Creativity

You are creative. Maybe you don’t think you are, but you are actually a very creative person. If you’re like me, you were intimidated by some classmates in elementary school named Laura or Scottie who seemed to draw like a pro. Not only were they polite, and brilliant, but they seemed so incredibly creative. For me, it was Laura, the pastor’s daughter at the parochial elementary school I attended. When people around us are recognized as smart or creative, is sends a not-so-subtle message that you’re NOT! Comparing ourselves to others is a natural social phenomenon, yet it is often unhelpful. So back to creativity. How do I know you are creative? It’s because science and religion point to you being both FROM and PART OF the vast universe. The nature we are part of is full of magnificent wonder. Birds, waves, animal behavior, the formation of storms, the regeneration of life…it’s all most incredible. You are made of the same stuff, except are even more. You have intelligence, communication skills, reasoning, emotion and so many other attributes that are not less than the rest of the world, they are more! Unlike the plants and animals, you were actually made in the likeness of the Divine—the intimate intelligence and creativity of the universe. Just think about that for a moment. You are actually a descendant of, but you also share the DNA of the creative force of our universe and beyond. So that’s pretty cool, right? NO, that’s FREAKIN’ AMAZING! That means you have the ability to be remarkable. I’ve found that creativity manifests itself in surprising ways. Though you may not be able to paint, sculpt or even create a gorgeous garden, you are creative. Think about the times you were financially challenged and made an...

Religionless Christianity...

What is the difference between religion and true spirituality? I have found that many people today are turned off by religion, but are still interested in seeking truth, spirituality and God. I think it’s a worthwhile topic. So it is with enthusiasm that I share Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation on (Pentecost) Sunday, May 24th (2015). It’s one of those I thought was too good not to pass on. “Most religious searches begin with one massive misperception. People tend to start by making a very unfortunate, yet understandable, division between the sacred and the profane worlds. Early stage religion focuses on identifying sacred places, sacred time, and seemingly sacred actions that then leaves the overwhelming majority of life unsacred. People are told to look for God in certain special places and in particular events–usually, it seems, ones controlled by the clergy. Perhaps this is related to the clergy’s need for job security, which is only natural. Early stage religion has limited the search for God to a very small field and thus it is largely ineffective–unless people keep seeing and knowing at larger levels. “In Franciscan (and true Christian) mysticism, there is finally no distinction between sacred and profane. The whole universe and all events are sacred (doorways to the divine) for those who know how to see. In other words, everything that happens is potentially sacred if you allow it to be. Our job as humans is to make admiration of reality and adoration of God fully conscious and intentional. Then everything is a prayer and an act of adoration. As the French friar Eloi Leclerc beautifully paraphrased Francis, “If we but knew how to adore, we could travel through the world with the tranquility of the great rivers. But only if we know...

Money is Spiritual

Have you ever considered that money is a deeply spiritual issue? If you think like most people, you probably haven’t, as spirituality and “the rest of life” have been separated in our collective mind for quite some time. But consider these aspects: Debt: Most of our ancestors considered debt to be sin, and that having loans makes you a slave to the lender. Giving: Generosity is a virtue celebrated in many cultures and religions; there seems to be a deep-down understanding that we need to share. Frugality: This is a spiritual discipline practiced by seekers for centuries. It is abstaining from things that satisfy our desire for status, glamour or luxury. As theologian, Dallas Willard, wrote, “The spiritually wise person has always known that frivolous consumption corrupts the soul away from trust in, worship of, and service to God and injures our neighbors as well.”* Work: The so-called Protestant work ethic has its roots in society and the bible. It comes from a pragmatic understanding that it takes the contributions of all in order for individuals and communities to survive and thrive. There is a saying: work not, eat not. Investing: Jesus told the story of a generous master who gave away money for three people to invest. He got really upset with the one who buried it in the ground and did nothing.** There is a link between poverty (individual and corporate) and spirituality. When principles are violated consequences ensue. You may recall two Get Control Of Your Life podcasts with Carrie Riffee. She and her three kids lived under a bridge for a year. She had just escaped an abusive marriage (he violated principles of properly loving his wife), she succumbed to a co-dependent, unhealthy relationship (violation), and society failed her by imposing...

Where is God?

Where do you find The Divine? This is an age-old question, yet one that has to be answered by every person in every generation. And nobody can answer it for you. Where do YOU find God? It may not be the answer you think you’re supposed to have, or where other people do. God is everywhere and in all. That means the Divine is in you, in your house, in beautiful sunsets and in the trees. (God is in the trees; that doesn’t mean the trees are God.) If the Divine is everywhere, then God is closer than your breath. Think about that; closer than your breath. I love the traditional greeting of the Maori natives of New Zealand. Two people touch foreheads and noses; they literally take a moment to share breath. This may seem intimidating or gross to you, but I promise, it is an amazing experience. Now translate that to the Divine. Imagine sharing breath with the Divine…anyplace, any situation, all the time. Do you think God is far away, either because you feel guilty, you’re depressed or you don’t go to church? Theologian Rob Bell has points out that the very name of God is related to our breath. When we inhale, it’s like where’s saying, “Yah.” Likewise, when we exhale, we make the sound of, “Weh.” “Yaweh, yaweh.” The average adult breathes 12 to 20 times a minute. That means you are saying the name of God 12 to 20 times a minute. Yet how oblivious we are. Where do you find the Divine? Where is God to you? Have you limited God to the confines of the church building? Is the Divine only real to you when you’re praying or reading the Bible, while listening to some music...

Countdown to 2015…4...

Are you happy with your spiritual life? If so, what do you want to keep doing to nurture it in 2015? If not, what is your plan to improve it? I have to have a plan and a system for things I want to accomplish. My spiritual life is no different. I’ve found that I must sett aside a devotional time each day; it is scheduled. When I was younger, it was a discipline that was somewhat challenging. Now it is a daily joy that I treasure. I rise in the morning, prepare my coffee, and sit in my comfortable chair with my tablet. On the tablet I access a devotional that comes everyday; it’s by Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation who emails them out on a regular basis. I find I look forward to them! Whatever your faith, I encourage you to seek God and Truth; you will find both. And combat the negativity around you by focusing on goodness, love and life. I am a Christ-follower, so I invest time in Christian disciplines. Below I offer suggestions from my own practice and resources available. READ THE BIBLE: I read the Bible, using some sort of devotional plan. Some years I read the entire Bible in chronological order. Other years I focus on the New Testament or some other plan. Sometimes I read; sometimes I listen to an audio version. I also play around with different versions, because each one highlights different aspects. These are especially easy to access using a tablet or smartphone. But of course you can use an old-fashioned print Bible. Consider using it this year along with a reading plan you get from the Internet. Here are some great Bible phone and tablet apps: YouVersion, Bible Gateway,...

Quote of the Day

“I am a mass of contradictions and yet I am also a saint. I am a very good person, and I am also a sinful person. I get it and yet I oppose it too.” “Once we know that God lives inside our contradictions, and God’s love is not dependent on our perfection, then other peoples’ contradictions don’t scandalize us or surprise us anymore. Henceforward we can be much more patient and compassionate with others because we have allowed God to do the same with us!” Taken from Richard Rohr’s little book, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Medications for Advent. (2013) Franciscan Media. Royalty-free image courtsey of Savann; retrieved from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/503576...

Preparing for Christmas...

I have re-posted my article, What Is Advent? If you haven’t read it, check it out. This is the time in the church calendar when people of faith prepare for Christmas. It starts four Sundays before December 25th, starting on November 30th this year. This is a meaningful season for me, and has been since I started reading the church calendar lectionary for Advent a few years ago. It made Christmas so much more meaningful. However, I like to keep things fresh by trying new things, so I did a little looking and found some awesome resources for this year. You might do some looking around yourself, though here are some places to start: FIND ADVENT READING PLAN: If you use a digital bible (like on a tablet), check to see what Advent devotionals are offered. These range from a daily bible verse to extended readings as well as devotional thoughts written by pastors and spiritual directors. FIND ADVENT SMARTPHONE/TABLET APPS: I checked the Apple App store and found a few free apps I started using. There are even more app available if you’re willing to pay. “Advent 2013” has a daily psalm everyday from November 30th to January 5th (the day before Epiphany). I couldn’t find and equivalent for 2014, but decided I could just use last year’s. “Musical Advent Calendar” I found these for 2013 and 2014 that have different music. Click on the day and hear a sacred musical piece. These are perfect on a cold morning during your meditation or spiritual devotional time. “Advent Devotions” is a little app that includes a scripture reading, reflection and prayer through December 25th. The Android App store has several apps for Droid phones and tablets. FOLLOW ADVENT WEBSITES: Check out my friend Christine Sine’s...

What Is Advent?

Holiday music is playing in the stores.  Newspapers land on doorsteps swollen to twice their normal size because of ads. Boxes are pulled from attics and garages with adornments for the home. Special treats are prepared. And money is being spent on gifts that are needed or not. The Christmas season is upon us. The period of preparation in the liturgical church is called Advent. So what is it? The word advent comes from two Latin words: ad (to) and vent (come). Advent is a noun that means, “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” For example, we might refer to the advent of the Internet. Advent is a season that leads up to Christmas, when Christ-followers remember the coming of Jesus Christ, when God became human. The reason for Advent in the Christian church calendar is to prepare for the coming of Christ. But it has more than one purpose. While most may think it refers to the first coming of Christ (with images of the little baby in a manger), it also refers to the second coming of Christ. After 33 years on earth, Jesus sacrificed His life, then returned to His Father with the promise of coming again. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30th and is celebrated during the four weeks leading to Christmas. It is often marked with special readings, prayers and candles. A popular European tradition is to mark each day with a special Advent calendar containing little windows or boxes that hold bible verses or surprises. Second best is to be distracted from the best. Madison Avenue and your local big box stores want your business. They have dressed up their windows, filled them with glittery stuff, and enticed you through bargains. These...

Finding Fault

“…the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread.”* Jesus’ followers were crossing a large lake when they realized they had no lunch. So they started pointing fingers to assign blame. No matter they had just witnessed Jesus multiply a few fish and loaves to feed thousands. There is nothing noble about finding fault in others. In fact, it’s likely the most common thing we do as humans. Of course there are faults in others! Da! We all have areas we can’t see—thoughts and actions we are blind to. (See article Know Thyself) So there’s nothing special about our ability to see them in others. There are faults in us too, for which we either feel guilty, choose to ignore or simply justify. But finding fault is a barrier to experiencing successful relationships. We want connections with others. We need those connections. And yet, as Richard Rohr points out, “Humans make hard and impossible the very things we most want.”** We are driven by a need to criticize others. As Rohr wrote, we seem to have a need to fear and to hate. Oh, if we would just let things go more often. We all have stuff to be anxious about. But where do we focus that anxiousness? Do we get a twisted sense of happiness by finding fault in others? Do you return the hate, dysfunction and shit that is thrown your way (or that you perceive, even if it’s not actually there)? Rohr continued: “Conscious love is the totally enlightened, and often entirely nonsensical way out of this universal pattern. Love has to be worked toward, received, and enjoyed, first of all, by facing our preference for fear and hate. But remember, we gather around the...

Letting Go

One of the ironies in getting control of your life is the need to let go of some things. Getting control of your life is not about becoming a control freak. People who have the need to order their world so much they must control others, are hard to be around. They fret or get angry when they don’t get their way. Their lives are so out of control, they feel a false sense of power by controlling others and trying to control situations. The exercise is usually fruitless at best, and devastating at worst. Emotional and physical abuse are extreme examples of trying to be in control. I’m reminded of a strategy once used to catch monkeys. Poachers would drill holes into a hollowed-out coconut hull and place an enticing bit of food inside. They would then chain the coconut to a tree. A monkey would smell the treat and put its hand inside to retrieve it. With the fist holding the food, there was no getting out. The monkey was trapped. All the monkey had to do to free itself was let go of the food to relax their hand. It was that impossible, yet that simple. We are like that. We think we will remain in control if we hang on tightly. But sometimes letting go is what will free us up. Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr, thinks we have three primary areas for which we need to let go: Success The need to be right Power Getting comfortable with a degree of uncertainty is a sign of healt and maturity. We can’t know everything. We can’t predict how others will respond or act. We can’t even count on what the weather will do. Rohr explained the three in a recent devotional: “There...