I live the depth of my life in two layered worlds. I have been deeply formed by the Christian message and the life of Jesus. My life has been dedicated to my conscious and active choice to model my living after this great sage. It is also true that I have journeyed to find fellow travelers seeking authentic relationship to the Universe, and that journey has moved me beyond Christianity into the broad world of enlightenment and spiritual awakening.
These worlds, for a time, seemed quite separate. I couldn’t find seekers in my church communities and it was hard to find devotees of Jesus exploring other traditions and spiritual teachers. These worlds have been coming closer together inside my own journey for the past two years.
It started when I began studying a Hindu meditation style and wondering about what a guru was. Quite clearly in my meditation, Jesus reminded me that my dedication to him made him my guru and there was an invitation to go deeper. And so I did. Jesus and I had been in a strained relationship for years, even though I still modeled my life choices after his example and teaching, so I made amends, got back in my Bible and started to pray.
The experience for me was like the colors after a rain storm. The text was vibrant in a way it hadn’t been before. The teachings were wise beyond any reading of them I had done before. I had eyes to see the meaning now. I had ears to hear. I can’t explain how profoundly those scriptures, that had been living in my bones for years, transformed into teaching that explained the process of spiritual awakening.
The Lord’s Prayer was one of those texts that blossomed before my new eyes. I could see that if I held Jesus in the light of enlightened spiritual teacher, everything changed. I wondered why everyone didn’t appreciate Jesus more? I don’t know about you, but I can have intelligent conversation just about anywhere about a teaching of Buddha without fear, but Jesus seems to trigger defensiveness. It occurred to me that I’ve never had anyone say to me that if I didn’t believe in Buddha’s teachings I’d go right to hell. Unfortunately, many Christians have stated that if I don’t believe in Jesus, that’s exactly what would happen. It’s so sad. That kind of judgement masks the message of love that I feel is the only reality of the Universe.
For these next several weeks I will be offering a daily devotional looking at the intersection of spiritual awakening and the teachings of Jesus as found in the Lord’s Prayer. Open your eyes anew to the vibrant and relevant teachings of Jesus. Join me as I knit the worlds together and open our sight and hearing.
The devotionals start tomorrow February 28th. Please Sign Up to read and pray along.
This Sunday I was on edge. It maybe started even before I began my day. The service left me in tears several times. It was just that kind of day. Janne preached about praying for each other, to be really for each other, not just with each other. It made me wonder about my place in church. I do pray. The formless void silent meditation kind and the kind where I put voice to my intentions. I hold your children in my prayer, for their joys and sorrows and for the inspiration and challenges they bring me. Sometimes you are in my prayers whether I know you or not, intending for your great good and the realization of your beauty and wholeness. I wondered though, who might be praying for me? And like I said, I was on edge.
The edge for me on Sunday was that feeling of separation that is illusory, but sometimes feels real. I was the only one signed up to teach and didn’t know who else might come. I had a strange interaction with my co-parent in the parish hall that made me wonder if I was missing something. I thought about the worship associate who spoke of friends and strangers helping her in a time of need and wondering why I was so hesitant to ask for that help last year when I was in need. It was because I was on the edge.
It seemed like it took me the whole day to come back from that edge. Two teachers showed up to help me practice spirit play. When I got home I journaled and came up with a list of people in our community who are praying for me, if not in a formal way, in an informal way without a doubt. A subsequent conversation with my co-parent brought us back into balance and I remembered and was grateful for all those friends and strangers who did show up and help me when I was in need. I came back home in myself; back into right relationship.
There was a gift on the edge in addition to all the gifts I found when I moved away from it. We had a wiggly class on Sunday and the children had a hard time listening to the story. They could hardly make it through the wondering questions. When I asked them, they would give me answers like, “nothing in this story was the best part”. And then other kids would parrot that answer. At one point I stopped and told the class that I was feeling sad that they weren’t participating thoughtfully and asked them to please participate with their whole selves. When the next child made the flip answer that nothing in the story was important, I looked at her and asked her again. And her eyes wavered. And she looked at the story. And she answered the question. A small bit of connection. A small meeting right at the edge.
I am grateful to be a part of our community. I am grateful to work with adults and children to explore the joys and struggles of life. I am grateful that I am a part of this whether I feel myself on the edge or not. It is wonderful to move away from that space and realize it was just something inside of me seeing separation and that the more true story is that I was totally surrounded by love and connection the whole time. This realization turns this story from separation into invitation. Who else is on the edge here at Unity? How do we reach out and remind them that we are connected and not alone? A potent question for me in this political landscape. Who is on the edge? Can we invite them into connection? What story do we want to create?
Building a yes
It’s a new year. I have been happily anticipating moving from the storyteller role into the door teacher role. Thankfully another teacher really wanted to tell the story consistently throughout the spring. And so when I showed up to class two weeks ago and again last week to absence, I found myself looking at my own expectations. This is a big part of my journey in Spirit Play and shows up in many different ways. It’s that moment when you show up with one idea and then something totally different happens.
And so I came to class having not prepared to tell the story and then needed to decide how to meet the moment. Since I taught the story role all last year, I knew the stories, or at least their basic outlines and after a quick consultation with my fellow teachers, I assumed the storyteller role. I can imagine another time where this quick change would have un-centered me and where I would have been disappointed. I can hear the old script in my head creating unhappiness because I wanted something different to happen. Things didn’t go my way. But, they did go a way and gratefully, I was able to go the way that the moment was going. This is that moment of “yes” that improv is famous for. The rule is to say yes to whatever story line is presented to you and continue on. This is a spiritual principle too. To accept the present moment as it is allows one a certain peace and freedom.
This aspect of flow or allowing the fullness of the moment is also an aspect of delightful play. How many times have we heard our children build a story by saying yes to each other and, of course, heard tears and protests when the action of play is stopped by a no. How wonderful to be in that opening and surprising place of being able to say yes. I have a friend who works in a middle school. There are many times where she needs to say no in her work. Instead of no, she is trying to say, “yes, and….”. She says that this sometimes works beautifully, calling both parties into a creative process rather than a power struggle.
In our spirit play class, we try to wonder in the spirit of yes. We try to gently call each other into respectful speech and action by finding the yes in the situation we’re in. We try to say yes when we show up to what we don’t expect. We try to find some kind of yes so that we can fully experience what is unfolding and don’t get stuck seeing everything through a lens of disappointment or resistance. Where do you find yourself in a space of yes? When you want to say no, is there a way to play around to find a hidden yes?