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Christmas Wishes

Posted December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas

I remember so well the intense excitement and anticipation I felt as a child waiting for Christmas, and the tremendous let-down when all of it was over.

I also remember the first time, as an adult, I exclaimed, “I'm so glad the holidays are over!”

Somewhere along the way, the holidays became hard work.

Where is the balance between celebrating the season and carrying out our adult duties with presents, food, travel and guests?

Just this week, I made a routine trip to the post office and found the line nearly out the door. “Aw, Christmas!” I sighed. Then I was ashamed of myself for complaining.

That's the double bind of the holidays. We're supposed to perform all sorts of extra work and, by God, BE HAPPY!

Well, I do envision happiness for you this holiday. Here are my Christmas wishes for you:

That you spend quality time with people you love, and the others don't get under your skin so much this year.

That you eat great food, maybe with something new and delicious among the familiar family recipes.

That you indulge in your favorite entertainment, whether it's a Christmas concert, a favorite movie, a walk through the Trail of Lights or a game of charades with family. Or football on TV or in your front yard.

Think of whatever makes it FEEL like Christmas to you, and do that.

And if the holiday feels off-kilter this year – a loved one isn't with you, the family has experienced a loss or you've moved to a new place -- consciously start a new tradition. It can be small. A special ornament. A song. Just give it thought.

If your Christmas this year is small and quiet, take a deep breath and enjoy it.

If your holiday is big and boisterous, take a deep breath and enjoy it.

Maybe most important of all, take an hour by yourself – okay, even 10 minutes – to quiet your mind. Disengage from activities, set aside your to-do list and reflect on the divine within.

Remember how Jesus continually slipped away from the crowds to realign with the Presence? Do that.

Because this season is not only about Jesus' birth, but yours. You, too, brought God to earth in human form. You, too, are a shining star. You, too, inspired a chorus of angels.

You are necessary to the universe, playing a key role in the Whole. This lifetime is your soul's opportunity to grow and love and to practice being divine in a very human place.

So let Christmas be your reminder that your truest, deepest Self is a part of God. Light a candle, and know it reflects the light in you.


Star Light, Star Bright

Posted December 14, 2013


I've got a pithy quote for you.

You know how sometimes, someone will put into just a few words what you've been struggling to say? Happens to me all the time. Especially in church, when a three-minute song neatly conveys what I just spent 20 minutes fumbling to describe.

Because I am such a SPIRITUAL GIANT, it doesn't hurt my feelings! Okay, maybe a tinge of envy.

Anyway, one of the things I have struggled to say through the years is that our good already exists; we just have to let it in. And people who clearly can't see any good around them raise their eyebrows at me.

Well, Mike Dooley is a wacky and delightful spiritual teacher who sends out daily emails, and this week he used a little metaphor that completely captured this idea of good already existing.

Miracles happen a good bit before you see their effects. Like starlight reaching the earth, except faster. Which means some really huge ones may have already happened.

Act surprised,

The Universe

Yes! Like starlight that left a sun years before the light reached our eyes. That twinkle we are seeing happened long ago but has finally entered our awareness.

This is why you hear people say, “It's already done in Spirit.” It's why we use affirmative prayer to claim the good that is already here. Or why Abraham-Hicks says your desires are 99 percent complete before they manifest in the physical world. That's why recovery groups say not to leave before your miracle happens.

Like a child waiting for Christmas, waiting for anything, consider that a wonderful event already has been formed and is on its way to you. Pretend, if you have to.

What a boost to our faith, if we could trust that the good we seek already exists and is headed our way.

It doesn't literally have to travel a distance, of course. At least, I don't believe a supreme being is out there “sending” us stuff. I'm not sure how it works. I just know it's already done before we see it.

So how can we speed up the process? Believe. I know I use this quote from Jesus all the time, but it so neatly captures the spiritual law: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

The star is already shining; just wait for the light.

What slows down the process? Same thing – belief. Or rather, disbelief. It's not really coming, I don't deserve it, this stuff doesn't work, nothing ever works out for me, this situation is too hard to overcome. Too sick, too broke, too deep in the hole for the light to reach.

Sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on “good,” assuming it means we will be happy. The good, instead, might well be a challenge, even a crisis, that calls forth our highest response.

Brene Brown, the shame researcher (Daring Greatly), says people who have never overcome adversity have no hope. Which makes sense. Knowing you can survive tough times means you can look forward to the rest of your life, confident of handling whatever comes up.

And a book I've been reading titled Oneness, by a woman who calls herself Rasha and writes from her communion with the Presence, says this:

“Dwell not upon what is lacking in your life, but regard those circumstances with gratitude. Understand that they pave the way for the shift in consciousness that would put you in a position to manifest precisely what you have come into this lifetime to do. A seemingly negative situation may well be the gateway to the precise shift in focus that will deliver you into the arena where you can do your life's work.”

In other words, it's happening for you.

See there? Just four words to sum up how the universe works, no matter the circumstances. It's happening for you.

And six more words to bolster belief: The light is on the way.

PS -- While I was reading, I also ran across a blog from A.J. Leon, who is becoming one of my favorite offbeat writers, about the creative wonders of the Universe. It's here if you'd like to read it.


Endless Hallways

Posted December 7, 2013

narrow hallway

A friend of mine from childhood developed serious mental illness as a young adult, and her mother became exhausted by caring for her and searching for help.

“How do you stand it?” someone asked her.

“Where do I go to resign?” the mother answered.

That's the thing about families: We can't resign. We can't change our minds or send someone back like a package broken in shipping. We are tied to them forever.

Yes, we can ignore their needs and remove ourselves from the situation. Sometimes that's the sad but healthy choice to be made. Still, the needs remain. Someone, somewhere, is going to have to help.

When I was working on my upcoming book, Hell in the Hallway, Light at the Door, I began to hear from people whose hallways seemed to have no doorways leading out. These people have mentally or physically disabled family members who, even as adults, will never function independently.

The family wakes up every day to an uncertain world ruled by the never-ending needs of another. And some of them go to bed at night behind locked doors for protection from someone they love.

This is beyond caregiving. This is living in a different reality than the rest of us.

And this is, perhaps, where I feel most inadequate as a minister or author. I haven't experienced anything remotely like what these families are going through.

But since I started to listen more closely, I hear these stories everywhere.

So I'm asking you, if you fit this description: How do you stand it? What helps? What gets you through each day?

I usually insist that any situation brings gifts and good, but has that been true for you?

I would be honored to hear whatever you're willing to share. If you post your story here, it might help others who are new to such a situation. But you may also email me privately.

When did the door close on what you thought would be a normal life? How have you navigated the darkness of the hallway? Has there been a new door that has opened for you?

Not a cure, not a reprieve, but maybe it was a doorway within yourself, a shift into peace or acceptance that at least ended your hell if not your hallway.

When I talk to people about the difficulties in their lives, one of my greatest fears is that I will say or write something so impossibly glib, or that I will spout such pat answers to life's problems, that I not only will fail to help them but will do actual harm.

So what would help? And how would you guide someone else who wakes up every day to face the intractable demands of a family member?


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