There was a woman named Rose, who wanted peace in the world, but she was very discouraged. She would read the papers and get depressed. No surprise there. One day she decided to go shopping – we all know how shopping can be a comfort.
She went to the mall and walked into a store she had never visited. To her amazement she saw Jesus the Christ behind the counter. At least she thought it was him. He looked like all the pictures she had every seen. So, working up her courage, she walked up to him and said, “Excuse me. Are you Jesus?”
“I am,” Jesus replied.
“Do you work here?” Rose asked.
“No,” Jesus answered. “I own the store.”
“Really? What do you sell?” she inquired.
“Anything you want, ” Jesus said. “What would you like?”
“I don’t know,” Rose said.
“Well, take a look around. See what you want. Make a list…. then bring it back and we’ll see what we can do,” Jesus replied.
So Rose walked up and down the aisles. On the shelves were things like peace on earth… no more war…. no poverty… clean air… oneness with God…. anything you could possibly want. Rose wrote everything she wanted on a long list and went back to the front.
Jesus took the list, smiled, and said “No problem.” He bent down and picked up a number of packets and laid them on the counter.
“What are these?” Rose asked.
“These are seed packets,” Jesus said.
“You mean I can’t get the finished product?” Rose asked.
“Oh no,” Jesus said, “This is a place of dreams. You come in, decide what you want and I give you the seeds. You go home, plant the seeds, nurture them and help them grow. Eventually they will blossom into your heart’s desires and all the world will benefit from them.”
“Oh,” Rose said sadly, and left the store without buying a thing.
What would you do? I know. You would you take the seeds… Plant and nurture them with your positive thoughts, forgiveness, compassion, love and creative action… Knowing that some day they will bring forth a better world. I know… because you are a conscious evolutionary.
Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. (Sydney Harris)
We live in a world of continuous change … a universe in constant flux. We cannot stop change any more than we can stop the sun from rising in the sky. (Science of Mind, May 11, 2011)
There’s no doubt about it … change can be disruptive. But what causes us the most discomfort is resistance to change. Unity’s first principle tells us that there is only one power and one presence in the Universe, God, Absolute Good. Trust in God the Good is the key to experiencing change as transformative rather than destructive. When we trust, lean into change and move with the flow of life, we learn to see change as the doorway from “good” to “great”.
Today, I know the creative power of the Universe is alive and active within me. I follow my inner voice and co-create with Spirit a meaningful life filled with love and gratitude.
CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHTS
Remember, when we do not consciously choose our thoughts, we acquiesce to the patterns of thought of the
collective. This is an essential to keep in mind, especially in a world with so much media input. Through a myriad of electronic devices, we are constantly bombarded with the attitudes, opinions and reactions of other people. Choosing our thoughts means having the inner strength to be an independent thinker.
Whatever the majority thinks … no matter what the most common reaction to this situation … I choose trust (or faith … or love). I stand in benevolent good will toward all. I am the Light.
An affirmative prayer like this one can help us to stay steady, grounded and centered as we “wade through” the sea of negative energy created by the error thought of millions. And, sending out positive, life-giving energy is a powerful contribution to the world around us. It is key to our mission at Unity in Greensboro: “Through affirmative prayer and
inspired action, we help to heal and enlighten the world.” And so it is.
FAITH-BASED RULES FOR LIVING
Alan Cohen tells the story of a minister who was newly hired at a church. He was promptly presented with a set of by-laws … all 44 pages. The minister called a meeting of the Board for the purpose of going through the by-laws and removing all those that were based in fear, leaving only the ones inspired by faith. The Board went to work with sincerity and enthusiasm. Within the day, the church’s by-laws were reduced from 44 to 18 pages.
Would today be a good day for a similar clean-up of the spoken … and unspoken … rules you have created around your home, family, relationships, business and behavior? You might be surprised to find how many of them are fear-based … created because something upsetting happened in the past which you want to make very sure never happens again. Rules are helpful as long as they engender success and well-being. If any of your rules for living have become overbearing … if any of them foster rigidity, conflict or insecurity, cut them away like pieces of rotten wood on the eaves of your house. How much lighter your mind and heart will be!
Are the rules you live by motivated by fear or inspired by faith and love? Which fear-based rules could you let go of. Today I live from a deep sense of faith in myself, other people and life itself. My heart is light.
SURRENDER TO THE STREAM OF LIFE
Poet Mark Nepo tells this story:
One summer day, I was sitting at the window when a fly near the latch was on its back, spinning its legs furiously, going nowhere. I thought to swat it, but something in its struggle was too much my own. It kept spinning and began to tire. Without moving closer, I exhaled steadily , my breath a sudden wind, and the fly found its legs, rubbbed its face and flew away. I continued to stare at the latch hoping that someday, the breath of something incomprehensible would right me and enable me to fly.
Faith is so crucial to life .. the ability to inhabit the breadth and depth of our compassion … to know, even in the dark center of our pain, that somewhere out of view there is joy and wonder … that even when we tumble we are part of a current larger than our own design.
In actuality, the infinite coherence of all things and events continues like a great bottomless stream, and we, like fish, have but one real choice, to find and ride the flow. The Stream is God, and the strength that lifts us when our tiny wills merge with that stream of being is the sacred luminosity we experience as grace. In that Stream, fear somehow gives way to Trust … control somehow evaporates into Surrender. The Fish and the Stream are one.
With faith in the Stream of God-Life, I surrender to the flow and am carried forward on a wave of grace.
STRENGTH OF THE CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS
There is something I know for sure … even in times as uncertain as these. There is a gift waiting for us once the chaos and grief and fear have subsided. Eventually our cries and our anger will become silent, and just as the sun always rises when it seems the night will never end, we will find something indestructible at the center of our being. This core strength is the Christ consciousness, the essential goodness that has been layered over by the disappointments and struggles of life. It is a light that cannot be extinguished. Today, may you shine that light into the darkness. When it seems difficult to do this … when you find yourself caught up in energies that drain you, say to yourself: I am the Light, for this is the Truth.
From The Daily Word:
All things are working for my highest good.
When I worry, I am agreeing that external things have power over me. But when I put thoughts of anxiety and worry out of my mind, I rest in the assurance that all things are working for my highest good. I readily see that I cannot think an anxious thought while thinking thoughts of good, trust and confidence. I cannot be disturbed when I abide in the presence of God.
This is not an exertion of my willpower, which may cause as much mental tension as worry itself. It is a laying aside of worry by focusing on peace, faith and assurance. I let the positive thoughts crowd out the worry and fill my mind so full that I am no longer anxious. Life is revealed to me in a new way when I no longer give in to worry.
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet they are fed. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet even Solomon in all his glory was clothed as splendidly as these. — Matthew 6:25-29
It is so tempting to want the answers before beginning the journey. We like to have maps; we seek guides. But the truth is that each day of living contributes a piece or two to the puzzle. The picture emerges over time. We drain a lot of our energy thinking about what will happen if we do this or that, often asking someone else to predict the outcome for us. At the end of all this stalling, though, we each have to venture out and simply see what happens. The learning is in the living. We say we like some things and dislike others, but the truth is we are not in control We say some things are failures and others are successes, but the truth is we don’t really know which is which. Imagine this … if the Earth was begun like a dish breaking, eternity is that scene slowly reversing itself. The things we are drawn to are small pieces of the whole … Divine Order is the constant activity of God putting the pieces back together again.
I live each day with confidence … all things are working together for my good.
ONE WITH ALL
Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe said:
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
Let us then, make peace with everyone and everything, beginning with ourselves. The Science of Mind offers us the following prayer treatment:
Love and life permeate every atom of my being. I am washed, cleansed within. I forgive all and am forgiven of all and by all. Nothing remains in my being but love. There is no pain or distress in the joints or in the muscles. My body is the body of God, the Living Spirit Almighty. And so it is.
WISE USE OF OUR RESOURCES
Thomas Jefferson said in the early days of our country, “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power”.
Receiving a massive infusion of energy like money, fame, or power is akin to adding a jet pack to your airplane. Suddenly you are going faster and farther, and everything you do is intensified. If your wings are straight and stable, you will have a speedy, fun ride. If your wings are twisted, your ride will be chaotic. The shape of your wings, or consciousness, determines the quality of your journey and where it ends up.
Wisdom is the resource we need to use whatever comes to us in a way that enhances our lives and the lives of those we love.
I use spiritual wisdom to manage my material good.
Creativity is a pathway to the sacred. Desmond Tutu, Anglican archbishop of South Africa, suggtests that our creativity is meant to be used to enhance our world.
We are made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to thrill at the sight of a rose bedecked in dew. Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, the sublime, the beautiful, the truthful … and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable … a place where beauty and truth can flourish.
Buddha was once threatened with death by a bandit. “Then be good enough to fulfill my dying wish”, Buddha said. “Cut off the branch of that tree.”
One slash of the sword and it was done! “What now?” asked the bandit.
“Put it back again,” said Buddha.
The bandit laughted. “You must be crazy to think that anyone can do that.”
“On the contrary, it is you who are crazy to think that you are mighty because you can wound and destroy. That is the thinking of a child. The mighty are those who know how to create and heal.”
Today, I use my creative mind to bring more beauty … more truth … more wholeness to the world. I am a creative soul.
LUCKY OR UNLUCKY?
Will you have a lucky day? It depends. I believe luck is where preparation and possibility meet.
I have spent 2/3 of my life trying to make things happen. This third I am learning to embrace each new event as it comes my way. Opening to life as it is … releasing resistance … surrendering struggle … choosing the way of principle — this is the day-to-day preparation.that makes me ready.
Life comes at us fast. Will it be lucky or unlucky? I don’t know about those words. One thing I do know … it will be an adventure, and I intend to gather gold from every twist and turn.
I declare … Life IS Good. I’m all in.
THE ILLUSION OF WEAKNESS
Sometimes life pushes us to find strengths and abilities we do not know we have.
We think we are awkward, inept, unqualified, while in truth we have all the wisdom and power we need to handle any task or challenge before us.
We think Unity’s teaching of the indwelling Christ is an esoteric principle pointing to our potential in the absolute or spiritual realm. It is, but it is also quite literal.
We might even be tempted to argue for our limitations and explain why we are not who our friends and admirers say we are. It would be better to stay silent.
At those decision points in life, when the choice is to play small or be great, why not give up the debate and just go for it. Only by taking this risk will we ever know us our greatness.
I believe and act on the truth of my strength, not the illusion of my weakness.
UNITY OF ALL
The yearning for human unity is a universal one. Without a belief in human unity, we are hungry and incomplete. Today, however, the prospercts for this belief seem slim. The barriers between men and women, old and young, gays and straights, East and West, haves and have-nots continue to proliferate. Yet in this global age we have a common stake in the survival of the planet. So let us heed the advice of the Baha’i:
O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces toward unity and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather together and for the sake of Peace and Happiness resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention among you.
Think globally and act locally … each of us makes a difference.
Today, I act to clear all conflicts with others from my life. I pray without ceasing: “May peace prevail upon the earth.”
CHOOSE TO BE THE LIGHT
Our place in life is to become an outlet for its wisdom, intelligence, love, beauty and creativity. Our purpose then is about the qualities we bring to life, not the roles we play or the positions we attain or the amount of stuff we acquire. Our purpose is about the life that seeks to be lived through us. We are born to be a place where God shows up, personalizing Itself through and as us. When we lead from God’s wisdom, we don’t need anyone to say we are wise. When we work smart by accessing infinite intelligence, the reward is better results with less effort. When we love as God does, we love without conditions, and the joy is in the lovingt itself. When beauty is really felt, it is not about body size, age, clothes; it is glowing with life, the light that shines through. Life creates itself through us.
I choose to be the light.
OUR FEARS ARE ILLUSIONS
The film “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban” depicts a group of young wizards in training standing before an imposing armoire — a boggart box — which contains terrifying shape-shifters which, when released, are capable of assuming the form of whatever a person fears the most. Luckily, instructs Professor Lupin, a very simple charm exists to repel a boggart: “Riiddikulus!” After the students practice the chant, the professor explains that what really finishes a boggart off is laughter. One by one the boggarts come forth, and when the students shout “Riddikulus!” and laugh at them, they shrink into humorous, nonthreatening forms. A truer teaching was never revealed.
On Halloween you may behold a parade of monsters, goblins, and ghouls walking along your street or knocking at your door. You are not afraid of them because you know they are just kids in costumes. You may have a laugh and give them a treat. You do not run and hide or attack them out of fright because you know they are not real and pose no threat.
Imagine how much lighter and freer life would be if you responded this way to the monsters and ghouls that show up in your daily experience. Perhaps we would be wise to take Professor Lupin’s advice to face these scary images and thoughts by shouting “Riddikulus!” and having a good laugh.
The poet has said, “Fear knocked at the door; Faith answered. No one was there.”
Wherever I am, God is. There is no greater Power and no other Presence.
Genius is a crisis that momentarily connects our buried brilliance to our daily mind. (William Butler Yeats)
We think of genius as an unusual brilliance of mind, an ability to retain or calculate or conceptualize uncanny amounts of information. But where does this brilliance come from? The original meaning of genius is “attendant spirit” – being in the presence of an unseen light or power source. It is really another definition of wholeness or God … another way of acknowledging the Tao, the stream of life we all are made of and swim in. What Yeats suggests here is that crises come with a gift … they rouse us from our sleep and cause us to reach deep into our souls to find God once again. Perhaps the purpose of a crisis is not to break us, but to break us open, and remind us of the truth … that we are one with the Field of Infinite Light and Power.
Awake to my oneness with God, I respond to life with the mind of a genius. All things are possible with God.
I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me.” (Charles Fillmore, Unity’s co-founder, at 94 years of age)
My brother in law has a hobby of building and flying model airplanes. A few weeks ago I was at his home for dinner when he began to describe his latest project. I prepared myself for a long, boring lecture … for there is no subject further from my interests. But as he talked about his new plane, his passion was so strong that I began to catch it. While the subject was immaterial to me, his love for it was electric. I ended up thoroughly enjoying the conversation and left it feeling uplifted and renewed.
Words mean little. Energy means everything. Because we are spiritual in nature, it is the spirit of an activity … or the lack of it … that either fulfills us or leaves us flat. When you are afire with passion, you inspire everyone you touch, and you get results. So, if you want to be successful in the work you do, remember, the key element is passion. Your clients and coworkers will catch it from you and receive the message you intend to deliver. With passion, we are dynamic; without it, we are lifeless.
The passion of my spirit guides me to my right place in life. I go where the life force lives.
From the great Sufi poet, Rumi, Some Kiss We Want:
There is some kiss we want with our whole lives …
the touch of spirit on the body.
Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling!
At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine … breathe into me.
Close the language door and open the love window.
The moon won’t use the door … only the window.
The love we want … the life we long for … can only be known with the heart. To open to the moon is to open to deep feeling, and this is only possible when we are fully present. When the eyes of the soul are open, we see beauty everywhere … in everyone. Savoring this, we are filled.
Today, my heart is open … I am in love with life.
I build my faith each day by remembering that God is guiding my every step. I look for evidence of the positive, supportive, loving activity of God, and I find it in both expected and unexpected places. How exciting to witness the movement of Spirit in my life! I travel through my day as a spiritual detective, discovering God at work all around and within me.
I find God in the peace amid chaos. I feel the presence of God as a “coincidence” that brings unexpected good into my life. Perhaps the solution to a long-standing challenge becomes clear and apparent. My faith grows daily as I see through spiritual eyes, beholding God in all places and situations.
Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.–Mark 10:52
Today I see with spiritual eyes. My faith is strong.
TRUE TO YOURSELF
Being true to who you are means carrying your spirit like a candle in the darkness.
To live without silencing essential parts of who we are, a vow must be invoked and upheld within ourselves. The same commitments we pronounce when embarking on a marriage can be understood internally as a devotion to the care of one’s soul … to have and to hold … for better or for worse … in sickness and in health … to love and to cherish … till death do us part.. This means staying committed to your inner path … it means not separating from yourself when things get tough or confusing … it means accepting and embracing your faults and limitations … it means loving yourself no matter how others see you … it means cherishing the unchangeable radiance that lives within you, no matter the cuts and bruises along the way … it means binding your life with a solemn pledge to the truth of your soul. When we marry our humanity to our spirit, we create a life that is doubly strong and resilient .
Today I vow to be my own best friend.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Some sage advice comes from Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Do what is important not what is urgent. He talks about the “tyranny of the urgent”. If we allow ourselves to be dragged around by our “to do” lists, social “obligations” or rampant people pleasing, we run the danger of losing our joy. This is too high a price to pay.
Before the demands of the day start rolling in, why not take a few moments to reflect on what you would truly enjoy doing. Who would you really like to spend time with? What events would it be a joy to attend? To whom do you want to give your resources?
A Course in Miracles asks us to remember that inner peace is the only goal that really matters. If you have it, you have everything. If you do not have it, you have nothing.
I set my priorities and stay true to them. I value joy and inner peace above anything else.
WE ARE ONE; WE ARE UNIQUE
Life is a miracle. Behind visible reality, there is an invisible pattern. Spiritual Law … Divine Order … guides the creation of everything in the manifest world. Each of us has emerged from this mysterious process … each of our lives is a miraculous expression of Divine Mind. We have all risen from the same Source, and yet each of us is wonderfully unique.
Thinking of my sisters, I see that being raised in the same household, we have common traits and habits. But, at the same time, we are individuals who respond to life in completely different ways. Each of us has obviously been born to bring something distinctly different to Life. Yet, underneath it all, we are one, for love binds us together.
I am One with all of creation AND I am completely unique. Today I honor the uniqueness of every individual AND remember that Divine Love binds us together.
THE MIRACLE OF LIFE
I noticed driving around Greensboro on Saturday that there was a LOT more traffic. It was a bit annoying to tell you the truth. Then I came across this description of traffic from a spiritual perspective and thought it might help us all “see things right”.
From Frederick Buechner’s, The Clowns in the Belfry, talking about a shopping trip to his downtown city:
It was gorgeous traffic, it was beautiful traffic. It was a beauty to see, to hear, to smell, even to be part of. It was so dazzlingly alive it all but took my breath away. It rattled and honked and chattered with life. And on the littered sidewalks … the people, the colors of their clothes, the marvelous hodge-podge of their faces … all of it. A glorious symphony … a miracle of life.
Isn’t it amazing what a difference “new eyes” can make!
Today I revel in the richness of life. I see beauty everywhere.
A LIFE OF PASSION
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman
Often we shape what we do around what others need … and wind up selling out our happiness and satisfaction. We think doing what others want or need us to do will make us secure. But while supply and demand may work in the economic world, it can cause us to build a passion-less life. It may take years to make good money doing what we love, but what does that matter? For what makes us come alive can keep us alive. A life of passion makes us a healthy cell in the body of the world.
SEE BENEATH THE SURFACE
Believing is all a child does for a living. (Kurtis Lamkin)
Picasso once said that artists are those of us who still see with the eyes of children. Somehow, as we journey into the world, we become more and more literal. We learn to accumulate data from the surface of things and stop believing in their hidden essence … no longer questioning things in order to move more deeply into them but only as a way to challenge things we fear are false.
As a child I used to talk to things — birds that flew overhead, trees that swayed slowly in the night, even stones drying in the sun. Then I stopped doing this in front of people for fear of what they might think until, as a “grownup”, I stopped altogether. Then I learned that Native Americans believe nature holds great wisdom which can only be understood by believing with innocent eyes right into the center of things.
These days I don’t hesitate to talk to my dog and my plants and the mountains and the sky … what I need to do now is listen longer for their reply.
Today I slow down enough to peer into the beauty all around me and listen for its wisdom.
LOVE IS ENOUGH
There is nothing to do and nowhere to go. Accepting this, we can do everything and go anywhere. (The Tao)
The wisdom of the Tao says that life in all its complexity and wonder is complete as it — ever-changing and vital, but never perfectible. This is not meant to discourage us from getting involved. On the contrary, accepting that the world can do quite well without us allows us to lay down the burden of being corrective heroes and simply concentrate on absorbing the journey of being alive. Perhaps we are to take life in through our hearts like fish breathe air through their gills. Ultimately, we are small living things flowing in the stream, not gods who carve out rivers. We cannot eliminate hunger, but we can feed each other. We cannot eliminate loneliness, but we can hold each other. We cannot eliminate pain, but we can live a life of compassion.
Growing older and hopefully wiser, I am coming to realize that I am not here to change the world after all. So, I have turned my efforts from trying to shape or better lives to expressing love whenever I can and accepting love wherever I can find it. Maybe this is enough.
From the great poet, Pablo Neruda:
You didn’t come into this house
so I might tear off a piece of your life.
Perhaps when you leave,
you’ll take something of mine;
chestnuts, roses, or a surety of roots.
Perhaps the most stubborn thing that keeps us from knowing love is distrust. Certainly, we have more than enough reason in our world to be guarded against being hurt or taken advantage of.
But the fact remains that, in spite of all the terrible news we pass around to each other, there is no other doorway into kindness but through the gentle risk to open ourselves up. True, we may get hurt … but would it not be more painful to cut ourselves off from the possibility of love?
What makes Neruda such a great poet is his kind heart. Here, he suggests that giving heals and that until we step into that space between us … and offer something of ourselves … no real heart connection can happen. Yet, once we do, even if our union is for a moment, giving and receiving become the same, and we each come away with a gift.
POWER OF APPRECIATION
There is no effect more disproportionate to its cause than the happiness bestowed by a small compliment. (Robert Brault)
The film Validation tells the story of a fellow named Hugh Newman who works in a parking garage validating tickets for restaurant patrons. Yet Hugh’s validation goes far beyond stamping parking tickets. When customers arrive at his station, he enthusiastically compliments them on their smile or their attire … anything attractive he sees in them. One by one, tired patrons light up and come away with a sense of joy, confidence and energy absent just a few moments earlier.
Hugh’s reputation as an uplifter spreads far and wide, to the point that people come to park in his garage just to receive the validation from him that they are missing in the rest of their lives. Hugh is a true healer, using his worldly occupation as a venue to feed people’s souls.
The principle of Hugh’s story is very real. Most people have been criticized and verbally or emotionally whittled down to a self-image far smaller than they are and deserve. When someone comes along who affirms their beauty, gifts and worth, they come to life and walk taller, freer, and happier. There is no gift greater than seeing people as magnificent and reflecting this back to them.
You, too can create results on par with Hugh’s. Just think about the people you love and value and contact them to deliver your appreciation. You can make their day — or year — with a short phone call or e-mail describing the beauty you see in them and saying how grateful you are that they are in your life. AND, don’t forget to validate yourself. The first ticket to stamp is your own.
Today, I empower others and myself by expressing sincere appreciation.
Alan Cohen tells the story of the time he arrived at the site of a program he was presenting and told the program sponsor, Mary, how delighted he was to have been given an upgrade to first class on his flight. “Oh, I get upgrades all the time,” she responded. “I don’t even ask … they just put me up front.” “Why is that, do you think”, Alan asked her. Here’s what she told him … my dad was the Vice President of TWA. As a little girl I traveled with him a lot, and the airline always gave us first class seating. Now it just seems natural and normal to me.
This story is a great example of how powerfully our subconscious beliefs affect our lives. The experience of flying first class was deeply embedded in Mary’s psyche. Although she gave it no conscious thought, her expectation generated consistent results.
We can tell what we believe by what we are getting. If life is going well, it’s because we expect it to. If it is not, then somewhere in our minds we expect that too. We receive as much or as little as we expect.
Accepting that we are the ones generating the experiences we are having is the first step toward creating something better. It correctly steers us away from trying to fix conditions in the outer, to the work of self-awareness and the raising of our consciousness. Spending time in an environment where people recognize your worth … where you feel free to be honest … where you are encouraged to do your spiritual work — this is the way to build a better life.
The script of your life is etched in your mind, and the people you encounter are actors in the movie you have written. No matter what scenes you have played out in the past, beginning this day you have the power to rewrite the story. Expect good to find you and it will.
I expect good to find me, and it does.
A blind child
guided by his mother,
admires the cherry blossoms. (Kikakou)
It’s true, isn’t it, that each of us is blind in a particular way, just as we are uniquely sighted in others.
Consider how we are blinded by what we fear. If we fear heights, we are blind to the humility vast perspectives bring. If we fear spiders, we are blind to the delicacy and lethal splendor of webs. If we fear passion, we are blind to the comfort of Oneness. If we fear change, we are blind to the abundance of life. If we fear death, we are blind to the mystery of the unknown. And since to fear something is thoroughly human, to be blind is unavoidable.
With this in mind, Kikakou’s little poem becomes intensely personal. For our blindness is, at least in part, why we need each other. With a trusted companion by our side, we may find the courage to experience things we would likely avoid on our own. Throughout the course of our lives, we can take turns being the blind child, the loving guide, and the unsuspecting blossom — perhaps not knowing which we are until the gift has been revealed.
Today I feel and express appreciation to my beloved companions in life.
TRIBUTE TO MARTIN
Today is Martin Luther King’s birthday … a holiday that always touches me deeply. Perhaps because I remember him so clearly. What courage he had … what clarity! His teaching that the problem of violence will never be solved by violent means stays etched in my heart.
In honor of the work of this great patriot, I focus my awareness on the dignity and worth of every human being, no matter how different from me … on the power of heart-centered, passionate communication to heal, inspire and bring about change … on how essential it is to courageously stand on and for the truth of my being.
So, this morning I ask that you take a moment to reflect on the gifts you received from Martin. How did he touch your heart … your soul … your life? These are the things that honor his work and his sacrifice.
I establish peace, love and abundance in my thoughts and in my life.
Just as I may allow clutter to accumulate in a closet or drawer, I may allow thoughts and feelings to accumulate in my heart and mind. Some of these thoughts may be useful, but some may be error thoughts that crowd out space for new ideas.
Today I do not delay the task of looking and seeing with clear vision what is true and what is error. I hold my thoughts up to the light of the Christ within me and claim only those thoughts that resonate peace, love and abundance. I discard and clear out any thoughts of fear, lack, disease or unworthiness. Clearing frees me. By establishing peace, love and abundance in my thoughts, I allow God’s good to fill my mind and heart.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.–Psalm 51:10
DESIRE AND MOTIVATION
Two tribes in a remote region of the Andes were feuding. One tribe lived high in the mountains, and the other in the lowlands. One day the highlanders raided the village of the lowlanders and kidnapped a baby. The next day the lowlanders assembled a team to climb the mountain and rescue the child. But they did not know the trails, and they were not skilled mountain climbers. The search party struggled to make their way up the slope, but after a half day of strenuous effort, they could not go on. Discouraged and disappointed, they gave up and got ready to head for home.
Suddenly, to their amazement, the rescue team saw the baby’s mother coming down from the mountain holding her child in her arms. Baffled, they asked her, “How were you able to scale this steep mountain and rescue your child when we were unable to do so?” She answered, “It wasn’t your baby.”
Desire and motivation are the precursors of achievement. If you want something enough, you will find a way to do it. If you are not very motivated, your efforts, if any, will be halfhearted, and you will attain poor results.
Do not assess your possibilities on the basis of the unsuccessful efforts of people less motivated than you are. Their results are a product of their beliefs and intentions. Nor do you require their permission to do what you want and need to do. In the story, the mother did not ask the search party’s permission before heading up the mountain. She just knew what she needed to do and did it.
No matter how high your dream, if it is a “baby” you truly love, heartfelt desire and steadfast intention will find a way to bring it home.
AUTHENTIC IN OUR SADNESS
There’s no doubt about it … we all experience sadness in our lives. But can the sadness, just be the sadness?
What I mean is that there is a difference between feeling the pain of things breaking, ending, or drifting apart, and the sharper, more constant pain of measuring the inevitable events of life against some ideal of how we imagine things are supposed to be. Life is challenging enough without viewing all our pain as evidence of some basic insufficiency we must endure.
There is a beautiful Tibetan myth that helps us to accept our sadness as a threshold to all that is life-changing and lasting. This myth affirms that all spiritual warriors have a broken heart — alas, must have a broken heart — because it is truly through the break that the wonder and mysteries of life can enter us.
So what does it mean to be a spiritual warrior? It is far from being a soldier, but more the sincerity with which a soul faces itself in a daily way. It is this courage to be authentic that keeps us strong enough to withstand the heartbreak through which enlightenment can occur. And, it is by honoring how life comes through us that we get the most out of living, not by keeping ourselves out of the way. The goal is to mix our hands in the earth, not to stay clean.
WAIT FOR CLARITY
A parking lot I was in awhile back exited onto a busy thoroughfare. Near the exit was a sign which read, “Proceed when Clear”. It occurred to me that this was excellent advice for navigating through life.
Decisions and actions that come out of anger, fear, guilt or retaliation usually backfire. When upset, we are not thinking clearly, and therefore not in a position to make the best decisions. There is an old axiom which says, “The greatest remedy for anger is delay.”
Here’s a suggestion from Alan Cohen: If you are angry at someone and really want to tell them off, write it all out in a letter to him or her … then put the letter in a drawer for two days. After two days, take the letter out, and if you still want to communicate, rewrite the letter and put the revised one in the drawer for 2 more days. Then take that letter out and refine it down to what is really bothering you. If you think this truly needs to be communicated to the other person, then set up a face-to-face. not e-mail, conversation.
I’ve noticed that when something really upsets me, it’s usually because it has triggered some judgment I am holding against myself. Taking time to breathe and let my feelings cool down, allows me to see what’s going on with ME. Whenever I’m willing to turn my attention away from what other people are saying and doing and get clear about what’s truly going on with me, I find a “pot of gold”. The priceless gift of self-awareness lies buried beneath my reactions. The trick is to give myself time to dig.
Have you ever noticed in yourself a tendency to hesitate? I mean, have you ever found that a moment with all its meaning has moved on by the time you decide to enter in? I’m not saying we should be impulsive, but isn’t it true that you often know what to do, but choose self-doubt … that you usually know what you need to say, but choose caution?
I’m wondering if it is these small moments of resistance to what is real that, for most of us, keep true joy just out of reach. To hold nothing back would mean staying committed to letting whatever we experience make its way in and whatever is in make its way out. To hold nothing back would mean embracing the intention to be an open vessel each and every day.
The fullness of life is only possible when the exchange of inner and outer is in balance and flows unimpeded. Letting things in …feeling their impact, and in turn, letting things out … expressing clearly what we feel, is a spiritual practice that cleanses the mind and heart and gives LIFE to our living.
NO NEED TO OVERPOWER
Have you ever heard the phrase, “more power to you” used to congratulate someone? Isn’t it an odd thing to say? The assumption is that power is a really good thing to have. But is the wish for worldly power — power over things, people or situations — or for inner power — power to be a certain kind of person? I’m pretty sure that the wish is for the former … more worldly power, more control. What’s rather disturbing is the idea of more power over something as a coveted goal or prize. It seems to say that with more power, we will be more free to do what we want. Yet more controlling power will not set us free any more than a drink will quench the emptiness of an alcoholic in the grip of his disease.
When I was a kid, we used to play the game, “King of the Hill”. The idea was that the one who could take the top of a hill and hold it the longest was the winner. Looking back, I see this game as a training ground for worldly power. I always hated it. No one ever really won. Being the “king” was the worst … constantly spinning in all directions trying to ward off the onslaught of the other kids. Trying to take the hill was awful too … one of your friends had to be thrown off. And you couldn’t quit because then you were ostracized and called a “quitter”.
The hills we try to take and hold may be anything … from a relationship, to a job, to money, to prestige or even a possession. No matter what, it’s stressful and lonely when we’re defending even the most insignificant of hills. Wouldn’t it be a relief to let go? And wouldn’t it be more fun if all the kids could stand on top of the hill together?
Do you ever wonder why good or bad things happen “out of the blue”? Such events are not the offspring of caprice or luck; they are governed by the dynamics of universal law. When you recognize the relationship between your out-of-the-blue events and your unexamined beliefs, you are in a position to command your destiny.
A friend recently called and, between sobs, told me her husband had suddenly announced that he wanted a divorce. Apparently, there was another woman. My friend is a very honest person and she said … “you know, we never argued; but we never really communicated either.”
This divorce was the culmination of the two drifting apart over the years, with neither addressing their troubles. The husband did not wake up one day and decide to seek another partner. This choice had been building for a long time.
Perhaps you have had the experience of swimming in a lake and suddenly feeling a cold undercurrent. Likewise, we may go through the outer motions of our lives where everything appears to be one way, while an undercurrent is moving in a different direction. This phenomenon can work for our well-being or against it. Thus we can be apparently healthy while hurtling toward disease and apparently sick while hurtling toward wellness.
What happens to us in the outer world is not a cause. It is an effect of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, intention, and attention. Today, let’s pay less attention to how things look, and more attention to the undercurrents of energy we feel. And let us learn to trust and respond creatively to the energy.
FAITH IN TIMES OF PAIN
To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken. Seldom seen, growing along the ocean floor, the white-plumed anemone is a watery blossom. It is white lace opening under tons of black, opening as if bathed in the sun, while so far from the sun.
This is the trick to staying whole, isn’t it … to feel the sun even in the dark … to not lose the truth of things when they go out of view … to grow even under adverse conditions … to know there is still water, even when we are thirsty … to know there is still love, even when we are lonely … to know there is still health even when we are ill … to know there is still peace, even when we are suffering. There is much more going on in the Universe than we can see, feel or touch at any given moment.
Knowing this does not invalidate our pain, but it does strengthen and speed our way back into the light.
TAKING CARE OF OUR BODIES
Each day, we receive a mountain of information via the Internet and television about what to do to keep ourselves healthy. Advertisers are very skilled at convincing us that we have to buy the latest fad diet or exercise equipment. By now, most of us have heard the phrase, “use it or lose it” in reference to our bodies. And yet we still try to ignore the simple truth that our bodies need regular exercise in order to stay healthy. It’s easy to find excuses for why we can’t go to the gym or take a few extra minutes in the morning to stretch or do yoga.
The truth is that we take good care of what we love the most. We put fine china in the cabinet where it is kept safe. We wash and detail the car. We make sure our loved ones buckle up when they get in the car.
Treat your body as if you love it. Take time out of your busy day to give it what it needs: good food and regular exercise. And when you catch your reflection in the mirror, give yourself a wink and say, “You are fabulous!
My body is a reflection of Spirit. I love taking care of it.
THE COURAGE TO GROW
From Mark Nepo:
Quietly, each spring, things in the plant world start growing slowly toward the light, while their roots finger their way underground. Once breaking surface, the most amazing thing happens again and again without a sound: the exposed thing stays alive by turning the light into food. We’ve all learned about this. It’s called “photosynthesis”, the process by which leaves turn sunlight into sugar, which feeds their roots; then the roots, once nourished, make the stems and leaves grow further.
The smallest plant life in spring reveals to us both the challenge of being a spirit in human form and the quiet courage it takes to grow inwardly … before anyone can see it … before any new life form is manifest. We may continue to feed the dark thing in us … the thing that grows away from the light … until something, either inside or outside us … causes us to dig deep into the roots we have been patiently feeding with light, and suddenly, it seems, we flower in the other direction. Something in our very fiber knows where the light is, even when we can’t see it or feel it. Why? Because the light is our food … the light is our home.
WE LACK NOTHING
Today, Holy Saturday, the day Jesus spent in the tomb, is a day of faith … a day to stand firm when appearances do not match our dreams. Because the truth is, that beneath all our dreams and disappointments, we live and breathe in abundance. Like leafless trees waiting for spring, something as great and constant as Earth hold us up and turns us ever so slowly toward the light. Our task is patience in faith.
Mysterious as it is … no matter our pain or excitement … our drama or circumstance, all that we could hope for is here. We lack nothing. God, infinite substance and eternal life is here, right here.
May this be a time of emergence for you … may you bloom with the fullness of beauty that you are.