The other day, I was feeling sad, confused and overwhelmed at what’s happening in our country after looking at Facebook - especially as I saw some of my friends now getting into some hostility with each other. Everybody had a point, but respect and appreciation for each other was waning. I wasn’t sure what to say, if anything. So I went out to work on resealing the driveway, because I knew I could do some good there.
As I was getting ready to start, I was thinking about all that’s happening while untangling my power cords. Then two big pileated woodpeckers flew over and started pecking on a dead, hollow tree near me. It was surprisingly loud and really attention grabbing. I was also amazed because it’s pretty rare to see a pileated woodpecker around here, and I've never seen two here at one time. I decided to make a video using the untangling of the wires and feeling one's way through the noise as an analogy, and then all of craziness unfolded that you see in the video . . .
The movie was Under the Tuscan Sun, and a bird pooping on you is considered a good sign (great movie too)! I looked up woodpecker symbolism and was struck with how some shamanic traditions and even Carl Jung associated it with primal energies, the womb and the root chakra. Some Native American traditions associate woodpeckers with wise and powerful home-making.
Hearing and seeing Red-headed woodpeckers is like a call to get back to our roots and what’s most important. It's about using our heads as we get back to the heart of what provides a home and nurtures life. Not too far off from what I wanted to talk about. More power to you in centering yourself and settling into the heart of who you are! I hope The Center supports you in that, and that the rest that works is a practice that helps you make a home with God within you.
Good for a laugh, and hopefully a little food for thought! (Oh and by the way, it’s a good omen!)
Preview YouTube video Good for a laugh, and hopefully a little food for thought! (Oh and by the way, it’s a good omen!)
Good for a laugh, and hopefully a little food for thought! (Oh and by the way, it’s a good omen!)
Our world is such a mix right now! Big wheels are turning driven by deep, very real issues. It's messy but there is a lot of good in the midst of the mess - there are some big diamonds surfacing in the dirt though they are often hard to see. The key is to align ourselves as we might align with a sunrise. Then as we see the diamonds reflecting the sunlight, we can discern how to encourage the dirt to fall away.
For me, clarity comes from centering in love. It's like positioning myself to see and feel a sunrise. Then I can work to create solutions aligned with love rather than fear or hate. This is why asking for help in getting to loving is my main purpose in turning to God in prayer and meditation. It's also why I so value our freedom to practice our spirituality as we choose in America.
I think that Divine, Creative Love desires expression through each and every one of us. It’s not a theoretical thing. It’s a felt thing. It can stir in us as we watch a sunrise. We can sense it in the unforced yet powerful grace of our breath. It moves in the passion of our heartbeat. It can be felt in our personal desire to love and be loved, and live lives aligned with love - which means being fair and treating others as we’d like to be treated. These are things we all have in common. They are shared, connecting points between our divinity and humanity, and when we live in touch with them, we offer society what it needs most - genuinely loving people.
When we center ourselves in our inner well-spring, it’s like there’s a sun shining in us. We find ourselves wanting to connect with others from that deeper, loving place. We don’t have to force ourselves or fake being kind and loving or respectful because we’re actually genuinely feeling that way. We treat others the way we want to be treated because we get it - they’re a lot like us emotionally in their fears, hopes and dreams even as the details of those dreams can be very different.
Created in the image of The Creator, we want to live from a place of creative love because that’s who and what we truly are, for God is Love. So I think the main thing is to connect inside, get divine love active again and clear the way for its flow, inside and out. This is why The Center exists, both for ourselves and society. What helps in connecting is different for everyone - that’s why we support so many different practices at The Center. We hope it supports you in your pursuit of what works for you, and you feel the freedom and power that comes from within when your inner well-spring is flowing.
As always, thank you for all the ways that you make The Center the special place it is - hopefully for you, others and society! (And also as always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to share ideas on how to improve it in serving its mission).
After a short intro by Howie, these are my best thoughts and a meditation for engaging life from a faith/heart perspective right now. It's an important time in which big wheels are turning. It's work to really bring our hearts to it, but it's so important to do that - for ourselves, for others and for our society and world. More power to you in that.
(About a month ago, I was invited to speak at Unity Christ Center on June 7th. The planned topic was loosely “joy” based on the Daily Word devotional from Unity. We were both socially distancing properly and Zooming. Thanks for the invitation Unity folks. It was great to be with you!).
Some ways to get back to love within when we get out of sync.
There's a profound lesson here from Mother Nature and the Mom-side of God that I can only point to at this stage with inadequate words. When I pray about it, lots of good energy comes through, so I'm going to keep going to God with it.
The main idea is how to include where we feel broken and open ourselves to what it offers, especially when it comes to our sense of self. That helps us to expand into a greater capacity to flow with genuinely creative love for ourselves and others. I hope the image and reflection is helpful for you.
(I stepped back for the meditation part of the video and it was hard to hear, so I cut it out and added a meditation on Flow from Dr. Lorin Roche's translation of the Radiance Sutra's below for you to use if you'd like. I'll get a new microphone before next week😊).
Thanks and blessings,
The life essence carries on its play
through the pulsing rhythm of outward and inward movement.
This is the ceaseless throb, the rhythm of life --
Terrifying in its eternity, exquisite in its constancy.
The inhalation, the return movement of breath, sustains life.
The outgoing breath purifies life.
These are the two poles between which respiration goes on unceasingly.
Between them is every delight you could desire.
Even when the senses are turned outward, your attention on the external world, attend also to the inner throb - the pulsing of the creative impulse within you.
(Roche, Lorin. The Radiance Sutras: 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight (p. 37). Sounds True. Kindle Edition).
It's been a long time since I posted here since I've been sending things out through The Center email. (If you'd like to be on that list, please go to thecenterec.com).
I hope that you are doing as well as possible during this Coronavirus pandemic. A friend of mine named Eric was just put on a ventilator yesterday. Please add him to your prayers (and let me know in the comments if there is anyone you'd like me to pray for).
The saints of old sometimes described God as a Lover. Through prayer and meditation, they discovered God's Presence within and without as being subtle but powerful - like the awe we feel when we're in love. That kind of language is weird for us these days, but it invites some opportunities. I imagine what they experienced was like when our soul says "Yes!" as we see, hear or experience something really beautiful or truly awesome - something that moves us and we find ourselves "in love."
The rest that works is about feeling and aligning with the creative love of our Creator - like a branch might respond to becoming more fully aware of the awesome tree giving it life. The more we feel that creative love, the more we want to align. The more we align, the more we feel. The saints were "saints" because they learned how to get into alignment on a regular basis, some even as their way of life.
I hope that the rest that works helps you to experience and develop that alignment in your life. Every step in that direction is more than worthwhile.
Thanks for journeying together!
(P.S. For those who have been following my blog, I apologize that I basically took a year off as Bri was diagnosed with cancer again. It's been a year of surgeries including amputation of her leg, chemo and recovery. She's doing well now and we're very happy with where things are headed for her. I'll probably write more on that later. Thanks).
I really appreciate this. In many ways, it's the rest that works in action. Nate even says he gave his judgements a rest, and then they both sought to approach one another as they would want to be approached - with respect and a listening ear. I appreciate the whole of what is here.
The key is that they didn't cast suspicion on each other's motives. They approached each other respectfully, especially because they knew there was potential for conflict. This is the approach our country desperately needs.
Thanks Colin and Nate!
I had a very humbling dream last night. To make a long story short, it helped me see how trying to be a good person has often kept me from being emotionally present with others. It made me sad to see, but I’m glad I did. I’m going to work on simply trying to live my life and be present, before trying to be “good.”
When I awoke, this poem came very quickly (with gratitude to T.S. Eliot and The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock):
On Being a Real Person
How often have I met a real person?
Not often it seems,
Not at all.
For how can connection occur
When you've pinned yourself,
Wriggling on the wall . . .
With whom would others be connected,
When you're categorized and self-dissected?
Better to get off the wall,
Be free, though you fall,
So there's someone there at all.
Interaction starts with the mode we’re in. The greatest opportunities of life are not about trying to be a “good person” or fulfilling this or that role. It’s about connection. It’s about being in love – with your “self,” with Life and with people in general as well as people in particular. It’s about finding our way back to being in love again and again like finding our way back to a river. That’s how we rediscover The River of Life and feel it’s beautiful flow again. I am so thankful for when that has happened (with many of you and people like you).
Thank you for sharing this journey together. What we’re going for here has made my life incredibly rich.
(P.S. Don't worry. I'm still going to try to be an almost decent person. But I'm going to work on really being present to my experience and feelings, and those of others as I go. Thanks!).