Posted in Monastic Living, self-actualization

Welcome to My Monastic Life

My whole life I have been restless – longing and searching for more.  Typically, that “more” meant something other than what I was currently experiencing.  My mom recently reminded me that I was always looking for that next opportunity, next goal, next degree, next job, next relationship.  I was rarely, if ever, satisfied with what was right in front of me, I was always looking for that “something new” that must be right around the corner.  This searching did not arise out of boredom with the status quo – in fact, as one who thrives on order and routine, status quo has always provided me with a sense of comfort.  But still, my heart was restless.  Where was that satisfaction that my Soul longed for and relentlessly searched after?

The good news is that my searching has not been in vain.  Everything I have explored, searched after, studied, discerned, discarded or applied has been food for the searching.  Every place I landed (albeit temporarily) showed me a part of my Soul and provided me with tools which have proven, not only helpful but life-giving in the great search.  What I had begun to suspect a few years back and which I have now come to understand fully, it was not anything outside of me for which I was searching.

This whole entire time I was only searching for one thing and that one thing is MYSELF.

Nimue – original art by Lauri Ann Lumby

Lauri Ann Lumby.  Thriving in order and routine.  An Introvert who likes people and who cherishes intimate friendships.  Creative yet also logical and reasoning.  Outwardly appearing aloof while harboring deep, deep, deep feelings. Highly, highly, highly intuitive (some might even suggest psychic). Hungry for knowledge – specifically of a spiritual nature.  Enjoys a quiet, gentle, ease-filled flow to life.  Repelled by conflict or competition.  Enforcing hard-core boundaries for the sake of self-care.  Recoils from entanglements and anything smelling of co-dependency or manipulation.  A vessel of kindness and support, insight and wisdom.  Yearning for a world where we can all just get along and where people can remember that we are all one.

This is me.  I have also learned (something I’ve actually known all along) that knowing myself isn’t enough.  What this search has also led me to understand is what MYSELF needs to thrive.  It is not and has never been what our culture keeps trying to sell us – work hard, get a job, make lots of money, buy lots of things, invest your money, save your money, buy cool things with your money, be famous.  You can imagine the inner conflict I’ve been feeling all these years with the world and my Soul constantly fighting for my attention.

No more.  Now I get it and I am living it.  I have set down my conditioned desire for wealth, power, fame and success (as it is defined in our capitalistic culture).  Instead, I am embracing what my Soul needs – a monastic kind of life. But what does that mean in 2019 for a 54 year old divorced mother of two?  The answer to this question has come from living INTO the question – asking my Soul what it needs from moment to moment and doing my best to deliver.

Yesterday, I had the perfect monastic kind of day – one that filled my Soul!  It looked like this:

  • 6 am wake up.
  • Meditation
  • Breakfast and coffee
  • Check emails and Facebook for messages.
  • Upload two additional lessons to my Order of Melchizedek Level 6 training.
  • Draw.
  • Make a healthy, nourishing lunch.
  • Get a massage.
  • Come home, do dishes and clean for my evening class.
  • Shower.
  • Draw some more while enjoying coffee and a few Fig cookies.
  • Eat a light dinner.
  • Prep my class.
  • Transfer money from my Paypal account (yay….I love getting paid to “do nothing”) into my checking.
  • Pay a couple bills.
  • Meditate for 20 minutes
  • Welcome my guests for a 6:30 class.
  • Watch Dark Crystal on Netflix while enjoying a glass of wine.
  • 9:00 bedtime.

 

Easy day.  Easy flow.  The perfect blend of being and doing and only “doing” that which came forth out of my being.  Hurray!

Today is much of the same.  The only difference will be grocery shopping, a stop at the bank and my job at the ballet studio (chop wood and carry water while also getting my necessary outside of my home people interaction).

In embracing my monastic spirit and making a commitment to it in my daily life, I am indeed finding “heaven on earth.”  Yes there will still be conflict.  Yes, there will still be anxiety and stress.  Yes, I am spending a fair amount of my time alone – which actually fits my temperament.  No, my life is not complicit with what a capitalistic culture requires of us.  No, I don’t have any of the things our culture says we must have.  I don’t own a home.  I don’t have any savings or investments.  I own the simple furnishings and artwork (much of it I have done myself) that are in my home.  Much of what I own came to me second-hand, including the clothes on my back.  It is a simple life.  It is counter cultural.  And it is founded on and established in one thing:

My relationship with MYSELF and my relationship with that which some call “God.” 

 

Everything else springs forth out of and revolves around this simple goal – to be One within Myself and therefore One with God and One with everything that is.

It is here that we find true contentment and peace.

 

If the monastic life speaks to your Soul’s yearning, follow my daily posts on Facebook and Instagram.  If you are looking for connection with others walking a similar path, consider becoming a member of our growing community. All are welcome.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Jesus, Oneness with God, self-actualization, Spiritual Formation, Truth

We are all Gods – When the Divine Within Reveals Itself

 

I said, ‘You are “gods”;     you are all expressions (children/creations) of the Most High.

Psalm 82: 6

 

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’.  If Abwoon called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of Abwoon came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— what about the one whom the Creator set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am the Creator’s Son’?  Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Creator. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Creator is in me, and I in the Creator.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

John 10: 34-39

 

Since the inception of Authentic Freedom in 2003, I have been teaching what Jesus taught – that we are ONE with God in love and that remembering this Oneness is the balm that heals us and restores us to inner peace in the face of the challenges and struggles of the human experience.  Authentic Freedom was developed as a process and a protocol for inner alchemy – returning to this original state of Oneness, thereby bringing us into wholeness within ourselves and achieving what alchemists would call  the philosopher’s stone, what psychologists refer to as “self-actualization” and what the religious recognize as “mature faith or mature spiritual development.”  Here we know who we are, we know our unique giftedness and we are empowered to share these gifts for the sake of our own fulfillment and in support of the betterment of the world.

AuthenticFreedomcover

It is one thing to know that we are one with God.  It is another thing to KNOW that we are one with God.  The former is an intellectual knowing, the latter is an embodied knowing recognized in the felt sense of this ONENESS which is further known by a deep state of inner peace, wholeness, and love.  One is centered in the mind.  The other, is a true KNOWING  -centered in the heart and felt in the entire body.  Here one is grounded, whole, complete, content, unflappable.  THIS is the “kingdom of God” that Jesus often referred to and the GOAL of our human experience – to be fully human while KNOWING this state of unflappable contentment.  Jesus knew this. The Dalai Lama knows this.  Amma knows this.  We too are invited to know this.

For twenty-three years, after first getting a glimpse of this Oneness with God, I have practiced the HOW. I have meditated, entered into contemplation and deep reflection, read and studied scripture.  I have practiced movement meditation (Chi Qong and Yoga).  I have listened to meditative music, practiced journaling and meditative drawing.  I have voraciously read every book I could get my hands on describing the spiritual journey, inner alchemy, the psychology of transformation, etc. etc. etc.  I have DONE IT ALL.  After (and while) doing, I created a curriculum and taught.  And then I wrote a few books.  In this journey, I learned of Jesus’ oneness teachings and built the foundation of all my practices, courses and writings on this teaching.  I knew I was One with God, and in the course of this work have gotten glimpses and fleeting experiences of this Oneness.  But I didn’t truly KNOW it.

Now I do. (at least for now, because the Irish in me knows that this KNOWING might very well be a moving target and a fleeting sensation….but for now, it feels really good and in truth, quite stable.)

My experience of getting to this place of KNOWING I am One with God and that the Divine dwells within me as ME has been no easy task! It has been very much as Jesus described, like trying to fit a camel through the eye of a needle!  In order to fit through that needle’s eye, I have had to let go of EVERYTHING I have built my life upon,  EVERYTHING I thought I knew about myself, EVERTHING which has felt, if not safe and secure, at least familiar.  In this process, I have had to let go of dreams of fame, riches (or just plain financial stability for that matter!), notoriety, the illusion of good health, perfection, self-righteousness, pride.  I have been made to let go of century-old grudges, forgive those undeserving of forgiveness, and made to learn how to love my enemy.  I lost my health and entered into a 6 month process of healing and then surrendering to medical support that I have spent 16 years trying to avoid.  Currently, portions of my business are dying and I’m losing the home I have come to love and am forced to find lodgings elsewhere – something I’m finding is no easy task for a family of 3 in a university town.  In short, I have been pushed to the place of having to LET GO of EVERYTHING I have come to know about myself, my vocation and my day-to-day life.  I have also had to ask for help in more ways than I have ever had to ask before.

letgopixabay

This has been my journey for the past 19 months. Letting go.  Letting go.  And letting go some more.  Emptying.  Emptying.  Emptying.  All the while HOPING that this emptying was taking place so that something amazing could come in.  I had no idea that this something amazing might be God.

Then it happened. First in a dream.  Sunday night/Monday morning I had a crazy dream.  In the dream were all the animal totems who had previously come to me in dreams, visions, meditation – wolf, panther, owl, bat and dragon.  At first the dream was about the externals, but the more I meditated, the more I realized the totems were all aspects of my own inner gifts – wolf  = magic, safety and security and the support of the pack.  Panther = my own inner strength and power to protect and defend myself.  Owl represents my own inner wisdom and gifts of seeing and hearing.  Bat is the part of me comfortable and secure in working in the shadows – in confronting and transforming fear, darkness, that which we suppress and repress.  Dragon is my Soul’s power and the inner force that carries me.

Then, yesterday morning, while meditating on Jeremiah:

“For I am with you, to deliver and rescue you, says the Lord. I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.”

I pleaded with God that this would be so….that God would rescue me from the pain I have been experiencing as the letting go continues.  Suddenly, while allowing myself to “hear” the God out-there say these words to me, the God out there was no longer out there.  Instead, the voice of comfort came from within me – originating in the place somewhere in the center of my heart, but feeling as if it was coming from my whole being.  And, I no longer saw God as “the old man in the sky,” instead “God” was ME – a bigger, more substantial, whole, confident, content, secure, complete, version of ME.  In this experience, I felt whole, complete, as if I was suddenly my whole and true self – I was Me and it was MYSELF who is the source of peace and comfort within me.  No longer is the source of comfort “out there” in some fickle god who “giveth and then taketh away.”  God is ME within MYSELF but even more than simply being within, God is ME.

Lauricurtsie.jpg

Now I understand and KNOW the ONENESS about which Jesus spoke. God is me and I am God.

But this ONENESS is not just for me. As the Psalmist and Jesus both say above, what is true for me is also true for you, for we are all God – God in me and God in you.  God is me and God is you.

How are you invited to KNOW the God that is you?

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom Academy, church, Jesus, Raised Catholic

Beyond Church Part 1

For twenty-some years, I have been hounded by the vision of a different (original) way of doing church.  I was inspired by my personal experiences with small faith communities, contemplative prayer and authentic spiritual formation (not to be confused with religious formation).  All of these experiences proved to me that for many people, (42.7 million non-practicing Catholics for example) “pay, pray and obey” is simply not enough.  Many people are not content to simply show up on Sunday morning so as to fulfill their Sunday obligation and receive their “get out of hell free card.”   In short, people are simply too smart to buy into this reward/punishment model of church, especially when what they often see are grotesque examples of hypocrisy in those bludgeoning them with threats of eternal damnation – most especially when these threats of hell are coming out of the same mouth that just preached on the unconditional love of God.

Instead, what I have envisioned and held in my heart for the past twenty years is something more akin to what Jesus seemed to have done.

jesus

First – He prayed.  He meditated.  He spent time in contemplation with that which he called Abwoon (sometimes translated as Father but is really beyond gender or image).  HERE was his source of peace, clarity, guidance, healing, comfort, transformation and love.

Second – He uncompromisingly obeyed the guidance he discovered in his time in contemplation, even when it meant disobeying the perceived authorities (religious and civil) of his time and/or going against societal norms.

Third – He shared with others what he discovered in his time of contemplation and prayer. Mostly what he shared was LOVE.  In his time with Abwoon, Jesus discovered an expansive, unconditional, uplifting, empowering Source of love – a love that conquered fear, that healed wounds, that pierced the veil of judgment and false perceptions.

Fourth– He taught others to do what he learned to do and in the learning, they too found healing, transformation, contentment, joy, peace and a sense of fulfillment.

This is what Jesus did…..PERIOD.  He never formed a church.  He did not set out to create a new religion.  He established no doctrine.  And the rituals he enacted were all traditional aspects of his Jewish faith.  One might say that what truly set Jesus apart was that he lived his Jewish faith to the fullest extent possible based on what he saw as the pillars of his faith – the simple commandments to love God and love neighbor –  and in doing so….he changed the world.

I must admit that my vision of something beyond church is for nothing less than this – to do what Jesus did and in doing so, to help change the world.

To learn more about upcoming “beyond church” offerings at Authentic Freedom Academy click on the links below:

Sunday Service

Authentic Freedom Mastery Course

Superhero Gatherings

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Practices, Superheroes, Uncategorized

Superhero Report Part II – Spiritual Practices

Here is part two of yesterday’s Superhero Report.  A selection of spiritual practices you can try.  Keep trying until you find one that resonates with you….and if none of these do, then you might already be doing your spiritual practice, you just might not be calling it that:  knitting, running, dancing, singing, listening to music, cooking, gardening, being in nature, drawing, painting, etc. etc. etc.   Remember….anything that helps you connect with love, peace, joy, and leads you to your truth. 🙂

selfrevealed

 

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading,” “spiritual reading,” or “holy reading” and represents a method of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights.  Traditionally, Lectio-Divina is practiced with sacred scripture, but can be applied to any inspirational or meaningful written text.  Lectio Divina is accomplished in four steps, with the fourth step – contemplation – continuing beyond our practice time and flowing out into our day.

Lectio – Choose a scripture passage or inspirational written text.  Read the passage gently and slowly several times, savoring each portion of the reading.  As you are reading, look for a word or phrase that seems to jump out at you.  Receive this word or phrase as God’s nourishment for you.

 

Meditatio – Reflect on the text of the passage and think about how it applies to one’s own life. Specifically, ruminate, ponder, meditate on the word or phrase that jumped out at you.  Ask the question, “How is God speaking to me personally through this passage?”

 

Oratio – Respond to the passage by opening your heart to God. Allow yourself to have a conversation with God.  Offer a silent or spoken prayer in response to God, or write your thoughts in a notebook or journal.

 

Contemplatio – Listening to God. This is a freeing of yourself from your own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God speak to you. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God. Contemplatio is often done in silence or carried with you as you go about your day.  Observe how your meditation period continues to influence your thoughts, behaviors, attitudes and feelings.

 

Centering Prayer/Silent Contemplation

Silent Contemplation is allowing yourself to simply rest in God.  The goal of contemplation is “no goal.”  Your job is to simply be.  Repeated practice opens you to the fruits of contemplation – deepening peace, insight, creativity, guidance, consolation and compassion.

1)Find a comfortable place where you can sit in silence.

2)Choose a focal point – the breath, a sacred word or phrase (love, peace, Jesus, Om, etc.)

3)Now, sit in silence.  When you find your mind wandering (which it will), simply return your attention to your chosen focal point.

4)Continue in this manner until your meditation period is finished.

 

Free-Form Journaling/Automatic Writing

Through this approach, you bring a question or a thought to your meditation session.   Offer the question/thought to God.  Then allow God to speak to you through your pen as you write in their journal.

1)Write your question in your journal.

2)Sit quietly to allow your own mind to step aside and invited God to step in.

3)If you find silence to be a struggle, listen to music first – preferably something that helps to relax your mind – chant, classical music, even some heavy metal music can be helpful. (I recommend Hildegard of Bingen, Bach and Disturbed or Tool as music for relaxing the mind.)

4)Then just write.  Let your pen respond to your question.  Or, begin a dialogue between yourself and God through your pen.

Mantra Meditation

1)Choose a favorite sacred phrase/mantra.  (Om Mani Padme Om; Hail Mary Full of Grace; Om Shanti; Give us this day our daily bread; Abwoon d’bwashmaya; etc.)

2)Repeat the mantra silently or aloud, over and over, allowing the mantra to draw you into a place of peaceful calm.

3)Continue repeating the mantra until you find it no longer necessary as you have entered into silence.

4)Return to the mantra if you find your mind becoming active.

 

Prayer Beads

Prayer beads and rosaries provide a tactile sensation to mantra meditation, and have been shown to help facilitate relaxation.  Simply use the beads to count your mantra repetitions. This is especially helpful if you have a creative or restless mind.

Imagination-Contemplation/Daydreaming Meditation

1)Choose a narrative story from scripture, a favorite myth or fairytale.

2)Read through the story slowly and meditatively.

3)Choose a character from the story (named, or unnamed).

4)Re-read the story from the vantage point of your chosen character.

5)Enter into your creative imagination, placing yourself in the story as your chosen character. Allow the story to unfold in your imagination in great detail, being mindful of thoughts, reflections, emotions that may surface through the process.

6)After your story has come to a natural conclusion, write what your witnessed through your imagination, allowing additional details to surface as you write. Do not censor or second-guess what shows up for you.  Write it all down.

7)Go back and read your written story.

8)As you are reading, reflect on the following two questions:

– How is God speaking to me through what was revealed in this daydreaming?

– How is the revealed story reflective of something going on in my current life journey?

 

Music Meditation

Music is used as a vehicle through which you can find that place of peaceful calm within.

1)Choose a musical selection (chant, classical music, instrumental music work well here.)

2)Listens to musical selection with rapt attention, allowing the movement of the music to draw you into peaceful calm or to stir other emotions that may need to be released (anger, sorrow, frustration, grief, etc.)

3)Rest in silent contemplation once music is finished.

 

Mindful Meditation/Theological Reflection

1)Choose an ordinary activity or object as the focal point of your meditation – it can be anything – a paper cup, a paperclip, a candle, a pen, a stick, eating an orange, chopping onions, etc.

2)Observe the object or engage in the activity with rapt attention.

3)Become aware of the object or the activity in a way that transcends your typical experience of this object/activity.

4)Reflect on how God is present or revealed through the object or activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Spiritual Practices, Superheroes

Finding and Cultivating Your Superpowers

Superhero Report for Monday, August 4, 2014 – Part I

selfrevealed

I absolutely believe that every single one of us is a Superhero waiting to be born.  Not everyone will have the call or the drive to facilitate positive change in the world, but every single one of us has a role to play in turning the world into love. The key, for each of us, is to find out what our unique superpowers are, nurture them and then share them in the world. I have learned that the single most important thing we can do to discover, cultivate and harness our Superpowers is to develop and maintain a spiritual practice.

In Monday’s Superhero gathering, we learned how to develop and maintain a regular spiritual practice, but first we dispelled some myths around spiritual practice and defined it in a way that speaks to a post-modern world, and specifically to those who are blessed with creative and active minds.  (Note, the following is an excerpt from my as yet unpublished book, Happily Ever After copyright 2014):

Starting a Spiritual Practice

 

Sit in the silence and listen.

Listen in the silence and hear.

When you hear,

So shall you know. 

 

The purpose of the following is to offer helpful support for starting a spiritual practice and to provide additional insights for those who already have a practice in place.

Dispelling Myths

The following are myths that have been propagated in regards to meditation as a spiritual practice.  None of these myths (from my perspective as an experienced meditator and Spiritual Director) are true.

  • Meditation has a goal
  • The goal of meditation is silencing of the mind
  • There is a right and a wrong way to “do” meditation
  • If you reach the state of peace, you did it right….if not, you did it wrong
  • An empty mind is the devil’s playground
  • Meditating makes you a “better” person
  • Only enlightened/holy people meditate
  • Meditation is the path to enlightenment
  • Sitting in silence is the only valid form of meditation….or it is the preferred method
  • Meditation is an Eastern practice and cannot be practiced by Christians
  • Eastern meditation practices are dangerous
  • Lay people cannot meditate

Before embarking on a meditation practice, it may be helpful to know:

  • The goal of spiritual practice is “NO GOAL.”  Your job is to simply show up.  Striving after a goal (other than showing up) will prove to be an obstacle to your practice.
  • There is no right or wrong way to meditate.
  • If you find that state of inner calm and peace…..it is PURE GRACE…..not something you received because you finally meditated the right way or enough times.
  • There is a rich tradition of meditation and contemplation in the Western Hebrew and Christian traditions.
  • It is in the emptiness that we find God/Love/Truth…..and we are also invited to find God in the midst of the chaos.
  • Meditation can be receptive (listening, sitting, being) or active (expressing, moving, giving, processing,).
  • Meditation encompasses many formats and practices including but not limited to:  meditative reading of sacred texts, journaling, sitting in silence, movement (yoga, tai chi, dance, etc.), chant, listening to music, daydreaming, paying attention to our dreams, mindfulness practices, acts of service, making love, being present to our family and friends, being out in nature, creative expression, painting, drawing, cooking, cleaning, etc. etc. etc.
  • A spiritual practice is anything that helps us to connect with God, peace, love, joy, flow, compassion, harmony, forgiveness, mercy, ecstasy.
  • In the Western tradition, Meditation refers to the reflective thoughts in the mind.  In the Eastern Tradition, meditation is understood to mean sitting in silence.  Contemplation is the term used in the Western tradition to refer to sitting or being in silence with God.
  • The only danger in meditation or contemplation is connecting with your truth.  Warning:  Truth can be a dangerous thing if we are not prepared or if we do not have the tools to handle it.  As Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will kick your butt.”
  • Meditation may lead you to enlightenment, if that is your path in this life; regardless, it will help you to be a happier, more peaceful and more loving human being.
  • From the Hebrew and Christian perspectives, meditation and contemplation will empower you to experience the Kingdom of God right here, right now, in this life.  You will discover that you don’t have to die to know the peace and love of God.
  • Meditation can be practiced by ANYONE……regardless of your race, color, creed, education, status, position of power, ordained or not, etc. etc. etc.

Getting Started

As mentioned above, there is no right or wrong way to meditation or to enter into spiritual practice.  I have learned, however, that there are certain things we can do that will help us to be successful in our goal of SHOWING UP for our spiritual practice.  Remember…the only goal is to SHOW UP.  The following steps may help you to do this.  

  • Set aside a regular time each day for your spiritual practice where you can be uninterrupted for 15-30 minutes.  For many people, this is first thing in the morning, but choose a time that works for your own personal bio-rhythms.
  • Choose a special place in your home or office that is designated as your place for your spiritual practice.  It might be a certain chair in your living room, your drawing easel, maybe you have the luxury of setting up a meditation corner or room.
  • Have the tools that you need for your practice near your chosen place – your journal, a bible, writing utensils, maybe a candle or incense burner, a blanket.
  • Turn off any potential distractions – phones, computers, pagers, etc.
  • Create a ritual that helps you to enter into your spiritual practice.  Light a candle.  Burn incense.  Say a prayer.  Bow to your sacred space.

Magic Wands Please….

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to spiritual practice.  Each person possesses their own unique temperament and preferred ways of functioning in the world.  As such, through the ancient traditions, a variety of tools have been developed to fit the needs of a wide variety of people.  Practice individual methods until you find one that feels like it fits you.  And know that from time to time, this will change.  Or, maybe like me, you will find a variety of practices speaking to you.  You might then look for a way to incorporate several into your daily practice.  Remember….there is no right or wrong way to meditation.  Ultimately, any activity that you do that leads you to a place of peace and helps you to remember love is considered a spiritual practice. 

Stay Tuned tomorrow….same Bat time, same Bat channel….for Part II – Specific spiritual practices you might like to try.

Posted in Jesus, Mary Magdalene

Be the Magdalene

For the past week, there are three words that have been ringing in my ears and chasing around in my mind, trying to find their root somewhere in my being.  These three words have haunted me for many, many years, but have become even more present thanks to a spiritual journey in which I had the recent gift of participating.  The words spoken directly to me were:

Be the Magdalene!

I believe these words are for me, AND I believe they are for a great number of women and men who have been touched by the person of the Magdalene and perhaps by her very intimate presence.  If you are reading this blog and these words pull at your heartstrings or strike within you a chord of remembrance, you are indeed one of those people!

Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case
Lauri as Mary Magdalene by Catherine E. Case

It has been my experience, that the men and women for whom these words are intended, bear some strikingly similar characteristics and interests:

  • You have a close, intimate, familiar relationship with Jesus, or you long to have this relationship.
  • You have had direct, personal experiences of Jesus through your meditation, imagination and prayer.
  • You have a feeling of having known Jesus in a very real, lived experience – like you walked with him as one of his disciples.
  • You yearn to know more of Jesus, specifically, you want to know the REAL Jesus, not the one cooked up in someone else’s doctrine.
  • You seem to have an intuitive sense about certain Church teachings as being wrong or inaccurate.
  • Your relationship with Jesus may border on romantic (and you find yourself drawn to images of “Hot Jesus”).
  • The Jesus you know is one of compassion and love, with a little bit of fiery passion.
  • The knowledge that you have of Jesus and his teachings came through your own direct experiences with Jesus, or on meditative reflection on scripture – again, not through someone else’s doctrine (though it may have started there).
  • You have had a strong sense that Mary Magdalene played a much bigger role in Jesus’ life and ministry than how it is portrayed in canonical scripture.
  • You intuitively feel/felt that Mary Magdalene was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman as some have interpreted her as being.
  • You may have found books on the Magdalene falling into your hands, or you pursued them yourself (recommended reading list below!).
  • You might believe that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had more than just a teacher/disciple relationship, that she may even have been Jesus’ wife and that she may have co-ministered beside him.
  • When you read DaVinci Code, your response was, “DUH!”  🙂
  • In this life, you find yourself drawn toward mysticism, contemplative prayer, healing and service.
  • If you live in the Western world, the way you desire to live your life differs markedly from traditional Western values. Status, money, power, fame, wealth, the accumulation of things are not of interest to you.

If much of the above resonates with you, then congratulations, you have received the call of the Magdalene, and I share this with you today because it is time for the Magdalenes to wake up!  It is time for those who have been called by the Magdalene to BE THE MAGDALENE!  Now you may ask, what does that mean?  What does it mean to BE THE MAGDALENE?  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog to find out!  In the meantime, below is a recommended reading list to get you started!  🙂

By Jean-Yves LeLoup:

The Gospel of Mary, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Thomas, The Sacred Embrace

By Karen L. King:

The Gospel of Mary of Magdala

By Violet MacDermot:

The Fall of Sophia

By Susan Haskins:

Mary Magdalene – Myth and Metaphor

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Spiritual Practices, temptation, Virtual Church

VIrtual Church – Spiritual Practices Supplement

Below is a copy of the content of the Agape Meditation Practices Newsletter which is a supplement to the weekly virtual church online services.  This newsletter is available to email subscribers through Constant Contact (see subscribe icon in the right sidebar menu).  If you find these practices meaningful, helpful and perhaps inspiring, please consider subscribing.   

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Sunday of Lent 

Scripture Reading:

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Jesus tempted

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,  if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.    (Matthew 4: 1-11)

 

Additional Readings:

Gn 2: 7-9, 3: 1-7

Ps 51: 3-17

Rom 5: 12, 17-19

Imagination as Revelation

For centuries, spiritual teachers across cultures have demonstrated the power of imagination as a source of guidance, insight, knowledge, comfort and healing.  St. Ignatius of Loyola discovered this in his own journey while convalescing after a serious war injury.  Through his imagination, he was turned from a desire for fame, wealth and power to one of service to God.  Ignatius learned that God could speak to him directly through his daydreaming and came to know God and in coming to know God, came to know himself through his daydreaming.  This week, you will have an opportunity to practice this powerful form of meditation, known for centuries by spiritual teachers and formalized within the Christian tradition by Ignatius of Loyola in the practice he came to call Imagination/Contemplation.

 

Spiritual Practices:

 With this week’s scripture, you are invited to use the spiritual practice of Imagination/contemplation. Follow the steps below:

1)       Slowly and meditatively read the gospel account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.

2)      Put yourself in Jesus’ place. Imagine that you are Jesus in the story.

3)      Placing yourself in the place of Jesus, imagine in detail the setting.  What are you wearing?  What is the environment like in the desert?  What is the weather?  How are you feeling.  When the devil shows up, what does he/she look like?  Is there anyone else there?

4)      Without censoring, allow the story to unfold in your imagination.  Allow yourself to daydream the story in your mind, letting it flow without censoring, questioning, critique, simply allow the story to unfold in your mind.  Be attentive to all the details.  Be especially mindful of any thoughts, feelings or emotions that might surface.

5)      After the story has come to a natural conclusion in your mind, write it down in a notebook or journal, being attentive to any additional details which might reveal themselves.

6)      After you have written the story, go back and read what you wrote.

7)      Reflect on the following questions:  a) How is the story that was revealed to you reflective of something going on in your own life?  b) What might God be trying to reveal to you through the story that came forth through your imagination?

Authentic Freedom

In this week’s reading, we have an opportunity to confront the role of temptation in our lives.  Authentic Freedom speaks directly to temptation in awareness of the seven core fears:

  • There is not enough
  • I am insignificant and have nothing to contribute
  • I can’t (be the person God made me to be)
  • I am not loved
  • I am not free to express my truth
  • I do not know my truth and my path
  • I am alone

Reflect this week on how you are tempted to entertain or give in to these fears.

If you find these materials meaningful and supportive, please consider making a donation to Authentic Freedom Ministries.  One-time and recurring donations are both available.  Do donate, click here:  paypaldonate

Posted in Authentic Freedom, creativity, Discernment, Divine Revelation, Freedom, Gifts of Contemplation, Inspiration, Midlife Journey, Spiritual Practices, Surrender, Truth

Our Heart’s Desire

Our Heart’s Desire

Whether we admit it or not, each of us are in search of our heart’s desire – the quest of the Soul to fulfill its mission and to be the person God/dess made us to be.  Being the person God/dess made us to be leads us to a life that is fulfilling, joy-filled, rooted in contentment and peace, compassion and love.  For many of us, the search for our heart’s desire is most acute during midlife, mostly because up until now, we have suppressed this desire.  If midlife arrives and we have not yet obtained our heart’s desire, the Soul shows up to stir things up, making our lives messy enough that we begin to question, search and explore the origin of our seemingly insatiable restlessness, impatience, frustration, resentment and even rage.

Finding the Answer

The answer to the question, “What is my heart’s desire?  What is the mission of my Soul,” is not to be found outside of us, though that is where, for many of us, the search begins.  Neither is the answer to this question discovered in or through our intellect.  Nay……the answer to our heart’s desire is safely protected in the hands of God (Goddess, Higher Self, Higher Power, Presence, Essence, Bliss….whatever name you use to identify that which is beyond).  Only the Divine has knowledge of our highest self, of the purpose for which we were placed upon this big ball of mud, and the life that will make us feel fulfilled, joyful and content and through which we are called to serve the betterment of the world.  Only God knows who and what God made us to be.  That is, however, until we ask.  But simply asking is not enough, for once we ask, we have to listen, truly listen, then we have to BELIEVE and RESPOND.

annunciation

Asking

Asking to know our heart’s desire, the mission of our soul is comprised of a simple formula:  SIT DOWN…..SHUT UP……LISTEN.  🙂  In other words, we find the answer to our heart’s desire through meditation, contemplation and prayer.  In order to hear the still, small, voice of God, we have to quiet our restless minds and our troubled hearts.  We need to be quiet and patiently wait for God to speak.  And when God speaks, we need to listen.

Listen

Listening for God’s voice involves the skills of discernment.  Discernment is the process through which we distinguish the voice of God from the voice of our ego/false self.  The voice of God is recognized in feelings of peaceful expansiveness.  The voice of the ego is cloaked in fear.  God speaks of love, contentment, fulfillment and joy (though our ego may respond in fear to God’s voice.).  The ego desires for us to remain in status quo – to remain content in the perceived surety of the known and familiar.  God calls us to grow and to change.

Believe

The greatest obstacle, once we have heard God’s voice, is doubt.  We wonder, “how can I know for certain that what I think I’m hearing is actually God or truth?”  The hard truth is that we don’t.  All we can do is try it on for size.  Believing God’s voice requires a leap of faith and what I have come to call, spiritual obedience.

Obey

As Mary said to the angel Gabriel, “Let it be done to me according to your word,”  this is the attitude we must embrace if we are to truly find our way to our heart’s desire and the fulfillment of Soul.  If we wish to know contentment, joy, love, compassion and freedom in our lives, we have to set aside the desires of the ego, and be open to the path of our highest good, which comes from God.  Spiritual obedience invites us to listen to the voice of God, trust it is God speaking and then act….sometimes with blind obedience.  Most often, we do not know the outcome of Divine directives, all we know is how we are being invited to act IN THE MOMENT.  We have to trust the direction given, and blindly adhere to this, having no attachment to the outcome, but knowing and trusting that it will lead us on the path of our highest good.  Mary, believed and trusted in the angel’s instructions and accepted the invitation of her Soul, knowing that it would be a controversial and difficult decision, but trusting it as the path of her highest good.  And thank God she did because otherwise we wouldn’t have Jesus – one of the greatest spiritual teachers to ever have walked this planet.  And speaking of spiritual obedience, Jesus was obedient, even to the point of death, so that we too would one day have the opportunity to know the truth that Jesus came to know and the truth that eventually got him killed.  Jesus refused to recant on his knowledge of his Oneness with God – the same state of Oneness he hoped we would one day also come to know.  We are invited, like Mary, to let our lives be done according to God’s word….not ours. And like Jesus, we are invited to strictly adhere to the truth that God would reveal to us, regardless of what the outside perceived authorities might want us to do.

No one said it was going to be easy

No, the path of our heart’s desire, the fulfillment of our Soul is not an easy path.  Accepting the path of the Soul sets us outside the fold and asks us to overcome not only our fears, but the very force of our Ego – that which we spent half a lifetime creating and clinging to.  If, however, we want to know peace, contentment, freedom, fulfillment and love within ourselves and if we want to help to serve the betterment of the world, our heart’s desire – the path of our Soul is the only choice.  “Let it be done to us according to God/dess’s word.”

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Book, Inspiration, Mystics, Spiritual Practices, Uncategorized, world changes

How to Change Ourselves so WE Can Change the World!

Yesterday, I responded to the current political debacle (the government shutdown) and complete failure of our government to do what WE hired them to do, by issuing an invitation, “If we want the world to change, WE need to change ourselves.”  In today’s blog, I remind us of how we can change ourselves so that we can see real and enduring change in the world.

changing ourselves/changing the world
changing ourselves/changing the world

Not Just Some Pie in the Sky Idealism!

The tools for personal change that I will share with you today are NOT just some pie in the sky idealism preached by vagrant prophets from far-off lands.  While the following tools have been tried, tested and proven to be effective by thousands of years of yoga practitioners, mystics and ascetics, we NOW have the proof of science to verify what contemplative men and women have known all along, mindfulness based practices:

  • decrease anxiety, fear and stress
  • increase physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing
  • decrease violent behaviors
  • help us to cultivate empathy and compassion – the building blocks of healthy communication and harmonious interpersonal relationships, and communities.

(If you need the science to convince you, simply Google Richie Davidson, Andrew Newberg, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Thich Nat Hahn.)

STEP ONE – Seek out a mindfulness practice that works for you! 

There are as many forms of mindfulness based practices as there are fish in the sea!  A Zen-inspired sit works for some, but not for all.  Mantra or Kirtan brings some to a state of inner quiet…but it isn’t for everyone.  A rosary or string of meditation beads may help some to focus, but others will need something more engaging.  Take comfort in knowing that if you haven’t yet found your meditation style, keep looking, there is sure to be one out there perfect for you.  Maybe it is something as simple as gardening, cooking or being in nature.  Some find running and aerobic exercise mindful.  And please disregard the ridiculous Western notion that mindfulness has a goal and that if you don’t experience a complete state of bliss any or every time you failed.  Your job is to simply SHOW UP.  And, the key to cultivating and maintaining a mindfulness practice is to find one that WORKS FOR YOU!  (For a wide variety of mindfulness based exercises, check out my book, Authentic Freedom – claiming a life of contentment and joyWhile the context is Christian Contemplative Prayer, the exercises are universal.)

STEP TWO-Identify and root out your fears

In conjunction with cultivating peace and love within us through mindfulness practices, the greatest gift we can give to ourselves in our journey toward change is to OVERCOME OUR FEARS!  FEAR is the number one obstacle to peace, contentment, love and joy!  Fear creates all the perceived separations favored by our wounded world:  prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism, nationalism, etc.  Fear is also the root of all of our non-loving and self-centered behaviors – gluttony, lust, wrath, envy, greed, sloth and pride.  Fear causes us to seek outside of us for its remedy and makes us believe that happiness will be found in things, money, power, fame, status, power, control, other people, etc. etc. etc.  Fear also keeps us silent and ignorant of the truth that seeks to be known within us and that seeks to be expressed in the world.

STEP 2.5

In my book, Authentic Freedom, I reveal what I have come to know as the seven core fears that plague humanity, along with their resulting compulsions:

FEAR:  “There is not enough”

Compulsion:  Gluttony

FEAR:  “I have nothing to contribute to the betterment of the world”

Compulsion:  Lust

FEAR:  “I can’t” (be my most authentic self)

Compulsion:  Wrath

FEAR:  “I am not loved”

Compulsion:  Envy

FEAR: “I am not able to express my truth”

Compulsion:  Greed

FEAR:  “I do not know” (my truth, my path)

Compulsion:  Sloth

FEAR:  “I am alone/have to do it alone”

Compulsion:  Pride

You can start your journey of overcoming fear by NAMING the fears that are currently at work in your mind.  I have found that naming the fear is 99% of the journey…..like they say in classic horror books and movies, “Once you name the demon, it no longer has power over you.”  😉  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog where I will explore in more detail how we might move through the fears once they are named.

Lauri Ann Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com