Tag Archives: trust

Talking turkey

Every year, I celebrate Thanksgiving by hosting a potluck at our Center. We’ve had as many as 60 people, although the average is closer to 45. I buy ham and turkey and everyone brings their favorite food. This way everyone gets their favorites, made the “right” way, and we all get to hang out in a party atmosphere for the day. I’ve learned a few things along the way. First of all, I won’t try to do all the cooking myself. I do one turkey and one ham. The rest goes home with someone to be cooked and they get the bones for soup. I don’t try to do the cooking at home. The Center kitchen has two ovens and if I cook stuff there, the building smells yummy. I’ve learned that the following day is a great time to make “leftovers”, which really means our family Thanksgiving foods without any stress over presentation.

I used to think I had to do it all myself. I used to think it had to look a certain way. One of the greatest benefits of growing up is that I realized that I get to define what’s right for me and I’m not responsible for meeting other people’s expectations. What is true for the holiday is true for spirituality. I don’t need to do everything the way my mother or grandmothers did it. I don’t care about presentation for the turkey and I don’t need my spiritual practice to meet anyone else’s approval. It’s worth getting up a little early to do it my way and the end result is that I get fed and I’m happy. Sometimes, letting go of doing it “the right way” is what allows for doing it the most effective way.

Breaking News

I’ve just started listening to Brenè Brown’s new book about belonging. She refers to this as an increasingly divisive and divided world. She cites the current political and social chaos as part of the issue, but also talks about how it feels unsafe to say who you are and what you believe in. Everything in me wants to argue with her about whether this world is really all that divided. Yes, it’s what’s in the news these days. Who can be surprised by that? We are wired to focus on what’s wrong so that we don’t get eaten by T. Rexes and so we pay lots of attention to those voices who Rawr loudly and point their tiny talons at the “problem” people.

Before the internet gave the megaphone to a small group of malcontents, those unhappy people were mostly ignored. Downside; minorities could be ignored and abuse continued. Upside; terrorists didn’t get their egos stroked. In truth, nothing has changed except that we are more conscious of the things going on around the world than we’ve ever been. With so many different voices speaking up, it’s bound to create some chaos.

Out of chaos comes a new creation. Yes, things look grim these days. The news has not been about how many puppies were born safely yesterday. Nor has it been about how many lives were NOT lost because we can treat depression more effectively, because there’s a push towards greater acceptance of minorities and less acceptance of racism and even that the number of truly poor people in the world is dropping drastically. Did you know that peace is breaking out all over in record numbers? Seriously, google it. Just because we are now more aware of the problems in the world doesn’t mean that there are more problems in the world. It means we are waking up. We are, more and more of us, “woke”. We are learning that what isn’t pretty can still be beautiful.

In the same boat

I never liked working in groups in school. I wanted to be in charge of earning my own grades. I didn’t want some other person, who was obviously never going to be as smart as me, messing up my GPA. Yes, I’m talking about elementary school. I had issues.

Most days now, I’m an adult. I recognize the Oneness of all beings and I get that life on this planet is a group project. We sink or swim together. There’s a thing called the Bodhisattva vow that says that souls are innumerable and the Bodhisattva vows to row them all to the distant shore. I don’t vow to row anyone else to shore, but I’ll take an oar and help. If we’re all just walking each other home, as Ram Das says, then I’ll walk next to anyone. I don’t think I do the Universe any favors by thinking I need to carry someone else. After all, that other person is just as much a part of God as I am, right?

Having said that, I’m discovering the joy of working together with other folks who are walking home at the same rate as I am. Yesterday, a group of us went outside after service and weeded the labyrinth. With so many working on the project it went pretty fast and it gave me time to catch up with folks I usually don’t get to have conversation with on Sunday. I also just got back from a gathering of ministers in North Carolina. It’s a beautiful place and the Center there in Asheville is impressive at a lot of levels. My ministry only started being successful once I recognized the power of the group consciousness. I started enjoying ministry when I realized that part of my job was to do lunch with colleagues and share the joys and challenges with them. Those connections make my career possible.

So today I’m up for the group project this teaching Universe has assigned. Today I work with and walk with anyone who sincerely wants to create a world that works for everyone.

 

Prosperity Gospel

 

I spent some time over the last few days pondering what it means to be rich. I had a roommate in college that was a trust fund baby. I remember her saying she was broke because her checking account had less than the minimum required for avoiding fees. That amount was around $5,000 and I know that it was a temporary situation. This is the same roommate who wrote a check to keep me in school one semester (I paid her back but it took a few years). She was financially rich, but it didn’t protect her from watching her mom succumb to early onset Alzheimer’s. She dealt with the problem of folks “forgetting their wallets” when we went out to eat, too. So was she really rich?

I remember when one of my two monthly paychecks just covered my rent. I was suffering from depression, was physically unhealthy and hadn’t yet discovered these principles I now teach. I lived in a very sketchy neighborhood. I was in the midst of a divorce that shattered me. I got through it. I had friends who helped when they really didn’t have to. Those friends had little enough financial wealth themselves, but they kept me fed and gave me a phone number I could give to my mom for emergencies. I had little money of my own so it forced me to give up cigarettes and alcohol. Was I really poor?

Today I looked at my judgments of the “rich” or the 1% we vilify in this country. How do I know my life isn’t better than theirs? How the heck do I even define better? I took a look at how much I spend now on toys and entertainment, how easily I pay for my needs and how much I save for future needs and wants. Lots of people are living paycheck to paycheck. Does that affect my own definition of “wealthy” and does it matter?

Today I’ve decided that being rich requires both the ability to take care of one’s needs AND the consciousness to enjoy that ability. I feel rich because I know my house payment will be made. I feel rich because I tithe. I feel rich because I can share. I’m not owned by my money or my things – I’m grateful for them just as I am grateful for my friends and the sense of being loved by my community and something Greater. My life has meaning that is outside of what I do – I have personal worth that has nothing to do with a spreadsheet and, more importantly, I am aware of the real worth of my soul and the souls of all my brothers and sisters in Consciousness (which means everybody). I was taught long ago that gospel means good news. What’s the good news about prosperity? We get to decide what it is and we can experience it at any time.

How do you define prosperous? Do you see yourself as rich? What would it take for you to be free of fear, to feel safe and loved?

Follow my lead

I’ve been reading a great book called “A Tree Full of Angels” by Macrina Wiederkehr. One line that held my attention this morning was about how everything is renewed under the eye of God. I took that into meditation and found myself asking some deep questions. What in me needs to be renewed? What do I feel I’ve lost? Doesn’t seem that I should have nothing stale in me, nothing that needs to be renewed after a six week sabbatical? Okay, that last question is silly and I know it. Of course there are things that need to be renewed in all of us. Still, it begs the question. What in you feels like it might have gotten misplaced or lost in your life?

For me, the big issue that came up is trust. In my childhood, I learned not to ask for help. Either help wouldn’t come and I would get in trouble for asking or someone would take the project away from me and do it for me. I also admit that I started out with an independent spirit. Family lore has it that my first sentence was “I do it myself”. So I sat there, flowing between meditation and prayer and contemplated how much I trust the Universe. It’s scary to trust someone or Someone else with my well-being. However, trust in the Universe is not optional. It is, after all, the title of this blog. I am responsible for what I create in my life, so if I’ve created a version of God that I don’t trust… well, I don’t like that. So I sat and asked my own deepest heart, how do I heal the trust issue? How do I learn to trust You?

As often happens, my meditation was then disturbed by a song running through my head. Ed Sheeran does a version of the song “Shape of you”[1] and I had just a line or two running on a loop. The lines were:

“Girl, you know I want your love

Your love was handmade for somebody like me

Come on now, follow my lead…”

It was as if Spirit was singing to me. All I need to do is follow Spirit’s lead. Spirit does want my love and feels it is valuable. When someone leads me in dancing, I find that there’s a balance between getting some small subtle signals and some obvious ones. The more I can relax and let my body just respond to those signals, the less I think about what I’m doing, the better off I am. If I think too much about Spirit and what God-in-me wants from me, I get off track. I get tense and scared and my trust issues get into the driver’s seat of my life. Very soon, I’m in a ditch, calling the spiritual AAA. If I let each small hint of guidance, each subtle lead pull me towards my good, then eventually it all works out.

Now, the Divine Dancer doesn’t mind stumbling about with me too much. It’s part of the learning and oh, by the way, part of the fun of dancing together. What someone else thinks about our dance is not my business. Well, it is, actually, literally, but I find that most folks have done their own stumbling and are willing to learn from mine.

So even when you think you have gotten off track, I encourage you to let Spirit lead in whatever dance to whatever song might come up. Don’t worry about it. Practice trust one dance step at a time. God doesn’t mind getting his toes stepped on; God just wants to dance with you.

[1] Written by John McDaid, Steve Mac, Edward Christopher Sheeran, Kandi L Burruss, Kevin Jerome Briggs, Tameka D. Cottle, Félix Ortiz Torres, Gabriel Pizarro, Chris Jeday • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Sacred Days

I was at a retreat all week up in Oregon. It was very, very green. It also rained every day except the day it hailed. So what was created was a sense of being all tucked in, with nowhere to go and nothing to do except the deep spiritual work. Now, I had my doubts about this particular teaching for years. For one thing, the materials are in a weird font and there’s an over-abundance of extraneous quotation marks that annoy the crap out of me. However, I have learned to that kind of things aside in order to see what might be of use, so there I was. I know and trust the facilitator Rev. Dr. Penny Macek (check her out at www.newvisioncsl.org) and she wouldn’t work with less-than-stellar people, so I was willing to try.

The first thing that happened was that they started talking about Christ. I’m not a traditional Christian. I understand the Christ in the same way these folks do – it’s the life energy and intelligence that predates any religion, but gets called the God Self, Higher Self, and Buddha nature.  I don’t care what you call it, frankly, as long as there is an understanding that Jesus of Nazareth was one of many Christs that have taken up the work over the ages. I’ve long since left behind the need to talk to Jesus as the one and only. Even he smirks when I talk about it to him, cuz it’s just funny and wrong at the same time. So I had to remind myself as we talked about the Christ over and over that it was my new understanding, not the old one I was raised with. Yes, some of the songs we sang got very traditional, but I looked past that (see how amazingly magnanimous and spiritual I am?).

I will admit – I did trip over the Jesus thing a lot, just like I was tripping over the Mohammed thing earlier in the week. I listened to Mohammed’s biography in the car and got very judgmental over how he went to war and played politics and treated the Jews in Medina. Isn’t it amazing that I can find ways to judge these amazing people? Here are two men that gave their lives to the work in ways I can’t even fathom and I’m looking down my spiritual nose at them. Not that I can channel a holy book or change water into wine (which I admit would make me immensely popular) but I can miraculously find fault with damned near anything.

What will it take for me to see the Christ Being in everyone? What will it take for you to see it? What if it shows up in your mirror, like Bloody Mary at midnight? Then what are we going to do? I’m going to stick with what I learned at the retreat. I’m going to keep going back to www.sacreddays.org to find the music we listened to and the explanations of the exercises. I’m going to keep working on my own inner critic until even that voice is the voice of God (which is female in my heart right now). I’m going to look past punctuation until my consciousness is so clear and strong that I only see God. Period.

It’s a beautiful morning!

These last few weeks have been absolutely fantastic! You might wonder if I’ve taken leave of my senses – and yes, I have! Thank God! In the last few weeks I’ve dealt with conversations I didn’t want to have, family dynamics I thought I’d left behind, and an election that has a large section of my social media feed in full freak-out mode. All the rational reasoning seems to have been left in the dust, drowned in adrenaline.

So I’m taking leave of my senses in the best possible way. Over all these years of studying and teaching, I’ve learned intellectually that cause is always from within and that I can choose my thinking and thus my experience. These past few weeks, I got to DO it. I got to look at the circumstances around me and refuse the evidence of my senses. It took me a long time, but I guess I’m finally getting the lesson. I won’t bemoan the time it took, because it was all worth it for this result.

The absolute truth is that I live in a friendly universe and, as Emma Curtis Hopkins wrote, “God is my friend.” Every time I think that phrase, I see the big blue genie from Aladdin and hear “You ain’t never had a friend like me!” Okay, so my mental image of God is less dignified but he sure is fun! No matter what is going on in the world, I can relax because underneath and through it all is a force for good. Underneath and through it all is a Being and a Presence that would never let me fall.

Do I ignore or look down on those who are hurting right now? Of course not! I am their ally. James Dillet Freeman once wrote a poem about what it means to minister. In that poem, he writes,

“It means to not merely live a life of prayer, but to turn your prayers into life – more life for you, more life for those to whom you minister.

It means to be God-centered and human hearted, to involve yourself in humanity and to keep your vision on divinity – and so draw from all around you the human form divine

It means to share in the greatest moments of life – in birth and sickness and marriage and death – and at times, whether of crisis or of celebration, to bring comfort and a blessing, and above all a sense of a Presence that sometimes we cannot see and of a Meaning that often we overlook.

That is what it means to be a minister of God and a minister to man.”

Let us all minister to each other. Let us all choose to create a world that works for everyone, leaving the past in the past, allowing ourselves to believe that the Universe is our friend and is conspiring on our behalf.

Mercury in Retrograde

I tried to come to work on Saturday, I really did. I woke up not feeling like doing anything, but I figured once I got here the energy might kick in. I got here and there was a praying mantis balanced perfectly on the doorknob. I didn’t want to knock him off, so I went around the building to go in another door. Then I spent about half an hour trying to get my computer to turn on. It thought it was on and all the lights were lit, but I had nothing on the screen. So I decided to go back home and use my own computer to write my talk. I couldn’t get the printer to print. After much prayer (well, I said God a lot) and a trip out for ink, I figured it out. And then I remembered that Mercury is retrograde right now, so of course I was having trouble.

Except that’s not why I think I was having so much trouble. I had decided that I had no energy to do work and so I created all sorts of obstacles for myself. I wanted to want to write, both my Sunday talk and this blog post, but in truth I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my day. Since I was sending mixed signals to the Universe, I got mixed signals back. I was able to eventually get things done and even use the technology available to me. Still, it was a struggle. And I knew I was creating it.

Sometimes I am smart enough to remember what I teach. I’ve taught over and over again that beating ourselves up for whatever we’ve created is a waste of time. It’s far faster to skip the guilt and just create something else. I learned when I was in school that if a paper wasn’t ready to be written, it wasn’t going to write. Or I’d force the issue and end up with something highly delete-able. I finally figured out to walk away and do something else, then sit down again later and let the paper write itself. Shaming myself for not having it all together when the calendar says I’m scheduled to be creative is something I do less and less. I’m generally smart enough to wait for the Universe to write talks and blog posts. So here I am, Sunday morning, with a talk that wrote itself last night and blog post that is flowing this morning.

Mercury can retrograde all it wants to. Spirit and I have this covered.

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.

 

Doing the math

I’ve been learning about a biofeedback technique called HeartMathTM. It’s a biofeedback device and the science behind it is fascinating, but not the point of this post. There’s a little monitor that you attach to your earlobe or finger and an app on your iphone, your computer or, if you’d rather, a little black box with lights on it. You hook yourself up and try to make the little lights (or lines) stay out of the red and reach for the green. You do this with some breathing techniques that closely resemble meditation. Sounds easy, right? Well, once again, I’m reminded that simple and easy are not always synonyms.

Spirituality is another one of those simple but not easy things. I know, we make it complicated, but that’s more religion than spirituality in my mind. In our philosophy, we believe that we create our own reality based on our own thinking and beliefs and if we don’t like what we get we can change it. All we have to do is be in communication with the Divine within ourselves. Simple, right? And yet saints and sages across time and multiple cultures have found that it isn’t always easy.

One of the things I’m becoming more and more aware of is that, in the past, I would assume that each thing that happened in my life had a reason. I was right, but there’s more to it. Each situation might have several reasons, or as we say it here, each effect has multiple causes. I thought if I could just find the one thing that was causing my problems, I could fix it. Sometimes, it’s just not that simple. In many cases, I have to be content to see a correlation between two things, but not know which is causing which. Again, not as easy a “fix” as I thought. I can still shift one thing and see if the other also shifts, but I can’t be absolutely sure, usually. As H.L. Mencken wrote, “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.”

What I do know, is that it’s more important to keep trying and be gentle while I’m working on the spiritual journey. It’s far more important to stay on the journey, and in the question, than it is to come up with easy answers. I rejoiced the day I realized that as a minister, I don’t actually have to come up with answers. My job is to ask the hard questions and let you figure it out for yourself. The question, the mystery, is what’s important.

So while I won’t even try to explain the science behind HeartMathTM (please check out HeartMath.org), I can in good conscience, keep practicing and become more and more peaceful. I can’t explain why or how the Divine voice speaks in my heart, but I can trust that it is speaking. And, of course, so can you. No explanation needed.