Thank You Sargent Miller

Yesterday was an exciting day. I got my picture taken with this police officer:

Thank you Sargent Miller. Because of this, I got $20 off my entry fee for the Baytown Jail Break half marathon. It was fun to hunt down a cop and get a picture. Further, Sargent Miller was helping some other people when I drove up to the police station and he showed lots of kindness.

I am in a happy place with my running. I am not signed up for any ultras, or injured from my 45 mile race last week; hence my speeds are creeping up. I feel good.

Today\’s Course in Miracles lesson: \”Eternal Holiness abides in me.\” To which I add: Stately Silent Love has set me free.This morning I was once again reading Emmett Fox. His recommendation was that everyone needs to do their own spiritual work; but practice of the presence of God is best. In His presence, I remember service. I am much happier under this attitude and outlook on life.

I thought of the Benedictine \”school of the Lord\’s service\” as I punched in the key code for the community gate this morning, going out for my run. I thought, \”How can anyone not realize that all of life is a school for the Lord\’s service. Maybe being in a convent is actually a hindrance.\” As I ran I thought about a meeting I have today with a long time friend, maybe the last time I see him. He is Catholic. thinking of him lead me to thinking about The Church and how I can\’t ethically support the hierarchy. Mixed in is musing about how most Catholics think that all is good based on the public image of Pope Francis. Ummm…..not…..so not.

But then again, I don\’t think most Christians follow Jesus. Since leaving the convent, I\’ve had access to much scriptural research of all varieties. So I can\’t possibly support any denominational church or religion.

All of these heady thoughts during a pre-dawn run on El Lago.

Practice the presence is the best I can do.

Surrender and do better

One way to get through a day is to remember \”I am a worn and no man.\” (see the 7th degree of humility) Remembering this, I survived 4 years in a monastery where I was in fact below all other precious but annoying little nuns.

Rule of Benedict, Chapter 7: On Humility

The seventh degree of humility
is that he consider himself lower and of less account
than anyone else,
and this not only in verbal protestation
but also with the most heartfelt inner conviction,
humbling himself and saying with the Prophet,
\”But I am a worm and no man,
the scorn of men and the outcast of the people\” (Ps. 21[22]:7).
\”After being exalted, I have been humbled
and covered with confusion\” (Pa. 87:16).
And again,
\”It is good for me that You have humbled me,
that I may learn Your commandments\” (Ps. 118[119]:71).

Another way to get through a day come through the 3rd step of AA: \”Father, I offer myself to you, to do with me and build with me as thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to the will, thy love and thy way of life. May I at last abandon myself utterly to you.\”

Another way is a daily phrase from A Course in Miracles. From the Manual for Teachers: \”The name of Jesus stands for love beyond this world. Jesus is the Word of God. The Word of God is the Atonement.\” or also,
\”I am here only to be truly helpful. I am here to represent Him who sent me. I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me. I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me. I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.\” (text 2.V)

\”Into thy hands I commend my spirit.\”

What I am saying is that if I abandon my ego, turn my will and my life over to God, I do better. Otherwise, I am a stressed out worrisome mess every day. If I practice downward mobility in a hierarchical sense, that is, stop trying to protect and defend but merely serve, I do better mentally and emotionally. I may or may not do better financially, but that is not the point.

Now I will go to the park and run laps.

Responses Notebook

I started reading a book which is a translation of a book written by Evagrius of Pontus (345 ce). It is called \”Talking Back\” by David Brakke.

In the introduction, there is an explanation of a monastic practice of making a notebook of responses:
Foucault: \”an important too that cultivated persons of antiquity used for the shaping of the self\”… \”…the self formative function of this kind of writing: the compilation of the notebook was itself an exercise in identifying and gathering the best of what one had read or heard; the writer then sought to unify in his own identity and rational action the inevitably disparate elements that he had collected from others\”
Athanasius: \”…the monk should write down the deeds and movements of the soul as if they were to be read by other monks, in this way the monks will form themselves\”

The notebook is in form and function a collection of reminders, notes to self that cultivated persons might compile in the effort to improve himself in virtue.

So, I have been a spiritual seeker for nearly 35 years, starting at the young age of 22 when I went to Israel. I note that I am a product of various traditions: Alcoholics Anonymous, Christianity, Benedictine monasticism, A Course in Miracles. I have studied many of the books by Paul Brunton. Talk about notebooks! Brunton was prolific.

I\’ve been interested in somehow integrating these various spiritual outlooks into one theology but it is an overwhelming idea. For example, Benedict had 12 steps of humility. Guigo II had 12 meditations in his Ladder of Monks. AA has 12 steps.

If I was just going after alcoholism, I might suggest the following chapters of a notebook of responses:

  • On the desire to drink
  • On going to meetings
  • On sponsorship
  • On service
  • On inventories
  • On prayer and meditation
  • On the realm of the spirit
As a working person, I doubt I\’d have the patience to compile my responses. Especially since I continue to find additional responses. *sigh* That fact of my daily education is in itself a response.

Total Self Gift

from ACIM:

  • The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world.
  • …his (Holy Spirit\’s) goal replaces yours (ego\’s)…
  • …as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker (ego), so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships (Holy Spirit)…
  • …the goal of the relationship (which has been given to the Holy Spirit) is abruptly shifted (by the Holy Spirit) to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit, to use for his purposes.

When I was in the monastery and approaching the making of my vows, I studied the idea of \”total self gift.\” It was taught to me that the making of the vow meant that I had totally given myself to God. This notion was one of the strong desires I had for becoming a nun; but also it was a promotional point for \”selling\” monastic life to young women. Yes, I desperately want to give my self to God. The Rule of Benedict indicates that this can only be done in the monastery.

So when I got kicked out, I was devestaed because I thought my opportunity for \”total self gift\” was robbed from me. It seemed totally unfair that an institution could decide to deny me that opportunity.

Even though I became \”secular\” religious, I never gave up on my total self gift. As much as possible, I devote my time and effort to God. Working at my job is part of listening to God and knowing God. Running is contemplation. What I eat or not is part of The Relationship. There is only one relationship that any of us have: our Relationship with God. Our human interactions are either part of The Relationship, because they have been given to the Holy Spirit; or they are part of the ego because we are using them for our own goals.

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Give up your life to Him; and join me on the Road to Happy Destiny!

Snow, Running and Love

From the ACIM text:

  • The Son of God (meaning each of us and all of us collectively) believes that he is lost in guilt, alone in a dark world where pain is pressing everywhere upon him from without. When he has looked within and seen the radiance there, he will remember how much his Father loves him.
  • In shining peace within you is the perfect purity in which you were created. Fear not to look upon the lovely truth in you. Look through the cloud of guilt that dims your vision, and look past darkness to the holy place where you will see the light. The altar to your Father is as pure as He Who raised it to Himself. Nothing can keep you from what Christ would have you see.
  • Release guilt as you would be released. There is no other way to look within and see the light of love, shining as steadily and as surely as God Himself has always loved His Son (us).

These passages are examples of the utterly awesome expression of:

  1. how beautiful humans are on the inside,
  2. how a God of Love must see us as only love,
  3. how all we could possibly be is love,
  4. and what we do is look beyond the physical illusion to see only the shining light of Christ.

Finally, I am being taught that I (and everyone) am a good thing: light and love. I am being taught what to do about my resentments toward others and my felt guilt resulting from condemning others. I am learning how to stop judging and condemning others. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Do I want the better way? Yes! Now, I have alot of contemplative work to do.

Yesterday, I got the stitches out of my arm. I didn\’t even see the doctor and I have no follow up visits. The saga of my arm is over. I\’ll have to let go of the drama.

This morning, I got up at 3:05 with the alarm. I looked out and saw no snow. I pondered. At 4:20, I went out for my run. It was a desperate last ditch effort to get in a run before mother nature makes the streets too slippery for running (and I am confined to the treadmill). I was cheating God by running before He could stop me. I will cheat God by running on the treadmill despite the weather. You see? Human ego life is about cheating God; because we think He is against us. All of my life is about self protection; seeking to satisfy myself and do what I want.

If God is Love, He cannot possibly be against us. God, Who is Love, does not even see my ego world with all its pain and self protective measures. He only sees Love, in me and everywhere. Anything other than love is my ego deluded world. I have to face that truth. The world I see is my ego deluded world. ACIM teaches me to see only with holiness as my vision; not my physical eyes. When I use holiness as my vision, I see Love, light, Divine Union, Peace. Do I want it? Yes. Will I do the work? Yes. I truely don\’t want to finish my life with cheating God as my only modus operandi.

As I was out running, it started to snow. As I finished my run, I was in that peaceful silent world where a blanket of white envelops and soothes. Gently and peacefully, the snow flakes fall and transform everything into quiet whiteness, peace.

A word about death. Some people are shocked when I mention it. I claim that I meditate and bring out the awareness which is denied by the unconscious people. The Rule of Benedict says, \”…keep death daily before your eyes…\” (#47 of the Tools for Good Works). Buddhists meditate on death. My introspective musings are the natural outcome of meditation. That said, all my pain pills got flushed down the toilet last Saturday (with witnesses). I am committed to finishing my life\’s journey; whatever that means.

Don\’t forget, less than a month to prepare, Spirit Flower will be 50 on January 12th, 2009. You are invited to her e-bash, right here on this blog. I can\’t make any promises for doing anything great for 2009 to celebrate; except I am going to apply for a passport in case I need to go to Canada.

Vacation Tuesday

Yesterday, I went to visit the monastery I used to live at. It is a beautiful ornate brick design that appears every bit as stately and solumn as you might imagine. In the fall, it is surrounded by outrageous fall colors. The chapel is of \”high church\” design, filled with statues of Benedictine women and its walls are covered with Gospel mosaics.

The joy of my visit was my time with 92 year old Sister Priscilla. When I first lived with the sisters, I lived in a forest in Oklahoma. They had a Catholic Ashram. Sister Priscilla was there with four other sisters. Together we practiced contemplative sitting for 2 1/2 hours a day, prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, gathered for communion; and cooked and cleaned cabins for a few guests.

I loved Sr Priscilla. She is tiny, not much above my waist. She is a fire ball. A year ago, she left the forest and went to live in the sister\’s house for assisted living. Priscilla has her own room and sneaks around doing things against the rules. I love this about her. Anyway, I visited in her room for an hour and she walked me all around the large house, then we went outside to the Altar Bread Department. I felt so incredibly special to be in her presence for a couple of hours.

One time, about two weeks after I got kicked out of the order, I went down to Oklahoma to Sr Priscilla\’s 65th anniversary of monastic life. I was secretly invited. I went walking into the kitchen where she was standing and totally surprised her. Yesterday, I walked down to the door into the assisted living house, and I could see her through the window, standing in the dining room. She looked up totally surprised. She said she thought she was seeing a vision.

Sr Priscilla said she thought about me alot, but after yesterday, I am not just a memory, I am an actual person who could show up any day. I am a haunting ghost unless I follow through on the friendship. Gulp! I\’ll need to visit the monastery more often.

Silence and Love

In the Rule of Benedict, it says, \”…there are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence…so important is silence…the disciple is to be silent and listen.\”

I have been quiet here for only a couple of days. I sometimes think that any words I say are my ego talking. I am not talking about arrogance or pride; but the tiny mad idea that wanted God to treat it special. Since God doesn\’t treat anyone special, the tiny mad idea left God and created this ego world. The tiny mad idea got the power to do this because one day, the Son of God (all of us before we separated from God) remembered not to laugh at it. Pay attention, remembering not to laugh is different than forgetting to laugh. The tiny mad idea is symbolized by the serpent in the garden of Eden. But the ending of the story is not that God kicked us out of heaven; but that having attained an ego consciousness, we left heaven seeking the specialness not of God. The tiny mad idea became afraid of God and hid itself in this ego world.

I really should be quiet. None of this opinion is worth a hill of beans.

From ACIM:

  • …accept only loving thoughts…
  • …raise love to clear-cut unequivocal predominance…
  • …fear\’s only purpose…to conceal love..

This morning, I got up at 4, did my prayer and meditation, got in the car at 5:30 to drive to the city, began a 3 hour run at 6:30, changed clothes in the car and tried to decide what to do. Instead of going to the fellowship, I went to Mass.

I have no idea why I ever go to the parish for Mass. I like the music, but the sermons seem to always be about money or politics. Today, after listening to a really long pre-Mass plea for money, I really considered leaving. I looked around for my God-mother; but low and behold, right behind me was someone else I knew. Now I was stuck. I suffered through a bunch of other time wasters like sending the kids out, sending the catechumins out, baptisms and a sermon on stewardship before I remembered that I had a card in my pocket with the above ACIM stuff written on it. I pulled it out and remembered to accept only loving thoughts.

I remembered that love was being concealed in my mind right before my eyes. \”Right before my eyes\” means literally, love was concealed in my mind, not out there. It is possible that the only reason I went to church was to see what my ego would say about it so that I could talk to Jesus and do something different with my mind. I was saved from continuing to be unconscious of my practice of concealing love from myself and everyone else.

After that, I shut my eyes and envisioned light. Light is all there really is. Light is love and light is Heaven and light is peace. Light is my responsibility.

Fear is the tiny mad idea. It works furiously to conceal love; and for the most part we let it, becoming unconscious of the whole process. We can instead remember to laugh. We can instead remember to deny power to the tiny mad idea, remember all power is of God, and remember this for everyone around us. \”Thus does the Holy Spirit replace fear with love…\” Laughing at the tiny mad idea is done consciously when I accept only loving thoughts.

Accepting only loving thoughts means I am no longer in a fight with God for specialness; and in silence, I slip back into Heaven.

Who Cares?

Really, this is just a blog. This blog is the musings of a crazy woman!

In my sobriety, fasting, silence and celibacy, I renounce the primary inclinations of life. Renunciation is for the purpose of focusing on God, being devoted to God instead of all other choices. I recognize that there are no other gods or comforters but God and the Holy Spirit. It is a \”fake it til you make it\” existence. I mean, I am not enlightened but I go through the motions wishing I was. This action is not a sin. Being unenlightened is nothing to be ashamed of. I have not experienced the utter bliss of joyful ecstasy; but I am not too proud to walk the path of renunciation, patiently whittling away at my ego, until IT happens. However (and this is big), I daily have moments of the Holy Spirit\’s thinking. From this, I know that God is in me and does get through to me. He and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are my guests.

This morning, I cried out to God, \”Why am I here?\” What I thought next was that I am here because I love God and He asked me to come. I am made of love and:

I
AM
JUST
BEING
LOVE
That is it nothing more. Take each word one at a time. Take the words two at a time. Take the words in the various forms of tense and extension (ie Just is also justice, am and being are the same infinitive: to be).
I
AM JUST
BEING LOVE
I AM
JUST
BEING LOVE
Saying that I came because God wanted me and I love Him, so I obeyed sounds like a totally body/material world-centric thesis. Does this agree with the ACIM premise that the separation never occurred and this world is an illusion? Yes, because I said I was made of love by God. Being made of love by God is a constant and eternal. What I or anyone perceives of my physical life may not be what I really am. Yet still I am made of love and extend the love even into perception. The root of my being, the illusion of my life, the illusion of your life; all is love.
I love Him so I obeyed Him and I came. I was made. Now, I am here being love. My renunciation strips away everything else.
From ACIM:
  • …do not be satisfied with imaginary comforters, for the Comforter of God is in you.
  • …His peace surrounds you silently. God is very quiet…
  • The Great Light always surrounds you and shines out from you.
  • Walk in the light…God leads you.

In the Rule of Benedict, there is a chapter on silence. One translation entitles it \”Cherishing Silence in the Monastery.\” Related to ACIM, cherishing silence is the same as cherishing God, who is silent. Here is a line from the chapter on silence, \”As for vulgarity and idle gossip repeated for the sake of a laugh, such talk is forbidden at all times…\” People criticize me for not joining their fun, but to me it is not fun. Never have I been sarcastic or told a joke where someone else was not attacked; maybe subtly, but it is always there. What joke is not an attack on either someone\’s race, sexuality, gender, economic means, intelligence, physical stature, mistake, etc.

I see how such talk is a conscious act of separation between me and God. Since all people are God, any joking separates and attacks the God in them. So I try not to participate. I just watch and keep silent. I really want God more than guffaws.

Fire and Humility

Last evening, as I sat at my table in silence, gazing, I realized that my spirituality does not make me better than other people. I became conscious that at some level my ego hoped that spirituality would cause me to excell or be revered (ie special to God and worshiped by others). I am less successful at life than many many people. In fact large quantities of unspiritual people are hugely successful. I can barely get through a day. I am usually terrified of work and filled with hatred. Somehow, this reminded me of the seventh step of humility from the Rule of Benedict: I am a worm and no man. I love it when I voluntarily grovel in the dust. It is much easier (emotionally) to consciously be still and not compete or think I\’m better.

This morning, I was once again pondering my spirituality. Once again I was wondering how some people have the Oneness experience and others of us have the slow growth experience. I worked at stopping my thinking and not expecting anything. I realized that the muddiness of my exterior life will never go away. My problems may look different than other people\’s but the muddiness and futile attempts to fix them is the same. Nothing in the ego world can be fixed. Nothing, not a new job or a relationship or money, will ever make the mud go away. It will only always be muddy. A thought went through my head, \”There must be an inner fire, a blazing essence, which is Christ, which is everywhere and in everyone.\” I cannot see the fire. Its emotion is subtle knowing. I know it. The fire is the God Presence, Love. Seeing the fire in others and all around me is my new attitude which is grateful and doesn\’t fight the mud.

And so here I am at this muddy place where I work. I look not to outward things to satisfy me. All I find out there is problems. My problems are (metaphysically and directly) of my own making. I want them. I make them. I don\’t know how to quit; but fighting them doesn\’t help. It is so much easier to just swim in the mud than to try to fix it. In fact, loving the mud is my best chance for happiness!

This evening, when I go running in the pouring rain, I will be thinking about the fire and humility.

Before I went to the monastery, I \”worked\” AA\’s 12 Steps. After I went to the monastery, I was always fascinated with Benedict\’s 12 steps of humility. To me, it is worthwhile to keep these in your pocket or on the wall at work. It is so much easier to be humble than proud. Here is an excerpt from each:

  • The first degree of humility, then, is that a person, always keeping the fear of God before his eyes, should avoid with the utmost care all forgetfulness, and be ever mindful of all that God has commanded…
  • The second degree of humility is, that a person, loving not his own will, delight not in gratifying his desires…
  • The third degree of humility is, that a person for the love of God submit himself to his superior in all obedience, imitating thereby the Lord…
  • The fourth degree of humility is, that if, in this very obedience, hard and contrary things, nay even injuries, are done to a person, he should take hold silently on patience, and, bearing up bravely, grow not weary nor depart…
  • The fifth degree of humility is not to conceal from one\’s Abbot the evil thoughts that beset one\’s heart, nor the sins committed in secret, but to manifest them in humble confession…
  • The sixth degree of humility is, that a monk be content with all that is mean and poor, and, in all that is enjoined him, esteem himself a sinful and unworthy laborer…
  • The seventh degree of humility is, that a person not only call himself with his own tongue lower and viler than all men, but also consider himself thus with inmost convictions, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet: \”I am a worm and not a man…
  • The eighth degree of humility is, that a monk do nothing except what the common rule of the monastery or the example of the seniors direct.
  • The ninth degree of humility is, that a monk restrain his tongue from speaking and, maintaining silence…
  • The tenth degree of humility is, that one be not easily moved or quick to laughter, because it is written: \”The fool lifteth up his voice in laughter.\”
  • The eleventh degree of humility is, that, when a monk speaks, he do so gently and without laughter, humbly, gravely, and with few and reasonable words…
  • The twelfth degree of humility is, that a monk, not only in his heart, but also in his very outward appearance, always show his humility to all who see him…

Daniel Day 40 – A New Beginning

From ACIM:

  • You must receive the message you give because it is the message you want.
  • …whenever you see your brothers without it (the spark of God), you are denying God.
  • Look with peace upon your brothers, and God will come rushing into your heart…

In AA, Step 10, we continued to take personal inventory… One of the great things about ACIM is it gives me a different facet every day about how to take my ego\’s inventory. Today, I made a list of the \”messages\” I\’m giving. I made a long list of all the thoughts I have about other people. These thoughts are the messages I send and they are received and reflected back, even if unconsciously.

I want to stop. I look at all the despicable thoughts I have, admit their devestating effects, admit that they block me from love and God; and want to recoil from them as from a hot stove. With God\’s help I can. In AA, we turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God. In ACIM, I ask Jesus to guide my thinking.

In the Rule of Benedict, it says: This is the one who… has laid hold of his thoughts while they were still young and dashed them against Christ.

Yes! I take my inventory. Everyday I take these negative and painful thoughts and give them to Christ. I want my mind healed. Note, I seek healing for my thoughts while they are still young. But truly, my negative thoughts are ancient. I have been thinking negative stuff my whole life. Some people say they don\’t take their inventory because they beat themselves up. I rejoice and happily give my crap to Jesus. Then I am free.

Officially, my fast is over, but I have recalibrated and learned how and what to eat for world peace, spirituality and health. I wonder about my interest in the Rule of Benedict. May the spirits of Elijah, Daniel, John Baptist, Anna Prophetess and Jesus continue to walk with me (because I allowed their Love).

I realize that my Daniel Fast was a \”thing\” that is now passed into the realm of normal life; leaving its specialness behind. I go to work every day. I run every day. I pray every day. I have returned to the realm of \”not special.\” How difficult it is to live day in and day out as \”not special.\” When I live as \”not special,\” it is because I want God to be my only focus. I want God to be my only satisfaction. How difficult it is to be \”not special.\” Our culture teaches us to seek specialness: uniqueness, awards, accolades, titles, honor. People will even contradict me saying, \”Oh Laura, yes you are special.\” As if it was wrong to be ordinary. As if a person can\’t be happy or healthy or have self esteem even though they are not special. After my Daniel Fast, I return to being ordinary, not special.