Blooming Society Sunday

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It is Sunday. I wrote the first draft of this post as the inaugural scribbles in a fresh notebook while sitting on my porch and listening to Indian Summer on my over-the-ear headphones. It was supposed to rain today, sleet even; there was talk of snow flurries. In typical Texas fashion, the weather opted out of all of the above, choosing one of my favorite weather shapes instead – overcast and windy, with teasing spurts of moisture and random slices of sunlight that give color and shadows to the afternoon.

Pigeons are swooping low over the rippling chlorinated water of the community pool. I’m across from the tallest tree for a mile; its branches are bare save those reaching highest in the sky. The leaves there have clung to their home throughout winter, a silent and simple reminder of the preserving virtue of nature. I’m sorry if I’m boring you, but I’m feeling spiritual. Carl Sagan spiritual mind you:

“Spirit” comes from the Latin word “to breathe.” What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word “spiritual” that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. On occasion, I will feel free to use the word. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

If there is a specific day that infuses me with spirituality, it’s Sunday. Perhaps this is a leftover emotion from years worth of Sundays spent being told the latest New Light from The Watchtower. Personally, I think I owe more to the labor unions. Saturday is a day to have fun and get things done. Sunday is a day to rest and reflect. I don’t need a holy book to tell me that, it is a side effect of our societal setup. Obviously, I don’t think religion has a monopoly on spreading goodwill on Sundays.

8With this in mind, I’m starting a new blog tradition: Blooming Society Sunday. A weekly form of secular invocation to enrich my life and enliven my metaphorical soul, and yours too, I hope. By nearly every measure I can imagine, the world is improving. Not all scales show the weight tipped favorably, but many do. The massive scale that houses all the smaller ones is ever weighing the deeds of humanity and determining our future. I don’t believe anyone is watching the continual balancing act and the only ones influencing the distribution of weight is each and every one of us.

Blooming Society Sunday is one of my attempts to shift more of my weight toward the betterment of our world and its inhabitants. Each Sunday I plan on sharing some way of shifting the balance in our favor. I imagine most of these things will be small – where to find donation and volunteer opportunities, which books to read to increase understanding, and ideas for deeds that we can all do to help others. I want to discover small ways to affect the big picture, to mindfully load the scales with good.

Here’s my first idea, the introductory bloom: join me – if you want to. I won’t beg, pester, or implore, but I am asking. We’ve all had moments where we’ve thought ‘If only everyone would (enter simple and brilliant idea here), then we would all be better off!’ I’m only asking that you share those moments. I’m not suggesting that this is a silver bullet. In fact, it is the opposite. Nothing so explosive as a bullet is going to make a positive change in the world.

Humans improve one thought at a time. We have to plant the seeds if we ever hope to see a bloom. So, if this appeals to you, come dig in the dirt with me on Sundays. If not, I hope you’ll come back next week to see what I’m planting.

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21 thoughts on “Blooming Society Sunday

  1. Love the idea, Madalyn.

    Invest in our children, all children, fully supporting and focusing on building the capabilities of caregivers and strengthening the communities that together form healthy environments essential to children’s lifelong learning, health, and behavior.

    1. Oh my goodness, yes! We have to rebuild the village. My close group of friends and I always talk about taking our families out on a commune. Trippy hippy? Yes. Justified dream? I think so.

  2. “…put down the smart phones, unplug the headphones, and have an actual conversation with the people around them…”

    Bet ya didn’t see that one coming… :0p

  3. Toad, I was about to say something similar! And even in keeping up with people who are too far for face-to-face conversation, pick up the damn phone! Texting doesn’t count. I have one friend who calls me weekly and we talk for hours—she’s in the same field I’m in, so I know it isn’t easy. For those hours and the few afterward, I am indestructible. If it involves only your thumbs, it isn’t real conversation (with some exceptions—most of my blog posts are typed on my phone with only thumbs).

    Now when I can get someone to write me hand-written letters, it is heaven on earth. That’s the deepest form of communication for me. Madalyn, let me know if you ever need a pen pal!

  4. Love your Carl Sagan spirituality. You think and write well. Sounds almost like a chapter in my novel. “Spirits in the Wind.”

    If I may, I offer an excerpt from, “The Empathy Imperative,” chapter 2, Spirits in the Wind.

    Outside, a gust stirred fallen leaves into a swirling panic. The gust vibrated his window, and then swept across the quad. He knew it would rush with greater force through the breezeway at the Student Commons. In his mind’s ear, he could hear its hollow moan.

    In ancient times, he mused, such sounds were thought to be the voices of spirits in the wind. Could the ancients not hear their howling in the cyclone’s rage, or their whisperings in forest bough? From the Lakota, the Shoshone, and the Iroquois, to the Edimmu of ancient Sumer, the air was filled with spirits bringing lightning, thunder, mischief and mercy.

    Then, science came along and took all the magic out. The moaning of the wind is caused by air forced to a higher velocity as it moves through a narrow passage, or around some object, racing to balance a drop in pressure across the passage or the object. No spirits necessary. It’s just physics—cause and effect.

    Yet even today, religious fundamentalists the world over disavow the science, preferring their spirits in wind and sky. Like the flight of Bertrand Russell’s metaphysical cow frightened by an onrushing train she believes wishes her ill, fundamentalists run from the advance of science where it confronts their beliefs in a seemingly threatening manner.

    Still, science has no more concern for their beliefs than the train has for the cow. Yet, they seek to escape from it, to deflect it, to deny it, to hide themselves in the comfort of myth, in the bosoms of wind spirits and sky gods, in the reassuring promise that death is not the end and those who dare to challenge their beliefs will reap punishment everlasting.

    Nevertheless, how can they think and act otherwise? Wasn’t fear a large part of the matrix into which they were born—an integral part of their warp and wolf? Cause and effect! No god necessary.

    Science, however, is not so cold as many theists and my character, Jeff, might believe it to be–as he demonstrates later.

    Personally, I am thrilled with every new discovery and my own discovery of what I’ve not known. I find wonderful harmony in nature. Right now, with about 8″ of snow on the ground, I have a backyard full of birds at feeders and pecking around in the snow for a few tidbits tossed out from the feeders. I love that sight and love the symphony of sounds coming from the surrounding forest in the evening and mornings. Nature is a beautiful lady, even when she is angry.

      1. Yes. The novel’s new home page is http://maxfurr.com (links to purchase are at the bottom of the main page). I’ve just this morning posted the preface on the blog page.

        While the story has a spiritual bent in part 2, the humanist can easily understand its metaphorical nature. I’d love to get your thoughts after reading it.

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