Verna J. Dozier was a leading African American theologian and prophet who touched countless lives and transformed hearts. Her work and service were prolific. As a teacher and Board Member of Examining Chaplains, she often spoke and wrote about the dream of God.
She believed that we have the capacity to bring forth the realization of Howard Thurman’s vision of ‘a friendly world of friendly folk beneath a friendly sky’. She believed that God wants all creation to live together in peace, harmony, and fulfillment. She believed that we are called to restore that dream together. I believe she was right. In truth, how could it be otherwise?
The wounds and struggles of the past have the power to separate and destroy us. But they also have the power to move us forward to new life, a new identity, and universal oneness.
Our suffering is what we all have in common. It’s not single-mindedness and strength that will overcome, but acceptance and shared vulnerability. The Dream of God is attainable if we are willing to let go of our chokehold on yesterday by engaging in healing here and now. We can start by loving where we once hated.
I think this is about the best starting point for building up the Dream of God; A boy named Camden asked New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady at a press Q&A in Atlanta what we should do about haters. “What do we do about the haters? We love ‘em,” said Brady. “We love them back because we don’t hate back.” There it is…a glimmer of a friendly world of friendly folk beneath a friendly sky.
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves…regret for the past and fear of the future.” ~ Fulton Ourslear
When the end of life comes we will not regret the business deals that didn’t work out, sales that weren’t made, or final exams we didn’t ace. We will regret the squandered opportunities. We will suffer the most from our failure to devote enough time to our loved ones. We will regret our lack of attention to a skinned knee. We will long to have the moment back when our words of criticism bruised a heart.
I have found that healing begins when we take action here and now. The way to eliminate regrets from the past and to dispel the fear of the future is to fully evaluate what really matters and pay attention to it. We will put an end to the endless repetition of mistakes by unshackling ourselves from the past and freeing ourselves from the future. We can start by putting first things first.
The present moment is when to make that extra effort. All we have to do is more fully avail ourselves to those important people in our lives. Another phone call, a written card, or any added gesture that proclaims our love will wash away fear and regret as we go forward. By making time and freely giving our gifts of love, we will discover that our resources are unlimited. This is the next right thing to do. Nothing is more important.
What goes around comes around. There is a kind of smugness in this old maxim. It seems that even the most religious folks allow those words to come out of their mouths with indignant self-righteousness. It is surprising really. There is certainly no gospel mention of Jesus wagging his finger or clicking his tongue with a message of certain doom. On the contrary, he welcomes sinners, dines with tax collectors, and hangs out with rugged fishermen, street people, and prostitutes. His message is one of acceptance and a way out of trouble. Yet, we continue to wage a holy war on one another by waiting for divine retribution, punishment, and retaliation. Lucky for most of us that what goes around does not always come around. I don’t know about you, but my fate would be sealed.
“Contrary to popular misconception, karma has nothing to do with punishment and reward.” ~ Sol Luckman
What we need to wait for and anticipate is forgiveness, grace, and love. We should especially wish this for those who seem to be mired in trouble and meanness. We don’t get to set ourselves apart as righteous superiors. We don’t get to discard those who have injured us with karmic hopes that ‘they will get theirs’. Any time we do those things we are setting up a dynamic of hatred which flows out to every ear that hears. We become the example of exactly what drives people away from God. The lost sheep is not being fervently pursued with shears and butcher knives. The lost sheep is being sought so it can be returned home on the shoulders of the shepherd in expectation of a great celebration. With that in mind let’s stop expecting cosmic retribution and hope for universal mercy.
Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.
In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.
His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.
A few years back, a group of us established the Police Chaplain Project.
The idea was to tell the story of police chaplaincy one chaplain at a time by creating a video archive.
We kept it simple. We invited police chaplains come in, sit down, look directly into the camera and share their story.
To date, the Police Chaplain Project has conducted more than 100 on-camera interviews with some of the most accomplished police chaplains of the past 50 years.
The content has inspired a loyal following on Facebook and other social media platforms.
We encourage you to visit ChaplainUSA.org. From there you can tap into the many ways this unique content has been put to good use.
Police chaplains play a critical role in the well-being and spiritual survival of police officers and their families. For those in grief, simply listening to a police chaplain offers a path forward.
Sponsored by ChaplainUSA, a non-profit 501c3 organization, the program is raising public awareness about a little known, but critical member of America’s law enforcement community – our police chaplains.