Friday, April 15, 2011

What We See and What We Think We See

We like to think of life as this:

When really, life is much more like this:

AND we tend to think of GOD like this:

But really, GOD is much more visible as this:

Can you see how different our ideas of God are compared to that which is right in front of us? I think a lot of suffering stems on the insistence of an idea, or clinging too tightly to a concept. We think in linear structures, from point A to point B, in terms of direct cause and effect. We insist on seeing God as someone or something that is linear, human, who thinks the way we do. But God's creations and the events of our lives contradict this in every possible way. Our lives are not a straight path... in fact, they are a wilderness. God is not a man, not anthropomorphic, not hiding in a cloud. He is right in front of you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On this Day in Your Life, God wants you to know...

"... that the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang the best. Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right'. Start where you are, work with whatever is at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sometimes I sit outside and I find myself suddenly struck by the now, by the wind through the trees, and there You are, waiting for me, and a peace consumes me like slow quicksand. Suddenly I am sitting on grass, looking in wonder upon every surface, wondering how can it be You -- how can all of this Be You?

And sometimes I forget what You are, and I feel despaired, alone, backed into a corner and turned towards a wall. But I have only to bow my head in worship, honor the Wall, honor the Floor, honor the Pain because even You are Suffering.... 

You promised us nothing, Lord. You are not a joy free from suffering, but a suffering that is full of satisfaction. Being full, though not eating what we wish to eat. Being whole, though not composed of that which we choose.

Pray. Trust. Follow.

Words from Mother Teresa


"Your Lordship,

You must have prayed very fervently for me, because it is now about a month that there is in my heart a very deep union with the will of God. I accept not in my feelings, but with my will, the Will of God. I accept His will -- not only for time but for eternity. In my soul -- I can't tell you how dark it is, how painful, how terrible. -- My feelings are so treacherous. I feel like "Refusing God" and yet, the biggest and the hardest to bear -- is this terrible longing for God. Pray for me, that I may not turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness. I was looking forward to speaking to you. I just long to speak -- and this too He seems to have taken the power from me. I will not complain. I accept His Holy Will just as it comes to me. If you have the time please write -- do not mind my inability to speak to you -- for I wanted to speak -- but I could not...."

- Saint Teresa of Calcutta (because, whether the Church deign it or not, she is a Saint.)

Even Mother Teresa despaired. Even her own suffering made her speechless. But she pressed on.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Politics are a power game that man plays with itself. God's only interest is the state of your heart.


I am not trying to change anyone's faith. I am simply trying to strengthen the faith that you already have. And where I see no faith, I try to plant a seed. Planting seeds is easy. You do not tell a person you are doing it. You tell them a story, or an event, or something interesting you've read about faith, and then you indirectly relate it to their life.... It works even better if you do not say it directly to them, but let them overhear you in conversation. It is when a person feels the safest that they truly listen. Don't forget that you are speaking to the lost, and that they want to find a way. Everyone wants faith, even if they do not know it.

When they go home, they think about it. They think and think. Because for all that an "unbeliever" might despise God, in times of need, he will think about God the most. Eventually, circumstance will bring the "unbeliever" to a time and place when the seed will burst into bloom, and they will begin their tentative steps toward faith. There are times that I plant a seed or idea, and perhaps months later, I hear it come out of the person's mouth as though it was their very own, and they look so proud of their revelation, and they seem so much happier for it. And I smile and think -- yes, it has begun. Now God can show them the way.
God is a sound that unites everything. It is heard through the body, not by the ears. It feels like all-encompassing love.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Heart and The Armor

God teaches us to be loving and forgiving. God teaches us to be selfless, humble, and sincere. God teaches us to "treat others as we wish to be treated."

But anyone who lives in the real world knows that there are times when sweet-talk just doesn't work. When being the "nice guy" doesn't help anyone. Keeping an open, loving heart doesn't stop us from being trampled by those who are selfish, mean or spiteful. In fact, being a loving child of God is often cause for more pain from shallow insensitivity, more suffering than immediate reward.

Many people who do God's work have very sensitive hearts. They are sensitive to the suffering of others, which is what compels them to act. They are sensitive to the repercussions of harsh words, because often they feel the harshness of others far too keenly. However, something that God has taught me over time is that love does not always mean acquiescing to others. Love does not always mean being the first to cave in a situation. Love does not always mean being a peacemaker.

Let's not forget Christ's words: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Christ came to teach us not only how to resist evil, but how to conquer it. When I first became a believer, I was very worried about what others thought of me. I was worried about offending people, because in my young mind, offending people was the same as hurting people, and hurting people was against God. But now as I grow older, I can see that sometimes you need to offend people. Sometimes, in order to get people to listen, you have to step on a few toes... or kick a few shins... or full-body tackle someone to the ground.

This is where love comes in. Love is not only meant to be an open door into your heart... it is also meant to be the armor that protects you. Let God's love be your armor. When you strike out to do God's work, don't let the rejection of other's hurt you or cause you any doubt. In fact, let the rejection of others bring you joy, because their rejection is a sure sign that you are being heard. The truth of your faith needs to be heard, especially by those who don't want to hear it.

The fear of hurting others can often stop us from doing God's work, when sometimes what someone really needs is a smack upside the head. It is good to avoid being needlessly callous and belligerent... but if you're feeling like the odd-man out, like the crowd has turned against you, like you have an endless amount of adversity with your peers, stand tall and speak louder. If there are people around you who are being needlessly mean and judgmental, who are straying down the wrong path, who are making selfish mistakes in their lives and disregarding your shining example of truth and faith, don't be afraid to shake them up a little. Bringing people back to the right path is not hurting them. Also, denying things to people and breaking promises is a-okay as long as you are doing it to protect them. If you have to make someone shed a few tears in order to straighten out their lives, then do it. More often than not, people will leave fuming, then come back later with an apologetic insight.

Don't strike out at people because you are personally insulted... strike out at people who you see hurting themselves and others. Be a strong voice and a strong role-model. Don't take sh*t from people who claim to care about you but their actions speak differently. God doesn't want you to abuse yourself. God wants your faith to be as straight and true as a sword, so we can pierce through evil and open the hearts of our fellow man.

How open is your heart?

How strong is your armor?

Now strike out boldly, and don't be afraid of adversity -- speak loudly and with truth, and see what God's Word can do.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To a friend in need...

You are as much My child as Christ. He, too, had to suffer. It is not from Me, but from the silenced and shrouded hearts of Man that evil arises. You are My only resistance, and My gratitude is endless. I will repay your work in endless ways -- but never in ways that will take you from your work.

You may try to be strong... but even at your strongest, you are infinitely fragile to Me. I did not make you to be powerful, but to be weak. It is your nature. Do not despise it. Your strength and only strength lies in surrender.

Because you let me, I will always protect you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Send - "Need"

Don't mind the corny intro....

This song amazes me. Taken in a spiritual context, it completely sums up a believer's relationship with God.

"Take my heart and lose myself,
I'll lose it all for you....

Oh, I could never know who I really am
without you...."
Let's just shout it out... God is the love of my life! I have no other name for my faith but faith, and despite all of the books I read, the Churches I attend of the philosophies I study, my faith will always remain faith, and my love of God will always stem from pure, sublime experience. The Bible is a wonderful book... but even if the Bible had never existed, here I would be, and my faith would be the same, and my love for you would be the same, and my partnership with God would remain the same. My faith is not built on a book or a congregation; it is built on life. God is my life. When in loneliness or doubt, it is to His undefinable presence that I turn, and it has always been that way, before I even understood what religion was.  Before I even understood the legacy of saints, bodhisattvas, prophets, and miracle workers who have walked the earth, I prayed in the silence of my childhood to give God's unconditional love to the world.

There need to be more voices in the world that show a powerful alliance to love.

There need to be more strong hands to do the lifting.

There need to be more people willing to allow others to be who they are, to breathe a sigh of relief, to show them that God made them this way because nothing is a mistake, and what keeps us from God are not His labels or His laws, but rather, man's labels and man's laws. We are the cause of suffering. We are evil transitioning into love. We are unconscious rocks, and when we awaken to God's presence in the world, only then may we call ourselves Human. Only then do we become the divine whole.

And our spiritual growth, our journey into the divine, never, ever ends.

"The feeling remains that God is on the journey too." -St. Teresa of Avila

Friday, April 1, 2011

I believe in a God who wants us to be happy with ourselves. A God that never abandons us, no matter how many times we abandon Him. I believe in a God who, even more than speaking to us, wants to be with us.

I believe that sometimes that means we need to change parts of ourselves to become better; we need to let old pieces go, and allow new pieces to grow in their place. I think that drugs, alcohol abuse, and self-destructive behavior gets in the way of that. I believe that faith allows us to grow past our vices and heal. I think that believing in a destination allows us to have a destination. I also don't think there is any weakness is being optimistic, idealistic, or kind. Faith is not about what reality is. It's about what our internal reality is.

I believe that no answers are simple, and yet spiritual Truth is so simple as to be ineffable. I think that we get hung-up looking for answers that we want to understand. The reason why we can't understand the events of our lives is because we do not know the many outcomes of the future. We do not know when we will die; when we will contract a terminal illness; what another road may have led to. But we can trust God to know. We can trust God to lead us to a safe haven. Just because there are periods of suspension does not mean we will never be able to put our feet firmly on the ground. Sometimes we are suspended for years, with no illusion of certainty or safety, and we wonder -- why has God not saved me yet? Why have I not been brought to solid ground? I think in these moments, there is a lesson in having to wait. We become strong. And then, we become weak. We rebel and submit, rebel and submit. Until finally, we lose the will to fight, and we simply accept what is. Faith is not a destination. It is a vessel in which to travel; a mode of transportation; a way of thinking.