“God delays, but doesn’t forget.” — Spanish Proverb
Each month, I find it more difficult to meet my expenses until the end of the month, on my fixed income. As each month’s end grows closer and I find myself without enough funds for essentials like food and medications, I find myself sinking into a dark hole of depression and anxiety. I worry that I’ll become severely ill, as happened last year, spending months in the hospital. In today’s still lingering economic downturn, it’s frustrating for anyone who has lost a job or met financial setbacks. Those of us facing financial difficulty suddenly feel curtailed, with the rhythm of our lives changed in a way we never anticipated. But the Universe slows us down for a reason.
There can be gifts in adversity. They can give us some much-needed time alone, time to think. Being alone gives us the chance to find ourselves in a new way. We may be surprised to find some previously unknown inner resources. A period of waiting through adversity can also turn us to our Higher Power, God, or the Universe when the solace we need is beyond the capacity of people to give.
It’s challenging to be able to do nothing when the world tells us that we must take action. When action isn’t possible, accepting the circumstances of our lives enables us to experience the value of being, and not doing.
- Prayer and the Spiritual Journey (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Suicidal Thoughts: Strength to Continue and Endure (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Feeling is the Inner Life (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
“In the darkest hour the soul is replenished and given strength to continue and endure.” — Heart Warrior Chosa
In the depths of our misery, some of us hated ourselves so much that we didn’t believe we deserved to live. Some of us had this idea planted in our minds when we were children. Some of us had lives that didn’t seem worth living. Some of us were suffering so much that we were willing to do anything to rid of what we thought of as our miserable life. When things are so difficult in life and it seems there is no other solution to our problems, some of us turn to thoughts of suicide.
How do we go on when we can’t any longer? Very gently. We use everything we can to help us stay alive; the thought of a beloved child, a special friendship, time-out from our normal life, or turning ourselves over to our spiritual source. When we feel suicidal, we may not care about anything; we feel alienated and isolated. But we’re not. To even keep breathing connects us to life; breathe in and out, slowly. If we open ourselves to the fullness of the moment, from this most basic act our connections expand infinitely. We’ve only to hang on, one minute at a time, and reasons to hope again will come. Life is precious because it was given to us by our Higher Power who loves us unconditionally.
Expression is the Outer Life
I’ve realized that there’s a difference between my ability to feel, my ability to express my feelings, and my ability to let go. I know there are many painful emotions I learned to suppress when I was young, particularly anger or sadness. Other emotions might be difficult to feel because they are connected to past pain.
Yet there’s no letting go, no moving on, until I stop trying to avoid feelings such as sorrow, anger, rage or despair. I have found the way to begin working through difficult feelings is to reach out to people with a phone call, email, or blog comment. Other ways I have found to help are writing (blogging or journaling); having a good cry, or plan a healing ritual which can be as simple as taking a couple of days alone, just to think. For some of us, turning to our Higher Power, as we know it provides the spiritual help and nourishment we need.
The release that will come as a result of expressing our feelings will help to ease the pain. It’s not realistic to release all the pain from our past all at once, but we can begin by letting go of a little piece today.
“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)
“For so it must be, and help me to do my part.” — A Tibetan Master
It’s been said that God exists only in the present. That means we must live in the present if we are to find God. In God’s eyes, we are worthy and lovable as we are, today. ‘God never rejects part of creation.
Can we accept that our God, Higher Power or Universe loved us even we were at our very worst? Can we accept that God loves us if we are struggling, or slipping today? If this happens, we can pick ourselves up again and make better choices and pray to God for help.
The power of the present makes it possible for God to love each one of us unconditionally because God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, just willing to do our very best. Only in the present do we have the power to choose our attitudes and actions, and it is this freedom that links us to God’s power.