Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Lenten Journey: Resurrection is Only The Beginning

For me the resurrection story is all about "Don't Be Afraid" begin anew.

I remember many years ago while I was a college student. I gotten a scholarship award and needed to get to New York City to receive it.  My dear dear Uncle Lonnie (now deceased) drove down from New Brunswick, MA to bring me.  We missed the ceremony...we were dreadfully late.  I was in tears. I felt let down.  And he said to me: There is no such thing as the end...nothing is final, unless you want it to be.

He was right. My not getting there didn't not mean I wasn't getting the scholarship. It just meant I missed the award ceremony. His words have stayed with me... nothing is final. That is the Christ story. We all have the ability for the COMEBACK!

The moment I said I wanted to live, be, do, love, act, sing, celebrate a different way... My resurrection story began. The moment we are ready to change, shift, meta morph, the universe meets us and takes our heart's desires that were spoken aloud and works to make our dreams come true. The Easter Sermon this morning given by my minister Reverend Dr. Stackhouse was about being "OPEN" The key: Don't Be Afraid. "Don't Be Afraid". It was so clear and so profound and so divine YES! "Don't Be AFRAID"

Everything up to this moment has been propelling me to a high calling... to leave the ease of a mediocre life by the wayside. I hear that so loud and clear that I ache! Resurrection right now. Change right now. Be different and glorious right now.

For all of my life I have heard God. For all of my life I could feel the hand of God directing, comforting, protecting. I spent a great deal of time running and avoiding and trying to hide. Dying each time I failed. Dying each time I lost some material possession. None of that actually killed me. None of it.  And here I am staging a comeback. Recreating who I am... resurrecting a new life with new hopes and dreams and desires and wishes.

Transition is resurrection. Divorce is resurrection. Serving prison time is resurrection. Starting a new job is resurrection. Adopting children is resurrection. We get to begin anew and there is no stature of limitations on that.  Resurrection depends on our strength to step into the faith stream of God. Resurrection is only the beginning.  If you chose a fresh path... A new way of living, then life presents you a clean slate, a blank canvass. It is yours.  The strength is tested when those around you will do whatever they can to drag you back to who you were... refusing to see or accept the You you have become. And that is where the lesser story become the prevailing story. So rather than fight for the bigger story, so many just surrender to the lesser story and everyone is happy. That is my experience. Now that I am determined to move in the direction of my call, I see and experience the back slap... the discomfort, the projection of pain and fear. I experience the insults of folks who don't dig my shine... Always questioning Who does she think she is?

I am the the child of the most high. I've fallen and I am getting back up!  I am lifted on gossamer wings.  I am so bright that shades may not be enough for you  Buckle up... Strap in.  My resurrection story is just beginning and baby it's going to be a heaven of a ride!  I promise.

My Lenten Journey comes to an illuminating end. It has been wonderful.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Lenten Journey: I Will Stop Living My Lesser Story

I have been thinking about a piece I read at Relevant magazine online "Are You Called To Create" an interview with author Erwin McManus, "The Artisan Soul"

This simple quote excited me out of my skin: 


Wherever you are in your, relationships use that as a platform to build a better life. I understand this and I feel it deeply in my heart. Since I began paying attention to the Season of Lent I always felt the strong connection of creativity and spirituality.

I am more my creative self now than ever before. I decided to tell myself, yes I am a creative person. In this new found discovery of creativity I feel more Christian than I ever felt before. This allows for a grander life story.

The lesser story has always been all the pain and misery taking center stage.  And whatever success (good things, happy things, good times) were quickly swept to the background because there was this sense of not seeing the good things as the reality. That those good things were happenstance.  That the lesser story was the "real" story.  This creative spirit begged the questions... why can't this be the "real" story?  Why can't the creative spirit take center stage and shine? God dwells there happily why can't I ? Christ was quite creative in sharing the good news. As I moved through my days with these questions, the creative spirit began connecting with the spiritual awakening and soon I began to believe that I am indeed a creative person. A lover of art and beauty. I see God's creativity and love for beauty in nature and in me.

Holy week is here, Palm Sunday is today and while my children are in church, I am home dealing with an emergency plumbing situation. As I sit and wait while the plumbing issue is being solved and repaired, I can see the beauty of the day out of my window while listening to John Coltrane's Giant Steps waft through the house. God is here with me. I feel the creative spirit wed to the divine. It is indeed time to stop living my lesser story and go for the bold, grand, story of how with God's care I created a bigger story... A creative, spiritually rooted story of love.

It’s astonishing to me that we have allowed people to take the Bible and turn it into a manuscript of conformity when it’s really a manifesto of creativity.
It’s astonishing to me that we have allowed people to take the Bible and turn it into a manuscript of conformity when it’s really a manifesto of creativity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Lenten Journey: My Prickly Spirit

I've been prickly. As in every little thing said to me is irritating me. I am easily pissed off.  I am moody and distracted and worrisome. I am impatient. I am quick to anger and wrath. And I am constantly hungry.

I am prickly.

How do I know? Well, when I am directed about being still, I see it for what it is.  Silence and stillness is illuminating... I see where the weak spots are. I see why I am so prickly. The doubts are slipping in and my gaze has slipped away from God. There are moments when I think I must do the saving and the fixing. I lost sight of God having my back. And that is where the prickly enters. I am doing too much and getting overwhelmed in the process.  I am treading into dangerous waters and I just keep fighting against the tide.

Losing sight of God and doubting the universe's commitment to work out things on my behalf causes me to be prickly. It is a level of selfishness that serves no one... not even me.  When I am so focused on my own lack, I miss turning my attention to the suffering of the world.  I put my own shit first, as if my shit is the only shit worth considering.  It is not.  I am prickly because I am anxious... I can't see the end game.  I can't see where this will go. I am living in the next moment and bypassing the present moment.

This is the heart of the prickly-ness... trying to get to the future while deliberately ignoring the present. Damn it, how did I get caught up in doing this? Ahhh, I took my gaze off God. I allowed doubt and fear to slip in and run amuck.  As I dig deeper, I can see where I can feel like I am not doing enough.  Worrying and wrangling my hands makes me feel like I am serious and doing something. To not worry, to move in my life as if my problems are handled seems like carelessness.  And therein lies the rub... the false sense of worrying as a solution. If I act desperate and sad, then I must be working on a solution? NO NO NO NO!

This thinking is trapping me into sadness and despair. I prefer happiness.  I prefer joy. So why would I turn around and allow myself to get wrapped up in a prickly spirit? BECAUSE I AM AFRAID THAT THINGS WON'T WORK OUT AND I'LL SUFFER AND MY CHILDREN WILL SUFFER AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

And that my friends is my deepest fear. The thing that scares me. And yet deeper still is this sense that all shall be well... it already is.  And that my life as a point of reference, clearly shows me where nothing was so bad that it killed me, or that I couldn't recover. As a matter of fact, I have thrived.

So perhaps this is the eulogy for the prickly spirit. Another fear is laid to rest. I can go on enjoying my life without shame, guilt and self sabotage. I deserve all the happiness I can hold in my heart. I believe that and I must live it as my ministry.

The prickly spirit is the manifestation of my fears... of not being in control of my future.  But really it simply calls me to be present in this moment and to let go of trying to be here and there at the same time.

Lesson learned. Path illuming.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Lenten Journey: Persevere, Perservere. Love and Laugh. Rejoice.

"When Climbing a steep hill a person is often more conscious of the weakness of their stumbling feet than of the view, the grandeur, or even of their own upward progress. Persevere, persevere. Love and laugh. Rejoice....excerpt from March 31, Love's Offering, GOD Calling Journal

The challenge is always for me not to be so focused on the struggle that I miss the view.  That life is unfolding no matter what is happening both chaotic and serene. God waits for me to come and seek him.  To listen. To pray.  To meet God in silence. In that silence I am reminded that looking inward is not just closing one's eyes, but noticing the inner movement of God as I admire the roses... and the lilies of the field. I have come to realize that closing my eyes isn't what's always needed. Sometimes it's taking a deep breath on a busy street corner and noticing Christ in all that walk past me. There is so much beauty moving in the world.  I see the beauty of people and places that I often miss if I am not deliberately seeking to notice GOD.

God shows up more in my laughter. God shows up happy when I am rejoicing in the ordinary and mundane. God shows up as I show up in whatever state of mind I am in... God meets me there. And lately I've grown tired of showing up for GOD sad, destructive, defeated, angry, hurt, mean, desperate and guilty and ashamed. I am leaving the bulk of that mess on the side of the road... too heavy to carry any further. In laying down those burdens.  I am actively seeking joyous, spirited, abundant interactions with GOD. The inner movements call me to be grateful for the breath I take. I've squandered too many breaths on meaningless foolishness that didn't serve me or God. I am choosing Joy. It suits me. Happiness and love and laughter are at my core and that is where I want to dwell.

Even my prayers will reflect my joy... not begging and desperate and fevered. Prayers of gratitude for undeserved grace. Prayers for the world, my circle of friends and family and for strangers.

I am entering into my era of love and laughter. Rejoicing!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Lenten Journey: Stop Asking For Permission

I am noticing that when I am fully paying attention to my life, I can see where I have stopped myself from walking out on faith merely because I didn't get the permission I was seeking to do so. What? Who's permission do I need? Exactly.  That is the answer. I don't need anyone's permission to create and live the life of my dreams.

And yet... permission was sought...without even realizing I was seeking permission.  Permission seeking looks like fear.  Permission seeking looks like making everyone around you comfortable with your decision to move forward. Permission seeking looks like going back and forth with a decision that you already have the answer to. Permission seeking looks like indecision, doubt, and scarcity.

I never felt as though I didn't have the permission to move forward.  But in reality I sought the permission of of my audience... not my close friends and life cheerleaders.  I wanted permission outside of my circle. I wanted a seal of approval to validate and give me legitimacy. What will "they" think? What will "they" say?

I know better now.  But there are moments when I play to the audience without realizing it. In those moments I have to redirect my energy.  God has granted permission to every good positive thing that works to my benefit. The minute permission seeking shows up, I immediately get to my questions... What am I afraid of?  What is at the heart of this fear? I feel my way through the questions to get to the heart of the matter.

In the end, the only opinion that matters is mine. I have to stand in my courage to believe that I know what is best for myself moving forward.  My intellect, emotional maturity and spiritual growth are amazing tools to create and execute a plan that brings me to the life of my dreams.

I give myself permission to dream, to ponder, to fail, to succeed, to try again, and try again some more. The permission I seek is a smoke screen, a mask, an illusion. Seeking permission is really code for fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The work continues. Prayers open me to share this with God. This Lenten Journey is very much about getting my spiritual garden ready... turning the soul, like soil, over for new plantings.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Lenten Journey: Sirens

Everyday since last year, each time I drove somewhere I would experience a siren.  A siren... an ambulance, firetruck, police car, EMTs. Sirens.  Sometimes a few times a day. Every day. Now at first I thought, OK I live in a city of course there will be sirens all the time. No big deal.  No big whoop.

I would pray each time a siren passed me by... dear God take care of the rescued and take care of the folks doing the rescuing, amen. After awhile I began to get annoyed, the sirens seemed endless, it just felt so frequent... like all the time!. I took it all so personal without understanding or knowing why.

I happened upon a passage somewhere in a book or maybe a magazine (escapes my memory) the author said she began to experience sirens as a metaphor for her life.  God was speaking. That once she started paying attention and tending to her life. her life changed for the better.

And so I started to notice... the sirens were alerting me to what was happening in my life.  My life was trying to get my attention.  God was speaking.  The sirens were clues.

 I began to understand that it wasn't prayers for others I needed, but prayers for myself. I needed deeply selfish prayers... asking God to direct me. And if that wasn't enough.  I recently came across a piece posted on Facebook about the 22 Habits of Unhappy People.  It was profoundly sobering and accurate and sad. And so dead on for me. Not all 22 habits but enough of them to sit me down in prayer.

So all of this together in my life forces me to confront what I am seeing and experiencing, that I am not dealing with my unhappiness, that I can and must make some big changes and that I must be kinder and gentler to myself. The beginning of the Lenten Season got me refocused and recommitted to examining and changing things in my life. Here I am making sweeping changes yet again. The man I thought I'd build a family with left at my insistence, I bought a new car---it's been 7 years since I had a new car (used---new to me), I am reconnecting with community in a public way. I am looking at how to best grow and nurture my ministry. And of course the issues of weight and a real commitment to fitness.

Last week I noticed for the first time in a long time, I did not experience any sirens and the one siren I did encounter was driving away from me.  Thank you God, I feel as though I am turning a corner. Oh there is so much to do and achieve and accomplish and do. But the lessening of the sirens is a sign that I am moving in the right direction. I gotta deal with the sadness that I have been living with for all of my life. I have managed the sadness like a chronic disease... now it is time to cure it.  Or at best manage it so that there are next to no traces of it left in my blood stream.

This Season of Lent is truly one of renewal and wonderment and preparation. I am living my resurrection story with each breath I greet the new day with. I am the holy one and the holy one dwells within. A new plan of action emerges. I am ready

I am ready. Even if I am not... I am.  My life has been preparing the way thus far, even in my resistance and disbelief. The sirens weren't warnings... they are clues and guideposts to pay attention.  To notice where God was directing. My pain and sadness is not with the world. It has always been internal... with me.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Lenten Journey: Choosing To Be A Beautiful Woman

“A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.”
Jacqueline Bisset

Being deliberate about Lent and the discipline of fasting, I am gaining a greater awareness of moving through my life with more ease and joy.  I was all primed to post about a conversation with someone I just ended a relationship with.  The conversation got under my skin... so much so that I had to call my Sister Lo and talk it out with her.  She said You can't be with some who calls for you to lose your vibrancy. If you have to change who you are in order to be with them, then who are you? She is without a doubt right. I was spending my time trying to find some truth in the criticisms hurled at me on a daily basis, rather than examining the source and trusting my own self. Then I stumbled upon the quote by Jacqueline Bisset... and just like that I understood.  God was not criticizing me. As a matter of fact God was waiting for me to get a clue and move on from foolishness and mess.

God reminded me that I live and conduct my life in such a way, that I look for the magic and miracles all the time.  I am not driven by fortune or fame.  I am however striving to be authentic and true to my own heart.  I want to convey that to my children.  Discipline yes, fortitude, integrity yes! Don't be afraid to go beyond what you think your limits are, but do not hold to rules, people, or out-dated ideas that constrain you... make your bed most of the time, eat well all of the time.  Be kind. Never let anyone tell you when the right time is... the right time to do anything is now.  If you can dream it you can do it.  Never take advice from people who criticize you. And keep the faith.

So here I am choosing to be a beautiful woman. I am not allowing the world and the people in it to determine my worth.  I have unimaginable courage, I am no longer telling myself I am not disciplined. I am resilient, and regardless of my past, I have integrity. My circle of friends, men and women alike reflect all that I hope to be and all that I am.  Fakes and counterfeits who have used me have left the building, left my circle.  I am grateful for their lessons, they have given me more tools for the journey ahead.  In choosing to be a beautiful woman I am standing in my truth.  I am celebrating my breath and I am honored for the responsibility of this life.