Logging in to pray

I left the house at 6:45 this morning to get my three-mile walk in while it was still only 81 degrees. Truly, it was a beautiful morning and one of those rare peaceful times when I could consciously plug into creation. It’s an amazing thing to recognize that my body, at its most basic building block, is made of the very same stuff as the trees, birds, water and dirt. And it’s an awe-inspiring concept to think of the energy of the universe (quantum physics tells us that everything is energy), the energy of God (if you will), is in and around and through everything. Yes, everything… even the people who drive us nuts. Anyway I could feel that this morning, and that was my prayer time.

Theologian Matthew Fox says, “Prayer is the process of rerooting oneself… the essence of prayer, is the way we are altered to see everything from its life-filled dimension, to feel the mysteries of life as they are present within and around us… Prayer is the process of becoming alive, of rooting ourselves in life.”

So many folks worry about how to pray, as if there is a way to do it right. Sorry, there is no magic position, place, words or formula. But there is a goal. The goal is to reroot oneself, to get grounded again in the Divine, your Source, your Higher Self, Love Energy, or whatever you want to call it.

Here’s how I see it… I believe we are all have a spark of the Divine within us. When we pray we connect with that spark, which is energetically connected to everything, because God is IN everything. The Divine hears, or knows, or senses our needs/intentions for ourselves and others and connects us to those who can help us, sends us the comfort, strength or courage we need, or delivers our love to those we are sending it to.  This may sound a little crazy, but I think it is sort of like the internet. Bear with me for a second… perhaps prayer is like logging on to the internet where we are instantly connected by invisible energy waves to everything. From that connection we can draw support, encouragement, guidance, etc., or we can send messages, or seek help and information.

Whereas we can shut off our computers and disconnect from the web, we are always connected to the energetic web of Love, Spirit, God. However, the more we are conscious of our connection, the more we are rooted in the Divine as the essence of life, the more apt I believe we are to see the Spirit working in our lives. We may find that there are more “coincidences”, we feel more positive, we are able to be more loving and patient toward others, and we are more likely to follow our intuition and God nudges (ok, sometimes those are more like a swift kick).

So, log in, often! You can do that by dancing, hugging, walking, being quiet, listening to music, painting, gardening, biking, talking with a friend, yoga, meditation… just about anything as long as you are conscious of God/Love with you, in you and around you. Oh, and you don’t even have to say “Amen” if you don’t want to!

~ Peace, Kaye

Who am I?

Thomas Merton once said,

“And if I never become what I am meant to be, but always remain what I am not, I shall spend eternity contradicting myself by being at once something and nothing, a life that wants to live and is dead, and a death that wants to be dead and cannot quite achieve its own death because it still has to exist.”

Following a true spiritual path means that we are in a constant state of becoming… or at least we should be. I’ve met a number of people along the way who were just done. Done learning. Done growing. Done changing. Done. They had it all figured out, including God. Which is really too bad. Why? you may ask. Because there is no way they could become who God created them to be after they stopped.

You see, each day brings us new information, new experiences, and new possibilities. These things must be incorporated into who we are and help shape who we can become, or we live a stagnant existence. Picture a stagnant pond – stinky, overgrown with green slimy stuff, a breeding place for mosquitos, contaminated water, and other yucky things. Not the way I like to picture my soul. To become we need a continuing source of fresh, clean, life-giving water.

Life is a fluid, dynamic process, a constant moving toward who we were created to be. To engage the process of becoming means to practice self-awareness and initiate change. How are we touched and affected by the events of our lives? Why do certain things push our buttons and set us off? Why do we do what we do and say what we say? Are we living a path with heart, or just living? When are we willing to risk and when do we allow fear to control us? When is it time to hang on and when is it time to let go? Are we stuck in a rut or willing to try new things? The list goes on and on.

So then, self-awareness is great, but it means next to nothing if we don’t act on it. There was a point in my life where I was so angry with my father that whenever I saw him I couldn’t even look him in the eye. I was aware of my behavior, and my anger. I knew my soul was hurting and our relationship had issues. It took a while because I don’t like conflict any more than the next person, but eventually I was able to talk through all of it with him, and things got better. At least I could look him in the eye again when I saw him.

We need to engage this flow of self-awareness, action, and becoming or we will remain who we are not, instead of daring to become who we are. We will live in the uncomfortable place of limbo that Merton talks about, where we do not let the parts of us that need to die, die; nor do we let the parts of us that need to live, live.

Peace ~ Kaye

Reframing the Devil and Hell

The follow is the abbreviated version of my sermon from yesterday. This blog is predicated on my belief that the devil and hell are mythological, but have metaphorical meaning for us today. If you would like to still take them literally, that’s fine. Each person needs to come to their own understanding of how the world, and the supernatural world, works.

When things got very difficult at the church I was at before this, I had one woman who kept telling me that all the bad things were happening to me because the closer I got to God, the more “the devil’s little imps” were out to get me. Then she’d say, “I know you don’t believe that, but that’s how I see it.” And I’d chuckle and say, “I know, that’s fine.”

The devil is a great way to personify evil, and a great way to explain why people do hurtful things to others. “The devil made me do it.”  Really? My biggest problem with this is that it removes responsibility from the person. It makes it sound like whatever they were doing was beyond their control. How convenient for them.

The way I reframe this is to understand that when we do things that are wrong, immoral, or hurtful, we are truly acting out of our lower ego selves. We are acting out of the side of ourselves that has been hurt before, that is broken, that is fearful. Sometimes we call this our shadow side. All of those things are “the devil in us,” if you will. To use the Old Testament understanding of “satan” they are the things that obstruct us in our thinking, are our obstacles to acting as Love would have us act. And sometimes it may almost feel like we’ve got the proverbial devil and angel on our shoulders as we debate how we will respond to something.  Perhaps someone hurts us and there is a little part of us that really want to go slash their tires, which argues with the side of ourselves that says “love your enemies… do not return hurt for hurt.” I’d love to be able to blame the tire-slashing side of myself on someone else, or something else, but I know it is really just me acting out of my own hurt and fear.

The spiritual path is an interior journey to our highest self. That requires that we come to terms with our lower self and do not allow that part of ourselves to act in harmful ways toward others. I don’t care if someone calls you names, or lashes out with hurtful, angry words, the higher spiritual path makes us stop and see that what they are doing comes from their lower, hurt ego self and we do not have to go to that place in ourselves. We can resist the devil in us, to use the metaphor, and respond with calm and love and understanding.

So, what about hell? The original concepts of heaven and hell necessitate that we have a God of rewards and punishments. This God rains down judgment, keeps track of our actions, waits to see if the good side or the bad side of the list is longer when we die, and then sends us to the appropriate place. This God reminds me more of people (or the Santa Claus God – making a list and checking it twice) than a Supreme Being , or Divine Energy that is LOVE. People say, what about “tough love.” Tough love does not ever condemn anyone to eternal punishment. That in and of itself is evil.

Perhaps heaven and hell made sense in the ancient world where heaven was literally in the clouds and hell was literally in the center of the earth, and all things – good and bad – happened because you were either being rewarded or punished by God.  But, I believe we’ve evolved beyond those concepts. Today, I see the system of Divine rewards and punishments as an extremely convenient way for the churches and religious authorities to keep people in line and keep them attending and giving to the church. Fear has always been one of the greatest motivators.

There are folks who have said, what’s the point in going to church if you aren’t going to be punished for not going. To which I want to ask, “What exactly is our spiritual journey about?” Is it about checking off the right boxes on a list that men created? Or is it about searching inside to find our intimate connection with “Something More?” To go beyond the illusion that we are all separated from each other and from our Source, to knowing, deeply, that we are all ONE?

So what does it look like to use hell as a metaphor?  If heaven, metaphorically, is being where God lives, being close to God, then perhaps hell is that place where we feel the farthest from God (my belief structure says that we are never actually separated from God because God is everywhere, including within us, but we FEEL separated). Perhaps hell is the chaos that happens in our lives which throws us so far off balance that we are no longer centered in God, who is the ground of our being. In those times we experience loneliness, fear, pain, sorrow, despair, and hurt to such a degree that we feel abandoned by God. Or our lives get filled with so much distraction from problems at work, or home, or family that, again, we feel completely separated from God. With these metaphorical understandings, both heaven and hell are possible now, today.

And, while I don’t see heaven as a lavish reward for what we do on earth, I do believe in an afterlife. I do believe our souls are infinite. Bishop Joh Shelby Spong, in his book “Why Christianity Must Change or Die,” says that our only mission is “to make it possible for everyone else to live, to love, and to be… our task is not to convert, but to call people into the depths of their own capacity to BE”(emphasis, mine). This is why we gather… to learn, to grow, to support and be supported in BEING… to live, to love, to sing, to pray, to seek justice… that is what community is for. It is not an insurance policy for the life to come, but a place to seek healing, wholeness and companionship on the spiritual journey.