My wife and I have several restoration projects that have been on our things to do list for a long time, some of them years. It is not that we do not have the dream of restoring them, we just have not begun the work of doing so. As I have been thinking about the process of transformation, it dawned on me it was like getting to those projects we have not tackled yet.
The hardest part is getting started and saying today we ARE going to begin work on this project. Our friends have told us the first thing we need to do is strip all the layers of paint and coatings off of the piece we want to refinish. We need to strip it down to the bare wood. We are going to have to strip away all the years of dirt, layers of pain, varnish and anything else that might be on it. Doing so is a lot of work, so we need to really think about how seriously we want to do this. Once we start, then we have to be intentional about getting rid of all the layers and getting to the solid wood that is underneath all these layers. Read more
It is hard to talk about justice without talking about the activist work, intentionally or accidentally, which is needed to bring change in our world. While there are things that are going well and are worthy of being celebrated in the ongoing fight for human rights and justice, there are also numerous crises facing our world including extreme poverty, environmental destruction and depletion, emotional, mental and relationship disconnects in life. In efforts to bring about systemic and structural change, activists often feel discouraged and doubt their ability to make a difference. Building on the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Harvey offers an approach known as sacred activism, which engages compassion and love. Harvey offers eleven practices which we can do to engage in sacred activism in our daily lives. These practices call on us deepen and nourish our personal connection with spirit and then to use this deeper connection in our actions to transform this world.
1. Be Grateful. Harvey suggests that each day we write down one thing which make you feel grateful to be alive.
As many of you who follow us on a regular basis know, the next few years we are focusing on a different spiritual practice each month. September is the month of forgiveness. While I have always known it to be a spiritual practice, I did not realize that there days that were set aside to calm together as global bodies and practice forgiveness. For example, I just found out that August 5th was International Forgiveness Day, Global Forgiveness Day was August 27th and Regular Forgiveness Day was June 26th. While all these days are important, it is also important to remember that each day has the potential to be forgiveness day in our lives.
After our Living the Five Agreements group tonight, I decided to see what Toltec Wisdom said about forgiveness. In the Everything Toltec Wisdom book, it is written, Read more
I recently read this quote from Desmond Tutu in Victor Chan’s book The Wisdom of Forgiveness. It was written,
In our country, we speak of something called ubuuntu. When I want to praise you, the highest praise I can give you is to say, you have ubuuntu — this person has what it takes to be a human being. This is a person who recognizes that he exists only because others exist: a person is a person through other persons. When we say you have ubuuntu, we mean that you are gentle, you are compassionate, you are hospitable, you want to share, and you care about the welfare of others. This is because my humanity is caught up in your humanity. So when I dehumanize others, whether I like it or not, inexorably, I dehumanize myself. For we can only by human, we can only be free, together. To forgive is actually the best form of self-interest.
Forgiveness, is not about what you do for others, it is the willingness to help yourself become the best person you can be. Read more
The past few weeks, I have been reflecting quite a bit on forgiveness. In part, this came about because of a film we watched a few months ago called The Power of Forgiveness. One of the women in the film, Alexandra Asseily said in the film, “I think that if we all just remember that if we forgive ourselves, it’s a wonderful beginning to forgiveness. Because actually, if we really forgive ourselves for all the wickedness we think we have inside or all the things we think are wrong with ourselves, we would then be so much more compassionate with others. And I think probably it’s our lack of compassion with ourselves that makes us so upset with others.”
Forgiving ourselves is an opportunity to break the emotional ties to the pain and set ourselves free. It is an opportunity to release the pain, anger, and other emotions that have built up within us over time. Read more
If you had the opportunity to free yourself from an emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical jail would you? That may sound like a strange question, but it is one, which requires some reflection. Over the course of our lives, we experience things, which can create painful memories on various levels (emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically). As long as we hold on to the pain of those memories, we create an energetic tie to the moment in which they occurred or the cumulative effect of painful memories over time.
As I have shared in previous reflections, I learned of some amazing people in this world who model forgiveness and its liberating affect in their lives, while watching a documentary called The Power of Forgiveness. Read more
Back in March of this year, so not so long ago, I remember reflecting on an old Beatle song, Let It Be. Yesterday, I was reminded of the importance of those words one more time. I remembered that it is what it is, nothing more or nothing less. In this month, when we are focusing on forgiveness of self and others, I found myself having to practice what I teach. I learned that someone I trusted had failed to tell me they could no longer uphold their part of an agreement. I have to admit, my first reaction was “seriously, you are just now telling me this and you have known for months.” Then the emotional work on my side began as I realized that I was sitting in judgment of this person and the situation and the Beatle song began coming back to me, just let it be.
My conversation with this person had caused me to lose balance temporarily. That did not make either of us right or wrong, it was the Ultimate Creator’s way of helping me in my own journey and maintaining awareness of what the Ultimate Creator was doing for me in that moment. So I had to let it be! Read more
A few weeks ago, our movie group gathered to watch the documentary, A Power of Forgiveness. One of the scenes in the documentary that stood out for me was about a psychology professor who specialized in forgiveness, marriage, and family. Dr Everett (“Ev”) Worthington’s experience with forgiveness is not just something he writes about, but something he practices in his daily life. In the documentary, it told the story of
In the late 1990’s, on a New Year’s Eve, someone broke into his mother’s house. An attempted theft turned into a brutal murder when his mother fought back. A suspect was captured who volunteered details no one could have known who was not at the scene. However, because of “some issues with the evidence,” a jury would not indict. Read more
Forgiving others is one thing. Forgiving ourselves is another. It seems as if every day I become mindful of yet another piece of poison, as Don Miguel Ruiz would call them, that I somehow internalized as a child and have been living with for decades. The lies were all a part of my domestication to the planet. As we evolve and grow, we become mindful of those lies which we no longer agree to and which we must replace in our lives.
Removing them from our lives is one part of the process of healing and evolving. The other part is forgiving ourselves for internalizing them in the first place. Most of these lies, we may not have even realized were lies when we first internalized them. We just ate them because we were told they were good for us. Read more
About 3 years ago, I wrote a piece called No more poison!. In it, I reflected on something don Miguel Ruiz said in his book The Four Agreements. He wrote, “Taking things personally makes you prey for predators. They can hook your attention with one little opinion, and feed you whatever poison they want. Refuse to eat poison! When he put it in those words, “Refuse to eat poison!” I realized how logical that sounds. Most people would not voluntarily or consciously eat poison. Yet some of us eat and serve poison on a daily basis.
Any time we hold a resentment towards someone, we are poisoning ourselves. The longer we hold the resentment, the more poison we are ingesting. A steady ingestion of poison over time can lead to an early death. So, in actuality, when we do this we are not only poisoning ourselves, we are committing suicide. We are leading ourselves to a type of early death. Nelson Mandela once said, “Holding on to resentment is like taking a poison pill and waiting for the other person to die.” We are the ones who die when we hold on to resentment. Read more
Yesterday was one of those days when I realized the importance of realizing that something is what it is, nothing more or nothing less. Sometimes we just need to let it be and not sit in judgment of it or a situation. I often talk about how so much of our suffering comes from others not meeting our expectations. Yesterday, I became aware that I had held on to an expectation for seven years that I did not even know I had. It was not until the expectation was not met that I realized I had been holding on to this expectation for years. The words I was given during my prayer last night was “let it be!” Read more
The other morning our love and inspiration group had a powerful conversation about how prayers are answered. In the midst of sharing stories, I was reminded of how the universe directs energy where our attention and intention goes. The universe has a way of helping us tap into the power and gifts we already have in an interesting way. Let me explain.
About ten years ago, shortly after I had started seminary, I was praying God would help me become a more forgiving person. I had always thought I was forgiving, but about that time I had come to realize there were a few people, one in particular, I was not quite able to forgive. I had said I wanted to forgive them, but never seemed to get to the space I could forgive this individual. A few days later, a fellow student at the seminary asked if he could borrow my car. To make a long story short, he wound up “renting” my car for drug money. Read more
No, I did not get that wrong and no, I did not get it twisted. Today is each of our birthdays, as is tomorrow, as is the day after that and the day after that. Every day is a new day and a fresh birth into our lives.
None of is exactly the same person biologically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually then we were they day before. As Alice Walker once wrote, “It’s never the same river twice.” Our lives are this constant state of evolution and change. Caterpillars spin cocoons, go through a transformation process, and then emerge as butterflies. Read more
My guess is when you hear somebody mention the F word; you assume they are using a word, which rhymes with duck, tuck, truck, and a whole other list of words, which end with _uck. So if you think this is going to be about that F word, I hate to disappoint you. It isn’t. Well, not directly. Although there have been moments in my life when I have experienced something which has made me want to use that particular F word. What helped me move away from that F word was another F word – forgiveness.
Some recent conversations with friends, clients, acquaintances, and even strangers at the grocery store have brought me to a place where I realize many of us choose not to forgive, have different motives for forgiving, or have not thought about how we benefit when we forgive. Read more
Funny how sometimes it is one of those old songs that bring you to a different space. Who knows why, but I was sitting here thinking about what to write about and all of a sudden I found myself humming an old Beatles song, All you need is love.” When you stop for a moment and think about it, isn’t that what we all seek in life, to be loved and understood. The Beatles sang that to us decades ago. This should not be such a difficult thing. After all, God is love and we were created in the image of love, by love, so we are love. So if we are love and others are love, then you would think that it would be so easy for us to love one another unconditionally.
Sometimes, though we get the L words confused. We confuse love, which is what we need, with like and lust. Read more
There is hardly a person I talk to these days who does not think about their weight. How can you not? On the one hand, we have all these food shows (which I love btw) that tell you to stay hungry and keep cooking and diet commercials that try to sell you THE diet to follow to maintain that perfect figure while they even cook for you. As a result the diet industry in our country is growing at an exponential rate even in what we have been told is a struggling economy.
Yet, how many of us are carrying around excess emotional and spiritual poundage and do not ever consider taking some of that weight off. Read more
One of my readers emailed me last week to let me know how last weeks blog (No More Poison!) had caused him to think about things differently. He jokingly (I think) asked me what I was going to challenge him to give up this week. As I was thinking about this and listening to some people around me this week, I realized that one of the other things we need to get rid of in our lives are our whips. If I asked most people if they enjoyed being whipped, most people would say no. If I asked them if they would voluntarily whip themselves, most people would still say no. Yet why is it that we are good at whipping ourselves. Read more