YOUR ASTONISHING LIGHT
This month we are spending our time celebrating and commemorating our personal, individual spiritual growth and expansion by looking at where we've been, where we are and where we are going - we are specifically calling it "Bridge Across Time."
And this is a powerful month for anyone who would like to see their past, their present and/or their future in new ways -- ways that support and empower:
* the value of their past,
* the incredible nature of their now and
* their amazing future . . .
. . . all of which are (of course!) part of your journey of expressing the God of your Being in the highest possible way.
Today's talk is inspired by the Sufi poet Hafiz' beautiful statement: "I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the Astonishing Light of your own Being."a
And I think that pretty much sums up what our intention is with everything we do here at Unity of Castro Valley. We attempt to show you / to help you see the Astonishing Light of your own Being.
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE
And, that is what we will do this morning. But we don't always realize these Truths, do we? We don't always know we are an Astonishing Light. Others can show us, can help us, can teach us, but ultimately it is up to us to see it for ourselves! Or we might have an inkling that that is true, but we certainly aren't ready to let it shine fully yet!
We need more time . . . more preparation, more education, more growth, more enlightenment. Here's a little example of how we can be. See if you notice yourself in any of this . . .
Candles in the Closet Skit
[A table with 4 candles on it and 4 off-stage voices for the candles.]
Minister: There was a blackout one night. When the lights went out, I fumbled to the closet where I keep the candles for nights like this. I picked one up and as I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand, I heard a voice.
Candle 1: Now, hold it right there.
Minister: Who said that?
Candle 1: I did.
Minister: Who are you? Really, what are you?
Candle 1: I'm a candle -- can't you tell?!
[Minister lifts up the candle to take a puzzled closer look.]
Candle 1: Please, please, please -- Don't take me out of here!
Candle 1: I said, please don't take me out of this closet!
Minister: What do you mean, "Don't take you out of the closet"? You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there. I need to take you out there so you can share your light.
Candle 1: But I'm not ready to go out there. I need more preparation!
Minister: What preparation???
Candle 1: Just that -- more preparation. You see, I really need to research this job of light-giving so I won't go out, make a bunch of mistakes and make a fool of myself. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be.
Minister: All right, then. You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll just take another.
Candles 2, 3 and 4 in unison: We aren't going either!
Minister (turning to the other candles): What do you mean -- you aren't going either? You are candles, and your job is to light dark places!
Candle 2: Well, that may be what you think. You may think we have to go, but I'm busy....I'm meditating on the importance of light. It's really enlightening.
Minister (picking up another candle): And you -- are you going to stay too?
Candle 3: I'm waiting to get my life together. I'm not stable enough.
Minister (picking up the final candle): What about you -- you're my last hope.
Candle 4: I'd like to help, really I would, but lighting the darkness is not my gift. You see -- I'm a singer, I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly. [Person playing Candle 4 begins singing "This Little Light of Mine." The others join in singing softly.]
Minister: And so the four little candles filled the closet with song about light, but refused to come out and actually let it shine.
Did you see yourself in any of those candles? If so, I say it's time to come out of the closet and realize and shine the Astonishing Light of your own Being!!
Many of us have been taught to value (or devalue) ourselves by what we have accomplished and accumulated.
We have been taught to value (or devalue) ourselves by how much money we have or by how much education we have.
We have been taught to value (or devalue) ourselves by the way others see and evaluate us.
And that is the least significant self-esteem we can have. It's not that these things don't matter, because they do in this earthly experience of ours, it's just that they don't go very deep.
Because if we feel good about ourselves by what we do or what we have, then we have to keep doing more and getting more to feel good about ourselves. We have to keep accomplishing more and accumulating more and getting others to say we're good and it keeps going on and on. It's a hole that'll never get filled.
There's an entirely different kind of self-esteem. And it's the esteem that comes from knowing who we are and valuing ourselves because we are made in the image and likeness of God. Because the Source of All Life called us into being, exactly the way we are. Because we are the Light in Expression.
How often do we think thoughts like that about ourselves?
Psychologists estimate that 97% of the time, we're talking to ourselves. There's this chatter that's going on all the time inside our heads. When we pause and listen to that chatter, how much of that chatter is "I'm not good enough," "I don't measure up." "I don't know if I can." We keep these lies alive by running them over and over and over in our minds.
We're in a New Thought church today. When was the last time we had one? A new thought about ourselves, that is? How often do we actually engage in a new thought about ourselves?
The song "This Little Light of Mine" doesn't say:
* "This little light, boy, I hope it comes into me."
* "This little light, maybe you have it, but I don't think I do."
* "This little light isn't there for me."
No, the line is, "This little light of mine." We all have it! There is no question. We all have it. But we must make an agreement to let it shine.
As we "stand guard at the portals of our minds" (to quote Emerson), we are recognizing that there are thought patterns going on all the time and that the committee members that are meeting in our minds, having chatter about whether we deserve or don't deserve, or who's good enough, have a chairperson and that chairperson is you! You get to decide what they chatter about.
You get to decide which thoughts get empowered, repeated, energized, and which thoughts are not worth giving life energy to, and letting them go.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians and said: "Finally, my brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think about these things."b
Put that in the context of thoughts about yourself. Everything else, let it go.
So, as our month's theme is looking at where we've been, where we are and where we are going, I want to take just a few moments for personal reflection, personal reflection on how clearly we see that we are Astonishing Lights right here and now. Perhaps we see that more clearly today than we did yesterday, yet not as much as we could and would like to.
So, I invite you to take a very personal journey. In your mind, see yourself going to the beginning of the bridge of your spiritual awakening, of your spiritual expansion, of your spiritual evolution. You will remember that place if you were here last week because we explored it. As I said last week, your beginning on your bridge to spiritual awakening may have been 50 years ago. Maybe it's new. Perhaps it began when you walked through our doors this morning. Wherever you are in the journey of expanding your consciousness of knowing who you are—put yourself there and know that that is the beginning of your bridge.
And at this point there's not a lot of awareness, there's not a lot of expansion, there's not a lot of enlightenment, and there may be a lot of stuff there that you would just as soon not have there. That you have regarded as mistakes, things you wish you wouldn't have done, ways you wish you hadn't been, experiences you wish you hadn't had. You may have all of that at that point, that initiating point on the bridge.
And, if that's true and if our gratitude work last week didn't fully eradicate feelings of upset, hurt or anger (touch in right now to feel into it), I ask you in this moment to put the light on that view, surround yourself with a golden light of love. I'm not even going to say forgive. I'm going to take it higher than forgiveness to acceptance. Knowing what I said last Sunday is true, knowing that everything that occurred in your life up to that moment brought you to it. And it was important for you, so that you might walk across this bridge. So just take a moment to honor who and where you were . . . . and now you begin to walk across.
And again if that bridge is a journey of 50 years or it's a journey of this last hour, you easily walk across it as you become aware of your expansion, of recognizing who you are. You walk across as you begin to see that you are an amazing light in the world. That you are an expression made in the image and likeness of God. Keep walking as you realize that God brought you into this life exactly as you are on purpose. There was no mistake made here. You are an expression of the Divine Light and Life. Walk across this bridge realizing this. And take yourself to the other side of the bridge which is right here in this room today, right where you are.
How we celebrate who we are right here and right now. With the things we've let go, the way we've grown, the new ways we look at life, the new experiences in life we are having. I'm not saying it's all perfect. No, we're still growing and of course we're still learning. But this moment, we celebrate who we are. So, in your own heart and your own mind, celebrate who you are. Be grateful for who you are right here and right now. The being of light, the astonishing being of light that you are.
And in the revelry and celebration, you look up and you happen to notice that there's another bridge in front of you. And this bridge just isn't an arc but it is an ascending arc. It is an arc as a bridge is an arc but it is going higher and higher. And I want you to put one foot on that bridge because that is the bridge of your future. That is the bridge of your further expansion. That is the bridge of the next and the next and the next and the next turns around the spiral of your evolution in consciousness. That is the bridge that brings even greater light in and through you, out to the world and back to you. That is the bridge that attracts back to you even more love, more joy, more prosperity, more health, more clarity, and more peace. And you will walk that bridge as well, but not today. No, today we are celebrating who and where you are in the here and now.
And in that space, in that consciousness, I want to share with you one more quote. This one is a little bit longer. It's a poem from that beautiful Sufi master Rumi. And it goes like this:
Although you appear in earthly form, your essence is pure Consciousness.
You are the fearless guardian of Divine Light.
So come, return to the root of the root of your own soul.
You were born from the rays of God's Majesty
when the stars were in their perfect place.
How long will you suffer from the blows of a nonexistent hand?
So come, return to the root of the root of your own soul.
You are a ruby encased in granite.
How long will you deceive Us with this outer show?
O friend, We can see the truth in your eyes!
So come, return to the root of the root of your own soul.
Soul of all souls, life of all life - you are That.
Seen and unseen, moving and unmoving - you are That.
The road that leads to the City is endless; Go without head and feet and you'll already be there.
What else could you be? - you are That."c
Do you see that? Do you clearly see that? My hope, my prayer, my highest desire for you is that you do. And so it is and so we let it be.
aSufi poet Hafiz
cSufi master Rumi