Minister's Post, Fri Feb 24

Dear Ones:

Our "Science and Spirituality" group read Ed Yong's book, I Contain Multitudes last fall. Some amazing things we learned, as Yong reported:
“Speaking of palms, your right hand shares just a sixth of its microbial species with your left hand.”
“The brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii is another puppetmaster. It can only sexually reproduce in a cat; if it gets into a rat, it suppresses the rodent’s natural fear of cat odours and replaces it with something more like sexual attraction. The rodent scurries towards nearby cats, with fatal results, and T. gondii gets to complete its life cycle."
We may not be as blatantly controlled as T. gondii controls rats, but a huge part of what we I am here to do -- as the biological organism that I am -- is serve the microbes that I carry around. Fortunately, many of them also serve me. Or, perhaps we should say they serve the other microbes by helping sustain the ecosystem (me) that supports all the microbes.

No wonder that Timothy Morton wonders: "Am I simply a vehicle for numerous bacteria that inhabit my microbiome? Or are they hosting me?"

Yours in the faith we share,

Join a Journey Group: http://cucwp.org/journey-groups

I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)

The Feb 19 service, "Free to Be You and Me"

The Feb 12 service, "Know Thyself"

"Know Thyself" sermon text at The Liberal Pulpit.


See the good in yourself. That’s this week’s practice pointer adapted from “Just One Thing,” by clinical psychologist Rick Hanson.

There is good in every person — but it can be easier to see in others than in yourself. Because of the brain’s negativity bias, we tend to fixate on what's wrong with ourselves instead of what's right. If you do twenty things in a day and nineteen go fine, what's the one you think about? Probably the one that didn't go so well.

Your brain builds new structures primarily based on what you pay attention to; neurons that fire together, wire together. Focusing on what doesn’t go so well blocks the development of confidence and self-worth. Knowing your own strengths and virtues, is just a matter of seeing yourself accurately. Then, recognizing the good in yourself, you'll feel better inside, reach out to others with less fear.

So: Pick one simple good thing about yourself. Maybe you are friendly, open, conscientious, imaginative, warm, perceptive, or steadfast. Be aware of the experience of that positive characteristic. Explore its body sensations, emotional tones, and any attitudes or viewpoints that go with it. Take a little time to register that you do indeed have this good quality. Let yourself become convinced of it. Look for signs of it for a day or a week -- and feel it when you find it.

Then repeat this process for other good qualities you have.

As you review your qualities, open to feeling good about yourself. Let these times of feeling good about yourself gradually fill your heart and your days.

For more explanation about how to see the good in yourself, see the full post: "See the Good in Yourself."

Here it is, your...
#147: The Acorn

How could you say there was anything that couldn't be expressed in words? As soon of you'd said what it was, you've expressed it. Even to say, "It's ineffable" is to eff it.

You might say, "But some things are not completely expressed." True enough, but adding "completely" reverses the situation. Changing the question from "Is there anything that can't be expressed in words?" to "Is there anything that can't be completely expressed in words?" changes the answer from "nothing" to "everything." Everything can be expressed, and nothing can be completely expressed.

So the living question for us is: given the infinite expressibility of every object, phenomena, or experience, when do we say, "that's enough" -- and when do we heap our plates with detailed expression?

John Keats spoke of "negative capability" -- which he said meant being "capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." Or, we might say: "content with a vague, imprecise allusion without any irritable reaching after more concrete or detailed expression."

To go further, let us recognize that it's misleading to say that every expression is incomplete, which suggests that expressions are partial -- as if, by accumulating more and more expression, one could asymptotically approach completeness. It's not that expressions inherently reveal only a part of the reality. It's that expressions always and inherently hide as much as they reveal. Indeed, they conceal exactly as much as they reveal. Necessarily. Such recognition strengthens our negative capability.

Woodpecker asked, "Is there anything that can't be expressed in words?"
Raven said, "Nothing."
Woodpecker asked, "Even the ineffable experience of the Buddha under the Bodhi tree?"
Raven said, "The morning star."
Porcupine said, "There's a kernel in that acorn."
Woodpecker asked, "How can I get at it?"
Porcupine said, "Come on, Woodpecker! What's that chisel beak for?"

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