Spirituality

Discernment (Wisdom)

The spiritual power for Day Three of Christmas is Discernment, also known as Wisdom.

I don’t believe that discernment only involves knowing when and how and why a decision needs to be made.  When we are able to discern between two things, there’s a huge difference between figuring something out and understanding from a spiritual perspective.

Discernment is the spiritual part of the knowing.  I pray for discernment because I want my still, inner voice to give me the intuitive sense of “do I?” or “should I?”  In order to connect with my intuitive self, I have to slow down.  In fact, the process works best when I pause completely and call forth God’s presence, affirming it’s holiness.  I also affirm that whatever the decision, I have the strength to allow guidance toward that decision.

DISCERNMENT

My old self–the still practicing ego–tries to tell me all the mamby-pamby, mumbo-jumbo is for sissies, those who can’t make a decision on their own.

“Come on, let’s go, we may miss this opportunity,” is what the ego says to me.  Those words are a familiar refrain since I did spend a good portion of my life running pell-mell into decisions that had the potential for great harm.

Today, I deny the ego’s power.  In fact, as we leave Fort Lauderdale today, I’ll do my best to leave my ego by the sea.

My power of discernment–represented by the disciple James, son of Zebedee, is rock-solid today because I am actively working with the powers of faith, strength and love (tomorrow’s Power).  God’s love and Jesus’ examples of love are the touchstones of my new way of being.

Are their examples in your life when you’re aware that your decisions are spiritually charged?  Can you tell the difference?  Is spiritual discernment a decided part of your daily life?

Strength

The word for the second day of Christmas is strength.  I love Unity’s scripture selection:  “God is the strength of my heart,” from Psalms 73:26.

The chosen affirmation also feels so appropriate for today’s work.  “I am centered in the power and presence of Christ within and I grow stronger each day.

STRENGTH
As I write from the 20th floor balcony across from Ft. Lauderdale Beach, I feel the strength of the sea.  From the point at which a wave begins far out in the ocean, strength develops with each gathering roll.  There may be a brief moment of respite before the wake prepares for the next and the next until finally in a last mighty push, it crashes against the shore.  Then, and only then, can it relax and allow the outbound current to pull it back to its beginning.
In life, many are raised with the “buck up, pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you want to make anything of yourself” attitude.  I was a Horatio Alger child.  Anything worth achieving required brains, brawn and a whole lot of guts.
And that’s the way I lived my life–work hard, play hard.
In this second half of my life, I’m blessed with an amazing realization.  While I’m killing myself being all I can be, gathering momentum to coil myself into one more rolling wave, I suddenly get it.
I’m trying to go it alone.  No wonder it’s so damned hard.  God’s strength is infinitely available for every circumstance.  Here’s the cool part–I gain strength when I let go of control.  God’s strength is mine and that is how I grow stronger everyday.  Growth is not the result of quadrupling my efforts to muscle through a present condition.
The disciple Peter represents faith and his brother Andrew is associated with strength.  Faith must be present in us before we can build resilient strength.
How is your strength level today?  God has your back, you know, even if you don’t feel strong.  Knowing that, I’m bringing God’s strength inside of me and believing that because his strength endures, so will mine.

Faith

If, as a child, someone had told me that Christmas extends to January 6 (the day of Epiphany), I would have thought more presents!  Kids aren’t supposed to think of Christmas as a spiritual experience; it is about presents with the original presents being given to the baby Jesus.

Likewise, children aren’t required to think of the 12 days of Christmas as anything more than a rhyming song mostly about birds (French hens, turtle doves, swans, geese and a partridge).

FAITH

In fact, I was well into adulthood when I learned there was another meaning for the 12 days of Christmas; it has only been in the last few years that I’ve come to understand the days do not lead up to December 25th, but follow it.

This year, as a final nod toward significant inner searching about the meaning of Christmas in my heart, I’ve decided to follow Unity’s “Awakening the Christ Spirit Within” Advent booklet and write each day about one of the 12 Powers, considered gifts from God.

December 26th, the First Day of Christmas, is aligned with the Power of Faith.

For me, faith is an unshakable belief that God is the source of all good and that everything in my life–from the most minute detail to the towering, emotionally charged “big deals”–falls under God’s area of responsibility.  The simple prayer of Thy will be done,  is one that helps me loosen my grip on anything and everything that I try to control in my life.  When I open my clenched fist, faith is set free.  It rises up around me and then rains back down drenching me in the aftermath of total surrender.

Warm and carefree winter days in southeast Florida strengthen my faith.  Shelling on the coastal beaches with seagulls dipping and diving and palm trees firmly rooted against gusting ocean winds, deepens my faith.  Gulls give way to air currents, palms bend from their tops, each in a natural form of surrender.  From my deepest self, I learn to emulate their movement. 

All God’s creatures, great and small, intelligent and intuitive, must eventually trust a life-affirming process. 

Faith is that process for me.
  

Let it Be Christmas!

“Seize every day as an adventure and your spirit will soar when you discover the wonderful surprises life has to offer.” This little ditty comes from a beautiful note card left in my hotel room in Columbus, OH.

As I sit in my writer’s chair this morning, feeling the presence of Christ deep in my marrow, I continue to ponder and meditate on this thing called Christmas.

I say “thing” because that word to me summarizes the commercialization and consumerism of Christmas. For many, Christmas is a business and quite a money-maker.

Unity has provided a spiritual tool for me—the Advent booklet. This is the year that I am really examining what Christmas means to me. I was really in no condition to undertake it last year, having just left everything familiar to me a few months prior, my home, family and friends and my most significant relationship.

This is the year. I’m not going to my childhood home, for the first time in my life I won’t be celebrating Christmas with my family of origin. And yet I will because of my realizations about Christmas.

Rev Ed Townley writes in his article, “A Metaphysical Interpretation of the Christmas Story,” “Metaphysically, what we celebrate each Christmas is . . . the birth of Christ awareness. What Jesus brought to us was a spark of new light, new possibility—light that shines through the darkness of human confusion and illuminates, the spiritual truth of who we are.”

I am growing in my belief that Christmas is a deeply personal experience. It is ceremonial in nature, I think, as it involves placing my soul—my truest of selves—on the altar of my inner being. From there, in the parts of me I’ve laid down, space is created for a re-birthing to occur. The Christ child’s birth symbolizes my new birth into a new way of existing.

The entire concept goes back to the quote from the hotel card—Am I living fully? Am I embracing my God-self? Do I feel the unity and connection to all the other God creatures I encounter today?

In this moment my heart whispers a prayer of thanks for this spiritual awakening, for the expanding understanding of the universal life purpose—to grow in love of self, each other and every hidden and revealed source of life.

Let it be Christmas.

(photo courtesy of freefoto.com)

Survival and Spiritual Contentment, Part 3



Courtesy of Salvatore Vuono



Mindy Audlin, professional speaker, author and radio personality, suggests that we make our own Santa list and write out in detail our heart’s desires. She writes, “Mail it to the North Pole with the expectation of a child and allowing the Spirit of Love to provide all the wisdom and resources we need to delight ourselves this year.”

Mindy’s words are a perfect accompaniment to my approach to Christmas this year. I am bringing it inside—into my soul. All the outer trappings can stay as they are and I’ll accept the crazy commercialism. I can even feel a sense of appreciation for the lights and pageantry, although I do pray that the harried ones will eventually find relief from the frenetic pace they endure during the holidays.

This week of Advent is focused on Joy. It feels good to really bring that concept inward, as it relates to the meaning of Christmas.  I’m reminded of the old church hymn refrain, “joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”

It is possible to feel joy and grief simultaneously and frankly, I’m relieved by that realization.  Shortly after Mom died in July, I remember thinking, “My God, we can’t celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas this year!”  Now I know that grieving is a process but joy is a state of being that can co-exist within the process.

When I think of joy and try to describe the feeling, the phrase “child-like wonder” always comes to mind.  Mindy’s point of allowing our adult selves to find delight in Christmas is the difference between misery and comfort for me this year.  Delight and gratitude are like the chicken and the egg.  Who cares which comes first so long as we get to eat? 

So it is with all the emotions of Christmas.  My letter to Santa asks for peace and joy for those who struggle with the holidays.  And I fully expect my wish will be granted.  What is your greatest wish this year?