TAKING THE CONNECTION DEEPER
Our theme for this month, as we prepare for Easter, is to Make a Sacred Connection, or, said another way, to Connect with the Sacred. As we discovered last week, it is when we learn to love ourselves, with our human imperfections, our shadows, and our mistakes that we, in fact, make a connection with the Sacred.
Today we take the connection we began last week and move it deeper. Deeper into self-love, deeper into Divine Love, deeper into the full understanding that it really is all God.
Today, you are invited into the idea that your journey in this human experience is a journey toward wholeness, toward acceptance, NOT toward perfection, as we would define perfection.
Today you are invited to deepen your connection with yourself, thereby deepening your relationship with God, by moving toward wholeness, integration -- not perfection in this human experience.
Paraphrasing Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind: "At the Spiritual level, we are perfect, but our individual use of Life and Law enables us to cover a perfect idea with an apparently imperfect cloak."a Because, when we search for or strive for perfection in this human form, we will always come up short!
According to an old Sufi tale, one afternoon Nasrudden and his friend were sitting in a café, drinking tea, and talking about life and love.
"How come you never got married, Nasrudden?" asked his friend at one point.
"Well," said Nasruddin, "to tell you the truth, I spent my youth looking for the perfect woman. In Cairo, I met a beautiful and intelligent woman, with eyes like dark olives, but she was unkind. Then in Baghdad, I met a woman who was a wonderful and generous soul, but we had no interests in common. One woman after another would seem just right, but there would always be something missing. Then one day, I met her. She was beautiful, intelligent, generous and kind. We had everything in common. In fact, she was perfect."
"Well," said Nasruddin's friend, "what happened? Why didn't you marry her?"
Nasruddin sipped his tea reflectively. "Well," he replied, "it's a sad thing. Seems she was looking for the perfect man."
Remember, our soul's journey in this human experience is a journey toward integration and wholeness NOT a journey toward perfection.
A DEEPER CONNECTION
In order for us to make a deeper connection with our inherent wholeness, I'm going to ask you 3 questions this morning that are found in the poem "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, which we read in full last Sunday.
I'm going to suggest that when you can answer "Yes" to each, you will be well on your way to connecting with your wholeness. They are:
First (quoting from the poem): I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
Next -- I want you to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the sliver of the full moon, "Yes!"
And finally -- I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day and if you can source your own life from its presence.b
Let's explore each question, realizing that this exploration is the deep work we must do in order to make the sacred connection with Self.
1. CAN YOU BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
1. Can you disappoint another to be true to yourself? Can you bear the accusations of betrayal and not betray your own soul?
Jesus often taught in parables and that's a pretty good model for teaching, so I am going to do a lot of that today, using parables in varying forms.
And here's the first one . . . This parable tells of an elderly man who was traveling with a boy and a donkey.
As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind.
The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so in an effort to please them, he climbed up on the animal's back.
When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal's back and continued on his way.
In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again.
In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.
The old man and the boy decided that maybe the critics were right, so they get off and carried the donkey. As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and it fell into the river and drowned.
The moral of the story is if you live your life trying to please others, you will eventually lose your . . . shall we say . . . donkey.
Have you ever found a time when you lost your . . . donkey . . . because you listened to the criticism of others? Just notice that for a moment. Just notice with no judgment. Feel into it right now. Breathe and let it be OK.
The second parable to illustrate this idea is the story told of a lighthouse keeper who worked on a rocky stretch of coastline and who received his new supply of oil once a month to keep the light burning.
Not being far from shore, he had frequent guests. One night a woman from the village begged oil to keep her family warm. Another time a father asked for some to use in his lamp. Another needed some to lubricate a wheel. Since all the requests seemed legitimate, the lighthouse keeper tried to please everyone and granted them all.
Toward the end of the month he noticed that the supply of oil was very low. Soon, it was gone, and the beacon light went out. That night several ships were wrecked and lives were lost.
When the authorities investigated, the man was very sorry. To his excuses and pleading their reply was, "You were given the oil for one purpose—to keep that light burning!"
And the old lighthouse keeper walked away, shattered at the mistake he had made, never to light the way for a ship again.
Admittedly, in this human experience there are times when we must make decisions that may appear to be self-centered. But it may be that we need to be CENTERED IN SELF and know that Divine Selfishness is OK!
2. CAN YOU LIVE WITH FAILURE
2. Can you live with failure and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the sliver of the full moon, "Yes!"?
Look at the following Biblical figures who overcame their personal "failures" and history.
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was unattractive
Joseph was abused and abandoned
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson was a womanizer
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David was an adulterer and a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Jesus
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer
AND For heaven's sake, Lazarus was dead!
If all of these people could go on and rise to the level that thousands of years after their existence, we are still reading about them, then perhaps we can too.
I want to give you another example of something I heard about several years ago. A friend went to see Cavalia, which is somewhat akin to Cirque de Sol on horseback. In one segment of the performance, the horses were galloping in a circle and the riders were standing and flipping, etc. on their backs. Mind you, this was in a theater. The stage wasn't that big!!!
One of the riders lost his footing, slipped and came about as close to falling off the horse as you can come without actually falling off. He struggled to get back up as we sat in the audience breathless and the horses kept galloping around the stage. When he finally righted himself and stood back up on the horse, he held his arms out, pumped his hands in triumph and had the biggest smile I had ever seen.
The crowd went insane with clapping and cheering and whistling. We did that because he "failed" - he certainly wasn't supposed to fall off his horse -- yet recovered, stood atop the horse and said "yes"!
Abraham Lincoln once said when he lost yet another election: "It was a slip, but not a fall, only a slip."
And, of course, we know what he went on to do for our nation and our world. Could you do that my friends? Get back up on the horse, see it as only a slip not a fall, and stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the sliver of the full moon, "Yes!"? That's what I want to know about you.
3. CAN YOU SEE YOUR OWN BEAUTY
3. Can you see your own beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day and can source your own life from its presence?
Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind, wrote: "We each have the ability to choose what we will do with our lives, and we are unified with a Law which automatically produces our choice. While we do not have the ability to destroy the idea of ourselves, we do have the ability to deface it, to make it appear discordant, but we cannot destroy the Divine Image. . . . So let us remember that back of the one which we see is the Divine Image."c
I love the work of Elizabeth Gilbert in her 2015 book Big Magic. She says to talk to yourself in a very direct and real way when you are not able to see your own beauty. Here's how she puts it with her great sense of humor:
"Over time, I've found the right tone of voice . . . [to use with myself]. It's best to be insistent, but affable. Repeat yourself, but don't get shrill. Speak to your darkest and most negative interior voices the way a hostage negotiator speaks to a violent psychopath: calmly but firmly. Most of all, never back down. You cannot afford to back down. The life you are negotiating to save, after all, is your own. 'Who the hell do you think you are?' your darkest interior voices will demand. 'It's funny you should ask,' you can reply. 'I'll tell you who I am: I am a child of God, just like anyone else. I am a constituent of this universe. . . . The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here. I have a right to my own voice and a right to my own vision. I have a right to collaborate with creativity, because I myself am a product and a consequence of Creation. I'm on a mission of artistic liberation, so let the girl go.' See? Now you're the one doing the talking."d
What would your life be like if you spoke to yourself in that way when you were not seeing your own beauty? When you are not remembering that back of the one which you see in the mirror is the Divine Image?
One of the ways we diminish ourselves is through a habitual pushing away of the good that's trying to come our way. So, if anyone pays you a compliment this week, if anyone says any good thing about you, practice saying this: "Thank you for noticing." Simply, "Thank you for noticing."
If they say "You look wonderful today!" don't say "In this old thing?" or "Oh dear, I really didn't get enough sleep last night and my bags have bags." No! Rather, simply say "Thank you for noticing."
If a coworker says "Boy, you really did a great job on that" and your initial response wants to be, "Oh, I could have done better if I'd had more time" shift that and say, what?? Right, "Thank you for noticing."
Try it with me. Simply say "Thank you for noticing."
Now turn to someone and say something nice about their energy, their presence, their appearance, or something more personal if you know them. And your response is to be what? Nothing more than "Thank you for noticing." Try it right now.
Today, you have been called to make a connection with the Sacred by accepting -- no, not just accepting, by loving -- the fullness of who you are, integrated and whole, by being able . . .
. . . to be true to yourself even it if means disappointing another;
. . . to live with failure and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the sliver of the full moon, "Yes!"
. . . and to see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day and to source your own life from its presence.
As you do those things, my friend, you will move deeper into Divine Love and deeper into the full understanding that it really is - you really are -- all God and you are quite beautiful.
aErnest Holmes The Science of Mind p. 177
b"The Invitation" Oriah Mountain Dreamer
cErnest Holmes The Science of Mind, p. 195
dElizabeth Gilbert Big Magic p. 95