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 this morning'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.  To better understand 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 was not 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

Saturday, August 10, 2019

"when I see you again..."


"'cause we've come
a long way
from where we began;

and I'll tell you
all about it
when I see you again..."

For me, the musical surprise of the summer was the duo Endless Summer. I have checked in with their Youtube channel once a week to see if they have posted anything new -- or old. Loved finding this video for  "See You Again," . It was the perfect accompaniment for this post.

This summer I've known the joy of seeing a number of people from past chapters of my life, that I'd not seen in a long time. And here is what I have learned: Love knows no time.

I remember a friend once telling me about sitting across from someone she hadn't seen in over fifty years, and, she just couldn't see it.  She couldn't see the fifty years.  I thought she was spinning a tale. Now I know, she wasn't.

This summer, as I sat across from friends I hadn't seen in 5 years, 20 years, 40 years, I could see the dark hair that was now peppered with silver, the shift in body mass, the change in gait  -- with my eyes. Yet over and over again, my heart saw what it had held in memory for decades. The sound of their laughter, the sparkle in their eyes, the curve of their hands as they held a pen -- it was all I could see. Truly.

His weathered face, dissolved into boyish-ness. The mature mom, became a coltish girl right before me. In the eyes of someone who had loved him, the grandfather was - again - the young athlete who had been able to sweep my teenage self off my feet.

Beauty, innocence, joy, sparkle -- are truly in the eyes of the beholder.

I have had a summer filled with "beholding" people I have long-loved. Just typing this post is causing my throat to tighten, my chest to burn, and my eyes to tear up with gratitude for every remarkable planned or unexpected visit, connection, late-night cup of tea, conversation, or meal. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful gift. To actually feel the timelessness of love. To hear their voices, to see their eyes twinkle, and to feel their hugs. More of heaven on earth, I can't even imagine.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes:


"Love never loses sight of loveliness.
Its halo rests upon its object.
One marvels that a friend can ever seem
less than beautiful."

Nothing has made me feel more timeless and ageless than this summer's adventure -- sitting with, and listening to, the hearts of people of I have loved -- and still love.

offered with Love,


Cate 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

"have mercy on the traveler..."


"Lord, make soft
the stranger's bed;

rest the weary feet
see the mother,
see the father
see the child,
have mercy on the traveler..."

This summer I've been a traveler. Thousands of miles. Tonight, as I think about beginning my long journey home, Sara Groves song touches me deeply. If you haven't heard  "Jesus, See the Traveler,"  I hope you will take a moment to hear this prayer.

Jesus saw the traveler. He was with them on the road.  Not the Pharaoh carried by slaves in a livery. Not the King in a golden coach.  Not the soldier high in the saddle on a noble horse. No, he spoke to, and of, the stranger in a strange land. The son who wanders from the security of his father's home. The Levite who is robbed on the road and left for half dead until another stranger - a  Samaritan - binds up his wounds. The Canaanite woman who brings her daughter to a strange land for healing.  And he is a stranger who asks for water in a foreign village.

He ministers to the ten lepers he meets on the road. He, himself, a traveler - from city-to-city - preaching the gospel of the kingdom. A stranger, a wanderer, a man in exile, an errant son, an immigrant, a border crosser - these were his people.

When I was preparing to leave home for my own 7 week journey this summer, I was not fleeing anything but familiarity and routine.  But still, I was wakeful for nights learning up to my departure.  Was my car sound enough for such a long drive?  Would our pups think I'd disappeared?  Would my children feel that I'd gone "on holiday," when they were working so hard.  Was I being fair asking my husband to take on my household chores in addition to his own? What if I broke down on the highway? Where would I sleep in the middle of the night?

Knowing that I am an intelligent woman with a car, a credit card, and a love for road trips - you might think that these are silly concerns. But they were insinuating themselves aggressively. I had my car trip-checked my our mechanic twice within a two week period. I called my credit card company and back to let them know exactly what states I would be driving through so that my cards would not be rejected.

And then I thought of the many refugees and asylum seekers who are may be fleeing hostile countries with small children -- and I wept. I had so many resources, and still I was anxious. How must it feel to leave all that is familiar with just what you could carry, with children needing your assistance?

I remember when the girls were little and we would drive from the Midwest to camp each summer. I would get tired and need to rest. I would pull into a rest area and because it was often quite warm -- even at night -- I would leave the car running and tell the girls that "mommy just needs to closer her eyes for a minute" -- but I couldn't rest. I worried that somehow the car would engage into gear and start rolling. I would fret that the girls would figure out how to open their doors -- even though I had the child locks set. I worried about how to keep them safe while I rested. I was not a mother with a baby on her back crossing the desert. I was in a luxury SUV with air=conditioning, snacks, movies, and child locks.

I sorely felt my privilege in the context of their circumstances. How could I be anxious? Yet, I was. However, it was what we had in common that finally brought me peace. Each and every one of us -- as travelers -- has the same, "God with us."

And we have the example of the ultimate spiritual traveler. A man who carried no credit card -- or even a scrip for holding resources, gathering victuals, or saving something for later. This traveler knew that whether he was crossing the wilderness, sleeping in the desert, or navigating a storm-tossed sea, His Father was with him. Paving the way, providing what he needed, comforting him in the night, bringing him to a place of rest.

He had hundreds of precedent setting cases of spiritual trust to refer to. He knew the story of Moses parting the Red Sea, of Hagar finding water flowing from a rock, and the prophet's promise that there would be streams in the desert. He trusted that his Father loved him, just as much as he loved Moses, and Elijah, and Joseph, and Abraham, and...

As I prepare for the next leg of this journey, I am following him into a deeper trust. This passage from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and health with Key to the Scriptures is a traveler's prayer:


"As the children of Israel were guided triumphantly through the Red Sea, the dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear, — as they were led through the wilderness, walking wearily through the great desert of human hopes, and anticipating the promised joy, — so shall the spiritual idea guide all right desires in their passage from sense to Soul, from a material sense of existence to the spiritual, up to the glory prepared for them who love God. Stately Science pauses not, but moves before them, a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, leading to divine heights."

Whether your summer travels are finished, still in progress, or ready to begin again; -- I pray you feel God's presence guiding you and guarding your every step, mile, boarder-crossing.

offered with Love,


Cate 

Monday, August 5, 2019

"let worth be judged..."


"I look to You,
I look to You..."

Selah's cover of  "I Look to You"  returned to my playlist this morning.

I was talking with a dear friend recently, and she asked me a question that touched a very tender nerve:


"perhaps it's a self-worth issue..."

I heard her, but I couldn't imagine how what we were talking about - my desire to be of better support to those I loved - had anything to do with self-worth. But I trusted her and I knew she loved me. So I filed her question away for "Someday when..."  Someday, when I have the time. Someday, when I am willing to probe more deeply. Someday, when I am unable to breathe because I feel the walls crumbling around me - again. Then I will be happy revisit the question of my self-worth.  For now, I'm okay -- but thanks.

Then, a few days later I received a note with this message on the front:


"One day she woke up
and decided she was worthy,

and her soul cried out
with joy"

"Hmmm," I thought, "is today the day to plumb this question?"  But first, I had to start with another question. What defines worth?

First I turned to the dictionary. It said what I already knew: "the level at which something or someone deserves to be valued, is fit for, capable of, or suitable for." It's etymology however stopped me in my tracks. It roots trace back to Old English. The word "worth," hearkens back to the word, "woerp" which refers to "an enclosed space, or a homestead."

I sat back in my chair and let that sink in. Was I at home in my own sense of worth? Do I feel at peace with the value of what I bring to humanity? Has my sense of home been directly impacted by my sense of worth? Has my sense of my own worth been been informed by my home -  or more pointedly, my housing? What correlation might there be between home, value, and worth? It took me a few moments to take the next breath.

As I thought about the concept of worth, I realized that a thing's worth is not defined by the thing itself, but is based on its perceived value. For example, gold is intrinsically worth no more than lead or silver. We have assigned a higher value to gold. The same with sports heroes over teachers. Or celebrities over mothers. Those who have advanced degrees over craftsmen, or those in the trades. It is society that assigned that value. There is no intrinsic higher value in one, over the others.

I needed to have a clear sense of what I valued in order to see my own -- or another's -- worth. So, I dug deeper. What clues could scripture give me in finding a truer sense of worth. I looked at what prophets, disciples, apostles, and Christ Jesus himself valued. Humility, meekness, self-sacrifice, patience. These resonated with me, but I still couldn't feel the deeper  shift that I knew came with a radical transformation of thought. Then something I found in Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scripture hit that nerve again -- and this time, it was like a tuning fork. She writes:


"let worth be judged according to wisdom..."

It rushed through me like a lightning bolt. A few weeks earlier my Sunday School class had been examining the difference between intelligence and wisdom.  And in response  to the question: "How would you describe that difference?" -- one of the girls said:


"Wisdom is intelligence
used with love."

When I heard it, I knew it was true. It immediately became my go-to definition for "wisdom." And here was Eddy saying that our sense of worth should be judged according to wisdom -- the loving use of intelligence. It all shifted into place. If I was feeling less than "worthy," I needed to examine how I was using the God-bestowed intelligence that filled my consciousness throughout the day.

For example:  Was I reading scripture, and delighting in every word, but not bringing these vital truths into Christian practice? Was I consciously bringing wisdom -- intelligence used with love -- to bear on every interaction? Was I vigilant in my daily defense of the wise [loving] use of intelligence? Did I affirm throughout the day that intelligence could only be used for good, for the benefit of humanity. Did I refuse to believe that intelligence could ever be corrupted or used "against" others?

Elsewhere in her Message to The Mother Church for 1902 Eddy assures us that:

"Conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart
and nothing else can..."

To be conscious of my worth -- my right to engage in the loving use of intelligence -- was all that would ever satisfy my hunger for peace. My worth is not based on an irrevocable history of personal mistakes, failures, choices, or accomplishments. It is not defined by how others perceive me. My worth is founded on my day-to-day practice of wisdom. This is what has value. And this is practice of wisdom is something I can monitor throughout the day.

It's not surprising that this "loving use of intelligence," aligns with a radical, conscious application of The Golden Rule: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  The Golden Rule is not a human choice, but a divine imperative.  It is a law that operates unspent throughout the deep collective root system of humanity. It is ever-establishing our ever-active spiritual worth -- moment-by-moment,  heart by heart.

We are worthy of this intelligent view of ourselves and others. We are worthy of the peace and joy it brings. We are worthy of being conscious of our worth,  and the worth of being conscious.  It is our divine right to be conscious of what we know, and how to use it.  This is a place we can homestead and abide in -- forever.

offered with Love,




Cate



Sunday, August 4, 2019

"to see past this horizon..."


"All the things
that used to matter,
they don't mean so much today;
Toss the seeds and watch them scatter.
The birds and wind take them away,
till there is nothing in my way.

I can't see past this horizon,
I can't say what's waiting there.
I never sang 'cause I knew something,
I sang because it was a prayer.
The finest one that I could bear..."

Carrie Newcomer's new song, "On the Brink of Everything," inspired by Parker J. Palmer's book of the same title, had me at hello. Partly because it is Carrie, but also because it is so enigmatic and paradoxical.

The first time I listened to it, I was sure she was referring to being on the brink of self-discovery. Then I looked at the subtitle for Palmer's book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old, and I wondered if it wasn't a reference to on the brink of "passing."  Finally, I gave up trying to figure it out. In truth, it just didn't matter. I only had to listen to it from where my own heart was. And for me, it was about being on the brink of a new horizon.

So I stepped back, and surveyed my own heart. I'd been climbing hard for a number of months. Bushwhacking through a jungle of self. Scrambling through a scree field of ego -- the ground constantly shifting as I uncovered yet one more instance of self-preservation -- my awkward stumble through all the I/me/mine-thinking. But I was above tree-line now. I could see the summit. I was on the brink.

But of what?

Absolutely nothing new.

Metaphorically, the "air" I was breathing was made up of the same elements -- oxygen, hydrogen [or spiritually, Life, Truth, and Love.] The Source of my thinking was unchanged. I was the reflection of the one Infinite Mind. All that this Mind included - intelligence, inspiration, insight - was still just as present and probe-able to me. I was not going to find more of anything -- anywhere.

All the Love that I had ever known was still with me. Love was never more present, more powerful, more attentive, or embracing in one moment or place, than another. The spiritual climb I had been on, had not made Love more accessible or intense. The view of the summit seemed closer. But in fact, if I could see it, it was really a false summit. Was I ever going to reach a place where I could rest from my desire to know more of the infinite nature of God's love.

So, what was I on the brink of? Perhaps this. Just this. An inscrutable knowing: that every footstep taken, puts us on the brink of the next footstep. There is no "arriving." We are already there.

We live at the standpoint of our oneness with divine Love. Every moment is another opportunity to look -- not above us, or ahead of us -- but next to us. To see, hear, feel, taste, and know that:


"the Lord is with me,
blessed am I...”


I remember the first time I fell in love. I didn't care where we went. I didn't care if we did anything. I didn't care when we got "there," -- or, even if we returned. I only cared that my hand was in his. I only cared that it was his voice I heard, his presence I was in. Wherever we were, whatever we were facing -- it was all good, because we were together.

Each step we took, we were on the brink of everything. We were on the verge of a moment where we would see something, and it would be new because we would be seeing it together -- through the lens of "us."

For me, this is this moment.

This very moment. For all of us. We are not on the brink of new careers, new relationships, new adventures -- big events and grand accomplishments. We are on the brink of one more step with our hand in the hand of the One we love. The One who loves us more than all the world. Because in our relationship with Him, there are no others. We are "all the world" to Him -- and He to us.

Just as a mother completely loves each of her children. So God completely loves each of us. We are not loved by God, in the context of "others." To our divine Father-Mother, there are no others. When I am with one of my daughters, I am not thinking of her, in the context of her sisters.  I am absolutely and completely with her. I am delighting in her.  I am focused on her.  And it is the same with her sisters.  As Hymn 237 promises, we are:


"one with Him, forever near...”

No comparisons. No competition. No rushing ahead to get out in front of the crowd. No scrambling through scree fields to be the first to plant our flag. Just step-by-step, hand-in-hand with the One we love.  And the One who loves us. Our eyes, not on "the summit," but on the face of our Beloved.  Together with Him, on the brink of everything -- one step at a time -- a whole new world of living love together. 


And if we really love Him, we will love what he loves.  We will look at ourselves with great affection.  We will spend time with His children - seeking to discover about them, what He knows and loves. Not rushing on to the next false summit.  We will linger in the moment -- listening to them, in the same the way that we listen to Him.

offered with Love,



Kate


Saturday, August 3, 2019

"My hands are holding you..."


"I'll be
by your side
wherever you've fallen,

in the dead of night,
whenever you're calling;

please don't fight,
these Hands
that are holding you..."

It's been a long time since I've listened to Tenth Avenue North. But this morning it was their,  "By Your Side,"  that inspired me. Another mass shooting, another tragic "natural disaster," -- and my heart was reaching out for something to hold on to. And Tenth Avenue North came through with the reminder, that I don't need to hold on to God -- His hands are holding me, and mine, and all.

Sometimes, we hear a horrifying story of mayhem or loss, and we almost feel like we can't process it. It's too big. It makes us feel vulnerable and shakes our sense of personal peace. We send our love and prayers. But the human mind itself is incapable of knowing how to "think" about it all. So it doesn't. It files it away for "later."

I remember once hearing an NPR [National Public Radio] interview with a social anthropologist, one afternoon while inching my way through rush hour traffic. She was explaining the phenomenon of an entire country rallying to support a single family facing a devastating loss, while almost ignoring the plight of millions of refugee families facing famine in Africa - where thousands of children were dying of starvation each day.

She explained that this grief was too massive for the human mind to process. So it looked for something it could actually feel empowered to do something about -- a single family felt "doable." Hundreds of thousands did not. So in order to not "go mad" by the breadth of the grief, the human mind sets aside what it cannot process. I got it.

But this explanation still didn't answer my own heart-wrenching question -- how can I turn away from photos and reports of starving families? What can I do? How can I pray? It did feel like "too much," -- because it was. At least it was for the human mind.

Tenth Avenue North's song this morning was just the reminder I needed to get back on track in responding to each and every tragic report of fear, pain, lack, disaster, and loss. To see that each individual -- from the starving Syrian refugee, to the corruption-enticed Wall Street trader [who so afraid of loss that he would even consider compromises his integrity] as held by God. Held in comfort, and held in check.

Again and again, I go back to this "Daily Prayer," by Mary Baker Eddy:


"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 affections
of all mankind
and govern them."


This is my prayer throughout the day. This is my prayer when I am awaken in the night. This is the prayer that springs immediately into the space of every question.  It is my prayer for myself, and for "all mankind."

I know that it was this "Daily Prayer," has been my prayer in the darkest hours of my life -- whether during an attempted assault, or facing the loss of a child. To know this prayer intimately, was to know peace.  It strengthened my core confidence in knowing that the affections of the man who had threatened my innocence were being governed by the Word of God. And that this Voice had been speaking directly to his heart, causing him to self-arrest his behavior.  

To feel this prayer in an hour of loss, was to feel the Father's love for us - and for our child. To actually feel that this love was eternal; not validated by time, or space, or form of family. Untouched by sin [separation] and established in Soul.

Because I have felt held by the Word of God -- when I least expected it - I am able to know - with all my being - that this same presence is filling the consciousness of every man, woman, child, and creature in all of creation.

Because I have felt this Love shift my behavior, guide my actions, purify my motives, and heal my wounds -- I know it is at work in each human heart. This divine presence is stilling all conflict. It speaks in every language. Wherever we are, whatever we seem to be going through - alone, or in the midst of thousands - we are held.

This prayer has been the voice of God -- holding me, healing me, correcting me, encouraging me -- and mine, and all.


offered with Love,


Cate 

Friday, August 2, 2019

"a hundred hands...."


"who would have thought
that a Lamb could,
rescue the souls of men..."

After last night, there was no other song than Selah's "Wonderful, Merciful Savior," that could have possibly keynoted this post.

In front of their camp brothers, I saw one hundred hands raised in answer to this question:


"How many of you experienced a healing this summer?"

It took my breath away. I was not at all surprised that they had experienced the healing power of divine Love. But that - after a reflective pause - each hand was raised. They did not look around to see how their friends or mentors had answered the question. They were not hesitant - only thoughtful.

I will never forget watching this beautiful moment. Think of it. One hundred boys and men who had competed, slept, served, played and prayed with one another - quietly answering this question together. With raised hands and gentle faces -- "yes, I have known the healing power of God this summer."

I will leave this here. No commentary. I just wanted each of you to have a window on this moment of grace. And perhaps, in the privacy of your own home, on a walk in the woods, or in a moment of courage at work -- raise your hand, and shout, or sing, or whisper, "yes, I have known the healing power of God's love."

Have a beautiful Friday.



offered with Love,




Cate



Thursday, August 1, 2019

"first we fold in, then open out...."


"first we fold in,
then open out;
there is a faith
that's only found in doubt..."

This post did not start as an idea clothed in words. It started as a feeling. And then a name. Carrie Newcomer. So I went to Youtube and pulled up Carrie's station. The title,  "The Point of Arrival," gave words to the feeling. So I listened to the song -- which I'd never heard before. Yes. That was it. The feeling now had a sound, and a shape.

Now for the words. I woke up this morning and it was the feeling of kicking a ball that came to me. Now this is quite funny. For one thing, it is because I don't have any relationship to balls -- soccer balls, baseballs, basketballs. As a child I was ball-averse. I very much disliked anything that had to do with balls.

It wasn't till our daughters became soccer, volleyball, and Polocrosse athletes that I saw any reason to change my relationship to balls of any sport. And, at best, it was a distant relationship. One of an observer with a foreign object that seemed to have no purpose other than to come hurtling through space at you -- at random speeds.

So for me to wake up with the feeling of kicking a ball was actually quite arresting. So, as I do with all strange feelings, I sat with it. Thought about it. Plumbed it for some spiritual meaning.

Carrie's song helped me find what I was listening for. It is a paradox. One of my favorite things about being a conscious being, is being able to recognize a paradox and ponder it deeply.

This morning's paradox is all about the motion of kicking a ball forward. One has to drawn back the foot, in order to add velocity and distance. If you try to kick a ball from a straight leg, stationary, starting point it doesn't have near the speed, precision, or trajectory. Try it.

I have been praying about the hundreds of young men and women who will soon be leaving summer camps for the next legs of their life journey. I have heard some version of trepidation in their individual and collective voices. "I feel safe here. What if I'm not as funny, selfless, purposeful, focused when I leave here? What if I get too busy to read Scripture? What if I forget how it feels to pray?"

This concern is filled with a desire.  And it voices itself as either a desire stay longer in the place they are in, or to not have to "go back" to the life that they left before summer began -- to return to towns, friendships, school settings where they did not feel that they had previously been as kind or spiritually confident as they have been at camp.

I understand this feeling. I am feeling it too. This summer has been all about God's trajectory for my life. I have said, "yes," to opportunities that in other years I might have found a way to sidestep. In some instances I have returned to places where I'd made grave mistakes in the past -- in order to find peace and resolution. In other instances I have stepped back from my personal preferences -- for example: I like dry air and cool night, I like familiarity, I want to be near my dogs -- in order to walk forward into opportunities that were completely without a roadmap.

For those of you who are natural adventurers this might seem like a walk in the park. For me, a spiritual homebody, it was like waking up from that dream.  You know, the one where you have gone to school in your pajamas - and then realized it wasn't a dream. You actually are in math class and everyone is whispering about your flannel nightie.

But what I have been feeling today - as I've embraced this adventure - is the feeling of kicking a ball. Each time I have drawn back -- whether it is to return to a place I need to find redemption and healing in, or from my sense of personality, I am moving forward into the next moment with greater freedom, purpose, strength, and precision. Each time I have folded in and dealt with a past mistake or a deep fear of the unknown -- I open out with a new grace.

And in that motion, there is an almost imperceptible pause between the drawing back, and the moving forward. An immeasurable, timeless moment where I feel God's presence and power. It is as if, for a quadtrillisecond, there is an absolute stillness filled with peace - just before I am sent forward into the next moment - of being at play in the fields of the Lord.

This post may not make any sense to you. I am sorry if that is the case. Perhaps, I am writing it for the sole purpose of watching the feeling take shape in words. I don't know if writing this is a drawing back, the sweet pause, or the hurtling forward. But I know I am feeling God-sent this morning.

Each camper and counselor, in every camp around the world, who has spent time in servant leadership and spiritual self-discovery will soon return - be drawn back into - schools, friendships, towns, families where they will be poised for the pause -- and then they will be sent forward into a world so ready for the young men and women they have become. "Children" who are wiser, gentler, less self-focused, more intentional. And we will all be better for their summer of vision and service.

offered with Love,


Cate 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"why..."


"asking, "why God?"
didn't make me a bad Christian,
it made me a kid,
who needs my dad..."

Oh my. Austin French's new song,  "Why God,"  adds one more perspective on a question I have been sitting with for a couple of years.

That question has to do with Jesus' instruction in Matthew:


"After this manner,
pray ye..."

I've explored this injunction from so many angles. I have asked colleagues, friends, and mentors for their insights. I have stopped myself -- over and over again -- from praying out "the words" only. I have asked myself: Is this vain repetition? Are you in your closet? Are you praying to be heard of men -- or women? Are you praying "about God," or in conversation "with God?"

But there was something about  watching Austin's video today, that sent a shiver of something real through me. It has to do with this song's connection to the opening words of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father..." and this above-quoted line from the video, "it made me a kid, who needs my dad."

I felt it. In that moment I could feel the manner of prayer. I am a child, in conversation with her father. Her (as Jesus called God) "Abba" - which translates, "daddy or papa." It could also be mommy or mama.

I know this feeling. I know how delighted I am to have our children come to us with their questions -- about anything. And I know that it isn't just our best stab at human answers that are meaningful to them, it is more about the way we listen to them -- with our entire whole-hearted love and focused attention.

A parent's love honors their child's questions. A parent does not see the question as a failing on their (or their child's) part, but simply an opportunity to deepen their relationship with one another. Sometimes, there are no words in the answers, and sometimes there are no answers, just oneness.

When our children ask the "why" questions, our hearts open up with such a softness. I can only imagine our Father-Mother God's infinite tenderness when we bring our "why" questions to Him/Her.

And to be honest, sometimes, to feel that tenderness is the only answer we really need. To feel heard -- and held. And often, the answer is simply that feeling itself -- of being in relationship with my Father-Mother God. And most times, it is the entire answer.  "Lo, I am with you - alway."  

Right where the "why" question tries to insinuate that I am asking because, "I don't know..." I find that, I do know. I know exactly where to turn. I know precisely Who to take my hurt, my uncertainty, my aching heart, and my "why" questions to. Asking "why," brings me home -- again and again. This longing -- causes me to curl into my divine Parent's arms -- and to be held.  This deeply intimate connection with God -- is the manner, after which I pray.

That is my "why."  


offered with Love,


Cate