Dancing Through Eternity

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“When you are tempted to think a life has been cut short, remember that every soul is dancing through eternity.”

Memorial Day is a holiday for remembering men and women who died while serving our country’s armed forces. Many use this time to remember all loved ones who have passed. It is certainly a good time to reflect on perspectives we hold on matters of life and death. In ways we may not even be aware of, our view of death impacts the way we live our life.

Recently, a woman was telling me of a family who lost their three-year-old daughter to leukemia. “I don’t understand why some lives are cut so short,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem fair.” While we are empathetic toward those who experience such a loss, we do well to consider the grander picture. We always feel the time we shared with a loved one now passed was too short. But whatever its duration, the earthly experience is temporary. The soul, momentarily tethered to a body, is not the sum of the loved one we knew in bodily form. They are experiencing life free of the blinders imposed by the physical senses. Their stay on earth may have been brief, but their life has not been cut short.

In our consideration of death, the disadvantage most of us have is that we only have memories of events connected to this incarnation. Life, as we understand it, is what happens between the bookends of birth and death. Everything beyond is unknown. Yet the one who sails over the horizon of visibility gains an insight those who remain on the shore rarely grasp. Whether they were killed in the heat of battle or silently slipped away from the quiet of their hospice bed, they would long for us to know that there is no death. They would know that if we do not grasp it now, we will discover it soon enough.

We are all dancing through eternity. The day will come when we step from this plane, but we will never step from life. Jesus reminded us that in the Father’s house there are many rooms. Earth is but one of these rooms. Hold your loved ones in the light and beauty of life and know they are doing the same with you.

The Road Never Traveled

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“Each man must sooner or later learn to stand alone with his God; nothing else avails. Nothing else will ever make you master of your own destiny. There is in your own indwelling Lord all the life and health, all the strength and peace and joy, all the wisdom and support that you can ever need or desire. No one can give to you as can this indwelling Father. He is the spring of all joy and comfort and power” (Emilie Cady).

If I were to state the single most important message that I gleaned from Unity, it would be the thought that is embodied in the above paragraph. I shared a similar idea in an inspirational message I posted on Facebook:

“Many take the road widely traveled. A few take the road less traveled. Only you can take the road never traveled.”

Jesus said it in a slightly different way.

 “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

You and I have our own unique connection with God. Cultivating an awareness with this connection will take us down a path that is unique to us. If we feel something is missing, we are likely in a situation that is out of sync with that son of man part of us that does not lay its head in the examples or the trails blazed by others. Our single-most important work is to know ourselves at the soul level and to bring our divine originality into expression.

Cady explains that, while there is a place for books and teachers, our ultimate guide is our own indwelling Lord, that divine fountain of life that is our soul. Some seek to be different as a kind of fashion statement of their spiritual independence. This never lasts. We are seeking to connect with that which we are at the spiritually authentic level, that aspect that requires no manipulating control of how we express. The dandelion does not emulate the rose, even as the rose draws the most positive attention.

When Jesus said he came to bear witness to the truth, he was speaking for you and me as well. We were born to bear witness to the truth, to take the road never traveled, the way of expression that is unique to our being.

 

Your Intuitive Connection

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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Today is Mother’s Day. As we acknowledge with appreciation the role our mothers played in bringing us into this world, we also do well to turn our thoughts to the spiritual aspects of this celebration. Unfortunately, not everyone has had a good relationship with their mother, but we all have a mothering, or intuitive connection with God. This connection is experienced at the feminine, or feeling level rather than the masculine or intellectual level. Of course, we are not referring to gender here, but functions of our consciousness. So much of our spiritual quest is focused on developing the intellect, but it is our intuitive connection that truly brings us into the awareness of God as our source.

Jesus’ imagery of the vine and branch is very helpful here. Think of your soul as a branch growing out of the vine of God. When a branch is severed from the vine, it withers and dies. Connected, it thrives and bears fruit. We cannot literally sever ourselves from God, but we can become so distracted with negative appearances that all our attention is turned away from our spiritual source. We may feel we are withering, spiritually empty, as if God is an abstraction and of little practical value to our situation. This is the intellect operating without the benefit of our intuitive connection.

While many think of intuitive communication as a hunch or a feeling to turn right rather than left, we need to be aware that the universal impartation of God is simply the absolute peace of knowing all is well. The moment we are touched by this knowing, the specifics of what we should do flow a lot easier. It is as if we know the hand of God has led us to this place and the hand of God will continue to lead us. We are consciously connected to the vine, to the understanding that our way is now being cleared even if we do not see clearly how things will work out. We are empowered with the intuitive knowledge that things are falling into place as they should.

Abide consciously in the vine. Find that place in yourself where you know you are the branch and you are now bearing the desired fruit of success in your life.

The God Perspective

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In the New Testament letter of James, we find this reference to God as the, “Father of lights with whom there is no shadow or variation due to change” (James 1:17). Presenting God as changeless is a significant departure from the traditional view of a moody Deity. We so routinely ask for God’s special favors that we may not be aware our perception of the behavior of the Divine as subject to change. Could James’ changeless Father of lights bless and not bless or pass out serpents and stones when we ask for fish and bread?

It is certainly easiest to think of God in terms of our human relationships. At times, we feel close to those around us and other times it seems there is not enough distance. For some we would grant favors without question while for others, our favors come with conditions.

There is a similar dynamic in our relationship to the sun. We have sunny days, cloudy days, daylight and darkness, sunrise and sunset. Depending on how near or far earth is from the sun, we have skin-burning summer and icy cold winter. The sun, it appears, has many moods. These variations, however, have less to do with the nature of the sun and more to do with our relationship to it.

When you think from the perspective of the sun itself, you see a different picture. How many days has the sun seen? We say this closest star is roughly 4.6 billion years old. But how do we measure a year? Multiply 365 sunrises by 4.6 billion and you have more days than most of us can wrap our minds around. The sun itself has seen but a single day, and that day has stretched throughout the duration of its existence. The sun has never risen, never set, never known the cold of winter or the blackness of night. It has never seen a shadow or shivered in the dark corner of a dank cellar. There is no variation due to change.

We cannot understand God from our ever-changing human perception. We must think of God from God’s perspective. From the sun’s point of view, we can understand how there is only one condition and that condition is light. It is only as we think of God from God’s perspective that we begin to grasp the truth that there is but one Presence and one Power. There is not good and evil, not light and shadows. There is only absolute good, as in absolute light.

The light that you and I seek is here now, has always been here, and will always be here. As we commit to opening our minds and hearts to the God perspective, every shadow dissolves into the nothingness from which it came.

Revisiting Forgiveness

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There is much written about forgiveness and how important it is in relation to our spiritual advancement. And yet I think so much is written about it because we find it difficult to put into practice. Because it involves personal feelings of being wronged by another, it’s usually easier to advise a friend or family member of the need to forgive while overlooking our own reluctance to do so.

In his book, From Science to God, Peter Russell makes this very helpful observation:

The conventional understanding of forgiveness is of an absolution or pardon: “I know you did wrong, but I’ll overlook it this time.” But the original meaning of forgiveness is very different. The ancient Greek word for forgiveness is aphesis, meaning “to let go.

In this sense, letting it go carries a very different feel than merely letting it pass. While we may be completely justified in our anger toward one who has wronged us, the impact of clinging to a falling-out has the effect of binding us to that negating energy we abhor. It was with this idea in mind that I shared this thought with our Facebook audience:

Forgiveness is the choice to leave behind a bit of baggage that no longer serves your highest good.

Probably one of the most common issues I have faced in ministry is the challenge of letting go of people who, in their moment of anger, have been moved to inflict harm on myself or my ministry. Even now, our church is rising from the ashes of one such incident. There are those who are quick to suggest reconciliation as the right and spiritual thing to do. I have found, however, that letting go is the better way. Those who have sought to inflict harm once are usually repeat offenders. There is no principle that says you must demonstrate your spiritual strength by again placing yourself in the path of an oncoming train. It’s much better to let it go by stepping off the tracks and letting the train pass.

If you are dealing with the question of forgiveness, try thinking of it as the act of leaving behind a bit of baggage that no longer serves your highest good. This simple shift in attitude could be the very change you are looking for.

Freedom in Letting Go

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“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

The Easter season is a time when we witness firsthand the miracle of new life. Fruit trees leaf out and blossom. The grass turns from brown to green. Flowers spring up everywhere. It is easy to relate to Jesus’ metaphor of the kernel of wheat transforming into a fruit-bearing plant.

In our hope for new life emerging in our own experience, we may not be quick to grasp the significance of the kernel first having to fall to the ground and dying. Jesus is pointing out that something must die before the new life emerges. In a larger context, his own crucifixion is an illustration of this point. The human was released and the divine emerged.

The kernel of wheat comes in many forms, often as some perceived outcome we anticipate. Letting go would, for us, indicate failure. In her book, Lessons in Truth, Emilie Cady made this wise observation:

Do not fear failure, but call failure good; for it really is. Did not Jesus stand an utter failure, to all appearances, when he stood dumb before Pilate, all his cherished principles come to naught, unwilling to deliver himself, or to demonstrate over the agonizing circumstances of his position?

What we see as failure may simply be the need to let go of the lesser so the greater can emerge. While we associate falling and dying with a failed ending, we need to remind ourselves that the end of the kernel is the beginning of the new, fruit-bearing plant.

If you are going through a time of uncertain change, take time to consider all the new life emerging around you. This is the Spring of your life. The old kernels are dying so new growth can come forth. There is no failure in God, and you are in God.

Why Half?

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The perspective we hold has much to do with the way we approach the challenges in life. A way to get in touch with our perspective is to ask: Do I see this glass as half full or do I see it as half empty? In other words, am I approaching this issue from the standpoint of lack or from the standpoint of possibility? Let’s further challenge ourselves by asking, Why half? Why do we have to assume the glass is either half full or half empty? Why can’t we start with the assumption that the glass is already full?

We do not start with a full glass because, by all appearances, something in our situation is missing. The glass appears to be anything but full. From this point of view, we only have two options. Either we don the mantle of optimism and approach the issue as an opportunity to fill the glass, or we fall into the pessimism of resignation, accepting it as a sign of failure. The first perspective is a call to roll up our sleeves and get to work. The second is giving in to this failed cause.

What about this third option of seeing the glass as full? Isn’t this unrealistic, wishful thinking? The Psalmist apparently didn’t think so. In one of the most oft quoted biblical passages, he penned this powerful affirmation:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows (Psalms 23:5).

The power of this passage is found in the fact that it is framed in present tense. He doesn’t say, You will eventually prepare a table, or You will anoint my head in the future, or you will one day fill my cup. He treats these things as if they are done now. The glass is full.

What does this mean? It means that the resolution you seek is now present. Because this is true, you may stop struggling to find it. This resolution may look entirely different from the one you are expecting. But why should this matter? The willingness to release your preconceived notions of both success and failure opens your mind to an entirely new set of possibilities. Rather than spend your time contemplating the half-full or half-empty question, you declare your glass is not only full but overflowing. Move through your day with this attitude and see what peace it brings.