Saturday, February 25, 2017

Love is Sane; Fear is Not

“Everyone is on a spiritual journey; most people just don’t know it.  Spirituality refers not to some theological dynamic outside ourselves, but to how we choose to use our minds.  The spiritual path is the path of the heart; at every moment, we’re either walking the path of love and creating happiness, or swerving from it and creating suffering.  Every thought we think leads deeper into love or deeper into fear.  Love is sane, and fear is not.”

“The spiritual universe is the Mind of God.  Miracles are the thoughts of love, extended from the Mind of God through the mind of humans and out into the world.  God is Love, and as God’s children, so are we.  Our purpose on earth is to think as God thinks, which means to love as God loves.  When our minds are attuned to love, things unfold miraculously.  Loving thought creates loving feelings, and loving feelings create loving behavior.  In this way we create happiness for ourselves and for those around us.”

The above is an excerpt from an article in the March/April 2017 issue of Unity Magazine titled “The Miraculous Universe,” which was written by Marianne Williamson in her book, “Tears to Triumph.”

I’ve always believed that when we were born, we were born as the pure, unconditional, perfect love of God (by whatever name you use).  If we were made in God’s image, and God is Love, then how can we be anything else?  After we’re born, we start to become ‘humanized.’  Our caregivers begin to teach us what it is to be human by passing onto us all their strengths and weaknesses, all their beliefs, and everything they’ve learned from their own life experiences.  And soon, we begin to forget who we really are.

I also believe that on some level within our hearts and minds, we have a slight remembrance of how it felt to be embraced in this love so pure that human words cannot even begin to describe it.  Therefore, we become seekers of Truth, and on our spiritual path, we try to remember this love that we once knew so well.  In order to find this love, we need to quiet ourselves, go within, and listen to that still small voice that speaks only of love, compassion, and kindness from the deepest recesses of our souls.  This is how we know that we are hearing God’s voice because God only speaks the language of unconditional love.

Marianne Williams said, “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”  Willa Cather stated, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”  And A Course in Miracles teaches, “Teach only love, for that is what you are.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 24, 2017.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Shack

“The Shack” is a beautiful book by Wm. Paul Young that has been made into a movie being released March 3.  Though it is a work of fiction, it has so much spiritual truth in it, and it questions everything we might ever have believed, but in a good way.  And even though its foundation is Christianity, there is something to be found for people of all faiths. 

The story is about Mackenzie, a man who suffered a great tragedy that turned his life upside down.  Four years later on a very snowy day, he receives a note in the mail signed by God suggesting they meet at the shack that was part of what caused ‘the great sadness’ in his life.  Not knowing what to expect, he decides to venture back to the shack and back into his darkest nightmare.

Instead of the beaten down empty building he once knew, the shack had been transformed into a beautiful home.  To his absolute surprise, God answered the door in the form of a beautiful black woman.  Jesus was there, too, as well as the Holy Spirit in the form of a very pixyish yet amazing young woman.  It questioned everything he believed about who or what these three entities were, but they appeared to him in these forms for reasons that would start healing his heart from ‘the great sadness’ and all the horrible experiences from his past.

Please open your mind and see this movie as there really is so much to be learned from it.  Better yet, please read the book, too!  Of course, I may not have agreed with everything in it, but that’s okay.  We can take from it what works for us, file in our minds what we need to ponder further, or just ignore anything that doesn’t resonate with us.  And yet I received so much wisdom and knowledge about who or what God really is (by whatever name you use) and just how much we are totally and unconditionally loved no matter who we are or what we’ve done in life.

In the book, Jesus said, “Those who love me have come from every system that exists.  They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims; some are Democrats, some Republicans and many don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.  I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous.  Some are bankers and bookies, American and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians.  I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.” 

I think Jesus said it well.  And if you love “The Shack,” please read the sequel* “Crossroads.”  You’ll love it just as much if not more. 

“As much as you are able, rest in what trust you have in me, no matter how small, okay?”  God.

*Clarification:  "Crossroads" isn't an actual sequel to "The Shack" with the same characters, but is a sequence of books with the same, but different, story line of meeting God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit with different characters.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 17, 2017.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Peace Happens One Heart at a Time

One of my favorite poems on Peace is “The Prayer of Peace” by Ilchi Lee.  It’s a beautiful prayer and probably says more than I could ever say on the topic, especially when it comes to peace and religion.  (Verses are separated by commas.)

“I offer this prayer of peace, Not to the Christian God, Nor to the Buddhist God, Nor to the Islamic God, Nor to the Jewish God, But to the God of all humanity.

For the peace that we wish for, Is Not a Christian peace, Nor a Buddhist peace, Nor an Islamic peace, Nor a Jewish peace, But a human peace, For all of us.

I offer this prayer of peace, To the God that lives within all of us, That fills us with happiness and joy, To make us whole, And help us understand life, As an expression of love for all human beings.

For no religion can be better, Than any other religion, For no truth can be truer, Than any other truth, For no nation can be bigger, Than the earth itself.

Help us all go beyond, Our small limits, And realize that we are one, That we are all from the earth.  That we are all earth people, Before we are Indians, Koreans, or Americans.

God made the earth, We humans have to make it prosper, By realizing that we are of the earth
And not of any nation, race, or religion, By knowing that we are truly one, In our spiritual heritage.

Let us now apologize, To all humanity, For the hurt that religions have caused, So that we can heal the hurt, Let us now promise to one another, To go beyond egotism and competition, To come together as one in God.

I offer this prayer of peace, To you the almighty, To help us find you within all of us, So that we may stand proudly, One day before you, As one humanity.  I offer this prayer of peace, With all my fellow earth people, For a lasting peace on earth.”

I wish I had the magic words that would bring love and peace to everyone in the world, but I don’t.  What I can do is to work on myself to try to be the most loving and peaceful person I can be, as well as to commit random acts of kindness whenever and wherever I can.  When we do so, we spread a little bit of that love and peace to all those around us.

Galatians 5:22 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “If we are to have peace on earth…our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”   Dr. King also said, “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 10, 2017.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Never Give Up Hope

I admit it.  I enjoy Facebook.  I’ve connected with old friends, as well as made new friends from all over the world.  It used to be that the majority of the posts I saw on my stream were spiritual and inspirational.  Now?  Not so much.  The majority of the posts I see are now political.  I don’t mind the political as long as they inform and are from legitimate sources.

I’m also seeing countless posts about the millions of people, not only from our country, but from all over the world who are uniting and coming together for the common cause of embracing each other with love, peace, and harmony.  We’re done with the hate, bigotry, and ignorance that are separating people. 

What’s sad and heart-breaking is to see all the comments from people, some I know and others I don’t, who are expressing their fears and hopelessness at seeing what is occurring because of politics.  In fact, some are living in complete terror and it doesn’t matter their color, race, religion, politics, nationality, gender, etc.  One friend commented that she gets up with less and less hope, that she goes to bed feeling defeated, and that this is not the country she loves and was so proud of.  Most people really do love and care for our country and its people.  And then there are those who could care less about others as long as it doesn’t affect them.  Until it does. 

We need to uplift others with love and hope, but there are times that even I feel discouraged and hopeless.  It is during these times that I need to get quiet, go within, listen to spirit, and be reminded of who we really are.  We are messengers of light, love, and peace and we need to continue to try to lift people up and to encourage each other to never give up.  There’s always hope.

As for Facebook, there are all kinds of posts that show people coming together in spite of the illusions of any differences.  They warm my heart and re-fuel my hope.  I’ve seen numerous videos and posts that have had me bawling a river of tears because of the love and kindness people are showing towards each other.  We’re coming together to be supportive and encouraging, and we’re reminding each other that we really are one humanity regardless of what we look like, what we do, or where we live.

Maya Angelou said, “Love recognizes no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.  Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.  Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”  And for those who follow Jesus’ teachings, he stated, “As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 3, 2017.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Power of Love

I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Women’s March held in Nashville, and I know numerous people from Cookeville attended marches in Washington, Chattanooga, and elsewhere.  What an amazing experience with 15,000 to 20,000 marching in Nashville alone! 

The diversity of those participating was fantastic!  Men, women, children, people from all religions, colors, races, politics, genders, and more, came together in love and peace for a common cause…to unite humanity for the civil rights of all people. 

These marches didn’t just occur in America; they were happening all over the world!  It warmed my heart to see millions of people loving, supporting, and encouraging each other to be brave, stand tall, and to know that we will not let anyone take us backwards in time, and that we will continue to promote equality for all.  There has never been a one-day protest this large in the history of the U.S., and overall, every one of them was very peaceful.

This is much more than politics.  In this time of spiritual awakening, people are coming to the realization that we really are all connected.  No matter where we live in the world, we are all human beings, and we need to really start loving and caring for each other.  I’ll say it again and again.  Jesus commanded us to love one another and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  He didn’t make any exceptions.  The great spiritual masters from all religions taught the same thing, and people are starting to get it.   The love and connection we felt towards each other at these marches was phenomenal, and I believe that this love is going to continue to grow!

Recently, I was in a situation where I was with some people who didn’t believe the way I did (which was fine), and some negative comments were made about others.  I felt myself begin to shrink inside when I suddenly heard the words very clearly, “Don’t shrink!  Shine!”  I can’t let anyone make me feel less than or that I don’t matter.  We ALL matter and we are ALL meant to shine!  When we embrace each other with love, compassion, and kindness, then love will always prevail!

James Van Praagh wrote, “You are a soul being beyond human comprehension; your soul light endures through eternity.  The power of love not only transforms your soul but also contributes more to the world than you’ll ever know.”  The Dalai Lama stated, “I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.  The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.”  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper January 27, 2017.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dear Humanity...

Chuck Lorre is a television writer, producer and composer, and has created numerous successful sitcoms.  At the end of his TV programs, he writes what he calls “vanity cards” and shows them at the end of the credits.  I’ve often wondered what they said as they weren’t on long enough to read.  I decided to look them up on the Internet and found that he posts all of these cards for everyone to see.  I began reading through them and found that Lorre has a beautiful spiritual side; therefore, many of his cards are filled with much wisdom and knowledge that would be of interest to the spiritual seeker.

One of my favorites is card #524:  “I don't mean to offend anyone, but God told me to write this vanity card. The following are His words. I just took dictation.  ‘Dear Humanity, You are all animated by me. Like electricity lights a bulb, I light you. What you call awareness is, in fact, me. Some awareness plays soaring piano concertos, some shoots three from the perimeter, some drive around in little cars looking for parking violations.  It's still me.  Just in a different guise.  God in drag, if you will.  Simply put, each and every one of you is a perfect expression of my timeless, universe-straddling ineffability.  You are also meaningless and inconsequential.  It's a paradox, I know.  But only to you.  Which brings me to the purpose of this vanity card.  In your endless quest to forge an identity, you have lost sight of what you are.  So I will say it again.  When you strip away all the temporary labels - American, Iranian, Israeli, Russian, Chinese, young man, old woman, soldier, florist, gay, straight, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, or Jew - when those identities are taken away, and believe me, they eventually will be, then all that is left of me. Consider this the next time you feel compelled to hurt or kill someone.  Look at them.  See me.  Then act.  On a lighter note, that was a really funny episode of Big Bang tonight! That Sheldon is a hoot!’”

This card was the very first one I chose to read and talk about having a wow moment!  What he wrote is so true.  If we strip away all our labels, all you have is God (by whatever name you use).  It’s the labels that keep us separated from each other, and most importantly, separated from God.  Everything in existence really is connected and we are all a part of each other. 

Swami Vivekananda said, “Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.” Thich Nhat Hanh stated, “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.”  And as I always say, “If you want to see God’s face, look in the mirror.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper January 20, 2017.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Magic of Synchronicity

Synchronicity, serendipity, coincidences…  All three have meanings in common, but synchronicity has a little more of a spiritual or magical quality.  In other words, synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence.

Synchronicity is something that seems to have happened just by chance, but when looked at more closely, we come to see that it was meant to happen.  We’ve all experienced them.  It’s those moments where the odds of something occurring are so great that they leave us in awe and they can take our breath away. 

As we move forward on a serious spiritual path, the synchronicities occur more often and at faster speeds sometimes leaving us stunned and amazed.  It’s a ‘wow’ moment that reminds us that there really is a plan.  It can also give our spiritual lives a huge boost in confidence, while at the same time increasing our faith and belief that all of life is connected.  For many of us who are awakening, synchronicity reminds us of our direct link with the spiritual realm.

Recently, I had such a wonderful synchronistic experience that it actually brought me to tears.   A beautiful soul from our church had recently passed and a memorial was held to honor her wonderful life.  A couple nights before, the secretary from our church asked me if I had a template for a memorial program since I’ve done them in the past.  I told her I’d be happy to put a program together for her.  I immediately got on the computer and was able to easily design all but the poem on the back.  I wanted the poem to be special in order to honor the exceptional lady that she was.  I searched for numerous poems, but I couldn’t decide which one would be perfect enough for her.  Finally, I settled on one that was very charming and I hoped it might be meaningful for her and to all the attendees.

At the service, a visitor spoke up and said she was surprised that this poem was on the back of the program because she had previously taken the poem and put it to music.  She then proceeded to the piano where she sang this magnificent song.  Her voice was like an angel and the melody, along with the words, brought many of us to tears. 

I was astonished at the synchronicity of it and that it did have so much meaning to those present.  It was a great reminder that we are all spiritually connected, and because of that direct connection, it helped me choose the perfect song for this occasion.  From now on, I will surely be more aware of other synchronicities that may occur in my life and will always be just as amazed as I was with this one.

“When you stop existing and you start truly living, each moment of the day comes alive with the wonder and synchronicity.” Steve Marabol

“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through intuitive knowledge.”  Deepak Chopra

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper January 13, 2017.