FINDING OUR PLACE
This month, we are looking at the idea of the "Circle of Life." The circle, the cycle, that is this thing called life -- a continual series of beginnings and endings, of openings and closings, of hellos and good-byes, yes, and even of births and of deaths.
There is something very important to know about this circle -- it is not static. It is not continuously coming back upon itself in an endless loop. Rather it is ever expanding, ever transcending and ever growing.
The spiral is an ancient symbol found in many cultures in the world. Sammy Fontanez of the TainoAge project uncovered a large prehistoric circular mound in Ireland with a three-spiral-stone believed to have been carved around 2500-3000 BC.
He writes: "In Celtic symbolism, the spiral represents the evolution, motion, progress and continuous development of the human-being physically and spiritually.
The Spiral is a sacred symbol that represents the journey and change of life as it unfolds; taking a labyrinth-like passage that leads to Source. The spiral symbol can represent the consciousness of nature beginning from its center expanding outwardly. Spirals have been linked to nature, the seasons, and the path of life: birth, growth, death and reincarnation."a
Each Sunday this month, with the help of lessons from the story of The Lion King, we will explore this upward spiral of life.
One line in the song you just heard, which of course, is the theme song from The Lion King, directly inspired our specific focus for today. The line is: "When we find our place on the path unwinding."b This line inspired me for two reasons.
The first reason is pretty obvious - there is a need, a deep longing within each of us to find our perfect place in this world - to find our reason for being here, to reveal and discover our Divine Purpose.
The second reason is not so obvious to anyone but me as I look for a place to live. The house I rent has been sold so I have 90 days to find a new place to rent for $1500 or less, close to the church, two bedrooms, and a place that accepts dogs.
What a perfect metaphor this is for me for the struggle that many of us experience as we try to find our perfect place, our reason for being here, our Divine Purpose. My affirmation, my chant, my mantra, then, is: "I am capable of finding my perfect place in this world with ease and grace."
Let's say that together. "I am capable of finding my perfect place in this world with ease and grace."
And let me tell you, my friends, great POWER and great PEACE come when we find our place in the Circle of Life! So, we will spend a little time exploring that concept this morning.
THE LION KING
You are probably all familiar with the story of The Lion King. You either saw the movie or the musical. In the story, the young lion Simba loses his place. Because of some tragic events, he leaves his home and his family, and he forgets that he is the rightful king of Pride Rock.
He wanders for quite a long time having some interesting and even fun adventures, but not fulfilling his life's purpose. It takes Rafiki, a wise old baboon, to remind him, first, who he is, and, second, of his place.
Please consider me this morning, your wise, old (well not SO old) Rafiki helping to remind you first, of who you are, and, second, of your place!
As I just said, Simba, our hero, forgot who he was for some time. And it wasn't until he remembered who he was that he could take his proper place. So, who was he? The son of the king; the direct heir to the kingdom. I hope the spiritual metaphor of that is not lost on anyone!
So our first step to finding our path is to remember who we are! And here it is in a nutshell: YOU ARE THE FACE OF GOD!
For some reason, unknown to me (it will be a question, among many, that I will ask when I step over to the other side), when we come into this life, we get amnesia about this and the people around us often have amnesia about it as well.
Now, I think that is changing! I think children are coming into the world today more consciously connected to their Divinity. And because there are more and more people waking up to who they are, our children are less apt to be thrown off course! This is a beautiful example of the fact that the circle of life is ever evolving upward.
Eternal and progressive expansion is the law and there are no breaks in its continuity.
But for some of us Neanderthals who joined the planet earth 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years ago, we need to make that discovery and we need to be regularly reminded. Once again: YOU ARE THE FACE OF GOD!
Remembering who he was was the first thing Simba needed to do and that we need to do. Then, he needed to be reminded of his rightful place. Now for him, it was pretty easy. He was born to be king! He was born to rule over his pride.
If you weren't born into royalty, remembering your place might not be quite so easy. But here's a Spiritual Truth -- Everyone of you has a perfect place, which is special and unique to you.
We often let this whole idea of purpose be daunting to us. We think there needs to be some Divine Revelation that appears to us in a burning bush or in a vision or in some mystical way. We think that it is going to be delivered to us from the outside.
But when we think that, we have it backwards. I love the part that Neal Donald Walsh played in the movie The Secret. Remember he said we often think there is a blackboard in the sky and written on it is the statement: Neal Donald Walsh (a handsome fellow) came into this life to . . . and the answer is written there.c
But that's not how it works. Your purpose, your place on your path is WHAT YOU SAY IT IS! You get to decide! So say with me: "My purpose in life is what I say it is!"
There is a very powerful and extremely simple exercise in Jack Canfield's book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be that can help you clarify and articulate your place. This doesn't have to be hard.
It involves spending a little time in quite reflection asking yourself three questions and then combining the answers to them in a statement. I'd suggest buying the book to get the full benefit of it -- but I'm going to give you the three questions now!d
What are two of your strongest personal qualities? They could be enthusiasm, spirituality, creativity, logic, passion, humor, musical talent, compassion, intelligence - the list is endless. Sit and quietly reflect and identify yours and then invite the "top 2" to bubble to the surface, knowing there is no right or wrong here. Whatever 2 you pick, as long as they are qualities you possess, are perfect!
What are one or two ways you ENJOY expressing those qualities when interacting with others? ENJOY and INTERACTING WITH OTHERS are the key concepts here! Ideas are: supporting, inspiring, entertaining, motivating, teaching, encouraging, sharing, modeling, helping. Do the same process with these as you did with the first question.
What would this world look like if it were expressing perfectly right now? How are people interacting with one another? What is being accomplished? What does it feel like? Write your answer in a statement in the present tense, describing the ultimate condition, the perfect world as you see it and feel it. Remember, a perfect world is a joyous place to be!
Here are some ideas:
Everyone is freely expressing their own talents.
Everyone is working in harmony.
Expressing unconditional love is the norm.
People of the world are sharing their creativity and innovation.
All people live in freedom and dignity with an abundance of all good!
Finally, combine the answers to the three prior questions into a single statement.
Using this method, Simba's statement could have been:
"Through leadership and strength, I protect and nurture the inhabitants of Pride Rock to live in harmony with one another!"
Statements for us could be:
"I am here to use my creativity and enthusiasm to support and inspire others to express their talents in a harmonious and loving way."
"I use my humor and passion to motive and encourage others to freely share their creative and innovative ideas for the highest good of all."
"On my perfect path, I combine my musical talents with my spirituality to uplift and support others in finding their path of freedom and abundance."
And there you have a statement of your place on the path! This is how you are going to express who and what you are in God and how God is going to express who and what He/She/It is in and through you.
So, do not be discouraged, my friends. You have all the time you need to find your perfect place. But why not start now, right here, today.
When you go home this afternoon, do this exercise I just taught you, but for now, let us anchor our place in the circle of life with a meditation.
Put your feet firmly on the floor and feel your connection to the earth. Feel that you are solid on the earth, solid as a rock. Close your eyes and visualize yourself as a mountain sitting firmly on the earth. We are made from the same atoms, from the same elements, as the earth. We belong here, you belong here - each one of you. Consider that your feet planted on the floor this moment are your feet planted on your perfect place on the path of life. (pause)
As you sit up straight, imagine the energy of the heavens moving into and through the top of your head, down through your body and out through the bottoms of your feet. Imagine the energy of the earth coming up through the bottoms of your feet, traveling up your spine and out the top of your head. You are part of the flow of energy of the universe. "Uni" means "one," and "verse" means "song." You are part of the one song, the one vibration of life throughout the universe. (pause)
Now begin to notice your breathing. Notice that your chest and abdomen are rising and falling. Visualize the air coming into your lungs, being carried to the heart and flowing through the bloodstream to every one of the billions of cells that make up your body - feeding, nurturing, loving each cell like a caring mother loves her child. Now visualize the breath going out, carrying away the impurities. (pause)
We know that the trees and green plants breathe in what we breathe out, in turn, cleansing and exhaling it so that we may continue to breathe in the breath of life. Without the trees and plants, we would soon use up the supply of oxygen, and we would not be able to live. We are in an intimate circle of life with all of nature. The trees and flowers are our brothers and sisters. They are family, and they care for us. (pause)
Likewise, the rain that nurtures the plants and flowers is also our family. Our physical bodies are over 90 percent water. The rain literally flows through our bloodstream. We are the rain, and the rain is us. We are inseparable. (pause)
And likewise with the sun. It is through the energy of the sun that the green plants are able to create the food that gives us life. We take this energy into our bodies when we eat. The energy of the sun flows within us.
So the rain and the sun, too, are our brothers and sisters. And even the great sun itself could not hold its head up without the other millions of stars, without the entire web of the universe that holds it in balance. So we are connected to and supported by the most distant of stars. (pause)
We come together in this moment, recognizing our connection in this circle of life. And in this moment of deep connection, know that your perfect place in the circle reveals itself easily and gently. It is your perfect place on the path unwinding, knowing that as you put your feet on the path, you are fully accepted and loved, exactly as you are, by the universe, by the Creator, by God.
And, in turn, accept and love yourself and all others, just as you are right now, knowing that your life continues to unfold and be renewed like flowers in the spring opening to the light of the sun.
Allow yourself to feel the POWER and the PEACE that rise up within you as you open to the space inside that is connected to all life, the space inside you that is already divinely on purpose. Realize that right now you are receiving the very breathe of life from the entire Universe and that you are returning that very same breathe of life to all you come in contact with.
Feel this POWER and PEACE rising up in you and overflowing into this room in this moment - right here, right now, today. Can you feel it? Can you feel this PEACE today? Stay with it, be with it. It is your Divine Birthright. It is your perfect place.e
aSammy Fontanez of TainoAge project
bThe Lion King song Circle of Life
cNeal Donald Walsh in the movie The Secret
dJack Canfield The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 23)
e(Edited version of a meditation written by George Jacobs, a KidsPeace Spirituality Teacher)