Category Archives: transformation

Between Two Worlds

Spiritual Awakening

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.

Why?

Why?

Why?

This week in Spirit Play we told the story of Passover, which turned out to be about three stories in one.  Before the story of celebrating Passover, we started with the story of Exodus.  The story was highly condensed, giving mention to Joseph and then explaining that the Hebrew people became hated and then were made slaves.  It talked about Moses being saved and growing up angry that his people were treated badly.  It briefly told that Moses demanded of Pharaoh that the people be freed and when he finally said yes, how they walked through the water to safety.

The children were excited to talk about this lesson.  What are slaves?  How did the water move away?  Wait, if it’s the desert and there isn’t much water, how is there a river for Moses and a sea to cross?  One child wanted to be the basket for Moses, keeping him safe so he could save the people.  We had very rich discussion.

After the story the children selected their work.  One boy was very eager to work with the story we had just told and he carefully set it out and looked at all the pieces.   As I sat near, he looked at me with tiny bricks in his hand and a little bit of chain and asked again, “What is a slave”?  How does one explain this to a three year old?  I told him that the people had to work very hard to make the bricks and they had to do what Pharaoh said.  They could’t stop and take a break unless their boss said it was ok.  They couldn’t move away or try a new job.  If they didn’t do what they were supposed to, someone hurt them.  A slave is someone who has to do what others’ say or they’ll get hurt.  I wasn’t happy about my answer.  Who can be happy with their answer to such a question?  It wasn’t profound or even engaging.  My child looked me in the eyes and just asked, “Why?  Why would someone do that?”  I said, “I don’t know; there was a lot of work to be done and Pharaoh couldn’t do it all himself, so he made other people do the work”.  “But why?”  came back to me.  Finally I just sat there and said, “I don’t know.”  And that’s the truth.

Why did people in our own country promote and engage in slavery?  Why does that happen between people?  Why does it happen even now to immigrant workers and to women being trafficked?  I don’t know.  Why is it so hard now that formalized slavery is frowned upon to undo the structures of racism and mass incarceration that are its legacy?  I don’t know.

Why is only the beginning of the story though.  Why is the awareness that things are not right.  Why recognizes that there may be another way.  Why can be the beginning of coming to truth that we are all valuable and deserve basic dignity and respect.  Why can be the insight before we start demanding change.  Why can be the seed and the genesis of total transformation, from a life of bondage to a life of freedom.  I don’t know the causes of slavery, but at it’s root it has to be a turning away from love and connection.  Why do we do that?  And I’m back into the mystery.  I don’t know.

What I do know is that when I feel that separation or disconnection from Love, when I see it’s effects in the places we are broken, I am moved.  I want something different.  I ache for freedom and reconciliation for all of us.  I yearn for oneness that comes from recognizing love in myself and in everyone.  That question of why moves me.  It’s an invitation into exploration.  It’s an invitation into action.  It’s an invitation into wonder.  Why moves to how.  How can I change this in me?  How can I change this between us?  How can I change this in the world?

Give us this Day

This has been an intense season of change in my life.  Last spring I started studying with a meditation teacher after a synchronistic meeting.  I had already been engaged in a meditation practice- survival meditation as I thought of it.  I did not start meditating to enhance my life, or because I thought it was something I should do as a spiritual person.  I started meditating because I felt like if I didn’t, I might just lose myself in the Universe and be unable to manage being alive.  And my practice deepened further when my healer/teacher withdrew from my life.  By last spring I was ready to get some guidance and focus to stabilize and enhance what I was already doing.  The method I studied was a hindu/yogic style practiced and taught by Paramahansa Yogananda.  As soon as I began the techniques of this path, something happened that surprised me, but maybe shouldn’t have.

Daily Bread

Daily Bread

Jesus returned to me.  I think this happened for a number of reasons.  Firstly, I had not engaged in devotional prayer for a very very long time and praying that way brought me back to practices I had engaged in many years before as a serious disciple of Jesus.  Secondly, well, Jesus and I had a thing.  We had a deep and committed relationship until I up and left him in the late 90’s.

Since Jesus came to me again, I have found myself closing a large circle in my life.  I find myself feeling comfortable thinking of myself as Christian….almost.  I have found a few Christian mystics who feel like my tribe and my people, something I searched for with very little success early in my life.  I find myself reading the Bible again with eyes opened in a very different way than they ever have been.  Jesus and I made up.

I am in the midst of transition where I cannot see what will happen next and it seems terrifying at times.  I would never ever have thought I would find myself praying something as traditional as the Lord’s Prayer, but I seem to be profoundly coming back home in an alive and authentic way that has included saying and appreciating this prayer….almost.  Some things about Christianity still chafe.  The almost exclusive referencing of God as male, the literalism that sometimes dominates reading of biblical text, and especially the institutional atrophy that has reduced some churches to rote supporters of a social status quo.  All of that feels dead.  However, there is a reason the Lord’s Prayer is said so frequently.  I incorporated it back into my personal prayer mostly for the line, “Give us this day our daily bread”  which I feel is another way of recognizing that the whole Universe is a gift running through my hands and doesn’t belong to me at all.  And yet, in this moment, I have everything I need and so much more.

It is hard for me to pray this prayer without modification.  It holds powerful truth, but for me it also holds some pain.  So, what does one do?  Retranslate.

Here is my Lord’s Prayer that I’m trying on in the morning and evening:

Source of all Love, in this eternal now,
may your Presence be honored.
Align all life with your Life and bring us all into awareness of our belonging as we realize the truth of our oneness with you.
Gift us all the resources we need each day.  Transform our brokenness with the generosity of your healing love as we extend healing love to one another.
Please do not keep us in darkness, but redeem our trials with new life.

This practice is breathing new life into me that I could never have imagined for myself.  I hope as you read along, it offers you an invitation to new life as well.

What are the resources you need this day?

Moving in Moving Out

Today I joined a group of women to walk an indoor labyrinth in silence.  I love community labyrinth walks.

Grow Soul Labyrinth

Grow Soul Labyrinth

Not only do you experience the twists of the path itself and it’s movement towards and away from the center, but you also meet fellow travelers, move with them, walk away from them and meet them again.  The moving bodies were a dance, were thresholds and doorways, were eyes filled with love and compassion, strangers or angels coming into presence with me.  The form of the labyrinth itself is truth that I am trying over and over to remember.  We are not lost.  We move in.  We move out.  We move in toward the center of the path, toward the center of our breath, toward the center of love and then back out as we lose our balance, step aside for another, get blurred in the lines and go back the way we came.

This week the darkness has been thick, has left me blinking and reminding myself to breathe.  The darkness has felt reassuring, then terrifying, then peaceful then empty.  I know that there are beautiful things hiding in the darkness.  I know that to sit there I need more than what I know or see.  The next moment is impenetrable.  The next moment may be a cliff edge or a warm bed of leaves in a safe place.  The next moment will change everything whether we notice or not.  The next moment will change everything.  It always does.

So tonight I am sitting in the dark, but not alone.  This transformation is only possible because of love;  because I am held in love, because I reach out, because I open myself when another’s hands find mine groping for something to hold on to.  This is the death I chose, holding hands in the dark with you, with the Universe.  I know that I cannot get lost.  I know that I am not alone.  I am moving in.  I am moving out.

This is the Day

My spirit play friends were busy “working” with our story last week, with many children absorbed in various activities.  One friend worked with a rubber band board, a piece of wood with nails pounded half way into it to make a grid.  She showed me and then added to her work and then called me over again.

The Day God Made Us

The Day God Made Us

“Tell me about it”, I requested.  She told me it was the day God made us.  Now that is something you don’t see every day.  I asked her to elaborate, to tell me more, but she had no grand story to match her work of art.  She asked me to look and see the vertical stress and then to look and see the stress to the sides.  “Look at the stress lines.”

I had many more questions, but she wanted to move on to play with other things.  I wonder though, what day she was talking about.  Was it the day of the big bang?  Was it the day of our conception?  Was it today when we woke up?  Is it right now as we inhale?

And what kind of stress must have been present at any of those moments, or days?  Do new life and creation always flow from stress or tension?  If so, how might we view those experiences in our life with more positive regard?  There is an idea in spirituality that we should regard all our difficulties as teachers and those hard things in life as invitations and opportunities to grow.  What does the stress of trying to create a calm space for several wiggly 3 and 4 year olds have to teach me?  What does the discomfort of my own internal judgement invite me to learn?  In that tension, what do the stress lines look like?  What new creation do they make possible?

These are things I have been sitting with this week.  And I have taken those questions into my teaching practice.  And I have taken those questions into my own meditation practice.  Sometimes we can’t know or see what kind of new life may arise as we sit and reflect.  Sometimes we can only make it through the tension of the exhale as it invites the next breath.  In this moment I am made and made anew.  That looks like evolution and growth, imperceptibly, but always changing and being transformed.  This is the day.  This is a new day.

Being the Door (Teacher)

My favorite roll in my Spirit Play class is that of the door teacher.  It’s hard to explain what to do in this role.  The teacher takes on a particular presence of hospitality and loving witness.  It might not look like the door teacher is doing much during class.  They just sit by the door.

The Sacred Doorway

The Sacred Doorway

But really, they are a living threshold between the known and unknown, between our physical sacred space and the rest of the building, between the Mystery beyond and this tangible eternal present moment.  If I imagined peeking through a key hole into the door teacher, this is what I dream her internal process might be like.

“First a breath for myself -to be fully here and ready.  I open my lungs, my eyes and my heart.  I am ready.

Good morning child.  Wait.  Stop.  You are here.  You have arrived.  Take a moment to catch up with yourself.  There is no rush.  Take a moment to stand here and look in my eyes.  Your name tag and your coat are not as important as stopping here for just a minute so you can fully experience my joy that you are here.  We are here together!

Now that your coat is hung and your name tag on, you can say goodbye to your parents.  Tell me friend.  Are you ready?  Are you ready to walk down that hall and enter a holy space?  Are you ready to listen and to work and to play?  If you are ready, then you are free to enter.  Please go into our room.  Sit on our rug.  Join the storyteller to prepare for our story.  If you are not ready, then please sit here next to me.  Sit here in my safety and love; in the still point between being gifted to us for our class and your own choice to enter.  You can stay with me as long as you would like.

My children are here.  My children are getting ready.  I embody the closing of the door, the creation of our sacred circle of safety and delight.  Our class has begun.

I sit here by the physical door.  If the circle is too much, if you find you cannot get ready, I am waiting to receive you.  Here next to me you can hide if you need to.  You can grow calm in the presence of my calm.  I am serene, beaming my love into our room, witnessing wiggles and miracles and each beautiful being who has joined us today.  I witness unexpected kindness.  I witness conflict.  I witness insight.  I witness the whole human drama played out right in this one room.  The circle of our community is playing within my beating heart and before my wondering eyes.  The children have walked through my open heart door and dwell there for our learning time.  This is meditation.  This is practice.  I am listening with my whole self.

And then the time comes for the children to get centered again on the rug, to end their formal sacred play with us.  I bless this room and say a silent gratitude for each of these souls, present and transformed today.  I open the door, open the seal of our class and resume my post, ready to send you all out into the world again, changed and loved.

Good morning.  Your parent is here.  You are ready to be on your way to whatever your day holds.  But wait.  Stop.  You are making a crossing.  Take a moment to stop in this doorway, to look in my eyes and receive a blessing.  I am so happy that you were here with me today.  My love goes with you until we see each other again.  Your heart and mine have touched today and neither will be the same again.

The last child is gone.  I take another moment, to breathe, to close my eyes and  feel my heart.  I feel the affect of this love, of all the love that moves between us.  I see that we are the same.  I see that we are different.  I practice seeing you as you are.  I practice seeing myself as I am.  We are Light and Glory and we are Muddled and Distracted.  I practice being love and doing church with all that we are.

I forgive myself my inattention, my slips, my mistakes made today.  I dedicate this practice of teaching to the increase of Love and Life everywhere in the Universe.

May it be so.  May it be so!

Open your hearts door teachers!  Feel what it is to be love and be loved.  May the threshold that you are move you deeper into your own integrity, service and joy.

A Great Need

Out
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
And climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.
Listen,
The terrain around here
Is
Far too
Dangerous
For
That
~Hafiz

Tonight I find myself in a still place.  I am pondering how to love.  I am pondering what it looks like to let go.

Letting go Love

Letting go Love

Can letting go be a gift even considering the terrain?  Can letting go as we are climbing together open the way for us to grasp another’s hand more securely?  Is there a way of loving and climbing together with our hands open, without holding on?  Or is there a way to lovingly let go with trust that someone else will be there to hold us?

Tonight I begin with me.  I am feeling grief and sadness.  I am feeling resigned.   I also have the unhelpful script running through my mind that suggests that I should not be feeling any of that.  That old voice would like me to try harder to stop the changing and shifting of life, to squelch the movement of transformation, to just stay put.  That voice is full of violence.  It is a voice of control and shame.  Tonight I choose to hold it’s hand, to tell it that it’s ok to feel all the feelings that arise.  There is nothing it could have done to avoid sorrow.  There is nothing to be done now, but to sit in the stillness with this moment and its emotions.  My total allegiance is to Life.  Come what sorrow or joy follow, it is what it is.  I choose to hold on to my self in compassion and gentleness as I live as best I can into a larger truth with love, always with love.  And today I was reminded that great grief is the truth of great love.  We wouldn’t mourn if it meant nothing, if we hadn’t opened our hearts to possibility.

I bring my intention this evening to the truth of my grief, the truth of my love.  I bring my intention to be fully alive in this moment and the next one.  I bring my intention to keep my heart open, even if it’s dangerous.  What else are we here for?

How do the Waters Open?

I went to my first Bat Mitzvah last week and was moved by the service and the many messages within the readings and Torah.  The part that I keep talking about, though, was a midrash that the Rabbi shared.  Midrash for those unfamiliar with it are stories written as a way to work with and fill in the Torah text.  This particular story was written to illustrate the parting of the waters as the people fled slavery and Pharaoh’s army.

Go Forward

Go Forward

The story goes that God told the people to go forward.  And then they came to the water.  God did not part the water for them to show them the way through however.  God said, “Go forward.” So the leader of the people, even though it may have seemed crazy, even though he maybe didn’t really understand why went forward.  He walked into the water.

He walked in and God still said, “Go forward” so into the water he went, deeper and deeper.  Finally the water was up to his nostrils and he was terrified that he would drown, but he kept walking in.  And that my friends, that faith is what parted the waters.  The practice of listening to the command to go forward and the action of following, even to the point of risking one’s life is what engaged God and parted the waters.  I don’t know about you, but I am seeing in every story, the story of transformation.

I admit that even though I have been through this process countless times, even though I mostly live in a profound trust of the messages I receive from Beyond; this weekend I felt like I was up to my chin in the water and cursing.  I was afraid down to by bones.  I could not see how anything might open up.  I was trying to look over my shoulder to see if there was any way at all to go back.  But there was none.  No tracks, and a force ready to re-enslave me is all I saw.  And when I looked forward all I saw was endless water enveloping me.  I was sure I was going to drown.

And I’m teetering there.  Maybe I’m survival floating; remembering that even in the waters I can hold my breath for a bit and then go deeper.  I want to move forward, so I’ll keep doing so until something opens up or I drown.  Wisdom says that something will open up one way or another, even if I can’t anticipate it.  Even if everything looks shades of impossible.

Walking through the Mighty Waters

As a part of my daily practice, I have been sitting with verses from the Christian tradition in the morning after meditation.  This morning I was sitting with a few verses from a Psalm and one verse from the Signs Gospel.

Psalm 77:17-21  The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You and were convulsed;  the very deep quaked as well.  Clouds streamed water;  the heavens rumbled;  Your arrows flew about;  Your thunder rumbled like wheels;  lightening lit up the world;  the earth quaked and trembled.  Your way was through the sea, Your path through the mighty waters;  Your tracks could not be seen.  You led Your people like a flock in the care of Moses and Aaron.

Signs Gospel 19:17  So they took Jesus who carried the cross for himself, out to the place called Skull (known in Hebrew as Golgatha).

It always amazes me what captures me when I put two seemingly unrelated things together, how they inform and speak to one another.  This is not the first time I have had reference to the Exodus and Jesus’ crucifixion show up together and I have found deep meaning in reflecting on those two events.  Both are concrete stories illustrating transformation.  The Israelites are led out of Egypt, out of slavery and bondage into a barren wilderness.  It is here that they are provided each day the food and water they need.  It is here where they complain wondering if this wandering is better than the bondage they came from.  Moses himself never realizes the promised land of milk and honey.  I wonder for Jesus as he entered knowingly into the violence that would take his life, what his manna was in that wilderness.  The Israelites had a cloud to guide them by day and a pillar of fire by night.  What guided Jesus and gave him the strength to pass through his own barren wilderness to the cross and then into return to the Holy?  For those who believe in resurrection and transformation what must it have been like to be released by death from Jesus’ body?  Would it feel like liberation into another wilderness?  Would it feel like the fullest essence of milk and honey?

The verses from the Psalm this morning caught my attention imagining the effect on the water of seeing God.  That God was leading through this chaos, this place of creation leaving no visible tracks speaks to me about the invisible forces that move in and around us when the Sacred happens in and to us.  Everything has changed, but nothing seems to have changed.   This is another of those places that I envision as possibly terrifying, but also maybe exhilarating.  It is that same infinite point of life/death.  And in the middle of this chaos, I see Jesus, carrying his cross himself, walking consciously with love.  It makes me wonder, what is my cross?  Is it a burden and a punishment as I was taught or the threshold into milk and honey and liberation so profound that I can’t see it or imagine it?  It may just be a mystery that cannot be put into any kind of words, a way to say yes, a way to be authentic no matter the cost.  Tonight I just want to stand still for a moment, to choose again the mystery I carry.  I just want to be drenched by the waters and feel completely alive in the quaking deep and the streaming waters and the lightening.  Tonight I will let these images and words play in me and dream the trackless path till I rise in the morning to face another day of wonder and challenge.

Do I Know You?

Today I had the lovely opportunity to meet a new person who does incredible artistic work.  She obviously pours her soul- her whole self- into her work and the work pours itself back into her, a mutually sustaining practice.

Labyrinth- Holding on and Letting go

Labyrinth- Holding on and Letting go

I find that the more I engage my own soul purpose, more of these people appear in my path.  They inspire me, help me and show me that the life I can’t quite dream up for myself is indeed possible.  I find myself feeling recognition when I meet a soul which has found it’s beautiful and unique expression.  For Marilyn, who I met today, her healing, her medicine, her work is creating Labyrinths.  She spread several out on her floor.  She had gorgeous paper paintings on the wall with beautiful designs.  One of them was a butterfly pattern in a circle of blue and white.  The circle border was the path leading into the contour of the wings.  She stood reverently before this painting, arms upraised tracing various configurations as she moved in, out and around the design.  It was beautiful and sacred to watch her.  It was like dance and worship and beauty reflecting beauty.

As I sit remembering, I am savoring the experience of simply being present with someone as they speak and dream and share about a pursuit which captures them and brings them deeper down into its mystery and our own mystery.  I appreciated her dreaming and scheming and listening as we looked at a design I hoped to incorporate.  I could see and feel the creative spirit moving through her.  She had me walk a new design that was a long rectangle so it could be used in a hallway.  At the end/center of the path, she had drawn concentric arches that invited one into a threshold instead of an ending.  Standing in the several thresholds of that path, I was moved to say, “yes” with every step to remind me that I am choosing to walk into the center of everything.  I am choosing my own dying, my own birth.  And we had opportunity to sit in some silence, a gift for her she said.  The silence is rich.  It is one more threshold.

So tonight I am grateful.  I am grateful to see the Beloved, the Divine Friend in the eyes and the art and the work of another.  I am grateful that my own reflection in their presence brings me into my own holy center, from where my love and my art and my work emerge.  I am not only grateful to Marilyn, but also to the many many countless people who have gifted me with their deep selves.  Some of them have shared their work, their story, some a simple gaze that speaks more profoundly than anything.  We are present here together in this beautiful, difficult, wonderful and amazing world.  We are gifts for one another.  I thank the Universe to be witness to such unfolding Light as it is constantly born among us.  I thank the Love beyond all Love that I can look around and meet so many eyes and think, “Oh yes, I know you.  I recognize you.”