In response to Monday’s blog, You Can Run But You Can’t Hide, Dennis Fuhr, a frequent commenter on this blog shared some profound observations and questions:
Your piece has led me to think a little more about the darkness, the shadows. One the one hand there is deep, impenetrable darkness alluded to in the parable of the eye being the lamp of the body. On the other hand, there seems to be a redemptive kind of darkness. It has a richness about it, almost a quieting feeling. We are forced to abandon our fretful, thrashing-about state and thereby regain some of our energy simply by being in a somewhat anesthetized mode.
Just as I have never thought about the shadows in the way that you mentioned, so I have not thought about darkness as having any redeeming qualities. Either you are in the light or not. There has been no middle ground, so to speak.
My final thought is that even the darkness that may seem to be so definitive for us, God’s grace and Presence can penetrate in ways that we do not fully understand. The shadows seem to be so real and discouraging yet God, who is all in all, has it covered.
First of all, thank you Dennis for speaking what we all long to know: What is this shadow world about anyway and what are we to do with it?
As you suggest, we cannot have light without darkness, brilliance without its shadow. As you also observe, for many (if not most) of us, we judge the darkness as “bad” and place it in direct opposition with the light.
But as the Psalmist once said:
In you, darkness and light are but one (Psalm 139)
We are the ones who judge the darkness as “bad,” forgetting, as you point out, the redemptive quality of darkness. As the sunflower full-well knows, the germinating seed is strengthened by its journey through the darkness – first by breaking through the shell of the seed, then finding its way through the density of the earth. The plant needs the resistance of the seed and then the soil so that it might become strong, becoming what it was meant to be.
The same can be said for each of us. It is through the challenges, darkness, difficulties, losses, betrayals, disappointments of our lives where we have the opportunity to find our strength. Without the challenges, we would never grow. As one of my teachers once said, “When we stop growing we die.” Amen sister amen!
As I understand it, from the perspective of the Divine, there is no judgment – no good or bad, light or dark. Everything simply “is” and as it is, it serves the purpose of our spiritual evolution. In our early stages of development, we perceive the “darkness” as an obstacle, we feel victimized, we allow the perceived darkness to cause us suffering, and if we are able we either run from the darkness or ignore/repress it and then it comes out sideways in our compulsive, non-loving behaviors.
As we awaken and move through our spiritual development, we come to understand what the “darkness” is simply another aspect of the light. Instead of running from it, we face it head on – recognizing in its appearance another opportunity for growth. “Thank you sir, may I have another!?”
What all of this means is that we decide. We decide what to do with the challenges that come forth in our lives. We decide what to do with the lost, suppressed, ignored, hidden rejected aspects of ourselves that want to come into the light. We decide if we allow the perceived darkness to destroy us or to serve as simply another tool in our journey toward (as you said) redemption. Salvation comes when we are able to find love in the midst of the now – no matter how that “now” might appear. In order to do this we have to be willing to go into our shadows, dive into the depths, confront and be with our fears. As every true master has shown us, the only way we can find our light is to learn how to be with our dark and in this we learn that our dark is not dark after all.
If you are interested in learning more about working with your own shadow, Lauri is available for one-on-one consulting/coaching. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your own private session today.
Lessons on confronting the adversary…
Saturday morning I was reminded that Satan is real. “He” showed up on my doorstep in the person condemning me to hell for, in so many words, being a witch. I’m not talking about the anthropomorphic white guy in the red morph suit sporting horns on his head and wielding a pitch fork while threatening the unbaptized with an eternity in hell, or worse – demonic possession. I’m talking about the REAL Satan…..the one that dwells within each of us and which often gets projected outside of us in persons and experiences that remind us of where we have forgotten we are love.
Since I can no longer believe in a place called hell and I suspect what the ancients called possession was nothing more than medical conditions they did not yet understand and could not control…the only Satan I can believe in is the one who dwells within. Our Jewish ancestors would agree. Satan is a Hebrew word after all and it means adversary – specifically, the adversary within – that which tempts us away from our original nature which is love. The adversary shows up as we are drawing closer to the path of our Soul, to “God’s will” for us, and every time we take a step toward our Divine calling. The adversary shows up to challenge us: “Are you sure about this? Are you really committed to following your Divine calling and the path of meaning and fulfillment that you were born to accomplish? Are you truly committed to being the Love that God is calling you to be?”
So when Satan showed up on my doorstep via email Saturday morning, I was not surprised. In fact, I should have been expecting him and had some coffee and cookies out waiting for him. For you see…..I have recently taken ENORMOUS steps closer to my Soul’s calling. I said yes to the Divine invitation to simplify my life and recently completed a physical move which required the letting go, not only of physical possessions, but the letting go of my home office and classroom, the life I had been living for the past 6 (or maybe 20) years and all the titles, associations, plans, contrivances, etc. etc. etc. I had created around that life. I had to be done making plans and simply enter into the void allowing the Universe to carry me…..which it has. I had to let it all go so I could be open to SOMETHING AMAZING I GUESS…..that I don’t yet know and hasn’t yet been manifest. Though there have been glimpses:
Our new home. To say I love it would be an understatement. A home that I came by in a magical way (as I always do) and which even more perfectly fits my vibe, my energy, my wants, needs and desires than the place we had been living. It is a place that reflects my heart and I could not be more thrilled. (and my kids like it too).
A side gig. In the midst of this transition and literally in the middle of the move, an opportunity for a side-gig showed up. As a “friend of the millennials” it makes perfect sense that I have an opportunity to live as they live……one job among many so they/we can do their/our passion. Enter…..side gig….one with the potential for further involvement using my truest gifts.
A new book. What would a crisis be in the life of Lauri Lumby without a book coming out of it? I was as surprised as my readers to see another book coming forth ready for publishing. Available NOW on Amazon!!!!!
A secret. Another development which I will keep close to my heart. I’ll just say that if this is what I think it might be, it would be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and something I have worked very hard toward accomplishing/receiving. (cue Disney)
With all of this, of course Satan showed up at my front door. As always, his timing is impeccable. He showed up to challenge me. He showed up triggering unhealed wounds. He showed up to test my resolve. He showed up hoping to make me afraid so that I might quit “the evil” work I am doing in the world. And I did what the REAL Satan calls us to do….I met him toe to toe, eye to eye, heart to heart. Yes Satan, I see you. And YES I am sure about the LOVE I am doing in the world. And your fear will not stop me. Thank you for showing up and telling me how truly magnificent the things that are unfolding in my life. The fact that you are here tells me that something amazing is already happening. Thank you.
Eve Speaks Part 2
Hello my dear children, I have spoken to you once before about my (our) Divine origins and how I (we) were created in the image and likeness of Divine Love and freely chose to engage in God’s play at being human, how we chose the perceived separation from our Divine Source in Love and Oneness so that we could experience ourselves as individual and unique so that God could experience Godself in all if Her infinite number of expressions. Now you all know the story that has been told of this separation, how the human experience in all its pain and suffering is actually punishment for disobeying God by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. While some may find comfort in this interpretation of the ancient tale, there is another perspective and an even deeper truth that lies hidden within this story for those who have eyes to see.
As I mentioned in the first telling, the story of “the fall of man” is not even original to the Hebrew people who in the latter days approaching the Common Era, placed this story in their scriptures. Instead, this is a Babylonian story borrowed by the Hebrews from the popular Gilgamesh Epic as it helped to explain their plight as conquered and indentured slaves of the Babylonians. Once a thriving and powerful nation, Israel had been conquered, their temple destroyed, and all people of value deported to Babylon to live as slaves to their conquerors. They had lost their home. They had lost their God. Believing in a punitive and jealous god, it made sense to them that they were being punished for something terrible they had done. They then chose women, and all that had been associated with feminine power – the serpent, the fruit, knowledge and wisdom – as scapegoats for their suffering and pain. This battle between the warring patriarchal god and the peace of the divine feminine had been going on for ages, but the Babylonian captivity cemented this divide.
This is the historical perspective on my tale. But, for those who have eyes to see, there is an even deeper truth – one that resonates beyond history and speaks to the Soul of the human race – a people that long to be freed from the pain and suffering of the human condition and returned to their original state in Oneness with LOVE in God. This is the story of EVE as awakener. But even more than this, this is the story of WOMEN as the Awakeners – those sent to become awakened themselves and then through their own awakening, to become awakeners for others – most especially the men. Here is how it goes in the book of Genesis:
Now the snake was the most wise (usually translated “cunning”) of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” 2 The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” 4 But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! 5 God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
8 When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” 11 Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat? 12 The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” 13 The Lord God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”
21 The Lord God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever? 23 The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. 24 He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.
20 The man gave his wife the name “Eve,” because she was the mother of all the living.
Genesis 3: 1-13, 21-24, 20
This is the largest, widest, deepest truth of the Genesis tale – WOMEN are the AWAKENERS of the human experience. To state this in more universal terms, apart from the human temptation to divide by gender, the DIVINE FEMININE is the awakener of the human condition as it is embodied in women or in men. THIS is the task of the Divine Feminine as it is embodied in human form – to WAKE US UP. Specifically, to wake us up out of the illusion of separation – the illusion that is the cause of our fear, the cause of our “sin” and the cause of the suffering and pain in the human experience. The Divine Feminine within us is that which REMEMBERS our ONENESS with Love, with God and with all of Creation. The Divine Feminine within us is that which awakens us to this remembrance and then calls us to return to our origin in Unity and Wholeness. As it plays out in our masculine/feminine roles, (I use these terms as they relate to energy, not gender. Masculine being the active, protective, provider energy and Feminine being the energy of receptivity, allowing, and receiving) it is the feminine which is called to awaken and in its awakening, to guide and support the awakening of the masculine. As such, if you are in a traditional male/female relationship, it is the woman who first awakens, and then it is her task to help her male partner awaken. It is also the task of the female to awaken the children. There is a complicated way in which all these energies play out their roles, but for now, I trust you get the gist.
EVE was not a disobedient sinner who through her “sin” brought punishment to the whole human race. EVE is the AWAKENER who calls us all to awaken out of the sleep of ignorance into the knowledge of THE TRUTH – that LOVE is our original nature. She then shows us how to return to that LOVE – right here in the human experience, thus returning us all to the Garden where we will experience heaven on earth.
The closer we move toward our Soul’s purpose, the harder the “devil” works against us. I don’t mean the dude in the red tights with horns carrying a pitchfork who is really the Christian appropriation and demonizing of the pagan fertility god. I mean the “devil” that resides within all of us. Another name for this devil is the ego or false self. Or as identified by our Hebrew ancestors – satan, meaning inner adversary, or from the Latin Lucifer, meaning light-bearer.
There is great wisdom in acknowledging this inner adversary as a light-bearer, as it is most often in our darkness where we discover our light. That is, when we have the courage to face the darkness and be present with and in it so that the light can be revealed. For the devil isn’t here to tempt us, though tempted we will be, the devil is here to help us grow.
Growth doesn’t come without challenge or pain. Ask the sunflower or the oak tree what obstacles they had to move through becoming their most fulfilled and fruitful self. The same is true for us. When we awaken from our human slumber and realize that the things “out there” are not providing us with fulfillment, peace or joy, we turn our gaze inward. As we turn that gaze within, we discover all kinds of unhealed wounds from our past, unacknowledged fears, unrealized dreams. If we are courageous, (or if life leaves us with no other option) we then embark upon the deep soul work of bringing all these areas of inner darkness to the light so that they can be healed and transformed, finding within this transformation the treasure in the darkness. This is what brings us toward our soul’s purpose and the life of meaning and fulfillment that we all long for and that our Soul intends for us to experience in this human experiment. It is ultimately the Soul’s longing to be fulfilled that brings us to this task.
The “devil” in this journey is the inner vehicle that brings all of our fears and unhealed wounds to light. It is our job to recognize these fears as they arise and take responsibility for these fears. Most often, these fears arise in us due to outside triggers. Something or someone shows up in our path reflecting our fears. Maybe it is the stack of unpaid bills on your desk. Maybe it is someone seemingly accomplishing something you wish you could do. Perhaps it shows up in an infringement of boundaries, or in the form of rejection. However it shows up, we can know an unhealed wound or unacknowledged fear has been triggered by the reaction we experience in our bodies. Perhaps the hair stands up on the back of your neck, or your belly constricts, or you feel the hot pain of rage boiling up in you.
Whatever that inner reaction might be….DO NOT ACT. Instead, recognize it for what it is – the devil, Lucifer – showing up to reveal to you your unhealed fears.
Then….NAME the fear for what it is – fear of lack, fear of your own insignificance, fear of powerlessness, fear of not being loved, fear of not being able to express your truth, fear of not knowing your truth, fear of being alone. NAME the demon, and it no longer has power over you.
LOVE that fear. Sit in the discomfort of the fear. Hold it in love. In being with it and holding it, the fear gets what it has always needed, to be acknowledged and loved. And then the fear is transformed and we are now free of that face of our fear.
THANK the fear. Thank Lucifer, the devil, satan, the ego, the false-self, whatever you want to call it, for helping you to grow and helping you to take one step closer to the life you came here to enjoy – one of contentment, joy, fulfillment and love.
In anticipation of Ash Wednesday and the upcoming journey of Lent, I am sharing a copy of this week’s Authentic Freedom Empowerment Newsletter. If you find this to be a supportive and inspiring resource for your own journey of self-development, consider subscribing. For only $20.00 per month, you receive a weekly resource for supporting your journey toward wholeness. If you are interested, subscribe HERE.
Authentic Freedom Academy
Weekly Empowerment Newsletter
February 14, 2016. First Sunday in Lent
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
Luke 4: 1-13
Dt 26: 4-10
Ps 91: 1-2, 10-15
Rom 10: 8-13
First Sunday of Lent – Temptation
This Sunday’s gospel is the familiar story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. What is often forgotten in the telling of this story is that the temptation in the desert takes place immediately following Jesus’ baptism through which Jesus was fully awakened to his Diving calling and the gifts that he had been given to live out that call:
“You are my beloved son, and with you I am well pleased.”
How did Jesus respond to these words? The translation from Luke’s gospel says that Jesus was led to the desert. In Mark’s gospel, “he fled.” I tend to believe it was more the latter than the former. How would you feel if a voice came out of the sky and announced your magnificence and the Divine calling (responsibility) that went along with that magnificence?
The truth is that like Jesus, we more frequently run from our gifts and our Divine calling than toward them. If we are wise, as Jesus was, we acknowledge the fear that arises in the face of our calling, and then we take the time to figure out what the Divine calling means for us and how we are being called to use our gifts.
And like Jesus, we will be tempted. Specifically, we will be tempted to abuse the powers that we have been given for the sake of our own pride and vanity, than how they are meant to be used which is in service to the Divine and for the benefit of others.
Our job is to hear the call as it arises within us from God, to take time out to discern how we are being invited to live that out and to then face the inner voices that will tempt us to ignore or deny our gifts, or alternatively, to use our gifts for our own vainglory instead of for the honor of the Divine and for the benefit of others.
How have you been tempted to either ignore/deny your Divine calling and the use of your gifts?
When have you been tempted to use your gifts for the sake of your own pride, fame, wealth, power, etc. instead of for the sake of others?
You are invited to spend time with this week’s scripture using the practice of Imagination/Contemplation, or as I like to call it, “Daydreaming as Prayer.”
- Read through the scripture passage slowly and prayerfully, looking for a character that stands out to you. Perhaps it is Jesus, Satan, an unnamed observer or even an inanimate object.
- After you have chosen your character (or object), re-read the story from their perspective.
- Then, using your imagination, place yourself within the narrative as the character of your choosing. Imagine the story unfolding in your mind as if you are that character. Imagine every detail – what you are wearing, what the weather is like, the scene around you, the time of day. Envision the landscape and the other characters in the story in detail. Do not censor anything that comes up for you in the imagining of the story. Allow it to go where it needs to go.
- As the story is unfolding in your imagination, pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. that are arising in you as the story is unfolding.
- After the story has come to its natural conclusion in your mind, write it down. Record all that took place, being open to additional details which may emerge in your writing. Again, do not censor anything that comes up for you.
- After you have written your story, read it. As you are reading, reflect on how the story, as it unfolded in your imagination, is reflective of something going on in your own journey? As what your higher self might be communicating to you in the way this story unfolded in your imagination.
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus was tempted by three of the deadly compulsions of the Authentic Freedom protocol:
Lust (for power)
As the inner adversary (Satan) tempted Jesus with these worldly measurements of power and success, Jesus was able to turn away from them because he recognized the inner fears that might cause him to use his powers for his own sake instead of in honor of God and for the benefit of the world, he then found a way to move through those fears.
How and where have you been tempted by worldly measures of power and success? How might you employ Authentic Freedom to help you overcome these temptations when they arise in the future?
If you found this to be meaningful, consider subscribing to the weekly Authentic Freedom Empowerment Newsletter. For only $20.00 per month. Subscribe HERE.
Panic Attacks – the Devil Inside (Part I)
On Saturday, June 13th I had three full-blown panic attacks, the third so debilitating I was not able to drive myself and my son home from a shopping trip 30 miles from home. As I mentioned in my blog on Monday, panic attacks suck…..or do they? What if panic attacks are not here to harm or torture us, but are instead, here to teach us? What if instead of judging them as harmful, rushing off to medicate them, or wanting to push them away, we welcomed them closer and allowed them to be our teacher? What, you might ask, could a panic attack teach us other than, “life sucks and then you die?” Let’s find out…
There is always more to the story…
As much as I hate having panic attacks, and they are terrifying while they are happening and every moment in between, for me, and I suspect many others who experience anxiety, depression and panic attacks (note: the three are closely related), there is always more to the story. Panic attacks don’t simply show up out of nowhere (though they sure seem like they do). They always have deeper roots. As I sat in the fog of the post-panic, post-Xanax hangover, I had ample opportunity to sort through all the potential precursors of panic (while trying not to get too much into old patterns of self-deprecation and negative self-judgment of thinking I did something wrong to bring on this panic and that there must be something wrong with me…). In the search, I discovered there was a litany of potential “causes”:
Wine – ugh! One tiny glass of wine the evening before (and as I noted had happened before every panic attack or near-panic I’ve had). Wine=yeast=triggering my candida allergy. Apparently there is a tie between candida and panic. SIGH. No more wine for me.
Keeping a lid on it! Tending to a friend who received a medical treatment. Helping another friend who received a cancer diagnosis. Being present with a friend whose mother recently passed. Lots of travel. And just life in general. Lots to carry. Lots to hold. Throw in some good old fashioned money fears…and….NOT TAKING CARE OF MYSELF in the midst of it all! TONS of emotions were bottled up in me that needed to find a way out…..and boy did they! (And let’s not forget the link between panic and past, unresolved trauma!)
STEPPING INTO MY GREATNESS! The week leading up to the panic attack was a HUGE week for me. I stepped into my new venture as Authentic Freedom Academy. I put AFA out into the world. I formed an affiliate program and sent out invites. I completed the most recent Resurrecting the Magdalene course and ordained (yes, I said “ORDAINED!”) four women into The Order of the Magdalene/Christ. I received an important message about my beloved partner. And finally…..through the support of some shamanic journey work, I rediscovered some very ancient methods of manifestation (ie: magic) and for bringing the new world into being. Hint: “The Law of Attraction” is OUT (truth be told, it was never in for me anyway…more on that later).
The link between panic and POWER
As much as we don’t want to admit it, there IS a link between panic and STANDING IN OUR POWER. The way I understand it, the link between panic and power is two-fold:
Ignoring the voice of our Soul:
First, panic (and its precursor – anxiety) arises when we ignore, silence, suppress and repress our POWER, our truth, our gifts, our call, our purpose and our passions. When we ignore the voice of our SOUL is will do everything in its power to get our attention. The more we ignore the voice of the SOUL, the harder it works, sometimes having to resort to desperate measures to get our attention – even if it means panic. This has definitely been the case for me. When the truth is in my face again and again and again and I choose to ignore it, panic steps in.
Stepping into our power:
Panic attacks can also arise as a form of temptation. The closer we get to our Soul’s purpose, God’s call for us in our life, the path of our highest Self, the harder the ego works to thwart us on our path. Our Soul longs to be free – to have a life of fulfillment, expansiveness, meaning, peacefulness and love. The ego wants SAME, status quo, what is old and familiar. Think of Jesus in the desert and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. In both instances, Jesus did battle with “Satan” over the path before him. Heed the voice of fear and make himself equal to God (as was the discussion in the desert) or heed the voice of fear and recant his truth (that he was One with God but not necessarily equal)? The ego does not want us to enjoy the path of our Soul or to embrace our gifts or our true power. Instead, the ego wants us to remain small, in a place and situation that is familiar. Toward that end, the ego will resort to all sorts of ministrations to keep us from our power – even panic attacks if it needs to.
Power and panic in proportion
I can think of two situations in particular (this weekend included) where a powerful moment of stepping into my power presented itself and panic stepped in. In both situations, and army of support presented itself and I eventually figured out the true source of the panic – not in something I had done wrong, but in something I had done right! Talk about empowering. It is interesting to me to note that the degree to which we are stepping into our power is equal to the degree to which the ego fights to keep us from it. From the degree of the panic attacks I experienced this weekend, I’m guessing I’m getting pretty dang close to the purpose of my soul and to the root of my true power. How about you?
Stay tuned Panic Attacks, the Devil Inside Part II where we will learn how to embrace temptation (ie: panic attacks) as our teacher instead of our tormentor.
Authentic Freedom Academy provides resources and support for those wishing to heed the voice of their Soul – for those who know they are here for a reason, who want to know what that reason is, and who wish to contribute to the betterment of themselves and the world through their own unique giftedness. Call (920) 230-1313 or email email@example.com to learn more.
Agape Meditation Newsletter – Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, August 31, 2014
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”
MT 16: 21-17
Jer 20: 7-9
Ps 63: 2-9
Rom 12: 1-2
Get Behind Me Satan!
Satan is a Hebrew word which means adversary or obstacle. In the Hebrew tradition, Satan is most commonly thought of as existing within us as the inner fears and egoic attachments that try to keep us from the path that God intends for us. In the Christian tradition, Satan is most commonly associated as a personified, external source of temptation – the devil. Whether we perceive Satan as within us or outside of us, the experience is the same – something arising which triggers our fears or flatters our ego so that we are tempted to stray from the path of our highest good, the path God intends for us. In this week’s gospel, Peter acts as the adversary, tempting Jesus to stray from his path. Jesus recognizes in Peter’s words, his own fear of death and the temptation to stray from the path of his truth. Jesus then reminds us that God’s way is not always our way and that we are to trust that what God ordains is in our highest good, even if the path or the outcome seems grim.
How do you recognize the adversary at work in your own life?
Where are you tempted to avoid the path God has laid out for you by judging it as negative?
Spiritual Practices – Recognizing Satan
The first step in avoiding temptation is recognizing its presence. The adversary triggers our fear, our unhealed wounds and tempts us through fame, power, and material wealth. The job of the adversary is to tempt us from the path of our highest good and to imprison us in fear and constriction. The adversary flatters us with delusions of grandeur and tempts us into believing we know what is better for us than God does. A good place to begin to recognize the adversary is through knowledge of the seven core spiritual fears:
- There is not enough (money, safety, power, control, love, sex, things, fame, etc. etc. etc.)
- I have nothing significant to contribute
- I cannot (be and live as my truth)
- I am not loved
- I am not free to express my truth
- I do not know (my truth, my path)
- I am alone (or I can do it alone)
In the coming week, pay attention to when one (or several) of these fears is triggered. Recognize that it is Satan at work, trying to keep you from your path. Then use Jesus’ words to name the adversary and to actively set aside its temptation:
Get behind me Satan!
The most important virtue to cultivate is humility, for it is in being humble that all of the other virtues come to fruition – temperance, fortitude, mercy, love, generosity, and zeal. In cultivating humility, we acknowledge that we are nothing without God and that God knows, better than we do, what is best for us. In living humbly, we surrender our lives to God and to the path of our highest good that only God can know. In living humbly, we trust that even the challenges in our lives and the things that do not seem to be working for the good….are. In humility, we trust that God is working all of our life experiences for the good. Humility compels us to turn to God for guidance and direction and allows us to set aside our own ego attachments, wishes and desires to God’s guidance – no matter how challenging the path might appear. Humility leads to spiritual obedience which leads to the freedom God intends for us.
How are you cultivating the virtue of humility?
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
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.”
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)
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.
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?
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.
Today’s blog explores all the ways we resist our Soul – the unique way we are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment. Resistance includes all the inner and seemingly exterior obstacles the keep us from our spiritual and creative path and the path of our greatness…and it sometimes feels like nothing short of war.
There is a reason Joseph Campbell calls the journey to the Soul, the hero’s journey, and it is a good reason. In my experience, it is only the brave and truly courageous who have the moxie to endure, persist and survive the spiritual journey toward embracing and living SOUL. Soul is the unique way we are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose and connection in our lives. The purpose of Soul is to help us find fulfillment and in turn to help others find the same, thereby making our world a more peaceful, loving and harmonious place. The challenge is that in the journey toward Soul, we will encounter every possible reason, excuse, obstacle, fear, insecurity, worry, criticism for NOT following this path that the journey toward Soul sometimes feels like nothing short of war.
The War of Art
Author, Steven Pressfield, acknowledges the truth of the battle toward Soul in the title of his book, The War of Art. The journey to Soul often feels like a battle as we come face to face with every inner and seemingly outer obstacle to our enjoyment of our unique creative gift, drive and passion. First of all, we create every excuse for NOT tending to our Soul/art/gifts/passions including, “I don’t have enough time, money, education, support, resources, space, room, blah blah blah.” We also create all kinds of ridiculous stories in our heads like, “I’ll tend to my art when my husband, children, mother, father, sisters, the world, can fend for themselves and no longer need my attention and care,” or “I’m too old/young, it’s too late, I don’t have the right teachers, blah blah blah.” Or the most damaging and potentially threatening words to our art, “What if no one likes it?????” While we are entertaining all the voices in our head that tell us all the reasons we can’t or should not pursue our creative and spiritual dreams, somehow the universe gets in on the conversation and begins throwing challenges in our path. Let me tell you a little story to give you an idea of how this works….
The subtlety of resistance
Last night, I was given an opportunity to step into my Soul by facilitating my first workshop on creativity. The workshop was planned, I knew what and how I was going to present. As such, I had nothing to do during the day but the normal everyday things of bathing, cooking, cleaning, feeding my children, etc. Well, everything that could possibly go wrong with the simple everyday things of life did, and in the process, every one of my deepest insecurities and worries were triggered….all completely unrelated to this workshop (or so it would seem). The end result was me in a fit of rage, losing my temper with my kids and melting down in a flood of tears at the dining room table.
Get behind me Satan!
Author, Julie Tallard Johnson, in her book, Wheel of Initiation, refers to this seemingly exterior form of resistance as The Trickster and relates the trickster to the coyote (as an animal totem). Joseph Campbell refers to this exterior obstacle as the supernatural helper. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this adversary is known as Satan. (Read more about the exterior obstacle click HERE.) This exterior form of resistance is made up of all the things that seem to be outside of us that give us the opportunity to question, doubt, even cease the journey toward Soul. As my day seemed to be going to hell, I was confronted with every fear, worry, doubt about the path of Soul that I had been taking. As the sh..t was hitting the fan, I wondered, “should I throw it all in and get a ‘real’ job?” I doubted the current course of my path and wondered if I was good enough, capable enough or if I was once again barking up the wrong tree.” (for the record….I don’t really believe there is a wrong tree, but the trickster makes us think in that way!) The trickster showed up and I was caught up in the whirlwind of chaos it seeks to create.
The Irony of Resistance
The irony in all of this drama is that I didn’t realize it was the trickster of resistance until after the workshop – hindsight really is 20/20. After the meltdown at the kitchen table, I packed my kids off for their dad’s, headed off toward the workshop and facilitated one of the most well-attended and successful single evening workshops of my career. In attendance was an enthusiastic and open group of women, excited to awaken their latent creativity and open the door to their Soul which they did through poetry, prose and proclamation. It was an exciting and rewarding evening which also happened to benefit the local shelter for victims of domestic abuse. As Julie Tallard Johnsons reminds in The Wheel of Initiation, when the trickster shows up, it is there because something really amazing is about to happen. Last night was the perfect example of this truth and another reminder of the battle of arriving at Soul and the courage and tenacity needed for staying on the path.
How does resistance show up in your life?
How do you deal with resistance when it appears?
How do you move through the challenges of resistance?
SOUL is the unique way you are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose and connection. Soul, when engaged, leaves you feeling fulfilled, content and whole. My mission is to help you BIRTH YOUR SOUL. To schedule one-on-one mentoring, classes, workshops or retreats, call Lauri Ann Lumby at (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.