story

‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live’ - Joan Didion

Recently while at a story telling retreat we were asked the question. “If you right now were to tell the story of your life what would be the first sentence be”?

The narrative of our lives is a collection of memories drawn from experiences that have contributed to our present reality. Those recollections are a mixture of pain and pleasure, highlights and low-lights drawn from a broad spectrum of occasion that have all weaved their way into the sub-plot of our ongoing drama.

When we look back at how things have unfolded we all tend to reminisce the good old times and yet the truth be told a huge proportion of us suffer from regret and rue the day things happened the way they did. We ponder questions like, what would life had been like if I was born into a different family or if I lived in a different country, had chosen an alternative career path, met a certain someone..would any of that have taken me down a different path and made my existence more fulfilling?

Our Stories are at the mercy of providence, the transcendent author of destiny who smiles or grimaces on our journey depending on what she deems best for us. For the sensitive, anxious, and highly strung, trusting this muse is a daily conundrum, but for the overly pragmatic types amongst us it is a purely practical exercise in control and expediency. Learning to interpret our responses and reactions to providence will be our lifelong challenge.

‘We tell stories not as they are but as we are’

The way we see the world defines how we tell our stories. My perspective is my reality even if it skews the lines and reconstitutes the facts. The old adage, this is my story and I will tell it how I like is still as true today as it was when the first writers penned their view of history and the evolution of mankind.

Myth has always guided our thought processes, the creative imagineer inside that is constantly searching for the truth in all of her nuances. Myth exposes that which hides in our unfolding narrative, the emerging storyline that is helping us be honest about how we arrived at the place we now find ourselves in. Truth is not about clearly definable facts that are accurate and absolute, that end up shaping a universal code of conduct, but more so an awakening of meaning that appears or arrives to help us realise who we are in the bigger story of life….because myth is more than truth.

My story is just a small part of the grand narrative, a minuscule and seemingly insignificant consideration when compared to everything else, but even the extras in a drama have a role to play in order for the whole thing to make sense. Whether I fully understand or don’t understand my own personal significance the fact remains that I am here for a reason and that reason matters. When we watch a movie or read a book we are often drawn to the larger than life characters who dominate our imagination and consciousness, but in actual fact it is the support cast who hold things together and give the main players the permission to be true to themselves. The little voices have just as much to say as the big noters, so know your lines and stick to them or the story doesn’t get told in a way that benefits all concerned.

I am happy to be a small voice in greater cacophony of racket blaring all around me, a back-up cast member perhaps, or maybe even an extra or body double because it all is important. After all is said and done don't we all just want to feel included and valued for who we are.

Hochzeitsbuch-Happily-Ever-After-Black-1-242.jpg

My life matters and my ‘happily ever after’ is more about learning to enjoy the moment than engineering a wonderfulI outcome.

So back to what the first sentence of my life story might be?

‘I was born on September 19 nine months after the holiday season festivities that underpinned my conception…Is that the real reason my parents ended up getting married?

Pause and ponder your opening story line because your life matters, regardless of how or why it started.

’Whakaaroaro’

heretic

The heretic is always better dead. And mortal eyes cannot distinguish the saint from the heretic. - George Bernard Shaw

Whenever we are confronted by the bias and prejudice of a system whether it be political, religious, scientific, or philosophical it reminds us that we can all fall prey to the limited scope of understanding that is available to any of us at any one time. Admitting to our limitations and choosing the path of humility is far better than labelling someone else as a heretic because they offer an alternative theory or train of thought to your default stance.

The etymology of the root word ‘heretic' is ‘able to choose’. The fact that we have all been given the freedom to choose does not put us at odds with the truth but merely suggests that ‘truth’ is a very subjective actuality that is rooted in the current experience of one’s reality. What I choose today may not be what I choose tomorrow.

st francis.jpg

For instance, we are now being confronted by new research that suggests we need to be making better choices around what is deemed to be sustainable living, as our excessive lifestyles are having an affect on the environment, contributing to the phenomena called global warming. Some of us are still in denial about this due to the long held belief in a divine exit strategy that absolves us from all responsibility. I remember when I first went to church in the late 70’s I wasn told that you didn’t need to think about buying a home because the rapture would happen soon, so just get on and proselytise as ardently as possible so no one misses out on the return trip to heaven. Those of us who were subjected to this ridiculous rhetoric have hopefully come to realise that our choices in this life matter, and that the kingdom of heaven in engaged in all that we do here and now.

“All the heroes of tomorrow are the heretics of today.” - Yip Harburg

In religious circles we throw the word heretic out as a critique of certain peoples stances in order to protect ourselves from some kind of divine disfavour or judgement. This kind of vitriolic labelling is most often rooted in the fear of man more than the fear of God.

Recently a movie was made called ‘Heretic’ about author and speaker Rob Bell, which explored the journey of his spiritual maturation. The producer who was Rob’s friend used the word ‘heretic’ not so much as a critique of his ministry but rather to ironically point out that all new thinking and THE crafting of ideas is initially seen as a heretical lean. “HERETICS” are often responsible for the fresh revelation that appears on the scene to break us free from our limited or restrictive orthodoxy. Rob struck a nerve in the fundamentalist camp and became a new kind of hero to so many. Orthodoxy is not bad but it's not a fixed set either.

History is on the side of those who have challenged the status quo and thrown caution to the wind, often charting a new path forward.

Imagine if some of the great spiritual or scientific pioneers of history hadn't dared to confront the old paradigms of thinking, we might still believe that the earth is FLAT and the centre of the Universe, or worse still that men are meant to rule the world…LOL

“Heretics are the only [bitter] remedy against the entropy of human thought." ("Literature, Revolution, and Entropy")” - Yevgeny Zamyatin

When we let certainty be our absolute guiding principle the minds of humans begin to experience a type of entropy that strips us of our imagination and creativity. The ancient prophets would constantly cry out ‘fear not’ as a clarion call to the explorers and pioneers who would push the limits and challenge the status quo. Fearlessness is the courage to push the boundaries and try new things.

The heretic in me is fuelled by the God given right to choose a bigger way of being. Being true to this path is about following your heart and trusting that something greater than you is guiding your way. Some people will be nervous of your choice selection by labelling you as gullible, naive, or a romantic idealist, which are all potential pre-cursors for the heretic characterisation.

Remember, those who never face criticism never grow strong enough to hold true to the path of their emerging beliefs.






morality

Morality doesn’t mean ‘following divine commands’. It means reducing suffering. - Yuval Noah Harari

From the beginning of mankind's existence there has been in an intrinsic body of standards around manner, character or proper behaviour. Morality as a code of conduct has been derived from a particular philosophy, religion or culture.

The idea that morality is dictated by a sacred list of writings that has been handed down by a deity who has always been slightly disappointed in our behaviour, is a view that has very little faith in the fundamental goodness that hides in the human condition.

Regardless of our religious, philosophical or cultural predilections we have all been gifted with a conscience that is actively reminding us that we all have something to contribute that benefits the human race.

Ironically it is the big three of religion, philosophy and culture that end up contributing to the warping or searing of our conscience around the conduct that we justify as reasonable. My religious inclination towards the sanctity of life sometimes becomes compromised by the acceptable death quotient of a war or super-hero movie that pronounces the victory of the ‘good guys’ over the ‘bad guys’ based on a clever act of script writing and a not so subtle appeal to my one-eyed justice bias. We often justify our position by deciding who gets to live and die all the while becoming the judge, jury, and executioner on behalf of God.

The nature of morality - Adam Smith Institute

The nature of morality - Adam Smith Institute

Morality is a confusing cacophony of ethical dilemmas that rage against my internal processing and external rationalisations. As a young man immorality was often described solely as a sexual impropriety that ranged from looking at another human with lustful imaginings through to the more extreme cases of exploitation. At one level it was a reasonable explanation but at another it had no grace for the natural wiring of my evolving sexuality.

Maybe morality is more than a ‘legal requirement’ or ‘naughty list’ that we concoct from our prejudiced readings of the sacred writ, but rather a much more practical acknowledgement of our capacity to care for our fellow-man.

How do I reduce suffering in the world today? How do I allow empathy, compassion, kindness and generosity be the drivers in my life?

Rather than contribute to the ongoing cycle of destruction and suffering by burying my head the sand of terrible eschatological interpretations of the apocalyptic prophets, maybe I need to ask my conscience to help me find the goodness within and exploit its benefits for others.

I am of the opinion that humans are fundamentally good but can find themselves corrupted by the distraction of comparison and competition. We are capable of some very immoral behaviour if we give ourselves the excuse or freedom to conform to the lowest common denominator of dehumanisation.

Isn't that why Jesus and the ancient prophets declared ‘REPENT’? Stop thinking about yourselves in that way, change your mind about who you are and who can evolve to become, and a kingdom that is not of this world will begin to reshape and reorientate your life.

For those of us who subscribe to a religious tradition maybe it is time to obey the third commandment and stop taking the name of the Lord in vain, not so much the use of inappropriate verbal expletives, but rather using the name of God to justify our behaviours that inflict suffering on others, for example colonialism, slavery, misogyny, ethnic cleansing, and just war theory, to name just a few.

We are all a work in progress so it is important to at least try to be less judgemental and more tolerant with others for maybe that's what turning the other cheek really means? After all, morality is a slap in the face to the prevailing culture of entitlement and privilege.

‘If you want to teach the next generation morals tell them a story because every story has a moral’

The driving story behind your life is an unfolding narrative that has been underpinned and nurtured by an innate morality. If you don’t listen to your conscience and follow your heart you may never get to experience the possible ‘happily ever after’ that awaits you. Morality is a gift that slowly awakens us to a new reality, a new way of being, so lets make the world a better place for me and for you and the entire human race…







purpose

‘Nothing is more creative..nor destructive…than a brilliant mind with a purpose’ - Dan Brown, Inferno

One of the great existential questions that plagues the mind of all humanity is…. 'What is the reason for life and how am I to understand the very nature of my purpose’?

Who I am and what I do and how that contributes to the greater good is the ongoing quest of human consciousness, (maybe not so much a biggie when we were young and somewhat disconnected from the responsibility that catches up with us in our adult years) this deep intrinsic longing that slowly emerges to remind us that we not just a composition of the six primary elementals of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, calcium and phosphorous that have been mindlessly thrown together by fate or an accidental act of evolution.

The mystical nature of purpose suggests that we are more than our chemical, intellectual, or emotional makeup, a mysterious concoction of body and spirit that the mystics extol as the GOD essence. At the core of our being we are first and foremost ‘awareness’, the will to live and be fully cognisant of our surroundings while seeking to participate in the space we find ourselves in.

Our sense of resolve or determination is fuelled by an unfolding script that appears in our imagination. Learning to read or interpret this script will be become our lifelong challenge.

More than ever we need ‘spiritual advisors’ who guide us to discern the voice of purpose within, the hum of reverence that is seeking to help us find our rhythm and role in life.

Discernment requires the vast experience of wisdom, judgement, percipience, understanding, and lived experience in order to uncover our purpose and navigate through the complex nature of learning to embrace our unfolding future.

purpose.jpg

Finding your sense of purpose is not about discovering an absolute answer to why your life makes sense, but rather it is about learning to interpret the map that has been etched on your heart. This very ancient map is like a hidden treasure that slowly surfaces to reveal its bounty when the time is right, as if motivated by a transcendent agenda.

In the words of the Beatles…"Roll up, roll up for the Mystery Tour, Roll up, roll up for the Mystery Tour, it's hoping to take you away, it's hoping to take you away”.

Purpose is not a set path but a magical mystery tour that asks us to make the road while we travel on it, yet it can be a precarious path as it is so easily corrupted by the external indicators of comparison and competition. We often struggle with our lot in life when we weigh it against the so-called cultural markers that define health, well-being or even success. Social media has become a deadly disrupter of purpose, the new behavioural standard that defines us, a cloning influence that can sideline our true self by reducing our integrity to the lowest common denominator.

Purpose can be a blessing and a curse, a blessing because we experience moments of wonder and exaltation and a curse because we don’t always like the pathway that includes conundrum. Purpose is not the existential Santa whose knee we sit on to request the things we want. It is more like the proverbial Gandalf (LOTR) who shows up at your door asking for someone to share in an adventure all the while unable to guarantee any assurance of safe or certain outcome.

Purpose is a beautiful metaphor for describing God, the voice within, the intrinsic sound that is seeking to hook up with the collective extrinsic harmony, a reminder that we are not godlike alone but only truely godlike in the company of otherness. When we bump into the purpose that hides in another we somehow realise our common union and our common affiliation, enabling barriers to come down, at home in our own bodies, realising the significance and importance our life brings to the greater whole .

‘Its is in the shelter of each other that the people live’ - Padraig O Tuama

Purpose reminds me that I am significant and enough, a lesson I am still trying to learn. So thank-you to all the spiritual advisors out there who are helping me to be comfortable in my own skin.

“There is nothing to prove and nothing to protect. I am who I am and it's enough.”

― Fr. Richard Rohr

Over the last few years I have been developing my skills as a professional Spiritual Advisor in order to help people discern the voice of purpose within. With our evolving culture advancing at a ferocious rate of knots we run the risk of feeling irrelevant and lost in translation. If you would like to talk email me on gregburson@me.com.


listen

“Edward knew what it was like to say over and over again the names of those you had left behind. He knew what it was like to miss someone. And so he listened. And in his listening, his heart opened wide and then wider still.” ― Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The art of listening is not so much about the hearing of information or the interpretation of actual words but rather a more subtle and powerful act of transmission that is enlarging something on the inside of us. The heart is our sacred internal ear that processes everything we receive in order to manage our health and evolution. The ancient mystics challenged us to guard, or care for our hearts for this is where true life comes from.

‘If you listen every shell hides the sound of the ocean in its soul’

‘If you listen every shell hides the sound of the ocean in its soul’

While words communicate a clearly definable specificity they are simply the initial indicator of a hidden agenda that the essence of sound is trying to impart. Even if we are deaf and impervious to a physical hearing of sorts our hearts can pick up sub-atomic vibrations that resonate in the universe.

Listening is about connecting to all things, a union with everything that resonates with sonic pulsation and vibrato, a universal orchestra of eternal harmony.

Learning to listen is a life-long challenge, one that will demand increasing levels of concentration and surrender if we are to become astute at discerning the nature of our development.

Some of the ways that have helped me on my journey of attentiveness is a willingness to waste-time with the world I live in and attend to its voice of intimacy. I am somehow caught up in the entanglement of its ideological plan like the proverbial fly stuck in the spiders web waiting for the inevitable. The incoming spider is a metaphor for the all-consuming and devouring nature of togetherness….not to mention the personal sacrifice that I must endure, the laying down of my control and preferred outcomes in order to submit to a far bigger purpose for my life.

Our fellow humans often become a dominant contributor to the formation of our thoughts, ideas, and inspiration. And while we will always have the wonderful privilege of this human interaction it will take a bit of time to sift through all the opinions and contradictory voices in order to develop a conscience of our own. The early stages of listening will require a degree of naivety and gullible acceptance which is how truth finds a pathway into our consciousness. We all must believe in ancient myths and fables if we are grow to maturity as myth, which is greater than truth, takes us on journey that opens our lives to the wonder of the unknown and mysterious'. Listening starts as a auditory cue but quickly moves to a deep and meaningful exchange of quantum transmission.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” ― Ernest Hemingway

The old adage 'we hear what we want to hear’ is not just because we lack concentration skills or we are deliberately ignoring the voices around us but it has to do with the bias filters that interrupt the incoming data in order to sustain our primordial need for preferential importance. I must own my prejudice and partiality if I am to be true to my need for growth and maturation.

When I pause momentarily to attend to the subtle sounds that grace my life I am allowing the element of surprise to enlarge my heart and in turn enlarge my world.

‘To those who listen the whole world will be a sounding board'

omens

Omen. noun. an event regarded as a portent of good or evil; something of prophetic significance

‘Don’t forget the language of the omens. And, above all, don’t forget to follow your personal legend’ -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

There is an inquisitive interest that is intrinsic to the human condition, the desire to know and be aware of hidden mysteries and concealed matters. We all long for magical outcomes that our idealistic imagining and romantic fantasising seem to conjure up with endless ease.


Omens are a metaphor for signs, markers, portents and supernatural indicators that contribute to the outworking of our immanent reality. Those who wish to be skilled in the art of discerning the omens must become familiarised with the cosmic journey that has been ordained for us from the beginning of time, the belief that all of life is eternal and that eternity is continually enlightening our pathway. This is what sits at the heart of our supernatural maturation. Some of the great omens that have guided me through life have been the ubiquitous opposites of light and dark, good and evil, love and hate, peace and war, health and sickness, good times and bad, all somehow colluding together for my betterment.

alchemist.jpg

“We are travellers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The distinguishing factors that contribute to our pilgrimage can be found in the dreams that fuel our every day passions and pursuits. What am I dreaming of? Will it come true? Or is it a pipe-dream that is inflated by the false expectations that are exacerbated by my ever present discontent? An ancient poet once said that dreams are the currency of heaven, the sub-conscious influence of the gods that annoy us continually in order that we might lean in and act on their preposterous possibility.

Locating your dream is about giving yourself permission to trust your desires, lean into your longings, follow your bliss, letting others affirm and encourage your self worth, and and have faith in the divine hope that breaks in to your everyday experience with random coincidences and serendipitous occurrences. Your dream becomes the treasure at the end of the proverbial rainbow, the sign of grace that locates life in the purposes of God.

Significant moments have occurred in my life when I have given myself permission to see everything as a sign or omen, something that is pointing me toward my dream, key indicators that empower me to trust the muse of my destiny. And while this sounds a little naive and ridiculous I have beens surprised by the providential nature of how all of life is somehow connected. Omens can be both good and evil, attractive and distractive entities that keep me honest about my progress. My path can often take me through the valley of the shadow of death before I am actually reminded that goodness and love were following me all along the way. When it is dark outside in the big bad world we very rarely realise just how much light is actually present with us.

“It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

This blog is dedicated to a recent re-read of Paulo Coehlo’s book ‘The Alchemist’ that I would thoroughly recommend to those who need to be encouraged again to keep pursuing their ‘Personal Legend’ regardless of the obstacles life throws at you.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

here

'To deny here is to harrow the heart. Hello to here'. - Padraig O Tuama

The ancient proverb that states ‘Where the tree falls there it lies’ is a somewhat humorous stating of the obvious that sometimes gets a little lost in translation.

Where we land or find ourselves is where we are supposed be, this is the place where we are consciously called to engage and enjoy life even if the circumstances are uncomfortable and not to our liking. It is in my here-ness that I need to discern the deep feelings and responses that are trying to help me reinterpret my situation and somehow reanimate my hopefulness as I seek to continuously redefine what it means to be a human 'being’. Hopefulness is not about trying to future proof our lives by painting a rosy picture of something else other than our ‘now experience’ but about the realisation that our present status is the future that has already arrived for us to process and work through.

Our inability to be comfortable with our current actuality can be due to a conditioned societal discontent that is often inflamed by the over zealous success merchants who are marketing a brighter future contrary to the present, by employing oft quoted cliches that continue to overpromise what I would call a disingenuous view of life. Promises like ‘the best is yet to come’ or ‘we are heading for a bigger brighter and more beautiful future’, not to mention the banal comment of ‘your best life is ahead of you’.

The cynic in me has heard enough of the spin doctors who are not helping us to be content with our immediate state, make the bold calls we need to make, and encourage us to live into our real world experience.

here.jpg

‘You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way’ -Richard Bach: Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Maybe the quote ‘nothing can stand in your way’ appeals to the romantic idealist in me where its altruistic boast suggests that freedom is an easily acquired state of mind that is conjured up through the power of positive thinking, when in actual fact there is something that can stand in your way - YOU. My false perceptions, unrealistic expectations, deceptive imaginings and constant comparisons with those around me often creep in to sabotage my contentment and self acceptance.

To fully understand the here and now we need to learning the 'art of welcoming’ , embracing the moment as it appears, an invitation by destiny itself to acknowledge and accept the challenge to live into the atmosphere we find ourselves in order that our lives can truely move forward. We don’t need to over react or reject certain realities because they might be the antithesis of what we want but see them as an intricate web of intrigue that surrounds our becoming.

This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. -St Matthew

Both pain and pleasure are the flip sides of what life affords us…and while I have a definite preference for pleasure I have to acquire the grace to help me cope and be here in the moment trusting that God is somehow bringing out the best in me through it all.

To be here is to welcome, embrace, and grapple with the predicament/situation I find myself in knowing that there is no quick fix or avoidance tactic that will suffice. Hope is my grace and mercy is my plea to the powers that be…I am safe in the arms of destiny.

I belong to ‘here’







surprise

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise. - Alice Walker

Surprise is the shock we experience when an unpredictable moment in life breaks in to move us beyond the comfort zones of our everyday certainties and the patterns of consistent normalcy. It can often simultaneously conjure up both positive and negative emotions due to the unexpected nature of its overwhelming eventfulness.

We all love the surprises that generate the positive emotion of excitement and inquisitive interest in us but are somewhat suspicious and sometimes terrified of the negative emotion that emerges in times of traumatic or discordant upheaval. A surprise gift or treat can make us feel elated and valued especially when it arrives without any premeditated awareness, whereas a surprise that comes in the form of crisis can be devastating, and require a whole new paradigm of skills, strength and energy to endure.

Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us. - Boris Pasternak

Our love hate relationship with surprise is due to the fact that we are uncomfortable with the transrational constructs that work outside of our cause and affect logic. Surprise is somehow mysteriously partnering with existence itself as it seeks to dictate our formation and maturation. The otherness component of life reminds us that our consciousness is formed and fuelled by unnerving coincidences and the unexplainable moments that are linked to our intrinsic dependency on the spiritual and unseen realms.

Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise. -Julia Cameron

surprise.jpeg

Our creative development is also subsidised by the mystery of surprise as it seeks to keep our imagination animated and enlightened. At the heart of all creativity is this innovative energy that arrives when it is least expected to colour and contour our lives. The essence of destiny is that she thrives on the transcendent-immanent collusion of surprise that remains committed to helping us let go of old ways of being in order to embrace the new ways of our becoming…easier said than done.

If I am going to trust in a divine power at work in my life then I have to find the grace to embrace the surprises that appear on my doorstep regardless of what they look like, those strange occurrences that knock on the door of my life to help me consider how interruption as supernatural intrusion needs to be discerned, processed, and sometimes welcomed in. Not all surprises are necessarily going to reshape our lives but they will ambush our attention long enough to help us consider the possibility of change. The discomfort I often feel is reminiscent of my ongoing struggle with what it means to accept the guiding hand of an outside force or muse that is somehow involved in my best interest.

If surprise is linked to our transformation then it may well be that we need to see it as a metaphor for the divine, that which regularly presents itself before us as a guiding light that reveals the way forward. And while there is a part of us all that prefers to have a much more certain and predictable continuity to life, surprise asks us to trust in the great unknown and be brave in the of the light of the fear and anxiety that uncertainty brings.

Remember…just like we welcome every new day as a gift of the universe, regardless of how it is going to turn out, embrace surprise in the same spirit of gratefulness.

gift

'You're far happier giving than getting..even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it...'

There a few times in every year that we deliberately practice the art of particularised gift giving, where we take the time to bless others on a number of very specific occasions, for a number of very specific reasons.

Birthdays, special events, romantic advances or just random acts of kindness, just a few of the primal reasons that undergird our intrinsic philanthropic consciousness.

The value we place on the recipient goes to the core of how we ask our imagination to explore the possibility of what we can do to honour and invest in their well being. Sometimes we get caught up in the competitive peer pressure of monetary value and our need to impress the receiver with the perceived value we place on the relationship. The altruistic adage that it is the thought that counts seems to pale in comparison to the consumeristic narcissism that drives western thinking.

Revitalising the art of gift giving is about moving beyond the shallow act of mutual exchange that is based on some kind reciprocity or value equivalent, and reengaging with the spirit of charity that hums to the sound of the universal mantra .."it is more blessed to give than receive".

'God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well'. - Voltaire

gift#2.jpg

We practice giving as a reminder that we have been given the greatest gift of all - LIFE, and the real gift we have to offer others is a living testament of hopeful fulfilment. They often say that when choosing a gift for someone you often get them what you would get yourself, as if to suggest that the deeper meaning of giving is the thing-behind-the-thing.

You are thing-behind-the-thing, the life that animates any material offering you might bring to another. It is often surprising to see that as the recipient of a gift we often respond more graciously and gratefully based on the depth of relationship we have. Which goes to prove that the real gift is the person who hands are opening towards us with benefaction, offering themselves in the metaphor of the subsequent endowment.

'They err who think Santa Claus enters through the chimney. He enters through the heart'. - Charles W. Howard

Around this time of the year we enter into the spirit of Christmas by considering our love ones, or ones who we would like to love us, to somehow embrace the overarching narrative of the Santa or Jesus story who compete for our attention and affection. The over zealous religious types amongst us tend to get flustered and try to reinforce the true meaning of the season, somewhat afraid that Santa (an anagram of SATAN) is going to get the upper hand and deprive our children of the true meaning of Christmas. And while I am a bigger fan of the seemingly less popular story of the baby Jesus gift that has been given to humankind, I am not worried that he will be trumped (this word will never be the some) by a red suited guy in a flying sled who delivers presents on Christmas. The reason I am not panicking is because 'gift giving' has a certain transcendent quality to it that will always point a way back to God, the original giver of life who always finds a way into the human heart.

‘So, put a little bit of extra thought into every gift you give this Christmas and watch how it shapes deeper meaning in the relationships that you consider valuable'.

Peace and good will to all….




joy

‘Joy to the world the... [fill in the blank]….'

Around this time of the year we are subjected to the monotonous sound of Christmas carols gently caressing (or bombarding) our ears in shops, cafes, malls, waiting rooms and the like, the subtle seasonal anthems of consumerisms agenda.

joy.jpg

While we scurry around trying to finalise our plans for what is generally considered to be ‘family time’, the last thing we often feel is JOY….the delight, jubilation, exhilaration, elation and euphoria that is supposed to be aligned with Christmas. Maybe we need to pause momentarily and consider the lyrics of the muzak that sits in the background subliminally influencing our consciousness. What if this season is about Joy, even when it can be surrounded by the sorrow that is forever embedded in life. How do we find a modicum of joy amidst all this pressure and anxiety that this season can throw at us?

“Joy to the world…” is a famous hymn that speaks about the birth of a baby that breaks into our earthly narrative to offer hope to those of us who are in need of a new perspective of life. Sometimes it only takes a little bit of new life to remind us that dread and the dreary reality of existence is not a true reflection of all that is going on.

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” ― Mark Twain

Joy is more than an emotional moment. It is a meal eaten in the company of others, a shared experience that opens your heart and imagination to the possibility of something different. While I can find joy in my personal moments of delight it is always enhanced in the presence of those who offer me an alternate reality.

When joy shows up she invariably lifts my spirits and transports me to a place that I could never fully get to on my own, those intense feelings of well-being and happiness that occur when the pleasure centres of the brain are functionally linked. Maybe Christmas is about looking for the links (people, moments) that stimulate these centres, unlocking euphoria which etymologically means to find ‘wellness’ or the ability ‘to bear’ under adverse circumstances.

Actually, joy is the all-round panacea for every season of life that offers us an elixir that has profoundly magical qualities. We don’t need to try and manufacture it in some kind of contrived fashion but simply let her muse like qualities engage with our hearts and awaken the elation we need. JOY hides in the fabric of all pain and pleasure a constant reminder that it has always been ‘coming to us’ showing up in the world of our existence when we least expected it, in order to garner our attention and enable us to live fully alive.

The [fill in the blank] song lyric is ‘the Saviour has come’, the rescuer, liberator, champion that breaks into our consciousness to take centre stage and recalibrate our lives.

Joy is a saviour that needs to be constantly animating our lives, an ongoing liberating force that carries us to places of euphoric wellness in order that we might know the pleasure of all that life should/could bring.

JOY: Mick Jagger & Bono

Oh joy, love you bring. Oh joy, make my heart sing

And I drove across the desert. I was in my four wheel drive

I was looking for the Buddha. And I saw Jesus Christ

He smiled and shrugged his shoulders

And lit a cigarette

Said, "Jump for joy, make some noise

Remember what I said." Oh yeah

My soul is a like a ruby

And I threw it in the earth

But now my hands are bleeding

From scrabbling in the dirt

And I looked up to the heavens

And a light is on my face

I never never never

Thought I'd find a state of grace

Hey joy, love you bring

Oh joy, make my heart sing

Oh joy, joy in everything

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0THvuiPNIIU