Sunday, September 12, 2021

Psalm as Mantra


Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,  O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

 

 

 

 

If I were to pick a tagline or mantra for this blog the above would be it.  I was first introduced to this on a regular basis when the First Female Episcopal Priest in Maryland was in her Transitional Diaconate at my home parish St. Bartholomew’s Baltimore.  She used it to open every sermon she preached. I hadn’t at the time fully digested it’s meaning but at that point I liked it.  Since that time, I have used it before speaking at a Daughters of the King retreat and occasionally at other church related functions.  It always beckons me back to those teen years and that huge shift for women.

I didn’t realize as a teen how important the word meditation would become for me. That I would become a Meditation and Yoga Therapist. I didn’t understand that this would be one of my lifelong Mantras or what a mantra even was. But yet here I am remembering again today. 

Sometimes our words can be unacceptable.  Sometimes we can be reactive as discussed last week.  But keeping this as mantra front and center I hope to always be responsive, calm, and happy. Either way I know that I am forgiven and that gives me hope.  This feeling of either way also brings me closer to God.  Strive for the good, even if all that presents is not good.  This week surely has much of that for all of us in the United States.

Twenty years ago this week I was a senior at Berry College.  I didn’t/couldn’t watch TV. I was intentionally out of that loop. In the afternoon I went to Berry Singers rehearsal where in one 75-minute session we prepared a mass that was presented at a memorial service that evening.  Many students walked out as those of other faiths spoke.  The wound was raw, some were reactive, many stayed. There were rough times following this event, there are still rough times today.  But through all of this we are forgiven, we are hopeful, we are good, and we are not. We are acceptable. We are all one.

 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Karma Yoga – Works for All



 

 

 

Proverbs 22:9

Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor

 

 

 

 

James 2:1-9, 14-17

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

 

Mark 7:24-37            

Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go— the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.

 

Jesus learns. The mother above was not considered a person "worthy" of Jesus's healing. Yet she had much faith. Therefore, Jesus laid aside his prejudice and in the name of her faith offered healing. Her faith, not her heritage, healed her. Jesus continued with this revised version of his ministry to heal many that disagreed religiously yet held in common a faith in Jesus.

Jesus further challenges all of us to do good work for all. To not be simply believers, but also doers, to not pick and choose who is helped, and to be generous. Karma Yoga is the branch of action and selfless service. I believe Jesus was challenging us all to practice Karma Yoga or leading by example. He challenged us to believe in him and serve all no matter what those we serve believe.

I get sad when I look at the state of the world. We can do so much better. Christians need to stop isolating themselves by denomination.  We may not agree but we can still be of service to each other. Beyond that Jesus calls us to learn and expand our mission beyond just Christians to all that need help. This is our Karma and our Karma Yoga. To help all in need without placing labels.  To love one another even if we disagree. To lead with a compassionate, loving, and open heart.

 

https://www.theyogasanctuary.biz/karma-yoga/

 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ahimsa: Agreeing to Disagree


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solomon 2:8-13

The voice of my beloved!
Look, he comes,
leaping upon the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away."

James 1:19-21 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

Mark 7:14-15 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

Sometimes the best any of us can do is agree to disagree.  In the excerpts from this week's scripture reading above we find a call to listen and not speak, and without anger. To be meek in all of this. We are reminded that the things that come out of us are what can defile. And all of this starts with a great reminder to love, this reminder to love touched me so much that I selected it to be read at my wedding 38 years ago. The other two passages do reflect the nature of communication within a marriage.  You won't always agree, but listen and learn, then slowly speak.  Reactive fighting accomplishes nothing.  This can be widened out for use in all our communication.  To me is summed by the idea of responding not reacting, as discussed in the Tara Brach Video below. Her three invitations guide me away from anger often: “1. Please don’t believe your thoughts, 2. Please pause and come back to presence, 3. Please remember love.”

It is very hard to live in a world where members of one family can all have different opinions about the issues of the day. But if we can find a way to always remember love even though we disagree then we can still find our way back to family or friendship.  In the heat of the moment though it is easy to feel powerless to find a road to navigate. “Feeling powerless leads to outward aggression in the form of frustration and anger, or withdrawal inward into depression and victimization. We fear our own power and we often feel trapped at our sense of powerlessness. By powerless, I mean those times we feel like we’ve run out of choices. We’ve run out of options and we are feeling totally incompetent to deal with the challenge at hand. At these times, we may feel like a caged animal, trapped and ready to spring. Whether we respond with anger, withdrawal, frustration, or resignation, there is a way in which our mind shuts down, as if we are riding a train through a dark tunnel and we can’t see anything but darkness and anxiety.

Ahimsa, or nonviolence, invites us to question the feeling of powerlessness rather than accept it. When we feel powerless, we have forgotten how much choice we really have. We have a choice to take action and we have a choice to change the story we are telling ourselves about our powerlessness. Instead of sulking in the feeling of powerlessness, we can ask, “What do I need to do right now to feel competent to handle this situation?” During these times, we can also jumpstart ourselves by remembering past times when we successfully handled a challenging situation while remaining loving and whole and then trying to find that feeling.

I have found three ways of thinking that shift me out of a feeling of powerlessness: practicing gratitude, trust in the moment, and thinking about others.” (Adele) All three of these ways are expressed in the Song of Solomon or in the three invitations.

To all those I may have been reactive to in the past, instead of responsive, I am profoundly sorry.

Namaste



 

Adele, Deborah. The Yamas & Niyamas : Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice, Created from berry on 2021-08-29 19:16:16.

Photo from Wedding Program for Beth and Terry Hughes