Tag Archives: devotions

Practicing Trust II

At some point into the third year of my intermittent guitar practice, I realize I will neither morph into Carlos Santana nor will I ever make the Rolling Stone’s top-fifty guitarists’ list.  Regrettably, this realization dampens my inclination to pick up and practice guitar rather than causing me to redouble my efforts.

Soon, the fine dust, which sifts through every room of active living, begins to collect on the curvaceous edges of my old friend’s body and her polished surfaces. The only time my old friend is dusted off is when we have our irregular dates which tend to fall on three-day weekends and during the holiday season, when I still like to muddle through several of my favorite Christmas carols.  

Spirituality

Less guitar practice produces more time for devotional meditation. Almost daily, during my devotional practice, I sit in silence waiting for some type of assignment to arise—whether it is an errand of selfless service or something having to do with selfcare. And, as these nudges regarding the directions of my time arise, I attempt to fulfill them.

Devotional work produces a tremendous amount of joy—whether it is handing-off a burrito to a homeless man, opening a door for someone with overly full arms or simply working in my yard to plant flowers. And, life experience has taught me to heed the wisdom of the timing, direction and instructions provide by Grace over my own limited and short-sighted sense.

Then, on one Christmas day while I am taking a quiet, solo walk through our neighborhood—five or six years and three states away from the time and place of my guitar’s acquisition, I happen upon two Latino men who are hard at work, putting the finishing touches on a front porch of intricately laid stone masonry.  

The neighbors and neighborhood are tucked in and out of the cold, while enjoying friends and relatives-either here or afar. Thus, it is amazingly silent. My connectivity to the Universal Thread remains undisturbed amid the silence and what feels like an open channel, without a trace of static.

I wonder to myself whether or not I should return home to fetch these men some of the scones I have just baked, when another directive comes through quite clearly, “Go get your guitar.”

In terms of Divine guidance, this is one of those instances where my Adam’s apple does an actual chin up and a large cartoon bubble appears above my head with the word G-U-L-P spelled out in all caps. Stunned by the relative magnitude of the request, I decide to walk home quickly and follow through on my leading, before I can over think it. On the way home, I remember that earlier this morning I asked God to help me become a reliable agent of Christ’s Grace. If handing my guitar off to these men causes me to fulfill my own request, then this is what I must do.

At home, I dust off my guitar and place my old friend in her case. With the guitar and case in hand, I walk briskly back to the house where the men have been working during their off hours, laboriously rehabilitating this once damaged structure over the past several months. Without almost any words, the guitar is handed off. I watch as one of the men places my old friend in the semi-heated shell of the house. Then, walking more slowly, I make my way back home.

After reentering our front door, I peel off my coat so that I may return to my meditation cushion. I need and want to understand what has happened.  

Intellectually, I know that the guitar is technically only an object. And, my guitar had certainly become an under-used and much neglected object. Yet, the degree of attachment that I had to the guitar was far more profound than I had anticipated, given the emotions I am dealing with upon its relinquishment. In working through some of my heart’s emotional discomfort, I remind myself about the importance of needing to trust—of practicing Trust.

Then, in a sliver of space between my milling thoughts, the Divine reassurance that I need comes, “The guitar will keep someone from seeking comfort in drugs or alcohol.”

With this reassurance, everything becomes a little brighter and my Spirit finally settles down. Happy Christmas to All!

Spiritual Invitation III

I awoke this morning to see a single, male cardinal stopping to check on the sunflowers which I had planted seven weeks ago. Immediately after the cardinal’s departure, I observed two pair of mating Baltimore orioles, in vibrant yellow and black, come dancing ecstatically through the air to land—in inquisitive gesture—on the same flowers.  The yellow petals on the sunflowers’ broad heads were all newly opened; each flower head tilted in perfect formation toward the early morning sun. All velvety, brown eyes gazed intently upward.

The depth and vibrancy of the colors on this natural set, as well as the movement around my small, garden’s viewing stage, brought me more pleasure in a few moments than my attendance to any extended, anticipated or formal human exhibition.  The path to this moment had been an interesting one, taken in an effort to explore the concept of spiritual invitation.

Spirituality

Spiritual invitation is what we do when we make conscious decisions about the things we want to let into our daily lives, assuming we have the privilege of a broad range of life-style choices.

In first-world countries, after our basic needs have been met, many of us live our lives in a pattern similar to this:  go to work; collect a paycheck; shop for stuff; manage (clean, arrange, exchange, rearrange and dispose of) stuff; go to sleep; then, repeat.  Even the sacred act of eating, in an overly habituated pattern of living, becomes dull and underappreciated.  When living on autopilot, we fail to taste the flavors and the miracle of a full plate of food.

Our household voluntarily chose a more simplified material life in order to create time for devotional work.  Yet, there was a point at which, during my morning meditations–when addressing an emptiness in my heart, I was clearly being encouraged to revisit my aesthetic life.

As I first began exploring the issue of allowing aesthetic expression to reenter my life, my background in fine arts would have prescribed for me a return to the making of discrete art objects.  I questioned stepping back onto this path, as I knew well the cycle of behaviors that often accompany this form of object-based, aesthetic activity. Emotionally, this road to aesthetic expression felt worn and narrow.

Interestingly enough, the question, inside of me, became something like this: “How can I cast a wider and more inclusive net for my aesthetic expression than I have cast before, have this expression be of service to others and not harm the environment?”  What most people do not realize is how very environmentally costly and often damaging most fine-art making is.

Originally, the limited definition I had in place for the concept of “others” was a stumbling block, because I had continued to think of service and serving in terms of helping a human population.  But, when I began to think in broader, environmental terms, I realized my specific needs for aesthetic expression, Beauty, environmentally conscionable work and service could all be combined and met with a more carefully planned garden, which would honor as extensive a local pollinator and bird population as I could, given my time and space circumstances.

Thus, as we  explore our individual questions about spiritual invitation—what we would like to invite into our daily lives—we must remember to take a broad approach to the definitions of the words we choose to use—both in terms of questions and in terms of intuited answers, remembering that Grace will provide the most incredibly well tailored solutions to sincere inquiries.