The Lens of Love

Whenever I go to the ophthalmologist’s office, they check my eyes to see how my vision is doing. While they are able to see behind my eye and assess all kinds of information about my vision, they are unable to assess how I see people. see there is more to our vision then just whether or not it is 20/20 or if we need corrective lenses or contacts to enable us to see better. When it comes to seeing others or ourselves the only lens we need to wear is a lens of love. How we see others and ourselves is about us and where we are at in our journeys. If we cannot see ourselves through a lens of love, then how can we see others through that lens? The lens of love is unconditional. Some refer to this as agape love, a love that transcends the ability to be frustrated. It cannot be frustrated because there is no expectation attached to it. When we see others and ourselves through this lens of unconditional love, it means we have released our expectations for others and ourselves. When we see ourselves getting frustrated with someone because they have not fulfilled my expectations, it is a signal that our love for them conditional.
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Be a Leap Frog

When I taught Sunday School to youth, which now seeks multiple reiterations of my life ago, I talked with the children about being a FROG. This was an acronym for being Fully Reliant On God. So often, even as adults, we need to be reminded of the need to be receptive each moment to our connection to the Divine. Amazing things happen in our lives when we stay Fully Reliant on the Divine/God/Higher Power. As a child, we used to play Leap Frog. Sometimes we would leap forward in baby leaps.
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Decoding your Spiritual DNA

Last week, I challenged us to activate our spiritual DNA. The question, however, is how does one do that. While there are some questions we can each meditate on and explore, the journey to activate our spiritual DNA is different for each of us. This is not a one size fits all kind of journey. One of the books I have been reading is called Soul Types by Robert Norton and Richard Southern. They suggest there are four soul types, which are the ways in which we live out our identity, values, purpose, and vision. All four types reside within each of us as possibilities, but most of us choose one or two to focus on more directly. Each one is centered on something different: heart, mind, soul, and strength.
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Where do you live?

This past week, I have had a chance to talk with a wide diversity of people with differing attitudes about life. Some of them seem to be living in a garden where life is blooming and others seem to be living in a minefield where they are waiting for the next bomb in life to go off. So where are you living? Are you living in a garden, a minefield, or a prison? Minefields are loaded with bombs hidden under the terrain. When one steps on a mine, you can be blown up by bombs of worry, doubt, fear, lack, and limitation.
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Integrity and Integration

I woke up this morning with this epiphany I had to share with a friend. The funny thing is my epiphanies tend to be things I knew at some level, but then rise to the top of my consciousness. This is what I remembered this morning about truth. We are to be about truth. We are to be about speaking from a place of truth. Not just our truth, but THE truth. Sometimes we might like to say we are the sole possessors of the truth, but like so many others, we are on a journey, which is constantly revealing new understandings and new insights about THE truth. Everyone, even those we do not necessarily agree with can have an insight into truth we do not have. What is important is that we always conduct our search for truth guided by the principles of love As we conduct our search, we may find ourselves living with greater and more conscious levels of integrity. Integrity is about wholeness and authenticity.
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Are you an antevasin?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are reading something and quite unexpectedly you find a word or a sentence, which makes you have one of those “oh my gosh yes moments.” This is what happened to me recently while reading Elizabeth Gilberts book Eat, Pray, Love. Ironically, I had my aha moment in a similar way to her, except mine was in my bedroom curled up under the covers and hers was during her time in India.  It was in these respective moments, when we both came to understand we were antevasins.  So my question to ponder this week is this. Are you an antevasin? When I told my spiritual director I had finally found the word to describe where I am in life and what I currently am, she said great and that is. And I said I am an antevasin.
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Silencing the monkeys

Have you ever been to the zoo and watched the monkeys swinging from one area to another, making the sounds as they do. On the one hand, it is fascinating to watch, at the same time after a while you need to move on, well at least I do. it is hard for me to stay focused with so much distraction. Perhaps that is why so many people have trouble meditating. Our minds are like monkeys swinging from one tree to the next, moving from one idea to another, from thinking about one thing going on in our life to another. Periodically, our minds might stop, but then we are off to swinging through ideas again. The two problems people seem to have the most is claiming the time to meditate and silencing those monkeys.
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No more erasing.

It was late last night, well maybe not so late, when I saw this commercial on television for this new erase stick (really not so new), which is supposed to erase all the “imperfections” from under and around women’s (not men’s) eyes and make women look years younger and healthier. I remember trying those “erase sticks” when I was younger and they never quite “erased” your “imperfections.” What makes them “imperfections” anyway? That is another reflection. However, watching the commercial made me think about how so often when we want to evolve spiritually and transform our lives, we are looking for the “erase stick,” which we can run over those aspects of our life and somehow make them invisible and make us appear as if we are spiritually healthier then we really are.
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Writing Your Own Prescription

The other day I was at the grocery store and this older woman, well older then me, offered to help me reach a package and then proceeded to tell me how awful my life must be and how seeing people like me made her feel so much better about her life. I was not quite sure how to respond, so I thanked her for her assistance and told her that I prayed God would continue to fill her day with opportunities to feel better about her life. Her comment to me got me questioning how we describe our lives. Do you describe your life by talking about how hard it is, or as I heard one person say once, “life sucks and then you die.” Or are you more on the attitude of life is good.
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It’s Your Birthday!

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.
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POJSU and Turnips

Right about now, you might be scratching your head wondering if POJSU is a new product from Kikkoman and what does that have to do with turnips. So, let me answer that question. No, it is not. I was rereading a few pieces others had written that I have found inspirational and one of them reminded me of a sermon I had written a few years ago called No more buts. At the end of the sermon, I wrote “I want to leave you with some things to put in your spiritual garden to replace the buts which I am encouraging you to remove. They are peas, squash, lettuce, and turnips.
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Have we got it twisted?

Henri Nouwen, in his book Living a Sacred Life in a Secular World, talks about how we have somehow managed to get our hearing and listening skills twisted. When someone says something negative, disparaging, or disaffirming to us we accept it as if it is the “gospel.” We rarely question the intent or the truthfulness of what they said to us. On the other hand, when someone pays us a compliment, our critical thinking skills seem to kick in, and we wonder what that person wants, why did they say that, why are they lying to me and cross-examination their affirmation as if it were a hostile witness being cross examined. What if we reversed this pattern in our life? What would happen if we graciously accepted and internalized that which was served to us with love and suspiciously eyed that which was not before choosing to throw it in the trashcan. Sometimes it seems as if we do this with other aspects of our life as well. So often, I hear people focusing on lack, rather then abundance.
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While you are in the meantime.

Yesterday I received an email that asked me what are you supposed to do while you are in the meantime. So here are a few suggestions of what you can do while you are in the meantime. While you are in the meantime, help somebody. A poet once wrote, “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother, and I found all three.” Sometimes when we are feeling empty, we benefit immeasurably by serving people in need. As their strength is renewed, our cups overflow. Stop waiting for an invitation to get involved. Go help somebody. As John F Kennedy once said, don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
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The F word

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.
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Stop faking the funk

Don Miguel Ruiz recently posted on his website “Love and accept yourself just the way you are. You are what you are; you don't need to pretend to be something else. When you pretend to be what you are not, you are going to fail.” Some of us have been faking the funk for so long; we no longer realize we are still in character. It is as though in many respects the world has tamed us, domesticated us, and taught us how to conform to the ways of the world. We do so many things without even thinking about them, just because that is how we have been taught to do them. We work at becoming a part of the whole because we all want to be accepted. We learn how to conform to the ways of our family, our community, our city, our country and our world. Over time, we learn how to conform to the rules of society, the dominant beliefs in our country and the laws. We learn how to celebrate holidays, how to behave in school, how to behave at social events. We learn how to conform to the ways of the world.
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The Little Engine, Dorothy, and Buried Treasure

My guess is that most of you remember the story of the Little Engine That Could. In case you do not, or just need to have one of those inner 5-year-old moments, it goes like this. Chug, Chug, Chug, Puff, Puff, Puff, Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks. She was a happy little train, for she had a jolly load to carry. Her cars were filled full of good things for boys and girls. The little train was carrying all these wonderful things to the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain. She puffed along merrily. Then all of a sudden, she stopped with a jerk. She simply could not go another inch. She tried and she tried, but her wheels would not turn. What were all those good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain going to do?
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Playing hide and seek

Recently, I read this quote from a book by Ray Dodd called The Power of Belief. In it he wrote, “Belief colors every experience and determines how we react in any situation, yet we are often unaware of the hidden beliefs that guide us.” Being mindful of these hidden beliefs is like playing hide and seek. The beliefs, which guide our life, have already hidden themselves. It is our job to seek them out, expose them, and then decide what purpose they play in our lives if any. So often, we are not mindful of these hidden beliefs.
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Do your best!

These words are the last of the four agreements Don Miguel Ruiz discusses in this book The Four Agreements. Sounds simple right; just do your best! This is what I tell my students all the time. I remind those I am journeying with of this all the time. This past week I had to remind myself that I was doing my best. One of the things about doing your best is recognizing that your best varies from moment to moment. My best when I was not journeying with Zoë through her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer has been different then before this was a part of our journey together. My best when I was not trying to advocate for the restoration of my para transit services is quite different then now that I am. Last week and this past weekend as we were preparing for Zoë’s surgery and the unknowns about what she would and would not be able to do afterwards consumed quite a bit of my time and energy.
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It’s a new day!

It is funny how the universe confirms things for you. I woke up the other morning with this song by Avalon in my heart, called “New Day.” Over the next two days, the conversations between friends and I, and friends and others were all about how today is a new day. The reality is that today is a new day and each moment is a new moment. Each second is a new second. As Alice Walker once wrote, “we are never the same river twice.” Each moment in our lives is a new moment and each day is a new day. The chorus to Avalon’s song says, It's a new day Oh, it's a new time And there's a new way I'm gonna live my life All the old has, passed away And the new has come Thank God, It's a brand new day
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