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
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
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