Hope. Peace. Love. Joy. And Advent Invitation

FullSizeRender (61)I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought for you are not ready for thought.
So the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing.
T S Eliot, “East Coker,” Four Quartets

We have entered the season of Advent. The time of anticipation and preparation of new life, new birth, new beginnings.

Here in the northern hemisphere, the days grow shorter, night falls quickly and the dark surrounds us.

We are waiting.

So often in our fast-paced, let’s get ‘er over and done with world, this time of year becomes a continuous flow of too few minutes jam-packed with shopping and decorating and baking and partying. We rush from store to store, furiously crossing items off our list in our quest to buy that one special thing that one special person truly needs. We rush into everything for fear we won’t get ‘er all done before nightfall only to throw ourselves on our beds where we toss and turn worrying that we forgot one gift, one more thing to bake, one more person to see, one more place to go.

So often, the meaning behind gift-giving and family gatherings and friends visiting gets lost beneath the pace of our constant rushing to acquire, get and do whatever it takes to create the perfect holiday season. The perfect family dinner. The perfect memories of all of us together.

If we just had time.

Let us slow down. Let us stop and breathe deeply. Let us celebrate this moment, right now, in which time is all around us, flowing through our being present in every moment and every thing we do.

Let us shift our relationship with the season. Let us shift our relationship with time, the darkness, the waning or the waxing of the light at the end of each day.

There is no time but this time right now.

And there is time. There is always time. To do what must be done. To get what must be got. To finish what must be finished. But first, we must enter into this time with our hearts open to the abundance, beauty and awe of this moment passing right now.

Let us Make Time for the Sacred.

 

Week 1

A few years ago, I created an Advent celebration: Make Time for the Sacred.

It is a weekly email that contains a reading, an audio meditation and a few contemplative questions designed to bring you deeper into self-awareness and understanding of this special time of year, of your relation to the sacred and your connection to the holy and reverent state of being present here on earth.

Over the next four weeks, beginning today, I will be posting each weekly meditation on my website and invite you to join me throughout this season of Advent in an exploration of the quiet hours before the dawn, the silent time before the coming of new life, new birth, new beginnings that this time of year represents.

No matter your faith, believer or non-believer, my vision is that Make Time for the Sacred will connect you to the deeper essence of our shared human condition, our shared holy presence on this planet earth we share.

Week 1

Embedded in this graphic is the link to the PDF for Week 1.

Within each PDF is an audio-file link to the guided meditation.

In Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy.

Namaste.

You are here because you matter.

Why am I here?

It is a question many of us ask at some point in our life along with its cousin, “Do I matter?”

You are here because you matter.

We want to make it so much more difficult. We want to know the details, the particulars of why as if ‘the why’ will make it all worth it. As if ‘the why’ will bring some intrinsic value to the equation of our life we haven’t yet seen. There’s nothing else to the equation for you to see — you are here because you matter.

What makes life worth-it is living whole-heartedly through each step of the journey fearlessly confronting the why’s of our existence with the one answer that can quell the fearful questioning of the why of our existence. I am here because I matter.

We get to live the ‘how’ of how we matter through living this one precious, beautiful, life by taking each step of our journey in love with all our being wholly present to the truth of every human present on this one planet, one earth, one place we share and breathe and walk on every day — I am here because I matter.

Questing after ‘the why’ is what holds us back from being present, being whole-hearted, being whole. Searching for answers to ‘the why’ is what keeps us from knowing that we are here to be our own unique selves and that in being our truth, our beauty, our magnificence, we matter, we make a difference, we are worth it, and, we are worthy.

The universe, God, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, divine beings of whatever your belief system, do not question our worthiness. We humans question our worhtinness, our existence, our presence on planet earth. We humans are the creators of our own angst.

 

Just for today (and everyday if you’re willing to be very brave!), let go of questioning your worthiness and invite yourself to live outside ‘the why’. Invite your whole self into being present, fearlessly accepting that the reason you are here is because you matter.

You do. Matter.

A lot.

Now, repeat, after me…

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

I am here because I matter.

Believe it.

It’s true.

Namaste.

Our human condition is a journey through love.

 

Choices is an experiential journey. It is an exquisitely constructed series of teachings and processes that have been honed and developed over 35 years to fulfill on founder, Thelma Box’s vision of Changing the world one heart at a timeFor over 35 years, Thelma Box, Mary, Joe and Greg Davis have created a safe and courageous space for people to step into the wonder and awe of discovering who we truly are when we let go of the negative self-talk and self-defeating games we all inevitably employ to protect our hearts and keep ourselves safe from being hurt by others or to prevent them from seeing we are hurting.

We humans are interesting beings. We are all born magnificent. It is our birthright.

We come into this world crying out for belonging, for love, for connection and then life happens and we quickly forget the birthright of our magnificence as we adapt our behaviours to meet life’s sometimes confusing, sometimes challenging, sometimes painful teachings. We walk through each day into unknown and known places, face strangers and people we know fearing they are judging us, measuring our journey against theirs, or examining our flaws with such intensity we feel naked or invisible. We try to hide in plain view, or stand out in anger, contempt, judgement fearing we will never find peace, love, hope, joy, contentment and in our fear, do everything we can to prevent ourselves from having what we want.

In our struggle to get what we want, we set bars so high we cannot see them or don’t set them at all because we are convinced we will never reach them. And in our fear of constantly having to measure up or our fear of continually falling short, we do not see, it is our judgements of ourselves that are hurting us most. It is our negative self-talk that is killing our dreams. It is our self-defeating games that are keeping us stuck living in the shadows of our fear; we do not matter, we are not worthy, we are unloveable.

At Choices, I am continually blessed to witness people awakening to their magnificence. I am blessed with being part of miracles unfolding as people open their eyes to the truth of who they are when they let go of fearing who they are will never be enough.

We are all enough. Exactly the way we are. Exactly as we were born to be before we forgot that our value is not found in the things we acquire or the things we do or people we know or places we’ve been. Our value is in our being present and true to our hearts. It is found in how we treat ourselves and one another. Our value is intrinsic to our nature of being human when we let go of fearing who we are and remember, we are all magnificent.

It was a beautiful and inspiring five days of connecting heart to heart to one another. Of seeing and hearing the beauty of each person’s heart beating freely and fiercely with the truth that who they are is greater than their fear that they were unworthy or undeserving of Love.

We are all deserving of Love, no matter our human condition, because our human condition is a journey through Love.

It’s not my fault! Can I blame you?

To get your week off to a thoughtful and loving start, I am sharing a video from RSA Animates.

Brené Brown on — Blame

intimacy = In-to-me-see

I am off to coach at Choices today. Off for five days of being immersed in the wonder and awe of our human condition. Of watching spirits lighten, hearts break open and eyes shine bright in the truth of their magnificence reflected in the eyes of everyone around them.

I am grateful.

Not only do I get to be part of the miracles unfolding on every breath, at Choices, I get to be myself and see myself. I get to ‘in to me see’.

In the safe and lovingly supportive environment of the Choices room, I am free to examine my own self-defeating games, my own tapes, my own mis-steps, missed directions, missed opportunities to shine without fearing that I will be judged or condemned for my human condition.

And in every ‘in to me see’ look I take, I get to say as composer and inspirational human being, Benjamin Zander promotes, “Wow. Aren’t I fascinating!” I get to throw up my hands and laugh at myself and see how absolutely fascinating it is that I can; do that, or believe that, or feel that or think… now is forever, or, I’m not enough, or, I’m so hopeless, or I am the victim or any other critter thought that creeps in when I am feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated, under valued or just plain old stressed out!

I have been feeling stressed out lately. Feeling like my plate is so full I might need to throw it in the air and let it fall where ever it will and in its falling, run away and hide until all the pieces settle.

Yup. Definitely fascinating.

Which is why I am grateful.

In the Choices room, I remember my inherently magnificent human condition. The one I’m born with. The one we all share.

And in my remembering, I let go of my fear, I will never be enough, do enough, have enough. I let go of my fear of being me, in all my wild and wacky, inexplicably fascinating human condition.

In my letting go of fear, I remember, I am magnificent! Just like you.

See you next week — in the interim, if you haven’t watched Benjamin Zander’s inspiring Ted Talk… here it is…

Choose love over fear. Always

Aligned with peace in thought and word and deed, I align with my true self. Placing faith in my true self, I radiate peace.

My awakening thoughts reflect the disquiet of my mind. “I wonder if there will be a new atrocity to learn about this morning?” leaps into my thinking as I awaken.

I fear.

I fear for the world’s condition. For humanity’s sake. For the safety and well-being of all I love.

I fear unseen, unknown faces stalking the night. I fear unseen, unknown hands plotting, somewhere in the world,  discord, pain, grief, terror.

I fear.

I must choose love over fear.

I must not allow fear to dictate my actions. I must not let fear consume my being present in this world of wonder and awe.

I breathe. Deeply. And acknowledge what is true.

Fear is present.

So is love. So is joy. So is possibility. So is community. So is hope. So is peace.

Fear is present. I embrace my fear with loving kindness. I embrace it with compassion. Hope. Belief in all humanity. Belief in the goodness of all humankind.

I embrace my fear and set myself free of its dark tentacles seeking tenure in my thoughts.

I breathe love into my fear and dispel the clouds of its desire to unsettle my belief in all I am capable of, all I am when I let go of fear and choose love.

I cannot find peace by staying at the level of my discord. I must seek peace at the level of the solution.

I choose Love over fear. Always.

And in that choice I find myself breathing deeply into my belief that when align through peace within me and have faith in my true self, I am the peace I want to create in the world around me.

Aligned with my true self,  peace finds its way through Love.

And so it is.

 

One human family.

“The most divisive belief is ‘us versus them’. The most uniting belief is that humanity is one family.” Deepk Chopra

I do not have the words. I put my fingers to keyboard searching for understanding and the words evaporate. I sit in meditation and my mind will not rest. It leaps from thought to thought scurrying about in search of answers it cannot find in my restless, agitated state of being. I want to write about the sadness I feel. I want to write about my  sorrow that yet again, violence is the path we humans take to destroy our humanity.

And I am at a loss.

I read the news reports. I read the comments. I read the words we use to describe those who committed these acts and I fear once again we will never find the path to unity, to being a planet existing in harmony and peace.

We look across the ocean and see the turmoil and grieve the losses and state we must unite and fight the terror, we must kill the terrorists and my heart grows heavy.

We are one humanity. One planet. One humankind.

It is not them who have perpetrated these acts. It is all of us.

It is not them we are vowing to kill. It is all of us.

According to  Mass Shooting Tracker, in the US there have been 325 mass shootings in 2015 resulting in 304 deaths. In 2014, 337 mass shootings killing 383 people.

What is happening is wrong. What is happening is terrifying. What is happening is deadly.

The perpetrators are still human. They are still us. They are not subhumans. Animals. Cretins. Or whatever words we spew out to quell the anger burning from within. They are us and in our refusal to see that we are them, that we share this human condition, no matter how massively distorted we see it to be, we are contributing to the divisiveness that is killing our humanity.

We have been contributing to this divisiveness for centuries.

In one article, a man from the Southern US talked about the Klu Klux Klan and the terror they invoked throughout the South. Where was the outrage of the country then, asked the person being interviewed.

When I was in my early teens and we lived in France, ‘the Algerian crisis’ was in full swing. In the woods, behind the apartment building we lived in, there were ruins of Roman aquaducts. ‘The Algerians’ lived in the ruins. We were cautioned not to go there alone. They might rise up out of the ruins and harm us. In a section of the city there were tenements that housed, ‘the Algerians’. They were French citizens but they were considered second class, ‘the other’, undeserving of common decencies extended to the rest of society.

Where was the outrage then?

 

There is no us and them in humanity. There is only us. All of us. One planet. One humankind. One human family. What we do to one, we do to all.

I cannot stop the flow of hatred. I cannot stop the boiling over of anger.

I can stop them coming from me. I can stop them being my contribution.

And so this becomes my prayer today.

Let me not contribute anger to what has happened. Let me not contribute hatred.

Let me only contribute my humanity for it is in our humanity that we are most similar. It is in our blood that we flow the same.

 

A matter of faith

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare

When I was growing up, my mother had many superstitions.

Do not put shoes on a bed or counter.

Do not cross arms when toasting with glasses.

Do not cross the path of a black cat.

A devout Catholic, around our house were many icons to remind her of her faith and to ward off the bad luck she believed lurked around corners eager to pounce on the unsuspecting and unaware. There were candles to light beside a statue of the Virgin Mary  and a large crucifix above the mantle to kneel in front of and pray the Rosary.

Along with the symbols of her Catholic faith there were also many symbols of her heritage and the environment in which she grew up — southern India. Scattered amidst the icons of her faith, there were statues of  Shiva. There were bronze Buddha’s and only elephants with their trunks lifted.

In my mother’s world, Friday the 13th was a day to be dreaded. It was a day for mishaps and missteps. A day to be hyper-conscious of the world around you looking to trip you up or deliver some ill-timed blow of misfortune.

I used to laugh at my mother’s superstitions. I used to judge her on the contradictions I saw between belief in God and fear of evil spirits. I would tease her and try to scare her into saying a quick Hail Mary to ward off some evil miscreant awoken by my lack of respect for the spirit world.

Time has smoothed the ridges of my disdain. Time has given me a better perspective of the compassionate view of my mother’s beliefs and superstitions.

At Thanksgiving dinner this year, my mother spoke of Faith. She spoke of her deep and abiding belief in the goodness of God, the power of His creation and the holiness and sanctity of life.

No matter our teasing, no matter my scoffing at her repeated insistence she will ‘pray for me’, my mother’s faith has been the backbone and the lifeline that has tied our family together in good times and in bad.

My mother never saw the contradictions. For her, the miracle of life resonates in all beings, and just as God is ever present, she has always known the capacity for evil is also present.

Taking care of the small things, praying to protect herself, her family and the world around her against evil are to her, as natural as saying the Hail Mary in times of stress and in times of contemplation.

In my mother’s world, the superstitions woven into the fabric of her life are simply threads of colour that highlight the natural grace and beauty at the heart of who she is, a kind, compassionate and caring woman of faith.