Monday Meditation – Sensibility

Do you ever wish someone would just come to their senses and do the right thing?  Do you ever think that about yourself?  I know that many times I do not.  I can be quick to point the finger away from myself and slow to turn the wrist the other way.  What’s up with that?  Finger pointing is not a yoga pose, nor is it helpful in relationships.  A very famous and humble teacher once said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”  Matthew 7:1-2

Sensibility is the coming to know your-self and how we see that self in our relationship with the world and with others. It is also awareness of our presence in a space and time.  When I am excessively occupied with activities, things-to-do and worry, my sense of self is diminished.  I separate myself from what is present and important, from people and from God.

Every time I teach a yoga class we begin by creating awareness.  We feel and deepen our breath; we feel our feet or bottom on the floor.  We begin to feel – become sensitive to the space we are in. It is a part of what I have been studying in Gestalt Pastoral Care courses that demonstrate how we hold wounds, physical and emotional in parts of our body. And in our human nature to protect our image of self we bury the hurt, the shame or the fear.  We get busy or overeat or use substances to entomb the feelings.

So often in my own Gestalt work I come to the truth that the flaws I see in others are present in my own wounds.  In the practice of yoga the asana (poses) opens areas of the body we hold closed much of the time.  The breath combined with movement may bring about feelings or sensations that rise to our awareness. The time of meditation opens space to experience internal and external sensations.  We become sensitive to our inner being  and can explore our self  while God’s grace meets us there.

When I practice this, a light of compassion always rises in the morning of my soul.  Others become mirrors for me instead of irritations, and I learn.  Yet still  I avoid or distract myself and a reminder comes that urges me to get out the mat and get to work.

This week I pray you are open to your senses, all of them.  And that you find your-self growing to find peace and compassion for yourself and others.






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

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.

By Heart

HeartI know it by heart! My yoga practice has taught me many things but most recently during a “heart -opening” practice I have learned compassion. Now I have generally thought of myself as a compassionate person, after all, I went to nursing school and learned how to comfort the sick and their families. I learned about the psychology of the ill person and the effect of emotional stress on the body. But newly discovered (for me as I am surely not the first to notice) is that compassion is something you learn by heart, not by mind. That true empathy comes from experience.

As a Christian who practices and teaches yoga I am keenly aware of God’s presence and every now and then that joyous filling of the Holy One in Spirit through me. What I feel is not my mind being happy or my body being stronger,though these are positive side effects of practice and prayer. What I feel is my heart filling with love and compassion. A strange mix of joy and a reminder of suffering. The sacrifice made for me on a now empty cross was brutal and made by the One who taught love and compassion. I am to love God with all my heart, all my mind and all my strength and to love my neighbor as myself.

So my ego when left unchecked lives into the sin of me first, but when I open my heart to the healing love of God I can experience joy and peace that can be born from great suffering. That suffering of my own, though nothing to compare, has allowed me to know this by heart.