Month: March 2016

Meditations on Peace – Wednesday Wisdom

Meditations on Peace – Wednesday Wisdom

In these trouble times, when hope is hard to find, I like to go to meditations on peace and the inspiration of writers such as those I’ve included here. These are but a drop in the vast ocean of hope filled authors that have guided humanity, and continue to guide humanity through turbulent times. Let us all take time each day to reflect on all that is good and right and true in this world. I will always believe that if enough of us join forces for good, for truth, for love and honor … it will make a difference. I believe …

meditations on peace

The Oppressor and the Oppressed Must Both be Liberated..”  ~Nelson Mandela

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.

It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that is not the case… We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”

From Nelson Mandela’s autobiography: Long Walk to Freedom.

When we take the time to think about, contemplate and meditate on peace, or love, or hope we not only take a step toward the restoration of all that is good in our own lives, but our choice to do so spills over into the world. Take time. Even just a moment now and again. Return to hope. 

FOR LOVE IN THE TIME OF CONFLICT

When the gentleness between you hardens
And you fall out of your belonging with each other,
May the depths you have reached hold you still.

When no true word can be said, or heard,
And you mirror each other in the script of hurt,
When even the silence has become raw and torn,
May you hear again an echo of your first music.

When the weave of affection starts to unravel
And anger begins to sear the group between you,
Before this weather of grief invites
The black seed of bitterness to find root.,
May your souls come to kiss.

Now is the time for one of you to be gracious,
To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt,
Reach out with sure hands
To take the chalice of your love,
And carry it carefully through this echo-less waste
Until this winter pilgrimage leads you
Towards the gateway to spring.

John O’Donohue

(From Benedictus A Book of Blessings, John O’Donohue)


Meditations on Peace

More Meditations on Peace

Overwhelm the World with Good – Wisdom Wednesday

Overwhelm the World with Good – Wisdom Wednesday

We think we are powerless to effect change, but can we not choose to overwhelm the world with good  and create an impact equal to or greater than that created by those who choose to overwhelm it with ill?  We all struggle to change the tiniest of habits in our own lives that we abhor. Why wouldn’t we believe it’s impossible to create change powerful enough to counter such a thing as terrorism, the most vicious kind of hate and indifference to human life? And yet, terrorism, like every other act of violence came about as a result of one human choice after another, one small act after another. We have that power as well. We have the same number of choices to overwhelm evil with good.

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Desmond Tutu 

The little bit of good that we do may go unnoticed, but it is no less powerful because it has not drawn attention. Our small kindnesses and acts of generosity may not reverberate in the media, or show up in a hashtag on Twitter, but they are no less able to have an impact.

[tweetthis]Peace is the only battle worth waging.” ~ Albert Camus[/tweetthis]

The war we choose to wage, such as a war waged to overwhelm the world with good is no less potent.  Our weapons may be silent, invisible weapons, such as the choice not to engage in the ongoing verbal rhetoric that creates animosity among the ego driven, or the choice to spend time in silent meditation reflecting on all that is good and right and true, or to offer a smile to a stranger, or hug a child. As we walk humbly, yet earnestly and with determination in the direction of all that is good, we can and will overwhelm the world with good.

Overwhelm the world with good

Let’s draw upon the strength of prayer, meditation, and silence and continue to turn our eyes, our attention, our energy toward that which inspires, creates and reveres life. Let’s continue in earnest to plant flowers, feed souls, nourish children, make music, dance joyfully, speak softly, shout with praise and gratitude for the gifts that we have been given. Each breath we take is a gift. Each choice we make is a prayer. Let’s pray with honesty, vulnerability, and grace, and set aside our greed, our obsession with all that feeds only our ego and set out instead to discover and cultivate our soul. This is how we overwhelm the world with good. This is how we win the war against violence and hate.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

 

 

Religion, the UnChurched & Politics

Religion, the UnChurched & Politics

Religion
I am sorry to say I cannot determine the artist of this image. I hope one day they come forward.

Religion is a hot button topic, especially with the election antics well under way. Even though it was  decreed long ago that there should exist a separation of church and state, I do not believe that our beliefs can ever be removed from our choices and actions, overt or otherwise.  We don’t have to talk about what we value, or acknowledge it even to ourselves. They show up in everything we do, with or without our permission.

In all arenas, an individual’s spoken beliefs are not what concern me. They can say what they will. It’s how they live, the energy they exude and stir in others, that influences my respect for them or lack thereof. This is true for all of us. I have lived with the destruction of my shadow self, and still do.  I have fallen victim, again and again, to the shadow self of others. This is where the real damage occurs.

[tweetthis]”The un-examined life is not worth living.” Socrates[/tweetthis]

The beliefs and values that lurk in the shadows unannounced and uncontested turn the world upside down. We only need look at what’s happening in the Republican Party to see the damage the shadow self can do to peace and harmony. No. . . religion, organized religion, is not the problem here. It’s not the words spoken, it’s what isn’t said that does the most damage.

RELIGION & THE UNCHURCHED

The church has lost membership steadily over my lifetime. Even back in the late 1970’s when I assisted George Gallup, Jr. in the polling of America regarding their religious beliefs, the decline was obvious.  As a recent seminary graduate, I was personally looking for a path outside of the church to continue my exploration of faith and religion in my own life.  I was eager to ask the questions of others and learn what I could from their experiences.

Gallup’s polling turned up an obvious decline in church attendance across all major denominations and religions in this country. Every poll he conducted indicated that Americans felt as I did. Organized religion was not meeting their needs. And yet, here we are, decades later still clinging to a concept of religion that no longer seems relevant to our modern mindset.

We have a generation of “unchurched” individuals, my children among them, and a vocal minority who shouts at the top of their lungs in a desperate attempt to fan the flames of a dying mindset. The later does not concern me near as much as the former. I do not despair, however, because spirituality is not dead. It’s just in the process of transformation.

People have not lost interest in exploring the mysteries of life, or of the existence of a power greater than themselves. The exploration is simply being undertaken outside of the traditional framework. The growing numbers of individuals delving into these mysteries do not meet on Sunday mornings, or Friday evenings, or face the East in prayer each day, although some do. These people wrestle with, explore, discuss and struggle with the nature of existence and faith throughout their days wherever they are.

Caroline Myss, teacher, author, medical intuitive, refers to those that she knows as “mystics without a monastery”. They read voraciously. They seek mentors, guides, teachers and attend classes, seminars, lectures, workshops on personal and spiritual matters. They meditate, pray, reflect, and practice their faith with every breath they take. They are supported by their “tribe”. . . those individuals who understand their faith journey and are walking a similar path. Unlike mystics of old, the modern-day mystic is not cloistered away from the world. Instead, they struggle to walk between worlds, with one foot in the world and one outside.

These individuals, speak, write, and teach. They love, listen, and care. They tend to  the suffering of their own hearts and souls and the suffering of the world. They attach to no particular dogma. They belong to no particular church or denomination. They follow the Spirit within and pray without ceasing. They pray for deeper understanding and the ability to live a congruent, whole and compassionate life. They worship no one, no thing. They stand open before the universe in communion with all that is.

Yes, religion is dead. The creative energy of something larger than ourselves is very much alive.

We Are Not Broken – You Are Not Broken

We Are Not Broken – You Are Not Broken

We Are Not BrokenWelcome to Wisdom Wednesday

Feeling and believing that we are broken or don’t measure up in some way…that we are flawed…inadequate…and in need of fixing…is an illusion. You are not broken. Perfection is a fantasy.  As human beings we have the ability to see, to conceptualize, a more perfect something. It’s an ability that drives us to create and learn and explore. We’ve begun to use this ability to destroy ourselves.

I don’t believe we were born to exploit ourselves or each other, and yet, that is exactly the nature of the life in which we believe ourselves to be trapped. It’s no different from living in a cult. Our culture is a cult. Think of it. Think about how hard it is to go against the norm. We believe in many ways that we are powerless. We are powerless only insofar as we believe we have no choice.

It always comes down to the freedom of choice and seeing our choices clearly. To see them, we must begin to question. We must ask ourselves, and ask often, what do we value? Do our thoughts, beliefs and actions line up? Why do we choose to believe that we are less than?  Why do we choose to believe we need fixing? We are not broken.

 [tweetthis]When we are locked within an illusion, our choices are less visible to us, and we feel powerless. #abuse[/tweetthis]

You are not broken.

We are inundated by messages from a culture that needs us to believe that we are lacking. It wants you to believe you are broken and in need of what they are selling. To the degree that we are buying into what we are being told, we are allowing ourselves to be victimized by the culture we live in. The first step we can make as individuals is to begin to see the illusion, then we can exercise our choice.  Each time we choose to step outside of the illusion and refuse to buy into the mindset that we are lacking, the stronger we become. The stronger we become, the crazier the illusion appears, the easier it is to choose to believe we are not broken.

Life is not easy. In fact, it’s really, really hard sometimes, but one of the biggest deterrents to our sense of well-being is buying into and living within the illusion that we need to be fixed. We create more misery for ourselves by fighting with who and what we are, than any external event that comes into our lives. We are exhausted and without resources to cope with life’s misfortunes.  The mental gymnastics brought on by living within the illusion deplete us and create a life that feels unbearable. 

You are not broken. You, like the rest of us are on a journey of discovery, of learning and growing and exploring. If you are here you are probably on a journey that calls you to dig deeper and to explore what is most essential in life…what is most valuable…what is worth living and dying for. Life itself is the universe’s gift to us. It is up to us value it properly and stop believing that we are broken. 

COMING SOON!!

new eBook/workbook to guide you through the steps necessary to break free from this cycle of illusion and self-condemnation. Be sure to add your name to my mailing and/or stay connected on Facebook/Twitter.

 

 

 

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Being Authentic

Being authentic requires us to change…

and change doesn’t come easily for any of us. In fact, it becomes more difficult with age. Decades of buried hurts and confusion have clouded our vision, damped our courage and our ability to be authentic. We no longer even know where to begin.

We must remind ourselves, however, that we have gained strength along the way. Strength and endurance are beneficial characteristics for digging deep.

When we begin the journey toward authenticity, it’s common to feel as though we’re groping in the dark. We have been temporarily blinded us to ourselves and to what we cannot bear to see or feel.  Our subconscious muted it for our survival sake, so that we might continue to live the life we had in front of us. There comes a time to unearth that which has been hidden in order to reconnect with our true selves.

We must go beneath our facade, even when we don’t know what that looks like or how to go about it. All we know is that it’s time to find and bring forth our authentic selves, and to face all that we have buried and denied and abandoned about ourselves. It’s a primary task of aging.

For some the call is so loud we can’t hear ourselves think, until we stop and start paying attention. It’s time to turn around and face it, whatever “it” is. We must answer the call of our deeper selves. It is time.

“Be gentle with yourself for you are living through a major expansion of your faith and how you use it in the world. You are rewiring decades of old beliefs and shifting how you live your life. This is no small feat. It is OK to feel uncomfortable. Great change often brings with it discomfort and second guessing one’s self. Do not shrink back from this mission.”  ~ From The Celtic Christian Tradition

This period of change is ushering in a new beginning, a new opportunity for a deeper, richer life, one that creates abundance of a different sort.  A phase of deep reflection, of wrestling with our shadow self, of learning to once again let in the light, is a time that contains challenges like none we’ve faced before, an inner war perhaps, a straining toward our interior and away from externals. Being authentic requires work, contemplation, an openness to the teaching of others, and learning to listen to our inner world, to show up and be present to ourselves and all that lives within. Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.  [tweetthis display_mode=”button_link”]Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.[/tweetthis]

 

EPIPHANY

epiphany quote CM

Epiphany, is a word/concept that comes from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, and refers to a sudden awareness, an awakening of understanding, a striking realization that one’s perception has changed and deepened. The Christian Season of Epiphany, where this word is most often heard, is observed on January 6th and commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Magus. Epiphany, however, is a rich symbolic word that is open to a wide variety of interpretations. Religious scholars have spent countless hours researching the history, the changes in language and understanding in the context of the words use and still cannot come to any real agreement. As time goes on, the slope becomes slippery. Yet, that is the very nature of symbolic language.

Symbolism is a powerful tool for personal use when delving into spiritual matters. There is no other way to talk about, or describe, that which we know but cannot see. Language is often a stumbling block for conversation as we misinterpret one another simply because we assign a different meaning to a word. I have avoided talking here too much about spiritual matters precisely because the language is so fluid at this point in time. “I had an epiphany” is a statement that means very different things to different people.

In spite of these obstacles, it’s a subject that can’t be overlooked. It’s a subject that is close to my heart. Those who are on the path of personal growth often find themselves at some point along the way here, in the spiritual arena.  One cannot get too far down the road of life without asking a few questions about the nature of life itself.  The spiritual quest is a fundamental thread that has run through my life, a thread that I picked up in earnest a decade ago. I will begin talking more about such things here on Wisdom Wednesday. I hope you’ll join me. I hope you’ll share pieces of your journey and we’ll struggle together with the language issues. Understanding is all I’m after here, growing in faith and wisdom, coming out of the shadows and into awareness of expanded consciousness. I believe, regardless of the words we use, we are all talking about the same thing.

You may also want to join the conversation in my closed group on Facebook:  Aging and the Inner Life

When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: either there will be ground to stand on, or you will be given wings to fly. ~ O.R. Melling

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You might also enjoy:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

More on Epiphany:

Epiphany, The Feasts of the Three Kings

The Season of Epiphany

 

 

The Mask of Fear – International Women’s Day

The Mask of Fear – International Women’s Day

International Women's Day 2016International Women’s Day and the hashtag #OneDayIWill

I planned to write a blog on fear today, but the first thing to capture my attention was the header on the Google Home Page noting International Women’s Day. I know women in this country or more blessed than women in other parts of the world, but I couldn’t help but be struck by the tag they offered for sharing this important day: #OneDayIWill –  It bothered me instantly. It’s good to hope. It’s good to dream. In this country, our mindset, particularly as women, has been set too far in the distance. We’ve lived too much in the future and not enough in the present moment. Why?

I believe it’s because we struggle every minute of every day to face our fears. We live more in fear than we do in hope and faith. Fear locks us down, freezes us up, keeps the words stuck in our throat. It feels awful and so we get a lift when we plan, when we look to the future, when we dream that #onedayIwill. Today, on the other hand stymies us.

As a result we find ourselves trapped, stuck, immobile, only daring from time to time to dip our toe in the water of life. We dare not jump because what if? or, the words we’ve heard again and again from our families, our culture, our teachers – “now be reasonable dear”. Many women can’t find a reasonable bone in their bodies when they embrace who they are. Well, that’s an exaggeration, of course, but women are so much more than reason. They’re expressive, emotive, expansive, creative…oh, my Lord, they’re creative…they live in very wide circular motions that spread like ripples on a pond. They simply become afraid to drop the pebble in the pond.

So, no, I don’t think that #OneDayIWill is an appropriate tag today. I prefer… #IAm … or how about, #Iamwomanhearmeroar.

I’m flying out the door because if I don’t I will be late for an appointment.  I haven’t proofed this, or read through, or planned it in advance. I, quite simply dropped my pebble in the pond. I hope you will too!