I say I trust God, Read More
But do i.
I say I am listening,
But am i.
I say I feel God’s presence,
But do i.
I say I can smell God around,
But do i.
I say I can taste God in everything,
But do i
I say I can see God,
But can i.
I had been sitting here all week thinking about what to write about love and then my friend Eileen Hooper McConville posted something on Facebook that took me back to a song about love that has lived in my heart for about 14 years. I remember the first day I heard this song. I was sitting at home curled up in front of my television, well actually a friends, watching an episode of Touched by an Angel. It was an episode where a young boy Petey was working through his bucket list so that he could die in peace. The last thing on his list was a wish that his mother finish a song she had started when he was born. In the episode, she called it Psalm 151. Avalon, who recorded it, called it Testify to Love.
Here are the lyrics and the video to the song Read More
Mother Teresa tells this story about a young child called Teacher of Love. "I will never forget one day in Venezuela when I went to visit a family who had given us a lamb. I went to thank them and there I found out that they had a badly crippled child. I asked the mother, "What is the child's name?" The mother gave me a most beautiful answer. "We call him 'Teacher of Love,' because he keeps on teaching us how to love. Everything we do for him is our love for God in action."
My son Nick is my Teacher of Love. He came into my life when he was 10 and he has been teaching me how to love ever since. Everything I do for or say to him is about demonstrating my love for the Ultimate in action. My son came into my life from a severely dysfunctional and abusive household. When I first met him he was in restraints 80% of the school day in a psychoeducational facility. Twenty-three years later he is living in a group home and restraint free. He is a living reminder for me of the transformative power of God’s love. 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.
A few weeks ago, at our Living the Five Agreements group we were talking about gratitude from a Toltec Perspective. We read a paragraph from Sheri Rosenthal’s book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Toltec Wisdom. One of the points she made was that from a Toltec perspective Warriors do not see experiences as good or bad, but instead as learning experiences. Her writing reminded me of a piece of wisdom my Bubby shared with me that I was to seek the blessing in all situations and circumstances. There is a lesson in every moment of life she would tell me. See the lesson. Who knew that my Bubby, who had never heard of Toltec wisdom, knew that this is what she was teaching me. 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
For the last several weeks, our Wednesday night group has been listening to a five-hour workshop by Pema Chodrom about releasing fear and living with courage and compassion. In it, she has talked about how Bodhisattva training encourages us to give up our separateness and act upon our deep connections with others. Over the course of these conversations, we have focused on how similar we are to each other. Yes, we have things about us that are unique, but we have far more in common with each other then we often times realize. As we practice being compassionate, we begin the process of releasing our resentments and cravings, and opening our minds to new relationships, courage, and compassion for others. Chödrön demonstrates ways to practice the four limitless qualities of loving — kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Last week, we did a meditational practice where we began by breathing in relief for suffering for someone we were close to and exhaling peace and healing in their lives. We could have actually started with ourselves. However, in her workshop she began with those we would want to pray for, then to more neutral parties in our life, and finally with those whom we would resist praying for in our lives. Read More
As we move closer to the holiday season, people’s lives tend to become increasingly hectic. We love the holidays because they are a time filled with presents, food, and time with friends and family and for some people even time off from work. However, sometimes this time with family is not always filled with peace. I was reminded of this recently as an associate shared with me how the holidays are her house quickly turn into a time for arguments and sometimes have been so stressful that she has left and come home. We cannot enjoy the peace of the holiday season when we are arguing with each other and pressing each other’s buttons. Read More
As many people know today is World AID’s Day. So the question I want to ask each of you today is “What is your status?” Are you positive or are you negative? I don’t want to discount the experiences of those who are living with this virus. I know that living with this virus affects every aspect of your life, just as much as being whatever racial or ethnic identity you are, or sexual orientation you are, or what class you are, or what sex you are, or what gender you are. I know it affects your life in ways that those of us who have a medical diagnosis of HIV- may not understand.
But what I want to know is this, what is your status when it comes to HIV/AIDS? 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
We all have ways of doing things in our life. Over time, they become patterns. For example, my family knows that my morning pattern once I wake up begins with my going to the bathroom, filling up my water glass, if it is not already filled from the night before, then doing my morning spiritual ritual – five things I am grateful, what is inspiring me, what my intention is for the day and taking a few minutes to reflect on the thought for the day. We all have patterns in our life.
Sometimes others become so accustomed to our patterns that out patterns become important to them as well. Some of the patterns in our life have been a part of our life for a long time; others are newly formed. Read More
This morning I realized that this is my last blog, at least for this year, on acknowledgement. I have reflected on acknowledging feelings, that we are works in progress, and our need to spend time with our Higher Power and ourselves. As I was writing in my gratitude journal, I realized that it was a space where I acknowledged the goodness in self, others, and the world.
Listening to the news, which I try not to do anymore, there is such a focus on creating an aura of fear, evil, corruption, and negativity. It is only when one turns to sources such as http://Upworthy.com or http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/ that one gains exposure to stories which inspire, create environments where people can empower themselves, and promote goodness in the world. Read More
Around our house, Wednesday night is the night we take out the trash. The little cans are emptied, the kitchen bag pulled and tied shut, and they all are thrown in our wheeling little dumpster. We also condense the recycle bins and bring them down to the curb as well. We have to do it at night because the trash men normally come before either of us up and moving.
Over the last few years, we have become increasingly focused on recycling and reusing as we strive to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. We put a lot of thought into what goes into the trash, what goes into the recycle bin, and what we can reuse somewhere or for something else. When we throw something out, we are very clear on what and why it is being thrown out. Read More
A few days ago, we celebrated Valentine’s Day and I have to say I have mixed feelings about this holiday. When I was a child I used to love it for the candy and cards, I got from my peers in school. As an adult, I have come to not like it for the commercialization of the idea and the focus and pressure some people experience to be in an intimate relationship.
Zoe and I no longer celebrate Valentine’s Day. For us, everyday is Valentine’s Day. We do not do anything special just because the world says, “It’s Valentine’s Day.” Rather, at the end of each day we take a moment to share at least one thing the other one has done that has made us feel loved. Sometimes we do them throughout the day, especially when one of us is not feeling well and may not be awake at the end of the day. Read More
This is my second time in six months to feel the need to reflect on this statement. I wrote about this in September 2013 in a blog by the same name – You are worthy. You are worthy. It is such a simple statement. Nothing complex, just three simple words - You are worthy. Yet, when I speak these words to others, I see such a powerful emotional response. It saddens me that simple expressions such as “You are loved” or “You are worthy” have the power to bring tears to people’s eyes. A simple truth “You are worthy” can help people remember that they are worthy and worthy of being loved.
The Ultimate Consciousness wants nothing more for us then for us to know we were created in the image of the Divine, which is love. God wants nothing more then for us to know we are worthy of peace and joy in our lives. So why is it that we seem to work so hard to convince the Divine and others that we do not deserve the unconditional love from which we were created. Read More
It has been a while since I have preached or even written a Christmas message. I try not to because for me there more then one Christmas. There is the commercial secular Christmas, the religious Christmas with its story about the birth of Jesus, the cultural Christmas, which has its own ways of being celebrated around the world, and the one I personally celebrate – the defiant Christmas. My celebration of the defiant Christmas was inspired by a Christmas card I once say hanging on a professor’s door. The outside of the cover had a brightly shining star surrounded by darkness, an evergreen tree surrounded by trees without leaves and then there was a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger in a messy stable. The inside of the card said, “Wishing you a defiant Christmas.” While something about the card resonated with me, I knew I did not fully understand its meaning. Read More
Have you ever had the privilege of watching something transform before your eyes. Perhaps you did not see this transformation immediately, but slowly and over time. This morning, I was reading a selection from Mark Neepo’s book The Book of Awakening. In his reflection for today, he wrote:
I recently learned that the first form of pencil was a ball of lead. Having discovered that lead, if scratched, would leave markings, people then wrestled with large chunks of the stuff in an attempt to write. Through the work of many, the chunks were eventually shaped into a useable form that could fit the hand. The discovery became a tool.
I am humbled to confess after a lifetime of relationship that love is no different. Be it a lover or a friend or a family member, the discovery of closeness appears in our life like a ball of lead – something that is wrestled with, will leave markings by which we can understand each other.
But this is only the beginning. The work of love is to shape the stuff of relationships into a tool that fits our hands. With each hardship faced, with each illusion confirmed, with each trespass looked at and owned, another piece of the chunk is whittled and love begins to become a sacred tool.
When truth is held in compassionate hands, the sharpness of love becomes clear and not hurtful.
It was years ago now, but Julie Andrews sang a song in the movie The King and I called Getting to Know You. It is a song that she is singing to her students about how they have enriched her life. However, what if we were to sing that song to ourselves. What if we made this song about getting to know ourselves for who we are?
Getting to know you, Read More
Getting to feel free and easy
When I am with you,
Getting to know what to say