I’m learning that when we lose faith in our feelings, we lose faith in ourselves and become outer-directed. That is, we look to the world to tell us how to feel and what to do. We seek approval and love from others so we can prove to ourselves that we are worthy. Paradoxically, to be outer-directed is to be self-absorbed. How can this be? We feel so unsure of who we are , that we cannot let go, be spontaneous or real.We can reclaim ourselves by becoming inner-directed. This means looking within ourselves for the direction we need. When we’re just beginning to learn to trust our feelings, this can seem to be truly agonizing. It means trusting the reality of our needs and our right to express them. Only then can we find the faith in ourselves and in life, that we have lacked.
Becoming inner-directed takes self-acceptance and self-love. It also takes time. Until then, there will be no real peace because it is the only way to find ourselves.
Sometimes, it’s as though I’m in the center of a bustling city, and then decide to leave. As I travel toward the more peaceful suburbs, there are fewer and fewer people. Finally, the city is behind me, and I’m alone. And since I can’t live in two places at once, I enjoy the pleasure of solitude by visiting the suburbs and pay the price of loneliness.
It’s the same when I leave behind the noise of my own thoughts and travel inward. By traveling inward, I’m referring to meditation and times when I just listen to myself; to listen to what my inner voice may be telling me. It takes courage to face solitude, a courage which the Universe gives to me only when I want to find what I can’t find when I’m surrounded by people or even just with my partner. Peace, inspiration, rejuvenation, nurturing, enlightenment, and strength – these are just a few of the gifts of solitude.
Beyond the loneliness, and the longing for others, I find the satisfaction of my company and the company of the Universe. I need these as much as I need the company of other people, and so I always seem to receive what I need to take the risks of solitude. You will too. There is nothing to fear in solitude. We may feel alone, but we never are.
- Solitude is The Best Mentor (socyberty.com)
- How to Get Rid of Loneliness (socyberty.com)
- Can Social Media Networking be an Antidote for Loneliness or is it an Escape from Aloneness? [Sam Borrett] (ecademy.com)
“Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.” — Abraham Heshel
Prayer can mean to some, “a conscious contact with God as we understood him,” which is important in one’s recovery or quest toward personal growth. There are many ways to pray and each of us has a style that uniquely expresses our spirituality. Meditation or even the singing of a hymn are examples of any number of ways in which people pray. Once we open ourselves to the Universe and the concept of something out there larger than ourselves, we can get comfortable with our own way of praying. It may mean leaving past ways behind. Maybe we’ve been used to prayer that relied only on words. Perhaps we used to pray for what we wanted, making sure we told God precisely what was best for us and everybody else. Or maybe we didn’t pray at all because we didn’t know how to, or were afraid.
I remember growing up in the Lutheran church, Missouri synod and having to attend confirmation class every Saturday morning, grades 6 through 8. I still remember our pastor teaching us “how to pray.” According to this pastor, we first had to tell God how sorry we were for all of our sins, original (sin that comes along with every human) and those we knew we had committed. Then we were to humbly ask for God’s forgiveness. Next we had to praise God; tell him how wonderful we knew him to be and how much we loved him. Finally, we could ask for what we needed, with the understanding that only God knows what is truly best for us. Lastly, we were to thank God for all he has done for us and that which we hope for him to do in the future.
No other song, no other prayer, no other piece of liturgy is so well-known and loved in my Unitarian Universalism church home as “Spirit of Life” by Carolyn McDade. In six short lines “Spirit of Life” touches so much that is central one’s need to communicate with our Higher Power: compassion, justice, community, freedom, reverence for nature, and the mystery of life. It finds the common ground held by humanists and theists, pagans and Christians, Buddhists and Jews, gay and straight among us.
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
Thankfully, we don’t need to worry about how to pray; the Universe shows us how. We must however, be willing to move from the everyday world to a place where it is just the Universe and us. It is an exciting part of one’s spiritual journey to develop new ways to pray, trusting our relationship with the Universe to deepen the experience. What matters most is that we give ourselves to it. When our prayers are from the heart, we know it, and are at peace.
“My life is… a mystery which I do not attempt to understand, as though I were led by the hand in a night where I see nothing, but can fully depend on the Love and Protection of Him who guides me.” – Thomas Merton
When I laugh, God laughs. When I weep, God weeps. When I need, God says, “Yes.”
I have come to know that there are many ways to express spirituality and know that the Universe is showing me my way. Spirituality is not defined only as religion. Spirituality is the yearning of the heart toward something larger than ourselves and the wish to leap the chasm that divides us from the infinite to the eternal.
For some, spiritual expression is a shout of gratitude and praise. For others, it is a journey through a desert, darkness or frozen tundra. For still others, it is a search that happens unconsciously, without their really being aware of it. As I continue to grow personally, my progress depends on a spiritual life lived each day and must be true to my spirituality. I must trust it, no matter how difficult the journey. Nothing is too great for the Universe’s unconditional love – not addiction, not fear nor unwillingness. One’s happiness matters to the Universe, who loves us and leads us through life.
- Life is a Question Mark (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Thomas Merton just emailed me. (lookingcloser.org)
- Sometimes the worst things can really be the best. (connection-revolution.com)
“Therefore, will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” — Thomas Merton
I am experiencing one of those times when I don’t seem to know where I am going. There are many changes going on around me and great insecurity which have caused me to feel far away from the love of the Universe and I don’t know how to find my way back.
During times like this, when I have no answers, is it enough to simply just ask questions? My inclination is to be in control, to put my mind to work and figure things out. But I am finding that some things simply can’t be dealt with only with logic. All I can seem to do is ask the questions, have faith in the answers as the Universe reveals them to me, and let go.
I’ve been told that I’ll find new faith by working through these situations where I don’t have the answers right away. Part of life’s wonder is its mystery. It takes faith to not only accept the mystery, but to embrace it and love it.
“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity.” — George Bernard Shaw
Hate is the other side of love and shows at least energy and passion. Probably most of us feel surges of hate at some time or another, especially toward those we love the most. We can deal with this if we realize that these moments will pass and be forgiven.
But indifference and apathy can become a disease of the spirit so pervasive that their darkness envelops everything. Then life is stifled and throttled at the root. If we don’t value the people around us, they will feel our lack of caring as striking at the heart of their humanity. If we have no time for life, then life and those close to us will drift away from us.
The world is a place of splendor and love. We can connect with it if we reach out beyond self-concern and replace indifference and apathy with the energy of living and loving.
- 15 Simple Ways to Protect and Build Up Your Relationship (socyberty.com)
- Silence of the Nation:Apathy or Distrust? (teabreak.pk)
- Better to be hated than ignored | Stephen Bullivant (guardian.co.uk)
– Helen Hoover
Helen Hoover was a writer about nature as well as being a metallurgist. She died in 1984 at the age of 74.
President Obama has in the last two days, begun to rectify some of the environmental mistakes made by the Bush administration. California and some other states will be able to set their own, higher emission standards. Yesterday, my minister at the Unitarian Universalist church I attend discussed how we can have a right relationship with our environment and interconnected web of existence.
I began thinking that sometimes, in my grandiose view of myself and the world, I think I have all the time and space I need to do my will. But in reality, our resources are limited, and already we are losing needed material and precious species that will never return to our planet.
Let us remember we are here only for a short while, but others will come after us. We need to take care of our earth just as much as we need to take care of ourselves. If we think only of our own pleasure, we are likely to become selfish and live destructive lives.
Those of us who have chosen a path of personal growth probably realize how much we have squandered our energy and dissipated vital forces. We may have tried to impose our fantasies and our wills on other people and we abused those who needed our love and trust. We thought we were little gods and that the world was here just for us. We can still learn how to have that right relationship with the world that surrounds us. It is good to be aware of all that is special in this world, including ourselves.
- I am a Unitarian Universalist (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Advice and support for someone with no family (ask.metafilter.com)
- One Congregation, Many Paths (timesunion.com)