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In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty.  The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations.  Both are lost.  Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.

Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God.  Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God’s unconditional love.
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...Only contemplative prayer or meditation invades, touches, and heals the unconscious! This is where all the garbage lies—but also where God hides and reveals “in that secret place” (Matthew 6:6). “Do you not know,” Jesus says, “the kingdom of God is within you!” (Luke 17:21). Contemplation opens us to the absolute union and love between God and the soul.

Prayer is not about changing God (to do what we want), but being willing to let God change us, or … “praying only for knowledge of [God’s] will for us and for the power to carry it out” (actual inner empowerment and new motivation from a deeper Source). People’s willingness to find God in their own struggle with life—and let it change them—is their deepest and truest obedience to God’s eternal will.

Remember, always remember, that the heartfelt desire to do the will of God is, in fact, the truest will of God. At that point, God has won, the ego has lost, and your prayer has already been answered.

from Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

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I come from a religious life practice where we learned from the Jesuits about a daily and personal “examination of conscience.” But I found that people with a mature conscience did this naturally anyway, and some way too much. Now many of the Jesuits recommend instead an “examination of consciousness” which to me feels much more fruitful. That is what I would recommend if I were teaching Step Ten.

You must step back from your compulsive identification and unquestioned attachment to yourself to be truly conscious. Pure consciousness cannot be “just me” but instead is able to watch “me” from a distance. It is aware of me seeing, knowing, and feeling. Most people do not understand this awareness, because they are totally identified with their own thoughts, feelings, and compulsive patterns of perception. They have no proper distance from themselves.

You see why so many of our mystics and saints emphasized detachment. Without it, people could not move to any deep level of consciousness, much less to the level of soul. Meister Eckhart said detachment was almost the whole spiritual path, and the early Franciscans seemed to talk about nothing else, although they called it “poverty.”

We do not live in a culture that much appreciates detachment or such poverty. We are consumers and capitalists by training and habit, which is exactly why we have such problems with addiction to begin with. We always think more is better, for some sad reason. For properly detached persons (read “non-addicted”), deeper consciousness comes rather naturally. They discover their own soul, which is their deepest self and thus have access to a Larger Knowing beyond themselves.

from Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

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These make me think of the Beatitudes.

Can we only speak when we are fully living what we are saying?  If all our words had to cover all our actions, we would be doomed to permanent silence!  Sometimes we are called to proclaim God’s love even when we are not yet fully able to live it.  Does that mean we are hypocrites?  Only when our own words no longer call us to conversion.  Nobody completely lives up to his or her own ideals and visions.  But by proclaiming our ideals and visions with great conviction and great humility, we may gradually grow into the truth we speak.  As long as we know that our lives always will speak louder than our words, we can trust that our words will remain humble.

In the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel, John says that the people were intent on killing Jesus because he was not content with merely breaking the Sabbath, but he dared to speak of God as his own Father and made himself God’s equal. Yet Jesus does not back off. He declares (as all of us should), “The Father and I are one.” At that point the people fetch stones to kill him, saying “You’re only a man, but you claim to be God.” Jesus responds by quoting Psalm 82, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? So the Law uses the word ‘gods’ of those to whom the word of God is addressed—and Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

Whenever you try to take seriously what the Christ took seriously, the union of the human and the divine, you will almost always be called a heretic. You will almost always be dangerous to religion. The very thing that it’s all about is the most threatening thing of all, for some terrible reason. Our self-doubt and self-hatred resists such a total and gratuitous gift.

As someone has so beautifully stated, “human beings cannot bear the burden of their own inherent greatness.” Perhaps that is because we think we can’t live up to it. Maybe we know subliminally or unconsciously that if we recognize our True Self, which is the divine indwelling, the Holy Spirit within, then we know we have to live with that kind of dignity, responsibility, and freedom. We are the tabernacles of God, and what happened in the Christ is what is happening in all of us. The putting together of the human and the divine within ourselves is clearly our task and our supreme vocation.

“Remain in me” (John 15:4). Make your home in me, as I have made mine in you.

from True Self/False Self

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Poetry Lincolnton's photo.

Your True Self is much larger than you! You are along for the ride. When you learn to live from your soul, you live with everyone and everything else too. Any language of exclusion or superiority no longer makes sense to you. Inside your True Self, you know you are not alone, and you foundationally “belong” to God and to the universe (1 Corinthians 3:23). You no longer have to work at feeling important. You are intrinsically important, and it has all been “done unto you” (Luke 1:38), just as it was with Mary, who made no claims of worthiness or unworthiness.

And if God so gratuitously and graciously includes you here and now in this world, why would such a God change God’s mind in the next world? Love is the one eternal thing, and it takes away your foundational fear of death. This is very good stuff.

God has not been wasting your time here, and God will not be found ineffective, failing, or unfaithful toward what Divinity has created. “We may be unfaithful, but God is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self” (2 Timothy 2:13).

from Immortal Diamond:The Search For Our True Self

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Outta The Bag

Winston-Salem Square Park

310 Marshall St. N.

Winston-Salem, NC,

Tuesday, June 10,2014, noon

music, entertainment, and, of course, READINGS

sponsored by Winston-Salem Writers, together with the WS Dept. of Recreation & Parks

We continue to put ourselves down as less than Christ.  Thus, we avoid the full honor as well as the full pain of the Christian life.  But the Spirit that guided Jesus guides us.  Paul says:  “The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God.  And if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17).

When we start living according to this truth, our lives will be radically transformed.  We will not only come to know the full freedom of the children of God but also the full rejection of the world.  It is understandable that we hesitate to claim the honor so as to avoid the pain.  But, provided we are willing to share in Christ’s suffering, we also will share in his glory (see Romans 8:17).
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June 2014