NOTE: I meant to post this on Christmas Eve, but a very good friend of mine had a stroke at the age of 40 the day before Christmas Eve. He’s only 40 years old. He remains in critical condition, but is showing signs of improvement. Please keep him, his partner and family in positive thought and prayer. Thanks!
Last week I stopped in a drug store and noticed that the Christmas stuff was already marked off 50%. I had no intention of buying yet another Christmas decoration; but I almost felt as if I was lead to look. In the midst of the plethora of decorations were some simple, painted wood block words. One of them said: “Believe.” I felt something as I picked it up, an energy, . . . and ended up buying it. It now sits front and center above my fireplace, and as I pray and meditate in the morning I look at it. As I walk through the living room a hundred times a day, I look at it. It becomes a mantra, a reminder – “Believe!” “Watch your thoughts.” “Your beliefs create reality.” I’ve just begun reading Wayne Dyer’s new book called Excuses Be Gone, in which he talks about scientific studies that have been done which prove that what we believe can literally create our reality, bring healing and affect our lives, positively or negatively – depending on what our beliefs are.. Scientific proof!
I can’t help but think that I was lead to buy that wood block word. I will keep it in my home year round, as a reminder.
Again, some, including myself might find a lot of the movies, songs and hype that surrounds us this time of year a bit sweet and syrupy. But it is good that collectively this time of year, many people are lead to positive thoughts and feelings – and frankly I’ve seen examples time and again where such thoughts create reality. I have seen and experienced kindness and self giving that is admirable. What a grace that we have this time of year that so many humans are thinking good thoughts and believing good things. What a great thing it would be if we carried such thoughts and beliefs through the rest of the year. Imagine the reality that collectively we could create in our world!
I love the song “Thankful,” made popular by Josh Groban. The song is written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager and Richard Page. The text of the refrain and the music wonderfully express our desire to turn our attention to what is good and hopeful:
“So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see”
I hope that the little wood block word that I was lead to serves as a reminder throughout the year. Imagine the world we could bring into being if the good will that is felt this time of year was always in our thoughts!
Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?
The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.
What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!
Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!
“Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news!” (Mark 16: 15)
I remember my Mom growing up saying of this or that person “he’s bad news.” The message was obvious, stay clear of him and for God’s sake, don’t be like him! Jesus in the Gospel says to his disciples that they are to go into the whole world and proclaim the good news.
Am I good news? Or am I bad news? Is my life a reflection of good news for people? Does my presence brighten the world around me, or does it drain others?
Our lives are meant to be a reflection of the good news. I am called to point to and reflect what is good about life. This challenges me to think if that, indeed, is a reality in my life? If I gossip or tear others down, I am not a reflection of what is good. If I complain all the time, point out what is wrong with others or the world, I am not good news. If I berate myself every time I look in the mirror, I am not good news.
Go, let your life be a proclamation of the good news! Your reflection of what is good will have a ripple affect on the world. Our lives really do matter!
Luke 1: 5-25
You have given sterility its pregnancy! We are, once again, beckoned to believe in the impossible. We have in our readings two stories of women who were sterile, but become pregnant. It’s interesting to note that these stories are fairly common in the Scriptures and always the child to be born is destined to make a great difference for the good of the people. Great things happen from seemingly impossible situations! Can you believe it?? I have difficulty believing it, like Zechariah, and so I remain unable to speak, paralyzed in my journey. We all experience “sterility” in our lives, in one way or another. What is sterile in your life these days? What’s sterile in the life of our world? Can I believe that this sterility can be overcome and new life can emerge? It’s just a matter of believing! AND taking action. What’s some small thing that I can do today to give pregnancy to a part of my life, or that of our world, that is lifeless and sterile? If I am honest, most of the time I am like Zechariah who basically looks at the angel and says “yeah, . . . Right! You have GOT to be kidding!” Most of the time I am like Zechariah and don’t believe that incredible things can happen in my life and the life of the world. And in my lack of belief, I remain like Zechariah, lifeless, speechless and a bit listless and lethargic. We are knocked over the head again today by God who says, “Wake up! Believe it!” We are again beckoned to walk through our days believing that life CAN be different, that the world CAN be different! The past couple of weeks I have felt listless. This morning when I read these readings and pondered them, I felt deep within me “Yeah right, . . . You have GOT to be kidding!” And then I started to change my thinking and believe that maybe, just maybe the impossible can happen. I’m not sure if it will. But you know what? . . . I’m not listless anymore. A little pregnancy has been given to my listless sterility.
Most of us think it’s the other way around, . . . don’t we? When I experience it, when I see it, when you show me, then I’ll believe it. Isn’t this the spoken or inward response that we have to something that even slightly seems out of the ordinary?
Recently I was watching a Christmas movie, I can’t remember what it was called, or even the plot. But what I do remember is this line in the movie: “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing!”
Probably due to years of my father saying things like I would never amount to anything, that I was good for nothing and could do nothing right, I still, at times, grapple with those messages in my head. This weekend was one such weekend. No matter how many times I have been told that I do good work, this weekend I was simply not feeling it, seeing it, or hearing it. I sat there feeling like a failure. Gratefully I rather quickly became aware of these negative voices in my head. And then I thought of the line from that movie. And immediately, in the middle of performing a task for my job, I began to think about all the successes that I’ve had in my job, all the good things that have been done and almost immediately my mood began to shift to the positive. And, not only that, I began to see and feel differently about what I was experiencing in my job performance.
Believing IS seeing. As we believe, so shall we see and experience life. I also realized that I am in the midst of one hellava “stinkin thinking” streek. And as I have moved inward, enveloped by these negative thoughts, I project that energy outward – and it, indeed becomes my reality. I only pray for the grace to continue to become aware of such negative thinking and, by changing what I believe, what I think, that I will see myself and others differently.
Luke 18: 35-43
The blind man had balls!
According to the religious understanding of the time, his blindness was a sign that he was a sinner, cursed by God and to be shunned by the community. With great courage he was able to rise above this great wave of religious belief and cry out to Jesus to receive his sight. And Jesus welcomed him and assured him that his faith had healed him.
My vision gets blurred too. Does yours? Of late I have been praying each morning that God would direct my thinking. And God is doing it! I feel like I’m in one of those moments of waking up again. Remember a time when you began to work on some aspect of your personal growth, be it spiritual, mental or physical and things began to fall into place? But then over time, you got distracted, almost without knowing it. And suddenly one day you woke up and realized you were off the path.
I want to see. I want vision and I want to walk in ways that are healthy and life/love giving. It starts with my thinking. When my thinking is warped, my actions and emotions are warped. So I pray each morning that God would direct my thinking, for left to my own devises, I quickly loose sight.
I began praying last week that God would direct my thinking. And it’s happening. I am realizing, particularly in one area of my life, how negative my thinking remains. I am happy that this has been brought to mind, for it gives me an opportunity to change it. We’ll see what else comes to mind as I continue to pray that God direct my thinking.
No matter what may happen in my life that says “this will never happen for you!” I need to have a little faith and keep believing that it will. And it takes just a “little” faith, just a little effort daily to watch my thinking around this area of my life, just a little reminder. I will be interested to see what happens. I look forward to it!
“If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore, ‘Be uprooted and transplanted into the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (See Luke 17: 6)
The size of a mustard seed. Just a small seed. Just a little faith – and watch what happens!
To live well I must live in such a way that I remain within a flow of good thinking. Various tasks, pressures and bad habits can confuse thinking, and, as a result take me off center.
It’s no accident that 12 Step programs and various spiritual teachers through the centuries recommend daily prayer that our thoughts be guided. The importance of this practice has come back to me of late – asking, . . . just asking that my thoughts be directed by a Power greater than myself. Left to my own devices, I quickly get off course. But left open to a Power greater than myself who can restore me to right thinking (aka “sanity), I feel more grounded and more useful to others. This openess comes from clearing out as much as possible that which gets in the way of clear thinking and bouncing things off of other people. Again, left to my own devices, my own thoughts, in isolation from a Divine Power or other people, I quickly get off course.
God, direct my thinking today!
I have often thought that if we had a National News program that gave us 30 minutes of nothing but good news, it would gradually have a transforming affect on the nation.
With the advent of 24/7 news channels we can be constantly inundated with news, much of it bad news – the unbelievably wrong things that are happening in the world and in people’s lives. Precious little time is given to anything good that is happening. These 24/7 New stations compete for viewers and, knowing this, must sensationalize as much as possible, doing the most possible to wave their hands and say: Watch me! Watch me! Such attention getting leads to a mentality where the more out of the ordinary the news can be, the better. And increasingly, not only are the so called “facts” presented, but we have unending “commentary” on the News of the day just to fill time. And, of course, in order to get attention, some of this commentary is often skewed and adversarial.
When it comes to the News, the political landscape or the like, give me the facts. Just give me the facts and allow me the consideration of drawing my own conclusions!
Also, give me some good news! Our blood pressure and anxiety levels are high enough. Whether we know it or not, the incessant stream of bad news creates and adds to this. Again, I cannot help but think that if we had more good news, it would gradually have a transforming effect on the Nation and the world. Perhaps we could begin to realize that, contrary to what we might think watching the News, most people are basically good and this world isn’t as frightening as we think it might be. What we think will create more of what we’re thinking about. Perhaps if we had more good news, we would begin to think good thoughts and, in so doing, create more of that in our world.
Last night I picked up a Benedictine Daily Prayer book to pray “Compline,” which is a prayer that completes and closes the day. I used to pray those prayers for years in the seminary, but hadn’t prayed in that way in quite a while. I’m not sure that I was praying or just reading through it. I was, however, struck by the message I was clearly receiving. And I am amazed what happens if we are open and respond to promptings within. Something compelled me to open that book and this is what I read:
“You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from an abundance of corn and new wine.” Psalm 4
“With length of days I will content you; I shall let you see my saving power.” Psalm 90
“With my own eyes I see the salvation you prepared for all peoples!” Luke 2: 29-32
I was particularly struck by the passage from Luke. I had always remembered hearing “With my own eyes I HAVE seen the salvation prepared for all peoples.” I was struck that is was here in the present tense, “I SEE salvation prepared for all peoples.” The message was clear. A reminder that I am indeed seeing NOW the power of the Universe, the Divine Spirit. It is not something in the future, but something that I am seeing NOW. And this indeed brings a joy that far surpasses any passing pleasure found in things (aka, “an abundance of corn and new wine”). It is worth more than gold and brings an energy and excitement that is palatable. As I laid the book down, I gently smiled, grateful for this reminder and most grateful that I was indeed seeing good manifested in my life and the lives of others I have held in thought. One woman is seeing signs of physical healing. One other has been given the gift of realizing how very strong she is by confronting an injustice. Another is being opened to healing in his life as a result of her confrontation. Attachments slowly begin to fall away within me. Greater consciousness awakens.
Are you seeing NOW, a Power and Energy at work within you and those you hold in good thought? As you watch your thoughts, what positive things are beginning to manifest in your life and the life of the world?