Sunday, May 9, 2010

The latest about son Michael and his "ENKervension"

Posted: Sunday, 9 May 2010

Since Michael's decision a little over two years ago to disassociate himself from me, I have wondered if he ever got my letter of April 13, 2008. Feeling it important to know, I contacted Ise, his significant friend at the time to whom I had sent it to give to him. I did this as the last thing I could think of after all his siblings had refused to do so at his request not to interfere. Ise generously replied the same day last week that she never got the message! She also expressed her regret for what has happened since. Thus that letter never got to Michael, which is why I am reproducing it here:

April 13, 2008
Dear Michael:
Just so you understand this from me directly: I will no longer respond to your DSM project nor use the family list. This does not mean a rejection of you or your stated intention for your project, but I am withdrawing from the “agreement” you demanded as the price for continuing our communication. You risked a lot and invested much energy and money in developing what you believe was an essential restructuring of our relationship and to help your father. The fact is: you did help your father immensely, albeit in a different way from what you expected. However, it was out of fear that I made that agreement. That was wrong and not brave of me. But that fear has now dissolved, thanks to Tolle’s timely wisdom, and I am now at peace.
In an earlier email, I wrote of learning from Tolle about how the ego functions and how to dissolve its negative effects. Tolle's use of "ego" differs from the standard psychological definition, which I understand is how you use it. But I have become more conscious of my own reactions in recent weeks, during and since Virginia as they relate to your project, and have compared those reactions to Tolle's well-considered descriptions. In the last chapter of A New Earth, Tolle writes about “THE THREE MODALITIES OF AWAKENED DOING…as ways in which consciousness can flow into what you do…in which you can align your life with the creative power of the universe…”  These are: acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm. “… If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others…”
The only one of these three modalities that I could identify with in Virginia was acceptance. That is, acceptance from fear of your demands. With that awareness I have had to re-evaluate my decision and our "agreement".
A higher source of wisdom came to me yesterday in a conversation with a long-time and dear friend. He is just now retiring from a successful career as the principal police psychologist for a large city. As you would expect, he is well acquainted with the DSM. Because this project with you has not rested easy with me from the beginning, I wanted this man’s opinion. He listened carefully as I relayed my experience of the “ENKervension” and how it has subsequently developed with the family. He was quiet for a long time after I finished my story. Then he carefully asked precise questions from his clinical experience. Again he became quiet, after which he calmly expressed the opinion that if you were a professional psychologist, you would be disbarred from the profession. He then stated in unequivocal terms that this project and your administration of it is way off track. He knows me well enough to challenge your "diagnosis", but I won't go into details. This confirmed the decision I’d already made in response to reading Tolle.
If this disappoints you, Michael, and if your reaction is to continue to boycott your father, so be it. I wish there was a way for me to express my love for you, my dear son. Clearly I wasn't the father you needed as you grew up, but I did the best I could with what I knew then, despite inadequacies. In time, my hope is that you will accept my peculiarities and my love for you. The memory of those last few moments with you and other family members at Dulles airport is an anchor in my heart in timeless terms.
Love, Dad
On Wednesday, June 30, 2010, Cathie60 wrote:

Eugene, I commend you for the effort you have put into trying to reconcile with your son and for finally reaching a level of acceptance for "the way things are" and finding a state of peace in spite of the rejection and hurt (valid, justified, or matters not) you feel from your son. You seem to have owned your mistakes, asked forgiveness, etc. What else is one to do? It is all okay. Your friend, Cathie

Friday, May 7, 2010

Coming to the Edge of the Los Alamos Ward

Posted: Sunday, 9 May 2010
Updated: Saturday, 17 May 2010

After having experienced an uplifting meeting last Sunday at the Los Alamos Ward and updating the congregation about the status of my Ukrainian family since having discovered them 15 years ago, I felt in the right place at the right time and wrote about it in my last post on May 2. The young bishop read my post and thanked me for it in an email. Despite his remarks at the end of last Sunday's meeting that virtually all the "rules" for such a meeting had be broken, but that the meeting was nevertheless filled with the Spirit, which was the "bottom line" he said. In my reply I reminded him of the lesson of Peter's dream in Acts 10 of when God blesses unclean food, which he seems to have disregarded or found irrelevant. He then reminded me that I was not to speak or take the sacrament again as long as I was an excommunicated member.

This was the first time since that ecclesiastical event in Ventura in June 1992 that any ecclesiastical Mormon leader has tried to enforce that decision on me, so it was a surprise. I replied that I had never felt that decision was just in the first place, but since he had now made it an issue, then unless I felt overruled by the Holy Spirit in the meantime, until that decision was reversed or voided, I would not return to another Mormon Church Sacrament meeting.

This is the "Edge" or impasse that I see, which I am trying to move through and beyond. In doing so, I think of 3 Nephi 21: 9-10, which continues to speak to me personally. In saying this I wonder how many others feel a similar prompting. I think of Glen Beck as one possible example.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Los Alamos Ward Fast & Testimony Meeting

Posted: Sunday, 2 May 2010

Updated: Friday, 7 May 2010

This morning (2 May) I felt prompted to attend the Fast and Testimony meeting of the Los Alamos Ward of the Mormon Church. The last time I did this was 15 years ago to inform the congregation that after 75 years of not knowing, my brother and I had found our dad's relatives alive and well in Dad's home town of Melitopol, Ukraine. Dad had been a war refugee of the Russian Revolution and had wondered most of his life what ever happened to his family. I wondered if I would be able to come to the podium and give an update to that report while sporting a beard and wearing my Russian Orthodox Soldiers Cross.

The meeting was opened with the hymn "I believe in Christ", which I didn't know. Looking at the credits at the bottom of page I was surprised to see the name Bruce R. McConkie as the text's author. That brought immediately to mind his younger brother Oscar W. McConkie, Jr. who set me apart for a University of Utah stake mission in 1961. It was a curious coincidence. (Click here for that story.)

After the opening prayer the Sacrament emblems were blessed and passed. During the blessing of the bread the young priest stumbled several times in reading the sacramental prayer. The bishop came over to ask him to read it without error until he managed to do so. I couldn't tell if the young man was a foreigner or disabled and felt embarrassed for him and the congregation.

As the bread was passed I remembered another event in 1989 while living in California and attending the Long Beach Third Ward. I had invited two Russian Orthodox visitors from Moscow to take the bread with me. Click here for this story. I was bemused by the irony of my now taking the Mormon emblems as a member of the Orthodox Church.

Then came the bearing of testimonies, which typically begins with that of the conducting member of the bishopric. This was followed by the inevitable parade of children and young people parroting scripted statements of belief, which made me feel uncomfortable. Then the young man who had stumbled while reading the sacramental prayer came to the podium with a several page sermon to read, obviously oblivious of the inappropriate amount of time he would take. I considered leaving but couldn't. I was to learn that the young man was indeed disabled but cherished by ward members for his simplicity, honesty and dedication.

Near the end of the meeting Lawry Mann came to the podium and referred to the hymn written by Bruce R. McConkie telling how Bruce R had written it during the last few months of his life while dying of cancer. Lawry's remarks motivated me to come to the podium and update the ward of my trip to Ukraine in 2007 where I sang in my dad's church. Click here for that story.

After the closing prayer ended the meeting, the man sitting in the pew next to me turned and told me that Oscar McConkie had been his attorney years ago during a difficult period.

After having sat for the Sunday School lesson at the invitation of a long time ward member friend, I left the building with the clear sense that the Spirit of the Lord had indeed guided me to that meeting.

Later that evening the two young full-time Mormon missionaries came to our door. They had been at the F&T meeting that morning and I told them I had forgotten to bring something with me for them that morning, which was a CD of "An Evening with Zhenya". (See here and then on Telling Touch  for that performance.) This was my last formal performance for the Mormon Church, which was on 17 March 1992 in Ventura, California. It had been to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Relief Society. I also explained to them that this performance came within minutes of being suppressed by the local stake president, which they, of course, didn't understand. I don't suppose that made much sense, but I hope they listen to the CD. They left their card with me with their telephone number. I called a few days later (6 May) to ask if they had reviewed 3 Nephi 21 and 22, as I'd asked them to do before they left our home when they had first knocked on our door weeks ago while cold calling on people in our neighborhood. They hadn't, but promised to do so. When we next meet I will ask them to explain what those two chapters mean to them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day! May Day!

Posted: 1 May 2010

Forty-five years ago today (1 May 1965) I had a dream that caused havoc in my personal, spiritual and professional life. I call it May Day! May Day! See here for that dream and its analysis.

Had I known then what I know now about dreams (or anything else!), I would no doubt have made much different decisions. To ask how that would have affected me personally, spiritually and professionally is moot. I believe I made the best decisions I knew how to make back then and have no regrets, except for the pain my naiveté and ignorance caused my family and others.

I suppose a better question now is: How would you score now in terms of Joseph Dillard's core qualities of life, namely confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, peace of mind and witnessing compared to back then?

To be continued....