Monday, May 29, 2006

Love your Neighbor

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
Luke 10:25-28

I have been contemplating and praying a lot on what God means to me. And in that, I've been thinking a lot about the Trinity. Primarily, I've done a lot of focusing on the Spirit within, as well as the God that surrounds me. It's easy to think about Jesus, as God being man. I am human, through Jesus, God became someone we could relate to. But God has been really speaking to me, urging me to seek Him out inside of me and all around me.

In Buddhism, it is a common misnomer that they practice a religion of no God. On the contrary, they do believe in God. Much like Christianity, they practice a Trinity, what's called "Dharmakâya". They practice that God is within us, as well as the God in others, and even the God in all we see. When they pray, they honor the God within. When they see others, whether good or bad, they see the God within them. Honoring them by peace and neighborly conduct is honoring God. They practice the heavenly manifestation of Buddha, who became enlightened with God within, much like we as Christians honor the resurrected Jesus. The third is "Nirmânakâya", God as man, like in Christianity, where we believe that God became man through Jesus Christ.

Of course, Buddhism is different from Christianity, and their Trinity is no exception. But the concept I find fascinating is praising God within and God around us. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." This is the first commandment. "Love your neighbor as yourself." This is the second commandment. Where is God? He is in us. He is in our neighbor. He is all around us. "Love the Lord with all your heart"? Love your neighbor. And the other commandments? "Honor Father and Mother" Love your neighbor. "Do not steal" Love your neighbor. "Do not murder." Love your neighbor. Do you want to praise God? LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR.

God is within us. God is all around us. He is in the air we breathe. He is in the ground we walk on. He is in the birds, the flowers, the deer, the trees, even the house we live in and the bed we sleep on. God is in everything. And God is in every single person on this earth, whether they acknowledge that or not. He is even in people we don't feel we can love, or in people of other faiths. Who is our neighbor? Jesus answered this in the final part of this parable, Luke 10:30-37:

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Who are our neighbors? Everyone. Regardless of status, culture, RELIGION, walk of life, what we perceive as sin, any difference between you and them. Your neighbors are all around you. Love your neighbor. And if you love your neighbor, you are loving God.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Feeling closest to God.

Granted, I don't feel close to God when I'm with my horse. My horse is my friend when I am going to give her food. But, the gist is the same. I feel closer to God when I am outside, alone, and in nature, enjoying God's creation. I feel closer to God after everyone is asleep and I get the chance to talk candidly with God while looking up at the massive sky of stars. I feel closer to God when I am extremely happy, whether it on a wonderful Saturday afternoon with my children, or cuddling with someone I love. I feel closer with God when I am singing God's praises and recalling all my blessings, than I do being told about God in a sermon.

But I think this is ok. I think this is how it is supposed to be.

The thing that this postcard's author missed is that God is with us all week long. And sometimes "church" is not on Sunday, but out in a field with the very thing that makes us whole. In her case, her horse. My purpose for church is to learn about God, and to receive that necessary reminder to open my Bible midweek and read His word. I do not believe church is necessary to be close to God. It might not even be right for some people. That's ok. When it's not right for me, I don't go. That's ok. What is necessary is to seek God out OUTSIDE of church, and not just on our weekly church day. God is not only in church. He is in us. Always. That means He is ALWAYS with us, not just when a pastor/priest/etc, is telling us about Him, and asking us to turn to such and such scripture.

I think about God every day. The majority of my day is in conversation with God. Even when I am not talking directly with God, when I am talking to someone else or just in a time of silence, God is in on it. He is always at my side, even at times when he is more distant than anything. Even in my times of not feeling Him, I know He is still there, but just silently observing. When I don't call on Him, He is there, waiting for me to call on Him. And that makes me happy.

I feel closer to God when I am me. And I think that is what the postcard's author is really saying.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Revelling in the Spirit

Today is such a beautiful day. I have spent it in a mixture of responsibility (work, cleaning, errands) and a day for myself (reading, meditating, praying, enjoying the outside). It feels like a perfect day to get back in touch with myself. And it is a perfect day to get back in touch with God. I have been feeling so spiritual today, as if I'm on fire, as if I am actually glowing. I started out in Sebastopol. I went to my favorite coffee shop, Coffee Catz. I sat outside with this book I'm reading, The Mystic Heart, and a great cup of coffee. And all the turmoil I've been feeling over my spirituality suddenly was washed away. I heard God speaking to me with each page, every word just making sudden sense to my soul. I want to speak more about it, but I'll do that on another day. Today I am revelling in it in silence.

This afternoon, after stripping my bed for the wash, and getting some urgent work-related phone-calls out of the way, I sat out in my backyard and just enjoyed this God-given nature. The wisteria in the backyard is in full bloom, and the bees were humming in ecstasy. Black birds were gathering the straw and various materials needed for their nests. Just a few weeks ago they were busy flirting with each other, now they are settling into creating their homes with each other. A lone hawk was circling above, using the same current that was coming upon me in a light breeze. And it let out its cry, which echoed into the valley and rested in my ears. And we were all connected. And I felt God around me, in me, of me. It all made sense. Everything is God. He is above us and sees us. He is in us, we are of Him, and He feels us and we feel Him. The earth, humanity, the air, the water, it is all God. All the differences we feel with others, we are not so different. We are all made of the same material by the same God, with the same Spirit inside of us. And while some of us feel it and some of us ignore it, that Spirit is there just the same. It is how we move. It is how we think. It is how we feel. It is how we laugh, cry, love, anger, nurture, relate with ourselves and one another. It is what makes our skin tingle when we "GET IT". It is the warmth we feel when God is bursting in us. It's the sensuality we feel when we are in love with the world. It's the good and it's the bad. It's all that makes us alive.

The Spirit is in me. I'd thought it to be lost. It was there all the time. I was just pushing it away. God resides in me, and I feel Him again.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Lori, thank you for your support and friendship! Today was an awesome day! God was there. And He prevailed. I think I've lost 10 more pounds, cuz all of a sudden I feel much lighter!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

His response, God's response

I don't really feel like including my ex-husband's name in here anymore, so from here on out, he will be referred to as "Ex".

Yesterday, I got a response from the temporary restraining order I have against Ex. I tell you, not having contact with him has made me wane a little bit. I know the kids miss their dad. I want what's best for him, but I do not want them to be corrupted by him, to be influenced by him while he is how he is. And while I really doubt he'll change, I at least want him to get some help so he has the chance to start making better choices in favor of his children. But I had started to feel ridiculous in this whole fight against him. And it's not really a fight against him, it's a fight for our children. But it was beginning to feel like a fight against him, and I'm positive that's how he's viewing it.

That was before the response came. I actually expected as such, but it was still a shock as I read it over. He denied ever laying a hand on me. Ever. He denied ever hurting Summer. He even picked apart my declaration to try to prove I was lying. He included letters I had written him, letters begging for him back after we had separated and he had found his next victim. He had included these letters before, and was resubmitting them to prove that he must not have abused me. It's like I said, if he can't make himself look better, he's going to make me look worse. And he wanted me to look as pathetic as possible. As I read it, I was fuming. Victim me came back, and I felt like everyone in that courtroom was going to look at me like I was a fool and look at him like he was righteous. I felt like, how dare he! Didn't he owe me? Didn't he owe his children? And to boot, he was demanding that custody stay the same, that he still get weekly visitation. I called my lawyer, who wasn't in her office. I left her a voice-mail that she probably won't get until Monday morning, and we have court that afternoon. And still fuming, I left to go get my son from preschool.

But a funny thing happened while driving. I suddenly felt this urge just to let it go. I know that God was taking extra measures to let me know that He could handle it, reminding me to put my faith in Him. All that faithlessness I had suffered weeks ago, well, it served as a reminder now to just give it to God. So I did. And this is what came to me. It doesn't matter if Ex denies he ever hurt me physically. It doesn't matter that the court might not care about the abuse, or claim that there's just not enough evidence against him for such. The letters? They don't matter. These are not all the issues at hand. The issue at hand is Ex got extremely drunk while the kids were in his custody, and threatened police with a baseball bat and a gun IN THE PRESENCE OF OUR CHILDREN when all they initially came to do was to assess the situation and talk to him, and dared the police to shoot him dead IN THE PRESENCE OF OUR CHILDREN. If it weren't for my children being there, I know the police would have shot him. (And in some ways, I wish they had taken out a knee cap or a shoulder or something, just to take away from his apparent invincibility. But that would have completely traumatized the kids.)

God reminded me that this already is in his hands. At this point, the most I can do is stress over it, and that's not likely to result in any action. So I let the Lord take the weight off me, and I even smiled. This will all be okay on Monday. I prayed to God to please open the judge's eyes to only what was best for the kids, and not the best interest of me or Ex. And I prayed that I will keep my eyes open to what's best for the kids, and if I am lacking, to give me the wisdom to see as such.

I also feel better knowing that I have a lawyer present to argue on my behalf, so I am a little less stressed than I was two weeks ago. But I have to admit that part of me is thinking over how I would argue this. But this is probably why I SHOULDN"T be arguing my case, because there is so much of my emotion involved. So while I will be actively presenting all the facts, this is just in God's hands as to how it will be presented, and how it will be received. And every time I start to stress about this whole case and the details of it, I remind myself that I already gave it to God, that He will worry about the details. And I am relieved once again.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Mysticism in Christianity

I came across this "new" term, Christian Mysticism. And I wondered what it meant. Upon first glance of just the word, I figured it was some new agey thing. Maybe it focused on the miracles that took place. Maybe it was a group of people who thought they could perform miracles themselves. At any rate, just the word alone sounded a little NON-Christian. But as I knew nothing about it, I thought I'd research it. And the more I researched, the more I knew I was already familiar with this term, because it is what I strive to be practicing....

Christian Mysticism, in simplistic terms, is the spirituality of the direct experience of God. The definition in Wikipedia defines Mysticism as "the philosophy and practice of a direct experience of God. Although it needs to be born in mind that 'experience' is a hotly debated term in the discussion on mysticism, and experience understood simply as a psychological state or event may be contested. In the Christian context it is traditionally practiced through pursuit of the three disciplines of prayer (including Christian meditation and contemplation), fasting (including other forms of abstinence and self-denial), and alms-giving, all discussed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7). Other forms of mysticism include participation in ecstatic worship and the use of entheogens. Christians believe that God dwells in Christians through the Holy Spirit, and therefore all Christians can experience God directly."

Christian Mysticism is not about belief. Yes, scripture is believed, but it is not worshipped over God. The greatest example we have of a denomination predicated on Christian Mysticism is The Society of Friends (Quakers), a religion I very much can relate with, in the unprogrammed tradition. One statement they make is "we can never hold the Bible up as authority over the Holy Spirit who created it". Christian Mysticism is marked with love and joy. It is about the direct oneness with God, nothing in the way. Jesus was one with God. He proclaimed it to be so. Christian Mysticism is about nothing else but this transforming union. This kind of union is the ultimate for the Christian Mystic, to be so permeated with God that we are one with Him. "Whereas all Christians have Christ, call on Christ, and can (or should) know Christ, the goal for the Christian mystic is to become Christ—to become as fully permeated with God as Christ is, thus becoming like him, fully human, and by the grace of God, also fully divine. In Christian teaching this doctrine is known by various names—theosis, divinization, deification, and transforming union." (From here)

This deepened Christianity can be explained like this:

That while we honor the Scripture, we want to know God directly, not just through Scripture.
While we respect our heritage of teachings about God, we want to know God directly, not through doctrines and teachings.
While we gather in communal worship, we want to know God directly, not just through the Church.

If you follow Christ, and strive to be like Christ, you are a Christian Mystic. If you love unconditionally, you are a mystic. "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:7-12 This is Christian Mysticism. God is love. We love. God is in us and of us because of that love.

But where did this come from? Is this just some made up hokey new form of Christianity? To the contrary, it is instead the truest form. It's founder was Jesus Christ himself. "I and the Father are one" John 10:30 Jesus proclaimed it, and offers it to anyone who follows Him. Paul lived it, proclaiming "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 "Becoming God doesn't mean we become all-knowing, all-powerful, or that we remember saying "let there be light." It really means becoming Christ, or becoming divine—that God's God-ness is experienced and known not as something outside and separate, but as a part of our own being. It means knowing God as Jesus knew the Father, so like Jesus, we are with him, fully human, and fully divine." (From here) "I said, 'You are "gods"" Psalm 82:6 Jesus refers to this scripture "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'?" John 10:34 when he is explaining His claim to BE God. God is in Him, and He is in God.

So who are Christian Mystics? Well to name a few, Paul and John the Baptist were mystics. St. Teresa of Avila was a mystic. St. Francis of Assisi was a mystic. Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II were both mystics. Mother Teresa was a mystic. And of course, Jesus Christ was a mystic. And me, I am striving to be a Christian Mystic. I'm not even close, but it's my ultimate destination.