I have been writing for the Herald Citizen’s Religion section for about a year now and have enjoyed sharing with everyone my thoughts, beliefs, and what I have learned on this great journey called life. As I read other writers’ articles, I embrace the diversity of our beliefs, and it’s great that we can share what we believe with grace and in peace. I honor whatever anyone believes because I know that we’re all on this journey together.
As an Ordained Interfaith Minister, I love the diversity and goodness that I see in all religions. When we can come together in Love, we find that we have so much more in common than not. I’ve written this numerous times, but my favorite verse in the Bible is John 13:34 where Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” That’s the one I try to live by. To me, that means that I should love everyone unconditionally regardless of who they are, what they are, what they believe, or what they’ve done in their lives. My purpose is to love that person, and the rest is between them and the God of their understanding. Loving one another in the way Jesus loved is the lesson that Jesus taught. Is it easy? Goodness, gracious no. Even with my best intentions, I still have troubles with that one. One of my biggest challenges is in not judging the judgers, hating the haters, or complaining about the complainers.
I’m learning more and more the importance of going to Spirit (which is the name I use for God) directly and listening to that still, small inner voice within. John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Sometimes that voice is just a quiet, gentle nudge. Other times, it’s like having someone scream in my ear, especially when I’m not paying attention, and Spirit gives me what I call that “love smack on the back of my head.” But when I listen to Spirit’s voice, it never steers me wrong. I can always count on it to be just, loving, and nothing but the Truth so help me God.
It’s great that we have churches where we can learn from others what they learned on their journey. It’s also great to be able to fellowship with like-minded believers. Books and CD’s/tapes are another great way to grow spiritually. I’ve learned, though, that no matter what I learn from whom, that I always need to check it with Spirit directly to see if it is true and right for me. Spirit will always guide me and direct me as long as I listen.
There are many ways to connect directly with Spirit if we are not feeling connected all the time. I’ll be honest…there are times in my life when I feel lost and alone, and I don’t feel Spirit in my life, although I know it’s always there. I just lost my little boy (Toy Poodle) and it absolutely devastated me. I was feeling so much pain and grief that I felt like I was all alone. It’s okay to have those spiritual temper tantrums. We can scream, swear, cry, beat a pillow... whatever we need to do to get through it. Spirit is right there waiting saying, “It’s okay. You go right ahead and have your temper tantrum, and I’ll be right here waiting for you and loving you through it. Then we’ll continue right where we left off.” There are many ways to “feel” that relationship once again if we feel we’ve lost it. Prayer, meditation, fasting, and getting out in nature are great ways to again feel that all loving feeling of Spirit.
I also like to use affirmations to continuously repeat until I can clear all that negative clutter out of my brain. “Life loves me and supports me, and keeps me safe and well.” “In the sanctuary of my heart, I feel the peace and love of Spirit.” “I experience life with optimism and confidence.” “The wisdom of Spirit lies within me.” There are so many others you can use.
So, as we move into the year 2012, let us remember the most important commandment Jesus gave us: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” When we do this, we all win. And so it is.
(Published in the Herald Citizen newspaper December 23, 2011.)