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…..

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The Golden in Golden Rule…..

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Many of us are raised knowing this statement, sometimes called “ The Golden Rule” and many of us associate it with the Bible. While the essence of “The Golden Rule” is in the Bible, every spiritually-based religion centered in love has a similar tenet. Hinduism, Confucianism, and Judaism have their Golden Rule statements as well; basically, don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself. All have a Karmic reference, too. The Bible states we reap what we sow, others state some form of “what goes around, comes around”. Christianity did not corner the market on spiritualism, so why is Christianity marketed as superior to all other journeys?

Christianity has Yeshua (Jesus) at it’s center; God incarnate who took the form of man to restore relationship with man to Himself. I am totally on board with that. And, I believe, all of the other spiritually-based religions of love derived their tenets from the teachings of Yeshua. All civilizations no matter how remote or primitive acknowledge God in some form. The Bible says the Word of God will reach all mankind, and Christianity has taken it upon themselves to bring their form of religion to unsaved man, but is that what God had in mind? Christian missionaries believing they are doing the work of God infiltrate areas they believe to be heathen and build churches, dress the inhabitants in proper church clothes, preach, teach and baptize in an effort to create more cookie-cutter Christians, saved, sealed and delivered to the Almighty. I am not okay with that.

God is not bound by a finite mind like man, and so I believe that God very well may have taken the form of an angelic being or spirit teacher at different times throughout history to teach higher truth to people the world over. Perhaps the teaching was done within the context of  a particular region’s understanding of God? Is it necessary we all adhere to the dogmatic teachings of the church, say the “sinner’s prayer” in order to be saved, or are baptized in water to have relationship with the Divine? For some the answer is “yes”, but others may prefer to take a different path to God. Is one better than another? As long as the goal is relationship with the Creator, the Divine, with God, does it really matter?

Christianity wasn’t an exclusive religion until Constantine declared it so in the 4th Century and all other spiritual paths took a back seat; the perceived superiority of Christianity took hold. Constantine instituted many observances we associate with Christianity, and many people associate with the Bible and Jesus. It was Constantine who declared December 25 the day of Jesus’ birth, Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, and is responsible for Sunday worship and the requisite day of rest. Speculation also exists that Constantine may have used his influence to add his own thoughts and beliefs to the text we know as the Bible. Constantine’s influence on “Christianity” was both good and not-so-good; clearly he helped shift the growing cult of Jesus followers into high gear and established Christianity as the one, true religion in his and many others opinions, but is it the only way to God? I don’t believe it is. The bigger question may be why are we here?

What is man’s purpose? What are we to learn during our earthly lives? In Romans 12:18 Paul says, “ If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people.” (The Complete Jewish Bible) I have been known to include this verse in wedding cards, and I think it demonstrates that God has a sense of humor. When has man ever been able to live in peace with others? The reality is that our mission, should we choose to accept it while we live and breath on this earthly plane, is to learn to live in peace with all of creation. That’s easier said than done, for sure. Some find living in peace with creation easy, others find it challenging at best. So, here we are hanging out on terra firma, doing our best to survive in a world of opposing forces; love vs hate, positive vs negative, life vs death, organization vs chaos, the list goes on and on. And, the fact remains we are still here for a reason, so for those who have ears to hear we are called to come together to bring forth love and peace in an otherwise unloving world. We are here to learn to rise above the opposing forces and seek only love in every situation we encounter, to radiate love toward all without judgment.

Exactly how are we to bring forward love and peace? All work begins with us, inside working outward. Like Paul said, “….to the extent that it depends on you….” One by one, awakened spirit by awakened spirit, we set our intention to live in love and peace with all of creation. The positive energy one person intentions collectively joined with others of like mind and spirit will spread. We who hear and respond will set intention to live from the higher-self subduing ego and putting aside fear of being misunderstood, humiliated, or shunned by those who do not understand, which is no easy task by any means. It will require us to live above the cacophony and chaos of a world driven by ego, which is to say the “I, I, I” mentality. We hear a different drummer, respond to a higher purpose. We may be looked upon as “weird” but that only speaks to the opinion of others. Yeshua did not lend his energy toward the negative opinions of others, rather He spent His time teaching those who would listen and respond.

Yeshua lived by the Golden Rule. One day, according to Matthew and Luke, while Yeshua was in conversation with a religious leader hoping to trap Him into misstating the Torah, Yeshua recited the Shema; the “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength” passage, adding “and love your neighbor as yourself”. The religious leader went on to attempt to argue the smaller point of defining “neighbor”. Living from the ego-self, the religious leader was inciting an argument; Yeshua patiently continued to teach, living above the invite to participate in the shenanigans of the ego. We can learn much from that one interaction; higher-self vs ego-self.

When we choose to live from the ego we often hurt others with words or deeds, we use others as a doormat, put our needs above the needs of others, and wish others ill will. Choosing to live from the spirit-self we seek truth, seek to love and lend a hand, an ear, a shoulder, and seek to do good, to purpose in our hearts to do what is right. There is nothing “mystical” or “weird” about spirit-living.

How do we live from the higher-self? We begin by asking from which self do we generally operate in everyday life? In this way we identify patterns of communication and interaction with others. If the majority of our interactions with others are fraught with vying for the last word in any conversation, needing to be right, judging before truly hearing the heart of another, we are likely living from the ego-self. The power to change how we act in any situation, or in communication with any person lies within our control. Living from the higher-self requires effort to seek the Divine, to fill ourselves from the fount of love and peace found in oneness with the Divine, and practice the wisdom from within. The more challenges we meet from the higher-self, the easier it will become. No task worth undertaking is ever easy, is it?

The Golden Rule is not a tit-for-tat. Regardless of how we are treated by others, living from the spirit requires us to treat others as we would like to be treated without expecting the same from others. We set ourselves up for failure if we expect others to live from the spirit when we have chosen to do so. The only free will, or control available to us is to choose our reactions and words in any interaction with another. The Golden Rule is a good tenet to live by. The question is, do we exercise the rule to ensure better treatment from others, or to seek to do good regardless of the outcome? One leads to disappointment, the other to a spirit-led life…..

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…..?

Fear Not…..

Rumor has it that the Bible contains 365 “Fear not” statements or references; one for each day of the week. I haven’t actually counted them to be sure, I will take the claims of others as true!

Obviously, the point being we are not to fear, we are to have faith, instead. In my adult life I have heard several sermons preached on the subject, all centered around believing God has our backs, and I do believe that; so why do we need fear-based religion? The answer is we don’t. Fear-based religion uses fear in a number of different ways to control the thinking and behavior of its adherents. For example: if I don’t confess my sins before God and man and accept Jesus as my Savior I won’t be saved, so I will go to hell when I die. Who wants that hanging over their head? What about we will be held accountable for every careless word we speak? Granted, the passage in Matthew 12 is actually addressing the religious leaders of the day, but I have heard the verse applied to all of us, so we fear we may have inadvertently told a lie we haven’t confessed, taken the Lord’s name in vain, or committed blasphemy and we end up in a worse place than hell! What about the sins that go unconfessed? Is there a blanket prayer to make sure the ones I don’t remember I did are covered? What if I’m sick or in need of something? The Bible says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains, our faith can make us whole, demons will flee in our presence, or we will live abundant lives; proof that we have the right amount of faith, but if these things don’t happen does that mean I don’t even have the smallest amount of faith? All of this may sound ridiculous to those outside the walls of fundamental churches, or even some of the box churches, but they are not; people get themselves wrapped up in such nonsense and miss the point.

The elitist mindset of many Christians and fundamental churches is based in fear; fear of getting too close to those who are unbelievers, being “unequally yoked”, or just plain letting the sins of others slop over into their whitewashed lives. Consider the ongoing and often vitriol discussion centering around homosexuality, and now gender identity. People think we are becoming a more progressive and enlightened society, but many of the churches have not gotten the memo. Some of the most well known evangelists and preachers of the late 20th century participated in thinly veiled homophobic hate mongering. I remember not that many years ago a very well known evangelist-teacher organized and staged a prayer vigil, of sorts, in the San Francisco area to pray against the homosexual stronghold in the area; of course stating that we love the gays, but in their current lifestyle, sadly, won’t be admitted into heaven. What?? The bottom line is that the churches and “Christians” who participate in this mindset fear those whose lifestyles don’t fit in with their narrow-minded, supposedly Bible-based standards of behavior. I, for one, am far more offended by those who are judgmental and gossip as a guise for praying for the needs of others. I have issues with those who say they serve a God of love, that all are welcome, yet once inside the doors roll out the list of qualifiers for that love and acceptance.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that spiritual endeavors should be centered in love, positive thinking and energy, drawing others in because others see something in us that is pleasing and peaceful. What is out there are people who have clothed themselves in a facade of love and light, yet once inside the doors a very different picture emerges. The thou-shalt-nots are rolled out in full force, the standards of perfection required for approval dropped in our laps; no tattoos, no smoking, drinking, associating with the unsaved, memorize this many verses, pray that way, tithe this much, the list is endless. Thought patterns steeped in this mindset create fear of not measuring up, our heart motivations for what we do become skewed.

In chapter 12 of Romans, Paul is talking about how we are to act, be, think, and serve in this world. All things in scripture speak to a higher truth, striving to live from the higher self instead of from the ego. Romans 12:2 (New International Version) reads, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I have heard countless sermons on this tiny phrase from Romans 12:2, each one dissecting the meaning behind “good, pleasing, and perfect will”. Apparently, from all reports I have received we are to choose which of God’s wills we want to be in! Really? Is that what we are supposed to get out of that verse? Taken together and viewed from the metaphysical, or spiritual standpoint, Romans 12 is speaking about living from the higher self, in peace with others, don’t accept the patterns of society, live above them: almost a repackaged “golden rule”. Isn’t that the more important message?

We should always be encouraged to seek higher spiritual truth, explore to discover what resonates within each of us because the journey is unique to each of us. We are all beings of energy created in the image of the Universal Creator, endowed with spiritual wisdom that is waiting to be tapped. We do not need a person standing in a pulpit, educated in the halls of man, espousing the often misguided doctrines of man that have been handed down through the centuries, many designed to instill fear in the hearts of its followers in an effort to control.

It is my firm belief that many in our world have been disillusioned by organized religion, disheartened by man’s attempt to dampen the spiritual stirrings in the hearts of those who earnestly and honestly want to pursue an intimate relationship with the Creator without fear hanging over their heads. I believe we are in the beginning of the end of the church age when people who truly want to pursue an intimate relationship with the Creator will seek spiritual enlightenment over the dry bones of religion.

One morning after I had participated in a funeral service for a friend, a woman who had attended the funeral approached me in the parking lot. Those of us in attendance had been subject to a fiery hell and brimstone message delivered with fervor and spit from the preacher who was obviously uncomfortable with the lesbian lifestyle the decedent had chosen. The woman thanked me for what I had said and concluded with, “ and what happened in there is exactly why I left the church”. Her comment saddened me and I have thought back on that moment many times. I knew that was a transitional moment in my life; my calling, my desire is that no one be discouraged from seeking relationship with their Creator because of fear, because of not measuring up. I don’t know, but I suspect she was involved in a lifestyle contrary to church doctrine. How sad that a person created in the image of God would feel unworthy of pursuing higher eternal spiritual truth for something so temporary as an earthly choice. We are all welcomed by the Creator no matter who we are, where we have been, what we do or don’t do, no matter our lifestyle. Yeshua, the Creator clothed in humanity who came to restore relationship with the created said, “Come ALL who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest…….”

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”…..

A Journey of Truth…..Leaving Fear-Based Religion Behind

I am a seeker of truth and wisdom, and have spent the better part of my adult life on a journey for higher truth. The interesting thing about journeys is that often there are bends and twists in the road, sometimes we detour as the road less traveled beckons and the journey becomes an adventure.

In my nineteenth year I attended a religious crusade and left a born-again, saved Christian. Not altogether sure what that meant, I did feel differently, refreshed, and as luck would have it, fell headlong into the Charismatic theology by virtue of marriage. Immersed in this exciting twist on the rote religion of my childhood, I soaked up knowledge like a sponge. Any number of events were likely to happen on any given Sunday; prophesy, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, people being slain in the spirit, in other words, falling out under the power. Praise and worship was fresh, not the dusty tunes retrieved from the catacombs found in every hymnal in the country, not that I think that’s a bad thing, just boring at times. Let’s face it, the majority of the hymns aren’t the liveliest melodies known to man.

Over the years I studied, prayed, listened, and asked questions. The more questions I asked, the more questions I had, and the crazy thing is the answers didn’t always make sense to me, which usually ended with, “it will all make sense in heaven”, or some similar response. But, I didn’t want to wait for an answer, and more importantly, most of the whole didn’t resonate with me; it felt like a puzzle where the pieces didn’t quite fit together so the puzzle-builder pushed and squished the pieces together so they kinda-sorta fit together, but not really. No one else I knew seemed to have the questions I did, and they seemed pretty content swallowing doctrine that didn’t make sense to me, so I concluded I was the oddball, God’s problem child.

An abusive relationship and life got in the way, so I put aside the questions in an effort to merely survive. Once out of the relationship, and mad at God, which is another story, God and I found tolerable ground and we declared a truce, of sorts. The truce became the journey I am on, and here we are today, still journeying with God although we took a detour.

Before I go any further I need to be clear; I am not a church-hater. I think for many the safety of church life is necessary, comfortable, and easy. Lots of people sit in pews week after week and then go about their daily lives keeping the two separate. Some earnestly seek God trying to understand the deeper truths, doing their best to live lives within the boundaries of the Bible and church doctrine, some just like to belong to a group. All are welcome, or so they say. The truth is that all are not welcome; those of us who poke and prod, who are judged as not fitting in, as not having enough faith, or just plain being trouble-makers are not welcome, not really. And so, we fall away, some for good, and some looking for God elsewhere, outside the church walls, and, hold onto your hat, He does exist outside the church walls!

Being outside the church walls has been a blessing for me. The journey, much like that of the ancients who have passed before me, those without advantage of church walls, doctrine, theology-educated pastors, has brought me to the place I am today; a place of deeper and broader understanding of God, of life, of people, and of myself. Free of doctrine that was confusing, suffocating, limiting and most of all, fear-based, I am able to see myself through the eyes of God, not through the eyes of the church, or the world, a view devoid of judgments, thou shalt-nots, and shoulds. It’s not a journey that all can or want to take, but all are welcome on the journey; it is a journey of self-discovery, gratitude, forgiveness, and most of all love; learning to love self and others through the eyes of God, and not through the harsh lens of the church and the world.

The teachings and doctrines of western Christianity are fear-based. A founding tenet of fundamental, Bible-based churches is the need for salvation. Why? Because in their eyes we are born corrupt, evil, we are subject to a “fallen nature” before even one breath is drawn. The “Sinner’s Prayer is a mea culpa of sorts; it’s my fault, I’m guilty, I’m not worthy, and so we come to Jesus asking forgiveness for all of our sins, faults, flaws, we are in need of forgiveness for being human. The purpose of salvation is the avoidance of hell, we gain entrance into heaven through confession of unworthiness, some even go so far as stating that without salvation we are deserving of eternal damnation. If that isn’t fear-based I don’t know what is.

Studying church history and reading the Bible through the eyes of a loving God I have come to a radically different conclusion than what the church teaches. Man has meddled in the texts that became the sixty-six books we know as the Bible. The meddling, by and large, is a result of man’s insatiable, ego-driven, need to control, the desire for personal power, leading to the development of man-made rules and boundaries not necessarily in line with the mindset of God. The Bible declares that God is love, that He is merciful, slow to anger and quick to forgive, that all are welcome in His kingdom, all are welcome to ask and receive, and yet man has decided that none of that is quite true, making God out to be a liar, a fabricator of half truths that reel us in only to find out that there is a high ladder reaching toward heaven we must climb to be considered worthy. Am I reading it wrong? I don’t think so.

In the beginning God declared all He created “good”, and yet somehow we became fallen, tainted beings, worthy of eternal punishment for being human, for exercising our free will and making a poor, ego-centered decision, in need of being rescued from eternal damnation through a spoken prayer. All who speak the prayer will be saved, but what of those who speak it out of fear, their heart motivation being skewed by the desire to avoid the fires of hell more than establishing a relationship with Jesus?

Rapidly approaching my 60th year on planet earth, well in a few years anyway, I am done with fear-based theology. No longer do I choose to be held captive by man’s hellfire and brimstone teachings, nor do I choose to be elevated above others. That’s the other side of the coin of western fundamental Christianity; those who believe themselves to be the chosen of God, worthy of elevated status by virtue of the Sinner’s prayer, the us/them mentality that looks down on those outside the church walls, those who say they accept and love but judge nonetheless based on their set of standards that are not accepting or loving in the least. What I have chosen is to live a spiritual existence, in communion with God, the Universal Light, the Creator, the label we attach inconsequential; an existence living in communion and seeing others through the eyes of love and not judgment, an existence that acknowledges the worth and value of the whole of creation, not just a select few, on a journey to bring God to those who need to know He is a God of love and mercy, compassion and acceptance, a God who declared His creation good, and still believes in the goodness of all…..