I generally tell those I journey with that I can tell a lot about their lives by the state of their apartment. Esther de Waal said something similar in her book The Way of Simplicity. She wrote, “An old monastic saying goes that you can tell how a man prays by the way in which he sweeps the cloister.” It made me realize that it is not just how cluttered or uncluttered your living space is, but the ways in which you go about the routine practices in your life like sweeping the floor.
If someone were to watch the way you perform a routine act in your home or office, what would they learn about you. It has made me wonder what others think of or learn about me by the way I do things. I would like to think people would think I was mindful and intentional, but I also know there are routines I am not as mindful and focused as others.
It is easier for me to be mindful and focused when I am cooking because I am constantly thinking, especially now, about what I am eating, where it has come from, what I am doing with it. I treat each of my ingredients with a sense of reverence. However, in all honesty, I have come to realize that I do not bring that same sense of reverence to everything I do, especially chores I have not enjoyed. Read more
There is a Buddhist story I love and would like to share with you this week. It is, as the title suggests, about a group of six blind men and an elephant. Whenever I think about practicing vision, this story reminds me how our vision is shaped by the perspective we are. It limits and shapes what we see and what we do not. I know I have shared this story before in the past, but some stories are worth sharing again.
Long ago six old men lived in a village in India. Each was born blind. The other villagers loved the old men and kept them away from harm. Since the blind men could not see the world for themselves, they had to imagine many of its wonders. They listened carefully to the stories told by travelers to learn what they could about life outside the village.
The men were curious about many of the stories they heard, but they were most curious about elephants. They were told that elephants could trample forests, carry huge burdens, and frighten young and old with their loud trumpet calls. But they also knew that the Rajah's daughter rode an elephant when she traveled in her father's kingdom. Would the Rajah let his daughter get near such a dangerous creature? Read more
When I was pastoring, one of the least listened to parts of the service was the announcements. One of the young girls in the congregation came to talk to me about how disrespectful the adults were being. I asked her if she had any ideas on how to get the adults to pay attention and she said yes. The next Sunday, this powerful 7 year old got up in front of the congregation and loudly proclaimed, “It’s pay attention time!” The adults immediately paid attention and then she explained that announcements were not a time to talk to their neighbors, but a time to pay attention to the announcements. It has been years since she taught this lesson and took over that part of worship, but I still remember her telling everyone, “it’s pay attention time!” Read more
Faith, for some, is about the relationship they have with their Higher Power. Faith is about one’s level of awareness and attunement to the presence of the Higher Power in our everyday lives. So deepening one’s faith is like developing any relationship. That deep knowledge of what the Divine can do in and through our lives develops over time. It is about our constant interaction with our spiritual partner. Through our interactions we
Practicing faith, then, is like developing any relationship. You have to give it time and attention. We have opportunities to interact with the Divine in every aspect of our lives and with all of our senses. Read more
Recently, I shared with someone that every step I take is in faith. They did not fully understand what I meant. Sometimes we hear people talk about walking in faith. For me, it is not just a spiritual faith walk, but also a physical faith walk. On October 15 2007, as I was opening my office door at the church I was pastoring at, I felt a pain shoot down my right leg, followed almost immediately by numbness and a sense of shock. I also found myself going why now God as within minutes, a special guest and his entourage arrived and I was bracing myself to figure out what was going on, how I was going to lead worship, and how I was going to manage to look like a calm, cool, collected leader in the midst of this storm that was suddenly and unexpectedly raging in my life. The words which kept floating through my spirit were peace, be still. Peace, be still. Through the grace of God and the support of my wife and good friends, my car and I got home safely. Read more
One of the things I have learned through my studies on Toltec wisdom is that the way we see ourselves is not the way other people perceive us. As don Miguel Ruiz teaches, when we write in our minds the story of our lives, we are the main characters, and others are the supporting actors and actresses. In their stories, we are written in as the supporting roles. How they construct our character in their story may or may not be the way we construct or perceive ourselves. Rarely, are we fully aware of how others perceive us. Even if they share their perceptions with us, they are limited by their ability to communicate their perceptions of us.
When people speak to us, it is a reflection of what they are saying as the character they have created in their minds. How we respond to what others have to say about us is about us. It is this self-awareness of how we respond which can become a tool in our own spiritual healing and growth. What others say to us are just lines from their story. They only have the power to affect us to the extent we allow them to do so. Read more
This morning a colleague of mine, Kitty Wolfsong, and I were having a conversation about hearing and receiving messages. I shared with her a story that I had heard Louse Hay tell about how different people can tell the same story, and you will hear it differently from each person depending on how they tell it. She shared with me her story about the bucket theory. She shared, “we each put our drops in the bucket, and who knows what will be the drop that causes the bucket to overflow (with love).” Her story reminded me a fable another colleague of mine, Jack Stephens, told in his book Soul Self: Hot to tame your mind, uncover your blueprint, and live your soul purpose. So this week, I would like to share this fable as it is all about becoming aware of how we internalize other people’s beliefs and agree to them and how the process of releasing them begins with a single step in a different direction and some courage. Read more
Italo Calvino said: The more
enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts.” So what
enables us to become enlightened and why, or does this, create an oozing of
ghosts? To become enlightened is to
develop the ability to give spiritual or
intellectual insight to self, and some would say to others. Being
enlightened is about being present. it is about developing the spiritual
practice of releasing our attachment to the material world and all things which
seek to cling to us or to which we seek to cling. It is about becoming in tune
with all human experience, which enables one to understand our connection to
all of life and humanity.
that is why this image was selected to go with this quote. One can look at this
house and see it as empty and free of anything which might challenge us to
become attached materialistically. At the same time, one can look at this house
and see life being restored, an air conditioner, fresh air circulating through,
rugs to be laid out. Whichever way we choose to look at this house and experience
it is about us. We are free to determine our own lives and our own reality. This
image is nothing more then an image. What we see in it and how we experience it
can affect our understanding of reality. Like with anything else in life, we
can experience things in a way that cause our understanding of reality to
expand and contract. It is like breathing, our lungs expand and contract as we
inhale and exhale. Read more
There is a Buddhist story I love and
would like to share with you this week. It is, as the title suggests, about a
group of six blind men and an elephant.
Long ago six
old men lived in a village in India. Each was born blind. The other villagers
loved the old men and kept them away from harm. Since the blind men could not
see the world for themselves, they had to imagine many of its wonders. They
listened carefully to the stories told by travelers to learn what they could
about life outside the village. Read more
week, I ended by asking how we use our status in the world to create a more humane world.
How do we, consciously or unconsciously, contribute to the inhumanity in the
world? How do we try to avoid and deny responsibility for our place in creating
a more humane world for all of humanity?
have this tendency in our culture to blame people for not having achieved as
much or done as well as others. We see things at an individual level and rarely
look at the systemic forces that make it more difficult for some to achieve or
have access to what seems within the grasp of others. Rather than be willing to
critically look at these issues and the ways they are embedded within larger
institutions and systems of injustice and inequality, people tend to try to get
off the hook by denying and/or minimizing the situation or blaming the
situation on the “victim.”
Lately, others have invited me to participate in some interesting blogging challenges. This week was no different. For the next 26 weeks, I will be blogging my way through the alphabet. When I asked some of our Facebook and Twitter followers for some A words as inspiration for this week’s blog, you offered me appreciation, awareness, agreements, attitude, asparagus, and anchovies, in no specific order. While the last two might seem a stretch in terms of this particular reflection, the more I thought about these letter words, the more I realize that they were, in their own unique way, related.
One of our followers suggested the word appreciation because she said she appreciated everything Inspiritual does for our readers, members, and followers. While we too appreciated the feedback, I realized that being able to be grateful and appreciate someone else’s actions, words, or behaviors was in part about awareness and attitude. If one is not have an attitude of gratitude about the blessings in one’s life, then one cannot appreciate the fullness and richness of those blessings. Read more
There are those moments in life where what you are feeling transcends description. I have yet to discover an English word, which would capture the depth and essence of what I feel at these moments. It is in my attempts to describe those moments that I am reminded of how limited language can be. Sometimes I cease trying to find the perfect word, assuming that it either does not exist or when I am meant to know it, it will find it’s way to me. It was quite by accident, that I stumbled upon the Yugen while on stumbleupon. According to the site, Yūgen means “an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.” As I read the definition of this word, a wave of peace, exhilaration, and recognition moved through my body, mind, and spirit. I recognized this feeling quite well. The last time I experienced this was when I was seeking the word to describe my purpose in life and found the word Antevasin while reading Eat, Pray, Love. Read more
One of my favorite books for the longest time was Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In it, there was a list of important life lessons he learned in kindergarten. Number 11 “Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”
When one was in kindergarten, it seemed easy for most people I know to lead a balanced life. We went to kindergarten, learned and thought about things like the alphabet and big and little letters. We would spend time in school and after school, playing and creating games or stories with our friends or by ourselves. Read more
A friend of ours is interviewing for a job in another state. As she has talked about the idea of moving, she has thought about taking up a temporary residence somewhere until she can decide where and in what neighborhood she wants to live in. As I have listened to the stories of those whose homes were lost during Hurricane Katrina, there was a clear sense that where I am at right now is a temporary situation, but soon I will be moving back to or into permanent housing again.
When it comes to where we live, most of us have a clear sense of when the place is our temporary and or permanent residence. So why is that some of us have trouble doing that with our feelings. Read more
Sometimes it can be a scary thing when we listen to the things we say to ourselves, never mind each other. When we consciously listen to what we are saying to ourselves, we can catch ourselves slipping into a state of negativity. A space when we begin to lie to ourselves. When we hear someone we love start to say negative and self-deprecating things about themselves, we might jump in and help them to look at the space they are in that is enabling them to speak this way about themselves. However, who does it for us, especially when those thoughts are not coming out of our mouths, but just floating around in the back of our head. Read more
I was watching a 2-minute video by Don Miguel Ruiz called The Truth about Cats and Dogs. He talked about how cats do not identify themselves as cats or dogs as dogs or any animal as a species or series of roles. As we are not a part of those species, we will never know that for sure. However, his whole point was that we are more then any word we use to identify ourselves.
As I thought about this, I found myself going back to a story from the book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. There Moses asks God, who shall I say sent me. Read more
Whenever I go to the ophthalmologist’s office, they check my eyes to see how my vision is doing. While they are able to see behind my eye and assess all kinds of information about my vision, they are unable to assess how I see people. see there is more to our vision then just whether or not it is 20/20 or if we need corrective lenses or contacts to enable us to see better. When it comes to seeing others or ourselves the only lens we need to wear is a lens of love.
How we see others and ourselves is about us and where we are at in our journeys. If we cannot see ourselves through a lens of love, then how can we see others through that lens? The lens of love is unconditional. Some refer to this as agape love, a love that transcends the ability to be frustrated. It cannot be frustrated because there is no expectation attached to it. When we see others and ourselves through this lens of unconditional love, it means we have released our expectations for others and ourselves. When we see ourselves getting frustrated with someone because they have not fulfilled my expectations, it is a signal that our love for them conditional. Read more
I have been rereading sections of a book from last month’s Spirituality Book Club called Dancing with your Dragon by Shaeri Richards. One section made me realize that when I judge others I am really judging myself. Shaeri shares the story about how she could have so easily gotten into an argument with her husband over whether or not her butt was looking too big. As she wrote about it, this was a no win situation for him, because no matter what he said it was not going to be what she needed to hear. Even if he said of course not dear, she would not believe him. How she heard how he answered this question was all about her, and had very little to do with him. Read more
Most people I know, when they think about their “enemies,” do not talk about loving them. What if we did though? What if we put our “enemies” on the top of our prayer list and blessed them? Why is it that every faith tradition in the world teaches one to love their “enemies”? Is there even an “enemy?”
Iyanla Vanzant once wrote about being grateful for those who got on your last nerve. I could not agree more. I have learned so much from those I had once considered my “enemies.” Read more
Last week, I challenged us to activate our spiritual DNA. The question, however, is how does one do that. While there are some questions we can each meditate on and explore, the journey to activate our spiritual DNA is different for each of us. This is not a one size fits all kind of journey. One of the books I have been reading is called Soul Types by Robert Norton and Richard Southern. They suggest there are four soul types, which are the ways in which we live out our identity, values, purpose, and vision. All four types reside within each of us as possibilities, but most of us choose one or two to focus on more directly. Each one is centered on something different: heart, mind, soul, and strength. Read more