Saturday, March 28, 2015

Are You Listening?

Now that the weather is starting to get nice, I decided to start my walking routine again.  I love being out in the fresh air among nature!  The other day, I was enjoying my walk when all of a sudden, my foot went off the side of the newly paved road and down I went, badly twisting my ankle and scraping my knee and finger.  Lying on the road, more embarrassed than anything, I jumped back up and tried to move like nothing happened hoping that no one saw me go down. 

Afterwards, I asked Spirit why that happened and what I heard was, “Karen, when someone knocks you down, you have to keep getting back up.  You need to stand up for yourself and not let anyone treat you less than you deserve.”  Immediately I thought, “You couldn’t have just told me that without my getting laid out flat on the road?!?!” 

Many of us have those conversations.  Some say we’re communicating with God.  We may call it the Universe, Spirit, Life, Angels, our Higher Self…it doesn’t matter the name we give to it or the gender.  It’s that loving inner voice that quietly speaks to us, guides us, and is always there with us.  There are some who don’t believe anyone communicates with us in a spiritual or mystical way, and that’s okay. 

I was first made aware of that voice when I was in my mid 20’s.  It was probably always with me, but I may have just never listened.  At first, I wasn’t sure what that voice was or who it was coming from.  As I began a serious spiritual journey, I learned that voice was from my soul and that if I listened, she would never steer me wrong.  It’s only when I don’t listen that I get myself into trouble.

One of the first times the voice became very clear to me was when I lived in Hollywood, California, and stopped into a Christian bookstore where I met two transsexuals.  I had never met anyone who was transsexual before so I was kind of freaking out and was filled with judgment.  Suddenly, I heard the words, “Karen, these are my children and I love them just as much as any of my children.”  I wasn’t sure where that voice came from, but I heard it loud and clear.

It took some years and gaining more spiritual wisdom before I fully understood this voice, but I learned to listen to her and trust that she always had my best interests at heart, as well as the best interests of others.  Whenever I found myself judging someone, this voice would gently tell me that there was always a bigger picture and that I should instead feel love and compassion for the person.  If I’m in a hurry and feeling impatient, the voice speaks words to calm me down and to know that I should never question delays because they could be saving me from harm on down the road.  And when I’m hard on myself, the voice sets me straight in reminding me who I really am and that I need to lighten up and show love and compassion to myself as well.

The voice has also saved me from harm many times.  I remember driving on a country road and the voice told me to slow down and get ready to stop.  Sure enough, around the curve was a deer standing in the middle of the road and the voice saved me from hitting her.  Another time, I was coming up on a traffic light.  The left turn light was green, yet the voice warned me to stop.  Of course, I argued saying I had the green light.  I was told again to stop, so I did.  Just then, a semi-truck went through the red light in the one direction and a car went through in the other direction.  If I had gone through, I would have been sandwiched and probably killed.  Things like this have happened too many times to mention.

There are some who might think I’ve gone bonkers and that God or whomever no longer communicates with people because they believe it only happened in Biblical times.  But I believe this voice speaks to us today as well.  How do we know if it’s the voice of God?  We know when the words are uplifting and spoken only with unconditional love.  If the words are spoken with hate or bringing someone down, then it is not of God. 

Amit Ray stated, “There is a God part in you. The consciousness. The pure Self. Learn to listen to the voice of that Power.”   That voice will always be with you and guiding you.  Are you listening? 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 27, 2015.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spiritual Movies That Inspire

Movies have been a passion of mine ever since I was young and dreamed of becoming an actress. My favorite movies are message movies, especially if they involve anything having to do with spirituality.  I’ve learned from so many of them as many are full of so much spiritual wisdom.

One of the very first message movies I saw was “Billy Jack” released in 1971 and then the following sequels.  It was because of this movie that I went to live on an Indian reservation in British Columbia and lived with the most remarkable people who remain family to me to this day.  It also started my journey with Native American Spirituality.  One bit of wisdom that has stayed with me all these years is when Billy said “What’s going to happen is going to happen and all the worrying in the world isn’t going to change a thing.”

Since then, I’ve seen many spiritual message movies and I would like to share some of them here, all of which I highly recommend.

“What Dreams May Come” starring the beloved Robin Williams.  It was considered a fantasy drama about what one might experience in the afterlife.   It opened my mind to the possibilities of what we could experience after we leave the earth plane.

“The Way” starring Martin Sheen.  Sheen’s character has a son (played by his real life son Emilio Estevez), who dies while starting his walk on “The Way of St. James” (Camino de Santiago in Europe).  Instead of returning home immediately, the father decides to finish the walk, and along the way, he finds himself and discovers the difference between “the life we live and the life we choose.” 

The “Peaceful Warrior” based on a best-selling book (true story) written by Dan Millman about the power of the human spirit.  After a life-changing experience, he meets a man named Socrates, and an elusive woman, both who teach him the secret to overcome incredible odds and learn the wisdom into new worlds of strength and understanding.  There were several sequels that continue the story and/or are along a similar path of wisdom, which were just as intriguing.

“The Celestine Prophecy,” based on a best-selling novel and philosophy by James Redfield, is about an out-of-work teacher who embarks on an amazing adventure to the rainforests of Peru in search of nine ancient scrolls known as the Celestine Prophecy.  These nine insights predict a worldwide awakening that gives a new definition to human life and gives him a glimpse into a deeper level of spirituality on earth.  Through many coincidences and an intriguing plot, he learns the meaning of each insight.  There were also several sequels, all just as spell-binding as the first.

“Conversations with God” based on the book series by Neale Donald Walsch, is very inspiring and based on Walsch’s own life.  After a reasonable amount of success, Walsch lost everything, became homeless, experienced a debilitating injury, and looks for meaning through it all.  Since then, he has become an author of numerous successful books (translated into over 34 languages).

Other movies I would highly recommend are “Ambition to Meaning, Finding Your Life’s Purpose” by Wayne Dyer about his spiritual journey.  “I AM” by Tom Shadyac asking “What’s wrong with our world and what can we do about it?  “What the Bleep Do We Know” explores the spiritual connection between quantum physics and consciousness.  “You Can Heal Your Life” based on the life and work of Louise L. Hay and about the many ways people can heal their own lives.  “The Wayshower” and “The Mystical Traveler” based on the spiritual journey of John-Roger.

Of course, there are many more that I would love to recommend.  The key is to watch the ones that resonate with you.  And if none of them do, that’s fine.  The important thing is to be sure we check what we’re learning with our own inner spiritual consciousness to see if it rings true for us.  If not, then ignore it, but let’s not criticize or find fault just because it’s something we might not believe. 

The wisdom and knowledge from God (Life, the Universe, the God of your understanding) can come through many sources and many teachers.  As Eckhart Tolle stated, “I cannot tell you any spiritual truth that deep within you don't know already.  All I can do is remind you of what you have forgotten. Living knowledge, ancient and yet ever new, is then activated and released from within you.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 20, 2015.

Friday, March 6, 2015

You'll Never Walk Alone

This week was the one year anniversary when we lost two members of our church from a murder suicide.  These two beautiful spirits, for whatever reasons, ended up leaving this earth plane early.  To say it was a complete shock to our church community is an understatement.  We knew that they were having their challenges and many of us tried to help them, but no one knew the extent of the darkness they were experiencing to have caused them to make that split second decision of no return.

A few months before that, we lost another beautiful soul when she took her own life on the side of a country road.  Again, we knew she was having her challenges, but no one was aware of how bad it was until we received the news that she had left us in such a tragic way.

Suicide is a very hard issue for many to understand.  Some people believe that it is a very selfish act and that the person was only thinking of themselves, or that all they had to do was snap out of it.  Those are very judgmental beliefs because until we have been in their shoes, we do not have a clue as to the extent of what that person was experiencing.   When someone is in that deep dark abyss with no sign of the light at the end of the tunnel, they lose all hope, and it only takes a split second of extreme despair to end it.  I always say never take away a person’s hope because that may be all they have left.  We need to realize that people who commit suicide don’t really want to die…they just want their pain to end.  Many are feeling so depressed and hopeless that they really believe that everyone would be better off without them. 

So, how can we help those who seem so lost and hopeless?  Love them.  Be there for them.  Listen to them.  Help them.  Give them hope. Get them professional help if needed.  Some people just need to know that someone cares.  If all you can do is send a card saying you’re thinking about them, then even that can make a difference.  Be very careful of what you say and please don’t say “All you have to do is….”   Your words should be kind, compassionate, and loving.  There are many stories where someone was contemplating taking their life, but all it took was one person to let them know that someone cared and they changed their mind.  I learned that early when I had a college friend confide that before she met me, she was going to kill herself.  I didn’t have a clue, and I didn’t do anything except to be her friend. 

How can we in churches help our members and attendees through their dark periods?  Stop judging!  Stop criticizing!  Stop demonizing!  There are many who quit going to church for these very reasons!  The sole purpose of those of us in the spiritual communities is to love unconditionally!  People in darkness need to feel that their very lives and feelings matter and that they are loved, cherished, and wanted regardless of who they are or what their issues are.  When the church community in particular condemns and demonizes people just because of a difference in beliefs, and when some church leaders (and some politicians) actually say that certain people should die and that we’d be better off without them, regardless of the issue, this is extremely unconscionable!

If you’re one who is struggling and having a hard time hanging on, I wish I had the magic words to help you hang in there and to let you know that you are loved, appreciated, and valued JUST AS YOU ARE!  This will pass, and once you get through it, you’ll be a stronger and better person because of what you experienced and then you can be there to help others because you understand!  You can be a great success because you did go through the darkness!

I leave you with the great lyrics from the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone:”  “When you walk through the storm, Hold your head up high, And don't be afraid of the dark, At the end of the storm is a golden sky, And the sweet silver song of the lark.  Walk on, through the wind, Walk on, through the rain, Though your dreams be tossed and blown, Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, And you'll never walk alone…You'll never walk alone.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper, March 6, 2015.