God, grace, Love

The journey begins with lessons on love

I’m on a journey for a few months to take my healing practice on the road… it has felt like an inspired idea, but for a while I didn’t know the “why” of it all… but I realized just before leaving and embarking on this adventure that the “why” of this journey is simply the “why” of life in general… our entire purpose… to learn more about God / Love… to learn more about grace… to learn to express more love… to live love more abundantly, more generously, more selflessly… 

I’m currently in Virginia just outside of Washington DC, my former home for 13 years… after an awesome stop in Pittsburgh with a dear old friend… My favorite thing so far about this trip is hearing what is inspiring others and sharing ideas about the power of love to bring healing to our lives…

My sweet dog Tillie and I left a few days ago, departing St. Louis, MO at 5am… and we drove through IL, IN, OH, WV, PA, MD, VA and DC… we will be venturing to NJ, NY, MA in the coming weeks/months… 

And despite the past few absolutely incredible few days of reunions with friends, lots of times for reflection… incredible inspiration from art, nature and community…  despite all of that, I just had a moment, where I felt super lonely and alone.  

But it only lasted a brief moment… because I remembered something a good friend recently told me… we were talking a few weeks ago and I had left him a message that I was feeling on top of the world, so alive and filled with love because I was having fun sharing love with friends and community members … and then two hours later I was in a funk and reached out to him for help getting out of it.  He laughed and said – “What changed in 2 hours??  You literally left me a message 2 hours ago about all the good you’re doing and experiencing and all the love you’re sharing…. What changed in 2 hours?!” Well… nothing.  Nothing had changed… I laughed because I could see what he was saying.  He was not being insensitive… he was helping me see that I was and always had been the loved of Love… both the recipient and the expression of Love itself… and nothing had or could ever change that fact. Nothing can ever separate us for a moment from Divine Love.

So I recalled this conversation just now as I started feeling a bit low…and snapped out of it in a matter of seconds…   because 3 hours ago I was sharing with a friend with whom I was visiting that I’m so in my element on this divinely directed journey, sharing love and exploring ideas about healing and the power of Love with friends, sharing a meal… exploring a city I love and seeing the many, many diverse expressions of beauty and soul… from festivals on busy streets to drum circles and jams sessions and yoga classes in one of my favorite parks to people play chess listening to jazz and smiles of passers by…It was an incredible day filled with abundant good!!!

I realized that like my friend had pointed out in the first instance… that is how it is… call it evil, the devil, error, mortal thought…  whatever… it tempts us to feel down… suggests that we are not whole and complete, but rather lacking or missing someone or something… tempts us to compare ourselves with others on social media… or to where society says we “should” be…  but we don’t have to buy it…  and when we pause for a moment and instead fill our thought with gratitude for the good that is present… for the love that is present… for the generosity of spirit that is present… the seeming lack is minimized until it is nothing… when we realized that nothing has actually changed…that we are and always have been the loved of Love… and that it was merely a suggestion of a thought of lack which we can know t doesn’t need to cloud our thought … We can continue to basque in the goodness and the grace of unconditional, every present Love.

I’m so grateful for these moments of learning and growth and recognition of the abundant good and grace of the Divine.  That is what this journey is about… Learning about love… as my favorite author, Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures – Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. (page 494)

That is so true… Love is ever-present… we just get to tune into it! It will meet each and every need…

More on this journey and the inspiration and lessons to come…

humility

A lesson in humility

I recently attended an interfaith dialogue meeting and it was my first time joining this particular group.  During the discussion, a gentleman who had an unwelcoming experience at a Christian church in his youth had found another faith, but it seemed the experience left him a bit embittered.  He pointed out a story in the Bible about Jesus, that in this man’s telling of it, made Jesus seem like not a very nice guy.  However, the man only told part of the story and seemed to leave out the most important part about healing that comes at the end.  This is the story depicted in the book of Matthew, Chapter 15. Jesus was approached by a Canaanite woman requesting that he heal her daughter who was mentally ill.  At first Jesus didn’t respond and the disciples asked him to send her away.  After the woman pleads with him, he does respond to say “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  This is where this man in the meeting I was attending ended the story to demonstrate his point that Jesus was not the compassionate, merciful savior that Christians believe him to be.  

However, I was grateful that another attendee pointed out, that this is not where the story ends. Jesus does ultimately heal the daughter. And yet another attendee stated, that the woman corrected Jesus and he took the correction and then healed her. This gave me a lot to ponder.   

First of all, I found myself taking offence at this gentleman’s telling of the story.  But then when I thought about it more later, I recognized, that actually this story had always bothered me too.  I knew Jesus healed the woman’s daughter, but I was always bothered that he spoke to her the way he had, because it seemed very … well, un-Jesus-like or un-Christ-like.  However, I really appreciated hearing the perspective that Jesus took the correction and changed his approach.  It got me thinking.  What humility that must have taken to stand corrected, and not only that but in that very same moment to turn around and express that much mercy, compassion and love as to heal.  I know humility can actually be one of the greatest qualities of a true leader and I know Jesus to be a humble servant of God, but this was a new form of humility I had not recognized in him before.  

I started to think, am I that humble?  When someone corrects me, do I take the correction?  And even more, do I take it and then turn around and change my behavior and respond with mercy, compassion and love in that very moment?  Or do I stew on it for a while – hours, weeks, months – starting with self-justification for why I said or did what I said or did, and then moving on to perhaps realizing I was wrong and then feeling embarrassed, ashamed or guilty, or do I then worry about what the other person must think of me and rehearse the situation and think of all the ways I could have responded better and start berating myself for being so foolish or mean or whatever it seemed I was in that moment.  

So thinking about how I might normally deal with being corrected, I began to be in awe of Jesus’ capacity for humility, grace and compassion.  I also love that not only did he take the correction, but was then able to bring healing to the entire situation in that very moment.  I am so grateful for this lesson in humility.  

I learned a few other lessons with this situation in this meeting… about making sure we get the whole story before we pass judgment, about loving our neighbor as ourself, and about forgiveness… check out future blogs for those lessons.   

grace

How many different ways can we be tricked?

Recently I was out walking the dog around the pond by apartment.  It had been very cold, and just the night before we had a light dusting of snow.  It was a beautiful morning, but the snow covered some icy patches on the path making them hard to see.  My dog started to slide around, and noticing this, I thought I would be safe by walking in the grass.  However, for some reason there was a huge sheet of ice that not only covered the path but the grass around it.  Next thing I know, I was on the ground.  

At this point, I’d love to say that my first thought was turning to God to know that I was safe, as ever, in Love’s warm embrace.  But that’s not what happened.  First I stood up, frustrate, even angry and check to see if I was hurt.  Nothing seemed to be too sore, other than my ego. But then my thought went to self-righteous anger at the apartment management company for not salting the path.  I thought about how I should march right into the office to tell them I had fallen and was hurt… but was I?  I checked again… not really.  Well, I could have gotten hurt, that’s what I’d say… but could I?  

Well, some might say, yes, of course you could have been seriously hurt, that’s so dangerous, they should do better.  But when I think about this through the lens of Divine Science, I know that the truth of my being as God’s perfect creation is perfection, wholeness.  Right then I started to check my thought and recognize that from God’s point of view, I could never fall from grace.  I could never lack grace – both in the sense of being graceful, and in the sense of abundant goodness, kindness and blessing poured forth from the Divine.  

In one of my favorite books, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way, “When speaking of God’s children, not the children of men, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you;” that is, Truth and Love reign in the real man, showing that man in God’s image is unfallen and eternal.”  (SH 476:28–32) She also speaks of man as “unfallen, upright, pure, and free”.  (SH 171:4) So, I knew I could see my self as unfallen and free.  

I started, however, to get back to my thinking about the management company and how I should give them a piece of my mind… if not for myself, for others.  What if someone else fell and got injured?  But, if God’s man can never fall from grace, doesn’t that also cover my neighbors?  It’s not to say that it’s not right to take actions that are practical and wise to keep people safe, but I had to check my motives here.  Because really, it seemed like I was looking for any excuse to justify my anger and frustration.  And the more I got angry, and rehearsed what I might tell the management company the more my shoulder began to ache.  

Well, that’s ridiculous I thought.  Why am I letting my thought get so spun up here?  I know the truth about my being and I began to hold more closely to that idea that if I couldn’t fall from grace, my thought couldn’t be filled with anything but grace.  

Later that evening, my friend came over for dinner.  I had been still dealing with some soreness in my shoulder and was feeling a bit sorry for myself.  I told my friend I had fallen on the ice.  His response… “Cool!” 

Well, here comes that anger and frustration again…  How could he say that?   But this time, I caught myself more quickly. What did I really want his response to be?  Was I looking for pity?  That’s not me!  I’m not pitiful… 

I recognized this thought was just another trick to get me to give into this story that I could fall from grace.  But no! Not a fall, not self-righteous indignation, not self-pity could keep me from experiencing God’s unending, ever-present, abundance grace and goodness!!  Enough was enough!  I would not be tricked…    And recognizing this, I felt the power behind Mrs. Eddy’s statement, “Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means and methods.” (SH 67:23)  

That night I went to bed feeling at peace and woke up perfectly well.