Posted in church, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Raised Catholic

Jesus at the Door

jesus

Early Morning Wake up Calls

The Holy Spirit has a really annoying habit of waking me up in the wee morning hours WAY before the time set on my alarm.  Mostly, I get annoyed and try to fall back asleep.  This morning, was no different.  I found myself WIDE AWAKE, rolled over to look at the clock – 4:30 am.  NOT!  I rolled over.  Told her that I was in no uncertain terms ready to face the day and went back to “sleep.”  Then I heard the doorbell ring.  At 4:30 am????  Strangely, I realized that I was in that twilight place between sleep and being awake, so I drifted into the sleep.  And went to answer the door in my “sleep.”

Jesus at the Door

So in my “sleep,” (I knew I was asleep and this was a dream), I walked down the stairs and to my front door.  I opened the door (I didn’t even peek out the window to see if the person who is so rudely ringing my doorbell as 4:30 am is even someone safe to open the door to)….and there is Jesus standing there.  And yes, it is  “Hot Jesus” (who looks to me like someone resembling something between the picture above and Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn).  “Hi,” I say, as if I actually know him.  He smiles at me, says “Hi.”  Then he says, “Lauri, it’s time.”  I felt a jolt inside of me somewhere between absolutely knowing and sheer panic.  “Time for what?”  I ask.  Then in typical Jesus style, he smiles this wicked knowing grin and says, “You’ll see.”  Then he holds out his hand, I place mine in his and we walk out the door, down the steps and into the street. (Not the sidewalk, mind you, where prudent people walk…into the street and right down the middle of the street!)   Again, in typical Jesus style.  He’s such a brat!

Existential Crisis

So, what in the world does Jesus want from me now?  Doesn’t he know I’m smack dab in the middle of an existential crisis?  Doesn’t he know that I’m pursuing studies in a field where I’m struggling to find a place for him?  Doesn’t he know that there’s a new pope who suddenly gave me thoughts of a hopeful Church which were just as quickly dashed when I found out his position on the women religious?  Doesn’t he know about the recent conversations which have opened up all my unresolved longing for the Catholic Church while at the same time throwing me into a tizzy over “how could I even think about going back knowing there’s no place for me there?”  (I weigh the same as a duck, you know….and if you are a Monty Python fan, you know what THAT means!)  Doesn’t he know about all the other hopes, dreams, desires that are yet to be accomplished?  AND he must certainly know about all the inner restlessness over longings not yet fulfilled.  In short….Jesus has a lot of explaining to do!  I’m not sure I want to entertain another one of his silly plans!

Surrender Dorothy

So, how does one respond when Jesus rings your doorbell at 4:30 in the morning and then tells you “It’s time!”?  Well, I could give him a piece of my mind for all the ideas, dreams, wishes and promises he’s given me that haven’t yet given any fruit.  I could slam the door in his face and stomp away in a huff.  But, I’ll do neither of these, because I have learned, when Jesus, God, Mary Magdalene, the Holy Spirit, St. Francis, Michael the Arc Angel or any other spiritual being, come knocking at your door…tell you it’s time then hold out their hand to you….you’d better go.  Because trust me, following their lead is a heck of a lot easier than trying to go it alone…or worse, turning the other way.  If there is one thing I have learned, God is a nag and She will hound you until she gets her way.  So, you may as well do what she says if you ever hope to have any peace in your life!  So, I will trust Jesus’ words that it is time and I will follow his lead, (even if it is right into traffic) and trust that he knows where we are going, how we are going to get there and how long it will take.

copyright 2013  Lauri Ann Lumby

Posted in church, Jesus, Raised Catholic

The Call of Francis (Saint, Pope, otherwise!)

Last night as I was proofing the manuscript for my upcoming book, Returning- a woman’s midlife journey to herself, I stumbled across the following poem.  I wrote this as a reflection on my connection with St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, and as my response to my own spiritual and vocational call.  Reading it last night, I realized that it could just as well be a letter to the newly elected pope, also called, Francis, and my hope for how he might lead the bedraggled Catholic church.  So, Pope Francis, if you are listening, this one’s for you!  (PS  It is for all the rest of us too!)

 

francis

The call of St. Francis, tried and true,

“’Tis time to build the church anew,

A church in Spirit and in Grace,

Christ residing in every face.

The corruption of old has begun to unfold.

The Spirit crashing through the hold.

Power, greed, corruption and sin,

It’s time, our work is about to begin.”

Regarding in awe, the Church torn asunder.

Is the Spirit at work?  We’re invited to wonder.

Secrets held dear, throughout the years,

Covering up the trail of tears.

“You’ve missed the point,” the Spirit cries.

The Church too busy believing their lies.

Jesus’ message seems pretty clear,

“Love God and neighbor as yourself my dears.”

God’s in their minds, not in their hearts.

Only practicing Catholics, our neighbors for starts.

And you, well, you’re created in sin,

so just where is this love to begin?

Let’s start, “In the beginning,” Genesis One and Two,

“It is good,” God says of you!

Not born in sin as Augustine preached

but born in love, joy and peace.

“Jesus loves me, this I know,

for the bible tells me so.”

We are invited to believe this children’s song,

Yet sometimes the Church tells us it’s wrong.

True faith, you see, when push comes to shove:

The extent to which we believe in God’s love.

And when we believe this promise true,

There’s only one thing left to do:

to share that love with everyone,

for this the mission of Christ was begun.

Posted in church, Discernment, Inspiration, Mary Magdalene, Oneness with God, Raised Catholic

The Magdalene’s Response to the New Pope

Sometimes blog posts seem to come out of nowhere and simply fly out of my pen or from my fingers onto the keyboard in a way that seems as if it is coming from somewhere beyond me.  I care not whether this experience would qualify as “channeling” or simply a function of my creative imagination.  What matters to me is if it speaks a truth that resonates for those who are in need of these words.  So…..these words, “from the Magdalene”  are for my Christian (including Catholic)  brothers and sisters who are called to the mystical/contemplative path in response to our wonderings about the new pope. 

fleurdelisblack

Lauri,  I call you now to bring a message to your Christian brothers and sisters during this time of radical transition….

With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis, Christians of the world have many questions.  My message is specifically for those who are drawn along the mystical path….and this message is a reminder of the value of DETACHMENT.  In particular, I am inviting you to detach from assigning any meaning, interpretation and/or judgment to this new pope, because, in the end, his reign has no bearing on the path to which mystics and contemplatives have been called.

Christianity was inspired by and has its source and direction in the Oneness modeled and lived out in my Beloved, Jesus.  Yet even before the time of his death, this message was received in multiple ways and disseminated as such.  What was ONE in Christ became separate in man.  In the Christian faith, this separation has been lived out in what might be referred to as the Institutional Church and the Mystical church – two very different ways of experiencing Jesus’ message – one directed toward containment, the other toward expansion.  Where the Institutional Church seeks to define God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit intellectually and express it in definite and static terms through doctrine; the Mystical church seeks to know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit through direct and personal experience – experience that proves to be dynamic, infinite and ever-changing.  The tension between these seemingly opposite perspectives has existed since the beginning of time and will cease to exist only when all perceived separation has been transcended within and between all of humanity.  While this task may be possible for some, in this lifetime, it is not likely to happen for all.  As such, we are required to live within that tension.

The newly elected Pope Francis,  may or may not succeed in healing the wounds brought about by the Institution’s attachment to fear, power and control, though I am quite certain that particular hot-button doctrinal changes will not be part of his agenda.  This is not, however, to dissuade you from continuing to exercise sound discernment in your own personal beliefs and choices.  The ultimate authority, after all, exists beyond any political or religious distinction and instead, resides within your own heart.   It is within the quiet and peaceful places in your heart where God will guide you and it is to this inner authority that mystics give their allegiance.

So, in this time of change, I invite you to embrace detachment and to become the observer.  Watch and wait and remember that for the Mystical church, what this pope may or may not do in his reign has no bearing on your call to seek Oneness with Christ, within yourself and with all of creation; or on your ability to be and live as LOVE in the world.

Yours in Love, Light and Oneness,

Mary, called Magdalene.

Posted in church, Midlife Journey, Returning book

No Longer My Fight

This week I posted a couple blogs related to the Pope resigning and my proposal for a new Church and a new lent.  I want to thank a couple blog commenters for reminding me that this is no longer my fight.  I am already living in “The new church” and have no illusions about reforming the other one (aka the Roman Catholic Church).  In the following excerpt from my upcoming book, Returning – A Woman’s Midlife Journey to Herself, I share my thoughts on my former attempts and the mostly peaceful acceptance I have come to in midlife on this topic.  (Please forgive me my humanness when I sometimes get pulled back into thinking there is something I need to reform!!!) 

Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case
Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case

 

 Illusions

As I began to see myself and the world around me more clearly, one of the most devastating realizations was that the Catholic Church, in which I had invested my faith, hope, belief, trust and now career, was imperfect and flawed.  It was not a coincidence that my awakening happened right on the heels of the priest sex abuse scandal.  As I was more diligent in asking questions about God – what did I believe, what resonated as truth for me, who was the God that I had come to know through my own prayer and explorations, the Church fell farther and farther from the pedestal on which I had placed it (with the Institution admittedly helping itself along the way).

As I came to more and more freely embrace the truths I had come to know within myself, including my call to contemplation and hands-on-healing, I came more and more in conflict with the Church that was “supposed” to love me without condition.  As the illusions I had created around my faith shattered at my feet, the more I was compelled to “make it right,” an endeavor that eventually proved to be fruitless and one that came at a terrible cost – the loss of my Church and the loss of my faith in my Church.

In spite of this, my faith in God never wavered and it was to my ever-expanding image of God, that I pledged my allegiance.  And here I found peace.

The Call of Francis

The call of St. Francis, tried and true,

“’Tis time to build the church anew,

A church in Spirit and in Grace,

Christ residing in every face.

The corruption of old has begun to unfold.

The Spirit crashing through the hold.

Power, greed, corruption and sin,

It’s time, our work is about to begin.”

Regarding in awe, the Church torn asunder.

Is the Spirit at work?  We’re invited to wonder.

Secrets held dear, throughout the years,

Covering up the trail of tears.

“You’ve missed the point,” the Spirit cries.

The Church too busy believing their lies.

Jesus’ message seems pretty clear,

“Love God and neighbor as yourself my dears.”

God’s in their minds, not in their hearts.

Only practicing Catholics, our neighbors for starts.

And you, well, you’re created in sin,

so just where is this love to begin?

Let’s start, “In the beginning,” Genesis One and Two,

“It is good,” God says of you!

Not born in sin as Augustine preached

but born in love, joy and peace.

“Jesus loves me, this I know,

for the bible tells me so.”

We are invited to believe this children’s song,

Yet sometimes the Church tells us it’s wrong.

True faith, you see, when push comes to shove:

The extent to which we believe in God’s love.

And when we believe this promise true,

There’s only one thing left to do:

to share that love with everyone,

for this the mission of Christ was begun.

From Returning – a Woman’s Midlife Journey to Herself by Lauri Ann Lumby.  Scheduled for release in 2013 through Authentic Freedom Press.

Posted in church, codependency, Midlife Journey

The Pope Resigns

No better day than today to share another excerpt from my upcoming book, Returning – a woman’s midlife journey to herself.  This excerpt is from the chapter entitled, Illusions – specifically those things we place on a pedestal (for me,  the Catholic Church) and what happens when we see the truth beyond the illusion.

StMaryOshkoshaltar

 

And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5: 28-29

Illusions

As I began to see myself and the world around me more clearly, one of the most devastating realizations was that the Catholic Church, in which I had invested my faith, hope, belief, trust and now career, was imperfect and flawed.  It was not a coincidence that my awakening happened right on the heels of the priest sex abuse scandal.  As I was more diligent in asking questions about God – what did I believe, what resonated as truth for me, who was the God that I had come to know through my own prayer and explorations, the Church fell farther and farther from the pedestal on which I had placed it (with the Institution admittedly helping itself along the way).

As I came to more and more freely embrace the truths I had come to know within myself, including my call to contemplation and hands-on-healing, I came more and more in conflict with the Church that was “supposed” to love me without condition.  As the illusions I had created around my faith shattered at my feet, the more I was compelled to “make it right,” an endeavor that eventually proved to be fruitless and one that came at a terrible cost – the loss of my Church and the loss of my faith in my Church.

In spite of this, my faith in God never wavered and it was to my ever-expanding image of God, that I pledged my allegiance.

The Woman I Know Myself to Be 

The Woman I know myself to be,

Created by God, in persons three.

Holy Spirit, feminine Divine

Creator God, your breath is mine.

Christos, human actualized,

the journey, fully realized.

Within my heart, the truth be told,

denying the lies that I have been sold:

“You are unworthy of your mother’s love,

in sin you were created, not of God from above.

It is never enough, whatever you do,

and how could anyone really love you?

If they knew the truth of the woman you be,

then surely they would turn and flee!

Not perfect, no matter how hard you try!”

Encased in my body, living the lie.

But through the years and through the tears,

I have sorted out these fears,

and deep within the muck and grime,

I have discovered the truth sublime:

Beauty is my name you see.

Joy the dance inside of me.

Created in and of God’s love,

God within, not from above.

Never separate, always one,

To this truth, I have come.

The Woman I know myself to be,

is made of love, not sin you see.

Beautiful, wise, intelligent, kind;

a loving mother, you’ll surely find.

Compassionate, tender, silly and fun,

Passionate, sexy, smile bright as the sun.

Strong, yet vulnerable, healthy in mind,

admitting to weakness, accepted as fine.

The wounded healer I know me to be,

living life’s lessons, the truth set me free.

I am singer, dancer, writer and friend,

student, creator, to thee prayers I send.

Love and joy, the breath that made me,

know that this is too what made thee.

Created in the image of God,

belief in less –  illusion and fraud.

Divine is what we truly be,

if we but live authentically.

Seeking God above all else,

toasting to the growing wealth

of abundant promises discovered true –

All of this is made for you!

Realizing faith defined,

owning the truth in body and mind:

One not two or three or four,

love alone unlocks the door.

Believing the promise of Creator Divine:

“I love you and you are mine.”

Posted in Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices

Blowing the Doors off the Vatican Vault – Unleashing Spiritual Practices

In yesterday’s blog, I promised to relieve you of some of the obstacles to beginning and maintaining a spiritual practice.  Today’s blog reveals tools for sound spiritual practice that come to us through the Judeo-Christian contemplative (mystical) traditions. 

Lucas and Spielberg had it right

Remember that scene from the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where they show a custodian wheeling the Ark of the Covenant, now locked up and crated deep into the bowels of the Smithsonian Institute’s basement?  The very Ark that Indiana Jones worked so hard to find and rescue from the clutches of the Nazi’s?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6-rQ6Jay6w Well, that scene is exactly how I imagine the rich tradition of Mystical (aka Magdalene) Christianity…..locked up in a steel vault somewhere deep in the bowels of the Vatican.  Some pope, a long time ago, gathered up the richness of these traditions and locked them up….far away from the reaching arms of the hungry laity.  The good news is that the monastic communities of the Christian tradition also had knowledge of the tools and practices of the mystical church and preserved them, keeping them safe and waiting for the days that someone would blow the doors off the Vatican vault, unleashing these tools for the benefit of all….and perhaps for the salvation of “Mother Church.”  (another topic for another day.)  Well, here I am…..the uppity Lay Minister, Lauri Ann Lumby.  I’ve got the keys to the vault and I’m not afraid to use them.  🙂

Dun Da Dun Dun Dun Da Dun (Sung to the opening theme from Raider’s of the Lost Ark)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg7C9qwLoqE

So, without further ado……below you will find a resource that I developed for the students and facilitators who have crossed the threshold of Authentic Freedom Ministries.   Tools for sound spiritual practice from the Judeo-Christian mystical/contemplative tradition.  Make a copy of this and keep it as instructional material as you begin to develop or deepen your spiritual practice.  And because I’m a huge brat…..a few words to the pope and his cronies in Rome right out of this morning’s scripture:

“Therefore I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit”

Matthew 21: 45 

I’m just sayin’!

So….here are the tools we have all been waiting for:

I.                   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.

A.    Lectio – Reading the Bible passage gently and slowly several times. The passage itself is not as important as the savoring of each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow speaks to the practitioner.

B.     Meditatio – Reflecting on the text of the passage and thinking about how it applies to one’s own life. This is considered to be a very personal reading of the Scripture and very personal application. Asking the question, how is God speaking to me personally through this passage?

C.    Oratio – Responding to the passage by opening the heart to God. This is not primarily an intellectual exercise, but is thought to be more of the beginning of a conversation with God. This stage can be accomplished through journaling, or offering a silent or spoken prayer to God.

D.    Contemplatio – Listening to God. This is a freeing of oneself from one’s own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God.

 

 

II.                Centering Prayer/Silent Contemplation

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

A.    Practitioner finds a comfortable place where they can sit in silence.

B.     Practitioner chooses a focal point – the breath, a sacred word or phrase (love, peace, Jesus,Om, etc.)

C.    Practitioner sits in silence.  When they find their mind wandering, they return their attention to their focal point.

D.    Practitioner continues in this manner for the period of time pre-determined for contemplation.

III.             Love Letter from God

This type of practice works best with scripture passages that seem to be God addressing us.

A.    Read through the passage slowly and meditatively.

B.     Re-read the passage as if it is a letter written to us directly from God.

C.    Practitioner allows themselves to receive the words into their heart.

D.    The remainder of the practice follows a similar pattern to Lectio-Divina.

Read, receive, respond, contemplate

IV.             Free-Form Journaling/Automatic Writing

Through this approach, the practitioner brings a question or a thought to the meditation session.   The practitioner offers the question/thought to God, then allows God to speak to them through their pen as they write in their journal.  Through this method, the practitioner allows their own thoughts, etc. to step aside to make room for the words of God.

V.                Mantra Meditation

A.    Practitioner chooses 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.)

B.     Practitioner repeats mantra silently or aloud, over and over, allowing the mantra to draw them into a place of peaceful calm.

C.    Practitioner continues with mantra until they find it no longer necessary and are able to enter into silent contemplation.

D.    Practitioner returns to mantra when they find their mind wandering.

VI.             Prayer Beads

Practitioner engages in practice above, using prayer beads/rosary to “count” mantra repetitions.  The benefit of using prayer beads is that is adds another sense to the process – tactile touch.  This is especially helpful for those with a restless mind.

VII.          Imagination-Contemplation/Daydreaming Meditation

A.    Practitioner chooses a narrative story from scripture.

B.     Practitioner reads through the story slowly and meditatively

C.    Practitioner chooses a character from the story (named, or unnamed).

D.    Practitioner re-reads the story from the vantage point of their chosen character.

E.     Practitioner enters into their creative imagination, placing themselves as their chosen character in the midst of the story.  They allow the story to unfold in their imagination in great detail, being mindful of thoughts, reflections, emotions that may surface through the process.

F.     Practitioner writes what they witnessed through their imagination, allowing additional details to surface as they write.

G.    Practitioner reflects on two questions:

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

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

VIII.       Art as Prayer

Practitioner is given the task of creating a visual representative of their prayer/reflection.

IX.             Music Meditation

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

A.    Choose the musical selection (chant, classical music, instrumental music works well here)

B.     Practitioner listens to musical selection with rapt attention, allowing the movement of the music to draw them into peaceful calm.

C.    Practitioner rests in silent contemplation once music is finished.

X.                Mindful Meditation/Theological Reflection

A.    Practitioner chooses an ordinary activity or object as the focal point of their meditation.

B.     Practitioner observes the object or engages in the activity with rapt attention.

C.    Practitioner becomes aware of the object or the activity in a way that transcends their typical experience of this object/activity.

D.    Practitioner records what they observe in the object or activity, asking what how God is being revealed through the object or activity.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Mary Magdalene

Giving Honor to the Magdalene

In today’s blog, I give honor to the woman I believe BEST reflects the compassion-teachings of Christ.  Mary Magdalene….no longer prostitute or repentant sinner…but disciple, witness, apostle to the apostles, priestess, pope and beloved of Christ.  MM rocks! 

copyright Toni Carmine Salerno

I Could Not Have Said it Better!

How does one concisely describe the woman, Mary Magdalene, what she represents as a model of devotion  and what she has to teach us as we move into a new era of Christian witness?  I have written millions of words reflecting on this woman who I look to as model for my own journey.  Yesterday, I was presented with a resource that explained Mary Magdalene in a concise and direct manner, better than what I could come up with on my own.  So today, I share with you the beautiful words of artist and visionary, Toni Carmine Salerno: 

To me, Magdalene is not solely a bibilical figure; rather, she is a modern day Goddess who holds a most sacred and ancient wisdom: organic and tactile, and deeply connected to our beautiful planet.  Magdalene lives eternally through present day women and she will no doubt continue to be a source of inspiration for women in generations to come.

Her wisdom is beyond words, images or concepts.  She is an archetypal spirit, soft and gentle, yet strong and unswayable.  Magdalene stands firmly in her truth, representing strength and dignity.

She assists in elevating the status of women around the globe and helps to free both men and women from the closed mind sets that have kept the true beauty, wisdom and creative essence of the feminine spirit from fully emerging. 

The Magdalene stands proud regardless of what others think of her or how they choose to label her.  For centuries there have been many who have sought to diminish her worth through lies, intimidation and even physical and emotional abuse.  Yet, in spite of this, Magdalene’s presence and influence remains.

Magdalene is the dancing Dark Goddess of gentle strength and authority, bearer of infinite compassion.  She is the healer of the wounded feminine, healing the desolate places of the heart, where lie the issues of abaondonment and betrayal which all women (and men) carry.  She holds up to them the mirror of their true nature, in which they will see themselves reflected in all their beauty and power and thereby step into their wholeness.

In My Own Words

If (for those of Christian orientation), Jesus is “the Way,” then Mary Magdalene is the map.  She shows us the way to compassion and oneness through her attentive devotion to her Rabbouni (teacher), her generous and compassionate service and her brave and daring witness.  Against societal norms and in spite of the protestations of her fellow disciples, she stood boldly in the truths that were revealed to her and she stayed true to what Jesus had shown her and taught her.  In short….Mary Magdalene rocks!

What does Mary Magdalene represent to you?

How can you look to Mary Magdalene as a model of Christian witness?

How are you being invited to stand in your truth, in spite of the protests of those around you?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com