MIRACLES AND ANSWERED PRAYER

Most of us have witnessed miracles and answered prayers at some point in our life. I certainly have had my share of them… from sitting with empty cupboards around a table with several hungry foster children to feed, offering up a prayer of supplication to God, and having the telephone ring, just as the Amen is said, and being told that the local supermarket just had a freezer of frozen dinners and desserts go out and could we come and fill our car with them… or on another similar occasion, the local police calling to say a vegetable truck had overturned on the highway and could we come and take what we wanted before they allowed the public in.

Of course there was the renegade helicopter pilot who just happened to appear moments before our squad was overrun by North Vietnamese soldiers. Against orders he rescued me and another wounded Marine… even as we were praying what we thought would be our last prayer. The survival of the helicopter crash moments later was another Miracle, as was my survival of an automobile accident a few years later that demolished my car and left one person dead.

Money coming in at just the right time, strangers appearing out of nowhere during a time of crisis to offer needed support, or wrong turns that bring you right to where you need to be… these are all experiences most of us have had, and it would be only fitting that we give God the credit for these apparent Miracles… if, of course, these things only happened to God fearing people. The problem is that they happen to everyone, regardless of faith or religion, or lack of it and therefore, either God treats everyone the same regardless of their beliefs, or there is some other explanation for this phenomenon.

Once as a child I found a four-leaf Clover and hoped that my good luck would bring me riches. A few steps further down the path I found a five-dollar bill lying on the ground. I wasn’t praying at the time and in fact was hoping God didn’t see what had just happened… because I knew he would make me look for the owner. It happened only once… but I still on occasion look for four-leaf Clovers.

I remember a time with Indian students in a BIA boarding school. We met every morning for prayer meetings with 10 or more students and started a 5 most wanted list of hardcore students to pray for. Almost every week many of those on the list would come to one or more of the evangelism meeting without being asked and without knowledge that they were on the prayer list. Of course I gave, the God I knew at the time, the credit for this miracle… because I had not yet been introduced to Buddha, Allah, or the Universe. Today I realize that I could do the same thing with a small group of people of any religion, including nonbelievers, and have the same results… because I now understand that when ever two or three people come together, and are in agreement on a cause, the strength of their combined energies in the Universe makes, what may seem to be impossible at first, materialize.

It would be nice to believe that there was some big guy up there in the sky, manipulating our surroundings so that we could live without worry or fear… but everyone knows that’s not how it goes… and sooner or later we must accept the fact that we are just as vulnerable to tragedy as we are to miracles. This is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons to learn in a godless Life, for it leaves us without a rudder and takes away our anchor as well.

I cannot explain the phenomenon of the Miracles in my Life any more than I can explain the tragedies I have witnessed… for both appear to be well designed when replaying the events leading up to them. Creating a God entity to be responsible for these occurrences however, seems to me a bit like creating a Santa Claus to explain the sudden appearance of gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve, or creating a demon to blame for our naughty behavior. Perhaps it is our interconnectedness with all that has Life that explains why some things appear to be orchestrated… for although we perceive ourselves as individual beings, we are in fact joined at the Soul with the Life that surrounds us and therefore working collectively at creating the events of each and every moment. Realizing this connection I believe is the key to understanding Life in a godless world.

INTERVIEW WITH ANNA REDSAND

I met Wayne during his first stint as a missionary, in Navajo Country where I grew up as the child of missionaries. My then partner and Wayne were running a youth center and serving the court system in a project with young first offenders. When my partner and I left Gallup, NM for Albuquerque, I lost touch with Wayne. More than thirty years later, I heard from him through social media. He was by that time running a community in Cambodia for children who had been orphaned by AIDS. I could tell from his writings that there had been big changes in his life. In 2008, my daughter and I visited Wayne and Wat Opot, the vibrant children’s community situated about an hour by tuktuk outside Phnom Penh. The three of us also made a trip to Angkor Wat. We’ve been in touch electronically ever since and also managed a short visit in Michigan this summer. There wasn’t time for a face-to-face interview, but Wayne graciously agreed to do an e-mail interview. His answers are interspersed with some comments from me, as if we are sitting together over tea.

I started by asking Wayne to tell me about his spirituality as a child. “I was raised in a Christian family,” he said. “Christian Reformed, to be more exact, although we did attend a Reformed Church (RCA) for several years during my childhood. I enjoyed it but Dad was never quite comfortable being just Reformed and later changed back to the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) when he moved the family to the countryside.”

Being raised in the CRC is an experience Wayne and I share. Within that circle the differences between the CRC and the RCA were miniscule in my mind, but the CRC viewed the RCA as liberal, perhaps why Wayne’s dad was uncomfortable.

Wayne went on, “I loved church and participated in all of the activities offered. I was especially interested in missions and loved to listen to stories told by visiting missionaries on furlough from faraway places like New Mexico, Africa, and Asia. By age twelve I knew I wanted to be a missionary in Asia, and that is what I told people whenever they asked me.”

I asked how he experienced spirituality as an adolescent. “High school was difficult for me,” he said. “I started out in a college prep course, but a counselor eventually told me that, because of my low grades, I should drop it and take general courses instead. I was depressed a lot and began seeing flaws in society, especially the Christian society I belonged to. The Vietnam War was intensifying as well, as were the racial tensions. I remember one Sunday being told from the pulpit that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be in town and everyone should stay away from the peaceful march that was planned for that afternoon. I thought that was strange advice coming from the pastor. Defying his recommendation, I attended the march and was deeply moved by the compassion and conviction in the words Dr. King spoke.

“By the time I graduated from High school, Vietnam had become a daily topic and thoughts of future goals were put aside as the draft was initiated and war casualties were increasing.”

Wayne became a psychiatric nurse after high school, which granted him a deferment from the draft. “But I had a recurring dream that convinced me that God wanted me to go to Vietnam to be his witness to the Vietnamese people. So I enlisted in the Navy to be a Marine Corp medic so I could work on the front lines. Little did I know that I would instead be part of a force of combat marines who destroyed villages and killed innocent women and children.”

Wayne was wounded in a nighttime attack during his tour in Viet Nam and was transferred to the Bethesda Naval Hospital. There he became involved in the antiwar movement. “I also got involved in the drugs that went with the movement. It was during this time that I met some of the most dedicated and unselfish people I have ever known. And none of them were Christians. This had a profound effect on me and after a court marshal hearing that recommended a 20-year prison term for me, I realized that I was no longer a Christian either.”

Despite the prison-term recommendation, Wayne received an honorable discharge with disability status. He was severely depressed. Returning home to friends and family whose lives had not changed and whose eyes had not been opened to the things he had witnessed made things even worse.

In the further telling of his story, Wayne glided over an event in his life that had also touched mine in a powerful way. I know from other conversations that it became a turning point in his. One evening Wayne, the partner I was with at the time, and I sat over beers in a Gallup bar. He began telling how he had suddenly felt compelled to leave a friend’s place and drive home by a route he never otherwise took. His vehicle was hit by a VW that ran a stoplight. As he told how the young woman in that car became a fatality, I began to get goose bumps. From the details I knew who she was—a fellow student who had planned to room with me in a few weeks time. This turned out to be one of a few points at which, unbeknownst to us at the time, Wayne’s and my paths had crossed.

Wayne described Nancy’s fatal accident as the final straw that brought him down, following hard on his experiences in Viet Nam. He left his home in Michigan and wandered the roads of the US. “I was in search of God,” he said, “but after a long and difficult journey, I found myself instead.”

His road trip had ended in New Mexico, which was how we came to know each other. I asked, “How did your mission stint in New Mexico affect your spirituality?”

He answered, “Mechanical problems forced me to seek refuge at Rehoboth Mission” This was the CRC mission where I’d gone to school and where I was teaching at the time. “I thought it would be for a day or two before continuing on to California, where I felt I was being led. Twelve years later I would leave Gallup, totally disillusioned by the missionaries I had once sat in awe of as a child.

“One of the first and perhaps most memorable experiences I had was at a Sunday afternoon prayer meeting, just before going to the jail to do witnessing. We were told never to give out contact information to the people we talked to in jail, because the missionaries didn’t want any of these people coming to the Rehoboth compound to ask for handouts after they were released. I was eventually evicted from the Rehoboth compound because I brought some young people I met in the jail to my room on cold winter nights. They had nowhere else to sleep.

“Later I was given a second chance to be the assistant to the pastor at Ft. Wingate CRC, but I was fired by the Home Missions director for speaking out about prejudice on the Indian field. That is when I stopped attending church services; however, I continued to call myself a Follower of Jesus.”

After his twelve years in New Mexico, which included being a foster parent and running a youth center, Wayne found his way to Honduras, where he ran a medical clinic in the remote village of Yocon along with a Baptist minister and his wife. “I saw little need to evangelize there, since everyone in the village was already a devout Catholic and far more spiritual than the Baptist Missionary I worked with. He was by far the most unscrupulous person I have ever known. My only reason for staying twelve years with the mission was because I felt my services in the clinic were needed in the village. I suppose if I were to be honest, I rather enjoyed being the confidante of a man who saw all people as hypocrites, including himself, and could find dirty laundry hidden in the closets of even the saintliest of people. He was a liar, a thief, an adulterer and an alcoholic, who admitted that the only reason he became a Baptist preacher was because it was handed to him on a silver platter and it was such an easy role to play. He was one of the most interesting people I have ever known, and he taught me much about the games humanity plays each and every day. He also forced me to ask myself a difficult question: ‘Who would I be without makeup and a script?’”

Wayne kept feeling that he needed to return to Southeast Asia to give back to people where he felt he had been part of so much damage caused by the war. After his time in Honduras he succeeded in being sent to Cambodia. “When my plane landed in Cambodia I immediately felt I had come home. One of the first contacts I made was with an American Buddhist nun. She saw through my “Follower of Jesus” act within minutes of our meeting and called me out on it. I could do nothing to defend myself. My bullshit act didn’t work on a nonbeliever, and although it frightened me when I realized that my whole life until then had been nothing more than an act, I was, at the same time, relieved to find that I no longer had to perform.

I asked Wayne, “In retrospect, how did those experiences influence how you describe your spirituality today? In other words, how do you describe your spirituality now, and looking back, do you see a pattern, a trajectory?

“My earliest recollection in life is of an incident that happened when I was about four years old. Gordy was my best friend and although he was three times my age and size we were inseparable. One day I picked up a rock and threw it at Gordy and he responded by throwing one back at me. It hit me in the forehead, and a gusher of blood squirted out. It didn’t hurt and we both laughed about it as I held my hand to the cut. The bleeding stopped and the incident would have ended there except for a neighbor lady who had witnessed the whole thing and decided to make a case out of it. She came out shouting and within minutes the whole community stood around me, including my mother. I heard the words retard and Pollock several times and then someone mentioned the police. I heard a siren, and before the police car came to a stop I was instructed to say nothing about throwing the first rock. The adults told their version of the story, and then the policeman turned to me and asked if what they said was true. I looked up at my mother for approval and then tearfully nodded my head in agreement. The next day a high fence went up around Gordy’s house and I was never allowed to play with him again. A few years later Gordy was institutionalized and I never saw him after that, but I still carry the guilt for having told the lie.

“As my journey progressed I continued to see hypocrisy in the lives of every leader or pastor I got to know… all of the time understanding that I was no better than they were. We were all just actors on a stage, competing for applause from the multitude of the credulous.

“I never wanted to be a disappointment to my father, so I didn’t verbalize all of my doubts and uncertainties to him about the CRC and Christianity. Yet I was sure he knew I had them. I knew that one of his proudest moments was when Home Missions accepted me as the youth pastor; so one of his biggest disappointments must have been when I was fired from that job by a man he held in high esteem. We never really talked about it. So it shocked me when, at the age of 75, he visited me in Honduras and confessed to me that he had always admired me for standing up to people regardless of the consequences and then thanked me for giving him the courage to do something he thought he would never be able to do. He had stood up to his pastor and voiced his concerns about the way the pastor was running the church. When the pastor, who on previous occasions had referred to my father as a spiritual ignoramus, dismissed those concerns as inconsequential, my father stood up and calmly walked out of the office and out of the CRC.

“My father’s confession liberated me from the obligation to respect his beliefs and allowed me to ask myself the question, ‘What do I truly believe?’ The answer scared me, for I realized that I didn’t believe in anything. I was an atheist and always had been, but was too afraid to admit it.”

At that point I asked Wayne if there was anything more he’d like to share.

He said, “The word atheist is scary to a lot of people. It was to me at first. How can one look at the Universe and not believe in a Creator God? That question made sense to early members of our species, I suppose. Of course their knowledge of the Universe was much smaller than what we know today. So it was more feasible to think that a supreme entity could be living just above the ceiling we call the sky. Of course today we know that isn’t true, and so we made our God invisible, living in another dimension than time and space. But there’s no evidence to suggest that another dimension exists and so we are left with a God of faith only, not of reason.

Reason says that if there was a Creator God, he would have to have within him Life in order to create a living world; therefore, either Life existed before there was a God, or God is that Life that has always existed. I have come to believe that the Life that is within us all is the Eternal Life that always was and always will be and that the best way to relate to that Life, is not to worship it… but to Live It!”

To read about Anna’s Journey go to http://www.annaredsand.com/blog.htm

CELEBRATING OUR ONENESS

I read today about yet another super church having to close many of its programs because of a lack of funding and support. Seems the god they were serving has lost his appeal… or perhaps the creator of their god just got burned out and could no longer keep up the façade, like so many others before him. How unfortunate for those who follow blindly these self proclaimed men of God and even more unfortunate the wasted money spent on buildings and ministry cost to promote the teachings of these god makers. I know… because I was once a part of that culture.

Don’t get me wrong… I have many fond memories of those Old Time Revivals and oft times wish I could experience a similar high as I did back then… standing on the pulpit and leading the congregation in the singing of the Hymn “How Great Thou Art”. Yes, those were the days, when I knew of only one God and there was no doubt in my mind that He was the only God for the whole World… and He had chosen me to be His Light in a World of darkness.

Have you ever noticed how; when you walk away from a well lit room and enter into the darkness outside… your eyes have a problem adjusting? A flashlight can help, but is often a disturbance to those who choose to live life in the darkness… and about all you can really attract with it are those unwanted pests that believe the light is their salvation… when, in fact, it often results in their demise from flying around in circles until they drop to the ground from exhaustion. When at last I tired of having people yelling at me to shut the light off, I put it out… and only then did I realize the beauty of Life without light.

There was a time when I thought that all religions could be united under one God… but that was when I still believed in a God. How foolish that seems to me now… for it was not a God who created man but men who have created their own personal gods… and no man can serve two Gods … for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot hold on to a personal God while trying to serve a God of all humanity.

We have heard it said that something cannot come out of nothing and I would agree with that idea. Therefore if a God created form then he too must have form, and yet who of us have ever seen him… and if a God created time, then he too must live within that time, and yet we are told he is timeless… and if a God created Life then he too would have had to have Life within him, for that which is dead could not create its own Life or the Life of another and therefore I would conclude that it is Life, not a God, that is the Creator of all things… for it is Life that is in all things and that is all things.

Would that it would be that all of us could cast away our Gods and realize that it is that One Life that flows through each and every one of us that gives us hope and reason to celebrate our Oneness with all of Creation.

Wayne Dale Matthysse

 

 

EDDIE and ISHMAEL

While I was home a few years back, I went through the boxes of my memorabilia, trying to decide what I could throw away and what I should keep, trying to scale everything down for easier storage. Mom and Dad were gone, and the home that they built for us and the convenient storage place for all of that stuff we collected along life’s hi-way, was up for sale. Reading old letters and seeing the names of people I had long ago forgotten, opened up files in my memory system that explain much of my behavior and partiality today. One of those memories is of Eddie, a neighbor kid who lived on the other side of us on Bluebird Street. Eddie was a few years younger than I was but we often played together and were good friends, until one day when we got into a fight during a neighborhood softball game. Eddie’s eye got swollen from accidentally running into a bat and he ran home crying… only to return a few minutes later with his irate mother. She was very concerned for her son and began shouting at us. My mother heard the commotion and came out to defend us but, by the time it was over, both of them had said things about each other that they regretted. Their relationship never healed and because of that, neither did ours, and even today my memories of Eddie, after that incident, are negative. Now that I realize this however, I wish there were some way of finding him and trying to resolve our differences.

Often, when we take the time to seriously look at ourselves, we realize that many of our prejudices actually started out as simple misunderstandings between either ourselves or those that have had an influence on us at some point in our lives. Realization of these misunderstandings can start us out on a path of understanding that shows us why we are who we are and how we can begin to make positive changes in our character. I know it can work on a personal level but I wonder if it could also work on a larger scale?

One of the biggest problems in this world today is the relationship between Jews and Christians and the Muslim people. Each side can come up with numerous accusations and accounts of injustices that explain why they feel as they do toward each other… but what if we were to go back to the beginning, to where it all started? What if all of the problems in this world today were the result of one single person? Could the realization of this also put the world on a pathway to reconciliation? Regardless of what we personally think of the Bible, the stories in it have had a great influence on all of the peoples of the world. One of those stories is about Abraham and Sarah. The birth of Ishmael was planned by the Abraham’s first wife Sarah who sought a way to have children in order to fulfill what she believed was God’s promise. Since she was unable to have children herself, her idea was to offer her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar to Abraham, so that they could have a child by her. Customs of that time dictated that, although Hagar was the birth mother, any child conceived would belong to Sarah and Abraham.

Ishmael was circumcised when he was thirteen years old because his father Abraham, at the age of ninety-nine was initiated into a covenant by having himself and his entire household circumcised. A year later, Ishmael’s half-brother Isaac, was born to Abraham and his first wife Sarah. One day Sarah was angered by seeing Ishmael playing or “mocking”  her son and she asked Abraham to expel him and his mother, saying: “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” Abraham initially refused to do as Sarah asked but after much deliberation, he released Ishmael and Hagar as slaves.

At the age of fourteen, Ishmael became a free man along with his mother. Under Mesopotamian law, their freedom absolved them from laying claim to any inheritance that Abraham and Sarah had. Abraham gave Ishmael and his mother a minimal supply of bread and water and sent them on their way to wander in the desert wilderness of Beersheba. After roaming the wilderness for sometime, Ishmael and his mother settled in the Desert of Paran, where he became an expert in archery. Eventually, his mother found him a wife from the land of Egypt. He had twelve sons who became twelve tribal chiefs throughout the regions from Havilah to Shur (from Assyria to the border of Egypt) The Prophet Muhammad, who is the founder of Islam, is a descendant of Ishmael.

Those who know this story well will notice that I have removed all of the conversations that Sarah and Abraham supposedly had with God and his Angels. I did so because I do not believe that God has ever spoken to anyone in this way… for if he had, he would still be speaking to people today in the same manner, and although there are those who claim he does, they are, in my opinion, only racketeers hoping to cash in on the ignorance of fools. I am not saying however, that it is not possible for mankind to know and understand the Mind of God.

How unfortunate that Sarah and Hagar could not have come to an understanding between themselves during their lifetime. What a difference it would have made to their sons and the people of their generation if they had. Even sadder is the fact that because of Sarah’s greed, the whole world now sits on the brink of destruction. Isn’t it time we come to an understanding of this and begin the process of reconciliation?

Wayne Dale Matthysse

DEATH

I have been faced with death more than most people have… although I suppose numbers really don’t matter.  When someone you have loved is taken from you, there is an emptiness that is not easily filled and that back burner reminder that one day, you too must pass through that Veil of uncertainty.

I was always comforted by the fact that, as a Christian, I would eventually be resurrected when Jesus returned and be given a new body just like he was given… except I was a little concerned, because his new body still carried the scars of his crucifixion and, well… I had lost a finger at the age of ten, the vision in one eye from shrapnel at the age of 20, and at the age of 30 had my gallbladder removed. Plus I have some scars from other minor surgeries and wounds that make me less than attractive, and I wondered if I would be happy throughout eternity living in the same body as I had here. The excess weight, I have always tried to lose, would also be a burden in Heaven, although without a Coca-Cola vending machine perhaps I could lose some of it. Another question would also come to mind at times; of what age would my new body be and would I have a choice in deciding or would I just have to accept the body given to me?

These questions seem so childish now and the thought of having a resurrected body seems so utterly absurd to me. You see… I have now come to realize that death is not the end of Life, it is only the end of form. Life is formless and is Eternal and therefore cannot be destroyed. This now is my source of comfort… and knowing that there will be no period of waiting for eternity to start but rather just an awakening on the other side of the Veil, is something I can actually look forward to. The Essence of who I am, will not change… but the form I have been attached to will no longer be a burden.

For a great video on this subject I strongly recommend going to this link on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCtwWk9N6zg . I would be very surprised if you don’t get a great feeling of Peace from it.

Wayne Dale Matthysse

KALEIDOSCOPE

There are many reasons for my becoming an Antitheist; most of them from observing the behavior of many in my lifetime who called themselves Christians. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against those who, for whatever reason, have a need to be religious. My problem is not with the religious but with religion… all religions.

The dictionary describes RELIGION as: belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny.

Believing in God made sense while growing up because everyone I knew was religious and not believing in God was an option I had never even thought of. How could there not be a Creator God? My parents said there was, my pastor said there was, and the Bible, God’s own word, even said He was. How could I deny all of these trusted sources and still consider myself sane?

The steps I have taken to get to where I am today have not been easy ones. I have lost the support and friendship of many who once were close friends, and even family members have turned their back to me. Still I wouldn’t change a thing, because the True Peace and Joy I have today in knowing and believing in Myself is so much greater than what I see in others who must live in fear of disobeying some supernatural being.

Imagine an Entity that creates defective beings and then makes them feel guilty for their imperfections… threatening them with abandonment into a lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever if they don’t get down on their hands and knees and beg for His forgiveness. This is what religion teaches… and this is the main reason I write against it.

We were not born evil creatures and we therefore have no reason to feel guilty for who we are. Each of us is a unique expression of Life and nothing more. There is no evidence to suggest the existence of supernatural entities living somewhere in another dimension of time and space, controlling mankind’s destiny… and although miracles have been reported since man’s first imaginary thought, none has ever been proven to truly defy the natural laws of science… because miracles don’t exist and neither does God. Life is simply an eternal kaleidoscope of changing colors and shapes produced by the Souls, or Fragments, of the Universal Fabric that has existed since before time began. We are those Fragments and the way in which we connect with each other today, will determine the shape and color of things to come.

Wayne Dale Matthysse

A BETTER WORLD

As long as there remain in this World, those who insist on believing in a personal God, there can be no peace or harmony for mankind. For to believe that one is in a personal relationship with the Creator of this Universe, is to elevate one’s self to a position high above all other Creatures. Far better it would be, to remove all gods from the equation and to accept the fact that We are the Creator… and that if there is inequality or disharmony in our World, it is because we have created it. That does not however prevent us from creating a better World for tomorrow.

Wayne Dale Matthysse

AVOIDING REALITY

I started my journey in Life at the Pine Rest Christian Psychiatric Hospital in Cutlerville, Michigan, just two months out of high school. Most of my buddies put their applications in at General Motors or Herman Miller in the hopes of getting a job that would pay a good retirement. For some reason the idea of planning for my retirement at the age of 18 didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I didn’t know where Life would be taking me… but I sure hoped it would at least get me out of Michigan.

My first duties were mopping floors and cleaning toilets in a depressing old red brick building that housed long term male patients.   There was a fenced in Yard where patients could go if they wanted, but most just sat in wooden chairs lined up against the walls, smoking cigarettes.

That first month was rather hard on me and when I finally did get my pay check it was less than a hundred dollars. I was disappointed and embarrassed to even tell my friends, who were bragging about their Two Hundred dollar paychecks and looking for a new Chevy to buy because they could get a discount for working at GM. I thought about quitting… but before I got around to it I was promoted to an Orderly, which allowed me to have direct contact with the patients and an increase in pay.

There are many stories I could tell you of my first encounters with the mental patients in Building One, most of whom had years of experience with new staff like me, who came with preconceived ideas of what a mental ward was like. For the most part life was boring for them and so any time one of them could pull a prank on me; it became entertainment for them all. I soon learned that just because I carried the keys and went home when my shift was over, didn’t necessarily mean I was any smarter than they were. For many, the life they lived was a chosen path, and it was not, in any way, an easy one to maintain.

One of those patients was a young man who I originally mistook for one of the staff. He always dressed very neatly and could carry an intelligent conversation on almost any subject. I asked him one day where he learned so much and he told me he had gone to school since the age of three. I asked him if it was a special school and he said, “No, where I come from all of the children start school at three. It is required.”

“And where did you come from?” I asked out of curiosity. He gave me the name of a place but I didn’t recognize it. “Is that in Michigan?” I responded.

“No,” he replied, quite seriously, “it’s on another planet.”

“OK, you got me on that one,” I replied with a smile, “but I’m serious. You are very knowledgeable and I would like to know where you went to school.”

“I just told you.” he responded, looking very hurt by my disbelief, and without a further word turned and walked away.

I was selected by the school to go to Nurses training and left Building One soon after that. In training I would occasionally return to the ward and try to talk with John… his story was always the same, and even though I presented him with facts that showed his story could not be true, he stuck to it.

John had grown up in a privileged family and went to some of the best schools in the country but then one day decided he had had enough of the life he was living and the people who were trying to control it… and so he created a new world for himself, where people would leave him alone.

According to John, he was a child when he came to Earth on an exploratory visit with his scientist father. Their ship had come down in some dense forest and John, being curious about the trees and vegetation, which they did not have in their world, ventured out beyond the perimeter set by the team. Some drunken men had discovered the ship and started firing at it with their shotguns and since the team was under strict orders not to destroy any humans, they had no choice but to leave John behind. He spent several days in the forest, until he was discovered by some hunters and placed in foster care.

John needed to believe that story more than anything else in the world, even though there was nothing to back it up. He needed to believe it because if he started doubting it, he would have to face the reality of his own failure and, in addition, would have to accept the responsibility for building a new life. That was too much of a price to pay for John, and so he spent the remainder of his life believing his father would one day come back for him and make everything right again.

John’s story in not that much different than many of ours, for when we look into the Heavens, we feel overwhelmed by its vastness and when we look to the Earth we feel helpless to do anything to change it… and so we create stories of how we got here and imagine that one day our daddy will come to save us and everything will be alright.

We tell ourselves these stories, even though there is no evidence to back them up, because the idea of being alone in this vast Universe can be scary, and to accept the idea that everything that is wrong in the world is of our own doing and the only way it will be made right is by our working it out together, is a reality most of us don’t want to face.

I happen to believe in Life however, and have confidence that It will find a way out of our present condition and bring us into a New Day, where Love and Peace shall reign.

FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT

I have been asked to “return to the fold” by several of my Christian friends because they are concerned for my spiritual and emotional wellbeing. When I respond that I feel better today than I have felt in years they tell me that my feelings are only and illusion. I could not know real Joy except through the Holy Spirit, and to know the Holy Spirit I would first of all need to believe in God again and then rededicate my life to Jesus, and only then could I experience real Joy.

I smile and thank them for their concern but inside I pity them for their ignorance, for I have Loved and been Loved by so many people in my lifetime. I awake Joyously at 5:30 every most mornings to be met by several children waiting to walk me to the kitchen. I have and am surrounded by Peace.  I am so Forbearing that I can count on my hands the number of times I have lost my temper, and on one hand I am missing a finger. My Kindness and Goodness is known by every urchin in Cambodia and I can still put a crying baby to sleep in minutes by Gentle rhythmic patting on the back. As for Self-control… well I don’t talk about it much but I am the only celibate person I have ever known that has never had sex. So what am I missing, since these are all supposedly the Fruits of the Holy Spirit?

I heard that… and you are not the first, by any means, to call me “self-righteous”. Sorry, I didn’t catch the other adjectives you threw in there but it doesn’t really matter… I have heard them all before. I totally understand your feelings but could it be that what you see as self-righteousness in me is actually nothing more than my self-confidence? Could that be why you find me so irritating?

I have spent a lifetime searching for answers to the questions I have had of Life… only to realize that when I stop asking the questions, I no longer need to search for answers. Life is made up of Moments, Now is all we have. Enjoy your Life and praise your God, it doesn’t bother me at all, if that is where you find your Joy… but let me be at Peace in my world and let my Joy entwine with yours, that we may all Rejoice in this beautiful experience called Life.

Me in march 2014

ONENESS

God didn’t die, but neither does he live. He is only a creation of those who refuse to accept the responsibility for their own lives. Life however, has been around for a long-long time and in fact was present when the formation of what we call the Universe burst into being. The existence of a God Being has been in question from the beginning of mankind’s time on Earth, but who can question the existence of Life? Life flows through each and every one of us each time we take a breath. It also exists all around us in the forest and the mountain streams, without which we could not survive. We are all connected, not only to each other, but to nature as well, and it is this interconnection, or Oneness, that drives us forward into eternity.

Life is not a Being and therefore needed no Creator. It Is, always has been, and always will be Life, regardless of what form it may choose to take. Humankind is only one manifestation of Life, and in time may no longer be of necessity… but Life will go on in other forms, as I am sure it has done in other parts of the Universe.

What then is the purpose of humankind if nothing we do will last? The answer is quite simple actually; we are the filtration system for the Plant Kingdom so that it can breathe and produce flowers and trees that provides a beautiful shelter from heat and storm to their most important asset… which just happens to be you and me.

Wayne Dale Matthysse