Archives for posts with tag: prayer

Niagara Falls

Image courtesy of  dexchao/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I don’t know if it is the new year,  the recent extreme cold, the gray over-cast rainy day, or just the roving thoughts of a restless mind, but I find myself wondering this afternoon about where I find hope, comfort, and reassurance in my life. Granted, I am more self-validated than ever before, but, as does any human, I do need intermittent reassurance and comfort from a source other than myself.

I know in times of extreme duress I have found comfort in gazing at God’s creation. For example, on 9/11 I was in a hotel room in Canada with a bunch of women who served on an International Board of Directors with me. We had all rushed to a room where we could watch television and comfort each other when our meeting was interrupted by the news that the twin towers had been intentionally flown into by a plane filled with passengers. Several of the women were from the New York area. There were expressions of numbness, disbelief, and shock mirrored in the faces that surrounded me. I could not comfort these women or myself, for that matter.

I found myself looking out the window down at Niagara Falls. At that moment, I knew God had created this world and all the wonders in it, including myself and these women. I thought of all the trauma, war, pain, beauty, awe, and joy these falls had witnessed and survived over time, and I was comforted. I knew, awful as it was, this time would pass and that, come what may, God would be with us. We would and did comfort each other then and in the days to come, but God was the first to comfort me, and I am sure many in that room were also comforted by God in those harrowing moments.

What does this have to do with where I find my current source of hope, reassurance and comfort? Well,  if God is so strongly with me in times of crisis, I know he is with me always. All I have to do to tap into that well of comforting love is to be aware of it and consent to letting it enfold me. I am learning to do this in prayer, and I am delighted that I think this practice is beginning to contaminate other parts of my daily living that are not focused on intentional prayer. God’s love is always there, always comforting, and all powerful. In my life, I have been the only thing standing in the way blocking my ability to access that love.

I am learning, even when engaged in simple tasks such as washing dishes or doing laundry, to turn my thoughts away from how I can solve problems or do something all by myself and to redirect my thoughts to a more receptive “channel” that will let me acknowledge and accept God’s love and intention for me. It is very pleasant to be enfolded in God’s love and reassured that I am where I am supposed to be doing what I am supposed to do—–even  when I am “caught up in the mundane.” Ironically, when my soul, mind, and heart are in the “right place” and “right sized” there is no “mundane.” There is only God’s creation, love, and intent, and just “being” in a situation where my self-centered thoughts are quieted and redirected to God’s love is nothing short of a miracle.

Enjoy our melted ice and falling rain today. I am even looking forward to thunder in January. May God bless and keep you.

Advertisements

Agenda

Image courtesy of  Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I seem to be fixated on the concept of happiness and what different sources suggest makes being happy possible. Today, from two different sources, I read about how expectations can lead to frustration (accessed 1/7/14 @ http://www.ramdass.org/when-emotion-overtakes-you/) and that if we are ever going to be able to be truly happy we will need to learn to tolerate not being in control and unable to predict outcomes (accessed 1/7/14 at: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/accepting-uncertainty-can-happy-without-answers/). To me, that sounds very similar to the phrase I hear so often around recovery tables, i.e., “accepting life on life’s terms.”

I am fortunate in that my life experiences have forced me over and over again to realize I cannot control or predict anything. AA’s “Big Book” says all I really need pray for is knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry it out. That philosophy makes it very clear that I am never in control and that God is. It is surprising how comfortable and serene I feel when I am able to actually follow this advice. It is not that this prayer automatically solves all my problems. To the contrary, it works because I trust God’s grace and wisdom to influence any situation in such a way that it is “right sized” and open to God’s intervention. Given the limitations of my human understanding and vision, I may not be able to ascertain whether evolving solutions and outcomes are or will be  positive. Again, I have to trust my Higher Power’s wisdom which is infinite and can accurately comprehend the “big picture” in a reality not limited by time, space, or intellect.

Please don’t get the idea that I sit around doing nothing just waiting for God’s will to unfold. I actually have to become a conduit for his divine energy and wisdom. I become his tool. This means I need to remain open to doing his work and actively involved in doing it. I often tell those I work with that myself, my attitude, and my actions are the “light switch” that allows God’s will to manifest in this reality. I have to do the work of turning the light switch on so God’s energy, wisdom, grace, and love can be released.

Well, now you have my philosophy regarding what actually creates and maintains “happiness.” Basically, I think it comes down to my attitude. If I don’t get de-railed into self-centered thoughts, actions, and anxieties by consciously or unconsciously trying to take control back from my Higher Power I’ll stay happy. If I don’t question his way of doing things I will be happy. If I don’t question his agenda I will be happy. Succinctly put, if I trust God I will be more than happy. I will be grateful, and, hopefully, I will be sharing these personal positive outcomes with others. May God bless and keep you.

world peace

Image courtesy of digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This afternoon’s blog is written in response to the following quote from the Dalai Lama:

“Peace in the world depends on peace of mind, and peace of mind depends on an awareness that all human beings are members of a single family, despite the variety of beliefs, ideologies and political and economic systems. ”

365 Dalai Lama Daily Advice from the Heart, 2001, p. 176,  London: Harper Collins Pub. (Element).

I have thought about , marched for, prayed for, and even experienced peace. I can easily accept it is based on a foundation of peace of mind.  I have, however, never considered that one’s peace of mind depends on a sense of belonging to the family of humankind. Perhaps, I have seen too many dysfunctional families who seem determined to sabotage any chance of experiencing peace of mind. And yet, that sense of family belonging  is strong and often hangs on tenaciously even when family based stress abounds.

If I am able to truly envision and accept my relatedness to all humans it should make me less likely to want to harm another human being. I am not so sure about it creating peace of mind. It is easy to believe being at peace with oneself would in turn create world peace. However, the thought of being related to absolutely every human can be quite discomforting. Doing so means I have to identify with the evil as well as the good in people. Identifying, or trying to, with persons like Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson makes me extremely uncomfortable. That is because if I accept being one with Adolf and Charley  it means I  have to admit to myself that I have the capacity to be just as evil. Succinctly put, owning the “evil” part of my humanness has not, so far, given me one moment of “peace of mind.”

I know I am not supposed to judge others. I know I am supposed to love and forgive everyone. I know I intellectually believe that all of us are one in Christ and in God’s love. But I am really having to work on acknowledging my oneness with notoriously evil people. I am not saying I am not capable of evil; I have had evil thoughts from time to time, and I have done things in my past while I was intoxicated that could have easily harmed or killed others….if it were not for God’s grace I might have done so. That makes me as capable of killing another human as Adolf and Charley. I just don’t like to look at myself that way.  Doing so reminds me of the power of God’s love and forgiveness. It makes me “right-sized.” It makes me less judgmental—-and, in turn, I suppose less likely to be “un-peaceful” in my actions towards others.  If  God can forgive me, who am I to condemn others?

Food for thought on a snowy, cold, afternoon with more of the same on its way. I am grateful to be in a warm, dry home. I pray for those who are not safe, for the homeless, and for those in Lui (Sudan) where heavy fighting is taking place (accessed 1/5/14 at: http://luinetwork.diocesemo.org/profiles/blogs/updates-from-lui). I am sitting in a comfortable chair typing on a laptop about peace while other humans in the Sudan are in real danger of being killed. God bless and keep them and you.

tightrope

Image courtesy of Vlado/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am fortunate enough today to have a friend visiting this morning to share coffee and conversation. One of her comments caught my attention. She was looking at my “Mother-in-law’s Tongue” plant, and she commented, “You’ve got babies—- your plant is doing really well.”

I was shocked. I never remember to water plants. Only two of five plants are currently surviving in this house; one is oregano and the other is this plant. I haven’t watered it in at least two months. My friend told me the one she has is not doing well because she waters it too often.

I know there is a message in this somewhere I need to pay attention to for some reason. Is it that procrastination can sometimes be healthy? Much as I’d like to think that, I am not comfortable doing so.  I think the message I am supposed to get is probably more like “some things are better left alone giving them their own time and space to grow.”  Sometimes giving too much support and nurturance can suffocate people or at the very least impede their growth. I need to learn to know when to back off so that I won’t make things worse for my friends by not giving them the space they need to learn to face their own challenges independently. I have other friends that are like the plants that have died in my house…..they need more support, nurturance, and direction than I am comfortable giving unless I am acting in a professional capacity providing care to a patient—–which is never appropriate outside the boundaries of that role.

Then there are the lessons about learning what I need from others. When do I need help and support? When do I need others to step back so I can learn to conquer my own challenges with God’s help? Examples that quickly come to mind are the two gentlemen who came and shoveled snow and ice off my driveway. That was help I definitely needed; I also needed help from my friend who picked up and brought my prescription refill to me. Beyond that, I needed to learn to overcome my own challenges. I slipped on ice a couple of times walking to and from my care  in my travels out and about after that, but one friend reminded me I could buy “Stablilicers” (advertised as “studded snow tires for your feet”) so I can be more independent with less threat of falling.

My slip-on cleats were delivered to my door yesterday. I just opened them up and tried them on my shoes; they fit perfectly. This detail reminds me that there is a magic “perfect” point  between being too dependent and healthily independent. The same goes for how I relate to my friends; there is a perfect “independence/dependence” fit that is different for each individual. I need to remember to  ask God for knowledge of his/her/Creator’s will and the power to carry it out——-not only in how I water my plants but in how I relate to others in the dance of friendship. May God bless and keep you.

winter wonderland

Photo, courtesy of Joshua Burgard

Today’s quote:

“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”

—-Paul Tillich (1987)

               Days of Healing, Days of Joy, meditation for March 12, San Francisco, Harper & Row.

Somehow, it seemed appropriate to approach this topic on this the sixth day of my self-imposed solitude. I’m not sure I am counting correctly since a friend drove me to and from a meeting last night where I got to spend some quality time with “my people” talking about a spiritual approach to recovery.

Being around people who were smiling and laughing as well as sharing profound and serious insights integral to  their recovery was a well appreciated break from being with just my four dogs. And, thankfully, I have not been totally isolated.  After all, I have had my mobile phone and the Internet to keep me in touch with friends and family. Plus, I was lucky enough to have friends drop by two or three times.

My biggest reason for my self-imposed solitude was to avoid venturing out into the ice and snow. Some might call my reasons just plain fear; others might even go so far as to call them a phobia. I just remember driving down hill on ice in Kansas City and sliding off the road—-finally stopping only inches from a telephone pole. That was back in the seventies, and I’ve had several successful “snow and ice” driving escapades since then, but I prefer to remain at home if possible when ice is involved. This is especially true since I have been diagnosed with osteopenia, which means  I have bone density lower than normal but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis. I am naturally a klutz with little or no balance and have intermittent vertigo, so when I throw those things into the equation,  I do tend to be overly careful about avoiding ice.

Enough about why I have experienced self-imposed solitude voluntarily for so many days. I really want to focus on what, for  me, is the difference between solitude and loneliness. When I experience solitude, it means that I am happy in my own skin doing what I am doing and am totally comfortable in my surroundings. I can experience loneliness in the exact same environment, doing the exact same activities—-the only thing that has changed  when I am lonely is my emotional status and/or attitude. When I am lonely, it is like there is this big void deep within myself that needs filled, and no matter how busy I stay or how much or often I eat, or how many video Internet games I win, I still feel restless and driven. In the old days I would have lit up a cigarette and poured a drink, but those behaviors are long gone from my repertoire,  by the grace of God.

So, how do I alter my attitude when I am aware I have shifted into loneliness? Prayer helps, both the speaking and listening kind. Listening to calming music helps. Talking to friends helps. Mostly, for me, it takes realizing the enemy is “desire”—-especially since it is a free-floating non-specific, restless desire. At those times I have to talk to God and to listen to God. I need to realize all that really matters is being in relationship with God. Then everything else falls into place. I can live life on life’s terms in solitude as long as I realize God’s love and compassion are always present. Some would say that is not solitude because I am in relationship with God. I won’t argue that, but I know when I don’t allow God to be there with me to fill the “restless void” I get stuck in being lonely and restless.

I will close with a quote from the same source and page as the one this evening’s blog began with: “It may be said the road that runs between loneliness and solitude is the highway of recovery.”  I think I agree with that, and I am grateful my recovery has gifted me with solitude and the ability to  return to it whenever I choose to do so.

Please comment and share your thoughts about being the difference between being lonely and being comfortable in solitude. May God bless and keep you.

Kitten

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Cat’s Meow

My mind this morning is fixated on the love shared between person and pet(s). Perhaps it is because my best friend just lost a beloved four-legged from among the many she has saved and is saving with her rescue mission. Whatever the cause, the bond between people and animals kept being brought to my attention this morning as I worked on finding a bible reading and prayer for my church’s Facebook page and again when I randomly opened a couple of meditation books this morning.

First, in Proverbs 12:10 (NLT),  I encountered this message: “The godly are concerned for the well being of their animals, but even the kindness of the wicked is cruel.”  Next, the meditation written about this verse ended with a prayer by Ashley Kappel: “Thank You, Lord, for friends and family, both human and those of the fur-covered variety. Experiencing their love allows us a glimpse into the abundance that awaits us in heaven. [Amen.]” (Editors, Guideposts, 2012-10-01. Daily Guideposts 2013 (Kindle Locations 5104-5106). Guideposts Books. Kindle Edition).

Next, my Higher Power sent me to a mediation in a 2008 volume of Daily Guideposts to a meditation written by Rick Hamlin (pp. 262-263) in which he describes how his cat kept demanding his attention one day by constantly meowing. He checked her food and water, and it was found to be adequate. He followed his cat all around his house. The cat kept meowing. In desperation, he finally set down on his kitchen floor and just cuddled with and loved  his cat. Both were happy at that point. The author of the mediation saw this situation as a metaphor for how we can wander restless, wanting something, looking for something, and feeling anxious until we allow ourselves to stop, relax, and feel God’s love.

I found this simple metaphor very comforting after being embroiled in countless theological discussions of what is God, where is God, how does God manifest, what do theologians say, what do the experts say, what do different religions and authors say, etc. I have less and less patience for such discussions at times—perhaps because I had to suffer through years of similar discussions while I earned my doctorate and later countless faculty meetings where hardly anything was ever said succinctly.

I am surrounded by and filled with God’s love. When I let myself be still and connect with this love my “free-floating” anxiety ceases to exist. I know I am one with the one eternal truth—God’s love.  Once I connect with this love, I am relaxed and energized. This allows me to “be active” in God’s love by compassionately sharing it with others. Thank you, God for making this possible.

Please comment and share your thoughts about how the pets in your life connect you with God’s love. May God bless and keep you.