How Do I Find God? October 28. 2014

Ask some questions.  Do I want to find God?  Why do I want to find God?  Do I think God can do something special for me?  Will I be different if I find God?  Do I want God to take all my problems away?  Will I stop suffering if I find God?  How will I feel if I find God?

I do not want to debate the existence of God, and I will answer the questions I have posed as I understand them.  But first a choice needs to be made.  This is the era of science AND religion, not science OR religion.  More and more scientists are coming to believe that a Supreme Being, as most of us perceive Him, does indeed exist.  But back to the choice.  Who was here first? God or the universe?  Once the choice has been made, then the above questions can be answered.  Here we go.

I believe God was here first.  Yes, I have always desperately wanted to find God.  I have been a seeker for as long as I can remember.  When I was a very little girl, I was asking my parents questions…where does God live?….that sort of thing.  I wanted to find God because He is bigger than me, and if He is bigger, He must be smarter too.  I had (and still have) a lot of questions.  I believe God can do special things for me.  I believe that because I have learned to stay close to God through prayer and meditation.  I believe He somehow hears every petition and sometimes His answer is yes and sometimes His answer is no.  But the answer is always in my best interests, even though I may not understand it at the time.  I am different since I have found God, and yes, I wanted to be different.  I am different because I am secure.  He might be the big CEO in the sky; but I am surrounded by His “angels.”  Sure I want God to take all my problems away, but I know that He won’t.  However, He doesn’t leave me stranded.  He is always right in the middle of the mess with me.  I have found that God has nothing to do with our suffering.  We take that on ourselves.  My mind can run rampant with negative thoughts if I let it.  So I keep a tight lid on the messy stuff.  By the way, it isn’t easy. Following God is the hardest and the most rewarding thing one can ever do.  How do I feel since I found the Creator of the Universe and Master of My Soul?  As James Brown would sing, “I feel goood…”

I understand beauty, and love, and sadness, and gladness.  I understand that now, in this world, I am on a special trip.  If I get lost, I never say, “Where are you, God?”  Rather I always pray, “Please come and find me, God.”  He always does.

Judgement or Tolerance October 20, 2014

Matthew 7: vs 1-5   “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.  For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.  Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck our of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck our of your neighbor’s eye.”  The New Oxford Annotated Bible.  New Revised Standard Version

How many of us have used that often quoted phrase about judgement?  I know I have.  And I believe I have even said and written that the hardest thing is NOT to be judgmental.  But, judgement starts with a declaration of what is good.  Jesus follows up with a warning.  We will all be judged by the same measure we use.  If we cannot hold to our standard, we should not apply that standard to others.

In today’s culture the popular opinion is “tolerance.”  But what Jesus really means, I think, is that we should amend our own behavior and live properly – according to the morals and ethics and standards of our own cultures – before exercising judgement, and help others do the same.  I am not talking about extremists.  What they do is not remotely about love and kindness.

As long as we hold to our own faults, we will see them in everyone else.  Judgement, like charity, begins at home.  Don’t judge hypocritically.  If we see the faults in someone else, we should probably examine our own.

Lest We Forget October 11, 2014 Melba Black Boiler

Nothing is more sacred than someone’s life, and no words more precious than words that celebrate someone’s life.  So remembering the gift of the life of Melba Black Boiler, we thank God and celebrate.  Melba was my Mother.  On October 8th this year, she would have been 89 years old.  Instead she passed on October 18th, 2007 in her 82nd year.  Every year I write on her birthday, but this year was particularly hard, and I just had to wait a couple of days.

Who was Melba? She was a wonderful Mother of four children, a wife married to a military officer and she loved every minute of it.  She was a funny, joyous, beautiful woman who was always for the underdog.  She liked nothing better than doing for her family.  She told me once that marrying Dad enabled her to see the world and experience and do things that she would never have been able to do otherwise.  She never complained.  In fact I remember once we had just moved and I said, “I hate this place!”  She said,  “Well, you are lucky, we will be gone in a couple of years.”

There was another time I was trying to make some stupid points with Mom, and she said, “I want you to remember something.  You are not the commander of the Universe.”

“How do you do it, Mom,” I asked her one time.  Her comment was amazing, she said, “I just keep walking on and look and touch and love.”  Mary Oliver wrote something like that in one of her poems.  My Mother was wise and devoted to the Christian precepts she knew.

So in celebration of an extraordinary woman, I quote some of Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese.  It is what Mother would have said and I know that is how she felt.  “You do not have to be good.  You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert reflecting.  You only have to let the soft mind of your body love what it loves…..whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exiting over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

I have heard it said that we are born, we die, and we are forgotten.  I do not believe that.  Until I take my last breath, I will make sure a few people remember my Mother.  Her spirit lives today, and will continue to live long after we are all gone.

This time seven years ago was hard and painful for all of us.  But you handled it with such dignity and grace.  May the Lord richly bless you, Mom.  You were the best, and I love you.

If you are fortunate enough to still have your Mother, tell her how wonderful she is.  It is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Fall Into The Big Truth October 7, 2014

Jesus said, “If you remain in me and I remain in you, you can ask for whatever you want and you are going to get it.”   John 15: vs 7

Now on the surface, that sounds pretty fundamental, doesn’t it?  As I understand it, if one is a fundamentalist, he or she believes in the inerrant word of the Bible.  While I do not follow that belief, I have profound respect for their dedication.  I believe the Bible is in some way inspired by God, written by what scholars call redactors who wrote in story form to teach us life lessons.  We read interesting and fantastic metaphors.

Now John was written some 65 to 70 years after the death of Jesus. Please know that I do believe in Jesus who showed me how to live, in our Creator who is master of my soul, and in the Holy Spirit who resides within me.  I do not know if Jesus absolutely said that quote, but I will bet anyone that He said something like it or close to it at sometime.

So what does this mean?  Well, I can share only what I believe it means.  One of the reasons I believe so profoundly in prayer is because it keeps us connected to the Source.  If we are connected to the Source, we are connected to everything else.  When we are connected, there are no accidents anymore.  The Universe conspires to keep things on the right path.

Prayer is like exercise for the soul.  When I can get lost in the breath of God, I can fall into the big truth, quantum mishmash if you will.  So that’s why Jesus’ statement makes sense to me.

May you be blessed by the same peace.

Love And Suffering September 30, 2014

Dear Readers,

 

I apologize for being so late.  We have moved to the Sunshine State, although for the last couple of weeks it has been liquid sunshine.  I then left for Northern Virginia to see my father and that is where I am now.  Hopefully headed home tomorrow and writing this on my trusty Kendall, so we’ll see how it goes.

Things have been very stressful of late.   But I read something Richard Rohr wrote that sort of put things in perspective.  “The Eucharist embraces both the great love and the great suffering that are the only things strong enough to take away our pretentiousness.”

It made me wonder about pretentiousness.  I constantly wonder if I am right about things or just want to be right about things.  One thing I’ve learned is that if I cannot discern right away, I keep my mouth shut and keep asking our Creator for guidance.  Sometimes it comes and I know what to do.  Sometimes it doesn’t  come and the issue goes away.  Sometimes it lingers – although not too often.  The only thing can do is keep praying.  I am grateful for that.

May your days be filled with joy and peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hate And ISIS September 22, 2014

I was swimming my laps this morning.  Yes, we made it to Florida and are in the middle of what seems to be thousands of boxes.  But that didn’t stop the swim.  I found that my swimming is a great time to pray.  So I gave thanks for my multitude of blessings, among them the pool and the beach, and then got down to intercessions for those I love and for those who have ask for prayer.

After that I just open my heart and ask the Holy Spirit to enter, and I start talking to our Creator.  We know that life is pretty much of a mess.  It isn’t meant to be pretty all the time. But it seems that things have gone too far when they show a man on television dressed completely in black, his face covered, with a bloody machete in one hand and the shirt collar of a frightened journalist in the other. Later we hear the journalist was beheaded.

I ask God, “How can you love someone who does something like this?  How can you love anyone who kills and maims without cause?”  He was very clear when He told me that He did not love hate, and hate can only be eradicated with love.  You love the soul of the man who was born without hate.  You and everyone should pray for the love in people like that to return.

I know it sounds pretty simplistic, but that is what I am going to do and keep doing.  At least I am doing something.

 

 

Krister Stendahl And Other Things September 15, 2014

A quote from Mr. Stendal on religious pluralism”…What is the first thing that God asks when God comes to the oval office in the morning?  Is it for a printout of the latest salvation statistics of the Christian churches?  Or is it a question like: ‘Has there been any progress towards the Kingdom and, by the way, what has the role of the Christians been in that?’  Or is it totally an accident that in the very last vision on the very last pages of the Christian Bible there is, for us theologians, priests and ministers, that shocking statement: ‘And I saw no temple in that city.’  There is something rather striking about a religious tradition which envisions the consummation not as the cathedral of cathedrals, but as a city in which there was no temple.”

I love this statement because Mr. Stendal doesn’t talk about pearly gates or salvation.  He talks about what we are doing today, now, to make this world we live in better.  So, I will ask us all to remember that our work is here and now.  If we can’t love one another, we need to ask ourselves why and then pray about it.  Love equals peace, something sorely needed in our world now.

On a personal note, our packers just arrived.  Yes, we are leaving beautiful Williamsburg, for the Atlantic shores of beautiful Florida.  Oh gosh, we will miss the wonderful people we have met here.  Such great friends.  But I will write the next week from the Sunshine State.  In the meantime, let us work very hard to love one another.

Shalom to the wonderful, amazing people we have loved here.  We’ll leave the light on for ya.

 

 

 

Hard Experiences September 7, 2014

Imagine for a minute how Michelangelo saw a sculpture.  Before him is uncut stone.  His job was to cut away the excess to release the beauty.  Mark Nepo says that the many chisels of God are the ways we suffer on Earth.  We are born carrying beauty inside us.  Our job is to sculpt ourselves until it shines.

Before we can be what we are meant to be, we need to accept what we are not.  This form of discernment asks us to let go of grand fantasies.  Doing that puts us one step closer to love and compassion.

This is scary because we lose our security – that false sense of who we think we are.  If we are sad, unhappy, unable to “think” right, it is because the Universe is pulling the truth of things our way and pushing away, like a strong wind, those negative things.

Often we resist and/or deny if we don’t like what is happening.  But the Spirit does not know how to deny; it just keeps moving.  The Spirit is swifter than the mind.

When our Spirit is on the move, we are left with the need to learn  how to discern between an innocent not-knowing and a willful looking away.  Thank you, Mark Nepo.

I will leave you with an exercise Mark has suggested in his book, “The Book of Awakening.”

Sit quietly and center yourself.  As you breathe slowly, try on the in breath to sense your spirit.  Feel where it is living in you.  On the out breath, try to feel your place in the world, where you go through the days.  As you breathe, keep sensing your Spirit and feeling your place.  Simply notice any difference and throughout your day look there.  Your simple and honest looking will lessen the gap.

Peace and Blessings to you.

 

 

Keep A Close Eye September 1, 2014

Some of us have used our minds like a garbage can so that it collects worthless stuff.  Because we learn so little from our experiences, we have little self-reliance.

This world we live in now does not have many rules.  That is why we need to keep a close eye on everything we do.  Remember when we were small and we could run up to the sweet shop for a candy and feel safe?  Times have changed.

I believe we need to be safe, and I believe we need to be good.  Good things and good people still exist and we need to be in that circle.  Put the lid on the garbage can.  Concentrate on love.  Love your turtle, love your dog, love your sister and brother, love your parents and love yourself.  If you feel pain or the situation doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t.  Be wise and get away from it.

“The time was when our Father, who lives above the clouds, loved our fathers, who lived long ago, and His face was bright, and He talked with our fathers.”  Washakie, Shoshone  Our time now is to talk to Jesus and the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts.  They will talk back, I promise.

Practicing The Presence August 25, 2014

Practicing the presence is a way of living into a deeper awareness of God’s activity in our life.  This practice is often attached to the French monk, Brother Lawrence, circa 17th century.  No matter what he was doing, he longed to maintain an ongoing conversation with God.

In The Practice of Presence of God, I quote, “I make it my business to rest in His holy presence which I keep myself in by habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God.  This often causes me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them, and prevent their appearance to others.”  Brother Lawrence

I call this true humility.  Brother Lawrence washed dishes and he did it with a smile on his face.  Try it, just smile; your whole demeanor will change.

You might try the breath prayer, breathe in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth and say to yourself, Lord I am here.  Help me listen.  Practice everyday for ten minutes.

Dedicate some task you are doing to the Lord.  Talk to Him about the task before you begin and again when you are done.  Are you more aware of our Creator of the Universe and Master of our soul than you were before you began?

May our Lord give you peace as you rest in His tender care.