Posted in Being Human, Healing, Inspiration

Our Greatest Enemy

As we examine the seemingly increasing states of violence in the world (are they increasing…or does the media just make it look that way?), it is easy to point the finger of blame – it’s his fault, it’s her fault, it’s their fault.  We are quick to make other people the enemy when in fact, we are the greatest enemy.

“WHAT…..how am I the enemy?” you might ask.  It’s simple.  WE are the greatest enemy because we do more harm to ourselves than we ever thought of doing to another human being.  Hatred toward others ALWAYS begins with our hatred of ourselves.  When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he wasn’t issuing a commandment, he was making an observation.  We do love our neighbor in direct proportion to the love we have toward ourselves.  When we know ourselves and are comfortable in our own skin, we can’t help but treat others with kindness, compassion and respect.  When we judge and condemn our selves for every little thing – how our hair looks today, what we are wearing, trying to hide our insecurities and imperfections from the world, etc. we judge the world likewise.  When we cling to same and hold out for predictable, safe and orderly, the truth of our chaotic and unpredictable world makes us feel unsafe.  Instead of loving ourselves in spite of our unease, we turn the finger of blame outward – “It’s their fault the world is in the state that it is in.”  We’re busy shaming ourselves for being too afraid to ask for our needs to be met, so we lose our patience with our kids and yell at them for being….kids.

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We are the enemy in all the ways we criticize, condemn, judge, shame, belittle ourselves and for all the ways we suppress the uncomfortable feelings within ourselves (anxiety, fear, sorrow, anger, resentment) because we judge them as “bad”.  We are the enemy when we do these things, first, by doing harm to ourselves and second, for all the ways these feelings come out sideways in anger, hatred, intolerance, impatience, condemnation, toward others.

Healing the violence in our world starts by healing the violence within ourselves.  We do this by learning to love ourselves.  Here is a simply little practice you might try to begin that process of loving yourself without condition so that you are no longer the enemy to yourself first, and then to others.

Below is a prayer you may all be familiar with – The Prayer of St. Francis.  In this practice, instead of using the prayer as intercessory (directed outward toward God or toward the world), turn it inward.  With every phrase, turn the words toward yourself.  (Here is a musical accompaniment for the song if you wish to attend to this practice through music…the prayer itself starts at 3:39 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wrcn85_MPYI )

Lord, make me an instrument of your 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

Oh 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 (to ourselves) that we receive

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

It is in dying that we are born into eternal life.

May we all learn to love ourselves without condition so that we can love the world in the same way – slowly and surely turning a world of fear into a world of love!

Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, MATS provides programs and services to support you in your journey of self- love and self-actualization.  Call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@authenticfreedom.love to learn more.

Posted in church, Mary Magdalene, Mystics

Call of the Magdalene

In my email on Sunday in regards to Sunday’s blog, I received the following response from a reader of the masculine persuasion who I have come to know as somewhat of a wise and wonderful wizard:

Greetings Lauri, nicely done. On that morning, the messenger was a woman, sent to awaken the men. 

We should have learned from that story not to be afraid, to be calm and to change the world! 

I could not have said it better myself and in these words, we get a glimpse into what it means to have received the call of the Magdalene!

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the common characteristics of men and women who have received the call of the Magdalene.  Today, I hope to flesh out what the call of the Magdalene looks like and if you have received the Magdalene’s call, what that might mean in your life.

MaryMagdalene

Who Was Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene was a close and intimate disciple of Jesus.  Mary was NOT the adulterous or sinful woman portrayed in scripture – Pope Gregory, something or other, made a mistake when he preached on this, thereby sealing Mary’s fate in the institutional church.  But, the demise of Mary probably didn’t start there!  Canonical scripture (the ones that made the cut) tells us that Mary was healed of seven demons by Jesus.  Modern scholars suggest that the seven demons metaphorically represent a process of spiritual healing and initiation completed by Mary and facilitated by Jesus.  Canonical scripture also tells us that Mary accompanied Jesus in his ministry and supported him and that she bore witness to his death by crucifixion (unlike the male disciples, with the exception of John, who hid in the Upper Room in fear) and that she was the first witness to the resurrection and the one commissioned to bring the news of the crucifixion to the other disciples.  Non-canonical scripture tells us that Mary was much more than even this.  In the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip, along with the Pistis Sophia, Mary was shown to have been kissed by Jesus, suggesting a the possibility of a romantically intimate relationship and that she received secret teachings from Jesus that the other disciples were not privy to.  In the Gospel of Mary, in particular, Mary demonstrates higher levels of receptiveness and understanding, compared to the other disciples, and that Jesus appeared to her for instruction that the other disciples did not have access to.  These writings also reveal that Peter was jealous of Mary and her relationship with Jesus and that he struggled to accept Mary’s words, often refusing outright to do so.

MaryMagdaleneicon

Reading Between the Lines

Reading between the lines, what this conflict between Mary and Peter hints at is the origin of the split between the Mystical and Institutional church – Mary representing the mystical church and Peter the institutional.  The Mystical Church seeks to know God through direct and personal experience, most commonly through contemplative prayer and meditation practices and trusting these direct and personal experiences as authority.  We see glimpses of the Mystical Church within religious orders who have guarded and maintained the ancient traditions of contemplative prayer and in priests and lay people who have heard and adhered to the inner call to contemplation – regardless of their specific religious affiliation, or lack thereof.  In the simplest terms, the Institutional Church seeks to know God through tradition and dogma as handed down by the pope and his bishops.  Here, authority lies in the hands of single, (mostly) white, men.

History of the Mystical Church

There have been no direct histories written about the Mystical Church because the Institutional Church, for the most part, denies its existence.  In order to see the history of the Mystical Church, we have to read between the lines.  In spite of the attempts of popes and bishops to suppress the Mystical Church, it has always lived within the shadow of the Institution  – usually presenting itself strongly in times of grave peril within the Institutional Church when dramatic reform was needed.  The Mystical Church as been seen in the prayers of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, in the radical nature of the Franciscan call as pioneered by Sts. Francis and Clare, in the mystical visions of Hildegard of Bingen and promoted by her spiritual companion Brother Volmar, and through the ecstasies of St. Teresa of Avila and the writings of her spiritual brother, John of the Cross. (Interesting that the Mystical Church often presents itself in pairs!)

MaryMagicon

The Mystical Church Awakens

We have arrived in a time in history when the Mystical Church is trying to rise again, this time, not in order to change the Church, but instead, so that it may change the world (PS Pope Francis might be part of the Mystical Church!)!  As the wise wizard stated above, it is time to awaken, to cast off our fear, to be calm and do the work of changing the world!  It is for this reason that the Magdalene has planted herself within the hearts and minds of so many men and women.  She is calling us to awaken, to do the work Jesus asked us to do, not because some institution told us to, but because we have heard the call directly from Christ (by whatever name you call the inner voice of compassion and love) and because we are choosing to obey the voice in our hearts and in our minds that commands us to:

Love one another.

Feed the hungry.

Clothe the naked.

Set captives free.

Heal the sick.

Give sight to the blind.

If you find yourself called to accomplish any of the above, if you consider this drive to love and serve as part of your innate nature, then, regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof) you have received the call of the Magdalene.  You are already awakened, now cast off your fear, cultivate peace and start changing the world!  🙂

Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, Inspiration, Mystics, Oneness with God, Spiritual Practices

Mystics and Contemplatives

In the past several days, I have used the words mystic and contemplative somewhat interchangeably.  While the two are similar and walk a common path with a common mission, I have learned there is a bit of a difference between the two.  After today’s blog, let me know if you are a contemplative or a mystic.

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The same, only different

There are common characteristics between contemplatives and mystics, most obviously is their intimate connection with the transcendent, or what I call God.  Mystics and contemplatives both possess a deep inner calling to connect with God and to maintain that connection, sometimes through meditation and prayer, often through life itself, nature, the body, relationship and creative expression.  Mystics and contemplatives both have an innate ability to see and be present to the world beyond this world and once encountered, mystics and contemplatives find ways to cultivate that connection through disciplined practice (again, sometimes in prayer, sometimes through other means).  While mystics and contemplatives are similar in this regard, there are a few things that set them apart.

Examples in the saints

The Catholic pantheon of saints provides the perfect exploration into the differences between mystics and contemplatives.  John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating and Catherine of Siena are contemplatives.  St. Francis, Hildegard of Bingen, Joan of Arc, Galileo and Teresa of Avila are mystics.  The former tend to stay in line with the Institution…..the latter tend to rock the boat.

Contemplatives vs. Mystics

Contemplatives (as compared to mystics) are well-behaved.  They are quiet and unobtrusive.  Contemplatives are content to sit and pray and trust and wait (for the most part).  Contemplatives gain the approval of the Institution.  They color inside the lines.  While speaking and living their truth, they don’t tend to rock the boat.  A contemplative would be more likely to earn an imprimatur and a nihil’obstat – the Vatican Good Housekeeping seals of approval.  Mystics, on the other hand, are a whole different story.  Mystics, by their very nature are sh..t-disturbers, they rock the boat, are not content with status quo and generally tick people off (those who find security in the status-quo anyway!).   Mystics also, tend to be a bit mad (aka crazy, insane, off their rocker…)….at least they appear that way to the general public and to those who maintain the current structure of power.  Mystics are not “normal.”   Mystics do not color inside the lines and they are certainly anything but quiet!  Mystics are loud.  Mystics make their presence known.  Mystics are unlikely to gain the approval of the Institution – in fact, they might seek to tick them off.  In fact, any mystic worth their salt has probably been called before the Inquisition to defend their crazy ideas….and some have been excommunicated or even killed for their truths, or at the very least, silenced.  (Galileo, Joan of Arc, Hildegard of Bingen for example).  Some have survived the scrutiny of the Inquisition (Teresa of Avila, St. Francis, Martin Luther, ahem…Jesus!) and through their survival, initiated great reform!

Mystics are Reformers

Herein lies the other difference between contemplatives and mystics.  Whereas contemplatives may be initiating reform through their quiet, prayerful presence, mystics are living their call to reform OUT LOUD.  Like John the Baptist, mystics are the voice crying out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”  Mystics are the prophets and visionaries who see our potential as human beings and work toward helping us achieve this potential, for this is the call of the mystic – to know God, to see God’s higher vision for humanity, and to invite (challenge) the world to become this vision.

So…..are you a contemplative or a mystic?

Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Raised Catholic

Mystic Manifesto

What does it mean to be a mystic in the modern-world?  What do we have that Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis and Clare didn’t have?  How are we called to be mystics in a world that often judges belief and faith to be frivolous and naïve?  As a contemplative, raised Catholic, trying to find my place, I often wonder….

Crue

4:30 wakeup calls

Just for the record, in no way, shape or form, do I boast about Jesus ringing my doorbell at 4:30 in the morning and paying me a little visit (see yesterday’s blog).  In fact, rather than tell the tale, I’d rather run into the darkest corner of the room and hide behind the couch or beneath the dining room table.  For you see, I’m the last person Jesus should be visiting.  I’m not a Jesus Freak.  I’m not a bible thumper.  I will never ask you to change your beliefs or inquire over whether or not you’ve been saved (mostly because I don’t believe there is anyone who is NOT saved).  I’m imperfect and flawed just like everyone else.  Yes, God is my Source, Jesus is my dude and Shekinah (the Holy Spirit) drives my purpose.  But other than that….I’m just plain Lauri.  I color outside the lines.  I listen to heavy metal music.  I have a few tattoos.  And I swear (kind of a lot).  But, for some strange reason, Jesus got planted into my heart and he keeps showing up.  So, what am I supposed to do but pay attention, listen and act…in most cases from a place of incredible insecurity and fear.

Mystics, Tramps and Thieves

Just a little play on words…..and a reminder that mystics (people who talk to God) are a strange and Motley Crue (another play on spelling).  While many are familiar with St. Francis and Clare who talked with God, Joan of Arc who was instructed by angels and saints, Teresa of Avila who had ecstatic experiences of the Divine…no one really talks about the mystics of today.  Who are we?  We are the weirdos who, even in the midst of the post-modern era, the supposed age of reason, with science guiding our steps, still talk to God.  But more than talking….we listen.  And how do we listen?  We listen through a deep dedication to our spiritual practice which may or may not look very traditional.  While my spiritual practice might look pretty traditional (a little scripture, some meditation and contemplation and maybe even some chant), the modern-day mystic is not limited by the trappings of institutions.  While there are mystics within the hallowed halls of sacred institutions….some of us are simply running amok in the street and in YOUR WORLD!  One mystic that I know hears God in nature.  Another in his art.  Another through her music.  Another through his encounters with people.

Being the Body of Christ

But even more important than talking and listening to God, a mystic is known in the way that they serve.  In most cases, you will not see us wearing a collar or a habit, but you might recognize us in the wide-eyed look of generosity shining back at you through our eyes.  What you might not know about mystics, is that we have no choice but to serve.  For service, you see, is the natural result of paying attention to God.  Once you open that door and let the flame of the Spirit in…..she sets you on fire…most especially your hands, heart and feet.  With the fire of God’s love aflame in our hearts, we have no choice but to share that fire in the world.  The mystic’s dream is to embody God and in doing so, to set the world on fire with God’s love…healing, transformation, empowering…and look out if you come anywhere near a mystic….because you can’t help but be compelled to seek your own inner fire and in doing so, finding yourself.

A Mystic’s Prayer

In closing, here is a beautiful poem by Rainer Marie Rilke which speaks to the Mystic’s call to serve…and what I might call the Mystic Manifesto:

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.

I want to free what waits within me

so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear

without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,

but this is what I need to say.

May what I do flow from me like a river,

no forcing and no holding back,

the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,

these deepening tides moving out, returning,

I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels

into the open sea.

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, 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 Freedom, Inspiration, Spiritual Practices

Love or Fear? The Choice is Yours

Today’s blog is inspired by a series of events and experiences that I have observed and confirmed by the following article on the coming of “the Age of Aquarius”  http://www.3ho.org/ecommunity/2011/09/the-aquarian-shift-what-will-be-different-about-our-world-after-november-11-2011/.  Whether you believe in the idea of a galactic shift or not, we are each given, in every moment of every day the opportunity to choose our life. Do we choose love and truth or fear?  The choice is ours….and the time to choose is NOW!

Mystic Crystal Revelations

Every single spiritual master that has graced this fair planet (Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, The Buddha, The Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, St. Francis, Osho, Swami Rama, Yogananda, etc. etc. etc. ) attained the same understanding:  “All we need is love.”  Then they went out to share this truth with the world.  These teachers acknowledged THE common longing among human beings….and that is the longing to know love and to know peace.  Fear, they knew was the obstacle to knowing peace and love, and they shared with their students (and the rest of the world with them) specific tools for healing and releasing fear so that all could know the joyful contentment they had come to know within themselves.

And the Minds True Liberation

The key to knowing the love and the peace known by these spiritual masters is CHOICE!  And it is a matter of CHOICE.  Because of the nature of the human condition, peace and love are not likely to show up on their own.  Yes, we have fleeting glimpses of the love and the peace that we are, without ever picking up a spiritual text or engaging in a spiritual practice.  If, however, we want peace and love that will endure and if we want to more forward in our human journey in spite of the reality of fear, then we have to CHOOSE peace and love.  It is in choosing love over fear, truth over ego, peace over anxiety, joy over despair that we are liberated from the bondage of the human condition.  We find freedom when we choose love.  We find expansiveness when we know joy.  We find contentment when we cultivate peace.

Then Peace Will Guide the Planets and Love Will Steer the Stars

According to those that follow the science of astrology, November 11, 2011 marks the beginning of “The Age of Aquarius.”  Whether or not we believe in the “prophecies” about the significance of this planetary line up, one message is clear and it is clear for all of eternity……the time to choose is NOW.  If you want love, peace, joy, harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding, no more falsehood or derision…..CHOOSE IT!  Stop allowing fear to run your life.  Choose love.  Choose peace.  Choose joy.  And support that choice through sound spiritual practice.  And if you need additional support, read my book 🙂  Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy!

Hippie Prophets

The song, “The Age of Aquarius” by the Fifth Dimension is the very first song I ever remember hearing as a child and THE song that touched me in a deeply impactful and significant way.  When I first heard the song….I believed it.  I knew this was where we were being led as human beings and I knew that we would see the words of that song manifest in our lifetimes.  For whatever reason, this song has become the guiding principle of my life and I truly believe that the Divine was speaking to me in some way through this song.  So….without further ado:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0G8XJNz4bY  Let the Sunshine in!

What are the fears that stand as obstacles to your own inner peace?

How can you begin to choose love, peace, joy, instead of fear?

What spiritual practices or inspirational texts help you to stay grounded in peace and love?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com