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Monthly Archive May 2019

Poco a poco, se va lejos

Poco a poco, se va lejos
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 31, 2019

I attended a high school graduation last weekend for a family member where the school’s Spanish teacher gave the commencement address. There was one sentence he spoke in Spanish that captured my attention which was poco a poco, se va lejos. Translated this means little by little, you go far.

This resonated with me deeply as I genuinely believe that it’s in the tiny daily accomplishments where we build our strength to go far.  Just like the runner who trains little by little, adding ten percent to their mileage for each run to build their strength for an upcoming marathon, then the day of the marathon arrives, and it’s time to run far. The runner has built up the fortitude little by little over time for this great achievement.

There are small adjustments you can make in your daily life, which will cause you to live a freer, fuller, more expanded version of your highest and best self.  Whether it’s adding five minutes of meditation time in the morning and evening, writing a simple gratitude list first thing in the morning and before going to sleep at night, or smiling more, these tiny changes create significant results.

While these slight adjustments may seem too small or insignificant to produce results, poco a poco, or, little by little, a shift begins to occur.  The transformation can be so subtle as to go unnoticed by you alone.  However, the people around you notice new freedom and happiness about you that continues to expand. Suddenly there’s a joyful spring in your step which was but a dull stomp before.  People will want to know your secret, and you can tell them poco a poco, se va lejos.

In chaos theory, this concept is called the butterfly effect, which states that a small change in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in substantial differences in a later state.  Simple systems can also demonstrate the butterfly effect.

Begin to ponder which small change you can make in your life today that will alter the way you move through the world.  What is one thing you can start doing or stop doing that will lead to a life of more joyful expression or freedom?

Try alternating your daily routine by putting on your other sock and shoe first, or taking an alternate route to work.  When sitting down to pay bills, speak a blessing of gratitude for the gift you received from the service provided.  I’m so grateful for hot running water, a roof over my head, preservation of food, clean clothes, and the ability to connect with others using my smartphone.  Maybe you wake up a little early to go to the gym, to pray and meditate, or to journal.

Whatever you choose, make it a small adjustment that is workable for you in your life, commit to it, and follow through.  Enjoy the journey and have fun.

Also, remember to smile.

And so it is.

Transformation

Transformation
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 24, 2019

Dictionary.com defines transformation as a change in form, appearance, nature, or character.  A timeless example of transformation is the metamorphosis that the caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly.

As soon as the egg hatches into a baby caterpillar it begins to feed on the nutrients it needs to grow, starting with eating the eggshell from which it hatched, then its host plant.  One day the caterpillar has eaten enough and hangs itself upside down from a twig or a leaf and spins a cocoon for protection as it goes through the next stage of its development.

Neatly wrapped in its cocoon, the caterpillar releases enzymes to dissolve its tissues, and all but a few groups of some highly organized cells remain.  It is now in a cosmic soup, neither a caterpillar nor a butterfly.  These groups of highly organized cells feed on the dissolved tissues to begin the formation of the butterfly.  Suddenly, one day, the butterfly is fully formed and emerges from the cocoon brand new, completely transformed.

In the same sense, your spiritual journey involves radical transformation as your consciousness of God expands.  It is written in the Bible that Jesus observed, “You have eyes but do not see; you have ears but do not hear.”  What he was saying was that the kingdom of heaven is within and all around you, but you do not see it because you are looking through the filter of your beliefs.  Those deeply held beliefs are preventing you from bearing witness to the mighty and magnificent kingdom of heaven in all its majesty and glory.  All of the love, joy, beauty, wisdom, harmony, bliss, abundance, and peace are already here now, and available to you, but you cannot see it.

Your spiritual transformation is the revelation of spirit beyond your history.  It’s not the best of your past coming into your future, rather an unprecedented revelation of wholeness, oneness, goodness, and love that you could not have imagined.  It emerges with beauty, grace, and radiant magnificence, just like the butterfly.  You begin to see and hear from a new understanding.  You no longer live your life with the filter of a default belief system, which was a product of your upbringing, based on societal and parental influences.

Be gentle and kind with yourself as you enter the cosmic soup of transformation.  Create a space for yourself that is nurturing and cozy.  Allow the thoughts and beliefs which no longer serve you or your highest good to be dissolved and disintegrated.  Something wonderful wants to emerge through, and as you, will you allow it?

Know that your wings are being prepared and soon you will take flight into your spiritual magnificence.  Your eyes are being made to see and your ears being made to hear all of the love, joy, beauty, wisdom, harmony, bliss, abundance, and peace that are available to you now.

May you be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

And so it is.

Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 17, 2019

Ernest Holmes, American New Thought writer, teacher, leader and the founder of our Spiritual movement known as Religious Science wrote, “The whole purpose of the Science of Mind is to reconcile the apparent separation of the spiritual world, which must be Perfect, with the material world, which appears imperfect.” [Science of Mind, page 448.1]

I spent some time in India ten years ago with thirteen traveling companions and a tour guide who, thankfully, handled all of the travel arrangements.  As soon as you step out of the airplane, India greets you with her intensity and depth.  As a third world country, you see things you’ve never seen before or even imagined to be possible.  Love and compassion wash over and through you as you take it all in.

One of the locals in Rajasthan shared with me that American people have said to him that it was hard for them to be in India because it was difficult to bear witness to so much poverty.  He responded that they did not live in poverty according to their values.  They might have eight people living together in a small room and love the close, intimate time they get to spend together.  He said that they believe Americans live in poverty because we have 2,500 square feet homes with two to three people living there.  That seemed very sad and lonely to them, like poverty.

Being human can be messy at times and appear imperfect.  We are each perfectly imperfect, and we would all do well to be proud of our unique individual imperfections.  Thinking you are alone in your suffering creates separation from others and God.  If you are dealing with something troubling in your life right now, I invite you to remember that you are not alone.  Additionally, as you are made in the image and likeness of God, you are the living presence of love endowed with the wholeness of spiritual perfection within you.  Beyond any appearance is the spiritual prototype of your good, your highest and best self, waiting to be noticed.  Say yes to this good.

Amid your suffering, if you could imagine your spiritual perfection and know that there is that within you which has never been hurt, harmed, deceived, betrayed or ill, and focus on that, your suffering would decrease.

In difficult times we tend to focus on the difficulty which perpetuates it and the suffering around it.  Instead of focusing on the source of the pain, the group of thoughts you’re having that perpetuate it and make it worse, imagine what you would love to experience instead.  Keep focusing on that, and bring it into your prayer and meditation, create a vision board or journal about it and talk about it with your friends.  Share it as a possibility that you’re living into in the here and now.  Your spiritual magnificence awaits.

Know that the Universe is always conspiring for your highest and best good.

And so it is.

Contemplating Grace

Contemplating Grace
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 10, 2019

I find a deep connection in nature, and I get out there every chance I get. It’s so natural and unadorned, yet majestic and beautiful.

I have been a finder of heart-shaped things and other symbols in nature like arrows pointing the way for many years now. I’ve only recently started writing about it.  Today was different though.  Today I found grace, just beyond the shoreline carved into the sand where the elegant ocean waves meet the land.  Someone had carved the word into the sand, and I walked by in the right and perfect time to see it.  She is subtle and worthy of approbation, grace, as are we all.  When this type of experience occurs for me, it fills my heart with love. It’s as if everything conspired for that moment to happen.  It reminded me that I’m walking on holy ground.

Grace is not reserved only for the Saints or royalty.  Ordinary, everyday grace occurs when you realize that you are made of the very essence of God.  It may appear as a feeling of love washing over you or an unexpected insight that arises from the deepest place within you.  Grace may arise in an undesirable way and may appear painful and messy like the end of a relationship or an unexpected job loss.  Painful endings are magnificent beginnings in disguise.  One might call this fierce grace.  I believe that life is always conspiring for our highest and greatest good.

If you’ve ever fallen from grace, fear not, for she is generous and distinguished, and you are well blessed and highly favored.  Your presence will be home to the kindness of grace once again.

We can always take a backward step into the pure potentiality of the present moment.

The human dilemma of duality and the concept of a separate self creates thoughts of suffering surrounding it.   In a moment of grace those addictive thoughts that perpetuate suffering become uninteresting and less thrilling than the pure goodness of remembering who you truly are.

Instead of falling from grace we are called to fall into grace.  To fall into life wholly and completely as the great mystery, allowing it to reveal the multitude of gifts and magnificent blessings of it.  Surrendering to the Divine as the mystical truth and essence of who and what you are is the calling.  You can fall into grace in the same way you fall into the embrace of a loved one to be held and cared for, or the feeling of falling asleep at night when your head hits the pillow.

Just for a few minutes, move out of me, you, mine, his and her mentality, and into pure Consciousness.  Be undisturbed by the hoopla, or the delusions of the mind, and rest in the Absolute.  Let go of identifying with any personal stories that create an individual self, and abide in Unified Awareness.  Let the Presence shine through and as you.

And so it is.

Compassion In Action

Compassion In Action
by Rev. Elizabeth Rowley,
Spiritual Director
May 3, 2019

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary the words pity, sympathy, empathy, and compassion are listed as synonyms for one another.  It’s vital for the spiritually awakened heart and mind to have a clear distinction of the definition of each word.

To feel pity is to feel sorrow for one’s suffering, distress, or unhappiness.  In the movie Rocky III, the character Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T was interviewed before the big fight and asked if he hated Rocky Balboa.  He said, “No I don’t hate Balboa, I pity the fool.”  This was because he felt bad for how much Rocky was about to suffer.

To feel sympathy is to understand the feelings of another with the ability to commiserate.  As in, “Oh yes, I understand you feeling that way.”  You might offer a friend a Hallmark card or a thoughtful gift to bring comfort in times of sorrow.

Empathy takes sympathy deeper in that you can now walk a mile in another person’s shoes. You acknowledge your shared humanity with another and can imagine what it must be like for the person to be experiencing what they are. You’re able to tune into another person’s emotional experience and feel what they are feeling.

Compassion is the next level. Compassion is selfless love.  It is the feeling that you will do something for someone even if it’s not in your self-interest.  Compassion is love in action. It’s walking a mile in another person’s shoes and then doing something about it. It’s not a syrupy, sweet way of interacting with others.  For the spiritually awakened heart, it is a selfless love that expresses as it needs to. Sometimes what’s called for is tough love and other times it’s a soothing balm of comforting love. Either way, the motive is always love.

We are all interconnected, and come from the same Source. If we can live, move, and have our being from this place of oneness, recognizing and remembering that we are all part of the human family, can you imagine what else is possible?  I believe we are called to take inspired, compassionate action wherever possible.

In Hindu mythology, there is a popular, well-adored deity known as Lord Hanuman, the monkey God.  Hanuman is adored for his embodiment of love, devotion, intelligence, duty, compassion, strength, courage, and loyalty. Hanuman was deeply devoted to Lord Rama whose brother was severely injured in a great battle and about to die.  Hanuman flew off to search high up in the Himalayas for a life-saving herb.  Not knowing which herb was needed, he brought the entire mountain of Dronagiri back to him in one hand.

How might you bring compassion in action to the world today?  You don’t have to carry an entire mountain to someone.  Maybe it’s a smile, a ride, a phone call, or a random act of kindness. Perhaps it’s self-compassion which motivates you to speak kind and loving words to yourself and others.

And so it is.