Someone asked me about how the rest that works helps us with God, and here was my quick response this morning. Hopefully it helps sum things up:
Kind of like the Ocean is the Ocean, God is God. The Great I AM exists and will always continue to exist in its fundamentally creative, life-supporting, relational, energetic and mysterious nature no matter who or what approaches He/She/It in whatever way.
Through selfish efforts to gain security and power as humans, early humanity lost an essential quality of faith and trust in God that is the basis of living in the flow of divine love with ease (that's really what the Adam and Eve story is about).
The different faith-oriented religions began with individuals who earnestly desired to have an aligned, love relationship with God. These religions have struggled as much as people struggle and find correction in reformers who try to stay true to the effort of harmonized alignment with God as Love.
The continuing key to a religion helping or hurting a person or society is the intent active in that person or society. If the real, underlying intent is to gain self-centered power as humans, the effort is already out of alignment. If the intent is to repent of anything out of alignment with divine love, feel for and re-align with God as Love and love with God, Our Creator responds appropriately either as Elohim (taking forms to relate to us as the Divine) or through heavenly agents or loving people and beings. These experiences can come in dreams, visions, signs and likewise but the main thing is the love and deep-felt resonance that comes with them. Seek that love and resonance, and when it’s there, pay attention and move with it. ("Seek ye first the kingdom of God and God's righteousness . . ." Mt. 6:33).
The rest that works is a way to practice seeking, paying attention and going for a lovingly aligned relationship with the Great I AM Whose fundamental character is Love. We know when we are experiencing it because of the love we feel, for ourselves, others, our world and God.
More power to you in your adventure with God and love.
Thanks for journeying together!
These are crazy times, I know. I'm struggling too. Critical, condemning movements of spirit are making gains in many areas. They are getting stronger and getting more and more associated with things that should be led by love (like Christianity). It’s extremely hard to witness. It's hard not to feel intense anger, and maybe even some hate, no matter what side you may be on in any debate. It's difficult to not let fear and negative feelings take over in one’s heart and start governing one’s thinking and ultimately, one’s life.
But today I read a great line from Matt Kahn's book, "Whatever Arises, Love That" - ". . . the true benchmark of spiritual maturity is how often your words and actions are aligned with love."
The really good news is that we never have to get stuck in negative emotions like hate. Never. The way out of hell is to follow the way and truth of love out.
Whenever you feel intense negative emotions - like hate, anger, despair, fear, etc. – pause and come to rest with the part in you that feels them. Love that part of you. Love the one who is struggling. Have compassion for that aspect of yourself. See why it feels that way. (It's probably very understandable). Rest regarding all other debates and simply allow the feelings. Make space for them with understanding and compassion. Give every part involved to God, including both the person/situation you struggle with and the part of you who is struggling.
In particular, if hate is active, notice the pain. Feel the anger behind it. Feel the yearning to lash out and say something hurtful. Accept it as simply the way you are feeling (because you are). Have the courage not to deny it (denying it will lead you to project your part in the situation onto someone else, which will probably lead to hateful activity). Simply rest and open your heart to Divine Love. Know that God can handle you and the situation.
Then, after calming down, gently notice how the burning coal in the hateful hand is burning it (and you). If a Christian perspective speaks to you, hear Jesus saying, "Father, forgive them they know not what they do" from the cross. He knows how to handle the anger that can lead to hate. You can ask him for help in dropping the coal. He will help. Do whatever it takes to see yourself relaxing your grip and dropping the coal. Again, give the people involved to God asking God to love them in whatever ways you can’t yet. Feel the relief in doing so. Feel the even greater relief that comes when you genuinely want them to be loved too so they can heal too. (This is how Jesus and God heal).
The rest that works is a way to re-align with love as we go. It keeps saving me by helping me let go of whatever takes me out of love. It safeguards my heart from being governed by spirits other than a spirit of love for very long.
Keep remembering - God's Character is Love (it doesn't really matter if anyone acts or says otherwise). Pray and ask for God's help to feel the grace that gives life. You can feel what gives life as you settle in with your breath. Let me invite you to take a moment to do so now. (It will only take a couple of minutes).
Feel how good it feels as life is created in your body, moment by gentle moment. In your exhale, feel the letting go of the past that makes space for what creates life in the present. Feel your body center itself as it comes to rest. Then feel the trust that welcomes the creative energy that accompanies your lungs expanding. Trust the Spirit at work in your breath. Open to the Living, Loving Creator Behind it - behind and at work in you! Live creatively with God as you seek to love whatever arises the way Our Creator loves. There may be correction, but there will not be condemning hate. Trust that any effort made to love with God is worth it.
You may feel a strong need to take a stand on an issue, and if so, DO, but you will not feel a need to hate anyone no matter how lost they may be. You do not have to go there. When you do, you do not need to stay there. Be free. There is no need to live in hell or participate in the condemning kind of hate that spreads its borders.
Thanks for journeying together. More power to you in living free.
(P.S. I'm offering a new rest that works 2 class in April for anyone who went through the first class or has read the book. Here's more information: http://www.therestthatworks.com/events-calendar.html)
The deeper you is characterized by love not fear. The rest that works helps us experience that so we can be at home with ourselves as well as God. It takes trust. It takes practice. It takes patience, especially with ourselves. But over time, as we simply accept our fears as part of being human rather than trying to escape or forcefully defeat them, we finally get to where we can appreciate all of our "parts" and rest in God's Hands.
Part of why I like the rest that works so much is that even when I am struggling with myself and my mistakes, there are ways that I can practice trusting God. As we practice trust, we discover God's Hand has always been there, deep inside us as well as beyond us. It's one of the greatest discoveries of our lives - and it leads to a home that cannot be taken from us (even by our mistakes). That's powerful stuff.
If you haven't experienced that yet, hang in there and develop your personal practice of the rest that works. I guarantee you, home is not so far away as our fears would put it.
Thanks for journeying together. More power to you in your adventure with God (which includes God within and between us).
I'll get to the roller coaster in a second. But first, please take a moment to think about yourself and your personal experience. When do you feel the worst inside? Okay, let your answer sink in. Now, when do you feel the best?
I feel the worst went I feel hopeless and afraid.
I feel the best when love is moving through me, no matter what else is going on. The absolute best is if someone is creatively loving me at the same time, but a key ingredient to those greatest moments is that love is moving through me toward them, or simply moving through me in general, like a well-spring from within.
Anxiety is running high in our society. It’s been harder to maintain the course of a loving river in me over the last few months. It’s like we went through some earthquakes that are still having some aftershocks, and many people are getting exhausted. I get that. There’s lots of fear, blame and shame – all of which are destructive. It’s like there was a choice to change the roller coaster tracks we were on as a society. A choice was made to go down an older, rougher track because it was decided that the more recent track wasn’t good enough. Okay, here we are.
First, it’s really important to accept the reality of where we are. It's complex but in many ways, our government and society are running on an older track now. It’s design is more primal, which brings both benefits and pitfalls. We are remembering what we like and what we don’t like about it. It’s more direct. It’s less careful. It doesn’t respect bodies like the more recent track did. This track tends to beat people up. It can be refreshing and exciting in being more straightforward, without the long, slow, sometimes laborious twists and turns of the more recent track. But this old track has some dangerous, unpredictable dips – dips that led to some derailments in the past. (That’s why the more recent track was built).
So the question is, what is the best way to ride now? The answer is, the same as always on a roller coaster. While on it, you have to trust your choice to ride at all. Trust the Creator of the park and the opportunity for the experience. Come to rest in your seat. Make sure that your bar is down and your seat belt is on. Settle in. Center yourself. Be present. Feel fear when it comes but don't follow it to any sense of despair. Face it creatively. Be you and actively live life with an adventurous, creative attitude from where you are. If you experience or see a bad dip, make a call on your cell phone to the current roller coaster workers. Be constructive in the ways you can while also seeing that panicking will not be constructive. Reassure the person next to you if they’re hyperventilating. Help them get their seatbelt and bar secure. Look for opportunities to love yourself, others and life itself. Seek to enjoy the ride by doing so. Enjoy the adventurous love welling up from within you as you do the things that open your heart completely to Life, like centering prayer and the practices of the rest that works.
When we move in the moment with love, we don’t suffer in the same ways as when we don’t. We go through sometimes great challenges, but as we nurture an adventurous, creative spirit in our hearts, we rise to the moment with love. God's Creative Love raises us. That is the great secret of the rest that works.
Thanks for journeying together. More power to you in your adventure.
We have a Zen calendar at The Center that offers a little food for thought everyday. Today's saying was from Confucius: "We all have two lives. The second one begins when you realize that you only have one."
There are many levels of "rest" to the rest that works, but one of the main ones is to give our theories about what "should" be a rest so we can be present in the moment. We often have to give judgments a rest in order to be present. Then we can settle in with the creative forces of life within us, and draw on the graceful yet wonderfully creative rhythms of our breath and our heartbeat. Settling in with those creative movements helps us get back to living our one, real life in ways that feel centered and good. It's just so much better to live that way.
More power to you in living your one life.
Thanks for journeying together! (And thanks for the Zen calendar Judy)!
(P.S. Here's the calendar if you want to get one. It's pretty good. I don't get any kickbacks or anything:)).
This is 6 minutes very well spent with Valerie Karr, lawyer, mom and founding member of Groundswell:
An interesting thing happened this morning. After spending much of the day yesterday watching C-span - with coverage of the inauguration and the Women's March - I went to bed with lots of feelings, praying for guidance. I woke up this morning, turned on my computer and a web page came up that I have not had opened all week (I used it over a week ago to research hymns to go with my sermon, but not since). It popped up without my fingers touching anything. It was Hymnsite.com, a website designed to support people in picking hymns for worship. Across the top was this:
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
I've been practicing this at least daily for years. I haven't always felt much. Fears often short-circuit my ability to feel and move with much love. Many times in the past, and sometimes now, my prayer time consists of trying to give God my fears, and that is about all I can muster - anxiety is running so high in me. But now, following this process usually brings me back to an experience of loving energy. I start empathizing with people, no matter which "side" they're on. I can see where folks are coming from. I can appreciate what they are feeling, realizing that if I were in their shoes, I'd probably have similar feelings. Getting to that place has been key to working through difficult issues. I can honestly say it's what turned some former opponents in social situations and churches into friends and allies. This is what I think our country needs most now. I think that this is the first and most important daily step for a person of faith who thinks that love is worthwhile (and it is absolutely worth trying to be a person of faith and love, no matter what framework one uses, religious or otherwise. This is why we we encourage everyone to go to their center and be true to their soul at The Center - www.thecenterec.com).
More power to you in your prayer life. It takes work and a lot of patience, but I can guarantee you that it is worth it. Nothing has been more significant in my life. Nothing.
My prayer life is what has led me back to love again and again, and finding my way back to love is what has made my life rich beyond description. Any real good I've done anybody else will find it's deepest roots there.
Thanks for journeying together.
We sometimes forget that we're really all in the same boat. We share common desires and vulnerabilities as human beings.
Everyone wants to be healthy and secure in body, mind and spirit, and to love and be loved. Staying mindful of those common desires is very valuable. It helps us align with God's Love, and beckons us toward a redeeming approach toward ourselves and others. That’s why the vision of The Center is to encourage everyone to go their center, be true to who they really are and live their life from there. As we do that, we discover honest, common ground for healthy, respectful, and appreciative relationships. Peace grows like fruit from such relationships.
Mark Coleman’s new book, Make Peace with Your Mind has a great meditation for realizing this truth and living it out. It's called "Just Like Me" and it can be used just about anytime with anyone, silently to ourselves or out loud. It affirms others as it affirms us personally:
Mindfulness of these common truths is a key element of the rest that works. That’s why the subtitle of the main text is: Living a Life of Loving Mindfulness. As we are mindful of what is going on within and around us, we put ourselves in a position of conscious choice. We are freed and empowered to go deeper than our ego’s buttons. We are able to find that solid ground made of love that comes from Our Creator.
I heartily recommend Mark’s book. It’s excellent. It holds the best collection of perspective and tools for mindfulness that I have found in a single book.
Thanks for journeying together. More power to you in your adventure with God (which includes the part of God that moves within you and between us when we love).
(P.S. Here's a link to the book page and an interview with Mark Coleman if you're interested: newworldlibrary.com/BooksProducts/ProductDetails/tabid/64/SKU/84304/Default.aspx).
Before we get too far from the mysteries of Christmas, let me invite you to reflect on one of the most interesting passages in the Bible to me:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2).
The word translated "wise men" is "magos" which is defined as "the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc." (Strong's concordance).
The Magi were the first to make a great effort to follow Jesus. According to Luke, some shepherds went a few miles after perceiving angels - that's good. But the Wise Men probably traveled weeks if not months through the desert - that's amazing. How many of us would do that on the off chance of finding a single baby by way of a star? A star we came to understand as "his star." Just let that sink in for a minute. The odds against success are staggering even before considering the validity of the source of inspiration. We'd call such people crazy today. They would have been locked up for their own good in our society and given drugs until they stopped thinking in such ways.
The Bible tells us that the inspiration for the Wise Men came from astrological signs. Everybody saw the stars that were in the night sky (the above picture illustrates one possible scenario for "his star" that we saw in June a year ago and again this last August). Regardless of what was seen physically, no one else seems to have perceived what was going on. Not the priests, rabbis, Pharisees or Sadduccees who knew all of the Hebrew prophecies. The Bible implies that the Magi were the only ones who knew enough of astrology and the mystical arts in addition to prophecies to interpret and follow through on an accurate message from the heavens. And yet . . .
Christians are told not to consider astrology by the church. We are told not to talk to "seers" (people with psychic abilities). The mystical arts are looked at with great suspicion. Yet we still celebrate the wise men every year at Christmas and then at Epiphany. There's a disconnect there.
Here's how I deal with that.
Jesus said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Good advice. I try to do that. I only seek advice from people who believe in God – the Great I AM Whose character is Love - and are trying to live in alignment with the Divine. The point is to seek, accept and earnestly align with Heavenly Love and guidance as part of a life of faith - period. Test everything through prayer. Pay attention to that which passes testing for Divine Love. Keep praying and testing things as you seek to move with the Creative Forces of God (Like the Wise Men did – from following his star to following through on a message from a dream to go home another way than they came: Matthew 2:1-12). The rest that works is one way to seek to live in tune with Heavenly Guidance and Love.
Wise men and women still seek to align with God's Activities in ancient, Biblical ways (like dream interpretation and some mystical arts). Institutional religion just hasn't known what to do with the mysteries involved much of the time. I get that but shutting the door completely risks missing a lot.
You are not an institution with security issues. You are a person – living your divinely given life as a son or a daughter of God. Be humble and keep praying while seeking God's Will and Guidance. You do not have to employ them, but dreams, some astrology and other examples of modern magi (sincere seers trying to serve God along with Heavenly Helpers) are Biblical possibilities for guidance. Don't trust just any old “seer” or horoscope writer. Have very high standards for your sources or don't use them at all. And see your own prayer life as key to interpreting anything. Check-in with God and your angels regularly. In the depths of your heart you'll know what rings true to Divine Love.
I've found some very gifted helpers through friendships and the church (yes, the church. One of the most gifted spiritual intuitives I know is a Methodist who goes to church most every Sunday. She didn’t ask for her spiritual gift and it took her awhile to really accept it given churchly suspicions. She simply has it and seeks to help people with it, looking for God’s guidance all the way. She is a Christian Psychic). I thank God for leading me to these folks (or them to me). Again, testing for Divine Love through prayer is the key. Taking responsibility for pursuing one’s adventure with God is a big part of the process. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t seek God’s guidance in Biblical ways like prayerful dream interpretation and other sincere, prayerful means of spiritual discernment. Ask for God’s protection and guidance and then pay attention and listen. That’s what the Wise Men did. That’s what made them so wise.
More power to you in your grand adventure with God and the kingdom of heaven! I hope that these holidays include some truly holy moments for you. Thanks for journeying together.
(P.S. The rest that works is many things. One thing it gives us is a good framework for discernment. The next class starts Tuesday, Jan. 10th. Here are the details: http://www.therestthatworks.com/events-calendar.html. Let me know if you're interested since we will be limited to 10 people. I hope that you can come!).