Saturday, October 14, 2017

EMS Clergy Survey

To all pastors and church leaders in Brevard County, Florida.  Please take this short, 5 minute survey. Follow this link... Brevard County, Florida Places of Worship, Volunteer and Clergy Enrollment for Disaster Assistance (Church Survey)

In the spring of 2017, just prior to hurricane Harvey, the Brevard County, Emergency Management Services, in cooperation with VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, Brevard), and the American Red Cross acknowledged it would be of benefit to have Chaplains or Spiritual Support Counselors in emergency shelters to provide counseling to the occupants. These counselors would speak with the residents, then link the clients with a permanent faith-based organization of their choice, near them in their community.  Hence, this survey. Read more and take the survey.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey,

-  gus

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cam, Joey and the Turtles

This story is by Julia Koerner, about Cameron Koerner and Joey Fairbanks back in 1999. I am posting this today as a birthday present for Cameron, who is unavailable to receive gifts right now, due to his Marine Corps obligations.

Cam, Joey and the Turtles

I took these photos on a day when Cameron and Joe were on a self-initiated,100% official turtle rescue.

There was talk around the (Royal Oaks) golf course that a small alligator had been spotted in the pond just a few hundred feet from our backyard. Groundskeepers had been looking for the Jurassic critter for a couple weeks, but had nothing to go on but golfer tales up in the clubhouse.

That same pond was actually one of Cam and Joe's favorite spots for collecting abandoned golf balls, but this one particular morning they had found a hidden nest of hatching turtle eggs.

When the boys heard tell of the baby alligator from a few golfers, they came running into the house - frantically asking for a bucket they could put their newly hatching turtles in so the alligator wouldn't eat them.

We found a bucket - and I, of course, followed them out to the spot with my broom in hand to retrieve the turtles and assure their safety from any free range gator babies that might be lurking in the rushes...and of course, bash the gator with my weapon, if necessary.

Now, 18 years later, these are still 2 of Joe's favorite photos. He posts them on his bedroom wall with a push-pin wherever we live. Joe can't remember how many turtles they rescued that day. Perhaps Cameron will remember.

That same afternoon, the boys and Mother and I made an official trip to the wildlife preserve so the boys could deliver their treasured find to the appropriate authorities and ensure the safety of the hatchlings.

You should have heard Cameron retell their tale of danger, intrigue, excitement and wonder at having watched turtles hatch; kept a look-out for the mystery alligator; collected their specimen and escaped without harm. He spoke almost all in one run-on sentence...with Joe piping in, "Me, too! Me, too!" as often as he could squeeze it in.

The rangers were amazed and entertained, to say the least! On the drive home, Mother decided the boys deserved ice cream from her favorite haunt, the Moonlight Drive In.

I'm sure you heard this whole tale first hand on the day it happened - but now, nearly 20 years after the fact, here's the photographic proof of the boys' humanitarian efforts.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Idea For A Public Survey

The following is a letter I submitted to the Pew Research Center as an idea for a future public opinion survey. Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

Dear Pew Research Center,

Subject: Idea for a public survey
Sent To:

I try to be open minded, and I am to a degree.
I do my best to be accepting of others, and I am to a certain level.
I would like to say I have a high moral standard, and I do – sometimes more than others.

It seems like our country is moving toward a situation of complete polarization.  It seems for example, if you are not completely pro-LGTBQ issues, then you’re against. Why does that have to be?

I would like to see a series of questions, a scientific social survey conducted (such as) for Racism (example):

1) Do you consider yourself a Racist? Yes or No
2) Would you hire someone of a race different from your own? Would you hire an                   African American, a Hispanic, an Asian, and so on...
3) Would you approve of your child dating someone of a different race?
4) Would you consider dating or marrying someone of a different race?

I realize I am a racist and bigot by certain definitions out there in the world, but I do my best to stay open, accepting and caring.

Why do I have to accept all races, ethnic and lifestyle options, when my faith and upbringing goes (at times) contrary to some social practices?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would like my bigotry to be quantified so I know where I stand and how I can improve.

I am sure other people are the same way. Not everyone is a complete fundamentalist or completely tolerant ACLU member. We are all somewhere in a spectrum of acceptance and bias. I would like to consider myself (for example) a R5 and H3 (Racist 5/10 and Homophobe 3/10) or whatever your data would determine.

Thank you.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Letter to Sister Roberta

This is my letter to Sister Roberta, the Prioress of Holy Name Monastery, Benedictine Sisters of Florida, a long time friend and counselor.

Dear Sister Roberta,

I send my love and greetings to you all.

I am still in the Candidacy for the Ministry for the United Methodist Church, working locally in my congregation, city and county.  One of my major projects I am working on right now is to get a Chaplain assigned to every county emergency shelter during natural disasters.  That suggestion has just been approved for Brevard County. Praise God.

One of my challenges right now is the acceptance of less traditional sexual identities into the ministry, marriage and society.  Even the discussion causes me great anxiety.

This is my favorite song right now.  I hope you enjoy it.  It is Ancient Words, by Michael W. Smith.

Thank you for your support and prayers.  Bless you  all in Christ our Savior.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Silently Gazing Upon God

I absolutely love reading and hearing about others interpretation of God, and His work within their lives and in the world. One of my favorite theologians is Father Richard Rohr, but sometimes he’s a little too deep for my understanding. I read his work anyway, and try to pull out the meaningful pieces that can make a difference in my life, and how I should respond to the call of God in my relationships.

Today in his daily meditation, Monday, July 10, 2017 the topic was Rebuilding on a Contemplative Foundation by Silently Gazing upon God.

This title really caught my attention,
Silently Gazing upon God. Immediately it made me think of seeing God through the eyes of a child and how we see His influence in nature.

Rohr quotes Rowan Williams, the 2012 Archbishop of Canterbury by saying, “To be fully human is to be recreated in the image of Christ’s humanity; and that humanity is the perfect human 'translation' of the relationship of the eternal Son to the eternal Father, a relationship of loving and adoring self-giving, a pouring out of life towards the Other.”

Coming up is the word 
contemplative (noun and verb), which I like to partially define as spiritual listening. One who is contemplative is a Contemplative.

Rohr goes on to say, “To be contemplative as Christ is contemplative is to be open to all the fullness that the Father wishes to pour into our hearts. With our minds made still, and ready to receive, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow… and we seek this not because we are in search of some private “religious experience” that will make us feel secure or holy. We seek it because in this self-forgetting gazing towards the light of God in Christ we learn how to look at one another and at the whole of God’s creation.”

One way we can experience this oneness with God directly, physically and spiritually by observing His universe in nature. We can gaze towards the light of God in Christ through His creations.

For example, in the image left we see a time-lapse image of all the stars rotating around Polaris, the North Star. I have experienced this only once in my life. The image 'Star Trails' was taken by Marjan Lazarevski, Skopje, Macedonia (formerly Yugoslavia). Photo caption: While other stars apparent positions in the sky change throughout the night, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, the Pole Star (Polaris) apparent positions remain virtually fixed.

I hope we will all find the time to look closely and gaze upon God through his creations, either earthly or heavenly and realize how close we are to the presence of our Creator.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What is Standing In The Way of You Reaching Your Peak?

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with this phrase repeating itself through my mind, Don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of reaching your peak!

I am not one to believe that dreams are special premonitions that come from God or a psychic realm. Yes, I do believe that God can influence our thoughts and dreams, but we may be just as likely to have certain dreams because of stress, past experiences or something we consumed that gave us a reaction, like pepperoni pizza.

I do have some idea of what inspired this post. Recently I received a copy of my Social Security benefits and projected retirement earnings. The summary was very inclusive from the year I first filed taxes at age eighteen until last year. In the chart you could see the gradual increase in annual earnings from then until now. It was very interesting.

Let's look at the following graph. It is fictional and generic, and could represent many different things.

The points on the graph could represent the stock market, home finance spending or the number of tomatoes you picked in the garden. Consider this. Is it possible that the graph could represent even a wider range of ideas for growth and decline? Could it represent human virtues such as happiness, spirituality or self-confidence?  I think it can.  Let us suppose this scenario for an example using the human trait (or way of being), Self Confidence.

Let us say Point A is when I was nineteen years old, and had all the hope and confidence in the world. I climbed through life until point B, where I was laid off from my job. At Point C I found a new source of employment until I discovered I wasn't emotionally fit for that line of work (D). Point E represents another beginning, going toward Point F which represents the future.

This could all hold true, but it is also very subjective. We cannot quantify emotions simply by the numbers, and we could have just as appropriately used Emojis on the vertical axis, like they do now for measuring pain in the hospital - but I think you understand my point.

If we spend some time contemplating our personal (or familial) growth or happiness we can begin to see trends. Using the information that comes to us from within, counseling with others and from the Still Small Voice of God we may be able to make different choices that can stem-off potential future low points in our lives.

Now back to my question. What is Standing In The Way of You Reaching Your Peak? Is it life style changes that need to be made, or relationships that need to be mended? Perhaps a job change or restructure is in order, or you need to re-evaluate your social and family life priorities. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that doing the same thing over and over brings us the same result, and until we're ready to raise ourselves up to new heights by making new and different choices, we can expect the trends to repeat themselves.