Archives for category: love

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Photo of “small pebble” courtesy of K. Farwell

 

I think it is time to write again. My emotions have been dashed about by forceful waves of fate these days. There have been almost constant reminders of suicide and the importance of reaching out with compassion to each other. Yet, at the same time there have been acts of violence, fear, and frustration erupting in my own state and all over the world. My spiritual studies have told me to hang on—-to “rejoice” in the moment , to go within to reach God’s peace and sanctuary so that I can, hopefully, share that with those who inhabit the world around me near and far.  Wisdom through the ages has taught “as it is within, so it is without.” It makes sense, then, that I must focus on creating a “within” that is worth sharing and then find ways to share it so that it can influence my outer world.

I must admit at times, this seems like an impossible task. At others, it feels like a “pacifist cop out”—-it seems too easy to “hide within” when part of me wants to actively fight for what is right and good. But, you see, that is what most people spreading violence and hatred among one another believe they are doing—-fighting for what is good and right. At times like this I find solace in words of wisdom I find in the Psalms and in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Both focus on harboring and reverencing a “God within”—-and using that “Higher Power” to direct one’s efforts in working on improving one’s own character defects and bad habits so that one can be aware of, willing,  and able to carry out God’s will. There are strong messages of reconciliation in both books—-an emphasis on the need change our own behavior and to make amends for our own wrongs before we judge others or lash out against others.

So, today I must remember that I am a small pebble in a big ocean and that my mission, today and always, is to focus on improving my relationship with God and so I can radiate love, compassion, and peace to help build God’s kingdom on earth one molecule at a time. May God bless and keep you.

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Photograph courtesy of K. Farwell

For over a week now I have had “writer’s block.” I think I still do, so this  may not be worth reading. Then, again, it may be. During this time I have been thinking about how I often tell people to have a blessed day and remembering how decades ago a couple of friends who were into Wicca would always say “Blessed Be” when we parted. One would think Christians and Wiccans would be at polar opposites, but I believe both groups truly want people to be blessed, peaceful, and loving. A thesaurus will tell you that blessed means to be holy, sacred, sanctified, hallowed, consecrated or set apart. When I wish people blessings I am wishing they will be in relationship with God, but often, if I am not careful, I can fall backward into my more child-like practice of thinking “blessed” is a magical word that will keep the person safe. Maybe it is.

If I am living in a way that receives and expresses Creator’s love, then I am doing my part to help create God’s kingdom on earth—-you know, sort of “as it is within, so it is without.” If I am truly living according to the instructions God and Jesus have given me, then I and those I influence may have a better chance of being safe. I have to remind myself that being safe and loved in God’s kingdom does not necessarily mean being alive and safe in this world as I know it. It means, for me, being safe in my relationship with God in this reality or the reality I will join when I die.

Too often, though, I think many of us in our current consumer driven capitalistic society may believe that being blessed means being  apart from, different, and better than others. Blessings in this connotation often mean seeking materialistic gain, luxury at the expense of both others and the environment in the process. I cannot help but notice all of the postings on Facebook that loudly and sometimes rudely proclaim why they and what they believe in is right and  how they are different than, better than, and set apart from that which they are condemning. You know, the conservatives versus liberals, the Democrats vs. Republicans, those that need to condemn Moslems, refugees, immigrants an anyone else that threatens their perceived set apart superiority.

I have one dog that does everything he can to take away the other dog’s treats so he will have all of them; I presume he then feels superior—-and, dare I say it “blessed.” I have another that willingly shares his foods  and treats with the other dogs I have. At first glance, he seems to be the “underdog”—-weak, submissive, and “introverted.” I think he is truly blessed; he is able to share good fortune and to do unto others as he probably wishes they would unto him.

Enough. I am rambling about Wiccans,  capitalists, self-centered perceived superiority, and dogs—-all in an attempt to simply say being blessed is having and sharing God’s love and not trying to horde it all for yourself. God bless and keep you.

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Photo compliments of K. Farwell

Ever find something just when you given up on ever finding it? Happens to me all the time. My latest “I give up” caper happened last week. I took an insulated aluminum mug of really fine coffee to the craft group I help facilitate, and the next day I realized I never made it home with the mug. To make it worse, it was a brand new mug. I looked everywhere…..all over my house and all over my car. I even called my church and asked the secretary  to check for my mug the next time she happened to be in the parish hall  because that was the last place I remembered having the mug during the previous day’s craft group.  She checked, and the mug was not there. The next day I announced at a 12 step meeting that I was missing a mug and asked people to keep an eye out for it in the church. After the 12 step meeting I looked for the mug one more time in the back seat of my car. Of course, there was my “missing mug” buried in “stuff” on the floorboard of my car behind the driver’s seat.

This morning a friend spent several minutes looking for specific books and then remembered he’d taken them home rather than leaving them in the yoga studio where we happened to be. Another friend immediately looked my way and simply said “the mug” as she chuckled. I’m pretty sure the phrase “the mug” will be a symbol for something lost and then found whenever the “loss” is a consequence of one’s own “doing”—–at least for me and a few friends.

My week’s hidden and underlying theme seems to be “lost and found.” I’ve been doing a bit of spring cleaning ——-yes, I know it is mid-July. But what can I say? I’m a non-conformist even when it comes to spring cleaning. In the midst of all the trauma of finding, examining, and discerning whether or not I was going to keep something, I found quite a few “mugs” during the process. The friend who was helping me kept saying, “This is like a treasure hunt.”

For me, the experience was ambivalent. I found treasures, yes. But mostly I found memories of loved ones gone, past events, past spouses (only two!), and a life with more years lived than I sometimes care to admit. I thought I’d worked through all my feelings of betrayal and abandonment I’ve come to associate with my last marriage, but evidently ten years plus is not enough time to completely heal. When my friend and I found a condom along with my ex’s fishing stuff I felt betrayed all over again. The condom, to me, indicated that he’d been actively playing around a bit longer than I’d realized. The nurse in me thought, “well, at least STDs were kept at bay.” The abandoned child in me wanted to run away and cry for a bit—-but that was soon replaced with a flood of anger.

All that drama was his; I no longer have to buy into it, and the fact that I did so for even a short time was a bit more insight than I wanted to encounter.  However, I digress. Back to the “mug” concept. I want to try to use my lost mug caper to remind me that Creator never leaves me; Creator never loses me. It is I who put distance between Creator and myself. When I do so, I feel displaced, anxious, alone….wandering and wondering as I worry about how I am going to control and/or meet the challenges inherent in living. What a relief when I am able to get quiet, take a deep breath, and re-connect with Creator! I never cease to amaze myself by how often I repeatedly distance myself from that connection. Guess I am just a slow learner. The only non-conditional love that will never abandon me or anyone else comes from Creator; and the only “abandonment” that occurs in that relationship is when I or others choose to walk away. God bless and keep you.

Our Food Bank Truck

Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

 

This is hard to write. Re-entering harsh reality after being on vacation, both mentally and physically, has been challenging. There are refugees all over the world desperately needing help; there are children fleeing live-threatening conditions  at our own borders who also desperately need help but are not getting it because they cannot technically be classified as refugees—————and we, as a people, cannot seem to view these human beings, these children,  as anything more than representations of our own political beliefs.  There are fears they will bring untreatable life-threatening illnesses into the United States; just as we did to the Native Americans when we immigrated into what was to become our nation rather than theirs mostly due to our own greed. I suppose we could send them all back home, protect our borders, and try to live with ourselves knowing we sent them back to violence, rape, and death.

I have been participating in several groups who are wrestling with the topics of suffering and love. Both are viewed by some as doors to spiritual transformation. I agree with that. There are some who believe the majority of our suffering is caused by our own need to control everything to combat our own feelings of being overwhelmed and afraid that we can’t control things. Twelve-steppers believe you have to hit bottom, get sick and tired of being sick and tired before you are willing to change your life by entering a spiritual transformation process.  I acknowledge that the suffering in my own life has, for the most part, been caused by my need to control things. I also believe that need for control was caused by being hurt as a child and learning to do whatever I could to avoid additional pain and hurt. Some of my avoidance behaviors were not healthy, and they did, indeed, create suffering.

However, I do not believe the children stuck at our borders hoping to be allowed to live in what for them is a safer, less violent environment are suffering because of their own control issues and consequent poor choices. I think they are suffering because they have left their families and loved ones and are trying to escape being hurt or killed. If I think their suffering is their own spiritual path and that I need to let them experience it without my interference, then I am not being loving or compassionate as my own spiritual transformation process is teaching me to be. Nor can I help myself or others by deliberately seeking   or causing suffering so they or I can be “more spiritual” or “closer to God.”

So, I see pain, sickness, war, jealousy, greed—–all the evils of mankind being manifested all around me. I have to wonder what can I personally do in response to this overwhelming cloud that hangs over us. The answer is, for me, I cannot control or solve these overwhelming problems myself. I must ask God to help me and all of mankind to love one another and  to be compassionate. I must ask God to show us how we can share his love rather than contributing to the evil that is alive and well in our world. To borrow one of recovery’s key phrases, I have to “let go and let God.” That does not mean I do not have the responsibility to do what I can to understand God’s will, to help carry out God’s will, and to treat others with love and compassion. We are taught to love one another as ourselves and to do unto others as we would do unto ourselves.  That is part of God’s will I already know about. I will continue to ask for knowledge of his will and the power to carry it out.

I am reminded of the hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers” we sang so often in Sunday School as children. Marching off to battle seemed to be the main message. Now as an adult I cringe at the image of promoting battles and wars. So this morning, I looked up the lyrics to that hymn. Thankfully, God called my attention to the verse that says we are united in hope and charity. Perhaps that is a clue as to how we can begin to carry out God’s will.  God bless and keep you.

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“Three Flowers” Photograph Compliments of K. Farwell

 

Of One and Three

Today was my day to once again revisit the concept of the “Holy Trinity”—–you know, father, son, and holy ghost (or spirit, depending on your preference) as one united supernatural entity. Today was “Holy Trinity Sunday” at my church, and I’ve been thinking about “The Holy Trinity”  intermittently all day. This concept is the  embodiment of “Systems Theory” if you will in which the whole is different than and greater than the sum of its parts—-with the “parts” in this instance being God, the father; Jesus, the son, the Holy Spirit. Seen in this light, the Trinity would be both different and greater than Jesus, God, or the Holy Spirit when they are perceived as separate entities.

I sometimes encounter people who feel very strongly about predominantly focusing their prayers and spiritual beliefs around Jesus rather than God or vice versa. Then there are those  like myself who do not believe it makes one iota of difference as Jesus and God can be perceived as part of the same entity (Trinity).  I tend to lean towards addressing “God” with the majority of my prayers as Genesis declares “in the beginning was God.” But, sometimes, I feel more drawn to communicating directly with Jesus because of the time he spent as a human on this planet—-in my mind, that has to give him a heads up on empathy over God—–but then God created us,  and who would or could understand us better than our Creator? It can all get very confusing.

Then, there is the Holy Spirit component of the Trinity to consider. What, exactly is the Holy Spirit? Is it a ghost floating out of the woodwork of an old church? Is it that “hair raising on the back of my neck prickly” feeling I sometimes get when I know the Holy Spirit is near? Or is it in the tears that come to my eyes while singing specific words and phrases in a well-loved hymn? Well, I am not even going to try to answer this one except to say that, for me, the answer is “yes” to the latter two…..that and more. I perceive the Holy Spirit as the more feminine aspect of the Trinity—-that part that speaks to me without words and seems to be intuitively linked to my soul. For the most part, I visualize the Holy Spirit as a thread of energy binding me with a direct connection to the other two components of the Holy Trinity. When I partake of communion, the connection between myself, my God, God’s Son, and the Holy Spirit seems to grow stronger in me, and I often leave the church service feeling energized to spread God’s love and compassion as I live my very ordinary life. Thankfully, I often feel more “at one with the Trinity” after spending quiet time in centering or contemplative prayer. It seems to be contingent on my willingness to take a deep breath, quiet my mind, and allowing myself through consent, to being open to God’s love. And, yes, in doing so I believe I am relating to and being linked with the Trinity as well as its three components.

I would very much like to hear my readers’ thoughts on the meaning of the Holy Trinity and the part it plays in your life. Thank you for allowing me to try to articulate my own thoughts in relation to this topic. May God bless and keep you.

 

Clearing Up

Photo entitled “Clearing Up” compliments of Joshua Burgard

It has been a week of drinking lots of fluids and taking antibiotics religiously every 12 hours—-but last night I finally woke up in the middle of the night and “coughed” the gunk out of my lungs. I know now I am going to be alive and well again.

The sun just came out —-and it is not raining, thundering, blowing, or too hot or too cold. I literally have no complaints, and I welcome the feelings of gratitude that are seeping into my awareness. They are so much better than feeling bored, tired, out of breath and questioning whether you feel tired all the time because  you are sick or if depression is rearing its ugly head again.

Last night, I read the scripture I am supposed to read in church Sunday, and although I did not have the breath to read it all out loud, the words brought comfort to my heart and tears to my eyes. The words reminded me that the presence of our creator is in the midst of all this wonderful and sometimes painful  mess we call life. The bible verses I was reading was about creation…..you know, the one about   “in the beginning was God.” As my breathy, croaky recovering voice read the beginning of these words out loud, hearing them and feeling them brought tears. It was as if God hugged me and said, “See, I am still here. I am still in charge. I still love you.” Sounds a bit childish, I know, but I needed to feel loved—-and although I know God and his love are always there sometimes I do not let myself be receptive to that love. I am letting myself be on the receiving end again and the love is flowing. Soon I will have “recharged” my love reservoir and be able to more actively share that love with others.

Well, that’s it. I simply wanted to try to explain how comforting knowing God is surrounding you with love can be when you set aside your intellect, your self-absorption, your worries, etc. for a moment and let yourself  really feel the love in every fiber of your being.  My experience cannot really be put into words, but seeing  blue sky and sunshine after days of storms provides a metaphor for where my soul has been this past week. It has been trudging through cloudy, gray, gloomy places feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired. Now things are clearing up,  and  my soul is basking in the sunlight of God’s love. It feels good to be back.

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Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

Last night at a meeting a friend gave me a card with a few brief words typed on it. These words were originally hand-printed on a piece of paper slipped in between the pages of a book that had been bought second hand at a thrift store—-one that is used at meetings when a  member needs a book so he or she can follow what is being read and discussed.

Somehow the simplicity in these words by an anonymous author spoke volumes to me, so I want to share them with you today:

“My Higher Power/God:

-Wants my highest good

-Wants me to be my best

-Wants me to live to my potential

-Loves me unconditionally

-Is an unending source of love, support, and energy”

These words describe how I perceive God, and I feel a direct kinship with the person who wrote them. I particularly appreciated the words because every 12 step meeting I attended in the past two weeks seemed focused on turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him, and I can’t help but think that perhaps the enlightened soul who wrote these words had sat through similar meetings.  Wherever that person is today, I hope he or she still carries these beliefs in his or her heart.

This unadorned, simple list makes me think of the assignment many sponsors give to those they sponsor when it comes to working this step—–and that is to write a description of the God you want to be you Higher Power. Many members come to 12 step meetings with feelings of unworthiness, shame, and anger at a God who has abandoned them or at least turned his back o them. Many were taught God was stern, punishing, and vindictive when people failed to please him.

I have heard many people who start working the steps  remark that God never left them—-that it was they who left God, and it took involvement in a 12 step program to bring them back to God. A key component of that reunion, I think, is the ability to perceive God as all-loving and always present. When we perceive our Higher Power as loving and as accessible, it is much easier to form a trusting relationship with that source of power. It is possible to form a close relationship that carries us through the challenge of day to day to day living and whatever the future may bring. We become the recipients of a profound gift. Our spirits are renewed and our sense of spirituality blossoms——-much as leafless trees do when spring arrives.

One of the miracles of working AA’s 12 steps is that when one begins to feel loved and accepted by a Higher Power, one can begin to love and value oneself—–and then, and only then, do we have the ability to pass our experience, strength, and hope on to others who need to establish a vital connection with a power greater than themselves if they are to survive the disease of their addiction. It is all pretty much about loving, trusting, and passing it on to others. So, thank you, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous for leaving your simple yet powerful message in your book for those of us who were to follow in your footsteps.