“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
Most of our reactions are based on pre-programed habituated behavior responses—not fully conscious choices. When we are fully conscious and connected to Source we realize our true purpose is to love and bring goodness to all; but we have to be fully conscious in order to be capable of truly loving.
Most people live life on cruise control, with little consideration for the miracle and meaning of existence. I believe it’s important to pause in the busyness of life, and to take time for reflection. This encompasses not only who we are at this moment, but more importantly, who we are capable of becoming, all while considering the role God plays in our journey.
Nourishing Selfless Love
I recently met a Holocaust survivor, a beautiful man who radiates love, gentleness, and hope. He shared with me that by living during the Holocaust and spending time in a concentration camp, he experienced the greatest sense of selfless love in his life. Although he is grateful and feels blessed for his long life, he has struggled with the cavalier, self-centered way of living that he has found to be the commonplace existence of most people. Despite being in the midst of the most horrific acts of humanity and in the presence of pure evil, he found a sense of pure love, self-sacrifice, kindness, and the presence of God, the likes of which he has never again experienced.
This caused me to reflect on how we must not allow evil or even complacency to become our conscious thoughts and weigh us down. Instead, we must to the best of our ability and through grace, rise above and focus on our reason for living, which is always to bring love and goodness to the world, in both small and big ways in accordance with our unique being.
It is important to realize that Love must reveal Itself in you before Love can fully reveal Itself to you. Love then must be shared with all of creation (Mark 16:15) and expressed in all we are and all we do. Even when—and perhaps especially when—things go wrong, Love (God) is constantly creating future possibilities for the good of all concerned. This is transformational when we participate, unite and change. By the way, failure is part of the deal. Remember, “If we’re not making mistakes, then we are most likely not doing anything,” and “Success is never final and failure is never fatal.” ~John Wooden
This requires us to be conscious of our real motivations and actual goals. It takes awareness and desire, or a petition (I want to change and can see myself in this new luminous Light) to ask for help in practicing honesty, forgiveness, courage and humility.
A Practice for Reflecting on Life
I often reflect on my life and my actions from my imagined “death bed.” I know this may sound depressing or disturbing—after all, our approach to death in Western society is often to ignore and disassociate ourselves from it, as though death will never happen to us. But I encourage you to try this practice.
You will find your entire perspective of what really matters, who you want to be, and how you want to live your life changes. This practice of reflection offers the opportunity to ask important questions, such as, “Have I spiritually matured in this life? Have I manifested my true reason for existence to the best of my ability?”
The answer for me keeps coming up as “No,” and encourages me to be more conscious each and every day about my intentions and my actions. I am fortunate that the many aspects of my life—as a practitioner, writer, teacher, leader as well as servant of two organizations, musician, cook, husband and father of three children—are the true manifestation of who I am. It is within each of these areas of my life that I am committed to living with integrity, clarity, and devotion. Taking time for reflection helps to keep me focused and on my true path.
Herbs as the Humble Face of the Divine
My love for herbal medicine grows stronger every day because to me it represents God’s humble love. Neither God nor the plant medicines are concerned with who receives credit for healing. Although this may sound irreverent (especially coming from an Eastern Catholic Franciscan and one who loves Jesus), I am not sure that God is concerned if we are religious, or even if we acknowledge His existence.
I believe that God is generous and humble, and cares more that we serve our true nature through focus, motivation, and joy; while loving and serving to the best of our ability with adoration, generosity and humility, which I view as ‘inner’ strength, abounding in our heart. Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 11:29
What is Spiritual Maturity?
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can
do small things with great love.”
One of my spiritual mentors, Richard Rohr OFM, says this: “Spiritual maturity is to become aware that we are not the persona (mask) we have been presenting to others. That is why saints are humble and scoundrels are arrogant. We must become intentional about recognizing and embracing our shadows. Religion’s word for this is quite simply forgiveness, which is pivotal and central on the path of transformation.” This requires grace, and he goes on to say, “Grace is just the natural loving flow of things when we allow it, instead of resisting it.”1
Living in Faith, Hope and Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
“Faith—A trust in inner coherence itself. It all means something!
Hope—A trust that the coherence is positive and going somewhere
Love—A trust that this coherence includes me and even defines me”1 and the who and why I exist really does matter.
Remember that there is not a destination we are striving for, but instead, we are on a pilgrimage that is an ever-evolving journey and encounter that is both internal (our being place) and external (our doing place). This encounter is sometimes even more omnipresent when things in the worldly sense go wrong—this is where Love creates new possibilities for the good of all.
“Know it well, love its meaning. Who reveals this to you? Love.
Why? For Love
Remain in this and you will know more of the same”
~Lady Julian of Norwich, Showing
to look at people, the animals and even the flowers and trees, the ones you
know and don’t know, and smile at them. “Every
time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a
- Richard Rohr, pg. The Universal Christ (2019), pg. 66