Friday, December 31, 2010
For this most exquisite of New Year’s Eve, I wanted to take you step by step through some powerful lessons…it’s a wonderful journey, appropriate for today. Won’t you join me?
The first comes from a recent Daily Word. A very powerful denial or release, it says simply,
“I now release any belief that a person or circumstance can block the flow of my good. I release any belief that I am less than a powerful expression of Spirit, capable of a mighty work.”
Read it out loud. Feel it. Let it sink into your subconscious. This is the key concept behind self-improvement. Through this thought, you take responsibility for yourself and for your future.
When it feels right, turn to Ralph Marston’s Daily Motivator, “You have the strength,” the one for yesterday: http://greatday.com/v.html?2796k09BBdz2. It begins,
“You have the strength to choose your thoughts. You have the strength to choose your actions, your attitude, and your feelings in any given moment.”
His choice of music and images to accompany his messages can be quite wonderful…give yourself the chance to experience this one. Again, it is also a message of self-responsibility, and self-empowerment.
Then go to Mindy Audlin’s site, http://whatifitallgoesrightbook.com. Watch her videos, and what she says about planning your future. Decide that come December, 2011, you will look back and say, “2011 was the best year of my life!”
Then make it so. You have the power, beloved child of God.
I send my love and support with you. I know your new year will be filled with wonderful things.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Such a rich subject! At no time in the average year do we review ourselves and our lives like the beginning of the New Year. It is a time filled with hope and, often, a certain amount of angst. And so, to tip the scales toward a better year, we try to figure out what we did wrong last year, and how we can correct it…
If I were to just write from the heart, I would tell you that you are blessed, and you shouldn’t besmirch God’s wonderful creative power by thinking of yourself as wrong or anything less than the magnificent creation you are! Great thought, and true, but most of us need help getting over the hump of how we see ourselves…and that’s where New Years’ Resolutions often pick up the beat. “I will lose twenty pounds” (my personal favorite) points us in the direction of self-improvement, but lacks the ability by itself to get there. For that you need a different approach…something positive, life-affirming, healthy in mind and body, and often something new, a new way of looking at yourself that will avoid the familiar roadblocks.
I have been fortunate in the last few years to participate in Burning Bowl Ceremonies…often a part of Unity churches over the New Year, these ceremonies give us the opportunity to step beyond thoughts which no longer serve us in a ritual that acts as support for our endeavor. Burning Bowls are often paired with White Stone Ceremonies, which replace negative thoughts with positive direction. The two ceremonies act as rituals of denials and affirmations, a pairing which is extremely important in this process.
We will discuss White Stones later; in the meantime, let me give you a moment of help toward your own personal Burning Bowl ceremony, particularly if none is available locally, or if you simply wish to grapple with such things in private. For a ceremony, you will need pencil, paper, and a source of fire that is safe and easily contained. A fireplace or fireproof bowl will do. Having a friend present is also important. Yes, you can do without these things, but there is an element to the ritual itself and the support of a friend that can make the difference. Give it a try, after all, you’ve probably talked to yourself about these same things in the past without success. The safest approach is to have one person do it while the other waits in a state of loving attention.
To begin, write on a piece of paper, “My intent is to uncover that in my mind which no longer serves me.” You notice I said, “…in my mind.” This is not about someone else. Your intent is to uncover what in you is a response to your world which no longer works. Your response creates your world, no one else can do that.
The next step is to center yourself in quiet, deep relaxation. If you meditate, enter a state of meditation. As your mind quiets, let the intent you wrote out come front and center…when thoughts arise, or words, explore them gently. Ask them what purpose they served you in the past. Accept that these thoughts may no longer be useful. Write them down. When you are ready, place them in the bowl or fireplace and burn them, releasing the thoughts, and blessing them on their way. Then bring yourself fully present, anticipating new directions.
Now your friend goes through the ritual, while you wait with loving attention. After, if you wish, talk with your friend about what you let go of…not necessary, but helpful sometimes.
Denials, such as in this exercise, are most helpful when replaced by positive actions and affirmations. December 10th’s post describes some of these. White Stone ceremonies, claiming a new reality, can be part of them. Through these, we can take the opportunity – and the chance – to be in action that marvelous God-person we really are.
Blessings to you on this journey. Its worth it.
Inspirations you might want to look at: Mindy Audlin’s videos on http://whatifitallgoesrightbook.com/ and Robert Marston’s site (see Favorite Websites) has really had some fabulous inspirations lately as well. Look over the last few days in particular.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
With Christmas so much upon us, we have to ask: what is this Christ we talk about so much…or the Christ Spirit? Is it the baby Jesus - or is “Christ” not necessarily Jesus’ last name? Could it be simply a description of him as “the anointed one,” the original meaning of the Greek word, as translated from the Hebrew word for Messiah? It seems to have a different definition for everyone today, and did in Jesus’ day as well.
Yet this meaning is key to understanding the great gift of Jesus’ birth. In the context of the time in which he lived, Jesus brought love and hope to a world under the heavy hand of Roman oppression. His was a Jewish restoration movement, focused on the causes of the day. If you want some interesting reading, look at the definition of “Christ” and “Jesus” in Wikipedia, which contains a fuller discussion of the terms and historical viewpoints.
Obviously, though, Jesus’ birth and message has much broader implications than the historical ones! When Peter is asked who he thinks Jesus is, he says "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."Mat 16:16 Although later traditional Christian documents say Jesus was the only son of God, Jesus himself says that we are all children of God. Wow! “Christ” is a word so focused on Jesus that anything else is hard to wrap our minds around, but there it is, reportedly in Jesus’ own words.
It sounds to me like the Christ Spirit, then, is not particular to Jesus, but to everyone, and existed before and after his blessed life. The celebration of his birth is an annual celebration of our own birth, or rebirth, the new understanding of our very nature as the Christ Spirit, one with God and with each other. And if we are not separate from each other, if we all have the Christ Spirit within us, then we should love and treasure others as we treasure ourselves.
Is this the true meaning of Christmas? Of the Christ Spirit? Of us?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Yesterday we gave a combined Christmas party and birthday party for Larry, my partner – a wonderful afternoon filled with fun, friends, and laughter, and our first time doing this as a couple. I had the very precious gift of friends who took over kitchen duties, making extra pies, being sure that people were served, and letting me go be with the rest of the party. A dear friend had come over the day before to help us decorate - she was an incredible blessing. Today we are tired, happy, sated with loving and being loved.
Our friends and family are precious gifts that we are coming to enjoy even more as time goes on, and Christmas is the ideal time for sharing that love. We are blessed. However, not everyone feels that way. In their heart of hearts, they don’t feel as special as the holiday hype says they ought to. They feel unloved, lonely, disappointed. It is not a trivial matter for those who feel this way, but perhaps the solution is simpler than the symptoms.
Mindy Audlin, originator of the fabulous What If Up! Club, asks: “What if your presence is the greatest gift of all?” Its a great question. She’s not only talking about how we are loved by others; she asks us to look at what it means to be fully present, here, in the moment. If you live in the moment, the past no longer matters, and expectations of the future disappear. You live with what is, here and now. And when you open to that realness, it is easier to connect with your true identity, that Christ Spirit within you that is your true essence and your strength.
I’m not making light of this. The solution is quickly said, but takes practice to accomplish, practice that must live beyond the Christmas season. And it is worth the effort. After all, the present is what you have, what you are. It’s a gift to yourself to acknowledge the present as your reality! You can’t change the past, except for your perception of it, so let it go! For that matter, you can’t change the present, either, except as you perceive it - and the future isn’t even here yet! As Eckhart Tolle says, “The present is the field on which the game of life is played.” It’s the only place you can be. Live it. Be here now.
What a great gift to yourself and your loved ones!
Merry Christmas from us to you and yours,
Thursday, December 16, 2010
A wonderful Christmas story came from the brother of a dear friend – He is an artist, not making any money at this point, and his car had died a couple of days ago, leaving him without transportation or the ability to make money to get another. He was blessed: today an elderly couple gave him theirs, older but in great shape, for the price of two of his paintings.
I, too, have had the experience of unexpected grace – visitors (and their three teenage boys) came upon me in the worst of last year’s snowstorms, and dug 27 inches of fresh, wet snow out of my driveway. It was my 65th birthday, I was single and living alone, and digging that much snow was something that I could not have done myself, even though it was absolutely necessary I gain access to my house and carport.
Were these angels? Do angels really exist? We’ve been bombarded with all kinds of images and stories of angels. Some see them as beings of light, others with wings, both traditions with a very long history. On the other end of the spectrum, Charles Fillmore defined angels as “Messengers of God; projections into consciousness of spiritual ideas...the words of Truth, in which are centered the power of God to overcome all limited beliefs and conditions.” That’s quite a range.
Yet there is something to these stories of God’s Grace that we cannot ignore. What if these flesh-and-blood people are really expressions of God in action, and by their actions, by their care have come to help us in our times of need? After all, if God is this all-powerful, omniscient being, does God really need hands? Or are these wonderful people God’s hands in action? Divine ideas made tangible?
And you. What if YOU are an angel, expressing God’s care and love through your own actions? I think you are…and you are more than capable of living up to that awesome responsibility, jumping on the opportunity to help, to give love, to be a positive force in someone’s life. As a child of God, you possess the power.
Go out and do it, angel…
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Amidst the whelter of advertisements, treasured rituals, family joys, and our own eagerness to fill our loved ones’ stockings – and expectations – we also hear the message “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
Well put, for December 25 is indeed the day we choose to celebrate Jesus’ birth. We doubt that it was December 25; in fact, many of the stories – in the Bible and elsewhere – were written so long after His birth that the fog of time has pretty effectively shrouded what actually happened.
It doesn’t matter what the actual turn of events was. What matters is the message of hope Jesus brought to that time, and to ours. That message was, and is, that we are all the Children of this magnificent, all-powerful, all-loving, ever-present Being; and that we contain the essence of that very Being within us.
Yes, God gave us His Son…but you will discover from Jesus’ own teachings, that this holy birth didn’t produce His only Son, for we are all Children of God, sons and daughters of God, and that very Christ Spirit represented by Jesus lives within each and every single one of us. We express it in our daily loves, and our daily lives, to the best of our ability. At Unity, we call it the Christ Spirit, that essence that Jesus so perfectly demonstrated.
So your essence, your very being, is created by God, of God. That is your Truth, your reality. You, who considers yourself imperfect, and who this moment is possibly involved, for better or worse, in the rush of the traditional Christmas season. Stop for a moment, and open yourself to your own voice of God within you.
You are the very gift God has given us.
Friday, December 10, 2010
I have had the most delightful assignment: make a list of 100 affirmations! What a wonderful, uplifting experience! They had to be succinct, and consistent with Unity teachings, an important distinction in these days of buy-an-affirmation.com or whatever the seller calls the website.
Affirmations are a cornerstone of our prayer practice in Unity. These days, affirmations are also a popular way to guarantee ourselves great wealth and happiness, successful weight loss, etc. They've become like mystical spells or incantations, just wave a magic wand and say the right words to guarantee success. New Year’s resolutions remain the granddaddy of affirmation exercises for many of us.
Are these practices on the mark? Well, yes, and no… I agree, to quote Mike Dooley of tut.com, that “Thoughts are things, pick the good ones.” Great mantra for aligning your life. But does God, who knows our needs even before we’re aware of them, require specific wording? Does God pick up the random workings of our subconscious and sometimes primitive self? I can’t believe that any all-powerful, omniscient Divine Being could miss our true intent.
Where affirmations help is not with communicating with God, but with ourselves. Affirmations help us to shape our intention, and talk to our subconscious. They lay a plan of action, and encouragement to follow it. When coupled with denials, which I will address in another post, they are powerful instruments for personal growth.
The challenge, of course, is that we must address our real intent and not fool ourselves with powerful homilies. Yes, affirmations lift us up, but they are most successful when used in conjunction with an eyes-wide-open look at our own internal goals and issues. I am convinced that God hears the words of our hearts, not the words on our lips. Affirmations can help us shape those words by opening up our thoughts and dreams to new possibilities.
Would you like a look at the 100 Affirmations I pulled together for my assignment? They come from a variety of sources, including the Daily Word, writings of some of Unity’s founding thinkers, and my own pen. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will happily attach them to a return email. I hope you find inspiration in them.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Yesterday's sunset was just the average over-the-top-incredibly-beautiful experience...rich, full of lemon yellows morphing to salmon and then pink against the green-gold trees. Made me wonder how anyone could question the existence of God with such splendid proof...
Yet I probably put my foot right in it with yesterday's post, saying that I knew what God was like, that God was everything and everybody. What makes me think that I am privileged to know something that philosophers and theologists have been arguing about for millenia? Let alone be so certain?
I have the same privilege as you, or anyone else. I do see God in everything, including you. I do celebrate God’s presence and expression in you and in me. For me, God is the Great Pattern That Connects, and the night sky is the most sacred and profound proof of that belief. Its something that I know inwardly, deeply, like I know the sun is going to rise tomorrow. Yet your view might be quite different from mine – and be just as valid.
There are probably as many ideas of What God Is as there are people asking the question. Even the name “God” brings up so many traditional images, close to The Old Guy in the Long White Beard, that some people don’t want to use the term “God” at all, for their eyes are new, and that name brings up old memories and associations. How can we describe God with new understanding without using new words? Its hard, but sometimes those old words are the only ones that truly work - and sometimes they don't, as well.
The other shift in understanding is the transition from a God who could be vengeful and punishing, as often in the Old Testament, to a God of love, one of the great gifts that Jesus brought us. There is the thought that it isn’t God who has changed through the ages, but our perception that has changed as our spiritual natures matured. And we’re still changing. Some of us still believe in a God who punishes, who damns people to burn in Hell. Some of us believe that Hell is within us, of our own making, and that a God who loves His children wouldn’t do that.
What is your view? Who is right? How can we tell?
Does it matter?
Monday, December 6, 2010
I wanted to address the Christmas season, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that for our purposes here we had to address God first. Scary subject, huh? Yet everything begins with God, and our perception of God. We have to tell that story before we can go on to understand Jesus and the Christ Spirit that was born into all of us.
For me, it begins with the stars, for that is how I came to my own understanding. Have you ever looked at the night sky, clear and unobstructed by clouds or light pollution? And seen the depth of the Universe, layer upon layer of stars reaching back to the beginning of time? Did you feel the vastness, the immensity? And how you were but a tiny speck on a tiny speck of a planet? I did, that first night and every time since.
What struck me with my own experience was that no matter how infinitesimally small I felt, I did not feel apart from it. With every cell of my being, I could see that I, and this planet, each leaf and twig on it - and each of the stars out there – were all a part of this great Universe, this magnificent expression of God. That was God out there, and I was part of It.
Through the very experience of that starry sky, I also know that every cell, every atom on this earth, too, speaks of God, is God. And I share that inheritance. Every rock, bug, flower, bird, person, everything that exists on this world and off, shares that inheritance with me. I’m not apart, I’m a part of The Vastness.
My being of God is intrinsic to my nature. You, too, have that Divine Inheritance. Your nature is the same, however differently you experience life. Your “Godness” is expressed in every cell of your body, in every breath that you take.
Your being of God is the very stuff of existence.
What are your thoughts?
Photographs courtesy of Astronomy Picture of the Day
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Elders of my partner’s clan went missing in the storm of last week. They had been hunting, and as the days dragged on, hope of their safe return faded greatly in the snows and subfreezing temperatures. The happy news is that they were found yesterday, at a lower and warmer elevation, on a neighboring reservation, hungry and thirsty, but OK. We are jubilant, thrilled, deeply joyful.
And so we give Thanks, deep gratitude that their journey through life, rich and full of years as it was, will continue on with us. The scare made us realize how very valuable they were to all of us in this present life, this now moment. The real possibility of them transitioning to pure Spirit, of their going to Heaven, joining the Divine, or whatever you call it, was not comforting, even for the deeply religious among us.
Whatever your views are of what happens when someone dies, it is rarely a welcome event. It leaves unsaid words, unfinished business, unrealized dreams, both for the person and for family and friends. My mother, on her deathbed, regretted she had been born too early to walk on the moon. That couldn’t be changed, but what could be was the time we spent together before she passed, a wonderful time of talking, saying valuable things to each other, being company for each other through the long night.
We were lucky, not everyone has that opportunity. It is up to us to make it happen, even if the results are not what we wish. “Shower the people you love with love” is more than just words to a song, it should be a mantra for all of us. Who knows, we might find our own dreams are achieved that way as well.
Monday, November 29, 2010
It started to storm yesterday, and the afternoon after service was spent doing winter things we had been putting off: stacking the last of the wood gathered this blessed autumn, covering it (mostly) to keep it dry, moving things that cannot be frozen into the warm, crowded areas of our home. This morning, the storm continues, with additional snow, and I find myself reflecting on a recent Daily Word about how Jesus calmed the storm with the words, “Peace, Be Still.” That particular Daily Word talked about how we can seek inner peace when we are faced with our own storms within.
In my mind, “Peace, Be Still” calms more than my internal storm. It opens me up to the power of knowing that everything is as its supposed to be; that there is Divine Order within the very winds of the storm itself. For if everything is as its supposed to be, then there is a purpose, a discovery to be made about the storm that occupies my thoughts. I may not like to make the discovery, and probably not the experience of the storm itself, but I know that within it can lie a lesson for me, a way of attuning my everyday existence to the purpose and strength of God within.
Once I grasp the reality that everything really is as its supposed to be, I relax and let the storm within me subside, while mindfully watching for insight, for purpose. I move into full awareness of my true nature as an expression of Divine Order itself.
Everything is as its supposed to be.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
A delicious autumn breeze
Caresses my face like an old lover,
Gentle, and with intimate knowledge.
This is my season of glory,
For even when winter comes,
It will always be autumn in my heart,
Full of richness and abundance,
Although winter has its own soft beauty
And deserves to be treasured, too.
Have you blessed yourself today? This poem was part of my own awakening, my own searching for the essential part of me…coached, as it was, by the splendor of a gorgeous autumn like we have had this year.
If you are sensitive and have your eyes open, you will find Nature has wonderful stories, allegories that have meaning far beyond their surface. The root story, of course, is that this magnificent world is, as you are, an expression of God. By letting yourself sink into what you see, you can experience this and many other lessons on many other levels, for you are a part of Nature, you are not separate from it. You are an expression of God in action…and whether or not you think you live up to that magnificent billing, it is nonetheless true. So bless yourself! Acknowledge your sacred being! You really are quite splendid, you know.
This poem was published in Eber & Wein's
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
When we look around us at this beautiful world we live in, when we hear inspiring words or song, when we see happiness on a loved one’s face, we can’t help but marvel at God’s magnificence – it is a humbling feeling to see such richness, even as we are filled with joy. But when it comes to our time, talent, or treasure, we often withhold giving, out of fear we personally haven’t enough to part with any of it. During this season of giving, those concerns may arise more frequently as our desire to give comes up against our fears of scarcity.
Happily, we are hearing more these days about abundance, and how giving can actually increase our wealth…one can find several websites that promise increased income if you use their system, their words, their affirmations. I think, sometimes, that they are missing an integral part of what true abundance is…no formula can replace gratitude for the splendor of our daily lives and our recognition of the blessings we have. There are so many things we can be grateful for, sometimes very simple ones like being warm when it is cold outside, and having enough to eat, which most of us do. Even our “problems” can be seen as blessings, perhaps pointing the way to a lesson, a change, or an opportunity for acceptance.
Yes, we are a part of that same magnificence! As divine inheritors, divine expressions of God, at the very center of our being we are the love, the solutions, the joy, and the closeness to God that we seek. We are abundance, too, it is as close to us as our breath…and with that very abundance as our nature, we share the joyful responsibility to make our love, our light shine.
And we ourselves continue the flow of abundance as we give, for as we give, we receive. Sometimes our gifts are not financial, but time, attention, and friendship. We reach out, we love, we offer ourselves. As we acknowledge the abundance of our lives through our divine inheritance, we open the floodgates to more richness, love, and joy in our own lives as well as to more joy in helping others.
We share this abundance through our tithes and our love offerings, through our prayers and our prayer requests…we share it through our giving of our time, talent, and our treasure, not just to our spiritual homes and families, but to our community and to the world. We share it when we answer the call to do more, be more, give more.
Through these gifts, we are indeed the abundance we seek.
May your Thanks and Giving bring opportunities for love and happiness to you!
Monday, November 22, 2010
We have been blessed with an exceptionally long fall, rich in color, softening reluctantly into the deeper golds and purples of approaching winter. But last night a miracle happened: it snowed, the first snowfall of the season. What a delight to wake up to! Everything is quiet, each twig and branch outlined in snow, the messy details of fall smoothed over and hidden under a blanket of white. The structure that underlies the forest and trees, the buildings and roads is visible, pure. I can see the beauty easily, each hill and meadow, each branch and twig; intricate yet simple. Its the pattern of life that connects us all. It is ancient, but new, and fresh, and somehow different.
Like the beauty outside, it is so much easier to see our own spirituality when we simplify our vision and soften the messy details of our existence through the focusing power of prayer. The daily details of our lives are hidden under the blanket of silence, and we can see who we are, not just people of value, but the very expression of Spirit Itself. We are ancient, God’s creation, yet new, fresh, and somehow each different.
Its so easy to avoid taking that step into the silence of meditation, easy to avoid quieting the monkey mind that chatters of our daily duties and preoccupations, for that seems to be our “normal” state. Yet without journeying into peace, soft as a new snowfall, we may find it difficult to stay centered, aware. We may lose sight of the simplicity of our Being in the messy details of life. It happens to everyone, I believe, certainly it happens to me and people I know. But the answer is as simple and pure as the act of prayer itself.The Silence awaits, and welcomes us.