be still, understanding, Understanding the Divine

Leave the rumination to the cows…

Do you ever get stuck mulling over an idea imagining how it could play out in all the different ways… or replaying a conversation and thinking of all the ways you could have responded better?  When making a decision do you think about each option to the nth degree of all the pros and cons, shoulds and shouldn’ts…. ?

10917429_10152867405261195_383835598213814307_nSometimes when I find myself doing this, it almost feels like I’m not in control of my own
thought… I just keep turning it over and over… thinking and thinking… or ruminating on it. Rumination is a term used for cows and other ruminant animals such as sheep, goats, water buffalo, dear, elk, giraffes and camels.  These animals all have a different way to digest food than we do as humans… they have four stomachs and can store food so they can come back to it later to chew on it again… it’s called chewing the cud.

This is what we do with thoughts or ideas when we ruminate on them…  They come back to us over and over to keep thinking about or wrestle with…

So, how do we stop this cycle?  I have found a couple of ideas helpful in these situations. 1424359_10151969692561195_895510265_n One idea is what I believe is one of Mary Baker Eddy’s greatest contributions to understanding the concept of God better.  She gives several synonyms for God that are Bible based – one is Mind.  Divine Mind. Now, it doesn’t state God is Mind in the Bible, like it says “God is Love”(John 4:8) or “God is Spirit” (John 4:24)… but God is referred to as embodying many several attributes of Mind such as all-knowing, wise and possessing infinite understanding, and having good counsel and righteous judgment (or discernment).

Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?  (Isaiah 40:13-14)

He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. (Psalm 147:4-5)

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the lord, or who became his counselor? (Romans 11:33-34)

For who has known the mind of the lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Given that God is Mind, possessing wisdom and knowledge and infinite understanding means that we, as His/Her reflection, created in His/Her image and likeness (Gen 1:27) – we can know all that we need to about any situation if we listen for that Divine guidance of the all-knowing, and know that understanding is an inherent quality/ability within us as reflections of Mind.

How do we listen when our mind is spinning in circles of rumination?  Just as Jesus was 58 Kenya - Nairobi - Giraffe park - feeding Daisy 3able to still the storm when out on the boat with the disciples (see Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41), we can still the storms of thought by knowing God as Mind and knowing that we reflect and express the qualities of Mind.  Can you imagine God as ruminating or having a storm of thoughts, or does God have peace of mind?  As Mind’s reflection, we can and do express that same peace.  I find it helpful to turn to Bible passages such as Psalms 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”.  I love breaking down that quote – Be still and know that I am God… Be still and know… Be still… Be.

So, next time you’re caught up chewing the cud, or mulling over some thought again and again…. Remember – leave the ruminating to the cows… and be still.

10402459_10152867405206195_8692103150775331554_n

 

 

Soul, Spirit, Understanding the Divine

“Roots hold me close; wings set me free”

IMG_0330Yesterday as I was sitting by the lake with my dog on this chilly, but sunny fall day with the wind blowing through the few trees surrounding us and casting ripples upon the water, I was reminded of a favorite poem or hymn from the Unitarian faith tradition, “Spirit of Life” by Carolyn McDade.

Spirit of Life, come unto me.

Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.

Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;

Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.

Roots hold me close; wings set me free;

Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

I got to thinking especially about the line “Roots hold me close; wings set me free…” and it led me to think about two of the synonyms that Mary Baker Eddy, discover and founder of Christian Science, uses to describe God in her seminal work Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures – Soul and Spirit.

God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.[1]

I’ve found over the years of studying this text and Eddy’s definition of God, that Soul and Spirit were at first the most difficult for me to grasp.  But since getting a clearer sense of those words, their meaning and how they apply to my life and being – as the image and likeness of God as described in Genesis in the Bible – I have found them to be two of my favorite synonyms to pray with, as I continue to learn more about God and my relationship with God in my daily life.

I love to think about Soul as the roots that “hold me close”… some of the attributes of Soul that we express as the reflection of Soul are strengths,depth, resilience, power, dominion, abundance, richness, uniqueness…  I see Soul as the source of my strength, what keeps me and my life grounded and “rooted”… It also feeds more with abundant goodness and richness, color and flavor and culture… much like a root system feeds a tree and holds it to the earth… providing stability and resources.  When I think of a soulful person, I think of someone who is rooted and has real depth and the strength and resilience to get through things, even when it doesn’t seem humanly possible.  I think of someone with the unique individuality and a richness and vibrancy, like a painting with bold colors, which makes you pause and ponder… or a piece of music that you can feel at the deepest reaches of your being and has the power to move or inspire you.

 

I love to think about Spirit as the wings that “set me free”… I think of someone who is spirited, or we may say “she has spirit”… that quality of enthusiasm, joy, life, light… a serene sense of peace… a pure sense of joy… radiance…   Spirit is what lifts me up and causes me to soar above the seeming drama and darkness of the day… it is what bring a sense of freshness and newness to life.  It is what allows us to delight in the beauty around us… in the simple joys and pleasures of a playful puppy, a cheerful child, or a budding bloom…it’s that Spirit of Life, as the song states…

 

So as you go about your day today… perhaps you can find ways to connect to a deeper and higher sense of the Divine as Soul… and as Spirit.

 

[1] Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 587

About the photos:

Baobab trees have resilient root systems (photo taken in South Luangwa, Zambia)

The Albatross has a wingspan of up to 3.5 meters or 11.5 feet!! (photo taken off the coast of Dunedin, New Zealand)