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Archive for the ‘Questions from the Journey’ Category

I had lunch with a beautiful friend of mine, one who blossoms with the work and love of God within her. She asked me this question: “So many people judge other people as not of God because their beliefs aren’t ‘born again.’ What do you make of the verse where Jesus says I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…No one cometh to the Father but by me. ?

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I hadn’t attended church for three weeks. Our church is about 45 minutes away. A chronic illness keeps me grounded: some days my physical well-being is dis-ordered by this and I am reminded that I can’t always choose what to do. Other days, I’m just plain too tired or perhaps it’s just an excuse to stay in bed. Regardless, today we gathered with our community of faith to begin the Advent season.

I didn’t want to go. Exhausted after the Thanksgiving celebration (in which I reveled in the presence of my two children), sleeping in sounded good to me. No could do. I was the guest preacher for the day while our pastor was away on a cruise with his wife.

I’m still exhausted but I’m glad I was there. The hour set aside to gather and sing and pray and just be in God’s presence was certainly worth the drive! Our church is far from perfect. I didn’t even like the hymns we sang (and I had picked them out!). We messed up the call to worship reading. Babies were crying and people were coughing. But it was church and it was a joy to me. Why church?

It’s the people for me. The people are beautiful in all their variety and neuroses. I feel like I belong with them because I can be myself, with all my neuroses and imperfections. Although there may not even be one person there who might understand what it means to practice a mystical christiainity, I’m welcome and appreciated. These are people with whom I can laugh and cry, remember and dream. With all the problems that come with any group of human beings trying to be organized together, with all the times there are misunderstandings and immature acting out, these are still people with whom I belong. I’m thankful for that. It’s worth the trip. It’s worth the effort. It’s worthy of my respect.

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I met an elderly woman in our housing division the week that Hurricane Wilma was heading for Florida. A former science professor at our local University, she has the bright eyes and quick wit of unusual intelligence. She said to me, “With all the disasters in our world, I can understand why people of old would think the gods are angry with us.” In our ensuing discussion, we shared our sense of horror that the poorest and least powerful in our world have been the most to suffer in these natural disasters.
As the earthquakes were devastating Pakistan, I listened for updates on CNN and on NPR. Rarely were such updates given. I asked for prayers in church and many didn’t even seem to know there was an earthquake. The contrast with the news reporting on the Tsunami and the devastations of hurricanes on our own land was stark.
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God looks at us with love and sees exactly what is god to us. And whatever is God to us that is not God who created us, will never be anything but a temporal addiction. It (whatever it is . social status,power,always being right or better, chocolate, another person ) it will never, ever be enough. It will possess us and become hell on earth.

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I came across this definition of meditation recently:

“doing one thing at a time with your whole being” Lawence LeShan How to Meditate

I mentioned in my last post that this is very difficult for those of us in Western cultures to do because of our neurological “wiring” so to speak. There is, however, technology based on sound that I have found helpful. To learn more about this see Centerpointe Research.

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“How does Christian Meditation differ from Transcendental Meditation? I ask because I consider opening my mind and soul without being specific about what spirit I seek to be dangerous.”

B.P.

I do not know much about Transendental Meditation. However, I do understand your concern. Let me respond on several levels.

To begin with, I do not think the western mind is able to empty itself, both from my own spiritual practice and from what I have learned from others. Our culture effects our neurological system and we simply don’t have the outer structures that allow our minds to become totally silent and empty.
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In the past month, I’ve really begun to feel the weight of the responsibilities in my life…..I just want God to make my life better – not super or even great – just plain steady and peaceful – of course I want it right now too.

J.H.

This is from a dear friend of mine, a generous, beautiful man who will gladly give you everything he has if you need it and expect nothing in return. So my friend, let’s see if The Practical Mystic can be of any help to you….in five minutes or less, preferably.
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