My Mother and Father were the first people to teach me that life isn’t easy. My family was a loquacious one, with lots of stories around the dinner table. The brothers tried to sneak in without shoes, but Dad’s rules were, “No shoes, no shirts, no eats.” It became a game that they never won.
Our time together around that table stretched far beyond the time it took for us to eat our meals. But we loved it. We aired our problems and with each other usually found answers to solving them. We didn’t always like what we heard, but we understood it, and never forgot the mandates given to us with authority, and great love.
Our parents would pull in the faith equation. They were people of great integrity and felt their strength was given to them by God and each other. Sometimes, they had to make separate decisions because Dad was away on a military assignment. But they made their decisions with God in first place.
I remember my Mother telling me when I was a teenager, that faith requires a life of deep intention and focus. We make decisions and choices with God first. If we have trouble doing that then we need to ask ourselves what is holding us back. If we can’t figure it out, then we ask someone to help us. I asked Mom or Dad.
I have always been a person that wanted to do the right thing. Sometimes I failed miserably. But I never forgot what my precious Mother told me. Now that I am older, that philosophy means everything to me. God first. Simple. If I have a dark night of the soul like St. John of the Cross, I just don’t make a decision until I am clear that it is what God would want me to do. Oh, how blessed we all are to have the Creator of the Universe as our “go to” friend!
May He bless us all. I know He will.
I have heard people say, “I just want to do the Lord’s will. I don’t think He listens to me. Why won’t the Lord help me?” We have often waited for things to change, hoping and praying that we would know God’s will and then we would do it. Or maybe something magical will happen and it just will be done.
I believe that we cannot wait on God’s will. He is not going to do my work for me. I have to get myself going and do it myself. I think I should go forward as best I can in good intention, and trusting in Divine Providence along the way.
My will and “Thy Will” can be confusing. But now I pray for the highest and best use and good of all concerned in whatever I am facing. I don’t always know what is in my best interests in the long run, so then I pray “Thy Will Be Done.”
Here is something to remember. God works through us, not for us, in the use of our will. My will and God’s will are united in good together for the best outcome. Free will and God’s will are the same. Our free will is our free use of God’s will which is living in our divine consciousness. I think what this means is our true aspirations and loving intentions all represent our true Self. We deny the Master’s will if we accept anything less than the highest and best in this life. That is what God wants for all of us.
Many of us have lost some basics growing up that keep us in suffering mode. For instance, Mom and/or Dad give us “the rules of the road.” Then we get to the part about understanding and forgiveness. Again, those who are responsible for us are the ones who should teach us these lessons. If we don’t get them, we have to make it up as we go along the road of life. Seldom does this work. We are always trying to “fix” things and we are unable. Since we are probably not conscious of our “controlled” thinking, we begin to feel like failures and deep shame sets in.
We keep our ego in suffering mode as long as we think with judgement and comparison But let us live with our feelings (good or bad) until we learn what they have to teach us.
Today Father Chris talked about Good Evil verses Bad Evil. He said this is something he made up, but it is really good stuff. Good Evil is finally understanding grace and repentance. We know our thinking is wrong and we want to make it right. So we choose repentance. Bad Evil is when we just cannot give up the present thinking. We might or might not think it is wrong, we feel wretched about it, but it is too scary to let it go.
If we have some inner experience of being powerless, we will never abuse power. Our goals today should be joy, peace, balance, and wholeness. Forget moral requirements and entitlements and begin to imagine a world with those positive things as the trump cards. (Please forgive the pun!)
Psalm 85: verse 10: Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Let us all march on with light hearts, leaving shame and hurt behind.
Today, think about all the good you have done. Believe in who you are and your vision for who you want to be. If you feel a little “rattle” in your stomach, that is doubt. Let it go. Your simple goodness will transcend that doubt and transform you.
Believe in yourself. Remember that you are not called to be perfect. Just be true to who you are and do it with honor. Don’t get caught up in a choice without a clear path forward. If thoughts or plans stir your emotions, then let them be. Go back to them when you feel healed. Remember that right isn’t easy. Wrong is easy.
May the peace of the One who created you give you hope and strength. May the Creator’s strong body hold you up and may His wisdom guide you. Rest in God and listen for His voice. You generate hope with your determination. It does not fall from the sky. As long as you have a breath, you have another moment for the positive yet to come. You will feel a fresh wind from a different direction. Be renewed and feel whole. It is a mystery. Let it happen.
We know that our Creator of the Universe made an imperfect world. If we can essentially understand that there is a tragic nature to this life, then it helps us navigate our own highway.
We cannot forgive anyone or anything if we feel empty. We need a huge comfort to fill up the space. Feeling empty is awful. If we feel that way, the only thing we have to rely on is our willpower which will not work because we are weak. The primary work of spirituality is keeping ourselves filled with love and a generous, positive attitude.
The past is sludge and dredge in the journey of life. We will transmit our pain to others if we cannot transform ourselves. How do we do that? Prayer and gratitude. All day, every day. I want to be clear that working toward these goals is a choice, and we have to work harder praying and being grateful that we will ever work at wallowing in the pain.
We can claim God as the source of who we are. We can call him Abba Father when we pray. That is a pleading from the heart, the home of our innermost being. If we try, just try, to manifest kindness and gentleness, two of the fruits of the Spirit, we will begin to grow in Spirit.
The other day I was driving somewhere. It is my habit to pray gratitude when I drive. Well, I wasn’t feeling gratitude or love. I was deeply troubled. So I started shouting at God. “Well, here I am again! You know what I am going to say, so I will just get straight to the point, okay? I am old and tired of trying to be nice and getting the boot. I am tired and afraid of the next shoe that is going to drop. Just so you know, God. Okay, I’ll shut up now.”
Immediately, something came to mind that I had read from Richard Rohr. “All, without exception, live under the divine waterfall of mercy.” I stopped yelling and accepted His grace. Oh, and I felt a lot better.
The word “paradigm” is so politically correct these days. I really don’t care for the word. Every time I hear it, I have a tendency to think, “Oh, no, here comes another new universal truth, a new way of doing things!” There are a number of synonyms for the word paradigm. Some of them are: pattern, design, prototype, criterion, norm, rule, precedent, principle. The list goes on and on. I like the word criterion for business, and precedent if I am talking or thinking about something new. But that’s just me.
I write about faith so there is just one universal truth and that is love. A new precedent is a new guidance system, a new gauge for performance, and a new comprehension of sacrifice. If we are Christians, we are required – yes, required, to go deeper into the life of Jesus. How? Well, it’s hard. We all look for proof. Our new guidance system has to be faith and not sight. Our performance needs to shift to the standards of Jesus in everything that we do. Wow. What if Congress thought about the highest and best use of everything they did? It would be a different world for sure. Sacrifice? This is truly comprehending our reason for being and that is service.
Let me share with you a personal truth. Half transformed is much more difficult and exhausting than being fully transformed. The implications of full commitment make us very afraid. Why? Because we have the idea that we cannot do it, that it is just too hard. But we have to start somewhere. Let’s try this: If Christ (or The Universal Truth, or whatever a higher truth is to us) is in us, everyone and everything is deserving of respect. Why? Because we all reflect the image of the One who made us.
Where do you find yourself most resistant to Jesus and why?
We cannot bargain over our lives. God always wins. There are two kinds of losses. Everyone shares the first kind. These are losses that just happen to us. Things like accidents or illness. We cannot predict them and we have no control over them. The only choice we have is how we handle them.
The second kind of loss is chosen. It is known to the seeker. In an act of abandoning our trust, subject to Divine will. This is not telling God you won’t play checkers anymore. It comes only after we have dug into our pain, and we choose to give our deepest desires to Him.
We surrender our deepest selves, let go of the rage, the pain, the fear, and give it to Him. We fight with it if we must, but until we grieve enough to let it go, peace and happiness will elude us.
My prayer is always PEACE UNTO YOU. PEACE I GIVE TO YOU.
With love, Amen.
Jesus said, “the truth will set you free.” John 8: 32. What does that mean? Well, my mother or father would have said, “Always do the right thing. Always tell the truth.” It may not be pleasant, it may not be easy, but it will always serve us well in the end.
What is true liberation? It is letting go of biases, fear of loss, our wants (this is a very hard thing to do in today’s world), the need to control and/or manipulate, and our need to know. Letting go is the path of descent. Downward mobility is simple living, altruism, non-violence, and peacemaking.
Richard Rohr says, “We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem.”
This does not mean we become like flower children of the 60’s, or put our heads in the sand. It means choosing a right path, a truthful path, and leave our egos behind. It seems to me that most people today care more about sexuality issues than our social issues like global justice and peace.
If we fill our hearts with peace and love, peace and love will come back to us. Let us dig deep into our inner beings and break out the hatred and blame. Let us remember we are loved by the One who made us. If He can love us, we can love ourselves and each other. A little practice will make life very sweet.
When I was a little girl, about ten years old, I was baptized at the First Christian Church in Rolla, MO. Now our church had what I will affectionately call a dunking tank full of water, and getting baptized was a really big deal. We had a lesson book as I recall, and I faithfully studied that book. Our minister, Rev. Willbanks, talked to me very seriously about giving my life to the Lord, and told me that becoming a child of God was a great responsibility. I needed from that point on to always look to the words of Jesus first. He also told me that helping people was why I was born. He told me that I would have to pledge my allegiance to God, and Jesus and the Holy Ghost before the congregation.
Well, the great day came. I was so excited. Not only was I going to be a child of God, but I would be considered a grown up, completed and saved by my immersion just like Jesus. I donned the robe (long and flowing) and the minister was already in the water. He called me to join him. I walked down the steps and took his hand. “Judith, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” He “dunked” me three times and pronounced me saved for eternity.
I was then formally introduced to my new church community. I remember standing with Rev. Willbanks at the back of the church and being congratulated. I had a towel wrapped around my head and felt like that was my coat of arms.
It has been a very long time since that Sunday. But I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember that the hymn we sang as we exited the church was “Standing on the Promises.”
Today, I am a member of the Episcopal Church. They accepted me through confirmation since I was already a baptized Christian. But the promises I made on that day so long ago have not changed. I still try to live as Jesus taught us. And I know that good works are the highest and best use of our time.
There are a lot of church members who sing “Standing on the Promises,” but they are just sitting on the premises. My dear friends, where do you sit?
Pentecost on Sunday and Memorial Day on Monday. Wow. Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit descended LIKE TONGUES OF FIRE on the apostles and they were filled with the knowledge that Jesus had promised them. WIND AND FIRE. That is what it seemed like. That is how they were able to describe what happened to them. They were then told to go out and preach the gospel to the far corners of the earth. I like to think that was the day Christianity was born. Peter immediately ran out to share the good news. May the flames flicker and scorch and get us to move. May it wake up the distraught and comfort those who cannot find rest.
Today we think of the silent places where soldiers rest and offer our respect for what they gave. We reach out to those who, thankfully, are still with us and thank them for their service. Pray for peace. As you honor those brave souls, living and passed, let peace be the highest honor bestowed. PEACE, we long for it in our world and we long for it in our hearts.
Dearest Creator of the Universe and Master of Our Souls, on this holy day of honor, we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to find and enjoy the fruits of the spirit when we pay attention and listen. Let us bow our heads and remember those who left us too soon. Let us bow our heads and remember those who fought with purpose and are still with us. We know that bowed heads cannot forget and some hearts are broken. May the Holy Spirit gift us with peace and forbearance so we can press on regardless and be grateful. Amen.