Recovering Addicts on Faith and Sobriety, A Guest Post by Amanda Bartow

man's head highlighted by light, black background

Image courtesy of pixabay

By Amanda Bartow

Many people are left feeling hopeless and devoid of happiness when they’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, but those who go through the recovery process often regain that missing piece of their life. Many even gain a closer relationship with God.

Faith can help a recovering addict stick with their sobriety, but likewise, sobriety can help someone find God and keep Him close at all times.

Eric, who abused drugs (including heroin) for two years, received significant help from A Forever Recovery’s faith-based track.

“I was just sucked in — I just loved it and everything about it,” he said. “The people that run it are awesome. We just have a good time — we sing, we get into the Word. I’m definitely going to continue that… I’m going to enroll in celebratory recovery classes and go to church. We all really come together and support each other. It’s just a great group of people here. You’ve got to do this for the right reasons and put the work in. I’m not going to say it’s easy, because it’s tough work. But what’s six to seven weeks compared to the rest of your life? Every time you load that needle up or do whatever you do, it’s like playing Russian Roulette. It’s the truth.”

Alex was using OxyContin, Opana and painkillers before going to treatment, where he too received help from God.

“Without my faith, I don’t believe I would have made it this far,” he said. “It instilled the values that I hold dear in my heart, and it really just helped me get through tough times. We did baptisms. I didn’t plan on getting baptized the day I did at all, but something spoke to me and told me, ‘Go ahead. Go through with it. Go into the water.’ And it was a really refreshing experience. It was like an old piece of me died and a new heart was beginning. I knew that my addiction and drugs were a problem, but I knew the main problem was with myself and how I dealt with hardships and disappointments. It blew me out of the water learning what I could do with myself.

“They helped me handle those negative emotions and gave me coping skills in so many different ways,” he continued. “They didn’t say, ‘Here’s the way we’re going to do it. Here’s the way you’re always going to do it.’ It’s not like that.

“Definitely get the help you need. I can’t speak enough on how valuable it is that you get help, and you ask for help. You can’t do it alone. I could not have done this alone. I strictly urge you to follow through with your instinct to get help.”

Wesley, another recovering addict, thanks God for the people who are “on the front lines of withdrawal” who “paved the way” and gave him the opportunity to give himself a chance at life.

“My favorite part, although it was hard for me, was to take an opportunity to give my growth some consideration,” he said. “I’ve gained some tools, some insight, some awareness to be able to not misplace hostility on people who have nothing to do with what is going on inside my head. I’m not scared because I’ve been prepared for the inevitable, and that is to take back my life. … Now I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m ready to be a productive member of society and take back a life that I so irresponsibly threw away.”

Addiction recovery facilities like A Forever Recovery and others are making a huge impact on people’s lives. Clearly, God and the faith He gives to people deserves a great deal of the credit as well.

Amanda Bartow believes there is only one greater feeling than being recognized for a job well done — the fulfillment that comes from honoring someone’s achievements! This is what inspired her to join the Recognition Works team. (Recognition Works is an organization that recognizes outstanding people.)

The Laws of Spirit, a Guest Post from Dan Millman

The Laws of SpiritBy Dan Millman

From The Laws of Spirit:

The Law of Balance – Finding the Middle Way

If gravity is the glue that holds the universe together, balance is the key that unlocks its secrets. Balance applies to our body, mind and emotions, to all levels of our being. It reminds us that anything we do, we can overdo or under do. If the pendulum of our lives or habits swings too far to one side, it will inevitably swing to the other. You apply the Law of Balance by noticing your imbalances. The Law of Balance assures us that those who give freely, in the spirit of love and generosity, receive in abundance.

The Law of Choices – Reclaiming Our Power

We are both burdened and blessed by the great responsibility of free will – the power of choice. Our future destiny is determined, in large part, by the choices we make now. We cannot always control our circumstances, but we can and do choose our responses to whatever arises. Reclaiming the power of choice, we find the courage to live fully in the world. You can make choices through your heart and intuitive wisdom, or through fears, reactions and habits.

The Law of Process – Taking Life Step-by-Step

Process transforms any journey into a series of small steps, taken one by one, to reach any goal. Process transcends time, teaches patience, rests on a solid foundation of careful preparation, and embodies trust in our unfolding potential. The road to happiness is always full of changes along the way of life. Reach one goal, and you only create another, the journey never ends. When discipline and patience join forces, they become a persistence to carry intentions to completion.

The Law of Presence – Living in the Moment

Time is a paradox, stretching between a “past and future” that have no reality except in our own minds. The idea of time is a convention of thought and language, a social agreement. Here is the deeper truth, “We have only this Moment.” You can think and visualize the past and future, but you only can live in the present moment.

The Law of Compassion – Awakening Our Humanity

The Universe does not judge us, it only provides consequences, lessons and opportunities to balance and learn through the Law of Cause and Effect. Compassion is the recognition that we are each doing the best we can within the limits of our current beliefs and capacities. The more loving-kindness and forgiveness you give to yourself, the more you can give to others.

The Law of Faith – Trusting in Spirit

Faith is our direct link to Universal Wisdom, reminding us that we know more than we have heard or read or studied, that we have only to look, listen, and trust the love and wisdom of the Universal Spirit working through us all. Faith does not require a belief in a religion; it’s about trusting the love and intelligence, and Spirit working through you and all creation. As you live in the Light of this Law, it will transform your perception and experience. You will find lessons and opportunities in every challenge.

The Law of Expectation – Expanding Our Reality

Energy follows thought. We move toward, but beyond, what we can imagine. What we assume, expect, or believe creates and colors our experience. By expanding our deepest beliefs about what is possible, we change our experience of life. Any expectation will attract the evidence of your assumption. Replace self-defeating doubts with new beliefs based on clear intention and conscious awareness. Focus on positive outcomes and on our powerful human potential. What we focus on expands and gives energy.

The Law of Integrity – Living Our Truth

Integrity means living and acting in alignment with spiritual law and with our highest vision, despite impulses to the contrary. From the heart of integrity, we recognize, accept and express our authentic interior reality, inspiring others not with words, but by our example. Give conscious awareness to your heart’s highest wisdom, our internal reality, rather than indulge in random impulses or desires. Integrity means being integrated, knowing and being ourselves, so that our actions are consistent with our highest intentions. It is acknowledging our weaknesses and drawing on our inner strengths.

The Law of Action – Moving Into Life

No matter what we feel or know, no matter what out potential gifts or talents, only action brings them to life. Many of us understand concepts such as commitment, courage and love, but we truly know only when we can act on them. Doing leads to understanding, and action turns knowledge to wisdom. The Law of Action teaches us to overcome both inertia and impatience by acting out of courage, clear intention, and commitment. Every law contains the seeds of its opposite; there is a time of action and the action of inaction.

The Law of Cycles – Dancing to Nature’s Song

The world of nature moves in rhythms, patterns and cycles, the passing of the seasons, the movement of the stars, the ebb and flow if the tides. The seasons do not push one another, neither do clouds race the wind across the sky. All things happen in their own time, rising and falling and rising like ocean waves, in the circles of time. The natural world dances to the music of change. Like seeds and cycles, so go our lives. You have to end one cycle in order to begin another. Nature teaches everything works together at the right time, without resistance.

The Law of Surrender – Embracing a Higher Will

Surrender means accepting this moment, this body, and this life with open arms. Surrender involves getting out of our own way and living in accord with a higher will, expressed as the wisdom of the heart. Far more than passive acceptance, surrender uses every challenge as a means of spiritual growth and expanded awareness. Learn to surrender by shifting your perspective, shifting your energy and attention from the desire of a smaller will to the wisdom of a Higher Will. Be like water, flowing and flexible, to blend with life’s forces, rather than struggling against them. The more you let go of attachments, the more you expand into greater freedom and peace.

The Law of Unity, Remembering Our Connection

We appear on Earth as separate beings with diverse destinies. As each separate raindrop is a part of the sea, so are we each a part of the ocean of Awareness, the Body of God. Find love and inner peace deep within the highest truth that we are all one Family. Leave behind the baggage of fear, envy and resentment. Fly aloft on wings of understanding, to enter the boundless Land of Compassion and Love.

The law of unity calls forth the Great Realization that we are One Being, One Consciousness, manifesting in different bodies, like leaves are part of the tree. Our world is on the cusp of a shift from competitive self-interest to open hearted cooperation in the interest of the Whole Body of Humanity. As Global Consciousness awakens, we find ourselves in the midst of a transition, and it will not be without difficulties. Unity is the completion of all the Laws of Spirit.

These Laws are wisdom deep within us, the alchemist’s keys to Love, Freedom, Joy and Fulfillment. Live the Universal Laws of Spirit and they will transform your life, a path into the Light, Unity with the Creator and all creation.

A soothing video: Song of the Sage, The Laws of Spirit

Faith or Fear?

By M.N. Hopkins

This inspirational poem was written by Mike Hopkins in 1998, before a lecture. He included it in a series of inspirational writings that were published in 2002. He put it into poetic form and republished it recently on his blog, http://mnhopkins.blogspot.se.

 

fear-or-faithFaith renews

Faith restores 

Faith opens the doorway to one’s heart 

And one’s freedom from fear 

For where there is faith 

There is love, 

And where there is love

Fear cannot exist. 

So

Go in faith 

And you open a gateway 

To a new kind of living. 

One 

That many have dreamed about 

For countless centuries

From “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” Commentary by Jean-Yves Leloup

I’m reading THE GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE, translation from the Coptic*, and commentary, by Jean-Yves Leloup. Mary Magdalene’s testament to the words of Christ was one the men of the early Catholic Church excluded from the Bible. (She was a woman.) Some of the dried parchment papers of her text are missing; thus, her witness account is incomplete and Leloup’s book is not long. It is powerful, however. The author’s insightful commentary, as you will see below, tends to ‘bring one up short.’ Books that help us understand both how far we are from oneness with God/Love, yet how much potential we have to become so, should be in everyone’s library.

Of note, it was a pope long ago who labeled Mary Magdalene a prostitute; this portrayal of her is written nowhere in the Bible, and the Catholic Church officially retracted this inaccuracy years ago. Leloup considers it possible that  the meaning of Mary Magdalene being ‘healed of seven demons,’ is an account of when Jesus Christ brought Mary Magdalene’s seven chakras** into alignment, as they were created to be, when a human becomes one with the Divine. Regardless, the two were obviously close, as she is the first person he speaks to after His resurrection.

Anyway, as the book has ‘brought me up short’ in every section, I thought I’d quote this paragraph and perhaps share the experience:

“Happy are those who are able to remain sensitive to the misery and suffering of others. The future belongs to the pure and gentle, not to the rigid purists of all our fundamentalism. If the latter have the purity of angels, they also have the pride of demons, like all grand and petty inquisitors who shed blood in the name of purity, religious faith, traditional values, or race. The greatest crimes against humanity are always committed in the name of goodness and the need to preserve integrity and purity. We have yet to fully appreciate the danger and delusion of purity without mercy.”
~Jean-Yves Leloup

Succinctly and powerfully said, don’t you think?

*English translation by Joseph Rowe
**Circular, spinning points of spiritual energy in our bodies, arranged from the top of our heads to the base of our spines

Have Faith, A Guest Post by M.N. Hopkins

A Poem by M.N. Hopkins
http://mnhopkins.blogspot.se/

An Angel fell

An Angel fell into a dark abyss

A Human stood at the edge of Darkness and Light

with clear, seeing eyes and said, “Have faith.”

The Angel fell deeper and deeper into the darkness

Again, the Human said,

“Have faith.”

The Angel continued to fall deeper and deeper

closer to the imaginary point of no return

Once again said the Human,

“Have faith.”

The Angel paused and looked up toward the Human and said,

“So, it will be.”

The Angel began his flight upward and

outward of this temporary darkness

back to His rightful Home within the Realm of Light.

M.N. Hopkins

Note: I hope that you get it or at best, enjoy the feeling it can invoke.

To Find Our Way Home, a Guest Post from 11:11 Progress Group

Michigan, US of A, April 22, 2012.
Teacher Ophelius.
Subject: “The Vital Ingredients.”

Received by Chris.

Teacher Ophelius: The message for today is about the importance of developing a spiritual map for the afterlife, and the main ingredients needed to assure your transition for the continuance of identity and spiritual continuity. There are far too many on Urantia [Earth] that are passing through without a map — believing in nothing and finding bewilderment, fear, and darkness when the transitions come. This is not what Christ Michael wants for you. He wants you to know the way, know the truth, and have life everlasting, and so we are here, your teachers, to enlighten you, that you may know, and those in your circles may know through you, the way home.

1. The first ingredient is to recognize the Source, the Creator Father, The Almighty Upholder, the Creator of all life in the grand universe and beyond, and understand the sovereignty of God as universal, all wise, everywhere present, all powerful, and eternal.

2. The second ingredient is to understand the paradox of God:

a. God is furthest from you: Man being created in an imperfect state, most unlike God, but created to learn, grow, and gain experiential wisdom, to become godlike through the ascension process — to learn how to love.

b. God is closest to you: Through the agency of the Indwelling Spirit, a fragment of divinity that lives and works in your mind, teaching, leading, coordinating, and piloting you through life, giving as much love and assistance as your free will may allow to ‘spiritize’ your mind and your thinking for the development of your soul — the embodiment and essence of who you really are — the survivable vessel for your continuing life on the mansion worlds (the hereafter).

3. The third ingredient is to have faith and believe you are a child of this Creator Father. Having accepted this gift as sons and daughters, available to all, without condition, you are granted the right of eternal life if you so choose to take the grand adventure to become godlike and move ever inward, from life station to life station, learning, growing, and serving in the creation and becoming co-creators with God.

4. The fourth ingredient is to know where home is. Be confident and have the faith that all has been prepared for you — that your homecoming is anticipated and the way made clear for you to enter into your inheritance. Believe that when you breathe your last breath in this life, that your Indwelling Spirit (the keeper of your mind transcripts and experiences), and your Guardian Angel ( the keeper of your soul trust) will come together on the third day and awaken you in your new home on the mansion worlds — the training worlds of human ascension and progression.

These basic ingredients are needed to assure a smooth transition and a joyous reunion on the mansion worlds. Be therefore confident in your survival and enjoy your life on the worlds of time and space knowing this is only the beginning of an unending astonishing career of life and service in the creation.

Peace to you,
The Circle of Seven.

© The 11:11 Progress Group.
“The giving of self, the illumination of truth, and the relief of suffering are the noblest paths to higher consciousness.” — Teacher Ophelius, 2009.

http://1111prompt.blogspot.com

The Ups and Downs of Life

Some people thrive on change but most of us, especially the fixed astrological signs, Leo, Aquarius, Scorpio and Taurus, the last being my sun sign, aren’t too sure about change. All humans are born, we live and we die. Our children grow up and move on with their lives. We can lose our jobs with only an hour’s notice. Friends come and go and sometimes we become separated from family members. There are pretty tough losses due to disease, weather disasters and war. There’s not much we can do about life changing, but we don’t have to like it, right?:)

Life can be scary and depressing unless we learn how to live with the universal laws that say, “When one door closes, another opens,” and, “There is a reason for everything–if you are patient, you will understand,” and, “Be thankful for what you do have, because the emotions of fear, anger and envy only make things worse. In order to solve the problem of ‘lack,’ we must first be grateful for what we do have.”

The most important universal law of all is that the Spirit of our Creator lives within us as our souls and is, therefore, always with us. If we are willing to admit we’re seeing our situations through the eyes of upset and that we don’t know everything, we can put ourselves in a better frame of mind. From there we can pray to the God we love, or ask our guardian angels to be with us, to guide us. We can find and attend a church we enjoy, spend quiet time in nature, or seek counseling. We can learn about education opportunities. First, though, we must believe that life offers good things for us.

This type of change is growth and for most of us, it doesn’t come in a flash of insight, though I knew one man whose life changed that way. We live, we make our poor choices and learn that, “Oops! That didn’t turn out very well. What can I do differently?” By accepting the laws that we create how we live and what happens to us through our thoughts and actions, and knowing we can change how we live if we choose to do so, and that as we forgive ourselves and others the past is left in the past, we are renewed. We march forward, expecting all the good that life offers, which is simply waiting for us to open that door and walk through it.

Things Could Be Far Worse

Though times are hard right now with the worldwide financial upheaval, the high number of unemployed and homeless people, the clashes with dictators, and weather that has brought people around the world to their knees, we need to remember that things could be far worse in every way. Nature is working to cleanse and rebalance Mother Earth (into another dimension, some say) and, hands down, she’s the boss. No matter our wealth or status or power, we’re equally helpless when faced with the true power of Mother Nature/Mother Earth.

We quite likely are living in a time of correction and new direction. The ways of greedy old men (and their offspring) who believe they are in charge of the planet are dying off so that life on Earth will transform into a way of living in which every soul is honored, every person is respected in such a way that none are hungry, all have clean water and healthy shelters, and the potential to find their callings in communities that reveal the beauty within individuals and the whole.

Let us not lose hope or our faith. We are not bodies with souls, we are souls with bodies. We are connected to the Source of Love by the God-sparks within us and we need not fear. If we are swept away in a flood or lost in an earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, volcanic eruption, or any disaster, we can make our last prayer, “Into thy hands, Father (Mother/God/Love/Great Mystery, whichever one fits with you), I give my life and my spirit.” If we manage to stay on Earth, we can say this prayer, “How may I be a part of the loving changes? How do I fulfill my soul-purpose?”

We live in a time of truth-showing. Those who can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel will lead us into that light where the true meaning and purpose of life is revealed. We are far more than these bodies. I’d say that’s a double Wow! Or Holy-Moly! Or, as we said when I was a young person, “Right on, man!”

We Are All Needed

When I attended the Catholic Church, one of the things that tugged at my heart was the sense that we humans are responsible for sharing Love and the healing work done on Earth–that we, as our highest selves, are God’s heart to love, God’s eyes to see need, God’s feet to go there, and God’s hands to serve. To me that meant that we each have an overriding purpose in the grand scheme of things: We are needed, every single one of us.

All these years later, I have come to understand that God is everywhere, in everything and in everyone. Wherever there is Love, this is God, and wherever there is God, this is Love, and Love is always present, even if our fear-filled minds can’t perceive it. I think of God not only as a divine male, but also as a divine female, and that both energies created the universe.

You and I are  much the same, for our most important need is to make a relationship with God within–yet your relationship and understanding may be very different from mine. That’s as it should be. We are granted by God/Love the right to find our way Home by whatever road we choose to take.

This is the song, ‘Here I Am, Lord,’ I woke up with this morning. It is a Christian song, perhaps Catholic. I’m not certain:

Here I Am, Lord
Lyrics by Daniel L Schutte

I who made the stars and night
I will make the darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart

On Receptivity and Faith

I was thinking last night: What makes me so certain of the things I write here, like ‘God is Love,’ and ‘All are loved,’ and ‘Forgiveness is second only to Love,’ and so on? How do I know if these are true? I don’t, really. All I know is, in a receptive state of mind, with a sincere need to know there is something more and something higher than me—higher than our human lives and problems—I arrive at the keyboard with my heart in a ‘ready’ state, and I type. And Love comes through my fingers. (At least, I think that’s what happens.)

I never lose self-awareness. I always know where I am and what I am doing at the keyboard, but it seems this writing is beyond what I personally know. Because I love God (Heavenly Father, Divine Mother, the Universe, Savior, Peacemaker, Love Within—by whatever name God is called) and I have been sick since 1997, I believe this writing is a gift to me, a way for me to feel I am helping in some small manner, of getting to be a stitch on the universal love-quilt, so to speak.

We, as individuals, however, should always arrive at our own ‘beliefs,’ and though having an open, compassionate mind is a very good thing and we may be touched by this or that article or book, or receive divine-love at church or in a forest, we have to form our own faith and operate from our own consciences. And faith-building takes a lifetime, much of it coming after the tests, the broken hearts and the losses.

I remember being 26 and becoming a Catholic. I was so happy because I could feel people praying in Catholic churches; I seemed to fit there. But I ended up having a great deal of difficulty with the pedophile-priests and the church transferring them from one parish to another. I also believe the abundance of the Catholic Church in Rome should not be hoarded; I believe it should be spent on giving a hand up to those whose needs are great, all around the world, with healing in mind and nothing asked in return.

So, I separated myself from the church. I love Jesus Christ, the God-man who came and taught us to be peacemakers (and we didn’t get it), but I do not accept or endorse the radical-right teachings of so many organizations now on display, nor can I in good conscience submit to the authority of a man in Rome who is human, just like the rest of us. I believe God loves all of us, from the pope to feminists, to gays, to immigrants, to pagans and to the sad, toothless, hungry, homeless men who live and die in alleyways.

Anyway, I guess I wanted to say that what I write here could be more for me than anyone else. If something I write doesn’t feel right to you, you know what to do; ignore it or let it go. Follow the path that feels right in your heart, that you know is Love, that answers your important meaning-of-life questions. At least we can agree—right?—that Love is the answer at the heart of every spiritual search. If we all get to the Love-place within, at least if we try to feel compassion, gratitude and forgiveness, our world will be okay.

Earthquake Tomorrow?

If you knew say, because of a dream or a vision so real you had not one ounce of doubt, that tomorrow a massive earthquake and resulting tsunami would destroy the coastline and the state where you live, would you stay or pack up the basics and go? Or, if you didn’t live there, but had relatives who did, would you frantically call them and try to convince them they had to leave? Or would you know that whatever is meant to be will be?–as in, I chose to live in these times, in this place and I accept all that my decision means. 

I’m not sure what I would do. Spend some quiet time with God-within for sure. Or, I could completely panic, I suppose, drag my daughter into our car and drive to—where? How far would our car go before the engine-burning smell and the Check Engine light came on? And would that be far enough? If it was you, how far would you go?

I guess the important thing is not to panic. When my sons were one and four their father drove with them through a mountain pass in a winter blizzard and the highway people closed the pass, which meant my family was stuck in the middle of the storm. (My eldest learned how to pee in a bottle, which, since we never know, is a good thing, I guess.) Those were the old days before you could check weather conditions online and before cell phones–though they wouldn’t work even today in those conditions. I completely panicked, paced, called my friends, relatives, worried to no end, and when I heard him pull into the garage, I ran out and yelled, “How could you take them during the winter? How could you do this to me?

“Honey,” my husband said, “we’re fine. They just closed the pass for a while.”

“That’s supposed to make me feel better?” He took me into his arms and said, “I took water, food, blankets, pillows, extra clothes, their snow boots and coats. We were fine. Better than fine—they thought it was fun. So did I.” What could I say? He was always prepared when it came to stuff like that. I thought about my extreme state of panic for years and of what it said about my faith, about my acceptance of ‘what will be, will be.’

I guess the truth is, all any of us can do is live our lives, knowing that hard things—losses–happen to everyone. Some people even lose their children and have to survive the worst of all possible situations. But there is something we can all do, and that is to grow closer to Love-within, to our souls, which connect us to the Universal Love that created the entire universe, of which we are tiny, beloved cells. People don’t generally survive 9.0 earthquakes and the resulting tsunamis, but we can prepare on any day to cross over into the great, compassionate hands of Love.

What Calls to You?

According to fear, it’s time to despair.

According to love, it’s time to believe.

It’s time for struggle! fear insists.

It’s time for courage, love knows.

According to fear, it’s time to submit.

According to love, it’s time for hope.

It’s time to destroy! fear shouts.

It’s time to transform, love invites.

According to fear, it’s time for war.

According to love, it’s time for peace.

Fear or Confidence?

Perhaps we are all at a crossroads now. We are choosing between two mindsets; the first is hopelessness and fear, of Mother Nature’s wrath, government power, religious extremism, failing economies, drug cartels. The list goes on and on. The second mindset (or heart-set is more accurate) is that a Loving Force created the universe, Earth and us, and that we have nothing to fear.

These times remind me of my near heart-stopping fear after each of my children was born. “How can I possibly care for him/her?” I thought. “The world is a crazy place and he/she won’t always be with me! What if they get horribly sick or have a terrible accident? What if they need me and I’m not there?” I was so worried, I would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and run into their rooms, a few seconds before they started crying. After each birth, I had an all night, bone-chilling struggle with fear and, at last, I placed them into God’s hands.

So much ‘undoing’ is happening now that it is frightening to be alive, if we don’t face our fears. My therapist , Denise, called me hyper-vigilant and taught me this way of handling my racing heart:

Stop.

Breathe slowly and deeply.

Carefully observe my surroundings, naming everything I see.

Ask, “Am I okay right now?” (Do I have a job or a source of income? A roof over my head?  Are my children okay? Food? Transportation? Medical access?)

I had to consciously tackle my fears one-by-one to see that I was okay right now, that we were okay right now. It became clear to me that I could live either with trust and faith in a loving, Higher Force; or choose to live my life filled with fear. It is like a train rolling along on a track that suddenly splits, one direction leading into a sun-filled, peaceful, fertile valley; the other leading through a hard, craggy mountain into a land of dark skies.

We are given the freedom and the power to choose love over fear, mental stability over confusion, peaceful knowing over uncertainty. No matter who we are, no matter how we’ve lived, the Lord of Light wants us to ‘come home’ in our hearts, to find the Love within and ‘hook-up’ with all of life.

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? I am going now, to read those instructions again. What were they? Oh, that’s right. Stop. Breathe deeply. Observe my surroundings. Ask, “Am I okay right now?” I am? That’s awesome! How about you?

Always Remember to Love

I’m in an unexpected frame of mind. I began my blog on June 14th  last year, my heart and mind filled with love and light from receiving a few moments of grace that allowed me to feel how much God loves us and our living, loving, life-giving-and-sustaining Mother Earth. Most of the daily posts since then have been filled with my thankful and enthusiastic response to Love, with me often feeling guided by something higher than myself, something beyond my own understanding. Some people have commented how much these posts have meant to them and I feel so much gratitude that there is something I, disabled by a chronic illness, can do to make a difference in others’ lives. It has been a life-changing answer to the call of my soul.

Yet, I haven’t had any comments from people who have suffered, and continue to suffer, tragic losses, and I’ve wondered how my posts strike them. Do they hate the entity/people who hurt them? Do they believe God loves everyone—even the worst of criminals? Do readers believe God loves the bankers who have broken the economy and spirit of the American people? Do they read a sentence and, disgusted, click away from these posts? Do the posts trigger something inside them, something that helps? I don’t really know the answer, but I confess that for these last few weeks, I have questioned my own faith in a Higher Purpose, and I now understand how people might feel lost and separate from our Creator. It’s an important insight, having nothing to do with who or what God is; it is simply a reflection of my spiritual growth process.

What is the source of my problem? I don’t know for sure. Is it the thousands of homeless people living in tents on frozen ground in our community? The escalating stress felt by my neighbors in this low-income apartment complex and how they take it out on their children? The fact that our state is a billion dollars in the hole and is planning to make severe cuts to education (when we’re already 48th in spending per pupil), cuts that include higher education, just as my daughter is preparing for college? Less funds means less students admitted. (This doesn’t include the reductions that our counties and cities have to make to their education budgets, due to loss of tax revenues and the money the state has demanded from their coffers.)

Or is it the impossible-to-grasp suffering of the Haitian people—200,000+ dead, a million homeless? Can we at all sense what it’s like to lose your parents, your spouse and/or children, your siblings and your home, your workplace, your community, food and water, in an instant? Is it because I won’t be able to watch my son play college football in the fall because the school is so far away, or that I miss him and his brother so much? I haven’t seen my red-tailed hawk friends in a while and I miss them, too—though a young one has come by a few times to say hello. Is it the state of my health, the never-ceasing pain and lack of energy and stamina? I don’t really know, but I don’t think so. It could be all of it together, I suppose—but my daughter and I have shelter, water and food, I have befriended some of the kids here who catch Max and me outside to talk, natural disasters have always happened, and nearly every state is suffering with loss of revenues.  So, what is it? A test of some kind, I guess. Do I really mean what I write here? Do I apply this unconditional love to myself, my beloveds and our lives, other people, including those who don’t seem to deserve love?

Last night I visited A World of Words, a blog by Sven Eberlein, a teacher of love and truth, with a focus on the spaces between soil (ecology) and the soul (love). His latest powerful post is about the discovery of oil and what drilling for it has done to the people of Nigeria. The people live in oil; it is in their soil and food, their water, their bodies–and they don’t live long lives. Did you know Nigeria is the third largest supplier of crude oil to the people of the U.S? Eighty percent of the government’s income, 1.5 billion dollars each week, comes from this oil, yet the Nigerian people live in squalor, wading through oil from pipe breaks and oil spills, day after day after day. Try to imagine raising your children in crude oil. They have a new president, though, a man who cares about his people, and this is cause for hope. I hope you will click on the link to read the whole piece by Sven and to see the pictures. Go just to see the pictures.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I made a comment there last night that reflects my doubts:

This brought me to tears. What a piece of writing–all that info shared in a matter-of-fact manner that allows us to draw our own conclusions. But you’re right–the pictures do speak so loudly. I’m in a mood these days that makes me want to scream when I see pictures like these. I can’t fathom how this debasement of fellow humans is even possible. I feel like deleting my blog where I keep writing that God loves all of us. How could these people ever believe there is a God?

And I wanted to share Sven’s response:

Oh Pam, please don’t despair. As you know, if God only stood for the things that make us humans feel good, things would certainly look a lot differently. But God is in everything and everyone, even the things that hurt and suck. And just because God is in it doesn’t mean that it’s okay or good. In fact, it becomes even more important to try and change things, and a big part of that is to be kind. Not everyone can go to Nigeria and put out the flames, but we can show that even if we can’t directly change the situation, we care. Also, it’s important not to diminish our own problems and struggles, there’s a lot we can do to heal ourselves and those close to us. Remember the enlightened warrior, ready to do as much as possible, but never lose your heart, your spirit, or your faith in humanity. Also, on a sidenote, it seems that Mr. Jonathan truly is a good human being, and so maybe there will after all be some meaningful change to the situation in Nigeria. We’re all in this together….always remember to love!

“We’re all in this together . . . always remember to love!” Thank you, Sven. I will love even when it seems impossible, especially when it seems impossible. And by the way—your words would make a great poster. Think of what you could create with your loving heart and yours and Deb’s amazing photos!