Category Archives: good faith

What is The Divine?

Last year I was part of a group that drafted a new mission statement for our church. One of our biggest questions? What word to use to describe the “awesomeness.”

God? A turn-off to too many people. The Holy? People said to us, “What does that even mean?” Spirit? Conjures up images of ghosts. Source? Doesn’t quite cover it. Creator? Edges into the whole evolution/intelligent design controversy.

We settled on The Divine. This did not go unchallenged. Grammar purists argued, “Divine is an adjective.” Others thought it too vague. It’s not perfect, but it was as close as we could come to capturing the elusive, thin-place feeling of Perfect Moments.

And what is a Perfect Moment? 

It’s different for everyone, and never the same twice. If you try for it, it escapes your grasp. But you know it when it descends upon you unbidden. It doesn’t have to be in an Ashram or in deep meditation, although it can be. It happens in grocery stores, restaurants or (often) on a walk in the woods. Usually it is deceptively simple, so that when it’s over, people wonder, “Did that really happen?”

We celebrate New Year’s Eve with a group of friends. One New Year’s Eve, many years ago, we met as usual, relaxed together, and our children entertained each other in the play room. We gathered around the kitchen table. Through ceiling-high windows that lined one wall of the room, I watched inch-wide snow flakes drifting down and settling into fluffy banks. Christmas tree lights reflected in the glass. Children’s laughter wafted to us from a distance. The moment began to take on a special quality of timelessness, almost a buzzing. I felt part of the scene and apart from it. A witness. I looked at the snow, the lights, my friends, and I thought, “This is a Perfect Moment.”

I savoured it until the special quality dissipated with that noticeable shift back to reality and then moved on. I thought the moment was mine alone.

Later, one of my friends told me, “You know, I remember one New Year’s Eve, we were in the kitchen and the snow was falling, and the kids were playing and for a short time I was struck by how perfect the moment was.”

I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe that we had shared the Perfect Moment, the thin place, the awesomeness, together.

It might have come from God, Spirit, Creator or Source, and it felt Holy, but it was above all, Divine.

_______________

Read our mission statement here: http://www.trinityunitedottawa.ca/about-trinity/momentum-for-mission/

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Two sides of one

I prescheduled my post today. I am out of town watching my son ski in an alpine racing event. I thought it a good opportunity to share with you another Dennis Manning poem. This one appeals to my appreciation for science and story, the material and the divine.

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Two sides of One

© 2015 Dennis Manning

Sun and moon,
Midnight, noon.
When we’re with one,
The other’s soon.

Light and dark,
Divide apart,
Eternal end,
Eternal start.

Come and go,
Decay and grow.
Life and death
Forever flow.

Light and dark.
Moon and sun.
Life and death,
Two sides of One

triumph-and-disaster

Good or Bad? Rose is Rose Comic Strip

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Rose is Rose Comic Strip, October 12, 2002 on GoComics.com

“Why, then, ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.” —from Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Don Wimmer and Pat Brady, creators of the Rose is Rose comic strip, must have studied Shakespeare at some point in their lives. Their work on October 12, 2002 reflects their philosophical reflection on Hamlet’s statement.

Perspective certainly does play a role in our “thinking” about the goodness or badness of an event. My Ottawa Senators NHL team lost their game last night: Bad. For fans of the Carolina Hurricanes: Good.

Rachel Homan’s curling team lost by one point in an extra end at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling event last night. Rachel is from Ottawa: Bad. For the Manitoban fans of the Jennifer Jones winning team: Good.

Time also dabbles with our “thinking”. A lost job: Bad. A better job comes along as a result: Good. An ugly divorce: Bad. A happy, stable relationship later in life: Good.

But when our tails get stepped on, like the cat in the comic strip, it doesn’t feel good. And in the time immediately after the stomping when the tail still smarts, we are entitled to enjoy the pain. To Hamlet, Denmark was a prison. To me, every Ottawa Senators loss hurts and every Rachel Homan team win is a joy.

So be it.

Being “sticky”

Who are your sticky people? Who are the people who glue your life together when it might otherwise blow apart?

For many of us, our first “sticky” people are parents: mothers or fathers, or both. A father who hugs away hurts, a mother who coaches a team, or parents who hold together a brokenhearted teen after that first shattering break-up.

Sticky people also act in community organizations. Volunteers are hard to come by in this “I’m so crazy busy I can’t breathe” world, so a very few carry the load that many used to. They stick with it so that festivals run, mouths get fed, or refugees get settled into safe situations.

Sticky people don’t bail when times get hard; they work even harder. They take on extra duties when those with less adhesive peel away. Sticky people have fortitude in times of adversity and loyalty when disloyalty might be easier.

They don’t say, “It’s just too hard.” They say, “It’s hard, but good will come of it if I stick it out.”

Sticky people are happy. They blossom. They know that if they were to avoid suffering or difficult challenges, they would take away their growth opportunities. They are proud of themselves because of the hardships they overcome. They grow. They evolve.

They glow because they haven’t left anyone hanging. They haven’t been the ones to disappoint.

We find joy in unexpected places, and sometimes, paradoxically, we find a healthy dose of it awakening in our steps along the hard road. Sticky people know this well.

Habitat-for-Humanity

You’ll be remembered for your kindness

Photo by Raye Smith

Photo by Raye Smith

I went to a visitation at a funeral home last night.

The man was the grandfather of one of the players on my son’s baseball team. Always smiling, this man made his presence felt through his kind acts and his ceaseless joy. He prepped the baseball diamond before games and groomed it in between. He helped out at every fundraiser, and attended every practice. The people gathered at his visitation all agreed with me: We simply can’t imagine a baseball game or practice without him there. We feel his loss deeply.

Some time ago I attended a different funeral. For that event, many chairs sat empty.

That person blamed others for problems and grumbled through life, wondering why things weren’t going as planned. If someone needed a hand, they would not think to call that person. That person had not been involved in community activities: no coaching of sports teams, no Boy Scout or Girl Guide leadership, no flooding of community rinks or helping out the United Way. That person would not show up at your door with a casserole.

Before the funeral service for that person began, I chatted with a wise funeral professional, a man who had seen a lifetime of funerals. He looked at the empty chairs and shook his head. “It’s the kindness that makes the difference,” he said. “People think there will be large crowds for the rich or the powerful, but that’s not the case. It’s the kindness. People remember kindness.”

A thought to drive your day: You’ll be remembered for your kindness. 

 

Faith and fear, a la Joel Osteen

“Faith and fear have something in common. They both ask us to believe something will happen that we cannot see.” —Joel Osteen

Why is it so easy to accept fear-based dire predictions, but so difficult to believe in faith-based hope?

Why is there such societal pressure to go with fear instead of faith? Why are we so resistant to the idea of looking like a hopeful fool?

Joel Osteen has a point. Maybe the odds are 50/50 in any given situation? Maybe we should run with the faith option instead of succumbing to the grip of fear?

Why not?

Maybe we’ll end up saying “I had faith that would happen,” instead of “I was afraid that would happen.” 

Photo by Donald L. Smith © 2014

“Onward” by Donald Smith © 2014

 

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