Daily Reflection/ Songs of the South — Lantern of Veriditas

isis_hiding_osiris_by_isisneferet-d341u3vI can imagine what Isis must have felt like

Discovering her beloved Osiris’s emerald form

Chopped into a thousand pieces

Scattered through the worlds

As I look at these boxes full to overflowing

With you

 

How her heart must have sunk

To have seen his enemies destroy him

Pulling him from this world

Into the next

What tears fell from her eyes

And where did she find the strength

isis and osirisTo search, to gather his body

Scattered like seed

Through earth’s broken soil

 

I feel her pain as I gather

Bits of you that remain

Some simple – a shirt, a chain

Others profound – your words still burning with passion

The ring I bought you

A dress electric with your touch

Still covered in that perfume you had that made me swoon

 

How can you still intoxicate me

Now no longer with your presence

But with this fragrant absence

That pervades every space

Isis gathered her beloved

In hopes he would revive

Pour new life into her body

Restore their love, their life,

Their family

 

osiris and isisLike her I feel at times

My task is uncompletable

Where can I go to find the last speck of you?

When I think that I have cleared you from the room

I find yet another crack or crevice

Your presence remains

If only a tiny spark

 

And even if I clear every space in my surrounding

Of these painful relics

Your saintly form

Has found sanctuary in every corner of my heart

I cannot be rid of you

Though you too were wrenched from me

Like Osiris

Without warning

 

I am not Isis though

I know that I cannot put you together again

For a final moment under the sun

osiris_and_isis_by_sanio-d4haqkzWe will have no Horus born to us

No moment again in each other’s arms

Holding the child of our love

As Isis did with Osiris

Before that final ibis song

Called him beyond the Nile again

 

I gather these pieces

Some to pass like sacred elements

In some cosmic communion

Like your body passed to the penitent

Gathered to remember you

At some altar to one afire

Like Osirus with Spirit’s greening life

To those who, like me, knew you

and, knowing you, found love

found life

 

Sometimes I wonder perhaps

When your brain went wild

Your world turned in on itself

And those months you could not speak or walk

If maybe that was my losing you

As Isis lost Osiris

 

hezekiah prayerWere these two years my magic moment

Where God, like with Isaiah, turned back the sun on its dial

Granting us a season unplanned

A grace unearned

Years beyond your scheduled farewell?

Is that why these autumn days we shared


Before the setting of your sun

Had such joy?

 

I cannot know.

I only know I cannot bare to gather the pieces

I cannot bare to put you away

To bury what we have

As I buried you

On that green hill behind

Your favorite altar

 

dancing near godI saw you dance, though, didn’t I?

When a young man, glowing with that green fire

Stood, radiant with the glory,

Showing me a place I did not know where you are

Shining out in the faces of those once cast off

Now at home in God, Now roaring like lions

Protecting the pride you called home

Calling the fledgling scattered ones in

 

As he spoke with your vigor

I saw your double spirit multiply

Upon not just that man

But all among your rainbowed tribe

You taught me to love

Who hear the voice of Spirit say

“I made you, fearful and wonderful, just as you are.

Shine, shine, shine, and let my rays fall where they may”.

 

I saw you there, alive, beyond your scattered pieces

Not to judge like Osiris on his distant darkened throne

But to dance

To dance the dance of life

The greening dance I see in the call of birds in springtime

In the budding flowers

The newborn’s cry

The dance the Hindus picture the many armed god moving in

24 The Trinity

This icon of the Trinity draws on the feminine images used in Scripture for the Holy Spirit, as a reminder that women as well as men can bear the image of God.

The dance my Buddhists friends find upon their prayer wheels

Which the Sufis join in their spinning

That I know in the flow of Creator, Christ, and Spirit

 

Oh I see you dance

And I know

You live.

 

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Daily Reflection/Song of the South: Drowning

Josephine-Wolfe-Jesus-Walking-on-Water“Drowning”

People tell me I am doing fine
“What a positive outlook.
You’re back at work. Good for you”.
But they don’t see
They don’t hear
They don’t feel the world I live in.
You are always there,
My Ghost of Grief

You haunt my days
You are always behind me
Surrounding me on all sides
You unseen barrier, holding back
Your Roaring waves
Chaos unspeakable
Like some reverse fish bowl
Where the ocean is outside, air within

jesus on waterI am laughing, smiling with friends
Yet I hear you, inaudible to them,
Gurgling in my ears
Louder and louder each moment
Pressure building
All around me
Ready to blow at any moment

Oh dirty thief, you steal the spark of my pleasure
The peace of my laughter
The joy of all my days
as you have stolen her away from me

I look to the sun
Yet its light is distorted
Shining through the thick murk of you
That surrounds me

Though others see its daylight glistening
So each morning is aglow with promise
Each nightfall rosy with remembrance and
dreams pregnant with promise
You shroud my daystar of hope
Til it is but a shimmer on an oil slick
wave 4Pooling thick about me
Surrounding the eye of my soul
Leaving my whole life
A twisted image from some funhouse
Like a Picasso
Shot through with holes

And then, when I finally let go
My vision becoming unclouded
Feeling the pressure lift
Breathing again
When I finally see the sun for but a moment
Laugh without restraint
Believe my joy has come
Live
Then, Grief, you do it again

It only takes a moment
A gentle wind
A familiar image in the corner of my eye
A cough
The smell of familiar perfume
sounds like her laughter in my ear
And the surrounding walls collapse
wave 3The Ocean that engulfed me
Filthy and dark
Comes pouring
Grief like waves
Showering like summer storm
Thick as hurricanes on the beach
Thundering like Fort Bragg bombs at drill time
Falling salty and brimy
Cllinging to my clothes
Greyish drops of despair hanging from my beard

I am soaked, through and through,
Beyond all drying
With loss of her unforgettable
My shoes squish with the septic smell
Of decay
I shiver
I shake
Yet I look around trembling, wet, and cold
To see them as they are smiling
At the sight a sun that is not there for me
Warmed by the daylight of other’s embrace
That does not touch me
While I sit trembling with winter chill
That cuts me to the bone

Daily Reflection — I Told You Not to Come

I found this after I completed my grief journal, while working on putting together some home-made poetry chap books for some people dear to me who asked me not to buy them anything for Christmas.  I wrote this well before Kat passed, but it’s words so well depict the topsy-turvy nature of grief.  How, even after I largely feel I’ve moved beyond my pain, suddenly and without warning it will hit me so hard.

Hope some of you can relate with it and it helps give words to your grief.

Micah

 

Unheeded Restraining Order

 

waiting“I asked you not come,”

I whispered to her

while my heart lay open,

aching and broken on the table,

all ground gone from beneath my trembling feet.

Like the rabbit in the corn field

behind the house we later shared

when it was spooked by one of our howling dogs,

I had turned tail,

Trying so hard to run,

to hide in the solitary space

of my little rented room

that sat unseen in the bright California sun

sheltered beside the three orange trees

I liked to sit by and read

on warm spring days.

 

I was no rabbit, swift-footed and sure.

I crept away slow hoping to go unnoticed,

hunkering down like

some bear returning to his cave

holing up at the first winter chill.

She would not let me be,

would not let me slumber in secret.

Despite my hiding, she saw me.

She sought me out

and when she found me,

it was you I saw.

 

rain on tin roofI told you not to come, heartache,

I banned you from beneath my roof,

remembering how daddy went to work

every day but one

even when sick.

“Don’t come”, I thundered

because I wanted to pull it together,

to man up, just like him.

Men after all, I remembered, fix things.

They aren’t broken.

Like daddy, I wanted to carry the world

heavy upon my strong shoulders.

I would handle it.

 

But, grief, you came anyway

and when I saw you,

like that clothes-strewn, hidey-hole of a room

we hide away from the guests.

I wanted to shut the door,

to hide you, never to be seen again.

 

griefYet it is into you she walked when she strolled in,

and it is you I saw in her autumn eyes.

Is it any wonder?

After all, for all my talk of wanting, like him,

to carry it all like some shimmering globe upon my shoulders,

Atlas shrugged.

I remember seeing that globe

come rolling off from his back

with a noisy crack

splintering into a thousand glittering shards

dusting my floor like fresh-fallen snow,

when,

Wild Turkey on his breath,

voice cracking on the phone,

he fall apart before me.

 

When I told him then “don’t call me back drunk”

how much was I not wanting that poison on his lips

and how much was I wanting to take that sight of him

shattered and broken

into that room with you,

so that you could stay hidden from my view.

 

But now as I sit

braced for the cold

looking back at that day

as across a sea of years

once blown by tempest

but now still as a mirror

reflecting the morning sun

I know her coming was a gift.

I had to see you in her eyes, to see me in mine.

I had to hold you, though your pieces cut, to let go.

I had to watch you eclipse my sky,

for sitting in your shadow,

my pain and anger fell like orange leaves upon October ground.

And it was the water of those tears in my eyes,

the wind from the curses and whimpers upon my lips,

which grew the seed of beginning again

budding into the laughter and smiles

that now grace my face

which, with those waters, is now lit by amber sunrise.

Grief — the Love That Lets Me Stand

belovedPsalm 118

This is one of my favorite psalms, in its simplicity. That refrain: the steadfast love of the Lord has carried us through. But for God’s steadfast love, where would we be? This says it all.

I can feel that right now in a strong, poignant way.

When I walked in to find my wife, my beautiful wife, laying there still as a stone, contentment on her face but empty of all life, I entered a few days where it all was a blur. Moments I didn’t know where I was. Where I had to have people sit me down, make me eat, take me by the hand and lead me through where I needed to be.

I tried to pray and even that would not come. I would gasp. I would weep. I would cry. But words could not come.

beloved (1)There is a prayer I pray as a chaplain with the dying and with those who love them.   I ask God to guide them as a shepherd, never leaving their side and when they cannot walk, to lift them in God’s arms and carry them.

I feel this has happened to me this month into the beginning of my grief. God has carried me.

You know I don’t know that I would have said I saw God at all in those first few days. All I say was pain, darkness, unimaginable loss. My world, my life untethered and falling apart like a woven sheet unravelling into loose strands. I remember saying to someone “these 12 years – no 13, even before we married – home has been wherever she is. I cannot go where she is, nor can she come to me. I feel not only that I have lost my dearest and greatest love, but I have no home. I am wondering, lost in the woods.   I am not at home in my world. I do not know how I can be. I must learn to live out these things we say but do not do, these words that feel like lies right now: to make my home somehow in God. In life itself. And I do not know how without her”.

love wendell berryIn those moments the Love that beats like the rhythm of a heart at the center of this great dance that moves in all things embraced me in love. Embraced me in my dogs who, when I got off the phone with the crematory wailing, tears dripping down my face, jumped up on me, wrapping me in their fur, washing my tears away with their kisses. God embraced me in the deer that greeted me, reminding me that life goes on in its beauty. God embraced me in family who made sure I ate, I dressed, I got done what needed doing. God embraced in friends who laughed and cried with me. Who did not leave me alone in that dark night.   God continues to embrace me.

I am not yet at home in my world.   I am still a bit of a stranger to myself. But I’m not adrift. I’m not lost in the woods.   And it is through this love that springs up as certain as greening bud in the springtime, as near as the air in my lungs. It is through this love I’ve found in all these places and in some of you.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Grief: Looking Ahead — Better to Marry Than to Burn?

I read this article yesterday: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/shonda-rhimes-oprah-marriage_56451041e4b08cda348828db?section=women&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

wedding anniversary pic

I really appreciate what it says about how marriage is not the only way to find happiness. I’m coming to such thoughts out of a wonderful marriage of 12 years. I loved every day of my marriage to Kat, and I’d do it again if I could have that. But… It’s likely just the grief, but I can’t imagine doing that again now with somebody else. I think the biggest part of it is that I can’t imagine it being so good.

A part of it though is also my honest skepticism about the institution from studying its history: marriage seems to emerge in many cultures as an early human property arrangement used to control women by selling and trading them like cattle. In our modern world it is an arrangement that was one of equality for Kat and me, liberating and life-giving to us both but not because of the institution itself but the choices we made in it. Too often as a pastor I’ve seen in our world where it may not be for others what it was for us, but instead become a prison that keeps people in abusive relationships. It can be that prison because of its origins as a property arrangement to control women, and Kat’s and my relationship would have been as good, life-giving, and beautiful without the name “marriage”, the ceremony in the church, or any of the paperwork. One thing other than my own good experience of marriage sets a light of hope for me in the value of this institution that can often become a prison: same gender marriage2Queer people and feminists. Queer people of the world and feminist-minded people of all gender expressions are paving a way for approaches to marriage that are not what its origins shape it to be. They are building marriages that are true partnerships, because they necessarily disrupt the patriarchal shape of marriage that at least in the West is at its foundations, since they overthrow the gender stereotypes traditional marriage imposes. I can perhaps embrace again that model for marriage, but I don’t have to marry to be happy either.

I may or may not marry again. I have no idea what I will want. But I could see myself becoming a person who has relationships that are deep and Question Mark on Road - Uncertaintymeaningful but chooses not to marry again. One does not have to marry to have a healthy relationship with another person, as many of my queer friends who were forbidden from marriage these long years only to have it as an option now so firmly demonstrated to me. I’m glad to see someone talking about the fact that marriage and children are not the only way to live a good, fulfilled life, or even a holy life. I’ve even see this in straight friends. I think of a long-time friend and civil rights activist who has been with his partner, a wonderful passionate woman of faith, for as long or longer than Kat and I were together. Those two have something holy but because of the same reasons I am skeptical about marriage as an institution, they have chosen not to marry.

Marriage is not the only way to have life-partnership happen. And, honestly, as a dear friend reminded me, you don’t even have to have a partner, spouse, or marriage to have and raise good children if I chose to go down that path. Whether I ever do enter a romantic relationship again or not, and whether if I do let that relationship become a marriage again will be because that path is the most life-giving and holy path for me, not because of all the ways we’ve made an idol of the fairy tale marriage that few find. It will not because of the societal pressure to fit a mold. And in many ways I feel I *have* lived pretty darn close to that fairy tale in my life already. I’m interested in what’s real, what’s life giving. That may be marriage and children. It might be any number of odd arrangements. Thankful to believe in a still-speaking God and an open life where when I get through the darkness of grief the world is fuller, not more empty, as it often feels.

I’d be curious to see how grief, loss, and changes have affected how others view relationships after going through being widowed or divorced.

Micah

Daily Reflection– I am One of the Voiceless Ones

Ruth's_Wise_Choice_(Bible_Card)Ruth 1

 During the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A man with his wife and two sons went from Bethlehem of Judah to dwell in the territory of Moab. The name of that man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the territory of Moab and settled there.

But Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died. Then only she was left, along with her two sons. They took wives for themselves, Moabite women; the name of the first was Orpah and the name of the second was Ruth. And they lived there for about ten years.

But both of the sons, Mahlon and Chilion, also died. Only the woman was left, without her two children and without her husband.

Then she arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the field of Moab, because while in the territory of Moab she had heard that the Lord had paid attention to his people by providing food for them. She left the place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law went with her. They went along the road to return to the land of Judah.

Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Go, turn back, each of you to the household of your mother. May the Lord deal faithfully with you, just as you have done with the dead and with me. May the Lord provide for you so that you may find security, each woman in the household of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

 

common english bibleEarly on into my journey through grief, one of my pastors did a lesson on widows.   Luckily I can say that they didn’t have me in mind, since our Wednesday Bible studies follow the Revised Common Lectionary, a list of suggested readings for each week of the year.

She read the story of Ruth with us, and also the story of the widow’s mite, from Scripture. She told of their loss and what it meant in their culture. I realized in that moment their story was my own. I am someone defined by loss, a widower not a widow. But one whose whole life has become colored by the absence of one whose love so defined me. Though not in the economic threat of a widow in the ancient world, I find myself many a day not being sure how to stand, how to move forward, how to imagine a life without her.

widows miteOne thing my preacher said that spoke volumes to me is that in the language of Scripture the word “widow” is a form of the Hebrew word for muteness. It means the voiceless ones. In that day and age there was a desire to silence widows.   To stop their tears. To quiet their reminesences. Also without a man who was head of household, they had not voice about their affairs. They were to slip quietly into the shadows.

I have a voice, of course. I have been known to make it known to my own detriment. I can think of so many times in my marriage we were at some voicelesssocial event, especially when I was younger and more idealistic, and something happened. I would speak up, confident about my views. And later my wife, who might have agreed with me, would say “Honey, are you sure you have said it that way? I think you made a scene. I think you need to apologize”. Reluctantly, I would. I learned through her to control my voice. The power of quietly listening. The strength that need not make a sound.

Yet I find a month into this, there is a powerful force at work to silence me.   Early on people flocked around me to make sure I was ok. People heard me tell the tales of my love, of my loss. They bore my tears, even my wailing, with poise.

I feel it now. The looks that say “oh no? Him again. Well, get ready for sad stories”. I see the folks who would return my call or text in an instant who simply don’t respond. Or I hear back from so late I hardly have the energy to talk. I feel it in myself. I grew up an awkward kid who didn’t quite fit in. Deep down, I believe if I am “too much to handle”, I will find my once friends turning their backs on me and myself all alone.   Though I’ve learned some of this is my own stuff, I also know there’s truth to it in grief. I’ve seen the people who, when their friends and family have moved on from grief, finding themselves still stuck in that dark pit alone. I’ve seen when they have that pressure to move on.

voiceless 2I can’t move on.   I have good days. But even then, every part of my heart and cell in my body aches, aches with missing her. And then I have days like today. Where it is a struggle to get out of bed. Where it is a struggle to shower, to shave. Where I am not certain I can see any hope.

My own heart tells me: be quiet. Quit talking about her. Don’t scare off the few people you have.

For I find the onslaught of emotions, the way I am tossed by a sea of pain and uncertainty that feels as if it will drown me, terrifying. I feel at times like I am losing control of my life, losing myself. And if this is the case for me, how much for others who don’t know my pain?

I want to be clear. No one is being mean to me. I understand even those who can’t bear to hear me and make it clear by their actions. I know I can be a downer. I know some who reach out to me do so out of genuine love, but some it is a function of their own grief. To move on from that when they can put aside the pain is understandable. Goodness knows, a part of me wishes I could.

grief angel

But I know it is different. This woman, this wonderful woman, was flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. The only other person I can imagine who understands this in any way, who shares a similar relationship with her, is her mother. For likewise at one point their bodies were one. She held my beloved in her arms, cradling her.   We both have been inseparably joined to this dear wonderful woman – her mother at her start, and me in these glory days of her life and even these autumn years.

One does not move on from that. One learns to live with it. One learns to move forward every day. One learns like Kat said many times to find our joy anyway.

I still remember when Kat told me this. Her Arnold Chiari Malformation which is what took her life caused horrible blinding headaches and vertigo. One day she was in screaming pain, hardly able to get out of bed. Our then 3-4 year old nephew was going to come over in a few hours. He loved his aunt Kat and would want to climb in her lap, tickler her and be tickled, and wrestle on the floor.  Which would bring about unimaginable pain to her. She said “NO! Don’t do that. He will only be this young so long. If I stop spending time with him, if I stop doing all the things I love, that stroke the Chiari caused might as well have killed me.  I have to find my joy and choose it each day, no matter the pain. When I quit doing that, why am I even here?”

She did chose it, to the day she died.   And it challenges me on these oh so hard days. I have to sit with my pain a bit, let myself feel it, and remember. But I cannot stop there. I must find some joy. I must embrace it. I must live. That is what she would want.

A Week in the Word: A message for Christmas

chellewcollarThis is a message from Rev. Candace Chellow-Hodge, a South Carolina pastor and long-time leader in the LGBT rights movement here in the south-land.

I’ve always had deep respect for her ministry.  She helped organize Whosoever magazine for many years, which has helped support many LGBTQ people of faith in reconciling their faith and spirituality.

She has written a number of excellent books on reconciling our Christian faith with sexuality and modern life.

Currently she is leading an innovative new church, Jubilee! Circle, which is founded on an inclusive approach to the Christian faith which follows the path laid out by Mathew Fox’s works books on creation spirituality that looks at other traditions, faiths, as having insights which can complement and grow our faith.  The website for Jubilee! Circle, is http://www.jubileecircle.com

whosoeverLike me, there may be aspects of what Rev. Chellow-Hodge presents and how she comes to her ideas which might new, challenging, or different.  But I think her voice is an important one in showing new ways people in the south-land are re-thinking our faith. Also her challenge to be ones in whom is born the living Christ this Christmas season is I think God’s call for each of us.

May it bless, challenge, and vex you out of complacency and deeper into life this Christmas and always.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

 


Dec. 20, 2015: Mystical Prayers
Philippians 4:4-9:
think about these things
Luke 3:7-18: What then should we do?
Christian mystic St. John of the Cross: each of us is the midwife of God (p. 306, love songs)

Our song this morning comes from the Gainesville, Florida-based band Sister Hazel. The band was named for a local nun, Sister Hazel William who ran a homeless shelter there. This song “Change Your Mind,” comes from their 2000 album Fortress (Capo 2)

             D          G          A
Intro:
  Oooh, oooh, yeah            (2x)
               D             A                Bm                                     G                   D
Verse:  Hey, Hey,    Did you ever think There might be another way
 Bm                        G                        A
To just feel better,  Just feel better about today
 D       A    Bm                                               G                     D                                     Bm
Oh no,     If you never want to have  To turn and go away, You might feel better,
      G                    A
Might feel better if you stay
   Bm    A         G                                           D                         Bm    A  
Bridge:  Yeah yeah, I bet you haven’t heard   A word I’ve said, Yeah yeah
    G                                                                                                                       A  
If you’ve had enough, Of all your tryin’  Just give up , The state of mind you’re in …
      D                 G               A          
Chorus:  If you want to be somebody else,
           D                          G                       A
If you’re tired of fighting battles, baby, with yourself
   D                 G               A
If you want to be somebody else, just
      D   G    A                                 D   G    A
Change your mind,              change your mind
griefA guy named John was struggling financially, so he walked into a church and started to pray. “Listen God,” John said. “I know I haven’t been perfect but I really need to win the lottery. I don’t have a lot of money. Please help me out.”

He left the church, a week went by, and he hadn’t won the lottery, so he found a synagogue and went in to pray. “Come on, God,” he said. “I really need this money. My mom needs surgery and I have bills to pay. Please let me win the lottery.”

He left the synagogue, a week went by, and he didn’t win the lottery. So, he found a mosque and started to pray again. “You’re starting to disappoint me, God,” he said. “I’ve prayed and prayed. If you just let me win the lottery, I’ll be a better person. I don’t have to win the jackpot, just enough to get me out of debt. I’ll give some to charity, even. Just let me win the lottery.”

Just as John walked out of the mosque, he looked up to see the clouds opening above him and voice boomed from heaven saying: “John, for Pete’s sake, buy a lottery ticket.”

The joke is funny, of course, but how many times have we fallen into the same trap, praying over and over again for some thing, for some particular outcome, or to avoid some thing or some particular outcome, only to be disappointed by God? Perhaps, though, God didn’t disappoint us. Perhaps, we were approaching this idea of prayer in the wrong fashion.

I remember when the book “The Secret” came out and everyone went gaga over The Law of Attraction as if it were some brand new discovery. The critics, of course, had a field day with the book and mocked it relentlessly as “magical” or “wishful” thinking with little actual proof that it works. For the critics, those who subscribed to the Secret were like John, praying to win the lottery without buying a ticket.

tree of lifeThose who misunderstand the Law of Attraction do think it’s a bunch of new age hooey, but if you ask the Apostle Paul, he’d most likely disagree, because in today’s reading his instructions to the fledgling Christian community in Philippi is all about activating what some today call the Law of Attraction.

But, let’s back up and define our terms for a second. What is the Law of Attraction? Is it really just some new-age hoo-hah meant to turn us all into magical thinking Pollyannas?

No, the Law of Attraction is simply the modern day name we’ve given to an ancient method of moving out of our ego and into the higher consciousness. It’s the best method we have of moving into the mystic!

In our more modern terms, we talk about low vibration or low energy states — which is what it means to be in the ego. The ego vibrates at a very low frequency and often sees the world around it as limited in supply with not enough abundance to go around — so the ego sets about convincing us that everyone around us is competition with us for limited resources and we’ve got to look out for number one.

So, we grab and grasp for things we want. We see the fulfillment of our happiness as something outside of ourselves — in possessions, in careers, in success, in relationships. This type of competing behavior, that sees other people as enemies, or at least competitors, puts us in a low energy, ego-driven state.

But, when we can raise our vibration and overcome the ego, we ascend into our higher consciousness — that place that understands that this world is overflowing with abundance, that no one need lack for anything. Lack is only created by the lower frequency competition for perceived limited resources that result in hoarding and refusing to share with one another.

By raising our vibrational level, however, we can come into the presence of the Holy, where we see with new eyes and understand that everyone in this world wants the same thing — to be seen for who they are — incomplete, yet beautiful and to be loved just as they are.

How do we get to this higher vibrational state? Change your mind.

              D       A                     Bm                                G                                                             
Verse:  Hey hey,  Have you ever danced in the rain
                              D                       Bm                       G                        A
Or thanked the sun,  Just for shining- just for shining   Or the sea?
D      A      Bm                          G                                    D                                Bm
Oh no –    take it all in  The world’s a show, And yeah, you look much better,
        G                            A
Look much better when you glow

   Bm    A         G                                           D                         Bm    A  
Bridge:  Yeah yeah, I bet you haven’t heard   A word I’ve said, Yeah yeah
    G                                                                                                                       A  
If you’ve had enough, Of all your tryin’  Just give up , The state of mind you’re in …
      D                 G               A          
Chorus:  If you want to be somebody else,
           D                          G                       A
If you’re tired of fighting battles, baby, with yourself
   D                 G               A
If you want to be somebody else, just
      D   G    A                                 D   G    A
Change your mind,              change your mind

For anyone who has studied the Law of Attraction or listened to Abraham, the ancient wisdom channeled by Esther Hicks, the Apostle Paul’s words in today’s reading may seem familiar. It should, because what Paul outlines is how to activate the Law of Attraction — or put another way, how to start moving out of our ego and into our higher, Divine Self.

worship 1First, he tells them, be grateful.  “Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say, Rejoice!” This word, “rejoice” in Greek simply means, to be glad. The first step to raising your vibration — to stepping out of ego — is to rejoice, to be glad, even when everything around you is working hard to make, or keep you, sad and in the dumps.

After rejoicing, Paul says, stop worrying and start giving thanks. Followers of Abraham would recognize this as the first step to entering what’s called “the Vortex,” which could be compared to “entering into the presence of God.” God is always running in, through and around this world, and we often lose sight of where to find God in the midst of our daily trials and bad news coming from every corner of the world.

The fastest way to become aware of God’s presence in our lives, according to Paul and the Law of Attraction, is through thanksgiving. When we are looking around our world and finding things to be thankful for — whether it’s something as general as a bed to sleep in our a roof over our heads or as specific as our health or wellbeing — we completely shut worry out of our lives.

Focusing on giving thanks puts us immediately in God’s presence, and in the present moment, where worries about the past or the future fall away. This is where we can encounter that peace that passes understanding. The world’s problems go on, our own problems go on, but when we can reach this place, we find a peace we cannot explain, even as anxiety threatens to overwhelm us.

Next, Paul instructs us to ask for what we want. Asking is, indeed, a part of prayer, but after the asking, Paul, like his contemporary counterparts, says stop thinking about what you want, which is a tough step for us, because we obsess over what we don’t have and we chew on our request over and over again. The key to success, however, is to forget about what you’ve asked for, Paul instructs, and instead set your mind on other things — thoughts that will fill you with peace, joy and love and will leave no time for obsessing over what you feel is missing in life.

” … whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” Paul instructs his ancient congregation and us today.

This isn’t a one-time exercise, though, according to Paul. No, he says, “keep on doing the things you have received … and the God of peace will be with you.”

breath prayerJubilants, this is a whole new way to pray that takes us out of our selfish, ego-based prayers for things, or power, or money or even better health or healing for ourselves and others. Praying in the old way we’ve been taught just keeps us in our ego, it just keeps us in that place of asking for the same old things over and over again and wondering why God never answers us.

But, when we change our mind about prayer — when we follow Paul’s advice and begin not in a place of lack, but in a place of thanksgiving and abundance, that, Jubilants, is the moment when we purchase our lottery ticket. Breathe deeply.

   Bm    A         G                                           D                         Bm    A  
Bridge:  Yeah yeah, I bet you haven’t heard   A word I’ve said, Yeah yeah
    G                                                                                                                       A  
If you’ve had enough, Of all your tryin’  Just give up , The state of mind you’re in …
      D                 G               A          
Chorus:  If you want to be somebody else,
           D                          G                       A
If you’re tired of fighting battles, baby, with yourself
   D                 G               A
If you want to be somebody else, just
      D   G    A                                 D   G    A
Change your mind,              change your mind

Baptism-of-Christ (1)If Paul is giving us a way to change our minds … to think ourselves into a new way of being, living and loving in this world, then John the Baptist, in today’s reading from the Jesus story, is giving us some concrete ways to buy that lottery ticket that moves us out of ego and into our Divine Self.

First, though, John has a warning to the crowds that have gathered to hear him and be baptized, though it may sound a bit strange to our modern ears. “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”

What he’s saying to us in our modern times is this: “Don’t think that just because you’re a Christian, or an American, or whatever ancestry you think makes you a good person, that God agrees. Don’t be arrogant about your religion or your spirituality, because nobody has God all figured out.”

It’s tempting, as we delve deeper into the mystic and learn more about these spiritual truths and laws, to think we’re superior to those who don’t get it, or beneath those who would call us apostates or woo-woo new agers. John is telling those following him, and us today, to remain humble about spiritual matters, because we all wander off the path from time to time.

What’s important, John tells us through this reading, is that no matter our spiritual or religious beliefs, we have to do more than just pray and give thanks and hope for the best. Buying the lottery ticket, in John’s world, meant actually going out into the world and being the hands, the eyes, the arms, the feet and the face of God in this world.

native american nativityAs we expect the birth of the Christ child later this week, Christian mystic St. John of the Cross reminds us that we are all the midwife of God. The Christ seeks to be born into the world through us not just on Christmas Day but every day.

We give birth to Christ in this world in every moment that we are focused on doing what we can to make this world a better place, not just for ourselves, not just for those with whom we agree, but for everyone, friend and foe alike. If we have two coats, or extra food, John the Baptist says, share it with others. We are to treat everyone we encounter fairly, lovingly and kindly and avoid doing harm to anyone.

This, John says, is how we birth God, not just into the world, but into our own hearts and minds as well.

We begin by seeking to step out of the low vibrational energy of our ego, by giving thanks.  I invite you, Jubilants, to give thanks first for your ego, because it is your ego that alerts you to the fact that you are stuck in a habitual mindset and you are in sore need of changing your mind and raising your vibrational energy.

dancing jesus 1Next, we ask the Holy for what we desire and then we let it go and focus again on any and all thoughts and things that are good, just, honorable, truthful and calls forth the better angels of our nature to be expressed into the world.

Meditation and focusing on the good and the honorable are not enough, though. We have to buy the lottery ticket to strike the jackpot we seek — connection to that true Divine Self that shimmers with abundance, joy, love and the peace that passes all understanding.

This is not magical thinking, Jubilants. This is also not some get-rich-quick scheme or some flimsy version of a prosperity gospel.  Paul says this is how we connect to the Divine. This is how we step into the life-giving power that God has granted to each of us. This is how we birth Christ into the world at every moment.

Will it bring world peace? Will it bring us a million dollars? Will it stop people from terrorizing one another? Certainly not immediately, but the only way God can come into this world to help others and ultimately bring peace is through us, and the only world you can ever truly change is the one inside of you.

mother and foetusYou cannot birth peace into the world unless you are pregnant with peace. You cannot birth love into this world unless you are pregnant with love. You cannot bring anything into this world that you do not already possess.

The love, peace, joy, mercy and life-giving spirit of the Divine is already within each of us. It’s up to us to decide to nurture it, to grow it to its maturity and birth it into the world.  You can’t wish it into being. You’ve got to do the hard, sweaty and often painful work of giving birth to what you want to see in this world.

As the saying goes, “Ya gotta be in it to win it,” so, Jubilants, for the world’s sake, buy a lottery ticket!

D          G          A
Oooh, oooh, yeah
  D       A                Bm                 G                                   D
Hey hey, what ya say   We all go and we seize the day
  Bm                                 G                    A
’cause what’s your hurry    what’s your hurry anyway
   Bm    A         G                                          D                                Bm    A
Bridge:  Yeah yeah,   Bet you’ve heard every  word that I’ve said, Yeah yeah
    G                                                                                                                       A  
If you’ve had enough, Of all your tryin’  Just give up , The state of mind you’re in …
      D                 G               A          
Chorus:  If you want to be somebody else,
           D                          G                       A
If you’re tired of fighting battles, baby, with yourself
   D                 G               A
If you want to be somebody else, just
      D   G    A                                 D   G    A
Change your mind,              change your mind
D          G          A
Oooh, oooh, yeah (4x)    end on D

 

mother nursing