Sunday, October 26, 2008

Daniel Nahmod - Water

Last Sunday at Unity we were privileged to have several guest musicians with us, one of whom was Daniel Nahmod. Daniel is a California-based singer/songwriter who has put out several albums. I had been looking forward to seeing him since we had been singing some of his songs on Sunday mornings. His performances during the morning as well as evening services were great, and afterward I picked up one of his more recent albums, from 2006, called Water. Here is a run-down of a few of the songs on the album, with a few lyrics and then a few thoughts.

2) If The Race Is Over - What do I do if I'm not chasing anything? What do I do if I've got everything that I need?...Where do I go if I'm right where I'm s'posed to be?

What if the race is over, and we all automatically win? What if the game is ended, long before it even begins? What if the test has been taken, and we're all passing again and again? If the race is over...what then?

This is just the first of several songs on the album that goes right into my soul. I think a lot of us spend a whole lot of time trying to be "better" people, perhaps so we'll be viewed more positively or with admiration from other people. But this also applies to God. Many of us grow up with the belief that there is some sort of test that we have to pass in order to be acceptable to God. We think that naturally, on our own, we are intrinsically flawed somehow and so the straining and the striving begins, trying to become the kind of person we think God wants us to be so we'll be acceptable. We run the race, but unfortunately it never seems to end. Yes, there are improvements that we all need to make and there is growth that happens. But what if we aren't at a disadvantage from the very start? How would that viewpoint change our daily actions? I think it could go a long way to dissolving guilt and feelings of inferiority. What if, rather than flawed sinners, we viewed ourselves as beautiful at the core, how would that change our experience in day-to-day life?

7) To Be Free - I have made a decision about my life/It may be a strange surprise to some/I have always thought I wanted what so many want/But it's to a different conclusion that I've come...

Oh, I be free/I will go where the wind will carry me/To be free, oh to be free.

You won't see me playing any kind of lottery/You won't catch me wishing on a falling star/You will find me wherever I am called to be/Wherever kindness and beauty are/For I think of all mankind as my family/This entire precious planet is my home/So let others build their borders, walls, and boundaries/I will fly above them all, even if I must go alone

Where to start on this one? One thing that comes to mind is, well, as previously stated, that we try to change ourselves in order to impress people. But even moreso, I think that we often try to take on another person's solution for our own. Maybe we see someone who seems to be very successful at life, and we try to mimic them, hoping that the things that make them successful will also work for us. This works for some things, I'm sure, but not all. When it comes to our soul, our spirit, I think that each of us has a unique path to travel. We are each born into the world, and we come as discoverers, sent to break new ground. Unfortunately we spend much of our time trying to walk in someone else's path and we fail to realize that we can walk our own. No path is truly satisfying unless it is uniquely our own. Indeed there can be many similarities with others. We can get together with other like-minded people, and attend church services with those of similar beliefs - I currently attend a place called Unity, and one of the things I like about it is that each and ever Sunday the minister states that there is no right and perfect path, not even Unity - but still, we all must find our own way.

We each have a path to walk, and don't be surprised if it has a lot to do with our dreams. I think that most people have dreams, but we think that they are too unrealistic or that they are unachievable. But it could just be that the dreams we have are supposed to determine the path we walk.

Or something like's late and I have beer.

9) Empty - Nothing to say, nowhere to go, nothing to do/I have no promises to make, no-one to know, nothing to prove/It's a strange sort of existence, but somehow it seems so true/The only thing I really know/Is that I don't know a thing/The only sound that I hear now/Is the silence when I sing...

I'd be perfectly fine/If I stayed this way forever/Nothing on my mind/And I've never felt better.

What a strange idea, of being empty. What are we if not for our cluttered minds and the overwhelming amount of feelings that we feel as we go through life? What if there was nothing to say and nothing to do? We see a lot, come across a lot as we live and we pick things up until they become heavy. But what if, underneath everything, we're simply wonderful beings, standing there naked and with no need to impress (there are oh, so many jokes I could make right now!)

Um, anyways, I like the song.

10) Last Song - If this is my last song/If this is my final day/If tomorrow I'll be gone/What do I want to say/If this is my last song/If it's my time to go/When my body's moved on/What will I have to show...

Have I given hope to the hopeless, has a hungry soul been fed/Has a child stood a little bit taller 'cause of something that I said/Have I left a little kindness, have I eased a little pain/If so, then I'm glad I came.

I'm skipping the commentary on this one.

I'd HIGHLY recommend, if you have a few extra bucks for a CD, to order this one online. Daniel's voice reminds me a little of James Taylor, and the style of the album is folky.

His bio can be found here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Coming To Terms With Past Beliefs

It's kind of like having an uncle that taught you how to fish, but he has some really harmful traits as well. If he's disrupting your life and causing harm to your well-being, you may have to distance yourself from him for your own good.

But it doesn't take away the fact that he taught you how to fish. What are you going to do now? Are you going to curse fishing even though you love doing it? No, you're going to keep fishing - just not with your uncle.

Growing up within fundamentalist Chistianity taught me how to be interested in spirituality, in matters of the soul (whatever that means..that sounds so deep!) I am thankful for that, and will take some of the things that I learned with me as I continue on my journey. Things like loving those who are different than you, being kind to those who are abandoned by society (I suck at these things a lot of the time.) I can look at Jesus again and ask "what was it about this man that caused people to associate the divine within him?"

For as long as I remain bitter about everything associated with Christianity, the longer that piece of my life will be left out in the cold. But it is part of who I am.

I have been lucky that there have been people in the last few years that have helped me to see that there are other lenses by which to see Christianity and the Bible other than fundamentalism or literalism. Thanks go to those who have encouraged me to think, or steered me to take a look at different viewpoints. I think of the prof in Bible college who directed me to a book called "God of the Possible" by Gregory Boyd, and more recently I've also appreciated the Unitarian church in town, and Unity, where I currently go on Sundays, often on very little sleep. Authors such as John Shelby Spong, Henri Nouwen, and Marcus Borg have been helpful to me as well.

The journey continues, with an acknowledgement of my fundamentalist past.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Work In Progress

Things happen and you get to thinking “Maybe it’s not for me.” It’s for everyone else. First it’s for the class-mate in grade school who seems to have the perfect family with lots of money and hosts parties all of the time. Then it’s the guys and girls in high school who have all the popular friends, are on the basketball teams, and who end up in the King & Queens Court at the prom. And then a bit more time goes by, and then the ‘maybe’ turns into a ‘probably,’ as in ‘it’s probably not for me.’ What is the ‘it?’ ‘It’ is the good, happy life that you have always wanted to have but for one reason or another haven’t been able to walk into. But the truth is that you have the power. The lie that you’ve bought into is that you aren’t good enough on your own, that you lack what it takes to be happy, that you need something that you don’t already have inside of you. But you can do it. The only things you need are confidence and boldness, and they are things that you can choose to have right now, right at this very moment.

“But you don’t know what I’ve been through! You don’t know what my life has been like! You don’t know the things that I’ve done!”


I’m not denying that you have seen much pain in your life, but it is time.

It is time to let it go.

All of it. Somewhere in life you have picked up a heavy rock, and you’ve carried it around for far too long. It’s time to leave the past where it belongs, in the past.

Whatever, I mean WHATEVER you have seen in your life, it is done. Now is the moment for you to live and to choose the kind of life you want to have today.

A good step forward is to re-connect with yourself. Things happen in life, and you lose touch with yourself, just like old college friends. You’ve lost touch with the truth, if you ever believed it in the first place, that you are a unique and wonderful person, a wonderful mish-mash of divinity and humanity. Start believing this, day in, day out, and eventually you’ll settle into this truth like your favourite pair of worn, holey blue jeans. You’ll accept yourself.

Believe that you have the power to do anything that you want to do.