An address I listened to by Rev. Chuck Blair of New Church Live, referred to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden as symbolising the most holy place within ourselves. It represents God’s presence within the garden of our minds from our earliest beginnings, which is never destroyed. However, our inner Tree of Life becomes covered over by our preoccupation with worldly matters and our reactions to adverse conditions in our lives. We were urged to go within and connect with this place within us by remembering a time in our lives when we felt peace, tranquillity, love, freedom, and acceptance.
By remembering a time in my life when I was unconditionally loved and accepted and totally at peace with who I was, I experienced the peace that is within me and available at any time if I should wish to connect with that place. My own experience was of my five year old self sitting on a porch step alongside my beloved maternal grandmother and stroking a pet cat together. This image from my childhood brought back the memory that I was cherished and totally accepted for who I was and also reminded me of my love for my grandmother. Chuck Blair reminded us that this love that we hopefully were all given as infants is always there and never goes away. This is God’s presence at the centre of our being, pictured by the Tree of Life in the centre of the Garden of Eden.
This blog is about how we might treat others. What do you do when you encounter a person who is entirely negative and draining of your energy? Rather than respond in kind or even walk away, try to understand why they are like that. It could be that they are hurting deep down because of a dysfunctional childhood or other relationship. Nobody starts out life being that way. It is our reactions to adversity and abuse that cause us to carry this over into our own lives. A person who is unhappy and totally negative needs lots of love to heal them of their wounds. If you are not up to this yourself, you could suggest a trusted counsellor to help them. It is only when we face up to our feelings and feel them fully that we can move through them and let them go. Giving people a hand up to get help and healing for their emotions is the compassionate thing to do and will help to make the world a better place.
God is the source of all goodness, peace, and love. Compassion comes from God above and flows into us through the heavens. If our minds are open to the inflowing love of God, we will feel compassion when we see people in need. Try to imagine how this inflow of love comes down to us from heaven. God is continually attempting to get through to us to do good in the world. That is why we see people rallying around to help when disaster strikes. Compassion and mercy go hand in hand. So when you feel compassion for someone, mercy follows as you take action to help them.
A lot of people in the world are in dire straits at this time. There are famines, wars, disease and many other afflictions. Our experience of life is much more comfortable than theirs. We are much better off and should make an effort to help those in need. We are all one human family and if one part is suffering, the whole body of humanity suffers. This is something I feel strongly about. If we all made a regular contribution towards helping those in dire situations, we could make a difference in the world. Let’s do all we can to make this world a better place. When you feel compassion, act on it!
This time I am talking about mercy. It is a subject close to my heart because I have been able to read much about it and have seen it in action. Mercy is about the compassion that we can have for another person or creature. I like to think that, if someone were in great need, I would be merciful and go to their aid in some form or another.
The Bible says that God is slow to anger and of great mercy. People like Oprah have written about being merciful and my reading of Oprah’s book, Wisdom of Sundays, opened my eyes to how powerful it is to have compassion for a person and show them mercy.
Jesus came into the world to show mercy to the human race. His whole ministry was spent in going to people’s aid and healing them of their diseases and disabilities. Those who followed Jesus, the disciples, were witnesses to the miracles of healing that flowed from Jesus’s compassion and mercy. Nobody is too unworthy of God’s blessing and so we should not shun anyone in need. However, we just need to be discerning so that we do not prop up an addiction or bad habit. We cannot go wrong, however, in helping the children in any way we can. They are innocent and cannot function without proper nutrition or warm, safe homes. Those charities which support children in third world countries are the ones who need the most support from us. Our lives are comfortable compared to those people and when we give aid to them we will soon find out how much we have to give. There is enough to go around if we are willing to share all of God’s abundance.
I am glad to be involved with a church that tries to support those in need. Next month we are putting together care packs for the Women’s Refuge.
Will you reach out your hand to help those in need? Humanity is suffering and we can all do something about it – show mercy.
I have made it a habit to journal each day the things that I am grateful for. Recently I have been reading Oprah’s book The Wisdom of Sundays. Her piece on gratitude stood out for me. In it she says:
“I’ve been keeping diaries since I was fifteen years old, but before I began focusing on gratitude, they were always filled with bad poetry and ‘woe is me’ worries about my weight, men, and what other people thought about me.
I can’t tell you how much my life changed when I started writing down five things I was grateful for each day. It sound simple, but when you go through the day staying conscious about what you will put on your gratitude list, it completely shifts the lens through which you see the world.
Without even realizing it, gratitude opens a fresh new channel within you, a place where the spiritual dimension of your life can flow. As your true self grows in the space of gratefulness, you can’t help but feel more alive and receptive to the beauty that surrounds you. And because I believe what we focus on expands, the more we celebrate gratitude, the more blessings come into our lives.”
This is something I have experienced in my own life. Being grateful for the little things in life such as a good night’s sleep, a perfect rose, the sun on my skin, the list goes on, means that my day is focused on the positive. What might have been a mundane sort of day becomes a good day. I feel blessed. Try it and see what a difference it makes to your own life.
This time I want to talk about how intuition helps me in my life. Every time I want to write something for a blog or an article, I go within for inspiration. Many times, a topic will pop into my head or I will get a feeling about something that wants to be expressed. The same thing applies to making important decisions in my life. Experiencing burnout was my wake up call. Now I listen to the signs that my body is giving me or the thoughts and feelings that come to me. I do not like to rush my decision making but just let my feelings and intuition point me in the right direction. How many of you find yourself accessing your intuition in your work or your life journey? Lately, I have been reading a book compiled by Oprah Winfrey, The Wisdom of Sundays, in which she gives snippets of conversations she has had with people on her shows. She talks about intuition in one chapter and I would like to quote from what she says:
“With every decision, you are steering your own ship. Beneath all of those protective layers built up between you and the world lives an inner voice that goes by many names. Some call it instinct or intuition. I call that persistent “knowing” our spiritual GPS. It acts as our internal compass, designed to help you move through life no matter what distractions or obstacles get in your way. Your GPS is always turned on. Whether you’re headed on the right track or about to take a destructive turn, your emotional guidance system lets you know.
Every right decision I’ve ever made has come from listening to my gut. Every wrong decision was a result of me dismissing the small, still voice within me. Your life speaks to you in whispers – that little nudge saying, “Hmm, something doesn’t feel right.” If you ignore it, the whispers turn into pebbles thrown at you, warning, ‘There’s a problem. Danger ahead!’ if those signs remain unexamined, you will inevitably experience what feel like a heavy brick to the head. Shutting out the brick guarantees disaster will strike. You will see your life come crashing down like a brick wall. I’ve seen this happen so often in my own life, I now try to respond immediately, at the first whisper… Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom unfolds.” Oprah.
Keep listening to your spiritual GPS and notice how you feel about every situation. This is your spiritual guidance system or intuition. It is a valuable aid to guide you through all life’s ups and downs.
This story is found in the Bible in Luke 12:16-21. Jesus told this parable to the crowd of people who were following him. He starts off by saying, “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.'” (NKJV)
The ground of a certain rich man speaks to us of our own minds. It is interesting to note that this parable speaks of a certain rich man. The word certain indicates that he is inherently good. Having no room to store his crops is like having a mind that is cluttered with the cares of the world and other worldly pursuits. Pulling down his barns and building bigger ones is like enlarging our already bursting minds to store even more of what we have reaped in our lives. In this case, it pictures reaping worldly things and this is not good.
The parable goes on to say: “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you. Then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.”
We may think that we have many years to live yet before our soul is required of us but we do not know when we are going to pass on. So God says, ‘You fool!’ The warning is to lay up treasure for God, which is a life of usefulness and love for other people for the glory of God. it is about being loving, generous, compassionate, and forgiving, to name a few things. Jesus describes the man as a certain rich man, which means that he is a good man. So we can take hope from this. God can redeem us and help us to change our ways. He can help us to become the person we were created to be and inherit a place in heaven.
The Bible says that we should shine in the world: Let your light so shine before all, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). But, if we look around, there are a lot of glum faces, dead pan faces, stressed out people.
There is another saying from the Bible that goes like this: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11: 29, 30). All our burdens of the cares of the world are blocking out our inner light so that we are not shining in the world as we should. Most of us are carrying around burdens of anger, bitterness, sadness, and guilt and shame for past wrongs that have never been lifted from us. Once in a while it is a good idea to do some self-examination and see what is weighing us down. Our unresolved issues may still be getting in the way of our true light from shining and good relationships with God and other people. These things that are dimming our light need to be brought out in the open so that God can take them from us, forgive us, heal us, and make us free and able to live a happy life.
We are all predestined for heaven, but in order to get there, we must give up our heavy burdens so that our light can shine. All angels shine because God’s love and light is able to shine through them. God has lifted their burdens and brought them back into the light. We can be angels here on earth if we allow God to work in us in the here and now. He offers us his own yoke which is easy and his own burden which is light. A light burden is also a shining one and this is what God wants for all of us. So take careful inventory of what is weighing you down and ask your heavenly Parent to take those burdens of negativity from you and forgive any wrong doing, so you can go forward and live a new life of shining your light wherever you go.
When God says in Isaiah 57:21 that there is no peace for the wicked, it speaks to me about how we need to change in order to get to heaven. We all have parts of us that are not peaceful and these are the parts that are termed ‘wicked.’ Think about what heaven is like. Heaven is a place of love for God and all others, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, usefulness, humility, transformation and virtue. If we do not identify with any of these qualities or we notice that some of our qualities are actually opposite to any of these, we need to bring these things to God for forgiveness and healing. When we carry around burdens of guilt and shame, they dim our light and we are supposed to shine in the world. As Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they will see the good works that you do and glorify your Father in heaven.” So we need to let God take our burdens, accept his forgiveness, and live a new life of shining in the world.
When we see violence and unrest in the world, there is something we can all do about it and that is to pray for peace. Praying for peace brings us all together and unites us into one body of people. Our prayers are all heard by God and the more people who are praying them, the greater the collective power of those prayers. Do not think that you are ineffectual because you are only one person. If we each prayed every night as we are going to sleep that God will bring peace to the earth, this will happen.
God’s promise is for a new way of being to come into the world and this is pictured by Johns’ vision of the golden city coming down from God out of heaven. It is a picture of peace because, although there are many gates to the city, or many directions people can come from, no gate is more grand than any other. This pictures a coming together of all people, regardless of religious belief, to do good in the world. The city being made of gold, is a reminder that love is all that matters and it will be love that brings peace to this world so long as we can appreciate our diversity and accept our differences as part of God’s plan. No two people have ever been the same and ever will be. It is obvious that variety is God’s perfection. We should not expect others to conform to our way of thinking but realise that there are many facets to God’s truth and we each have our own view. Can we let go of an insistence on our way being the only right way? I believe that is the only way that peace will come to earth. So let’s join together and pray for peace, knowing that it will indeed come about.