Archive | April 2014

Pope Francis, Pope Francis, what do you see?

Pope Francis, Pope Francis, what do you see? I don’t know why that children’s book popped into my mind brown bear being replaced with of all people, Pope Francis. When I started to think more about it, it stated to make a little more sense, in a way. I guess I am wondering what he sees when he looks at the world as a whole and in its parts and what he see when looking right in front of him on any given day. His decisions affect not only a billion plus Catholics, but his presence seems to ripple through non-catholics and even non-religious, non-spiritual people. His presence, not his words maybe, but his presence. Why?

You could look at the statistics and say he holds sway over his flock which is large, so he ends up garnering attention because of sheer volume, much like a president of a large country. He of course, has no country to rule, but much like the Dalai Lama, his voice has impact. I don’t particularly buy into the notion of papal infallibility, I think it a manmade invention and all you have to do is take an honest look at papal history and you would be hard-pressed to disagree. But the office and THIS Pope, does turn our heads, we pause and cock our heads – even briefly – to listen to what he might have to say.

What does he represent? Some say he has big shoes to fill with the legacies of two sainted Popes in very recent history. Altho I too loved JPII, I struggled with his conservatism and handling of the sex abuse scandal and yet he was made a saint. Why? Again, why his voice? And similarly, why Francis’ voice? Catholics are called to holiness, I would say all people are called to holiness, to fulfill our highest potential and maybe these 2 new saints got as close as one could get. Maybe in Francis we see the same light. Pope Francis, Pope Francis who do you see? He sees us and we see him and we are one in the same. So maybe we hope that when we look at him, we are a reflection of what he is and we hope, we really hope he is a little better than we think we are.

An old friend called last night out of the blue, I hadn’t spoken to her in 20 years. She is at the end of her rope with health issues, kid issues and she is getting on in years. I asked her why she called, how could I help her? She told me her story and said she needed spiritual guidance and thought of me. I was surprised, spirituality is my passion, my quest, but I have never claimed any ability to guide anyone, I am just coming to terms with my spiritual wandering myself. But, I could tell she was looking for someone to listen to her and what I think the big thing was, to give her hope. Not false hope and promises, not that everything would be fine, but that it would all still be manageable, that her suffering had a purpose and she has made progress in this lifetime, spiritual progress. I think she also wanted relief, a wall of protection between her and her problems even if just for a moment. And maybe hope that someone could summon up the strength to pray for her and that that would help. I offered my prayers and some thoughts on protecting herself, she seemed happier.

Pope Francis, is that what you do on a grand scale? Give us hope? When we look at you do we see hope for the future and when you look at us, do you see the same? And are we all looking for someone to hide behind sometimes, so we can get a break from life’s trials? You have shown the world you can touch a womans feet, a muslims feet, a lepers feet, a disabled persons feet and it is ok, you were ok – maybe in your humility you are saying we too are not as bad as we feel sometimes, that we are all the same. You give me hope – a little anyway.

 

 

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Photo: AP/L’Osservatore Romano

 

1 day 4 Popes

So I have had a longstanding, tumultuous love affair with the Catholic Church.  I hate her and I love her, so please indulge me as I wax about her momentous day today. 2 Popes being canonized while 2 Popes are still living…historical at the very least. I can’t help but think there is more at work here too, something way beyond a PR stunt by the Church (which is not beyond them by the way). One of my favorite priests, Father Robert Barron, captured a bit of the essence of the day – only the Church can elicit the deep sentiments that are emanated today- and emanated is an apt word here I think. She manages to draw into herself all the devotion of 1.2 Billion Catholics worldwide and have them love her with all her warts and shortcomings, all her stodginess and all her scandals. They stay with her.  She makes those of us that think they have broken free from her, long for her embrace. Sometimes you think there is the essence of truth living there, not in the dogma, that is an “article” of faith, one put on for the sake of unity, but an essence of truth at the very core of her being. Or maybe you just hope there is.

I will watch the coverage in part wishing I was there, in part really glad I’m not. I will watch wishing sometimes I didn’t know what I know, so I too, could look at the Church with an innocent faith, like a child loves a parent. They say Christ called us all to do just that, come to faith as children. Today, I will yearn for her like a child yearns for her mother and wish I hadn’t reached adulthood and discovered she isn’t perfect all the time, isn’t beautiful all the time, has done really bad things sometimes and really good things at other times.

Just for today, I’ll cry a bit for her, thinking maybe I’ll be the repentant child and go back to her. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Robert Barron, Thomas Merton, Teilhard de Chardin, Karol Wojtyla, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, how did/do you stay Catholic?

Did you know the Vatican was designed to be an embrace, so when you walk to her doors you walk into her arms? Even that makes me hate and love her…..2 new Saints today…let us all be Catholic for a minute and pray they can help us all, that their sainthood is a divine sign that there is something bigger at work here. Today at least, let us have that hope.

 

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Spiritual Wandering – Part 2 – Learning Discernment

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.” –THOMAS MERTON

Spiritual Wandering teaches a level discernment that might be surprising:

1. I experienced many different types of spiritual practices to learn from others through direct experience

2. I read everything I could get my hands on and learned just reading about spiritual practices only provides an academic study, spirituality is experiential

3. I had to constantly check my intention – I learned a true spiritual path would help navigate life, but wasn’t there to solve my problems, just not be overwhelmed by them

4. After cycling through practices I loved at first, I became more aware that my attachment to them was a problem, attachment would make me become opinionated and want to convince people what my way was the right way

5. After wandering until I was exhausted, I stopped thinking so much about what I want

6. I started realizing a spiritual path isn’t all about me and what I could “get” from it

7. I started realizing the more I thought I knew, the less I actually knew

8. I started to understand that I was trying to make spirituality fit my beliefs and realizing I was worshipping at the temple of myself

9. I started to wake up to the fact that true spirituality is what you do every minute because I am spirit and so is everyone else

10. I started contemplating Thomas Merton’s brilliant quote and I realized with all my wandering, I know nothing

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.”

Thomas Merton

Spiritual Wandering – Top 10 Realizations – Part 1

What spiritual wandering means to me, ok, has come to mean to me:

1. Realizing there are many paths to choose from

2. Realizing that the path you start on may not be the one you end up on so, be careful, claiming to be on the “right path” or “only true path” because you will most likely eat those words later

3. Trying to get others on your right path because you just know it is the “one true path” is a good indication it is not the right path and once again, be careful, you will most likely eat those words later

4. Realizing giving someone money to “sow a seed in God’s garden” is only sowing seeds in their garden, following any spiritual path will not make you rich or solve your personal financial issues

5. Realizing spirituality is not psychology and many people confuse the two

6. Realizing feel good ministries with loud music only last as long as you like the music

7. Realizing guilt is a tool of control and not helpful

8. Realizing finding a spiritual path that is right for you takes effort

9. Realizing there are really not many people who sincerely are looking for a spiritual path to follow, so this might be a lonely road

10. Realizing you constantly need to keep your ego in check and if you are doing something to gain attention, admiration, acceptance, love, respect etc. you are probably not on a spiritual path

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Truth, Spirit and Religious Opinion

To maintain that Truth is and Spirit is maybe we need to recognize that well, Opinion is too. How do we separate how truthful my opinion is over someone elses or is that where faith comes in? Is that where, from a spiritual or is it only religious point of view, that faith or belief or opinion makes the claim to truth? I think it may serve us better to really call religious beliefs what they are – religious opinions – and somehow that adds clarity, for me anyway. If I can recognize that I am of a different religious opinion than someone else, then perhaps I can begin the process of trying to merely understand their point of view instead of change their point of view.

If it only were that simple. Religious belief is held to be truth by each respective proponent of that truth. My god is God, your god is a lesser god. You have to believe what I believe because if I allow you to believe what you believe I may in some way be acknowledging that you may be right. If we look closely, we are disagreeing on the practice of religion I think. Sit, stand, kneel, bow and basically the same beggars prayers. Is there any unifying thread?

Yes, again since Spirit is the animator of all things with life essence, to honor that essence is the only truth, I think.  To honor that essence is to love the differences between us because the differences are what has made the fabric of our existence individually and collectively. Maybe to think of the inhabitants of the world as cells in a body with each cell having a different function, so to deny the function of one is to limit the functioning of the whole. Maybe the differences are as important as the similarities – maybe that is the real truth?

How do we all live in one world?

Maybe one voice at a time, promoting non-violence in thought and action as a total conviction and through the resonance of that thought, the vibration of the world will eventually change. Maybe not judging anyone – so hard to do – sharing no dissenting opinion, just living as peacefully as possible within our own sphere as our contribution that ripples across a greater expanse. That wreaks of tolerance, but I think it is more than tolerance, maybe it becomes a new spirituality because the separation itself becomes the unity.

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Blood Moon – time for remembering?

Full “Blood” Moon to occur tonight on Passover. I have been thinking a lot about this today and what it could possibly mean. The moon has always been associated with female energy and a full “blood” moon could easily be thought to intensify the feminine energy. This particular pattern of blood moons has some speculating on their significance as well.

Four blood moons on Jewish Feast days within two years is very rare and has only occurred seven times since the time of Jesus. There are now four blood moons scheduled to appear in 2014/2015 and then there will not be any for the next 100 years. Evidently every time a blood moon pattern has appeared on Jewish feast days significant events occur that affect Israel.

What does this mean for us? It may indicate change is on the horizon and if nothing else, the added feminine energy may be a good time to go inward, to focus on the “kingdom of God” within. It is perhaps a time of inner reflection reaching back in ourselves and into the womb, back to our beginnings, back to our core being and find strength and focus in that grounding. It may be a good time to reflect on our true purpose in this life and whether we are on track or we think things need to change. I think it may be a time of great comfort like could be found when we were in the womb, rocking gently with our Mothers movements and hearing her heartbeat. Maybe looking deeply within we can touch our own beginning in the womb of Spirit and re-establish the connection that in actuality has always been there, but we have forgotten. Maybe this is the time to remember and awaken to the spirit being we have forgotten we are.

Sweet dreams.

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