That In Which We Live, Move, and Have Our Being

Author: Rivan_Elan aka Pastor Daniel (Page 2 of 3)

Groping in the Dark for God

There is an old story about the Blind Men and the Elephant. Where it came from varies according to the accounts I have read but the stories all agree that the blind men in the story represent religious leaders and philosophers and the elephant is the Divine Presence. Here is the story in my own words:

Some blind men were very curious. They were fascinated by the tales they had heard of this creature called the Elephant and they wanted to explore it further. After careful and sincere study enhanced by their own experience, they came together to share what they knew with others who sought the truth about the Elephant.

“The Elephant is an amazing creature! It is vast like a wall. Vast and unmovable. You reach it and you can go to the right and the Elephant is still there. You can move to the left and the Elephant is there. The Elephant is like a great wall that protects us from harm!”

“Pfah! I don’t know what you found but it is not the true Elephant! The Elephant is not a wall, by no means. The Elephant is like a mighty tree planted in the ground. I myself experienced the true Elephant and far from being a wall, I could wrap my arms around the Elephant even as I wrap them around my children or a tree! It is, as you say, unmovable. But other than that you don’t understand the Elephant at all.”

“He is right about the tree! I myself have experienced the Elephant and it was like the Palm Tree. While I don’t know about this trunk – I did not experience that – but trees have trunks. We can postulate that. But truly it is not a wall. My experience of the Elephant is like a gentle Palm Tree whose leaves sway and move, creating a gentle breeze even in the heat. Yes, I think we can agree the Elephant is a tree and not a wall. This one has a demon and is a false teacher!”

“You are all false and deluded! These trees and walls! None of them is the one True Elephant! The One True Elephant is like a snake, strong like a python but gentle and kind. As I approached the Elephant with fear and trembling it acknowledged me…ME! The Elephant wrapped personally around me like a mighty serpent and even lifted me off the ground and set me gently back down. I felt the tough leathery skin of the Elephant-Serpent. This is the True Elephant and you are all deceivers and liars!”

“What is this talk of the One True Elephant? I too have explored the Elephant and I think it called to another and was answered! I think there may be a Divine Trinity of Elephants all of the same nature only different.”

Heresy! the others screamed. And the discussion of the elephant ended as the wise men began swinging sticks and throwing rocks at one another. Meanwhile, the elephant, who was looking on. Just turned and walked away.

The first man came to the side of the Elephant and experienced it as a wall that he couldn’t get around. When he moved to the left the Elephant walked forward and when he moved to the right the Elephant backed up so he thought it was like a wall. The second man came to the Elephant’s leg and as the Elephant was tired of moving he just stood there immovable like a tree. The man reached around the leg with his arms and tried to move it and when he couldn’t he left – confident that he now understood the Elephant. The next blind man came to the Elephant’s ears and the great floppy ears of the African Elephant seemed to him like the great leaves of a palm tree. He was cooled by the gentle breeze caused by their movement. The other man approached the front and the Elephant wrapped his trunk around him and even picked him up gently before setting him back down. The man left, overjoyed that the Elephant had a personal interaction with him that no one else had.

Each blind man felt that HIS experience of the Elephant was correct and true. He believed that he understood the Elephant and felt that the differing experiences that others had threatened his own belief and understanding because it was different. What none of the blind men realized is that the Elephant was great and powerful and beyond their ability to perceive in its entirety. They were all right about their perception of the Elephant but each one was so small that they were all wrong and none of them understood the elephant in its entirety, nor could they.

Similarly, Moses was told by God if he ever saw Him all at once he would be consumed in flames and simply said, “I Am, That I Am.” But, unfortunately, humanity has tried to place this vast transcendent entity that formed and interacts with the entire universe into a small little God-Box” collection of ideas that they can understand. All of these are a mockery of the Mystery of the Divine, in that our finite little brains can never understand the Mystery in its fullness. I believe that the founders of these world religions were experiencing the same Divine Presence and that the, if brought together, would recognize the truth in the experience of the others.

However, after every great religious leader dies the followers try to “standardize” their beliefs. Too often trying to copy what the leader did and said instead of maintaining their own relationship with the Divine.

I have even heard people say, “God wouldn’t do that.” As if they had such a thorough understanding of this vast mystery that they could tell what God would and wouldn’t do. They MAY be able to thoroughly understand the scriptures but this, to me, is not the same as understanding God. For one thing, people turn to the Bible, as I do each day. However, I understand that the Bible is not God and that God, quite frankly, never told us to close the canon into a book. That was the idea of humans.

The God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (if you believe the Bible,) must still be speaking to His servants. If He didn’t then that would seem to indicate that he has changed. Some scholars came up with the idea that God’s power has different “dispensations” but this is not Biblical and I don’t think it is a godly idea. The idea of dispensations is used by scholars in the West to explain why we don’t see miracles like they used to. John Wesley, whose preaching spawned over 150 different Christian denominations said that there are no different dispensations. The reason we don’t see faith and miracles like they were in the Bible is that “our hearts have grown too cold.”

Indeed, if we are to believe the Christian Pastors of the Third World such miracles still occur with regularity. I find it interesting that they don’t tend to occur as much in enlightenment countries.

I was speaking to a fellow pastor about people who experienced their loved ones coming back to speak to them or encourage them and also about encounters that I had that I can only describe as “demonic” requiring an exorcism for me to end the hazard. His response was interesting. He said he had a close friend who was a Catholic Priest and the Catholic Diocese of Nebraska had investigated hundreds of supposed demonic encounters and only a very minute number seemed to be supernatural. This pastor insisted that “demonic” encounters were psychological or emotional in nature and not real. I responded, “But Michael, some WERE considered to be actual demonic possession.” That ended the discussion as he changed the subject to a game we both enjoyed.

There are mysteries out there that we don’t fully understand and God is one of them. Also, I suspect that some people have developed an idolatrous relationship with the Bible and are worshipping IT instead of the Living God. I used to tell my parishioners that the Bible is just “dead words on a page” unless you read it in the presence and under the guidance of the Presence of the Divine. God is still speaking to us…if we but listen, and he will do it directly or through the Bible as HE/SHE/IT wills it.

Deus Vult!

Join me, share this page, and walk with me as we explore the nature of the Divine Presence. I don’t care what name you use for God as long as you respect the ancient scriptures and the beliefs of others and are open to learning about God. Like the Blind Men I think our modern religions are somewhat “blind” and encourage everyone to follow the religion in which they find the truth but to open themselves to the Divine Presence and give IT precedence over the religious teachings of human organizations. There is an old belief that if we ever learn all the names of God at that point time will end. In English, we look in the Bible and see God but in the original languages “God” is a vast myriad of names and titles. Similarly, “Satan” is not what we would assume reading an English version of the Bible. But that is for another Blog.

I am Rivan Ělän’. (Prounced Rivǝn Ělän´) I used this name in my BlogTalk Radio Show but my parishioners know me as Pastor Daniel.

A Prophesy or Warning

I have hesitated to post this. For over a month every time I do Lectio Divina I have received the same message through the Biblical passages I have read and prayed over. Lectio has always had a special place for me and it is one of the spiritual disciplines I use to get closer to God. It became clear to me that I was getting a message for the world and not just one for my own edification. I tried to avoid it but it kept coming up over and over again. Every session of Lectio continued on this theme until I finally came to believe that until I write it out for others I will not be able to move on in my spiritual walk. I have found that God can even be more stubborn than I am…that is saying something.

I told my wife about what was happening during my Lectio. “I have tried different Bibles because I was beginning to think that mine was just opening up in the same areas because of the way the Bibles have worn. Although, I don’t like to dwell on these “judgment” passages.” But no matter which Bible I used, we have lots, and the results were the same. “Here,” my wife said, “use my Bible, I just bought it and it hasn’t been used yet.” I opened it up and read the passages that follow.

First, a word for those who don’t understand Lectio. I used to teach this in my churches and at religious retreats and still have the materials I wrote for the Order of St. Luke retreat we held at the Seminary.

The idea of Lectio is ancient and has roots in earliest Christianity and possibly even back to ancient Israel. Lectio is on a similar principle to the Benedictine saying of “Ora et Labora” that the monastic life was a balance of Prayer and Work. In Lectio, there are the words “Lectio et Actio” which means “Reading and Action.” As it was first explained to me I was told that even if you don’t believe God speaks to you, you are using the Bible to guide your life, which can’t be all bad. However, I have been doing Lectio since I was a teen and it has been spot on so many times that I cannot believe it is anything but a spiritual exercise and communication with the Divine.

In Lectio, you pray and center yourself in the presence of God. You ask for God’s guidance and open the Bible prayerfully and begin reading where your eyes first fall. You read until a passage “jumps out” at you. Or you can pick a passage that is important to you and use Lectio to deepen your understanding of scripture.

Step One – Lectio – This is the Initial Reading. What does this passage say to readers?

Step Two – Meditatio – This is the second reading of the same passage. What does this passage say to you? What parts or words stand out?

Step Three – Oratio – This is the third reading. What part stands out specifically? What is it saying to you in your own life and what would you say to God in response?

Step Four – Contemplatio – This is a deep meditation on the scripture you have read. What is God saying? Bring together all of the thoughts prior so that you let the passage speak to you through you mind, your heart, and a message for your life.

Step Four – Actio- What does this say about how I should be living my life? What am I to do?

Before, I received what I thought were messages for specific people rather than myself. This is the first time in Actio that I believed that I had a message for the world; a message I am not sure how to spread but I am posting it here and leaving the rest to God.

This is what the Divine Presence said to me during Lectio. And I feel I need to share it. I find it disturbing. I have had this affliction of the Lord speaking to me for most of my life and although I tried to run from him you cannot run from God. It is a difficult thing to do what God wants you to do and I have often found his speaking to me to be burdensome and have turned away from time to time. These gifts of knowledge and discernment, and others can be a trial. But the gift of preaching was always a pleasure. I passed this on to Father Dean before publishing this to get yet another opinion. He agreed this was not a message for me but for the nation, if not the world.

I firmly believe that God raised this nation up to be a city on a hill and a light to the nations and there are many today who seek to extinguish this light. But more than that this light was Given to the Western Nations. Through them, an unprecedented level of learning and wealth has come into the world. The principles of the United States Republic came from the teachings of Rome, and the best minds of Europe and America but it is fully in the best of the Western Tradition which is built on the idea that the World was created by the Divine Presence and therefore it has value and each individual is special as a child of the Living God. It seems the west has turned its back on its foundations and simply embraced materialism…how is that going for you?

I started SabersEdge.Online and ofNaturesGod.com because God has directed me to and he is more persistent than I am stubborn. I pray before each blog post and he often wakes me in the wee hours of the morning where we share Lectio Divina and prayer and then I write what he has put upon my heart.

He has impressed upon me that our society has turned against God and our heritage of the greatest culture in the world has been betrayed. God raised up a culture that wove the philosophy of Greece and Rome, the Wisdom of Egypt, and the Word of the Lord so tightly together that it is difficult to distinguish one from another. We are now in a culture war that is also a spiritual battle for the soul of a nation and a world.

We come to the Church because we cannot serve God alone. I believe that we need a worship home, spiritual disciplines, and community to sustain us. Just as the Army has not and never will be an “Army of One” it is a community with a purpose. I believe we all must join a community of likeminded people for as the founders of America said, “If we don’t hang together we will certainly hang separately.”

Here is the Word the Lord has shared with me concerning the Nations for today:

Thus says the LORD concerning this people: Truly they have loved to wander, they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them, now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.

The LORD said to me: Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Although I hear their cry, and although they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I do not accept them; but by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence I consume them.

Then I said: “Ah, LORD GOD! Here are the prophets saying to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place.’” And the LORD said to me: The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name though I did not send them, and who say, “Sword and famine shall not come to this land”: by sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword. There shall be no one to bury them – themselves, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them. You shall say to them this word: Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease, for the virgin daughter – my people – is struck down with a crushing blow, with a very grievous would. If I go into the field, look – those killed by the sword! And if I enter the city, look – those sick with famine! For both prophet and priest ply their trade throughout the land, and have no knowledge.”

Then my eyes fell to the reading at the beginning of Chapter 15 where it said:

Then the LORD said to me; Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they say to you, “Where shall we go?” you shall say to them. Thus says the LORD:

Those destined for pestilence for pestilence, and those destined for the sword, to the sword; those destined for famine, to famine, and those destined for captivity, to captivity.

And I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, says the LORD: the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, and the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth to devour and destroy. I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what King Manasseh son of Hezekiah of Judah did in Jerusalem…”

skip….[ Please understand. I cannot explain why the skips or how I know what I read was from God but I know just as I know the parts where he was speaking to us today rather than Jeremiah speaking to Judah. I is very hard to talk to someone about how God communicates directly to someone it has never happened to. However, once you admit it to others people will come to your privately and you will find it is much more common than our society beleives.]

You have rejected me, says the LORD, you are going backward; so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you – I am weary of relenting. I have winnowed them with a winnowing fork in the gates of the land; I have bereaved them, I have destroyed my people; they did not turn from their ways. The widows became more numerous than the sand of the seas; I have brought against the mothers of youths a destroyer at noonday..”

then relevance continued at verse 13:

Your wealth and your treasure I will give as plunder, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. I will make you serve you enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

and continued here:

Therefore thus says the LORD: If you turn back, I will take you back, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall serve as my mouth. It is they who will turn to you, not you who will turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze, they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save and deliver you, says the LORD. I will deliver out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”

Chapter 16:17 –

For my eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from my presence, nor is their iniquity concealed from my sight. And I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations….[17:3b] You wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your sin throughout all your territory. By your own act you shall lose the heritage that I gave you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

Verbum domini.

There was more. But it is not for me to share. The above is what is key and what I was told to share.

I give this to you because I feel I should. I don’t know why precisely. You are free to share this with any that you feel led to share it with but I ask you do so prayerfully and in consultation with God. If God shares a word with you for me please share it with me, in turn. You can write me at PO Box 433, Leavenworth, KS 66048 or at SabersEdge.Online@gmail.com

At a funeral recently, during the silence of Prayer, God said to me, “Do not hate people because they have been decieved.”

But at what point do those who are deceived become complicit in the destruction of God’s vision of justice and freedom that he raised up in this nation? This is something that I still struggle with and on this, God has remained silent.

An Amazing Story

Amazing Grace is more than a much-loved song it also has a moving story behind it. This song is one of the two most commonly used songs at funerals and is often used in movies when a “religious” song is needed, it is one of the ten top hymns cited by pastors as significant in their “call to ministry.” In fact, in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott plays “Amazing Grace” to honor his fallen comrade Spock at that officer’s funeral. The song grew in fame and use through the American Civil War and during the Viet Nam war as well. But the story behind it is as fascinating as the song is moving.

Once you know the story it gives new depth to the all the words but especially the beginning:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Amazing grace by john newton, 1772

This song, beloved in the African American, and virtually all Christian communities, was one of over 200 hymns written by John Newton. Newton, ironically, was a slave trader and the son of a slave trader. Born to a Puritan mother who died just shy of his 17th birthday, he first went to sea with his father at the age of 11 on his father’s slave ship. He became a careless libertine and drank heavily. As happened to many careless, raucous, licentious libertines in a seaport he was impressed into the British Navy, which heavily “recruited” drunk young men. He attempted to desert from the Royal Navy and received 8 bloody lashes across his back with a whip while tied to the mast for his escape attempt. Flogging was a common punishment back then and continued even into the 19th Century where it persisted in the naval and military communities long after it stopped being used for civilian punishment.

Later, he followed his father’s path and became a slaver who hauled cargoes of African slaves to the New World for the Plantations in North and South America and the Caribbean. While serving on the ship the Pegasus Newton had some disagreements with the crew and they sold him into slavery to an African king and princess and marooned him in Africa. John Newton’s father engaged another ship captain to find and rescue him and, once rescued, he was sailing back to England when the ship became embroiled in a horrible storm. The ship’s side ruptured and took on water, and John Newton prayed for deliverance. Whereupon the cargo shifted in the storm in such a way that it closed off the hole and the ship was saved. John viewed this as an answer to his prayer and from that point on became a Christian. Although not a very good one, at first.

What so many fail to understand is that Christians are not paragons of virtue. As the saying goes churches are a hospital for sinners and not a museum for saints. Every cross should be read as an “under construction” sign perhaps along with “please excuse our mess.”

So, John determined to become a follower of Christ. What did that mean? Perhaps he had seen something about what that meant through his mother in his youth, and he now sought to learn what it meant to be a Christian and he started by regularly reading his Bible. But, in his own words he said:

“I cannot consider myself to have been a believer in the full sense of the word, until a considerable time afterward,” – John Newton

While he wasn’t sure what it meant to be a follower of Christ he knew that compassion and the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” had something to do with it. He therefore determined to become the fairest, most compassionate slave trader the world had yet seen. He made three more voyages as the ship captain of slave ships the Duke of Argyle and the Arfrican. In 1754 he suffered a stroke and retired and in 1772 he became an Anglican Priest and finally came to the conclusion that being a slave trader was incompatible with being a Christian. Henceforth, he was an ardent abolitionist.

In 1772 he wrote Amazing Grace, and in 1788 he published a pamphlet that graphically described the horrors of the slave trade. The pamphlet was widely read and the description galvanized the opposition to slavery in the English world John Newton campaigned hard for its abolition. He lived to see the international slave trade abolished for both England and the newly minted United States (where the law banning the slave trade was signed into law by Thomas Jefferson who almost three decades earlier had written “all men are created equal” and so eloquently abjured the crown for trading in human beings – although his draft condemnation was not accepted as part of the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. Both the US and England stopped the international slave trade to their shores at the beginning of 1807 and John Newton died in December of that year, having seen this great work implemented in his lifetime.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.
–John Newton, 1725-1807

AUSCULA – Listen With The Ears Of Your Heart

The core of spirituality lies in listening. Saint Benedict said that we need to learn to “Listen with the ears of our heart.” In other words, we need to listen to that inner voice of intuition through which the Divine Presence speaks to all of us. If we will but listen. Perhaps this is why the first word in the Rule of Saint Benedict is Auscula, listen.

The example of Jesus is that he frequently retired from the crowds and withdrew into the wilds to pray. And we know how Jesus prayed because he told his disciples not to pray with a multitude of words. So, for Jesus, as for so many great spiritual teachers, communication with God had more to do with listening than with talking. Yet for so many of us, our own spiritual life is very different.

Too often our prayers are not about listening, learning, and then acting upon what God has told us, rather they look more like a want list. This stripped down to its starkest terms can be viewed as similar to saying, “O.K. Lord, this is what I want you to do. This is your assignment list for the next month. Your “Honey-Do List” from me. I would like you to…” once we have run down our list of what we want God to do we say “Amen.” Then we get up and go on with our life. Rarely, if ever, do we continue to sit in an attitude of prayer and allow the Divine Presence to tell us, “O.K. I understand what you want from me. Now let me tell you what I would like you to change in your life. Also, have you noticed that your neighbor lost their spouse? Have you said anything to them or spent time with them? They are very lonely you know. And, I would like you to reconsider the way you treated that phone solicitor the other day – that is a very hard job you know and they are just trying to survive. And you were a bit short with the grocery checker at the supermarket. You do know that was her first day, right?”

John Wesley had several “methods” for helping him in his spiritual life. One of them was his review of his day in prayer at each day’s end. Before retiring this Anglican priest would ask that the Living God show him where he did well and what opportunities he had to minister to others and represent the Divine Creative Force of the Universe to people that he encountered throughout the day. He encouraged all those who followed him “the Methodists” to do the same. In this way, he would learn from God in his prayer time as to how he could improve in his own life.

Meditation is another way to listen, depending on how you practice it meditation may facilitate listening a great deal or at least a little. Lectio Divina is yet another. I have already talked a little about meditation in my blog and my videos and soon I will talk about Lectio Divina.

But another way I want to discuss listening is to be aware as we go through our life that the Divine Presence is always with us. We don’t have to be in “prayer time” to hear God speaking to us. If you look at the accounts of the prophets in the Bible, and often of prophets in other faiths, they could hear God speaking through what was happening in their life. This is not easy. It takes a great deal of practice and openness to the Divine Presence – an openness that becomes a habit and not just something that we do sometimes.

I placed a Holy Water font at the front and rear exit to the house so that when I leave I can use it, make the sign of the cross, and say a quick prayer asking the Divine to show me, as I am out in the world, show me what I can do for you to make the world and the lives of those around me better. It only takes a couple of seconds. But it reminds me to be aware of the Presence of the Divine and what it might be saying to me.

In the Old Testament, the prophets would say things like, God took me down to the Potter’s wheel and I watched and he told me that God was forming us like this pot. And the pot developed a blemish that started small and became larger until it was deformed and the potter broke down the pot and reformed it. So God can renew us. Or that the potter took the unformed clay from the mud of the earth and turned it into a beautiful finished product. The prophets sometimes had dramatic visions in their meditations and during prayer and other times they simply knew that God was delivering the message through what was happening around them.

I remember a woman whose husband had died. Her family was close to her and helped her through the immediate time of the funeral but when she was left alone she was faced with the dramatic silence of being alone. She went to sit at her husband’s grave side and when she left she was starting to drive out of the cemetery and had to pull over because she could not see through her tears. She cried out to God and said “I cannot do this alone!”

Her deepest desire was to get help and reassurance from God. She looked through the windshield and realized that a beautiful butterfly had come and landed upon the glass. It sat there with her for a while and then flew off. She understood the symbols of Christianity and knew that the butterfly (which had fought its way out of the chrysalis to leave behind its worm-ness and become a beautiful butterfly,) was a symbol of rebirth and the presence of the Holy Spirit. She told me that at that moment she realized God was saying to her that this was a new phase in her life but that God was with her and she didn’t have to do it alone.

Similarly, my mother, after my father died found herself sitting on my Dad’s side of the bed in a similar state of despair. She didn’t know how she could go on. She heard what she described as an audible voice that was so clear that she looked around the room and then perceived it was the voice of God. It said, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.”

My father would walk with me and would often see something that prompted him to quote proverbs. He would show me how squirrels were busy in the summer gathering food so that they could live through the winter months. He would often say, “Listen to the trees, Daniel. Cottonwoods will talk to your more than any other of God’s trees. Hear the wind rustling the leaves? God can speak to us through that if we learn to listen.” I asked him once, as he sat on the bank of the lake with his fishing pole if he was catching any fish. “No,” he answered. “Sometimes, I just put the pole in the water because people leave you alone if they think you’re fishing. There’s no bait on the hook. It gives me time to think and talk to God. Come sit with me awhile and watch the way the light sparkles upon the water.”

If we truly wish to grow as faithful, spiritual beings we must learn to take action and live out our faith truly. To live out our faith we must be formed and study what it means to walk the spiritual path. I feel that the best means of study is Wisdom which has been proven by longevity and some of the oldest spiritual writings that have prevailed in the formation of human beings are the easiest to obtain. For over three thousand years portions of the Bible have guided people in their spiritual life and they are easy to find to guide us.

Faith is nothing if it does not include action in every aspect of our lives. If our faith is not revealed in virtually everything that we do and all of our interactions then it is not real. Instead of being an integral part of us, it is just a jacket that we wear when we desire to be seen as “spiritual.” This is a superficial trap. To truly be spiritual we must, as Saint Benedict said, listen with the ears of our hearts and the more we listen the more we will hear.

Action without meditation and divine guidance, as we are told in the Bible, makes us like a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. We will always lose our way on our own if we don’t listen to that inner voice. If we don’t spend a substantial amount of our spiritual life reading, listening, and being aware of all that is around us then we will not realize what God is trying to say to us and we will truly be alone. The Divine Presence is always with us. We just need to learn to listen. The beginning of Psalm 19 tells us:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19: 1-4

This holds true as much with our relationship with the Divine as it does with our relationships with people. My Dad used to say, “God gave you two eyes, two ears, but only one mouth. There is a message in that. You should watch and listen four times as much as you talk.”

Called To Serve

Today I want to talk about a story that is near and dear to my heart. The story of the Maid or Orleans, Joan of Arc. Her story shows us how one person, in response to God’s call can change the world.

When I was young I saw Joan of Arc on TV (with Ingrid Bergman – 1948; later I saw Leelie Sobieski in the same roll 2001; and one of my favorite actresses Mila Jovovich as The Messenger.) In this story a teenage girl believed she was visited by a Divine visitation and called upon to save France from British domination. For an uneducated teen in the later Middle Ages to come forward (there was also a prophecy of a Maid from Orleans saving France that she seemed to be unaware of,) impress herself on the nobility of the time, and lead the armies of France to break the hold of the British on the Kingdom of France makes me think she really was answering God’s call.

There are many stories of miracles surrounding her story. As expected, scholars who weren’t there, doubt anything that does not match their experience. But in my life, I have experienced miracles and many of the ones surrounding Joan of Arc have the ring of truth. At least in my own experience and study of Divine revelation and experience and relationship with the Divine. I also think the results speak for themselves.

God has a long history of using the weak and the outcast to humble the mighty.

The mighty have a long history of killing (martyring) God’s messengers. Note, they don’t stop God’s plan but they still respond petulantly and violently to being humbled. Some may think that death is a severe price to pay but taken on its whole it is not really. You see, we all will die. However, most of us will not die for a cause that changes history, and the promise of eternal reward in heaven for a death that we all must suffer – whether we serve God or not – is not that high of a price to pay. IMHO. One thing that is true for all of us is that none of us will get out of this life alive. However, it is sad when people die without ever having truly lived.

I think Joan of Arc truly lived a full life – even if it was crammed into a few years. She died at the age of 19 but we still talk about her almost a thousand years later. And, as one of my pastors used to say whenever someone did a good deed, “There is another star for your Crown of Righteousness.” (Perhaps I will talk about the verse that comment comes from some day.)

That is what happened to Saint Joan of Arc. The elite she humbled responded violently and viciously to being humbled. The British captured her and tried her for witchcraft, and if you read accounts of the trial, it seems that these “scholars” of the church at her trial were unable to trick this ignorant girl into incriminating herself. Nevertheless, she was ultimately burned as a relapsed heretic and was accused by the British at the time of being a witch. Later, the Pope declared her a Saint (and being declared a Saint is never something that is done on a whim – despite some popular opinions to the contrary – there is a long detailed process of verification before anyone is declared a Saint.) Anyone who has studied the lives of the Saints will find that nearly all of them are paragons of faith and virtue and we could do worse than to use them as examples for our own lives.

The movies are interesting, and the biographies vary in their quality, but I like studying how things actually were compared to movie presentations. I enjoy movies for their own sake as entertainment even though they all are subject to errors and interpretation.

One thing I have turned to many times in my life is the Prayer of Saint Joan. It reminds me that even when I face trials they are nothing compared to what she faced and yet she remained true to her Divine call and Mission. A mission we all have if we but find it, and that will probably not demand as much from us as it did from the Maid of Orleans.

St. Joan of Arc – In the face of your enemies, in the face of harassment, ridicule, and doubt, you held firm in your faith. Even in your abandonment, alone and without friends, you held firm in your faith. Even as you faced your own mortality, you held firm in your faith. I pray that I may be as bold in my faith as you, St. Joan. I ask that you ride alongside me in my own battles. Help me be mindful that what is worthwhile can be won when I persist. Help me believe in my ability to act well and wisely, Amen.

PraYER TO SAINT JOAN OF ARC

It reminds me of another one who spoke of holding true to a cause, although he was not a Saint, by any means:

Life Is About Balance – Supplements for Health and Equilibrium

BALANCE IS THE KEY TO LIFE – WHAT SUPPLEMENTS DO DOCTORS TAKE TO RESTORE OUR BODIES EQUILIBRIUM?

The Wisdom of the ancients regularly talked about balance. The Greek philosophers spoke of the Golden Mean and living life in balance, the Biblical wisdom literature speaks of balance in life and living, as do the Vedas, Tao, and many other ancient sources. It would seem that every society has recognized this Life-Truth…except ours. One of the ways our society has lost its balanced is our food and medicines.

This ancient wisdom included “magic” like potions such as willow-bark tea which was brewed in Ancient times and the Middle Ages to fight aches and pains. It was only in the latter part of the last century that science finally “discovered” that this “magic witch’s brew” produced acetylsalicylic acid which is the chemical composition of what our pharmaceutical companies market as “aspirin.” I have watched with amusement as our governments spent millions of dollars to prove radical knowledge such as “when you have a cold chicken soup is good for you.” The knowledge that society has known for centuries that we have only embraced in my lifetime because “science” has proved it. It’s not funny anymore.

There is a big difference between believing what science has proven is true than believing that nothing is true unless science has proved it. The latter view has characterized our society, turning away from knowledge proven over thousands of years of practice until we can “re-prove” it in scientific experimentation.

Our modern society and governments continue to be at war with nature and natural processes and today as I write even more articles are popping onto my screen about our government bureaucracy closing down Amish farms and other natural food production denying us healthy options and defending the great monopolies of food mega-corporations rather than allowing us freedom of choice to live and eat as we choose. This is not new and if we don’t act quickly and decisively we will lose the option to seek our own food. And it is not the laws that are closing these down (although it is “law-enforcement” doing it.) Instead, they are enforcing regulations written by bureaucrats with an agenda that is un-elected, and untouchable in our current government system. If you explore their membership you will find the leadership of our government bureaus and agencies are largely a collection of corporate shills and people hoping to retire to a higher paying corporate job restricting our options and over-regulating everything from our food to what kind of light bulbs we use. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) leadership looks like a who’s who of corporate executives from big pharma and mega-corporations that control the majority of our food supply. Is it any wonder that they are closing down natural foods?

The research of these corporations have revealed that to meet their profit-based goals cannot be met if even 14% of us eat natural food. Is it any wonder that our government, manipulated by corporations, is cracking down on natural foods not only in the US but throughout Europe? This has gotten out of hand and neither party stands effectively against it because both parties are funded by these same corporations that are controlling our bureaucracies.

One of the things that has lost its balance is our nutrition. In today’s society 80% or more of our food is over-processed, filled with preservatives, and factory produced. Even natural foods have suffered a massive decrease in nutritional value as we have turned to fertilizers instead of the traditional view of crop rotation and the periodic renewal of minerals in the soil produced by flooding and the natural processes of creation. I will share with you the supplements that doctors and scientists agree are necessary in our “modern” world to help restore our health.

I have always endeavored to augment my food supply with my garden and also draw on natural foods purchased directly from local farms in my area. It is not as convenient but it is better. Recently, I noticed a difference as I cooked with both farm fresh – free range chicken eggs bought at the Farmer’s Market and using “farm fresh” eggs from the supermarkets in the same meal. As I made quesadillas for breakfast I noticed that the eggs from the farm had thicker, healthier shells than those from the supermarket. That has to be an indicator of the health of the chickens.

We know that the big restaurants and “exclusive” suppliers of the rich buy up the best foods and meats and give us what is left over. When I was a pastor in a small country church I had parishioners who brought me bags of meat. They said, “This is just to help you out pastor. I know you don’t make much. I apologize, it is our old meat that we had from last year’s fall slaughter. It’s been in our freezer for a year but we need to make room for the meat this year as we thin the herd before winter hits.” What he called “old,” “tough,” meat was much much better and tastier than what we were buying in the store. It was then I realized that the meat in the supermarkets was the inferior to what we could have if we raised our own or bought directly from farmers/ranchers.

The truth is that our modern society has spent the last 150 years at war with natural law believing, incorrectly, that humanity was not a part of nature. Finally, science is starting to prove that hubris is wrong. The world is an organic whole and we are part of that whole – although the society we have built lives completely cut off from it. [ See also: https://sabersedge.online/the-world-built-in-the-last-150-years-is-broken]

Because of that, we have to reconnect with the natural balance for our health to combat the proliferation of inflammatory diseases, mental health, and so many things that are produced by an imbalance not only in our society but within our bodies.

Scientists and doctors were asked what supplements they would take to combat the imbalance encountered by most people eating modern products. Granted, if you eat right you don’t need supplements, but I would venture to say that you probably don’t eat right – and even if you are trying to you are hampered by over-farming, over-processed, and industrialized food production that is not good for us, not good for animals or nature, and a problematic in so many ways.

The most common recommendation from doctors and scientists seems to be Zinc and Vitamin C, but Vitamin D, Turmeric, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Probiotics, and Pre-biotics are also included in surveys of doctors and scientists about what they and their families take.

supplements scientists and doctors take –

zinc – was regularly taken by my mother-in-law who was a nurse and has been recommended by more doctors that I can list here as one of the best supplements you can take to help your immune system. It also helps balance many aspects of your health.

Vitamin C – is a powerful antioxidant, boosts immunity, and is required for the biosyntheses of collagen, neurotransmitters, and our metabolization of protein. It benefits our hair, skin, cell repair and health, tissues, muscles, gums, and even brain health. It has even been called a super vitamin.

turmeric – anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, healing and repairing intestinal skin, liver function, moods, etc. – an experiment found that turmeric/black pepper combo can boost other valuable food benefits by 2000 percent. Can increase stem cells and telomeres – but only if you don’t take too much. Indians take one teaspoon a day with a touch of pepper – scientists were amazed at the low instance of cancers and other ailments in these traditional communities.

Vitamin D – Anyone north of Atlanta in North America doesn’t get enough sunlight to naturally develop enough Vitamin D from sunlight. Promotes immunity and blood balance. When you get your blood tested you want it between 50-80 nano-grams per milliliter; then take 1000, 2000, to 4000 to keep it there, depending on where you live and your lifestyle. Sheep get vitamin D from licking each other, we can eat organ meats or other food, lick each other, or sheep, or we could take supplements.

Probiotics – modern food processing sterilizes food of both harmful and helpful bacteria “bugs.” But the truth is we need these bugs to help with digestion and the natural processes in our bodies. Without “good” bugs in our bodies, we would die because they work with us and not against us. Modern over-processed, mass-produced food destroys this balance by killing all bugs both good and bad. If you must consume these industrialized foods then you need to take probiotics and since industrialized production accounts for so much of our support it’s probably good for everyone. As I write this we see the trend of the last decade continue as the Biden Administration and Government Bureaucracies in the Western World continue their war against nature and natural foods by shutting down Amish Farms in the US and across the pond then restricting European Farmers. If you can take colonizing probiotics you don’t need to take them constantly but if you take modern medications that interfere with internal bugs then you probably need to renew them regularly. Others need to take them periodically.

Pre-biotics – help coat your intestines and internal tissues with a coating that protects it from all the hazards we face day to day and imbalances resulting from eating too much of any one thing or the wrong things for the season that we were in. Traditional societies have their food tied to the cycles of nature and naturally consume the right foods in the right seasons to help their own gut health and bodies nutrients. Our modern society strips many of the pro-biotic and pre-biotic resources from our processed foods.

DoTerra includes a probiotic and pre-probiotic that are essential for health in my opinion and they have definitely made a difference in my life. These Pre-biotics help coat your gut and innards to protect you:

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/create-cart/retail?OwnerID=3208777&salesOrg=USOTG&35160001=1&60209480=1

FISH OILS – Fish oils contain Omega 3 fatty acids and it has long been known that traditional diets of Meditteranean, Pacific Islands, and other coastal communities have a natural health that those dwelling inland often miss. It has been traced to fish oils – as traditional coastal communities have a larger part of their diet containing fish with fatty oils. The lipids and good fats are important for your heart function, brain function, mental health, cognitive health, anti-inflammatory benefits, your skin, and your blood health and they are very different from the Omega 6 fatty acids (that are not so good for you) and that are contained in our processed cooking oils. (I do most of the cooking in my house and I use Olive Oil and natural fat from bacon and meats we drain off our food when cooking. It worked for my parents and grandparents and it works for us. As Sam, the Cooking Guy says on YouTube, “Fat is flavor.”) Dr. John Douillard who runs the LifeSpa website says that in the past 40 years the ratio of our consumption has gone from a one-to-one ratio and balance of the two to a 20-to-one ratio of Omega 6 over the healthy Omega 3’s.

Balance is the key to health and, according to the Wisdom of the ancients is the key to nearly everything but our modern society is imbalanced in almost everything it does. If it finds something healthy it pursues it to extremes that make it unhealthy (like its efforts to purge bacteria in industrialized food and filling it with artificial preservatives to make it last, also destroying the good bacteria that we need for health.

The key is making a balance between the good and the bad and to maintain the Golden Mean in our life, exercise, and food consumption. Because we don’t do well at maintaining this mean and because our government seems to be at war with natural food producers our health will get worse and worse and we will be more dependent on supplements – which by coincidence are produced by those same mega-corporations that are behind the annihilation of our natural food choices. Is this a coincidence?

Ayurvedic Knowledge and Wisdom are discussed here and in SabersEdge.Online

These Life-Truths/Natural Laws/Wisdom are a unity of both intelligence and intuition, science and revelation, tradition and modern thought that recognizes the universe as being a coherent unity. A universe in the deepest sense of the word. Wisdom is universal and ancient and reflected in every ancient society throughout the world whether it is drawn from the Bible (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach), ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian sages, the Viking Havamal, the wisdom of Tao, Confucius, Greaco-Roman Philosophers, and Tibetan Monks. All this wisdom is remarkably similar and the message is substantially the same. It is past time we reconnect with the Ancient Wisdom and a more natural way of living. Not to go back but to truly be able to go forward in a healthy and vibrant future.

https://lifespa.com/herbs-supplements/supplements-scientists-recommend/

A Life Hack for Pain and Cleansing

[I added an edit after the link about the anointing oils about Clove that I was unaware of when I wrote this. ] I have a broken tooth that is giving me some trouble. I do not have the hundreds of dollars the dentists want to take care of it. I am looking at options but have not found them except this. There is oil of anointing in the Bible that consists of Myrrh, Cinnamon, Cassia, and either sweet calamus or cannabis. (translation of herbs in the bible is difficult as translators often substituted plants they knew for those mentioned in the text even if the herb they chose did not grow in the original area where the text was written). I have found that a half juice cup of water, with a good bit of salt, a drop of Myrrh, a drop of Cassia, a couple of drops of cinnamon, and a drop of On Guard essential oils. I don’t like the taste of the Cassia as much but I like cinnamon and cinnamon has many natural healing properties. This combination has given me relief from the pain and helps irrigate the wound.

Beware of Essential Oils in Shops That are Not Safe to Swallow

I MUST point out that please do NOT use essential oils available in most New Age shops. ONLY oils that are cleared for dietary use may be used. I have included a packet for the oils I use. Surely, some will note that these have a price that is high enough that I could get dental care. However, I bought them over a year ago when our finances were better off. Since I had them on hand I was able to use them now that my finances are more challenging. Anyway, if it helps me perhaps it will help you as well (again, most essential oils you buy are not safe to drink but doTerra products generally are and each of these listed is. Still, I don’t drink it but use it as a mouthwash whenever the pain afflicts me.

Here Is A Kit for A Healing Oil That Goes Back Thousands of Years

Here is a kit that includes Cinnamon, Myrrh, Cassia, and On Guard to which a drop or two of each coupled with some salt makes an effective rinse and relieves my pain. To use as an oil for anointing leave out the salt. Obviously you are better off with proper dental care but I many not be the only one who is incapable of paying for it. Again – and pease nlote this – most of the oils available in New Age type shops are not suitable for dietary use so please do not use them. Most of DoTERRA’s products are. If you would like to get these products at 25% as a wholesaler dealer you may use the second link to sign up.

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/create-cart/retail?OwnerID=3208777&salesOrg=USOTG&30030001=1&31100001=1&60221439=1&60213537=1

Here is a link to clove oil. Someone who read this mentioned it as useful for pain. I wet a cuetip, put a drop of clove oil on it and touched it to the gums and the pain immediately was relieved. Wow! I was surprised. So I have added this link for all to have:

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/create-cart/retail?OwnerID=3208777&salesOrg=USOTG&30040001=1

To Sign up as a wholesale customer:

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/create-cart/enrollment?OwnerID=3208777&salesOrg=USOTG&acctType=WC&60221664=1

I have been afflicted with back and joint pain from a service-connected injury I have suffered from since 1984. When I became familiar with DoTERRA products I began using Deep Blue Oil and Deep Blue lotion and with it have reduced my use of medical pharmaceuticals to relieve pain by 90%. And I find that I feel better and my mind is clearer without taking all of the pain pills that the doctors had recommended to me. (I have heard that the use of cannabis oil can help relieve aches and pains when added to the above mix but I have never used it. So that oil would be Myrrh, Cassia, On Guard, Cinnamon, and cannabis oil. Cinnamon in my experience can afflict skin with a rash but if used at the proper dose it could provide a “heat” that helps to heal. However, I have never used this oil and therefore I CAN NOT recommend it. I have only heard about it as a possibility so I share the information). However, I strongly recommend the use of Deep Blue to relieve all manner of pain from sprains, to arthritis, to nerve damage and other uses. It has helped me so much that I would not be without it. If you suffer from pain please stop suffering and try this, it has helped me immensely.

For Deep Blue Lotion and Oil:

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/create-cart/retail?OwnerID=3208777&salesOrg=USOTG&60200143=1&38900001=1

For an Athletes Kit including Deep Blue, Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, On Guard, Breathe, and Lavender. We have used Lavender to help us sleep and relax and Breathe was invaluable when I struggled for every breathe with Covid and helps me with allergies. Peppermint and Tea Tree Oil have multiple uses.

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/create-cart/retail?OwnerID=3208777&salesOrg=USOTG&20980001=1

I have always believed in living as naturally as possible and have described herbal tinctures as a way to help your body recover and change as opposed to modern medicine which forces your body to change – but only for the duration of the drug. I would never recommend avoiding medical care but I have always preferred doctors who were open to natural remedies, when possible, over pharmaceuticals. I prefer health and wellness over drugs and chemicals that suppress symptoms but do not cure them.

But that is just me and you must find your own way in the world. May God be with you and may you grow in peace and health as you come into closer relationship with the Source of All Life.

A Place For Prayer and Meditation

We are creatures who evolved and grew in dangerous circumstances. Our very instinct is to be on alert when we are not in a safe place. It is then not surprising that where we choose to pray or meditate should affect our success and ability to concentrate. The more comfortable we are the better it will work.

Being in Nature activates the same parts of our brain that are activated when we meditate.

Last time we discussed a time for prayer and how having a regular prayer time is significant and can aid us in our Spiritual Growth. Today we will look at how our place of prayer and meditation is equally significant. Nothing here should ever keep you from praying or meditating because you are not in the “proper” place or at the proper time. The proper time and place are when and where you are moved to do so. However, if you have trouble in prayer or what to expand your prayer life and experience in meditating then read on.

First, I would like to discuss a scientific discovery that has been known for many years but still seems new to a lot of people.

When we are in the woods walking, siting, or simply being it activates the same parts of our brain that are activated when we meditate. Therefore the same benefits of resetting our bio-rhythms, the deep relaxation, the rest, and the blood cleansing and health benefits that are obtained in regular meditation can be obtained by being in nature. One doctor even mused that meditation was developed as a life hack to reconnect us with the Source of All Life after we had severed our link to the natural rhythms of the world by living in cities.

There Are 74 Forests in Japan Medically Certified As Having Health Benefits

In Japan, they have medially certified, through studies, that just walking in these forests has health benefits. I don’t think it is only forests in Japan. I think that Ayurvedic beliefs are true we need to reconnect with the natural world. And being in nature is one of those ways.

I can attest to the benefits myself. I have always loved being in the woods and felt the stress and strain of life drain away when I was there. When meditating at Pioneer Park in NE, I would enter the Nature Center area, walk into the forested area, and walk about ten meters off the path to sit on a bank overlooking a brook. I always had the best results meditating there and it was very renewing. At the time I was going through a difficult divorce (as if there is an easy one,) and trying to reconcile myself to my two dreams of an army career and a wife and family was all crashing down around me due to the divorce and a back injury. But there, in the woods, my soul and mind quieted enough that I could actually meditate. So I went there every day to do so.

One day when I was sitting cross-legged and meditating I opened my eyes and there, about ten inches or so from my right knee was a snake. It was not coiled but stretched out about two and a half feet at an angle to my right. It was raised, not to strike but at what looked to me like curiosity. I know that snakes don’t see like we do so I have always wondered what it saw, and how long it had watched me. To add to the oddity there was a bird about the same distance from my left knee that had also been looking at me. Both the bird and the snake, sitting together looking at me meditate when they are mortal enemies of each other. It was astounding. I opened my eyes and watched them and suddenly they both left in haste.

Meditation Changes Our Energy Field and Can Reset Our Natural Rhythms Disturbed By Stress

I had read that meditation changes the energy field that surrounds us and the Ayurvedic teachings about meditation had preceded the scientific discovery by thousands of years through the teaching of Chakras and meditation. Could they sense the differing energy fields? Could they see them? Or was it something else that attracted them? But I never would have had such an experience without finding a spot in nature to regularly meditate.

The substantial health benefits of prayer and meditation have been proven in multiple double-blind studies but they are only verifying Life-Truths that have been known for thousands of years. Science didn’t make it beneficial. Science only now finally verified things that spiritual leaders and people have known for over 50 centuries. It is nice that it has finally caught up.

But if meditation is truly a hack for those who can’t get into nature. Like those who live in large cities. Then we need to discuss options. To this, I would like to add that I had trouble meditating in my tank. I don’t know if it was the electronics and steel that surrounded me but if that was the case then modern cities would also pose a bit of a difficulty. But it’s not impossible.

Say A Prayer Of Blessing Of Your Sacred Space

One of the things you can do is bless the area before you begin. Pray a prayer to cleanse and purify your area as light a candle, ring a bell, smudge sage, light incense, or burn holy water. The other thing you can do is have a set area in which you meditate. Then when you get to that place your body will begin to open up to the Divine. Getting into your place of prayer and meditation will alert your body and subconscious of your intention.

My wife made a “prayer closet” under the stairs. She had a small table she could kneel at and had her candles, incense, and prayer book there in that room where she could meditate and pray. No one else entered that room. Most of us cannot spare a room for each person but in a previous house we had a small bedroom that we used as a prayer room for all of us. In this house we are preparing the attic as our spiritual library and temple as we have stairs that lead up to it and it is floored as a room.

Preparing A Place To Pray Has the Same Benefit As A Regular Time of Prayer

Preparing a place to pray, study, and meditate has the same advantages as having a set prayer time. The atmosphere of the place begins to change and it just “feels” holy. You can place whatever reminds you of your spiritual life and your connection to the Divine, the Source of All Life, the Ground of Being.

If you cannot set aside something for only prayer-time place by your chair or common seat, kitchen table, or wherever, a cross or other symbol, a candle holder, an incense burner, and/or a bell, or any other symbol that reminds you of your spiritual life. You can also set them on a tray or in a box and pull them out at prayer time, especially if you use a kitchen table you may not want them out all the time. When you sit in your seat of prayer then take a deep breath,say a prayer of blessing and presence, light your candle, burn your incense, ring your bell, or whatever you need to do to signal to yourself and your subconscious that we are entering a sacred place and a sacred time that is outside of and protected from the myriad cares of the world. No longer is it your TV chair or the kitchen table but your own sacred space and table.

The story I told in the YouTube Video A Time Of Prayer that was interrupted by a knock on the door was in my chair in the living room, where I had a cross on my end table, lit a scented candle in front of me on the coffee table, and began to pray. It was the same chair in my living room that I sat in to watch TV, play games with friends, or just visit with family and company. But, when I lit the candle it became my place of prayer. In the next blog, we will discuss centering and grounding.

One last thing. I have found that any part of my body completely surrounded by metal reduces effectiveness. I hold chains that I wear with my medal of St. Joan of Arc and my wedding ring in the palm of my hand when I meditate. Any necklace on a string or leather doesn’t seem to affect it. It makes sense to avoid conductive metal if you are dealing with energy fields but do what seems right to you. Nothing is effective if it makes you very uncomfortable to do it.

Do what seems right to you but be open to growing and trying new things. – Namaste

A Time For Prayer and Meditation

Prayer and Meditation, Orienting our Hearts and Minds to the Divine

When we think of prayer many of us think of Christian prayers that are either written out or extemporaneous. I believe both are valuable. But every religion has prayer and meditation. It is an act of striving to communicate with our deepest selves as well as the Living Force, the Ground of All Being, the Source of All Life. Every religion from the Far East to Rome to the Bible Belt of the Midwest has references in their scriptures to ‘prayers rising like incense‘ as well as to the importance of meditation. I hope you will join your intentional prayers, meditations, and light to ours by keeping the prayer list from ofNaturesGod.com in your heart and mind.

In this blog, I will give a very brief introduction to prayer and the importance of having a regular time of prayer as part of our Spiritual Discipline and practice. In future blogs, we continue a brief series focusing on prayer and how to “listen with the ears of our heart.” Then we will look at Centering and Mediation. However, because of the nature of blogs, we will only be able to scratch the surface here but we will go into much more detail, for those who are interested and join the ofNaturesGod community through Patreon. We cannot do that here unless that was all that we did here and there is much for us to discuss and many facets of our spiritual lives to cover here.

Indeed most religions have practices that include lighting candles and/or incense during a time of prayer and meditation. This symbolizes that the prayers rise to heaven even as the smoke rises from the candle or the incense. Although I am clear about the Divine Presence is everywhere about us and within us, and that it is the presence in which we live move, and have our being I still light a candle and incense on my home altar each morning. I do that not for God. Not to appease some Divine overlord or make an offering to keep him from smiting me. I do it out of love to help orient my thoughts and my actions for the day to the Divine Presence. As I go about my morning and day seeing the candle or incense burning reminds me of where my heart draws its strength from and that we are not alone. As I light them I say a quick prayer to the Trinitarian Presence as I understand it:

Queen of Heaven,* Lord of Light, Eternal Holy One be with me and guide me this day, strengthen and guide me as I go about my business, and defend and sustain me against all trials.

(or something similar).

For many, prayers of this sort coupled with a quick prayer at bed, rising, and/or before and after meals is the extent of their prayer life. It was the extent of mine when I was a child. My life changed when I was 12 and had my first religious experience and my heart turned more to God. I would like to say I have served th Lord of Life faithfully since but my spiritual life has been ups and downs rising to the gates of heaven and wallowing in the muck of swamps that were largely of my own design.

I want to talk to you about taking your spiritual life deeper.

First, you must understand that we are creatures of habit. Because we are physical creatures ritual is important and has a powerful effect on our spiritual life. That is one thing I like about Catholic services. They are deep in ritual. However, because we are physical creatures we run the risk of going about these rituals habitually without thought and without engaging our hearts or emotions in the actions. Rituals practiced in this way are worse than useless. I say they are worse because following these rituals of prayer or whatever we may do, even attendance at Mass or Worship and service to the poor IF they are done without engaging our hearts, or if they are done as a slave seeking to avoid the master’s punishment, they can give us the illusion that we are doing something “spiritual” and that we are right with God when we are not. However, if we perform the ritual as a way of moving our hearts and consciousness toward the Divine Source they are very powerful. Scott Cunningham, a Wiccan, to be sure has described Wiccan Ritual as Prayer with props. These rituals are powerful as a way to give our body something to do as our mind and heart orient upon the Divine. Similarly, I found that praying the Catholic Rosary sometimes “got my mind out of the way” so my heart could pray directly to my Creator. The Bible says when we are distressed sometimes the Spirit intercedes for us with “sighs to deep for words.” Indeed, it was reading his books on Wicca that made me realize he had directed his heart to that Creative Force that controls and created the universe. A Force that I knew, among other names, as Yahweh or Elohim.

It is possible to “go through the motions” and never orient your heart to this Divine Source. To just do the ritual with your body and mouth while your mind and soul go elsewhere and worry about grocery lists, your project at work, what to feed the kids, or any of billions of questions we could consider instead of touching the Source of Life. Jesus said, many will come to me on that day (when they die and on the day of judgment) and say “Lord Lord!” in joyful greeting and he will say, “Get away from me you doers of iniquity! I never knew you!” Unfortunately, I think many who attend our churches, as well as many who don’t, may be in that group who are rejected. In other words many who follow rituals or religious practices but never engage their hearts or enter into a living interacting relationship with the Divine may believe they are being spiritual because they are doing the right “things” but its like turning on a lightswitch that has no power to it. You can flip the switch all you want – you may do the right thing but the light will not come into your life. You need to complete the circuit and activate the power. The power of our heart, our intention, the emotion and not just of our mind.

I often qoute a diddy that Fr. Hoolighan, an Irish Catholic, once shared with me:

Mr. Business went to church; he never missed a Sunday; But Mr. Business went to hell; For what he did on Monday.

Saint Benedict told us the most important aspect of prayer was not speaking but learning to listen with the ears of our heart. How do we do that? While I will go into more detail in future blogs this question of how do we live, breathe, and pray in the prescence of the Divine is vital to all of us? We will cover that two blogposts from now and go into even more detail in our community. Indeed, that is one of the things I created the ofNaturesGod Patreon community to help with but I will strive to help everyone here in a general way, as I am able: www.Patreon.com/ofNaturesGod

Because we are creatures of habit if we can resist doing things habitually. Doing them without thinking and without engaging our heart or intention and keep our whole existence focused on the Divine then the rituals can actually help us get in touch with our Creator, that Creative Force that brought forth life and ordered all creation.

Time of Prayer and Meditation

If we have and keep a regular time of prayer and meditation our body orients its internal clock toward the Ground of All Being. If you create such a regular habit and you miss your time of prayer and meditation you are likely to have your subconscious remind you, “Aren’t we usually praying or meditating about now?” Similarly, when we enter our regular time with this Living Force, our body, our consciousness, and our soul all naturally orient toward the Source of All Life because doing so has become a living ritual. If we get it into the “habit” of doing so at a particular time our body and consciousness adjust. This does not preclude us from doing so at other times as well for the Divine Presence is always with us. But because we are physical creatures having a regular time in which we are not interrupted, when we consciously turn our hearts toward that Presence in which we live, move, and have our being, is very valuable to us for our spiritual development, our health, our balance, and our resilience in life.

I learned from one of the Saints of the Church to put up a sign to salesmen and people who come to our door (or maybe even to tell family members,) that you are in a time of prayer and not to be disturbed.

“Please Be Quiet and Do Not Knock on the door. I am at my regular prayer time and I will not answer. Please come back later.”

A note like this or something similar can reduce your interruptions. Shut off your phone and shut off the notifications on your computer or go where you cannot hear them to ensure that your full heart and attention can be oriented toward the Divine Presence. If you are distracted by noises outside play soft music without words (that is important because words will distract you – even if they are holy songs.)

I was in deep in prayer and struggling with an issue that I had not talked to anyone but my wife about. My prayer time had actually become kind of a time where I was arguing with God and telling the Creator of the Universe that He/She/It had made a mistake and that I was really not the person to do the job that I felt the Lord of LIfe was pushing me to do. (Yes, I will argue with anyone.) During that time I had a knock on the door! Didn’t they read the note? I usually ignore it but something made me answer this time.

“May I help you?”

“Hi, you probably don’t remember me. My sister brought me with her to your church once last year to listen to your preach and we met briefly after church.”

“Yes, I do actually remember you. How can I help you.”

“Well, I don’t know what you believe about Christianity. I know people have different ways of thinking…”

“Yes,” it was clear to me whatever it was was difficult for her so I thought I needed to say something to help her get out what she was trying to get out.

“Well, I was praying and God told me I need to come here and tell you something. May I tell you his message so God will leave me alone and I can get back to my regular prayers?”

“I think I know what you mean,” I smiled. “Yes, you may tell me what message God has for me.”

“God told me to tell you: ‘You need to accept the power that God wants to give you.’ Does that make any sense to you?”

“Why yes, it does. In fact, I was just arguing with God about that very thing when you knocked. I guess I need to listen and obey instead of arguing. I think God would like me to tell you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ That was a very important message to me. Thank you.”

She left and I never saw her again.

But I will never seriously entertain anyone who tries to tell me that the Creator, the Universe, the Ground of All Being, the Source of Life, the very Presence in which we live move and have our being doesn’t care about us and doesn’t interact with us. My entire life is an experience to the contrary and I would say if yours has not been it is not because God doesn’t care about you but perhaps it’s because you are too busy or self-absorbed to hear the Divine Force which may speaking in that still small voice heard by the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. Quietly speaking, and waiting for you to slow down, be still, and listen.

If you haven’t experienced that, if no one has ever taught you to listen with the ears of your heart, follow me here or join me on Patreon and I will help you learn to listen with the ears of your heart so that we may all grow close to the Source of Life.

[Watch for the upcoming blogs on A Place of Prayer and Listening With The Ears of Your Heart.]

Without A Vision The People Perish

I think that an ancient proverb from the Middle East recorded in Proverbs 29:18a is a proverb for our time. Everywhere we look there appears to be chaos and we have been cut off from our roots. Without knowledge of where we came from, we have trouble telling where we are and thence don’t know where we are going. In other words without a Vision the people perish.

It is probable that this means without knowledge of the Divine Will and communication with the Ground of All Being we become cut off from who we are and who we were created to be. We flail about unable to find a course to our life, a purpose in this chaos, or meaning in … well, anything.

Religion has a bad rap these days but I find it interesting that “Religio” (the root from which the word has grown) means “to bind us back.” To bind us back to our roots. This is essential because without its roots a tree doesn’t grow. Similarly if we are unaware of our own roots and foundational beliefs we become lost and confused. Religion, properly conceived should bind us back to the Source of All Life/The Ground of Being/Das Ding An Sich – or The Thing in Itself or as the book says: I am that I am. We humans become too hung up on names and outer trappings like ritual, names of the Divine, and even each others skin color and tend to overlook deeper connection and meaning. The very connection and meaning that religion is intended to help us create with the Creator (or Creatrix if you prefer).

I have a theory about religions and you will find it on the Page: Religions. but I think at their source there is a reality that each religion stumbles toward and that is the Ground of Being. Our language is inadequate to describe it, as anyone who has had a “religious experience” and had contact with the Divine Presence knows very well. The Bible and other sacred works are our groping efforts to describe the indescribable. But it is exactly this experience of the Divine and our listening to its promptings (which the Bible says is partially reflected in our conscience,) that we find purpose and meaning. I will post guidance on centering and listening to this guidance in the days to come but I firmly believe that we are cut off from who we are and who we were meant to be.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

By forgetting who we are and losing contact with the one who knit us together from the very first we are unable to find our path. Everywhere today we see the consequences of people, society, and religious institutions who have been cut off from their roots. They have lost their vision. We have lost the knowledge of who we are and are disconnected from the Source of Being. It is not surprising that so many don’t know who they are or why they are here. And then, depression sets in.

In my sermons I often said, “Children of the Living God remember who you are and who your father is! And then act like you remember.”

It is by remembering who we are we are guided back into a relationship with our Source and Ground of Being. It is where we find the purpose and vision to weather the trials of life and adversity and make a difference.

As I have said before, spiritual reality is a matter of poetry and song. It is emotion and feeling and not simply a mind thing but a heart thing. Here is what I was trying to say as this song sings praise to “the God of his heart.” I believe we will all find the Divine in the core of our hearts, if we center and look for it. (This one’s for you Chuck):

In thi,s the author praises the “God of His Heart” that Being which he hadthe deep and abidingexperiencef. Listen to what the author was trying to communicate of his experience that was too deep for explanation and could only be expressed in song. I know some have had troubles with people who are in churches and some doctrines. If you are one I ask you to set that aside and listen with the ears of your heart to what is being said.
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