Monday Meditation ~ Waiting in Faith

My yoga practice is much like my faith practice.  There are days that I can flow through with grace and ease.  The path seems lit with promise and I know the way.   Movement through breath and asana (poses) is a lovely dance that stirs up joy.  Then there are days that are hazy,  what seemed clear yesterday is distant across the far horizon of a day.  I stand at the edge and choose to wait and see.

I step to my mat, thankful to God for the day and my breath.  Practice becomes waiting.  No flowing here with ease but holding on to each movement as the breath moves me deeper.  As each movement of body, stretch with breath, release begins.  The haze begins to clear and as muscle and bone remember how far they can stretch so too my heart and mind recall that the promise of yesterday is still the promise of today and tomorrow.  Looking at the horizon while grounded on this far shore becomes an act of faith.  What will happen there is unknown to me but known by the One who is my guide, who goes behind and before me.

Here I wait, not frozen but flowing I dip my toes into the day and wade into the promises of Love.  May your day be blessed as you wait.

Monday Meditation- Signs and Signals

Living in the present moment with awareness of others, surroundings and self creates direction for this journey of life.  Not always with certainty but there are practices that provide help to be present and centered.  Prayer, meditation, Gestalt work and Yoga have been guides to quiet my mind and heart to focus on the here and now and decide which steps to take on the path.  But sometimes I need more.  I need a physical symbol,  a wake up call to know I have wandered off the path.

The most obvious are signals of neglect.  When life becomes too busy and I stray off my course my plants begin to wither.  I have a schedule of watering my houseplants, they are important to me and the health and aesthetics  of my home but it seems they are the first to suffer from my negligence.

Others are less obvious and only creep into my awareness when missing.  When I am attuned to my spiritual life with God, when I am focused on prayer and meditation, attending worship and studying scripture I generally wake up with a song of praise in my mind and on my tongue.  On these days other signs and signals are glaringly obvious.  Awakening to God’s presence of love opens my heart, mind and eyes to so much more of life.

Years ago I came to the conclusion that if I believe in a creator God who made the heavens and the earth, and if I believe that God is a love so great that my guilt and shame were erased through that love in Jesus, then I needed to spend more time getting to know Him.  On a Monday, because that is when you start new things, I read from the Bible and meditated on the reading.  I thanked God for this leading and guiding and then went for a walk.  I discovered that my conversation with God, listening to the creation sounds of birds and leaves applauding in the wind, continued with the taking in of so much beauty. Love seemed to wrap around me, joy filled my heart and peace settled into my whole being.  It had not rained in several days,  there was not a cloud in the sky and a soft breeze blew.  I turned the corner and right above me was the largest rainbow I had ever seen, it seemed I could touch it if I wanted to. I felt light and I heard a whisper “thank you” .  It wasn’t my word, the Divine Love touched me in that moment as I decided to love back.  To love the creator is to love the creation, the earth, all people, myself.

Much has happened since that time and I continue to learn and grow, I forget and stumble, my plants can suffer and I can wake up without that song in my heart, but I know God loves, not only me but all of creation.  God speaks to us, in dreams, in nature, in music, and all we need do is open our hearts, our eyes and our ears.

I wish you awareness to see signs of love.

 

 

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