Wise Words – We Are All Creators

As spiritual seekers, we are all creators.

“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”

Robert Henri

It’s funny, but I don’t think this quote is about art. It’s about the larger container that holds art but holds everything else as well.

When I sit down to write, I try to settle into a relaxed state that is connected to Spirit and open to guidance. If I don’t drop into this space, I am writing from a part of my brain that feels like the thin outer shell of who I am. The words might be organized, articulate, well-informed, they might even sound good, but the writing isn’t coming from the truth. At some level, it isn’t honest.

To drop into this state, I have to let go of my expectations about what my writing should be. I have to face and walk through the fear that my writing will expose me as idealistic, deluded, ego-inflated, or just plain silly. When I can do that, my consciousness shifts, and I enter the “wonderful state” Robert Henri is talking about. And then I can write.

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Walking the Path of a Modern Mystic

Walking the path of a modern mystic

I want to live fully engaged with the vibrancy of life. And that means something has to change.

I recognize there is a part of me that resides primarily in the physical world, which I call my ego self. It protects me, looks out for my interests, helps me achieve my goals, and serves me well in navigating the details of daily life. I honor and cherish this part of me, and I realize that life in this body would not be possible without my ego self. I like him (most of the time).

But I also recognize a larger dimension of my being that extends beyond the physical, my higher self, which guides my aspirations beyond surviving and succeeding in the world of form and connects me to the Source of all life. I want to live more fully from the depth of my higher self and less from the frantic, distracted worries of my ego self. I want to move freely in response to the spiritual impulse to connect with the Sacred.

That is what I want to change.

But how to move, in what direction, by what guidance? Living in modern society, I am given two mainstream approaches to these questions. Neither is spiritually satisfying to me.

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Cultivate a Calm and Healing Presence

I know people who can walk into a room and bring a sense of calm. Others might be nervous or upset, but these people seem to bring a peaceful presence just by showing up. 

I want to be more like them.

If I’m agitated, other people pick can up on my emotions and become agitated too. We humans tend to do that because we are socially attuned to each other’s moods. Likewise, if I can center myself, others can sense that and become more grounded.

When I’m open enough to listen deeply to someone without agenda or needing to counterpoint or defend, I create a space where they can feel heard, and they are more able to release their need for agenda or counterpoint or defense. Creating a space of deep listening brings the healing quality of connection, but it is not easy to do in stressful conversations.

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Prayer for 2024

Although prayer is often thought of as the making of a request, it’s much more than that. A deeper practice enters prayer as a conversation, a way of being in relationship.

Prayer deepens our relationship with our inner world. It allows us to assemble our vague, unstated gratitudes and longings into a coherent expression, revealing hidden meaning about what is important or troubling to us.

Prayer deepens our relationship with our outer world. It brings focus to the state of our relations with people and events, showing where and how we are connected or disconnected.

And prayer deepens our relationship with the field of consciousness that houses our individual awareness. It reminds us we are more than separate beings trying to live and thrive among other separate beings; we are the tips of the waves of an ocean, small eddies of individuality swimming in a giant sea.

Each of our prayers is vitally important because it is a unique expression of universal themes. No other voice has our singular nature, quirks, insights, life history, or personal slant on the cosmos. Stating our prayers out loud collects our separate identities and joins them into a greater body.

And so here is mine, a prayer for 2024, in hopes that my voice will join with yours and a sea of others in the grand fellowship to which we all belong.

Prayer for 2024

Spirit, I invite you to me.
Let me open to you and feel the power of your presence. 

Ground me in my body, here and now,
In this space and time, fully available in this moment.
Fill me with your energy and potential.

Expand my senses, uplift my heart, reveal my higher self to me.
Let me sense the community of souls who share my longings,
Who strengthen me, who connect me to the whole.

I am grateful for the blessings in my life, for the material comforts
I enjoy in a world where so many go without, for the kindnesses
I receive, for the ability to feel joy, and for the boundless capacity
To give and receive love.

I acknowledge that the world can feel chaotic and dangerous.
I am troubled by the current of the times, with war, destruction,
Discord, fragmentation, and the senseless suffering of innocents. 
I am often left confused, searching for clarity and relief.

Strengthen me. Help me know that I am capable of meeting
Life as it unfolds. Be with me when I am fearful, when my desire for
Certainty makes me forget that the future is unknowable.

Show me where I have a part to play. Let me be moved to act in
Ways that nudge the coming changes to the good. Not action
Formed in anger, for there is already too much anger and poison
In the world, but action that is antidote.

Guide me to the stillpoint, the calm amidst the motion, the quiet
Peace where I can find my breath and see more clearly the
Trajectory of my decisions. Center me in silence where a
Softer and more generous wisdom will inform my better actions.

And give me hope.
Open me to trust that the roadway of this human project,
Though strewn with the devastating litter of our mistakes,
Is advancing toward something worthy of our efforts. 

In service to our common good,
In surrender to what comes,
By the grace of all that is,


What gratitudes and longings do you have? What prayer would you voice for the coming year? The roadway continues, a patchwork of stones laid out before you, ready to be walked upon. 

I invite you to offer your voice in the comments below. Our thoughts are more potent when declared and shared.

Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

I’m Not a Very Good Mystic

I’m not a very good mystic.

I spend most of my time absorbed by the tasks and routines of the day. I would call this my ordinary state of consciousness, where I am focused on my perspective as an individual, moving through the world as a separate being. Periodically, something shifts my state. It could be a passage I read, even a single word, like “grace” or “love.” It could be a comment I overhear about someone’s troubles, or a patch of color that catches my eye from a flower bed or a shaft of light.

In these small moments, I shift into an expanded consciousness. My senses widen and I drop into a more vibrant world. I feel the current of life pass through me as everything becomes unreasonably simple and clear, and I remember I am part of something larger. The shift sometimes feels abrupt, leaving me amazed at how I could have been satisfied with the shallow perception that filled my attention just a moment ago. I wonder, “How could I ever leave this more expanded, peaceful, connected space?”

But leave it I do. I am usually pulled back into ordinary reality fairly quickly.

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Why Spirituality?

Why do we pursue a spiritual path? What is the spiritual impulse that fuels our seeking? What are we trying to achieve?

Spirituality is personal. It touches everyone differently according to their understanding, nature and season, so we each engage these questions in our own way. Let me offer my response with the following possibilities.

I want guidance in walking this impossible human life, a paradox both extravagantly abundant, delicious and fulfilling, and supremely challenging, grievous and painful.

I want to grow. I know there is a vast potential beyond my current boundaries that wants to emerge. I want to discover and express the core of who I am.

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A Jarring Scene Shifts Me Into My Higher Self

Near my neighborhood is a three-lane frontage road that parallels the freeway, a main thoroughfare for zipping across town. I was driving there recently, speeding along to or from some nondescript errands, when the traffic slowed to a crawl.

I felt a surge of annoyance. I was on a roll, my internal settings on “go.” I didn’t want to step on the brake. I quickly scouted a lane change to keep up my speed. Then traffic stopped. My impatience bloomed. I was pissed and slammed the steering wheel.

As we approached a major cross-street, I saw the reason for the delay. In the right lane, a one-eyed sedan with a crumpled hood had been spun around, facing in the wrong direction. A police officer was talking to a woman sitting on the curb, another directing traffic past the broken glass and dislodged headlight.

There was no other car. From these momentary images, my mind tried to reconstruct the scene. A hit and run? A missed red light? I couldn’t tell from the expression of the women on the curb.

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Wise Words – Ritual as Doorway to the Divine

“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. By participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the depth wisdom of the psyche, you are being put in accord with that wisdom. Your consciousness is being reminded of the wisdom of your own life.”

Joseph Campbell

I pull open the heavy doors, walk into Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, and stare at the receding rows of arches high above me. From tall windows, the fading sun throws a soft yellow light on the massive stone ceiling. I am here for Evensong, sung tonight by the Cathedral Girls’ Choir. I take a seat.

I love spending time in ancient places of ceremony and worship, where the walls have listened for centuries to chanting and singing, where people have worn the stone floors smooth, coming together to find peace, solace, and connection. The sacred presence of generations has soaked this place, and I feel it can soak me too if I let it.

Sitting in the vast volume of the nave, surrounded by grandeur, I’m surprised that I feel small and large at the same time. One by one, the internal gears that keep my mind spinning start to slow down and a sense of calm contentment unfolds.

The choir begins, quiet harmonies rising into the evening, piercingly clear in the stillness. Reverent, resonant, lifting a soft beauty into the air, touching something in each of us that wants to be lifted up, wants to join in that beauty. My boundaries loosen. I am immersed, absorbed, connected across time, welcomed into stillness.

A young girl, she can’t be more than ten or twelve, has a solo line that floats above the rest. She effortlessly holds a long, high note, then sounds one even higher that splits me. My insides melt and tears well up. I close my eyes. If I let go completely, I would start to weep.

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Writing to Remember the Things I Mostly Forget

Writing a weekly blog on spiritual growth is fascinating. It has become a consistent morning practice for me. I usually start with pen and paper and ask, “what wants to be written today?”  I love the delicious glide of writing with a fountain pen, watching words flow onto the paper in dark ink. I move to the keyboard once the shape of an idea begins to fill out.

Honest writing is hard work. It’s like throwing a vase on a potter’s wheel, except you don’t know when you start that you’re making a vase, so you do a lot of starting over. The drafting, editing, and re-drafting process forms a playground where I continually discover more about this spiritual road we’re all walking.

I write to clarify my thinking, to retrieve bits of myself that have scattered about, to find some ideas worth sharing with others. But perhaps the main reason I write is because I want to remember the things I mostly forget.

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Wise Words – There Is No Other Way Like Yours

“Do not compare, do not measure. No other way is like yours. All other ways deceive and tempt you. You must fulfill the way that is in you.”

Carl Jung

Every transmitter has a fingerprint, a set of characteristics in its signal that mark it as unique. This is true for every radio, antennae, and cell phone, for every satellite in space. Each has its own distinct signature, reaching out across the distance, not duplicated anywhere in the world.

And aren’t we like that too, each a collage of qualities, strengths, gifts, imperfections, and quirks, each emitting our individual signal? This collage acts like an antenna that transmits the unique voice of who we are. It’s gratifying to work from our authentic self; we all know how our heart soars when we do what we are wired to do.

The signal starts out strong and clear when we are young, when we don’t know any other way to be. But over time, a lot happens that interferes with our original signal. It gets covered with different messages about who we are:  the expectations from parents and teachers, or the field we pursued because we are good at it, not because we loved it, or the misguided advice we got that we couldn’t sing or weren’t good at math.

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