There But For the Grace…..

A few days ago a body of a woman was found in a dumpster. Her husband was arrested last night in a neighboring state for her murder. Family and friends said she didn’t leave because she was afraid of him. Today, she is dead….

This post is written in the honor and the memory of countless women, children, and yes, even some men, trapped in the cycle of abuse, invisible to a world who often blames the victims, There but for the grace of God go I…..

We are a spirit, with a soul, living in a body and having a life experience. The goal is to be integrated as one being living from the spirit during our life experience. We often think of each individually, and treat each individually. When our bodies are sick we go to a doctor, we see a therapist or psychiatrist for soul issues, and go to church, or seek some other spiritual path to care of our spirit selves. While each of these modalities may seemingly work to effect cures in body, mind, and spirit, at some point we realize what affects one affects the whole. When we are emotionally bankrupt we often experience illness or poor health, and we feel spiritually empty. Feeling spiritually empty leads to emotional and often physical upset and illness. See the interconnection?

The road to health and wellness has to involve ministering to the whole being; mind, body and spirit. The hardest step on that road is the first. Sometimes we are not sure where to start or even how to start, and sometimes we fear we will do it all wrong. Rest assured, you cannot screw this up! Healing is very much like peeling an onion, one layer at a time. Beneath each layer is a wound with the potential for incredible beauty. As we change and grow through the healing process the beauty unfolds and radiates in ways we could not have imagined before.

When I started my spiritual journey to understanding I heard on a radio teaching we are all in life situations we had chosen while still in spirit form. In my mind, people who believed this twisted line of thinking had lived idyllic lives, or at least close to it. Today, I have decided to put that theory on a shelf for the time being. Granted, I believe our lives here on earth are for growth, but I cannot go so far as to accept prior to donning an earth suit we decided all manner of suffering was a necessary pursuit to gain compassion, or whatever. What I do believe is we are capable of getting to the other side of a time of suffering with an appreciation for lessons learned, whether the lessons are about self, or others.

Looking back on the years since coming out of a 30 year abusive marriage, the “me” before the abuse is gone. Today’s “me” has been refined by the fires, risen from the ashes, and intentions to live in the moment to the extent I am capable every hour of every day. The process has not been easy nor comfortable, and yet today I can truthfully say I am grateful for having had the experience. That may sound entirely messed up, but hear me out. From any bad, painful, or negative experience or event there is an opportunity to learn about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, and to discover greater purpose. The person I am today is likely radically different from the person I may have been had I not experienced the abuse. I am far more tolerant, patient, open, non-judgmental and accepting than I thought possible, and yet there is an edge, or maybe it’s more of a resilience that is new.

The process of getting to the other side has been lengthy, intensely painful at times, challenging, and enlightening. I was not spared the good, the bad, and the ugly of myself. I have had to come to terms, or at least make peace with myself for allowing my kids to be abused. I say “allowing” because I cannot think of a better word. Certainly, I did not condone, participate, or encourage it. In my case, when I protested, the punishment for the kids went on longer and was far harsher than if I kept my protests to myself. In its own way, allowing it without protest was a way to protect my kids. I cannot truthfully say I am fully past it, and I may never be. I take responsibility for all of it. I was overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear of the unknown, what would happen to us should we leave, how would I care for my children? Obviously, the myriad unknowns pale in comparison to staying. I have had this pointed out to me on a number of occasions, and am certain those who were polite enough not to fault me out loud did so in their heads. Sadly, in our society victims are often blamed for the behavior of their abusers. “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins”is more than a good proverb we attribute to the Native Americans, although it is actually a line from a poem written in the late 1800’s. No matter who said it, truth is truth, and there is a ton of wisdom to be gained from Native Americans and their culture, much of it born of hardship and suffering.

We cannot walk the road to healing alone. My mom listened countless hours and still does. I have never asked her, but in the early days after the divorce I probably sounded like a crazy person standing on the edge of a cliff during many a conversation, yet she listened patiently.  My ex-husband had forbid contact with my family for many years. Any contact he may accidentally find out about was dangerous, and so they were left wondering if we were alive or dead, and I wondered if they had moved on. Of course they hadn’t, but abusers are masters of mind games and have the ability to control the thinking of their victims through subtle suggestions, the twisting of facts, and being ever so convincing. And convincing they are; the biggest lie they tell is to themselves, convincing themselves they are justified in their actions.

Survivors of abuse need to learn how to set boundaries. Setting boundaries has never been a strong suit for me, yet the refining fires afforded me the resolve to set sturdy boundaries, firmly and plainly stating what I will or will not allow. My relationship with my mom has deepened, and changed from a parent/child relationship to an adult relationship. Despite my mom’s difficulty accepting I was not capable of leaving because of years spent having my spirit dismantled, piece by piece, I was still able to state I would not, nor would I ever tolerate anyone telling me what they would have done in the same situation. It is impossible for anyone, given the exact circumstance, to unequivocally say what their actions would have been. We still have our issues from time to time, and we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t, but we have learned more about one another than may have been possible had my life gone a more idyllic direction. There may never be full understanding of the abuse on her part, or my inability to leave, and quite truthfully, I understand. I really don’t expect anyone to understand. Those who do have lived their own story.

Talking is healing for the soul and the spirit. When we speak fears and regrets out loud some of their power over us is taken away. My kids and I have done our own therapy, of sorts. Like one of my twins says, “we are the only 4 who really knows what happened”, and for all intents and purposes she speaks the truth. As they have grown up the picture becomes more clear from an adult view of the circumstances. Each of them still has healing to be done, we all do on various levels. I am very proud of the people each has become, because of, and in spite of, their abusive pasts. Most abusers target one member of a family, ours was an equal-opportunity abuser. Being a resourceful and creative person, he was able to come up with individualized abuse plans so none felt left out. I say that sarcastically; I spoke the truth in sharing that I have an edge to my personality. I am humbled and honored my children trust me with their hurts, the suffering still felt, and their triumphs, however major or minor they may be. Again, as a result of our collective pasts, relationships touched by trial have deepened, and in their own way become one example of the beauty from ashes.

We hear time heals all wounds, or Jesus will take away our suffering. Neither time, nor Jesus heals all wounds. Healing is work, it is never passive and to say “time” or Jesus” heals all wounds takes us out of the equation. We don’t magically heal from anything. Our bodies are dependent upon rest, good nutrition, and sometimes medicines or treatments, the mind requires processing the hurts, events, or situations, and the spirit requires soul-searching, peeling back the layers, so to speak. Anyone sitting back and waiting for healing of any ailment will be waiting a long time for the healing to magically drop into their laps. Time only provides us perspective, and Jesus, or the Divine, walks the road with us, uncovering each protective layer, one after another, exposing a deeper level of raw pain to be surrendered. How we choose to cope with each new layer is an individual decision; there is no one-size-fits-all method.

So what is the takeaway? Healing is never a single event, nor method, and healing is necessary in mind, body, and spirit in order to be complete. The dismantled pieces of the people we once were, or were not given the chance to become, need to assemble into an integrated whole. Ignoring the need for healing in the spirit as we seek healing for the body or mind will not be successful, not in the long run anyway.  Just like my children and I are the only 4 who truly know our story and each of us has worked through healing in our own way and time, so it is with our integrated self. There is a time, a season, and a method unique to each of us for healing the mind, the body, and the spirit. If we listen to the whisper of the Divine, we will know how and when it is time to work, time to rest, time to pull inward, and time to rise up from the ashes…..

 

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The Earth Is Not My Home, Or Is It…..?

Escapism theology. I didn’t know it had a name until a short time ago. Escapism has been around a very long time, however. Some credit Billy Graham for popularizing it by giving it a nod. So, what is Escapism theology? In a nutshell Escapism is waiting out our time on earth so we can go ‘home’, meaning heaven. The ‘this-is-not-my-home theology is quite popular in mainstream Christianity; we hear it from the pulpit, in Christian songs, from well-known evangelists so often we don’t give it much thought, we may even agree. Yet, Escapism isn’t simply believing in a heaven beyond death.

Buying into Escapism allows us to ignore the social ills of our world. Evangelism becomes the focus. Board as many people on the heaven-bound train as possible by leading them to repeat the “magic” words guaranteeing their salvation, their ticket through the pearly gates, while the world around us goes to hell in a hand-basket. Get the neighbor ‘saved’, and our responsibility ends there. Yeshua (Jesus) taught about heaven, true, but He spent more time teaching about living within the love of God from whom all creation springs thereby bringing real change to a hurting world. Unfortunately, those involved in Escapism are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good. Living with our heads in the clouds leaves little time for us to work toward the greater good.

Jesus was all about relationships; with one another and with God, not merely blindly following the letter of the law. We need to examine our motivations for everything. We are to be the positive energy here on earth. We are here for a purpose, each has a calling and a thread to contribute to the overall tapestry, and to fulfill our purpose we enter into relationship with others, we need to be engaged with others in the here and now. Meaningful relationships resulting in collectively working toward the greater good of all requires us to be healthy before we can help anyone else. We must journey inward with God to uncover the hurts in need of healing, to examine our motivations toward others and toward our purpose. Understanding and forgiving self first affords us the ability to understand others, and when we understand more fully we are able to forgive more fully. Escaping means we will bide our time in the present in favor of focusing on our future “home”, and ignoring the role each plays in bringing about the greater good today, in this moment. Seems like such a waste! I see no purpose in waiting around for the moment I pass from this life to the next. It serves no one, including God.

The popularity of Escapism is also how many choose to deal with the difficult questions of life. We fear death, which is really just another way of saying we fear the unknown. We want to know what, if anything, happens beyond our earthly lives. Is this all for naught, or is there a bigger picture, a bigger purpose? We all want reassurance our lives do not end with death. Those who choose New Age philosophy or Spiritualism over mainstream Christianity seek out psychics and mediums for the same reason, to be reassured. We want to know those who have passed on are pain-free, happy, and in a loving place. Believing loved ones are still with us in spirit gives us hope, we too, will live on beyond our lives on earth. I have lived too long and had enough interesting life experiences to doubt the tangible of our earthly existence is all there is. An active, vibrant realm surrounds us, and I believe this to be the realm of passed loved ones and angels. In teaching about a spirit life beyond our earthly lives, Jesus showed us the evidence of the spirit life; the Transfiguration, raising the dead back to life, and the piece de resistance, the Resurrection. Do we need more evidence?

Some in religious circles are blaming Escapism theology for mass exodus from the church. Personally, I believe any exodus from organized religion goes much deeper than running from Escapism – which, if you think about it, running away from Escapism is quite comical, all by itself! Anyway, one would think escaping the responsibilities of the world, social ills, and the like, in favor of a heaven-bound mindset would be appealing, but apparently it isn’t. Innately, humanity knows we are meant to pursue a greater purpose important to this life, and to one another. Standing in the train station waiting on the Heaven-bound Express isn’t fulfilling, meaningful, or empowering. The struggles of life, although uncomfortable, serves our growth spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Overcoming obstacles is empowering when we realize it is possible to come out of the fiery furnace stronger, more confident, and better equipped to live to fight another day. Growth is our goal. When we cease to grow we stagnate, we march in place until the Heaven-bound Express stops by and lets us board.

Jesus instructed as many as would believe to go into the world and teach (the gospel). Again, I think man added to the ‘gospel’ for his own purposes, nevertheless enough meat exists within the scriptures we can still get a clear picture to work with. If we are to just hang around and wait until heaven rolls around there really isn’t a lot to teach. Get saved, then sit in the train station. People were drawn to Jesus because He offered substance over the superficial, relationship with the Divine, wisdom, knowledge, and purpose. I also believe He taught Eden theology, my name for describing the return to living from the spirit instead of ego dominance. The Creation story takes on new meaning when we view it from the standpoint of analogy, or explaining a concept in story form. The reason why people are leaving organized religion begins to make sense; we are seeking substance, wisdom, and purpose. Our spirit-selves are whispering there is meaning and purpose to this life beyond toiling by the sweat of our brow, scraping by, and waiting for St. Peter to call our names. Adam and Eve lived from the spirit in close relationship with God, for a time at least. They were our first example.

From the church-life perspective, there is relationship with God beyond memorizing more scripture, attending services every time the doors are open, and responding in rote to prompts from the pulpit. I believe God is calling us to think outside the box, to pursue wisdom and knowledge, to seek growth as we collectively work to bring about the greater good for all of creation. Our spirits were not designed to seek escape…..

Unlimited Belief…..

Belief is an acceptance of something as true; to believe is to think or have an opinion on a subject, to trust, or have confidence in something. We have a tendency to believe in something just because we think it is unequivocally true, or false, but is it? Often what we believe cannot be proven, we cannot offer concrete evidence of our belief otherwise it would be a fact, right? So is it possible beliefs can be incorrect?

The reason we defend our beliefs so adamantly is because we often feel an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty the belief is true. Beliefs affect us on multiple levels; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, so much so that wars are fought over opposing beliefs, globally as well as personally. People around the world since the dawn of time have given up their lives in defense of a belief. What we believe to be true, or false, is indeed very powerful.

We need to believe, beliefs are not necessarily bad things. Beliefs help our brains make sense of the information received and organize our thoughts, and in turn, make sense of the world we live in. They help us form our mindset and interpretation of the world around us. We tend to embrace our beliefs and act on them as if they are true, but what if they aren’t?  It is altogether possible we received bad information, and we are basing decisions and actions on the erroneous beliefs.

Beliefs about ourselves, or life in general that prevent us from trying new things, or stepping outside our comfort zones for fear of failure, are called ‘limiting beliefs’. Repeated thoughts or messages we hear from the outside world, whether family, friends, or others, become a part of our overall fabric. They niggle their way into our subconscious, take root, and before we know it, we have decided to embrace the message or thought. Limiting beliefs begin in childhood. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it this way, “We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.” Many times they are a result of a negative bias.

A negative bias is a belief, often based on an experience leaving an impression of fear, in some form. They can be a result of a traumatic experience we have had, a tragedy we witnessed, or a cultural mindset, and they are far more powerful than a positive bias. Before we judge a negative bias as bad, they do serve a purpose in our lives. The fear brought about by a negative bias may be important to our survival, therefore providing a degree of protection. If, as children, we are told to look both ways before crossing a street or we may be hit by a car, all we have is a statement, but nothing to validate the statement is true. However, if we witness a small animal running across the street get hit by a car, the experience will set up a negative bias that crossing the street is indeed dangerous. The negative bias becomes a measure of protection for us. Taken a step further, if the experience was so traumatic we are afraid to cross the street ever again despite the knowledge we have crossed safely many times before, the fear becomes the limiting belief. The small animal being hit by the car validates the belief.

Some limiting thoughts may have been comments or statements voiced one time by one person, but the effect caused doubt, or fear, and stopped further growth in its tracks. When I was in the third grade I took piano lessons. Granted, I was like most every other kid; I would rather do anything else besides practice. All in all I wasn’t that bad, but one day my piano teacher told me I didn’t have any natural talent and therefore was wasting her time. Whether or not she said those exact words, that is the message I heard.  To this day I don’t play piano! Why did I let one statement from one person affect me so deeply? Perhaps if she would have said, “maybe we should set lessons aside for a year or so and come back and give it another go” the outcome would have been different? What about a child or teen who is told he/she is worthless? If the child or teen embraces that thought what will life look like going forward?

Growing up we may have heard, “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, or “Enjoy being single. Once you marry the fun ends!” or “adults just work, pay bills, and never get ahead”. What is wrong with these statements? Are the negative statements built on facts? No, of course not, but nevertheless we may believe them to be true. These beliefs are known as collective beliefs; those we have grown up with, but are not specific to us. Collective beliefs, and personal beliefs we have accepted as specific to us, create our reality. We look for evidence to validate the beliefs, and ignore evidence proving the statements false.

Breaking free of limiting beliefs requires us to step outside our comfort zones, re-frame our thinking, and replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. No easy task, for sure. We have to look for evidence to prove our new beliefs, and remind ourselves of the evidence when the old thoughts try to creep back in. If our limiting thoughts have defined who we are as a person because of statements others have made, we need to spend some time figuring out who we are apart from those statements. When ‘I can’t’ comes out of our mouths we need to pause and ask ourselves if we truly cannot do something, go somewhere, or be someone, or is it simply a belief? Limiting thoughts are a product of the ego, the self-centered part of us who likes to be in control, maintain the status quo. The spirit self is the voice of the Divine; encouraging, loving, uplifting.

Yeshua (Jesus) while He walked the earth as a man, was our teacher and mentor opening the door to living by the spirit versus the ego. He chose to see the impossible as possible, create the reality He wanted for others, not allow others to define one’s reality. Yeshua demonstrated a fully awakened spirit, a goal we can reach when He said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, we could move mountains.  Did Yeshua literally mean mountains would move? I believe if there were a need, it could be done. Rather, the message I hear is the ability is within each of us, within the spirit self, the self in tune with the Divine. The mountains we move are the limiting beliefs we have preventing us to live fully. We choose to allow the spirit to come forth, or stand behind the ego.  

Yeshua declared the woman with the “issue of blood” healed through her own faith. She had allowed medical people around her to decide she was incurable instead of believing she could be well again. Yeshua empowered the woman to see the possibility of wellness apart from the limited beliefs of others she had embraced.

Each of us is a spark from the Divine, created in the image of God, and empowered with the ability of the Divine Spirit. Take a serious look at the ‘I can’t’ statements in your life. What is holding you back from moving the mountains in the way of being who you were created to be, or doing what you were created to do…..?

Authenticity…..

Who are you really? Are you living life true to self? These questions can help us determine our level of self-awareness and put us face-to-face with the possibility of the need for change in our lives. Is it ever too late to change? Are you dead yet? If the answer to the last question is “no”, then the answer to the former question is “no” as well. Authentic living, or being true to self allows us the opportunity to live out our truth, the freedom to be who we are on the inside without the need for facades and labels we have donned and embraced.

Each of us consciously and subconsciously decides what will make us acceptable within the world and the microcosm of the world we live in; our family, our group of friends, the workplace and the community. The decisions we make about our acceptability often are a result of labels and the expectations others have for us. At different times throughout our lives we adopt new facades and accept labels others have attached to suit their expectations for us. The labels don’t always fit, yet we often let them define who we are. Facades are the masks we wear to fit in, to present ourselves acceptable in any group or situation, and often they change from group to group, situation to situation. But, do labels and facades represent who we really are on the inside, the spirit and soul who live in the earthly body? Most of us would probably answer a resounding “no”. In essence, we willingly exchanged who we are for who others have decided we are. Often, those whose labels and facades bear negative connotations find themselves at war with self, sadness sets in as they wish the true self was as acceptable to others as the labels and facades have become.

Various definitions exist for authentic living; it is up to each of us to decide what it means to live authentically. For me, sorting through who I am versus who others believe me to be is primary. Self-discovery, in other words. What do my values and beliefs say about me. Which are from what I have been told to value and believe and what I actually value and believe? What patterns of behavior am I repeating over and over that have not served me well? We need to find what resonates with us as individuals. Looking at the totality of our lives we often discover a theme we tend to gravitate toward, a passion where our souls and spirits find the most peace and satisfaction. Should we change careers? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps there is a way for a passion to become a career and that may take time to develop, but often if and until the passion becomes a career we can still find a way to include the passion in our lives.

When I took a look back at my life two overriding themes emerged: healer and teacher. In one capacity or another, in play as a child and in career as an adult, I found myself living out variations of healer and teacher. The career choices haven’t jibed with inward satisfaction, however. I have enjoyed being a nurse in various capacities, and it certainly encompasses both healer and teacher, yet the inward satisfaction was missing. Ignoring the nagging thought I wasn’t where I was most satisfied and peaceful, I decided it was a matter of finding my niche and then satisfaction and peace would follow. Recently, I studied energy healing and became a Reiki practitioner. In sessions with those seeking healing of the mind, body and spirit, my spirit is settled and at peace. Writing, and eventually speaking engagements, provide the same peace and satisfaction. It is to this place I am headed.

Authentic living is like coming home, and yet it has its drawbacks. It can be a lonely place until we regroup and find other like-minded people. People prefer to see us through the lens of their expectations and this is often antithetical to the true self who is taking center stage. Those we considered friends, and even family, may fall away not understanding our shift in beliefs, values or attitude. At some point however, the need to live from the spirit outweighs the need to be a part of the crowd.  Quite truthfully, I never have felt like part of the crowd.

Are you living life true to self? Do you feel like there is a more authentic self waiting to emerge? Are you beginning to see patterns in life that seem to repeat themselves over and over? These and others are the call of God to human spirit. Will you answer and live out your spirit truth…..?

 

Goddess or Doormat…..

Pablo Picasso was credited as saying that women were either goddesses or doormats. Arguably one of the great artists of our time, his character seemed bereft of morals, and yet his insatiable appetite for female attention, adoration, or sexual favor likely lent itself to his opinion of women.

He was right; women are either one or the other. Viewed another way, we either value ourselves or we do not. Certainly, men have self-esteem and self-worth issues, but women seem to have cornered the market in undervaluing themselves. We can blame our mothers, society, the church, and we wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect in that assessment, but perhaps a better way to overcome esteem and worth issues would be to confront them head-on. Society as a whole has progressed rapidly through the 20th century, yet many women are still stuck on the gerbil wheel of poor self-esteem.

Another “how to” book is not needed to help us regain our self-worth; most of us have read our share and still stand in front of a mirror and cruelly point out all of the flaws of the image looking back at us. The opening book of the Bible tells us humanity was created in the image of the Creator. Our self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth need to reflect the reality of who we are, not some airbrushed, nipped and tucked image on a magazine cover, or an ideal so unrealistic the impossibility alone leaves us shattered. Too often we waste time, energy, and resources looking for the “fix” to our imperfections instead of honoring the unique person we are. Granted, the voices and noise of the carnal world are loud, sometimes deafeningly so, and yet the small voice inside, the voice of the Creator, is speaking words of love, acceptance, and encouragement to those who will listen.

Throughout the Bible we can still find glimpses of the true voice of the Creator; not the voice of God created by man. You see, man has given human characteristics to the Divine so the image most of us have of the Divine life energy we all share, often sounds harsh, punishing, and condemning. Do we really need another voice in our head telling us we don’t measure up? No, we don’t, and the sad fact is the voice of condemnation is the one most of us listen to all day, every day. No wonder we walk around heads hung low, apologizing, as it were, for our imperfections.

There are so many voices in the world tripping over one another telling us we don’t measure up, fit in, or meet the standard, but we never stop to ask whose standard we are trying to meet. The voice of the Creator is the quiet voice of the spirit, whispering eternal love, peace, and compassion toward self and others. The voice is quiet to cause us to stop and listen, to get into that space where the voice of the world is blocked and the one we hear is the Divine. Be still and know that I am God, we say, but don’t do it; rather we work all the harder to prove we are worthy. The latest diet craze, more exercise, memorize more scriptures, pray longer, build a bigger house, buy more toys, nip this, tuck that, and the list goes on and on searching for the one thing that will make us feel acceptable, worthy, or feel that we measure up, and the reality is we are acceptable, we are worthy, we measure up today, this moment. When we are able to embrace this one simple truth, we will breath a sigh of relief and give opportunity for the true self to emerge, the one that listens only to the voice of the Divine, to the voice of Him who created us in His image, the image of light and love, peace and compassion.

Sounds easy enough, but alas, it continues to prove one of the highest hurdles to overcome. We have been conditioned to tune our ears to the voice of the world. The ego is in constant need of attention, stroking, and reassurance. Catering to the needs of the ego is exhausting work, but we are so used to the noise of the world and the needs of the ego we scarcely realize how tired we have become, how beaten down we feel. Rest is available. Renewal is within reach, my friends. Be still and know that I am God is more than a scripture, a trite statement on a bookmark, or a slogan on a coffee cup. Be still is a call to all who are burdened, all who are searching for rest, for wisdom, for knowledge, for revitalization, for awakening to a new level of understanding.

Ever find yourself in the half asleep, half awake state of being during the night when the answer to a problem suddenly drops into your head? The mind, body and spirit are totally relaxed during the twilight sleep and open to hearing the voice of Wisdom, the voice of the Divine. At that moment you have tapped into the higher self, the higher consciousness and joined spirits with the Creator. We were designed to live and breath and move in this way; easily and with grace, but we have allowed the cares, worries and fears of the world to weigh us down.

Get comfortable, put on some calm, meditative music and close your eyes, block out the noise of the mind and listen to the still voice deep within. In the beginning it will require practice to shut down the voices of the world and the ego, but the reward is worth the effort. Peace settles in, the body relaxes as the love of the Divine begins to flow over, around, and through mind, body, and spirit; wisdom permeates the higher self bringing self into deeper understanding. Allow the light and energy of the Divine to fill you to overflowing, remind you that you are created in His image, fully alive, fully beautiful, fully capable. So many scriptures in the Bible speak to these very things, yet we don’t recognize them as the voice of Divine Wisdom. We are more plugged into the voice of man, the voice of the world that tears us down, and we are willing to accept these words, but not the words of the Creator.

Women, particularly, need to listen and embrace the voice of the Divine, the voice that speaks words of love, words of acceptance and worth. When we come to an understanding of who we are in Him, that we are created in His image, an embodied spirit of intelligence, healing, compassion, mercy and tenderness, we will be able to hold our head up and take our rightful place as goddess instead of doormat.

Goddess sounds so heady, doesn’t it? Yet, to me “goddess” is a character word, a word describing the gentle nature of created woman, created from the rib of man to walk beside, not beneath. We cannot afford to cast aside our true nature; too many of us have accepted and walked the path of the doormat, and in so doing we deny the life-giving characteristics of our created nature.

Start with an affirmation that you will repeat each day as often as you think of it. At first the affirming words will sound like a lie, an untruth, but let us remember before accepting the words of the world, the lies of not measuring up, your spirit listened to the words of the Divine. The Bible says we can ask for anything in His name and He will answer; said another way, what we put out there comes back to us. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s time the goddess in you comes forward to take her rightful place…..

The Loretto Chapel; Intersection Between Man and the Divine

Years ago my then-husband and I visited Santa Fe, New Mexico. I fell in love with the state, the culture, the architecture, the jewelry, and the history. The city, and much of the state, is a mixture of their history and modern day nestled within the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountain range. During that trip, Santa Fe became my favorite place on the face of the earth. It is there that I feel most at peace, and life makes sense.

Recently, one of my twin daughters and I traveled to Santa Fe to celebrate their 25th birthday. She, too, shares my love of the southwest, particularly Santa Fe. One of our favorite places is the Loretto Chapel, a tiny mission chapel, established in 1853 by the Sisters of Our Lady of Lights positioned at the end of the Santa Fe Trail. The sisters had traveled from St. Louis to Santa Fe in answer to a call from Bishop Lamy to start a girls school and church in the southwest capitol of Santa Fe.

The Gothic chapel is ornate for its day, and given the Basilica next door, rather unassuming, except for the miracle staircase that has fascinated and confounded many since it’s construction. The Chapel was finished in 1858, however, no access to the choir loft had been constructed. Most choirs at the time were comprised of young boys who used ladders, but the Loretto school was a girls school and thus required a less dangerous way to reach the loft. Local carpenters were consulted, but given the size of the Chapel, a traditional staircase would not fit and so the sisters took to prayer to solve their dilemma.

For nine (9) days the sisters prayed the Novena to St Joseph, the earthly father of Yeshua (Jesus) and a carpenter by trade, to meet their need of a staircase to the choir loft. On the final day of the Novena, according to legend, a man came to the Chapel, tools loaded on his donkey, looking for work. The man worked diligently for months to build the spiral staircase from the main floor to the loft, his only tools being a hammer, a saw, a carpenter’s square, and tubs of hot water to bend the wood. The staircase has no center support and is said to have been constructed without nails, only wooden pegs, makes 2 complete 360 degree turns and has 33 steps; the number of years Yeshua is believed to have lived on the earth. The wood used for the staircase is not indigenous to the southwest; reports are the wood is a product of Alaska.  When the staircase was finished, the man left without pay or a word of any kind to the sisters. An ad was taken out in the paper for any information about the mysterious carpenter as the sisters wanted to offer their gratitude and payment for the staircase and answer to their prayers. The man had vanished.

Whether the builder was Yeshua, Joseph, or a divinely inspired man, it matters not; visiting the Chapel is a spiritual and reverent experience. Any way you look at it, the staircase is a mystery and it’s history only adds to the legend. Do I believe the staircase was built by the hand of God? Yes, I do. It doesn’t matter who actually built the masterpiece; what matters is that heaven met earth in answer to prayers faithfully and earnestly spoken by the Sisters of Loretto. To me, the staircase is evidence that earthly concerns are of import to the Divine, and an inspiration to us to continue our journey with God.

From the first time I entered the Chapel of Loretto, and each time since, it has been a profoundly spiritual experience. The construction is truly a masterpiece in its own right despite the questions surrounding its builder. Each stair is precisely built, obviously designed and erected by a highly skilled professional. Given the limited space, tools, and materials, it cannot be anything but a Divinely created structure.

My daughter and I visited the Chapel twice during this visit. I am a people-watcher anyway, and watching others view the miracle staircase is interesting by itself. The vast majority of people are clearly impressed, if not awestruck; a reverential awe is present within the walls of the Chapel much of the time. Most sit quietly for a moment contemplating the beauty and paradoxical simplicity and complexity of its construction; others pray and light candles at the altar as well.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience and the miracle staircase touches a part of our spirit being. People from all manner of spiritual or religious background, and perhaps some neither spiritual nor religious visit the Chapel. It would not be a reach to surmise that the majority walk away with some sense of having experienced the Divine, if only for a moment. The Divine, God, is all around us.

Throughout history God has set before man evidences of a Universal Light, or Consciousness, many of us know as God. It is my firm belief these evidences, like the miracle staircase, are an intersection between the spiritual and the earthly realms, evidence of a Higher Consciousness, a Universal Flame from Whom we all originated, and it is to this Flame we are drawn…..

Wading In Deeper…..

The deeper I wade into the world of living a spiritual existence, the more I read the Bible from a metaphysical standpoint. For years I was skeptical, scared, actually, of considering possibilities beyond interpretation of scripture through the eyes of man. I have said many times over; God watches over His Word, and I believe He has and does, but in my eyes, the Word has taken on new meaning. The essence of the spiritual knowledge we need to function from our spirit self is all there, laid out in black and white, despite man’s attempt to derail the instruction. Some come to understand the knowledge hidden within the scriptures from a totally different road, but in the end, all roads lead to the same place, which is not to say that I believe all religions lead to the same place; the place of spiritual awakening. I also believe Christianity has fought against that knowledge for centuries, choosing to shroud it in fear, control its dissemination, instead of sharing it with all of mankind.

The many contradictions in scripture had me tangled in a knot of confusion for years, believing we are not to understand, simply to trust; but trust what? We are taught to trust man’s interpretation, that certain people are given the gift of insight to discern deeper spiritual truth, and the truth is that thinking is hogwash! Spiritual truth is available to all who come seeking, who come asking, who accept and receive the truths.

During my lifetime I have studied psychology, the Bible, and now spirituality; within each there are clues to living a spirit-centered life, and the pieces fit together because within each discipline the same pieces exist. Many psychological principles have simply been repackaged from Biblical teaching and viewed through the lens of spirituality. Each of the philosophies lead to understanding man and his relationship to others, the world at large, and his spiritual center, whether we call it God, the Universe, or Universal Intelligence. Man seeks to know why he exists, his purpose, and what lessons is he to learn from his time on planet earth.

Yeshua (Jesus), while He wore the clothes of humanity, spent the majority of His time, from what we can glean in scripture, with people; He taught, He healed, He prayed. Looking at the Beatitudes, the “blessed are” speech Yeshua delivered affectionately known as the “Sermon on the Mount”, Yeshua is not blessing the different types of people mentioned; rather the word for blessing is related to the state of being the blessed are to be in, their heart condition. Reading the passage it is clear man has had his hand in the interpretation of the message, however, the message is still there. Our state of being, our heart condition is of great importance to God, to the Universe, for within the heart are man’s motivations.

It is my firm belief that the Beatitudes speak to our spirit self, to spiritual pursuit for awakening, enlightenment, or if you prefer, knowledge and wisdom. I am learning to overlook exercises in semantics; too often we trip ourselves up and focus on the wrong things because we disagree with the use of a word! Yeshua was teaching deeper spiritual truth and if we solely interpret the Sermon on the Mount’s meaning to our physical existence we miss the point entirely, but more importantly, our view is skewed and our focus becomes earthly gain. For instance: “How blessed are the poor in spirit for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3 The Complete Jewish Bible) I have heard it preached that poverty is a virtue and the Kingdom’s riches will one day be mine, but this also is often interpreted to mean material gain. Poverty is not a virtue, and Kingdom riches have little to do with material possessions. Poor in spirit, going back to original texts, means we are humble, not full of ourselves. Kingdom riches in the Aramaic, the word Yeshua most likely used, means to expand our spiritual potential. We notice that the phrase “Kingdom of heaven” and “heaven” are used frequently in the Bible and the interpretation of spiritual enlightenment would apply.

Pressing onward, the second Beatitude says, “How blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” On the surface we would think the interpretation relates to those who are sad, have lost a loved one, or the like. Looking at the verse from the Aramaic, the language of Yeshua, “to mourn” has nothing to do with sadness; rather the meaning is rooted in a passion toward, or being eager for transformation. Comforted, then, would mean further growth in our spirit life, soul growth being the result.

What about the third Beatitude? How blessed are the meek for they will inherit the Land!” If we are to follow the example and aspire to be like Yeshua, we have to admit Yeshua was anything but meek! He turned the known world, at that time, upside down, and challenged the religious leaders often; Yeshua was not “Baby Jesus meek and mild.” Meek in the early texts had a feeling of nonresistance, being open to truth and wisdom, and the earth refers to spiritual awakening; following through, our goal is heaven and spiritual enlightenment.

As a seeker of truth and wisdom, the Bible has opened up, my understanding expanded exponentially, each day a clearer picture of what God’s Word has for each of us. We are all on a journey and God welcomes each of us to join Him in deeper understanding. Is it time to wade in and get your feet wet…..?