Tag Archives: thoughts

Urgency

There are days I just can’t even. I’ve had a list of things – important things! – on my desk for two days that I need to get to before tomorrow night. I only just started them this afternoon. Nothing that took the place of doing my list was unimportant. A call to the Emergency Room, emails, calls, requests for prayer and counseling – all important. Even this blog is important and it still takes a back seat to the other more immediate priorities.

I know full well that one must prioritize and then be hardnosed about sticking to real priorities. I could stand a bit more discipline in that area. At the same time, people are more important than writing reports or even this blog. I value people and helping them to the best of my ability. I’d say it’s one of my primary values, so the list will sit until I get to it. Yes, I know all of this. And yet, that list keeps sitting there, looking at me, saying these things must be done.

I don’t think I’m alone in needing to prioritize or let lists just sit there being mad at me. I don’t think that putting people over writing is wrong, not in my case (your mileage may vary). I am here to remind you and myself that everything that actually needs to get done eventually gets done. Spirit can take a large chunk of this list (and the second mental list that I never write down) and handle it all for me. I have the ultimate Divine Honey-do list here. So, help me out folks. How do you shush the list of urgent stuff in order to stay focused on what’s really important according to your values? How do you remember what your real values are in the face of others who want something else from you?

On the ceiling with God

There’s a painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel that shows God and Adam reaching out to almost touch each other. I’ve seen it a billion times, just like everyone else, but I’ve never really seen it before. The painting was brought to my attention and I used it in a talk this week – and then heard even greater perception from my friends and teachers in the congregation.

If you look at this painting, you’ll notice a few things about God. First of all, I can’t help but notice he looks a lot like Zeus. But that’s just me, right? Secondly, because I vegged out and watched HBO’s Westworld, I have learned that there’s meaning in the cloak God wears. That red cloak is shaped like a human brain. The God of my understanding is a being that expresses itself through me to the degree that I allow the Good/God to be expressed. I can limit it but can’t actually make it go away. Another thing to look at is that there’s a whole bunch of people inside that cloak with God.

So if the God of my understanding exists in my mind, who are the rest of those folks? Someone pointed out that they could be thought of as the “committee” that often exists in the back of our minds. Those voices of disapproval and doubt that pipe up just as we are about to step into our greatness are those folks sitting around God in the painting. I was relieved to hear my self say, “I fired my committee. That’s my cheering section.” I didn’t think about it, just said it. I’m so glad that the things I instinctively think and say these days are positive. Believe me, when the committee was running things, it wouldn’t have been a good thing.

Who are the folks who live in the mind of God, your mind, with you? Are they cheering or naysaying?

Dignity and Decency

Wow, it’s the end of December and I haven’t posted in a while. I think the holidays took over my brain like an alien, turning me into one of Santa’s pod people. Truly, until the 26th hit, I wasn’t sure if I was on the ground or on my way to Oz. And now… I will happily use my massage gift certificates to get ready the joy that is or will be 2018. I used my first gift card (thanks Howard and Hazel!) for some reflexology on my feet. Well, actually, she managed a full body massage more or less and it was awesome. About half way through, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt very rude because I’d never asked the lady’s name and hadn’t been introduced. All I knew was that her English was minimal and she would understand if I said “too hard.” So I found out her name, or at least the one she uses so that I don’t mangle her real one and we moved on. I wanted to ask what language she speaks and learn to say thank you.

 In the midst of all this, I noticed how virtuous and (gag) nice I felt for thinking these things during a massage. When did basic human decency start being something I patted myself on the back for? When did recognizing the basic humanity of others become something I had to remind myself of? Yikes! Earlier in the week, I had talked with a colleague about the ad hoc group I belong to called Quad City Interfaith Council. We were partially formed around the idea of honoring the dignity of all people. How is it that we have to have committees to make sure this happens? I think we could be better than this.

My intention and invitation for 2018, therefore is this: I’m going to go back to an old practice that helped a lot in a dark time. I’m going to spend my commute to work practicing seeing the face of the Divine in everyone I pass and everything I see. It was easy when I was taking the bus in a big city. I wonder if it will be harder or easier from my car out here in the country. It doesn’t matter, really. Being surrounded by love and beauty and good is a gift I can give myself and I won’t even need a holiday or gift card! And maybe next year, I’ll be part of a bridge of good manners and decency that crosses the divide of race and religion and unconsciousness.

The gifts

I am a gifting person. For those of you familiar with the love languages, you will know that gifts are how I like to express love and how I recognize it when it’s offered. So Christmas shopping is one of my favorite winter activities. It’s an excuse to shop, which I don’t like to do for myself, and I get to think of all the people I love as I try to find a meaningful gift for them.

This year I got a surprise gift. A Center that I have been helping out sent me a tithe check. Now, it’s not the amount on the check that matters. It’s not like I could pay off my house with this money. It is a lovely way of telling me that the work I do means something. It helps someone. Of course I knew this, and I’ve been told this, many times. I am very appreciated at my own Center. The thing is, I’m a gift-er, so this acknowledgement came in a form that my heart recognizes and receives.

Riding that wave of joy, I found myself listing all the gifts in my life. Some folks call this counting one’s blessings. I got a rush from really appreciating having been born in this country, having a car that is reliable and working in a place that surrounds me with beautiful people and gives me meaningful work to do. I didn’t even get to the people who make my life a joy. That would be a very long list. And yes, I know that counting blessings is a time honored spiritual practice. I know that “count your blessings” is getting trite and might even have become code for “stop complaining about your first world problems.” Still, when done with an honest gratitude for what it, it’s a powerful practice. That’s how a practice becomes time-honored — cuz it works.

 

Christmas cards

I’m doing Christmas cards this year. I usually do a few – the silly ones from card stores go back and forth in my family. It’s a fun tradition and doesn’t cost much. But this year, I decided to go big. So far I’ve written about 50 and I have another 40 waiting to be written. At some point I started wondering – will someone be happy to get this? Will they be upset there’s no gift card or check in there? Will this seem like an empty gesture? On the other hand, will this make someone’s day? Will they understand that I took the time to buy a stack of cards, find their address (and that’s been a hoot, finding snail mail addresses) and affix a pretty stamp? What if I forget someone?

At some point, I have to mail these suckers. I have to let that little bit of light shine on its own merits and let people receive my love as they choose to receive it. I’d love to put $100 bill in each card, but that’s not budgeted in my 2017 fiscal year. I’d love to write long, very personal notes in each one but at some point I have to go home, I have to write next week’s talk and I have a whole bunch of people to meet with. At some point it has to be enough that I tried and sent a bit of love out into the world.

Isn’t it great that no matter who you are, Spirit is excited to hear from you? Even a small card with a scrawled signature makes God’s day. When I send up a thank you for the parking space, I can feel God get the warm fuzzies. When I stop to listen to a bird singing or watch the sunset, it’s acknowledging the work of the Great Artist. There are so many small ways to be with Spirit over the course of the day, and they all send a bit more love out into the world. I’m sending you some now.

Guests and tenants

I’m pretty particular about who is allowed in my home. I have an apartment attached to my home that I rent out and only once did I allow someone to handle the rental. They did everything legally and right, but I wasn’t satisfied. The tenant’s energy and mine weren’t a good match. Something just didn’t feel right. I know we weren’t a good match because the tenant left after about six weeks. I bless her being there and I bless her leaving to go on to whatever is hers to do or be. And I’ve learned my lesson; who is allowed in my home must be a decision made consciously and by me. I don’t discriminate in terms of color or gender or creed, but I do prefer to pray the right person in, which generally looks like the right person getting me the application first and actually being able to pay for the apartment.

There’s a Rumi poem about a guesthouse. I welcome in those who show up, but I also remember that these are my thoughts and my own beliefs I’m welcoming in. A basic tenet of our philosophy is to watch what you believe and see if it’s true. If you can’t tell, another way to think of it is to ask yourself, “Does this belief make me more free?” We will always find evidence to support our beliefs so we may as well choose the ones that prosper us. Who we welcome in to our homes, our heads and hearts, will determine the quality of our lives. Make sure you are paying attention. Love them all as they come, and be aware of whom you offer a lease to.

Here’s to aging!

When I was about to be ordained (several years ago now) I did an informal poll of ordained ministers about what to expect. The vast majority of the ministers I know are female, and I don’t know how much this affected their answers. However, what they answered with one voice was that I’d find my “give a damn” falling away. Not that I’d become uncaring, but that it might feel like my ability to be concerned about other people’s opinions would get dulled. I’d have a lot more confidence about what I want and how I choose to do my life. That might be a nicer way of saying it. The actual answer was pretty immediate and blunt. My middle finger would be getting a lot more exercise. In the most spiritual way possible of course.

I understand that this is a sign of aging in most women. We lose the need to please that has been trained into most of us. One of the great joys of my life is seeing that the younger generation of both men and women are, to paraphrase Wayne Dyer, “independent of the good opinions of other people.” To some folks, it might seem like the younger generation is rude or uncaring. Of course, the “younger generation” has seemed that way for decades if not centuries, so this is nothing new. However, I’m excited to see people standing in their truth, unwilling to be held hostage to the “nice” that was trained into me. The type of nice that had me doing things I didn’t want to do for reasons I didn’t agree with.

So here’s to aging. Here’s to an end to the etiquette that tells me I must sacrifice and martyr myself on the altar of “nice”. Here’s to standing as the proud Adult Children of God that we all are and respectfully declining to be nominated for the Doormat Council.

Duck, Duck, Goose!

The other day I realized that I was getting very anxious. I was anxious because I had so much to do and it wasn’t done yet. I had trouble sitting for more than ten minutes to do spiritual practice because there was so much to do and of course, I was late. Well, I told myself I was late.

You see, in order to fit everything into my week this week, I had a long day on Tuesday, catch up on Wednesday and then leave at 4:15 in the morning on Thursday in order to drive to Phoenix, park the car and get to the airport. I was stressed out in advance. I was stressed out because I was living the whole week at once and feeling like I was already behind… on days that hadn’t happened yet.

One of the metaphors for ministry (and all spiritual life, I think) is that of a duck. We are to glide across the waters of life peacefully and gracefully, never allowing folks to see that our feet are paddling frantically underneath the water. We’re supposed to make it look easy, right? Spiritual people have mastered equanimity. If I’m spiritual then I don’t ever have bad days. Right?

The best spiritual practice I have learned is laughter. Instead of trying to be a duck, I am realizing that I’m a goose. Once I see how silly I’m being, I can laugh and go back to my “to do” list. I can leave God’s “to do” list to God. Oh, and get a hotel in town the night before the flight.

Fake news

There’s been a debate lately about how and if Facebook should screen the news that gets shared on that site. There’s a lot of fake news – there are actually people who make their entire living making up news and sharing it on Facebook. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, says only 1% of the information on Facebook is fake news, but since a quarter of the world’s population is part of this site, that might still be a problem.

What an awesome metaphor for our consciousness! How many fake news sites are running through your head at any given time? Who’s making money by advertising on those sites? Is there a site dedicated to why your body is not the right shape, size, color or gender? Is it overflowing with ads that tell you how to “fix” yourself?

What about a site that tells you about your talents and skills? Are there articles that say your primary worth is what you do? Or maybe there’s not much you can do that is worthy of sharing, so you should probably just stay home. These sites might have lots of ads for classes or self-help books. They might have commentary from the authority figures of your childhood explaining WHY you never did learn to be useful or what would happen if you stopped doing that thing everyone expects you to do.

It’s worth looking into what scrolls through the feed in your mind. It’s what we do in this philosophy. Each of us probably has some input from someone we should mentally block or even unfriend. The process we go through in Science of Mind is akin to fact checking the news sites that pop up. There is a divine snopes.com that we access through prayer and meditation. There is a way to let our conscious mind comment on different articles, deciding whether they are just inflammatory or if they hold real, important information.

We all have this power. In the Divine sense, we can’t unsubscribe to Facebook – there’s a consciousness that runs through all of us and never stops. It is running in the back of your head right now. It’s also running in your heart and in your physical body. Paying attention to what you’re paying attention to is a great spiritual practice. So, what news sites do you need to block from your consciousness? Are you willing to unfriend the really toxic ones? And just as important – are you willing to read the in-depth articles that might teach you about a world you didn’t know existed?

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.