Jeremiah 20: 7-9
Matthew 16: 21-27
Sometimes the truth is a real pain in the ass!
Were you ever in a situation, perhaps in your church, job or in a political situation, or perhaps in your own family, where people were talking about something with which you passionately disagreed? Or perhaps it was a friend of yours or your own partner who was doing something that was hurting him/herself or others. You knew in your heart that you needed to say something, but were afraid of what the reaction would be. Your heart began to pound as you gathered the courage to speak up. And then you finally did. Chances are, there were some people that did not like what you said.
The reality is, sometimes people are not going to like us if we speak up. We see in the readings from Jeremiah and Matthew how Jeremiah and Jesus are hated for what they say. I’m sure both were tempted to just put up and shut up. Life would have probably been more peaceful, more tidey. Yet somehow, when we don’t speak up, something inside of us dies. A Word inside of us dies and a person or persons who might otherwise be lifted up to a new way of thinking and being, go on their way living half a life.
It’s important to remember that when prophets speak they don’t speak in anger. They don’t just throw around negative energy. They speak out of a place of love and concern.
Am I willing to let go my ego’s desire to be liked, in order that someone might hear a word of challenge that may help them? Do I have the courage to speak the truth in love?
“God chose those whom the world considers absurd to shame the wise. . . . God chose the world’s lowborn and despised . . .” See 1Corinthians 1: 26-31
I have this soft spot in my heart for the underdog. And I have to say that I have an especially soft spot in my heart for the gay underdog. I’m sure it’s because of my own experience of growing up gay and subconsciously drinking in messages that I was fundamentally flawed. The day I realized in my heart that I was not flawed, but wonderfully made, it gave birth to a passionate desire to lift up those who feel themselves to be flawed or less than. This desire has not subsided all these years. Nothing gives me more happiness than to sit with one who has drunk in these messages and to help them, with my own story, realize that they are wonderfully made! In this age of increasing religious anti-gay rhetoric, it’s all the more important that there be present other “religious/spiritual” voices that speak a different message.
Some years ago, while giving a weekend retreat/conference, a man approached me and asked if he could talk with me. With tears in his eyes and his body shaking because he was so nervous, he told me of his same sex attraction and the utter despair he felt because his church was telling him that he was damned. We talked a long time and through sharing my story, that man’s face was literally transformed. Fear and self loathing gave way to surprised joy at the thought of being wonderfully made. As we parted he thanked me profusely. I looked at him and simply said “you’re welcome.” He looked at me and said that I had no idea how significant this was. He went on to say that he had often sat in his backyard with a gun in his hand, contemplating suicide. A friend had encouraged him recently to come to this retreat (which incidentally was a 12 Step retreat and had nothing to do with being gay) and for some reason he came. He now knew why. With tears in his eyes again, but tears of joy, he looked at me and said: “You see, you just saved my life!”
The gift that I have been given, I want to give. I SO want to be a life saver! If you are one who, for whatever reason, despairs of God’s love, I pray that through these words and in this Blog you will find a word that gives you hope and lifts you up.
Are you ever attacked by a feeling that grabs you out of the blue and holds you captive? OK, I’m going to be embarrassed to admit this, but here goes. At the airport a couple of weeks ago I saw two cute guys talking in a bar/restaurant and it became obvious to me that they had just met and were interested in each other. Before they parted for their flights they exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. I found myself jealous. How stupidly immature it seemed of me! Where the hell was this coming from?
When I was able to step back and simply observe what I was feeling I quickly came to realize that this was a perfect example of the ego within. The ego ALWAYS wants more and is NEVER satisfied. It constantly reaches out for something more to fill its seeming emptiness. Sometimes it’s things. Sometimes it’s a place. And sometimes it’s a person. We are driven by it at various times. Instead of remembering all that we have had and have in our lives and being content with that, the ego constantly keeps us agitated, insisting that we MUST have this NOW, or else we will find ourselves eternally unhappy! This is the great lie, the great illusion that keeps us running after this or that. The advertising industry knows this full well!
The paradox is that if we listen to the ego and keep reaching out for what we don’t have, we will INDEED be unhappy! Conversely, if we gently let go of the screaming ego in our minds and become present, we will find that we lack nothing and we become open again to what Life will bring in THIS moment. When I became conscious of this, suddenly I wasn’t jealous of these two guys anymore and, with a smile, I wished them well as I overheard one of them call the other guy shortly after they parted and leave him a message. Who knows, maybe it will be a love connection that carries them through life?
When I become conscious of the chatter and pull of the ego, I quickly am able to let go. Envy turns to gratitude and celebration! And, paradoxically, in the letting go I am open to Life as it is and become present to Its surprises.
“If the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming, she would keep a watchful eye.” See Matthew 24: 42-51
If you are the owner of a house, you know the work that goes into maintaining, caring for and protecting your investment. It is a constant process.
Each of us IS a house. Do we take the same consistent care of the house that we are, as we do our own homes? What are the “thieves” that I need to watch out for? It could be negative thinking. It could be unhealthy food. It could be the lethargy imposed by a lack of physical activity. It could be a lack of reading which feeds our minds and spirits. It could be self centeredness. Am I vigilant about keeping away those things which would drain life from me?
I think of Wayne Dyer’s strength test that he mentioned in one of his talks. I believe it is in his book and set of talks entitled Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling. If you haven’t read or listened to these talks, I highly recommend it! Here’s the exercise he describes: Place something next to your heart, hold out your arm and have someone press down on your arm. If it is something that is healthy and life giving you will have the strength to keep your arm straight up. If what you hold to your heart is something unhealthy, you will not have the strength to hold your arm up. Try it. Parents, try it with your kids. See what happens. What is healthy will give us energy. What is not will deplete our energy.
Am I being watchful in maintaining and protecting the house that I am?
I am blessed to have a variety of friends. I remain so grateful for the “holy” friendships that I experience in life. These are people who are not only social friends, but those who open themselves to deep intimacy, perhaps the deepest of intimacy as we open our hearts to the Divine in one another.
These relationships are characterized by a sense of respect, openness and humility. Neither person feels that they have all the answers and they listen to each other with a sense of openness. When such a friend speaks, there is a presence of attentive listening, as if God herself were speaking.
Do you have such a friend in your life? Perhaps that person is your partner. Today take some time and give thanks for these Sacred relationships. Let someone know the gratitude that you have for their presence in your life.
Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now, constantly brings us back to presence and not worrying about or projecting ourselves into the future. It is in being present that the future we are to experience and to which we are to contribute will present itself. Oftentimes we go about it in the wrong way when we incessantly try to think our way into the future. Such incessant thinking can create a paralysis within, where we get stuck in the thinking, do nothing and miss living.
For example, for those of use who are single, when we are constantly in a mode of “looking” for (aka, thinking of finding) a partner, that partner seems to evade us. When we are simply present to life and going about our inner growth and activities we are in a much better position to see clearly the partner when he or she presents him/herself. In the same way, if we are always concerned and thinking about what’s going to happen in our future we miss the living present which is the very foundation of creating any future; and chances are if we are in our head, we will miss the indicators that present themselves pointing us in this or that direction.
Another example. Sometimes when I struggle in my relationship with someone, it helps when I focus not so much on them, but on myself and what I can do to change. When I clean my side of the street, oftentimes the direction that the relationship is to take naturally presents itself.
“First cleanse the inside of the cup so that its outside may be clean.” (Matthew 23: 26). When we are doing what are need to do to stay focused, responsible and present to life, our outer world will naturally take on the shape that it’s supposed to.
Yesterday I reflected on the fact that we all look for keys that unlock meaning for us in life and that we ourselves are a key that has the potential of unlocking good things for others. Today I would like to reflect on the importance of using the keys that we find that unlock meaning and energy in our lives.
I was speaking with a friend recently and we were talking about learning new behavior and how we literally have to reprogram ourselves, reprogram our thinking, the tapes, behaviors and habits from our past that we have assimilated. It takes work and discipline to grow beyond any of that.
When we find a key that we feel begins to unlock something within us, it’s important to use that key again and again. It’s almost like being “brain washed.” We need to continually return to the key to keep growing and moving forward. In Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step programs, for one who is coming in new, they recommend doing “90 meetings in 90 days.” A meeting EVERY DAY for 90 days! Seems daunting. But it comes from the collective wisdom of those who have gone before who know that we need constant help in changing our thinking and behavior. If we want results, we need to stick with it.
For those of you who have a partner, think of how you relate to your partner. Do you feel that you are growing in your relationship? Do you feel that, as a result of living in this “school of love,” that it’s a key to becoming a better person? I’m sure at first it was easy to love him or her. They had the “key” to your heart and you had the key to there’s. But as time goes on, and the feeling wears off a bit, it begins to take work to use the key, to go out of your way to do something for them. As we practice loving acts, slowly they become second nature and the very foundation of good living and loving.
Are we using the keys we’ve been given?