Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"The false self will say prayers but the True Self is a prayer and looks out at reality from a different pair of eyes larger than its own. This is why in Ephesians it says 'pray always' (6:18). We pray always whenever we act in conscious and loving union with God, which eventually can be all the time—even in our sleep!" Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation

Friday, August 26, 2011

"But Jesus, said unto them, 'A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.' And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching." Mark 6: 4-6 KJV

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hate Mail

Every time I receive a forwarded e-mail message that once again has as its aim to denigrate the person who is currently serving as President of our nation, I have two reactions. First, I am angry. Second, I am sad. I am sad that people forward messages that often are SPAM, based on falsehood—and this can be verified by simply going to the Internet and searching on the topic of the message—and that they do so without questioning the validity of the information they are forwarding. I received another of those from someone in my home state of Texas. The purpose of the message is to question Mr. Obama’s patriotism because he was not at Arlington Cemetery for Memorial Day in 2010. If it’s not his origin of birth or his religion, it’s his patriotism. Or something else that people—most who want to wave the banner of “Christianity”—foolishly promote. I immediately went to the Internet. And, not to my surprise, there it was on

The information on Snopes lays out clearly for anyone who is interested in fact regarding the record of U. S. Presidents and their presence or lack of presence at Arlington on Memorial Day for the last 30 years. Read for yourself.

I sent the following message to my relative in Texas—someone I have had little contact with since we were growing up, but also someone who I like—because I felt compelled to honor the truth:

I am sending the following link because I believe in fairness, regardless of political persuasion. The messages—many of which are spam—circulated about Barack Obama since before his election are too often misrepresenting and offensive. I get them from family, friends, and even casual friends. It's interesting. None of the people I know who share my own moderate to liberal sentiments ever circulate messages—spam or otherwise—about the people on the right. I'll say it again. I believe in fairness. The attached link to CBS news is an article about that very matter—fairness—and specifically about Mr. Obama's whereabouts on the day in question. I know that there are many who simply want our current president to fail—regardless of what his failure means to our nation. And yet these people claim to be patriots, and yes, "Christian". The silliness about Mr. Obama's birth, his religion, his patriotism—and I guess the list could go on—should have ended long ago. Yet, for some it continues. I find this sad, and as someone with a Christian upbringing by parents who always taught us to be fair and respectful, I find it even sadder that people who call themselves "Christian" feel some need to benefit at the expense of others. This is indeed NOT the message of the New Testament Gospels.


Hate Mail—Albuquerque, New Mexico (August 20, 2011)
R. Harold Hollis

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dogs and Other Things that Bite

I have been bitten by dogs twice within the last year. Last Wednesday, as I walked around the park in my neighborhood, I was nipped in the area above the ankle of my right leg. Probably 15 seconds before this encounter, my fight or flight instinct had already engaged, when as I walked on the street I witnessed these two small but aggressive mixed breed dogs lunge barking, on leashes-too-long, at a woman walking on the trail just inside the perimeter of the park. I moved hurriedly to get past this scene, only to have the two dogs reverse direction and run at me as I walked in the middle of the street. I felt them at my heels as I started to run, but I didn’t realize at the time that one of them had made contact.

The owner of these two dogs—a woman who looked to be well into her 70s—made no apologies for her dogs. Hidden behind the black, black sunglasses that are popular with people who have compromised eyes, she looked at me like I was nuts, as I unleashed on her about dogs on leashes-too-long. I was beside myself. My adrenalin flowing, I scolded her for being irresponsible. “Have you ever been bitten by a dog,” I screamed. “Yes,” she replied, adding that she had rabies shots as a result. Yea, so did I, I thought, when I was six years old. (My mother, middle sister and I had been around our rat terrier that turned up with rabies, but none of us had been bitten.) As I railed at her—honestly, I don’t remember all that I said. I just know that I wanted her to understand that her aggressive dogs had violated me and that she was accountable. “I hope I never see you again,” she said. “You will,” I replied, adding that I walk this part of the neighborhood just about every day.

Down the street, I stopped to call the non-emergency number for the city of Albuquerque. “No, the dogs did not bite me,” I answered when asked. Not until I was back in my house sitting in a chair in my living room did I look down to see the two bloody puncture wounds on my right leg. I made another call to 311 to amend my earlier report. The day wore on, culminating in an animal control officer coming to my house for a face-to-face report. He was on his way to see the owner of the dogs to get her side of the story and to determine that the two dogs were current on their rabies inoculations. He called the next day to advise me that it was the darker of the two dogs that had bitten me. I wonder if the owner actually knew I had been bitten when we were still at the scene, but was afraid to take responsibility.

“What’s with you and dogs,” a friend asked when I told him about the incident. I was forced to revisit, again, my experience in a friend’s house less than a year ago, as I made my way to my home in Texas. Her brother, also visiting from out of town, was accompanied by his aggressive German Shepherd. I stupidly walked in the front door—not thinking that I needed to be concerned about the dog. The dog ran toward me. I put out my right hand. Clamp!—puncture wounds to the top and bottom of my hand around the thumb. I ran to the refrigerator for ice, my heart racing, in disbelief. The brother took the dog to the back of the house while we waited for his sister to get home. This bite required a visit to the urgent care clinic, a shot in the butt, an oral prescription and one week of soaking the wound and dressing it with antibiotic ointment. Almost a year later I see the scars on the top and bottom of my hand. The scar in the fleshy part of my thumb is hard and sometimes sore.

So what is it with me and dogs? Nothing. As I approach age 68, I have been bitten twice—both within the last year. I think the better question is why—why do people have aggressive dogs—dogs that bite people? Frankly, I’m not interested in whatever psychology any dog owner wants to offer for how or why someone entering a house—a house that he assumes is safe on this day just like it has been the many times he has entered before—or walking in the middle of the street has in some way provoked a dog to attack him.

Operating on the premise that there are no accidents—that everything happens for a reason—I’m still working on understanding the reason. Yes, I get it. I walked into my friend’s home, assuming I was safe. Unfortunately, an aggressive German Shepherd was also visiting, and I was therefore not safe. Yes, I get it. I was walking down the street, but unfortunately not far enough away to escape the jaws of an aggressive dog on a leash-too-long. What did my friend’s brother learn from this incident? What did the woman in the black, black sunglasses learn? My friend’s brother called several days after his dog bit me to check on me. He called, for the first time, several days after the incident. The woman in the neighborhood did not claim any responsibility or offer any apology. So what have I learned? I’m asking myself that right now. My juices want to flow more than just a little. I thought I had let go of the incident that happened almost a year ago. Not until I had a second similar experience did I realize that being bitten a year ago was still with me.

I don’t want to hold grudges, even though at times I know that I do hold grudges. I don’t want to have hard feelings toward the owner of the German Shepherd—a man now 50, someone I’ve known since he was 13 years old, someone I can say is at least a casual friend. I don’t want to waste my energy on anger toward the woman in the neighborhood who didn’t own her accountability and didn’t offer an apology. “I hope I never see you again,” she said. Maybe we won’t see each other again. No doubt, her dogs will be back in the front yard before long, running the fence, barking at people walking by. I’ve observed their behavior inside the fence for many months. Maybe she was afraid that I would take her to court. “Do you want to go to court,” the animal control officer asked me. “No, I just want her to accept responsibility for her dogs,” I answered. Likely, I’ll never know what she makes of this. All that matters is what I make of it. I just want to let it go. Grudges serve no one. Regardless of how justified anger might be in the near term, holding onto anger serves no one, especially the one who holds the anger. I am remembering something I read recently. We are not punished for our anger; we are punished by our anger. So said Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha (563-483 BCE).

And so it is. Namaste.

Dogs and Other Things that Bite—Albuquerque, New Mexico (August 18, 2011)
R. Harold Hollis

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Russell Hollis—August 14, 1911

Daddy, you were born 100 years ago today. I don’t have a photograph of you—not a digital one that I can post here. But your image is imprinted on my brain and on my heart, along with all of the goodness that you taught us, all of the goodness that you gave us during the 69 years of your journey here. At the morning service of the New Thought church where I go on Sunday mornings these days, the minister related that our celebrations are a little Baptist. Of course, I thought of you. He made a distinction, however. New Thought teaches us to embrace our original goodness—not to suffer original sin. Yin Yang, Daddy. We are more than what we are taught. Regardless of the path we walk, our instinct is to love, and that is the greatest blessing you gave to me. I know that God continues to bless you. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yes, it begins with me

Let me not forget what I came here for.

"Wisdom Tradition is a term that is sometimes given to the inner core or mystic aspects of a religious or spiritual tradition, without the trappings, doctrinal literalism, sectarianism, and power structures that are associated with institutionalised religion. The Wisdom Tradition provides a conceptual framework for the development of the inner self, living a spiritual life, and the realisation of Enlightenment or of Union with God."

from Wikipedia at (

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Wisdom attributed to Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C. Buddha, “the awakened one,” “the enlightened one”.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Way Things Are Not

The other day, I spent time with someone who offered opinions with such conviction about religion, relationships—even entertainment—and I was reminded that maybe, just maybe, we can be just a little less rigid, a little more tolerant. Something similar happened during a phone call yesterday with someone I’ve never even met in person. Awhile back, I had yet another conversation with someone who insisted that he was not willing to forgive his sister for things she’s done. This guy had spent a couple of decades as a minister then several years as a social worker. I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve held forth with “the way things are”, begging the person with whom I’m having a conversation to say, “Harold, why don’t you tell us how you really feel”. Good for a laugh, right?

Over the last couple of weeks, I have witnessed from a distance, hardcore divisiveness among members of my extended maternal family. Some have drawn a line in the sand, choosing to hate with a passion that stuns and stings. Hate. There’s a word we use in different ways. Some hate broccoli. Some hate getting up for work, even when they like their jobs. Some hate making a mistake. Some hate sweating when they’re all dressed up with someplace to go. Some hate others of a different ethnicity. Some hate others they think have hated them first. Some hate their own family or individual members of their family. We hate much, and we hate without cause, regardless of how justified we feel.

Don’t you hate it when you think you’ve got it all figured out? And then, when life proves to you that you couldn’t be much farther from the truth? I do my share of explaining the positions I take and the choices I make—much of it built on the shifting sands that I regrettably discover later—sometimes just a little bit later. Life will have its way, and if we are paying attention, be it to something we read, or a conversation we have, or a situation we observe, or a situation we find ourselves in the middle of, life will instruct us. My mother told me many times, concerning the temper that I inherited from both her and my daddy, “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). As it turns out, this really is from the “good book”, unlike so many other sayings that people commonly attribute incorrectly to scripture. It works for more, as long as I allow myself to get over myself. Ego is a mighty opponent. And so it is. Namaste.

The Way Things Are Not—Albuquerque, New Mexico (August 4, 2011)
R. Harold Hollis

Monday, August 1, 2011

Let me search no farther than my own heart

"When asked what the unpardonable sin is, Brand replies, 'It is a sin that grew within my own breast. A sin that grew nowhere else! The sin of an intellect that triumphed over the sense of brotherhood with man and reverence for God, and sacrificed everything to its own mighty claims!'"
(from the short story "Ethan Brand," by American novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1848)