Years ago, the spiritual director I was working with talked with me about a Japanese form of self-defense called aikido. She talked with me about how when we are surprised and thrown off guard, we want to fight or free. We want to narrow our world and our vision to create this protective force around us. Rather than do so, she suggested I practice what she called “soft eyes.” Practicing soft eyes meant that I challenged myself to expand rather than contract my view of the world.
When we open our eyes, and allow ourselves to see the greatness of the world and the grace which surrounds us, it softens our heart, mind, and soul. Rather than want to resist or run when taken by surprise, practicing wonder allows us to open ourselves up to the great mystery of the world. Read More
In my studies on grace, I have come across a number of analogies. One was that of floating as I discussed in the newsletter. Another was to think about grace like the rays of the sun. The sun is always there. Even when we cannot see it, the sun is present. Regardless of what time we get up, the sun is there. Sometimes, when we first wake up, we see the sun coming in through our window and we roll over and pull the covers over our head. Sometimes we wake up, but leave our doors and windows closed, blocking the sunlight from coming into our spaces. In each of these situations, we are keeping ourselves from experiencing the fullness of God’s grace. Read More
Years ago, when I was pastoring, we had a tradition we called Hugs and Love. We would always start off with a reminder about how God loves us just as we are. Then we would greet each other and tell each other that God loved us just as we were. I remember the first time I opened this tradition as if it were yesterday. I talked about how we were like coffee cups. When you first go to the store to purchase a cup, it is smooth and clean inside. However, over time and use, there are stains which build up and tiny little cracks that sometimes appear and yet we still go back to that cup time after time and accept it just as it is. Read More
There are those moments in life where what you are feeling transcends description. I have yet to discover an English word, which would capture the depth and essence of what I feel at these moments. It is in my attempts to describe those moments that I am reminded of how limited language can be. Sometimes I cease trying to find the perfect word, assuming that it either does not exist or when I am meant to know it, it will find it’s way to me. It was quite by accident, that I stumbled upon the Yugen while on stumbleupon. According to the site, Yūgen means “an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.” As I read the definition of this word, a wave of peace, exhilaration, and recognition moved through my body, mind, and spirit. I recognized this feeling quite well. The last time I experienced this was when I was seeking the word to describe my purpose in life and found the word Antevasin while reading Eat, Pray, Love. Read More
It is no secret, to those of you who read my reflections on a regular basis, that I am a Chopped fan. I am not sure I have missed an episode since it first aired. I have learned a lot about cooking from watching the show in terms of techniques and flavor profiles and combinations. However, one of the recent episodes moved me to tears and touched me spiritually in a way that I was not expecting. It all happened with a single word. WAIT!
This episode, like a few of the others, was a redemption battle between four chefs who had come in second in their initial competitions. I remember each of them well. However, from the beginning, I had my two favorites Yohanna and Lance. I had remembered them from their initial appearances because of their humility, their grace, and their creativity. Read More
Those of you who know me personally know that I should have stock in some tissue company because it takes so little to bring tears to my eyes. While there have been days in my life I have cried because I was angry and days I have cried because I was sad, the past year and a half or so, I have most cried for two reasons. One is when my body has been in pain, which fortunately has not been very often. The other, is that my cup is overflowing with experiencing the Creator’s love. One of the situations which always leaves me feeling humbled is when I am blessed with the experience of grace in community.
It is that kind of moment like January 1, 2000. It seemed like that day everyone was in love with each other. Read More
One of the things I suggest people do is to maintain a gratitude journal. It is something I do on a daily basis. I write down five things every day that I am grateful for and they can not be the same things I was grateful for the day before. Sometimes I write them down throughout the day as I find myself being grateful and other times, like today, they come at the end of the day when I have time to just sit and reflect. Usually, they are things that I am aware of. Things that I know the Creator has done in my life. Like a friend who calls just when you need to hear their voice or the way you can feel loved when your cat curls up on your shoulder and purrs.
But sometimes, I am reminded of how the Creator is working in my life when I am not even aware of it Read More