Honey and Oil

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher, who laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities.

My good friend, Mark, recently sent me the following quote from Pascal with a question about “what do you think”. I “regurgitated” the response that I entitled Honey and Oil: Proverbs 5. I did not respond to the issue of pride because Mark solicited my “take” on the sensuality portion of Pascal’s quote. Perhaps another time, another regurgitation.

Richard

I just came across this by Pascal: “Your principal maladies are pride, which cuts you off from God, and sensuality, which binds you to the earth.”  What do you think Pascal is saying in the 2nd half?

Mark

Honey and Oil: Proverbs 5.

She, like glue, binds me to her.

I, the sucker, who continues to succumb to her pleasures.

Nothing sweeter than honey.

Nothing smoother than oil.

No satiation.

Temporary explosion.

Intoxication. 

Then addiction.

When can I get another hit?

Why do I continue to return?

Momentary intoxication.

So powerful.

I keep returning to it.

A cesspool.

But, I am attached.

Like glue, I am bound.

Who can save me from this body of death?

Oh, wretched man that I am.

And, then I remember.

When I was yet a sinner, Jesus died for me. 

To be attached to him.

Behold, He stands at the door and knocks.

Surely He doesn’t mean it.

Surely I am tainted beyond redemption.

So, I wallow in the “sweetness” of the honey.

And, the “smoothness” of the oil.

Devil disguised artificial sweeteners.

Devil disguised chemical lubricators.

Me, starving for substance.

And bound to earth.

Help me Jesus!

Perspective

Perspective.

Standing on the outside, looking in.

Not seeing everything.

Yet, seeing some things those inside do not see.

When I am wrong, help me see.

May I humbly accept the error.

Help me confront the wrong.

And offer what is helpful.

And, that, in the spirit of Christ.

Do I see through a glass darkly?

I desire to see face-to-face with Jesus.

Do I see my own reflection?

Do I see my reflection as in a carnival mirror?

Do I see projection in the mirror that reflects neither Christ nor truth.

Help me know when I am wrong in spite of my sincerity.

Help me see where I am an accomplice to oppression:

While thinking I am pointing out the oppression.

Help me accept that I need iron that sharpens iron.

May I not see myself as the lone honing stone.

Oppression. Suppression.

Choice. Compulsion.

Invitation. Repulsion.

Opportunity. Ultimatum.

Good intentions gone awry.

He stands at the door and knocks.

He offers an invitation.

May I do likewise.

May I stand at the door and wait for the door to be opened.

Not pounding and threatening, insisting I be allowed entry.

Lest I lose the trust and confidence from the one I seek to love.

Invitation and not ultimatum.

May I be like the Christ.

May my desire be to dine and learn.

May I not force and impose.

Spirit of sadness. I see in part. It is heavy.

Spirit of cutting. I see in part. It is heavy.

Help me understand them more fully.

The sadness and cutting.

How do I contribute to the sadness?

How do I contribute to the cutting?

Help me see if I am one who cuts.

Help me see the part I play in the oppression.

Help me not to pride myself on my personal piety.

Prevent me from running amok with well-intentioned, but errant ferver.

Help me not preen feathers that need to be humbled.

Christ did not say, My way, or the highway.

He invited and wooed.

He came not to judge.

May I be like Jesus.

Richard L. Brewer

July 18, 2020

“Perspective can change your opinions, but it can never alter truth. Truth remains steadfast and unwavering regardless of spin, manipulation, or culture” (https://medium.com/@chrisbehnke/perspective-can-change-your-opinions-but-it-can-never-alter-the-truth-7bc4b2c29005#:~:text=taken%2Dby%3Dchrisbehnke-,Perspective%20can%20change%20your%20opinions%2C%20but%20it%20can%20never%20alter,spin%2C%20manipulation%2C%20or%20culture ).

Reflections on the Fourth

United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

Inclusion. (1)

Exclusion. (2)

Infusion. (3)

I rather like the intention of infusion.

Such courage and risk.

“All for one and one for all.” (4)

Healthy, robust community.

Love, trust, and safety.

Just a Musketeer claim?

Merely a pipe-dream?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Declaration of Independence).

A radical declaration.

A declaration of treason.

Such aspiration!

The intention of the Declaration, still a work in progress.

My way is the right way.

Your way is the right way.

Easy to get along and include if you agree with me or I with you.

Exclusion, judgment, punishment if disagreement.

Where is civility?

Where is discourse?

Where is the love?

Infusion.

Might it work?

What are the costs?

What are the gains?

The agenda is supreme.

Yet, my and your agendas are certainly extreme and supreme.

With little wiggle room.

Acceptance without condoning?

Love without conditions?

The woman caught in adultery—in the very act.

Got her!

Stone her!

Some doodling in the sand.

No word spoken until the clincher.

“The one who has no sin.

That one cast the first stone.”

A bombardment of stones?

Nary a one.

Redemption?

Retribution?

Self-absorbed without compassion?

Radical infusion.

Self-righteousness propels the stones.

Love is radical and seems antithetical.

But, the Rabbi, demonstrated it.

On whose/what side are we?

Religion?

Politics?

Nationalism?

Just who is my brother and sister?

The Rabbi espoused the radical.

He said come follow Me.

Just who are we following?

And, Jesus wept.

Richard L. Brewer

7/5/20

(1). “The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure.”

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS882US882&sxsrf=ALeKk03NSnV3MK-d2ijLdoVGkhakz5ydTA%3A1593866373804&ei=hXgAX9vYMNSoytMPw5eP8As&q=inclusion+definition&oq=inclusion+definition&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzIJCCMQJxBGEPkBMgIIADICCAAyBggAEAcQHjIGCAAQBxAeMgYIABAHEB4yBggAEAcQHjIGCAAQBxAeMgYIABAHEB4yBggAEAcQHjoECAAQQzoHCAAQFBCHAjoMCAAQsQMQQxBGEPkBOgQIABANUPSGAljcmgJg1Z8CaABwAHgAgAF6iAGbBpIBAzcuMpgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwibr574zrPqAhVUlHIEHcPLA74Q4dUDCAw&uact=5&safe=active&ssui=on

“Inclusion is a basic right of everyone and its objective should be to embrace everyone regardless of race, age, gender, disability, religious and cultural beliefs and sexual orientation. When we have true inclusion, it is when we have removed all barriers, discrimination and intolerance. When implemented properly, it should make everyone feel included and supported, whichever environment they are in.”

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/what-inclusion-how-do-we-implement-it

(2). “The process or state of excluding or being excluded.”

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS882US882&sxsrf=ALeKk008Z8Mv-rL1onxdl5w2c8rVlydhMg%3A1593866093987&ei=bXcAX5X1O9utytMPxtyCgAY&q=exclusion+definition&oq=exclusion+definition&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzIJCCMQJxBGEPkBMgYIABAHEB4yBggAEAcQHjICCAAyBggAEAcQHjIGCAAQBxAeMgYIABAHEB4yBggAEAcQHjIGCAAQBxAeMgYIABAHEB46BAgAEEc6BAgAEEM6BAgjECc6BQgAEJECOgcIABCxAxBDOgkIABBDEEYQ-QE6DAgjELACECcQRhD5AToECAAQDVCqjApYr6gKYO-0CmgAcAF4AIABcYgBvQeSAQQxMC4xmAEAoAEBqgEHZ3dzLXdpeg&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwjV3-fyzbPqAhXblnIEHUauAGAQ4dUDCAw&uact=5&safe=active&ssui=on

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269488992_Inclusion_A_Defining_Definition

(3). “The introduction of a new element or quality into something.”

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS882US882&sxsrf=ALeKk01S31Ky4vPZjctBsEtKr3HHMzJq4Q%3A1593866041732&ei=OXcAX9qaLLSwytMPxZar4Ag&q=infusion+definition&oq=infusion&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgAMgQIABBHMgQIABBHMgQIABBHMgQIABBHMgQIABBHMgQIABBHMgQIABBHMgQIABBHUABYAGCwfWgAcAF4AIABAIgBAJIBAJgBAKoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab&safe=active&ssui=on

(4). All the members of a group support each of the individual members, and the individual members pledge to support the group.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/all-for-one-and-one-for-all

Go and Do Likewise

Go and do likewise.

Words matter.

Hearts matter.

Love matters.

Actions matter.

Love shatters apathy and hate.

Prejudice in all.

Not one exception.

No one to throw the first stone.

All stand deficient.

Yet, all seek to justify.

All claim sufficiency.

The man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead.

The priest walked by.

The Levite walked by.

The hated Samaritan came next.

And, he stopped.

He was a despised half-breed.

He stopped.

He bandaged the wounds.

He carried him to an inn.

He gave money and promised more.

What prompted such a display?

What was to be learned?

The attorney started it:

An expert in the law.

He asked a question.

“Which is the greatest law?”

The one probed, probed back.

“What say you?”

His answer was spot on.

Yet, he lacked insight, understanding, and application.

“Who is my neighbor?”

No direct answer, but a story.

A parable of the Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan.

A costly demonstration of unexpected love.

He paid whatever it cost.

“Who was the neighbor?”

Who showed love?

“The despised half-breed.”

“Go and do likewise.”

Richard L. Brewer

6/6/2020

To The Ones Who Suffer; I understand in part.

Morbidly, malignantly self-conscious. Condemned.

Who can rescue me from this body of death?!

I work so hard to keep others from knowing how terrible I really am.

And, I am fearful of others seeing me and condemning me.

Yet, I am so sure they know already and I am already damned.

I have standards that I do not understand.

I do not know where they came from.

I know some: but I am the one who is tormented by them.

Pain, grief, anxiety, sadness, guilt, shame…

And, the list could go on.

I condemn myself and am convinced that I am without value.

But, I try so hard and fall so short, and confused.

Others, I am sure, see the worst of me, which is all of me.

Those who treat me well and love me must be blind or delusional.

I am drawn to that which confirms my damning picture. Even to consider those things confirms I am without value and condemned.

Yet, I believe other things, too. I believe in God. I believe that God purchased my redemption.

Why do I have such turmoil?

My soul cries out.

My tears go unshed and build into mounds of oppression.

Yet, I keep up the smile lest I betray my darkness and let others see me.

I keep everyone from really knowing me, including myself.

Is there one who sees me objectively? God?

He must be embarrassed. He must want to thrash me. I sure do.

Yet, I hurt and I believe in Him, but it is not rock solid. It is like I depend on me vs. Him.

Oh, that it were rock solid. I could stand on the immovable.

I try to stand on myself, my perception of who I am.

That is only shifting sand and shadows. It does not work.

Oh, God, help me to experience you and know you more deeply.

Who you say you are; not what my morbid, malignant self-condemnation sees.

Lord, keep the thief from stealing, killing, and destroying. Protect what is yours.

And, help me to be your willing accomplice for good and healing.

Richard L. Brewer

05/03/2020

Darth: May the 4th be with you?

Many thanks to my dear poet friend, Mark (MT). His inspiration led to the following creation (adulteration). He gave me permission to piggy back on his creation. I am most grateful to my dear, dear friend.

Luke Ponders His Fate

I heard the sound of Darth,

His voice was echo-like and raspy.

As were all the sounds that surrounded.

This seductive, chasmic expanse.

Luring me to stray from being mindful.

Of the power of Darth.

The continuously lurking and killing kind of Darth.

The stomp of the elephant would be fast and final.

Darth’s taunts are blunt, brutal, yet conniving, even attractive.

Darth can sound like the tender trill of the chickadee.

To listen and heed is the continuous erosion of vitality.

Me, an accomplice of Darth?

I could readily see me succumb to the raspy lure of Darth.

What will be?

It is decided by me.

Me thinks I have no courage.

So, I succumb and hide under my pile of dirt

and close my eyes to the world.

My choice.

And, then the voice in the still of the Garden:

“Adam, where are you?

Richard L. Brewer

4/30/2020

PANDEMIC

Pandemic.

Deadly potential.

Isolate to lower the curve.

Social distancing: an oxymoron.

Covid-19.

From the bat cave.

H5N1.

Blame it on the birds.

H1N1, S-OIV. 1

When pigs fly. And, the swine flu.

COVID-19. Worse than the others?

All, thrust upon us.

Threat?

Disaster?

Opportunity?

All and more?!

COVID-19.

Power beyond what the eye can see without an aid.

Tiny but mighty.

Vulgar virus.

What does vulgar mean?

At least two dictionary definitions:

“Explicit and offensive; coarse and rude, and
Characteristic of or belonging to the masses.”2

Both explicitly fit.

Consequences yet unknown.

Dire predictions and messages of hope.

Hope: confident expectation.

New normal?

Old normal?

Maybe both.

The message of the resurrection.

Old and new.

From the foundations of the world.

Opportunity for transformation.

Threat, disaster, opportunity.

All true.

It is Easter.

And, hope still remains.

Richard L. Brewer

April 11, 2020

Psalm 39:7, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”

Romans 5:3-5,”We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

  1. From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1) pdm09 virus. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/2009-h1n1-pandemic.html
  2. https://www.google.com/search?q=defintion+of+vulgar&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS882US882&oq=defintion+of+vulgar&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l7.6339j1j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&safe=active&ssui=on

“Where did you get that!?”

I remember the weekly trips to the grocery store. It was a family adventure. I remember walking down the aisles and, for a break in the monotony, making sure I did not step on any cracks on the floor. With such little feet, it was easy to stay within the tiles. I remember the aroma of coffee after it was freshly ground. You could buy the beans and grind it before you left the store. I also remember marshmallows in boxes. Chips, too, and soda in returnable bottles.  But I stray from my opening question. “Where did you get that!?”  Let me explain.

Treats were just that: treats. A bag of candy was a treasure. Three little boys to share a bag of candy. I do not know if mom and dad ate any at all; but I figured that whatever was in the bag, 1/3 belonged to me.  Anyway, my older brother apparently was not much of a candy eater. My younger brother was a candy consumer. It was essential to have a safeguard, or the candy would be gone within a day or two. That disturbed me and not just a little. I was incensed. The candy was gone and not because I had eaten my third. It was gone because my younger brother knew neither about fractions nor sharing. Egregious. I am sure I complained, but I took things into my own hands.

As I have already shared, I figured a third belonged to me. And I counted out my third and hid it. My own personal cache. That way, I was assured that my third was protected, and I could enjoy the candy for an entire week. It was a grand and successful scheme. My younger brother never found my hiding place, and I made sure not to retrieve any candy when nobody was around to divulge my hiding place. It worked brilliantly. It also became fun, a bit of a taunt against my younger brother. He would see me eating some of my portion and would demand, “Where did you get that!?” I would reply that it was part of my share, he had eaten his, and I consumed with nary a sense of obligation to share. There was not a bit of guilt either. He could had proportioned his third like I had. It was his fault he had no more to savor. He likely consumed more than a third of the candy, but my third had been secured, and I was not going to share any of it with him.

So, what is my point? Why do I need one? We are amid a COVID-19 pandemic and have been ordered to engage in social distancing. Memories arose and I elected to type about them. I could claim that my point is the importance of limits and boundaries. That would be valid. I could confess that I enjoy gloating about my success at protecting my third and taunting my younger brother. That would be valid. I could confess that I was selfish. But, I won’t. I think I was justified. It has been fun to reminisce. I still like candy. I still have tendency to want hide to the treasure. I will share but am still mindful that if I am not careful, someone will eat more than their fair share. The danger now? If I hide it, I may never be able to find it. When I stumble across it, it is likely stale. Stale is still better than not finding it. It is also a pleasant discovery, and I find myself asking myself: “Where did you get that!?”

Despair

I have had the privilege of spending time with people who have struggled with life. Some of those have felt so desperate they have contemplated suicide. Not that they wanted to die, but they felt so hopeless and despairing they contemplated suicide as a way out of their darkness. I attended a seminar recently. Suicide prevention was the focus. As I pondered suicide the following spilled out. It is raw and essentially unedited. My poetry, if that is what is called, is like singing in the shower.  It resonates with me. I imagine it will also resonate with others My heart goes out to those who find themselves feeling helpless, hopeless, and hapless. Hope? Suicide closes that door. May those who need hope, find it. Find someone you trust and share with that trusted other. Dare to reach out. Dare to be that trusted other.

Dare I not

Tattered.

Shattered.

Scattered.

Have I ever mattered?

Death where is your sting.

Bring it on!

I have longed for it.

Despair.

Life?

Hardly.

Like I was killed and not allowed to die.

Where?

What?

Whom?

Trapped!

Despair.

Yet, hanging on.

Why?

There is less?

There is more?

Even though crushed.

Still a desperation for hope.

Is it within me or beyond me?

Maybe both.

Perhaps the beyond.

Then the within.

More than synchronicity!

I hunger for it.

The pangs are potent.

Dare I hope to eat?

If only I could turn the stones of life into bread.

But bread alone is not enough.

But I crave it.

I crave drink, too.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”.

Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst”.

Tattered.

Shattered.

Scattered.

Have I ever mattered?

Dare I risk eating?

Dare I risk drinking?

Dare I not?

Richard L. Brewer

02/05/2020