Monday, May 29, 2006


There are those moments in life that are fully rounded, perfect, joyful. This weekend I experienced many of those moments as we watched Christopher graduate from high school. The whole family came together--we laughed, we hugged, we told stories, we relaxed. Thank you SO MUCH, God! :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Love Means Both/And

Every so often when I'm working in the late afternoon, I turn on the television and listen to Oprah as I work. Yesterday was one of those days. In recent months, Oprah has added an amazing woman, known as Dr. Robin, to her shows that deal with emotional issues, patterns, problems. This woman is a real truth-teller; she's compassionate but doesn't pad anything. She inspires courage in others. She calls people to better care of themselves because they deserve it--not because they've been bad or wrong or incomplete. In my opinion, she's really got it together and serves people lovingly and truthfully.

Yesterday she asked a man on the stage to consider where he first witnessed or experienced the kind of destructive pattern he was now creating in his family life. She said, "A wound like this can only come from early childhood--where did you first see someone treating others this way?" The man at first said, "I don't know--my parents were perfect, the best..." but as Dr. Robin continued to ask the question, he began to cry. He said, "I love my dad, but he did't respect my mom--I love you, Dad--he never listened to anyone, not ever." Dr. Robin said, "He didn't listen to you," and he responded, "He didn't listen to anyone."

Dr. Robin said this was a very deep and important issue--we need to be able to hold those two realities--"I love you and you hurt me"--in the same space. Our tendency is to group people into "good" or "bad" groups. When they do things that affirm, uplift, reassure, or accept us, we think they are "good" and we love them. When they do things that tear us down, reject us, hurt us, or judge us, we think they are "bad" (or worse, that we are the bad ones and deserve it), and we believe we should stay away from them and not love them. So it becomes hard to us to be honest when we are hurt by the people that we have to love for our own sense of identity; we will deny the hurt, put it away, blind ourselves to it--and then later in our lives, unknowingly recreate it so it can be welcomed out and healed. Maybe this is where the whole "us and them" game comes from in life. This may be the root of the conflicts we have in our workplaces, our congregations, our marriages.

This morning in my reflection time, I was thinking about how important it is to be able to speak the truth and say, "I love you and you hurt me. I was hurt by your words, your example, your messages--and I love you and know you were doing the best you could at the time." Telling the truth is the first step. Loving anyway is the second.

Maybe that's what Jesus was getting at when he wept over Jerusalem and when he said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." He still loved--and loves--us, even now.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bouncing Back

Last night we had one of the first torrential rains of the season. By that I mean the raindrops were big, pounding, relentless. Some areas of the state received up to 3 inches of rain in just a few hours. The rain fell for the first time on the heads of my poor petunias, geraniums, zinnias. I noticed when I opened the curtains early this morning that the sand cherry bush had a serious droop--she looked like she'd been beaten down through the night by the driving rain. The instant after I noticed her sad look, though, I envisioned the bush springing back, tall, growing, blossoming. It's really a beautiful bush, and a little rain isn't going to change that.

I thought about experiences we have in our lives when we're beaten down by relentless rain, negativity, "bad luck," unhappy circumstances. Our leaves droop; our flowers fall off. Our smiles are gone. We may feel down and out for a little while; but after the rain stops, our leaves will begin to perk back up; the life will flow through our veins; we'll lift our heads. Over time, we may even see that we came back stronger than ever, fnding that the flooding nourished our roots in a way a surface watering couldn't.

Wherever you are today, whether there's rain or sunshine in your life, know that there's a strength inherent in you that is eternal and divine. We always bounce back--not because of anything we do, but because it's the nature of God's hope.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

An Alive Stillness

Last night I decided to sleep with the windows and the blinds open because for the first time this season I could hear crickets chirping, and the moonlight on the tree outside my window was lighting up the leaves and windowsill in such a beautiful way. Sometime in the middle of the night, I was startled awake by a sound. An owl was calling out in the woods right behind our house. Twice, three times. An eerie, other-worldly sound. A few minutes later, I heard a plop! which sounded like it happened right beside my head. It was the frog in the pond right outside my window.

When I opened my eyes at 6:00am, my ears were already full of the sounds of the morning. Songbirds--many songbirds--were already greeting the day. A woodpecker knocked on a tree not far away. The frog was making that low chiiiii--rup sound. I sat up and stretched, and thought about the difference between silence--the lack or sound--and stillness, a sense of harmony that occurs in listening, waiting, participating in the moment.

It's interesting to me how all these joyful, life-filled sounds arise and return to stillness. It's the underlying harmony of all things. Stillness is not lack of sound but the full potential of all sound. Our spirits rise and rest in stillness. Our love radiates from stillness. Our laughter erupts from stillness. And our prayers spread and smooth and expand the stillness, rippling it calmly outward in an embrace for the entire world.

Blessings on your day!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Releasing Others

Have you ever had a hurt that keeps bubbling up in your thoughts over and over again? Months after I thought I was done with a painful situation, I found myself still trying to figure it out, get my mind around it, decipher what had happened and understand once and for all how the other person could have acted that way. I realized (maybe because I'm rereading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle) that I was wasting time and energy trying to resolve something that isn't even here, isn't real, isn't happening now--it was over and done with months ago. Why was I spending so many of my present moments stuck on that past event?

As soon as I realized I was spending my time, energy, and focus on something that doesn't exist (and keeping myself stuck in the past at the same time), I also saw that when I focus on the past hurt that way, I am freezing the other person there as well. I am believing them to be that person who hurt me, and while I keep them stuck there, I am not forgiving them. So playing that mental videotape of what they did wrong, how insensitive they were, or how they hurt me only continues to keep us both stuck--and here's the most important point: it's not real. God would have us both be free!

This was a huge insight for me. Immediately I prayed, "In the name of Christ, who is all freedom and joy, I release you, _____, from the image construction I held of you in my mind. I give you absolute freedom. Blessed be!"

I felt such a huge sense of relief and release after praying this that I wanted to share it with you. If you are feeling stuck or keep reliving past moments that hurt you, ask yourself (and your spirit, and God) who it's time to release. Then go out into the sunshine, and enJOY your day! I know I will. :)

[Thank you, God!] :)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Radical Self-Acceptance

I've been doing a lot of healing over the last eight or nine months, working through old beliefs and messages that shape my thinking and my experience in the world. I feel that's part of God's work, helping us dissolve whatever holds us back from radiating more and more light. And I've come to believe that none of the blocks are really outside me--any obstacles I experience have to do with something in my thought system that is ready to be recognized and brought to truth.

Because I'm aware that I've been changing and getting clearer, I was surprised to find that I spent this weekend chained in the basement of "not good enough." I am behind on several writing projects (I'm writing two books at once for Microsoft right now and the deadlines overlap); I am not working as fast or as intensely as I usually do; I am not driving myself with the same unbending discipline that used to keep me up working until 2 or 3am. In other words, the thought, "What's wrong with me?!" was rattling around in my head almost all weekend. And like anything else in life, when you ask the question, you get the answer. So I was receiving a steady stream of negative thoughts that told me exactly what was wrong with me--and none of it was kind, compassionate, or understanding.

I realized finally late last night, after suffering and beating myself up all weekend (while I tried to work--which was double agony), that this situation of being behind on my deadlines was kicking up all the places where I wasn't yet able to be loving with myself. Does my good care of myself depend on me getting my chapter done on the exact day I promised? Does meeting a deadline make me a good person? Of course not. I know all these things--and I thought I'd worked through them. But here again I found myself living out old beliefs--unconsciously hurting myself and pushing myself and chastizing myself, trying to drive myself into that place where I would feel I was "good enough."

What a blessing to witness this attitude in myself! It is old thinking; untrue beliefs; attitudes that don't fit me anymore. I already know that, but like the smell of last night's dinner still lingering in the kitchen, the effects of that thinking still echo around inside me sometimes (usually when I'm under pressure). Recognizing the echos, I can throw open the windows and let the old beliefs out. They don't live here anymore. They aren't part of my new life of radical self-acceptance. The God I know and follow is about mercy, compassion, true love, and forgiveness--not control, judgment, criticism, and continually raising the bar so I have to jump ever higher in hopes of somehow earning that ellusive "unconditional love."

So I'm starting the week released from the prison of self-judgment. That's worth at least one Hallelujah, don't you think?