Friday, December 21, 2007

Joy to the World...

Everyone remembers Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In that well-worn but marvelous story, a bitter, miserly, lonely man finally takes inventory of his life (after being encouraged by a series of holiday-obsessed phantoms). Once he sees that focusing only on his interests has left him fearful, angry, and isolated, he decides to become kinder, generous, and mindful of the needs of others. As he lets people into his heart and as he shares the warmth that is generated by the innate, divine spark within him, the quality of his life instantly improves and he finds himself experiencing dramatic joy. This holiday season, let’s reconnect with that powerful lesson and remember that as we see the divine Light in others, It will actually burn more brightly within us; and that is sure to bring us joy!
Happy Holidays,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Choosing Our Good

Reflection by Rev. Durrell Watkins

“See your world as a sort of well-stocked kitchen where every possible ingredient that has ever been…exists in an abundant, never-ending quantity; and see yourself as the chef, soliciting forth from the shelves of your kitchen whatever…you desire, and you are mixing it all together for the creation of your cake, which currently pleases you.” – Abraham-Hicks

My junior high band director was a bit of a screamer. He would screw up his face and yell at people to work harder or to perform better or to stop misbehaving. If the yelling seemed to upset a student, he would then offer some comfort. He would say, “Yelling is just yelling. It only lasts for a second and then its over. Don’t let it shake you up so much.” He was teaching us that we have some control over how we feel, and as we exercise that control, we actually influence what we experience.

The same animated teacher would offer private coaching before musical contests. When a student would make a mistake, sometimes a flurry of other mistakes would follow. Our band director would say, “If you make a mistake, put it out of your mind and keep going. If you focus on the mistake, you’ll make another one. Focus on what you want to do well rather than on the previous mistake.” He was teaching us that our focus determines, at least to some extent, what we will accomplish. Focusing on error attracts more error. It’s better to focus on the desired result than on the past failure. What we focus on tends to show up more.

I didn’t realize that taking an elective music credit in junior high school was actually introducing me to the Law of Attraction; but the lessons that were offered to me in the 7th and 8th grades remain with me still, and in fact seem clearer to me now. We are in charge of where we place our focus. And what we focus on is bound to show up in some way at some time.

This Christmas, let’s give ourselves the gift of positive focus. Let’s think about things that bring hope, joy, and fulfillment. Thoughts that bring regret, sadness, or discontent can be replaced with more positive, hopeful thoughts. The thoughts will produce corresponding feelings, and how we feel is how we’ll experience life. There are all kinds of ingredients in our mental cupboards, but we are the chefs and we choose which ingredients to use. Let’s choose the ones that will make our life a glorious feast. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"One" God

“We believe in one God…maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.” – Nicene Creed

Of course, the fact that a council had to declare, “We believe in ONE God…” suggests that not everyone held such a belief. There was an ancient philosophy that stated a belief in a “higher” or “good” Deity, the God of Heaven and spirit and goodness, and also a belief in a “lower” deity who was petty, jealous, easily angered. It was the jealous, war-like God who was believed to have created the physical world. This view, at least in Christianity, did not become the dominant one. But it must have posed some kind of threat to what would become the “orthodox” view, so we have the statement, “We believe in ONE God…maker of heaven AND earth, of ALL that is, SEEN AND unseen.” Rather than higher and lower, good and bad, worthy and worthless, there is just all that is, and all that is has come from the one Source of all that is…or at least that is the theology that prevailed.

But really, we still believe that “our” God (that is, our perception of what is ultimately real) is the best or true or only real God. We still insist that our view of holiness is right and others are wrong. We are still trying to write and enforce creeds to say only one view has merit, and, naturally enough, it is the view that WE hold.

Still, I wonder how much we honestly believe something that we must protect in a creed. If we were truly confident of our “rightness” (or right-ousness), would we need to silent other views? Wouldn’t dialogue and sharing be a better way to allow the most sound and life-giving spiritual views and practices to come to light? I, for one, believe in one Source of all that is, expressing in, through, and as all that is. I, as often as not, refer to the One as “God.” But what difference would it make if someone else called the “One” evolution? Or the gods? Or Allah? Or Cosmic Consciousness? Or the Ground of Being? Or the Inward Light? Or what if someone doubted there was a “One” at all?

My belief is my own, and yours need not mirror mine for mine to serve me. I don’t know what “we” believe, but “I” believe that there is room for a variety of beliefs. I’ll share mine; you share yours, and let’s enjoy the exchange. In that way, we can be “one” regardless of what we believe about the “One.”

(c) Durrell Watkins 2007