The Devil and the Daily Mail
When I was a young teen, it was my custom to collect the mail and newspaper for my parents. Our mailbox was at the end of a 25′ driveway and there was nothing ominous about the neighborhood where I lived. If I did not bring the letters and the local stories in during the day, I would walk to the street at night.
On such a night, I stepped down the porch and wondered about the Devil. I wondered if it might be that he was waiting in the night, along my path, and if he had all evil at his disposal. For a moment, I paused and imagined the Devil hovering over the trees (much like on the cover of a Dio album). There are times in my life that I remember vividly. This was one of those times.
I felt the breath of the Devil on my neck as I walked down the hill. I imagined all the Devil might know about me and how he could use that information to harm me. Because I had heard of the dangers of the Devil in church, my fear was real. Nothing about that walk was easy, but I made it back to the safety of my room. I faced my fear of evil and overcame that fear. Better said, I dismissed my fear.
Later that year, as I worked cleaning up a grocery store, another question came to mind. If in fact I was to help escort others to heaven, “would I go to hell in exchange for another’s admittance into the pearly gates”? Later I learned that in Christianity, it is said that Jesus spent time in hell after his crucifixion. I believed I might do the same if I was asked.
Though these questions and imaginings were real at the time, they seem far away now. I am amazed at the power others believe “the Devil” has to work evil in the world. I am also amazed that anyone standing in the world might not suspect that the kingdom of heaven is here and now. It all seems so convenient to blame something on an evil force. Also, it seems easy to console those with little, with the promise of a heaven in the future. Both of these are responses are seem like ways to deny responsibility or help in any real way.
Don’t we love to believe that evil has a cause? Isn’t it easy to “fix” the starvation of thousands a day by believing they go on to better places? Wouldn’t I like a Starbucks coffee more than providing 12 meals to hungry people around my hometown? These days, my fear is not that evil is lurking over the trees of my driveway. What haunts me is that I might be a part of what has created pockets of hell in the image of heaven we have been provided.
For the sake of being transparent, there is a plan to “monetize” this blog. There is a marketing strategy in the works to get these writings to as many people as possible. Funny, that does not compel me to dress up the thoughts contained here. It does not make me want to say the world is awesome where it is not. In the same way, it does not make me want to convince you I am awesome where I am not. And even more oddly, it does not make me want to speak well of you if there is nothing to say about your inherent goodness.
What I can say with 100% integrity and honesty is this.
What we believe is what is real. I am always amused with the religions that require a certain belief for participation. But they do and that becomes real for those that participate, regardless of whether it makes sense to others. Religions that require a particular practice are equally amusing. It is like a mass of collective OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). God does not require, or need, beliefs or practices. People do. Because what we believe is real, if it compels people to act with love and kindness, I am content in the celebrations of their believing and proclaiming they are “the chosen ones”.
But what of those that are on the fringes? What of the people who simply need to hear one kind word to spark in them a passion for the living of life, for the celebration of the oneness of creation, and for those within that creation? This is where I like to spend my time. Where evil or good is not imagined, but where simple smiles and small graces are offered. Not whether a thing is attributed to God or the Devil, but simple smiles and small graces.
And what of you? Though I do not know anyone the way they think they know themselves, what of you? Are you able to offer a simple smile or a small grace? If the answer is “yes”, then you are more than enough. You are all that the creator needs to restore the earth to its original purpose. Celebrate that today. Spend the day celebrating the fact that what can move mountains dwells inside you and celebrate the fact that what may go unnoticed by you could change the life of another. Give yourself a break. Drink a Starbucks coffee knowing that it could feed 12 people in your hometown, but enjoy it that much and do not gripe because it is too hot or too cold.
You are creating the will of God, with God, with every breath you breathe. You are faced with doing what is kind with every interaction or deed. It is all about you and it has nothing to do with you. That sounds strange, but it gives us permission to experiment with ridiculous amounts of kindness, both for others and ourselves. Love those around you. Accept the love that is around you. Regardless of what you believe or do, there is a love waiting for you.
As for those “chosen ones” who may take exception to God loving those, and living in those, who do not share your set of beliefs or right ways of doing things, stay in your lane. Let God live and love where God chooses. Speak to your own experience, but do not speak for what you do not know completely. As for me? I know very little about so many things. It is just that I suspect there is enough love to go around the world and it makes little sense to claim it all.