An Instrument of Light – 2

(Continued from Part 1 of An Instrument of Light)

We all have times of darkness in our lives. I remember the story of Terry Waite, a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury in England.

He was taken as a hostage in Beirut in 1987 and spent five years imprisoned there; the only thing that brought him through was his spiritual awareness. He said they did all kinds of depraved things to them in prison there, but the thing that they could not take away was their spirituality and their morality. By clinging to that they were able to win over their captors. We all have something to draw on.

I had an email from a friend who in a short space of time, last year alone, lost two very close friends, his grandmother, and his brother; all had died in a short space of about eight months. His reaction to it all was one of overwhelm. He withdrew from everything; no one saw him for weeks on end. Then he had a letter from someone who said how much his life had touched theirs, how he had helped them.

In his email to me he said, “I had a realization that I had touched people’s lives in a positive way, that I was able to help people. And I came out of that darkness in a moment of realization that I could be of service and help to others. I had more purpose in my life because of what happened during this last year.” I’m sure that whatever he chooses to do now will have an even greater impact on everyone.

There’s an ancient story in the Bible, and a story that is told in different cultures, about a man who is swallowed by a great fish. In the Bible you’ll remember that man was Jonah. God had called him to go to Nineveh and speak to the people who were in a sense of darkness and needed someone to bring them out of that and to recognize their God again.

Jonah refused to go. In fact, he went to Joppa and got a boat that was going to Tarshish, as far away from Nineveh as he could get. We may do that sometimes, when we feel a calling within us, we run in the opposite direction.

What happened was that a storm blew up. Jonah had a feeling that the storm had something to do with him. The sailors were all upset. They said, “How did this storm come about, is there something here that has caused this?” So he told them, “I think it might be me. You need to throw me overboard because then you’ll be saved and it’s all right; I should have followed my calling and done what God told me to do.”

So, finally, the crew drew lots and they agreed to throw him overboard. They threw him overboard, and you’ll remember in the story that he was swallowed by a big fish. We think of it as a whale, but it doesn’t say whale in the scripture; it just says a great fish. He was in the belly of this fish for a long time. And what was the fish doing when he was in its belly? You can imagine him sitting in the belly of the fish and meditating, “What the heck am I doing here? Where am I going?”

Do you ever feel like that in the darkness? You see, this story is a myth, an allegory of the darkness, the dark night of the soul. The night sea journey is one we all go through, that darkness, that dark night of the soul. We go through that night sea journey; it seems like we’re in the belly of something, we don’t know where we’re going, it’s dark all around us, the waters are around us, and we don’t know what’s going to happen or where we’re going to end up.

Where he ended up, of course, was where he began in the first place; the fish spit him up on the land again, and finally he went to Nineveh and taught the people. We all need spitting up out of the belly of the fish from time to time so that we may become ourselves, free and unrestrained.

So the story of the night sea journey is an allegory of the movement through birth and rebirth. It’s like going from one life to another. And that’s what the darkness is about; we’re in a liminal state. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead it’s called a Bardo, the state of Bardo, where you’re moving from one life and not yet ready for another life.

And that’s what’s going on in the darkness; we’re learning what our soul needs. When we have those experiences of the dark night of the soul we tend to go deeper and deeper within ourselves to find a new purpose in life, to find the Truth of ourselves. We’re kind of in between lives; we have to let go one life and we have to be born again into another life. It’s not easy to be born again, so we resist it and we’re at a loss, we’re “at sea.”

Jesus talked about being born again. “There was a man named Nicodemus who came to Jesus in the night.” He came in the night, he came in the darkness of his own soul, and he came to Jesus. And Jesus told him, “You must be born again.” He said, “How can a man be born again?” And Jesus said to him, “I tell you that everyone is born of the water and of the Spirit, and that you must be born again.” You must be born of the Spirit.

What he was telling Nicodemus was that he had to go back to his primordial beginnings, just like in the book of Genesis, which starts off, “The darkness was upon the face of the deep. . .” That was before the light came. “. . . and the Spirit of God was moving on the waters of the deep.” There was a merging, an interpenetrating of that breath, Spirit.

So Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he had to go back to those beginnings, to that womb, to the waters of life. We, like Nicodemus, have to go into that flowing chaotic feeling, and then open ourselves to the breath, to the Spirit of God, which is moving on the waters within. And from that movement comes light, light comes from the movement itself.

St. John of the Cross said it’s not the light where you find the healing. He said, “If a person wishes to be sure of the road they tread upon, they must close their eyes and walk in the dark. It’s the darkness that offers the best way, not the light but the darkness itself.”

It’s in the darkness where you find a luminosity beginning to come within your own being. The opponent is not the darkness; it’s our rejection or denial of the darkness. We must accept it, embrace it, and be present in it.

It’s only by being present in it that we’re able to release the darkness. And by being present in it, it’s a natural movement of the Spirit of God moving on the face of the waters. And our next experience is, “Let there be light.” Then there’s light, there’s light that comes.

This isn’t only for individuals; it’s for groups of people too. We find it way back in the scriptures in Isaiah where it says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who were in darkness a great light has shined.” So it’s for groups too.

We get in those times of darkness, but as we are present with them then the light begins to come. And it’s not like we’re an eye seeing in the dark, but we’re like a candle that is burning in its own luminosity. We find that luminous sense of our being beginning to shed light within us and as it does, we become the light.

We become the light of the world and we can know for others, too, that the light is within them; we can know that, because it’s true. The very core of our being, beyond the darkness, is the light. When the Spirit of God and the darkness come together, the result is always light.

So, in any time of darkness, for yourself or for others, if you can just breathe it in, turn to it and be present with it, be there with an attitude of acceptance of the mystery and interest in that mystery, knowing that somehow in all of that, God is present and the light will come.

Then breathe in that Spirit breath and the focus begins to change, luminosity begins to grow and the light begins to shine in you, because what you are is the “light of the world.”

And God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

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Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

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Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Light – 1

As we continue in our journey of becoming an instrument of God’s peace, we come to the next step. So let’s review how far we’ve come:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;

Yes, now we go deeper, to “Where there is darkness, light.”

All of us at times have had our world filled with darkness; I don’t think there’s anyone living, unless they are very small children, who have not experienced some tragedy, some loss, some bereavement, some failure, some rejection, all of the things which cast us into that experience of darkness when we don’t know where to turn. We feel lost, and adrift, and we’re not sure what is happening to us.

So we want to see how we can navigate that darkness when it happens in our lives, to find the light that is there and also be a light to others when they are going through dark times in their lives. How do we do that? And how do we become a candle on the water to others?

All of us, in a very real sense, have a need for light in those times of darkness. Yet all of us come to a point where, also in those times of darkness, we find that we have a deeper amount of growth that goes on there. We come to a deeper sense of ourselves.

So if you are looking for more meaning in your life, more substance in your life, a deeper experience of living, then be aware that when a period of darkness comes that’s what it’s all about, about finding that depth in ourselves. It has not come to defeat you; it has come to enrich you. Sometimes we resist it, we fight against it, but actually there are many gifts to be found in those times of darkness.

Friar Giovanni Giocondo, in 1513 said, “There’s a radiance and a glory in the darkness, could we but see. And to see we only have to look, and I beseech you to look. Life is so generous a giver but we, judging its gifts by their coverings, cast them away as ugly or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor woven of love by wisdom with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me that the angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.” It’s cosmic wisdom in the darkness.

I’ve had my times of darkness too. One of my deepest times of darkness was when I lost my youngest son. When he was twenty-six years old, he took his own life. That’s a hard thing to bear. He was England, I was over here in the States; I was in Roanoke, Virginia.

I received a telephone call from my daughter in England, and I was out of the house but when I came back there was a call on the message tape, “Dad, please call me right away. It’s urgent.” In that moment, I somehow knew that it was something to do with Carl, my son.

I called her back, and she said, “It’s Carl, Dad, he’s dead. He took his own life. He hung himself.” There was this kind of animal cry that came out of me from way down deep. Into my mind flashed all the stories that were told about suicides and their lot as they go on. Immediately, the next thought that came in mind immediately following on that negative thought was the realization, like a voice speaking to me, “He is enfolded in God’s love.” And I knew it; I knew it in that moment. “He is enfolded in God’s love.”

Of course, I went to England and Kathryn did the service in Roanoke on that Sunday. I went and I did the service for my son with close family and friends.

Before that, when I arrived in England my sister met me and drove me to the hospital where my oldest son was with the coroner in his office; he had to identify his younger brother. I waited in a side office and my son finally came in and we saw each other and we fell into each other’s arms in a shared anguish, and we clung to each other.

The feeling I had in that moment I always remember, and I can only describe it as a fierce joy. A fierce joy. I was holding my son who was alive. We were sharing in something that was of great importance to us, in the loss of my son and his brother. A dark time indeed.

We had the service and then we had to go to an inquest. At the inquest it was horrible, because there they recounted all the steps of what happened. He’d gone into a barn in a field. He’d had an upset with a girl friend and that was the final straw for him. He’d been on some medications and was exchanging drugs with friends.

And this was just the final thing for him and so no one would find him, or so he thought, he walked into the country and into a barn. He found some rope there and a ladder and he hung himself from a beam in the barn.

At the inquest, the farmer who found him told us how he found him. Horrible to recount all of that, but in a sense it was a catharsis to be able to know the steps that were taken there, and the things that were found in his pockets that the police officer shared with us and asked if we would like to take these items. There was a little tin, like a tobacco tin that some of his friends used. He didn’t smoke himself, but he was an artist and he used to paint these little tins and give them as gifts. There was a pocket knife, and a letter from me. Then the police officer said, “And here’s the rope.Do you want this?” I was horrified. I said, “My God, of course not.” Why would he show me that?

So, the darkness. And for a very long time afterwards it was as though I carried a great, grey, granite stone, right here in the pit of my stomach. But gradually, gradually I felt God’s presence come like a light which ate away at that stone and dissolved it. It took time. And it’s still there of course, it never fully goes away but it gets easier as the years pass; this happened in 1992, so it’s quite a long time now.

But it’s still there, isn’t it? When you go through those times, you never forget them. They have a tremendous power and impact upon you. But they also have a power to have you examine your life in a new way when you experience that darkness with the loss of someone, or you’re going through a serious illness.

In 1998, Kathryn was diagnosed with colon cancer and she had to have surgery. Fortunately, they were able to get it and she was fine but then had to go through radiation.

But the hard part for her in the darkness of her night was being strapped down in that room for the radiation. They had to tie her feet down, and she felt like her freedom was being restricted, because they tied her down and then they disappeared, they left her tied down while they did the radiation.

And the only way she was able to deal with it was to repeat to herself over and over the words of the Twenty-Third Psalm. They became a solace to her, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” Knowing and feeling that reality.

She, like me, had lots of practice of going within, finding that presence and power, and in that moment she was able to move through those words and remind herself that her freedom was not in being free physically from being tied down, but was in her heart, it was inside. And she was able to go through that experience and move beyond the claustrophobic feeling during that restriction of her freedom.

And thankfully, she is completely free of that cancer and there has never been a recurrence of it.

(To be continued in Part 2)

Know that God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

————————————————————————-

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Hope – 2

(Continued from An Instrument of Hope – 1)

The next day, in the afternoon, I went in the orchard again thinking I’d have a time of quiet and meditation. It was a beautiful day; it was very cold, in November, but it was blue sky and the sun was shining. I sat under an apple tree and I looked up at the sky; I could see a bare branch of the apple tree outlined against the blue sky. I thought, “How barren it looks, just like my life feels right now.”

Then I noticed on the tree like little scars where the leaves and fruit had fallen off. As I looked, I could see the beginnings of little buds there along the branch and I had an experience of seeing the life process in the tree and realizing there would be a rebirth of the tree in the spring and the renewal of it, that again it would bud and leaf and bring forth fruit.

I began to align it with my life as well, that somehow in that moment, seeing the process of life in the tree I saw it also in myself. And I knew that my life also would be replenished, would be renewed, that there would be another season. It was such a wonderful feeling; I still had a lot of doubts and fears but there was a stillness and calmness there too.

I wanted to imprint the memory of that tree on my mind. So the next day I asked Kathryn, an artist, if she would go with me to the art supply store to get some paints and a canvas. She showed me what to get and how to mix the palette and so on, and I did a painting of that tree branch and the blue sky beyond it. It was probably not a very good painting, but it served as a mandala for me so I could remember that moment when my life was transformed to some degree.

Later on, I discovered that the Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence, many centuries before had a similar experience with a tree. So I felt a special connection with Brother Lawrence, whose whole focus was on practicing the presence of God.

My despair was turned to hope as I aligned myself with the life force that I found in nature, and out of that came something beautiful. It was only about a week after that experience that it was Thanksgiving, and I went to the Thanksgiving service at Unity Village.

I’d never been to a Thanksgiving service before, in fact I don’t think I’d even been conscious of Thanksgiving before because I’d only been in the States for a couple of years or so and in England we didn’t have Thanksgiving Day. We had Harvest Festival but we didn’t have Thanksgiving.

I went to the Thanksgiving service with Kathryn and some other classmates. Sig and Janie Paulson were ministers there, and it was in the old Village Chapel which was in the administration building at Unity Village before the Activities Center and the large chapel that’s there now was built. We were all sitting there together toward the back, and Janie Paulson started to lead a meditation of thanksgiving.

All of a sudden I began to feel that sense of thanksgiving rising in me for the new life that was there, and that no matter what had happened I would be OK and that God would see me through. Tears welled up in my eyes and overflowed and I cried.

After a while I managed to stop and then Sig got up there and he started his message with affirmations of thanksgiving. And the tears started again, and I couldn’t stop crying. But they were tears of thanksgiving, and all kinds of tears.

At the end of the service I rushed out of there and went to the Peace Chapel, a little chapel with only six chairs in there. I didn’t bother with the chairs when I first went in, there was no one in there and I lay down on the floor and just sobbed.

Then I became very quiet and I sat in one of the meditation chairs and I had a peaceful, deep, calm experience, where I felt God’s presence with me.

After that, things began to pick up for me and everything began to come together. What had been despair, instead of chaos, became a time of order and beauty and love. Kathryn and I became close friends, and later as you know as we left ministerial school it blossomed into a deep love for one another. It all started right there. But despair turned to hope.

There were two things in that process I’d like you to grab hold of. One was when Kathryn said, “Hold on. You’ll be OK, you’ll come through this.”

It says in the scriptures, “And it came to pass.” Well, things come to pass, don’t they? So we have to know that if we hold on then the things that are troubling us have come to pass. They are not going to stay there; we’re going to move through them.

And the other thing is the recognition of the need to connect with that life force which is always present within us but that we’re not always aware of.

There are different ways of connecting, and for me at that time it was connecting with the life process in nature, in a tree, that spoke to me and became a part of my own being.

In times of despair and chaos, sometimes that is a new life coming about. Carl Jung talked about that. He said, “Chaos is like an egg, and out of the egg arises the phoenix and a life of liberation.” He said that you have to recognize that chaos is something to be sought, rather than something to be avoided.

We do tend to avoid it; we want to fix it right away. If there’s chaos in our lives we want order and we try to fix it and we set a goal and we strive for that. But sometimes the best thing to do is just hold on and wait, and that movement of the seasons in you will bring about a change, will bring a movement toward a goal that arises from within; an outer movement from that inward movement. So our part in a time of chaos is sometimes just to embrace it in a sense, and wait.

Paul Tillich, in a little book called The Shaking of the Foundations, had a section on waiting and he said this: “He who waits passionately is already an active power himself, and this is the greatest power of transformation in personal and historical life.” “He who waits passionately . . .” There’s nothing passive there in that kind of waiting.

It’s the same kind of waiting that Jesus talked about in his parables, and particularly in the parable of the traveling householder (in Mark 13).

He said, “Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.”

It’s a passionate waiting and watching for that which is called the Lord. The Lord comes; the Lord of your being comes. There’s a greater self within you and that greater self is the Lord of your being, ready to come into your experience if you’ll hold to the high watch, the high watch of hope.

And what have you to be alert to? Be alert to the good, because that’s what the Lord of your being comes to bring in to your life; it’s good. So hold on in those times and look for the good, look to that presence and power of God, keeping the high watch. Hold on; keep the high watch, the high vision, and high hope.

Remember, God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

————————————————————————–

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Hope – 1

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;

In this article we’ll consider this last instruction: “Where there is despair, hope.” So where there is despair, let me become and instrument of hope.

Have you ever felt despair? Many of us have, most of us probably have felt despair at one time or another, at different levels of course. There are different levels of despair.

In 2005, Kathryn and I flew to California for a few days to attend a family reunion in honor of the sixtieth wedding anniversary of Kathryn’s sister, Laurie, and her husband, Art. The family was gathering in a place called Twenty-Nine Palms, which is in a desert area about 60 miles or so from Palm Springs, where we had landed.

It was dark and it was pouring rain, which it generally never does. But it was, and not only rain but hailstones. We rented a car, and I asked the guy at the rental place which way to go and he said, “Oh, you just go down here, and down there,” and so on.

So, we set off. The directions had been a little skimpy, so when I saw a taxi stopped by the side of the road I stopped to check with the cab driver if we were going in the right direction. “Oh, no,” he said, “it’s the other way.” So I went back the other way and I just knew I was going the wrong way, so eventually I stopped again at a gas station and the man said, “No, you need to go back the way you were going before and you’ll go right over the freeway. Stay on that road and that’s highway 62, which will take you all the way to Twenty-Nine Palms. It goes through Marengo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twenty-Nine Palms.

So, off we go. It was dark and raining really hard. The roads were washed out with all the rain, grit and pebbles and little boulders were washing from the desert across the road and whenever there was a dip in the road there was flooded water. We came to a crossroads and opposite us, where we were supposed to go, there was a barrier with a sign that said “Road Closed.” There were no signs about any detour or anything like that. So I said, “OK, God, now you’re in charge. Which way do we go?”

I had an intuitive feeling to go right and a little farther down there was another crossroads and there was a man stopped, helping another man in a car. I stopped and asked him, “How’s the best way to get back on route 62 to go to Twenty Nine Palms?” He said, “Well, let’s see. If you go down here and you turn left and then right, then straight, then left again and right, you should be back on that road.”

I followed his directions, going through all the washed out areas and we got back on the road. But there were still a lot of washed out roads all the way and it was dark and still raining. Every so often we were getting a sense of despair that we’d ever get there because what was normally an hour’s ride turned out to be a couple of hours.

When we arrived there we were staying in a place called The Twenty Nine Palms Inn. It’s a very rustic place with some small adobe cottages. It was late by the time we got there, but the lady in the office pointed to a little map and said, “Oh, you just go over there and that’s where it is.” We finally got to bed about 11 pm California time, which was 2 o’clock in the morning our time.

But when we woke up in the morning it was bright and sunny and the sun was hitting the beautiful mountains around us, and we had a wonderful three days with family.

I wanted to share that experience with you because that’s one level of despair, anxiety. From there it goes in different levels from anxiety to despair, and sometimes into depression. So that was one experience. But let’s look at another level now.

Another, much deeper, experience I had was when I first went to ministerial school, or seminary, in 1969. My first wife and I had been going through some troubled times and when I got into ministerial school it seemed like everything was even more problematic. I was getting focused on my ministerial school and my studies, and my wife wanted to go back to England. Finally she took our four children and went back to England and that culminated in our divorce.

Just a month before that, my dad had died in England and I hadn’t heard right away. After three or four weeks I got a letter from my mother. I had a feeling it was something special when I picked it up in the morning from the mail box in the student lounge, so I waited until break time and then I went outside to read it. It was about my dad, and my mother asked why I hadn’t responded to the telegram. Strangely, I had never received the telegram.

So there was that, and just after that my wife left with the children and we were divorced, and I thought, “What is happening here? Here I am devoting my life to God’s work and everything is falling apart, everything is in chaos.”

At that time there were beautiful orchards around Unity Village, and I walked up in the orchards where it was quiet and I shouted and screamed and yelled at God. Why was this happening? I had thought that when I devoted myself to God everything would come together and it would be wonderful. But it was falling apart, it was chaos. So I yelled and screamed at God that evening, in the dark, in the orchard.

Then I came back to where I was living, in a little room at what was known as The Annex. The men were on the lower floor and the women were on the upper floor. Prior to that, my family and I had been living in a cottage on the grounds but then I’d been able to move to this tiny room, like a cell, in the Annex. Later on I got a larger room on the ground floor there at the Annex.

Some time before I had purchased a 1959 Cadillac, with the big wings and big tail-lights on the back, from an outgoing student. Every time I pulled into the parking lot the big tail-lights would come on. My fellow ministerial student, Kathryn, and her daughter, Celeste, had a room overlooking the parking lot, and the lights would light up their room.

When I came back from the orchard I got in my car, and Kathryn knew I was either coming or going when the lights came on. She looked out of the window and called out to me, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to see Sig Paulson, to talk to him; I’ve got to talk to somebody.” She said, “It’s ten o’clock, you can’t go and wake up Sig Paulson.” He was a long-time Unity minister, very well-known in the movement. She said, “You can’t go there at this time of night. Come on up and I’ll talk to you.”

So I went up and we talked a while, then she said, “Look, just hold on and everything will work out for you. You know where your source of good is, so remember to look to that.” So she gave me a little talking to and I felt a little better.

(To be continued in Part 2 of An Instrument of Hope)

Know that God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

————————————————————————–

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Faith – 2

(Continued from Part 1)

Carolyn Myss, in her book Invisible Acts of Power, says this: “Many times I have wished I could convince others of this immeasurable invisible force that surrounds and protects us. I feel profound bliss in knowing that even in the direst times our prayers are heard and answered.

“I have seen and experienced far too many miracles to believe otherwise. Like you, I’ve had to move many mountains in my personal and professional life. Whenever I am striving mightily on my own, pushing and getting nowhere, I usually realize that it’s time to step back and remember that ‘If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, “Move hence to yonder place,” and it shall move and nothing shall be impossible to you.’”

She speaks also about the awesome power of conscious prayer. She said, “Prayer is the purest aspect of this invisible act of power.” How important prayer is. She talks about the use of our faith as an anchor, the faith that we can move through any circumstance, through any situation.

In Hebrews 1, we read that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.” Then it goes on to say, “For the things that are seen are made from the things that are invisible.” In other words, everything comes into visibility from the invisible. So we have to look first to that invisible realm of being.

We all have times in our lives when difficult things come along that we have to face. If this is a time of fear for you then this is also a time of faith. Move from that place of judging by appearance and open yourself to the possibility of knowing that you are never ever alone, for God is always present with you. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me . . .” So if it’s a time of fear, it’s also a time of faith for you.

Is this a time of illness for you? If it is, then it is also a time of faith, of knowing the Truth that God-life is mighty in the midst of you, and of looking past that appearance of how things seem to be to the Truth of that life. No matter what seems to be happening, God-life is expressing in you.

Recently I sat at the bedside of a very dear friend who has been diagnosed with a tumor in his brain. At the time we didn’t know whether they could operate or not. He and his wife are very well steeped in Unity principles and as we sat down and prayed together and cried together, we affirmed together that this is a time of faith.

When you are faced with something as challenging as this, sometimes it takes someone else to just be there and to know that Truth for you. So we affirmed the Truth that God is in the midst of this situation, and that God’s healing power is mightily at work. Then we released the outcome to God, to the activity of God. We don’t have to be concerned about the particulars; we only have to look to the Truth of God’s presence

Is this a time of lack for you? Then it is also a time of faith, because if you are experiencing lack it is an opportunity for you to prove the presence and power of God in your life, that God is your source. There may be many channels for your good, but there is only one source and God is your source.

And this is your opportunity to prove it. We read in the scriptures, “Prove me now, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” (Malachi 3:10) So you can prove it for yourself; you don’t have to prove it for anyone else, you’re just doing it for yourself, exercising your faith.

Faith is action, it’s not just thinking about something or talking about something; it’s moving into action based upon the knowing of God’s presence and power. It’s not just believing in something that someone has told you, but a knowing. There’s a difference between a belief and a knowing, and you know that difference. So, if this is a time of lack for you, it’s also a time of faith.

If this is a time of grief for you, it is also a time of faith. If you are experiencing grief, you can also know that in the darkness there is the light of God’s presence and that light is always there and available to you. You can begin to switch your view from the seeming darkness and the loss to the light and the realization that there’s only eternal life.

The appearance is that there’s an ending, a death, a separation; but there is no separation in God, there is only eternal life in different expressions of that life. So you can experience a new relationship with your loved one as you get into that kind of awareness, as you get into the kind of knowing that is the faith in God’s presence within us and within our loved one.

Is this a time of doubt for you? Then it is also a time of faith, because whenever we doubt we have the opportunity to utilize our faith and to bring that faith into our doubt and to transform it into a deeper knowing of God’s presence. God provides us many opportunities; life provides many opportunities for us.

We all come into those moments of doubt, but in those moments we can catch ourselves and stop affirming our doubts where we keep saying, “Oh, there’s no way I can get over this,” or “How can I possibly achieve this?” or “Where’s the money going to come from?” or “My relationship with this person is ending and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

We often get focused on what’s wrong instead of what’s right; we have to stop affirming our doubts and begin to affirm the Truth and our faith in God’s presence. No matter what is happening in your life, affirm, “God is mightily at work in my life right now, bringing new possibilities, new openings, new realizations, new joy, a new sense of who and what I am; I have something to give and I am important to life. I bring myself, as an instrument of God, to life.”

The most important thing we can do to have this realization of God’s presence is meditation. Take time for meditation, move into the stillness and listen to that still, small voice. For just as Jesus said, it’s not the quantity of something, the largeness of something, but it’s the quality and the clarity and the perception that comes through listening to the still, small voice.

That still, small voice is truly inwardly the most formidable and the most significant thing in the entire world. And we come to that as we take time for meditation, as we take time for prayer, as we take time to move into the Silence. We begin to listen, and we hear that little nudge, that movement forward of God in us, then we take those steps that bring us into a deeper experience of God’s presence and a deeper expression of faith.

So, truly, as we take these steps and move into that time of meditation and take, as Ecknath Easwaran says, a holy name for ourselves for when we forget, it will remind us of our oneness with God, that communion. And the holy name can be anything that really brings you back into that consciousness of God’s presence. It can be “Jesus, Jesus;” It can be “Christ” or the “Holy Spirit,” or “Father,” whatever it is that brings you back into that consciousness of oneness with God.

That’s the most important thing, to be aware of that level of our being, to listen to that still, small voice; in the midst of all appearances that seem to be happening, listen in that deeper awareness. And we know, that somehow, some way, we have an important work to do in life; that we, too, by our faith, consent to shine the greatness of God through us.

So let your light shine; let it shine!

For God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

————————————————————————–

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

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Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Faith – 1

The next three lines of the prayer of St. Francis all begin with “D” and they sort of escalate in intensity. This article focuses on doubt, the next one is despair, and the next one is darkness. And the last line of the seven is on sadness and joy; remember that joy is always the recognition that the presence of God is there. Joy is the recognition and the demonstration of the presence of God in you.

Then the last part of the prayer is the recognition and understanding of that process, and again it goes in threes. God, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, etc. As you come into the next three you to come to “it is in giving that you receive, pardoning that you are pardoned,” and the last line is “it is in dying to self,” or the transcending of ego, “that we are born to eternal life.” Notice it’s not “into” eternal life that’s somewhere else, but to eternal life that is right here, and not somewhere afterwards but right now. Eternal life is what we are living now; that life is thrilling through us at this very moment.

So I invite you to join with me and speak the words of the prayer of St. Francis once more:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love:
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

For me, as I say that prayer, it’s as though I’m walking, I’m taking steps. And you can in fact utilize the prayer that way as a walking meditation and it can be very powerful for you. It’s just a tool to use, but it’s a reminder of our need to recognize our oneness in God and that we are instruments of that life force, instruments of God’s presence and God’s peace in our world.

Instead of living just in our sense world, we can live in our spiritual world. You see, there are two levels of being. There’s our sense world and the appearances that are around us all the time and that we are so involved in and get so caught up in. But at the same time there is a much vaster level of being that is present and that we can consciously belong to, the level of spiritual awareness.

Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven as being like a mustard seed that a farmer sowed in his field. Now that would be an unusual thing for a farmer to sow mustard seed, especially in this region where the mustard seed is so prevalent and takes over everything. Wherever things are being planted, you find mustard plants, bushes, growing up too; so it sometimes becomes a bit of a nuisance.

But it’s significant in that the kingdom of heaven is like that, because wherever you plant it, it expands, it grows. So as we focus on the presence and power of God within us, it expands within us, it grows within us, just like the mustard seed. And we experience more and more of that which Jesus called the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, that level of spirituality that is always present wherever we are. So the prayer helps us to move into that consciousness.

There’s a story based on an actual event when a young minister who was ordained not long ago had a DVD where he was explaining a point and he had four volunteers come up onto the platform. He chose the four volunteers by asking the congregation if there was anyone who had never tasted a cumquat and the four people were among the ones who put up their hands.

Then, there on the platform, he had each one taste a cumquat. They pulled various faces as they tasted it. And, of course, when they tasted it they had the experience of it. His point was that each of those four had a different experience, and he went on to talk about the different experiences that caused the gospel writers to write the gospels in different ways.

But I have a different point to draw from that story and that experience. The point that I would say from that experience is that if you have never tasted a cumquat, you could never express what it tasted like. So you have to have the experience of tasting a cumquat, but even then you can’t describe it in words. You can only say things like “It made my mouth pucker,” or whatever your experience was, but you cannot really give the taste of it. A person has to experience it.

And that’s the very same thing with faith in God. You cannot really describe it for another person, you can tell them, “Oh yes, you must have faith, you must have faith in God for this will get you through all kinds of experiences,” and so on. But to really have that faith you have to experience the presence of God in your life.

You can know about God and you can know about faith, but unless you’ve experienced it, unless you’ve experienced God’s presence, unless you’ve experienced putting faith into action in your life you cannot really share that experience. But once you’ve tasted it, then you can share the experience out of your own being because now you know; it’s something you know.

It’s just like riding a bicycle, you can tell someone how to ride a bicycle but until they’ve ridden a bicycle themselves they haven’t got into the bicycle-riding consciousness. They haven’t found out how to balance. But once you’ve ridden a bicycle, you never get out of that consciousness; it’s always there.

The same thing is true of faith. Once you’ve experienced faith in God in your life, it’s always there, you never lose it, you can always draw upon it, and it grows in your consciousness.

Jesus used that idea of the mustard seed another time; you’ll remember he talked about it being the smallest of seeds. He said it was the smallest of seeds, but it grows into a tree and all the birds come and nest in its branches. He was really drawing an analogy of the cedars of Lebanon, mighty trees that grow there in the Middle East. He was talking about a mustard seed and relating it to the kingdom, which grows in us in that same way.

It seems insignificant. However, it has all the power of God within it to grow into the promise and potential it has within, just like the acorn has the oak tree within it, and just like we have the Christ within us.

The Spirit of God is within us as the Christ, and we have the potential to grow into that; it’s already in us from the beginning, we don’t have to get it from somewhere else and it’s always there.

Faith is within us, too, but we have to exercise it. Just as you have to exercise your faith if you’ve ridden a bicycle, you have faith you can ride a bicycle now because you know it. There’s a difference between believing and knowing. Beliefs are often put on us in our younger days, by our parents, by our teachers, our ministers, or whatever. We may know about them, we may say “Oh, yes, I have this belief.” But it’s something we’ve put on ourselves. Yet once we know something, once we’ve experienced it, we know it for ourselves; we don’t need anyone to tell us what it’s like, what it feels like, what it can do, because we know it and we can draw upon it for ourselves.

Remind yourself that the presence and power is always with you; have faith in the awareness of that invisible realm of life and that still small voice within that seems so insignificant and yet is the most formidable and significant thing in all the world. The awareness of this inner world is all-important.

Thomas Merton said, “Life is this simple; we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story, it is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, we see it maybe frequently. God shows himself everywhere, in everything, in people, in things, in nature, and in events. It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without him; it’s impossible. The only thing is that we don’t see it.”

You see, just like the mustard seed, it’s not in the quantity, in the largeness, but it’s in the quality and the clarity and perceptiveness that we have that we can see this other level of being and not just the appearance of things.

(To be continued in Part 2)

So remember, God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan Rowbotham

————————————————————————–

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Pardon (Forgiveness) – 2

(Continued from An Instrument of Pardon – 1)

When I went to England for my son’s wedding some years ago, it was a wonderful time and some of my children were there. But one of my children was not there; that was my eldest child, my eldest daughter. She has separated herself from the family, from me, from her mother, and from her other siblings. She didn’t show up, didn’t even call or write or anything.

So you can sow seeds of love and forgiveness, but you do not have to worry about the outcome; our responsibility is simply to sow the seeds. You are not responsible for how the other person responds; you just have to keep sowing the seeds and keep the door open, but you don’t have to decide to do something if the other person doesn’t respond. You leave that in God’s hands and know that one of these days she’s going to respond; that seed will take root.

You have to realize that you cannot control another person’s responses. But Jesus gave this parable to show the different kinds of responses, saying in effect, “Which response would you choose? Would you be generous in your forgiveness or would you be stingy and not give your forgiveness?” And he’s giving you the comparisons of the one who forgave a debt of $10 million and the one who had been forgiven but did not forgive the debt of a hundred dollars. So he’s giving you a choice there and saying, “Which one would you choose? Which is the right attitude for you to take for yourself?”

Then that part at the end of the parable, which seems so harsh, where the person is thrown into prison until it’s all been paid is to illustrate Jesus’ teaching that forgiveness cannot be compromised without undesirable results. If you hold unforgiveness, if you hold resentment, if you hold bitter thoughts, you’ll always have undesirable results, because you cut yourself off from the source, you cut yourself off from God’s presence.

Lord Herbert said, “He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.”

St. Francis understood this, and he went to great measures to encourage people to forgive. St. Francis was always giving away his clothes; he would give away his hood on his habit, and he even gave away his trousers. His followers said they couldn’t keep clothes on his back because he kept giving them away to everybody.

One day he came to this place in Perugia and met a man whom he’d known before and the man in this instance had sunk down into utter poverty. The man was grumbling and complaining about his master who had brought about this condition of his life, that whereas before he was comfortably off and fairly wealthy, now he was in utter abject poverty. He was complaining, he was mad, he was bitter, and had a lot of resentment.

St. Francis said to him, “I will willingly give you my hood if you will go and give forgiveness to your master who gave you injustice.” The man opened his heart, and he did indeed go and give forgiveness to his master and experienced that sweetness of forgiveness. Forgiveness is sweet because it lets go. When you don’t forgive you bind that other person or circumstance to you with chains of steel; your emotions are binding that to you. It’s so important to realize the need to let go. So we have to learn to forgive, and we have to learn to give.

The greatest example Jesus gave about forgiveness was in his own life when he was on the cross. He looked at all the people there and he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And that’s true of anyone who does harm to another; they really do not know what they are doing, to themselves. They are cutting themselves off from the experience of God’s love and God’s good.

It’s like if you had a little child who was misbehaving; you may discipline the child in some way but you don’t hold unforgiveness against them, do you? You love them; you love them even more sometimes to get them to behave.

If an adult is being angry and upset you can think of that adult as throwing a tantrum; and if you do that, you don’t have so harsh a judgment about that person. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

St. Francis was very focused on forgiveness, just as Jesus was, because he knew that anyone who was not forgiving was cutting themselves off from God. At the end of his time as being head of the order, he had to give over his place to another monk, Brother Elias, who then became very keen on improving the conduct of the brothers. He was not as easy-going, not as loving, and not as forgiving, as St. Francis.

It says in the book, Love Never Faileth, by Ecknath Easwaran, that when Elias came to him with complaints and plans to penalize some of the brothers, Francis gave him strong advice: “See to it that no brother in the whole world, however he may have sinned, is permitted to go from you without forgiveness if he asks for it. And if he does not ask for forgiveness, then ask him if he does not want it. And even if he comes before your eyes with sin, love him more than you do me that you may draw him to the Lord; for the healthy need no physician, but only those who suffer illness.”

Ecknath Easwaran says, “The forgiveness Francis is describing here is not a matter of saying, ‘I forgive you, let bygones be bygones.’  And no amount of talking can prevent the seed of resentment from taking hold in our hearts. True forgiveness requires that we only not take personally any harsh thing said or done to us, but that we make an all-out effort to understand the other person’s situation. Then that resentment really does not stand a chance.

“But Francis is zealous in his recommendation that we follow up this forgiving with concrete acts of love, which can actually cure the impulse of the other person to say or do something harsh again.”

You see, it’s not enough just to say it, to talk about it, you have to follow up. So ask yourself today if there’s something you need to do. Is there maybe a letter you need to write, maybe a letter of apology, maybe a letter asking for forgiveness, maybe a letter of explanation, or a letter of understanding? Understanding is the first step to true forgiveness.

Think about it, if there’s a letter you need to write then write it. And don’t be concerned about the probable response, put that in God’s hands; that’s God’s business, not yours. You just have to sow the seed, that’s all.

There’s a woman I remember who had a great sense of bitterness toward another whom she held partially responsible for the death of her sister. She became very, very bitter. She had been a very pleasant person but she turned sour and was filled with resentment and bitterness.

Then a friend of hers introduced her to Unity, and after she’d learned some of the principles of Truth taught in Unity she began to put the principles of love and forgiveness into practice in her life.

Slowly but surely that seed of forgiveness began to take root, it cast out that ugly weed of resentment and took its place, and the flower of forgiveness began to bloom. She is now one of the sweetest persons you could ever know.

We can replace resentment with forgiveness. Love and forgiveness connect us with the source of all good through our giving and forgiving, giving love for whatever happened.

In his book, Ecknath Easwaran says that when you plant just one kind word with somebody who has been unkind to you, though it is only a tiny seedling, it is going to bear a rich harvest. A lot of people get the benefit – second hand, third hand, and fourth hand – from our little kindnesses. Little things like kindness catch on and spread.

I really want you to know these Truths. Take them and practice them in your own life. Remember that giving and forgiving go hand in hand and they connect you to the source of all good and abundance.

And know that God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

————————————————————————–

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Pardon (Forgiveness) – 1

Have you already memorized this prayer of St. Francis? If not, I encourage you to do so because that will better help you use it for your meditation. Then you don’t have to be reading it as you go into your meditation and you can focus more directly on the words. Just let each word drop into your consciousness in an ever deeper and deeper way. I invite you to say it slowly and with feeling right now:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love:
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

As you use this prayer, line by line, in meditation, you will indeed actually become an instrument of peace in your world. Remember, to be an instrument we have to let the music play through us and as an instrument of God’s peace we allow the music of God’s peace to flow through us. We are letting that very presence and power of God flow through us and as us as we become that instrument of God’s peace.

And God’s peace most often moves us into action. It moves us into action in any circumstance and it brings that peace into whatever that situation or circumstance needs. For instance, in the last article we used the example of the peace of God bringing love into a situation where there is hatred. You notice that is says, “Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” Sowing love is like sowing seed, seeds of love. We remember Jesus’ parable of the sower, and our understanding of that as God sowing seeds of divine ideas all the time and there being different qualities of receptivity or “soil.”

The parable says a sower went out to sow and scattered the seed on the ground. Some seeds fell on the path and, because the path was hard, the birds came along and ate them. Some seed fell on stony ground and the soil was not deep enough for the seed to take root. And some seed fell among thorns and the thorns choked out the seed. But some seed fell on good ground and it produced some a hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold.

As an instrument of God’s peace, then, we become the sower of seed, seeds of love, seeds of pardon, and seeds of faith. When you sow seeds of love, or pardon, or faith, or whatever it might be, the recipient may not always be ready to receive it. You may have noticed that.

Now we come to the next portion of the prayer “Where there is injury, pardon.” Pardon means forgiveness, total forgiveness, it means absolution. We absolve the person or circumstance from any blame; we’re not holding them to an old grudge or grievance. We let it go completely, it’s as though the situation had never happened; we pardon, we forgive, we absolve.

I would say that of any skill that a follower of the Christ path has to learn and develop, there is no more important skill, no more subtle skill, no more delicate skill, than the one of forgiveness. Jesus stressed the importance of forgiveness throughout his life in many different ways, in many different sayings and many different examples. Here’s a parable on forgiveness he gave, recorded in Matthew 18:

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents (you could compare that today with about ten million dollars); and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

“So the servant fell on is knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

“But the same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (a denarius was about a dollar in comparison with today, so that was about a hundred dollars); and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.

“When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?

“And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.” Quite a parable, isn’t it?

Jesus gave that parable in response to a question put to him by Peter, who said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Peter was being a little self-satisfied, because he knew the Old Testament law, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But he also knew Jesus’ teachings that it’s important to forgive, so he said, “As many as seven times?” Jesus responded with a much more radical suggestion, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Seven is a number of completion, and seventy times seven is to eternity; it’s never-ending forgiveness. You have to keep forgiving as often as is necessary; you never stop forgiving, just as in the same way God never stops forgiving.

Actually, you could say that God doesn’t forgive, because God never had any unforgiveness in the first place. We think of God forgiving as we think of the love of God; God’s love and forgiveness is consistent and constant, so we don ’t ever have to wonder if God is ever going to forgive us of all those things we’ve done in the past. God always forgives, always loves, it’s consistent and constant.

(To be continued in Part 2)

Remember, God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

————————————————————————–

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Love -2

(Continued from An Instrument of Love – 1)

What is your relationship with others? Is it a loving relationship, is it based on love; does it come from your heart? Or is it based on fear, fear that perhaps the other will not do the things that you want them to do? Do you love enough to let your loved one go, to be themselves?

That maybe the greatest love of all, to let your loved one be himself or herself, and not to hold them back, not to be controlling but to be loving toward them. What is your relationship with your loved one? What about when someone you care about hurts you? Do you hold on to those resentments, those hurts, or do you let them go?

It takes courage to love. Those of you who have children, you know it has taken courage for you to love your children, because not everything is plain sailing. You have tough times, and you have to rise above those tough times to love.

There’s a musician by the name of David Roth who has as his signature tune, Love Rising. Instead of falling in love, he sings about rising in love. If we come into the awareness of love, then we come into a higher viewpoint of ourselves and of others. We don’t fall into it; we rise in love, we come to a higher level of being, and we’re able to see the Christ in others. We’re able to see the Truth of them; we’re able to see the true nature of them.

We say love begins in the heart, the heart center of our being. Ask yourself then, what is in the heart of love, what is love’s essence? Sometimes we say, well, God is love. But that’s still abstract. What is love’s essence, how does it act, what is it like?

Cosmologist Brian Swimme says that love is like gravity that holds the whole universe together. He wasn’t the first one to say that. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore often talked about love as being “the divine glue” of the universe, that which holds everything together, that which binds everything together and draws us into the source, which is God.

So what is your relationship with yourself, with God, with other people, or with the earth? Is it a loving relationship, do you care for the earth or do you disregard it and treat it with disdain? We all share this planet, so how are we going to treat it, what is our relationship with the earth?

What is your relationship with your work, with your colleagues at work? Do you have a loving relationship with your work, or do you hate going to your work? Is it feeding you, is it sustaining you, and are you giving love to it so that it gives love back to you?

In I Corinthians 13, it says “love is patient and kind.” Sometimes it’s hard to be patient with our loved ones and perhaps with our own lives.

But what causes impatience? Impatience is caused by repeating impatient feelings. If we keep repeating impatient feelings, for instance if we’re driving and we want to get somewhere and there are several cars in front of us; if we get impatient and start blowing our horn or start giving them the finger or whatever, we grow in impatience.

And impatience leads to anger, and anger leads to terrible feelings within ourselves and takes away our energy; it takes away our love energy. It takes away the Truth of our being; it takes away our true nature. So we must learn patience and give loving-kindness to one another.

Ecknath Easwaran, who wrote the book Love Never Faileth, speaking about different people like St. Francis, Mother Teresa, and St. Paul, said he grew up in a village called Kerala, in South India, and when he was growing up there all around him he would hear the sounds of the workers who were going to plant the rice seedlings in the rice paddies. They would plant the single seedlings in rows, but when they were all planted it was like a carpet of brilliant green.

He said it always reminded him that just as those seedlings had to be planted by hand labor, so our seedlings of loving-kindness have to be planted by hand labor. It’s in the little things of life where we plant the seeds of loving-kindness that make all the difference in our lives and make our life like a green carpet of love.

St. Francis De Sales said, “There are many who want me to tell them of methods and secret ways of becoming perfect, and I can only tell them that the whole secret is a hearty love of God and the only way of attaining that love is by loving. You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. Begin as a mere apprentice, and the very power of love will lead you to become a master in the art.”

So if you want to become a master in the art of loving, you have to begin as an apprentice and begin with those little acts, those little seeds of loving-kindness that you spread.

Let us begin to learn some of those seeds, ways of awakening the love within us and of expressing that love within us. And in our daily lives, to take this understanding of the prayer of St. Francis and rise above those negative feelings we hold onto, and to let our lives be lives of love that flows from us in a very natural way.

Begin to pay attention to your heart. Put your hand on your heart right now. Bring the mind into the heart. We’re often in our head all the time; we get caught up in our thoughts. That’s where worry begins, in our thoughts. So bring your mind down to your heart and feel the love in your heart.

Pay attention to your heart and feel it. Begin to love yourself. Imagine that there is a sun in your heart and as soon as it begins to shine in your heart it dissipates any dark clouds you may be experiencing. Bless yourself in that way.

As you go about your daily life begin to speak from your heart. Pay attention to your heart, and then let your voice come from your heart. You don’t have to struggle with it; just pay attention to it, and let your voice be linked to the feeling from your heart. You don’t have to make it happen; just let your voice, your words, be attached to your heart, so that the words you speak are loving words, kind words, thoughtful words, understanding words.

As you learn to speak from the heart, also begin to visualize from the heart the inner speech so that you can send blessings of love to other people. Think of someone you know right now. Put your hand on your heart and feel your heart, then send a blessing of love. Visualize that person surrounded by light and imagine that light as being love. You are sending a blessing of light and love to that friend, to that loved one.

You can also do that with those you have problems with, if you’ve had disagreements or upsets with anyone. If you have any “enemies,” then do the same thing. Pay attention to your heart, feel it, see them surrounded in light and love. And let that light and love be reflected back to you.

Begin also to listen with love, to listen with your heart. Often when we’re listening, we’re not really listening; we’re just waiting for the person to finish so we can speak and we’re thinking of what we’re going to say instead of listening to them. That’s often why we don’t remember people’s names because we’re not paying attention to them. So listen with your heart, go into your heart and just listen.

Touch with your heart, too. Put your hands out now. Just feel from your heart; just feel that activity from your heart flowing through your hand and fingers so that whenever you touch someone you’re touching them with love. Whenever you make a meal, then you’re making it with love. Whenever you’re doing your work, you’re doing your work with love. Let the love express through your hands.

Begin to see with love. James Dillet Freeman wrote a little book called Look with the Eyes of Love, and that was a real awakening for me and I began to practice what he said about looking with the eyes of love. I began to see things I had not seen before. Look with the eyes of love, see with the heart and you’ll see things differently. You’ll see the Truth of people instead of just the appearance of them. You’ll see the beauty around you; you will even see the beauty in seemingly ugly things.

So see with the heart, listen with the heart, touch with the heart, and that will bring healing to you; you will let go all of those feelings of fear, and sorrow, and anger, and pain.

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”

And remember, God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

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Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

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An Instrument of Love – 1

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love:
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Last week I invited you to take the first line of the prayer of St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,” and to use that as the basis for your meditation during the week, to take that into your heart and contemplate it. What does that mean to you? Let it bring up things for you. I hope you did that.

This week I want to extend that and take in the next line of the prayer, so that gradually you can build up a consciousness of the whole prayer. So this week let us take the next line:

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love;”

So here, today, we are looking at how to become an instrument of love. This is really the great key that Jesus taught in his ministry, the key of love. It is central to his whole message.

The Dalai Lama tells a story of going to Spain, to the monastery in Montserrat. He met a Benedictine monk there with whom he talked. He had been told that this particular monk spent two or three years in the mountains behind the monastery, meditating in solitude. So the Dalai Lama asked him, face to face, “When you were alone, praying and meditating, and contemplating, what was the focus of your contemplation?” The monk looked at him and smiled and said, “Love, love, love.”

You see, love is really the core of all of the religious and spiritual traditions throughout all of history. In all of the spiritual traditions you find that as the basis of everything. Love is right there at the core.

Remember, Jesus when was asked about the two greatest commandments, what did he say? He said, “The first commandment is this, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.” Love of God, love of self, and love of others.

Sometimes we forget that in those commandments, in that directive of the underlying spirit of the spiritual life, is the realization that we must love ourselves. Love God, love ourselves, and love others. He amplified this in other ways, and I’d like to share with you some words that sometimes may take a little more work than just the idea of loving. Because we’re not talking about just an idea of loving, we are talking about being loving.

He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38)

Here he is focusing upon the necessity for patience and tolerance as we seek to walk this path of the heart, this path called love.

And he goes on to say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In understanding the Hebrew terminology, the word “perfect” is really better translated as “whole” or “complete.” “Be complete as your heavenly Father is complete.” “Be whole as your heavenly Father is whole.” We are talking about wholeness.

So to love is to move us into that consciousness of wholeness. And what does a consciousness of wholeness mean? It means that we are not isolated beings; we live in connection with one another.

Remember these words: “Neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation would be able to separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:39) Again, it’s talking about wholeness; and wholeness means being connected, it means feeling our connection with God.

But it also means feeling our connection with one another. We are all connected; we do not live in isolation from one another, we are interdependent upon one another. What you do affects my life and what I do affects your life. What happens in this country affects the world; what happens in another country affects this country. We are realizing more and more that we live in what is called a global village, so what we do sends ripples of energy around the world. We are connected, and we must realize that connection.

So wholeness means connection; and if it means connection it also means relationships, for what does connection mean but to bring us into relationship.

As we look at our relationships, are they loving relationships? Is there a connection of love? What is our relationship with God? How do we view God? Is God still out there somewhere, is God still punitive; are we afraid that if we do something wrong we’ll get zapped? Or is God a loving God, is God an ever-present loving energy that is with us at every point in space and time at all times and all places?

Someone once asked Albert Einstein what is the most important question that anyone could ask themselves? He said, “This is the question: Is the universe friendly, or is it not?” You see, if you feel you live in a friendly universe then you’re going to act out of that consciousness; you’re going to feel safe and secure and at home in this universe.

If you feel the universe is not a friendly place, then you will feel insecure, you’ll feel isolated; you’ll feel a sense of fear and trepidation in everything that you do. You won’t be able to trust, you won’t be able to risk, because you feel a sense of isolation. But the Truth is that nothing can separate you, as the scripture says, from the love of God; not anything, not height nor depth, not anything, can separate us from that love. It is always there and always available to us.

So what is your relationship with God? Maybe as a young child you were part of a culture that said you had to fear God, it was a punitive God. Unfortunately, that is still preached in many places; rather than seeing God as a loving God, we hear about a punitive God. And, generally speaking, it’s those people that are focused on hell-fire and brimstone and damnation that perhaps experienced abuse as a child and unloving parents. So the punitive parent is also projected on God, and they preach that kind of God.

But the Truth is, as Jesus teaches us and as the scriptures teach us, that God is a loving God. And we read in I John that God is, in fact, love; that the very nature of God is love. And if we are created in the image and likeness of God then our true nature is also love; we are created in the image of love. That is our true nature.

So what is your relationship with yourself? Do you see that Truth about yourself, that you’re a child of God, that you are created in the image of God and in the image of love? Or do you put yourself down? We generally find that people with a good strong self-image usually experience God as a loving God, because if you love yourself you will generally love God. And if you see God as a loving God, you can generally also love yourself. It goes both ways; there is a divine connection because there is no separation.

But how do you see yourself? How do you speak about yourself? Do you put yourself down? When you do something that is not in divine order do you tell yourself, “Oh, you’re stupid. What a stupid thing I just did”? Do you do that? That’s not a loving thing to do, is it? No. You probably wouldn’t say that to someone else. So don’t do it to yourself, don’t put yourself down, and don’t humiliate yourself or others. Treat yourself lovingly.

(To be continued)

Know that God is Blessing You, Right Now!

Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham

————————————————————————–

Rev. Alan Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over forty years, invites you to enjoy more articles and/or subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com

You can also go directly to the blog, at http://spiritualsolutionsblog.com/blog/

Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend. You may also reproduce and publish this article if you also include this reference box. Thank you!

If you’d like to receive the very popular Rich Words, featuring weekday inspirational quotes, you can subscribe above to the right on this site.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent tithes or love offerings for Spiritual Solutions. I am very grateful for your generosity.

————————————————————————–



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