Sometimes, life gives us the unexpected. Maybe it’s a snowfall that devastates the daffodils and challenges the tree branches to become strong. Maybe it’s something more. Life gives us the unexpected. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s a challenge. Sometimes it feels unfair.
What is unfair? It’s hard to see and understand unfair, because usually when we’re lamenting the unfair, we’re in the midst of something that makes it hard to see clearly. There are some who argue that the goal of a spiritual life is to be able to see clearly and to see clearly, as much as possible, at all times. To see clearly to what is true and what is Truth. Usually, when we’re in the midst of “unfair”, we’ve lost sight of clarity. Things get muddy and clouded, usually by emotions.
We can cultivate clarity through simplicity.
It’s hard to see clearly when we are accumulating things. Hence, we want to cultivate a life of simplicity where our hearts and minds and rooms aren’t cluttered. We’ve all had a messy desk where we can’t find what we just put there because there is too much going on on the desk. Our minds can get like this too. Too cluttered to find what we need, when we need it. Too cluttered for clarity. We’re all over the place. And that thing, we’ve all been there, that thing just on the tip of our tongue, is unattainable and lost. It eventually comes. Usually in the middle of the night, when our mind is a little more clear with the simplicity of lying in bed for sleep. Often, we find it wasn’t as important as we thought it was.
It’s also easy to get unclear in our hearts. Way too easy. We spend a lot of time, I was going to say protecting, but maybe guarding is a better word. It’s a word we use it in yoga when the body is able to get into the pose, but the mind won’t let us because it’s afraid of getting hurt. Fear. It’s not always a bad thing, but when it begins to rule and limit us it becomes a problem. This happens in our body, our minds, and also in our hearts.
A recent quote I heard, not sure where: Negative thoughts resurface in our behavior. Maybe negative emotions also resurface in our hearts, making it more difficult to love…and be loved.
It’s said that it is important to protect the mind and the heart against junk. Junk food of the mind. Junk food of the heart. Watching/reading stuff that dulls us to pain. Watching/reading stuff that stirs up the ugly emotions (fear, anger, even hatred or maybe a nicer way of putting that is dislike, same thing, but milder). Those things that make us less compassionate. Those things that keep us from being with one another with an open heart. Clear hearts. It can sound terrifying to even say it aloud. An open heart. Do we already feel ourselves clutching and protesting…crossing our arms?
When we think of an open heart, we can think of Jesus. He lived with an open heart, a clear heart, and a clear mind. Even when he was teaching lessons, even when he was afraid, even when he was feeling forsaken, he lived with an open heart. He died with an open heart. A heart filled with love and forgiveness.
Why is it so hard for us? How can we cultivate an open heart within ourselves? Perhaps by emulating a person, or people, who walk (or walked) with an open heart.
We can build an open heart through practice and good company. Listen to the words, practice the words, practice the path. It helps to remember what’s behind the stories: an open heart, a clear mind, and love. Love and forgiveness.
It’s said that we all connect to a spiritual side. Many of us find the divine in nature and solitude. Many of us find the divine in poetry and art. Many of us find the divine in our simple, daily lives. Yes, the divine lives in our daily lives and in the world and creation around us. We can connect to our spiritual side, and the spiritual world, and the Divine, God, anywhere. For some, it might feel like we don’t need to gather to reflect on the divine.
But it helps. We can find the diving alone, but it’s nice to share. It’s nice to share. And it takes courage. Courage to open our hearts and souls to one another. Sometimes, just to admit that I find Grace (insert your “here” here). Easy to stay home and keep one’s heart and soul to one’s self. Keeps us from getting hurt. But if we’ve found a gift, it’s nice to share. If we need a gift, it’s nice to have a place to good company to support us and remind us of the gift.
Good company helps to support us along the way. It does so, in different ways. There isn’t a one size fits all path, even within a community of like minded individuals. Church and Meeting places are gifts where we can gather together and share ideas and be challenged and support one another. That’s why we’re here and why we’re still here. To gather for Good. I think we’ve been reminded the importance of the sacredness of sacred places, sacred work, and sacred relationships.
We’ve missed one another. We’ve missed our church. These are places where we can gather to simplify our lives, quiet our minds, and open our hearts, even if only for an hour each week.
As we reflect on our needs as a church and a community and a village, let’s remember what we love about this gift. It’s said there are three ways to connect to the divine. Perhaps proving that one size doesn’t fit all. Here are the three ways, which then, of course can be subdivided and subdivided…and subdivided.
The first is a path of study. Gathering together to listen and reflect. Gathering to think about and discuss thoughts and ideas and readings. Gather to share struggles and lessons with one another. May we listen, learn, and challenge one another.
Two. Prayer and trust in the divine. Gathering our prayers together and lifting them up to Grace and reflecting with one another on our collective needs and joys and trusting. Community in Joy. Community in Sorrow. May we bear witness to one another.
Three is doing good work. Devotion through action. When we come together, we have more resources and more to offer. May we do good work together and offer it back to one another and then to those beyond these walls who are lonely, scared, and hungry.
Study. Prayer and devotion. Doing good work. The three ways of being a presence of Grace in this world. As you think of clearing your heart and mind, and your space, for more clarity, what comes up. What would support you in finding Grace in your own life and in our community?
Perhaps, just maybe, some of these thoughts will help you to find clarity in what it is you love most and need most and desire most to share of this sacred, neighborhood space. Perhaps, just maybe, these thoughts will help inform you as you fill out your surveys this week…
I offer that as…another Please.
Mini Prayer: Last week, it was thank you. This week: Please.