Oh, Creating One!
You reside within and among us all.
You reveal all Light, and revel in all Love.
You beckon us beyond Ego’s fear and violence.
You call us to our true home, where earth-loving citizens live from Heaven’s embrace.
Deliver us from pride and despair,
from tribalism and lofty rhetoric,
from anger and apathy.
May we be unrelenting in our work for true peace and true prosperity for all.
May we be bold in speaking truth about the barriers to these, wherever they are found.
May today’s results reveal our best selves, and illumine with clarity the spiritual and civic growth that is yet ours to do.
May we see in one another’s eyes the longings and hopes, the vulnerabilities and frailties that are our own.
May such knowing animate a New Creation wherever we live and serve.
For the Sake of Good News, I pray.
With vision of these already answered, I pray.
In union with the Living Christ, I pray.
With the deeds of my life, I pray.
— Rev. Jacki Belile, CEC is an American Baptist minister and spiritual life coach at Living Well Ministries in Chicago. She serves people of all religious backgrounds who desire to live from their best spirit (energy). Her special passion is building bridges of compassion and respect, which manifests in her forgiveness, self-care and LGBT-affirming programs. She wrote this prayer in stages on November 6, 2012.
What could this possibly mean?
It reminds me of the teachings in The Course in Miracles about forgiveness REALLY and ACTUALLY reversing the cause and effect scripts in our mind.
What could this possibly mean?
Sensitive stuff, and I don’t want to overstate it. If it’s a new concept to you, I really want to share the GIFT in the insight. So if it’s challenging language, let’s take it slowly.
Basically, in my very very ACIM layperson’s terms:
Forgiveness is what enables us to live in the PRESENT. As we proceed on the forgiving spiritual path, we grow in our ability to resist attributing our present well-being chiefly to the PAST choices we’ve made or others have made (a decade or a minute ago).
It’s in this way, that we mean that evidence of injury can recede. I do NOT mean that we are not changed and shaped by the nexus of choices and experiences that we and others make. Like Jacob limping away from a Divine battle or Jesus, after the resurrection, showing his scars… we may be very aware of the ways today that our thoughts and habits reflect past experiences. Indeed, we are embedded and interconnected with one another. That’s the beauty of being this amazing complex and wabi sabi world of which we are a part. Our unique present constitution is what helps us have experiences of being distinct and in process!
So, it’s not that we are not influenced but it IS about experiencing healing — a sense of release of the ego’s lies about cause and effect. “The evidence of injury that recedes” is simply that script about being the injured one, the victim, if that script clings mercilessly to blame and judgement about the causes and causers. It is not the scars that go away, but our fixation on them.
Attendees of the upcoming Forgive for Life Institute (Winter 2013) will go more deeply into the Course’s teachings about forgiveness. My current clients and students are developing more and more life-giving Energy Leadership skills. We uncover new joys every day as we work with each other on discovering true healing and true power. And, we are changing the “realities” of selfish scarcity, excuses, blame, and deferment which keep so many of us from our passion and our present.
Interested in more for your life? Check out upcoming events or coaching at Living Well Ministries. I serve people around the country who are ready to leave behind the beliefs and habits which keep them from living well in the present. Together, we discover the Living Well that nourishes us as we “love from the Center of who we are” (Romans 12:9a).
Forgiveness is not about a head trip, or just THINKING(forcing) our way to resolution.
HOWEVER, I do find that it matters very, very much how we define it, map it, open to it, and measure our progress. This kind of thinking helps us on our way to empowerment as we set intentions for progress. Far from merely intellectualizing the process, it instead enables us accept our agency and power in the choices we make. Oh, how the soul longs for this!
As a forgiveness coach, I have the privilege of supporting a wide variety of people in their transformation of the painful attachments to which they’ve long clung. How we define forgiveness, its nature and purpose makes all the difference on the journey. Are you using the best compass for the journey — the soul’s longing to express present healing — or are you using a navigation tool which keeps you imprisoned in the past? No matter where you were yesterday, you can begin shifts TODAY which will free you to forgive for LIFE.
Learn more at July 21 “Forgive for Life” workshop. Register today at http://www.eventbrite.com/
At its core, civility isn’t an issue of choosing our words more carefully. Civility is an issue of attitude. Ultimately we will discover that every human exchange bears the promise of blessing instead of cursing each other. The more we can admit that God is always at hand and loving each one of us as (equal) children, the more we’ll treat each other in ways guided by our common Father-Mother God.
— excerpt from The Christian Science Monitor’s devotional column on 3/5/12.
How might we be civil with those whose choices are causing pain? With those whose short-sightedness or prejudice would distort or diminish the welfare of others? With those who use the name of God to perpetuate hatred or insular complicity in social ills?
This Lent, I pray for daily openness to transformation. A transformation of heart and character, not just external matters and etiquette. This piece on civility points to the heart of the matter: an equanimity of spirit about one another in our challenging relationships is the only way we can bear the fruit of blessing. Genuine blessing that empowers social change, just relationships, and thriving kinship. Blessing is not cheap affirmation, but holding a vision of empowerment and generativity.
For me, striving to know and be a blessing means always striving to see the Higher Self in myself and others, even when beliefs and actions are expressing limited current capacity for loving actions. For my spiritual coaching clients, it often means creating some essential space to simultaneously nurture their own good and their practices of prayer for others. We often have so many more choices than we perceive. For all of us, it can sometimes be very very hard on the Ego, which really wants to name Good Guys and Bad Guys. But its a kingdom pursuit that is every bit as worthy as the priceless pearl of Matthew 13:45-6
Did I say it was hard?
I will pray for you and I ask you to pray for me!
Here’s a real golden nugget, I think, from Emanuel Swedenborg’s True Christianity:
We read that we are to love the Lord God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). To love our neighbor as ourselves means not despising our neighbors in comparison with ourselves. It means treating them justly and not judging them wrongfully. The law of goodwill pronounced and given by the Lord himself is this:
“Whatever you want people to do for you, do likewise for them. This is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31,32)
This is how people who love heaven love their neighbor. People who love the world, however, love their neighbor on a worldly basis for a worldly benefit. People who love themselves love their neighbor in a selfish way for a selfish benefit.
Wow! Think about the entrenched ugliness of our unresolved pain and violence in this world. Is it not much about comparing and competing, treating folks unjustly or allowing injustice, and judging wrongfully?
I am really savoring this collection of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writings, including the parts of it that are a bit strange metaphysically. I love to learn about innovative ideas and experiences others have had (or thought they had), and to ponder what it might reveal about God’s reality. One does not have to be hopelessly relativist to be committed to appreciating at face value the potential gift that others are bringing. To listen and to understand does not mean to give over all discriminating faculties! (Unfortunately, the sort of fundamentalism and evangelicalism that formed my early life would indeed have us fearfully separate ourselves from such encounters, rather than seek in them the practice of neighborly love and intellectual humility).
I especially love to read things outside the mainstream of acceptance (or, shall I say invisible histories/herstories and even “heresy”). It is a spiritual practice — studying the breadth and spirit of experience, testimony and communal ethics that have been born amid human grappling with the presence and expectations of God. And, striving to encounter these things with the heart, not just the endlessly dissecting intellectual impulse. Swedenborg called these “sense-oriented” and I associate them with negative Ego grasping which other traditions name as our snare.
My coaching clients and students see this loving neighbors and self thing is the heart of the matter. So, in fact did Jesus. Swedenborg has some truly innovative ways of picturing and teaching this. Tomorrow’s post will be especially interesting for those working on the spiritual projects of forgiveness and biblical self-care.
Maybe a Lenten practice that would be good Christian contribution to public discourse this election season:
To not despise our neighbor in comparison with ourselves.
To treat others justly.
To not judge wrongfully.
To do unto others as we’d like done unto us…
“The Law of Goodwill.”
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” — Matthew 7:24-27
This passage has held and nourished many returns – my returns to study — over the years. It’s so simple really. To hear and act upon the words of Jesus. Jesus (not church or government or culture). The words he’s just shared (the Sermon on the Mount, not later pronouncements of Tradition).
What is it to hear?
To hear and perceive the Good News in them.
To hear and feel Gospel-style judgment (not condemnation) in them.
To hear and know more of God because of them.
To hear the Truth in silence beneath our hapless and self-centered words.
To hear the pain of this world, as He did.
What is it to act on them?
All of these are to act on them, in the manner Jesus himself acted upon Word:
To submit to their wisdom in hope, obedience and simplicity.
To chew them with earnestness, as a sweet scroll, turning food into life and into waste as well.
To wrestle with them as Jacob, settling for nothing less than blessing.
To resist their use as weapons, as lifeless tools in the hands of prejudice or legalism.
To take upon — as a yoke — an inner meaning which is Life and Spirit.
To embody them as Word-made-flesh, unafraid of our place in the family of things.*
Jesus cried out with lament on another day, “If only you knew the ways that make for peace!” Today, He stills beckons us to the blessing of the universal and nonviolent compassionate spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. When we embrace such a life with our whole being, we must dissolve Ego’s opposition and the backlash of those who themselves are threatened by such grace. But it is truly the way to the life of resilience and witness that is pictured by the house on the rock. It is the life of freedom from judgments, vengeance and prejudice. It is the life that lasts.
Where do you see examples of the steadfast in your life, of the weathering of failure and finitude?
Where do you see the crushing impact of despair, discrimination, or disappointments?
What fresh word of life is for you this day?
*I am invoking Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese here. Check out Panhala for the full text and lots more great poems.
“You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” — Jim Rohn
This is a wonderfully life-giving and empowering reminder to me. I do not hear it as piety but as prophetically wise, not as quietism but responsibility-taking, not as escapism but as incredible rigor. My clients and students who are working on sustainable activism, biblical self-care, forgiveness or coming out as gay or lesbian Christians are thriving because they are learning what they REALLY have charge of — their “energy leadership.”
This approach – quite suitable for Lent — yokes self-examination with the tasks of transformation of circumstances. It makes the interior life the starting point.
I join others from time to time in the critique of Western individualism and the corrosive impact it has had when taken to the extreme. But I will not settle for a faith and a justice-calling that does not take seriously — reverentially — that resilience that can be cultivated only when we remember the limits of what we have charge of…
It is, I would go so far to say, GOOD NEWS.
What do you think?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Who could you be if you took this invite of Jesus at face value?
What could you let go of?
What long could you wait in a period of rest?
How might you distinguish the false burdens placed by the world, from the worthy yoke placed upon us by Christ?
Romans 2:1-8 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2You say,* ‘We know that God’s judgement on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.’ 3Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God? 4Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. 6For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.
This text follows a famously mis-used text which implies judgment on any and all same-sex loving expression. I encourage, this Lent, a fresh reading of Romans 1 and 2, chapters in which an apostle in progress (Paul) passionately reaches out to new Christ-followers in the “belly of the beast” (Rome), where new Gentile and Jewish friends found themselves called together in Christ’s new community. With a powerful and provocative set-up, Paul calls to mind his recipients’ prejudices and images of corruption, violence, and all kinds of attempts on the part of Rome’s lustful empire to be God or limit God or make God in their own image.
One chief way to try to be God is to JUDGE, it turns out. (And, he delivers this 1-2 punch to those who might go along with all his ramp-up about the perverse Romans.) But when any of our judging, hard hearts remain untouched by the free gift of God’s grace, then we “store up wrath” in and for ourselves…
The Christian gospel (Good News) is that God’s kindness leads to repentance (not the other way around), and that we can all be delivered from the manifold death-dealing passions of idolatry in which we objectify and judge others (or self) as if we were God. That is what it means to be self-seeking after the law of sin and death.
If Lent means, for you, preparing to head with Christ for Jerusalem… then let us look for the Truth of his gospel in his actual life and actual heart and actual walk. There we will find free grace, lavish kindness, and unconditional calling to Oneness with him. Lenten lives are lives that would turn away from all the traps and baggage — including Religion’s Judgments – that we would exchange for the real deal.
That is a God in whom Jesus announces: There is now NO condemnation…
Yes, we store up wrath in and for ourselves and in so doing sin and fall short of God’s glory.
There is now NO condemnation…
May this Lenten season be for you a season of rediscovery of God’s kindness.