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!
So, . . . how’s it goin? You getting naked yet? Beginning to take off that cloak which separates you from God and others? Have you identified what it is? You could have several cloaks actually. Don’t get too ambitious. Just try taking off one. If you’re like me, I know the cloak that I need to remove. It’s glaringly obvious to me. But I begin to reach for the snap that will remove it; and suddenly I get frightened. What is life going to like without this cloak? I’ve worn it for such a long time! What will I say, how will I act without this cloak? What’s it going to be like to be naked? O my God, I can’t even believe that I’m thinking about removing this from my life and getting naked!
I remember when I was trying to quit smoking some years ago, I could NOT imagine what my life would be without cigarettes. How could I possibly enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning WITHOUT a cigarette? How could I possibly talk on the phone without a cigarette? How could I work, have a relaxing evening, clean, work on a project at home (the list goes on), WITHOUT having a cigarette??? It truly seemed unimaginable to me at the time. Now, I look back and say to myself, “what was I thinking??” The truth is, it’s glorious to have coffee in the morning WITHOUT a cigarette. It’s great working, relaxing, walking, talking with friends, WITHOUT a cigarette. It’s so freeing and I feel so much better.
Why then is it so difficult for me to envision my life without the cloak that I wear now? If we have been freed before, why is it difficult to imagine our life without lethargy and exercising? Why is it so difficult to imagine our life eating the right foods that will give us energy? Why is it so hard to imagine our life without so much internet, TV, without a negative attitude, more attentive to the needs of others?
Perhaps that’s the key. Imagination. Thinking. Envisioning. Can I begin to think in a new and exciting way about what life would be like without this cloak; instead of concentrating so negatively on what it would be like? Because the truth is this: Our lives will be IMMEASURABLY better WITHOUT this negative pattern of behavior! Perhaps that’s where we need to keep the focus of our thoughts.
God help me to imagine myself without this cloak that weighs me down! Help me to envision myself naked, happy and free!
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.
It’s SO easy to dwell on what is wrong with our lives, our partner, our job, the church, this or that person and certainly what’s wrong with the world! Why does that seem to come so naturally, yet thinking positively does not.? It’s like we have to train our minds to work and think in different ways. When we do so, then we will come to see life in a new way.
I often ask myself this question: Do I want to be a person that sees and talks about what is good in this world, or what is wrong with it? Whenever I am around someone who consistently has a negative edge to their conversation, I quickly receive an answer to what kind of person I want to be! It’s a drag being around a consistently negative person. Yet I have to admit that I am sometimes negative in what I say and how I perceive myself, others and the world – and I don’t even realize it!
John the Baptist was called to “testify to the light.” I want to be a person that testifies to the light, to what is good. Ironically enough, as the darkness descends, this season is about testifying to what is good in human nature and the world. In the midst of all of our problems, in this season we CONSCIOUSLY take an opportunity to look at what is good, true and beautiful in ourselves and others and celebrate that! The key is in CONSCIOUSLY deciding to look at the good in another.
Today perhaps it’s good to ask ourselves this: Am I person who testify’s to the Light?
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.
Luke 17: 11-19
What do you really want to change about yourself? Is it a bad habit? A negative attitude? Worry? Shyness? Overwork? Irritability? Diet? Physical activity? Time for reflection? Your social life? Taking care of your health? Your job? How you communicate with your partner? . . .
What do I really want to change about myself? Can I believe that those “leprous” parts of myself can find healing? Can I believe that those parts of myself or my life that are stuck, can get unstuck?
I’m sure the 10 lepers from Luke NEVER imagined that they would REALLY be healed, but they were! And only one came to give thanks. The others just went on. Perhaps that’s a key to healing. GRATITUDE. How often do I walk around life unaware of all that HAS changed in my life? Perhaps if I call to mind the times when I have been healed, when I have been changed, when I have accomplished this or that. Perhaps then a door of Divine Energy would open to change right now what I think cannot change.
Is gratitude a way of opening doors to further healing in my life?