Early this morning, as I lay sleeping, a quiet voice came to me, “Romans 14, 1-12”. It repeated, “Remember Romans 14: 1-12” over and over until I understood that I should claim it to memory. I have come to know this voice as an important guide, Holy Spirit finding a way to get through to me, using me as a vessel and a messenger at times. I repeated the message over and over in my foggy sleep state so that I could recall it later in the day. It is immensely appropriate to some of the events of the world and how we, as spiritually-minded individuals, can find some bit of peace when all seems to be in disharmony, and find our strength in what may seem like weakness to others.
Romans 14: 1-12
1Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
After reading, I cross-referenced this idea to A Course In Miracles. I believe it is a work in which the Christ-light came through to reiterate His central message and clarify many things that have been mis-interpreted or met with confusion.
ACIM T:3:VI:3,5 tells us:
You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers [sisters] totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely BECAUSE you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgment. You do not need judgment to organize your life, and you certainly do not need it to organize yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgment is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.
…(5:6,7) The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgment.
A state of constant judgment makes us weak. We feel exhausted from it. It causes stress on our bodies and leads to disease. It robs us of our peace and joy, which is where miracles come through to us and to others through our illuminated hearts. Yet judgment is such a cherished pastime in the world we have created, seemingly more so with each passing day. We have a world that is quick to label, to assume, and to admonish – not just about a few things, but rather, in an almost constant state of criticism. While all around, in the midst of the heinous and unloving acts, we have so many gentle and loving gestures, people who not only long for peace but have the courage to be peace, and make the choice to hold that energy of love even in the darkness and chaos. We think that argument and condemnation is our strength, but the deepest strength is in our quiet love for one another. Whatever is happening in the world, you can love…even love those who seem like they may not deserve it much – because that is where the greatest transformation lies.
When the Bible says we will give an account of ourselves to God, I believe it means that we will explore what we have learned here, and whether or not we were able to overcome the temptation in the world to condemn others as a means of making ourselves feel better or more worthy. God will see us only with love, because love it what God is. We fear judgment from God, but instead, we should see it as a means of assessing our level of strength, how much we have worked the muscles of loving in an often unloving world.
Live today as if it is an opportunity to strengthen your love and peace muscles. It is your path to a rejuvenated spirit that can contribute deeply to your own healing and the healing of those who are hurting, by merely being there and shining a brighter light.
When we go through hardships in life, it is easy to feel broken or battered. Sometimes it is difficult to see any possible benefit from the hardship, especially when struggles seem to follow one after the other. But our difficulties help us create pearls from our lives – pearls of both wisdom and beauty.
Consider how a pearl is formed in an oyster or mollusk. It is from a parasite that presents itself within the oyster – an irritant that the oyster must protect itself from. By protecting itself from the parasite or irritant, by forming a barrier around it, the pearl is made…beauty comes from within the oyster, and from what was previously just a parasite.
If we apply this to our lives, we can more easily understand and appreciate our own hardships. We are the oyster. We are given irritants in order to bring out our gifts of beauty to the world. Our hardships allow us to create magnificent works of art from our lives. Without the parasite, the oyster would still leave a lovely, even if more ordinary, shell behind; but with the irritant, it produces a rare and wonderful jewel for the world. Our irritants help us produce pearls that enhance the beauty of the world.
One thing that stands out to me, beyond the usual pearl analogy, is that the oyster must protect itself from the parasite. It cannot just live with it as is and produce a pearl, but must form a barrier to protect itself from the harm that might be done by the irritant. In forming that protective barrier of calcium carbonate, the oyster produces the beautiful pearl. If it had not protected itself, it would become diseased and die.
We sometimes feel guilty for shutting out the parasites or irritants that surround us, those situations or persons that attach to us and hold us back, causing us dis-ease. But each such obstacle allows us to produce a work of art if we protect ourselves from it, and essentially shut it out from harming us. We should not feel guilt for creating barriers of protection in our lives. Our purpose is to create beauty through love and through finding our gifts and using them. If irritants attach themselves, it is also our responsibility to shield ourselves from their harm. When another has introduced friction or situations that can hurt us, we must protect in love, not attack. Like the oyster, if we simply isolate the parasite in such a way that it can no longer harm us, we are forming pearls in our lives, we are using the abilities and gifts that God gave us in a way that brings beauty. We are not only helping our own situation, but we are turning a parasite, an irritant, into a work of art. We help ourselves, and we transform another to a state of beauty.
Find ways to peacefully and lovingly address the irritants in your life, things that you might only have seen as parasites or difficulties that you were burdened with. Consider that each is an opportunity to build a pearl, if you will only see it as such and quietly, peacefully shield yourself from its harm. Create the pearl through embracing your hardships, through seeing them as gifts, as foundation for your unique work of art that will contribute breathtaking beauty in the world. By seeing in this way, you can release yourself from being a victim and understand that you have everything you need within you. You can be grateful for your hardships, realizing that they are gifts – and that realization is the greatest gift of all, if you choose to be like the oyster and turn them into pearls, or accept that opportunity.
Hold this thought close in your heart when you encounter the struggles that life brings. You already have what you need to transform them into pearls.
A few years ago, when I felt led down a new path of a deeper spiritual journey, I encountered a turkey vulture, not on the roadside cleaning up remains of a dead animal, but up close and personal, diving and circling all around my house within about 10 feet of me. This went on for several minutes before the bird soared away, and somehow I knew that this unusual display was more than chance, that some higher power was trying to get my attention. I had had several previous odd, direct, and profound encounters with birds or animals during that phase. With each occurrence, I had known from the feeling that came over me that there was some deeper connection or meaning, some presence and power surrounding the event. This time, I did not even know what kind of bird this was as it soared like an eagle in front of me, because I had never seen a vulture so close up in flight, had never imagined that a vulture could be this graceful and beautiful, but I was able to ascertain what it was because of it’s distinctive red head that looked a little like a turkey (hence the name).
Ancient cultures understood how God and Spirit can speak to us through animals. Native Americans also used (or still use) animals in their spiritual practices, or look to them as symbolic messengers. I knew deeply that these birds and animals that came to me in unusual and undeniable ways were calling me to a greater purpose, each providing some sort of guidance or wisdom. My discernment has not led me incorrectly, rather it had connected me to deeper serendipitous events or guided me down my path. Knowing this, I started reading about the Turkey Vulture to derive more meaning from my messenger.
I learned that the turkey vulture’s wing span is approximately 6 feet wide (I can vouch for their incredible size from this animal soaring within 10 feet of me on my deck!). Their task in life is to clean up the mess, but an even more interesting aspect of the turkey vulture is that it is the only bird (or presumably only animal) whose feces is disease free. So the turkey vulture kindly cleans up dead carcasses or rotting flesh, then purifies them from any bacteria – making them perhaps nature’s most perfect cleansing animal. They struggle with take off and appear awkward in early flight, but once they are off the ground, they soar like eagles (often mistaken as such at a distance), and can fly for hours without ever flapping their wings, riding thermals and currents. The turkey vulture that appeared to me did absolute acrobatics around me, looping effortlessly in glorious flight.
They are gentle and non-aggressive creatures, never killing, only cleaning up the mess of what has already been killed. A turkey vulture’s means of protecting itself is not to fight or cause harm, but to regurgitate on itself in order to keep its attacker away, making itself undesirable to stave off harm. It is a meek and gentle being. Since this up-close visit from the turkey vulture, I have often pondered how we tend to judge this animal on its outward, “ugly” appearance and its “gross” habit of being drawn to and eating roadkill, not taking the time to be grateful for its continued deed of being nature’s garbage man, gladly cleaning up the messes that others have left behind. We usually fail to see its absolute beauty – glorious flight, peacefulness, and contributing to the good of the earth. I have wondered if some of those “less desirable” humans (in our judgmental eyes) are our turkey vultures, knowing secretly how to soar…knowing things, doing things that we never take the time to see.
The turkey vulture is symbolic of soulful cleansing, reaching a higher spiritual place…overcoming obstacles that we may encounter when trying to fly, but then soaring like an eagle when we get off the ground…cleansing the world bit by bit, day by day, by offering ourselves in service…being peaceful and non-aggressive, defending ourselves from attack, but only in ways that do not harm others. We should all be more like the turkey vulture. I see the turkey vulture as being much like Jesus and other great spiritual masters – peaceful, cleansing, non-aggressive, often considered down-trodden or less than desirable by society at large – all the while being a Divine model for us to emulate.
The next time you encounter this bird, see it as beautiful…be grateful toward it…acknowledge and thank it…then be more like it in your daily life. The world will surely be a better place if more of us do so.
“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong)
(*This piece first written in 2012, but I think it should be included on this new page, as it has been one of the more popular entries and still applies today):
It has been quite some time since I have created a full blog entry on this page. For the last couple of years, I have confined my sharing to my facebook fanpage, with smaller thoughts and snippets of ideas. I published a book consisting of many thoughts and experiences I had over the preceding several years, but I suddenly had nothing substantial to say in written form. The fanpage grew beyond my expectation (17,555 at this writing…*Note that the fanpage is now at over 350K at this 2015 repost!) , and it seemed to touch people involved, or help guide them in a small way just by sharing simple ideas. But the deeper writing…nothing there. I hosted a radio show, where I was readily able to answer questions and provide support, but nothing came at the keyboard.
Over these last few years years, I have gone through many personal challenges – most not enormous within themselves, but collectively a continued strain that seemed like the opposite of supporting my purpose. Somewhere deep inside, I knew there must be some reason for it, or path that I could not see, but it also frustrated me…Why could I not get help in doing these things that I believed helped others…things that others would say helped change their lives? I carried on, but not without ongoing frustration — mostly at why I wasn’t “getting it’ or what I might be doing wrong.
In spring of 2012, I bought a small business. My finances toward such things as healing work, producing a book, or maintaining a radio show were depleted, my generosity toward others taking its toll. I had to find other means just for my own financial survival. It seemed at the time like a distraction from what was really important– ironically at a time that I still believe holds the potential to change the world. Frustrations mounted as the business I had purchased revealed great misrepresentations in what was sold to me vs. what was actually there, truth exposed, as is happening all around us (and is often hard to digest in its blatancy). This brought on more frustration…a legal battle to make it right. I knew there was something in that process about standing up for myself, but I was tired and sometimes very confused. I relied on some very close spiritual friends to hold me up at the times that I felt beaten.
So why an I writing this now? I am writing this to speak to each of you that feels called to a spiritual path– to bring some form of light to a world that is pregnant with possibilities and ready to deliver a new and fresh paradigm for a new day. It is the “good news” (the “gospel”, I believe), just as Jesus delivered good news over two thousand years ago. We have been told that Jesus will return to the world to save us. Our small minds have assumed that it would be in a singular form, but I believe Jesus will return through the hearts of many who are willing to open their spirits and minds to a new way — those willing to carry the Light until it illuminates all. It will not be for any single religious group, but will be the “Energy of the Christ”, which loves and accepts all. We are THOSE people. If you are reading this, you may already know that you are one part of that whole.
Most recently, the purpose for my path became quite clear to me — with great understanding for “why” much of it happened. I have seen the light of where it might be leading me — and it is brighter than ever. I see a new dawn where we will push through like a new birth. But we need ALL those who have prepared for this time to be who they came here to be.
When Neil Armstrong stepped off Apollo 11 and declared, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” he knew that little step that he made as a single man doing the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other had greater implications to the world. Today, each and every one of us can make that kind of step. We are all connected, we are all One. As we return to that, making our own small contributions toward living in a new way, ushering in new paradigms, we are part of the huge step for mankind. It is time to take that step that you have perhaps resisted, time for that push of energy and purpose that you may have thought you lost in this long journey.
The shifts in energy have been immense. As sensitive beings carrying the Light, or readying ourselves for that, we have felt the impact, we have carried the load and we have become weary from it. But now is the time to keep the faith….take that new step that may seem impossible to take, but will contribute to a better world. Now is not the time to be afraid, now is the time for collective courage.
THIS is what we came here to do…So be strong, and contribute in small ways, knowing that each small step is a giant leap. Lift up your spiritual soul mates, as they lift you up. Recenter your energy, find that determination to listen to your soul and make your own small steps. We can do it together, because we now remember that we are ONE, and when we are One, we are aligned with God, the power of the Universe, the power to create the new world.
And so it is…Go forth and create it through your own light.