Tuesday, June 2, 2020

"there was Jesus..."


"when the life I had,
came crashing to the ground;

when the friends I had,
were nowhere to be found;

there was Jesus..."



Dolly Parton and Zac Williams' song, "There Was Jesus," has meant so much to me.

In my faith tradition, we don't talk a lot about our relationship with Jesus. We talk more about the presence of the Christ.  We acknowledge the Christ in consciousness. But this post not about that deeply spiritual concept of Christ. It is about my relationship with Jesus.

"Why?" you may ask, would I write about this, -- especially when I was doing so well at not stirring things up. Because, it isn't honest for me to post month-after-month about the healing power of the Christ, and not acknowledge a relationship that is second only to my love for God.

You see, when everything is stripped from you, and you are left without human comfort, you find him. And once you have found him, you never let him go.

The details of my loneliness -- during a particularly challenging time -- are not important. Suffice it to say that Mary Baker Eddy perfectly described it when she wrote:

“Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love."
 
Been there. Felt that. And in that seeming vacuum, I found him. Not "him," as in a guy in a white robe, but him as a mentor, a shepherd, a friend -- the one who would lead me out of the emptiness of abstraction, and into the fullness of his living, breathing, palpating love.

In Scripture we are introduced to the man who would inspire gospel choirs to sing: "what a friend we have in Jesus."  To know his friendship is to never be alone again.

I remember well the nights that I sat alone in a near empty apartment and realized that I had no one to call. I had spent all day "taking calls," but felt undeserving of the same unconditional, spiritual acceptance that I try to bring to every call that comes into my office.

You see, I've made choices that did not always align with what others expected of me. My reservoir of trust - in my own ability to intuit divine guidance - sometimes runs low. There are times when I have taken all of my cues about myself, from the opinions of others. And those opinions have, at times, been full of derision.

Sitting in the dark, the light from streetlamps all that illumined the empty silence of an empty room, I begged God for something clear and unquestionable. If I was a bad person, tell me - so that I could repent and change. For all I really wanted was to love, trust, and honor Him - more each day.

What He sent me - however - was not a message. It was a man. It was His son. And in the dark, my heart is flooded with his story. I have felt held in the comfort of his example, his words, his self-sacrificing love.

In my sorrow -- he was there. In my self-doubt - he was there.  With the woman, taken "in the very act" -- he was there. With the mother begging for her daughter's life -- he was there. His words, his comforting touch, his trust in our Father's love -- it has been there to hold me close. It is there to whisper assurance. It was there to rebuke, to restore, to return me to our shared home in the Father's house - time and time again.

Sitting in the silence, I was sitting with him. Not with a specter. Not with a character from a story. Not with a superhero. I was sitting with Jesus. I was asking him about our Father.  Asking him to tell me about His love.  I was weeping in his arms. I was pouring out my heart's deepest questions, and he invariably turned me to his timeless message - "the kingdom of God is within you." Be still. Listen. I am here. I will not leave you comfortless. I have come to you."

Of the 809 times that Mary Baker Eddy refers to Jesus in her writings, 646 of them are without reference to him in connection with "Christ." And though she refers to Christ 868 times, only 494 of those instances are where it is not in connection with "Jesus" or "the Church of Christ, Scientist."

Her relationship to Jesus has humbled me. One night, when my family was living in the carriage house at Eddy's last former home on Beacon Street in Chestnut Hill, I offered to do the security check on "the big house," -- a condition of our residency. As I climbed the stairs - flashlight in hand - I came to her bedroom, and paused. I was curious about the "images" that she surrounded herself with during her darkest hours.

Eddy faced many dark nights in that last house. Her days were filled with writing, healing, founding the Christian Science Monitor, helping to guide church leadership, and facing a world that questioned her every move and decision. Her household would later recount how dark those nights actually were for her at times.

And that night, I noted that on the wall, directly opposite her bed - in that small modest room, were three images. A small painting of a pastoral scene, a familiar painting of Daniel in the Lion's Den, and a portrait of Jesus. One that you might see in many Christian homes of her day.

It took my breath away - to think that she would wake in the night to a painting of Daniel's unfailing trust, a scene reminiscent of her girlhood in Bow, and a portrait of Jesus. I will never forget the feeling of wanting to feel what she had felt when she looked at it. It left me with a longing for something more than just words about Jesus. I wanted to know why his portrait hung on her bedroom wall and what it meant to her.

One night sitting alone in a dark apartment, I understood.

offered with Love,


Kate


Thursday, May 7, 2020

"i am able..."


"take,
these broken wings;
and learn to fly again,
and learn to live
so free..."



Mr. Mister's 1986 hit, "Broken Wings," will always remind me of that summer.

It had been playing on the radio for over a year, so by the summer fo 1987 it was ubiquitous in our circle. We'd moved to Boston to work for our church, and had made wonderful new friends. Our home was about an hour and a half outside of the city on a large estuary "pond" about two blocks from the ocean.

We loved having Boston friends come down to escape the city heat and water ski, brunch, watch the sunset from our back terrace or during a group walk along the beach. These were magical times in our young marriage. At least they should have been.

I was distracted through it all by a aching desire to become a mother. I could barely think - or pray - about much else. Yes, I did my job, I hosted weekend parties, I prayed for those who called for help, but the longing to be a mother never left the periphery of my heart's lens.

It became a practice for me during these times to stop and readjust the aperture of my thoughts. It wasn't possible to set this longing aside. It was as deep as my every breath or heartbeat, but I had to find a way to put it outside the focal distance of my every thought.

I am a person who needs metaphors and analogies to "get" something. And the act of focusing a camera's lens has always been helpful to me. I had to pause, often, and readjust what was central to the image in my heart.

At first it was circumstantial. I would tell myself that at work I needed to put work at the center of the lens. Then on a call with someone asking for metaphysical support, I would remind myself to adjust the aperture of my prayers to put them in the center of the image.

But this wasn't really working -- that is, until I realized that everything would be in perfect alignment, when I put God -- and His presence - at the center of every moment. Then, it always felt as if my trust was clear, my vision was clear, my heart was clear.

One thing that helped, was to remember that God's name is "I AM" -- so whatever my "I am" was at any given moment - was filled with God's presence. Wondering if I would ever become a mother, or if a project would come in on time, or if I was available "enough" to those who needed support - was not focusing on God -- I am. The same with allowing past mistakes, decisions, choices to pull me into I was, instead of "I am."

Mary Baker Eddy's statement from The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany was an ever-helpful reminder:

“Goodness never fails to receive its reward, for goodness makes life a blessing. As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing."
 
Not I was able - once upon a time, or I will be able -- once I become a mother, but I am able. Right here, right now.

Did this happen easily? No. It was work, work, work -- but with watchfulness and prayer, I became more aware of when my focus had shifted from the fuzziness of "I will be," or "I once was," to the clarity of "I am." With God's I AM-ness right at its center.

Whatever seems to be pulling us out of our focus on the presence -- the present tense-ness of God as "I am..." is depriving us of a clear sense of God's abundant gifts for us in this moment.

I spent most of what I call "my year of longing" in the peripheral field of "when will I become a mother?" -- or "will I ever become a mother?" When, right in front of me were friends to play with, colleagues to listen to - with a mother's attentiveness, patients to pray for, and a budding family to nurture in our young marriage.

The wings of my motherhood were not broken -- they were learning to stretch in new ways, finding strength in patience, and discovering that to trust the unseen thermals of divine wisdom was essential to flight.

I would become a mother to three beautiful daughters, and it was everything I ever dreamed. But it was learning to "mother" right where I was - in the I AM of each moment  that helped me discover who I really was.  Not someone dependent on the fulfillment of a far-off longing dream come true, but empowered by an overwhelming love within.

In these days of "waiting" -- I hope we can all adjust the apertures of our expectations to focus on the presence of God -- the great I AM, who is here, now, giving us -- each moment -- this gift of grace.

offered with Love,


Kate


Monday, April 27, 2020

"til I can carry on..."



"Will you remember,
and bring me sprigs of rosemary
be my sanctuary,
til I can carry on,
carry on, carry on..."


Hearing Carrie Newcomer's "Sanctuary," my heart was immediately filled with appreciation for those who have held me during dark days of doubt, pain, or fear -- and sometimes all three.

The more I thought about what made each of them a sanctuary in my darkest hour, the more I realized it was their silence. Their willingness to just sit with me, pray with me, let me weep, or simply let me be quiet without comment. To let me discover the lesson that was waiting in that moment. Yes, this is what made their presence feel like a safe place -- a place of refuge.

Too many times we try to find the right words. Words that will fix their problems, eliminate the source of their sorrow, fill their emptiness, or assuage their grief. Often, words are only a bandaid for our own fear that we have nothing to give. When so many times, what is most needed, is not found in human platitudes -- however lovingly proffered.

In those moments, what our hearts most cry out for -- is to know that we are not alone. For someone to help us wait in the silence for the real answers -- the ones that can only be found within the vast wellspring of what feels like our own breaking heart. Answers that come from this deep spiritual interiority, are the only answers that sustain us, restore our hope, and endure beyond a conversation. These are the answers we feel versus hear. These are the answers that are ours alone.

When the adoption of our first child changed course and his birthmother decided to parent him herself, there was nothing anyone could have said that would have staunched the hemorrhaging of my heart. I had prayed with him, slept with him, sung him lullabies, and fed him by the light of the moon. My heart hadn't waited.  It hadn't held back just because we we'd yet to secure the final legalization of his adoption. He was my son. I loved him.  I felt inconsolable.

After he no longer occupied his nursery, I was bereft.  One day, a very dear friend came by, and quietly helped me pack up the gifts we'd received - toys and small clothing - and send them to his mom.  Once we'd re-boxed the soft mobile, moved the bassinet to the garage, and folded the sheets, she gave me a long hug and then sat with me while I cried.   After she left, I found a notecard, with nothing but this statement from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, handwritten in her careful script.  It read:


"In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings,
we must deny sin, and plead God's allness..."
 
She hadn't said more than a few sentences during our entire morning together.  But she knew my heart.  She knew, that for me, the word "sin," represented anything that would try to convince me that I (or anyone else) was separated from the love of God. My friend didn't need to say anything more.

She didn't need to share with me her own sorrow over our loss, she didn't need to assure me that another child would come along, she didn't need to remind me that I'd done nothing wrong, or that what had happened to us was terrible. She just needed to point me in the direction of that quiet sanctuary of earnest longings.

From that moment on, when the sympathy of others was too much to bear, I knew where to go, and what to do. And when the loneliness of an empty nursery crashed like waves upon my heart -- it was her quiet heart that I turned to, and found refuge in.

Sometimes the greatest gift we can give one another is the gift of silence, the gift of listening without the need to fix the problem or fill in the holes where words would seem to fit so nicely.

To every friend who has every let me weep in her arms, or has just been willing to sit by the river with me, and say nothing -- thank you.

I love this verse from Carrie's song:



"This one knocked me to the ground.
this one dropped me to my knees.
I should have seen it coming
but it surprised me.

Will you be my refuge,
my haven in the storm?
Will you keep the embers warm,
when my fire's all but gone,
all but gone..."
 
It's the question we ask with our tears. And it is the question that is answered by sisters, brothers, pastors, neighbors, friends, practitioners, nurses, emergency personnel, parents, teachers, residence counselors, hospice volunteers, and so many others who are willing to stop, be still, and let us feel the presence of something shared in the space of that silence. And I -- for one -- am so deeply grateful.

offered with Love and profound gratitude,

Kate

Sunday, April 5, 2020

"where no fear was..."


"where no fear was..."



This will be a very brief post. My friend, Nancy, shared this extraordinary recording of "Psalm Fifty-three," in Aramaic -- as it was sung in a Georgian church for the Pope's visit.

I couldn't help but wonder, "why the 53rd Psalm?" So I went to my Bible and read along -- not that I thought, for a moment, that I would have the words in the right place - but the sounds were there. Yes, they were plaintive, hungry, hopeful. But it was when my eyes landed on this passage from Psalm 53:5, that I felt it in my bones:

“There were they
in great fear,
where no fear was..."
 
For me, this is the entire message of the 53rd Psalm. One doesn't have to get the words in the right place, in order to feel the power of this psalm in the language Jesus would have known it in.

I can't help but wonder, if, as David wrote this psalm, he wasn't looking into his own heart and feeling the power of self-examination. Was he the "fool" he is referring to in opening passage? Is he the one whom he realizes is seeing his brother man as "corrupt." Is this the fear that he, later in the psalm, realizes - "no fear was?"

I found it so moving to hear this psalm in Aramaic - the language of Jesus, who knew these songs of his ancestor so well. Jesus, who experienced them so deeply. Who, as we know - from his referencing Psalm 22, on the cross - turned to them in times of heartbreak and trial. Would he have recited them, or sung them out from a heart full of longing?  Would he have hungered to know when "the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion, and Israel would rejoice."

Just as these psalms were "at hand" for Jesus, they are here for us -- to turn to in moments of isolation, darkness, and hope.

We - as brothers and sisters in God's love - are as one in our longing to feel His grace resonating through us, and resting on our loved ones, our neighbors, and our global care-community -- as this choir is in its deeper harmonies.

offered with Love,


Kate


You might also like this beautiful recording of our "Lord's Prayer," in Aramaic.

Monday, March 23, 2020

"let us pause..."


"let us pause
in life's pleasures
and count its many tears;
while we all sup sorrow
with the poor..."



This James Taylor and YoYo Ma recording of Bob Dylan's "Hard Times," speaks to me on so many levels today. We are all being asked to pause from life's pleasure. We are being asked to sup sorrow with the poor -- to understand the isolation and uncertainty that they face, while we who have so much, move past with dry eyes and light hearts. I just love it.

One has to sit with the poor, to understand the depth of their hunger. And it is a hunger. A hunger that goes beyond the need for basic food, shelter, warmth and a sense of belonging. It is a hunger for peace. A hunger for freedom from worry and doubt. A hunger for a sense of one's self, that feels worthy of kindness, respect, dignity.

These are "hard times" for so many. Those of us who live in secure housing, and are blessed to have enough money to stock a pantry - have little idea of what it is like to watch your paycheck-to-paycheck resources dwindle - while the days of quarantine, and suspended work, turns into weeks. As our empathy for others increases, it might seem hard to stay awake to our collective spiritual reality.

My friend, Nancy, shared a story with me from her trip to the the grocery store early this morning:

“My husband and I ventured out to our neighborhood grocery store early today. When we first walked in, the atmosphere was so solemn. It was very busy, but No one was talking. It was almost zombie like.

I tried to make eye contact with other shoppers so as to greet them and give them a smile. But for the first 5 or 10 minutes, no one would even look at me.

Then the Father said, “love them”. So as I moved thru the aisles from there forward, and as I came to another shopper, I first thanked God for His dear child, and felt God’s love for that dear one.

The atmosphere quickly changed. I began hearing people greeting people they knew. Shoppers returned my smile. A lady who [we know] said, "Hi," and asked how I was. And when we got in line to check out, a gentleman who lives on our block came up behind us, and we had a wonderful opportunity to catch up."
 
I loved this story -- so much. It might have been hypnotic to walk into that grocery store. It might have easily felt like it all made sense in the context of this global crisis. "Why of course people are afraid, defensive, moving through their days with the weight of an unknown threat hanging like a storm in the air."

But no. Nancy did what Mary Baker Eddy encourages us to do in her textbook on spiritual healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:


“Beholding the infinite tasks of truth,
we pause, — wait on God.

Then we push onward, until boundless thought
walks enraptured, and conception unconfined
is winged to reach the divine glory."
 
It is all in that pause. We can become so zombie-like ourselves. Just pushing through the hypnotic fog of despair and "well, this is just how it is for a while..."

But Nancy didn't do that. She paused. She waited on God. And to wait on God, is very different than waiting for God. Both are required. And Nancy did both. She waited for God to take hold of her thoughts, and direct her heart. But she also waited on God -- serving His purpose with the attention of the most skilled waitstaff, in the most posh restaurant. She was alert, awake, ready. And the effect of that alertness was deeply felt.

Which brings me to another point taken from this story. Nancy's willingness to pause and question what she was experiencing.  The tasks we face seem infinite.  How do we reach a global community? But the infinite tasks are not ours, but the tasks of truth -- and Truth has infinite resources for addressing them.

Nancy's willingness to pause, reminds me of another experience.  One that a friend shared some years ago during a Wednesday evening testimony meeting. She said that she had woken one morning feeling a bit "off." She decided to push through it, and go for a run. But somewhere along the trail, she started feeling worse.

She decided to take a moment to pray for herself and sat down on a log. It came to her that, even though she was up and running, she was not fully awake. In fact, if she could feel anything but the full presence of God, she was actually still asleep -- she was sleep-walking, or in this case sleep-running. She realized she needed to fully wake up. She claimed her right to be more fully alert to God's power and presence -- and soon she was feeling completely well.

This has been such a powerful example for me. Each morning -- and throughout the day -- I claim that I am fully awake, alert, and conscious of the Truth about everyone and everything. If I am seeing, accepting, feeling something that is inconsistent with my right to know the fullness of God's presence and power, I am sleepwalking and I need to wake up.

I can do this dozens of times a day. And I do. This is what Nancy did this morning in the grocery store. She experienced something that didn't align with her clear sense of God's omnipotent love. She paused, waited on God. Then she "pushed onward until boundless thought walked [through that store] enraptured" with love for God's beloved community.

If we are feeling unsettled by what we are seeing in the grocery store, hearing on the news, or experiencing in our communities -- or our bodies, we can pause, ask God to help us wake up more fully -- and then walk enraptured with love for our neighbor.

Thank you Nancy, for refusing to sleep-shop.  Thank you for sharing your story, and for being willing to pause...

offered with Love,


Kate


Friday, March 20, 2020

"never trapped..."


"such a cozy room,
the windows

are illuminated..."


Crosby, Stills, and Nash's "Our House," must be a go-to song for me these days. Obviously, since I used it in a post, only a few weeks ago. But this time, it really is about a house. A house with walls and doors and windows.

When I was a junior in high school, our family of eight moved from a large house in a small college town in new Jersey, to a 1,000 square foot carriage house in a rural estate. If 1,000 square feet is hard to imagine, let me map it out for you. There were two floors. Each was 20" X 25" with a wide staircase bi-secting each floor.

On the first floor, on one side of the staircase, was a living room -- about 7 feet by 20 feet. And on the other side of the staircase, was a kitchen with an eating area, also about 7 X 20. Upstairs, under the eaves, was one long bedroom, "for the girls," (5 of us - eventually) that was the same dimensions as the kitchen. On the other side, were two tiny bedrooms -- one for our parents and one for the three boys. And a very tiny bathroom. Yes, if you are doing the math, those numbers don't really add up. That's because soon after our move into that house, our mom would give birth to twins -- bringing our occupancy up to 10 people in 1,000 square feet.

So, why am I writing about this little carriage house today? It's because I am hearing so many instances where people are feeling trapped in their houses, and restricted from all the ways that they have historically found a sense of freedom and social range of motion.

You see, I was a girl who needed quiet. I still am - I guess. It is more important to me than air or food. But when you have ten people living in a very small space -- and two of them crying infants -- quiet is not something you ever get. In the warmer months, I could walk out the front door and into the woods, or down to the stream at the bottom of the hill, but we were not close enough to a town to go to a library or coffeehouse.

So, in the winter months -- it was all ten of us in a large clapboard box with no privacy or sound isolation. If I wanted "my own space," my only option was to go to my bed at end of our long, narrow bedroom under the eaves and read. But there were no earbuds or noise-cancellation devices to isolate yourself from the cacophony of ten people clattering around day - and night.

Some years later, when my own family of five moved into a small 1,200 square foot cottage, I felt trapped. With only two bedrooms, our own toddler twins slept in youth beds at one end of our small master bedroom, while our 11 year old daughter had a tiny bedroom under the eaves. One bathroom. Kitchen, living room, and a minuscule office for my work -- we were snuggled in tight.

One rainy, winter day, I was feeling particularly housebound. I called my mom in hopes of her commiseration. But she was having none of it. "Kate, what was your favorite house growing up?" she asked out of the blue. I didn't have to think about it for more than a second. "The carriage house," I quickly replied. "And," she asked, "how big was that house, and how many people were in it?" Without waiting for me to answer, she told me, "ten people on two 20 X 25 foot floors of living space with a wide staircase in the middle." I did the math -- 1,000 square feet, 10 people, 100 square feet per person. And that was my favorite childhood home -- of many. It brought me up short.

I have thought about that conversation so many times over the years as we have moved from rambling suburban houses, to urban flats and small town "cottages." What makes a space "home?" What makes it a place where we feel peaceful, secure, and warmly welcomed each time we open the front door? It is a question that is so important as we navigate these times of self-isolation and sheltering in space.

I think it has nothing to do with square footage or amenities, the number of bodies or the quality of sound isolation or the toys we surround ourselves with to keep us distracted. It has to do with how well we use the space within our hearts. How well we exercise retreating into the "kingdom of God," for privacy, solace, harmony, creativity, and deep inner peace. It has to do with the love we express, and the love we feel in that space.

It was what I learned, during that time as a 16-17 year old girl trying to find herself in the midst of family bedlam, that has given me the tools to navigate this period of self-isolation without feeling trapped. To know that I could retreat into myself -- and the peace of knowing that there was more to me than my circumstances -- is re-defining this quarantine. We are never trapped. We are always free to wander the beautiful space within. I was then. I am today. So are you. So are we all.

We each have a very, very, very fine house that is bulwarked in freedom, not restricted by walls. A house whose rooms are filled with opportunities for restoration and renewal. Whose windows are open wide to the music of the spheres -- songs of Soul, and the lullabies of Love.

offered with Love,


Kate


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"you are safe..."


"One thing
I can promise you;
I promise
you're safe with Me..."



When I first heard Megan Nicole's "Safe with Me," it felt like a love letter from God.

In light of recent news reports about the latest pandemic threat, safety seems to feel fragile for many people. The other day someone asked me why I wasn't afraid. It was clear form the way she asked the question,  that there was a deep longing for peace of mind and freedom from fear.

I didn't answer quickly. I din't want to appear cavalier. I wanted to be sure that there was nothing but compassion in my heart. But they had detected something so deep that I felt a spiritual receptivity in their inquiry.

So I explained that in Scripture, when Moses is asked by God to return to Egypt -- the place he had fled for fear of his life -- and free His people from generations of slavery and bondage, Moses asks God who he should tell the Israelites had sent him to do this great thing. The ensuing conversation between God and Moses goes like this:

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."
 
For me, this is the clearest name for God that I know. The Children of Israel hadn't read the chapter of Exodus. They hadn't heard this scriptural account before. So for them, "I am..." wasn't code for God.  It was simply what it was -- their own sense of conscious being.

The very fact that they could feel that sense of "I am..." was all the authority they needed for their emancipation from slavery.  "I am" indicates the presence of God, and assured their right to freedom from bondage.

And it assures the security of our health. The safest place on earth, is where the "I am..." of your being is present. Because this is where God -- the great I AM is.  Every time you say, "I am..." you are declaring the presence - and power - of God. You are affirming your oneness with divine Love.

A number of years ago, a work colleague and I were having a conversation about feeling safe. I asked him if he'd ever felt afraid. He recounted a time in the early 1970s when he'd been a young man at the height of the Viet Nam War, and his birthdate was assigned a very low draft number. He said that he was a pacifist and besides being opposed to war, he was also very afraid. He thought about filing as a conscientious objector or fleeing to Canada to avoid serving in a war that he was opposed to.

In the midst of this moral wrestling, he called a spiritual mentor who told him that since God was the only "I am.." wherever "I am" was, was the safest place on earth. It stilled his fears, and strengthened his trust in God's ever-present care for him -- and for all the boys, girls, men, and women who would be deployed to serve in Viet Nam.

Soon after that realization, his draft number was called, he showed up for his physical, went through basic training, and was deployed to Viet Nam. He was assigned to an intelligence unit and spent his entire time sequestered in the highest level of security. But every day, he prayed that each man, woman, and child - touched by that conflict - could feel safe in the presence of their own consciousness of  "I am..." -- which always points to the presence of God -- the great I AM.

We are all safe in this knowledge that God's presence is assured every time we think or say, "I am..." In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy assures us:


“Security for the claims
of harmonious and eternal being
is found only in divine Science."
 
Divine Science -- the Science that overarches all other natural sciences - laws of nature -- is sovereignly self-enforcing. This Science is based on the irrefutable law of God.  The law that states God's All-in-allness. All good, in all. All purity, in all. All innocence, in all. All safety for all.

I am safe. You are safe. We are all safe...

offered with Love,


Kate


Thursday, March 5, 2020

"sending big waves into motion..."


"Like a small boat
on the ocean
Sending big waves
into motion
Like how a single word
can make a heart open..."


When Sam asked me to write a post using Rachel Platten's "Fight Song," as the keynote, I was intrigued. I'd never heard of Rachel -- or her song -- but once I did, this post gave birth to itself. I just got out of the way. Here what fell on the page:

I'd spent so many years trying to prove my worthiness. I'd chased a sense of belonging -- to family, church, and in the communities I've lived in. Enough.

I refuse to fight any longer for a personal sense of validation. And actually, I have discovered that I don't need to. I am enough. In her song, Rachel sings, "a single word can make a heart open…"

That is the line that simply took my breath away.  You see, once upon a time, not so long ago, I had a life-altering experience that supplied the "one word" I'd been waiting for. The word was "no."

I had been holding my breath, waiting for someone to to take note of my worth -- for far too many years. I'd done everything - shy of standing on my head - to get a thumbs up. Then one day, I got a clear, decisive thumbs down. And it was wonderful.

Sure, the first moment or two was filled with "what did I do wrong?" "Give me another chance -- please -- I'll try harder to win you over. I promise, I'll do better next time." 


 And there were many times in the following days - and weeks - when I thought it actually meant something about me that I didn't measure up. As if looking through any human lens could serve as an accurate assessment tool for measuring a person's merit. For weighing worth, validating value.

But I soon came to realize, that it never would. It never could. And it just didn't matter. Really. I knew I had given "it" my honest, genuine, authentic all, and it was still not enough -- for him, for her, for them.

That "no," was actually the key to my freedom. It released me.  It wasn't a "no" to my dreams and desires.  It was only a "no" to their participation in it.  I was free.  I was free to be empowered from within.   


In the wake of their "no," I could begin to look in another direction. And I chose to look towards my relationship with God for any - and all - meaningful information about my peace, my purpose, my place in the world. That relationship was intact and unwavering. My trust in His love for me was sound. 

Like a small heavy-keeled boat, I was secure in my spiritual seaworthiness. I was deeply grounded in an unsinkable certainty that I knew Him, felt His presence, and was filled with His grace.

What I also learned through this experience was that a clear "no," is sometimes the most wonderful version of "yes." To know -- without a shadow of a doubt -- that permission from others is just not going to be yours, actually frees you to stare unflinchingly into abyss of your own heart's fathomless worth. For this is the province where God is Sovereign -- enriching your affections for what is really yours.

Nothing that is truly ours, requires someone else's approval or permission. When we feel inspired and impelled by that deeper demand from within -- we are driven to find ways to live those desires moment-by-moment. We stop asking for permission.

I think that, for me, parenting has been one of the most powerful examples of this. For such a long time I thought that I needed to have a child to be a mother. But mothering is a verb. I could mother colleagues, nieces, neighbors, countries, causes. I didn't need to wait for the validation of a baby. I didn't need someone to choose me as the adoptive parent of their infant or child. I could mother -- nurture, encourage, support, cherish -- without hesitation, without apology.

Whatever it is yours to do, you know it in your heart. You don't have to think it into being.  You don't need to poll the opinions of others to find consensus.  Your purpose springs from that sacred place in you that is so deeply aligned with divine Love that nothing can extinguish its primordial fire. 


Are you impelled to heal -- then heal. Are you kept awake by a desire to write, to keep bees, to partner, to coach? Then do it -- even if the "doing" begins with simply and importunately  praying for the integrity and success of that industry, institution, activity in the world.

If you love the thought of being in a marriage and you have not met Mr. Right -- so? Love marriage. Love the office of husband so much that you would never criticize, demean, or undermine that office in any way. No matter how it is being carried out by those around you. 


 Uphold the best view of that office in your conversations, interactions, and in support of your family members and friends. Nothing can make you think of that office in any way that violates your highest sense of its potential to bless -- not even someone else's behavior. You own your right to uphold your highest sense of husband, boss, mother, friend, world leader, global citizen. Take possession of it and defend it.

Don't wait for the validation of the "right" person, place, or thing, to live your relationship with whatever God is impelling in you. Don't wait for permission from an employer's "hiring" to live your desire to do, what it is that you love -- whether it is to exercise a skill, share a talent, or support an organization's mission. Their "no," may just be your "yes" in finding a clearer, brighter path towards the realization of a deeper sense of what it means to fulfill your divinely-designed purpose, to answering your highest calling.

Mary Baker Eddy says, on the first page of her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that:


"Desire is prayer, and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires…"


These desires -- which she clearly identifies as prayers -- are actually:

"God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind."

I'm learning to trust this truth. To act upon it without permission from anyone -- but God. I am discovering that when the eyes of my heart are fixed on Him, I cannot be disappointed. I am empowered by His reign in my heart -- enriching my affections and governing them.  


You may not be a big ocean liner - filled with folks lining up to party with you.  But, you may find that you are like a small deep-keeled boat, happy to do whatever it is that small boats do.  Perhaps you will carry the Christ, or hold those who are casting their nets -- within.

Offered with Love,


Kate




Friday, February 21, 2020

"location, location, location..."


"our house
is a very, very, very
fine house..."



I could find a perfect correlation between Crosby, Stills, and Nash's "Our House," with this post -- but it would be a reach. I just love it. And it's about a house. So....

This post is about a different kind of house. A house that is not just historic and well-built, but eternal.

In this week's Bible study is Jesus' parable of two houses:

“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."
 
As I have written about before, my first "aha" moment with this parable came some years ago, when I realized that  by building his house on the rock, it did not mean that the "wise" homeowner would not face storms. In fact, the same exact storm assails both houses. The only difference is -- one doesn't fall.

For so many years, I thought that by building my house on a rock, I was somehow insuring that I would not face storms -- or at least not as rough a storm as if I hadn't. So, when I faced the battering waves of fear, doubt, illness, lack, inharmony -- I thought I'd failed to build on the right foundation. It was somehow my fault. Back to the spiritual drawing board. This insight has helped me immeasurably. I don't go there anymore. The same storm assails both houses. The only difference - if I build on the rock, my house will not fall.

But this week's realization was just as profound for me. The parable is not about the house - at all. It has nothing to do with the builder's skill or the materials he/she has chosen. It is, in fact, all about location, location, location.

Where are you building? Are you choosing to cast about for "the right," view outside the window? Or, are you casting within -- building your house - your consciousness of things, on the gospel message of "the kingdom."

In Luke, when the Pharisees try to trick Jesus into laying the foundation of his ministry in a particular place -- Jerusalem or Nazareth, with the Pharisees, Sadducees, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Samaritans, or Canaanites, we read:


“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there!

for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
 
Where are we founding our sense of being - of actual existence? Our own, or another's? Are we seeing ourselves - or our neighbor - as being planted in this dogma or that doctrine? This party or that side? One nation, race, religion, gender -- or another? Or, are we seeing each of our fellow creatures as houses built on a Rock -- the kingdom of God? A location that is ever-constant and never-variable - within?

I have lived in 61 houses to date. Here is what I have learned about house hunting. Houses can be renovated, added on to, fixed up, torn down, and rebuilt.  New carpet, fresh paint, window boxes, and shutters.  But...

The location is changeless. If a particular location gets intense western sunlight all day -- that's not going to change. If the soil is rocky or near the ocean, surrounded by rolling hills or majestic mountains -- that's not going to change. If you are building your sense of being on what is temporary, shifting, and variable -- it will, by its very nature, change.  If you are building the structure of your life on what is changeless, within -- that will always be there to cultivate. And when the storms come, you will not fall.

Location, location, location - within...

offered with Love,


Kate


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

"you have safe passage through my heart..."


"so I'm gonna
stand up,
take my people
with me;
together we are going
to a brand new home..."



I really, truly hope that if you do nothing else after finding this post, you will watch this video of Cynthia Erivo's studio recording of "Stand Up," from her Academy Award winning film "Harriet." And if you haven't seen the film, please, please, please do.

I was first introduced to the film through this music video when it was shared with me last month. It took me apart. I felt it in my bones. All of it. The fear, the triumph, the disappointment, the frustration, the trust in God's care for each of us as we navigate an underground journey from sense to Soul, and from shackled - to free. Whether we have been bound by actual chains, self-doubt, socio-economic underprivileged, or opinions about who we are and what we are capable of rising above - this film strikes the marrow.

Yesterday my dear friend Molly posted a quote, on Facebook, that resonated so deeply with me.  It set a match to something I have been thinking about for months.  And its fervency stopped me in my tracks:

Grant people
safe passage
through your thoughts
:
no judgment,
no condemnation..."
 
It reached down into my heart and gripped me in a way that wouldn't let go.  I felt a clear, Harriet Tubman-like calling. "Yes," it said, "this is my purpose." To be safe passage. To make sure that everyone who comes through my heart - and soul and mind - is taken in, nourished, re-clothed, hidden with Christ in God, and brought to freedom -- on to the other side.

It hasn't always been that way for me. At least not as "impartially and universally," as Mary Baker Eddy insists must be true about real, genuine, authentic, spiritual love, in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

God knows I tried. But often fell short. Oh, I could always hold the course pretty well on a day-to-day basis. That is, until someone said something cruel, or hurt someone I loved. Then watch out. My heart was often not a safe place for someone to wander through, if I thought their words or actions were undeserving -- unkind, mean-spirited, inhumane, etc.

But Harriet's example, and Cynthia's song, and Molly's sharing of that unattributed quote -- which she heard from a friend-of-a-friend who didn't remember where she'd heard it --  woke me up. And it suffused every mental molecule with a fresh, clear purpose statement:


“be safe passage..."
 
So, what does that look like for me? I'm just finding out.  But, I intend to get clearer and clearer about this every day. In fact, every single hour, of every single day. If I see a child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, what am I going to do? Well, I hope will do everything I can to provide that mother/father and their child a gentle pathway through my heart, and through our individual and collective sense of community. No judgment. Only deep compassion, an open heart, willing hands, a ready smile of understanding.

But what about those whose words or actions I really struggle to understand as humane or "christian?" If I can't seem to give them safe passage, that's on me. And I better find it my heart to do so. The work may be long and arduous. I need to be able to discern the broken child behind the angry man, the wounded girl masquerading in sarcasm or disinterest.

But, I can do this. I have a fierce desire to live on purpose -- and I will find a way. For "they" are all my people. Not just the ones I like. Not just the ones who like me. Not just the ones I agree with. I will free the slave, and the slave owner. All His children are my people -- and I will take them with me to a brand new home -- the kingdom of heaven within us all. Impartially. Universally. My heart is an underground railroad. I will be safe passage.


offered with Love,


Kate


Friday, February 14, 2020

"to be known, rather than remembered.."


"memory,
i can dream
of the old days,
life was
beautiful then..."



I've never really liked this song. But, that said, it is the perfect keynote for this post. And if I have to listen to it, I would prefer to hear Barbra Steisand's version of "Memory," than any other.

This experience was pivotal in my understanding of healing. It happened over thirty years ago, but the Truth I discovered that day, is as fresh today as the day it flooded my heart.

A relationship that meant everything to me was falling apart at the seams. It would seem that whatever had drawn us together in the beginning had been lost forever. For the other person, but not for me. I wanted our relationship to continue so desperately. I loved him with every ounce of my being.

It was clear to me that he was just not remembering how good it was. How amazing it had been. All the reasons that we had come together in the first place. So I sent him cards filled with reminders. "Remember our first date? Remember those early months when we couldn't wait to meet at the end of the day and share our inspiration and insights. Remember that trip to...

The more I remembered, the farther away he moved from the closeness we had once enjoyed. I felt bereft. It was so easy for me to remember. And I thought those memories were our lifeline back to all the good we had known together.

One day, when things were at their darkest, I woke to a late spring snow storm. The roads were impassable. It would be a "snow day" for me whether I wanted to be home alone or not. And during that time, home alone was excruciating. So many reminders of "how good it had been."

I knew I couldn't "go there," so I made myself a cup of tea and pulled my books, the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, off of my desk and curled up in front of the wood stove for a morning of study.

I don't remember what the theme of that week's scriptural study was, but I do remember two things that shifted my heart. One, was the story of Peter's raising of Tabitha from Acts 9, starting at verse 36. Following her passing after an illness, Peter is called to her home, where he finds her friends - weeping widows who who brought him to the upper chamber where she lay surrounded by some of the coats and garments she had made while she was alive.

But it is this next passage that woke me up:

“But Peter
put them all forth..."
 
I got it. It was suddenly so clear to me. I, too, was clinging to memorials. When all along, divine Love was breathing fresh purpose into our relationship. Immediately on the heels of that realization, a statement from Science and Health came to mind:


“If a friend be with us,
why need we memorials
of that friend."
 
I knew I had to let go of all the "reasons" from the past. My loved one didn't need to be bombarded with memories, he needed to be trusted. He needed for me to release us both from the past. If we were to continue, it would be because God's purpose for our relationship was still vital to His plan for us.

Another statement from Science and Health helped me arrest that behavior. Eddy says:


"Make no unnecessary inquiries
relative to feelings or disease."
 

So I stopped. Cold turkey. I stopped asking him how he felt. I stopped wondering "what if..." I worked every day to simply show up in the presence of God's purpose for us.

This isn't about a nice, neatly tied up "healing" of a relationship. Each day we each showed up willing to discover more about our love for God, through our love for each other. But most importantly, I stopped looking backwards to affirm or define my relationships -- with God, with my loved ones, with my body. It allows relationships to evolve with purpose. It requires the discipleship of knowing -- versus remembering It's a spiritual demand that takes devout focus on loving God as the only "I am."

And isn't this what Peter was so clear about. Tabitha wasn't a memory, she was an idea of God. A reflection of divine Mind. And I love the definition of the word "reflect," as "deep thinking or pondering." Tabitha was God was thinking, not what he was remembering. And Peter knew that he too could know her, not through the widow's memorials, but through an understanding of her present identity.

This would have been so edifying for Peter -- the last thing we would have wanted, was to be remembered for his past denials of Christ, but known for the faithful man of God, the faithful apostle he was day-by-day as he fulfilled his holy purpose.

This spiritual demand to know, rather than remember, blesses everyone and everything. I once thought of myself as someone with a great memory. Now I know myself as someone who knows - not remembers - God. As someone who knows Love. It is enough.


offered with Love,


Kate