Monday Meditation – Wondering Momentous

How many times we say or have heard, “If I could only go back in time but knowing what I know now”?  It’s crossed my mind and my lips on many occasions and opens the door to wonder.   How would it look or feel to actually do that, to go back in time and not rush through life as a series of tasks?   How would it make a difference in who I am now and how would those in my family, especially my children be changed?  I remember being a child and looking into the night sky wondering how many stars there were.  It would fill me with awe and a tinge of fear.  My newly forming ego didn’t want any questions left unanswered.  Wonder would continue but for a while was overshadowed by fear.

Now this fear was not like running away from a hungry bear or any real threat of danger.  This fear was one created by the culture I lived and grew up in.  A slow creeping kind of fear that I might not measure up, I might fail was the first I am aware of.  Being a student in a school where perfection seemed required was one perception I held.  As I grew and struggled just a bit in school, the culture of consumerism also jumped on board.  My family did not have what others did and so hand-me-downs were the norm.  One new outfit a school year was exciting until I realized I couldn’t wear it every day.  I began to want things I didn’t have.  And I grew.  To college student, new nurse, wife, mother and friend, all of these mini-identities held a special ongoing competition for my attention to control and perfectionism hence creating fears of their own.

It wasn’t all bad or all fear, if it had been I would have succumbed and been lost.  All along the way there was faith.  Faith in a creator God who was good, who created good things, kept my head just above the water until I chose to dive deep.  “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child;”  1 Cor. 13:11a    As I grew, through life experiences of love, sorrow, trials and joys, a longing was bubbling up through the wondering that continued.  The wondering turned to questioning and study.  The study became filled with conversations between God and myself in prayer.  Slowly a wonderful crack in my perceptions of fear and finality let in some light to shine on the mysteries of life.

Being a Grandmother is teaching  me some new and wonderful lessons, not the least of which is to just love every moment and enjoy the mysteries.  It’s easier now to just love and not worry.  Looking into those sweet faces, so similar to my own children’s  is like looking at the stars in a mirror.  There are so many amazing possibilities for their lives.  They are beautiful and sweet, funny and loving.  There is the answer and no need to wonder.  It is Love.   Just Love.  I did a lot of that when my children were young.  There are so many memories of sweet baby kisses and sticky hands hugs that fill me with joy.   And so I would not want to go back, I don’t have to go back.  God was there all along helping us all grow.  He was loving me through sweet times of growing and some sticky situations.

I am happy for my now grown children and who they have become.  They are making their own way now and will most likely repeat some of my mistakes but that’s how they learn.  I let go of fear and swim in the beautiful night sky of wonder.  I let go of the worldly ideas of how life should be and enjoy each moment as it is.  Every life change and event is momentous and filled with wonder.  I love to wonder momentous.

He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.  Psalm 147:4

Monday Meditation – Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  [2Co 1:3 RSV]

 

Some days what I see right in front of me are challenges and when I attempt to see beyond them anxiety empties me and I am filled with lethargy.   I can choose to go with this feeling, to sit in self-absorbing distress in front of the TV with a bag of chips.  And believe me, I have done this.  Or, I can turn to what I know is true.   Love.

Another word for Comfort is Contentment –   Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment and is one of the Niyamas (rules of behavior) in the eight limbs of yoga.  It means finding peace within you when outer experience causes distress.  The big things, like losing a loved one or loss of a job or home can be overwhelming and comparably small things like financial difficulty, conflict at home or work or just having way too much on our plate create emotional and physical pain.   Even the anticipation of these creates dis-contentment. What it is within me that can bring relief?   “To be or not to be” content is really the question.

It is interesting that in New Testament Scripture (NIV) Jesus never used the word “comfort”.   He does use the word “Love” 217 times.  “Love God , Love your neighbor, Love your enemy” are foremost in his direction.  He goes on with stories of what that looks like.  It is the decision to Love God and not money, it is the generosity of sharing loaves and fish, and it is the help toward healing of the Samaritan.    It is in His example to go into the garden or up on the mountain alone to pray that I find my direction.

In the quiet space and time of meditation I focus on Love.  I use it as a mantra along with “peace be still” (Mark 4:39 ) to slow my breath and busy mind.  Here I come to the truth of Love.  Love is not always comfortable but it always comforts and God’s love fills my empty spaces with light so that I can see there is nothing in the present or future that can’t be healed.  I remember with gratitude those who have and will help me and I am inspired to be a help of Love to others.  Peace and contentment fill me now, for this day.

May you find peace and contentment this week.

Sue

Monday Meditation ~ Rain

Everything is wet….rain and more rain creating soggy ground and it seems a mushy brain and body.  Still, the new plantings in the garden grow taller by the minute and their greens become greener.  Droplets glisten on their leaves.  For me a time to sit and read, clean out a closet and take a nap.  .  A rainy day can be splendid after a week of hot dry days.  But a rainy week??  After a few days I become lazy, I feel too tired to take on any chores or read (as that seems to send me directly to nap-time).

I made an attempt, really I did.  In the yoga studio I practiced sun salutations with the intention of warming up my inner being, getting that light to shine from within.  I forced myself to tidy up some spaces and prepare for upcoming events, but the things I usually like to do were onerous.   And on this particular Sunday I attended the funeral of a long-time family friend.

Now this week of rain seems different.  It is still wet and even soggier in the garden but the plants are not complaining.  Perhaps they know that warmer, drier days will be coming so they drink it all in now.  Death reminds us of our terminal physical nature and a funeral in the rain seems appropriate.  The hearts of those who remain are waterlogged with grief yet still full of wonderful memories and blessings for having known such a man.

There is no controlling the weather; there is no keeping back the rain, or the tears.  Our physical mortality eventually claims us. . There is a time for everything and in the every things a time for us to drink it all in.  Learn lessons, clean out the closets, take a nap and wait, for the sun will come out.  Life has changed as it is always doing and I can choose to turn my face to the rain, slosh my feet in the puddles or take a nap.   Whichever I choose, I pray to do it with an awareness of the blessings that arrive even when the rain keeps coming.  At the end of the day it is my faith in God that opens my eyes to the blessings of the rain, the continuity of life in changing seasons and the hope of life eternal.

May you have a blessed week no matter the weather.

   Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.   So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The Word is My Teacher – Have You Met Him?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome  it.”  John 1:1

As a Yoga Teacher I have the wonderful opportunity to meet people of many differing faiths, theologies and philosophies.  I learn from them.  Asking questions about their beliefs I try to listen closely to their words.  I attempt to ponder them and not make rash or sudden judgments about their words but my human condition and personality get in the way at times. I have come to know there are many paths to God in this world and each has its own hills and valleys, twists and turns.  I often share my own faith and hope that I convey what seems to be lost in translation as Christianity seems to be full of so many differing beliefs within itself.  What does it mean to follow Jesus as teacher and redeemer?

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ Deuteronomy 30:6 ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”Luke 10 -27

As Jesus was having a conversation with a lawyer of the time this Law was discussed as the way to” inherit eternal life”.  Jesus response as usual was a story, this one about a Good Samaritan (from a tribe despised by many and especially the ruling class of the day)  cared for someone in need when others who were following the law (not to touch blood or the dead) passed him by.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  Luke 6:37

Jesus responds to this with the instruction to get the log out of our own eye before we try to remove a speck from another.  In reading the footnotes one sees that most of his teaching were translations of the “Old Testament” Law.  God had not changed.  We haven’t either.

In the mystery that is life from the microscopic to the telescopic and beyond I have been witness to a God who is more that we can imagine.  God is the Word that spoke all we know and more into being.  Made in God’s image (a probable slow evolutionary process) we are mind, body and spirit.  This belief crosses many faiths.  How I and other Christians view this is made in Mind (God) Body (Jesus) and Spirit (the indwelling Holy).  We can relate to our Creator as parents, as artists, as scientists and well, human.  Jesus the teacher I love taught Love.  He was the Word with God in the beginning and so I seek to know God because I seek to learn from Jesus.

This seeking and learning encourages me to be in service to others in Love, to study, to ask, to listen.  Most importantly to Love.

There is so much more so perhaps this will become a Blog Series!  Please I would love others thoughts and prayers.  Come along and follow the Word.

Peace, Shanti, Shalom, Salaam, Namaste,

Amen

 

 

 

 

Ask, Seek and Knock…

Our recent discovery of the door buried in the wall reminded me of a journal entry a few months ago.  It seems worth sharing.

What exactly is Jesus  speaking about when he tells his disciples to “Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find, Knock and the door will be opened to you”   The big question is how do we find meaningful relationship with God?  And I believe the answer is different for each of us.

Jesus description of himself as “The Way, the Truth and the Life” never seemed to have much depth of meaning for me.  There are many brilliant theological minds  who surely have addressed this saying of his and it’s meaning.  Literal thinkers may translate this to an understanding of Jesus as the only way to eternal life and exhort what I now believe is a narrow view of his words.  During meditation on both of these teachings a door seemed to open to a new realization.

ASK –   The Way.  When lost on the highway before GPS systems, one had to swallow their pride pull over and ask someone.  In doing that it not only creates a humble attitude that we don’t know how to get where we are going but also puts us in relationship with another person.  How many people ( sorry men but there is an old joke about you asking for directions) just keep driving around not wanting look silly or ignorant and go in circles.  Either they get lucky, turn around and give up going back where they came from or they admit they need the help of another.  So I shall ask God and others the Way – putting my ego/pride away and then seeking out the one or One who knows.

SEEK – The Truth.  What is real and what is important.  Our culture and my life experiences have created many lies about myself and others that become hard to identify as a false reality.  We believe things about ourselves and others based on false information.   In seeking I ask; who am I to be in the world?  Is what I wear and who I support politically important in the eternal Kingdom?  And who are others that I am in relationship with?  Do they, like me keep certain things undercover for protection of Self? I was told so many times that I didn’t have the degree or the knowledge to do more with my life that I believed it and settled for the lie.  But in seeking the Truth  I can look beyond the surface of things to experience the world with love and compassion for myself and others.

KNOCK – On the door to authentic life to eternal life.  For though we look forward to the heavenly chorus of angels and being with God when our physical life is complete aren’t we supposed to experience and share Love, Joy, Peace, Patience….here on earth?  Yes!   We come to the door to knock after we Ask and Seek.  Prepared with the way to go, humble hearts and the truth of who and whose we are  ready to open the door and experience abundant and yes, eternal life.

Matthew 7:1-12

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
 For with the judgment 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 out 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 out of your neighbor’s eye.
 “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.   “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?  Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?
 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

Post script –  As a follower of Jesus I am saddened by those who see his words as literal mandates and do not look deeper into the love he taught.  Maybe they are still wandering the road and won’t ask for directions.  Caty's Birthday Upstate 052

Buried Treasure

My husband and I are remodeling our house.  It is a very old building full of character and the energy of those who have called this place home.   As we tear open walls to create our own spaces here we often joke about finding treasure…..or bones.  Many past residents have added their own changes but there are still many uncovered and undiscovered places that are original to this 1867 Victorian.   There are beams in the walls that still have bark on them from the hand hewn logs that were crafted by the builder.

The original layout of the house is a bit mysterious in places.  Large dark Chestnut floor moldings curve gracefully to a dead stop where a wall has been added to create a bathroom.  Our latest project is a living room space in what was originally the cook kitchen and adjoining wood shed. An earlier resident had already transformed the space into a den and a bedroom.  In the corner of the room is a wall that backs up to the aforementioned bathroom.  We thought it a great idea to add a door between them.

Demolition is always messy and with occasional surprises.  We pulled down the paneling added by the previous owner then underlying sheet rock added by perhaps another and there it was.  A door.  Buried within the walls right where we wanted to put one.

Ironically the presence of the door opened up for me realizations of my life as a seeker.  In meditation I seek to find that way in to contemplative presence with God. When sharing this door story with my yoga class a student  Ann pointed out that the door is the treasure!  It is indeed!

How much are we like this home!  We are old enough for senior discounts, friends and family members have come in and out of our lives.  We are full of character and energy built by those relationships.  Throughout our lives growing and changing  yet still the same cells and structure formed by our creator.  There are still things to discover about ourselves and our relationship with God.   And here we are,  knocking.

Fall Cleaning

Clearly the theme this week is cleaning out to make room.   Not getting rid of old stuff for different stuff but the cleansing that removes what doDSC_5348es not enrich me and making room for grace.  Isn’t that what the gospel message is about?

So I wonder and grieve that we seem to have it all wrong.  That our lives are made so much more difficult and painful by our (and I mean humanity in general) unwillingness to open ourselves to the rich experiences of life, joys and sorrows, and instead point at what is wrong with others. Our egos are in the driver’s seat and we have put away teachings of love and mercy.

Cleaning out my wallet I found a dollar bill.  On the back someone had written “GOD IS GOOD” across the top.  Next to it in different pen was the exclamation “NEVER” and written across the bottom “ ‘ GOD’ F—ed my life in the ass”  I have no idea who wrote this painful lament and certain that the one who did was not aware that this was a prayer.  So I prayed with her/him for God to make visible the love and mercy that is the only cure for this dis- ease with faith in a loving God.

What I am not certain of are the events and people who led this person to the belief that God is the one causing the pain.  I can only imagine what those circumstances might have been.  Perhaps parents or pastors who professed belief used God as a source of fear and punishment to keep the kids in line or judge their actions.  Perhaps a modern day evangelist taught condemnation for divorce or homosexuality or the myriad of other human branded “sins” we commit.   Or maybe this was a person of great faith who suffered a greater loss.  Our moments of deep grief can have us shaking our fists at a God who would allow such pain.

Surrounded by a world of pain, it is a gift that I get to work in such a beautiful place at Quinipet on Shelter Island.  Pondering my recent experience at an “Opening to Grace Retreat” as I walked on the beach, what flooded in was how much had been required for me to open to the God of all grace and compassion. The beach was quiet and deserted.  The wind was calm and the sun warm. The water was clear and shimmered with greens and blues.  It was after a storm and among the shells and driftwood there was so much garbage that had washed up on shore.  I was amazed at the number of coffee stirrers, straws, bottle caps and ribbons.  Articles of other’s celebrations now discarded carelessly or lost and then purged onto the shore during the storm.   As I walked along cleaning up, the theme of cleaning out to make room came back to me. Streams of events and people who shaped my life and the awesome creator who will redeem all things….if we allow. The cross is the ultimate symbol for me of sacrifice for others sake and the deep painful wounds of ugly torture that were turned upside down to become Love.  It is the deepest and greatest Love of all.

On this beach I have been able to reflect on the blessings in the pain.  Memories of walking here with my children and granddaughter filled me with joy.  Thoughts of those sisters in faith who walked with me here long ago filled me with gratitude.  On retreat God helped me clean out the trash left in me by events and people and see the blessings and openness left behind. I pray that those who feel f…’d by God can open their hearts to Love.  But mostly I pray that we stop pointing fingers, laying guilt and blame and begin to open our hearts in love and compassion to everyone.