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!).
So today I was looking at my pictures from the eclipse. It brought back lots of feelings of wonder. One of the things I was curious about was other planets. I saw Venus off to the side at quite some distance, but was curious about what I was seeing closer to the sun. I simply wasn’t sure during the eclipse and focused more on the wonder of the moment and the sun/moon combination (and worry about my eyes).
I Googled other planets today and saw that many were hoping to see Mars or Mercury close to the sun but didn’t, so here are my pictures during the eclipse. I checked my camera record and it turns out that these pictures are from around 12:55 to 12:57 - a minute before the total eclipse. It may well be a reflection, but there sure seems to be a celestial body moving from left to right relative to the center. Anyway, if it's a planet, I don't think it was moving at that speed. I suspect that the light from the eclipse was shifting, which re-centered the image of the sun on my screen. But no matter how you slice it, something is moving in the picture. Maybe some astrophysicist will see this and can explain it (if it's just a reflection of the eclipse itself, sorry I got too excited, but even that is a little interesting).
The main thing was it was so fun. So full of mystery, beauty and surprises. It totally left me feeling that we’re part of something incredibly special in being alive on Earth and getting to be part of this celestial dance. I experienced a rebirth of appreciation for the whole thing, for life itself and for people to enjoy it with. I hope these pictures and blogs help you feel that too.
As always, thanks for journeying together!
Okay, so I thought I'd video the horizon just to record what happened. I didn't have eclipse glasses (couldn't find any days in advance). I was sore behind my right eye after trying out my little solar shield from my old telescope, so I was using my phone to try to tell when it was safe to look. Turned out my phone never showed when it was safe. Glad I gave up on trying to gage things with it.
But the video captures a few things: How beautifully eerie it got, our excitement and our wonder. I had tingles from when I looked up until it was over. It was more moving than I expected (as you can read about in the blog - "A Revealing Eclipse").
Thanks for journeying together!
(P.S. Oh, and my eyes are fine, thanks).
The total eclipse touched something in me I didn’t even know was there. It was a physical, mystical experience where science and the sacred met – like there was an opportunity to feel deeper into how some things really are. So please read between the lines here for what you already know in your heart - that the Sun, Earth and Moon are beautiful celestial bodies in a life-giving dance. There's lots of math and science behind that and at it's core, it's also spiritually beautiful. It's a both/and, not an either/or. It's timely for me to more deeply appreciate that dance and it’s participants rather than keep taking them for granted. My guess is that I am not alone in that.
To speak poetically - which seems wisest after yesterday - there was a stark yet holy darkness to the Moon during the total eclipse. Part of me felt sheepish when the Moon's beauty struck me, like I should have asked her permission before staring. I had a sense of why the ancients associated her with goddesses of love, beauty, fertility and the rhythms of life. It's like the eclipse revealed the sacredness of the Moon’s usually unseen, underappreciated role in the relationship – like the nature of a womb that creates in the dark and the unforced, graceful rhythms that give life. The Moon was both black as night and radiant at the same time. Caressed by the corona of the Sun, her darkness felt sacred.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying as I speak of the sacred in this way: I am not diminishing the Great I AM as the most high, most extensive, most fundamentally revealing image of God. I am speaking in the spirit that inspired St. Francis in his Canticle of The Sun where he spoke of Brother Sun, Sister Moon and the beautiful divine dance revealed in nature - in particular, how the dance of life expresses the divine in form. The dance of life in our solar system begins with the dance between the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. You and I are but some children of that dance. Our dance is completely dependent on them and their moves. Understanding that brings humility, gratitude and the opportunity to grow in wisdom. They're in the groove much better than we are. In particular, the Moon guides much, from the ocean’s tides to women’s cycles.
The Moon represents the more mysterious of the life-giving rhythms. As a sister or daughter to Mother Earth, she expresses something holy that is most often experienced at night. Because of other things we associate with darkness, she has often been seen as suspect, when that is the last thing she deserves. She represents the unjustly repressed feminine. We have a complex attraction to what she represents - both wanting and being suspicious of the power she wields in our lives through things like sexuality and primal, kundalini (life-force) energy. In particular, patriarchy has had a love-hate, push-me-pull-you relationship with the divine feminine which isn’t good for anybody. It undermines the healthy, creative interplay of the sacred in all of us. Respectful harmony between the complimentary and sometimes contrasting masculine and feminine energies is the way to go. Just ask those who saw the wonder of the eclipse. There was grace in this dance where one stepped in front of the other in perfect symmetry.
The bottom line is that you and I and every single other sentient being on this planet are born from and sustained by life-giving relationships. Science and spirituality agree on this. These relationships all start from the Great I AM, the Living God from which everything is born for the sake of holy, redeeming relationships in form. To redeem is to re-value, or to reveal value that may have been devalued or gone unappreciated. I hope the experience and memory of this eclipse helps redeem us as humans in those areas where we have lost a sense of who and what we really are spiritually and physically. The Sun, Earth and Moon are beautifully expressing themselves in a life-giving dance. They are giving us life and invite us to move in sync with them in how we live our lives. I want to live gratefully and live accordingly, with as much appreciation as possible for what gives life. That is what brings out the sacred in us.
Thanks for journeying together!
“Watch the world argue, argue with itself. Who’s gonna teach me peace and happiness?”
Dancing on the Jetty, INXS
So I was doing emails, listening to this song and thinking about our country when I heard a crack and a “thud” that shook The Center (thecenterec.com). I looked out to see the rest of this branch crash to the ground. I went out and realized that it had to be dealt with soon because it blocked the drive down to the Pottery Studio. So, I grabbed it by a little branch sticking out and started pulling it down the hill. I was wondering if the little branch might break right before it did, sending me rolling down the hill like a 2-year-old with no sense of how things really work. (Thankfully, I was aimed at the grass and not the asphalt). After I realized that nothing was bruised but my ego, I laughed and considered a new approach.
We are somewhere like this as a country. Going back to the branch, I think it broke because it had become unbalanced. In pursuing growth, it went in a wrong direction. It bent over too much to get it's leaves in the sun. The weight of the rain simply made it too heavy to stay connected to its roots.
It was weird for me to watch people I otherwise admired bend what I took to be core values to vote for Donald Trump. I listened and thought I understood - They were sick of the establishment. They wanted “our country to take care of itself. Get our house in order.” I get that thinking and the feelings behind it, but what is at the heart of America if not a sense of respect for people as people? What good is any democracy if a sense of respect is not guiding it? Without respect, no house is a home and no country is at peace.
Nazism and the Confederacy were built on one group saying “it’s all about us” and “to hell with so and so.” That’s the problem with their philosophies and it’s a fundamental problem. Those philosophies are selfish and narcissistic to the point of dehumanizing others. That’s why they are so dangerous. At the very least, they lead to not caring about your opponents as people, and at the worst, they lead to things like slavery, death camps and genocide.
From the very first debate, it was clear that President Trump did not value a sense of respect for others. That’s fine for him as an individual. It does not make him evil, but it does make him unfit to be president of a democracy. If he changes his philosophy, I’ll gladly change my feelings on him being president, but unfortunately, his philosophy still seems to have the same bent towards selfishness and narcissism. We cannot keep bending in that direction and expect things not to break, branch after branch. Barring doing something illegal, Trump will probably remain president, but reality will be right in correcting things if we as a country keep going in fundamentally disrespectful directions.
If we re-center in things like valuing love and treating others the way we want to be treated, we will head in the right direction (remember, God is Love, and things like respect and fairness are fundamental aspects of love). Love is the way and truth that leads to life. That’s why Jesus lived it and why both God and history raised him.
I got drenched today but it turned out to be fun. What helped most was taking a minute to pause and be present when I started to feel frustrated (about the rain). As I settled in with the reality of how good the creative forces of life are, and simply felt the goodness of pure awareness - of being alive - I was no longer frustrated but able to really enjoy the rain.
The rest that works is an approach to being present. It's about giving fears and distractions a rest so we can settle into the moment with the creative forces of life in us and work from there. It enables us to let go of expectations and accept what is, so we can work creatively in whatever way works best. It has a lot in common with mindfulness practices.
Maybe listen to what I say and then if you want to, replay it and follow the meditation on your breath, feeling for the creative forces of life in you. They feel good. That's always a good place to work from.
Thanks for journeying together. More power to you in your adventure!
The most important part of the rest that works is trusting and settling in with Our Creator's Love. I just finished a book that has some great insights on how to do that - Live Your Happy by Maria Felipe. It’s an excellent, short introduction to the main ideas of A Course in Miracles.
When I say “Our Creator,” I mean the God within us, between us and beyond us - the Creative Spirit Behind and Within all of Life who is always loving us. God is Love, and as such is a noun and a verb. The Great I AM is a Mysterious State of Being and a Holy, Healing movement of Spirit - something we can intuit and feel. Until we learn to listen and feel for the Holy Spirit part of God, we don’t tend to experience much of what we find ourselves having to call divine. But as we experience and settle in with God, the ego's fears get blown away, we start lovingly accepting all of who and what we are, and we are better able to create our lives out of love. That always feels better than any other approach. I use the process of the rest that works to do that. The first step is trusting the goodness of God – the Great I AM in Whom we are – Whose most fundamental nature is love. Working that faith muscle enables us to trust loving and living from our hearts. Miraculous things follow from there.
A Course in Miracles sums our challenge up by saying:
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it" (ACIM, Ch. 6, Section IV).
While true, that is easier said than done.
Maria Felipe helps us remove the barriers with insights like:
Keeping our hearts in the love of God is kind of like keeping our feet in a river. When they come out, we can mentally take steps to get them back in – the River of Life is always undergirding our existence either way. The key is to let go of the kind of personal judgments that might keep us from loving ourselves or others. Being in love is the key. It’s not about being “in love” with the “right” person or even people. It’s about staying spiritually open to the Love that gives Life - the love at the heart of who we are. We can feel it in things like the graceful rhythms of our breath and heartbeat. By practicing ways of feeling for the love that gives life and moving with it, we can be at home anywhere because we are at home with ourselves and life itself. And it's important not to worry when we feel lost, The Great I AM and Holy Spirit recognize that we all get lost much if not most of the time. We aren't judged for it. We are simply beckoned home. “Salvation” is coming back into the Love of God and moving with it. That’s the secret to feeling alive wherever we are.
The good news is that our ever-present desire to be in love comes from God and is of God. It is the internal well-spring Jesus spoke that leads to eternal life - a fulfilling life forever. Another way Maria points to this is in saying: “What helps banish fear is the willingness to remember that we are in the mind of God” - technically, we're already home, it is more a matter of waking up and living awake. As we tap into that truth, we place our hand onto a valve that unleashes miracles, first from within as it changes our mind and how we see things.
Maria covers a lot of deep territory. She sometimes writes things a little too simply for me, probably to keep things brief (The Manual on A Course on Miracles is 1333 pages). Because of that, I sometimes found myself having imaginary dialogues with her, clarifying this or that. But that’s okay. This book presents a great opportunity to think through some big things along with some tools that can genuinely improve how we are engaging our lives. That’s a pretty good accomplishment for any book, let alone a short one like this (118 pages). I heartily recommend it. If you're interested, you can find it at www.newworldlibrary.com/BooksProducts/ProductDetails/tabid/64/SKU/84533/Default.aspx#.WVZ4EohuJPY.
More power to you in your adventure with God – in us, between us and beyond us. Thanks for journeying together!