Day 11…a letter to the leader of my faith

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Dear Grand Architect of the Universe:

It took most of my life and it wasn’t until I stopped looking that I found you.

When I was younger I watched my fellow humans hail you, bow to you, raise hands high in the air and shed tears to you. I tried to feel that zeal but whatever wiring those people had, I didn’t. Frustrated, I walked away thinking that you weren’t there.

I denied you for years. I never reached out to you even when under life’s heaviest bombardment. I decided you didn’t exist and I was not going to be a hypocrite.

I couldn’t believe that you could allow so many bad people to thrive, so many good people to suffer and let a baby get Cancer. At least not the kindly Gentleman with the flowing robe and white beard I was taught to visualize.

I lashed out at your believers. I felt that they were selfish, only asking things for themselves, for their own advancement. What do you care who wins a baseball game after all? I decided that it was fine for people to believe in you if it makes them feel better but you weren’t for me.

Eventually, I came to realize that I believed in evil. To believe in one you must believe in the other. I further recognized that things are just a little too perfect to just be the result of a random cosmic explosion. Finally, I decided that if I cannot prove you are not there then it is very possible that you are. I closed my eyes, opened my ears and sought evidence of your existence.

I became a member of the world’s oldest fraternity 6 years ago. Freemasonry requires that a man has a belief in a higher power. They do not require a particular deity or denomination. Freemasons refer to you as the GAOTU, Grand Architect of the Universe. I joined Freemasonry as a step in building meaning in my life, it naturally followed that such a desire would incorporate Spirituality. I was looking not only for the meaning of life but for meaning in my life.

I started slow. When others prayed, I meditated. I took that time to think positive thoughts about others and reflect on what I have lost and changes I need to make. I spent time with men of faith and found that these good men used their belief in you to help others, not themselves. I found their positive approach to life as a portal to allow you into my life. Now I am completely open to what you have in store for me.

As my personal life has deteriorated, my family life has collapsed and my health has declined, you have become more apparent to me. Not because my need for you has, but because of my awareness of how much I appreciate what I still have. I do not question you for what is happening to me, I hope that you will help guide those that I love in my absence and that you will guide me in my goal of becoming a humble, grateful and kind person.

I find myself outdoors a lot now. I am able to stare at the woods for hours on end taking in the beauty of nature. I see you in the industrious squirrel foraging desperately before winter. I see you in the bluebird flitting from branch to branch. I see you in the ripple of water on the lake as I paddle my Kayak. I see you in the mountain ranges on a sunny fall day, in the smile of a child and in the affection of a dog.

Yesterday morning I left the house early, dreading the doctor’s appointment I was heading to. I looked at the end of my driveway and saw a baby doe with its mother standing looking at me.

There you were.

Day 10…a letter to the leader of the Country

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Dear Mr. President:

You are perhaps the most amazing story in political history. Your election shook the world. It was historic on so many levels and the shock waves still ripple across the world one full year after your election.

On election night I watched the results unfold with unbridled glee. Not because I was supporting you, (I did in the same manner as every other election I have voted in, I voted against a candidate, not for one), but because of the sheer excitement of it. I felt vindicated because I predicted your victory when no one in my circle did. I simply knew that the polls were not accurate. That many who were polled either gave no answer or lied. for fear that supporting you would cause them backlash or social condemnation. Therefore the numbers that predicted a Hillary victory were simply not accurate and the “silent majority” would speak with their vote, not their voice. As I sat on the edge of my seat I embraced the tumult that then unfolded.

Of course, I didn’t realize the chaos that would ensue. The reaction from the pundits was hilarious and expected. While required to maintain an “objective” expression they failed miserably, they couldn’t contain their anger at your election. No surprises there for me. But the country itself did surprise me and continues to do so. College students felt violated and clamored tearfully for “safe spaces”. Grown men and women cried in public and called for the immediate disbanding of long-standing election protocols. In short, millions of people lost their fucking minds when their candidate didn’t win. It is a sad state of affairs but it is very telling of the mindset of our country. Our youth is unaccustomed to not getting their way, our adults have lost the ability of reasonable discourse, and our country is hopelessly divided. If you do an absolutely amazing job in the next three years your popularity will never exceed 50%. Fortunately, you don’t care about any of that.

Mr. President, you were elected by a lot of people who didn’t agree with the direction the previous administration was going. They didn’t necessarily vote for you, but for the issues that you stood for and that, let’s face it you were a lesser evil to many. You are not an ideal candidate. You are not Presidential in the way you carry yourself. You are crass, you can be a braggart, you are not well-spoken and you are impulsive in your words and actions. I can only speak for myself, but I thought your competitor was corrupt, while I only find you imperfect. I compromised a lot of my personal convictions to vote for you in hopes that you will grow into the job.

As the country still reels from your win, and as your critics and enemies pull out every stop to destroy you please remember that you hold the most powerful position in the free world. If I love my country I cannot possibly in good conscience want you to fail. That would be commensurate to hoping the pilot of my aircraft will fail. Do what you said you would do, fulfill your promises because that is integrity. Please also remember that with integrity comes the ability to absorb criticism, be civil to your detractors and to act upright at all times. The insolent temper tantrums, name-calling, and dick-measuring need to stop. It is not, whether you care about this or not, representative of your office. Even if I didn’t respect you, you sit in the chair that many great men have before you. Act like it.

The country is not broken, but it is cracking. Everything you do can either help fix or further the damage. I’m counting on you. Put the damn twitter account away and charge forward.

A concerned citizen.

Honesty or Hypocrisy…does it matter at this point?

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“I’m sorry Dad, I must have a bad connection. Did you say that you are at Church?” I could visualize my daughter’s confused face as she was driving. She was on her way to see us.

“Yes, you heard me correctly. Your grandmother and I are at Church but we’ll be back before you get here” I said. This is going to be discussed at some point I thought to myself. She has never heard me say that before.

I can’t put a finger on the date but for some time now I’ve become increasingly Spiritual. It has been a gradual process. I once considered myself an atheist but I opened myself up to the fact that I was actually opposed to organized religion.

I am a very cut and dry fellow, it has taken me a long time to recognize and overcome this trait. It used to be easy to say that things are either this way or that, nothing in between. I rejected the Church at a young age. I rejected all of it. I had some bad experiences at my church and I saw some brutal hypocrisy that turned me off to all of it. The Alpha-male in me took over. If I’m rejecting religion then I must be an atheist. Regrettably, I tried to be a good one.

I was committed to it. I even went so far as to hire a Justice of the Peace for my wedding. We were to be married in a Hotel and the JOP was instructed not to use the word GOD once. It actually worked out well on some fronts because my wife is non-practicing Jewish and the families were pushing for their own traditions.

As the kids grew we allowed them to make their own decisions. They were not baptized, bar mitzvah’d or bat mitzvah’d but we didn’t discourage them from believing. We celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah. I offered to take them to church if they wanted. They tried it and were not into it. We often talked about God and Religion and they marveled at my lack of belief. I was perfectly fine with the notion that once you die, you are gone. What remains is your legacy. I’ve always tried to be a good person so that was fine for me.

What my children didn’t know is that I was coming around a bit to Spirituality. I recognized that it was organized religion that I was rejecting. There had to be some driving force in the universe. I opened myself up to it but I never told my kids. It is pretty sad but I was embarrassed that I had changed my mind about something I had been so sure about. Of course, it is even sadder that I was even worried about coming clean. I felt like a presidential candidate who had flip-flopped on raising taxes.

We were enjoying a nice meal that night when my daughter says “Sooooo Dad, Church, huh?” I caught my mother smirking out of the corner of my right eye.

“Here we go,” I said. “Yes, kiddo I go to Church sometimes now.” The conversation I had been dreading for a long time was upon me. Having my mother in the room made it more interesting because she has always the one telling me that it was religion, not God that I had a problem with. I hate it when other people are right.

I explained to my daughter that I had to re-evaluate. That I had rejected religion but was seeking meaning in the world, in my life. I told her I started seeing God in nature, meaning in small things, that chronic illness and personal struggles had opened my eyes a bit. That I was not a bible thumper yet, that in fact, I was a bit of an oddity at church. I don’t sing, I don’t recite and I don’t engage in rituals like communion. I’m just not wired like that. I explained that when closing my eyes for prayer, I don’t necessarily feel what I think I’m supposed to but I take the opportunity to think good thoughts and wish good things for other people. I explained that I enjoyed the positivity of this particular church and that it can’t be a bad thing to take a few hours a week to think about others.

She listened patiently, I don’t know if she was thinking I was a hypocrite, if she was bored but putting on an interested face or if I was actually making sense. My mother certainly enjoyed it. I guess it doesn’t matter what she got out of it. Telling her was as much about me as it was about her. I needed to come clean. I feel like a small weight has been lifted. Being honest with my family outweighs being right at this point in my life.