ACCEPTING THE INVITATION
This month we are exploring a BIG, BIG topic - Global Transformation! This month we are looking at that idea, that each of us has an opportunity . . .
. . . to be an AGENT for GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION.
. . . to be the FIRST DOMINO in a chain reaction for good.
. . . to be a BENEFICIAL PRESENCE in the world.
. . . to be a LIVING REMEDY ON PLANET EARTH.
Did I use enough descriptors? Do you get the idea?
Last week, I posed two BIG questions in the context of this monthly theme, citing the answering machine message on physicist and spiritual teacher Peter Russell's telephone. Remember the message? It said: "This is not an answering machine. It's a questioning machine. Who are you and what do you want?"
After a brief pause, the message continued: "In case you think these are trivial questions, most people come to earth and leave it again without ever answering either one."a
Today, our focus is going to be on the first question "who are you?" If you remember, last week, we said that the answer to the question "who are you?" surmises, is grounded on the assumption, that you are God in Expression and then asks "who are you?" AS God in expression in the world . . .
. . . as an AGENT for GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION
. . . as the FIRST DOMINO in a chain reaction for good.
. . . as a BENEFICIAL PRESENCE in the world.
. . . as a LIVING REMEDY ON PLANET EARTH.
In preparation for really and deeply answering that question, this morning I want to extend to each of you an invitation.
You are cordially invited to deepen your relationship with yourself - all aspects of yourself - thereby deepening your relationship with God. You might shrink back a bit from this invitation because you believe the inane chatter that goes on inside your head. Yet, in Truth, the deeper we look -- the more intimate we become with ourselves -- the closer we get to finding the fullness of God.
In the SOM Magazine some months ago, there was a daily devotional entitled "Loving God by Loving Myself," and it said: "Loving ourselves no matter what is a cornerstone of loving God."b
In The Invitation, author Oriah Mountain Dreamer says . . ."It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow; if you have been opened by life's betrayals or if you have become shriveled and closed from further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own -- if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. 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.
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.
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!"
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments."c
I want to know if you truly like the company you keep in those quiet moments -- and if you don't or aren't sure -- this morning's INVITATION is for you to move to a "yes!" This morning's INVITATION asks you to deepen your relationship with yourself and to get to know yourself intimately-humanly and spiritually.
Jesus once said: "Love thy neighbor as thyself."d The emphasis on that statement is often on the "love thy neighbor" part -- and it is important. But we miss a key message if we don't look at the last two words -- "as thyself." Jesus was making an assumption with that statement, wasn't he? The assumption is that we love ourselves!
My favorite book written by Ernest Holmes is, This Thing Called You. He writes: "Jesus spent little time in negative thought -- only enough to see through it, to reverse the false sense of life with a true realization of our union with God. This glorious figure, like a shaft of light, shot across the bewildered consciousness of man, proving every claim he made, leaving behind him a breath of heaven, fragrant with love. As he identified himself with the Source of his being, so you must identify yourself with that Spirit which is ever with you."e
Let me say that last line again: As he identified himself with the Source of his being, so you must identify yourself with that Spirit which is ever with you.
But, I find that while we may give lip service to that, that is not what we identify with. Oh no, we identify with our mistakes, our flaws, our fears, with our beliefs that we ARE INHERENTLY BAD, and every little thing that we do "wrong" is just proof that this is true. So we really avoid looking within because we are afraid of what we might find.
We say that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. We don't say: We are spiritual beings having a human experience ONLY when we are thinking, feeling and acting spiritually! We are ALWAYS spiritual beings, no matter what!
This morning's invitation is to step into a spirituality that embraces and encompasses the fullness of our humanness -- all of it. Strengths, weaknesses and everything in between. And it could be no other way: "To be real and free, individuality must be created in the image of Perfection and let alone to make the great discovery for itself."f
Sometimes in that discovery, we blow it! What I want to know about you is can you really, really "blow it" and still love yourself?! Can you laugh at your mistakes and learn from them? Can you rise up again and again and again?
Michael Jordan, once said: "I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot...and I missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."g
And, Lord knows, I have made countless mistakes as a Minister. But I've learned by being too controlling, to now catch myself at it and step back. I've learned that I am not the expert when giving a class; but am the student of all those who attend. I have learned so much by failing!
Hafiz, the great Sufi master, in his book The Gift, wrote a poem called: The Vintage Man:
"The difference between a good artist and a great one is:
The novice will often lay down his tool or brush,
Then pick up an invisible club on the mind's table
And helplessly smash the easels and Jade.
Whereas the vintage man no longer hurts himself or anyone,
And keeps on sculpting Light."h
This Thing Called You: "But it is only as you let go of the lesser that you can take hold of the greater, only as you drop confusion that you can entertain peace, only as you transcend doubt and fear that you can be lifted up to the hill tops of the inner Life."i
This "lesser" that I invite you to let go of this morning . . . the "confusion" that I invite you to drop today . . . is the idea that your human foibles make you any less Divine!
Assignment for this week -- Find someone you trust. You really trust, whom you know really loves you. Share with him/her a deep fear, a dark secret about yourself, something you have been hiding, something even you may be ashamed of. Something that says to you that you are inherently flawed or bad or stupid. Get my drift!
Tell them you want to do this so you can get it out in the open, which will in turn release the "hold" it has on you and so that you can see your Divinity right in the middle of it. Tell them their only job is to love you right through it -- not to try to fix it or even tell you "it's not so bad," but just love you.
And if someone asks you to be that person for them, consider it a most sacred honor!
This Thing Called You: "Your search is after something great enough to lose your littleness in, something within you worthy of immortality and eternal expansion. The world has not looked for God where He may be found. Here is the great secret. There is only one God, one Divine Mind. This One is undivided, hence all of It is present everywhere. God is not only where you are, God is what you are. . . You need no longer go in search after Him. Rather live and think from the union which you already have."j
Say to yourself:
There is That within me which knows.
I am not only one with this Power, this Power is actually flowing through me now.
I am not only unified with the Divine Presence around me, this Presence is my presence.
It is the presence of my real and true self.
I am forever one with Life.
So, this morning, I invite you to remember . . . . Loving yourself no matter what, is a cornerstone of loving God. And as you accept this Invitation to love and accept the fullness of your beautiful Godself, your ability to be a beneficial presence in this world is increased ten-fold, 100-fold, 1,000-fold and you begin to be an agent for change!
And now, since it is Mother's Day, I would like to recognize all biological mothers, all females who have served in the role as mothers and all males who have served in the role, so let's talk about Mothers.
The service today is to celebrate Mother's Day as a day of universal blessing for mothers and for all the women that we honor in our lives. A day when all mothers and nurturers are enfolded lovingly in the prayers and blessings of all people everywhere. So let's take a look at Mothers.
In Reader's Digest, Jeanne Young wrote, "My children, who had forgotten to shop for Mother's Day, presented me with a homemade card. The contrite message read: "We know you deserve the very best, Mom. But we're glad you kept us anyway." It is a card I will never throw away."
And that's what being a mother is all about. Holding your children in your heart for who they are. When we honor and love them, they learn to honor and love us.
I truly believe that before we come to this world we pick the parents and the situation we want to come into so that we may develop and grow.
My Mother did not bond with me because of her own situation in life at the time I was born. But because of that, I gained the soul strength to do what I came here to do.
Somewhere, on some other plane of existence, we decide what challenges we need so that we may grow spiritually. So we put ourselves into the most atrocious situations so that we can grow up.
Or at least we THINK we grow up - but let our Mother come into the room, and we are again 5 years old.
So as we think about our Mothers and others who nurtured us, let's know that they did the best they knew how to do. They too, were raised by dysfunctional mothers, who were also raised by dysfunctional mothers.
So we can sit back and blame them - or we can step up and change the pattern of disfunctionality in our generation. Then we will be able to appreciate them for what they did for us even though they weren't perfect.
We all owe our mothers a deep and heartfelt thank you. Why do I say that? It's pretty simple -- Without her, we wouldn't be here!
So, wherever you are on the mother continuum - on one end having the most nurturing, wonderful, loving, caring mother to having, on the other end, the Wicked Witch of the West as your mother, we each owe our mothers a thank you for bringing us into this world.
Now I would like to pay tribute to the women we know. I have been sent the names of women that I would like to acknowledge.
But first I would like to invite those who wish to come forward to honor women in their lives. Please come up, place a flower in the vase and acknowledge the women in your life.
Now, the names that have been sent in to be honored are...
As you look at this vase filled with flowers, think of the women in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Women we loved and hated. Women we blame for all our faults and weaknesses, and thank for all our strengths and talents. Women who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do.
Blessed are the mothers of yesterday. They nurture us with loving memories and inspire us to become all we are meant to be. Blessed are the mothers of today. They hold in their hands and in their hearts the keeping of tomorrow and the destiny of our children's future. Truly, God is blessing all mothers now. Amen.
cOriah Mountain Dreamer The Invitation
eErnest Holmes This Thing Called You pg. 84
fErnest Holmes Science Of Mind, pg 108
hHafiz, The Gift, poem The Vintage Man
iErnest Holmes This Thing Called You, pg. 132
jErnest Holmes This Thing Called You, pg, 85