

How we think is effected by our “Mirror neurons” that respond to other people’s emotional states as well as their actions. We can think differently because we can care.
      it sounds a bit like Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, doesn’t it? ‘Happy are those who are merciful for they shall receive mercy.’ So cooperating and caring for each other can change the way we think. (Maybe it explains why I now care about recycling.)
When we cooperate and care we quickly learn that Injustice destroys community. We know that when trust is eroded and we are fearful, life is NOT good. Some of it comes when we fear losing what we THINK is ours, but we also find our contentment is based on experiencing life as ‘fair’.

the Psalms often lament to God that life is UNFAIR and ask God to render justice. We too ask God for justice. I wonder if we are prepared for God to act if we turn out to be the UNjust culprits who DON’T CARE for God’s earth.  
You may have heard of a speech that Chief Seattle  made to President Franklin Pierce. The exact text is a matter of great debate. We don’t know his exact words but supposedly the Chief said,
    “All things share the same breath, the earth does not belong to man but man to the earth. all things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Man did not weave the web of life he is merely a strand in it.”
    it sounds a bit like the psalmist, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the LORD.” (Ps 22:27-28)

All God’s creatures and all creation are in this life - together. How we think about the earth can result in justice for the earth.

Lappe’s goes on to say that humans are basically doers, we like to care for things, not just observe. She says we are “creatures of meaning, seeking ways to give our days value beyond ensuring our own survival.” and that ultimately humans are able to change’.
Change is the “Key to human nature at every level from brains to minds to societies.”

We think, therefore we are? Hopefully, we think before we act. Our thinking includes imagination. So, we can envision a life different from what is “and make the changes we must.”     Because we can THINK about how we act, we take pleasure in the challenge of change.

We humans have changed a lot since the psalmists’ words of long ago and we’ve changed since the 1960‘s. Yet we know there is a lot more to do.
    When our THINKING recognizes our Creator as the true owner of this earth, we can discover meaning for our lives by living in harmony with God’s creation.
    Our empathy and mutual cooperation can result in doing what is just for the earth. And our God-given ability to THINK will enjoy every challenge.     I THINK change is on the horizon, what do you THINK?

1 comment:

Martha Spong said...

We change and we don't, right? That Mad Men scene affected me, too. I want to say it shocked me, but really, it convicted me.