Archives for posts with tag: Creator

Holy Cross July 25, 2013

 

Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

This morning we had something different in our church service. Something I hadn’t seen done in over 20 years. It was a “children’s sermon”—-and instead of being a simple five minute show-and-tell type thing it was a real lesson. Surprisingly,  I was somewhat shocked and dismayed to find myself resenting this intrusion into my “grown up” world. I had, for a few moments in my head anyway, become the old lady who doesn’t like or relate to children.  Then, something happened—–something that should have happened from the very beginning. I found myself thinking, “Okay, self. What does this mean to you personally?”

The lesson was about the good shepherd tending his flock, and it illustrated how the good shepherd leads  and protects his sheep as well as how he goes looking for them when they are lost. So I started answering the question I posed to myself. First, I reminded myself that when I was a child I grew up in cattle country where sheep were not thought of favorably. Quite literally, I have always resented being represented as a sheep in this parable. And, of course, my people would have called the sheep pen a corral. Then I let my intellect delve a bit deeper, and I realized it didn’t matter what represented me in the parable—-the truth that has mattered in my life is that Creator has always been there to protect me in spite of myself and my bad decisions. Creator has indeed been there to protect me from evil—-and found me when I was almost overcome by evil and the consequences of my own choices.

In addition, during the children’s sermon, if I heard correctly, one little girl wanted to know what that white thing was that the good shepherd had wrapped around his neck. This question immediately reminded me of how I have spent a life time wondering why Christ had to die on the cross—–kind of like, why does his body, mind, and soul have to go through that torture and die that painful way just for mankind to believe in him.  In a way, the cross that is so prominent in our faith is like the white sheep wrapped around the good shepherd’s neck.  I realize now that there are times when the “good shepherd” has carried me completely—————otherwise, I would not be here today. Perhaps that smelly old sheep wrapped around Jesus’ neck is symbolic of Christ’s crucifixion on the cross—-there would be no resurrection or an unquestionable belief in eternal life in, of, and with Creator, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

The rebellious child in me, however, still has moments when it wants to remove that smelly, hot old sheep—-and that painful cross—–so that there is no tremendous sacrifice, pain, or discomfort. While I’m playing God, I’d like all of life to be like that too. Then I have to laugh, because I know it has been pain and perceived suffering in my life that has provided a firm foundation for my relationship with Creator.  I also must admit I believe Christ dying the way he did allowed God to have more empathy for our human condition. Without pain and suffering I am often not willing to let God lead or carry me. My false self thinks it should handle everything independently. I have heard many say “I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.” I am able to say that, and  I have come to realize I am also a grateful survivor of pain and suffering—–because regardless of the form each crisis took, they all made me “Let go and let God.” They all helped me know that God is there for me and is actually all that matters when the going gets rough. Thankfully,  I am making progress, and I am learning to let Creator be there for me, with me, and be the Higher Power that guides my actions when I am not in crisis.

So I want to “shout out” a big “thank you” to our new Rector for presenting this parable in a children’s sermon; it made me take stock of just where that good shepherd had been in my life and all that we have been able to do together working in partnership. God bless and keep you.

 

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“Circles” photo courtesy of K. Farwell

Well, I’ve put it off as long as I can. I can’t hide it anymore, and I have to write about it. I am obsessed with circles. I notice them now when I didn’t before. Circles are everywhere and in everything.  I look up in the morning, and, if I am lucky, there is the sun. At night there is the moon. Of course, the earth is round as are the other planets.  My dogs run and play in circles. My steering wheel is a round circle. We close twelve step meetings standing in a circular formation holding hands.  The Cape area has at least three “round-a-bouts” I can drive my car around in a circle. If I crochet a doily, it is a circle. If I crochet a mandala, it is a circle. The “paper-plate weaving” we did in a craft group I am part of produced woven circles. The two “creations” I wove  look sort of like bow and arrow targets—–there you go, even more circles. When I set my coffee cup down it frequently leaves a ring of moisture where it had been sitting. My bird bath is round. The wheels on my car, the clock on my wall, and the medicine wheel on my wall are all circles.  King Arthur reportedly had a “round table”—- when placed in a circle everyone is equal. Perhaps our society needs to re-visit the power of the circle in promoting peace and equality.

I don’t want to put you to sleep listing all the circles in my life. But I do want to talk about them and what they mean to me in spiritual terms. To me they symbolize how all of creation is connected with one another and God (Creator). To Native Americans, the circle is sacred, and I realize much of my thinking comes from their ideas. They often look at sacred circles as symbolic of the four directions which can, in turn,  symbolize important milestones in our life from infancy to death. I am increasingly aware that humans travel “full circle” as they mature and age. I do not think it was an accident that Christ told us to  “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14, KJV). I believe children have a closer link to the kingdom of God than we adults—–because I believe that is where they were before they joined us in this reality.

I cannot say I am planning on turning senile and becoming child-like any time soon, but if and when I do, perhaps, rather than dreading the final stages of aging I should begin to consider the final stage of my life as  another “link in the circle” that connects me to God —-one that brought me from God’s kingdom and one that will take me to God’s kingdom.

Yesterday a dear friend brought me some lovely zinnias and heritage tomatoes.  The zinnias themselves are circles, and they have circles at their center. Needless to say, I am enjoying the flowers, and the tomato I had for lunch was indescribably wonderful—–so, you see, today I am enjoying circles around me, in me, below and above me. 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.

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Image courtesy of Master isolated images, / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just saw a video on Facebook that depicted a young man wearing “Christian Regalia” on his person and who had Christian symbols on his car. This same young man talking on his cell phone walked by a woman who had dropped her groceries without noticing the woman’s distress—and, of course, not stopping to help. I shared the video on my timeline because I thought it had an important message. Then I had to stop and think. When am I the “young man” talking on my cell phone oblivious to my fellow human beings and their needs?

Frankly, this line of thought makes me nervous. As a child the “Good Samaritan” bible story was my favorite. Yet, here I am afraid to stop to pick up a hitchhiker, afraid to roll down my window in my locked car at night when a man of color taps on my window, reluctant to give money to strangers who ask for it because I don’t want to support their drug or alcohol habit…..these are all things I do. Or don’t do, in terms of reaching out to others. Am I prudent?  Or am I failing to do as Christ would have me do?

Granted, I am immersed in what I think of as “my mission”—-spreading spiritual ideas in meetings, in most of my actions, and in writing. But there are still those times when another human being may or may not be in need of my help, and I don’t notice or I look the other way.

Last night in a meeting, I said that in recovery we have to help ourselves before we can help anyone else. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we will have nothing to share of value with others.  I would like to think the times when I look the other way are instances of taking care of myself so I will be able to help others in need.

But, what about the other times when I am so wrapped up in my own situation that I don’t even notice someone may need my help or a listening ear? It is at times like this when I am thinking these types of thoughts  that I am glad I can ask my God for forgiveness for “things done and not done” over and over again. When I was feeling prideful not too long ago, I asked why repeating the same prayer for forgiveness several times a day was necessary. Wasn’t doing so a sign that I wasn’t serious about my prayers or about keeping my word to God?

Now, when I am able to practice humility and get my “ego-I” out of the way, I can admit that I sin and don’t even know it. Sin to me is anything that separates me from God’s love.  And when I am so wrapped up in myself that I don’t notice what God would have me do, then I am definitely guilty of “things not done.” I need to ask God to forgive my oversight and help me be more aware of what he would have me do. I also ask every morning for the courage to carry that out.  I still don’t know if I will have the courage to roll my window down or open my door to a stranger, but I have a feeling there are lot more things out there God wants me to do than things that might endanger my safety.

Enjoy this beautiful day. Take a deep breath. Thank Creator for both the day and the breath. May God bless and keep you.

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Image courtesy of  chrisroll/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

I was in a book study session last night where the beliefs of scientists vs. religious folk were being compared. Naturally, a lot of stereotyping was involved.  Scientists were being labeled as atheists or agnostics and religious folk as Christian. The book we were studying talked about how Christians have assumed they have known the whole and absolute truth since it was revealed to them,  while scientists have remained open minded and capable of holding and testing hypotheses (educated guesses) until they are supported or not supported as “truth.” Somehow in our group discussion, scientists became the  “good guys” while it was implied close minded Christians were the “bad guys.”

Personally, I am not one to stand up for either group even though I am a card carrying group of both groups—-only I would like to clarify that my personal “brand” of Christianity is less close minded than most.  My addictions research has been scientific; my personal spiritual journey has been built on a Christian foundation. My criticism of scientists is that they can put blinders on as well as anyone else and their “hypotheses” only allow them to look in one specific direction; some have been known to fake research outcomes to “fit” their hypotheses. On the other hand, my criticism of Christianity is similar. One’s particular set of “religious sunglasses” is shaped by the way one has been taught to believe—–which also has the potential to close minds and hearts off to anyone who disagrees with one’s beliefs.

Therefore, the main difference between the two camps, as I see it, is that we all tend to be biased in one way or another. In science our bias stems from what we call our “hypotheses” while in Christianity it stems from what we call  our “faith.” Granted, scientists try to be objective about what they are viewing, but when something is not considered real unless it can be measured most of the magic of God’s creation is left out of the picture. The way I have dealt with this is to step quietly off both well-beaten paths onto an almost invisible path. This invisible path has led me into the uncharted territory of spirituality. This is the land where my heart, mind, and soul meet Creator, God, Higher Power—-that essence that has not only created me but is in all of creation, including you and me. Here is where I am safe, where I am loved, and where I can take off my sunglasses and let my spirit soar into the only reality that matters.

Don’t get the idea that my spirit soars off to live happily ever after and never comes back to deal with the reality at hand. To the contrary, I am nurtured and strengthened by my spiritual journey so that I can redirect my attention to the reality at hand . What I discover when I explore my “spiritual path” makes me more capable of sharing the love and wisdom I have encountered on my journey with those who share our common reality of the moment. Thus, hopefully, I am in my own small way helping spread the experience, strength, and joy I have encountered by taking the “spiritual detour” that has saved my life and sanity.

 

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Image courtesy of  coward_lion/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had an interesting experience this morning. I had my annual mammogram; I always expect the painful squeezing to be the hardest part of this annual experience. However, this morning my problem was breathing. The person operating the machinery would tell me with no advanced warning to ” stand still, don’t breathe.” Then I  would have to hold my breath for what seemed like a long time before I was told to “breathe, stand still, and don’t breathe” in quick succession. This hardly gave me time to take a deep breath in to fuel my body’s oxygen needs between the two long “don’t breathe” episodes. This procedure was repeated five or six times before my “ordeal” was finished. I remember holding my breath, holding and trying to concentrate on God within, on a painting on the wall, on a pleasant memory—-on anything but my clamoring need to breathe.

With those efforts came the realization that since I had turned my life and my will over to God this morning, God was in charge and handling things. I had to remind myself God had created my body, and “pre-programmed automatic breathing” would take over before I became unconscious. Thinking about God’s place in my life, in my quiet core within and in all of creation, helped me tolerate those close to panic filled moments .  Once I was able to breathe I released prayers of gratitude that I was not suffering from asthma, bronchitis, or any other respiratory ailment as so many do——otherwise I would have been medically compromised during this procedure.

Once again a rather mundane and “ordinary” situation reinforced, for me, one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn, and one that I keep needing to re-learn or refresh on a regular basis. Basically, I have to voluntarily trust God, my creator to help me handle whatever happens be it “ordinary” or “emergent.” Whatever happens to me, I am not facing it alone. In my act of seeking and accepting Gods love by turning my will and my life over to him I am acknowledging and allowing Spirit to be my co-pilot for absolutely everything. I have also learned to ask myself, whatever the situation is, what God wanted me to learn from that situation.  The result has been, for me, very conducive to my own spiritual growth. May God bless and keep you.