A Visit During Centering Prayer

Last Wednesday, March 8 while at Centering Prayer at The Mercy Center, I had two unexpected visitors to the sacred place I go when I meditate.  My paternal grandmother (Nana) who passed in 1973 and my Aunt Bet.  I’ve believed for awhile now that Aunt Bet took over for Nana when she passed. I also believe this was planned before I incarnated.  For those new to Wisdom and Life, I am a firm believer that some aspects of our lives are mapped out for us before we become human, in other words, predestination.

 

Image from:
CJP Photos

 

I kind of think seeing them both together in my meditation is a confirmation of that.  As I sat at the point at Blissville Pond in Lisbon, Connecticut, (The sacred place I go when I meditate) my Nana silently walked over to me and sat down beside me on my right.  She never uttered a word.  She simply sat beside me.  I felt her presence and glanced at her a few times and felt loved and secure.

 

Aunt Bet came next and sat down on my left.  Both just smiled and stayed with me for a few more moments, never speaking a word.  Then they got up and walked away.  Seeing them together makes it difficult for my spiritual mind to not consider the connection.  I’m more convinced now as I write this column that there definitely was a succession.  That one followed the other.  Especially since Nana came before Aunt Bet.

 

I felt blessed that these two important people in my life at one point came to me and stayed with me for a short while.

 

I know some of you may be thinking:
Uh oh, Chris is going off The Deep End again.  And that’s alright.  I believe what I believe.  We all make up our own reality.  And my spiritual reality tells me this is what I saw and what I believe.  I felt loved, comforted and blessed that these two important women visited me tonight.

 

Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this?

 

As an addendum:
Sometime Wednesday night while I slept, my Nana and Aunt Bet returned in a dream.  As with Centering Prayer, they did not speak, but just seeing them together again reaffirmed my impression that there is definitely a bridge between them.

 

If you want to learn more about Centering Prayer at Mercy Center, simply click the preceding link.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

We then lose all our distress
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

Centering Prayer

For the past 6 months, every Wednesday night at The Mercy Center in Madison, Connecticut, I’ve been attending a meditation circle, a cenetring prayer group.  

 

As is always the case the first time I do anything there is always a bit of apprehension.  However with meditation, the anxiety quickly slips away.  The whole concept behind meditation is to leave your thoughts behind.  As can be seen from my category at Wisdom and Life on meditation, this has been an ongoing practice of mine for years.  I’ve only just begun practicing with a group.

 

Image from:
Pixabay

There is much to be said about meditating and silent prayer with a group of people instead of doing so on your own:
For those who find it challenging to set aside time, this forces you to go.
–The energy in a group is far higher than doing anything by yourself.
–Seeing the same people every week draws us closer, thus increases the spiritual energy that surrounds all of us.

 

–If you find it difficult to set aside time to meditate on your own, having someone to go with can be all the motivator you need.  As with exercise, it helps to have a partner to be that extra push.  I’m thankful that I have such people in my life who push me to do these things.  Once I develop a routine however, it’s always easier to maintain.  Meditation is no different.  This Wednesday Night group has now become part of who I am.  I highly recommend finding a group if you are just starting out.  It will help you develop that practice.

 

–When meditating with a group, you can feel the energy around you expand, if though you’re all in contemplative mode, if you concentrate you can feel the positive energy surround you.  The more you are around these same people, the deeper the connection will become and you’ll find your spiritual energy exponentially increasing each week.

 

You’ll also find it easier to slip into meditation on your own.  This is such a healthy way to spend part of your day:
–Meditation can slow down your heart rate.
–Meditation can relax you do you’ll find it easier to sleep at night.
–Meditation can relieve stress in your life.

 

All helpful reasons to make it part of who you are.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

We then lose all our distress
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

Where Would I Be?

If God had granted all the silly prayers I’ve made in my life, where should I be now?


C.S. Lewis
Letters to Malcolm” (1964)

 

Think about the above quote from C.S. Lewis and think back to your childhood and the frequent prayers you made.  I’m sure that many of them are not something you desire now.  What if you had the opportunity to see how different your life would be had those prayers been answered without having to stay in that reality?  How many of us would want the life we asked for in childhood?

–Praying to marry our first loves?
–Praying that our families stayed together?
–Praying that we won the lottery?

 

Image from:
Public Domain Pictures
prayer

All these prayers would bring about monumental changes in our lives and while some of them might be to our benefit, our entire lives would be completely different from the lives we now lead.  
We wouldn’t have the friends we have now.
–We wouldn’t live where we live now.

 

You are I’m sure aware of the quotes:
–That God gives us what we need when we need it.
–That everything that happens in our lives is always for the greatest good.
–That only God knows what is best for us.

 

And I’m sure you’re also aware that God answers all our prayers and sometimes that answer is no.  Just remember when we don’t get what we want from HIM, it doesn’t mean HE doesn’t love us, it doesn’t mean he didn’t hear our prayer,  it only means he loves us enough to withhold something we THINK we want because he KNOWS what we need.

 

Again I will refer to the C.S. Lewis quote above:
What if God DID INDEED grant all the prayers we asked for in our youth?  Would we be happy now?

 

I certainly wouldn’t and I’ll be willing to bet most of my readers wouldn’t either.  Another quote that is reminiscent is:
Be careful what you wish/pray for, because you may just get it.  As in The Monkey’s Paw.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

We then lose all our distress
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

 

HE Will Provide

There was a young man in a flood who watched the water rise in his house.  Soon the water rose to the roof line and the young man stood on the peak.  His neighbor rowed by in a row boat.  Get in!  He said. I can get you to safety.

No. The young man said.  I’ve prayed to God. He will provide. The row boat moved on.

A short time later, the police came by in their rescue boat. Get in. They said. The water is still rising.  No. The young man said. I’ve prayed to God. He will provide. The officers shook their heads and moved on.

Ten minutes later,  a rescue helicopter hovered over the roof and lowered a rope ladder. Someone yelled out, Climb up the rope and will get you to safety.

Bet you know what his response was.  Next thing you know that young man wakes up and finds himself before God. He looks at God and says:

I prayed and I looked to you to save me. Why am I here?  God smiles and gives a bit of a chuckle. I sent your neighbor. I sent a rescue boat. And I  sent a helicopter. What more did you want?

 

Image from:
123rf
ManOnRoof

 

I’m sure EVERYONE has heard that story.  As anyone following Wisdom and Life knows, I’m a HUGE believer that God speaks to us through signs and messages, but sometimes we need a physical sign as well.  That’s the HIDDEN meaning behind this story for me.  God sent the drowning man THREE physical messages and he chose to ignore ALL of them.  How many times do you think have you ignored a PHYSICAL message only to have realized later that you did indeed do so?  How many more times will you ignore HIM when HE sends a physical message?  When God sends physical signs we must be as aware of those as we are aware of the divine messages we receive.

 

Contrary to belief, God doesn’t ALWAYS work in mysterious ways.  Sometimes we get a physical knock.  Will you be ready to recognize God in the physical as well as in the divine?

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

 

Once you realize that life is eternal,
That our souls our eternal,
That we return to light and physical over and over;

We then lose all our distress.
We then lose all our fear of dying.  For there truly is no end.

 

Prayer of Saint Francis/Prayer Monday

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

 

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Prayer of Saint Francis

Image from:
Red Letter Christians

 

I love this prayer as it PERFECTLY describes the meaning of Wisdom and Life.  The prayer also does a commendable job of describing my purpose of incarnating is this my most recent lifetime.  The entire reason Wisdom and Life came about is to discuss how faith can strengthen our lives.  I clearly understand there are those in my circles who can feel uncomfortable when I discuss words like faith, like God, like Spirit.

 

But as I do my best to explain, when I use these words I’m not using them in a religious way.  I use these words in the universal divine interpretation.  My faith is such an important part of my life and I believe The Prayer of Saint Francis neatly describes part of my worldview; especially the first paragraph.

 

If you read back through my blog I think you’ll see all of these themes underlying my entire blog.

 

Where there is injury, let me paron.

Look at all I’ve written about Forgiveness.

 

Where there is doubt, faith

Look at all I’ve written about faith and spirituality.

 

This line in the 2nd paragraph:
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

is another favorite of mine as I have said here many times that I no longer hold grudges.  I no longer stay angry.  Staying angry only hurts me.

I learned that valuable lesson several years ago after a lifetime of being challenged by it.  I’m so comforted by the fact that I’ve learned this lesson and if I can do JUST one thing in this, my latest incarnation it would be to teach people this lesson.  Teach them that peace is the only way.  Making me an instrument of peace.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

 

This is the last Prayer Monday

King Nebuchadnezzar’s Prayer/Prayer Monday

It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. How great are His signs, how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures from generation to generation.

 

Daniel 4:3

 

Signs?
Messages?

 

Sound familiar?  It should as I’ve written about messages and signs at Wisdom and Life many times before.  I choose to see EVERYTHING as a sign, as a message from God, from the divine.

 

How great are HIS signs?
That depends on who you ask.

 

Are you asking someone who believes there are no coincidences?
Are you asking someone who sees the divine in all coincidences?
Hence coincidences don’t exist.

 

How do we follow King Nebuchadnezzar and show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done?

There is only one way that I see:
Show those that want to be shown.
Explain your own experiences with signs and messages you have received.

 

It also seems good to ME to show how God has worked in my own life.  I’ve linked to:
Being Spiritual countless times at Wisdom and Life, however this column today makes sense to link to Being Spiritual, because there are several cases where I’ve seen God working his mystical plan, where I’ve noticed now looking back that there are certainly signs, there are certainly messages that HE has laid out for me.

 

Not just for me however.
He has seen fit to show EVERYONE signs.
He has seen fit to give EVERYONE HIS wonders.

 

We have to be open enough to see them.

Image below from:
In Touch with World History

 

So, King Nebuchadnezzar.

Who was he and why is this prayer named after him?

 

Let’s see if we can discover who he was and why this prayer is named after him.  According to:
Daniel 4.28-4.37
28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” 33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

 

Maybe this explains to some degree why the prayer I’m using this week is named after Nebuchadnezzar.  Some of the passages from the above verses are similar to the prayer.

 

What do you think?

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

The Four Vows/Prayer Monday

Sentient beings are numberless,
I vow to free them.

Delusions are inexhaustible,
I vow to end them.

The Dharma Gates are boundless,
I vow to open them.

The Enlightened Way is unsurpassable,
I vow to embody it.

The Four Vows
Zen Buddhist

 

As many of you know, I’ve written extensively at Wisdom and Life about Buddhism.  I find it very easy to be in that place.

Interesting that the first stanza states that:
Sentient beings are numberless,
I vow to free them.

That’s what Wisdom and Life is about or replacing the prayer’s words with mine:
Removing the spiritual blinders of those who want to see.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s one of the ultimate reasons for incarnating:
Those of us who know we are spiritual beings having a human experience MUST offer assistance to those who want to move closer to the divine.  That’s what I believe the first stanza of the prayer is telling us.

As far as the second stanza goes:
Delusions are inexhaustible,
I vow to end them.
Who is to say what is delusion and what is truth.  That reminds me of an old Moody Blues song Nights in White Satin:
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion

Seriously!
Who gets to decide which is illusion or delusion?
Who gets to decide which is truth or right?

According to Wikipedia a delusion is:
Is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.

Hmmmm.  Doesn’t that encompass the world religions?  Now do you understand why I said who gets to decide what is real and what isn’t?  Everything is real for the person experiencing it.

There are no delusions.
There is only the divine.

The Dharma Gates are boundless,
I vow to open them.
I think this stanza is saying that as long as we believe we can move mountains.
Faith, like the Dharma Gates are only as boundless as we allow.  If our faith is open and boundless then we can walk through anything, then we can move anything.  It is the responsibility of those who have boundless faith to show the way, to fling wide the gates that are closed, to remove the spiritual blinders who are wearing them.

Are you with me?
Will you do your best to fling open the gates?
Will you do your best to show the way?
Will you remove the blinders of others?

The Enlightened Way is unsurpassable,
I vow to embody it.
The Enlightened way is the ONLY way.  I see that now and I do my best to embody it on a daily basis.  Of course, having this shell encompassing my spirit, my soul, my TRUE nature I do slip.  But now understanding that we are more spiritual, more light based, I find it easier to return to the spiritual path, to the enlightened path.

And it IS my responsibility to show others the way as well.
Will you join me?

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

 

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

I’m sure even those not involved in a twelve step program is familiar with The Serenity Prayer.  The origin is somewhat a mystery.  Though the prayer has been attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, it’s not clear if he originated the prayer either.

 

What is known according Alcoholism.About.Com, is that the first four stanzas were discovered in “routine New York Herald Tribune obituary.”

 

It soon after that discovery that the prayer became ubiquitous among ALL twelve step programs.  This prayer, at least the first four stanzas fits in VERY nicely with Wisdom and Life’s theme.  What’s the significant word in the first four stanzas?

Could it be change?

 

That word, change, plays an important role at Wisdom and Life.  And look.  There’s another important word in the prayer:
Wisdom to know the difference.  I hadn’t picked up on that but notice the title of my blog.  Interesting.

 

Because my goal with Wisdom and Life is to provide wisdom, to help those who are still wearing their spiritual blinders.

 

Returning to the word change:
Change is something that happens to everyone sees.  We shouldn’t fight against it.  When we accept the changes that we cannot do anything about, life will no longer be a challenge.

 

That’s what the first four and most popular stanzas of The Serenity Prayer are professing.  We need the strength to change what we can as well.  If we can learn the difference, we can make some real growth.

 

That’s what The Serenity Prayer is doing its best to show.
That’s what Wisdom and Life is doing its best to do.

 

The Serenity Prayer has been adopted by ALL twelve step programs for the same reason.  Twelve Step programs, just like Law of Attraction and Spirituality go hand in hand.

 

You can’t have one without the other.  Faith and Twelve Step programs cannot be separated.  If look at the origin of AA, the REALLY very first Twelve Step program, God plays an extensive role.

 

From the phrases:
God As We Understand Him
A Higher Power
A Power Greater than ourselves

 

We can clearly see there is an underlying belief system in a higher power, in God.  The Serenity Prayer can be used in our daily lives as well.

 

Change happens.
If we accept what we can change and let go what we can’t, our lives will flow down the stream, instead of up the stream.

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Perhaps I Shall Return/Prayer Monday

Here’s an obscure prayer to wrap your head around:
Perhaps I shall return someday

Under each stanza I will attempt to decipher the meaning from my interpretation.  My interpretation will be in Bold.

Perhaps I shall return someday
Once more to stand before this
Valley of the Winds
Perhaps I shall return someday?
Is Raleigh Michael Smith discussing reincarnation?  As in the next stanza he writes the word:
stygian which refers to The River Styx  which is the path to the underworld.

Image from:
Commons Wikipedia

The Valley of the Winds?

Australia.  There also appears to be a Styx River in Australia

 

And the
Guardian of the Night
will fill my Cup and bid me drink, once again
of stygian nights in half remembered dreams
and
Sacred Barren Ground.
If we are indeed talking about the mythical River Styx in the fourth line here, I’m guessing the Guardian of the night is the ferryman, Charon.

Image from:
Wiki.Godvillegame

Fill my Cup and bid me drink again:
Staying with the River Styx analogy here, another stop on the way to the underworld is The River Lethe:

All passengers on Charon’s Ferry must stop and drink from The River Lethe, The River of Forgetfulness.

 

What does all this remind you of?

Perhaps when you cross over, when you transition?  Just before you return?  Upon our return we can NOT recall our previous lives, so we MUST drink from The River of Forgetfulness.

 

But my heart will still remember those
Ageless Hymns of old.
Which stirred my soul with their
Deeper Truths
and made my spirit bold.
The heart will ALWAYS remember.  There is in that chamber a special place locked off from the rest of ourselves that has a sense of everything that has ever taken place in all of our past lives.  It where, I believe that the feeling of deja vu originates.  Why do you think they say the heart knows?

It is because the heart is the center.
It is because the heart remembers EVERYTHING.

For my task is not to seek some
Higher Ground,
nor make the darkness bright.

It is to walk with Faith amidst the gloom
Undaunted, Unafraid & Undiminished
by the darkness
of the
night.
Our task in each one of our incarnations IS to walk with faith.
There is no reason to fear.
We incarnate each time to understand this.  We DO seek higher ground with each incarnation, but that is NOT the body’s task it is the soul’s task.

raleigh michael smith – 2000
World Prayers.org

Someone not familiar with Greek Mythology may not be able to see all the similarities it presents to that time period.  Even the Ancient Greeks believed reincarnation occurred as can be seen from this Encyclopedia Britannica article on The River Lethe.

 

As I’ve said multiple times times at Wisdom and Life:
If there were those that long ago who thought reincarnation is a possibility, there MUST be something to it.

Here is the prayer in full; sans my interpretation:
Perhaps I shall return someday
Once more to stand before this
Valley of the Winds

And the
Guardian of the Night
will fill my Cup and bid me drink, once again
of stygian nights in half remembered dreams
and
Sacred Barren Ground.

But my heart will still remember those
Ageless Hymns of old.
Which stirred my soul with their
Deeper Truths
and made my spirit bold.

For my task is not to seek some
Higher Ground,
nor make the darkness bright.

It is to walk with Faith amidst the gloom
Undaunted, Unafraid & Undiminished
by the darkness
of the
night.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
The third day he rose again from the dead:
He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
I believe in the Holy Ghost:
I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
The forgiveness of sins:
The resurrection of the body:
And the life everlasting.
Amen.

 

The Apostles’ Creed holds a special place in my mind.  My best friend, while growing up in Lisbon, Connecticut went to Saturday night Mass in Taftville, Connecticut just about ten minutes from our homes in Lisbon.  I usually went with him and it was typically the only time I attended any organized religion.  I recall the prayer being said about half way through mass and I always appreciated its cadence, its intonation.  The Creed was probably my most loved prayer to say because I loved its cadence so much.

 

The Creed also has meaning because of its theme.
Everything about the prayer is in my entire paradigm:
–The Resurrection
–Forgiveness
–Everlasting life

 

I find this stuff so fascinating:
That after some thirty years; BEFORE I even understood my belief system, BEFORE I knew what I REALLY understood about spirituality, about faith, on some deep level I DID KNOW that faith and spirituality were an important facet of my life, that they would become so intertwined in my life that as I’ve written:
If you were to attempt to take them away’ I would cease to be who I am.

 

It’s another reason I resonate so deeply with this prayer, because now as I look back at my spiritual growth I realize I understood even when I didn’t understand.

 

God was merely prepping me.
God was giving me clues.
God was showing me at a young age how important a role faith would play in my later life.
HE was presenting me with pieces to my life’s puzzle that wouldn’t fit until I was ready.

 

That’s what a master HE is at the intricate process of our growth.

And only those of us who see the Divine everywhere,

Only those of us who have removed the veil,
Only those of us who have seen through the veil
understand the intricacies of HIS process.

 

Are you one who understands?
Do you see the Divine everywhere?

 

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris