THE TRADE

THE TRADE

 

The inward battle—against our mind, our

wounds, and the residues of the past—is more

terrible than the outward battle.

—Swami S

 

If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life. 

Tony Robbins

We’re in a Game of Thrones society now. We’re tethered to a remarkably short and fraying fuse, ready for combat at the slightest disrespect or perceived injury. Everything is always winner take all, and there’s a trail of bodies in our wake, because losing an argument now is cause for public shaming. We’re all so very war- weary, and it feels like we’re under an existential threat. As Father Thomas Keating said, we’re in a cultural straightjacket.

Most of us are getting progressively more desperate for less Game of Thrones and more I love Lucy in our daily lives– a little humor, a little perspective, a little lightheartedness.

I think I know how we got here.

We traded communion for connection, after

We traded wisdom for information, after

We traded eye contact for feedback, after

We traded contemplation for activity, after

We traded authenticity for truthiness, after

We traded mastering ourselves for managing our image, after

We traded understanding and community for tribal identity, after

 We traded accuracy for speed, after

We traded self- knowledge for goals.

Not coincidentally, we’re immersed in the trivia of each other’s lives to the exclusion of our own. We’re more attuned to whether others are succeeding at their goals or agree with us, than knowing what we truly want. Its a world of spiritual poverty and perceived dire scarcity, and yet we run from the fact that we’re all connected, because we’re all connected.

Everything that’s happening in the world is actually happening to us.

Charles Eisenstein

As one Hurricane Harvey survivor put it,

Everybody needs everybody.

It hurts and makes us feel even more helpless and tiny than we do already, unless we can get in there immediately and help. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma brought us together as we all jumped in and helped, donated, or both. But, other things, farther away, like the Congo make us feel somewhat impotent. What’s the point of seeing all of this suffering if we personally can’t get in there quick and do something about it? Of course, there is a point, and yet we run from it like Ebola. We voluntarily make the trades mentioned above rather than face it. It might as well be written on a tablet in Greek, locked in a cave with the Dead Sea Scrolls, because that’s how far away we want it to be.

We’re afraid we’re going to have to sit in a prayer closet in the lotus position, breathing like a lifelong Yogi, waiting for God to show us what our purpose is, and there will be only silence. Or, even worse, we’ll do it wrong, we’ll have spent the money for the prayer pillows and the God box, and somehow, we’ll piss him off. Or that in the silence in the middle of the night, after we turn off the reruns and the infomercials, we’ll realize we aren’t anywhere close to our path, or that the grief we feel will break loose in a torrent and we’ll lose ourselves in it forever.

But, it’s simple. It’s how we think of it that’s terrifying. TV taketh away, but sometimes it givith, by showing how something scary and complicated isn’t either of those things. I’m going to get us there via a TV show called The Leftovers about running away from loss and pain, individual and global, about existential crisis. But that has nothing to do with us, right?

Each character devises a story to explain his or her pain, in the hopes of minimizing it. There are clues to the greater meaning, as we and they attempt to decipher it all. Some characters even attempt to escape the suffering and ambiguity by dying.  But they can’t, and no answers ever come. Their elaborate explanations of why are false, and each is operating as an imposter because of them. Each character finally hurls themselves into what is, facing the darkness and their own imminent mortality, only to find they get to start again.

The brilliance of the show is that we go along for the ride, only to discover the clues were just red herrings, pointing to the now obvious: there’s no escape.   The situation was horrible, but they were inflicting the torture upon themselves.

The only way out is through, hurling ourselves into loss, grief, and  uncertainty, and the fact that none of us have enough time, by learning to listen to the silence, so we can hear our true natures, for how can we face the world and all of its tragedy as imposters? 

 But, its not about hours logged in the prayer closet like its punishment or atonement, its our reward. We fear, because we misunderstand what silence is and what’s required to listen. Silence is playing with the dog for 10 minutes in the back yard and noticing that he smiles, and then noticing the trees are whispering as they dance in the wind. Something magnificent is happening at this moment, and we’re here in it. Something turns and softens in us and we aren’t scared or resentful or mad as hell anymore.

Listening is simply listening in the moments when life is trying to tell us something, letting ourselves know that life is paradox, love, and loss, and letting the silence, the truth, and the tears cleanse us like rain, so we’re no longer haunted by the past. We can pay attention to what is happening now, all the wacky, crazy, tragic, comic beauty of it. Silence cleanses us of what blocks us from bravely facing the world as ourselves.

It’s that simple: it’s a trade. We escape running and distraction for embracing the loss, the pain, the grief and helplessness and letting it wake us up, yet again, to our own lives, our own heartbeats, and tears. If we do this, then even the most mundane things can become our sanctuary, sprinkled in the sacred.

Lauren

http://www.lekinzie.com

 

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.”

 

WHAT & WHO THE “NEW” CHRISTIANITY LEAVES BEHIND–ME?

 

 

I thought we Christians agreed on the things that Jesus said and did, and the attributes he embodied and wanted us to strive to achieve.

I ‘m going through a second puberty, much uglier and scarier than the first. At times, my faith’s new terrain is unnavigable and unrecognizable, because of the fusion of politics and religion by some.

Where is my Jesus?   

This is important for so many reasons.

When was the last time you heard any Christian politician talk about Jesus, or these very simple cornerstones of our faith?

 

Whenever you help the least of these, you help me.

 

They will know you by the way you love one another.

 

 Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and don’t hide from relatives who need help. Then, your salvation will come like the dawn, and . . . when you call, I will answer. (This particular quote is from Isaiah, not the New York Times).

 

Don’t steal.

Don’t lie.

Don’t want to take what belongs to your neighbor.

Don’t commit adultery.

Don’t kill.

Honor your father and mother.

Judge not, or you will be judged

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

 All of us, Christian or not, are losing when Jesus and the things he stands for are dropped from the equation.

 

 We lose peace and solace. Our faith is where we turn to get away from the ugliness and endless blame game of this world—our sanctuary.

In terms of Christianity, Jesus was supposed to be what Christians agreed on. It was the beginning of all further conversations. In terms of other faiths, see the point immediately below.

We lose identity and our voice. The Christian Evangelical political movement has become so powerful that non- Christians equate” Evangelical” with all of Christianity, and we non- Evangelical Christians feel like an endangered species.  No one is listening to us at the moment. But, maybe they should. We’ve been walking in our faith since no one knew what Evangelical was.  We’ve seen and learned there is a vast difference between attempting to vote ones

Christian conscience as a factor in politics, and allowing politics to dictate the very tenets of our faith, or what we are allowed to believe.

We lose leadership. If we’re the peacekeepers, and we don’t love, agree, or even tolerate each other, why on earth would anyone listen to us?

Ask yourself, who wins and profits if the Body of Christ is at each other’s throats?

As long as the politically powerful control the narrative and tell us what Christians are and aren’t, they retain power.

Power always acts the same.

Who decided Christianity was a “winner- take -all” full contact team sport?

The discord, “the all or nothing”, “you’re with us or against us ideology” is false, perpetrated by those who know better. If we buy into it, we lose the ability to be effective or solve problems. We lose compassion and grace for those who threaten or challenge us, and thereby lose Jesus himself. We lose our moral standard. We no longer know what’s over the line, because there is no line.

 

 

But, if we can agree on just these few things, we can solve a great many insurmountable” problems within and without our faith:

 

 Jesus isn’t for sale

Hes not a political prop.

He stands for certain things, none of which is being in the elite 1 percent.

He is the standard.

He isnt ego or economically driven.

As the body of Christ, it isnt helpful or effective to cut off limbs.

 

If we dont allow others to dictate membership in our faith, drown different voices out, or dictate what we believe and what is possible, we can’t lose, because we realize it isnt winner take all. We can all rise to the greater world vision Jesus called us to have. We can see that the narrative saying its impossible to have compassion and care for the powerless is just thata narrative.  We know who we are and who we stand for.

 

Im not abdicating fiscal responsibility for the nation, but we must hold true to the example and teachings that underpin our faith, as we make the difficult decisions.

The entire world is watching us after our crazy election.

The oppressed still need justice. The starving still need food.  The lost, marginalized, and hopeless still need a beacon. We can stay humble and caring, or we can devolve into us vs. them, all adrift on individual life preservers, with no shore in sight.

Isn’t it ultimately what’s in our hearts that counts? Are they still open and hopeful, or are they closed tight? Can we expect our prayers to God for mercy, forgiveness, and justice to be answered, if we dont allow others to receive those things? The answer determines the fate of the soul of a nation.

L E Kinzie

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.” 

 

YOUR WINTER IS OVER!

bunnyinlot

I spent the better part of Easter Weekend digging in the dirt with my kids. It was glorious! We made the spring pilgrimage to Home Depot and Lowes and bought a cart full of vibrant blooms. One child graduated college in December, and the other is a sophomore in nursing school, so it had probably been a decade since we enjoyed this family pastime. Long enough for the soil to go completely fallow, for all of our ” curb appeal” shrubs and potted plants to have gone to the Great Nursery In the Sky. We had all been so busy with our lives; we didn’t notice how dead things were. So we raked, hoed, dug and brought in healthy soil. It came back to us, as if no time had passed. We were really working our bodies hard— quite joyfully we discovered, together. It was, in its way, a very holy celebration. We were ridding ourselves of all remnants of winter, and death, and planting the seeds of spring and summer. The very act of planting the seeds and blooms was an expression of faith in the future. mountainlaurels

 

We are all seed planters in some way, aren’t we?

In an interview with Meet The Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “God is The God of Spring, renewal, birth, and growth– not winter and death.” While so much is complicated, that is a theological concept easy for me to focus upon.

So often, we don’t know what our next step should be. There is so much that is difficult, trying and confusing. But, we can help keep it simple.

All we can do is the next task that seems to present itself to our attention, having faith that it is, indeed, where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing.

Dig, plant, water, and grow. It’s your time to bloom! Winter is over!

 

2 BENEFITS OF SPIRITUALLY GOING PALEO

Caveman_Statue_(Josephine_County,_Oregon_scenic_images)_(josD0008)

Image provided by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

 

The truth of any teaching can never be found in the words. Rather, the truth is found in that which is revealed inside our own selves. By exploring in this way, we make the teachings our own. And by making a teaching our own… we come to awaken to a view of life that is whole and unified…and addresses the deepest yearning and longing of the human heart.

Adyashanti

 

I so want to consider myself a mystic. I’m always looking for that next burning bush, while ignoring that my left foot is on fire. Can’t see the tree, for looking at the forest. I want to have a positive impact on the world. But, the true point of impact is the fundamentals, not the polished product. I have learned this again and again and yet, the lesson is far from over. When I am trying to accomplish a lot, I focus so intently on the finished work that I literally lose myself, and lose these critical benefits in the process:

 

DIRECTION AND PERSPECTIVE

I can’t accomplish big things, if I can’t even accomplish little things consistently. I must remove all the fluff, drilling down to the most basic level first, before doing anything else.

If I don’t put my spiritual life first, my entire perception of everything and everyone becomes skewed.

I am a person of words, but words can and often do lie. In his wonderful book, Falling Into Grace, Adyashanti posits that the reason for human suffering is that we believe our own thoughts.

My thoughts are just a story I tell myself. If I don’t make my time with God my top priority, I start to live in the story, instead of the truth. I have a story about everything: the past, the future, and my motivations for doing what I am doing. I even tell myself a story about my spiritual time:

“ It’s something I have to do, or God will be mad at me.”

“ I need to master the art of prayer and read scriptures or books about prayer.” Well, that’s just the enemy telling me another story.

It is best to start my day with God, before things get too far afield. Otherwise, I will take off in the wrong direction going 200 miles an hour until l hit the wall and finally collapse. My time with God can be 30 minutes or 3 minutes— it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be fluffy or perfect. My prayer and meditation time is where I find the fount of truth, which becomes, freedom, insight, purpose, direction, energy and inspiration. It starts out being like spiritual broccoli, how I get my antioxidants. But, soon it becomes the most pleasurable part of my day, because it leads me to:

 

IMG_2925AWAKENING. I get out of my head and my stories, and focus on what is true, and what is happening right in front of my face or even in my own beating heart right now. There is no truth, or happiness or peace or love living in my head. It is happening in this very moment. I even tell myself stories about the truth, wanting it to be bigger, something I can’t miss, like a neon sign. It isn’t.

It is amazing how often the truth for which I search is hiding in my own body. I drive and drive myself, ignoring the evidence. Am I sleeping and eating well, in other words, treating myself like I matter? If not, why?   What am I feeling? Is fear or resentment from the past driving me? What is my true motivation for the present course I am charting? Have I been feeling sick or tired for a long time? What is the story I’m telling myself about this? Is it even true? The evidence is not just physical: it is spiritual. Something is off. My life is skewed and out of balance and the cure is not driving myself harder, but drilling down to the Paleo: finding the truth in each and every moment. It is far from easy; it is peeling an enormous onion, but it is the seed from which everything else grows.

 

I FOUND JESUS AT THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER

Clean your finger before you point out my spots.

Benjamin Franklin

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I’m bearing witness to how I can trick myself out of miracles by imposing rules or limits on my Higher Power to appear “appropriate “or holy, not being flippant or disrespectful.  If I have free will, doesn’t God? Won’t he show up where and when it suits him best?

I spent years in an Old Testament box awaiting punishment, because I put God in a box, and refused to believe he was big or limber enough to find me outside of that box. I wanted everything about my faith and my relationship to God to be intellectual and complicated. If it is important, it should be complicated and difficult, right?

If there is one thing on which those of us who believe in a Higher Power can agree it is this: whatever we choose to call this divine being, it is omnipotent, infinite, omniscient, and omnipresent. For grammatical simplicity, I choose to use the pronoun, “he”.

His holy presence is everywhere and cannot be labeled or limited in any way. A host of amazing things follow from this:

Miracles are possible anywhere, anytime.

Sanctuary is too, because it isn’t a building. It is the presence of grace.

Spiritual community can happen anywhere, because true community is about joy and the freedom from fear and shame.

I used to think that thinking was the highest function of humanity. Now I know that loving is our supreme function, because it can transform both those who receive it and those who give it.

Through love, my faith has become about freedom, not labels and limits. Through the eyes of freedom, life becomes a simple adventure: I ask for help, blessings, and even miracles, and then just let them fall on me like summer rain. They happen when and how God wants them too. They don’t and can’t look the way I forecast them in my head, because my imagination is too small.

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Lift up your eyes all around, and see;

they all gather together, they come to you…

Then you shall see and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult,

because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you.

Isaiah 60:4-8

So, why wouldn’t I be able to find my God at the Jewish Community Center, regardless of whether or not I am Jewish? There is such warm and loving acceptance of individual beauty there, such a beautiful spiritual atmosphere that is spacious and has room for me; I am immediately receptive to divine guidance, love and presence.

I swim laps outside, and, more often than not this winter, I have literally been swimming through clouds. Tell me, that isn’t 3 steps from Heaven! The warm water carries me and I don’t have to struggle or fight or try. It’s literally a communion between nature, spirit and body. That sounds like sanctuary and spiritual community to me.

Don’t I believe that God loves me enough to reveal himself to me in a way that I can see and understand? You bet I do! I’m not going to cheat myself out of another miracle.

This blog was partially excerpted from my book, Undamned, My Escape from the Old Testament, which just happens to be 61% off March 7-10th. http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_6?ie=UTF8&k=undamned&sprefix=Undamn

Happy Spring:)

 

 

 

DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING. SIT THERE!

 

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My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

Albert Einstein

 

God speaks to me in metaphors because it is the only thing I understand. Every year, I go to a retreat at Laity Lodge to get closer to the Creator and his creations and foster the creative process in myself. Usually, I am presented with a lesson or several on the last day. I offer this, for what it may be worth to you.

I had been feeling severely depleted and removed from my Higher Power due to some serious and ongoing personal crises, aka life. I just wanted to hunker down somewhere and hide and try to find my center again.

I found a cool spot on the footbridge facing some waterfalls and situated myself where no one could see me.  I tried to get still and quiet, but the beauty of it all was too much. I tried to catch the 4 big waterfalls with my iPad camera from every angle, but they didn’t show up.  I got up and changed position, but it didn’t work. I resorted to my phone, because it had a zoom, and I figured I could capture the beauty and crop it after the fact.

Finally, I gave up and sat back down. I resumed staring at the falls. As soon as I did, a 5th big waterfall came into view.  I don’t know how I missed it, but I did.  This sent me into a new tailspin. I began to try to capture the 5th fall with my cameras; it was the biggest one! This effort to capture a moment was even more fruitless and frustrating than the last.

Slowly, I realized the sound of tumbling water was coming from more than 5 places. My eye was drawn, each in turn; to 3 other small falls spewing from the rocks.

The lesson just kept coming.  I tried to capture these new, hidden sources of flow with my camera, but they didn’t materialize either.

I looked around again at my surroundings, paying attention and noticing two additional falls staring me in the face. This was getting ridiculous!

All of these sources had been there all along, biding their time. Not waiting to be revealed, but waiting to be noticed.

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I ‘m always trying to capture the infinite and reduce it to a sound bite. But, then it disappears. This is complete insanity on my part, but we all have those moments of craziness, when what we are trying to accomplish for ourselves, for others, or even for God completely takes over our thoughts and makes us completely lose perspective. What is required at this moment of lunacy is to sit there and do nothing, reconnecting with our Source of infinite peace, intelligence, wisdom, love.

The Infinite Source is magnificent, but not necessarily glamorous. It is like the support girders that keep our national highways humming without falling down. We are supposed to keep driving: not stop and take pictures of them as we make our way down the road. Imagine what would happen if we did! Well, that is exactly what does happen in each individual instance of mini-crazy. We go off- course and can stay there until we can stop long enough to check our direction. I can veer dramatically off course before my feet even hit the floor in the morning.

Perhaps, for me personally, the best thing I can do every morning before I bounce out of bed is to simply ask ” God, what are you going to show me today? What’s my lesson? Please help me to see it and receive it.

This is when being a storyteller can be a less than good thing, because I’m so excited about relating the miracle, the blessing or the lesson, that I don’t give it time to sink in. Hopefully, next time I’ll just sit there for a while and take it all in.

7 WAYS TO TAKE FLIGHT IN YOUR OWN LIFE

flyingbirds

 

 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you…

Lift up your eyes all around, and see

and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult.

Isaiah 60

 

Image supplied with permission by David Eyestone

 

Thank God my friends don’t treat me like I treat myself!

My friends somehow see the me I don’t see.

Why do so many of us find it so difficult to have compassion for ourselves?

Where do we get the idea that driving ourselves relentlessly towards perfection and flogging ourselves for our failings is the best way to go?

I had to finally break wide open to finally let up on myself and discover that gentleness works. The above quotation is the beginning of the cure for this spiritual malady because it stands in stark contrast to the lie at the root of it all: I AM NOT ENOUGH.

Here are some tools to take the weight off your wings:

 

1) Let yourself take off and soar and realize that the belief that it is wrong to do so, is lie #2. If a loving God created you, then hobbling yourself is denigrating something that God made and loves. Quit judging yourself. It isn’t your job. Fire your inner critic and run him or her out of town.

2) If it is true that nothing can separate us from our loving creator, it must also be true that there is no mistake I can make that will separate me from Him or the flight plan he has set out for me, and if that is true, then a host of wonderful things follow:

  1. a) There is no such thing as too late. There is no such thing as too old. There is no such thing as technologically obsolete. There is no such thing as too young or inexperienced. These things do not apply to your Plan. You can be what God wants you to be, because you already are. He doesn’t make mistakes.
  2. b) God loves me unconditionally and he made me. If that is true, then he has compassion on me. If that is true, then I am deserving of compassion and gentleness from everyone including myself. This concept was so alien to me; I had to teach myself how to do it, with the following exercise. This may seem ridiculous, but this daily practice has transformed me by teaching me compassion and love for myself: I face myself in the mirror every day, look myself directly in the eyes and say, Baby girl, God loves you and so do I. I see you. I hear you, and I will never let you down again.

In other words, I treat myself as a loving Higher Power would. If I was created by something divine, I have a purpose, and am worthy of love and affection and joy right now- not when I finally have mastered Everything.

3) Dare to suck and forge ahead. Redefine success as daily progress, not perfection. I haven’t seen Shakespeare’s first poem, but I bet it probably sucked. Those on their deathbeds regret the things they never dared to say or do, not the things not performed perfectly.

Remember the 10, 000 hour rule. I read a book recently that pointed out that behind each and every singular, supposedly unique success story like Bill Gates or Steve jobs was a common trait: each of these geniuses and stellar successes had spent 10,000 hours practicing and honing their craft before they reached critical mass. None was truly an overnight success story.

So keep going, keep practicing, keep singing, playing, writing or programming. It is impossible to fail as long as you are still learning, growing and trying.

Embrace joy instead of perfectionism. The two are almost mutually exclusive. Leave perfection for living saints, dead martyrs and maybe Martha Stewart. Psychotherapy is expensive and treating yourself like a machine will eventually require a major tune up.

4) Ask God instead of beating yourself up. Even if you don’t believe, ask God to change you, instead of using willpower to try and change yourself. In any event, it takes the fear out of your head, and puts it someplace where you can forget it, pause, and shift your attention to what is great in the present moment.

5) Want to be popular and well loved? The kindest thing you can do for your fellow man is be gentle with yourself. If we are rigid and unforgiving of ourselves, imagine how we might judge others. In any case, the constant ” I am an undeserving worm ” recitations are a pain to be around and, as the philosopher, Dr. Phil says, you teach people how to treat you.

6) The past is just a story we tell ourselves (from the movie, Her) The fact that you weren’t perfect in the past doesn’t mean that you aren’t exactly where you are supposed to be right now. Regret is premature. We don’t know how everything is going to work out. Miracles are the things that happen outside of your carefully prepared plan. Take a forensic look back on your life, looking for God’s breadcrumbs. How many “ mistakes’ and detours turned out to be blessed course-corrections?

7) If God never wastes a hurt, as I was told when I was in a great deal of pain, then maybe C.S. Lewis was right. Pain is the megaphone of God. Might as well ask, what is the gift or the lesson in this situation?

I will never be old enough to stop making mistakes, and if I look back with objectivity, those ” mistakes ” were the catalysts to growth, and a necessary change in direction. Labeling myself unkindly is libeling myself, because it isn’t true. Clipping my own wings, hurts me, doesn’t help anyone else and doesn’t glorify my Creator.

 

 

DIGITAL GOD

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He sits on the couch beside me

tending his Digital God.

She stops mid – word

heeding her Digital God.

I schedule my Tweets and Posts

to serve Him or Her,

fearing I’m not fast, witty or prolific enough.

I travel only at the Navigation Minion’s behest:

Siri is a power- lusting bitch.

She leads me to the middle of nowhere then, according to her whims, says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. Did you mean Istanbul?”

The Memo Pad barks its commands

and I spring into frenzy while

the owl outside succumbs to sleep.

I can see it now:

Death by To Do List

I am absolutely in love with Twitter. Nothing but death will part me from it. It stimulates my creativity and my intellect, and I love its brevity and immediacy. One can get involved and informed immediately. But I fight being a slave daily. Without the proper mindset, I become nothing more than the agent of my digital tools.  The  infinite totality of digital access (Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Vine, and all of the others) makes me twitchy and affects my creativity. It says, Hurry Up. I’m never going to catch up- ever. .

It’s like the proverbial Lays potato chip: there is no such thing as viewing only one cat video or vacation photo from someone I met 10 years ago at a conference, at least not for me. I love that I can keep up with friends and family quickly on Facebook. Sometimes getting a window into someone else ‘s life is thought provoking, inspirational, and a blessing. But, it’s like quicksand.

image002As an artist, I need the digital media to get my works and myself out there, but, without balance or a limit, it stops me from creating. Ultimately, it’s what draws me closer to my higher power that must be my treasure and my priority, for, without that link to infinite intelligence, love and creativity, I will be dominated by external criteria ultimately having nothing to do with me. That divine link is sparked by the act of creating, even if no one sees the creation.

It makes me joyous, and that draws me into my ultimate creator’s arms.

So, I’m going on a digital diet. Not a complete fast, just a daily time limit for all things digital.:) If you need to get in touch with me, tweet or call. I’m running a little behind on my e mailJ (5000 unread messages).

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

 

 

 

DIG

GUILT. (DON’T SHOULD ON YOURSELF!)

nightwithmoon

 

You don’t have to suffer continual chaos in order to grow.

John C. Lilly

 

It’s so unseemly when we should on ourselves! Yet for almost all of us, except for perhaps those on Capitol Hill, guilt seems to be the Great Common Denominator. We torture ourselves with it, sabotage ourselves with it, spend millions of dollars in therapy because of it, and warp our religious heritage because of it.

I spent more than half my life dragging my own personal Old Testament Tribunal with me everywhere I went: finding myself guilty and choosing my own punishment, until I escaped because I learned I was treating the wrong things reverently.

One day recently, I was watching television. During the holidays, certain commercials play on what seems like a continuous loop. I saw the one showing the abused and neglected kittens and puppies, with the sad, pleading eyes. Only $19.50 a month would save them. “ I should save them!” I thought. I felt like a personal failure for not taking all of them home. Before, I knew it, I was in the middle of a second commercial for the Wounded Warrior Project. Only $19.50 could pay for a caretaker for one of these magnificent warriors. “ I should do this! They fought for my freedom!” Before I could even reach for my check book, a third commercial appeared about becoming the benefactor of a starving child in a far- away country for only $19.50.

By the time the three ads finished running, I was convinced that the Pergo floor my chair rested upon would open up and my immediate descent to Hell would begin. I felt guilty that I was confused as to which charity I could afford to give that money. I felt guilty that I actually assessed my budget and whether it would support this monthly commitment.

Then, I remembered that I am supposed to tithe 10 percent to my church, and if I gave to these charities, I would not be able to do that. The bonus of legalism had crept into the mix in the span of 3 minutes. Guilt had led me down a labyrinthine rabbit-hole to a place where God would be mad at me for giving money to the less fortunate, because to do so, would lessen my tithe. I had should on myself until I couldn’t see straight. I had confused compassion for those who are hurting, with being the source of that pain. Did God send these confused and guilty feelings? No. I generated them in my own spinning little brain in response to a thing created by humans, designed to move other humans to gratitude and compassion.

 

What is the remedy for this dire state of affairs? A little bit of irreverence– enough to gain a fresh perspective.

Guilt is a serious subject because I take myself way too seriously. It stems from the delusional and arrogant belief that I should be perfect and be all things to all people, and when I don’t meet this standard, I fail.I realized that I suffered because I chose to punish myself with guilt. It was an albatross I was voluntarily strapping to my back.

I finally got that guilt is always a choice and that shoulding on myself isn’t ever divine. It is exactly what the expression implies: a decision to denigrate and punish myself for human failings. A loving Creator, who created me to be me, would never give me the near constant message that I was not enough. I no longer believe that God has a smite button he longs to hit whenever I fall short of the mark. I believe I cause most of my own suffering, with my beliefs and attitudes, and that God does not want me to take on his job of judging or punishing. I believe my Higher Power rejoices in my progress and the fact that I am imperfect and fearful enough to constantly seek him and his guidance. He rejoices in forgiving me.

Guilt does not lead to spiritual growth or transformation; it prevents it. It keeps us regretting the past and fearing the future and robs us of peace and the ability to fully give ourselves to others in the present. True remorse and a desire to obtain forgiveness for our wrongs brings us closer to our Creator, while guilt causes us to run and hide from our Creator and those we may have wronged, because we haven’t acknowledged these mistakes and decided to make amends and do better. God’s grace is inexhaustible.

 

For we are his workmanship, created … for good works, which God prepared beforehand. Does this sound like a creature to be should upon?

Ephesians 2:10.

 

 

LET GO OR BE DRAGGED

 

( Why and How to Meditate, If You Can’t Sit Still)

 

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.

Blaise Pascal

 clenched fist

Having the attention span of a gnat, I find traditional meditation practices impossible.

This writing attempts to give a practical real world answer to the two questions most of us with short attentions spans would ask:

1) why should we attempt to martial our million –mile- an- hour- thoughts for even the briefest of time, and 2) how on earth is it even possible?

The answer to question 1 of this conundrum came from a bit of very popular culture, my favorite TV show, Scandal. I heard this sentence and it really got my attention. One of the characters said,

“ True power hides in plain sight. It is subtle and doesn’t’ swagger.”

An arguably evil fictional character spoke these words, but it started me thinking of how true they really are.

Real personal power cannot be acquired by sheer force of will or intellect. In fact, if we are in a mess and don’t seem to be able to get ourselves out, it is our best thinking that landed us here.

True power comes from the Source of all power, and that is never ourselves.

My thoughts can race out of control like a quarter horse on speed, circling around and obsessing about a problem, a goal, an anything, until I’ve made it worse.

It’s time to let go, or I will be dragged. The harder I clench down on a problem and focus solely on it, the more I will be dragged away from any possible solution.

The reason and the method are one in the same:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us, and the power to carry it out.

 xenia and palm

It doesn’t say we have to do this perfectly. It says we have to improve. We have to try. It also doesn’t say we have to be a cleric or a mystic to do this. We have to only seek the God of our understanding. He will do the rest.

The simple answer to the question of why is so we can let go of this world just long enough to link up with the divine world and remind ourselves that it and He is there, waiting for us to ask for help. Improve conscious contact….

 

The answer to how? Seek to improve conscious contact. Seek him.

All we have to do is let go of turmoil and questions, unclench, and seek our higher power for a few minutes, long enough to open ourselves to our power source and receive his infinite power, infinite love, wisdom, discernment and everything else that is good.

I have such admiration for those who can place themselves in a meditative trance for an hour, who have prayer closets that they visit regularly, or who write in their journals every day.

But, we don’t have to do that. I can’t do that.

For me, it is enough to go outside, sit in the sunshine, and listen to the wind chimes on my front porch for a few minutes. If the weather is bad, I have a meditation playlist on my iPhone that contains popular songs that inspire me. Some are worship songs. Some are not. It isn’t important what anyone else thinks about what they mean. I get what God is trying to impart to me. By letting go and listening periodically, I can keep his word and his will in my heart.

It is NOT easy, but it is simple and it is worth it. Anything can be a meditation or a prayer. A walk, a song, a journal, a wind chime. They key is finding one that works for you.