God Bless Us All…..

All around the world there will be families celebrating Christmas. A global celebration, of sorts. A time when families come together to eat, drink and be merry, children open gifts from Santa Claus, and peace on earth reigns. Well, not quite!  It’s a lovely thought, but life isn’t a Hallmark Christmas movie!

Recently I was listening to a spiritual radio call-in program and the host was talking with a caller who was trapped by memories of her past. The woman’s story wasn’t unlike many of ours in that she had been the product of a dysfunctional family, and then dragged the dysfunction into a marriage that ended poorly. Now she was lost in a vortex of misery and confusion trying to figure out who she was and her purpose in life. Clearly, she needed to move on, but couldn’t seem to see the patterns in her life generated by fears that continually led to negative outcomes.  The host listened, asked a couple of questions and then said, “We cannot walk into our future until we have left the past behind.” A profoundly simple statement and the reason many of us are “stuck” on the gerbil wheel of disappointment and failure.

As sentient spirit beings having a human experience we needn’t stay bound to our pasts. When we continually look backward it is impossible to be in the now and visualize a future. Why do we put ourselves through the misery? It’s almost a form of self-punishment. The past has passed, nothing can be done to change one second of our past, so why dwell on it, and I don’t say that lightly. So what if the past wasn’t something you did, rather was done to you? Same difference. It is unfortunate, unequivocally wrong, for anyone to willfully inflict emotional or physical pain on others, and yet the outcome is the same; nothing can be done to change the the outcome or the pain. Our efforts need to be concentrated on things we can change. We can change the reality we currently live in, and in turn,  change our future. To live bound to the past means we willingly give control of our lives, in other words our power, to the people and situations we were living with or in at the time. Changing current reality involves carefully listening to our thoughts and words; these thoughts and words are the chains holding us captive.

Every person, event and situation in our lives is a learning experience; nothing more, nothing less. Journey with the Divine to higher spiritual awareness involves growing, and sometimes the growing process is painful. We are challenged to learn from the people, events, situations and, yes, even the pain, but we are not compelled to drag them behind us like balls and chains. The knowledge and wisdom gained is meant to provide the foundation for our present, and tools to manifest a more positive future. It’s not easy, nothing worthwhile is.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, particularly the 1951 black and white version starring Alistair Sims. Scrooge is a miserly, miserable old man who despises Christmas until he is visited by the spirit of his deceased business partner destined to roam the earth forever for his wicked ways. Ghost Marley warns Scrooge of his fate should he continue to be miserly, consumed with money, and detached from others. Three spirits would visit that very night, Marley warned, affording Scrooge one final chance at redemption; the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

The Ghost of Christmas Past reminds Scrooge of his young years. As a child, Scrooge was sent to boarding school, abandoned by his family, and spent his childhood Christmases alone. Grown-up Scrooge chanced love with Belle who, seeing his obsession for money taking first place in his heart, ended their engagement on Christmas Eve. Apparently, Belle was the straw that broke his back. From then on he despised Christmas, the celebrations, the merriment, and the money spent on what he considered frivolous. He was mean-spirited to everyone, not caring a wit for his employee, Bob Cratchit, Bob’s sickly son “Tiny Tim”, nor his nephew Fred, the only child of Scrooge’s one sibling who is now deceased. Enter the three spirits.

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to his childhood to witness the loneliness experienced at the boarding school during the holidays, and to revisit the scene when his beloved sister Fran comes to get Scrooge and bring him home because their father has had a change of heart and wants to reunite with his son. Finally, he will  witness Belle, his once-betrothed, breaking off their engagement on Christmas Eve, followed by an older Belle with her husband concerned for Scrooge’s consuming hatred for all things except money. Each stop along his past begins to soften his hardened heart. Safely back in bed Scrooge awaits the next ghost.

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge that money isn’t everything. People are blessed to have family, a meager feast and warmth. Even the Cratchit’s are thankful for the little they have and their time together. Tiny Tim, despite his infirmity, unselfishly asks God’s blessings on others, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us every one.” The ice thaws a bit more in Scrooge’s heart. In its own way, the second Ghost teaches Scrooge the lesson The Grinch Who Stole Christmas learned when he attempted to stop Christmas from coming to Whoville by stealing all of the trappings of the holiday, not realizing the meaning of Christmas has little to do with the material world.

The third and final ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come remains silent, yet the message comes through loud and clear. The future for all of us is dependent upon choices we make in the present. Each of us has the opportunity to change the course of our future, or remain trapped in misery. The Ghost appears as a Grim Reaper-like character. The first scene is that of a funeral where some local businessmen are making light of the deceased and crude comments about the unlikelihood of anyone giving a care. Scrooge feels some degree of empathy for the dead and asks the Ghost to show someone who is grieved because of the passing of another human life. He is shown the Cratchit family mourning the loss of the beloved Tiny Tim. The final scene is a lonely, overgrown graveyard where Scrooge learns the identity of the dead; to his horror it is Scrooge himself. Overwhelmed by the revelations of the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come, Scrooge begs the Ghost for another chance to change the course of his life away from the path he has trod so many years. Kind of makes one feel sorry for him. The story ends with Scrooge having  made a complete 180 in attitude, grateful for the redemptive opportunity.

It isn’t likely ghosts will visit any of us, but the point is Scrooge learned only he could change his future. Dickens’ was telling a story, yet we have the very same opportunity in our lives. Change is often difficult and painful. Most of us would rather stay trapped in a familiar cycle of misery than chance the possibility our lives could change course. Why? One word: fear. We fear the unknown. Change involves twists and turns in the path and the twists and turns can frighten us.

Scrooge recognized his love of money and hatred of Christmas and ultimately people, all resulting in a cold heart. There was a definite pattern in his life of getting knocked down, and in response, hardening his heart a bit more. His core issue was fear of rejection and his response to rejection was to reject others first. Realizing it was his last chance Scrooge opted to look past the fear, put people above money, and reach out in love. There was no guarantee any would accept his offer given his past, only possibility existed. He didn’t stop to analyze, “what if they reject me again, then what?”, he just forged ahead.

We like stories to end on a positive note and Scrooge’s story did. He overcame fear of rejection and found acceptance and love on the other side.

Christmas, for many, is a time of renewal as we anticipate the upcoming new year that follows. Are fears in your life hindering growth, keeping you trapped, and robbing you of a full life? Set the intention in your heart to overcome a fear, and journey into the new year with thoughts and words to change the fear to possibility. Merry Christmas, and in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us all…..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Am God…..Not Quite

A few years back a famous actress had an awakening, wrote a book, and starred in her own movie about the experience. The last scene of the movie she twirled on a beach, hands and face raised heavenward and shouted, “I am God!” over and over. As one can imagine, the book and movie raised and eyebrow or two. She dropped out of sight for a while after that. Apparently, the world wasn’t ready for her revelation.

I’m not going to lie, I was put off by the scene as well. At the time I was a churchgoing, inerrant Word of God gal, and I thought it blasphemous, as did much of fundamental Christendom. These days I have set my offense aside; I understand where she was coming from, which is not to say that I entirely agree with her.

We are a part of God, we are not God. Whatever name one chooses for the Divine, the Eternal Source, or Wisdom, humanity is part of the whole. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) Here again in the subsequent verses there is evidence of man’s meddling; the remainder of the chapter is centered around obedience and if/then. In other words, if one obeys, then he/she gets, and if one remains close one will be loved. The Bible states God is love. Love is pure, eternal, never changing, and the Divine Source is Love. Within love there is no judgment, there are no demands, no if/then; there is only love. The purity of Source Love transcends the need for discipline, punishment and judgment. When we unite with Source Love, with God, we choose to live within love as well. We are still human and won’t always get it right, but we have a much higher probability of success than having judgment and discipline hanging over our heads driving our choice to love and, like errant children, behave!

Connecting with God, living, breathing, and moving from our spirit-self instead of our ego-self, we see others as spirit beings, living in a body, and having a human experience. The need to compare ourselves to others, compete as if life were a race and the first one to cross the finish line with the most toys wins, or believing ourselves more important than another, fades away. Life isn’t a race, it isn’t about who has what or is better than another. Life is a journey with God, an opportunity to learn, to experience, and to continually deepen our understanding of self to improve relationship with others.

The other day I was listening to a radio seminar on spirituality and the speaker made a statement I have tumbled around in my head several times. She said, “the one is part of the whole”. The subject matter was much more complex, but I centered in on that statement because it made so much sense. A few simple words strung together to describe the relationship between man and the Divine, and for me, the impact of those few words was profound. Not only are we connected to the Divine, but we are connected to everything in the universe, no matter how seemingly insignificant, or powerfully life-changing it may be. Spiritually, most of us can agree, we are connected, but think about the detail of our daily lives. We do not wake each morning and go about our day as an individual entity, an island, as it were, having no impact on or relationship with the world as a whole. We sit down to watch the local and world news while we drink our first cup of coffee, drive to work along with hundreds of others, board an elevator, or take the stairs nodding to others as we walk to our offices, attend meetings, chat with coworkers around the water cooler, send emails, return telephone calls, check our Facebook accounts, update our LinkedIn profile, and Tweet our feelings and thoughts to our followers. Even the bodies we live in function as a whole. Do your lungs take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide apart from the whole of the respiratory and circulatory systems? How about each brain synapse carrying and transmitting billions of bits of information through the nervous system every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day to form our thoughts, store our memories, to signal our glands and organs to function at just the right time, and our muscular and skeletal systems to produce movement? There is relationship within and between everything in the universe. We are never disconnected, and yet many in our world feel isolated, alone, and unheard. How is that possible?

For many their focus is predominantly from the ego-self. It’s all about me; how I will get ahead, what I have, how to get more, how I will get recognized, or appear to work harder than another.  The ego-self isn’t all negative, however. It serves as a warning system that danger is close at hand. We need the ego-self in small doses, but ego needs to take a backseat to the spirit-self, not the other way around.

Organized religion dictates believers are to gather together in a place of worship. Once inside the doors the idea is to join with others who are like-minded, edify one another, receive yet another message on the wages of sin, and be told what the next rung of the ladder will be to attain heavenly status. We are encouraged to draw inward and search our hearts for roots of bitterness that need pruning, but as long as our heads are bowed and eyes closed how many actually take part? A cynical look at church life, I know, but it isn’t unrealistic. Much of church life is centered around the appearance of piety, fluency in Christian-ese, and “doing” to receive reward and recognition from God. Is that so very different from how many “in the world” act? Appearance takes precedence over heart motivation; ego clamors to be noticed.

Spiritual maturity, recognizing our oneness with God, the practice of gratitude, is heart work requiring us to take a hard look at attitudes and patterns of behavior, the words we use to describe self and others, and the thoughts that consume our daily lives. For the most part this work is solitary. We can reach out to others for guidance and help, and we should at times, but the bulk of the heart work is between the individual and God. Does the butterfly attend transformation gatherings as it is shaped and formed within the cocoon? The universe is our textbook, our professor is Divine wisdom, but it is our job to tune in. How we tune in is individual, as well. Some meditate, which is just a form of prayer, some read, attend classes, pull inward to search the soul, there is no right or wrong way.

Spirituality teaches we are all at different places in our journey, and why wouldn’t we be? Each has a thread from the overall tapestry. We needn’t all be at the same place, or tuned into the same frequency. There is room for all to grow, to improve, to experience, and we all will learn from one another. When I am reading, listening or researching, I don’t agree with everything, and we aren’t expected to. Some things I tuck away in my mind for later, others I accept, or only partially accept. Kind of like the “I am God” statement: safely tucked away for now…..

The Point of the Message…..

Far too much evidence exists of the life of Yeshua there is no valid reason to dispute it. Whether or not the rest of the Bible is literal or allegorical is left for us to decide. Do I really believe Jonah sat in the belly of a whale for three (3) days, or Daniel and his friends walked out of a fiery furnace unharmed? Does it even matter? Should any time or energy be spent arguing the finer points of literal versus allegorical? Not as far as I’m concerned. When we do, we miss the truth, the teachings, and the universal wisdom within the stories.

Consider the story of Job. Was there a Job who sat on an ash heap scraping boils while God and Satan argued over ownership of him? Most of us schooled in organized religion have been taught that Job was faithful to the end and had all that was lost restored to him because Job believed God trustworthy despite enduring agonizing hardships. A very encouraging message for all who face trials and tribulations in life. A lesson on the power of thought and word is also found within Job’s story.

In Chapter 3 of Job we find Job depressed and questioning why he was ever born. Ever felt that way? I have, and likely most of us have been there at one time or another. We don’t like to be uncomfortable or suffer hardship.  Job’s feelings are not out of line for the situation; he had just lost everything near and dear to him. Toward the end of Job’s soliloquy on the nightmare his life had become he says, “for the thing I feared has overwhelmed me, what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:25 The Complete Jewish Bible) Job gave voice to fears hidden within his thoughts.

Throughout the Bible there are elaborate explanations for stories so familiar to us we just accept them without question. But do they make sense? Are they supposed to? Maybe I am the aberration, the rebel who just can’t leave the accepted alone? I cannot swallow that God and Satan are playing games with Job’s life, or that God and Satan are even having the conversation. Whether an explanation to man’s suffering or a literal event, the exchange leaves me cold. If God is love, regardless of the eventual outcome, the journey to the outcome is cruel.

Job had fears in his heart, we all do. Do I blame him for giving voice to his fears in the midst of his suffering? No, I don’t, but it gives us insight into Job’s thought life. Job feared loss of family, health, and wealth. The theory that thought creates matter says that whatever we give the most energy to is what the universe gives back to us. Certainly not the occasional thought, but ever present thought; that which consumes our conscious and subconscious mind. His fears were at work long before he sat on his ash heap. I’m sure Job was grateful for all that he had, but I wonder if his fear of losing everything overshadowed his gratitude? The niggling fear crept into his thoughts and grew until the thoughts became his reality.

Our thoughts don’t have magical powers by any means, but everything  is energy and energy has power. It is the foundation of any work; it lights our world, runs our cars and appliances, and gives life to our bodies made up of cells, organs and systems. What we think about matters. Philippians 4:8 says “…brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy.” Focusing on the positive brings the positive back to us.

Fast forward to the New Testament. Yeshua was a rebel and challenged the accepted religious mindset of the day. He called out those whose hidden thoughts were to control while their words spoke otherwise. The proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing religion has interpreted to mean those who don’t accept the tenets of a fear based religious system. Yeshua’s entire ministry was a lesson in focusing positive thoughts to bring about a positive outcome. Healing, bringing the dead to life, even His resurrection. Yeshua told His disciples He would suffer and rise again on the third day; both of which are recorded events. None of it requiring one man or group of men to be in charge of others, all of humanity capable of his/her own journey. The reason for Yeshua’s death revolved around the religious leaders’ fear of loss of control. The rest of the story involving Pontius Pilate is surrounded by controversy.

I no longer accept that salvation was the point. The whole of the salvation message is an unhealthy dependence on man and God. The salvation message fosters fear; fear of not making it to heaven without uttering the “magic words”, fear of screwing up, and a dependence on God requiring unquestioning belief in His ultimate control and judgment of our lives, and acceptance of contradictory messages throughout scripture and within doctrinal teachings. What if the sole purpose of Yeshua’s life on earth, the reason Divine took on the flesh of humanity, was to personally teach and demonstrate the creative energy the Divine imparted to man? Fundamental religion teaches that we can have what we say, faith the size of a mustard seed moves mountains, and those who believe can heal and raise the dead as Jesus did; creative energy in action, plain and simple.

The new “church” as it went forward after Yeshua’s transition from earthly life to the spirit realm was a continuation of the teaching Yeshua brought to humanity. A lesson far more empowering and useful than a system full of confusing and conflicting messages and fostering dependence on mortal man…..