“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Tao Te Ching
Working on one’s self is a process of becoming. It is finding, knowing and accepting who we are. It is having the willingness to fall flat on our asses, stumble around, and make some mistakes. It is being in tune with the constant process of death and rebirth that is part of life’s rhythm.
Each of us has our own, internal timetable; the rhythm of our Spirit. The process of discovering for ourselves just what that rhythm may sound like, or feel like and living according to its direction can bring to each of us untold serenity and joy. Our knowledge, or awareness gained through our new understanding also shall bring to us energy, because we’re not fighting the current; no longer is life an uphill battle. We’re not fighting ourselves, or reality. Most times, are we not our own worst enemy? To face who we are and to learn and grow from the experience is being created anew. In the process, we discover our own truths. Maybe that’s part of what a spiritual awakening is; seeing the truth in a new way.
Living according to the guidance of our Spirit and in harmony with our body, mind, and emotions is a solitary journey, but one that ultimately brings us close to other people and to life itself.
- Karen Talavera: Journeying Inward: The Beauty of the Empty Vessel (huffingtonpost.com)
- Make Every Attempt to Live Life by the Golden Rule (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Prayer and the Spiritual Journey (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- A Journey to Self-Discovery and Personal Growth (prweb.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.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.
Where there is doubt, let me sow faith.
Where there is despair, let me sow hope.
Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
— St. Francis of Assisi
It is such a simple prayer, but sometimes the most simple goes unnoticed. Diluted by time and recitations made by rote. I reconnected with this prayer on a trip to Sedona, Arizona in 1995 and since then, this prayer has become a staple in my life. It is without a doubt my favorite prayer.
In 1995, my partner at the time and I decided during a vacation in Sedona that we would try one of the Spiritual Jeep Tours advertised as “led by a Spiritual Guide”. We were both bringing more spirituality back into our lives and thought this sounded like a good experience.
The jeep tour was in fact led by one of the most spirit filled individuals I have ever had the opportunity to meet. The pace was not hurried at all. Our small group visited all of the sites in Sedona with high vortex energy and was introduced that day to many Native American forms of spirituality, meditation, The Runes, Tarot, I-Ch’ing and much more. It is nearly impossible to convey to the reader how much each of gained during that 3 ½ hours with our spirit guide.
During our introduction to the reading of the ancient Viking Runes, was when our guide first had us meditate on this simple prayer. I had recited this prayer so many times during my childhood in both the Lutheran and Catholic churches, but as a Unitarian Universalist, had drifted away from the prayer. Our guide suggested reading the prayer each time before we were to do a Rune reading for ourselves or anyone else. That time spent in prayer focuses the mind on the course of right action, which is only one use for the Runes; to determine one’s course of right action for the day, or in a time of great strife or urgency.
The Runes have for me become a very significant guide when making decisions. The Runes don’t spell out a definitive “yes” or “no”, but the text for each Rune leads to greater thought and clarity of mind. Never have I been disappointed in the advice from the Runes. I believe that I will have to blog sometime soon about the Runes. I’ve shared in a previous blog one reading I did for myself on one particular day, but I have considerable knowledge of the Runes, as well as experience with Rune readings that some of you may find interesting. In the meantime, try reconnecting with this beautiful, yet simple prayer – The Prayer of St. Francis Assisi – and I just thought of another blog I would enjoy sharing and many readers may find interesting – on the vortex energy found in abundance in Sedona.
– 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)