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Sermons

Sunday Message for May 1, 2016

THE COURAGE FOR DISCOVERY

This month's theme is Creating a life of Magic - Big Magic!! Somewhat like this:

There was once a magician on a cruise ship who performed mainly sleight of hand tricks. He had a regular spot on the ship's cabaret evening entertainment. He was actually quite a good magician, but he had one big problem.

His routines were regularly ruined by the onboard parrot who would fly around squawking and giving away his secrets, saying things like:

"IT'S UP HIS SLEEVE, IT'S UP HIS SLEEVE!" or

"IT'S IN HIS POCKET, IT'S IN HIS POCKET!" or

"IT'S IN HIS MOUTH, IT'S IN HIS MOUTH!"

The magician was getting pretty sick of this and threatened to do physical harm to the parrot if it ruined his act one more time. Then one evening right as the magician was about to disappear in a puff of smoke for his grand final, the ship hit an iceberg and sank in seconds.

Amazingly, the magician and the parrot were the only two survivors. The magician was lying on a piece of driftwood in a daze. As he opened his eyes he could see the parrot staring at him out of its beady little eye.

The parrot sat there for what seemed like an eternity just staring at him, the wheels of his little brain turning and turning. Eventually, he said, "OK, you got me this time! What did you do with the ship?"

OK, not that kind of big magic! But Big Magic nonetheless as we use the brilliance in Elizabeth Gilbert's most recent book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, to explore the attitudes, approaches and habits needed to uncover our hidden treasurers, face our fears, and trust the Universe, all of which lead us to our most creative, magical lives -- the lives God intended us to live.

Early on in Big Magic, Gilbert poses a very important question, and it is a question we will explore this morning.

BIG MAGIC

From Big Magic, she writes: "So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? Look, I don't know what's hidden within you. I have no way of knowing such a thing. You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you've caught glimpses. I don't know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents. But surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them."a

That sentiment is consistent with the ancient Hindu story of the Creator and the angels discussing where to hide man's divinity. One angel said put it at the bottom of the ocean. They will never find it there. God said, "No, humans are very smart. Some day they will find their way to the bottom."

Another angel said, "Then put it at the center of the earth." God said, "I suspect one day man will find his way there too. We need a more obscure spot."

Another angel suggested the top of the highest mountain, but God felt sure man would find it there as well.

Finally, an angel said, "I've got it. Let's put it in a place they will won't think to look -- right inside them."

The treasure we are to unbury is the unique way in which our Divinity is expressed.

Back to Elizabeth Gilbert's passage: "The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels; the courage to go on that hunt in the first place - that's creative living, that's what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of that hunt - that's what I call Big Magic."

Now, let's be clear about something right up front this month, because I don't want seventy-five percent of you to tune me out thinking I'm not talking about you!

When we say "Creative Living" we are not talking exclusively about pursing life as a poet, artist, musician - although that could be the treasure hidden inside of you and that is wonderful. Rather "Creative Living" in the context of our conversations this month is about living:
1. a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear and
2. a life in which you bring forth from you that which brings you joy and fulfillment, which in turn blesses the world (because there is no such thing as private good!).

So let me say that again. "Creative Living" in the context of our conversations this month isn't about artistic endeavors, rather it is about living:
1. a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear and
2. a life in which you bring forth from you that which brings you joy and fulfillment, which in turn blesses the world!

So, even if you aren't an artist or a singer or a writer or an actor or, or, or [fill in whatever you think are "creative" endeavors], this month is for you. Got it?? Good!

Gilbert gives the example of her friend Susan who took up figure skating when she was 40.b Well, actually she already knew how to figure skate.

She had figure skated competitively as a child and loved it, but she quit the sport when it became clear she didn't have quite the chops to be a champion. For the next quarter of a century, she didn't skate. Her thinking: "Why bother if you can't be the best." Then she turned 40. Those milestone birthdays can mess with our heads, can't they?

She was listless. Unsettled. Out of sorts. She did a little soul searching and asked herself when was the last time she'd felt truly light, joyous and even creative?

To her amazement, she realized the last time she remembered experiencing those feelings was when she was figure skating and, even though she was saddened that she hadn't felt that way in a long time, she was curious to know if skating would still give her those feelings.

Again, what is the definition of "Creative Living" in our context this month? Living:
1. a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear and
2. a life in which you bring forth from you that which brings you joy and fulfillment, which in turn blesses the world!

So, she followed her curiosity to see if that which at one time brought her joy and fulfillment would again. She bought a pair of skates, found a rink and hired a coach.

She ignored the voice within her that told her she was being self-indulgent and preposterous to do such a crazy thing. After all, the voice said, "You are 40 years old, you know!"

She acknowledged and then ignored her extreme self-consciousness at being the only middle-aged woman on the ice with all those tiny, feathery nine-year-old girls. She just did it.

Three mornings a week she got up before dawn, before her demanding job began, and she skated. She skated just for the sake of the joy and freedom and fulfillment she felt when she skated. She skated just because it made her feel alive.

About her friend's experience, Gilbert writes: "It was a revolution. A literal revolution as she spun to life again on the ice - revolution upon revolution upon revolution ... Please note that my friend did not quit her job, did not sell her home, did not sever all her relationships and move to Toronto to study seventy hours a week with an exacting Olympic-level skating coach. And no, this story does not end with her winning any championship medals. In fact, this story does not end at all, because Susan is still figure skating several mornings a week - simply because skating is still the best way for her to unfold a certain beauty and transcendence within her life that she cannot seem to access in any other manner. And she would like to spend as much time as possible in such a state of transcendence while she is still here on earth. That's all. That's what I call creative living."c

Isn't that beautiful? So the question of the morning is what treasure is buried in you? There is one thing you should know about uncovering it and going for it - It can be scary. In fact, it can be very scary. Because living creatively means living into the unknown, and moving into the unknown is scary!

Here are some of the many ways in which we might be afraid to uncover our buried treasure. See if any of them ring true?
* You're afraid that you won't be any good at doing whatever is nudging at you.
* You're afraid you'll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or - worst of all - ignored.
* You're afraid there's no market for whatever you are offering, and therefore no point in pursuing it.
* You're afraid somebody else already did it better.
* You're afraid everybody else already did it better.
* You're afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it's safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark.
* You're afraid you won't be taken seriously.
* You're afraid your dreams are embarrassing.
* You're afraid that someday you'll look back on your endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort and money.
* You're afraid you don't have the right kind of discipline.
* You're afraid you don't have the right kind of work ethic.
* You're afraid that you are too fat (About this one Gilbert writes: "I don't know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we're too fat, so let's just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.")
* You're afraid you will fail!
* You're afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud.
* You're afraid of upsetting your family with what you may reveal.
* You're afraid your best work is behind you.
* You're afraid you never had any best work to begin with.
* You're afraid you've neglected the treasurer buried in you for so long that now you can never find it.
* You're afraid you're too old to start.
* You're afraid you're too young to start.
* You're afraid because something went well in your life once, obviously nothing can ever go well again.
* You're afraid because nothing ever has gone well in your life, so why bother trying?
* You're afraid of being a one-hit wonder.
* You're afraid of being a no-hit wonder.

Because we don't have all day here, I'm going to quit listing fears. It is a bottomless pit, anyway! We can just summarize it by saying that living creatively - finding your buried treasure - can be SCARY, SCARY, SCARY.

But here's a really important thought: Our fear is really boring. It never changes, never delights, never offers a surprise twist or an unexpected ending. Fear is a song with only one note, only one word actually, repeated at full volume on an endless loop - STOP! We are all equipped with the same basic fear package. There's nothing interesting or compelling or original about it.

On the other hand, we each have creativity within us that is original. We each have a personality that is original. We each have dreams and perspectives and aspirations within us that are original.

But our fears are not original in the least. Gilbert asks: "Do we really want to build our lives around the most boring instinct we have?!"d

This doesn't mean your fear will go away! Bravery means doing something scary! The truth is we need our fear. Nature set it up that way so we could react appropriately to being attacked by a saber-toothed tiger.

We need fear in order to protect us from actual danger. But we do not need fear in the realm of living creatively.

Charles Fillmore writes in Atom Smashing Power of Mind: "Fear . . . weakens the virile life, and the feet stumble."e

Just because you don't need fear, doesn't mean it won't show up, especially when you are trying something new. Your fear will always be triggered by your new endeavors, whatever they might look like.

Gilbert suggests that because fear will be your companion on this road trip of creating big magic in your life, you need to build space for it.

She writes: "It isn't always easy or comfortable being on this road trip with fear, but it is always worth it because if you can't learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you'll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting. And that would be a pity because your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you are still here. And you have treasures hidden within you - extraordinary treasures and bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and devotion and the clock is ticking and the world is spinning and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small."f

So what do we do when we are faced with fear? Faced with the fear of even trying to discover our buried treasurer? Well, Ernest Holmes offers us a great suggestion and so does Gilbert.

Holmes says in Creative Mind and Success: "Let us . . . fill ourselves with such courage and power of strength that all thought of weakness [I'll add "and fear"] flees before us. If any thought of weakness [or fear] should come, ask this question: Is life weak [and fearful]? If life is not weak [or fearful] and if God is not discouraged, then you are not, never were and never will be. I should like to see the sickly discouraged thought that could withstand this attitude of mind. No! Life is strong, and you are strong with the strength of the Infinite; forget all else as you revel in this strength. You are strong and can say "I AM." You have been laboring under an illusion; now you are disillusioned. Now you know, and knowing is using the law in a constructive way. 'I and my Father are One'; this is strength for the weak [and fearful], and life for all who believe."g

Holmes is telling us to remember who we are!

Gilbert offers us some wisdom in the form of a conversation she has with fear every time she begins something new. It goes like this, and we will close with it.

"Dearest Fear:
Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you'll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I'm about to do anything interesting -and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to bring faith and focus and courage and devotion to all my work. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There's plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still - your suggestions will never be followed. You're allowed to have a seat, and you're allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You're not allowed to touch the road maps; you're not allowed to suggest detours; you're not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you're not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive."h

Remember, you have treasures hidden within you - extraordinary treasures. Bringing those treasures to light is what you came here to do and the clock is ticking and the world is spinning and you simply do not have time anymore to think small. It is what God in you, as you, is you wants for you!

I affirm that knowing that, believing that, you have the Courage not only to discover, but to express, your buried treasurer!

Let it be your way...



aElizabeth Gilbert Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear pg 8
bElizabeth Gilbert Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear pg 9
cElizabeth Gilbert Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear pg 11
dElizabeth Gilbert Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
eCharles Fillmore Atom Smashing Power of Mind, p. 157
fElizabeth Gilbert Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear pg 26
gErnest Holmes Creative Mind and Success, p. 15
hElizabeth Gilbert Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear pg 25



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