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“How do you feel?” “I don’t know…”


“How do you feel?”
“I don’t know…”

I don’t think it’s unusual not know what we’re feeling. Nor even to be unable to feel.
What are you feeling now?
Are you feeling a mixture of feelings?
Are you feeling one shallowly?
Are you feeling one deeply?

If you aren’t sure, there are some almost universal triggers to make or help you feel.

I’m not at all a fan of the musical genres jazz, classical, or country. I can enjoy occasional hits from each, but rarely more than one or two at a time. Upon hearing of my disdain for classical, my sister challenged me.

I believe this 3.5 minute piece is one of the almost universal triggers that cannot be heard without a maelstrom of accompanying feelings (listen with space to move your arms through their full ranges, and fasten your headphones or earbuds securely, for your head will dance upon your neck, and, almost certainly, you’ll need to stand, and quite possibly dance):

If you are a classical music aficionado, don’t try to convert me, but please do share with me pieces like this one, which do not require an appreciation for the art form, and do not for the uninterested include wasteful bridges, interludes, and introductions. I wish to hear more brief pieces like this, in which every note has intrinsic value, even to the infidel.

Neil D. 2020-07-19


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My love letter to me


My love letter to me
…from my mom,
…from my soul,
…from me.

[6 minute read]

My rational mind loves theology, and I can wrap many of my beliefs into tidy packages to delight my reason. But that’s horribly dangerous, just like this theology: “The wages of sin is death, and you need a savior.”

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? Despite the crown of thorns, humiliation, false charges, excruciating death, do I threaten my wrath? ‘Forgive them, Abba…’ He was not begging on your behalf because you are unworthy of Our love. He was vocalizing what flows inseparably FROM Our love. Our sadness that you ‘know not what you do…’ To your Selves.

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? When I, your passionate and personal God, say that I love you unconditionally, that means no necessity of forgiveness. Our acts of love are not to show you how sinful you are. They are deeds to show you the purity of Our love for you. There’s no need at all for forgiveness when all is love….

“Love does not originate FROM or BY forgiveness. Love is no hostage, contingent on redemption by contrition and absolution. There is NO requirement that forgiveness PRECEDE My love. Neither offense nor guilt affect pure love. Nothing binds love. Forgiveness is a coincidence of true love, NOT a prelude…

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid. Look at my Son’s crucified, bloody face. Does He look angry?

“The sadness on his face is for you. His face is My face. I am not angry and demanding justice because you have hurt Me. I am the Lord your God, Who fears nothing. I do not fear being hurt. But I can and do feel hurt. I can and do feel sadness. They are part of love, and I AM love. So I am also Hurt. I am also Sadness. But hurt and sadness out of love, not out of fear. Fear is not part of love. Do not fear that you have hurt me, and need my forgiveness. For I love you already. Fearlessly, and fiercely.

“You only fear Me because you cannot feel and trust the fullness of pure love — yet. My Son’s passion is a show of love’s purity, not a message that you need to fear Us, nor that you needed His sacrifice…

“My Son’s passion is Our love story for you, Neil. Don’t corrupt it into a tragedy about sin and penalty and any sense of justice and consequences and conditions and laws and rules…

“His love is pure. My love is pure. Conditions and rules for gaining it are impurities.

“I am sad, because you hurt your self, child. I, the Lord Almighty, BEG and PLEAD with you, Neil… I do not COMMAND you by any other power or authority except love… Fearsomeness is false power, and I am not false. Love holds no space for fear. And I am love…

“Your very Creator is begging and pleading for you to feel Our love in the story of my Son’s life. We do not wish for you to see some sacrifice to atone for your shame and restore your worthiness. Our love is NOT affected by your sin. It doesn’t stop just because you sin. Don’t be so conceited to think you can diminish Our love! Let this love story fly past your ego and annihilate barriers of shame, to touch your tender soul, sweet boy…

“The story of Yeshua is about Our goodness and YOUR goodness… Our and your OUTRAGEOUS capacity for love. Be outraged about that! Stop – STOP – making it about your badness and failure to love. You are hurting and saddening Us and your eternal Self by your ego-centeredness. Center the story on your WHOLE Self, as I made you. Be Self-centered about THAT story.

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid.

“Let this story through your ego-self to your soul-Self. Begging… Pleading… In love… THAT is who We are.

“Know your shame, son. We do. Let it waft into your ego’s consciousness, and your whole Self can be compassionate with it, as We are. Your repression is keeping Our love from your soul. Even your ego, Neil, can love Us, and can love all of you, if your soul can embrace your whole Self tenderly, as We created it to do. You are made to love. Your soul can do its work, son.

“Imagine my Son’s face at the wedding in Cana, with a joyous smile crinkling his eyes. Imagine the fiery warmth of those eyes locked on the eyes of the woman to be stoned, ‘Nor do I condemn you…’ That is not a warmth that flows FROM forgiving; it is the fire of passionate love, from which forgiveness – like all things truly and purely good – cannot be separated.

“We hurt when those whom We love feel hurt. Just as you do. ‘I have become one of you.’ I have joined humanity because humanity is worthy. You are worthy of Our unconditional love because that love is Ours to give, NOT yours to earn. NO conditions. I am all-powerful. And I am in you. Our power is not rooted in meting out justice. Do not be afraid. Our power is love. I dwell in you: YOUR power is love.

“The moment I and your mother brought you to life, she held you in her arms, and adored you with unconditional love. You had done nothing to earn or deserve it. It was hers to give, not yours to earn. Your soul is no different from your mother’s. Your soul is no different from Me.

“You too have unbounded power to give love without conditions. Please, Neil, pour it out, unshackled by shame, with NO conditions. And, please, begin with pouring it onto my own infinitely lovable son, whom your mother named Neil…

Neil D. 2020-03-06

Related: My love letter to you, My love letter to you PS

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Advent Prequel to Footprints


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened…” (Mt 11:28)


Adeste fideles. (Come, faithful).


Advent Prequel To Footprints

(Neil Durso)

Energy, misbalanced.
Self-centered lifetime.
Other-centered lifetime.
Tiresome battles lost.

Shameful failure.
Wasted toils?
No. Delivery to the now.

A curled, sobbing heap,
Writhing on sands of self-desertion.
A finger trembling, raised to an eye…
Tap its pool of tears, running them thin,
Glimpse through the blur:

A shadow over tears on dead sand
Shades the relentless brightness of scorching shame,
Revealing a garment’s hem resting on sandaled toes.

Stretch out of despair a hand.
Touch a finger to the coarse fabric.

From that cloak, a hand extends,
Re-flavoring tears that flow still.
From a spring deep within, never fully felt.
Feel it now. Don’t wrestle floodgates inside.

Epic struggle.
Ordained end.
Rivulets of tears baptize anew.
Every ounce of unrequited effort poured out has prepared the way

Enormous fruitlessness was the way.
En route to the quenching fruit of energy exhausted.

The garment takes you up, in its arms
So gentle, their power feels misplaced.
You tremble at tenderness so unfamiliar.

From this bottom, from this birthplace,
In His wake are one set of footprints.

At cool evening’s arrival,
You’re lowered lovingly
To your own feet.
Refreshed.
At His side.
He at yours.
Two sets of feet imprint the sands.

Onward in silence.
For a time.
Then,
The silence drips into distant song
On fleeting breezes.

Whispering beneath the rising chorus,
“Whither, Yeshua?”
“The City of David.”

A bright star draws your gaze.
And He is gone.

Shepherds appear.
On pilgrimage.
To Light.

Above the sonorous din of lambs’ bleating,
Lyrics grow clearer…

Carried by the parade, your heart then
Your tongue join the hosts’ song.
Reborn of unshackled brokenness,
The beckoned joins the calling:

“O… O… come, all ye faithful…”
(song)


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


-Neil D. 2019-12-16
(revised from 2018-12-24)

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Green Shirt

The gently soft-spoken 20-something didn’t seem to ever stop talking except when he asked of me simple questions and waited for replies with earnestness that made me feel like my answer would be divine and resonate with profoundly undeniable truth and universal wisdom. He sat on a park bench with his beautiful, unthreatening, expectant, wide eyes open naturally enough to look up at me as I stood beside the bench on which he sat lower. His eyes weren’t bloodshot or distant, squinted or spookily wide. His pupils locked on my gaze, without blinking, without discomfort or shame. Without abiding by any conventions of time or rhythm familiar. Just natural, as anyone’s might be awaiting an answer, unconsciously exhaling the puff of smoke from a satisfying drag off the cigarette he just bummed off me…

He did that several times, awaiting several answers to several questions. Of me. Me. Me? Me!

Not hard answers to give. But not easy questions to ask. So, wait–maybe hard questions to answer, but not hard words to summon in answer: “Yeah.” “That’s true.” I know.” “I feel you.” “Right.” “Damn.” “I know.”

Know? Do I really *know* anything?

Now I know I do.

Green Shirt talked and asked about his joy and loss of waking next to her, whose name he didn’t remember. Of being anxious about how he would get eggs and bacon like yesterday. Would the nurses let him have the medicine he needed again?

He’s glad it’s warm today.

Hopes it will be tonight, wherever he winds up.

Wants to work on my car. She knows how to service bearings. He knows he has to clean up dog poop in the park before her company lets him collect cans. She’s not afraid to work hard. Why do they think their reality’s rules make more sense?

Yeah, I suppose Yeshua from Nazareth wore some shade of white fabric in the middle eastern form of that time. But I think, yesterday morning, He wore a green t-shirt.

If you see Green Shirt today, tell her I miss him. Tell him I said hello. Tell her I remember him. Say Hello to her for me. Thank him for talking to me about her own world. Tell her I love hymn… because he trusted me just to affirm her truth. And … loved ME too.

Neil D. 2019-07-25

“The Young Messiah”


Couldn’t/shouldn’t these words be ours?:

I know everything I can for today… There’s still so much that I don’t know. But I do know this… I think I’m here just to be alive. To see it. Hear it. Feel it. All of it. Even when it hurts. Someday you’ll tell me why else I’m here. I don’t know when. But you will. I know that. Because… Father, I am your child.
[abridged transcript of final scene in movie below; unabridged transcript in appendix]

I’ve been characterized (fairly) as resigned and cynical. But I resist the label “pessimist.” I have unlimited optimism for today’s youth. I have no bleak view of “kids today,” buried in their phones, raised by dysfunctional parents in a dysfunctional world, etc. In our age of pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, global warming (and ignorant denial), pollution, fossil fuel depletion, shrinking social security funds, wars and terrorism, divisive politics,…

Our species has pulled together in past times of crisis, and there is no reason that today’s youth cannot wildly exceed our imaginations and solve world problems we haven’t even fathomed yet. We old farts sometimes simply lack the “eyes to see…” So, farther below, I share one snapshot that fuels my optimism. But first,…

The transcript above is from my new favorite movie: “The Young Messiah” (2016. 1h51m. PG-13).
The Roman centurion Severus (played by Sean Bean [Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones, and in Lord of the Rings, Borimir, the only member of the Fellowship of the Ring who succumbed to its temptation]) is confronted with deciding the fate of 7-year-old Jesus, though under orders from Herod to kill him. Also starring David John Bradley (Argus Filch in Harry Potter, Walder Frey in Game of Thrones).

I made this clip (https://youtu.be/xOU3eqDzto8) with my phone off Netflix (9/2020) because, sadly, I can’t find this 2-minute closing scene online. Here’s the preceding scene: (throughout the movie, his mother Mary struggles to keep his origin from him, until she finally can’t, in this, the penultimate scene of the movie):
https://youtu.be/wcZs9vRmq-Y

REVIEW OF THE FINAL SCENE IN ISOLATION

Below is a review of my clip, the final two-minute scene, by a person who loves the whole art form of cinematic movies, AND who had not seen any other part of the movie! I’m not sharing it to promote the movie, but instead, as an example of a person who lives from their soul, and has surprising wisdom beyond their years, by my admittedly biased thinking.

***

That’s some good writing because the last line is cliché, but the lines leading up to it just list the basics of life which makes us feel comfortable in being whatever we ended up being in life. It also couples a little bit of reassurance about our many insecurites, like when we get that feeling that we ‘know’ something is about to happen. It’s relatable, therefore we connect with it, therefore we feel that character is describing our thoughts himself or herself.

Plus there’s a dramatic realization which we dig because it involves something new we discover about ourselves, just like that feeling of awestruck we get when we realize something about ourselves through an outside look in, on our lives and the way we have been living; actions, thoughts on their own, and thought processes, which are all connected. Also one of the many reasons I love movies.

That’s my take. Just one of many perspectives tho🤷‍♂️.”
***
A comment made (by me) on that review:
“It was just a two minute clip. There’s a whole movie that wraps around it.”
***
And the reviewer’s response to my comment:

Ah yes, however a lot of creative juices went into that [2-minute closing scene; remember, this writer hadn’t seen any other part of the movie]. Movies take years to make, and in most cases, the majority of that time is spent on the script. A movie can be 1 hour and 10 minutes to 5 hours. Either way the ratio is year(s):5 hours.

Every moment created is scalped out and put together in a way that filmmakers thought would make a masterpiece of a lifetime. People were drained emotionally at the end of every day making it. Which by the way, happens at almost every job, not just for people who make movies, “emotional drainage variable” (oh god this is starting to sound like an infomercial).

Main point: Adore every moment you can. Lives were poured into it.

(Side note: I’m not saying this is different than any other job, I’m sure that every quality employee does their job in the best way they thought possible).

***

This unsolicited review was written on what would have been my oldest sister’s 54th birthday, by a 17-year-old young man at a public high school in Plum, PA, about 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh. I’m frankly stunned by the insights about life in general, in this review of a short clip. To that young reviewer, who has been through considerable life-changes in the last couple years, I’d like to ascribe the words of the 7-year-old Jesus; again, “I know everything I can for today… There’s still so much that I don’t know. But I do know this…
I think I’m here just to be alive. To see it. Hear it. Feel it. All of it. Even when it hurts.
Someday [Dad] you’ll tell me why else I’m here. I don’t know when. But you will. I know that. Because… Father, I am your child.
” And I am his biological father.

.



[unabridged transcript of closing scene]
“I know everything I can for today. I even know I am going to die. I used to wonder if angels would come to me. If they would sing to me. If they would fill my dreams. There’s still so much that I don’t know. But I do know this. I don’t think I’m here to see angels. Or to hear them saying. And I don’t think I’m here to make it rainy or sunny. Or anything like that. I think I’m here just to be alive To see it. Hear it. Feel it. All of it. Even when it hurts. Someday you’ll tell me why else I’m here. I don’t know when. But you will. I know that. Because… Father, I am your child.”


Cooperator, Party On (4) – You ARE Chosen Already


You’ll be given many moments to touch souls today. Touch them. Souls love to be touched by another. And souls, in turn, love to touch others. Receive your share of touches today. And do your share of touching. With you, God can; without you, God won’t.

Whether God can do God’s work without us is irrelevant. God has chosen — with a freedom we can’t yet understand — NOT to do God’s work without us. God has chosen to invite us, and to involve us, in all that God does: The unfolding of creation and the spread of real love.


Cooperator, Party On (3) – Look Inside, You’ll Open Wide


Every bit of the “work” you will do today can be performed as BOTH a servant AND a guest at the celebration of creation’s unfolding. If you assume the role of one or the other, shame on you. That’s not what the invitation is for. And when you think of the work you do with your life, if that “work” feels like service alone, shame on you. Your eyes are open but a slit, and can see only with ego vision.

You alone are the only one who can voluntarily open them wider and “have eyes to see.” You cannot look upon the fullness of creation until you perceive the fullness of You at the celebration. You are also a guest at the party. The party is not only yours, but it is yours and everyone’s. A party of one is lonely.

Eyes which look inside
Are eyes which open wide.


Cooperator, Party On (2) – Shame On Religion


I do not like the emphasis that religions put on “doing God’s will.” That makes God’s will sound like a to-do list, a burden, a set of rules and duties to fulfill. Individual persons who make up a religion. A religion doesn’t make individuals. People do not exist to serve religion; religion exists to serve persons. And burdens don’t serve persons. If you think you know best how God speaks to God’s children, shame on you.