Browsing the archives for the Oneness tag
This piece was first published on Fox.com February 10, 2013
A holy surprise will grab your attention. Holy surprises are the events and people which interrupt the expected plans of your day. When you live with awareness of them your own humanity is enriched and expanded. Will you choose to allow them to punctuate your day with their invitation to playful delight about life?
For many people the work week, a job, family dynamics, a marriage or their own self-image is something to be endured. They have become so practiced at “survival” that the endurance seems normal when in fact it is life and spirit sapping. It serves no one for this to be your “reality.”
Instead, these four tips for choosing to be present to holy surprises invite you to a more enlivened experience of life.
1. Live beyond the “If only” half-script of your life.
I frequently hear people suggest that “If Only” a particular circumstance were different then they would be ready to embrace the yearnings of their lives. This only cedes your life to fear. It results in you becoming a bystander to your own being and purpose.
Holy surprises are the events and people which interrupt the expected plans of your day. When you live with awareness of them your own humanity is enriched and expanded.
It is on the edge of my fears that I am open to even small steps that become a pathway to transformed living. I once allowed my fear of failure to keep me from writing. I thought that if it was not excellent enough it would disappoint those around me and the institution I served. Too many of us allow others to keep us from our script.
A half-script is a gatekeeper to life. When we view events or people that rattle our complacency or awaken our fear of ourselves as a holy surprise we discover that they are an invitation to make choices to live into our own script. Our choice to respond to the surprise invites others to do the same and experience a life of richer engagement and delight.
2. Cultivate imagination each day
My maternal grandmother was born in Nazareth in the Holy Land. When I was young she would tell me Bible stories with graphic descriptions of the landscape and characters. They were tremendous!
Decades later I realized that her Bible stories often bore little resemblance to the book she was referencing. Her imagination engaged me and the kernels of wisdom and truth of the stories remade in her imagination seemed radiant.
Somewhere between the age of 6 and 8 many children are told to stop being “so silly” in exercising their imagination. In the creation stories of many religious traditions we learn that humanity is made in the image a Creator. But what if you think of yourself as being made, not in the image of, but the imagination of the ever-creating, ever-expanding Universe?
The closest word to “human” in Hebrew or the Latin homo is Adam which derives from the Hebrew root word for “imagination.” To be human is to participate in limitless imagination! Cultivating imagination allows us to experience the holy surprises that interrupt our days with new eyes. Instead of disbelief, fear or resistance, we greet them as possibilities engaging our imaginative self.
3. Expect life to engage you with unexpected people.
Our own story is not a personal treasure for only ourselves and those within the circle of comfortable friends. When we can hold the diverse elements of our story together – including wonder, shame, regret and joy – there is a seamlessness about who we are that reveals wisdom and truth in the arc of our story. The result is a new and heightened compassion for yourself and others.
When you share your story with others you experience curiosity about their story. It becomes a common, sacred meeting ground with unexpected people who are not in the usual orbit of your life. Real differences may still exist with unexpected people on this expanded field of life but it is marked by anxiety making room for delight.
The professional and business groups I work with yearn to know how a story can be used to engage more authentically with colleagues and clients. Whether it is in your professional or personal life, the holy surprise of engaging with unexpected others through story allows suspicion to give way to insights previously unimagined. Oneness with humanity is no longer a theory but a delight.
4. Choose to bring new life to others and yourself.
When you engage in acts of generosity or self-giving your happiness index increases. Instead of being overwhelmed by seemingly inextricable problems in the world or your community be open to a holy surprise inviting you to respond with a simple action.
Walking on a Florida beach I was surprised by a bevy of volunteers marking off sites on the beach with stakes and tape. They were protecting the loggerhead turtles’ nesting ground in the sand. One volunteer told me he was inspired to do this work after learning that only one of every one thousand eggs laid results in a surviving turtle. I marveled at his simple yet joyous response in becoming a midwife to the turtles.
The surprise is often presented by an opportunity. A grandson noticed his 84-year-old grandmother’s delight in surfing the Internet and using Facebook to keep up on her large family. He knew that her old computer could not be used for watching the videos posted of her great grandchildren. He decided to buy her an iPad. The grandmother relishes the new tool she has for connection and learning.
Will you allow these four tools for embracing holy surprises to grab your attention each day? Your own well-being will be expanded by the playful delight you discover.
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This blog was first published on Huffington Post, October 24, 2012
Is Oneness among the human family a sweet mushy sentiment? Or is it a movement that can reshape how we think of ourselves and the planet? The observance of Global Oneness Day on October 24 is an invitation to align our intentions in creating Oneness. When our imagination and mindfulness are engaged, dramatic shifts in human consciousness are possible.
Oneness is not simply an idea; it is a choice about how to be human, engage with life and align our intentions and actions. It is an intentional, mindful way of being that joins us with others in creating a more hopeful, compassionate and peaceful world.
For the last six months I’ve travelled the country on a speaking tour and I’m struck by the frequent questions around being more intentional about our inter-connectedness. It’s asked with a profound hunger for something beyond the rhetoric of political divisiveness and the arrogance of religions which teach an exclusivist theology.
If, as I believe, we are intended for Oneness then why is it not realized or more evident? In the questions of those I talk to on the road there is a tension between their head and heart space. In their heart they have permitted the seeds of division and fear sown by religious and political leaders to build a nest. In their intellectual space they know that modern science provides empirical data that supports ancient mystic traditions about the inter-relatedness of all forms of human life.
The tension is whether to allow what we know to be true about our inter-connectedness to be trumped by a more cramped and dislocated way of being.
Instead of being enclosed by jadedness, Oneness creates awe and wonder about the world. When I am awake to appreciating that protecting the environment is indispensable to my well-being and that of others my awe at the wonder of this intricate ecosystem of life expands how I see my place in the world.
Instead of being fearful of difference, Oneness allows me to be grounded in the truth that each person seeks happiness in their life. This shared yearning allows me to see beyond those who foment division by living a life of intentionally seeking a meeting ground on which happiness for all is sought by the acts we take and the words we use.
Instead of succumbing to the hate mongers, Oneness is a choice to be grounded in compassion and love. With each choice I make to choose acts of love and compassion I am reminded that we are each hard-wired for such a life. I want to work and allow for the magnificence of others; my own magnificence depends on it.
Instead of a cramped unimaginative view of others, Oneness invites me to remember that I am made in the imagination of the Universe which is ever-expanding, ever-creating. I become awake to the truth that instead of stasis, our well-being and aliveness is intricately connected to honoring the imagination discovered in each other and creation.
Instead of rigidly clutching at one path of spiritual truth, Oneness allows the tradition I am grounded in to be informed, enlivened, challenged and given new expansive life when I am open to the truth revealed in the spiritual tradition of others. The sacred existed long before any one religion and spirituality then ceases to be a battleground for exclusion giving way to a feast of wisdom and truth for all.
Oneness already exists in the inter-connectedness of creation and the Universe. Global Oneness Day is a wake-up call to the human family to enter and celebrate it. It is an invitation to choose to be part of a shifting consciousness of our need for one another. How will you respond?
Post your comments, reactions and ideas about Oneness below
This blog appeared on Huffington Post January 27, 2012
Does God vomit at the thought of gay and lesbian people? That’s the graphic image that O’Neal Dozier, pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach Florida, uses. It’s radically different from the one that many of us know of as a God of inclusion and love. Not vomiting but smiling on us – all of us!
What makes Dozier’s view so prominent is that he is the Honorary Chair of Rick Santorum’s Florida campaign. Although Dozier believes that homosexuality is the “paramount of sins” he is an equal opportunity exclusionist. Mother Jones reveals that his Islamaphobia and local crusade against Muslims are fueled by his belief that Muslims have an agenda for taking over America. Dozier, who claims to know the mind of God on election results, has used his position on the Florida judicial nominating committee to seek “God-fearing” judges. The test for him is whether those nominees support anti-sodomy laws.
Dozier believes America should be taken over by those who share his exclusionist views and create a fundamentalist theocracy. The constitution in his view was created only for those who are a “moral and religious people.” God-fearing in his view translates into a projectile God who throws up on those who do not share his religious vision. Thankfully there are other more spacious religious and spiritual paths.
Like millions of other LGBT people I feared God as a young person because of the religious messages I received that God had disdainful disgust for us. Like millions of other young LGBT people I considered suicide. That is one of the reasons that Dozier’s imagery and words are destructive not life-giving.
If the arc of spirituality bends towards inclusion Dozier’s views are not part of that moral trajectory. Pew Research polls reveal approximately 65% of Catholics and Protestants have positive views of gays, while only 29% of Evangelicals do. Among Post-Moderns 91% have favorable views of LGBT people while 80% of them support same-sex marriage.
The moral arc towards inclusion has a foundation of spiritual wisdom from many traditions. Christian wisdom settles largely on a message of generous expansive love matched by acts of mercy, kindness and justice. The notion of repairing the world is a central underpinning in most branches of Judaism. While Buddhist philosophy is rooted in seeking the happiness or well-being of all Buddhist practice points to the inter-connectedness of all sentient beings.
Religious leaders can be found in most traditions that, like Dozier, use their position and authority to tear apart, diminish and demean others at any cost. The climate they create is quite different than that of those who beg to differ but who seek a world in which none are harmed or excluded. The bullies who cloak themselves with the mantle of the Divine are no different than schoolyard bullies who are stopped only when their behavior is challenged. That choice is in our hands.
We participate in the movement of the moral arc of inclusion when we actively engage in creating a world which acknowledges the goodness and compassion inherent in every person. A world in which imagery of a puking God is replaced with a spiritual path of generous inclusion in which there are no outcasts. That is a life-giving journey acknowledging and celebrating difference.
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