At times I think we all worship at the altars of false gods that fail to satisfy. These can be money, things, possessions, sex, the pursuit of a lover, power, prestige, etc. We all at times worship false gods. All of the above are not bad in and of themselves if they are in perspective and held for good use. But sometimes what happens is that these things, among others, become the focus of our lives. At these times we begin to worship false gods.
Today we might take some time to put things in perspective and think about what REALLY gives us a sense of satisfaction? When I am choosing to be there for others, when I am choosing to live in good ways, when I am thinking in positive ways instead of negative, when I choose compassion and kindness even when my mood is bad, when I respond instead of react . . . then I have an inner sense of peace and well being. Again, like yesterday, I think we are reminded to ask ourselves the question, what is the “kingdom,” what is the legacy that we are building in our lives? When all is said and done, how do I want to be remembered?
“They make contributions out of their surplus, but she from her want has given what she could not afford – every penny she had to live on.” (See Luke 21: 1-4)
When I give something, do I place expectations on my giving? If I give something to a friend, do I expect something in return? If I give my time, do I expect it returned? Or do I give, only when I FEEL like giving?
Or, when I give, do I give completely, even when it’s inconvenient, expecting nothing in return?
If I examine my own life, sometimes it’s about expectations and convenience and not about freely giving. At other times, I give freely of what I have.
One thing is clear. I am most happy, most content, when my giving is free, no strings attached. It is in those moments when my heart feels a quiet contentment and knows the care of a loving God who promises that I will be given all that I need, . . . if I just let go. Even when it comes to love, when I cling, life becomes cloudy and difficult. When I let go, life becomes a richer experience.
This morning I was reading a bit of Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, which a friend recently gave me. I was reading a section on surrender and I came across a teaching on how to pray, how to ask for what we want. It really struck me. This is what she says: “Instead of, ‘Dear God, please let us fall in love, or please give me this job,’ we say ‘Dear God, my desire, my priority is inner peace. I want the experience of love. I don’t know what would bring that to me. I leave the results of this situation in your hands. I trust your will. May your will be done. Amen.’”
Do you feel the sense of surrender in such a prayer? It’s almost a relief. Instead of asking for this and that, which entails clinging to this or that, the “desire,” the “priority” is living in peace and love – period. How it happens is given to the Universe to work out.
What a great teaching to have in our mind when we have a choice to make. In anything that we do, we could ask the question: “Is what I’m about to do going to help faciliate living in peace and love?” Or is it just immediate gratification?
As the holiday season looms close in the future with it’s many and varied gatherings, family blessings and problems, running here and there, the glory and exhaustion of it all, perhaps now would be a good time to take a bit of stock, a time to pause and talk about what it all means, instead of getting swept up aimlessly in the malestrom.
If you have a partner, perhaps now is a good time to look toward the holidays and talk about them. What do they mean? How do you wish to celebrate them? What implications do your plans have on those in need? What might you want to do TOTALLY different this year? What will you need to do to stay focused?
One Christmas I celebrated a few years back initially did not seem like one of the best. I was sick on Christmas Eve. My partner’s sister had recently had a baby. We were to go to his family to eat and celebrate together on Christmas day, but my partner was worried about the fact that I had been sick the day before and didn’t want to risk the baby getting sick. We decided, sadly, that it was best that he go to his family alone. So I was left to spend the greater portion of Christmas day alone that year.
But you know what? It’s one Christmas that I remember vividly. I ended up driving to a retreat center in the area, out in the country. There was absolutely no one around. I went into the chapel. No one was there. The sounds, sights, music and prayer celebrating the coming of the Light of the night before and that morning were gone. I sat there a long time in silence, all alone and I prayed. As time went on I began to think of others that were alone on this day and gradually I began to feel a mystical oneness with them and with my partner celebrating with his family. And in my aloneness I felt I was not alone. Paradoxically in that solitude I felt a closeness to my partner and to others that I had not felt in a long time.
Sometimes the holidays might not turn out as we would like, or as we had planned. But they can be a celebration nonetheless and a moment when Light Itself enters the fabric of our being and we realize we are never alone.
“If only you had known the path to peace this day; but you have completely lost it from your view.” (See Luke 19: 41-44)
What gives you peace? What are the practices that keep you in a peaceful place? What are those things that you do, even when you don’t want to, but you know that if you do them, you will be in a better space?
How easy it is to loose the path to peace, to drop those actions and activities that keep us focused and centered. It could be skimping on our time for meditation, or exercise, suddenly getting into a pattern of not eating right, watching too much TV and doing too little reading, spending more time on the internet than interacting with people.
I cannot tell you how often I have heard someone in a 12 Step Meeting say that they did not want to come today, that they had to drag themselves there – but they felt so good that they had!
Sometimes we don’t FEEL like doing the things that keep us in a good, peaceful place and we have to force ourselves to do them. Making this effort is well worth it, for in the long run, getting off our butts and doing something that we know will make us feel better is a good investment of our time.
“Here is your money which I hid for safekeeping. I was afraid of you because you are a hard man.” (See Luke 19: 11-28)
Again we are reminded: how are we using the gifts that we have been given, the gift that we are as persons? Are we taking risks, reaching out and being of service to others with what we have to offer? Or are we afraid of getting out there? Or, maybe we think we don’t have all that much to offer and what difference would it make anyway? Maybe what we have to give is small. But small things put together become big things. A few cents in my pocket isn’t a lot, but when I throw it in a bin, over time these small amounts add up to something much bigger.
As we head into the end of another year, maybe it would be a good time to pause and take stock. How well have we used our gifts for the good of others this past year? Have we given what we have to give? And how have we seen it multiply? Whenever we give, it WILL multiply!