Friday, March 21, 2014

Glowing in the Dark

Almost two months ago, I painted my True Self.  It hung in my studio for a few weeks because I could not figure out where to hang it.  I finally heard the painting ask to hang in my living room over my couch.  It is happy in that spot.

I see it everyday.  Some part of the painting or other jumps out at me each time I look at it.  The golden globe.  The orange hearts.  The stars.  Something different each time.

Well, the other night I turned off my lights ready to head toward bed, I looked up and my True Self was literally glowing in the dark.  The fluorescent pink background was glowing.  I laughed out loud.  My True Self was glowing in the dark.

I started to walk toward my bedroom when I heard, “Your True Self glows in the dark!”

That stopped me in my tracks.  My True Self glows in the dark.  WOW!!

My True Self GLOWS in the dark.

Not my painting of my true self.  My TRUE SELF glows in the dark.

No wonder I do not fear the dark as much…  
No wonder darkness does not seem so dark…  
No wonder I am seeing things glowing…

My True Self glows.  It emanates Light.

I am still taking this in
days later

does your True Self GLOW in the dark?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I know that about you AND I love you...Praying the Prayer of Examen

As I have been praying the Prayer of Examen this Lent, I am more and more drawn to, and transformed by The Sacred’s response to the sharing of my unloving unfree moment:  “I know that about you AND I love you.”

I have been struck by it deep down in the core of my being.

God does not respond:  I know that about you BUT I love you anyway.  or I love you EVEN THOUGH I know that about you.  or I know that about you YET I love you.

God responds:  I know that about you AND I love you.

Loving me is not conditional upon what I do.  My unloving, unfree moments; those moments when I ‘missed the mark’ does not separate me from the love of the Holy.  God loves me for WHO I am and HOW I am in this world.  Period!!!

Spirit does not say:  I know that about you. (space) (space) I love you.

Spirit says:  I know that about you AND I love you.

The two phrases are not separate.  They are together united as one.  Spirit’s love for me is in response to knowing me, knowing everything about me.  No conditions.  No separation.

The Sacred responds each and every time we ‘miss the mark’ with:  I know that about you AND I love you.

A powerfully transformative expression of LOVE; true real authentic free LOVE. 

Upon hearing Spirit’s words of LOVE, we are invited to consider a grace we would like to receive for the next day.

My grace has been the same:  The grace to be able to say, as the Sacred does, to others: “I know that about you AND I love you.”  The grace to really truly authentically, from a place of deep spiritual freedom LOVE fully.  No buts, yets, even thoughs involved! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What makes you happy?

The congregation that I serve is participating in the Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast (  Today’s contemplations got me thinking…

“Conspicuous consumption - long advocated as a positive American value - certainly runs counter to any Lenten discipline… Look around your living space.  Can you point to things that you own that you bought while thinking that buying that thing would make you happy?  Can you recall a time when you have stopped yourself from some purchase because you knew that it would not make you happy?”

Decades ago I decided to be very conscious of why I was buying things. I am not one to collect stuff in my life.  I like to be able to move freely. (I have a strong inner nomad in me.)  I like open space, minimal clutter.  So, at first I did a precursory glance around my apartment.  Nothing.

Then I sat to meditate picking a Healing Hearts Oracle Card: Worth.  The card invited me to see my worthiness.  The back asked me to do something special for myself; treat myself to something special.  I looked up and saw my boots that I bought before winter at a thrift store.  I saw them, full of hearts, and HAD to have them.  I did not NEED them.  I WANTED them.  I knew they would make me happy.

The thing is, they do bring joy to my heart.

Each time I see them, they remind me to play.
They allow me to walk in Ocean in the winter without freezing.
They free me when I am on my Sacred Land to follow the Spirit of the Land wherever she leads, even through muck.
This winter, when I was feeling DONE with the cold, I put them on and saw through a child’s eyes winter anew. I made a snow angel laughing and enjoying myself.

They make me happy!  They remind me to live from my heart.  They invite me to play, to live loud, to be quirky and weird and fun!!  

I may even preach in them sometime…

What I noticed about this exercise is that the belongings I have, the material things I buy, speak to my heart and spirit and soul; and invite me deeper into connection with Spirit, with myself.  

That is the scale I use before buying something:  Is this thing that I want to buy going to bring joy into my heart?  Is it going to open me to be more loving, joyful, playful, vibrant?  Is it going to invite me to contemplate and deepen my connection with Spirit?  Is it going to feed my spirit and soul?

If the answer is yes, then it becomes part of me.  If the answer is no, then I release it into the Universe.

How about you?  How do you decide what to bring into your life?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Prayer Practice: Prayer of Examen

During the last Confirmation Class I taught, we were all sitting around a table discussing one of our prayer activities: How do we notice God in our everyday life?.  One of the confirmands was lining up tiles like dominoes as we spoke.  I watched as the line became longer and longer.  I commented upon what I was noticing.  I talked about how the first time we consciously notice God/Spirit in our lives it is challenging.  As we notice God more and more it becomes easier and easier.  Soon we see Spirit in everything we do and everywhere we go.  Like dominoes.  The first tile falls and all of a sudden the veil is dropped and we are awake and can see.

The season of Lent invites us to begin this journey anew each year; to consciously choose to spend six week practicing the spiritual discipline of noticing God/Spirit in our lives.  Lent invites us to wake up from our winter slumber; to feel the sap rising in our veins; to watch our life rebirthing; and to notice how the Sacred is companioning us in this.

Many people give something up for Lent.  I do not.  I take on a spiritual practice.  I make a conscious commitment to set aside time, to find a sacred place, and to deepen my spiritual practice.  I try out new prayer forms to see how they connect with me.  Some I keep.  Others I let go at the end of the Lenten Season.

This year I have been given the invitation to pray the Prayer of Examen.  The prayer of Examen helps us look for the traces of God’s actions in our daily life.  By practicing this prayer, we train ourselves to notice God’s presence and actions; and also to notice where we fall short in our response. Timothy Gallagher, a retreat leader, says it well: “The prayer of examen is the specific searching every day to find where God’s love is active this day, where God’s love is leading today, to discern what within me may be resisting that leading and to discover the growth to which God is calling me tomorrow and that this deepest desire can be increasingly fulfilled.” (Liebert, Elizabeth.  The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making. p5)

It is a very simple prayer.  There are many versions of this prayer.  From time to time throughout Lent, I will post a different version for you to see.  They all follow the same flow.  You begin by giving thanks for God’s gifts to you this day. Then you begin to review your day.  You notice where your experienced Spirit in your day and where you felt Spirit’s absence.  You notice when you acted in love and when you acted not in love.  You hold the good and the challenging before God.  As you hold the places where you ‘missed the mark’ before God, you hear Spirit say to you, “I know that about you AND I love you.”  Forgiveness in its deepest sense.  Then, with a clear understanding of your day, you set an intention for the next day, asking the Sacred to help you live as close to that intention as you can.  This prayer takes anywhere from 10 minutes on.  Its power comes in practicing it regularly; daily if possible.

I invite you to contemplate what God is inviting you to this Lenten Season.   Is there a practice or discipline that God is inviting you to ‘try on’ for a time?  Do you feel drawn to the prayer of examen?  What is God writing on your heart to pay attention to this Lenten Season?

Join me in this journey deeper into the Heart of God.

Find 5-15 minutes a day, usually at the end of your day.

1 - Briefly review your day – events, experiences, thoughts, & feelings.
2 - Thank God for the specific gifts of the day.
3 - Celebrate God’s empowering LOVE at those moments of the day when you were feeling loved or loving, free, connected, trusting, undefended, joyful, or grateful.  Respond to what it was like to participate with God/with Love.
4 - Celebrate God’s undefeated love at those moments when you were less than loving or when you were not aware of God’s Spirit.  Respond to what it was like to not participate with God/with Love  – and hear God say to you:
“I know that and I love you!”
5 - Ponder: What grace am I being invited to ask for?  ASK!  Consider what life would look like if that grace were given.
6 - Dialogue with God or just be still with Presence.
7 - Close your prayer to rest in preparation for another day. 
Repeat this prayer every day; once a week; however often you feel led to pray.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ash Wednesday: The Lenten Journey Begins...

As I am preparing for Ash Wednesday tomorrow, I pulled up an old blog post I wrote two years ago for Ash Wednesday.  I thought I would share it again:

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.  For me, it is the completion of a painting journey I have been on for the last month -- a journey to explore how we are reborn out of the “ash” of our lives; how reflecting upon this ash can rewaken our souls.  

Why? Because ash is the first symbol for the Christian Lenten Season.  My favorite artist and theologian, Jan Richardson, blogs in The Painted Prayerbook, “Ashes can be a thing of wonder, of rebirthing, of renewal. This day in the Christian year (Ash Wednesday), this day of ashes, tells us that ashes—dust, dirt, earth—are the stuff from which we have been made, and to which we will return. It seeks to ground us, to make us mindful of the humus, the humility, the earthiness of which our bones and flesh are made. And yet, in the midst of this, the season calls us to open ourselves to the God who brings life from ashes, who works wonders amid destruction, who cries out and grieves in the presence of devastation and terror, and who breathes God’s own spirit into the rubble.”

As I am preaching tomorrow evening, I wanted to know what that looks like.  What does it look like when life is reborn from ash, when the Holy breathes Her own spirit into the rubble of our lives to bring it to life anew; to bring wholeness, fullness, Energy?  I learned two important things on this painting journey.

Being reborn from ash is not a slow process where the Energy of the Holy slowly creeps in and covers the darkness of our lives, like Clifford Still’s paintings where color slowly creeps its way across the black bringing new life into the painting.  I thought that when I began this journey.  But as I allowed the creative process to teach me the truth of this Holy Energy, I have come to understand that is not the case.  Rather, the Holy bursts forth from within us; bursts out of the box we have worked to contain Her in like a supernova exploding in space; like a flame of fire bursting up from a pile of ash and wood.  

This rebirth is an explosion within our souls that unleashes a tremendous Energy to propel us forward onto a path that we otherwise would not have had the energy or willpower to take -- a path that will lead us, if we follow it, to a Re-Awakening of our Soul!  

It is a tremendous gift, that Holy shove out the door of our cocoons of safety.  And yet is it also a scary gift to loose the safety of that shell so quickly and, sometimes without preparation or warning.  It seems to me that this is the way the Holy works.  We get too comfortable, too lazy.  We accept our lives the way they are.  It works for us.  I may not feel passionate about what I’m doing.  I may feel stuck.  I may feel boxed in.  I may feel contained.  But, that is okay because I’m comfortable and I can live with that.  I’m nesting, settling....

In my life, that is when the Holy comes and bursts out of Her box cracking the shell of my cocoon and leaving me bare to the world around me.  Sometimes it does not feel like a gift.  This time, it feels like a gift.  This time, although I was not ready, the explosion gave me enough momentum to continue down this new and inviting path of Re-Awakening and Re-Visioning.

And that leads me to the second thing I learning.  This Re-Awakening and Re-Birth that starts with an explosion continues as a journey.  It is all about the journey.  We need that first huge burst of Holy Energy to get us started; to propels us forward out of the quicksand that has bogged us down; to give us momentum to continue down this wonderfully exciting and fearful path.

This is what Life is about:  the invitation to journey as close to the Holy as we can; whatever the Holy means you.  This Great Cosmic Energy in the World is inviting us to tap into Her Unending Reserve to Re-Awaken our Soul and in the process bring about justice and peace and shalom.   

Know and believe that what the Holy creates and graces and blesses may be beset and broken but will not destroyed. “Life finds its way: ancient memory takes hold, follows the path of the ash, inscribes itself anew, beauty blazing from the wreck and ruin” Re-Awakening our Soul. (Jan Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook)  Trust that this invitation from the Holy to set out on a journey that allows the ashes of our lives to be transformed and born anew, that invites us to tap into the Unending Energy Reserve of the Holy will Awaken our FULL selves.  It is an invitation to live LARGE in the world.  Unashamed.  Whole.  Strong.  Joy-filled.  Centered.   

It starts with that cosmic bursting within our Souls that propels us forward; that invites us to explore where our passion is; where our hearts are most alive; where are Spirits are least contained.  It beckons us to put one foot in front of the other as we follow the journey of considering what is most basic, what is elemental, what survives after all that is extraneous is burned away.  It is a journey to work through the chaos stripping away layer upon layer that threatens to dulls us to the presence of the Holy, and insulates us from that Energy that can bring us to a place of full Awakening.  

My advice:  allow that Cosmic Energy to burst forth from your soul and follow it.  It will take you to places you never dreamed of.  It is worth it!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Sacred vs. the Critic

I paint regularly with a group of women, Intuitive Painting from your heart.  It is, for me a healing modality.  I missed the last session because I was on retreat.  My teacher gave me the topic the group painted on — My True Self.  She told me to quiet myself down and ask to experience the vibration of my True Self and then to paint that vibration.

I did that.  I journeyed to my True Self and experienced Her in powerful ways.  Then I began to paint.  My True Self gave me the place to start.  I started there.  I flowed with the painting for quite awhile until I began to feel tired like I could crawl in my bed and fall asleep.

I ignored it or a bit.  Then I decided I needed to eat — that was why I was tired.  Then I found myself reading, but could not keep my eyes open.  Then I found myself crawling into my bed, pulling a blanket over me and closing my eyes.  Then everything changed!

I closed my eyes and I heard an inner voice saying “Pearlescent White” over and over again.  I began to feel some energy for that color but did not want to get up.  Then the inner voice screamed at me, “Get up and put Pearlescent White on your painting!!!”  and I was flooded with images and reminders of the Critic.

The Critic is sneaky.  My painting teacher talks about how seductive and sneaky the Critic is.  She would tell us you can be painting along having a great time when all of a sudden you feel hungry and want to stop to eat.  The Critic!  Or you begin to get bored, or tired.  The Critic!

I had forgotten about the Critic.   When I paint in a group, the energy of the group feeds me, helps me continue to engage my painting.  When I paint alone it is a totally different thing.  It is my energy alone in the room.  There are no other voices to keep the Critic at bay.

So, I found myself seduced by the Critic!  The Critic was winning…

I got up and put Pearlescent White on my pallet and put it on my painting.  Energy came back a little.  I could keep my eyes open, but I was still exhausted.  Then I glitter glued the entire painting and was dancing with vibrant twinkly energy!!!  

The Critic is sneaky.  But my inner voice is stronger!!!  My Heart — my Still Center — that place where the Sacred Lives within me — is stronger than the Critic!

No matter what the Critic throws my way, the Sacred will invite and entice me out of the grasp of the Critic.  If that does not work, the Sacred will try something stronger — like yelling at me.  My Heart and the Sacred will not give up on me.  They will continue to companion me through whatever I am processing, working on, etc.

I can trust in that!  I can trust in the power of my inner voice.  I can trust that my Heart will not give up on me.  I can trust that the Sacred will continue to move with in me.  I can trust that the Critic will not win.

How about you?