Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I think I am finally organized enough to be a regular blogger.  I realized that while life is always complicated, it was my lack of organization that was making it difficult and complicated.  That realization made life a lot easier!

That's the thing about life - once we realize our part in it, we are free -- because we can rewrite our part!  We can choose to think and feel differently!  We can choose to get organized!

It's the staying organized that trips me up.  Our house is on the market and I swore to myself I would keep it "showing ready" -- that means hanging things up, putting things in their proper place, not leaving things all over the kitchen -- in short, being tidily organized.  Every day before I leave the house I am confronted with makeup and hair products, clothing, a jar of honey, a can of chickpeas I intended to use in some recipe yesterday, on and on.  So I put it away, telling myself the whole time, "I WILL be more organized and tidy tomorrow."

And I will -- because it is something I really want.  I spend a lot of time finding things on my desk, in my closet, and in the bathroom cabinets.  Tidiness and organization will help me recoup some of that time -- time I can use to blog, tweet, post, share, and just BE!

So here's to staying tidy and organized - keep me in your prayers!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

A labyrinth moment

This morning seven ministerial colleagues and I had the privilege of walking this labyrinth.  The labyrinth is quite old and is on the island of Maui, Hawaii.  The water you see is the shoreline of the ocean!

As we entered the labyrinth, our "pagan" priestess colleague instructed us to ponder this question:  "What is home?  Home is within each of us.  We go in, deeply, and we come back out into the world, but home is always there." 

The whole experience was wonderful and deep.  As I walked, I "tidied my home" by putting any rock that had rolled off back into place, picking up tiny bits of garbage, things like that.  It actually felt like I was keeping my own sacred home clean and tidy. 

When I came out of the labyrinth I felt washed clean and really, really clear on one thing.  My home is where I am.  It's where the love in me begins, and it's where the love in you "lands" when I see you.  It's where the heart opens and where I feel so safe, so secure, so Beloved of God that I can be really, truly who I came here to be.

So tomorrow it's on to humpback whales - there will be messages there too.  In the meantime, ask yourself: "Where is it I feel the safety of 'home' in my body?  In my life?" Home is sacred, holy ground - and it's right where you are standing.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why does it take so long for us to change?

I have been absent from this blog for a long time. It has proven difficult for me to realign my priorities to get done all the things I want to get done.  I know it's possible because I used to be able to do all kinds of things during a single day. Any more?  Not so much.

One obvious reason is Facebook. I love it! But almost every day I open up FB "just to see if I have any messages" and when I next look at the clock two hours have passed.

Another reason is laziness, pure and simple.  I must restructure my day to end earlier so it can begin earlier.  If I go to bed early, get a good night's sleep, and get up in time to meditate, read, contemplate and exercise.  I feel fabulous and my day is so productive. But I have taken to staying up late reading British murder mysteries and police procedurals, which means I don't get up early enough, which means something's got to give!  All too often it's the exercise piece.

So why don't I just start going to bed earlier and getting up to do what I want and need to do?  As I said, it's sheer laziness - I'm too lazy to discipline myself.  That is a fairly easy thing to change because  I see it so clearly.  It's just making a different decision at 10:00 at night - "go to bed" rather than "start reading a new book."

Other changes are much more difficult for us.  Why do we keep doing things we know aren't good for us?  Why do we continue to feel unworthy?  Why must we change our thinking over and over again before it "takes"?

There are unoubtedly lots of reasons, but the one that came to the fore for me recently is this:  Our society has not yet evolved away from the notion that we are "set" in our ways of thinking, our beliefs, our personalities, by the age of two or three years, and those beliefs are determined by our childhood experiences.

I don't believe that.  I believe that it is our perspective, the place we focus from, that creates ways of thinking, and I know that perspective can change.  

We all grew up with parents who, most of the time, reacted in whatever way they reacted to life's ups and owns.  We saw their reactions over and over again,which set up a "norm" in our heads as to what reaction is appropriate to a particular kind of event.  At some point we make a decision that we must be contributing to or causing the reaction, since we always seem to be around when it happens (not really, but it must seem that way to a child).  From there we connect our "misbehavior" or our "shortcoming" with this reaction until it becomes seared into our psyche:  there is something wrong with me because my parent reacts so frightfully to me!

No one ever teaches us that the reaction has nothing at all to do with us!  Instead, our society teaches us to personalize everything - every time we walk into a room and conversation stops, we assume it's because the other people were poking fun at us and didn't want to get caught.  Perhaps they were planning something nice to surprise us with instead (this has been my actual experience, by the way).

When someone treats us angrily we assume we must have done something to incite their anger. More likely, the person who is angry does not have a good relationship with himself or herself.  Neither do we, until we get to the point of realizing that nothing "out there" is about us. What IS about us is "in here" and so we can change it.

That's what nobody teaches us when we're young - or maybe they try, but we cannot hear it. Maybe human life is just so complex and beautiful/painful that we have to live with our misconceptions until we have learned enough to break through them.  Maybe -- but I'm going to do all I can to make sure everybody - especially every child -- around me knows that it's never about them.  It's always for them.  Because I know it's true. 

Oh, and look for my blog posts regularly now - I'm going to bed early and getting up early so I can care for myself and do all the things I need and want to do.  I'm changing that thinking for sure!

Love and blessing,
Rev. CC Coltrain

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Love is SO COOL!

I saw a Facebook posting today from a man listing some of the things he loved.  He ended it with, "Love is so cool!"  Yeah, baby.  Love is so cool!

It's even cooler when we treat it as a verb -- when we "commit random acts of love" during our day.  Send somebody an e-mail telling them you love them.  Take a moment to pray for all your friends or coworkers, or for the whole world!  Drop a card in the mail to someone saying, thanks for being part of my life.

Every single one of these random acts of love is powerful beyond our knowing.  Each one is like a stone dropped in a still pond -- it ripples out, and ripples out, and ripples out, touching so many people we can't even know.

Once, years after the incident, someone came up to me and told me something I had said to her -- one of those random acts of love -- had pulled her out of a dark place and reminded her that life was to be lived joyously.  I had no idea.

Your act of love will touch one or two people, who will touch one or two people each, who will touch one or two people, and on and on it goes.  Love multiplies itself. 

And then it finds its way back to you.  It may come in ways you would never expect, from sources you don't yet know, but it will find its way back to you in that multiplied state.  That's how the Universe works.  What we give, from our hearts, with no strings attached, is set free to multiply itself, to work powerfully in the world, and it returns to us.  "As ye give, so shall ye be given unto."  It's the truth, and it's so cool!

Put it on your Ipod, your Blackberry, your Smartphone -- an appointment to commit a random act of love each day.  Love is so cool!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jesus Has a Bad Day

I recently had a bad day:  one where I forgot about my own inner spaciousness, my own divine nature.  I did something that offended some other divine/human beings.  I apologized and really delved into my own mistake, because I don't want to do it again.  I really, really don't.

Jesus had days like that -- remember the day he cursed the fig tree so that it never bore fruit?  He cursed it because it had no figs on it -- even though it was out of season for figs!  And of course, he had a meltdown in the temple.  Instead of responding to the money-changers with love, he became angry and turned over their tables and raised all sorts of noise and upset.

I think the point of these stories is, regardless of who we are, we have those completely human moments or days when we forget that it is all about love.  Even when we are "spiritual leaders" or "fishers of men" we  "fall off the pedestal" (which is a very narrow place to stand) and sometimes forget to check our words and actions with our innermost being.  If we are very lucky, or if we really do want to expand spiritually, we remember to do it at some point, learn the lessons that always come with these mistakes, and next time we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, we have a better chance of not reacting from our anger, but instead responding from love.

Can we ask more than that of others?  I think we're all doing the best we can at the moment and that when we are open to learning from our mistakes we get a new "best we can" -- we learn to do better than our old "best."  That's spiritual growth.  Sometimes we do it in public; sometimes we do it only in the privacy of meditation.  Whatever way we do it, doing it is the important thing.  Isn't that why we are here?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stickin' with Love

I saw today a quote attributed to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:  "Today, I'll stick with love.  Hate is just too great a burden to bear."  What a terrific reminder that hate, divisiveness, anything other than love is a burden.

Ernest Holmes, in one of his sermons by the sea, reminded us to be "for something but against nothing."  This is a high ideal, but I have just been reminded by a friend how important it is to aspire to.  To be for something means to bring the force of my consciousness, my love, my energies into alignment with and support for what I believe in. 

So today, I am FOR love.  I am FOR looking for the oneness instead of the separation.  I am FOR awe-filled respect for all the forms of God I see around me.  I am FOR caring for one and all.  I am FOR peace for every form of life on the planet.  I am FOR living in such a way that my presence is a boon to the world.  I am FOR love.  I am FOR love.  I am FOR love.

This means I am always willing to learn from everything that crosses my path -- even my own "mental lapses."  I am willing to see myself honestly and change my behavior to be in closer alignment with what I truly want for myself and the world.  And that means I am for being open and humble enough to apologize and then strive to not have anything further to apologize for. 

Ultimately what it means is total freedom -- because there is nothing to hide.  There is nothing to clean up after.  There is just love. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It All Counts

This past Sunday in my message I stated that every relationship we have is the way it is because of the way we are -- no exceptions.  The message was a demanding one, because it takes courage to face the truth that we create, within our own minds, the state of our relationships.

At the end of my talk, I heard someone whisper, "I'm exhauuuuusted."  I wanted to say, "Hey, I understand -- I've been there!"  It is exhausting to be vigilant with our thoughts -- but only for a while.  It becomes second nature quickly, because it bears so much fruit!  It is exhausting to take note of everything we think, say, and do -- but it becomes easier and easier because it delivers our freedom, our "salvation," right into our hands!

So, the good news is, we're 100% responsible for our lives.  The "bad" news is, we're 100% responsible for our lives.  We're responsible not just for what we say out loud, but for what we think, what we project through non-verbal communication, and what we do.

I read a story recently by a woman who stopped to pump gas on a long trip home.  The pump didn't respond to her request to pay inside, with cash.  She pressed the button for assistance, and she could see the two employees inside laughing and talking.  The pump continued to read "please wait" and no assistance came.  Finally, one of the employees stuck her head out and asked if she wanted to pay in cash.  The writer squelched her impulse to snap and said yes, but the pump wouldn't respond.  The employee walked over, pushed a couple of buttons, and smiling, apologized for the problem.  She then wished the customer a great day.

The writer said, "my ego instantly deflated.  I was grateful that I hadn't snapped at her for my assumption that she didn't care about me, her customer.  I made the assumption that I wasn't being valued, and withheld the tithe of my spirit, the tithe of my thoughts.  I had rude thoughts instead.  I recognized the thoughts and chose to make my actions kinder and more compassionate.  Because I valued the clerk with my actions, she in turn valued me with her words and actions."

It all counts.  Our thoughts, our non-verbal communication, our actions, and our words.  They all contribute to the kind of relationships -- the kind of life -- we have.  They all contribute to the way the universe, including other people, responds to us. 

Wonderfully, it all counts -- every time we recognize what we are doing and choose to make our words and actions and thoughts kinder and more compassionate, we move closer to the mountaintop.  Every time we see that the other person is acting out of either lack of knowledge or their own inner pain, we move closer to the mountaintop.  Every time we lovingly redirect ourselves to take the high road and the higher road, we move closer to the mountaintop.

Yes, it all counts -- and that is freedom!