Surrendering to Grace
"I wish I could understand why I so often change myself, trying to please others, and gain their approval of who I am. Right now, the fear of meeting with someone's disapproval seems so small compared to the fears I've had to face to come here and stick it out. Does the river try to please a tree? Does the bird try to please a stone? In nature, things are simply who or what they are. A tree, trying to please the river, would be ridiculous. I imagine a tree trying to edge itself over so it can place shade in a different spot. The notion is silly. But I wonder . . . isn't that what I do? What if I put all my energy and power into being me, instead of someone else's version of me? . . .
"As I watch the canyon wren or inspect the improbable flowers blooming in this rocky soil, I hear God saying, 'I will supply your needs.' I guess I cling to people and things because I do not trust that fully enough. I really don't believe that nothing generates with me, and everything begins and ends with God's bounty. I pray for a new consciousness which knows the truth that none of us are separate and everything comes from God."
— Gift of the Red Bird: A Spiritual Encounter
A New Set of Eyes
"I resist my own awakening. I push hard against that for which I most deeply long. I sense, deep within, that there is more: more to know, more to experience, more reality than my careful definitions of God. I intuit larger places, and a greater meaning to being 'born again' than only the assent of the heart.
"But when the invitation comes to step past comfortable conclusions, my usual response is not to run toward this newness, but instead, to be afraid. In fact, to cling even harder to the ideas that keep God a careful object of study, not a Subject who will totally change the way I experience my life.
"To awaken is not about staying in the same place and seeing, from there, new vistas. Nor is it about having enlightened insights, or realizing new thoughts or ideas. It is to find myself in the new vista, looking back at my former life with an entirely new set of eyes. It is, literally, to be changed; the spirit within becomes my sight."
— A New Set of Eyes: Encountering the Hidden God
Guaranteed Ways to Miss the Hidden God
"1. LIVE your life at high speed. No exceptions. Run hard.
2. STAY scattered and distracted. The more clutter and activity, the better.
3. TAKE everything personally. Never evaluate. Agree.
4. USE blame liberally. It's so invigorating. I wasn't responsible, you were. Everything's your fault.
5. DON'T laugh, especially at yourself.
6. STAY tied to your past. Elevate it to greatness. Live remembering and longing. Or missing. Why do it halfway? Go for it.
7. USE the word 'because.' 'I can't change, because.' Because is so little appreciated as a solvent for responsibility. Try using because. This will work.
8. NEVER question or think for yourself. Just keep moving and accepting. (Refer to #1 and #3.)
9. CONTINUE to think of God as invisible and distant. Surely not present in this room. At this moment. Not while I'm reading a book.
10. REINFORCE the belief that your life is going to happen soon. This is not it, not yet. But one day. Maybe when I finish reading."
— Sacred Threshold: Crossing the Inner Barrier to a Deeper Love
Love Breaks Through
"I began volunteering as a counselor in that prison, and this same woman came to see me several times. The sessions were always the same. Few words would be spoken. We simply sat together. But in that sitting, a sense of caring grew. I learned that she had lost two children in a single accident and had no money to bury them properly. She committed a crime in order to pay for their caskets. She looked at me as she told me that story.
"I was painfully aware that we were two souls thrown together by chance in a god-forsaken, rundown room in a federal prison. Even the room's single plant was fighting for life. Without speaking, our hearts knew one another's capacity for pain. The spirit within me looked at her without judgment. I knew that life was hard. Very hard. I knew that pain had long tentacles and that I was looking at a soul for whom pain had exceeded the limit she could bear. I saw her, and there was no longer any choice. In that seeing came Love.
"The little room became a place of communion. There was no bread, and wine was forbidden. There was darkness and brokenness, and also immeasurable light. I can't describe all that we glimpsed. I can only say that we were looking from a different place, deep within each of us.
"Everything is identified with Love, a Love that flows through everything, filling everything. We just can't see it.
"Only from the place of spirit does Love become visible. Everything else is desire."
— Seeking With All My Heart: Encountering God's Presence Today