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.

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Love

Lessons from a dog walk…

I was out walking my dog, Tillie, by the lake yesterday morning, as I often do.  And one thing we are working on is her reaction and response to other dogs. Sometimes she walks by perfectly fine – keeping quiet and carrying on… other times she barks loudly at them while wagging her tail like she wants to play… and then there those times that she barks aggressively and pulls at her leash…  As a human, it is often difficult to discern which reaction we’ll get when… or why… but from what I have read, it seems dogs primarily respond aggressively out of fear.

This particular morning, we started out our walk and already the barking and pullingTillie by the lake started.  It made me frustrated and not want to continue the walk. But after pausing at a bench looking out at the lake for a little while and enjoying the stillness of the water, I decided to carry on with the walk.  I was praying about this issue as we walked… and trying to think about it from a spiritual perspective. I realized that for one, I need to forgive Tillie for just being a dog, and not harbor frustration or fear about the situation…but I also have to affirm that Tillie IS a good dog, inherently good and that that is her true nature to be good and live harmoniously with others.

I quietly declared to myself, and sometimes aloud to sweet Tillie, that harmony is a law … it is a law of Divine Love and that it is governing us and all our actions and everyone (and every dog) around us.

Often when we are coming up to another dog, I will give the command to stay quiet.  Sometimes, if it seems necessary, I will ask Tillie to sit and be still, and to stay quiet… and I remind her that she is a good girl.

I was thinking about how these commands we give our pets (and the ones we hear, if we listen, from God)… are firm commands, demonstrating the control and governance of omnipotent Principle… and yet reflect the tender and pure nature of omnipresent Love…  This is what is governing or ruling us and our actions… and our loved ones and everyone…

This particular morning, I was overjoyed that in the second part of our walk after the quiet moment on the bench, she did not bark at a single dog (and there were several on our path)… it was great to see the law of harmony in action… and this joy led to a breakthrough with another situation… which I started to see more clearly from a spiritual perspective.

This past weekend, I acted out of fear and “barked” aggressively and unkindly at someone… and I have been regretting it and feeling terrible about it ever since.  It seemed so much like the unpredictable nature of my dog, who will pass by several dogs calmly and then seemingly out of nowhere will bark aggressively at one coming along…  That was kind of what this was like… I was going along my day with this friend calmly and then seemingly out of nowhere got really upset and said some unkind, and actually untrue things… and by untrue I mean that I accused of them of things that I know in my heart they would never think or do… instead of assuming the best, I assume not just the worst but something so false and out of character of this person, it is rather ridiculous…

Since then I have been in a funk of guilt and shame, regret and remorse… replaying the incident and the various events before and after and trying to figure out how I could have gotten so upset… and envisioning the scenario a thousand different ways that would have turned out so much better if I had acted and spoken differently…

So as I was walking along with Tillie, I started to think about this again… and I so wish I had listened to the angel messages that were likely speaking to me all along but I missed them…  the message that would have been telling me to me to “sit“… or to be still and calm… to “be still and know that I am God”, as it says in Psalms 46:10…  and to get some perspective on the situation to see it for what it was… and knowing that my friend’s intentions are always good and pure and that there is no reason to assume anything less…

Because if I were still, I probably would have had heard the angel message that was likely there telling me to “stay quiet“…  or as the Bible says “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” (James 1: 19)… for “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”  (Prov 17:28)… and “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (Prov 18:13)… well, I was the fool here and have been filled with shame at my folly ever since…

I also wish I had heard the angel message to “be good“…  and to know that I am inherently good…and so is my friend…  that is our true nature, because we are created in the image and likeness of God as it states in Gen 1… and God is all and only good…  as the Bible says “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)… which I take to mean not that you must (or should) be this way, or else… but that you must be that way because God is that way… you couldn’t actually be any other way… because you reflect God, your maker who is perfect and good…   I was also thinking about that command… or that angel message that I missed, to “be good” … to mean it’s all good… it will be fine… don’t worry… but I missed that message and as a result I acted in ways that were less than my best self.

One of my favorite hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal came to mind as I was walking, “Speak gently, it is better far To rule by love than fear”…  and thought about it this way — when we are ruled by Love rather than fear, we do speak gently… we don’t bark aggressively or say unkind things we don’t really mean (and instantly regret)…  it goes on to say “Speak gently, let no harsh word mar The good we may do here.” (Hymn 315)….

I have heard it said that every action or word spoken is either done from love or is a cry for love … or put another way – out of a fear of the loss of love or a sense of lack of love…  With my harsh words, I was acting out of fear, not love, (as apparently my dog does too sometimes)… because of the situation we were in, I became afraid of a potential loss of love or the potential for lack and became overwhelmed by that fear so much that I no longer heard the angel messages that were undoubtedly being sent my way… but this fear is never true or real  because we live in Love… we are never for a moment separated from Love… we are always encircled in ever-present Love… and that is true for every single one of us… And when we are ruled and governed by Love… by Divine Love…so there is no room for fear. “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18)… And when ruled and governed by love, we can speak gently… and be patient and kind with one another… as it says in 1 Cor 13: 4-8

“Love is patient, love is kind. … It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

So, with this lesson, I began to feel uplifted and break out of my seeming funk of regret … knowing that I am governed by Love, not fear… and that I cannot fear a lack or loss of love… because Love, Divine Love, our true source of love is eternal and ever-present… and with that unfailing love we can all abide by the law of harmony that is always at work, and hear those angels messages when they are speaking to us with words of wisdom and tender words reminding us to love and that we are loved… and this love brings healing to any situation.