MY WAYS ARE NOT YOUR WAYS

October 18, 2017

I have always wondered why we spend so much time trying to understand and explain that which has already told us we cannot explain. Why is it that we are not okay with not being able to explain God. Why is it not okay to just say I do not know.

The more I try to conceptualize and theorize about this force many call God, the more I realize we will never be able to do more, in this realm, then have experiences which allow us to know we have just had an encounter with the Divine. For some it is enough that we sit in those moments where we know we have experienced the presence of the Divine.

One of the liberating lessons I have learned from my study of Toltec Wisdom is that it is what it is nothing more, nothing less. What if we sat with our experiences with the Divine in that way, not making more or less of the experience then it is. When we do are we not in some way dishonoring the authenticity and uniqueness of that experience. If we dishonor the experience, are we also dishonoring the Divine.

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BUNDLES IN A FIELD

October 3, 2017

Growing up in a Jewish household, there were a few stories my Bubby used to tell me which continue to shape me today. One story was about how when we are born God would take you to a field that was covered with bundles. The bundle signified the troubles that you picked up to bring with you to Earth. The teaching from the rabbis was that if God were to bring you back to that field at the time of your death to pick another bundle, you would pick the same one.  We would not do anything differently.

Sometimes we think we have to come up with a plan for our lives. We don’t the plan is there, we just have to stop and listen. I remember about 16 years ago being in a space in my life where I felt as if my life was in a shamble. I was going through multiple losses, which included my mother’s death, the end of a 9-year relationship, and the near passing of my son. It was a challenging time and I did not understand anything that was going on. I remember telling God that I was tired of trying to figure it out, so as the song says lead me, guide me, and order my steps in your way and then the magic started happening.

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OPEN MY EYES

September 26, 2017

Years ago, the spiritual director I was working with talked with me about a Japanese form of self-defense called aikido. She talked with me about how when we are surprised and thrown off guard, we want to fight or free. We want to narrow our world and our vision to create this protective force around us. Rather than do so, she suggested I practice what she called “soft eyes.” Practicing soft eyes meant that I challenged myself to expand rather than contract my view of the world.

When we open our eyes, and allow ourselves to see the greatness of the world and the grace which surrounds us, it softens our heart, mind, and soul. Rather than want to resist or run when taken by surprise, practicing wonder allows us to open ourselves up to the great mystery of the world.

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THE BLIND AND THE ELEPHANT

August 28, 2017

There is a Buddhist story I love and would like to share with you this week. It is, as the title suggests, about a group of six blind men and an elephant. Whenever I think about practicing vision, this story reminds me how our vision is shaped by the perspective we are. It limits and shapes what we see and what we do not. I know I have shared this story before in the past, but some stories are worth sharing again.

Long ago six old men lived in a village in India. Each was born blind. The other villagers loved the old men and kept them away from harm. Since the blind men could not see the world for themselves, they had to imagine many of its wonders. They listened carefully to the stories told by travelers to learn what they could about life outside the village.

The men were curious about many of the stories they heard, but they were most curious about elephants. They were told that elephants could trample forests, carry huge burdens, and frighten young and old with their loud trumpet calls. But they also knew that the Rajah’s daughter rode an elephant when she traveled in her father’s kingdom. Would the Rajah let his daughter get near such a dangerous creature?

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Working on some spiritual practices in our lives is easier then others. It is easy to think about how to practice kindness, gratitude, joy, kindness, or even play. However thinking about practicing vision requires us to think outside the box. So I was excited when I found the writing of Angeles Arrien, in The Four-Fold Way Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary. She offers some concrete steps and things we can do to practice developing our inner visionary. So I thought this week I would share her ideas with you.

“Processes and Reminders: Important Practices to Develop the Inner Visionary

“1. Spend at least fifteen minutes each day in walking meditation. Record your experience in your journal or create a special meditation log.

“Walking Meditation
Accessing the Inner Creator
Accessing the Quality of Creativity

“Purpose

“The purpose of walking meditation is to honor sacred time. This is a time set aside for introspection, contemplation, discovery, and honoring the sacred or divine.

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WISDOM FROM A HOPI ELDER

August 7, 2017

It never ceases to fascinate and inspire me to read the wisdom of those on different, but similar paths to mine. Huston Smith, in his book A Seat at the Table, shared this wisdom from a Hopi Elder. These questions challenge us to critically reflect on our lives and our vision for the world. May we each reflect on these questions this week.

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?

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THANK YOU!

July 31, 2017

I have been sitting here today reflecting on the last seven years. It has been a crazy and amazing journey. So many different people have come through our doors. Some have journeyed with us for years, some for a few months, and some just came and left. Each in their own left a mark on me and this ministry. To all of you who have been a part of our journey and evolution, thank you!

I remember when I first started talking to someone about this vision and she said just start it and they will come. What has fascinated me most the last seven years is the messages and emails from people around the world.  I was not expecting that my writing would resonate with people from just about every continent in the world. It has allowed me to build relationships with people from places such as the Czech Republic, Liberia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, India, Jamaica, Russia, and Ireland. There is something about knowing that there is a language that resonates with people globally. There is a blessing in knowing that people can come together and feel the presence of the Ultimate. It is a different kind of unity then I have been thinking about all month.

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AND GOD CREATED UNITY

July 24, 2017

Years ago, when I was in seminary, one of my professors Rev. Dr. Gail Ricciuti, challenged me to think about God as an artist. I fell in love with that idea, partly because it reminded me of one of my favorite children’s books by Martha Hickman called And God Created Squash. She tells the Creation story with a God who has an awesome sense of adventure, play and creativity talking to himself in the Garden of Eden about all that he wants to create. He envisions things and creates them by calling them into being. One inspiration leads to another. For example, God falls in love with the word squash. “I like that name . . . I think I’ll use it again. Acorn squash. Butternut squash. Even zucchini squash. I might have a game and call it squash. Or put my hand on something and press down hard and call that squash.” This creative process continues until God ends by fashioning some company for himself–something, “well, more like me.”

This whole idea of God as an artist was the inspiration for one of my first sermons, called Divine by Design. Here I argued we are Divine by Design because we were designed by the Divine. If we had a label that we wore, some sort of trademark, it would say Divine Design.

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The other day, I was sent a story about an interaction between a homeless man and a manager at a Chik-fil-a. The homeless man had come in asking for remnants and anything they might be throwing away. Instead the manager offered to pray with him and then gave him a full meal. It is in these acts of radical hospitality that we practice unity. Whether this story is true or not is not important. What is important is the lesson it teaches about how to practice unity. When we honor the dignity in others and treat them with respect, then we work together in unity to promote love and kindness in the world

The world is full of people like this. The other day as I was in my mart cart waiting to check out at the grocery store, a young boy offered to help take all the groceries out of my cart. While I did not need the help, I could see that this was something he wanted to do and so I graciously accepted. What I learned was this this was a practice his parents were teaching him. Each day he is to do something kind for someone. When he does he gets a kindness sticker on his calendar. When he has a full calendar, his parents do something for him. His mom told me that one month, his act of kindness was to tell his parents they did not need to reward him for being kind. They did anyway.  He has learned to work in unity with others to help achieve little goals.

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Just Like Me

July 10, 2017

A few years ago, I read a book called The Buddha Walks Into a Bar by Lordo Rinzler. One of the things he offered a practice which helps me to practice unity in my own life. He suggested that when someone is getting on your nerves, that you remember a time when you were like that. Marc Rosen offered a similar lesson in his book Thanks for Being a Pain. When I practice remembering that I too have been a pain then it allows me to stand in unity and remember they are being just like me.

When someone is irritating me, I say to myself they are being irritating just like me. I think, “This person is irritating, just like me.” It then makes me remember and stand in unity with all those who have ever been irritating. When I judge someone, albeit a compliment or a criticism, I add just like me to the thought. When I think someone is loving and supportive, I think to myself. “This person is loving and generous, just like me.” Doing so reminds me to practice being in unity with all of myself as well as with others.

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