Thursday, January 1, 2009

marymajor's New Year message

It's the first day of 2009 so I'm using a different font for this post, just for a little change of pace. I've also posted a photograph of one of my favorite flower arrangements (when it is not being posed against a white background it is sitting on a bureau in the living area next to my Christmas tree).

I want to speak to all of you, including those who are on different calendars, and so you have already had your own cultural New Year's Day, or it is yet to come.

I'm not one who pays very much attention to the calendars of humankind, even my own Gregorian calendar. Sometimes I don't even know what day of the week it is, unless I check the newspaper. I've always been like that because my philosophy about time is much different from everyone else's. Time is an important commodity, but the measurement of time is meaningless. What do I mean by that?

Time is golden, but it is not gold.

Time is very valuable as it is actually being lived, in the "here and now." Time wasted is never regained. However, once time moves from the present into the past, it has absolutely no relevance or value unless it was converted into something that was lasting.

For example, our society is obsessed with meaningful dates of joyous or sad events in the past. Let us use a birthday for example. But for most humans who lived, many of them as recently as the last century had no idea as to the calendar date of their own birthday. Birthdays were not observed or recorded in Biblical times, by either religious or pagans. One often did not know the actual year that one was born. The calendar is simply a tool for managing time as one is living it. Once time has been lived it has absolutely no further value unless it has been turned into something substantial and lasting, such as love, or wisdom.

US first President George Washington was one of the greatest men who ever lived, and we celebrate (or at least we used to) his birthday. But he was not great because of his birthday. His birthday gives us pause to remember his greatness. That is because Washington took the time that was given to him in his life and he converted it to activities that endured in the fight for and founding of this country. Suppose calendars didn't exist then, so what if Washington knew not what day he was born or any "date" for anything that he did as he fought for and created this country? Nothing would be different, because it is the deeds not the date that is important. The time that Washington lived was golden because he turned what he did into gold that has endured in its preciousness.

I'm not saying to abolish all calendars, though sometimes I am tempted. Instead, I wish that people would lose some of the neuroses that they have acquired about time and calendars. I first realized that many people have an unhealthy set of beliefs about calendars when I was "undercover" doing psychological work with a great cultist. Many things about me baffled her, but one in particular stands out. She could not understand two things. The first was that she could not understand why I seemed to have no interest in what we can broadly call "the past." Being a self admitted reincarnation believer (the New Age type, not the genuinely motivated traditional faith believers) she was obsessed with who "used to be" who and "what happened" in "past lives." New age reincarnation believers have a morbid fascination and thus a bondage worse than any slavery (since this bondage is voluntary and imaginary) to the past. So she thought I was an uninformed idiot for not obsessing about "past" events.

But who is the idiot, because the clue was right in front of her in the form of the second thing about me that baffled her. I have an intensely accurate and continuous awareness of where I am and where events occur regarding the cardinal directions of the earth: north, south, east and west. She marveled and was stymied to understand how I even have a total sense of direction in my dreams! For example, when I dream, I know where the dream action, such as it is, occurs in terms of the actual geographic orientation on earth. When I described a dream I could say, "Well, she was facing north and then people walked in an eastern direction until this that and the other thing happened." She had no idea why that was but the real sin was not to be curious enough to realize that I was not the fool in that duet.

Life and time is all about the here and now. It does not matter if it is your daughter's birthday, celebrating the day in the past that she was born, if you do not love her and you abuse her. If you have a daughter and you love her and have raised her to be a happy person with as much maturity and peace of mind as it is possible to have in this troubled world, then you have converted your golden time into "gold," and the date of her birth or any other calendar event is hardly relevant. You celebrate her graduation in June because she grew in joy and wisdom in school, not because it is happening on a particular human invented calendar date in June. I always know "where I am" and "what I am doing;" and that is why it manifests in my curious but simple to understand orientation on the real here and now earth in my real here and now life.

One thing that irks me about certain Christian denominations is that they use calendars to try to be "more correct" or more "accurate in the faith" than others, in actual competition. My goodness, people don't even know the actual date of Jesus' physical birth and yet some Christian denominations have false pride in being more "historically accurate" in their calendar. What makes me sad is that they have much more to be genuinely proud of, for example, the Orthodox who have preserved in their modern celebration so much of the old reverential ancient liturgy. Be proud of that; not in imaginary "accuracy" about dates from a time when people themselves barely knew what year they were born.

Notice the ancient Israelites kept careful calendars but not of the dates of individual people, but the dates of performance of their obligation to God. This is why I resonate with the Jewish calendar (though I don't pore over its pages, LOL, since I'm just not into calendars), because the faithful who follow the Jewish calendar are doing it for God, not for their own self congratulatory agendas.

Likewise my own church, the Catholic Church, has it right with its Liturgical Calendar. Through the year the Church celebrates the cycle of our faith. It is not the dates that is important, nor some sort of sense of "anniversary" repetition. It is, like the Jewish calendar, focus on God, and the great gift that he has given to us all in Jesus Christ. By celebrating through the Liturgical year we honor God and his prophets and saints, we remind ourselves of all that God has done for us, and we raise the young (and the new to the faith) up and draw them closer into immersion in the faith and the glory of God. I love the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church. It is only diminished a little bit for me, though, as I have come to realize that cultists have through their own delusion "written themselves into Bible history" by actually thinking that they played a role in the times of the actual holy men and women who lived (once and only once) and who are now in heaven (not "reincarnated").

The Catholic Church has thus taken its two thousand year history and turned all of that time, good and bad, into gold. Not because the dates and the calendar pages were gold, but because the deeds that were accomplished, the words that were said, and the faith role models for salvation and charity were golden, and thus live on transformed into the gold of permanence generation after generation.

The five pillars of the Muslim faith are beautiful, not because they are five instead of four, or because the Prophet (PBUH) first performed his worship on a certain day in a certain calendar year, but because his golden example lives on as gold.

Calendars are important to know what date to show up with other people to celebrate God and life in its goodness, or to mourn the sad events as they happen, as they are part of life. But calendars are not tar pits that one must step into day after day and year after year in backward looking real or imaginary grief. As dangerous a tar pit is to look back on dates and events of a real past or an imaginary one and use it to puff up one's own inflated ego, cultivating hubris. Terrorists look back on real events in order to focus their outrage, which may or may not be justified, in unproductive and dark commemoration of wrongs or other terrorist events. Cultists continually look back on the past as "reasons" for "why" things are today, neglecting even the most fundamental use of logic and reasoning to deduce the actual reasons that people are the way they are. They would rather imagine they are reincarnated or imaginary descendants of Mary Magdalene than to recognize that, as the news reports today, there is an increased risk of mental disturbance among adults who were premature babies. They never look for rational reasons for problems; they always look for a way that they can insert themselves as heroes or anti-heroes into someone else's past.

So here we are, the first day or two of 2009. What does "New Year" mean? What does "2009" mean? All it means is whatever you have harvested of your time in 2008 and brought forward into genuine goodness that is "gold." Unfortunately, I think that due to lack of meaningful use of the golden time of 2008, there are now two reasons (the other being the secular economic crisis) that so many people are hurting with a lot less "gold" as 2009 begins. Try not to waste the time that you have each day. And remember, that does not mean a frenetic level of "productive" activity. Being quiet and appreciative of the goodness of life and God's mercy is not a waste of time.