appreciation

By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you've achieved - and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses - you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments. - Jack Canfield

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Appreciation is the art of recognising or understanding that something is valuable and important. The hidden agenda of its handiwork is to illicit an ongoing response of gratitude and thankfulness in our lives. By maintaining this posture on an ongoing basis we can potentially reconstitute our attitude and recalibrate our personhood. When we focus on the finer details of life rather than finer things of life it moves us towards a healthy level of contentment that supports a balanced framework of human flourishing.

If we all devoted more time and energy to finding the merit and benefit in what we have, rather than what we don’t have we would be less distracted by the emotionally draining dissatisfaction that easily creeps into our entitled and self-indulgent attitude. My western world addiction to a materialistic consumerism can so easily overwhelm my sensibilities, preoccupying my thoughts with a need for more rather than choosing to accept my current status as a true reflection of reality.

When get caught up in the collective gluttony of overconsumption it feeds our stinginess and selfishness robbing us of the rich fruitfulness that generosity has to offer. Appreciation has a more open hearted and inclusive world view where sharing becomes the standard for a healthy society. When you really appreciate what you have been given to steward it becomes mutually pleasurable for all concerned.

Appreciation is the byproduct of a rich contentment and a radical generosity that come together to conjure up a new modality of human practice. To Survive in the dog-eat-dog world of the human ego we will need to navigate through our natural pre-dispositional lean toward self-centredness and self preservation, learning to trust that the universe has our back. Our FOMO (fear of missing out) can also distort our view of reality if we keep comparing our situation with others. Comparison depreciates the value of appreciation.

When I was growing up I was taught to say those magic words of 'please and thank-you', the universal protocols for comportment that promote a deeper appreciation for the contribution that others make to your life. Due to the fact that gratefulness takes a while to bed into the human psyche I am still learning to listen and lean into the prompts and cues that reciprocity invites me into.

The formation of a relational etiquette nourishes a healthy emotional IQ, a crucial component in the maturation of our appreciation skills. Peter Salovey an American social psychologist suggests that emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor one's own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour.

Empathy, which is typically associated with EI, because it relates to an individual connecting their personal experiences with those of others becomes the driving force behind how we guide our energies towards the mutual practice of appreciation. As I give and receive empathy it builds rapport, increases sensitivity and stimulates sympathy toward one another, the underlying virtues of how appreciation shapes a healthy society.

What you've given me I could never return

'Cause there's so much girl I've yet to learn

And I want to show my appreciation, cause when I found you

I found a new inspiration

Oh, oh! heaven must have sent you from above

Oh, heaven must have sent your precious love.

- Marvin Gaye; Your Precious Love

life

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ― Mary Oliver

There is no handbook for doing life, no perfect step by step guide that successfully plots a course for your future well-being.

The religious world has its sacred scriptures, often touted as a spiritual road code that can successfully answer all the big questions or navigate you through all the big issues. While these texts are helpful they are not so much an owners manual but a historical overview that conveys how humans have sought to understand the nature of providence and its part to play in their becoming. The beauty of these ancient texts is that they have fuelled the idea of why prayer is the contemplative conduit that negotiates the human/divine interaction. Unfortunately prayer got distorted along the way and turned into a transactional governor for divine intervention as we tried to cope with our uncertainty and apprehension around the misgivings that life would often throw at us. Rather than learning to accept the conundrums that came across our path we resorted to praying them away, so to speak, an adventure in missing the point for why prayer was given to us in the first place.

On another note the self help world of success merchants and gurus have their platitudes and mantras of positivity, guaranteeing favourable outcomes if we stick to their script which too often over-promise results, especially to the privileged. This often feeds into our narcissistic and self-indulgent appetites exposing the ever growing gap between the haves and have nots.

Whichever manuscript you adhere to it will always help in some way but not fully deliver, because life does not work to a set pattern/promise of a one-size-fits-all standard of outcomes. At best we are making this up as we go along, guided by the wisdom of our forebears who have endeavoured to unpack the mystery of life on a quotidian basis. As one poet said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow as today has enough going on to keep your anxiety satisfied”

Mary Olivers mantra is one that we all should take some time to unpack, proverbial wisdom that seems to scream common sense on so many levels:

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“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

Paying attention is the art of noticing all the moving parts of life as they invite us into the web of their assimilation. It's more than a concentrated observation exercise but a challenge to consider how the energy that flows all around us is a divine summons to participate in the great cosmic game plan. When my sensory awareness is being constantly stimulated by my surroundings it is a provocation to contemplate the great mystery of how the beauty of life within me is connecting me to the higher purpose of the life all around me. My attention needs to be constantly refocussed on the universal cues that are ushering me into its holy enterprise. Treating everything with a holy reverence may be the only answer available to our struggling species, a call to discern the signs of the times.

Being astonished is when we are surprised by the unveiling of beauty that life constantly offers us. It leads us into a greater appreciation for what we have and don't have. Astonishment feeds a hunger for wonder and amazement, a salve for the boring and mundane that often creeps into our circumstances and relationships. We can so easily get stuck in the same habits and rituals that bear little fruit, ultimately smothering the child like wonder in us. Habits and rituals are the structures that give us stability and surety for sure, but they need to be constantly resourced with new energy and imagination if we are to appreciate their place in our lives. To be astonished is when the magnificent collides with the mundane creating new dynamics of possibility for the old ways that potentially can become the new. Serendipity and coincidence are the catalysts for astonishment, a reminder that there is a complex web of intrigue working behind the scenes on your behalf

When awareness and wonder coalesce in our life we are provided with a new chapter in our narrative, a reading that invites our unsuspecting public to hear the new storyline. The language of this latest sub plot is an interactive welcome mat for others to join the conversation. If I choose to interact with others about the life that I am now experiencing then I am vicariously reproducing myself through others. This kind of social intercourse is what the mystics called ‘oneness’ the ultimate outcome for my existence.


relationship

Torah doesn’t call upon us to believe in God but to have a relationship 'to God’. Belief is a number of ideas that I ascribe to. Any ideas about God are so small compared to Gods presence. Rather it is relationship…knowing God. Hebrew word for knowing is ‘intimate knowing’. Intimate connection to the presence that is at the core of our life, that is moving through everything, here and right now. God is relationship itself. There is a ‘Midrash’ on the first words of Genesis… ‘In the beginning God created relationship’… Relationship is at the centre of all creation…We have been taught that we are individuals, free standing individuals that choose to be in relationship or not. Torah teaches that we are here for relationship..relationship precedes us being here.. it is hard wired into us. You can’t not have it…you can however have a bad version of it. There is no free standing ‘I’ and ‘thou’ but 'I-thou’. - Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev…

There is a unique coupling that occurs in the Genesis narrative of our sacred scriptures...heaven and earth, light and darkness, night and day, humans and animals, male and female. It gives us a glimpse into the beautiful nature of relationship as a reflection of God. All of life is made for some kind of connection and communion as it seeks to evolve and expand us in its fruitful dynamism. The ancient words of be 'fruitful and multiply’ would become the divine mantra of reverence that would overlay the human journey of maturation.

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“God is absolute relatedness. I would name salvation as simply the readiness, the capacity, and the willingness to stay in relationship.” - Richard Rohr. Divine Dance

The art of navigating the trajectory of our relational journey is the one true purpose for why we are created in the image and likeness of transcendence. All the way through our religious narrative are stories about the radical nature of relationship as it interacts around togetherness and apart-ness, acceptance and rejection, conflict and resolution. The Genesis garden moment of temptation is a reflection of our inevitable propensity to sacrifice our relational integrity on the altar of individuality. What better reminder do we need to highlight the importance of solidarity as a holy virtue.

My independence is confronted daily by the spirit of interdependence that relationship constantly brings to the table. When I find myself bifurcated and disorientated inside, which is an quotidian experience, salvific grace comes to me over and over again with a redemptive invitation to enter back into a unified wholeness. That wholeness is the transformation that occurs when I commit myself to some kind of collective action and engagement with others.

‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’*[From the Cretan philosopher Epimenides] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’*[From the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus] - Acts 17

When St Paul finds himself in Athens on Mars Hill sharing the gospel with his Greek audience he borrows a few lines from the local poets, poems that were primarily about Zeus and his relationship with humanity. The brilliance of this inclusive stroke of genius highlights the nature of mission as a restorative move to reconnect cultures and collectively combine the wisdom of their narratives as a way to redeem and restore relationship. Historically we have presented this as a proselytising pitch that confronts the heathen cultures presenting the good news of Jesus as an evacuation strategy for afterlife assurance. Paul however, reminds us that the spirit of christ has been working in people way before the Jesus narrative arrived on the scene .

This suggests that relationship with God always been alive and well on planet earth, we just didn't know the full extent of its inclusive nature. To quote Paul in his letter to the Colossians...The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

“God has always been in relationship to us, journeying with us, and yearning to be known by us.” ― Marcus J. Borg, The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion To A More Authentic Contemporary Faith

To be human means that you can never not be in relationship with God, even though that relationship can be under developed on so many levels. Yearning is the inquisitive interest that percolates inside of our intuitive curiosity, the desire to experience intimacy in more in-depth ways. We often move from one surface thrill to the next trying to capture the essence of closeness and love like a one night stand rather take the plunge into the deep well of oneness and transformation, realising the transcendent nature of relationship is primarily understood through the lens of human interplay, reciprocity and commitment.

When we pursue a deeper and more vulnerable posture of closeness and connectedness we create space for a very ‘present’ God that empowers and energises our bond. One theologian said that the holy spirit is the love between the father and son the electrical surge that creates a bond of mutual interpenetration and shared experience, resulting in an increased impact on human consciousness.

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” ― Martin Buber

God is relationship itself, the electrical current that flows through all matter empowering every point of connection that tethers us to another. We can feel this electricity in deliberate acts of self giving love or even statically as we brush up alongside others who we might be deliberately trying to resist attachment with. The core building block of all things is the atom, the smallest constituent unit of ordinary matter, an eternal signature that is the metaphorical base for all everlasting life.

Your life is a collection of momentary meetings that seek to enlarge your view of others and otherness. Every time that you choose to intentionally notice and engage with a significant other you enhance your relational capacity and go deeper into the mystery of togetherness. Relationship is hard wired into the universe, an intrinsic force that that honours the divine purpose for why we live, move, and have our being.



darkness

"Even The Bright Beautiful Moon Has Its Dark Side Which It Keeps Hidden All The Time....”

― Muhammad Imran Hasan

When I was a young boy the dark night was a terrifying reality, the unseen realm often enflaming my imagination with illusory possibilities that would rarely seem to eventuate. And while I was often reminded by those older than me that there was nothing to fear it didn’t stop me from constantly looking over my shoulder or hiding under the blankets. It seemed that I was much safer with the reassuring clarity that the dawn would unveil. The warmth of sister sun was a more comfortable reality than the moodiness of brother moon. It took me well into my adult life to realise that the light didn't actually dispense my fears but merely held them in check until I faced them again and made friends with their part to play in my maturation.

The natural darkness that comes to me in real time is Creation's sign of how life is counter balanced with light and dark, in order to support and sustain the rich place that mystery needs as it teaches me how to trust and reach out for help. Ironically, my introduction to religion did its best to demonise the darkness, somehow extricate it from my heart and mind all the while promoting God as its oppositional force that was only interested in coherence, lucidity, and certainty for my spiritual development. Religions uncomfortable connection with the natural world has often set it at odds with one another, reinforcing a dualistic mindset that lives in an opposing world of antithetical contrast. Reconnecting with nature has helped me to come to a beautiful realisation that my unfounded fears and doubts are actually an important part of the human experience that I need to listen to.

One particular question that often reverberates in my mind is….'What is darkness saying and doing in your life right now and how do I learn to listen to its wisdom'?

William Blake: Jobs dark night of the soul.

William Blake: Jobs dark night of the soul.

Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping, Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain, Still remains

Within the sound of silence. Songwriter: Paul Simon

The darkness we feel inside is a mix of emotion and frustration that occurs when we are unable to control outcomes or manage our own well-being in a way that seems appropriate. We flounder in the space of ‘not knowing’; what to do or how to change things in order be more comfortable in our own skin. While there are a myriad of helpful support structures out there that can assist us on our journey we owe it to ourselves to build a bigger inner world of self assurance and awareness that enables grace to do its work in us. When St Paul was struggling with his dark moment (thorn in the flesh…whatever that was?) the reassurance of God within came to give him the grace to cope. Cope not cure. Maybe coping is the cure for most of us? Whatever the case it’s not exactly an answer that we would have liked if it was us.

Grace is the silent partner of God that arrives to sustain us in our time of need rescuing our minds from the catastrophizing that so easily occurs in these intolerable situations.

Silence is not the absence of sound but the calming presence of the transcendent that comes to grace our life with reassurance and hopefulness. Its volume is the deep hum of reconstitution that sees our darkness as an attractive friend.

Learning to listen for her arrival will ease your insecurities and remind you that are not alone in your dark night of the soul.

interdependence

"Jesus puts healed people back on themselves, never creating any kind of dependency or codependency on him that will keep them from their own empowerment.” - Richard Rohr


Religious passion has been responsible for creating a distorted type of false humility that carries the tag line of, “its not about me but all about you”, where our humanity is diminished and seen as slightly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We postulate a fervour that worships the name rather than the essence of how that name finds its identity in us. The big idea of worship has always been about an interaction that draws from mutual response and continuous interconnection. When I choose to be deeply associated with something that is bigger than I can comprehend, the divine spark in me is forever seeking to finds its source of meaning in reciprocity.

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The early Church Fathers and Mothers used a theological term, ‘theosis or divinisation’ to try and describe the joining together of the natural and spiritual in holy union. This was a shared participation in a new kind of belonging, a dance that would require a backward and forwards movement from both parties in order to conjure up a comfortable repose of complimentarianism.

Our discomfort with the idea of a deep divine connection has been affected by the idea of ‘original sin’, the concept that humanity is fundamentality ‘sinful’ or ‘depraved’ and unable to really comprehend deep oneness. The very fact that God chose to incarnate in human form is a reminder of the unique and undeniable beauty that resides within our original goodness. The idea of a Saviour is more about an internal reconnection and an invitation to actively participate in the ongoing work of theosis rather than a rescue from some kind of punitive judgement. Our ignorance of this reality has given way to a self flagellation of sorts, where we have taken a dim view of our potential, pouring cold water on any kind of confidence in human evolution. Because of the conundrum of evil we have opted for an original corruption hermeneutic rather than an original goodness hermeneutic which is partly understandable given the state of human behaviour, however this fatalistic mindset is both short sighted and pessimistic if we are to have a high view of hopefulness.

Even with an optimistic view of our potential we all need moments of healing to occur in order to be reorientated towards the divine distinction of our makeup, taking notice of the experiences of love, empathy, kindness, generosity and such like, the sacred reminder of our true self. The good in us is far greater than any not-so-good that tries to dominate proceedings as long as we understand the power of interdependence and its catalytic power in our lives.

Thus interdependence is fuelled by a goodness that resides in our mutual need for each other, a hard-wired default for companionship at some level. Aloneness is not an option if we are to make it in a world where we are surrounded by a survival of the fittest mentality. Our reliance on each other levels the playing field, unless we decide to climb the hierarchical ladder of competition and comparison that feeds our ego and false self.

“There is no "I" as such apart from others.” ― Gyomay M Kubose

Maybe the real obstacle is our independence, the wilfulness of our individuality that tries to go it alone, defiantly assuming that we can do life without the help and support of others? While I am very happy to have my rights and express myself with relative freedom I am also aware that it can be unhelpful and annoying for others to experience my defiant self-sufficiency, which ultimately ends up taking rather than giving to the greater good.

Interdependence is a posture of respect for the other, for those who we must acknowledge our need of and willingly invite into our private worlds. For this to happen we will all need to allow some kind of healing to happen around our mistrust and suspicion of others motives. This is the lifelong journey of acknowledging a predisposition towards leaning away from that which could potentially help our maturation. It starts with a sacred other, an incarnation of God in human flesh who relentlessly pursues my attention and affection, someone who refuses to let me go as I learn to dance in submissive unison with another.

“All have their worth and each contributes to the worth of the others.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

discernment

To distinguish or recognise the difference between competing options is a lifelong quest that involves making choices and decisions that define certain outcomes.

Discernment is the delicate art of sifting through all of the the possible alternatives that arrive on our doorstep, the somewhat slow and arduous task of analysis that can often be a long drawn out process that requires more than one voice of reason and wisdom. Our ability to choose can often be held ransom by fateful experiences that appear out of nowhere, completely overwhelming our sensibilities by over-complicating the situation.

As my life unfolds I have come to realise that as a somewhat responsible citizen I am not dictating the outcomes alone, but that there is a greater force at work behind the scenes testing my resolve and willingness to submit to some kind of providential grace. This mystery energises my inquisitive interest and commitment to a destiny or purpose that is hard wired into my genes.

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Discernment understands the tension of balancing a tentative acknowledgement of the known and unknown as they challenge for our attention and intentional response. Reason and wisdom often arbitrate on our behalf endeavouring to minimise the damage that our irrational and impulsive reactions can cause.

In times of uncertainty our instinctive primal self can often revert to an apprehensive over load of anxious thought that can so easily misjudge and misread the setting giving way to confusion and conflictive over- reactions. The heart of discernment knows this and attempts to help us recline back into the deep inner sanctum of contemplation and rest that regulates and guardians our soul.

In order for discernment to do her best work in our lives we must learn how to let wisdom unravel the various alternatives that appear on the scene, s-l-o-w-l-y processing life from an unhurried place. What we often feel needs our immediate attention can be a smoke screen, a distracting ruse that is disguising a deeper purpose of recalibration that needs some extended time in order to assist in our maturation.

I've written to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. But they're no match for what is embedded deeply within you—Christ's anointing, no less! You don't need any of their so-called teaching. Christ's anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught. - St John

At the heart of our discernment development is the need to listen to the voice of purpose that resides within. The ancient poets believed that there is an ‘abiding divine presence’ in all of us, the christ mystery, a hum of reverence that needs to be acknowledged and articulated if we are to fully comprehend the complexities of our mortal and immortal selves. While external wisdom is absolutely crucial and cannot be substituted by a wilful independence and arrogance we must all ultimately learn to trust our conscience and intuition if we are to be fully self aware and self sufficient.

Discernment is an innate fixture in our makeup, a catalyst that is working to help us become who we already are. Listen and lean into her promptings.

gravity

‘Our indifference can sometimes render the gravity of the moment inconsequential’

Life is an unfolding sequence of events that throws all kinds of surprises in our direction. Some of them are exciting and enthralling, others are tumultuous terrifying. Learning to navigate the terrain becomes our challenge as we attempt to discern and respond to what appears on our radar. On numerous occasions I have been amused by my lackadaisical attitude and apathetical reaction to what drifts into my immediate geography, perhaps a symptom of the first world entitlement that has become my lot in life.

The art of noticing appreciates the gravity of the current situation, holding us in check long enough to process all the stimuli that is trying to apprehend our attention.

Gravity is a natural unexplainable phenomena that holds me in place demanding that I pay attention to that which keeps me grounded, restraining me momentarily so that I can concentrate on the footprint that life has afforded me. Gravity also dictates my place in the universe as it relates to all other matter, the push and pull of those universal elements helping to include me in a creation dance that moves to a divine rhythm of sorts.


Sir Isaac Newton concluded that gravity is only understood if we attribute it some kind of intelligent divine agency. The sheer grandeur of its powerful influence defines the trajectory and life flow of the planets as they interrelate and interact as circulating galactic bodies. How much more so you and I?

Religion as my go to spiritual narrative has attempted to provide some explainable logic around the forces that govern my life. While a large chunk of it still remains a mystery, every now and then its riddle offers a plausible solution to the conundrums that my mind battles with.

When Jesus attempted to give God a human face he did it by sometimes defying the laws of nature in order that the restrictions could be lifted on our myopic thinking around para-normal activity. His transcendent party tricks included turning water into wine, waking on water and healing miracles of all descriptions, to name just a few. While I am still a little agnostic about said events I think it is the only way we get a behind-the-scenes look at another way the world/universe might work.

Tapping into that reality has been the pursuit of many a mystic, constantly knocking on the doors that attempt to open our understanding to new realms of spiritual experience.

Montauk Beach

Montauk Beach

‘Be still and know that I am God’ -Psalmist

Maybe we need to take a moment and let gravity have her way with us, not so much as a physical but as a spiritual phenomena. Her hold is one of ‘pause’ or ‘stillness’ where we are asked to pay attention more often, especially to the little things that happen all around us. God is not so much a super being that dictates the laws of nature but the ground of all being that demands our need for concentrated communion.

The frenetic pace that we often find ourselves living at can cause us to miss some profound experiences of the divine. Miracles happen to us everyday if we care to notice. Maybe the Jesus story was trying to highlight this by reminding us that all the ingredients for the miraculous are hiding in plain sight, slowly doing their work. The divine is not so much about intervention but more so about invention. We have been given the power to discover new ways of working with the laws that we thought were fixed in concrete, a closed set so to speak. Maybe things are more fluid and flexible than we actually realise. When we come together as a human race our combined inventiveness can rework the laws of nature…a.k.a space travel.

We all want a quick fix to our problems, a fast track to success or a supernatural sign that God is with us. God is the gravity that holds me, a reminder that water will eventually turn into wine if I learn the ways of fermentation, that walking on water is possible if I have something more buoyant to support me and maybe miracles can even happen in our bodies when we give our immune system the respect she deserves. If we pause long enough and abide in the ground that is our being we might begin to notice that which holds us in its grasp and potentially be surprised by what happens when we least expect it.

‘Its only when gravity starts to take over you begin to think about your body’ - David Soul

spirit

‘All that is seen and all that is unseen can only be comprehended if we adopt a posture of faith'

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There is something in all of us that is intuitively aware of a spiritual or nonmaterial dimension to our existence. Our psychic self is constantly drawn to the paranormal possibilities that mysteriously guide our inquisitiveness and wonder. For many of us religion has been a proactive supporter of our inner journey, historically formulating traditions that have attempted to encourage and assist our sacred pilgrimage of discovery.

A common thread that has dominated historical thought is that we are a fusion of two dimensions of reality, the unseen and the seen, a mysterious signature of otherness and this-ness that amalgamate to shape our consciousness.

The ancient poets and mystics describe us as a synthesis of heaven and earth, a combination dust and breath that somehow integrate to form the living soul of our existence.

There is much conjecture around the biological and non-biological nature of who we are as a species but our deep inner contemplative predisposition keeps bringing us back to the instinctive idea of humans as divine image bearers.

As a human race we are slowly becoming comfortable with the proposal that mystery is a beautiful descriptor for the divine that creatively works behind the scenes shaping our makeup.

Our spirituality is not a seperate component to who we are but an intrinsic essence that connects us internally and externally to the wonder of all matter. In my early days of religious exploration i was introduced to a compartmentalised idea of spirit, a secret chamber or part of me which was dormant or dead and needed awakening via some kind of supernatural experience. At first I accepted this dualistic view but have come to realise that I have always been spiritually alive yet somewhat unaware of what that could mean from a divine perspective. My embrace of the christian narrative was salvific, not because I received my afterlife evacuation assurance but because I began to understand the ramifications of what it might mean to experience ‘eternal’ life as a transcendent interconnection that honours my immortality.

All of the components were hidden within me but needed a moment of para-normal awakening that would introduce me to a providence that would re-define my place in the world.

If everything is spiritual then my life deserves to be delivered from the disconnection that my ignorance has supported. Religion does not make me spiritual, it merely provides me with a platform to find my place in a long history of fellow explorers who have considered the possibility of other worlds and other ways of being.

The air that we breathe is natures metaphor for the invisible realm that energises and animates our lives. Science has helped us to understand the profound importance of how our bodies are fuelled for survival, maybe religion will one day help us to be comfortable with our divine likeness as spirit beings. Not so much by way of institutional adherence but by way of constitutional wholeness and human flourishing.

To be spiritual is to acknowledge that life moves to a rhythm that is hard to define and even harder to articulate. Learning to articulate transcendence is a steep learning curve that many choose to disengage with due to performance expectations that are built on a divine-human divide that occurred at some point in history, evoking in us a abnormal view of our mortality.

Faith is the doorway that leads us back to an understanding of our true identity. If we open that door and accept who we are we will understand whose we are.

Take a deep breath and feel the resonance of spirit life pulsating inside as it reconnects you with all things.

“You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next’. That's the way it is with everyone ‘born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” -St John

pathways

Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking. ― Antonio Machado, Borders of a dream: Selected Poems.

There is a romantic idealism in all of us that conjures up altruistic notions of a divine will for our lives that snuggly fits into a perfectly designed prescriptive, that it is only attainable if you act according to certain rules of engagement. Any deviation from the guidelines could cause you to be somewhat disappointed or destined to live out life at a below par existence. A plan B of sorts.

For example, the theory of a plan A that often over-promises a divine providence has also crept into our relational constructs by touting the idea of a ‘soul mate’ as one single individual who has the perfect mix of genes and personality to fulfil your dreams and match your wildest expectations.

Life is not a perfectly scripted or predestined agenda from on high but an often random and wonderfully risky adventure of discovery that includes some chaos and clarity all jumbled together. We have to somehow trust that our decision making process is guided by the transcendent inclination of free will that is intrinsically hard wired into all of us. God is not so much an extrinsic interventionist but an intrinsic chaperone that works in tandem with our conscience, intuition, intellect, emotions and longings.

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” ― Garth Nix, Sabriel

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The pathway of our unfolding life is a medley of instinctive calls that are a blend of experimental possibilities involving some outrageous guesswork and some courageous risk taking. Sometimes I feel like my life is a exercise in happenstance where I am bumping into opportunities and odd moments as I clumsily stumble into my becoming. The trajectory I find myself on has somehow been waiting for me to cotton on and enjoy the surroundings. Life always finds a way to include you in its purpose, even if that purpose has a degree of tragedy involved. Some days I feel like a constant conundrum of dissonance, where I am surprised by moments of amazement and at other times perplexed by the scenarios that emerge of which I feel powerless to rectify or reconcile. There is no perfect screenplay for my journey or way to avoid the danger and detours around the obstacles that test my resolve and willingness to trust the process.

“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” ― Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana

Someone once said that 'all-things-work-together-for-the-good.’ This is not so much a good that we self prescribe based on our societal expectations or cultural preferences, but one that has been hidden in the incarnation of God that we call life. The word ‘good' is such a loaded term, severely biased by an interpretation that resists or refuses to include difficulty or uncertainty in the blend.

The pathways we all walk are a combination of the good and not-so-good moments, experiences that enlarge our capacity to be comfortable with the broad range of emotions that emerge when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. The good news is that we are not alone on this journey, many others are accompanying us along the way. It pays to slow the pace sometimes and interact with those who you find in this new space. By sharing the weight of your thoughts and concerns you are inviting others in to share the wisdom of their pilgrimage and somehow give you strength for the moment.

There is no sign that says 'stick to the path', you make the path as you put one foot in front of the other. Step out and trust the ground beneath your feet.

‘Blessed are those who lives are roads (pathways) you travel...'

rescue

I'd like to rescue people in trouble, like Superman.   - Sheridan Smith

As a child my imagination considered all the possibilities of another life, one that was far more interesting and exciting than the suburban space which seemed to somehow limit my untapped potential. Comic books were the go to narrative that introduced me to larger than life characters who performed amazing feats, rescuing damsels in distress and saving the world from the evil endeavours of our societal arch-enemies. Deep inside the psyche of all romantic idealists is a desire to make a difference and find some sense of recognition and meaning. We are all wired with the longing for significance and the need to feel important and valued in a world that is exponentially enlarging, all the while devaluing the uniqueness of our individuality.

To 'rescue another' is a basic drive of the human condition, to feel that rush of adrenaline which elevates your capacity to engage in some kind of significant transformation on someone else's behalf.

Design by witterworks

Design by witterworks

While I may never fly faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive, or be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound I am still uniquely wired for some kind of remarkable impact on the world around me. Rescue cannot be about trying to fix everything and everyone or trying to create some kind of utopian society that aligns beliefs and behaviours, but rather a deeper consideration for how I can contribute to those around me with some kind of purposeful resolve.

We don’t really need super heroes we just need ordinary people to be super sensitive to the needs in front of them. If we all paid attention to the obvious around us it might just prompt a measured response of unified contribution. Humans are capable of super-human feats especially when they combine their talents in a non-competitive or combative way.

When I was a young kid I remember being rescued by a surf life saver while caught in a rip at a popular surf beach. That feeling of being hoisted out of the water by this god of the ocean gave me huge respect for those who serve the public and give their time to maintain our safety. It also embedded in me an empathy for those in distress, traumatised by uncontrollable circumstance. Maybe we never really rescue another until we have experienced it for ourselves? Perhaps then rescue might just be about letting someone else in in order to remind us that we were not meant to be doing life alone. And not to magically change our circumstances, but to give us the courage to persevere in order to find our own freedom. You cant rescue someone from themselves…this is for them to do.

Over the centuries humans have sought to create rescue strategies that would try to solve the universal mystery of evil. Religion took on the responsibility of universal salvation for all, touting itself as the answer for the dilemma of human self-destruction. We created institutions that would monitor and manage peoples rescue trajectories and in turn set in place a hierarchy of authority that would oversee the purity of our conduct so we wouldn’t displease the gods and be banished to some kind of eternal separation. We made afterlife promises that were inflated by reward schemes all the while struggling to help people live this life well. This system created a co-dependant addiction that made God our rescuer from the conundrums of life itself.

God is not my get-out-of-jail-free card, a rescuer who frees me from my humanity, but rather one who enters into my humanity in order to help me embrace the paradox that life is.

“I don’t see it as my role to save or rescue anybody any more than regular people feel the need to rescue each other from sleeping and dreaming.” ― Jed McKenna