In the last week or so I have been presented with some beautiful words of wisdom that span that sands of time and that I would like to share with you. The first piece is the oldest of all of them and was written by Lao-tzu 2,500 years ago. It comes from a translation of part of one of the eighty-one verses that form his book, titled Tao Te Ching.
Work without doing.
Taste the tasteless.
Magnify the small, increase the few.
Reward bitterness with care.
See simplicity in the complicated.
Achieve greatness in little things.”
Sometimes I need to remember that not taking action can be as important as, if not better than, taking action. Because I tend to be impulsive a lot of the time this is a lesson that I need to practice.
The opening words in this quotation also reminded me of another great person who lived in great simplicity but had an enormous impact on modern day history. Here is a memorable one-liner from Ghandi that I found tucked in my purse.
“No matter how insignificant what you do may seem, it is important that you do it.”
Another ancient philosopher, Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273) wrote some of the most beautiful poetry that I have ever read. Most of it is quite mystical and, I think, very spiritual. Just a week ago a good friend passed me this piece of writing by Rumi.
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?
Absorbed in this world, you’ve made it your burden. Rise above this world. There is another vision. All your life you’ve paid attention to your experiences, but never to your Self. Are you searching for your Soul?
Then come out of your prison. Leave the stream and join the river that flows into the Ocean. Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. It will not lead you to stray. Let the beauty you seek be what you do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Question the scholars and philosophers, but God is beyond their understanding. Then look in your Heart and it was there where God dwells that you will see; God is nowhere else to be found.
Everything in the Universe is within you. There is a link between matter and Spirit. And your heart is looking for that path.
Consciousness is clear and pure like water.
And pure water is a perfect mirror for moonlight.”
Coming closer to today, a gentleman was at a meeting that I attended a short while ago. During a break he handed out small slips of paper to other attendees. Mine contained the following quotation from Mark Twain. I have been carrying it in my wallet so that I can take it out and read it frequently.
“Three daily reminders: Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Have the courage to do the right thing because it is right.”
I have to constantly remind myself to practice the first reminder!
The last words of wisdom for today were written by a modern day writer/philosopher, Paul Ferrini. I came across this quotation recently “by mistake” (in other words, by God-incidence). There is so much packed into this one sentence that I remain in awe every time I read it.
“The door to the Divine Presence opens when you no longer need to make reality fit your pictures of how it should be, when you can surrender everything you think you know and come to each moment empty of expectations.”
Wow!! Methinks I shall have to get some of Mr. Ferrini’s books. He has written over forty of them. I have never heard of him before but Larry Dossey says of him: “Paul Ferrini is a modern-day Kahlil Gibran – poet, mystic, visionary, teller of truth”. I am always ready to read new (to me!) authors who may open up new doors, new visions on my spiritual path.
Over time I have been asked to write prayers for different occasions. I would like to share three prayers with you today. The first is an “Artist’s Prayer”. At the time of writing I was following the book the Artist’s Way written by Julia Cameron.
This is quite an amazing book which sets out a twelve week course. The sub-title of the book is A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I have actually been through this book twice: the first time alone, the second time (about three years later) with a group of four other women. I grew immensely both times around.
At the end of each chapter there are a series of “tasks” to be completed before the next week. The following prayer was one of those tasks.
Heavenly Father, Artist Supreme,
You are the Divine Creator of this awesome universe. I humbly, yet courageously, ask You to allow me to be a co-creator with You.
I open my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body so that Your creative energy may flow through my being, that I may experience Your divine talent. Bless the products of my hands, my eyes, and my mind and let them reflect some measure of your majestic beauty.
Allow me to find and work with others who also seek Your divine guidance, Your artist’s touch, as they work to produce their own creations. Let me grow in light and love as I allow Your divine energy to flow through me.
Amen. ( May 1999)
In March of 2005 I organized a Women’s Day event in my home. March 8th is International Day of the Woman and while I lived in Italy I held about three of these events. They were always very well received, so once I had established a grand circle of women friends in Florida I decided to go ahead and plan one here. There were about thirty women present and this was the opening prayer that I wrote.
ABBA, help me to be humble enough and wise enough to recognize that all people do not call You by the same name, nor do they reach You by the same path.
You are known as God, Allah, Great White Spirit, Kali, Jesus, Grandfather Sky, Buddha, Jehovah, Messiah, LAKSHMI, Shivha, Holy Spirit, Ganisha, Grandmother Earth, Kwan Yin, just to mention a few of Your names.
Today we embrace You in the way best known to each of us personally. We ask that You be present here and bless us with Your love, Your light, Your energy, Your peace, Your joy, and Your grace.
We ask for Your guidance and Your wisdom that You may help us to reach our full potential as women so that we may accomplish our mission on this earth to the very best of our ability.
We ask this in Your name and for Your honor and glory.
Amen. (March 2005)
The last prayer that I would like to share with you is one that I wrote for an evening of fellowship with the women of CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) at my church.
Abba, Father, we yearn to grow abundantly in Your grace, just like the carefully tended vine that produces a bountiful harvest. We ask that You prune us when it is necessary, helping us to be rid of negative attitudes and defects of character. Nourish us with Your care, Your compassion, and Your love. Pour the refreshing waters of the Holy Spirit upon us, that we may grow more and more each day in Your likeness and then minister to others as Your disciples.
These things we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. (September 2006)
I love using the creative word to honor the God of my understanding. I also enjoy being as inclusive as possible when I am working with a wider group of people than just my church group. Prayer is a perfect way to honor God, to give Him praise, to thank Him, and to get closer to Him. And we are all capable of creating spontaneous prayers, words that come straight from the heart to our Creator.
I’m never quite sure what happens to me when my normal routine is disrupted. All I know is that it seems to take me forever to re-find myself, to get back into my everyday patterns and the activities that I love doing. Sometimes the disruption is a “going away” thing; a trip, a vacation, a retreat. Sometimes the disruption is caused internally; an emotional hiccup, a hormonal hill, an unexpected trauma. The journey back is more difficult when the disruption is a “double-whammy” – a trip AND an internal shift.
Last weekend Richard and I took a trip. We mounted our much-loved Harley and hit the road. First stop was Orlando where we spent the night and participated in Night of Joy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (That experience will be a posting of its own.) We had a great ride and even though we encountered some of the usual backed-up traffic on I-4, we arrived safely.
On Saturday morning we slept in a little after our late night at the concerts and, after breakfast, we got back on Harley fully kitted out in our rain gear. There was a steady drizzle of rain which wasn’t too bad, but the closer we got to Tampa the harder it came down. We were glad to reach our destination – the lovely luxurious Westin on the Causeway – change into dry clothes, order up some room service, and just relax. Later in the evening we took a cab to Mass at Christ the King church, then crossed the road to eat at GrillSmith on South Dale Mabry Hwy. (Another separate posting on this experience!)
On Sunday morning we prepared for the other highlight of this trip: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Dallas Cowboys. Richard and I are die-hard Cowboys’ fans and this was a great game to be able to travel to. The weather was reasonable even though showers were promised. We had our rain ponchos and what’s a bit of water if you can get to see the “Boys”!! (The game will be another posting!)
We happily prepared for our trip home (the “Boys” won after an exciting game that could have gone in either direction until the fourth quarter). Apart from a short we-are-lost detour at the beginning of the trip (unfamiliar city roads and road construction!), and a small shower closer to home, we had another great ride and arrived home safely at about 10pm.
Now that was a fabulous weekend; no hiccups, no problems, and a very happy ending. It just carried a simple “disruption” tag to my usual routine. So why on earth did I wake up on Monday morning feeling like I was sliding down some treacherous slippery hill of grayness? I guess if I could answer that question, and especially if I could offer a solution, I could get very rich very easily!
Thank God that I have done a lot of personal growth and spiritual growth work over the last thirty years. At least this puts me in a position to be able to actually recognize that I was on this slippery slope. It allows me to know myself enough that I am aware that geographical and time disruptions to my routine affect me in ways that perhaps other people do not experience. I am also willing to put a name to that slippery slope, that most people avoid because they feel it carries too much stigma: depression.
I feel blessed that I have built a support system of incredible friends and that I know to reach out no matter how small the hiccup or hill may seem. I do not want my hills to grow into menacing mountains that I cannot surmount. I also feel blessed and grateful that the depression that I suffer from occasionally is not acute and does not require medication. I also recognize that if I did not have the self awareness that I have worked so hard to achieve, and if I were not willing to take action and ask for support and help, I could easily spiral into deeper depression.
Many people out there, especially those in the male category, refuse to even consider that they may be depressed. I think it is time to concede that as human beings, with all the in-built emotions and hormones (yes, you guys have crazy hormones too!!) and all the external stress that we deal with on a daily basis, it is normal for us to have “ups and downs”. In our “ups” we are high on happiness and excitement. In our “downs” our happiness is pushed down, de-pressed.
Sometimes it requires nothing spectacular to de-press our feelings. It can be something as simple as the end of a special occasion (a trip, a celebration) or even a split second thought or memory that triggers a series of other thoughts that take us down. And sometimes all or any of this can take place on such a subconscious level that we cannot put our finger on what is causing our “down”, our de-pression.
So on Monday my plan had been to get up and immediately hit the computer and share all the wonderful experiences of the weekend and whatever else the Muse presented. But somewhere on that slippery slope Muse had jumped off the wagon and I was left with “gray”. Plan of action: pray, call a friend, go meet with some people who didn’t think I was crazy and who understood exactly what I was going through.
And that is how I am very blessed. I have gathered around me people who are available to me, who care about me enough to give me their time and their invaluable friendship, who are willing to listen, to share their own experience in similar circumstances. With their help, it has taken me four days to fully come back up and feel normally enthusiastic about each day.
I have been patient and gentle with myself. I have not “self-bashed” myself because I haven’t written anything since Saturday. I have allowed myself to be “lazy” and focused on doing just the absolute essentials on my schedule. And lo! the Muse is back. More postings to follow!!!!