Gracious and Loving Mystery We Call God,
Empower me in this season of transformation that I may be the change I want so much for the world.
Release from me angry thoughts, judgments and resentments that keep me trapped in the past and fearful of the future, causing me to miss the transformative moments you bring my way.
Calm my fears, O God, that I may set them aside long enough to send healing love to the person or system I have condemned, distanced myself from and felt victimized by.
Teach me to live in this present moment, bringing me into unconditional love for myself, others and our world that I may be a vessel of your light and healing love. This is my prayer, this I receive and for this I give thanks.
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Gracious and Loving Mystery We Call God,
Unconditional love is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and the world.
None of us can expect the world to be a better, more loving place if we do not do the necessary inner healing work to be more loving ourselves. After all, what is outside of us is a mirror of what is inside. Like it or not, the outer world is a mirror of our capacity to love and how much we are motivated by fear. Just trying to change the fearful behavior of others will not change us or the world for the better.
Fear can become habitual and we don’t even realize it (so be kind to yourself!)
We are not built physically, emotionally or spiritually to run on fear. When we fear, our fight or flights kick in and our digestive system goes on hold causing physical digestive problems, chronic muscle tightness, heart problems, emotional problems, a lack of presence, and reactive, fear based thinking. Fear can cause us to repress our deeper feelings, leading to emotional outbursts, anger, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and general unhappiness. We are not able to be our true, loving selves and honor our soul path when we live in fear.
The energy of fear is sharp, chaotic and fast moving. It is tightly compacted and causes us to become not only emotionally disconnected but physically dysfunctional as the cells in our body are energetically weakened, rather than vibrant.
In contrast, love is a peaceful, calm, loose, flowing, reassuring energy. It connects us to our soul and to the Mystery We Call God, Goddess, Divine Spirit, All That Is….. Love is about being present and not reactive. Love is wise beyond thoughts and love connects us to all life, because love is the core of all life.
It is too much to assume that we can be loving at all times. But we can learn to notice when fear kicks in and be present enough with ourselves to do our healing work, compassionately moving ourselves out of a state of fear and into a state of love and grace.
May the energy of love surround you, fill you and bless you with compassion, serenity and peace.
- Find your sacred space in your home. Delegate a comfy sofa or lazy boy type chair as your “magic chair” for inner work and healing. Make sure there is a warm blanket for cover.
- Tell God you will be doing your healing work and ask God to hold you in the process. Invite your angels to work with you for your healing and highest good.
- Sprits the space with lavender or other natural scent such as vanilla or bring a plant or flower or other symbol or object to the dedicated space if you so desire.
- Make yourself a cup of Chamomile or other soothing tea.
- Put on very loose clothing and do some gentle stretches or yoga.
- Go to the bathroom to pee so that is not a distraction.
- Return to your sacred healing space. Take in the beauty of it and feel its healing energy.
- Sit and as you drink your tea, notice yourself sitting, drinking tea. Feel the warmth of the cup and allow yourself to be with your feelings, no matter what they are. Perhaps calling to mind what is troubling you but not grasping on to it, simply being present to the feeling of it.
- When you have allowed yourself to feel your feelings, set the tea aside, if you haven’t already and lay down, covering yourself with the blanket.
10. Say to your angels and to God, “Here I am. Please do whatever healing work I need” and release yourself into their loving care.
11. Breathe deeply from your belly during this time. That is your only job. Let your mind relax and focus on your breathing.
12. Let yourself go into a deeper state, perhaps sleep or just before sleep. Trust that they are working energetically with you to release what needs to be released, filling you with love and bring you into healing balance.
13. When this work feels completed, give thanks, take time to reflect and journal and honor your experience, breathe, than go about your day/night.
(An Inner Listening session may make this exercise easier to do.)
It was one of those beautifully warm fall days in late October. The glistening sun beaconed me to the window of my pottery studio to feel its warmth and admire the fluffy gray tinged clouds intermingling with bright blue sky. It was one of those days I describe as, “If I die I will already be in heaven.” This feeling heightened when I slid open the window to reveal the smell of warm sun on the old painted wooden windowsill.
I remembered that smell from my grandmother’s house and it always brings a sense of contentment, wonder and appreciation. I stood there for a while, breathing deeply and giving thanks for the simple beauty of my life in this moment.
Potting was easy that morning. The large ball of smooth wet porcelain clay seemed to center itself and in no time I had pulled three sets of large bases, balls and platforms for unity candleholders, used in weddings. Later, when they were just right I would attach the pieces and add mauve, purple, yellow and green stained clay shaped into roses, lilacs and leaves.
I was working on another base when the phone rang. I could barely make out the fast talker on the other end. It sounded like, “HelloI’mfrom FwoowooPluscallingonbehalfof yourlocalserviceprovider blahblahblah….”
Normally I say no thanks and hang up. But I asked her to repeat herself. I’m fromFulloowooPluscallingonbehalfof yourlocalserviceprovider andwehaveforyouacoupontowardsacallerID.” I still couldn’t make it out. “Who are you?” I asked somewhat annoyed by now. Same answer. I tried again “What company are you working for?” Same answer. “Full what?” I asked again. “Fulfillment Plus.”
She finally spoke so I could understand. “And we are calling on behalf of your local service provider and we have for you a coupon towards a caller ID…..” I now had the words but the meaning was missing me. I was somewhat incredulous. “Fulfillment Plus? Did you really say Fulfillment Plus?” “Yes I did and we are………….”
She must have been getting a little frustrated with me by then. I couldn’t get beyond the fact that there was a company called ”Fulfillment Plus” doing direct marketing offering a caller ID. The implication that a caller ID (or anything else) would bring me fulfillment was a little hard to ignore. As was the fact that the caller had no idea that fulfillment was exactly what I was experiencing when she called to offer me the devise.
It seemed ironic, strange and comical at the same time. Fulfillment in a caller ID. Fulfillment is what we want. We just don’t realize that it is already here. All we need do is stop trying to purchase it and seek it “out there” and begin to live right where we are, in the fullness of each moment. I wondered how many people went for the caller ID because they subconsciously desired “fulfillment plus!”
The clay I was working on was now beyond repair. I dumped it into the recycling bin and walked over to the window and took a long deep breath. The sun had gone behind the clouds and caste an unusual sheen upon the earth accenting the fall colors. My dogs were content lying outside under a large white pine in a soft bed of fallen needles. It’s late October but it somehow seems like Christmas. It often does in the fullness of the moment. Perhaps this is heaven after all.
What if we really knew
that life is not about easy answers
but how we live with the questions?
That happiness is not the goal
rather our ability to accept
with compassion and equanimity
all of our feelings?
That the business of selling
is not about how much
we can scam from another
but how well we meet their needs
with honesty and integrity.
Wouldn’t it be great
if religion was more about love than
judgment, shame and blame –
a quick ego fix.
In the end do you really think
that what counts is that
You were always right?
Or you managed to avoid all your sadness?
Or you made tons of money?
Or you called the Sacred by a certain name?
No, my friend
There is but one question,
“How well have you loved?”
All else is just a game of the mind.
Frequently in my work with clients I come across the inner child – that often hidden, wounded part of us whose needs were not originally met. It is my hope that, by sharing these with you, your children will not have to seek therapy as adults, to heal wounds arising from needs which could have been easily met in the first place.
Easily met, that is, if you and I as adults do the necessary work needed to heal our own wounded inner child. It is true that we often treat our own inner child as we have been treated – we do unto ourselves as we have been done to. If we felt rejected as children, we tend to reject our inner child. If we reject our own inner child, are we any more accepting of our children?
So here are what the inner children of my clients say is most needed in childhood and the lack of which can cause problems throughout adulthood.
Talk to me: Speak to me with the same respect you would another adult. Ask me about my day, how I am feeling and what I need. Let me know you are listening through your gestures and words. Be honest with me: I sense when something is wrong. Lying to me or deny your feelings makes me not trust my intuition. Hold me: When you hold me I feel accepted, loved and secure. Let me know everything will be all right: You are the adult, take care of me. When trouble arises, let me know we can work it out.
Compliment me: Compliments give me confidence, criticism diminishes my self-esteem. Discipline me respectfully: If I have done something ‘wrong’ let me know. Help me understand that it was my action, not me that was ‘bad.’ Set firm boundaries and parent me as a team, respectful of one another. Play with me: Don’t yell at me for being in a puddle and getting dirty, join me! Let yourself be a kid with me. Share my joy. Show interest in my activities: Walk with me, ride a bike with me, ask me how my game went, what’s up with my friends. Be proud of me: Tell me you are proud of me and show it when you are with others. Trust me and support my decisions as much as possible. This builds my self-esteem.
I was walking my dogs on a familiar path. We had come here many times and passed by the same trees, now glistening with winter white snow. Things look different in winter. I notice things I never saw in the lush fullness of summer. Like the bird nest.
Its dark round shape contrasted with the huge dollop of snow mounded on top of it. I admired its simple beauty nestled amidst the starkness of winter. The image stayed in my mind for days until it occurred to me that were it not for the starkness we Michigan folk so often dread, I would not have experienced the beauty of the nest.
Winters are rough here. There are few natural distractions to keep us from noticing the many shades of winter gray, both internal and external. I believe that the outer reflects the inner and for that reason, almost feel sorry (abet envious) of those who flee to the south for more consistent weather and moods. It is our tendency to fight change, to resist the seasons of our days and lives. We think we should be a certain way all the time. And we’re not. Nothing is. Nature teaches us that seasons are natural and change is constant – one in preparation for the other. To resist the winter starkness and not acknowledge its inner presence is a tremendous loss on the path of human growth and spiritual wisdom.
Those of us who stay have to find some way of being with it. So we take a little more time getting going, honoring the natural desire to hibernate in winter. We watch the snow fall and with it ancient memories gently float through our awareness. Things we had never thought about since childhood.
We allow the stark places to emerge within us and stay with the feelings we had so often distracted ourselves from. Like the empty nest covered with snow, so visible in the starkness of winter, grief, loss, emptiness, loneliness, and sadness emerge to match the outer landscape. We allow ourselves to feel whatever is present and like the changing of seasons, we experience our own unfolding.
The place that seemed so frightfully empty is the very place we reconnect to ourselves and to the Mystery we call God. Our grief and loss acknowledged and felt, we notice a transformed sense of the presence of those we love and can no longer hold. We are not the same. We never will be. Nature is not the same. And if we are honest, we will acknowledge that we don’t want to be the same. And we don’t want to miss the healing, cleansing starkness of winter, revealing nature’s secret nesting places in the far reaches of our hearts.
“There was once a beggar who used to sit and beg always in the same place. His ambition was to be a rich man: but he died poor. After his death it was discovered that under the spot where he had been sitting and begging for twenty-one years there was a buried treasure, containing jewels and gold which had once belonged to a king. The beggar had never known that whilst he had been begging all those years of his life, just under his feet lay this treasure. In the same way many of us go through life without peace and joy, not knowing of the divine treasure that lies hidden in our own souls.”
As told by Sadhu Sundar Singh from Lamps of Fire by Juan Mascaro
Sometimes we are so busy seeking what we think will bring us satisfaction that we forget to be where we already are. And in not being where we already are, we miss the treasure that lay in the depth of our own inner richness.
I’m not sure why this is true but it is. I see it all the time. And, I’ve been there, I’ve done that too. Sometimes, I still do.
We are conditioned by our economy to feel in constant need of things that, in the end, do not really take care of the need they were addressing. When we are sad, we buy something to make us feel happy. But the happiness it brings is only momentary. When we are lonely, we seek the distraction of relationships but the loneliness comes back. When we feel empty, we try to fill the void with food or drink. But, even with our belly full, we still feel empty. And when we are spiritually hungry, we read book after book. We “know” what they are saying, but seldom stop reading long enough to find in ourselves what the author found deep within him or herself. Like the beggar in our story, we seem to substitute going deep within ourselves for the worship of something else “out there.”
What if we have already been given what we are seeking and the key to receiving it is simply to dig deeply where we already are? What would it be like if we simply allowed ourselves to feel our sadness, our loneliness, our emptiness and our desire for oneness with the Mystery we call God? What if we noticed our desire to buy something and asked ourselves instead, “What am I really feeling right now? What am I avoiding?” Once we allow our feelings, we just might notice how they unfold to reveal deep inner treasures and richness beyond measure.
Dig deep where you already are.
I was not really into children when I arrived in Korea to begin a two year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer. I was not one to notice babies or stop mothers on the street to admire their young.
My first priority in the countryside of Korea was survival. I needed to learn the language and culture, learn to eat with chopsticks and try to enjoy white rice and kimchi for every meal. In the midst of survival, I was to begin a whole new career of leprosy health care.
So I was a bit surprised when my lifeline turned out to be the children of our village. Innocent, delightful, sometimes naughty and always curious beyond reason, they helped me loosen up and they helped me with the language I had been so miserable learning in our early training classes.
I learned a lot about raising children. I saw how the village supported child rearing in the community setting with grandmothers often looking after the children of parents working outside the village. I saw young mothers working the fields with babies on their backs. I saw mothers and grandmothers allowing children a “comfort breast” long after they had stopped nursing. I learned how language contributes to a sense of belonging as I addressed the elderly as grandmother or grandfather and my peers as younger or older brother or sister.
When the Korean mothers told me with no uncertainty that American babies were cuter than theirs and I responded that theirs are certainly much cuter than ours, I came to believe that babies must be God’s secret path to peace among the nations.
I didn’t realize the impact the children had on me until years later when I returned to the village and the children were not there. They had grown. Some were in college, some in high school and too shy now to speak to a foreigner.
As for me, I have come to a deeper appreciation for all of life young and old. I marvel at the baby birds, opossums, mice and deer I see when the earth turn green.
And yes, I’m now one of those who stops you on the street to admire your baby and perhaps move us one step closer to world peace.
During my spiritual direction internship it was common for us to send the retreat participant out for a nature walk along the wooded banks of a small creek. Inevitably, they would return with deep personal insights.
One woman shared with me, “I was looking at the ivy growing along the path. At first it looked so perfect but then, upon closer inspection, I noticed yellow and dead leaves and places where insects had damaged it. Yet the plant was thriving. I realized that there is no such thing as perfection in the natural world God created. So, why should I demand it of myself?”
Somehow, many of us have the impression that we must be perfect. As a result, we try to uphold an outer image of perfection at all costs.
Years ago, I was sitting with a young woman who shared a painful secret for the first time. She indicated that her mother never knew what had happened and that she would like her to know. I asked if she would like to come in with her mother sometime. “Oh no!” came the quick but sad response. “In our family, we always have to look good to others. The minister is the last person she would ever want to know!”
The revelations about Catholic priests molesting young boys then hiding behind the mask of the priesthood tells me that fear of self pervades all sectors of our society. Religious institutions may have unwittingly perpetuated the lie of perfection at great cost both to themselves, those they serve and to the corporate experience of the Mystery We Call God.
The truth is now even more apparent. We cannot hide from our wounds, our feelings or our needs by going to church or being a priest, pastor, elder or deacon any more than we can hide behind a bottle of booze, political office, physical beauty or fitness, social status, work or wealth.
The mask of perfection is sustained by fear and lies and revealed by an attitude of better than, (though we would never admit it) often couched in the humility of good deeds.
We move away from identifying with those who reflect back to us a bit of our own isolation, instability, uncertainties, loss of self worth, powerlessness or failures. We do it through labels such as “deviant priests,” “bipolar,” “manic depressive,” “personality disorder,” or racial and gender slurs. If we label another, we can discount them, what they trigger in us and avoid the lessons they mirror back to us.
Many of us feel deeply about the sexual abuse of children. It’s wrong and it leads to too much pain. But the way towards healing is not to demand perfection (leading to greater shame and cover up). The way to heal is to learn to acknowledge, accept and work with our imperfections so that they do not need to be acted out in ways that wound others.
It is time for us to begin to love ourselves just as we are, celebrate the unfolding of our healing process and let go of the destructive front of perfection.