Testify to Love

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

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Time, Discovery, and Patience

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.

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Transformation Lessons

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.
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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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Activate your DNA

Are you ready to activate your DNA? When I ask about activating your DNA, I am not asking about your genetic DNA, but your spiritual DNA. We are far more then our genetic coding. Our genetic coding also contains spiritual coding from the Divine buried within us, like a treasure in a clay jar. It has always been there waiting for us to choose to connect with it, cultivate it, activate it, and express it in our lives. While our genetic DNA makes us candidates for all kinds of traits in our lives, our spiritual DNA makes a perfect candidate for enlightenment and transformation. Those qualities and traits will lay dormant in us until we choose to activate them. We are the ones who have to choose to engage in a spiritual journey. Until we do, our spiritual DNA lies dormant.
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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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Being a Sacred Observer

Yesterday, I was challenged to do something I had not done in a while and that was to be mindful of what I said and what I thought. Denise Linn calls this being a sacred observer. Miguel don Ruiz uses a similar exercise in which he has you write down all those thoughts that float through your head. So often, we are not aware of the language of our thoughts. Even when we do not speak language that is disempowering, we may think it. It is a humbling experience when you observe your speech and thought patterns. One of the things I wrote about in my process journal about being a sacred observer yesterday was how even others conversations can bring up disempowering and negative thoughts in our minds, especially when they trigger unhealed wounds.
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Love thyself!

It really doesn’t matter what faith tradition you explore. When I look across ancient wisdom writings and contemporary writings on spirituality, I find myself coming across some very basic and simple teachings about loving one’s self. Over the last few years, I have been making notes about things I have learned to do and am working on doing in my life to bring myself to that place of unconditional self-love. The other day, I started organizing some of my notes, part of my spring cleaning ritual, and realized I had a whole list of lessons I had learned about how to be more loving of myself. I could probably write a whole book on this, so I thought I would share a few of the highlights J
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No More Casting Calls

Each of us in our own ways, consciously or unconsciously, has voluntarily played roles in our lives. Some of us have gotten so good at playing our roles that we no longer hear the Infinite Presence calling us to step out of the roles the world has cast us in, and step into the role of the true and authentic self. Some of us have chosen to conform to this world, not be transformed in it. Some of us have been performing our roles 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
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Clearing out your inventory!

Teaching courses, such as the one I do at SUNY Brockport, means that I have the opportunity to interact with people from a wide diversity of belief systems. It is always amazing to me how a group of people can have such diverse perspectives and beliefs on everything. One of the things we have been discussing all semester is how beliefs and knowledge are socially constructed and so deeply embedded in our culture and our way of life that rarely do we think about or acknowledge that these are belief systems or that there are other ways of being in the world. One of the things a few of my students were discussing recently were those things they lost and unlearned as they have grown up. Don Miguel Ruiz talks about this as the domestication of the planet in his book The Four Agreements.
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Breathe before speaking.

Last week, I talked about how the simple act of breathing can put the emotional brakes on our shenpa. Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician specializing in integrative medicine, said the “The single most effective relaxation technique I know is conscious regulation of breath.” Breathing is not just a sign that we are still alive and functioning. Breathing is a spiritual act, which bridges the mind and the body. If you pay close attention to your breathing, you will notice that there is this gap between your inhale and your exhale. This gap is said to be the movement of spirit within and through us. In many early languages, the words for spirit and breath are the same. Thus, breathing is not just necessary for our health and wellness, but it is the process through which we stay connected to the Creator. Remembering to breathe allows us to relax, align our responses to anything out of love, and not fear. When we learn how to breathe, just breathe, we can begin to improve our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. When we work at being conscious of our breathing, we can begin to take advantage of the blessings and gifts that come with the simple act of breathing. Just breathe.
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Do I love me?

When I was in seminary, I remember taking a class called Intro to Preaching with Dr. Gail Ricciuti. Gail is one of my favorite professors and now a dear friend. In the early weeks of this class, she laid out this multi step rigorous plan for writing a well-constructed sermon. I remember the first time I wrote a sermon using her steps, I was able to get through the first few steps, and then I had to lie down and take a nap. What I realized is that each time I woke up I had my sermon in my head. To this day, whether I am writing a sermon, which I rarely do any more, or writing a reflection, which I now do quite often, I follow the same steps that I followed back then; when in doubt take a nap. Unsure of what I was to write about this week, feeling tired, stiff, and whiny (sure sign I am tired or sick),
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Commercials, Wolves, and The Four Agreements.

A week or so ago, I got an email from someone who asked me if I really practiced what I teach. Yes! So I thought I would share one of those moments with you. If you have been around me for any length of time, you know there are a few things I ask or say. One phrase is make it a commercial, not a documentary. Another is which wolf are you feeding? Does this fit with the four agreements? For those of you who are wondering what I am talking about, here is my cheat sheet. The Four Agreements is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz and the agreements in a nutshell are this: 1. be impeccable with your words – do not say anything negative about yourself or others 2. Don't take anything personally. – It’s only about you if you make it about you. 3. Don't make assumptions. – seek clarification and make sure you both understand each other. 4. Always do your best. YOUR best, not what I think is your best, but your best at any moment, knowing your best can change from moment to moment.
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