Saturday, April 29, 2006

God is my co-conspirator

After Easter one Sunday, I shared with my Sunday School class some ideas from the movie The Passion of the Christ with enough interest as to have them ask me to let them watch it. So we did. I have now seen The Passion of the Christ twice.

With this second viewing and with the current news about The Book of Judas ( See NPR's article), I started gaining some new inspiration.

As some of you have heard or read about the Gospel according to Judas, Judas is seen as Jesus' close confidant and co-conspirator in fulfilling prophesy. Although more research and findings will be posted, I can see the reason in this new view of Judas. Because Jesus knew of his impending ordeal, it makes sense that he worked closely with all of his disciples and knew what had to be accomplished for the love of all mankind.
Jesus walked so closely with God, that he knew the big picture. It inspires me to know that Jesus knew all along about the crucifixion and resurrection. He willingly took part in it and conspired with Judas ( according to these new findings) to make sure it happened.

But what has stood out to me most that Jesus walked so closely with God. He talked with him every day. God was the true conspirator. God was Jesus' main conspirator in how to bring about salvation for all mankind.

In two scenes in the Passion movie, Jesus breaks down. Once, in the garden of Gethsemane, he asks that this cup (his upcoming crucifixion) be removed from him. He doesn't think he can go through with it. Again, it is his close communion with God that strengthens him to move forward.

On the cross, he breaks down again, overwhelmed, and cries out, "Why have you forsaken me?" But then, he immediately talks to God again, saying, "into your hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46) . With that ultimate surrender, he followed through in order to show others how they too can love in the face of hate, forgive when it isn't being asked for and triumph in life over the threat of one's mission ending and the power of death.

It was his close association with God, his co-conspirator, that gave him the abilility to endure the cross and the shame because of the joy set before him - the understanding of the ultimate triumph of life. (See Hebrews 12:2.) It was his close association with God that enabled him to say: "I and my Father are one." and "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."(See John 10:30 and John 5:30.)

How this moved me. It helped me to understand how God is my collaborator, my co-conspirator. He is the one I can turn to to say "Father, what will we do today?" Or if I am inpsired to write, "What shall we write today?" or even calling God by a more intimate name of Abba - Jesus' nickname for God - and going to bed saying "Good night Abba" and being grateful.

God and I are in a conspiracy to do good, live justice, love mercy. My hand in His.

There have been times in my life that there have been so many demands on me, that I have lost hold of this fact. At one point, I was pregnant with my second child, working full time and was one of two people responsible for conducting our church's main Sunday service. On top of that I was involved in an intensive court case and my husband was traveling for his work much of the time.

During one church service that I was co-conducting, I felt a wave of nausea so overcome me that I had to sit down for part of the service. Almost immediately, I felt a literal embrace, almost like being in a warm bath. I felt the prayers of the church members. I felt loved and supported. Wordlessly, I knew God was right with me, sustaining me and buoying me up.

Later, I was able to stand and finish the service, confident and calm in the assurance that I could do God's work, be inspired without any harm to myself, my new baby and to those I loved. And this proved to be the case.

There have been other less dramatic times when I have felt the demands of the day to take over and I would mometarily feel personally responsible for the weight of my world and lose sight of walking each step with God. And contrastingly, I have also felt times where things were a little too quiet, with not enough to do, and so I had to make something happen.

Whether there was too much or too little to do, I was always rescued by coming back to understanding that I walk with God, with Love, and Love directs my day.

Even now, I am buoyed with the idea that God is my co-conspirator, as I move through my day exploring the good that is possible and the joy that is right at hand. I can whisper ideas to God and God in turns whispers back to me, "Today is big with blessings." Big or small, the events of the day turn to blessing with God at my side.
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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

the illusion of death and the adventure of life

Here is one of two inspirational blurts. The morning is usually the time I delve into prayer, letting ideas come. This day, I thought about death and life. Here are my musings:

There is no place where the Christ has not gone before you.

Absolutely no place is hidden from God.

Think of it. It is as if someone has taken your hand and whispered, don't be afraid. Even if the landscape is scary, the Christ says, It's allright, I've been there before and there is a way out. Come. Follow me.

Along the way there are precious lessons that you are learning. How rich life is, how compelling and attractive love is, how much good has triumphed in your life, how easy it is to dispel fear and satisfy longing with the spiritual truth that you are totally loved and have always been loved, cared for, nourished and celebrated.

Your deepened trust in Christ's leadings helps to widen your arena of love for others. You start recognizing the love, selflessness and goodness that others bestowed on you. Forgiveness starts to flow. Pain is released. Frightening images of the past shrink away in the magnitude of the love you now see as ever-present.

Faced with images of death, you see that this too, is only a frightening image, that melts away in an understanding that you always were, are and will be a spiritual being, inseparable from your source - God.

You entertain the idea, once again, that life is a divine adventure. Only now it has a whole new meaning. It has gone beyond experiencing the pleasures of life to understanding the source of life. You laugh! It was there all along! The divine adventure of understanding the infinitesimal tenderness of God in all the details of life and the magnitude and power of God in moving mountains of staid beliefs and crusty orthodoxy to reveal a beauty that inspires, redeems and brings you into all joy.

The adventure of understanding God as All-in-all.

There is no disease. No viral infection, testing periods to see if matter will come up with some name, some cause, some claim.

There is no disease, no dis - ease. That is swept away in rush of inspiration that speaks and says I AM THAT I AM.

You are because God is.
God is Love. You are the direct reflection of that Love.

The adventure is about seeing that light affects the darkness, you get to see how penetrating light is. You lose nothing good, only darkness. All that is good is a part of this light.

Below are excerpts from Science and Health that explain the scientific law of life and the illusion of death.

S&H 162:12
Experiments have favored the fact that Mind governs the body, not in one instance, but in every instance. The indestructible faculties of Spirit exist without the conditions of matter and also without the false beliefs of a so-called material existence. Working out the rules of Science in practice, the author has restored health in cases of both acute and chronic disease in their severest forms. Secretions have been changed, the structure has been renewed, shortened limbs have been elongated, ankylosed joints have been made supple, and carious bones have been restored to healthy conditions. I have restored what is called the lost substance of lungs, and healthy organizations have been established where disease was organic. Christian Science heals organic disease as surely as it heals what is called functional, for it requires only a fuller understanding of the divine Principle of Christian Science to demonstrate the higher rule.

S&H 418:26
Include moral as well as physical belief in your efforts to destroy error. Cast out all manner of evil. "Preach the gospel to every creature." Speak the truth to every form of error. Tumors, ulcers, tubercles, inflammation, pain, deformed joints, are waking dream-shadows, dark images of mortal thought, which flee before the light of Truth.

S&H 423:8

The Christian Scientist, understanding scientifically that all is Mind, commences with mental causation, the truth of being, to destroy the error. This corrective is an alterative, reaching to every part of the human system. According to Scripture, it searches "the joints and marrow," and it restores the harmony of man.

S&H 428:3

"Life is real, and death is the illusion. A demonstration of the facts of Soul in Jesus' way resolves the dark visions of material sense into harmony and immortality. Man's privilege at this supreme moment is to prove the words of our Master: "If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

loving the earth

Here is something to ponder ........prayer creates an atmosphere of thought and our basis for action.
Consider walking into a room where you have felt tension, or walking into another room where you have felt anticipation or elation? Where does that transference of thought come from?

Thought affects behaviour.

When thought is aligned to good, good actions stem from that.
When thought is aligned to prayer - our highest concept of God , thought is opened up to intelligence, balance, and the power of good.

Prayer - brings us into the realm of what is possible.
Prayer to an infinite God brings us into the realm of inifinite possibilites based on a never-ending source of creativity.

Prayer resources:

(It was not difficult to find two beautiful prayers for today. )

We call upon all that we hold most sacred, the presence and power of God the Creator. Teach us to care for the earth, our planet home with its beautiful depths and soaring heights, its vitality and the abundance of life. Help us to live simply that others may simply live.

Great and Eternal Mystery of Life, Creator of All Things, I give thanks for the beauty You put in every single one of Your creations.I am grateful that You did not fail in making every stone, plant, creature, and human being a perfect and whole part of the Sacred Hoop.I am grateful that You have allowed me to see the strength and beauty of All My Relations.My humble request is that all of the Children of Earth will learn to see the same perfection in themselves.May none of Your human children doubt or question Your wisdom, grace, and sense of wholeness in giving all of Creation a right to be living extensions of Your perfect love.

Also see for spiritual ideas about loving our planet earth and see for practical applications of these ideas!

We were given dominion over the earth - not to dominate it, but to care for it.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

following God's agenda

One of my most horizon-opening experiences I had was when I took my first trip out of my comfort zone - the United States - and into a radically new experience: Being a student in Quetzaltenango (or Xela) in Guatemala.

Politically, socially, environmentally, spiritually my personal landscape of how I viewed the world and myself was challenged and converted during my short stay in Guatemala. The most marked change was in recognizing my ability to drop my own agenda and perspectives and to take in God's agenda -- which was far more broad and transforming.

I had come as an eager student, ready to learn and enrolled in a language school recommended by my university. I had my itinerary, my phone contacts, a schedule of different people to meet, and every day mapped out. But each of these steps started falling apart as soon as my flight touched ground in Mexico.

Too many glitches and missed connections to explain here, but suffice it to say that I was finally one city away from my final destination and one week away from the start of my school when I finally lost it. I was a notorious list maker and every day I would make a list of things to do topping it with "pray" (with the underlying feeling "and don't get wigged out"). I would then go through my day checking things off, getting more and more anxious that more things would go wrong.

Finally my daily prayer must have kicked in, because a strong thought came to me saying "Rip up that list!" I did. Then the thought "Go to the market.” That was it! I would go to the market and that was the only thing I would do. That was my big list for the day. I felt like I was shedding baggage! I took some time to listen first - what should I do today? and got a very direct response! I listened some more - where should I go today? and followed that idea. I kept this up the whole day. Listen, get an idea and follow it.

By the end of the day, I had met quite a number of people - a beekeeper from Huehuetenango, north of the country, who was vacationing in Xela, the cook of the hostel where I was staying, a Peace Corps volunteer, a new Guatemalan friend. That night, we all ate together and gathered in the central courtyard where the beekeeper took out his guitar and we talked, sang, and talked some more. It was delightful, relaxed and full of Soul.

In Science and Health Mary Baker Eddy writes, "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings." This close walk with God proved this again and again.

At another point, I had missed a connection that I should have taken to meet another friend, as we were crossing the border to a neighboring country. I was getting very good at listening. I sat in the shade of a large church and prayed. I took out a small book of hymns and poems and opened the book to read this: "Still forget the things behind, follow God the only Mind." So, forgetting the agenda once planned - as that didn't work, I followed what I knew about crossing borders, trusting that God was showing me every single step I needed to take.

Sure enough, once across, I turned a corner and there was my friend, who had also been detained. One might think that the probability of me seeing my friend at that exact right moment at that exact right place was about nil, but then I knew better. God's agenda is always perfect!

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Easter and renewed hope

My son and I were talking about Good Friday and its commemoration of Jesus' crucifixion, his time in the tomb, and then his resurrection.

I had never thought of this before, but it came to me as we were talking that the tomb must have been a welcome rest. Having almost been overwhelmed with the chaos, grief and torture of the crucifixion, Jesus could be quiet, with only God and angels as his audience.

What was Jesus doing in there? Everyone thought he was dead, so there wasn't even the possibility of being summoned for help, sought after by officials, or questioned by the disciples. He had three days to drink in his communion with God, feel the peace of Love and the gentle assurance of his mission/God's purpose being fulfilled.

What love he must have felt! So much so that it trumped the hatred and confusion, turned death on its ear and gave us a way to understand that life is triumphant!

This understanding lives today!
Happy Easter! Or as the early Christians used to say when greeting one another "He is risen!"

(See also an article from "The power of resurrection brings hope")

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

everything will grow in its own time

For those in the northern hemisphere -- spring has sprung!! It's a little late for most northerners, as I live way north. But sure enough, walking my dog Mocha this morning, there was no mistaking it: full sun, cool breeze off of the melting snow and birds singing. There was the added benefit of being able to shuffle through both wet and dry pine needles to stir up their fragrance and memory of summer camps of the past....

We went to my favorite dock overlooking a lake and sat and listened. I could see the tiny pock marks that the sun had made on the top layer of the ice on the lake. The surface looked like a million crushed diamonds glinting in the sun. Listening, I could hear a soft rush of what sounded like muffled applause as thousands of the trapped miniscule bubbles popped, leaving marks like tiny holes, and leaving the next layer of trapped bubbles exposed.

Every tiny hole mattered and soon I could see a fissure developing, again small and almost inconsequential, but enough to make a short white streak under the surface of the ice. Another sound, a pop, punctuated the soft rushing sound. The weight of the shifting ice had produced a tension where the white streak had once been and was able to break through making a deep crack - what was soon to become one side in a three sided break of ice.

I left with the quiet rush of applause and sporadic pops behind me, taking in nature's lesson of patience and persistence and applying it to my prayer today.

In my prayer for home: for those in Pakistan, Indonesia, and those affected by Hurricane Katrina, I persist with the truth that "divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation or object" as Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health. I stand on the fact that God maintains and sustains each of Her children, providing them with protection, nourishment and security.

I hold to the fact that "Progress takes off human shackles. The finite must yield to the infinite" and that "divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." The ideas God gives us provide the innovation, implementation and strategies needed to forward progress.

These prayers are the persistent sunlight on the hardness of the world.

We see the fruition of these prayers with the "pops" of material belief, revealing innovative solutions, for example, to energy, as we have seen in Brazil's use of sugar for energy (see CSMonitor 3/27), to transportation as we have seen in India, to bold actions as we have seen with the new Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and to the outpouring of support and aid to Pakistan, Indonesia and those affected by Katrina.

And even, closer to home, I can humbly rest in the knowledge that God has guided me, is guiding me and will continue to guide me in the way that will best glorify Him. Everything is growing -- businesses, my sons to men, my understanding of God. Patiently, persistently - I trust God, I trust His directing of growth and I trust Her progress. One final comment from Mary Baker Eddy's book:

Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action. Love is priestess at the altar of Truth. Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must "have her perfect work."

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Friday, April 07, 2006

So, is prayer effective?

The news is all over the place about the latest most comprehensive research on the healing effectiveness of prayer. (The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor give a most thorough look at all the issues this new study addresses. )

Reading various reports of this research, I am sure that churches and pray-ers (like me!) all over the world were hoping for results that verify and broadcast what they have always known to be true and, likewise, I can imagine that pharmaceutical companies were probably hoping for the opposite, so more will choose drugs over prayer!

In this recent study of cardiology patients, the concept of prayer has been a little more refined than other studies, but it still looks so very different than the way I pray.

My hope is that the studies will continue as they refine their ideas of what prayer is. I also hope that it will soon become evident that prayers and pills aren't synonymous. One doesn't pop a prayer in quite the same way that one pops a pill.

A pill or medical procedure has a specific job to make adjustments to specific parts of the body in an effort to adjust the body to healthy levels of functioning.

A prayer is employed to be both broad and specific, perhaps one may start to pray to cure an illness, but in the process prayer awakens compassion, removes fear, reveals connections, uncovers hidden truths, brings out confessions and forgiveness, resolves into redemption and in many cases brings cure. And this is only part of what prayer does.

A pill or medical procedure has a specific dose and process, is controlled and recorded and signed so that there is no question as to how much is taken, how long a procedure is done and who was involved.

A prayer is driven by desire, intuition and/or tradition, is often addressed to a power higher than oneself, and leaves lasting impressions on the heart. Who is involved in prayer? The cloistered nuns who pray the perpetual rosary for the world? The little girl saying her good night prayers? The Christian Science practitioner who gives specific Christian Science treatment? The prayer team at the local hospital praying over the prayer requests from patients? The millions who pray to Allah? Who controls this prayer? And what is a successful outcome ? And who determines that? There is very little that current scientific methodology can control when it comes to prayer.

The prayer that I am most familiar with is the prayer taught in Christian Science. Here the differences between scientific prayer and medical science are acutely different.

Medical science is based on material sense evidence, Christian Science is based on the premise that man is spiritual.

When I was in the hospital for the births of my children, I was required to sign a waiver saying that I recognize that medical science is not an exact science. Christian Science is an absolute science.

Christian Science starts from the basis of perfect God and perfect man, much as mathematics starts out with its principles. From there it works out the problems of being.

So, is prayer effective?
I have found it to be so. It never leaves me where I started from mentally. There is growth - sometimes effortlessly so, sometimes with great effort. And there are changes physically - sometimes immediately, sometimes after a long period of time. I have been healed through prayer of many things: warts on the feet, second degree burns, as well as have had help and comfort during a divorce, was delivered from life threatening situations and have found peace in stressful situations.

There are no formulaes however. Each prayer follows healing principles taught by Christ Jesus, but the form in which they take are as unique and custom-made as the individuals requesting prayer. I have prayed with tears and with dancing. I have prayed through doubt, and prayed with confidence. I have had instantaneous healings and healings that took place over time. The results are always growth and transformation in some part of my life.

Laura Matthews has some interesting insights on this study as well.
I like to close with this quote from The New York Times article mentioned above. This response really resonates with how I feel:

"...Bob Barth, the spiritual director of Silent Unity, the Missouri prayer ministry, said the findings would not affect the ministry's mission.

"A person of faith would say that this study is interesting," Mr. Barth said, "but we've been praying a long time and we've seen prayer work, we know it works, and
the research on prayer and spirituality is just getting started."

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Celebrating the masculine!

How fun! Check out The Christian Science Monitor's back page story on manliness.

It is a fine time to celebrate the masculine! I wrote this story many years ago and never did anything with it .... until now. Enjoy!

We took our seats up in the balcony of a crowded auditorium to see what hundreds have been eagerly anticipating: a group of tap dancing Australian men in work boots exploding on stage in technical brilliance, energy, rowdy humor and outright fun.
I had never seen such a display of pure masculinity expressed and condensed into two hours! It was totally delightful (see TapDogs).

That one performance gave me a whole new direction and perspective on masculinity and how it is portrayed today.

How could one define masculinity today? Strength, vigor, boldness, committed focused effort, seeing the power in purity and the purity in power; masculinity as the ability to hammer out details into expressions of grace, beauty, form and function; as an expression of being able to stand, to be upright, the fathering qualities of wisdom, protection and guidance and the childlike qualities of exploration and breaking down barriers.

Masculinity is often coupled with femininity in an expression of completeness. When one adds to the above collection of masculine qualities, the feminine qualities of intuition, spiritual growth, freshness, the birth of new ideas, creativity, dignity and refinement – a beautiful and undivided sense of life is gained.

Taking it even to a higher realm, we can understand God as the source of all masculine and feminine qualities; we can see God as our Father Mother. Mary Baker Eddy, in her classic best-selling book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures talks about God in just this way. “Father Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation. (p.332)

She also writes, “Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitute completeness. The masculine mind reaches a higher tone through certain elements of the feminine, while the feminine mind gains courage and strength through masculine qualities.” (ibid. p 57)

So what would try to tear down these concepts of true manhood? A wrong premise of what manhood truly is.

In the book of Genesis from the Bible, we have two accounts or premises of creation. In the first chapter, we have God, creating male and female in His image and likeness, created at the same time equally, with no partiality or hierarchy.

In the second chapter, we have the premise brought forth by the Adam and Eve story. Here man is portrayed as weak and vulnerable to temptation, shamed and needing to give up something in order to have a companion.

From the second chapter’s premise, comes a portrayal of masculinity degraded, masculinity that is brutal, domineering and egotistical. From this premise grows the idea that we live in division or duality, in a belief that one can take away the good of another, a belief that good is limited which gives rise to competition in which there is only one winner and there must of necessity be a loser.

This premise is illusive. As we replace this with the premise of man in God’s image and likeness, partnering with the feminine, the role of masculinity becomes stronger, purer, based on an honest conviction of all individuals’ God-given rights toward full expression.

Today, as the elevation of womanhood is emerging in many cultures, we are also seeing the redefinition of the role of men, who can be empowering to both men and women alike.

This first chapter of Genesis helps us to understand that there is one God, embracing the masculine and feminine qualities, the fathering and mothering qualities. We have a healthy base to see that there need be no dualism in our relationships with one another. Our pure sense of the masculine qualities expressed today, do much to forward our progress, as much as by having a purer sense of the feminine qualities expressed today.

This new premise transforms thought and we can celebrate masculinity in its true light – a masculinity that does not dominate, but equalizes the sexes; does not compete, but strengthens and refines; is not aggressive, but is powerful, strong and lasting. And masculinity, when coupled with the feminine, presents a balance in life, reflecting an infinite Father Mother God.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

a global sigh of relief, a pause, and fresh impetus to keep praying

I am still elated with the events re: Jill's release. Just look at the Monitor's slide show of her reunion. (Thank you Carroll family for letting us see!) I won't be publishing a watch for her or for Iraq anymore. But there definitely is the feeling that it is not over.

Jill's release brings an invigorating and refreshing affirmation of our prayers -- prayers from all faiths and those who would profess no faith. This is a huge step up the ladder to see us able to achieve greater peace. More work to do, yes! But I feel more energy, focus and vision to work it.
It is now easier to say and give consent to larger demonstrations of peaceful reconciliation, non-violent solutions, and seeing humanity reveal its compassionate and healing roots.

We can all be praying to accept what is possible:
Terrorists can find freedom from hate.
Corruption can be revealed and thus be healed.
Hearts can be galvinized to stand up to genocide, excessive consumption and the imbalance of wealth.

But the main thing I am praying with now is a continuing prayer that we be bold. Not a zealous, overbearing boldness, but a meek, humble current of thought persistent in its insistence of seeing good take the lead in all of our affairs.

As the Jill Caroll story unfolds, right wing and left wing spins are being spun.
Prayer, the bone and sinew of how many live and find purpose and freedom, will be analyzed by political perspectives and material methods who will sometimes claim -- in the face of the millions who pray -- that prayer is not effective, it played no role.

But prayer brings experience. And no one can take away our experience. I hope that we never forget what we have experienced here in our prayers for Jill, for Allan, for her captors, for Iraq and for the dissolving of terrorism everywhere.

Jill's release is one demonstration of the universal truths explained in Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy: "Good is not helpless" and "Love is the liberator." There are never any retrograde steps here. The power of prayer comes from an infinite source of Truth and Love. This is the stuff that we are made of. And our continued prayer - this constant mental power affirming good - has, can and will prove greater and greater things.

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