“In This Corner Weighing In At…..”

Have you ever had a conversation with a member of any given brand of church when the subject of another church with a different doctrinal belief has been brought up? Have you ever been told, or believed your brand of church doctrine is the only way to heaven and all other brands are wrong, or at least teetering on the edge of blasphemy? In other words, if I am a member of Church A on the corner and our doctrinal beliefs do not include any other music besides hymns, women must clothe themselves in dresses only, and profession of Jesus as salvation for sinners is mandatory before membership is granted, Church L down the block believes worship comes in many forms, prophetic utterance and speaking in tongues is commonplace, and people fall out under the power on a regular basis, and Church P on the other side of town has a gay pastor, sings songs outside of accepted “Christian” music, and has lively church services, which of these will believe their doctrines are correct and the others wrong? Chances are hypothetical members of all the above churches may walk away believing theirs to be right and everyone else wrong. All will also likely walk away praying for the person challenging their doctrinal beliefs to see the light! Strong images and emotions will be associated with each of the hypothetical churches. We may think, “my church and beliefs are good, right, and we are doing God’s work. The others are not because they are wrong, misguided, perhaps even believe contrary to what our church believes to be God’s commands for His people.” So, if only one of them is right, which one is it? If Jesus is the only way to heaven, how can there be so many differing opinions and doctrinal beliefs? To further complicate the conversation, within the doctrines there are sub-doctrines: “once saved, always saved”, Predestination, or Calvinism, Replacement theology, Pre and Post Millennial-ism, and Escapism theology, to name a few. Now what? The argument, as long as we are all worshiping Jesus as Lord and Savior, is not valid. Many deeply entrenched in their chosen doctrinal beliefs firmly contend others not of their same belief are misguided; perhaps not worthy of hell, but definitely wrong. The prayer then becomes one of enlightenment for the misguided before passing on. I have been witness to many of these same conversations with strict adherents to a particular church doctrine.

Now, consider those who choose to walk the path of spirituality, what many know as “New Age” philosophy. Personally, I don’t think there is anything “new” about the philosophy, except it is likely “new” to many in this part of the world. Secondly, too many have wrongly associated New Age philosophy with mystical hoodoo-voodoo without advantage of actual knowledge; opinions are often based on assumptions, not facts. Within the path of spirituality, essentially there are two core beliefs; we are all part of the Divine Source, and to God we will return, and secondly, we are here to learn, to seek wisdom in order to grow. Beyond these two concepts a whole tapestry of varying beliefs arise. I liken it to a diamond with its many facets, yet all a part of the whole diamond. No one person, or subgroup of like believers has all the answers. And so far I haven’t run across anyone who believes they are right and everyone else is wrong. More often than not one may hear, “put it on a shelf for now and come back to it later.

We are all on a journey, a personal journey with God. We all have innate road maps, so to speak, we start at different places on the journey and our life experiences impact our beliefs. No two people are alike, so how can God speak to all in the exact same way? I have 3 children, all with the same biological parents. They share similar characteristics, and yet they are very different. Even my twins are different in their approach to life. I am close to each of them, and with each I have a unique relationship. One would assume God, being Creator of all mankind, would have unique relationships with each of us.

How can we all dialogue and learn from one another if we all believe the same thing? We are not clones or carbon copies of one another; we are unique creations sharing a created world. It would make sense unique creations would have unique understandings of God. Many I have spoken with over the years believe any belief system outside of fundamental Christianity is of “the devil”, perhaps overlooking the passage of scripture when Jesus is referred to as a heretic or blasphemer because He opposed the Pharisees. The Pharisees believed and taught the strict oral and written law of Moses, going so far as to refer to Jesus as a blasphemer and call for his execution. Why? Because Jesus challenged the accepted belief system. The Old Testament teaches the Jews are God’s chosen people, and yet Replacement Theology teaches Christians have replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people. This subset of fundamental Christianity has its adherents with just as many critics opposing their beliefs on the other side of the Christian fence.

New Age philosophy is opposed by Christianity for several reasons, many of which don’t even make sense. Reasons, like Yoga is evil, energy healing modalities are of the devil, and certainly the very vague assertion we don’t believe in God. I find the last one interesting because most I have talked with or listened to have active and intimate relationships with God that would put to shame many sitting in church pews every Sunday. Do many believe in reincarnation, medium-ship, and the Law of Attraction? Certainly, but not all believe or practice these, yet criticism is not heaped on those who do. The organized religious like to toss in their interpretation of the Spiritual philosophy likening it to belief systems and practices steeped in hatred, and the “anything goes” mindset, neither of which are true for believers in New Age philosophy. Any teaching or belief not based on love and radiating the purity of positive energy is no more accepted by New Age adherents than by the religious. We have not tossed out a moral code. No civilized society can exist without a definable moral code. Violations of the moral code experience the same outcome. The word choices are different, but the result the same; judgment from God in the religious corner, and Karma in the Spiritual corner.  

People will forever be flawed, motivations skewed, but by and large the overriding theme within New Age or Spiritual philosophy is loving all without judgment, tolerance for others and their level of spiritual maturity and knowledge, and belief in God as the purity of love.

I no longer believe the organized religious system of much of the “Christian” world, especially here in the West, is the only way to God. How can I? Within the world of organized religion so many different interpretations of the Bible and varying understandings of God exist, and none, so far, have come forth as the unequivocal, undeniable, final Word from God. Is Spiritual philosophy the final Word? Of course not. What I do believe is we are here to journey with the God of Love…..

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Through the Door of Love…..

We have more in common with one another than we have things separating us. We are all human, for one. Beyond that, we all have experienced joy, fear, and pain, have felt the sting of humiliation, and rejection, are all passionate about something, we all wake up to the same sky every morning, and fall asleep to the same moon, and we all want to love and be loved. And, most of us believe there is an unseen force, an entity separate from us, yet connected, responsible for our creation or origins, and many share a belief in a heaven, or life beyond our earthly existence. How we view each of these, and what we believe about a presence apart from ourselves makes us different.

Likely, since the dawn of time, there has been dissension among the masses debating and arguing the minutiae and nuances of our belief systems. At the core of our beings we either know, want to know, or are searching for the energy source, the entity many believe is ‘out there’. Man has allowed, and continues to allow, the minute differences to separate us, so much so, wars are fought in the name of being right, people slaughtered in the name of God, and walls built around our sacred beliefs. We call those walls ‘religion’. Let’s face it; we all want to be right.

God is love. Every Christian who has ever darkened the doorway of a church or opened a Bible would agree. On the other side, those who choose the path of spirituality would also agree with that statement. In the 70’s and 80’s the pursuit of spirituality came to the forefront. This group of people were known as “New Agers”. New Age thinking combines theology, philosophy, and nature into a mindset influenced by Eastern thought, religious tolerance, and to a certain degree, moral diversity, or some would say, moral relativism. Now, before the hackles rise and the claws come out, for a moment let’s have an open mind. Just because some people believe in moral relativism, doesn’t mean everyone does.

Within Christianity, no two doctrines are exactly the same. Different ‘brands’ of church have chosen beliefs from the Bible to build their doctrines. One church may emphasize salvation as its principle doctrine, another may stress conformity to the point current culture is shunned, children are raised by harsh Biblical standards of discipline and punishment, everyone dresses in similar styles of clothing, and still others may focus efforts on ministering to the poor, the hungry, the abandoned, and the vulnerable of society, welcoming everyone  through their doors. Some believe only those who have lived a life of ‘upright righteousness and piety’ are blessed and acceptable to God, and some believe God turns away no one. In other words diversity. On the other side of the line in the sand are those who have adopted a broader definition of God, love, acceptance, and spiritual practice derived from a variety of theologies. Diversity.

For most of my adult life we were part of a church ‘family’. Life with an abusive husband, however, systematically being stripped of dignity, and watching my children being mistreated, and powerless to do much about it, the whole idea of church left me a bit cold. (Before judgment sets in, wisdom cautions we do not have the right to judge until we have walked in another’s shoes.) With the passing of time and a fair amount of healing, I was able to see God as separate from church. Through soul-searching I found my way back to God and realized I wanted to journey with Him, wanted a relationship with Him based on love and not ‘rules’. My children showed me the path of spirituality, a journey of love, growth, and peace devoid of fear-based theology and manmade boundaries designed to control more so than provide a foundation of acceptance and understanding. True to my nature I read everything I could get my hands on, researched, and listened to those journeying with God in a different way. Church had taught me to fear those who had chosen to practice yoga, meditation instead of prayer, alternative energy healing modalities, or angel therapy, and believe that love was the only characteristic of God. This entity, this energy, or source of all we know, the seen and unseen, loves without judgment.

The pursuit and study of spirituality is a belief system different from Christianity, yet in many ways, similar. The ‘Law of Attraction’ is prevalent with those pursuing spirituality. We get what we put out there. Granted, a lot of the hype around the concept has to do with financial prosperity, but really the hype is a way to draw people in. We respond to the thought of wealth, do we not? The principle is sound. Jesus taught the ‘law of attraction’; it just wasn’t labeled in that way. ‘Ask and you will receive’, ‘if you have faith the size of a mustard seed’, ‘your faith has made you whole’, and many other similar scriptures throughout the Bible attest to the principle.

Those on a spiritual journey, and those on a more traditional journey with God believe God is love. The Bible provides a glimpse here and there of a journey with Divine Love apart from strict rules and discipline, but for the most part the fear factor precedes or succeeds the love God has for His creation. (I am aware I am using references to God as a male, however, I believe God is neither male, nor female) Man’s need for structure and organization have contributed to the religious construct, as has man’s need to control. It is the control issue I find more concerning. And, in part, believe it is the control issue driving people from the church toward different ways to journey with God.

An open mind is not a bad thing. As sentient beings, we have the capacity to decide for ourselves what resonates with us as individuals.  No two people are alike so why must we all fit into a religious model forcing conformity versus guiding people toward God? Stripping away the walls of control erected by man and viewing Jesus as Divine Incarnate we can see Yeshua (Jesus) in a different light. Jesus taught; He didn’t force, coerce, or threaten. He was compassionate and loving, guiding others toward a relationship with God. It is through this lens a journey with the Divine makes sense for me. Others may need to view the journey from a bit different vantage point, but is their view inferior or superior to mine? No, it is not.

One of the doctors I work with is a Muslim and wears the dress of her culture. Because she is the Medical Director and works closely with our department I know her quite well. She easily and frequently references God – not in a “look at how pious I am” or in a name dropper way, but from the heart. It’s part of her fabric and comes as easily as telling someone her name. Few people were as excited for Christmas and the celebration many equate with Jesus’ birth than she, and she celebrated Ramadan earlier in the year, as well. Many would say because she is not a “Christian” defined by our standard of Christianity, she will not enter heaven. I beg to differ. Sincerity, heart motivation, intention is what I believe matters to the Divine. This woman has genuine concern for others, is not impressed with the letters she worked hard for and carries behind her name. She is a mother and wife first, then a doctor, and makes everyone feel important as if they are a friend as opposed to a number on a chart, or just another nurse among many. She is not a native of our country, and yet personifies the “American Dream”, not in the materialistic way many do, rather through valuing the ideals of America. She has taught me a lot.

Do you feel a tug, a desire to know and journey with the Divine, with God, but don’t feel comfortable or accepted in the traditional church setting? There is a journey for all. “Come to me ALL who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” It doesn’t say ‘how’ we are to come, or through what religious or doctrinal door we are to enter. God simply says, “Come all”…..

A Tapestry of Divine Love…..

Lately, I have been interested in the study of angels, specifically  guardian Angels and Archangels. The accepted theory in spirituality circles is that we all have guardian angels, at least 2, and we have access to the Archangels of God. Certainly, organized religion recognizes the presence of angels, but not in the personal way seekers of spirituality do. The Bible says  “for he (God) will order his angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go.” (Psalm 91:11 The Complete Jewish Bible) Sounds like guardian Angels, to me. Churches I have attended taught angels and demons were part of the spiritual realm and continually at war over our souls. If we are to live by “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (I John 4 The Complete Jewish Bible) would there be reason for continual battle? Would we even need angelic help?

In January of 2017, a well known New Age teacher of Angel Therapy, Angel Readings, and the like, experienced an encounter with Jesus while attending a church service. Consequently, she has done a complete 180 in terms of philosophy and denounced most of what she taught over the years. Typical of mankind’s knee jerk reaction to anything new, controversy ensued. The New Age world was shaken. Once over the initial shock, many were angered, felt betrayed, and accusations flew. Two sides to every story exist, so I read the New Age interpretations of the conversion and I listened to the video said Angel Teacher released.

The New Age world was right in that she did make a dramatic swing and landed knee-deep in the Bible and church life. By the same token, from her video explanation my takeaway had more to do with her overall acknowledgment of Jesus as the incarnate Divine, not as one among many of the “ascended masters”. She had read the Bible cover to cover several times since her chance meeting with Jesus, and set aside many of the teachings she had formerly believed however, she made the distinction between what she now believed to be acceptable to God versus unacceptable based on method and heart motivation. After listening to her explanation I don’t believe she “threw the baby out with the bath water” as many adherents to New Age have said, rather she has chosen to give Jesus His rightful place as fully human, fully Divine Lord. To clarify, she is very much like every newly “saved” Christian I have ever met, drinking in and absorbing every word of the Bible and pretty much unable to speak or write a complete sentence without including a “praise Jesus”, or a scripture reference. I cannot fault her for that, many of us were like that in the beginning of our “walk with the Lord”. One day while I was listening to her radio call-in program a caller described her as a “bridge” between New Age and religion. Her mission, as she sees it now, is to bridge the gap between New Age philosophy and Christianity.

I have never believed anything in our lives is accidental or coincidental. There is purpose to everything under the sun. Up until I heard the radio broadcast I spent a fair amount of time contemplating my purpose, for lack of a better word, to explain why I felt driven to be the voice for those of us who have done the organized religion gig, do not fit in, yet have a desire to seek higher spiritual truth, to know and journey with the Divine. In that moment as I listened to the caller, everything came into focus. The sum total of all I have shared through writings and speaking with others is to bridge the gap for those leaving organized religion or seeking spirituality apart from religious Christianity. I never believed the two were mutually exclusive, yet nothing I ever read or heard up to that point confirmed the belief.

The world is a school as we live out our lives on earth. Do we all learn the same way? What makes sense to me may not resonate with you, and vice versa, but neither is fully right or fully wrong. Each of us is given a thread of knowledge as we seek and journey within the Divine. Some threads are heavier, some delicate, others brightly colored, and still others, muted shades to complement the colorful. From the threads of various sizes and colors a beautiful tapestry is woven. The tapestry is the Divine in the fullness of love. The path we pursue is what makes sense to us; if the path doesn’t enlighten or fulfill, we may not be on the best path for us. The only caution is, make certain the path is bathed in love; there is nothing negative on a path to the Divine.

In my mind, the once New Age teacher of Angel Therapy added to her understanding of the Divine; she was given another thread for the tapestry. Today, her perspective is unique, a blend of both sides of the fence; neither side is fully right or fully wrong. It is from our human, or ego-self we demand others to choose sides. Psychologically speaking, humans tend to make huge pendulum swings in times of change, eventually making our way back toward center. I expect the Angel Therapy teacher will do much the same. A grounded, or centered spiritual-seeker will allow others to walk their path without judgment. We all need to be in that place of non-judgment; both Christian and New Ager, praying church-goer and meditative spiritual seeker…..

 

The Universal Flame…..

Who is God? How do you picture the Creator of the universe and all that is within it? I have thought a great deal about this lately. Is He a bearded guy sitting on a throne waiting for us to screw up so He can punish? Does He keep a record book of everything we say, think or do in life? When we die will He judge us and send us to heaven or hell depending upon the severity of our sins? Images like these may sound childlike, but many people hold similar images of God in their heads.  

Man has created God in his image instead of the other way around. In a way our vision of God is human-like, endowed with the characteristics of man, both good and bad. God is known by many descriptive names: Healer, Emmanuel, Jehovah Rapha, Our Provider, Father, to name a few. Christians believe these to be facets of His overall personality, if you will, but in reality we are only privy to a speck of the total picture because of our limited understanding. God has always existed, and that in itself is a very difficult concept for finite man to grasp; God is energy, love energy, as it were, and energy cannot be destroyed, lending to His eternal nature.

Creating God in our image has resulted in a false and limited view of the Divine. The ‘gods’ of mythology were created in man’s image and yet we are aware that God, the Universal Source, and the ‘gods’ of mythology are radically different; one being real and the others the stuff of lore. As humans we have to put concepts in terms we can wrap our heads around; the images we create serve us for a time, but we need to grow and move beyond the one or two dimensional characters we fashion in our heads to a greater depth of understanding. We need to think outside the box.

A careful walk through the books known collectively as The Bible will reveal the human characteristics we have given to Universal Wisdom. God told Moses His name was “I AM”, which, if you think about it, is quite descriptive. The problem is that man added his own adjectives to the name “I AM” and created a god with human characteristics. We use terms like, “vengeful”, “forgiving”, “merciful”, “angry”, “jealous” and many others. Each is an adjective that describes the many characteristics of man. The Bible does say in several places that God is love, and truthfully, that is as far as we need to go in any description of God. Within love there is mercy, understanding, compassion, tenderness, and acceptance. Man adding adjectives has assigned God human characteristics. What purpose do the adjectives serve? The purpose benefits man alone; to those who seek to control others on their spiritual journey. The focus of the additional adjectives turns the table on us: “I need to be forgiven”, I made God mad”, I need to be pleasing to God”, keeping man beholden to man in search of absolution for “sins”. We spend effort and time seeking forgiveness and mercy instead of traveling our journey to reach higher levels of spiritual awareness and understanding. The reality is that God unequivocally knows we will make mistakes, we are here to learn and the learning process requires mistakes. Karma, what goes around comes around, what we sow we will reap, will answer to “bad” things we have done requiring correction. God doesn’t punish, He has no need to punish; God is love, plain and simple and He loves His creation unconditionally.

We were created in the image of God, in the image of the Universal Energy which means we are capable of the same unconditional love. Bound by this earthly plane and our finite understanding we cannot attain the level of unconditional love that characterizes God, but we can learn the lessons along the way teaching us the way of love, the need for awakening to the higher spiritual self and viewing self and others differently through the eyes of love and compassionate understanding. I have heard us described as sparks from the Universal Energy Source; I like that, and believe it quite descriptive and accurate. A spark is an image of the original fire, is it not?

Looking outside the box of organized and traditional religion, we are able to imagine God in a different way, and for me, this has resulted in  the feeling of having arrived home. The image of God as pure energy, pure love, pure wisdom, has awakened me to a higher understanding, resonated truth throughout my entire being as never before. I see people differently, I am far less judging, far more compassionate, and find myself more at peace with life as it unfolds. The vision of God as a brilliant light radiating love and sharing the wisdom of the universe is freeing. Within the radiant love of the Father of Lights there is acceptance for who I am, flaws and all, mercy for the times I fall, compassion for the days I feel the weight of the world and experience the wounds man inflicts. I am energized to pick myself up again and walk forward and upward toward deeper understanding. I am bathed in peace, the peace that passes all understanding, the kind of peace Yeshua (Jesus) referred to.

I’m not going to lie, I battled fear for a moment; fear that I was stepping off into the demonic abyss. The indoctrinated fears of organized religion run deep, and it is no small task to overcome years of conditioned belief. At first the journey was a daily task to put aside former belief and open my mind to truth new to me, to the wisdom of the universe.

Who is God? In the end the question is personal, and no one can answer that question for us. The journey is personal. The wisdom and knowledge we accumulate along the way is meant to encourage us toward a higher level of understanding self, others, and God, the Universal Energy that flows through each of us. Collectively, the knowledge and wisdom we learn is meant to create the bigger picture; the picture of pure love…..

Do Unto Others; A Lesson in Self-Compassion…..

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We typically think of the Golden Rule as an outward action and yet it is important to treat ourselves gently, too. Being kind to self is known as “self-compassion”.

To better understand what kind of a friend we are to self begins with listening to our “self-talk; all those thoughts that trip across our brain cells all day long every day. Most of us are hard on ourselves, even cruel, at times. Where does self-talk originate?

Coming into this world our spirit-self has left the Eternal Flame, the Father of Lights, God, to experience life on earth. We are born a unique personality into a human body possessing an eternal spirit. Our purpose is to experience life and hopefully learn from our experiences and about ourselves. We live in a world of duality. Everything has an opposite; light and dark, love and hate, winner and loser, up and down, happy and sad, and the list goes on. The information we receive into our conscious and subconscious mind are full of these dual messages. What we do with some of the dual messages is up to us.

Depending upon our upbringing, our individual personalities, and our life experiences we will subconsciously embrace these messages. Within a short period of time these messages become our self-talk. As we embrace and subsequently use these messages the self-talk reveals a lot about what we think and feel toward self. Most of us have an overriding theme to our self-talk, either positive or negative. Realizing this explanation is a simplistic view of a complex issue, we get the idea, right?

When life is difficult what messages go through our brains? “This is your fault. If you weren’t such a mess and a loser this wouldn’t have happened” Or maybe we hear, “I’m not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough”. When life goes our way do we hear, “I don’t deserve this”, or “Life is going too well; I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”? Self-critical messages like these are harmful to our well being leading to poor self-esteem, poor self-worth and depression, and prevent us from the reality of being the unique brilliant spirit we are. Trust me on this one – I am a graduate of the university of life and experience! Alas, we have the capacity to learn, grow, and change our thoughts, our lives, and our realities. When any negative thought trips across our brain cells in response to a situation or a negative comment from another, we can stop the negative thought in its tracks and replace it with a positive thought. Many of us fall into the trap of internalizing a negative situation or comment adopting it as part of our self-talk as if it is our reality instead of what it truly is; a negative situation or comment outside of our control. The process is neither easy, nor quick, especially since many of us have deeply embedded negative self-talk messages going through our brains daily.

Emerging from the mire of negative self-talk is a process that goes hand-in-hand with practicing self-compassion. The realization we are not subject to the opinions of others will help us rewrite the story our negative thoughts have written. Many of those opinions have shaped the stories of our lives, much like a self-fulfilling prophecy; we believe something about ourselves and in turn our behavior reflects the belief. Recognizing there is a pattern to our beliefs about self and subsequent behavior allows us to intervene, to interrupt the erroneous belief and replace it with a truth, and then we behave according to the new truth. We needn’t start a complete overhaul of negative thinking, however. Replacing negative self-talk with positive messages is a journey; a journey of discovery and healing, a rewrite of one page at a time.

Enter self-compassion. We are taught in church we need to forgive others so that God can forgive us. I agree forgiveness toward others is a healthier response than allowing anger and bitterness to build and consume us, yet the one person to whom we rarely extend forgiveness is self. We are our worst critic; we use words far more harsh with ourselves than others would toss our way. Not only that, but we cannot leave it alone, repeatedly berating and beating ourselves up for minor transgressions leading to the poor self-esteem, poor self-worth, and depression. One of the definitions for depression is anger turned inward, and we know how destructive and life-robbing depression can be. At the end of the day all of us are fallible human beings; we make mistakes, wrong decisions, say mean things to others in the heat of the moment, and judge others based upon very little information.

I part ways with the Christian belief that we are sinful beings in need of forgiveness requiring us to come before God and humbly apologize for everything we have ever done in our lives, begging His forgiveness for transgressions we may or may not even remember from the time of our birth. For many of us that is our first introduction to being “saved”; we crawl to the altar having been told we are flawed, filthy rags bereft of hope outside of salvation and a thorough cleansing in the blood of the Lamb. We repeat a few words and walk away “saved” because we have “confessed” our unworthiness to a Holy God. Truthfully, I never really understood that line of thinking, and I am one of those people who cannot just wholeheartedly swallow something I don’t understand, or at least makes sense on some level.

The reality is we are spirit beings having a human experience and within the experiences of living through our humanness we will make mistakes, wrong decisions and intentionally or unintentionally hurt others. In the process the goal is to learn from the mistakes, recognize the wrong decisions, and when possible, right the wrongs done to others. We are not our thoughts and actions; we are a spark from the Universal Consciousness many of us know as God. God is pure love, and it is from this love source we came and will return.

Fortunately, I finally did come to the conclusion I can have a relationship with Yeshua, the Divine Energy, and forego man’s attempt to control the relationship through organized religion. In the process I am learning the value of self-compassion. I choose to see myself through the Divine; a spark from the flame of pure love and to rise above the dual messages of the world and live from the spirit-self core whose essence is love. Loving others begins with loving self and accepting the flaws, and forgiving ourselves for the mistakes and missteps of our humanity. They are nothing more than the learning experiences along the journey of life…..

Choosing the Path of Love…..

What does a spiritual journey look like? The path is unique to you, designed by The Divine to speak to your soul, the dwelling place of your spirit energy. What we are not aware of is that our spirits are speaking to us all of the time, calling us to seek The Divine; some will answer, some will not. For those who answer, the path taken will resonate within and we will recognize the path as ours. All paths bathed in love lead to the same place, to the source of Divine Wisdom, to God, to the Creator. The phrase “bathed in love” is critical because not all paths are bathed in love. Divine Wisdom is pure love and cannot be anything else, so we needn’t worry the path one travels looks different than another’s if love is at it’s core.

If you think about it, the individual paths can be a problem for many. So often doctrinal truths are based upon the experiences of a few people who cannot recognize, or choose not to recognize, that although one path looks different from another on the surface, the core is the same. Take church history, for example. Ever wonder why we have so many different denominations, yet seem to all be working from the same book? We share the Bible, but our interpretations of Biblical events are different. I’ve said before and will continue saying I don’t believe God ever had denominations in mind after Yeshua returned to the Divine. The doctrines and tenets for each denomination may be somewhat similar, but the differences are significant enough to the adherents many will defend them to their death, or the death of a friendship. Wars have been fought over them, much blood has been shed in the name of the church and its doctrines. We focus on the minutiae instead of the bigger picture, argue small points from one’s unique path that is formed and fashioned into a blanket doctrinal truth for the masses. One denomination believes dancing leads to hell, others that salvation is the only way to heaven, and yet others believe the various rituals and strict hierarchy were the sole intention of God. What if none of those resonate with me? What if I find my way to the Divine through meditation, through understanding the life of Yeshua from a metaphysical standpoint, through believing that my thoughts create my reality and that angels whisper higher spiritual truth? Am I the oddball? No, I don’t think so, and here’s why.

People are leaving organized religion en masse. Studies have been done showing that many of us are seeking substance in relationship with God, that many do not find God within the walls of a building where all are encouraged to believe, look, and act the same. The prosperity box churches appear to be growing in numbers, but again people are searching for substance and it will only be a matter of time before their numbers dwindle as well. The old time religion of the past isn’t cutting it any longer; we realize we don’t all have the same journey. Each one’s journey is and should be unique to their life and individual needs.

Immersing myself in the metaphysical world, I have found others who believe our journeys do not all need to look alike, we don’t all have to believe the same, yet still respect the views and opinions of others as we share our journeys. The overall goal is to live in love and appreciation of all the Creator provides, and strive for higher spiritual understanding.

However rainbow and lovely this all sounds, the living in love thing has proved challenging at times! Have you ever noticed not everyone is altogether lovely? I will go so far as to say I am not altogether lovely at times! I don’t have the luxury of living in a monastery on a Tibetan hillside; I am stuck in the here and now, the hustle and bustle of the work-a-day world and quite truthfully not everyone acts lovely. So, how do we balance the flaws of everyday life and the people around us with living in love?

For me, self-compassion and gratitude are key to walking through life in love toward all. An “attitude of gratitude” is more than a trite cliche. When we get beyond the surface of thanking the Creator for family, friends, a job, food and clothing, we begin to dig deeper into who we are and what our place is in the here and now. We have the choice each morning before getting out of bed to set our intention on love; gratitude opens the door to that intention. Sometimes I need to step back and thank the Divine for those I find to be “prickly”, those who are harder to love than others, realizing they too, have a purpose in the here and now and may be struggling with something of which I am unaware. I thank the Divine for the ability to choose only positive energy and reject negative energy flowing from others and in this way choose to remain neutral in situations I may have taken offense otherwise.

For example, as a nurse subject to the whims and warbles of doctors, the other day I had a doctor step into my office and unload her negativity, vomiting, as it were, the days trials and tribulations all over my office. I could have chosen to be offended, chosen to accept and internalize the negativity, but I did not; my intention had been set to love. In truth she was not angry with me, just the situation. Love recognizes the negative as not being directed at me; rather it was a result of a circumstance, a load on her shoulders not related to me. The next day she called me and we had a nice conversation. Did choosing love over offense excuse her behavior? No, but it allowed the behavior as a result of stressors unknown to me that I do not need to know and accepted her as a human, created in the likeness of the Divine, struggling at that moment; a human in need of love.

The unlovely will be a part of all of our journeys despite the fact that our journeys will differ. Were the unlovely part of Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) journey? Unequivocally. He chose to love them, and if He chose love over hate, love over offense, who am I to do less? His last words as He gave up His earthly existence were, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”…..