Tag Archives: healing

Going to the well

I was rereading a part of the Book of John this morning about when Jesus, having been walking all day, sits by the edge of a well and asks a woman for some water. Now, the woman is a Samaritan and they don’t generally interact with Jews. Add to that that in those days, women didn’t just chat with men casually. Like, ever. So when Jesus tells her to go get her husband, and she admits she has no husband, he tells her, “You’re right. You’ve had five husbands and the one you have now isn’t yours.”

Now, I heard this story originally as a folk song by Peter, Paul and Mary. The song makes it sound like the woman is, to put it lightly, loose. There’s a bit of slut-shaming in the song. As I read the story now, it occurs to me that a woman can have five husbands if she outlives four. In those days, a woman’s worth was in her marital status and her ability to have children. What if the only reason she’s around is because she didn’t die in childbirth? What if some of those husbands divorced her thinking she was barren? The story doesn’t really say why she’s been married so many times. However, if she lost all those husbands through no fault of her own, even if her society told her it was her fault, then our Samaritan sister has been through some tough times. If she’s living with a husband that isn’t hers (maybe it’s her brother or her father) then she’s probably a second-class citizen in her own home. She has no social standing.

And she is willing to see the possibility that this strange man, who she probably shouldn’t be talking to, might be on to something. Maybe he sounds arrogant to her. Maybe he looks ridiculous (remember he’s just a stranger who’s been walking in the desert all day). I can relate to her. I’ve been to lots of retreats and workshops that promised me “living water” in the form of five simple principles or one great secret or a dozen rules. I have all the books. I’ve done lots of hours of studying. Heck, I have two master’s degrees and the student loans to prove it. I look at the time and money and wonder what the heck I was thinking! I still feel, sometimes, like that unwanted, unloved Samaritan who is just trying to find her place in the world.

If your Buddha-nature spoke up right now and promised you living water, promised you peace and joy, would you have the strength to try one more time? Would you be willing to try someone who seems like an unlikely guru? I went to lots of professionals and certificated teachers before I found the ones who told me my teacher is my own heart. Trusting that unlikely teacher has made all the difference.

Cosmic two by four

So this week I got to experience a cosmic two by four. The end result of ignoring self-care was a nasty case of walking pneumonia exacerbated by acute asthma. In case you were wondering why I haven’t posted in so long…. I was ignoring the cold, then the bronchitis that lead up to the other stuff. I’m not going to pretend there wasn’t a good reason (hello, minister at Christmas?) and I’m really not going to pretend there wasn’t a great breakthrough and blessing from it all.

In the midst of the experience, with the side effect of high anxiety from the medication that was keeping my lungs open, I realized that most of my anxiety came from not being at work. How would I have any worth if I wasn’t producing? I would get fired. My sister would have no reason to speak to me ever again because I’d lose the house. People would hate me for not being there during the crisis that came up while I was down for the count. What kind of horrible person takes a nap while others are suffering and responsibilities are being ignored? Remember please, that I was heavily medicated with a stimulant known to cause anxiety. What sounds ridiculous in the light of day had to get very real for me in the moment of darkness for me to hear it.Maybe I had to get that far out of my own mind to hear the whispers from my subconscious, but hear it I did. And of course it shocked me back into rationality (thank God!).

For many of us, it’s not the things we think we believe that get us into trouble. It’s the little assumptions and underlying, completely unconscious beliefs that are at work behind the scenes that create havoc in our lives. I know I’m hyper-responsible and that’s probably not something I should beat myself up over not having resolved yet. I can put the brakes on that though by being conscious of when I’m doing it, when that “work= worth” belief is at work in my life and is guiding my behavior.

Now… this is a short post but it’s also my first day back. I’m going to go home and take another nap.

Trigger warnings

I think I should come with a trigger warning. Actually, I think spirituality should come with a trigger warning and as a spiritual leader, I should have one tattooed somewhere obvious. I decided this when I woke up to rain this morning and realized that sitting on the couch and getting caught up with the news was going to be my spiritual practice.

I saw whole bunches of opinions on which charity is most trustworthy if you want to help folks in Haiti now that they’ve been flooded. I saw opinions about the Susan G Komen foundation and whether or not they really are a great help in the search for a cure for breast cancer. And I saw lots and lots of opinions about the latest scandal in the presidential election.

I doubt any of you are under the impression that I don’t have a personal opinion about climate change, immigration, the election or how a person should speak to or about another person regardless of gender. However, my job isn’t to spout my opinion. It’s not unlike my advice: free to everyone and worth every penny.

My job, and my calling in this world, is to look at what my opinion and how I express it says about my own state of consciousness. So for instance: in my opinion none of the current nominees for president is perfect. In my state of consciousness, none of them need to be. Asking for any individual to be perfect is asking for that person to lie to me. If we require everyone in public office to be perfect, we will only have liars running for office. People who are real, people who are willing to get their hands dirty and who admit when they mess up or change their stance on the issues because they have learned new facts – these people are the ones I like and tend to trust. Authenticity is one of my core values; human perfection is not.

Some folks will quote Dr. Holmes as having said two different things about the same issue. Depending on when he was writing, he might contradict himself on a specific issue. If the man had never changed his thinking in the course of his forty plus years in his career, I certainly wouldn’t be teaching this philosophy which is based on the idea that we can change our thinking.

Although I have the greatest of respect for our founder, I don’t know that I would necessarily ask him questions how to live my life and deal with my specific issues. He gives us pointers on how to think, how to examine our thinking and encourages us to actually think for ourselves. He can’t tell me how to be a woman in the 21st Century, dealing with the issues of this particular election. Similar situations, yes. This specific election, no. I can make intelligent guesses based on what he faced in his time and how he handled it.

And that brings me to the trigger warning. In this election and in every part of your life, as a spiritual human being, you will be triggered. As you become more conscious, you will be triggered more. Eventually, you will come to see all those buttons that get pushed as a gift – they show you where your shadow is hiding, where you have healing left to do in your consciousness and where your green and growing edges are. Consider yourself warned by the Chief Button Pusher at the Center for Spiritual Living Prescott.

Give me a break!

I’m on retreat all next week and I can’t wait! For many people, the idea of sitting around, reading non-fiction books, refusing to leave my room (okay, I might go to the pool to read) and generally being alone in the quiet, doesn’t sound all that appealing. What I’ve learned is that all that quiet can be very annoying for the first few hours or even the first day or so. After that, something in me slows down, starts to listen deeply and, if I can stay with it, allows me to hear that little voice that tells me what I really think and feel underneath all the things I do.

I schedule this time away. It’s actually in my contract with the Center that I get 5 business days per year specifically for this. It’s not vacation time – that’s something different. This is dedicated to spiritual practice and not much else. Now, I consider napping and baths spiritual practice if they occur on retreat, but other than that, it’s just the usual stuff you expect a spiritual seeker to do. There’s a part of me that’s still Catholic enough that I wouldn’t be comfortable sneaking out to a movie during retreat time or channel surfing through whatever is on TV these days. Ted talks and documentaries are okay, but no Housewives of Whatever County.

I find that when I don’t make the time to do this slowing down, sometimes the Universe creates it for me. I remember once, long before I understood the concept of the Cosmic Two By Four, I was overdoing it and my car blew a gasket. I couldn’t do my job without a car, so I had to take a break. I was just grateful that it was the car that blew a gasket rather than me. Another time, while in ministerial school and working full time, I discovered myself on a San Diego freeway stuck in overdrive and without brakes. I got the message earlier at that point (and a new car, too!). My point is that if don’t slow down voluntarily, Spirit brings me to a screeching halt.

So what would a retreat look like for you? Would you be willing to try for just a few hours in the silence (awake, I mean) and see how it feels? Are you getting signals from the Universe that some quiet time is in order? Give it a shot and see how you feel. Your soul will thank you. And, maybe, so will your mechanic.

The Dentist’s Chair

I checked in with the dentist this morning. I know I’m overdue for a regular appointment but what I was there for this morning was different. I grind my teeth in my sleep and it’s gotten to the point that my front teeth are all chipping. We were addressing that problem and making sure it doesn’t get worse any time soon. Since I have some problems with dentistry, I was given nitrous oxide to keep me calm and able to be worked on. In the clarity of laughing gas, I realized that what we were doing this morning was a lot like the spiritual work I do with folks as their minister.

First, they gave me some help (yes, in this case a drug) to help me prepare for the deeper work. When folks show up at our Center, we generally start them off with the inspiration of the Sunday service or a class. In either case, they learn tools like prayer and meditation. Next, my dentist had to even out my rough spots and that was less than fun. But in spiritual practice I often find that once folks have learned they are safe here, the painful stuff comes up to be healed. Sometimes they have rough spots, lack social skills or just are in so much pain that they don’t know what help to ask for. Finally, the dentist put some protective coating on the spaces in my teeth that were ready to shatter (I realllllly grind my teeth). Our ongoing spiritual practices give us this protective coating. As we get better and better with the tools of Science of Mind, we have more strength and can get on with the business of living (and eating!) much better.

Now I recognize that for some folks, this metaphor is a bit of a stretch. The thing is, I’ve written some amazing talks while having dental work done. I almost never remember them, but I know they were good. This time, I wanted to make sure I shared before it all went away.

For those of you who are wondering, my dentist is Dr. Seth at Larson Family Dentistry (www.kellylarsondds.com). He has some of the qualities of a good minister and kind of the same job. He works on painful problems with people who might be very scared to let him help. His job is, in part, to create an atmosphere of safety and trust with his patients. He also talks a lot about what folks can be doing to take care of themselves and prevent problems in the first place. No, I don’t like the lecture either, even when he pulls out the Ipad and shows me pictures and tells me how much money I can save by preventing problems rather than cleaning up after existing problems. I especially hate that he’s right and I need to commit to better self-care.

So there’s my spiritual truth for the day. The dentist is a minister. Taking care of my teeth is a spiritual practice. Our practice is really everywhere and all the time.

 

Learning CPR

I found, posted on my Facebook feed, the video of Rev. Dr. William Barber at the Democratic National Convention. I sometimes listen to these talks just to learn things about the art and science of doing sermons. I listen because I might hear something I can learn from. And I listen because obviously, folks like him know how to speak in such a way as to gain a national platform.

In this case, I had no idea that the theme for the Convention was “healing the heart of democracy” but I heard it loud and clear from his talk. And what does it take to heal a heart that might have stopped beating? Sometimes, in extreme cases, it takes CPR. Now this is not just about our country – it’s about every community we belong to, including the one that lives inside our individual skin.

CPR usually stands for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. It gets both the heart and lungs working again when they stop (when it works). So I’d like you to take a moment and make sure your heart and lungs are working, in the spiritual sense. If your spiritual lungs are working, you are breathing deeply of Spirit on a daily basis. If your spiritual heart is working, you are circulating good all around your body.

Just for today, let the C stand for compassion. Compassion is the opposite of judgment. Compassion requires that we reach out (and sometimes in) to find the human within the situation. Compassion isn’t a free pass on bad behavior or a joint pity-party. Compassion is seeing the Divine in any situation and/or person and refusing to speak to anything else.

Just for today, let the P stand for patience. None of us got into the habits, bad or good, that we have in our thinking or our behavior in five minutes or less. Most of us have been working to dismantle erroneous beliefs for as long as we’ve been alive. Most of us get impatient with ourselves and others when we see behavior that doesn’t live up to our ideals. What if we allow ourselves a bit of time to learn how to live from our philosophy rather than our fears?

Just for today, let the R stand for repeat. Because living this philosophy, that says there is no “other” or enemy, that says that God is all there is and it’s up to us to find evidence of that when it seems so very impossible, living this philosophy is something we do over and over. We practice compassion and patience over time, getting better at seeing when we’ve fallen out of practice.

If you’re noticing that life doesn’t seem to be flowing for you or you’re feeling uninspired (do you know that one of the original meanings of inspire is to breath in Spirit?), then it’s time for some CPR. Get a friend to help. Do what you have to do to return to the life you were built to live.

Where in your life are you judging too harshly or being impatient? What are you willing to do to heal that? Please comment on this or anything else in this post either below or on Facebook.

Reconciliation

This week we had a special service at CSLP that we call Taize. It’s based on a reconciliation service that was started in the Burgundy region of France in a town called Taize. It was post-WWII and the town had been torn apart. There were folks from all sides, injuries and heartbreak to spare in everyone. Somehow, the folks in that town had to move on and learn to see each other as people again. There’s lots more history on the web and it’s a fascinating story, but I’m more focused today on how it relates to right here and now.

One of my heroes is Eugene Holden. He’s a practitioner within our movement and the director of our World Ministry of Prayer. He recently wrote, “”Let us not be fooled, we are at war here folks. As evidenced by the events in Dallas, Texas. And let us be clear here, this is a not a battle between white and black or good and evil. It is a battle of consciousness. And this battle is an internal one. Internal to the nation. Internal to ourselves. The phrase jihad was initially longer. It was jihad al nufs, meaning battle of the soul. Yes, this is an inside job.”

I agree that our country is and has been at war. We war on drugs, on poverty and on terror. We see each other as colors, as genders and, worst of all, The Other. So we need to figure out how to see each other as people again. It can be done. Yes, people have died. Yes, there’s centuries of history behind the racism and sexism and many other –isms. But what I see in my world is a lot of people that are willing to do better. I hear people of good conscience talking not just about what’s wrong, but what we can do.

What can we do? I’m in prayer a lot. I’m doing a lot of reality checking about whether things are awful or just feel awful. There’s sometimes a difference between my emotional truth and the verifiable facts. Our Taize service is aimed at helping all of us make that shift together. And how about being the voice of moderation on social media and during casual conversations? When I hear “oh-those-awful” fill in the blank with your choice of group or politician to fear “are-going-to-destroy-this-country,” I know that’s the voice of fear speaking, every single time. I answer it with something that says that while it’s important to face facts, we don’t have to forget that these are not the only facts and that we might not even have true facts.

Now, understand, I said I’ve been trying this stuff. I didn’t say it all worked for me or that I do it 100% of the time. What I love about this spiritual path is that I can just do my best in any given moment and that’s enough. I don’t need to be eligible for sainthood anytime soon (or late, for that matter). In this Center, we run the experiments that are required to find our “best practices”. That’s really all we do – keep trying until we find a few things that work. That’s it.

Please feel free to add what you’re trying or make any other comments.