YOUR ASTONISHING LIGHT
Fall occurs in the month of October, so we are going to let the idea of the fall season be a symbol for us this month to fall in love with Life, the Fullness and the Allness of Life Itself and all that that means.
As soon as I had the idea for the monthly theme of falling in Love with Life, the Sufi poet Rumi popped into my heart. Rumi is one of my favorite poets and I know that he has written volumes on the topic of love, so I decided that each week we would pull from his writings to inspire us.
But before we look at Rumi's inspiration for today, I want to share a few things from a book by Neale Donald Walsch that addresses our monthly theme. Here's what Walsch writes: "Life was meant to be happy. Do you believe that? It's true. I know it doesn't seem like it when you look around, but it's true. Life was meant to be happy. You were meant to be happy. And if you are happy, you were meant to be happier. Even if you're very happy, you can be even happier. How happy? Just how happy can you be? Well . . . you can be happier than God. I once heard a lady describing a gentleman who was very wealthy. She said, 'He's got more money than God.' That's how I mean this. I mean to use the ultimate superlative."a
And, by the way, the title of the book is, Happier than God. And I want to read one more passage: "Many people believe that life was meant to have a lot of pain in it. Suffering should be 'offered up' to God. It should be endured in silence. That earns you points in heaven. Our culture has so completely adopted this idea that some people don't want to be happy all the time. When you talk about how you can be 'happier than God' they become fidgety, uncomfortable. They warn that you are being 'unrealistic' or . . . [blasphemous]. They will tell you that life was meant to be unhappy. Life is a trial. It's a school. [A school of hard knocks.] 'No pain, no gain,' and all that. People in large numbers believe this. When you say to them that life was never meant to be unhappy, that no one has to be unhappy ever, they look at you cross eyed. They don't know what to do with that. They don't know where to go with it. Often, they'll tell you where to go with it . . ."b
In New Thought, we would call that Race Consciousness. You don't have to buy into that! You can rise above the collective belief of human kind and instead buy into the idea that you are meant to be outrageously, deliriously, ecstatically happy - or in our language of the month - you are meant to fall madly in love with Life and to have it be a lifetime love affair.
Walsch suggests that that idea should be shouted from every rooftop, pulpit and lectern. He writes: "Let the word go forth from this time and place: Happiness is your natural state of being, and you can occupy that space all of the time. You never have to be unhappy again! This does not mean that you'll never be sad again, but sadness and unhappiness are not the same thing."c
So am I happy all the time? Is Walsch happy all the time? Nope. But am I, is he, happier more of the time that we used to be? Absolutely! Is it possible to be happy all the time? Yep! And that question gets to a basic truth that will determine our ability to fall in love with, and stay in love with, life. The basic truth is this: Life is meant to be happy.
Do you believe that? Because if you don't, then life will have no choice but to play itself out according to your belief, and you won't love life.
But, if you believe that life was mean to be happy, it will be.
So, let's start truly installing that belief by lifting chins, raising arms up - the power position! - and saying: Life is meant to be happy!
OK, more gusto. Let's stand up and say that again. Power position - just don't hit anyone! Life is meant to be happy!
And let's add: It is my Divine Right to fall in love with life.
Nice, you may be seated.
IN YOUR LIGHT
Now let's get to our topic for this morning, which is "In Your Light, I Learn How to Love." Those are Rumi's words from this poem: "In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art."d
Many of Rumi's poems were directed to the Ultimate Beloved, God, and this one certainly is. And the premise for today, based on this poem, is foundational to falling in love and staying in love with life. It is the idea that in God's light, we connect with the eternal flame of love -- Divine Love -- that rests at the core of our being. It is the idea that in God's beauty, we create lives we love. It is the idea that God does in fact dance inside our chests where no one sees, but in those moments when we do, when we catch a glimpse of it, when we recognize it, that is when we do our greatest work and love life the most! Isn't that beautiful!?
So we return to a basic New Thought tenet here - one we talk about all the time, but one that can't be repeated enough. And it is the Spiritual Truth that God's ever-present reality is in, through, as, and of all things.
As many, many religious paths tell us, God is the All-in-All, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. God is everywhere, and is made manifest in everything. If this is true, then there can be nowhere that God is not.
Or as Dr. Seuss might say: "There is no spot where God is not."
In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said: "I am the Light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."e
Many people believe that God is everywhere, but do not believe that God resides inside of them. They may say this out of humility, but, think about it, it's actually somewhat arrogant to imagine that God exists everywhere in the Universe except in you. That would make your body, mind and soul some pretty darn exclusive real estate, wouldn't it?!
If we accept that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the All-in-All, then we must necessarily conclude that God exists as us as well.
The German mystic of the late 1200's Meister Eckhart said: "God is nearer to me than I am to my own self, my life depends upon God's being near me. He is also present in a stone, or a log of wood, only they do not know it."f
Many of us have not known it either. We have lived with a case of mistaken identity. Many still are. We think we are separate from God. But this is not true. The Truth is that God and I are One.
This does not mean that 'I am God' in the arrogant sense of those words. This means that 'I am what God is, and God is what I am.'
OK, so let's say that. I won't have you stand, but one more time, power position: I am what God is, and God is what I am.
This means that I truly have been made in the image and likeness of God!
Here, my friends, is how we fall in love with life. We realize that what is within us is GREATER than anything that is in our surroundings. Say that with me: "What is within me is greater . . . than anything in my surroundings."
We realize that what is within us is more POWERFUL than any circumstance of our lives. Say that with me: "What is within me is more POWERFUL . . . than any circumstance of my life."
We realize that what is within us is INFINITELY SUPERIOR to our history, our upbringing, our failures, our obstacles, our challenges. Again, say with me: "What is within me is INFINITELY SUPERIOR . . . to my history, . . . my upbringing, . . . my failures, . . . my obstacles . . . and my challenges."
What is within you is greater because it is pure light, pure love, pure beauty, pure potential.
We look at our lives and are unhappy because we think we need love. But how can we need love when we are Love?
We bemoan our fate because our checkbook is barer than we would like and we think we need abundance, but how can we need abundance when we are abundance?
We cry out for compassion, understanding, and kindness forgetting that we are compassion, understanding and kindness.
Now, those are ideas I could fall in love with!
We may not always experience that we are these things, especially if we are living from a case of mistaken identity, yet the fastest way to experience that you are these things is to start BEING these things, in whatever way - big or small - that you can, starting when? Right now!
Do not wait until you get it right. Do not wait until you lose the weight, get the degree, find the right job or meet your soul mate. Don't wait until the conditions are ideal or the stars are in alignment! Now is the time to fall in love with life by realizing that, to paraphrase Rumi: "In God's light you learn how to love. In God's beauty, you make poems. God dances inside your chest where no one sees, but sometimes you do [let that sometime be this time], and that sight becomes this art [the art that is your life]."
This is a simple message this morning, yet completely profound and life changing if you grasp and begin to live it!
I want to leave you with a story written by Ann Wells that was published in the Los Angeles Times some time ago.
"My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. 'This,' he said, 'is not a slip. This is lingerie.' He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite. Silk, hand-made, and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag had an astronomical figure on it, and it was still attached.
"'Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion,' he said. 'Well, I guess this is the occasion.' He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes that we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment and then he slammed the drawer shut and he turned to me and he said, 'Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion.'
"I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane as I returned to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things she had done without realizing they were special. And I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life.
"I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and my friends. Whenever possible, life can be, should be, a pattern of experiences to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not saving anything. We use our good china and crystal for every special event, like losing a pound, or getting the sink unstopped, or the first camellia blossom.
"And I wear my good blazer to the market now. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function quite well.
"'Someday' and 'one of these days' are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing, or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done if she had known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think she would have called her family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences over past squabbles.
"I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing. I'll never know. It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives.
"It would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited, but when I'm honest, I know my hours are limited. And so, now I'm practicing. Every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself, 'This is special. Every minute. Every day. Every breath, truly, a gift from God.'"
Yes, life is truly a gift from God. So how about honoring this Infinite Source of All-Good by falling in love with it, because truly in God's light we can learn how to love and learn how to live.
aNeale Donald Walsch Happier than God, p. 3
bNeale Donald Walsch Happier than God, p. 22
cNeale Donald Walsch Happier than God, p. 23
dJalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī , (1207 - 17 December 1273), 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic
eGospel of Thomas, Saying 77
fEckhart von Hochheim O.P. (c. 1260 - c. 1328), Meister Eckhart was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic