When I feel down or discouraged . . . imagining some dire future . . . I console myself by remembering the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. If ever a person suffered at the hands of others, it was Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of sexual attack, put in prison . . . the story goes on. Yet, You used him, God, to save many thousands from starvation — including his own family.
When he reveals himself to his brothers, he is able to say, “You meant it for evil. God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20.
My perspective is very narrow . . .even going back in history as best I can . . . I cannot even begin to know the multiple layers that comprise reality. But, I keep forgetting that. Indeed, it came to me recently that I had our human problem backward. I used to think that the trouble was that we were only Slow Learners, or Non Learners. Now I know, for myself at least, that my problem is that I am a FAST FORGETTER. How many times do I relearn the same basic truth? Too many to remember!
So, I take great comfort in the verses in Lamentations 3:22-23 that talk about Your great love . . . that Your mercies never fail. Indeed, Your mercies are new every morning. Thank YOU!
Yes, I’m up early. The Worries of the World had me in a funk. So, I got up and did my first Centering Prayer. After that I read a page from my hardcopy book by Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Devine. I read a lovely story about a man who sent her an email about his “near death” experience. He said he had met Jesus and was able to ask one question. He asked, “What’s the purpose of life?” And Jesus told him that “Love was the only true reason for life: to experience the power of love.”
That was a Word that helped her out of her funk. And this morning it helped me out of mine.
It also reminded me of a blog I had written a few days ago but had not been able to save or publish. In that blog I was remembering how, God, years ago I had been angry at You for sending us out into Life with a Human Layer of our brain that was TOO THIN. My basic reptilian brain was always bursting forth through it! With FLARES of Judgment, and Anger and Hate.
It didn’t ever occur to me that it was MY JOB to thicken up that Human Layer by how I thought, and how I lived. ME? ME, RESPONSIBLE FOR ME??? I mean, of course, I knew that exercise affected my body. But, it never occurred to me that acts of kindness might also affect me.
This idea, God, feel like a revelation. I’m sitting here smiling. Because, I have a wonderful husband on whom to lavish acts of lovingkindness. In truth, God, given my somewhat hyper nature, getting better at being kind and loving in the daily specifics of our life together, is the real challenge for me.
Will exercising lovingkindness more purposefully, actually thicken up my cortex? My human layer as I call it? YES! This is a “truth” that goes beyond facts.
I hear, FEAR NOT . . . reverberating in my mind. But, then a much more positive message from the Welcoming Prayer came into my Heart. I let go of my desire for security, affection and control, and embrace this moment as it is.
My moments are so easy to embrace! Why do I leave the Present, and focus on situations that are pending. Situations that I have no power or control over. Hmmm. I forget that I am the one who chooses what my mind focuses on. Me! No one is forcing me to focus on dark possibilities.
Fear and Worry do not keep Dark Things from happening. But, they do keep me shut down and unlit.
Furthermore, God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO YOU. How good it that! It was by TRUSTING You that Saint Paul was able to praise You from the inside of a jail after having been severely beaten. (Acts 16:25-) That TRUST and FAITH in You is how Paul was able to urge us all to REJOICE IN THE LORD, AND AGAN, I SAY REJOICE. (Philippians 4:3)
So, I am realizing, that it is not nearly enough to say FEAR NOT! It is far more nourishing to plant positive and hopeful verses in our Hearts! And REJOICE in YOU.
I promised You I’d write every day for 60 minutes . . . only to forget completely about that promise today. It was not a good day. I got caught up in being a victim. A horrible thing to be. And a worse thing to get stuck in. And at the end of the day I had taken enough steps out of victimhood to remember my promise to You.
At first, I thought, really God, I’m tired! You will understand that I need my sleep. Off I went to bed. Only, after a few minutes I thought. . . maybe You,God, know best? And my mind was RUNNING and so I thought that I would “trust” You and keep my promise. I just finished my 60 minutes. And, I wrote out a lot of STUFF that had just been swirling around in my head. I feel much better. And honoring a commitment to myself feels great!
Writing Therapy, who knew? But, it makes sense for me. I joke about how I don’t know what I’m thinking until I hear myself SAY IT OUT LOUD. Of course, writing is the first step. I then have to READ what I wrote. And rewrite it and edit it.
But, I am happy about having chosen keeping a promise to myself and to You, over sleep. I keep promises fairly well . . . Nope! YOU ARE NOT METICULOUS.
Sigh, there is that word again. I am not sure if it is my Nature or my False Self that is horrified of becoming meticulous. Now I’m hearing, Not totally meticulous all the time. Just becoming a person who has the capacity to act meticulously in appropriate areas.
Judge not, that you be not judged. Matthew 7:1 ESV
I woke up this morning, with these words in my heart. And I prayed for the courage to share them. Why? Because, just in sharing them I will be judged. So, let me first make it clear that I am, by nature, Chief among the Judgers. And I have spent the vast majority of this presidency JUDGING FEROCIOUSLY.
Then in April of 2020 it came to me that I should take the command to pray for those who despitefully use me, literally. So, I set aside 10 minutes a day to pray for those who I saw as despitefully using (if not me) the planet. Praying for someone I judged. . . day after day . . . is something I don’t think I had done before. It was — imperceptibly — affecting me.
First, I began to see that I shared some of the very qualities that I detested in that person. Hmm. . . my Shadow Sides began to present themselves to me. This was not easy. It was, in fact, painful. But, as I started slowly seeing a bit more of myself, I began to experience a deep compassion for myself and for all of us human beings. Oh! What fools we mortals be!
Then, I was led to add five more minutes to my prayer time — bringing the total up to fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes a day to pray . . . but, for what and for whom? Well, God, my prayer topics seemed to keep on broadening. My perspective kept on expanding. And it kept on including ME! These words of Jesus came to me: “whosoever shall say [to his brother] thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
YIKES! That seemed a trifle harsh, God! But, then I considered the level of discourse that has grown out of this kind of name calling and hatred. And surely, we are, right now, experiencing “the Fires of Hell”.
I’ve been writing blogs in my mind — mostly in the middle of the night — for weeks! But, tonight I got up and will say what I’ve been wanting to say.
I used to think of the devil as a Grey Cloud that enveloped us — telling us we didn’t matter — that we would never ever matter. When I described him that way to my oldest daughter, many years ago, she immediately said, “Oh! I know him!” Of course, I thought, we all know him.
But that is hardly his only guise. Or his only “tool”. Recently, I have become aware of FEAR as perhaps his favorite tool.
Our ability to sense fear and respond appropriately is truly a gift from You, God. Still, like many of Your Gifts, it is easily hijacked. When we are frightened we do not think as well — or at all. And Fear opens the door to Anger and even on to Hate.
Certainly, we were afraid for most of 2020. Afraid for our our lives and the lives of loved ones. Or maybe we are afraid of how we without jobs are going to feed our children . . . or with our small businesses shut down? The future has never looked more unknown. And at the time we need our fellow human beings the most, we have been isolated.
So, this evening I remembered, how in most cases of angelic visitations, the angel begins by declaring, FEAR NOT! I think there are 365 occasions in which angels declare, FEAR NOT. Someone said, one for each day of the week. And those words — FEAR NOT — wanted to be shared.
We come into this life with no guarantees. Bad things happen. The blessed rain falls on the good and the bad alike. But, Your message to each one of us is YOU ARE LOVED. YOU MATTER. This is what I cling to when waves of fear or discouragement wash over me.
This is the perspective that helps me affirm life itself — in the midst of chaos and fear.
The second temptation of Christ has been in my heart all day.
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” Luke 4:5-7 NKJ
I never thought, God, beyond the fact that Jesus said “NO” and resisted this temptation. But, today all I could think of was the part where the devil says “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
Good golly, God! It would seem that the devil does indeed have the power to give the kingdoms of earth over to whomever will worship him. And as I look at the world I’m living in — right now, it makes so much sense. How did I never understand the full extent of the devils power to tempt us? I guess, because I didn’t want to know. In fact, I still do not want to know this!
Yep! That is me, God, in the line for a comforting lie. Sigh. This is HARD. But, I hear You saying “Buck up! I am with you . . . helping you to see and bear reality.” And I seem to hear You consoling me — saying that the devil is ever so clever and wraps himself in Virtuous Clothing — saying that the End justifies the Means and fooling many.
How then, God, shall our eyes be opened to the truth? Oh yes! By fasting and prayer.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11
Sigh . . . we EnneagramSevens resist pain and sorrow so automatically that it took me the entire day to realize that I was sad and a little depressed. Fortunately, I have two amazing daughters — and YES, an amazing husband, also — and they are a huge help in these times.
Today it was Sandy, who confessed being a bit down this morning, who helped me “name” my feelings. And, she is the one who asked, “Do you have a Christ candle, Mom? Have you lit it?”
Lit a candle? Instead of sitting in my inner darkness? What an idea! Well, let’s be real. It was not an idea that had occurred to me. But, hey! I knew it was a really good idea!
I lit a candle and kept it lit during my Centering Prayer. And I realized . . . just because I can’t imagine a way . . . doesn’t mean there isn’t a Way.
Yes, God! It is YOU in whom I hope! Definitely not me!
Combobulate means to bring something out of a state of confusion or disarray. And our World is definitely in a state of disarray. In order to hide from a virus we have put small businesses out of business. And far worse, we have plunged billions of people still further into debt.
We are told that we are only “hiding” until we have a VACCINE that will protect us. Sigh . . . THEY tell us one is coming SOON. But, real scientists know that vaccines must be tested for safety . . . over time . . .
But the MUCH LARGER problem is that “training our immune system” to recognize an “enemy” and KILL IT is very similar to how we take wonderfully good young men and women and train them to KILL the Taliban, or the Viet Cong or ??? But, it is hard to identify “enemies” and so just like in many wars — we suffer from friendly fire.
In our bodies, “friendly fire” ends up looking like Autoimmune Diseases. And they are on the RISE!
But, if vaccines look like a way to get deeper into trouble — what are we to do? And that is a profound question with no easy answers! Or rather it has multiple answers.
FIRST: Those who are truly afraid that getting COVID-19 would kill them should stay safe . . . as safe and isolated as they can.
SECOND: The rest of us should resume going about our businesses or at least what is left of our businesses. And going about WITHOUT MASKS, which harm the wearer without helping anyone else. Yes, I know that the “SCIENCE” the MEDIA is pushing contradicts that. And I also know that many real scientists have spoken out and have had their websites and Posts taken down. Free speech or as my grandfather used to say “Free Thinking” is apparently a major danger to public health.
THIRD: We might get outside in the fresh air and sunlight. Eat organic vegetables and fruits. Perhaps even take vitamin C and the minerals we are all short of like magnesium and zinc.
FOURTH: But the most important change is to DO what You have told us to do and BLESS each other — instead of CURSING each other. TALK TO EACH OTHER WITHOUT CONTEMPT. YES! We will need a lot of prayer and help to do that one, God.
FIFTH: While we are making such a major reset — why not ask our military to help rebuild poor communities? Why not help the poor to insulate their homes? Saving money and reducing carbon. Why not stop funding the Military Industrial Complex and put the money into DEBT RELIEF for the NON-ELITES? And then there are our Police. They waste a lot of time responding to cries for help at which they arrive too late. They could work WITH the communities they are committed to protect. Positive acts could flourish.
SIXTH: In my prayer time this morning I “heard” You say DO NOT PRESUME TO TELL ME WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT DO. DO NOT LIMIT ME.
That was heartening, God. And I guess that is why I am speaking the truth as I see it from my heart.
You do communicate in the most amazing ways. This morning I was doing the Tuesday Mindful BrainDance in my office. While stretching on the floor my eye was “caught” by a small booklet at the bottom of one of my plastic bins. It was titled God’s Love and Our Rest.
It was a booklet that I had written in 2004. And it made that point that keeping the Sabbath holy was the PIVOTAL commandment. To keep it you really have to have ONLY YOU as God in our lives. YOU, not our careers, not our self image, not our cultures expectations, etc. That is hard. Well, without Your help, it is impossible.
The booklet pointed out that getting a full day of rest each week would make us less tired. And I covet/shop more when I am tired. I am also much more inclined to curse instead of blessing. Hm all those other commandments come to mind.
But the reason I am writing now is the memory that just came to me from a talk by Archibald Hart. He said that being BUSY builds a “wall” around our brain’s pleasure center. After a time it takes something “special” to get over that wall — special as in an affair, some high risk activity, gambling, etc.
In his counseling he would say “bring in your calendar” you are going to eliminate half of what you are doing. And if the person did that then about six month later they could again enjoy the small simple joys of life.
YIKES!!! Putting those two concept together explained most of what I see going on in our world today. Not having protected (By You, God) REST . . . leads to lives that become out of control.
I’m sitting here thinking of how vulnerable we humans are. We are such easy prey to temptation and to social pressure. I am going to ask Your help in imagining how I might keep the Sabbath.