One: Separation

creative, separation, contemplation, love, harmony, one

“Irenaeus (130-202) intuited … that to neutralize matter, to teach that creation does not come from holy substance, would lead to the abuse of creation. [creation ex nihilo, creation out of nothing] was a convenient “truth” . . . [meaning] … Matter was not holy. … It was essentially devoid of sacred energy. So, every imperial mind could ravage the earth’s resources with impunity. … Religion had become the accomplice of the state’s subordination of the earth. It had sanctioned the separation of spirit and matter.” John Philip Newel, “Irenaeus of Lyons: The Early Church Fathers”, pg 150

Separation allows accusation

When there is tension in the air and as the situation destabilizes, human beings tend to separate into camps of belonging, accusing the other of all wrongs. We see it all around us today. Separation allows us to ignore the marginalized, the ostracized, the abandoned. Blame easily focuses on the other when we feel superior. This notion of separation has allowed us to wage war for millennia.

Everything is one

On the other hand, should we embrace the notion that everything created is from the very being of God, everything fashioned from love with love, there can be no separation. We are all of one substance. Our beingness becomes one with the Creator and the only way life works is within the parameters of its foundation: Love.

Enter into nature

Leaving the plastic behind we need to fall in love with a blade of grass, a pebble, a puddle. The following is a suggestion taken from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations for yesterday.

I encourage each of you: Go to a place in nature where you can walk freely and alone. …Begin your wandering by finding a threshold (perhaps an arched branch overhead or a narrow passage between rocks). Here offer a voiced prayer of your intention and desire for this time. Step across the threshold quite deliberately and, on this side of your sacred boundary, speak no words, but watch and listen for God’s presence.

Let the land, plants, and creatures lead your feet and eyes. Let yourself be drawn, rather than walking with a destination or purpose in mind. If you are called to a particular place or thing, stop and be still, letting yourself be known and know, through silent communion with the Other. Before you leave, offer some gesture or token of gratitude for the gift nature has given you.

When it is time to return to the human world, find your threshold again and cross over—and now you have learned to watch for God in all things.

Time for harmony

With a little openness we might re-establish the long lost symmetry between matter and spirit. Separation is a lie, a convenient fiction enabling greed, exploitation and scapegoating. It is time to become one in harmony and balance. Life is good.

 

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One: Other

other, war, reconciliation, forgiveness

During a workshop this weekend my husband and I watched a film produced by Adyan, an agency in Lebanon promoting peace. Its topic concerned the alienation of the Other. As long as we can consider our enemy as separate and different we can kill with impunity.

The Other

The theme continued in our choice of what we thought would be an amusing relaxation. We chose a Hollywood production about an extra-terrestrial invasion. The enemy soon carried the title of the “Others”. Very appropriate. It justified the violence perpetrated by one against the other.

Separation is illusion

Separation is an illusion. The lie permits us all kinds of atrocities. Our society insists on independence therefore fostering isolation. Isolation creates strangers and strangers are other, a growing number of lonely people.

Reconciliation

The two men in the Adyan film, one Christian and the other Muslim, believed they worshipped separate gods. Each having “God on their side”, they proceeded to destroy vast numbers of their countrymen as they led their individual militia in a bloody civil war aiming to make their home a better place in which to live. Following a failed peace treaty each was forced to take up residence in the others’ neighbourhood and a change of heart began to take form. The two became fast friends wondering how they could have easily killed each other a few years before.

God is one

The transformation took place as a result of an act of love. Having joined group fostering reconciliation one of the leaders eventually wrote a letter published in a local paper where he admitted his culpability and asked for forgiveness. The human heart is slow to believe, to forgive, to yield. The process takes years. Through those many years the two men discovered their God is one.

Formed in love

Our universe is founded on love. This foundation requires love as the only effective method for establishing lasting peace. Consequently love is what will heal our population and our planet. As for extra-terrestrials, should they exist, God used the same foundation. Other is only different and an invitation to discover new ideas, new ways to worship, new forms of love. All is well and all will be well. Life is good. 

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One: Becoming Whole

blog, becoming, whole, healing, love

“Personal transformation and social transformation are one piece. . . .

The true spiritual quest is not that I become whole. Informed by the belief that the world is birthed by God and is precious and sacred and one, the true spiritual quest is that the world become whole—and we along with it.” Jack Jezreel quoted in Daily Meditations 8 July 2017

Becoming whole is not about me…

Becoming whole. To begin with I thought it was all about me. I needed fixing. Many seminars, retreats and expense finally brought me to the conclusion that my attitude remained in my court. It is a choice. I have choice. Always. Shifting from the negative into the positive is not an instant exercise.

Healing is dissolving into the whole

As I said, I thought it was all about me. The more I discovered about myself, the wider my field of vision broadened. “Me” moved further and further from centre stage. In fact, I found that healing is about dissolving into a union with the whole of creation, becoming one with God.

The dance

So far I have not made much progress… Awareness is the first step in the process of change and I am aware, sometimes. In my aware moments I relax and flow, enjoying the ride and stopping to smell the flowers. The universe lifts from my shoulders and I enter the dance to which she calls me. It feels complete, peaceful, abundant.

A rushed weekend

The dance faltered this weekend. We just came back from our once-per-year family camping trip. It felt rushed. The schedules had collided, time compressed and we enjoyed separate togetherness. Busyness does that. We become compartmentalized, isolated in our various activities. Another obligation completed.

Becoming whole

Becoming whole involves everyone and it cannot be accomplished separately. Time is an essential ingredient. Letting go of our ordinary responsibilities to build relationship and discover who we are as a family lays the foundation for world peace. Love smooths the ride. Without love others never meet expectations.

Releasing expectations

Expectations tend to mire the waters. One person asked how she might cope with her growing irritation. I suggested loving the person and letting go of how she might help improve things. Loving without conditions, loving the person just as he or she is, that is healing. Love heals the deepest wounds if we choose to release our expectations to the universe.

Learning to love

So becoming whole means learning to love, joining hands with those who irritate us, forgiving and moving forward. This action heals us, everyone around us and will eventually bring the whole world into paradise. Let us begin today.

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One: Doubt

Doubt, blog, faith, love

Doubt is part of living a life of faith. As an artist, I am quasi sure I am called to be artist. There are days when I am certain and days of complete insecurity. On those days, I paint anyway.

Recipe for depression

Occasionally I do not pick up the brush and I have found it is a recipe for depression. Paint, creative enterprise of some kind, is as necessary as air. Lately, I have filled the void with commission work for lack of inspiration. Now that paid creativity has terminated, my muse turns to prepared canvases waiting in the wings. They all wear lovely, awesome surfaces.

The questions

And the question arises once more: why? Am I wasting my time? To what purpose? Is this really what God wants me to do?

Doubt and disorientation

Doubt, destroyer of confidence and dismemberer of dreams visits on occasions of disorientation. The fog is too thick to see where the next step will bring me.

An uncomfortable companion

People of all faiths suffer from doubt. This uncomfortable companion reminds us of our limitations and lack of control. We prefer certitudes. I do. I would much prefer knowing that my latest efforts would bear fruit. I would delight in the knowledge of having made a positive difference in the world. However, there is no way of knowing.

Living in the unknowing

In the unknowing, I move forward, bearing “the mystery of the cross” as Richard Rohr put it yesterday. Today I take the time to be still, to connect to my heart’s desire. The One who placed the desire within my heart awaits. He/She longs for this communion time when I learn to live with the unknowing. Doubt becomes my teacher and friend. Without Doubt I might believe it is all about me.

Doubt as friend

Instead I learn I am loved and love is the reason I paint. I may never know certainty. Learning to live within the unknowing while bringing peace to those around me requires a peaceful soul. Peace is also anchored in love. Still-time allows it to flow. I take the next step and doubt joins my dance as a guide rather than a threat. We are all one as I fulfill my purpose: learning to love well. Life is good.

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One: Thin Places

thin places, art, painting, sacred, spirituality, contemplation, semi-abstract, mixed media, landscape

“The history of almost every religion begins with one massive misperception, making a fatal distinction between the sacred and the profane.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, June 1, 2017

 

Everything is sacred. Sin is sacred.

Art heals by providing thin places

These two sentences open my artist’s statement for my solo show “Sacred” now exhibiting in the VASA Gallery (25 Sir Winston Churchill Ave, St. Albert). Indeed, everything is sacred. This should have been fundamental teaching from all Christian churches. Instead, we have followed the normal route of dividing, naming and excluding. I wish to heal this by creating thin places.

Original blessing

In our propensity for negative thinking we have taken the Jewish scripture along with the words of Jesus and his apostles and twisted them to our own liking. Instead of beginning with Genesis 1 we went to Genesis 3, installing a foundation of “original sin” instead of “original blessing” thus reducing the possibility of discovering thin places.

Heaven is available through thin places

In the beginning, everything “was good”, indeed, “very good”. How did we miss that? Taken to the extreme there are pockets of faith which still exclude any kind of joyous celebration and frown upon those who dance, drink or play cards. Laughter is a no-no. The conclusion is life must be miserable to attain heaven, as if we could earn it, a place far away and only accessible after death. Whereas in reality, thin places make heaven accessible everywhere.

Accepting other truth

What if everything were holy? What if everything belongs? If we could depart from our stance of being right and begin to include other possibilities, we might begin to find a richer life and the chance to build heaven on earth, here and now. By accepting another truth without losing our own we open the door to a third way, a new discovery, a thin place.

Salvation

So instead of focusing on the cross, we could relook at the incarnation. God became man and again declared the created world along with all it contains as holy. By becoming human God blessed his creation with salvation. This new point of view turns the atonement theory upside down. The cross becomes an example of how to deal with evil: non-violent, non-resistant integrity.

Creating thin places

And how does my work fit into this redemptive love? Each piece is an invitation to pause. My intent is to create “thin places” where the divine meets the mundane. By contemplating the goodness of natural settings filled with the Holy Spirit we can allow ourselves to open and enter the flow. Life is good. All is sacred.

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One: Two Operating Systems

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“I will not leave you orphaned” John 14:18

Either/or

With our birth, we enter the world with two means of perception. In the beginning our faculties concentrate on an either/or point of view, the first of two systems, whereby we differentiate one object from another. We can identify people this way. We quickly learn who is mom and who is dad, or big brother and sister.

Finding ourselves

Using the same either /or system we begin to identify our own personalities as compared to others. We all like to feel unique and special. At the same time, we all like to belong.

Belonging

Belonging usually takes the form of family during the early years. This progresses to a deeper desire to be different from our family and moves us into various other groups where we sense a common ground.

Blurring

Usually this ego centred system leaves us dissatisfied with life. As we look around, especially in our ever-smaller world on an ever-smaller planet, our notions of right and wrong. The standard by which we measure who is in and who is out becomes blurred if we are at all open.

Other systems

Being open allows us to discover the other hidden operating system within us. Jesus called us to this other way. Within this system, the ego and its either/or perceptions no longer serve us well. Everything belongs. No one is left out. We can suddenly understand how everything connects. Our responsibility as co-creators becomes clear.

Non-dual thinking

The clarity of non-dual thinking comes and goes with my ability to let go. I sometimes long for the simplicity of black and white while at the same time knowing gray is here to stay. I also know the disastrous result of continuing to cling to an exclusionary, empire-building vision. We are in this together. My hope is in the assurance that we are not alone. Patience and persistence are required. Love is the key. We are all learning how to love. Life is so good.

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One: Meditation

blog, meditation, contemplation, spirituality, one, Jesus

On occasion, I hear accusations against the practice of mediation. Some believe it is foreign to the Christian faith. Not so.

Jesus had Eastern roots

We must remember, Jesus was Jewish. He came from a solidly Jewish background. His religious teachings and thought processes were decidedly Eastern.

Christian contemplation 

In the beginning years of Christianity, the practice of withdrawal form daily activity was routine. Early Christians did as Jesus did. (Luke 4:42, 6:12; Mark 6:31, 6:46 etc.) They took time to contemplate the presence of God in their world.

Hermits and mystics

Christianity became the official state religion during the fourth century. These quiet practices were lost among the games of political power and social climbing. The Desert Fathers and Mothers took to the hills unable to stomach the change in focus. The shift caused by the move from persecution to prestige had lead many away from following Jesus’ teachings. Contemplation and meditation soon became the property of hermits, mystics and the occasional solitary monastery.

Rediscovering our own

Perhaps that is why the Holy Spirit did not allow St. Paul to go east in his evangelisation. He went to Macedonia instead. (Acts 16:6-10) In this way, the religious groups of the East  preserved the crucial practices of contemplation and mediation. Today Buddhism and Hinduism inspired an opportunity to reconnect to our own traditions.

Following Jesus

Only recently, in the past fifty years or so, we began to use these important tools again. They are essential in the process of surrender. Emptying ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit enough room to linger brings us closer to God. We began to follow Jesus again instead of worshipping him. After all, following him, imitating his practices, is what he asked us to do. (John 21:19)

Guided Meditation

Here is an example of a guided meditation: I love you.

Remove yourself from the hubbub of normal life. As you sit in meditation, quietly focus your attention on your breathing. Each time you realize you have drifted off into thoughts, memoires or sensations. Simply return to your breathing.

As you inhale, hear God’s silent words, “I love you”.

Exhaling, breathe out a silent “I love you” back to God.

Inhale and be aware of the air as God flowing into you.

As you exhale, allow your “I love you” to be your very being, flowing back into the depths of God.

James Finley (Center for Action and Contemplation)

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One: Heaven

one, blog, heaven, peace, spirituality

“Christianity is meant to be a loving way of life now, not just a system of beliefs and requirements that people hope will earn them a later reward in heaven.” Richard Rohr—Daily Meditations-Summary January 6, 2017

Heaven on Earth

Our mission is to build Heaven on Earth. Instead distain has replaced respect in many people’s minds when it comes to the topic of the Christian Church. Some people will not even entertain the subject. They walk away shaking their heads. Or worse, they allow their anger against the Church to take over their thinking and their words.

The non-violent way

All this distress is quite understandable. Christian churches have strayed far from the loving way of life Jesus proposed. The Beatitudes in chapter 5 of Matthew in the Bible lay out a non-violent, patient and caring life-style few undertake. Some exceptions do exist. The best example in the last one hundred years was a Hindu: Mahatma Ghandi.

Offer no resistance

Ghandi put Jesus’ teachings into practice. Unfortunately, he paid the same price Jesus did. We are still unwilling to offer no resistance to the evil doers around us. “But I say this to you: offer no resistance to the wicked.” Matt 5:39 Tit for tat is still the name of the game. Being ‘right’ consumes us.

No reward system

There is no way we can earn our place in heaven by joining the ‘right’ church or doing the ‘right’ things. All of us make mistakes. Some mistakes have a higher price than others. And we have been forgiven. Done deal. All that remains is choosing a peaceful path by creating a peaceful heart within ourselves.

Peaceful hearts

Peaceful hearts create heaven. They are also rare. Instead of concentrating on personal sin, how to repent and how to earn a better standing in the eyes of a judgemental and exacting God, churches could teach practices leading to peace, like centring prayer, meditation or contemplation exercises. They could teach us how to love ourselves again, as God loves us. We need to hear about a loving God, one without the little black book.

Acts of loving kindness

Acts of loving kindness birth Heaven. It works well with a reciprocal flow of love and kindness. Like in the Trinity. The Trinity is the finest example of self-giving and self-receiving. This circle dance of love overflows into more beauty and peace. We see examples in the newborn babies of loving parents and in the joy of elderly couples who have made a life-practice of this way.

Solidarity

Heaven on Earth is possible. Respect must replace distain, guns transformed into plowshares. Refusing to participate in acts or words of violence, we stand in solidarity with the poor and the marginalised while denouncing the systems destroying our peace and our planet.

Engagement

Non-violent engagement in social justice is not for the faint of heart. One could get killed. On the other hand, heaven moves a little closer. Peace is more possible. Life is good.

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One: Jesus

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“Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.” Richard Rohr Summary Daily Meditations: Sunday January 7, 2017

The purpose of incarnation

Jesus came to tell us about the Trinity and how all creation is blessed rather than cursed. The Cosmic Christ incarnate invited us to join in the divine dance of loving relationship and be co-creators.

Call to love

Instead of accepting the invitation we preferred our old way of doing things. We understand a mean, old accountant type God rather than one who loves all we detest. And she asks us to do the same: love all we detest.

In our own image

We prefer a God made in our own image rather than the other way around.

Jesus reveals a different way

The God Jesus revealed to us defies our understanding. We have been asked to love our enemies. Should we do that war would be impossible. There would be no need for weapons of any kind. Prisons would become obsolete.

The source of many woes

On the other hand, we are more comfortable with keeping track of faults and misdemeanours. We like taking sides and being right. If we loved one another we would include everyone. Instead of judging whether a certain person or group of persons should be welcomed into our circle, we would listen to their story. Feeling superior and entitled have become the root of many problems in our society today.

Things get messy

The law tells us who is right and who is wrong. Jesus taught there is a superior law: the law of love. This law allows us to break the rules occasionally for the greater good of all. Things get messy when we choose to live the way of love.

We don’t like messy

Messy does not suit us in our high stress efficient world. It takes too long for consensus. So we go for compromise, or better yet, dictatorship. In dictatorship we do not have to think, just obey.

We killed the messenger

God the dictator is so much better than God the dancer or God the lover. No wonder we killed the messenger.

Everything belongs

Perhaps it is time, however, to listen to the message. Keeping score to determine who goes to heaven or hell has emptied many churches. Experience shows us God’s rain falls on good and bad alike. We are beginning to understand a world where everything belongs.

Webinar on the Trinity

To delve deeper into the topic of Trinity and its implications join Richard Rohr and his friends in an upcoming webinar on April 6. Click on “Gather”.

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One: Cosmic Christ

blog, Cosmic Christ, spirituality, one

Building blocks

If we accept the Trinity as a starting point for rebuilding the Christian Church, the next fundamental building block would be a discussion on the notion of the Cosmic Christ.

Science supports religious truth

Science has done much to awaken us to the powerful forces at play in our universe. The new discoveries support what religion has already intuited. There exists an interdependence in all aspects of creation. We are slowly understanding the loss of one species affects the viability of another. Should we destroy the bee population for example human life will be endangered. And we are destroying a frightening numbers of species at a frenetic pace without comprehending the consequences. 

Everything connects

Everything is connected. This maxim becomes real when we embrace a new interpretation of scripture and what the incarnation of God might mean. Jesus was not the first time God manifested herself in matter. Indeed it all began with the Big Bang. The overflowing love-abundance of the divine dance known as Trinity chose to reveal itself in our universe, in our solar system, in our planet in all its diversity.

In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God… Through him all things came into being.” John 1: 1-3

The Cosmic Christ 

Christ was before creation of our universe. Creation came through Christ.

God is approachable in every thing

Anyone who has taken a walk in the woods or stood beside a wild lake listening to the life surrounding it meets God. She is present in every flower, in every leaf, in every smile and in every sadness.

We are the only form of Creation who has trouble acknowledging and praising the Creator.

Science has discovered a recurring pattern within and around matter. The web-like form binds galaxies together (dark matter), links synapses in the brain and furnishes pathways for nourishment in the forest floor. Everything is connected. Energy. The Cosmic Christ.

The original blessing

The other truly exciting part of al this is the blessing. It all originated in blessing!

“God saw all that he had made and indeed it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

If we would believe in the blessing instead of looking for fault, we would be singing praises like the birds and the trees, even the rocks. Loving one another and creating heaven on earth might be possible.

Do check out the upcoming events and happenings. January 28th marks an important fundraiser for SAVA.

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