When I speak of God, when I am talking about a Power greater than ourselves, I am not talking about the rhetoric or doctrine of God, but our experience of God.
I read the Bible a lot. I read it because it speaks of experiencing God. Do we consciously speak or write or even think about that in our day to day lives?
I can look back and define my life on earth by the relationship and the growth of the relationship I have with God.
When I was young, in school and in Sunday school, a face was painted on God. A face that sometimes I could understand and love and sometimes the face was one I would not like. A face that people would paint with their words as if they had physically seen it and better yet could define with physical attributes. A face that people would paint with such accuracy in their minds that it left no room for the experience of God. Partially this has to do with what we are able to conceptualize at age 4 or 10 or 12. It is hard to understand something our brain is not yet able to comprehend. Or can we?
I think about this lots because I have 4 children. I have four very loving compassionate caring children. I have thought about the stories we tell our children about God. Why are we telling them about God – our understanding or someone else’s interpretation of who or what God is- instead of teaching them to experience God? Experience a power greater than ourselves? Perhaps because we are not fully experiencing God ourselves.
In all the world their are no two people exactly alike even identical twins have some differences. The person next to you in church or conversing with you in the grocery store will not share the exact same thought as you do on any one thing. You may agree on something but the why you agree will be specific to you.
What I experience in relation to smelling a flower and what you experience will be different.
So how do we begin to move from living with a definition of God and that belief to experiencing God, or the Power greater than ourselves? We start by not limiting God to what and who and where and when, we start by beginning to include in our idea of God that it is an experience to exist with God that it is a relationship with a power greater than ourselves. This is where it goes from I think, to I know. Knowing something, truly knowing something, is not a list of factually based bits of information, doctrine, or rhetoric, it is a feeling or an instinct. Knowing has a spiritual connection. We “know” this because within the definition of deep knowing comes the experience of not being able to describe it in human understandable terms. To the extent that many of us, myself included, say, “I just know…”
Paul speaks of spirituality a lot in Corinthians. In the 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2, verses 6-16 in particular he addresses Wisdom From The Spirit.
Verse 13-14 says “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
If I speak of gratitude and talk about it in spiritual terms it is akin to living with and in the experience of gratitude, the feeling of experiencing it.
If I speak of gratitude in terms of definitions and language it limits gratitude.
The same holds true of God. If I speak of God in spiritual terms it is akin to living with and in the experience of God, the feeling of experiencing it.
If I speak of God in terms of definitions and language it limits God. Who are we to limit God? And in truth, how can we limit a power greater than ourselves?
As we begin to look to experiencing the God of our Understanding -a Power greater than ourselves- instead of explaining and defining God, we begin to feel God in us and see God in others so much more.
Today Let the Experience of God begin to grow in you. For we are 3 dimensional living beings; physical, mental and spiritual in our nature. As our spirituality grows and blooms the other two aspects of our lives change and grow. Share the Experience!
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
How often do we recognize our relationships? How do we recognize and deepen our relationships. When we make a phone call, send a text, give a hug or a smile these are all actions that we do when we have a relationship with another human being. How often do we consciously engage in our relationships? Are we present in that moment specifically thinking about our input into the relationship as we make those actions?
Are we attentive in the moment when speaking with someone we have a close relationship to? Often it seems we are not. We can not be actively listening if we are talking over another person. Living our lives consciously, actively, with a purpose, depends a great deal on living the moment and focusing on now; giving our full attention to it.
What about our relationship with God? Do we actively seek out our relationship with God? Or is our relationship with God just one in passing? Do we give our full attention to our relationship with God?
Any relationship whether with an animal, an employer, a spouse, a child or a sibling is greatly strengthened by consciously being present in that relationship. It is not the quantity of time but the quality and the attentiveness while we are engaging actively in the day to day aspects of our relationships that strengthen our relationships. The same holds true for our relationship with God.
My relationship with the God of my understanding has been a gradual one, like any other relationships of importance it has deepened over time. Deepening in trust, faith, intensity, respect and gratitude. I am constantly being amazed by the power of the presence of God in my life. The more I am consciously aware, active and attentive and grateful in my relationship the stronger and more beautiful it becomes.
I remember most of my life, my Dad spending time in his relationship with the God of his understanding. I remember the time he spent after church when he would sit and contemplate and think. I remember first thing in the morning the time he would get up and read and then spend time meditating and conversing with God. I remember the time spent writing sermons. It took me a long time to understand the consistency of his routine. Wasn’t a relationship with God simply, “I believe “x”. Thank you for everything great and oh, by the way if you could help with this it would be great?”
I remember my my Mum, spending time reading, deepening her understanding of and relationship with the God of her understanding. Her time spent meditating in the energy of her spiritual life and sometimes her doubt and questioning in it lead her to an even deeper sense of the all encompassing nature of God.
With them both, there was much quiet time spent in their conscious relationship with God. I often wondered what they were thinking about in all that quiet. But I think about it now and I think perhaps it was listening to God, cultivating their understanding, becoming still enough to hear and understand. It was asking to understand His will for them and being attentive and active in their relationship with God. I have in them both ~ great teachers.
Developing a relationship with a person,means consciously taking the time to get to know them. Learning about them, trying to understand them, listening to them, sharing with them, being grateful to them, questioning what is not understood and actively listening to their answers. It means being attentive. It means consciously being present in the relationship. And so it is with our relationship with the God of our understanding.
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
When I took the photograph, Sacred Breath, that I posted on the web site today there was no recognition of what the image was that I was photographing. I looked up, the clouds looked puffy and full of rain and life and something whispered, “take the picture!” And so I did.
When I went to look at the photo I was astounded. Every time I have looked at it over the past few weeks I have thought, “Wow! This is so full of energy.” It is a powerful image for me. One second sooner or one second later and this image would not have been captured.
With spiritual growth and increase in gratitude and appreciation I have become more aware of what is beautiful and amazing around me and there is so much. The beauty of the creation that we live in is awesome and magical.
Quite a long time ago now, I watched a BBC mini series called “Brideshead Revisited” (not the remake that came out a few years ago in 2 hour form) this was a long series starring then lesser known Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews. In it there were some words that have never left me and to this day I can hear them…
“Sebastian” played by Anthony Andrews, said to “Charles”, played by Jeremy Irons, “The priest told Mummy that to truly appreciate something, you must try to paint it, and so Mummy did, but everything always came out this brownish color.”
When I think about that line, about what it means, it tells me that unless we are looking to be grateful and appreciate the beauty and miraculous things around us that our lives become mottled, dull, all blending into one, blurry.
I think in many regards in trying to describe in words, paint in color or capture on film the glory of our beautiful creation that we are blessed to be a part of, our appreciation grows. In being grateful we look for more to be grateful for. It is an exponential process of illumination and growth. The more we see, the more we find. The more we look, the more brilliant the colors become, the more beautiful moments we have.
As I meditate on the beauty and blessings of a split second opening of the shutter I can feel the very sacred, beautiful and spiritual love joy and positive energy that God holds for us.
May your day be blessed and joyful and may you be filled with the Sacred Breath that our Creator breathes into us every moment.
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
|Deep peace I breathe into you, O weariness, here:
O ache, here!
Deep peace, a soft white dove to You;
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, red wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, grey wind of the west to You;
Deep peace, dark wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure red of the flame to you;
Deep peace, pure white of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
Deep peace, pure brown of the earth to you;
Deep peace, pure grey of the dew to you,
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you!
Deep peace of the Yellow Shepherd to you,
Deep peace of the Wandering Shepherdess to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to you,
Deep peace from the Son of Peace to you,
Deep peace from the heart of Mary to you,
And from Briget of the Mantle
Deep peace, deep peace!
And with the kindness too of the Haughty Father
In the name of the Three who are One,
And by the will of the King of the Elements,
|The Dominion of Dreams : Under a Dark Star – Fiona MacLeod 1895|
- a meditation: for my beloved lewis (aseekingspirit.wordpress.com)
- Angels – Angel of Tranquility and Peacefulness (angelladytm.wordpress.com)
We all used to hear it from our peers when we were growing up and as young adults. “Rules are made to be broken.” There are novels, jokes and songs about that very quote. When we were all younger (those of us who are parents now hear it from the other side) “It’s not fair!” was a common phrase that usually preceded the statement, “Rules are made to be broken!” When we’re kids, learning and reaching various stages of mental development where needs wants and desires are all that matter, this makes sense. At some point we progress in the understanding that rules are in place to keep us safe and others safe. Period.
I learned early that breaking the rules was not a good thing. I clearly remember in my mind 3 particular incidents. One falling from a tree I was told specifically NOT to climb and landing flat on my back which knocked the wind out of me. Worse than that feeling was the feeling of begging my brother to not “tell” on me. The 2nd incident involved me not getting up when I was asked. Part of my getting up in the morning meant feeding my Guinea Pig and giving him water. I didn’t get up when I was asked and the Guinea Pig died. The worst and most memorable incident of breaking the rules was when I skipped school in favor of going to the barn and spending the day with my horse. While I was busy whiling away my day my Mum had fallen on some ice and broken her ankle, badly, and they called the school to have me pick up my sisters at their school. Nope I wasn’t there. I don’t remember the punishment I think my parents let the punishment of guilt and confinement to my room suffice for that one and it worked for the most part. I don’t think I skipped school after that.
These days there are some rules that I unknowingly break, but for the most part I follow the rules. I follow them for two reasons. First, my experience in breaking the rules has always been swift and relatively brutal. Second, because in regards to the law I know they are put in place for safety and an offshoot of that is that Biblically we are told to obey the laws put in place by the rulers of our town, province and country because God has put those individuals in charge.
Another reason I follow the rules even in the face of others saying they’re unjust or don’t work is; how else are you supposed to factually prove they don’t work if you don’t follow them? Perhaps a deep question, but really? I had the delightful opportunity to work in a call center. There following rules is paramount however baffling they seemed to be and however enigmatic. It seemed there were some who understood what it would take to change a rule in 90% of the cases that meant proving the rule didn’t work by following it, but most wanted instant gratification of not having to follow the rules. Again, the “rules are meant to be broken” mentality kicked in. Needless to say most continued to break rules that never changed.
There isn’t many laws I would question in regards to the reason they are in place. I might question the eating and driving law that they are working on enforcing but then drinking and driving is not harshly punished where I live so unless we’re eating a hash brownie or a shroom pie I don’t see where cutting back the eating and driving will decrease the number of accidents if that is the reason behind that law (just a thought for the local governing bodies).
It does make me wonder why my being aware of the rules seems to mean my resulting consequences are far more rapid than say someone that breaks the rules constantly. We all know people like this I’m sure. The ones that manage to get away with everything. I figure that this must be in God’s hands. Even if we look at the “rules” such as the 10 commandments they really aren’t orders to make us do something we don’t want to. They’re more like how to live life without feeling like crap. Really does it feel good to cheat someone out of something? Lie to someone? Kill someone? The first two I can vouch for during my life time…it feels like crap…emotional guidance system says, “hey get back on the road and be nice because you’re going to make yourself feel like crap.” The last one, killing someone, I hope to never vouch for whether by accident or on purpose. So I ask all of you, why do we continue to break the rules? Have we not all grown up enough to figure out that rules are there for a reason? And that reason is not just to break them?
The Gospels say the Biblical rules can be summed up in TWO rules. Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbour as your self. Perhaps all we really need to do is…
Think about it!
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
Well, it didn’t happen. I have to say honestly I’m a little disappointed. I like some of my friends I know looked around and thought, “Did it happen?” The writings in the Bible say that no one will know when the end time comes. The date and time like the flood will remain unknown until it happens.
I heard all the jokes in the stores and people laughing and making light of it. I thought then in those moments. I don’t think that is something that I could joke about. It’s kind of like tempting fate I think, perhaps that is what they were trying to do or perhaps the thought of it made them nervous.
Where was I? Those moments when I woke up in a tent with all my family around me and the quiet sounds of nature waking up I wondered, am I here for another 1000 days? Am I gone? Are all the evil people gone? It was a distinctly odd feeling to sit and ponder those things. It was foggy in the morning too, which added to the mystery of what plane of existence I might be on. The quiet that comes with an early morning fog is still, green and full of life in potential. At that moment I wondered what that life in potential was going to be.
I got up and went to the house at the farm we were staying at and there were the people cracking beers at 7 am and I thought well I’m either in the bad group or it didn’t happen. I’m going with it didn’t happen.
My initial feelings about the rapture not happening told me a lot. They told me my faith is strong, that when it does happen I will be fine. That in striving , not always succeeding, but trying to live a good life, making amends when I mess up and being truly sorry that the rapture is not something I fear. We have all made mistakes. Some people may feel that some of those mistakes are just far too big or plentiful to be forgiven. God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness are greater than any concept we can imagine. We are limited by our humaness our thoughts of the limitations of our own forgiveness. When we make amends and are truly sorry, God knows.
Mr. Camping may have been wrong in his dates but I thank him for stirring up the thoughts of rapture. It made us think, it made us aware, it made us, if only for a moment, think about God…and for a moment perhaps think about what God thinks about us. For some that may make all the difference
© Adrienne McLeod 2011
- Rapture (jmwisdom.wordpress.com)
- My Final Thoughts On The #Rapture Craze (simuliustusetpeccator.com)
- Rapture Predictor Harold Camping: Apocalypse Rescheduled for October 21 [The Rapture] (gawker.com)
When I was young and in school, we took foreign language. Being raised in Minnesota, we had the option of Spanish, French or German. The first language I started to learn was German. I was in I think 4th grade. I remember the teacher, I remember the feel and look of the book. What I learned of it? I can’t remember. The second language I went for was Spanish. It went okay but the rote memorization of it was brutal. I was only 12, in 7th grade, and rote memorization of that language didn’t work. I tried French first at college but… nah, too flouncy for me. So back I went to German and to my surprise it was still there. What the heck? The professor said to me then, to learn a language well you must “think” in the language your learning, not the language you know. Haven’t taken German in more than 20 years but it still sticks with me enough to converse with some German speaking people .
That was one of the best lessons I ever learned in life. And I apply it in many area’s of my life including spirituality. Learning it, is in effect, being the change you want to see in your world. When we are very young we learn for the first time, everything else is relearning.
So why are they different? When we are first learning and living we are learning in the living of it. What will always stick with us best is the first learnings this is why the German stuck with me. This is also why it is so hard to shake the learned chronic negative thinking patterns carried on by dysfunctions learned in our youth. This is why raising children with faith and spirituality is so important.
My first question to the professor when he said we should think in the language we want to learn was, “How do you think in a language you do not know?” And he said you use only that language. You learn the most important questions or statements by rote so they are in your head and heart so firmly that it’s there for you at all times. In the case of language those key things would be, I don’t understand, please slow down and How do you say “this” in German? You can’t learn German in English, you must learn German in German. Here in Ontario, we would call that Language Immersion.
Baptism is a symbolic Spiritual Immersion. Whether it is carried forward is the responsibility of those of us witnessing a baptism. We are not to become baptized and then think the work is done. When we surround ourselves or our children with the principals of living a good life spiritually eg. kindness, compassion, responsibility, respect, faith etc. we are immersing them and ourselves. We are baptizing ourselves in the life of spirituality and that path.
Spirituality isn’t a part of my day, it is in all of my day. I live my life from that spot. I surround myself with friends, family, reading, art and music that accentuates it. I think from the spirituality inside of me . All else comes from within that to the outside. It doesn’t mean speaking spirituality all the time, though sometimes it does happen that way as like attracts like, it means utilizing the principals until the meaning of one day at a time is the same as now, every moment.
Part of what makes living spirituality so important is in doing it everyday and it’s being an integral part of your life, not something on the outside or extra curricular. Not a set aside outside hour of ones day. Once it takes hold, like a language, you can go at it from the outside in and inside out. One just needs to be really sure that nothing is lost in translation. And sometimes as with most of us, the translation to others does get lost, but that is only because we step outside of ourselves.
In education and learning it is common to hear use it or lose it. I choose to use it. To live it and to become and be a spiritual being. I would much rather use it than lose it!
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
Where do you see God? Where do you feel his presence? I see God in most things, especially those things that are wonderful. In the laughter and smiles of children, in the sunrise, in a single breeze that goes through my hair, in the moment a plant bursts forth from the soil that I am lucky enough to see happen. I see the movement of the spirit of God in the rain, and the wind, in an animal creeping through the woods, in an Eagle soaring up from the ground to the tree above. I see the spirit of God in other people. I see it in the way he brings them together in just the right spot at just the right time to make a difference in their lives. I see the movement of God’s hand in plans that come together seemingly on their own.
Sunday school last Sunday for my children was about Moses and the Burning Bush. I always loved that story. First when I was very young I thought, as many of us do, of the epic movie, ‘The Ten Commandments’ with Charlton Heston. I think of the special effects that were so very basic in 1956 when it was made and the image of the bush speaking to Moses in that deep, OZ like voice. I have often wondered what that moment was really like to Moses, what it would be like really to have a bush burn without being consumed right in front of me? What would we think of that now?
When I meditate on those things I realize that perhaps it is those breathtaking unexpected moments that might come close to what it was like for Moses. I don’t know. I can tell you that things go incredibly quiet when time freezes and stands still in a moment filled with absolute amazement. It is a moment where your ears don’t hear and the sound of your own heart is very very loud. But it is not a moment filled with fear. The silence is so loud that I suspect the only voice you could hear would be God’s voice, or the sound of the Spirit moving through you.
I remember being out hunting a few years ago. And a doe walked up to within 7 feet of me and she just looked right into me. I can still see it and every detail I can see still just by closing my eyes, it was that intense. I moved slightly but she took another step toward me , not away and looked closer. Then she went off, not with her tail flagged but just loping away. Another instance I was climbing down from a bow stand and had to make my way out of the woods in the dark to the field to meet my husband. At dusk is when the deer and some other critters start wandering and birds go to roost. As I made my way out I heard rustling over my head and thought okay it’s a turkey. Then I heard wings flapping everywhere. It turned out it was a whole flock of Turkey’s taking off because I had walked under the spot where they’d roosted. Anyone who had the daylights scared out of them by the movie The Birds would be on the ground with this one. All I could hear was flapping wings and though it was dark and it was loud I wasn’t afraid. I thought then what a magnificent thing it was to experience. And though their wings were loud there was also a great silence with it. Like watching a movie with no sound.
It is in moments like that, that the wonder and amazement of nature that the unexpected happens and moments of clarity happen. I wonder if I had been out with the sole purpose of meditating on all things spiritual if my experience of it would have been different. In Native American religions it is called a vision quest. Not much different really than what Moses went out to do. Going out to have a conversation with God and to listen for the message. It always seems to be out in nature that these things happen in the lives of the prophets. How many burning bushes have we missed? How many burning bushes have you missed? How many opportunities do you give yourself to sit and not pray to God, but to listen for God’s message to you? Be still…and listen
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Excerpt from: You Are Not Alone – by Frances Black
A friend sent this to me this morning and when I read it the first thing that popped into my head was the healing of our minds spiritually. There is a growing movement toward positivity which I wholeheartedly embrace because I believe that is the message God sends to us. I don’t believe that God wants us to be unhappy and I believe that is clearly outlined in every spirituality. I have yet to see one where the goal is unhappiness. Most unhappiness we bring on ourselves.
When we turn our attention and focus to what we want to be or the change we want to see in our lives that is what we will see the most of. That is a way of feeding the “wolf” we choose to feed. If we want to be happy then we feed that “wolf”. We “give” positive. If we want to experience life in the negative we feed the negative. Everything needs fuel to grow, whether a belief, a living creature, or an idea. Without the fuel it withers. If there is no fuel to feed it in the first place it wouldn’t live. Unfortunately there are those that continue to believe by being, doing and experiencing the negative they can bring to themselves positivity and love.
This is the direction given to us. To love, to do what is “right” and to follow the commandments laid out, to resist or turn away from that which is not positive. In today’s society those 10 Commandments should be aptly named The 10 Secrets to a Happy Life. It’s true isn’t it? Think about it. Seriously.
We can not force others to want happiness nor can we force others to admit that living a positive life feels better. On some level every being knows that it does. We can lead and we can feed the “wolf” that inspires the positive aspects of life.
All of the positive becomes possible when we believe and have faith in God, in a power greater than ourselves. Greater than ourselves because we can not define it. Greater than ourselves because God is. The very knowledge that we have allows us that great concept. It’s a paradox really. It is our inability to describe and define God that give us the knowledge that He is greater than ourselves.
Which wolf are you going to feed today? Will you feed the good wolf or the bad wolf? I recommend the good wolf, it is my experience that in feeding a bad wolf you’ll get your hand bit, and that doesn’t feel good to anyone.
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
“I believe in all that is, seen and unseen.”
In my years growing up going to church and being part of a really great spiritually aware family, I always felt at odds with myself. On the one hand I believe in energy, healing and miracles, I believe in the force of good and evil, I believe in negative and positive, I believe that God is in all creation. On the other hand there is the “these things are wrong” doctrines and thought. As we are growing up and begin to question things around us that we see we also begin to ask questions about the unseen.
One of my favorite parts of the church services that I have experienced is when we all say together the Nicene Creed and Confession of Sins. Mostly I think because it states what we do believe and it’s a group admission that we all screw up. (When we’re growing up we do this lots – screw up – and so the fact that grown ups are admitting this with you is a comforting thing.) Thank goodness everyone seems to believe in forgiveness of sin!
When I was very young I attended a private Christian school, my parents were excluded because they wouldn’t “sign” that they believed every dotted “i” and crossed “t” in the Bible. The clergy from our church- which included my father- were excluded from teaching or ministering there for reasons I still don’t know. I am very grateful for the people I met and the fellowship to this day with some of the people at that school. I am grateful for the experience of it because it gave me, along with my family, and church a basis for Faith. What it also did was give me the desire to make peace between extremes. It saddens me that there is so much division even within Christianity.
There is this part of me that says to myself…perhaps if we all laid out everything, each “denomination” and church, everything that we believe and pulled what is in common with everyone we could come together and celebrate. To focus on division only brings division.
1st Corinthians 1:10-11
I appeal to you brothers in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
From one end of the spectrum to the other, Christianity seems to be finding it’s way back to itself, to oneness. I pray that continues because there are so many things to be thankful for, so many gifts, so many wonders and miracles every day around us.
I have heard those that live in fear say what if we’re all wrong. But truly, what if we’re all right? What if Believing in One God with all your heart, and loving your neighbor as yourself are the whole of the truth and The Commandments the way to live a life that brings joy and contentment, and all the rest of it ways to try to explain those concepts?
Do not divide yourselves over things that are for God to judge. But come together. For whenever 2 or more are gathered…
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
As those of us in the Christian faith travel through Lent we are bid to remember and meditate on the Love that God gave to the world. Today on Palm Sunday and through Holy Week, we are to reflect on the meaning of giving up a life for another person. A single life for the life of the whole world.
I think for many of us it is so hard to comprehend the magnitude of a gift like that. What was that like for Jesus to knowingly, not just just spur of the moment,go step by step toward death toward pain towards sacrifice? What was that like as a mother to see her child, special as he was, walk down the path chosen for him? And for a father? In Christian tradition it is God that is the father of Jesus. Try to imagine how the step father felt. Joseph could have no more loved Jesus if he were his own.
My husband and I were talking to a friend a few weeks ago. This friend of ours had an organ transplant not so long ago. About a year now. He said that when the testing came back and the donor was a conclusive match and that the following day he would be given a chance at life that for sometime he had lost that the emotion was overwhelming. The thought that someone had died and because of that he would have a new life was so overwhelming that he broke down in tears. On another level the donor was not just a donor to him but for others as well. The nurses and doctors recognize the odds and miraculousness of that. The nurse told him straight out that this was a miracle. He didn’t need a nurse to tell him that though. Even in the retelling of his experience you could see how deeply it affects his life.
The donor that provided the tissue to our friend made a choice, knowingly, to donate and help the lives of others if he should die. As a parent while I am looking at my children happy healthy and in one piece I can’t imagine the feeling that the donors family must have felt. In imagining their childs body being taken apart to give life to others. A wonderful beautiful selfless act of love. Giving of one’s self is something that any parent would be proud of their child for. But at the cost of pain. It had to be torture to be pulled between gratitude and pain. So suddenly.
To be the recipient of such an amazing gift, that the very magnitude of it causes emotions that the body can not contain, is something to meditate on. That is the depth to which we are to understand what Easter is about. We are asked to understand a depth that most of us can not fathom experiencing. I know that in our friends description and the emotions that went with it that my understanding of it is so small.
That God so loved the world he gave his only son so that we could live. The bigger concept here is about Faith. Complete and total conviction of Faith. The human aspects of emotion that a person giving their life for the greater good of mankind would feel would have to have been outweighed by the complete faith that this was the right thing to do. The faith that He knew to be true, not just contemplated but knew in His very being. That it was that it was only the beginning of new life. That birth whether into the next life or into a life we have now is as it has been since the beginning a painful experience.
Would you give your life? Knowingly? Almost all of us who are parents have the instinct to save our child. If they fell in a river we would dive in after them. If they were in a burning house we would go in after them to save them. Not thinking oh I might die. Just on instinct. What Easter is about is not that kind of emergency situation. It is about knowingly walking into a situation where death is eminent and saving someone else. Those that have gone off to battle in war, know that feeling. Firefighters know that feeling. Most times though, even with those jobs it is a might and they don’t walk in knowing.
To know that someone had to die to save your life or for your life to come back to complete fullness is an overwhelming feeling. Knowing that someone chose to die for that same purpose spiritually is really something we should meditate on and cultivate thought toward. They aren’t the same thing. As overwhelming as the emotions of receiving a donor organ is how much more should we understand spiritually the gift of eternal life? So as we travel down our spiritual path during Holy Week I will be taking some time to meditate on the absolute powerfulness, awesomeness of the gift we have been given. What about you?
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
For many of us animals are an important part of our spirituality. This is also true in Christianity. What some people deem as such a pagan concept is not as far fetched as many believe. St. Francis of Assisi was born in 1181 in Umbria. He is the Patron Saint of Animals (merchants and ecologists too). Why? Because he cared for animals and nature as if part of his brotherhood. There is a difference between a person who loves and takes care of animals and someone who does it as a job. Animals were just as important to him as any human being.
Francis’ brotherhood included all of God’s creation. Much has been written about Francis’ love of nature but his relationship was deeper than that. We call someone a lover of nature if they spend their free time in the woods or admire its beauty. But Francis really felt that nature, all God’s creations, were part of his brotherhood. The sparrow was as much his brother as the pope.
In one famous story, Francis preached to hundreds of birds about being thankful to God for their wonderful clothes, for their independence, and for God’s care. The story tells us the birds stood still as he walked among him, only flying off when he said they could leave.
Another famous story involves a wolf that had been eating human beings. Francis intervened when the town wanted to kill the wolf and talked the wolf into never killing again. The wolf became a pet of the townspeople who made sure that he always had plenty to eat.1
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.
~St. Francis of Assisi
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
It is exceedingly difficult to understand why there are some basic cognitive and spiritual ways of doing things that certain religions reject. It seems that it is not the actual belief that is rejected so much as it is the vehicle for transporting the belief that is rejected. Prophets and saints were ordinary people until other men deemed them so, but they always knew.
The mind is an amazing thing. We see the power of it in so many ways. There is no spirituality or religion without the mind. As we see religions wanting to bring more people together or into their folds of followers it seems to me that it would be beneficial to lead by example. Do we show the love and compassion that we have been taught to show?
There is nothing contradictory in the “law of attraction”, as I can see, to my faith. Yet I hear many of Christian faith saying otherwise. Whether the law of attraction is a proven “law” it is a way of explaining what we are bid to live out daily. It is a theory that works, it is a process and function of a right mindset that works. Most of us know this. Like attracts like. I said once “If you don’t believe it works, look behind the TV, the dust bunnies say otherwise.”
The whole premise is, in giving positivity you get positivity back. In giving a smile, generally you will get one. Spiritually this is exactly how we should be. It is how we want to be, in joy and in happiness. Giving positive to receive positive. You get what you give. Reap what you sow. In order to get what you want you need to ask. Then you need to believe it to receive it. This really is the same concept as what we are told about God, is it not? When we receive that which is good we are to be grateful and give thanks. To be grateful for all that is good. That is part of it too.
The Bible says we should do unto others. Unless we are truly evil, we would want people to be kind, generous, helpful, happy and positive so that is what we should give. Is this not the lesson of Job? If they are not responding in kind the bible does not say go in there and crush them like rock against rock to sand that they should turn to dust and be blown away in the wind.
Is it the healing that can occur when the mind is in right thought? Does that becomes the sticking point for some religions or churches? I know that miracles happen,I know that we are a part of that every day. I know that prayer works. But I also know that one must be open to the miracles of health, wellness and the recovery of mind, body and soul and believe that it can work before it will. That right there is the “law of attraction”, it is right thinking, it is an open heart and mindfulness or as it is interpreted in eastern culture “heart”fullness.
For so long we have, as a civilization, walked down the path of negativity, criticizing, chastising, lying, condemning, judging and controlling. If we go back to Eden for a moment, to the moment before there was mind, knowledge to know the difference between right and wrong, positive and negative, when we lived in bliss. Wasn’t it mind that God gave us when Adam ate the apple? Wasn’t it his wrath at not coming together as one that divided Babylon? Wasn’t it mind that went on to sin, to the negative, that brought us down this road of injury and illness and dis-ease? Prior to that we were in bliss. Don’t you think in bringing our souls back to all that is good, all that is positive all that is healing and loving that we are coming back to one faith? The Bible says, ”I am the way the truth and the light.” and ” I am the light of the world.” It did not say for just one land or for one kingdom but for the whole world.
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
It is funny when someone asks, “What do you know?” in regards to spirituality. I have thought about this a lot. Being a writer one would think that what I know can be concretely put into words, ironically that is not the case. What I can put into words is the exploration and the paths that have brought me to my faith as it is now. What I know of my God is; that in being alive, in focusing on what is good, and loving and kind; on what is just, and compassionate; that by following the laws in accordance with my beliefs; that God is in me as I am in Him. I know that life goes on, that our core being, that energy that brings us to life, is eternal. I have faith in that. I have faith that we have as much a responsibility to make where we are now as beautiful and wonderful and caring as we can make it and I know that my God knows me.
Many years ago now I was driving on a highway through Wyoming and I saw a billboard. A beat up looking billboard worn with time and the elements. It said, “What do you think about God?” I have often thought about that sign. It was one of those moments that time stands still for me. It is etched in my mind. I remember seeing it and thinking about it. I have thought of it many times since, almost everyday.
As I go down the highway of life my thoughts lean more and more toward my understanding of God. Of what we are to be, of how we are to be. What has helped me to understand God as I know him, is exploration. Exploration of wisdom and parables that allow me to describe what I know of the feeling of being with God and he with me. This is where I find exploring all religions and spirituality so important. It is where I find that we are all more the same than different.
In the teachings of the Dalai Lama, and Rumi, and Buddhism I find truths. In Native American (North and South) and Celtic religions and belief I find truth. They are universal truths. I find the same universal truths in Christianity if I look from one end of the denominational spectrum to the other. On one end of the spectrum, there are healers, there are those that speak in tongues and those that interpret speaking in tongues. On the other end the strict Orthodox religions and core beliefs. Intertwined in all of that are the sacred texts of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam.
With so many things the same, how can it be that we are all wrong, even in each others’ eyes? From one view point to the other? I remember one story from the Bible distinctly that weighs heavily when I think about all of us. That is the story of Babylon falling. Simplified, God was angered and divided the people by changing their languages. I think in many ways that we now create our own division by language. Instead of making a definition of the word “love” bigger, by defining it we limit it. By seeking to define God by our limited knowledge of language are we in fact limiting our understanding of Him?
I have heard, because it is Buddhist we reject it or because it is not Christian doctrine we reject it or in a very ugly part of Christian history we must redirect and correct the Native American Beliefs. At one time when the world began and the truth was known and shared, was it not shared in common? There are aspects of all religion that are the same theory. They are positive attributes of our faiths. I believe at one time we were all one. We all knew the same. We all understood the same. We all knew the core truth of our God.
What stops us from fully understanding our God ? Is it the division which put in place that limits our understanding? What do you know???
To return to the billboard I saw in Wyoming. I am sure that as I traveled down that highway my thoughts continued as to what I thought about my God. And as I drove, and as I thought, that billboard ingrained itself in my mind. As I drove down that highway thinking of God as I understood Him a saw another billboard in the distance. As I got closer I saw that it said…
“What does God think about you?”
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
Compassion is key part of spirituality. What is compassion and what is not compassion? What is a compassionate act and what is not? These are questions that come up probably on a day to day basis for most of us. Starting in our home. Do we have compassion for those closest to us?
Compassion does not mean doing for someone else what they can do for themselves. Sometimes the only way and best kind of compassion or “mercy” we can show another is to refrain from injuring them further.
The definition of compassion is in English : “a feeling of deep sympathy or sorrow for another who is stricken with misfortune, accompanied by the strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” The oxford dictionary goes on to include the word pity. The word compassion in the English language leaves much to be desired. The word pity is not one that many of us say and have a good feeling about. Pity is not something we desire, nor is it something that feels good (by English definition) to do.
I have often found it useful to look to older languages to describe words that do not seem to be adequately full in their definition in the English language. In looking to Hebrew and Greek where the English has interpreted the word Compassion from the Bible there are in actuality several different words used for the term that we as English speakers have condensed into one word.
The Hebrew words that have been transferred to English as compassion in the Biblical sense mean something slightly different. Those words mean to show mercy in most of the Old Testament readings. There is a Greek word translated to English as compassion from the New Testament where it means to be moved in the gut and that is in regards to it causing an emotion of feeling that moves us to do something.
The exploration of compassion has really grown in western culture because of increased awareness and enlightenment from the east. It saddens me that we could have been so much further ahead. Truly how far is Rome from the east? So much was made of dividing and separating the world. Christianity just on its own is so incredibly different from one end to the other. Such a broad spectrum of beliefs.
As we separate and keep distant from others within our faith, as well as outside the Christian faith, as Christians we are no different from those Pharisee’s in the time of Jesus when we are like that and they pushed Jesus away and shunned him because they didn’t know and didn’t understand. How will we all be one in our world as long as that continues. Learn from the division. Wasn’t that the message of Babylon? Wasn’t that God’s frustration in dividing us all. Perhaps Babylon occurred so that as we came back together we could heal ourselves with the things remaining we have in common.
Proverbs says that we are to not dismiss wisdom but to learn from it. The first few chapters of Proverbs is dedicated to that very topic. It says that we are to learn from everything we can. That to ask for enlightenment and then ignore it is in fact rejecting an answer that God sends. Even if we are to entertain what is or is not part of compassion for us, we need to remain open to hear what is said and to let everyone be our teacher. In truth we find that we have more in common than we may think. Think about it!
©Adrienne McLeod 2011
When you wake up in the morning what is the first thing you think about? Do you take that moment of awareness whether long or short to feel gratitude for waking, breathing, living? Living a life lead by gratitude is a choice. That choice starts with developing mental awareness of being and consciously living each moment. Like that moment when you first wake up.
Waking up each morning is often the first thing we do take for granted every day, however it is the LAST thing we should take for granted. For what is life without that? What is life without breath?
Developing an attitude of gratitude is easier than you might think. In reading this, in thinking about it you have started to create that very awareness necessary to live a fuller more meaningful life. In the movie and book The Secret, a rock or stone is used as a reminder. This is not a new idea but it is presented in a new way to remind ones self to be thankful and grateful. I like to write out the things I’m grateful for every morning. This way I’m utilizing a few senses at a time to remind myself. I am seeing it, touching (writing) and most often phrasing it in my head. Sometimes I write it out fully and sometimes just on a sticky note. The sticky note method is easy when things are a little chaotic in my house.
Shifting ones focus to living a life of gratitude is very much like going to the top of a mountain. It is very easy to forget about the troublesome things in life from that vantage point. It is easy to be grateful for the trees and the sun (or wind and rain) the quiet, and the creation surrounding us. It is does not seem strange to me that this would be. Many prophets and holy men and women have gone to the mountains for meditation, for prayer, and I suspect for a clearer point of view. It is from the vantage point of the mountains that so many have gained perspective on life, found answers to questions, and had life transforming moments of awareness.
There are so many things in life to be grateful for. It is also the unifying key to every religion I have ever read or heard about. So it should be common to everyone on a spiritual path. Take a little time and start with a short list of things to be grateful for every day. You will find that over time as your gratitude increases your dissatisfaction with life will decrease and you will begin to live a happier fuller life.
© Adrienne McLeod 2011
So many people in the world. So many ways of understanding. If we were to take a single word such as love and translate it into several different languages, pull together all of those definitions and extrapolate the meaning of it, we would find our understanding of Love becomes much deeper.
The examples in Greek are well known. In Greek, Love is broken down into three different types; Filial, Eros, and Agape. Even in that one translation, from English to Greek and back again, our understanding of the full concept of what love is grows. Filial love is brotherly or sisterly love. Love between good friends. Love within a family. Eros, as the name implies, is the type of love between a husband and wife. Agape the third type of love means a wide open love for mankind.
In Hebrew1, the word for Love is “Ahava”. “Ahava” means literally “I give” . So Love becomes something given. It is the greatest gift. Start by combining the 3rd type of Greek Love and the Hebrew for love and you come to understand a meaning of, I give wide open to the world.
If we go a bit further into China or Tibet or India we may find something slightly different. There are also at least three words for love in Bhuddist and Hindi ; There is Kama which is sexual love. Karuna , compassion mercy and reducing the suffering of others, Advesa and Metta which is unconditional love, well meaning and kind.
So lets keep going and add those definitions of love. I give wide open to the world compassion and mercy well meaning and kind. Our understanding of love has now grown. It has begun to mean more, encompass more. The English word Love has many many denotations and connotations. Love can be a feeling about food, or a friend , the day, a tree. Love can be a state of being as in God is Love.
I give wide open to the world compassion and mercy, well meaning and kind, in my being.
Even taking only those three languages we have now found a love bigger and deeper in scope than our limited language implies. Not in a religion but in words. However if you look at those words it is the highest level of love we can experience. I wonder sometimes if that point in time when languages became different was meant eventually to bring us a greater understanding.
We do not all speak the same language. But we all can understand compassion and mercy that is given wide open to the world, that is well meaning and kind in being. That is a spiritual love. That is the day to day work of being spiritual no matter whether we are Christian, Buddhist or Jewish or any other.
So when you’re meditating on the meaning of Love remember to look to ALL the definitions of love. In our heart, our mindfulness, we find a greater joy and greater understanding and a greater capacity for Love.
©Adrienne McLeod 2011