Monday, November 18, 2019

"my cup runneth over..."


"and sometimes
I whisper
what Im thinking of,

my cup runneth over
with love..."



I love this sweet performance of Ed Ames' "My Cup Runneth Over," by Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet - from when I was a girl. It reminds me of an analogy that has been circulating on social media for the past three years. It is one that has had a significant impact on me:

“You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?
"Because someone bumped into me!!!"

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you -- which WILL happen -- whatever you are carrying inside of you will come out. It's easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

*So we have to ask ourselves... “what's in my cup?"*

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others."
 
I am so grateful for friends who continue to regularly post this analogy on Facebook. It always encourages me to check what I am carrying around in my heart.

I will leave this here without comment, and let it speak for itself.

offered with Love...


Kate


Thursday, October 10, 2019

"and when I don't belong..."


"and when
I don't belong,
you say
I am Yours..."



Lauren Daigle's "You Say," was the fire that drew me to her side this morning -- as the first snow of the season, fell gently on the last of summer's roses.

Some days I wake up without a sense of belonging in the world. Not just in big abstract ways, but in the details of the day. I look in the refrigerator for something to eat and nothing seems right -- and not just "not right," but foreign. I walk out the front door and I feel detached from the community I have loved and cherished for decades. I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

I have to yield a sense of who I am based on context -- the where I live, who I know, what I do version of my self-- to something invisible and indivisible in me. This lyric from Lauren's song really spoke to me this morning:

“The only thing that matters now
is everything You think of me..."
 
It doesn't feel disorienting or disassociating when I yield to this one "thought of me," but I actually feel more connected, more fully engaged, more at peace with my place in the world. I am able to sit for hours and hours in my office and feel the presence of a community so inclusive and universal that all those feelings of "not belonging" drop away.

As I was pondering this line her song:


“You say I am loved,
when I can't feel a thing..."
 
I realized that it does not feel at all personal for me. How often do we pray that our children, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers on the border, or soldiers and refugees in a far away land can actually feel that they are loved -- truly, viscerally loved, deeply held, completely protected and defended.

How many times have I felt empty and bereft of love in my own life? Too often. But no matter how loudly it feels like that emptiness is echoing in the cavity of my longing, it is not true. And I can know it is not true. In fact, I can actually prove that it is not true.

For example: I, myself, am filled with love.  Even though it may not feel that it is coming at me, or towards me -- from someone else at that particular moment -- but it is always radiating from within me. My love for my daughters, my love for beauty, my love for honesty, goodness, innocence. These are always there -- ready to be called up as a reminder that I am not "without love" in my life.  This is consciousness of the presence of Love, is the I AM of divine Being.

Mary Baker Eddy gives us such clear direction in our search for identity, belonging, an invariable sense of who we are in the world -- and how we fit -- when she wrote:


“How shall we reach
our true selves?

Through Love."
 
What God -- divine Love -- says about me, or you, is all that matters. Everything else that might be said about us is lovely -- or not. Whether those voices are from others, or just the false voices that hiss in the night.  Either way, they don't matter.  They can just as easily bring us joy and comfort one minutes -- and the next, drive us to our knees with the weight of insecurity and self-doubt. They are fickle and unreliable sources.

But we are not limited by those voices of admiration -- or dismissal.  We each have the right to ask ourselves, where is this "message" of grandeur or smallness, belonging or emptiness, success or failure, love or fear -- coming from. If God isn't saying it to us -- we can question it.  We can decide to sit with those feelings a little longer, and let them instruct us in compassion, or we can listen more deeply until we hear the voice of divine Love reminding us:


“you are not alone,

what I say about you
is all that matters,
and you are Mine..."
 
It is enough to lift us up, to dissolve our fears, to humble our ambitions, to walk us forward...

offered with Love,


Kate


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"transitions and leaving..."


"You're lovely
even with your scars;
lovely just the way you are.

So open up your lovely heart,
don't try so hard..."



Sometimes, I can read something that touches a nerve so deep it drives me to my knees -- or to laying my head in my arms and just weeping.

My friend - and much-admired women's historian - Sally Roesch Wagner, posted a piece at the end of the summer about "leaving the lake" in which she writes:

“You must be leaving soon,” my daughter observed. “Yes, why do you say that?” “Because you just picked a fight with me.”

It was one of those golden moments when intimacy mirrors deep truths about yourself. I pick fights when I leave. “I don’t love you anymore,” “You suck,” “I don’t even like you.”

I’m in a fight with the lake right now. Stupid lake. It’s overcast and cold and gloomy and I’m mad at it. Because tomorrow morning I will leave it for another year.

Recognizing my pattern, owning it, the dam bursts and I am crying sad because I will miss this lake I love with all the 72 years my body has known her.
 
That is me. Or at least it has been me for most of my life. A family member once said, "It's not worth coming to visit you unless I can stay for 10 days. It takes you 3 days to open up, and three days to prepare for my leaving. You pick fights or look for ways to isolate yourself days before I have to depart."

She was right. I know this about myself. God bless my husband for knowing that "comings and goings" are hard for me. Whether I am going away, or he is, he knows enough to carve out space in our home for those transitions -- from being together, to being alone, to being together again.  He gives me space to grieve.  And for some reason, it is a grieving for me -- and  I have to process it each time.

So, obviously these feelings are not new for me. But seeing someone that I admire so much, willing to actually own that pattern of emotional fragility herself, was somehow heart-fissuring for me. I wasn't alone. Something of the brittleness in me -- about how I see myself -- started to yield its hardness. I could look at myself through the lens of self-compassion.

I love that God brings those wiser guides into our lives to help us through the labyrinth of self-acceptance. Sally's insight about her own sorrow when "leaving the lake," gave me permission to begin to look more deeply at my own grief about transitions.

Sometimes, I try too hard. I don't "do" some things -- like entering a crowded room -- with ease. I tend to need a job, a role, a name badge that says, "hi, I am Cate and I am here in this role..." to navigate those situations. Just walking in and finding my "tribe," is terrifying for me. But knowing that I am not alone, and that there just might be someone else in the "room" -- or in the world -- that is feeling just as awkward, takes my focus off of my own awkwardness.  It makes me look for her (or him) when I enter that room, so that I can try and make it easier for them too.

Amy Grant's "Don't Try So Hard," is like a friend looking me in the eye and saying -- "you've got this." Sally's post about "leaving the lake" will now join Amy's song like a big sister who puts her arm through mine and guides me forward, saying -- all the way, "I'm here, we can do this - together."  We can do this, because we have a God who loves us and has sent us into each other's lives as angels of mercy and compassion. Whether it's in a song, a moment of self-reflection shared with a reader, or just a smile across a crowded room.

If there is some way I can "be there" for you -- please let me know.

This blog is here to remind us all that, "we are not alone."

offered with Love,


Kate


Saturday, September 28, 2019

"i am not my story...."


"there is a reduction
of identity to biography..."



Krista Tippett's On Being team created this 45 second "video," to illustrate a profound point that John O'Donohue made in a recorded conversation with Krista, before his passing in 2008.

Let me make this very clear. I love this man. I love his poetry. I love his heart. I love his wisdom. There is, in me, no objectivity about his words. I love them. His books of prose and poetry some of my dearest companions.

There is not a song to keynote this post - at this moment. But, the above video plays in my heart like a song. To hear John's voice - lyrical and resonant - is a gift that sings to my heart.

As for the content of this 45 second video (which I have to admit I would have listened to even if he had only been reading of the Dublin telephone directory) takes my breath away. Not because it is something new, but because it so nails what I believe to be true at the deepest level of being.

We are not our stories. We have stories -- just like we have bodies -- but they do not define us. They are instruments of language for communicating the very listings of what we know at the deepest level -- but they are not "us."

If you have been one of those sweet faithful readers of this blog, you know that after over 750 posts since 2005, I have a bunch of stories. In fact, each of these posts is based on experience. I am not a rhetorical writer. I do not know how to speak or write from the standpoint of thesis. But I can tell you what I have experienced -- a story -- and how that experience was meaningful to me, and further awakened in my a deeper spiritual understanding.

So, to say that I am not my story -- here on this blog -- might seem a bit (or a lot) paradoxical. But it is what I know to be truer than true. And to have it in John's words and spoken by his voice is only more wonderful than i can say.

We are not our stories. Sandy Wilder once shared an exercise with me that took my breath away. It shook me -- the storyteller -- to the core. I felt that false sense of who I was shatter and crumble to the ground like a statue turning to rubble at a feather's touch.

It began with helping me see that although I had chosen the shirt that I was wearing that day, when I took that shirt off, I was still me -- I was not my shirt. And it ended with a realization that I was also not the thoughts I held, the stories I told, or the experiences that I'd carried around like self-defining badges and burdens.

I use these stories to illustrate some spiritual awakening in my heart. But I no longer think that these stories define me or are the historic construct of who I have become, or foundational to who I have yet to discover about the "I am." One that is continuously welling up from the depths of a spiritual wellspring in divine Love.

In thinking of this story-free spiritual identity, I can't help but remember that Mary Baker Eddy wrote her own autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection, in 95 pages. And that at page 54, she stops telling "her story," and the last half of her autobiography includes nothing of her human story, but is all about sharing her love for the Science she had discovered as Life itself.

In the last chapter of this autobiography, Waymarks," Eddy offers:

"Hear this saying of our Master:
"And I, if I be lifted up from earth,
will draw all me."

The ideal of God is no longer impersonated
as a waif or a wanderer..."
 

Without saying it, she says it all. Having been lifted up from her own earth-story -- by the cross of experience -- she was no longer the once-sickly child, or the homeless women who had lived in over 60 homes -- she was spiritual. Her story was "immovably fixed in Principle."

I will leave this here. I hope you feel the depth of your own spiritual identity. I hope you know -- at the very core of your being -- what is pre-existently and eternally "you" as the reflection of the "I AM," -- ever-unfolding, ever-fresh, ever-new. I hope that you can look at your stories as narrative language for sharing what you have discovered, not as an accumulation of experiences that define you.

And since I can't stop a song from scoring a post in my heart -- after I start writing -- I will share Kate Edmonson's beautiful recording of "A Voice." Perhaps our stories are simply the songs we sing to each other to say, "you are not alone."

offered with Love,


Kate


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

"this is my Father's world..."


"this is my Father's world,
O, let me ne'er forget:
that, though the wrongs
seem O, so strong,
Love is the Ruler yet..."



Fountain View Academy's beautiful video recording of "This is my Father's World," was just the reminder I needed this morning as yet one more news cycle of "he said, he did..." erupted.

I stood up from where I was working and walked to the back door. Standing on the small deck just off our kitchen, I gazed out at the shifting season splayed across the foothills and in the canyons of our valley -- leaves turning, cooler temperatures, the sun reaching from further south as it warmed the brick pavers in our courtyard, and remembered Mary Baker Eddy's promise:

"All nature teaches
God's love to man."
 

Yes. So what was God telling me about what seemed so confusing. That His government overarches every human choice, decision, mistake, seeming exercise of egoic willpower and self-preservation. All yielding to the power of Love.

As much as we might love one season over another, the sun's position shifts, the temperatures change, the cycles of light bring surrender, release, reclamation, stillness, redemption, renewal. As much as I think that I would love a year of September days, without winter's silence, or spring's rain I would not have the beautiful colors and soft lessons of autumn.

This is my Father's world -- I trust me to His care. I trust my children, my neighbors, my world to His loving governance.

In her "Daily Prayer" from the Manual of the Mother Church, Mary Baker Eddy further encourages:


"Thy kingdom come
let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love
be established in me,
and rule out of me all sin;
and may Thy Word enrich the affection
of all mankind, and govern them."
 

This is not just a prayer, but a promise. God's Word is speaking in each human heart, enriching everyone's affections for good, for honesty, for humility, for integrity, for grace -- and for governing them. Each of them. Each of us.

This law of God's invariable Love and His sovereign government is impartial and universal. We can trust this with our whole hearts.  No one - no matter how well-positioned -can "go rogue," in the face of His omnipotence -- anymore than a single leaf can decide to not turn to the Sun's light, or a single stone can resist the silent, but irresistible, hold of gravity.

I needed this reminder. It brings me peace today.


offered with Love,


Kate


Monday, September 23, 2019

"we were made to thrive..."


"And though my heart is torn,
I will praise you in this storm..."



My niece, Lily Oyer, offered this beautiful solo of Casting Crown"s "Thrive" at church on Sunday. I asked her if I could share a video recording of her version of "Thrive" here. I love her -- and her beautiful voice.  It reminded me of this post from a few years ago -- I am re-sharing it here below:

It's no secret that I love the inspired music ministry of Casting Crowns. Their recently released "Thrive" CD is a favorite. Earlier this week their lead singer, Mark Hall, was given an unsettling diagnosis and faces surgery soon. The Casting Crowns family has reached out to their church and fan community for support through prayer. It is a privilege to join them in this way.

In a moving post written for the band's website by Mark's wife, Melanie asked,"When it happens to you, where do you turn?" And the band offered their beautiful song, "Praise You in the Storm" as inspiration and encouragement. Both Melanie's post and the song moved me deeply.

The first paragraph of Melanie's piece read: "The call on your cell phone from the doctor with bad news -- that's something that happens to other people, not to us. Our role, for the last 25 years in ministry, is to be there to encourage other people after the call, and to pray with them and try to bring comfort. So when it happens to you, where do you turn?"

Melanie goes on to say, "Mark and I seemed to be in a bit of a fog for several days while the news was sinking in.
Yet the whole time, the verse that kept running through my head over and over was:

"You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in You."
-Isaiah 26:3.
 

Yes. This is exactly where we turn. We turn to Scripture which floods our hearts with the Word. We rest our thoughts on these promises -- like life rafts in a roiling sea of "what if…" And as Mary Baker Eddy encourages in her primary work on hope and healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, we:

"cling steadfastly to God,
and His idea, allowing nothing
but His likeness
to abide in our thought..."
 

And then, we return to the Word - again, and again - for Love's timeless encouragement in stories of salvation, parables of promise, reminders of redemption and resurrection, and messages of healing.

And we are each writing new gospel stories of deep spiritual trust in our lives every day. These contemporary testaments of faith encourage others to remember that, as Mark sings, "You [God] are with us…" At times when we might feel as though we are alone in the storm, we can turn to one another for affirmation, and to the Bible for unshakeable precedent-setting cases of God's law in operation -- even in the storm.

At a particularly challenging time in my own life it was Jesus' parable of the house built on the sand that pulled me out of a death spiral of despair. I've already referred to this experience in an earlier post (linked here) titled,""I will give you perfect peace..." As well as in in another post, "A house that will not fall..." whick is linked at the end of that piece. And because of this personal storm, a parable now lives as part of me -- it is no longer "just a parable" -- it is what courses through my being as vitally as air and water.

The alarming "call" can come in countless forms -- disappointing test results, an upsetting report card, a lost job opportunity, a rejection letter, a health crisis, alarming global events, a child's cry in the night...

So, where do we turn -- we turn to Him, we turn to His Word, we turn to one another for encouragement. Our stories of hope and healing are critical to our neighbors and friends. Our testimonies of deep spiritual trust are vital to the body of Christ, in which we share fellowship in faith. And this is where we hear another call -- the call of Spirit urging us to turn to God, to look through the lens of His love. For it is here that, "He saw everything that He had made, and behold it was -- and is -- very good."

We are not alone in the storm. We are never alone. We have the still small Voice of God. We have the Word. We have the Gospel message of "the kingdom of God is within you." We have angels that hover in the stillness.  And we have each other. Our Father-Mother God is with us -- always. He will keep us in perfect peace.

2019 ps:  Mark and Melanie are thriving! 



offered with Love,


Kate

Saturday, September 14, 2019

"be the love, that fear flees...."


"fear is a liar..."

Zach Williams'  "Fear is a Liar,"  is the perfect keynote for this very short post.

This morning, while listening for a divinely-guided sense of purpose in my day, it was this short statement that rose from silence:


"be the love,
that fear flees..."

That was it. As short and simple as a message could be. But it was enough. Love always is. Love isn't asking us to battle with fear. Love is asking us to trust Its Scriptural promise that:


"there is no fear
in love, but perfect love
casts out fear..."

Love isn't a weapon we wield in the face of fear. Love is the presence that fear flees in the face of.

This Love is not a human endeavor. This Love is not an emotional magic trick that we pull out of our hearts. This Love is a power as irresistible and irrevocable as gravity.

It is trust. It is faith. It is the Truth in all truths. It is the infant's curled hand around the finger of the father humbled and weeping in the face of her first touch. It is the shelter dog wiggling like a puppy when he knows he is going "home."

This love is a yielding, not a working at something. This love is restful, it is not filled with human effort. And this true and undeniable love, starts with the realization that there is Something invisible and indivisible at work in the universe - and it is not our thinking about Love, it is Love itself.

Fear cannot oppose this Love. In its omnipresence, fear flees. Fear doesn't need to be chased out. It doesn't need to be battled against, wrestled with, or approached with trepidation. Wherever this Love walks, fear flees. And this Love walks in the dark cavernous places of our blindness, with as much confidence as it does in the light of our sacred sanctuaries. This Love knows no place where Its presence is not known, felt, and surrendered to in complete abject awe.

We think we are afraid of something - disease, anger, pain, lack.  For example:  "I am afraid of ______, and when ______ is eradicated, I will no longer be afraid."  We think that when this scary somethingness is reduced to rubble, kicked out of our bodies, replaced with a better version of reality -- we will no longer be afraid. We think that fear is the result of something bad being present in our lives.  Get rid of the something and fear will go away.  Not true.

Fear is not an effect.  It is not the outcome - or result - of disease, lack, hatred, conflict, disaster. Fear is at their root.  But like the weed that it is, its root is benign, surface, easily kicked up from the dustbowl of its nothingness.  It may produce a large head of tumbleweed - but it has no hold.  The cultivation of the heart's rich soil releases it. And with Love's sure release, the dandelion heads of disease, lack, etc. are reduced to their native nothingness.

When we are so transfixed and deeply in love with our one first and true Love - God, fear slinks away. It has no voice, no threat, no power to disturb the heart that rests in the arms of the one Love that it knows nothing can separate it from.

offered with Love,


Cate 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

"all that I have written, seems like straw..."


"All that I have written,
seems like straw to me..."

- Thomas Aquinas

So begins Parker Palmer's essay, "Does my life have meaning?" -- which the blogsite, dumbofeather.com, excerpted as a post. If you have a moment, it is a wonderful read.

I love Parker J. Palmer's writing. And his recent collaboration with Carrie Newcomer has enriched my spiritual life greatly. Their pairing of prose and music feeds the soul. I hear it in their song,  "Abide."  It points to the fertile space of shared silence.

Now back to this post. There is something about Aquinas' statement:


"All that I have written
seems like straw to me."

that makes me feel lighter and breathe more easily. To know that what I have written doesn't have to stand for decades. That I don't have to say it perfectly. I only have to say it. This is so wonderful.

For too many years I thought I had to find my voice, leave a legacy, share a message. I don't. I only have to speak the truth. To live my life honestly. To write only what divine Love has put in my heart, and in my pen -- and then let it be. I don't have to explain it. I don't have to even understand it. I just have to trust its Source.

This is what maturity has taught me. Truth can't be owned. Love can't be possessed. Soul is impersonal. Spirit cannot be contained. There is no such thing as "my idea."

You might think this realization would be deflating -- on the contrary, I have never felt so buoyed. I don't have to concern myself with making it perfect. I get to watch it -- whatever "it" is -- find its purpose, audience, resonance, and evolution with a sweet sense of spiritual trust and detachment.

Yes, all that I have written does seem like straw. But not in a bad way. 


Not long ago my friend Bobby Lewis was sharing some ideas with a group of students about Jesus' parable of the tares and the wheat. In this beautiful message story we are told that, at the time of the harvest, the servants will bind the tares [straw-like weeds] into bundles to burn them.

I'd always thought that this meant that the tares were something bad to be destroyed. But Bobby reminded the class that in a desert culture, finding kindling to start a fire was near impossible. Dried tares, that had been bound in bundles, would be quite valuable for starting fires.

These days, that is how I think of the words that I write. For a  moment, some will find a hungry heart. But for the most part, they will serve as kindling for some new poet with a heart full of fresh fire.

I am good with this. It makes me happy. That is enough meaning for me.

offered with Love,


Cate 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

"forever hushed..."


"And echoes
in the sound,
of silence..."

I wrote about this experience in a post from 2006. Having just revisited that post, I realized how much clearer its message is for me today. There is a sound to peace. It is a sound that overarches the noise of pain and fear. It is the  "Sound of Silence."  I hope you enjoy this Pentatonix version of Simon and Garfunkel's classic.

Here is, what I hope will be, a more concise version of this experience:

The routine was the same. Pick the girls up from preschool. Drive home while they stripped themselves of shoes, socks, sweaters. Arrive home. Open the door of the van. Watch them run in the back door. Gather shoes, socks, sweaters, books, totes. Find them in the kitchen, banging their sippy cups on the counter next to the refrigerator while screaming, "I want juice, I'm thirsty, give me juice." Over, and over, again. Day after day.

And I would drop everything, and get them juice.

Until one day, I stood in the kitchen looking at them and thought, "why don't they just get their own darned juice?" Good question. So I just stood there. I didn't rush to get them what they wanted, but just watched what was happening. And it occurred to me - quite quickly - that they were only screaming because they knew that they didn't have the authority - or the strength - to open the refrigerator, hold the heavy pitcher, and pour the juice without spilling it. They knew that I did, and they were trying to convince me to do what they wanted me to do.

They weren't screaming because they had power, but because they felt powerless.

So, I took a deep breath and said, "Girls, put down your sippy cups, put your shoes and socks in the mud room, hang your sweaters and backpacks on the hooks, go potty, wash your hands and come back downstairs, and I will get you juice. And they did it. Just like that.

As I stood there -- somewhat in shock -- I just knew this was a more profound insight for me, than how to manage our after school routine.

I had been in pain for days. A voice had been screaming in my head, "I am in so much pain, I cannot think." Over and over again. But all the while, I had been thinking. It hadn't been able to stop me. I had been thinking. I had been loving. I had been reading, and praying, and helping others.

It was as much a helpless, incoherent sound as the girls' urgent screaming had been. It was simply trying to get me to give up, lie down, go to sleep -- or worse. But, it couldn't make me do those things. It could only try to convince me to do those things myself. And I had been refusing -- but barely.

When I saw that pain -- and for that matter, fear -- were not powers, but powerless voices, I stopped thinking that they had information for me. They were sounds, rather than conditions. They were not informants.  They didn't have some underlying meaning about my life, my body.  They were not leading me to a "why."

With this realization, I began to stand up to them in a different way. I no longer felt bullied. I could look at each situation with dominion. I was not a victim of the noise. The noise had no authority. No embodied entity to push me around.

That experience happened almost twenty years ago. It has been a milestone in my understanding of the insidious nature of pain and fear. These passages - among many - from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures have been the edifying authority in my understanding of how to silence their inarticulate voices:


"It requires courage to utter truth; for the higher Truth lifts her voice, the louder will error scream, until its inarticulate sound is forever silenced in oblivion."

and

"Spirit will ultimately claim its own, — all that really is, — and the voices of physical sense will be forever hushed."


Truth -- not Kate thinking about Truth --  is lifting her voice with supreme command and declaring: "God is All-in-all." And in the face of Truth's authority, the inarticulate sound of pain, fear, doubt is forever silenced in its own oblivion. Love hushes the screaming of the physical senses, and peace is forever Sovereign.

offered with Love,


Cate 

Monday, August 19, 2019

"superhero or professional athlete..."


"I can't stand to fly,
I'm not that naive,
I'm just out to find
the better part of me..."

I hope you can see the connection between today's post, Five for Fighting's  "Superman," and Unspoken's  "Reason."

This morning we had our first Bible lesson study at Adventure Unlimited's Adult Minicamp. If you don't know what that is, it's a time set aside for us to gather in the lodge, read Scripture together, share inspiration, and discuss ideas. It is one of my favorite activities at Minicamp.

In today's gathering Alison Peticolas, AU's Ranch Director, shared an analogy that blew the windows out for me. It was in the context of this passage from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:


"In Latin the word rendered disciple signifies student; and the word indicates that the power of healing was not a supernatural gift to those learners, but the result of their cultivated spiritual understanding of the divine Science, which their Master demonstrated by healing the sick and sinning."

She explained that earlier in the summer, during a staff Sunday School class, one student had said that walking on water, raising the dead, etc. just seemed too big, too hard.

That was when Alison realized that there was a general sense that these "mighty works" were being perceived as the works of a super hero. Superheroes have special gifts: x-ray vision, tele-transportation, flight.  And because these gifts are superhuman, no one - who is just an ordinary human - would ever even think that they could aspire to become a superhero.

But then, she thought of a professional athlete. Anyone could aspire to be an elite athlete with practice and determination. There was no special gift -- just the demand to show up every day and put in the the time and effort.

The disciple - or disciplined student of Christian Science - is not a superhero, but a committed athlete. He/she is one who shows up willing to cultivate his/her understanding of the divine [God-based] science that is always in operation.  Spends countless hours in the laboratory, seeking a better understanding of the practical law of Love, that is behind every healing, transformative experience.

The practice of Christian Science healing is not a "supernatural gift." There are no superheroes in the scientific Christian community. Only studious disciples -- eager to know God and to understand the divine Principle that is impartially at work governing the universe.

Suffice it to say, I loved this idea. I immediately asked her if I could share it more broadly. She graciously said, "yes."

None of Jesus' acts were supernatural, but "supremely natural." They were not the works of a spiritual superhero, but of the great Exemplar.  Jesus showed mankind what is possible when we know the nature of God's love, and trust it's universality.

Jesus was the supreme spiritual athlete. He showed up each day eager to discover what "infinite" looked like - in everything around him. He was hungry to explore the boundless nature of limitless Being as Spirit. And although he may have been the first of God's children to break through the false records of time, space, and fear -- he never thought that he would be the last.

I've seen this kind of record-breaking, in the sport that I am most familiar with these days - rodeo eventing. Everytime an arena record is set -- no matter how long the former record was in place -- it becomes the new normal.

For example, I remember the first time I saw someone break into the seven second range in the keyhole event at our camp arena. It was an amazing moment. But now -- although completing a clean keyhole in the seven second range is still an amazing run -- getting below seven seconds is the new high bar for those who are "professional" in their approach to the sport.

In his extraordinary book, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield shares some inspiration about "going pro:"


"The professional loves "it" so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.

"What are the qualities that define us as professionals?

1. We show up everyday.

2. We show up no matter what.

3. We stay on the job all day.

4. We are committed over the long haul.

"The professional is on a mission. He eliminates chaos from from his world in order to banish it from his mind."

These are just a few of the remarkable things -- from so many more -- that Pressfield offers as inspiration for those who are seeking to "go pro," in any field of endeavor. Today, I am reading them with a fresh eye -- through the lens of Alison's insight.

As someone who is in the full-time practice of scientific Christian healing, I love thinking of myself as a professional athlete. If you know me, you know that using the term "professional athlete" to describe me, is laughable in any other arena. But when it comes to seeking a deeper understanding of God, trusting His love, exploring His invariable Law, and practicing the science of Christianity -- I show up. And I will always show up - as a professional.

No magic cape, no special gifts, no personal talents -- just the heart of a professional athlete.

Thanks Alison.   What an inspired idea, from a very professional spiritual athlete - herself.

offered with Love,


Cate 

Friday, August 16, 2019

"a hush of expectation..."


"It's the dawn,
it's the morning,
it's the end of the night,
and the hearts of men
are stirring

to know they're not alone;

there's a hush of expectation,
and a quiet in the air,
and the breath of God is moving
in the fervent breath of prayer..."

Finding a new song by Sara Groves is like turning the corner and seeing the face of a friend. Her  "To the Dawn,"  caught me that way this morning.

Every morning I show up at the feet of Christ in prayer -- listening, listening, listening for our Father's message of purpose, comfort, direction to guide my day.

But I have to admit, I also show up with a sense of hope. Hope for a moment's burst of light. To hear a voice not my own in the silence. To feel the wash of grace. To read a Scripture, and have it come alive with fresh meaning.

When this happens -- whatever time of day it is -- it is morning again. The dawn is breaking and I am fully awake in a new way.

This happened yesterday with such sweet suddenness and clarity that it took my breath away. A familiar Scripture opened up like a time-lapse video of a blossoming rose. One moment it was "oh yes..." -- the next it was, "oh, yes!"

Here is the Scripture from Phillipians:


"My God shall supply
all your need..."

Bur this is how it rose from the page:


"My God shall supply
all your need..."

Ah, the selfless compassion of it all. The inclusiveness of this prayer - so full of brotherhood and care. The God that I love and worship, is supplying all your need. There is no personal quid pro quo with God. We do not simply pray for our own needs to be met. Nor are our prayers ever completely satisfied by the fullness of our own cupboards, or the "demonstration" of our own health and harmony.

There is no personal evidence of God's love. My God shall supply all your need.  This is a promise.  This is the heart of Christianity -- whether that Christianity is being practiced by Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, agnostic, philosopher or child. This is the gift of agape love. My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches... Not according to prayerful endeavors. Not according to our unique approach to Him -- a rosary, prayer beads, a call from a minaret, or saffron robes.

This is the prayer of a child who loves his/her parent and sees that parent as universally generous. No favoritism. None of us are "only children."  

When my sister and I were little girls, and our family's coffers were less than modest, my love for her was greater than my own hunger. My parents would feed her. They would clothe her. They would make sure she was safe. That was the promise I clung to.

It is the prayer I am filled with today. "My God shall supply all your need." Someone once said to me, "nobody wins, until everybody wins." Isn't this the most beautiful sense of spiritual family. We are not alone.

Have a blessed day -- brother, sister...

offered with Love,


Cate 

Monday, August 12, 2019

" exchanging the objects of sense, for the ideas of Soul..."


"It's only words,
and words are all I have..."



This post from 2013 still rings true for me -- in fact, more so with every Soul-inspired moment of surrender.

I've always loved the Bee Gee's song, "Words." As a girl, I felt that in the absence of physical stature, authority, or resources -- that words were all I had. Words represented limitless ideas, thoughts, inspiration. There was no false measurement of an idea -- they were simply, always infinite is scope.

No matter what was going on in my life, I could always retreat to the space of consciousness, a place where these infinite thoughts and ideas waited like eager friends. I'd listen, they'd answer all my big questions, and we'd create beautiful word sculptures from the raw materials of ideas, thoughts, metaphors and symbols.

This was always enough for me. So what happened?

If you've read my recent post, "the evidence," you might sense that I am in the space of deep paradigm-shifting. It often seems as if inspirational texts -- that I once thought I "got," -- are now, so new to me. It's almost like I've joined Alice, and stepped through the looking glass. Everything feels a bit upside down, and I'm a wonder-filled child again.

Take this much-loved, and familiar passage from Science and Health with Key to the Scripture by Mary Baker Eddy:


"Desire is prayer.
And no loss can occur
from trusting God with our desires,
that they may be moulded and exalted,
before they take form
in words and in deeds."


Okay, so here's how I always interpreted this: I had desires. And those desires were articulated as prayer.  Meaning, I could trust them to be "of God," since prayer is, as Eddy states earlier on the same page, "God's gracious means..."

So, I'd continue:  I have these God-inspired desires - prayers.  I can trust them to be moulded and exalted by Him, before they take form in words and in deeds...

Isn't there something missing here? Aren't the words and deeds just a stepping stone to their final form? Actual things?  Things like stronger muscles, bigger bank accounts, a better job.  Well, not according to this statement.  It says that words and deeds are the form.

But that wasn't what I had been thinking -- or expecting -- for a very long time.  Somehow I'd gotten the impression that these word-symbolized ideas, thoughts, and deeds, would eventually lead to more tangible forms.

For example,  take my desire for home. I would pray, and would be inspired with ideas that would take "form" in prayers.  These ideas, I understood to be the spiritual substance of home. Ideas like: "the spiritual foundation of home is kindness, respect, charity, a foundation that is deep, enduring, God-based, and reliable."  


It was my privilege, as a spiritual thinker, to consciously cherish those ideas and put them into practice.  Then, when understood sufficiently, they would take form -- or have manifestation -- in a house. Thus giving "form" to a spiritual sense of home. 

But that doesn't seem to be what Eddy is saying in the above-referenced statement. And for that matter, my interpretation of that statement, was not necessarily borne out in the lives of prophets and apostles.   I respected these Biblical thought-leaders for their deep spiritual sense of home and place.  Yet, when I thought about it, I realized I didn't know all that much about their houses.  I knew about their ability to find peaceful resting places in the wilderness, deserts, "the valley of the shadow of death," and on dusty roads -- but nope, not so much about their houses.

Yet Eddy states that words and deeds are the form. And when I started thinking about the people I deeply admired -- Jesus, Gandhi, Mandela, Angelou, Lincoln -- I realized that I didn't know much about their houses, bodies, bank accounts, or neighborhoods either. It wasn't their "things" that recommended them, it was their legacy of thoughts and deeds which were timeless -- eternal.

Suddenly everything became alive with a limitless spiritual reality -- right then and there!  The very atmosphere of consciousness felt pulsing with tangible, reliable, infinitely substantive forms.  Forms that were already completely, fully realized. 


Now, everything I am reading about "thought" it has a new sense of promise. Take this stanza from Eddy's poem, "Satisfied:"


"And of these stone,
and tyrant's thrones,
God able is,
to raise up seed,
in thought and deed
to faithful His..."


Yes! Yes! Yes!  In thought and deed.  Not in the right job, houses, cars, more youthful bodies, improved stock portfolios, but in "thoughts and deeds." Thoughts and deeds that are the evidence -- the seed realized -- the fruition, the substance, the reality. 


For so many years I've expected good thoughts to resolve themselves -- when considered metaphysically -- into things.   For example:  an understanding of abundance, would resolve itself into the "demonstration of supply" -- money.  A deeper spiritual sense of motherhood unfolds as a tangible "demonstration of family" -- a loved one found, marriage, a child conceived or adopted, siblings reunited, improved relationships.


But I don't think this is what Eddy is saying.  She is encouraging us to "resolve things into thoughts," and to "exchange the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul" -- not the other way around.

So, perhaps our houses, our loved ones, financial responsibilities, our servant-bodies, the need for transportation, the demands of being part of a community -- locally or globally -- are simply the "things" that God lovingly provides as encouragement.  Encouragement to go deeper, higher --  to go back to the spiritual well, the Source of those symbols.  These divine gifts keep us invested in a deeper desire for the real substance of life -- those thoughts, words, and deeds that are indissoluble, infinite, eternal, and enduring.  Perhaps they are the things that lead us to their resolution --  into more inspired thoughts, and kinder deeds.

This is a shift for me. To stop thinking that my desires -- my prayers -- are not going to take eventual form in "things."  And to discover that these desires have already been evidenced -- so perfectly --  in words, thoughts, and deeds.  

Elsewhere in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy states: 



Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts,
and exchanges the objects of sense
for the ideas of Soul."


We are not resolving infinite thoughts, into things that are limited.  Into measurable, restricted forms. These boundless thoughts are expanding our sense of being -- not reducing them.

I am finding that to be truly "satisfied," with these expansive spiritual forms is the simplicity in Christ that I have been seeking.  In this space I feel happy, innocent, childlike, and free. Free to be completely grateful in every moment of trust, to appreciate each instance of faith, inspired thought, beautiful words, a kind deed, infinite hope.  No more waiting or wanting.

Last night I was lying in the dark and I realized that when I align myself fully with this deeper sense of being satisfied, there is nothing more to desire. I am completely present with every thought and word that comes to my heart.  There is no want.  My contentment is secure.  I know that no one can stop me from listening for God's thoughts, and watching them take form in words.  And immediately, I can bless others with those thoughts.

And really, can there be any greater deed that you, or I, or anyone else can ever do than to bless another with our God-moulded and exalted prayers of appreciation? Or a Love-inspired gift of right spiritual identification? The genuine desire for them to know God's presence and power in their lives?  Nothing can stop us from doing these good deeds all night and day. 


A friend once shared with me a concept that has been attributed to Mary Baker Eddy, but without documentation of that attribution.  Whether Mary Baker Eddy is responsible for it or not, it has been helpful to me -- so I will share it here in the way that I think about it: 

Let's say you have a quarter.  That quarter is a symbol.  We -- society, the federal treasury, the market -- have determined, and agreed, that this symbol represents twenty-five cents, or one quarter of one dollar.  We accept that measure of its symbolic worth -- based on current treasury numbers.  Supply and demand markets tell us how much, in goods and services, we can expect to get in exchange for this quarter.  

But if we step back a bit and look at things spiritually, that quarter is just a symbol.  And what it symbolizes is very different when we start -- as Eddy instructs -- with the All-in-allness of God.  If this symbol exists, it exists as a representative of good, of value, worth, appreciation for the creativity and services provided.  And since these qualities -- goodness, value, worth, appreciation are spiritual they only have one measure -- All.  You can't get just a little bit -- or even a moderate amount -- of anything spiritual.  The only measure of Spirit is infinite, all.  Therefore the only measure of its expression is infinite, all -- all the time.  

To be in the presence that quarter -- which is a symbol of value and worth -- is to experience the presence of the All-in-all of what it represents.  All value is yours, all worth is yours, all goodness is yours -- abundantly.  No process, no growth, no maturity -- and no decay.   The symbol -- a quarter, points us to the true "form" -- the presence of value, worth, appreciation, goodness.  Thus we have resolved things -- the quarter, into infinite thoughts -- again, value, worth, appreciation, goodness.  

These "forms" are enough. They are not the means to another "end." They are not the way we get good things, or even better things. They are the end itself -- the all, the everything I have ever wanted, needed -- or desired.  To know the full value of love, to appreciate the good that is in the world, to discover the immortality, strength and beauty of a relationship with the divine. 

I will stop here -- this is a topic that is still becoming fully formed for me.  And as I've often said, this is my experience -- it is what is true for me, today.

shared with Love,

Kate