Happy New Year everyone! Have you all made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Are they, by any chance, similar to the ones you made last year?
Lately I am challenging the very idea of New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps it’s not the best thing to enter into a new year determined, yet again, to fix what we perceive to be wrong with us. What if were to kick off 2020 celebrating how beautiful we are? How gifted, prosperous, happy and healthy we are!
We could see our problems and issues as themes recurring in our lives to let us know that we have not yet heard the wisdom they came to bring. What if we understood that these themes will continue to recur until we are ready to take a stand for and accept our goodness and power?
Why do you think we hold on to self-sabotaging patterns anyway? Well, what I’ve noticed is that I tend to organize my life around my issues and problems. If I’m really honest, I see that a part of me takes a strange kind of pride in problem-solving, coping and damage-control. That part has an identity named Proud Survivor. Another part believes that worrying about someone or something is a way of loving them. It has an identity called Caring Person. Oh yeah, and Caring Person has a cousin who takes too much responsibility for things, even things it can’t control … like other people. This identity has a name too … its name is Guilt … and it was planted in elementary school. Well those guys all went up in smoke a few minutes ago. Their replacements, Self-Love and Freedom, have already started moving in.
Wonder what it will be like to organize my life around these new residents? I know one thing … I will have more time and energy. You see, I am coming to terms with the realization that sincerely letting go means no longer allowing myself to spend time fretting about my problems and issues or planning how to get everything done or worrying about stuff I can’t control. This is going to open up space in my mind and heart. God help me … a void has been created. This is what I’ve been trying to a-void … get it?!
When we walked up to that burning bowl a few minutes ago … whether we were fully conscious of it or not … we were making a decision … to allow our Higher Self to take charge of our ego … even though we have been around the block long enough to know ego will fight back. It took courage to do this … and faith that the God Power within us would be equal to the challenge. Mary Anne Williamson says that the thing we fear most is our greatness … beauty … and power. Well, this morning we took a stand for these things. Whew … that’s big. We’d better fasten our seatbelts, right! This is a whole new ride for those of us who are all in.
So what will we do with the time and energy we used to spend trying to work out or work around the money, relationship, career, health and logistical issues that have defined us? Good question … oh yeah … you do know that the void has a lot more questions in it than answers right? But instead of making resolutions that will fall by the wayside in a week or two, we could let today be the day we create a New Vision … one that has nothing to do with fixing anything or solving any problem. Spiritual teacher Joe Dispenza taught us that we have to have a new identity if we want to create a new reality.
OK, so this is a process. But maybe our lives could turn on a dime … if we go into 2020 acting as if our fears, problems, obstacles and shortcomings have vanished – puff! Gone! Acting as if our identity has taken charge. Acting as if … until this new identity has put down deep roots and the new reality begins to bear good fruit.
To begin, let’s call upon our Power of Imagination. Suppose we are no longer too old, too fat, too poor, too sick, too dumb, too uneducated, too depressed, too busy, too burdened, too……you name it. Let’s just imagine that we are free and clear – just a pulsing mass of energy – pure potential -- waiting -- like a powerful sports car idling in neutral, waiting for direction from its Divine Driver – waiting to take us wherever we want to go.
From this place – where there is nothing wrong and nothing lacking – what would you do with your life? What would you do just for the joy of it?
What energizes you and causes you to lose track of time? What is so natural that it feels effortless? What brings a smile to your face just thinking about it?
In a world where money is God and fancy stuff is the measure of self-esteem, it’s hard to imagine that what you love can become the predominant activity in your life … and that it is the gateway to your greatness and prosperity.
Many of us have somehow learned that, in order to be successful, we must sacrifice what we love the most. Well, I don’t believe the Universe works that way. God did not make a mistake when he made us the way we are. Perhaps the most life-changing gift I was ever given came from Unity minister Helice Greene who told me that the desire of my heart IS God’s will for me. In one amazing moment of insight, the sense of separation from God planted in early childhood was blown away
It’s a convoluted thing that most of us … in my generation at least … were conditioned to work the hardest at fulfilling what we believe to be our responsibilities. Rarely, if ever, did anyone tell us to put most of our energy into what is most fun and most natural. Yet the greatest musicians, artists and athletes have all done this very thing. Did Tiger Woods spend most of his time training for a “real career” in case Golf didn’t work out? Does anyone care what grades Yo Yo Ma got in college? Does anyone know if Georgia O’Keefe died wealthy?
I suspect that if you were to ask any great artist why he or she chose a career in art or music or sports, he or she would look at you strangely. Chose a career? I paint because I must. I play golf because I have to. I make music because music is my life.
On Christmas Eve, Sepp and I had lunch with friends. One of them asked me if I thought ministry was a calling or a career. The question immediately brought up a memory from the early days of seminary. I recalled being in a group discussion in which the question was, Why are you here? Listening and watching everyone share, the thought came to me that it was really easy to tell who felt called to ministry and who thought of it as a career change. It was an intangible difference but very clear and real. I think the difference is all about the heart. For me, it was unthinkable that I would ever do anything else. Being a minister was just a fact of nature. Interesting fact … none of my “career change” classmates were still in ministry at the 5-year mark.
So, right here … today … imagine … is there something that you must do before you leave this life? Is there an inner calling that will not let you go, no matter how hard you try to stifle it?
Now be aware that your heart’s response to this question may not be something you need to DO at all. Perhaps your heart wants you to know “who you would BE” if you were not obsessed with worry or problem-solving or survival? A couple of days ago I received a Facebook post with a beautiful quote from Ram Dass which said: The world is obsessed with doing. Yet, when faith is strong enough, it is sufficient just to be. Learning to rest in “pure being” is a journey towards simplicity, quietness, and a kind of joy that transcends time. It's a journey that takes us from primary identification with our body and our psyche to identification with God, and ultimately beyond identification itself.
Somewhere along the way, we became convinced that we should be ruled by our brains. Well, the brain is great for storing and processing information – like a big hard drive. But that’s about it. As a decision-maker and guide, it’s very limited. You see, the brain can only process data and programs already loaded into it. It forms judgments, makes comparisons, draws conclusions based on this information – all of which was entered in the past and much of which was flawed to begin with. When new information comes toward the brain, all it can do is sort through its data bank and try to link up the new information with the old information. It finds the right category and slips the new information in where it thinks it fits. So if you decide to turn in a new direction … that is, enter into the realm of CREATIVE THOUGHT – your brain will likely send you frantic signals that are off course.
The brain cannot dream, cannot sense the truth, cannot love – and the idea of joy does not even occur to it. Yet, you and I have been taught that brain-power is the highest form of intelligence. I think, therefore I am … remember that axiom from Descartes? We have been misled. If our lives are based solely on what our brains think makes sense, I’m afraid we are living in a false reality planted by someone else a long time ago. Yes folks, there really is fake news and it’s being broadcast from inside our own head.
If there is a heaviness in your heart, which you have tried to escape by running from one diversion to the next, STOP! No matter how young or old you are, you may be having a mid-life crisis. I’m thinking about my youngest son, John who, when he turned 45 last summer went out and purchased a brand new 850 horsepower Corvette … a car so powerful it comes with a week-long driving class. John has worked very hard and is, by all the world’s measures, a success. He craved a symbol of this success. My interpretation of the great car buy is that his soul knows there is something greater possible for him, but he is not yet aware that this something greater is inside him. He’s a perfect example of one who is pulsing with energy and potential while, at the same time feeling kind of burned out by the rat race. So he purchased the most fulfilling reward he could imagine. The thing is … he does not yet know that the Corvette will not take him where he wants to go … and he does not yet know that there is a Divine Driver within him that knows exactly where greater fulfillment lies. My bet is that as the Corvette’s magic wanes, he will come to know these things.
A lot of us are in transition … due to aging, loss, health or relationship issues, job and life changes. So, what if nothing’s wrong? What if all these changes, whether planned or unplanned, pleasant or difficult, are invitations into a greater reality? Is it time, at last, for your life to revolve around your heart’s priorities? So the question I will leave with you this morning … as you stand on the threshold of a new year … What really matters?
Robert Frost wrote:
Two road diverged in a wood, and I …
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.