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Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Contact

To my feeling this final complete passing over of consciousness from the mind to the soul is by act and will of God alone, and cannot be performed by will of the creature, and is the fundamental difference between the contemplation of Nature and the contemplation of God. The creature worships, but the soul alone knows contact.

Lilian Staveley (1878-1928) was an Anglican laywoman whose inward spiritual life remained hidden even from her closest friends and family members until after her death,

Her amazing thoughts grabbed me this morning.  "the soul alone knows contact."  It seems to me that what our inner yearning draws us toward is The Contact, The Knowing by experience that God is and is with us and in us, that we are not spiritual orphans after all.

As I look upon my own life, at those Holy moments of Contact, it is clear to me, has always been clear to me, that I cannot make them happen. It is not by my will, it is a gift given by The Divine. 

I can, however, prepare myself through service, mindfulness, prayer, contemplation and meditation to be open and receptive, so that Contact is more frequent and deeper. 

The real treasures of life are those precious moments when the fog clears and there is God, God and I, we are one, enfolded in incredible Love, Peace flooding the mind until it is still, and suddenly we are One.

No, I cannot make it happen. I can prepare myself so when God wills it, wills me to Oneness, I am ready to receive Holy Contact.  

Oh Divine Presence, reveal Yourself to me. Reach into my soul. Touch my inner most being. I yearn for Your Contact. I hunger to know You. Let it be so.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Gospel of Thomas

 “Whoever has ears, let him hear. There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.” Jesus said, “I took My place in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them intoxicated; I found none of them thirsty. And My soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and do not have sight; for empty they came into the world, and empty too they seek to leave the world. But for the moment they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent.”

I was re-reading some of the Gospel of Thomas this morning. It was one of the 13 early Christian writings found in 1945 in Nag Hammadi in Northern Egypt.

Its many references to light have always fascinated me, as I am connected to many light-filled moments in my life. Here Jesus says "There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness.”  To me this is reminiscent of other things he is reported to have said, like don't hide your light under a bushel, let your light shine, etc. 

It seems to me that we are called to The Light and to let It flow and shine through us. We don't have to go somewhere else to find it. We cannot purchase it. It is already within us. If we don't shine it, we contribute to the darkness. 

Perhaps the darkness has intoxicated us so that we forgot who we are. Perhaps this is why, with the current attack on religion going on all over the world, there are those who are purveyors of darkness. From the woke shores of the far far left to the Marxist shores rising in so many nations, there is darkness. No Light of God is welcomed.  Yet there are those all across this planet refusing to let their light go out. To you I say, shine your light, keep shining, refuse the darkness.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Living the Stories

This morning I awoke with an idea that startled me. I, and most likely you too, have been living the Bible teachings. It's like my earth school curriculum has been set up so that the key themes in the Bible are taught to me via my life experience. Some have been part of this experiential teaching numerous times. Maybe I didn't quite get it, or there were nuances I missed, or they were just so important that they bore repeating.

 One of the repeating themes has been -

 Judge not by the appearance, but by righteous judgement. (KJV) or in the Message translation: Don’t be hypercritical; use your head—and heart!—to discern what is right, to test what is authentically right. or in the Voice translation: You should not judge by outward appearance. When you judge, search for what is right and just.

Whatever translation, we are told to go beyond the surface, beyond first glance, beyond the ego's biased assessment, and maybe even to see the person and the situation from a God point of view.

There are untold numbers of examples in in my life. One example keeps coming to my mind this morning. I was once the pastor of a church that had a very old and beautiful building. It was built near the end of the 1800's. It was Gothic with a pipe organ, hand carved and beautiful woodwork. It tended to creak and seem a bit spooky at night.

One day a sweet young thing voice called me and asked me to perform a wedding that night. It seemed they loved the beauty of our church and wanted a woman minister. So I drove down to the church just before 7 that evening and went in and turned on all of the lights. Then I heard the roar of motorcycles in the parking lot, lots of motorcycles. My first thought was - oh no, nobody knows where I am!

In walked a group of leather-clad young people, chains, studs, the whole thing. The bride walked up to me. She was wearing jeans and a leather vest with nothing under it, nothing! She said, Your flowers are so lovely. Could I pick some for my hair? I told her that would be fine. She came back in with a ring of flowers in her hair. She looked so stunningly beautiful, glowing and radiating happiness. I had a conversation with the bride and groom and decided they were genuinely in love and aware fully of the commitment they were about to make. We all went in to the sanctuary, and I married them. They were so happy, tears in their eyes, beautiful vows they had prepared to say. Afterwards, they thanked me profusely and gave me the biggest honorarium I'd ever received. They waved as they rode off, faces covered with huge smiles.

If I allowed my fear led by the appearance to take over, I would have missed some lovely people and a precious memory. 

Either I am thick-headed, or this lesson is so important that it just has to be repeated - different scenarios, different faces, same lesson. I am getting better at it, but I do find I slip from time to time. Perhaps some of the examples I've lived are pop quizzes for me to see how I'm doing. Some are more like mid-terms. 

When I opened the Book of Life for this life, I opened the Bible stories that would teach me each and every day, even if I never actually opened a physical Bible. I did, however, open and study and read the Bible over and over, since early childhood. My life experiences and my understanding of the Bible maybe are a bit different than yours, but they are all rooted in timeless stories and sayings.

Thoreau said that an unexamined life is not worth living. I urge you to examine your life to discern which sacred stories are your particular curriculum, your assignments to learn during the course of this life. 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Where Is Your Church?

God is in every place; think of every place as a church.  

     -- Jeremy Taylor  1613-1667

 In a great Cathedral, we are breathless at the soaring arches and dazzling stained glass windows. In a redwood forest, we feel enveloped in peace. Spending time contemplating a rose, we enter into a deeper relationship with Beauty. In a bustling crowd, we can suddenly see the many faces of God. Even in the seemingly uninspired places, there is God waiting for us to look beyond appearances, to shine our light and love, to be a lifter.

As we approach life with spiritual openness, we begin to discover that it is true, every place, every thing, every one is sacred. We come to worship and celebrate wherever we may be.

If we carried with us today in our hearts the quote from Jeremy Taylor, we might make some amazing discoveries.  Try it in the (church) grocery store, in the (church) park, in the (church) bookstore, in the (church) slum, wherever you go or whatever see on television or the internet - see a church. Then of course, the next step might be - how do I behave in church? Do I see others as spiritual brothers and sisters? Do I have a joyous attitude? Am I prayerful and caring? Can I be that wherever I am? Can I grow to act and think at all times as if I am in the Presence of God, for I am. Wherever I am, God is.

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?

To be out of your sight?

If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you. 
               Psalm 139:7-12 The Message translation

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

An Insight From the Past

One who reads the words of prayer with great devotion may come to see the lights within the letters.  --- Hasidic teaching

To me, this has also been the outcome of the Christian practice of lectio divina, divine reading.

Skimming the surface of any great thought may give a glib understanding, but not the full robust and meaningful idea intended. It is there to be mined, to delve into, to roll over and over in our minds. There are layers and layers of meaning in the great writings of all traditions.

I also suggest it is not very useful to take someone else's understanding of anything of any consequence without deep contemplation of one's own. Peel back the layers of meaning on your own to reach the layer that speaks to you at this moment in time. 

It takes more time to genuinely go on a spiritual quest, but it is so rewarding and exciting. Many partially slumber through this life, skimming the surface, taking the easy way, and missing the gems, the truly good bits.

I encourage you to practice by mining the meanings in the quote at the top of today's writing. Then go on to other great words. Be a spiritual explorer.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

My Prayer

                                                         Infinite Divine Presence

Ground of my being

Breath of my life

Lead me to know You more fully

Guide my steps, my mind, my heart

Lead me to be all You sent me here to be

Wash away my fears and doubts

Awaken in me The Light

Release me from all darkness

Show me how to Shine

Help me love all of Your creation

Here I am Lord, at last ready to know You

Joy is sparkling in me

For You hear me and are even now responding with Love

I turn this over to You with the ancient seal of faith,

Amen Amen and Amen


Saturday, July 9, 2022

Lessons From My Granddaughter

We went each Halloween to a very elaborate maze. We were together at this time as it was also our granddaughter's birthday time. She had the most amazing spatial awareness. She would walk through the maze once and then run through it easily. One year, when she was 7 or 8, after I was done with the maze and sitting down, she wanted to go through it again. She came out with big eyes, saying There are some women in there crying. They can't find their way out. Can I go back and lead them out? She went to them saying, Follow me, I know the way.  The women came out amazed and praised her and thanked her over and over. One came up to me an hour later, and was still so thankful and incredulous such a small girl could do that.

This morning I awoke with this memory vivid on my mind, and a clear analogy. 

Jesus said Follow me, I know the way. He taught the way to live a spiritual life, the way to know God. People were astounded that a carpenter from the little village of Nazareth would know the way. It was so important that his teachings were even called The Way, and his followers were members of The Way long before the name became Christianity.

In this moment, in this second, I turn to follow The Way of The One who knew The Way. I cease flinging around after empty choices, using my life energy for naught. There is One who knew and taught and walked The Way. From this moment on, I will do my best to put my foot upon that path and follow. I pledge this in a solemn yet joyous oath, and seal it with the ancient seal of faith and integrity, Amen, Amen and Amen