Friday, August 12, 2016

How do I neighbor?

Prayer: Holy One: you have called us to fulfill all the commandments by Love.
Teach us to love as you love, and More fully, live as you lived. 

How do you Neighbor?  Used in this way Neighbor, this becomes a verb. A verb shows action, and Jesus is seeking action from each of us.
            Over the next few weeks you will hear several versions of how to enact “being a neighbor.”  Just Like several people who witness the same accident, the story will be different, but the basic message will be the same.
            We are to love God with all our hearts, our souls and our intent; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
            Several things become apparent to me as I read these verses. I have some awareness of loving God, but where do I see my neighbor in order to express love, and finally how to I express love to myself?

            Jesus says “:Love god with all of you and Love your Neighbor as you love yourself. What kind of love am I supposed to conjure up for people and lands; I have never seen?

And why is something so simply stated, so difficult to truly comprehend? 

            It appears to me that the question is not so much Who is my neighbor but rather Who …my neighbor is not. That is the deeper question and deserves an answer.
            Who am I but all of these. Christian, Pagan Muslim, Buddhist, Black, Gay, straight Transsexual? People I agree with? People I strongly disagree with?  I am to love each of these places within myself if I am to fully embrace Jesus words.

            Sometimes it is more difficult to love myself because I know myself so well. I know the good, the bad and the ugly and I pass judgment on what is lovable in me.
                    I grew up in a small town in Washington state, that wasn’t segregated by neighborhoods like New York City- Italian, Irish, German, African American or Polish. It did have neighborhoods where you should feel safe because people were like “you” There were wealthy neighborhood and uptown neighborhoods. And then, there was my neighborhood.
             Across the bridge, down by the railroad tracks with more taverns than churches. Slum neighborhoods. Gratefully, there were some churches!

            I was aware of the difference in how neighbors were defined, because when I tried to make friends with the rich kids they were told I wasn’t from their neighborhood. Often, I wasn’t allowed to play with those kids. It left a strong impression in my heart that I wasn’t good enough and didn’t fit in.

            So, most of my life has been spent trying to “fix” that and change my history.

             I started attending Sunday School at the small church next door. One of the first songs I learned in SS was “Jesus loved the little children, All the children of the world. Red and Yellow, Black and white…We are precious in His sight.” Just a moment here. Back in the 40’s  My town had no Indians, Asian or Black people. Only white. But the song said we were all loved.
               My journey began. When I moved to Seattle to attend college. It was a Christian college, but I was different because I was from an un-churched home that was shattered by divorce and addictions, alcoholism and drugs. I didn’t feel Ike their neighbor at all and they didn’t want to be my neighbor

            When I read the verse in Matthew 22 about two commandments that fulfill all the others. Love God with all your heart: and Love your neighbor as yourself. I was perplexed. I didn’t really love myself because I didn’t think I was worth loving. The history of my childhood neighborhood lived in me. The song of everyone was precious in Jesus sight continued to roll through my thoughts. Am I really precious to Jesus?

             So I focused on loving my neighbor. The Big problem was how to love people who didn’t love me. I began to notice lots of people in my world who were different from other people. I went to work for a street ministry called Teen Challenge and we found lots of people needing help:  alcoholics and drug addicts: prostitutes: homosexuals, homeless to name a few. They needed God’s love and I identified with their pain. Was this who Jesus was talking about?

            I WENT BACK TO COLLEGE to my safe environment and tried to understand myself as I was inside.
             Jesus showed that my neighbor does not mean someone from the church or faith to which I belong. It has no reference to race, color, or class distinction. I determined that My neighbor is every person I meet or know about whether I have ever met them. My neighbor is every soul who is wounded and bruised, who is educated, wealthy or homeless My neighbor is everyone. We all belong to God. And are loved by Jesus
            I believe as I walk this journey I have companions’ unseen by human eyes. I believe Angels were beside the Samaritan who cared for the wounded traveler. Angels who stand by all who do God's service in ministering love to their fellow travelers.

            If our neighbors were only those who are beaten and left along the road, it would be easy to identify them. Wherever there is an impulse of love and sympathy, wherever the heart reaches out to bless and uplift others, there the working of God's Holy Spirit is revealed

            The question I started with, how do you and I ,neighbor? I think it is only as we see Jesus in one another.  As I see myself in every person regardless of language or skin color or faith.

             I believe The Holy Spirit has implanted the loving grace of Christ into our hearts. The "Light which lights every man that comes into the world" (John 1:9), is shining in our souls; and this light, if heeded, will guide our feet to love our neighbor!

            If I am to love neighbor as myself, it is imperative that I know that I am known by the one who created me.  I am precious in God’s sight!

            I am wholeness just as I am, and held in Spirit’s embrace. I am the one in the many. We are all one in God.

            I am perfection, In God’s sight. I am worthy of love.. which means that I know my true nature as my Creator- called me into being.

            I am loved enough to neighbor to myself. Regardless of any flaws I see.

            Loving God, neighbor and self are single commands by the Divine. Thou shalt…love God wholly. With all that I am because I am one with God, and my neighbor is one with me, and I am one with my neighbor regardless of gender, nationally, education, spirituality path or personal history.

             The neighborhood I carry within doesn’t minimize or segregate me, it bonds me with those with whom I share this planet. I continue to learn that we are all one people and we are all precious in God’s sight. Sometimes I feel that I still have a long way to grow into that understanding. Sometimes the hurtful pains of my past rise to the surface and I have to stop and listen to the childhood song inside.
“All are precious In Christ’s sight.”

            Only as I own this truth, can I truly live in Love, who is the Living Christ, and begin again. to love God, my neighbor and myself.
            It also stands to reason, if I love God totally, I will love the creation that has been given to us, and if I love my neighbor I will do all within my power to build them up through prayer and kindness. If I love myself it is not blasphemy to say that I am at the heart of the living, eternal Spirit that created us all. I am one with the eternal heart of love.

How do I neighbor? With respect, acceptance and an extravagant welcome that oozes love.

I encourage each of us to remember as a worldwide community of faith, we are stronger together, and each of us are one in the many.

I pray you will go out this week and look for opportunities to Love God, your neighbor and  especially, yourself.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Labryrinth awaits

On the 4th Saturday of each month, at 4 pm, we schedule a walk.
Given my problems with balance and walking, I was uncertain if I could navigate the path to do the full walk.
      My "intention" as it has been for several walks was to find healing around the loss of my sister.
       Slowly, step by step,  I began the walk. I watched the path, and the edge of it, determined to navagate the pathway.
    Lord, I can't make it all the way to the center.
     Is that your goal?
    No, just one step at a time
     Many paths are cut short before they finish. Does that make them less significant?
     I guess you mean just because Deb was so young, doesn't mean she didn't live to completion.
      Ok, and just because I have balance and walking issues doesn't mean I've failed because I didn't make the goal.
     More silence.
    I stepped to the center, feeling I had cheated because I didn't walk the whole thing.
    Look up, Darlene. See those whispy clouds against the blue sky?
What do they tell you?
       They are beautiful..not like the large fluffy ones.
       So it is with Debbie...and so it is with you, my daughter.
It's not in walking each step, it's the intention of your heart that matters to me. 
       The Labrynith awaits your intention. Draw strength from those who have walked before, and those who share the path with you this day...Some may walk with strength of purpose, and yet,
fail to see the beauty, the wind against your face; the smell of the trees...
     I raised my arms to the heavens.  This, I can do. Thank You Lord.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I've been thinking a lot in recent weeks of how I want to be remembered when I am no longer physically upon this earth. No, I don't plan on catching that train anytime soon, but someday it will be my turn!

I have long since abandoned my own obituary:
Here lies a  poet,
Who couldn't spell.
She got saved,
escaping hell
She lived, and loved,
And had a ball;
What killed her was trying to write it all!

by D.B

Having written several obituaries for others has given me the opportunity to consider not only what will be said about me, but who will remember what was said, and more importantly, how did I impact the lives of others?  Was it as I intended.  (not always the same thing as reality)

And what of my self imposed tasks to accomplish? I am working on two books that are very important to complete and get published. God has gifted me with writing skills, and an awesome editor who journies with me through these projects. I feel an urgency to complete them.

I have several trips in my future, to spend time with Becky and enjoy the USA, I might even have another book or two simmering in my heart. Those are all things that I DO. I'm learning to be a human being, not a human doing.

I had lunch with a very special niece today and we talked for hours. She lost a sister through a tragedy 3 years ago. I asked how she was handling it, this far out!  She said she was still angry. (This was a drug situation)  She doesn't talk much because she has trust issues. She asked how I was dealing with my sisters recent death. I explained, for me talking to trusted and "safe" people, really helps.  Thank You to my Church resources and friends. My niece has plenty of reason NOT to trust people, but I won't tell her story.  This is mine.

She said "Aunt Darlene, God has blessed you and given you a heart of compassion for others. You can be relied on to do what you say you will. You are kind and affect lots of lives.  You stand up when you need too, and pray for everyone. That's how people will remember you"

Wow. It's not my sermons...not my books...none of that is more important than love, and love makes a difference.

My bucket list?  To be a lover.

When I was sixteen, I wrote a poem which I will share here. Yes...I still remember it.


SO, I GUESS MY FEELING AT THIS AGE IS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS IT WAS BACK IN 1962.  Except the money thing would be nice. LOL!

So, I invest in people, and if I never travel to far off lands...I can watch other's video's.

I'm still in process. Wait, is that a train I hear?
In deep affection to anyone who reads this musing, or rambling!

Repairative Therapy doesn't repair anything

I was asked recently to write a 500 word article on my experience with both receiving and giving this kind of therapy over my life. Hopefully it will reach others that feel this is an "Answer" and can once again   demonstrate the harm done not only to adults but to the youth of our nation.

Darlene Bogle:  Former Director of Paraklete Ministries-an Exodus Referal group

Long before I knew someone wanted to repair me, I was just a happy go lucky tom-boy. My days were spent climbing trees and fighting with my brother over who would wear his jeans! I had special girlfriends that I followed around like a puppy, and idolized them.

Then, I went off to a Christian college in the early sixties, and fell in love with Linda. Our bond was spiritual, emotional and sexual. With the religious judgments, Linda ended her life and I was forced into “counseling” to correct the errors of our ways.

Thus began the 30 year journey through therapy, multiple deliverance sessions to cast out the demons that drove me to perversions of homosexuality, and multiple hours of healing the inner child which had been damaged back to the darkness of my time in the womb .If I wasn’t broken before all of the efforts to fix me, I was left with the shameful realization that nothing could make me better. Hours of prayer, Scripture memorization, and purging my mind of temptations and friends who were toxic to me, left me living a lie!

Nothing had changed. So, why, you ask did I go into ministry and lead an ex-gay group to “fix” other people and set them free from their demons? I thought something was wrong with me, and perhaps I could do the impossible and help someone else to change who they were.

Before “reparative therapy” had a name, it was still destructive to the hearts of men and women who were told they were not “ good enough.”

"My heart was in the right place, but my message was not. In recent years I have seen the resulting damage from rejection, shame, and conditional love. I apologize for my part in presenting a God of conditional love, and ask forgiveness for the message of broken truth I spoke on behalf of Exodus. 

My heart breaks as I continue to hear stories of abuse and suicide from men and women who couldn’t change their orientation, through reparative therapy. One of our female attendees became so depressed over her inability to change that she jumped off a bridge rather than continue the struggle. I was told it wasn’t my fault, but my heart knew better."

My passion  is to bring healing to those, like me who were subject to such therapy.  I encourage them to speak out; stand up and call reparative therapy for what it is; shaming, destructive to the mind and spirit, and damning to the soul.

I have been on my road to recovery for over thirty years; however my memories are filled with those who we lost along the way, Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered to name just a few. This has to stop, and especially for the youth in these categories.

My single voice joins with hundreds across this land…It is enough. Ban the message of false hope of change, or even the need to change. I stand with them in a unified proclamation. This doesn’t work.

This MUST stop===Now!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Grace, Grace, Marvelous Grace!

Psalm 51---sin and Grace:

Rev. Lois Muller preached this morning on Sin and Grace...We don't often hear "sin" spoken of in our church. It is missing the mark of perfection- a sensing of the need to be restored- cleansed and scrubbed clean from the vileness that separates us from the peaceful and ideal acceptance of a loving God.  We wear masks to hide from others, God, and ourselves and depending upon our faith journey, the path to grace can be self flaglatilon, denial of behavior that hurts another, God or ourself. We can  claim we have no acceptance of sin, (which of us would rather say we didn't believe in Sin) than to acknowledge the need to be purged from it?

I acknowledge my brokenness; my shame, my neediness, my need for an experience of not just knowing God loves me, but feeling that love that transforms me all the way down to my toes! I want more than a God who says, Go and sin no more...I want a God who wraps arms around me and whispers, I was there all the time!  I saw your darkness, your sadness, your shame, your anger, and yes, your tears. I saw it all, and nothing you could ever do, or have ever done, can separate you from my love and Grace.  

I long to hold you through the night, to restore the years of aloneness that plague the isolated recesses of your memory...I long to hold you redemptively, even in those times that you repeated the same sins, time after time because you felt no one really cared.  Will you let me in? Will you let my Spirit cleanse and restore?

Will you know Grace?

Oh this is not the sermon Lois preached, but this is the sermon I heard.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Grief by any other name...

It has been over a year since I have logged into this blog. The last two years of my life have been focused on living through the illness of my younger sister, Debbie. She was diagnoised with Ovarian Cancer in December 2012. Everything I read did not give much hope, and anywhere from one month to six months. I flew up and spent seven months with her and her family, caring for her, cleaning house, talking with her, sitting by her bedside through several surgeries; blood transfusions, chemo treatments etc. 
It was a time of learning for me.  Debbie and her husband Quin, just didn't want to know that it was terminal...She never lost hope, and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't my job to force her to accept death.  We had two years of talking, praying and accepting, that I wouldn't have ever anticipated.

On February 20th 2015, on her own terms and timing, Debbie slipped into eternity!
Cancer did not win
She is healed and whole and not in pain any longer. 
One last trip to Washington to participate in her celebration of life...We scattered her ashes on the Humptulips River and they ran into the sea.
I brought some home to California and Becky and I went to the Santa Cruz Wharf with long time friends Doug Speegle, Cathy Campos and Dianne Delisle. They all knew her from when she lived with me in the l970's! Full Circle, and Becky was able to scatter her ashes. We tied some to a balloon also.
What I have learned from this journey...
We who are alive and remain will get through it.
I can be a strong support for those who are the other generations...
Tell your loved ones that you love them---often
Ask for forgiveness
Tell them they are forgiven
Hug them often
You don't need all the answers, you just need to be present.

There is a time to be the Pastor...and a time to just be the sister.

Listen with your heart
It's not your words, but your love that matters.

Grief by any other name, still hurts and takes time to process.
I have many many friends who are walking with me.
And a spouse who loves me
and a deep awareness of being held by the Eternal God

What more could I long for?

Sunday, December 22, 2013