Saturday, April 27, 2019

"I'm broken, and it's beautiful..."


"Can someone just hold me?
Don't fix me,
don't try to change a thing.

Oh, someone just know me,
'cause underneath, I'm broken,
and it's beautiful..."

I love Kelly Clarkson's  "Broken and Beautiful."  It's the perfect musical keynote for this message. In fact, it was just the inspiration I'd been waiting for to write this post.

I grew up thinking that we start out as innocent babies -- pure and perfect. The goal, was to stay that way. That meant one of two things. Either you were born into perfect families, with parents who protected you from anything that would undermine that very vulnerable state of perfection. Or you were "good enough" to ward off anything that would break the fragile shell of innocence. Karmic bubble wrap.  Some got it, some didn't.  Broken was anything but beautiful.

By the time I was a young girl, I knew that I was irreparably broken - damaged goods. Innocence shattered. Purity violated. No matter how much healing took place, I would always be a broken someone.  At best, patched together with psychological crazy glue or spiritual baling twine.

Broken meant less desirable. Especially when you wanted so desperately to be seen as smart, sweet, kind, spiritually whole. Who'd choose broken, when they could have perfect?

When I turned eleven, my immediate family came into the study and practice of Christian Science. I loved church, Sunday School, reading the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and attending Adventure Unlimited functions. I wanted to belong. I wanted to be a puzzle piece that had found its place in the beautiful picture I'd been introduced to. But I was broken. They didn't know it. I did.

In my own eyes I was ugly. Yes, I had body dimorphic issues, and I thought that I was plain and awkward -- but the ugliness I was sure of, had nothing to do with my looks. It had everything to do with what I knew, that they did not. I knew what lay under the surface.  I knew that I had been shattered, and the there were ugly cracks in my heart.

The effort it took to hide those fissures was exhausting. I was never genuinely present in any relationship. I was hiding behind all the ways I had patched myself together. It took everything I had, to make sure that I was always showing my good side.  Always trying to deflect attention from my brokenness.

There are so many things I could share here. Suffice it to say that I spent decades disguising the still sharp edges of my shattered heart -- because a shattered heart was ugly. Broken things deserved to be discarded. If I gave the impression of wholeness, I might be kept on the shelf.

One day, I saw a photo like the one above - and below. It was of a broken ceramic bowl. It was illustrating a Japanese art form called, "kintsugi," which translates into "golden seams," or "golden repair." The broken bowl is given new life by filling the cracks with a mixture of resin and gold dust, making the bowl even more valuable - for the originality of its beauty. No two kitsugi bowls are ever the same.



When I discovered this cultural love for the broken bowl, I gave myself permission to wonder if, maybe, it wasn't my brokenness that actually made me beautiful.

Did the shattering experiences I'd endured as a child, make me more compassionate? Had the stress of circumstances broadened my perspective? Would I become a more understanding friend, because I had felt so afraid of being misunderstood? Could I value the brokenness in others, because I knew how desperately we all want to feel whole? Were the friendships I'd let fall and shatter, have even more beauty, once I poured the gold of honesty and humility into the wounds of misunderstanding and hurt.

Mother Teresa once said: :


"“May God break my heart so completely
that the whole world falls in."

Could it be that I had not been broken apart, but broken open? Open to a new and deeper understanding of our humanity as brothers and sisters in Christ?

This statement from Science and Health became a lifeline for me:


"Our disappointments and ceaseless woes
turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love,
then we begin to learn life in divine Science."

Could this really be true? Was it possible that my broken heart, my disappointed dreams, my woeful experiences were just the beginning of discovering what it meant to live spiritually -- and not an indication of a failed attempt at life? A failed life. One that I'd felt I had no control over to begin with - just a poorly dealt hand. Had those same disappointments really been a gift?

Elsewhere in Unity of Good, Eddy writes:


"Truth, in divine Science,
is the stepping-stone to
the understanding of God;
but the broken and contrite heart
soonest discerns this truth,
even as the helpless sick
are soonest healed by it."

Perhaps, I wondered, I was even more beautiful because of my brokenness? Perhaps I could begin to accept that every broken promise, every shattered trust, every sharp edge on the fragmented shards of my life, was a place to pour in the gold of compassion, humility, honesty, hope -- grace. For these were the drams of gold that were continuously being separated from the dross - through those experiences in the fiery furnace of ceaseless woe and disappointment.

God's love had never left me. I was not a discardable spiritual failure, but a beautiful creation in His loving, tender hands. Nothing that I had experienced, had ever touched the purity of the clay.

I was not something to be fixed, but someone to be loved.  Something to be held tenderly. Someone to be valued for the seams of gold, that ran like veins of beauty and compassion, through my life. We all are.

offered with Love,




Kate




Saturday, April 20, 2019

"i've been changed. yes, really changed...."


"I don't know how
to love him;
what to do,
how to move him

I've been changed;
yes, really changed..."

It's been 46 years since I first heard Yvonne Ellian's hauntingly beautiful performance of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar. I was barely more than a girl, how could I have understood what she was singing about? But I did. Or at least I caught a glimmer of the kind of love that could transform you.

I have known this kind of love. I have been blessed by it, confused by it, and yes, changed by it. There are times when it felt very personal. The kindness of this stranger, the compassion of that neighbor, the way "he" saw me, the words she spoke in my darkest hour. That kind of love.

In our humaness we want to cling to it -- to them. To make that person our beloved, our best friend, our savior. I did.

But experience has taught me that this kind of transformative love cannot be possessed. It cannot be held in our arms. For love to be transformative, it must be infinite, impartial, impersonal. It must be released into its native element -- the All-in-allness of universal being. To attempt its containment is to limit our own sense of its power.

I think of this each year when I consider Mary Magdalene's pivotal role in the Easter story. There is some question about how and when the Magdalene encountered Jesus -- was she the woman of questionable reputation who crashed the Pharisees dinner party and washed the Mater's feet with her tears, or was she a successful business woman from the coastal town of Magdala? We don't know. But here is what we do know. Out of her, Jesus cast seven demons. Whether those demons were fornication or ambition - he cast them out.

Either way, once touched by Jesus' love, there was no going back. She follows him as a 13th disciple. And when the time came for someone to be with him - in his hours of agony on the cross - it was she, and his mother, who joined the disciple John in that holy watch.

When all hope seemed lost - and the rest of the disciples had retreated to an upper chamber - it was Mary Magdalene and his Mother who went to the sepulcher with oil and sweet-smelling spices to anoint his body.

And when the angel appeared, quietly heralding her Master's resurrection, she was ready, waiting, expectant. Why? Because she had already experienced the resurrection of life in herself. She knew what the Christ was capable of. More than the resurrection of the flesh, it was the resurrection of her own innocence, that convinced her that the impossible -- was possible.

And, when she joyously rushed to tell her brethren disciples that their Master was alive, their distrust of her message received the risen Savior's stern rebuke for their hardness of heart in not believing her.

The Magdalene's unwavering love for, and trust in, the Christ-message of resurrecting Love, is an integral part of the Easter story. It sings with as full a voice as the Savior's own. It is as much her story, as his. It is one of the greatest love stories of all time.


offered with Love,




Kate




Saturday, April 13, 2019

"I, me, mine..."


"All through the day:
I, me, mine,
I, me, mine,
I, me, mine.

All through the night:
I, me, mine,
I, me, mine,
I, me, mine.

Now they're frightened
of leaving it,
everyone's weaving it;
coming on strong all the time:
I, me, mine,
I, me, mine,
I, me, mine..."

Someone once asked me why George Harrison was my favorite Beatle. There are many reasons - most of them quite spiritual. But, I think it is his writing of,  "I, Me, Mine,"  that still catches my breath, 50 years after its first recording.

It is not a particularly lyrical song. But the message is deeply spiritual. When asked about the message behind the song, Harrison once replied:


""It is about the ego,
the eternal problem."

Wow. In the video linked above, George expands, briefly, on this eternal problem.

The ego -- a false sense of self that is defined by an encapsulating layer of skin - that is the eternal problem. We believe that everything inside of that layer of skin is "me," and everything beyond it, is "other." 


We feel an inherently spiritual impulsion to expand our understanding of what infinite being includes, but we go about it in all the wrong way.

Rather than the dissolution of those self-boundaries, and an expansion into the all-oneness of spiritual identity, we seek to possess more -- to include more.  To stuff our sense of  "self" with more.  We pursue what leads to a bloated sense of being. My house, my children, my favorite Beatle, that great idea -- well, it is mine. And on and on it goes.  Mine, mine, mine.

George sings,

"Now they're frightened of leaving it,
everyone's weaving it,
coming on strong all the time..."

And we are. We are taught from earliest childhood to accumulate. Accumulate friends, information, toys, awards. We have been told that control over this accumulated self-sense is the ultimate goal. I manage my time. I am in charge of my finances. This idea is mine - mine to claim. This particular image that I hold of myself - it is my favorite. 


When we lose control of this self-important version of who we are -- we feel small. When we think that we have less "mine" than someone else, we feel like a failure - by comparison.  It is this separateness from one another - and therefore, the Source of all Being - that defines "sin" -- a word that comes from the same root as the word, "sunder -- to separate."

But this is also the root of our greatest fears. I fear that my thinking is creating my reality. I worry that my beliefs are leading to my health issues in my body.  I am concerned that my limited sense of things is creating lack in my life -- or in my children's lives.

I remember an experience that I had more than three decades ago. I was working at my desk. I'd been struggling with a painful headache for days. I felt like a failure. Who did I think I was? How could I sit there and take calls from patients who were asking for help, when I hadn't been able to heal myself.

While I berated myself for all that I didn't understand about God's power -- for why else would I not be healed -- my office phone rang. I answered it and the person at the other end of the line was, in fact, someone asking me to pray with them. They went on to describe the physical symptoms they were facing. And yes, they were exactly the same ones that I was struggling with.

On the one hand, I was so honored that she was led to call me. I had long-felt that if a call came to my office, God had well-prepared me to take it. I agreed to pray for her, and hung up.

As I sat there listening for what was spiritually true about this dear person, it occurred to me that I believed that there were two different personalities needing healing.  There was "my challenge," - based on my beliefs, and "her challenge," - based on what she was believing.  


When in fact, there was just one all-inclusive Truth-based sense of being.  What was true, was true for both of us. In fact, all of us. It was so clear to me. The illusion of two separate skin-encapsulated beings, stuffed in their own membranes of genetic history and personal narratives, with personal minds that could believe something on their own -- was ludicrous.

"Why," I asked myself, "was I honored when a patient called me for help, but felt like a failure when facing the same symptoms "in" my own body?" It was the false perception that each of us was defined by a layer of skin, and that everything inside of my skin was me. And therefore, it was my mind that was responsible for my experience.  And she, for hers.  Silly ego.  


The lie of separation -- personal sense -- when dissolved in the solution of spiritual oneness, disappears within the truth of our common "wholeness" -- which is the root of the word "health." This oneness leaves no room for comparisons. It refutes any sense of hierarchy -- of personal privilege or specialness.

This lie -- of egoic thinking -- that suggests itself to us day and night is insidious.  It is what Mary Baker Eddy is referring to in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures when she writes:


"Mortals are egotists.
They believe themselves to be
independent workers, personal authors,
and even privileged originators..."

They also believe themselves to be owners, possessors, the parents [and children] of one another, the accumulators of personal wealth, ideas, solutions, prayers, bodies -- lives.

This personal sense of existence is so contrary to an understanding of true individuality -- a word that has its root in the concept of un-divided-ness. We are not the apportioned personalities -- pieces of divinity. We are not divided from the wholeness of universal good.  We are not subject to personal success or failure.

In We Knew Mary Baker Eddy - Expanded Edition, William Rathvon shares his memories of conversations he had with Mrs. Eddy. I am especially reminded of these two brief statements from late 1910:


"Depersonalize self.
To personalize thought,
limits spiritual growth."


and

"What you need 

more than self-forgetfulness,
is self-nothingness." 

It reminds me of Eddy's own self-published statement from page 282 of Miscellaneous Writings 1883 - 1896:


"Remember, it is personality,
and the sense of personality
in God or man, that limits man."

I think that George Harrison and Mary Baker Eddy might have enjoyed one another's company. I have certainly been blessed by both of them.



offered with Love,




Kate



Thursday, April 11, 2019

"all I remembered..."


"and all I remembered,
was your back..."

I don't actually know if I can clearly say what is in my heart today -- but I will try. The first time I heard Kelly Clarkson's song,  "Piece by Piece," I thought that perhaps my tears were coming up from a well so deep, it was fathomless. It spoke to such profound feelings of abandonment.

It always reminded me of the story of Hagar in the Bible. Hagar is the captured slave of Sarah, Abraham's wife. She serves Sarah faithfully. When Sarah is unable to produce an heir for Abraham, Sarah give Hagar to her husband. Hagar becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, Ishmael.

Years later, Sarah, herself, becomes pregnant and gives birth to Isaac.. Her son, is now Abraham's second son. When she becomes concerned about Isaac sharing his birthright with Ishmael, she asks Abraham to cast Hagar out of their community - with her son. Abraham asks God for guidance, and God tells him to do what Sarah has asked. Promising Abraham that He, God, will take care of Hagar and Ishmael.

Abraham takes Hagar and his first born son to the wilderness and leaves them there with a vessel of water. When the water runs out, Hagar is frightened and begs God to not let her see the death of her son. God hears the child's cry and water springs from a rock. Ishmael goes on to become the father of his own branch of Abraham's tree.

Whenever I read (or heard) that story, I always wept inside. Hagar had only been an obedient servant to her mistress. She had allowed herself to be given to Sarah's husband for the producing of an heir. For Sarah to cast her out, and for Abraham to abandon her - and his own son -- seemed cruel and heart-breaking to me.

That was, until quite recently. I was reading this story of Hagar again one morning.   I was so ready for the tears of empathy - for her plight  - that always came. When suddenly, something washed over me that was new and fresh. It was joy.

The story shifted into light. Hagar was a captured slave. She had served her mistress and her mistress' husband faithfully. One day, she and her son -- the patriarch's heir -- were given their freedom. Freedom. Not abandonment. Abraham didn't kick her out, and keep the boy back so that he could control his destiny. He emancipated Hagar. He let her take her son with her.

I got it. Neither of us had ever been abandoned. We had been freed. We were taken to the border of our lives -- the place where the slavery ended.  And although it seemed like a wilderness -- it was the place where we discovered our oneness with the One who would never leave us and would never break our hearts.

In that moment, my story changed. I had never been left behind, abandoned, or had someone turn their back on me. I was free. I was free to be taken up in the arms of Love. I was free to exercise my spiritual maturity. I was free to discover how much God cared for me - and why He had never left me. And would never leave me on my own.

I had read this story so many times. But in one moment, what had once been heart-breaking, was now healing, restorative -- redemptive.

I will leave this here. There are not enough words to say what is in my heart.


offered with Love,




Kate




Sunday, April 7, 2019

"imposible - until it's not..."


"There’s light in the night,
from stars long gone;
A half-formed thought,
becomes a song;
We rise from our grief,
and go on;

It’s impossible. impossible.
Impossible, until its not..."

This afternoon I have been listening to a number of cuts from Carrie Newcomer's newest CD, "The Point of Arrival." But it was her song,  "Impossible Until Its Not," that stopped me in my tracks. It spoke to questions that, as a Christian Science practitioner, I hear all the time. Have you ever seen evidence of this particular healing, transformation of character, challenge overcome? How many times?

This is one of the reasons that I love understanding Christian Science as a law - rather than a therapeutic system of treatment for fixing problems.

As in the practice of criminal justice, one precedent-setting case is all that it takes to establish the inviolability of law. A good attorney knows his/her law library well enough to cite precedence when arguing his/her case before a judge. Once precedence has been established - and cited - the point at issue does not need to be argued. One rests one's case, and moves on.

I can't describe how many times a day I return, confidently, to this point of law. And I love that Mary Baker Eddy states in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:


"When disease is once destroyed
in this so-called mind,
the fear of disease is gone,
and therefore the disease is thoroughly cured."

and

"When once destroyed by divine Science,
the false evidence before the corporeal senses disappears."


Just once. All it takes is one precedent-setting case of spiritual superiority, and you can rest your case upon the inviolability of that Law -- for everyone. Wow!

I think about this all day -- everyday. I search the Scriptures and read little else in a desire to more fully steel myself against any lie that would say that God is not "supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual."

A burning bush that is not consumed -- the precedent for unconsumed resources. A once-dead son returned to his widowed mother's household -- a precedent-setting case that Jesus rested his own demonstration of eternal Life upon.  Proof of Life -- once-seen as spiritual law -- demonstrated as resurrection.  A limited sense of supply, eclipsed by Love's unwavering flow of individual and collective goodness.

In countless Bible stories, the chapter "Fruitage" in Science and Health, as well as in each recounted healing in Mary Baker Eddy's other writings, the articles and testimonies found in the monthly and weekly periodicals - the Christian Science Sentinel and Journal, healings shared during Wednesday testimony meetings -- all are precedent-setting cases that we can rest our trust upon.

Last week there was a story in The New York Times - "A Woman, 71, Doesn't Feel Pain. Now, Scientists, Know Why: Mutation." It caught my attention immediately. Ahh yes, another recorded instance of the superiority of Soul over sense -- precedence.

Whether or not "scientists" had assigned a reasonable narrative to her lifelong freedom from pain -- relegating it to a gene mutation, or not - it has happened.  The article goes on to discuss Ms. Cameron's genetic predisposition to painlessness and her freedom from anxiety.  I loved hearing this.  We are all Genesis-predisposed to this God-given peace.  And it comes with this scientific assurance:


"And God saw everything
that he had made
and behold,
it was very good.

Thus the heavens and the earth
were finished."

Finished! There is no more to our story.

Because this painless sense of being has happened for one of us -- it is precedence for all of us. I'm resting my case upon it. God created us filled with peace - not pain. Peace is feeling the presence of God's love. This peace must be experienced - impartially and universally. There is no personal mutation. We all have the right to a pain-free, anxiety-free existence.

John gives us the perfect benediction on this promise in the last chapter of Revelation -- which is the last book in the Bible. Here he assures us:


"And God shall wipe away
all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:

for the former things are passed away.

And he that sat upon the throne said,
Behold, I make all things new.

And he said unto me, Write:
for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done.
I am Alpha and Omega, 

the beginning and the end.

I will give unto him that is athirst
of the fountain of the water of life freely."

It is done. The gift of grace. Not something earned. Not a reward for our good works - but the impartial, impersonal, universal law of Love.

I love the practice of this Law.  Impossible things are happening every day.

offered with Love,


Kate




Monday, April 1, 2019

"on the brink of everything..."


"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 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 - Truth, Life 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, nevertheless, 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. The 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 divine Father-Mother Love, 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


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"don't cry out loud..."


"don't cry out loud,
just keep it inside,
and learn how to
hide your feelings.."

Sadness is not an emotion that I wrestle with very often, but when it hits, I can hear Melissa Manchester's  "Don't Cry Out Loud"  playing in my head. A 1978 classic, it was my soundtrack during many battles with hopelessness and depression. I can think of very few songs that elicit such a feeling of complete sorrow for me.

I used to think that sadness was circumstantial. When, in my late teens and early twenties, my life was falling apart -- I thought my circumstances warranted feelings of hopelessness and depression. It was all so personal.

But of late, I have realized that sadness is an impersonal invitation. A suggestion. It comes to most of us as a wave of feeling. We begin to search for a reason for that feeling. A memory from the past or a near-time incident steps into the void and is more than willing to take credit for the feeling. It sinks its hook, and pulls us under.

That happened to me very recently. I woke with a feeling of gray sorrow. It was like all the edges of a bright blue sky, or the sound of laughter, were faded and mournful. I couldn't seem to shake off a feeling of heavy dread. I prayed, and my prayers were clear and confident, but if I turned too quickly -- the gray was hovering in the periphery.

I found myself looking for a cause. Was it a conversation I'd had with a loved one? A looming decision? Some unexpected expenses? A regret from the past? The deeper I dug for a reason, the darker the pit became.

I knew that I needed to turn around and follow the light, but now I was tired. Couldn't I just rest here in the tunnel for a while? Close my eyes, and pray? That would help, wouldn't it? I knew I had been in this very cave before. Too many times in fact. And I knew that resting in the darkness would only lead to a sleepy sense of self-pity.

Then I remembered two simple lines from the Bible, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:


"The light of ever-present Love
illumines the universe."

"O send out Thy light
and Thy truth,
let them lead me;
for the Lord my God
will enlighten my darkness..."


I knew that the name for God as "Lord," is directly translated to "Love," in Science and Health.   Rather than curling up in self-despair, I needed to turn around in that pit and start climbing towards the light. And that light, was Love. I might not be able to fix the problems, or improve my circumstances, but I could love. I could find someone, and be kind. I could pray a prayer of appreciation and blessing for someone. I could behold [see, and call attention to] the good in something -- anything.

Sadness, sorrow, depression are not personal. They are like wandering ghosts without a home. They have no entity, no substance -- that is why they invite themselves into the space of our consciousness. Then they dig around in our mental drawers and photo albums looking for a reason for it to make sense that they are there. They invite us to sit in a darkened room and ruminate over faded images and crumpled moments.

For just a moment, imagine yourself jumping up from that dusty old chintz covered sofa and throwing open the curtains. Grabbing the photo album and putting it back where it belongs and telling those insidiously dark thoughts to: "please leave -- now." Then grabbing your jacket, locking the door behind, you and walking out into the sunshine -- and a thousand opportunities to be kind, share a smile, do something good for someone else.

I know it sounds simplistic. But, perhaps it is simple. Saying "no" when the first wave of sadness crashes over us. Digging our toes into the sand and finding bedrock in our right to love. To live outside the pit of self.

I only know, that the longer I stay curled in the pit with my eyes closed, the deeper it pulls me into its darkness. But the sooner I find someone to love, and care for -- the happier I feel.

offered with Love,





Kate




Thursday, January 24, 2019

"the place where the lost things go..."


"Time to close your eyes
so sleep can come around;
for when you dream you'll find,
all that's lost is found.

Maybe on the moon
or maybe somewhere new,
maybe all you're missing
lives inside of you..."

This morning, Lisa - my sister-in-law once removed, suggested that I might want to listen to the lullaby,  "The Place Where the Lost Things Go" from the new film, Mary Poppins Returns. We live in a mountain town without a movie theater anywhere within the radius of an hour and a half. In the winter -- movies mean navigating snowy passes. So we just don't see anything new until the snow melts.  Thank goodness for the internet!

I went right to Youtube, and within a few moments I was weeping. Oh my, what a song!  Lisa couldn't have shared it with me at a more perfect moment.

Earlier this morning, in the half-light of dawn -- that inbetween time of  timeless space between sleeping and waking -- I dreamed. And in my dreaming, the girls -- all three of my daughters -- were with me on the Cape. We swam in the ocean like dolphins and picked up shells and alabaster stones on the beach.

Afterwards, as we were changing into dry clothes I realized that Emma and Clara were about 4 years old. I felt like I had been given the greatest gift. Their little bodies were sun-kissed and soft. They were silly and eager.  I could hear them singing The Beatles, "Eight Days a Week," as clearly as if they were sitting behind me in their carseats as we drove along the sandy Cape Cod roads.

It was such a sweet return to the place where a happy moment lived. And it was fully alive for me. I was completely aware that I was "dreaming," and yet, there was nothing lost in the past, about this experience. I was fully conscious. I was happily cherishing the gift of being with their little girl selves again.

I woke remembering every second of it. I woke with the happiest feeling in my heart and tears on my cheeks. I wasn't remembering a lost moment from the past. I was experiencing the "now" of my love for them.

This may not seem like a particularly metaphysical post. But it is - for me. It is all about Life. It is not filled with quotes or insights. Just love. A love, that alone, is Life. And because, as Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Love alone is Life,"  Love is always present, always alive -- never in the past. And sometimes, this Love fills us so full -- that it bubbles over in our moments of deepest stillness and becomes visceral -- experiential. It is a gift that comes with such deep tenderness.

I will listen to this lullaby many times today. And maybe tomorrow too. Thank you Lisa for thinking of me when you heard it. That means more to me than you know.

Perhaps you will sing it for me one day.

offered with Love,




Kate




Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"i have a Voice inside of me..."


"I have a voice,
simple and clear;
it speaks the Truth,
for all to hear..."

This afternoon someone posted Kinard Middle School's video of their student choir singing  "I Have a Voice." It moved me deeply.

It speaks to me of a prayer from my own faith tradition -- Christian Science. It is a short prayer that the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, included in The Manual of the Mother Church -- a document that helps members of her church self-govern. It is called "The Daily Prayer," -- and it reads:


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

This prayer is fundamental to my own spiritual practice. I don't just pray with it daily, but many times throughout the day. It it a prayer of guidance. And it is a prayer of promise.

This song, "I Have a Voice [here is a link to the Broadway Kids performance]"  affirms the last line in the Daily Prayer, which reads:


"...and may Thy Word
enrich the affections
of all mankind
and govern them."

Throughout the day, when I hear reports of contention, discord, or disappointment -- I return to this prayer. I trust its message. We all have this Voice speaking within ourselves. No one is left operating in a vacuum. This Voice guides us, corrects us, assures and comforts us. Nothing can silence it. No one can interfere with it, or take it from us.  I trust its presence.  I trust its power to reach each of us -- right where we are.  We only need to be still.  And in this stillness we hear the Voice - and know.  We just know.  We know what is good.  We know what is true.  We know what we love.

From the tiniest baby to the centenarian, we all have this Voice within us. My children and grandchildren have this voice speaking to them as they navigate college, work, school, home, sports. Our neighbors, colleagues, friends and world leaders have this same Voice speaking to them.

I trust this.

It gives me hope.

offered with Love,




Kate




Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"i believe that You are with me..."


"I believe
You are the answer
to every tear I’ve cried;

I believe
that You are with me..."

When Corinne May's  "The Answer" started playing on my Pandora Christmas collection this morning, it stopped me in my tracks. Such a small musical offering moved me to tears. So, so complete.

Some years ago it was this simple statement from Genesis:


"And the Lord was with Joseph..."

that brought me complete peace. I'd been injured and was unable to get out of bed. I was afraid. And then I realized that even if I were to never take another step, the same Lord that was with Joseph in prison, and with Mary as a young pregnant mother, was with me. How could I be anything but peaceful knowing that I was with my Father-Mother God -- the Source of all good.

It was really that simple. I lay back against the pillows and just let myself be held in that knowledge of God's presence. It was enough. If I was conscious -- it was God that was present as Mind. Because I could feel  love for my daughters -- God was present as Love -- the Source of all affection.

Day after day I returned to this place of: "and the Lord was with Kate." And I let each moment reveal its purpose. When fear would scream what I couldn't do. I would ask God, "what can I do?" Somedays it was to simply sit up and reach for the phone. To pray. To be grateful. To crawl to the bathroom.

Then one day, it was to walk to my desk with the aid of crutches. Soon it was to drive my daughters to school -- grateful for a car without a clutch.

Throughout the entire experience it was "and the Lord was with Kate..." that brought peace. It was knowing that "the Lord was with Kate," that brought joy.

This wouldn't be the last time I would face the threat of immobility, but it would be the last time that I would face it feeling helpless and alone.

I can't even begin to tell you how often I return to the Truth that "the Lord is with -- each of of us" for myself, for our children, and for those who feel that they are navigating the world all by themselves. It fills my heart with a deep peace.

And isn't this the answer to all of our questions? That God -- the Source of all good -- is with us. Is with our children. With our leaders. Is with those who feel angry, frustrated, fearful, desperate -- to comfort, guard, guide, supply, sustain them.

No matter what you may be facing, the Lord is with you. This is enough of heaven within us -- to quiet all our fears.

offered with Love,




Kate




Sunday, November 4, 2018

"I have drawn thee..."


"not because of who i am,
but because of what You've done.

not because of what i've done,
but because of who You are..."

Casting Crowns'  "Who am I" found its way to the top of my mental playlist this morning.

Here's how it started. I was reading this Scripture from Jeremiah 31:3:


The Lord had appeared of old unto
saying, "Yea, I have loved thee
with an everlasting love,
therefore with loving kindness
have I drawn thee..."

Now, I've long loved this particular Scripture for its use of the word "drawn."

As a child I imagined God with a box of crayons, drawing a picture of me. With a chimney-topped house and lollipop trees in the background.  A bright yellow sun overhead. God was designing me -- and my life.

Then, some years ago that image shifted. I would read the passage and think of God as turning on the tap.  Like drawing a bath. Drawing, from the infinite well of His infinite resources -- whatever He needed me to be. I was not coming into the demands of any given moment with a set of skills, gifts, or talents that are personally circumscribed - but with an open willing heart. And from the spigot of that willingness, God was drawing forth whatever was needed in service to Him -- and his creation.

About a year ago, this same passage unfolded on the page in a new way. It was as if I could feel God reaching out and drawing me into the close circle of his arms. I felt gathered in. I felt firmly held in a place, where -- instead of being overwhelmed by the pulsing uncertainty of the world -- I could only hear the beating of His heart.

But then, earlier this week, as I was reading this oh-so-familiar passage, a different image crossed my heart. It was of an archer drawing his arrow. It, quite literally, stopped me in my tracks. Now, I am not an archer. I don't have much experience with archery -- other than the fact that my husband teaches it at camp, and I read "Zen and the Art of Archery" many years ago.

But as that image came into focus, so did the spiritual implications of being the arrow that God is drawing.

An archer draws his arrow with intention. He takes aim. I actually felt that God was aiming me with a precise outcome -- or purpose -- in Mind. I could trust his aim. It moved me very deeply.

Although I had been feeling - since the girls left for college - a clear sense of my work, I had also been feeling a bit aimless when it came to any interests outside of the office. I thought of myself as the person who used to spend all of her discretionary time following her daughters' interests in soccer, school, camp, Polocrosse, Cowboy Mounted Shooting, etc.

I loved to knit, but I'd knitted items for everyone I knew and had become "that woman" who knitted, and then unraveled her knitting, just to save money on yarn -- since I couldn't think of anyone who wanted another scarf, skirt, or hat.

I loved to bake, but without the girls here to eat or share what I baked, it just sat there. I loved to write, but after 750 of these posts, I wondered if I was just speaking to myself. And anyway, I had begun to realize that if I couldn't communicate a concept in five short lines of poetry, I should probably sit with it a bit longer.

I have always known that a sustainable life is one that is Love-impelled. It is why I do the work that I do. I have no desire to ever retire. I love it so much. And this is good, because it is what I do all day, every day - it just brings me so much joy. But what else should I be doing? I kept thinking I had to find something to do with my discretionary time.

The image of an archer shifted all of that. It wasn't up to me to figure anything out. I could trust that in every moment of every day the Archer was drawing me with perfect, precise aim. I would hit my target, not because I had decided to "follow my heart," but because I was an arrow in His quiver. Drawn for a purpose. Never a randomly flung arrow. But drawn from the Archers bow.

In talking about this image with our Sunday School class one morning, another insight was shared. When an archer draws His bow back, it allows for a pause, and gives perspective to his aim. I could trust that when I was drawn back - by divine Love -- into recalling a past experience, insight, or lesson learned, it was with divine intention. It was never without a precise purpose. Again, there was no random or reckless flinging of arrows by the divine Archer.

Suddenly a definition of "sin," -- that I'd never fully gotten behind -- made a bit more sense. I'd always felt perplexed when someone shared that "sin" was defined as "missing the mark." Perhaps it was because my own favorite etymological definition of sin was "to sunder, or to separate."

I didn't like the "missing the mark" definition because it ratified the false (for me) view of man as self-determined, self-aimed. A mortal who could "go rogue," -- who could separate himself from an all-powerful, all-knowing God and make mistakes, bad choices, and wrong decisions.

But this view of God as the Archer changed that for me. Mary Baker Eddy states in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that:


"The belief in sin is punished,
so long as the belief lasts..." 

And elsewhere she writes:


"Silencing self,
alias rising above corporeal personality,
is what reforms the sinner and destroys sin."

I am not the archer. We are not the archers of our own lives.  We cannot miss the mark, because we were never given an arrow -- we are the arrows. We are what God is drawing into precise purpose. We are what He has given accurate focus to. We can't help but hit His mark.

And I have to remember, that when it feels as if life events are dragging me backwards, an arrow can only be shot forward by pulling it backwards. Sometimes we have the opportunity of revisiting something we've outgrown, in order to more thoroughly glean the full weight of the lessons learned. Then we are launched forward with even greater precision and aim.

I don't have to decide to be -- or do -- anything. I just need to be a ready arrow in the Archer's quiver. Divine Love will draw me with perfect accuracy. The peace that this has given me is deep and satisfying.

In her poem, "Satisfied," Eddy assures us:


"It matters not,
what be Thy lot,
so Love doth guide..."

In the hands of the Archer, I am guided each moment towards the mark for which I am intended. I am drawn for a holy purpose. And He never misses. Whether the target is college, a new hobby, job, community, or relationship, we are perfect arrows in Love's quiver.

offered with Love,




Kate




Friday, November 2, 2018

"to know, know, know You..."



"to know, 
know, know Him,
is to love, love, love Him;

and I do..."

 Sometimes, when I read the Psalm, "Be still, and I know that I am God," I hear Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, and Dolly Parton's To Know Him is to Love Him," as the background music -- when it's not The Fray's "Be still, be still and know..."  Not all the lyrics, usually just those first few lines.

I love that the Psalmist encourages us to know God. For most of my life I confused knowing God, with thinking about God. But knowing is very different from thinking.

Webster's defines "knowing" as: 


"to have developed 
a relationship with (someone) 
through meeting 
and spending time with them; 
to be familiar or friendly with..." 

Thinking about God, is not the same as really knowing God.  Relationships require something more than just thinking about the one we love.  They require listening, the sacrifice of one's own self-certainties, exploring common ground, and spending time together in discovery.

In the context of this kind of knowing, it is incumbent upon us to make space for a relationship that isn't just cognitive, but experiential.  The Psalmist encourages us to discover how it actually feels to know God.  To allow ourselves to feel our oneness with divine Love.  To let ourselves experience the sweetness of carving out time each day for communion with our first love -- God.  To trust God -- a little more -- with each challenge.  


Jesus -- who, more than any other, gave us an example of what it means to be "in relationship" with God -- encourages this kind of knowing when he said:


"Ye shall know the Truth, 
and the Truth shall make you free."  


God is Truth.  So, if we know -- are in relationship with -- God, we are made free.  Free of fear, because we are in relationship with Someone who we know loves us, has all the power in the Universe, and is always present.  With that kind of a Father, why would be ever be afraid? 

We are free of the need to figure things out -- in hopes of avoiding the discomfort of feeling exposed and vulnerable to all the "what ifs" of human thinking.  For this is what the human mind does -- it thinks.  It thinks about things.  The human mind does not have the capacity to know.  Only to think about.  It remembers, imagines, speculates, and wonders about.  It is never really at peace.  It is always mulling things over, adding up pros and cons, figuring out a plan, imagining a strategy, wanting, wishing, worrying.

For me, knowing is a feeling.  It is the way a child feels when she is lying in the arms of Someone with whom there is no need for words.  It is the feeling of not needing to think about anything -- just feel.  In her "little book," Rudimental Divine Science, Mary Baker Eddy assures us:

"You must feel and know
that God alone governs man..." 

Not think about and then hopefully feel.  But feel and know.  the integration of the affection and intuition -- of Love and Mind.   To feel the love of God is to know the love of God.  Knowing is synonymous with feeling -- not thinking about.  And this feeling -- and knowing -- is a promise, not a suggestion.  She lovingly states that we must experience God in this way.

To know God is not an activity of the human mind, it is a feeling of the heart.  It is what we experience when we stop all the thinking, and discover that we are always being held in the arms of a loving parent who we know -- loves us beyond measure.

offered with Love,


Kate