The other day I made the mistake of reading the comments at the end of an online news article about the effects of corporal punishment. I was shocked at the amount of hatred expressed in these comments. It reminded me once again that there are in fact a number of people in our world who are deeply wounded but are not willing (or able) to see and do the work needed to heal these wounds.
Franklin and I were talking about how much hatred has been expressed in our political world in recent times, and he made the comment to me, “Hatred is a heart problem” (he’s pretty profound, our Franklin).
Hatred is indeed a heart problem. And that will be our topic on Sunday. Special music, including a sweet rendition of “Beautiful,” along with “One Tin Soldier”, will support our theme of the beauty in diversity and the need for us to learn to get along.
We can learn not only to tolerate but actually to CELEBRATE our differences!
I’ve been thinking about all the diverse prayer practices of different spiritual traditions. There are formal ones and informal ones, seasonal ones and daily ones, prayers of thanks, prayers for guidance, prayers of lament, prayers for healing.
There are hundreds and hundreds of books written about prayer, as well as volumes of prayers, including those in various sacred texts.
Unity has no dogma, but out of the four principles it is founded on (the 5th one being a reminder to practice those principles in our daily lives!), one of them is devoted to the power of “affirmative prayer.”
Margaret Silf in The Gift of Prayer says so beautifully:
prayer is itself a journey of discovery,
an experience unique to each one of us,
a personal relationship
with the God beyond our understanding
and the God who dwells in the core of our being,
closer to us than our own heartbeat,
the God our minds can never fathom,
yet our hearts can know.
What is your experience of prayer?
And here is the reading that was shared:
From The Gift of Prayer: Embracing the Sacred in the Everyday
by Margaret Silf
“Prayer is itself a journey of discovery, an experience unique to each one of us, a personal relationship with the God beyond our understanding and the God who dwells in the core of our being, closer to us than our own heartbeat, the God our minds can never fathom, yet our hearts can know. Prayer has a life of its own. If we could define it today, that definition would have moved and changed by tomorrow.
Prayer is a living relationship that can never be pinned down and analyzed; prayer is a breath of the soul that has passed before we can seize hold of it; prayer is a reaching out of all that is deepest within us towards all that lies infinitely beyond and around us. Prayer is not something we do, but a way of living, in growing awareness of the greater reality, in which we live and breathe.”
Last week I happened to glance at a calendar on Grace’s desk that had quotes from Esther and Jerry Hicks on it. That particular day spoke about practicing a “Rampage of Appreciation.” I was really taken by that phrase and have been thinking about it ever since.
As I have explored that idea further, I have come across some really beautiful writings on the topic. G.K. Chesterton said, “The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.”
My parents were really tuned in to that philosophy and taught us a lot about it, for which I am eternally grateful! I also love Barbara Kingsolver’s description of this aspect of her upbringing in High Tide in Tucson:
“My parents taught me this — to gasp, and feel lucky. They gave me the gift of making mountains out of nature’s exquisite molehills. The day I captured and brought home a giant, luminescent green luna moth, they carried on as if it were the hope diamond I’d discovered hanging on a shred of hickory bark.”
May your week be filled with opportunities to “gasp, and feel lucky!”
(I know I feel lucky to get to share time reflecting about these things with you on Sunday. 🙂
Mystics throughout the ages have tried to tell us that “it’s” in every one of us. Wisdom, Divinity, Truth… that spark of knowing.
This week while I am in Garden City, Kansas at my step-son’s wedding, Franklin is going to talk about the process of discovering your source of wisdom, freedom, and creativity. His summary is below.
Wisdom, Freedom, and Creativity
Would you like to be more wise, more free, and more creative? Is there a situation in your life where you’d like to be able to make a clear-headed and well-grounded decision? Are there circumstances in your life in which you’d like to feel free from limitations? Do you wish sometimes that you could find some way to make things better?
Do you know that each of us is an embodiment of an infinite source of wisdom, freedom, and creativity? We are all formless beings experiencing the world of form. Most of the time we’re outwardly focused on the form, while we forget that our being is the space out of which all of that form arises.
As we allow our consciousness to expand into that formless space, we open to receive deeper insights of wisdom, a liberating sense of peace beyond understanding, and the ability to bring into being whatever we can imagine.
Dear Ones –
I’ve been going through a lot of big life transformations lately—moving through divorce, and loss, the terrifying illnesses of loved ones, and outrageous upheavals of emotion—and none of it is easy.
Sometimes our transformations bring out the best in us, and sometimes they do not. When the ground breaks open because of an earthquake, you can be certain that everything—absolutely EVERYTHING—will be upturned, unearthed, or cracked open.
When you get cracked open, you will not always love what you discover about yourself. You wish you were a better person (whatever that means). You wish you had handled this or that crisis with more grace. You wish you were stronger. You wish you were more certain about things. You wish you could go back and have that conversation all over again, and do it more wisely. You wish you were more forgiving. You wish you were more honest. You wish you were less judgmental. You wish you were less emotional. You wish you had figured things out sooner, or better, or smarter. Sometimes, you must face the truth that you have caused pain to yourself. Sometimes you have caused pain to others.
In short: You wish you were different. And wishing that you were different always, always, always hurts.
This is all very natural.
But we can choose in these difficult moments of self-doubt and regret and confusion whether or not we are going to hate ourselves for any of it…or whether we are going to practice self-love.
This is important.
The parts of yourself that you do not love are terribly vital, because they demand that you dig deep—deeper than you ever thought you would have to dig—in order to summon compassion and forgiveness for the struggling human being whom you are.
And until you learn to treat the struggling human being whom you are with a modicum of empathy, tenderness, and love, you will never be able to love anyone or anything with the fullness of your heart…and that would be a great shame. Because this is what we all want, isn’t it? This is what we came here for, right? To learn how to love each other with the fullness of our hearts?
Please know this: Whenever you withhold love from yourself, you are withholding love from the world…period.
We really need you to stop doing that.
The world has enough problems, without you withholding any more love.
Please understand that these difficult parts of yourself (the shameful parts, the regretful parts, and those episodes of your biography that are so spiky and troublesome and contradictory and embarrassing that you simply don’t know what to do with them)…please understand that these difficult parts of yourself are your ultimate teachers in compassion. Those parts of yourself are where you must begin learning how to love.
You guys? This is not a simple or straightforward moment in my life right now. There is a lot to sort through. There are a lot of parts of myself that I must examine now with unflinching honesty, if I am to grow.
I am willing to practice self-honesty. I believe in it, fully.
BUT SELF-HONESTY WITHOUT SELF-LOVE IS NOTHING BUT SELF-ABUSE.
And here is what I am finding, as I age: I simply do not have the stamina for self-abuse anymore. Just can’t do it anymore. I dip into it sometimes for a moment or two, but I can’t stay there—my heart just isn’t in it anymore. I used to be so good at self-hatred and shame! I could attack myself for YEARS—drowning in an endless wave of self-criticism. But I’m out of shape these days, when it comes to self-hatred. I’ve lost that special kind of emotional endurance which is required for nonstop self-degradation and attack. I can’t do that to anyone else, and I can’t do it to myself, either. Too much practice in empathy and too many years of tenderness have ruined my chances to collapse ever again into the job of full-time shame.
I have loved all the hatred for myself out of myself.
(Well. Mostly, anyhow.)
And so now, when I suffer and struggle, I ask myself, “What part of you is hurting, Liz, and how we can love it—even as you are hurting?”
We must begin there—with the parts that we do not love.
This doesn’t mean being complacent. This doesn’t mean living in denial. This doesn’t mean that I have stopped trying to grow and transform. This doesn’t mean that I am excused from being self-accountable. This doesn’t mean burying my head in the sand, or telling myself lies. It just means: There is no part of myself anymore that I do not believe is deserving of love.
And that’s good news.
Because the only way I’m ever going to learn how to love any of you beautiful freaks—by which I mean all 7 billion of you gorgeous, unpredictable, troubled, weird, contradictory, struggling, devastatingly inspiring, broken, and perfect humans with whom I share this difficult planet—is if I can learn how to love my own freaky-ass self, too.
If I can accept me, Dear Ones, I can accept anyone.
So this is where we shall begin.
Be good to yourselves, my loves—today, and all days.
It’s all gonna be OK.