Archives for posts with tag: Love

coffee2

Image courtesy of amenic181/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, here I sit again in self-imposed isolation listening to the noise of the snow plow break apart the stillness that envelops the neighborhood. The school across the street is quiet and empty. My dogs have no children to bark at as they pass by our yard. Yesterday’s frozen precipitation is, of course, still hanging around and challenging outdoor movement from place to place.

In some ways, the quiet stillness accompanied by the “tick-tock” of the clock on the wall is like being in the presence of an old and comfortable friend.  This friend gives me permission to be lazy, to be productive, to be creative—-to be “me” in any way I choose. That brings a smile to my lips—-in typing that last sentence I realized I always have the opportunity to choose how I want to exist in any moment.

Today I choose to wrap myself in God’s love and to make choices that are healthy for me. I have no deadlines, no appointments, no obligations, and no list of things I have to do. I am left with the choice to do what I must to survive my reality—–and that is to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him.  In the beginning of my recovery this turning things over 12 step stuff was just “a phrase often repeated.” Now after all these years and many miracles later this “turning over” comes from my heart, and  I enjoy releasing my will and my life to God. Of course, I still have times when I stubbornly hang on to my futile self-centered attempts to control, but even then I find myself begrudgingly handing things over to him.

I have started practicing a new ritual in my life. It is one of my early morning rituals, and it is much more meaningful than making coffee or cooking bacon.  I walk to my dining room, face the east, and look at a framed counted-cross stitch my mother did for me. I am looking at the words my mother so painstakingly spelled out:  1 Corinthians 13: 4-7. These special words describe God’s love for me and for everyone. Then I bow and release my “will and life” to God. In return, as I fold my arms in front of my chest, I literally feel God wrapping his arms around me and hugging me. Prayer and personal, private sacred words—-words that affirm and represent the love shared between God and myself—–are very important components of this early morning ritual. This ritual is both comforting and powerful. It puts my day “on track” and keeps my soul and heart open to God.  It empowers me to follow God’s will rather than my own throughout the day.

As I sit typing in this quiet stillness, I am not alone.  God is by my side; his presence is here. My four dogs are relaxed, warm, and sleeping, and I am happy.

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hand held heart

Image courtesy of  Somchai Som/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today, during a guided imagery session, my Higher Power made me aware of a  couple of insights.  One is my Higher Power’s love is always there, has always been there, and will always be there—-even if I have been hurtful to myself or others in the past. But the newest insight for me, the one that really got my attention, was I am able to feel and express that same type of love for those I love in spite of any hurts, real or imagined, that I  believe I have suffered at their hand. Thus, the important lesson I came away from today’s session with is this: Our love for someone is strong enough to withstand the hurt we attribute to that person, just as God’s love is strong enough to withstand the things I have done that I am sure have hurt him.

I’m not talking trivial, little transgressions here. The person I love and chose to bring into today’s imagery session had, when I was a child, tied our family dog to the back of our school bus and had the bus driver drive away so the dog would be dragged behind the bus; the rationale for doing this was to teach the dog not to chase the school bus so he would avoid getting run over in the future. That same person slapped me at the dinner table in front of company and at another time picked me up by one arm while  swatting my “behind” with his other hand—- I literally became a human pendulum swinging back and forth between blows. Remembering those instances of hurt I experienced as a child brought unbidden tears to my eyes—even after all this time. And then I knew that some of the things I have done in the past like driving while intoxicated, practicing addictive behaviors, and engaging in what at the time was  called “free love” must have hurt my Higher Power just as deeply as those childhood memories that are embedded in my soul.  Then I felt the blessed relief of knowing  my Higher Power loves me anyway—-just as I love the person who psychologically and physically hurt me as a child. Those embedded hurts no longer have the power to block the love I have for the person who hurt me. Love is stronger than the hurt.

My writing today is relatively short. Conversely, however, the message “love is stronger than the hurt” is a momentous one for me. Now when I think of perceived hurtful events in my life I can stop investing energy in resenting those instances.  I can, instead,  focus on the love God shares with me and all of us that overlooks and overcomes the hurt. Resentment will never again have the power over me that it has had in the past. To be honest, I don’t yet trust that the resentments I have “nurtured” during my life time to entirely go away, but I know that now I can overcome  the hurt and resentment by focusing on the love I have been given as a gift by my Higher Power. And for this I am grateful.

bread2

Image courtesy of  -Marcus-/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just saw a commercial where the narrator was proclaiming not only could you get 2X the points for using his company’s credit card, but,  if you did, then you could either eat or buy something that would “wake up your soul.” Unfortunately, I hadn’t been listening that closely, so I am not sure if the verb was “eat” or “buy.” It was a restaurant scene, so it probably was “eat.” Then, again, I may have heard “eat” because I have started a healthy eating regimen again . One where I turn my will and my life in regards to what I eat over to my Higher Power as I understand him. Put another way, it is a way of eating that is a gift from God that allows me to honor and care for my body as a temple/instrument meant to worship him and carry out his will on earth. Either way, my false self is feeling a wee bit neglected and miffed about no longer being in control of my eating. My true self, however,  is celebrating. I don’t know if anyone else out there ever feels guilty for eating what you want to when you want until you are able to determine you are setting up problems for your body, but it is an immense relief to let that guilt/shame go and to feel “happy, joyous, and free” (term from AA’s Big Book) in regards to freedom from the bondage of compulsive eating.

I actually did not start to type this morning in order to tell you about using the 12 steps to combat compulsive eating. What I really want to focus on is how ludicrous the idea is that you can eat something that will wake up your soul—–or even buy something that will. The concept of a major credit card company “going spiritual” is an excellent example of cognitive dissonance until you realize the God credit cards “worship” is money. Money and what it can buy does not wake up one’s soul. At least, it has not awakened mine. My “wake up calls” have all come from God. I am talking about the ones that had to practically “hit me over the head” before I noticed them and responded in a healthy way. And getting to the point that I was able to register the precarious position I had put myself in was, in retrospect, a very dangerous and self-destructive process. Thankfully, I have started learning to be aware of and to heed the “still small” voice within that comes from my spiritual relationship more effectively, and I no longer have to endanger myself before I am able to comprehend and respond to it.

I want to take a moment to try to relate what sorts of things I do think “wake up” my soul, a soul that is, thankfully, no longer buried in addiction. First, there is the joy of experiencing God’s creation. Then, there are the blessings associated with the wonderful relationships God has given me with others that not only help wake my soul but keep it awake. These are found in my church, my step study groups, my 12 step groups, my prayer groups, and in close, caring relationships with dear friends. Mediation, studying God’s word, reading spiritual writings, hugging my dogs, telling my father and my sister’s I love them when we talk on the phone,—–these are all examples of some of the wonderful gifts that wake, feed, and nourish my soul.

I had to think longer than an Episcopalian should before I could come up with an example of what one could possibly eat that would wake one’s soul. Then I remembered the strong spiritual connection I feel when I am administered the bread and wine that represent Jesus. At that magical moment  I literally become one with the body of Christ——and my soul is awakened  and empowered to go forth and share God’s love with others. I think through all my years of compulsive eating I was probably searching for that one food that could wake my soul. I am thankful I no longer have to do so. May God bless and keep you.

Sun Breaking Through2

Image courtesy of Joshua Burgard

Today has given me the magical gift of a wonderful centering prayer experience that occurred within the context of a community of well loved and trusted friends. My first thought from that experience that I want to write about is the beginning thought I had as I entered the sacred prayer space by focusing on my breathing. I realized I was breathing God’s spirit and love in, feeling it spread throughout my body, and then breathing God’s spirit and love back out into “community.” Then I realized my soul floats on every breath,  and when I take my last breath it will float out on the last breath I release into a new “community of existence” contained within the embrace of God’s love.  With that image of death I was able to release some of the fear I have surrounding my father’s aging process as well as my own. My father’s  soul will be released into the spiritual realm of “breath” in the embrace of God’s love when he releases his last breath—-and, in eternity, my soul will reunited with his .

The second major “insight” that came from today’s centering prayer experience happened because I was somewhat successful in quieting my “committee meeting” of random thoughts that always compete for my attention when I am involved in centering prayer. As a result, and quite unexpectedly, during my prayer time the visual image of a word came out of the darkness and moved towards me in my mind’s eye. That word was hope. I am certain it was God’s way of telling me to not forget to “hope.” I am not one who is used to experiencing free-floating hope. I generally attach my thoughts of hope onto a particular outcome, like ” I hope we don’t get the ice and snow our winter warning is telling us is on the way” or “I hope this upcoming semester will be a pleasant one for me and my students.

The skill of open-ended hoping is something I seemed to have lost somewhere between my childhood and now. I am going to make a conscientious effort to take a deep breath and remind myself to “hope” several times during today and the next few days. I am going to try practicing the skill of open-ended hoping. Yes, I still hope and pray for peace, and I still hope love will overcome evil. In other words, I still have specific hopes. However, I think God was reminding me this morning that I need to strengthen my soul’s well-being by making a paradigm shift from a intermittently hopeful outlook or attitude to one that is consistently hopeful.

For me, my life outcomes are strongly associated with my expectations. My mind is a powerful thing, and whatever I feed my “mind energy” into is often likely to happen. For instance, when I was in the second grade our county health nurse would visit our small rural school room periodically in order to keep us all up to date on our immunizations. I quickly learned that if you had a temperature she would not give you any shots. I usually managed to “think” my way into having a slight temperature elevation by the time she got around to me. Looking back on that, I realize what I took for granted was actually a pretty impressive accomplishment because my normal temperature is always considerably lower than what is considered “normal.”

So, I am entering this new year with an expectation or attitude of open-ended hope. Developing or renewing this skill will be an expression of the level of trust I have in God’s love. I hope that this open-ended hope based on trusting God is a concept my readers will find helpful. May God bless and keep you.

Christmas decorations

Image courtesy of Feelart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is a dreary, gray day. At least we are not getting slammed with snow and ice like other places are on this, the first day of winter. I’ll take rain and temps in the fifties any day over freezing temps, sleet, and snow.

It seems like a good day for a nap. My dogs are all curled up snoozing away. There is an intermittent gurgle coming from my essential oil diffuser, and the fiber optic light show on my little Christmas tree is blinking its magic.

Perhaps it is time for me to quietly reflect on  what Christmas means to me now that I am an evolving elder and am no longer a child. Am I simply celebrating a birthday of a  religious figure born centuries ago? Am I caught up in being the  best “gifter” in my family or circle of friends? Does it mean sending a Christmas Card filled not so much with wishes for a blessed Christmas as much as bragging of family accomplishments?

I can only give my answer for this moment. I have not sent Christmas cards. I have the single, small, aforementioned Christmas tree blinking in a corner of my living room. I am wearing Christmas themed socks as well as a Christmas themed sweat shirt. I have been and am being a “busy little Christmas elf” as I crochet gifts for my family and friends.

But, all that aside, Christmas is not about “extraneous accouterments”  for me this year. I have been seeing Christmas through a new “lens” in my proverbial sunglasses. I have been taking intermittent excursions inward, seeking to communicate with God as I understand him,  and focusing on building a stronger, more intimate spiritual relationship with my Creator. Christmas is a miracle that is taking place in my soul as I reunite with my Creator, acknowledge and accept his love, and attempt to share that love with others.

Is this magical event limited to the last month of the year? To December 25th? No. I am participating in a relationship that lasts for eternity. God’s love is always there, but it is up to me be aware of it, accept it, and share it. Somehow, doing so is much more important than simply saying “Happy Birthday!” one day a year. I am coming to believe life is meant to be a continuous celebration of God’s love and creation, one day at time, throughout eternity.

Take Care. Stay safe, dry, and warm. May God bless and keep you.

Christmas Cookies

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve set my moral-emotional barometer all “a-twitter.” I just made the mistake of reading all the “think like I  do or else you’re wrong, stupid, evil, etc.” messages that I could stand  on Facebook before I gave up and started writing this. Why do we have to spread hate and ill-will when we are put on this earth to love one another? I even fell into posting a response to one that reminded those that were commenting that it is up to God to judge rather than ourselves. After I posted, I realized I’d fallen into the “got to have the last word trap” that made me just another judging, condemning, ill-will spreading person who thinks my thoughts and opinions are superior.

Maybe it is time for me to take a serious look at why I spend so much time perusing Facebook/social media. On it I find spiritually uplifting messages, beautiful photos, poems full of beauty and wisdom, prayers, and friendly messages of support. I post an invitation to read my daily blogs on Facebook, and I maintain my church’s Facebook site with a daily prayers and bible verses. There is, obviously, positive material of value on Facebook. It is what lies between the positive highlights that hurts my soul—–yet I read most of it. Why? I realize I have both good and evil in my soul. Reading the hurtful, negative, judgmental things feeds the evil that lurks in my soul, and I still choose to read them. Am I looking for  a false self “jolt” of erroneously feeling superior? Do I like getting upset and feeling indignant?

And, then, there are the posted recipes for all the yummy foods—–foods that would eventually kill me were I to start eating them again. Do they trigger compulsive eating relapses? Not yet. Does my mouth water? Sometimes. Luckily, the craving is short lived because I re-frame my thoughts around “following through” what would happen if I gave into temptation. Then there are the jokes about drinking. I should be able to realize it is normal for normal people to joke about drinking desires——after all, I am certainly used to recovering alcoholics joking about drinking consequences.  These pro-drinking Facebook posts are teaching me to accept I am not normal, but other people are and I need to accept it. All of the luscious recipes should be doing a similar thing rather than making my mouth water. I hate to admit it, but I am still copying, pasting, and saving some of those tempting recipes. It as if part of me still buys into the fantasy that I “will be normal” someday and be able to eat like “regular people”—–whatever that is.

I have recently been privileged to learn  something important about the behavior and emotions I sometimes experience when those I am with are offered a special food treat as a token of warmth and hospitality—-a token I have to refuse for health-related reasons.  If I catch myself feeling sorry for myself or feeling left out because I am a diabetic and can’t partake I am sometimes able to realize what I am really missing is the emotional intent of the gift I have to decline. A good friend recently offered me a friendly hug at just such a time. It was exactly what I needed. Thanks to that insight, I am learning to thank people for their thoughtfulness and to ask them for a hug instead if it feels appropriate to do so.

Loosely summarized, today’s topic is  handling “Christmas Cookies” that are irritating or bothersome for some reason or another during this busy season. May all your “Christmas Cookies” be  filled with love and peace rather than symbolic of minor little irritating things. May God bless and keep you.

Neon Looking Cross

Photograph compliments of Joshua  Burgard

Today a small personal miracle occurred. I found my “sacred word”—–one that is very powerful for me and one I will only use within the context of centering prayer (CP). Just thinking this word brings me almost instant relaxation and a sense of well being—-of being safe in oneness with Creator. I am not saying this word will always do that, but today it did. I am grateful.

This morning when I used this word in our 11th Step Centering Prayer group it felt like I had found my way home and God was there greeting me with a big bear hug full of unspeakable love. It wasn’t an “aha” moment  or even an epiphany. It was, however, a wonderful gift to have finally found  my own personal shortcut to feeling intimately loved in the present presence of God.

To speak about my experience in too much detail detracts from its magic and the depth of its meaning, so I will stop trying to explain. Instead of wondering how and why, I choose to accept this gift with the faith of a child. This gift of relationship with Creator in the present moment just is.

Santa

Image courtesy of vectorolie/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is like waiting up on Christmas Eve hoping to finally catch a glimpse of Santa Claus and  finally encountering him for real 61 years later. I have had previous “moments of encounter” before, but they were not initiated by my  intentional voluntarily consent,  surrender, and acceptance. One was drug initiated back in the 60s, and the others have been crisis initiated.   Those encounters were just as real, and they were also awe-inspiring.  But knowing that I now have a way to let myself be caught up in the magic whenever I want without having to experience a crisis or swallow a hallucinogen is a very exciting discovery.

Enough blathering. I tend to do that when I am excited about something. I hope this Saturday is being good to you. May God bless and keep you.