My Not-So-Secret Valentines

Valentines_Heart_by_ADJalbertAs Valentine’s is fast approaching, and as I believe that God is everyone’s Soul Mate, instead of worrying about if I will get flowers or a box of chocolates, I turn my focus onto my Eternal Beloved.  I have a good story to tell of the Valentine’s Day when God sent me a Valentine and pierced my heart with His arrow… and I’ll save that for Saturday, February 14th.

For today, I’ll simply share with you a love poem and the names of this year’s Valentine’s crushes.  Yes – as Love is a Wave and the Ocean, I have three secret crushes that I will reveal here now:

1. God.  Ok, that’s probably not a secret.

2. Peachy.  Again, pretty much everyone knows that.

3. Richard Rohr.  He is my new crush, my newly discovered Franciscan friar interfaith contemplative lover of God who I’ve been absolutely giddy about.  (Yes, I feel giddy over monks and nuns, sadhus and yogis – lovers of God make my heart go pitter patter like a teenage girl seeing a cute guy or a rock star.)

god-2Peachy love 2fr-rohr-franciscan

Honestly – I don’t know who is cuter?  (Ok, it’s pretty clear Peachy wins on that account).  In a way it seems silly to think of God or Franciscan Friars as cute – but why shouldn’t we be just as silly and in love with the Divine as we are with our high school sweethearts?

I do believe that all our expressions of Love stem from the same source – Love Itself, also known as God, Brahman, Allah, Krishna, Pure Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement.  I also believe that every human endeavor is an expression of our yearning to return to our Oneness in Love – from our high school crushes to the building of the world’s tallest building.  And I believe that every tree, river, bird and blade of grass is constantly expressing that same Love and Oneness for/with God.

So, the sweet love poem I want to share is from Thomas Merton and I just read it in my daily contemplation from my #3 crush, Richard Rohr.

My favorite part of the daily contemplation is actually from the description of Thomas Merton:  Merton wrote extensively about contemplation, and his own prayer practice “centered entirely on attention to the presence of God and to His will indexand His love . . . a kind of praise rising up of out of the center of Nothing and Silence” (The Hidden Ground of Love, pp. 63-64). That is such a beautiful description of my favorite kind of prayer and meditation – putting my attention on the Mystery of God’s Love, the mystery of how my love for God makes me One with God as we merge in the midst of this experience of LOVE, and the deep gratitude and praise which rises up out of the silence of this realization.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Happy Joyous Love for God and from God AS God.

Here is one of Thomas Merton’s exuberant, joyous psalms:

 

Today, Father, this blue sky lauds you.

The delicate green and orange flowers of the tulip poplar tree praise you.

The distant blue hills praise you,

together with the sweet-smelling air that is full of brilliant light.

The bickering flycatchers praise you

with the lowing cattle and the quails that whistle over there.

 

I too, Father, praise you, with all these my brothers,

and they give voice to my own heart and to my own silence.

We are all one silence, and a diversity of voices.

You have made us together,

you have made us one and many,

you have placed me here in the midst

as witness, as awareness, and as joy.

 

Here I am.

In me the world is present,

and you are present.

I am a link in the chain of light and of presence.

You have made me a kind of center,

but a center that is nowhere.

And yet also I am “here.”

-Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pp. 131-132

Thomas merton God shining through it

Love is a Wave and the Ocean

ocean-wave_157798“Loving another person is not separate from loving God. One is a single wave, the other is the ocean” ~ Deepak Chopra

I read this quote the other day and it struck me as very true.  Not only that, but it applies to loving people with four furry paws, too.

Yes, my Peachy is a person.  She is my person.  And loving her brings not only joy but also healing and a deeper connection to life and to God.

I wrote about how Peachy Keen is a force of Love in the world – a Light Warrior.  And I wrote about how Peachy is also a teacher of living life to the fullest.  But this post is about my own internal meditations of love inspired by my little furry friend.

Every day and throughout the day, my heart focuses on Love.  My heart, as the center of my being, resonates with the vibration of Love every time I look at Peachy.  I internally meditate on Love every time I even think of Peachy, even as I sit at my desk at work.  I also sit anIMG_0427d close my eyes or gaze upon a picture on my altar in more “formal” meditation and I can absolutely feel how much more easily I can slip into a focus of loving God from all the time I have spent in my day loving Peachy.

You see, love is love.  Love is love is love is God is love.

Just as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, if you are putting love into what you are doing, then you are in essence focusing on God – God is Love, so focusing on Love is focusing on God.  The same is true for any form of love.

If I am loving Peachy, my heart is vibrating in a state of love.  If I am loving Peachy, my heart and my body are in a state of positive resonance and I am moving in the direction of healing.  If I am loving Peachy, my heart is open and I am open to receive love from life all around me and from God.  If I am loving Peachy, I am lifting my consciousness up into the feeling of Love and that feeling of Love connects me directly to God.

loving-kidsA sweet friend of mine, who is leaving tomorrow to see his guru for the first time in 11 years, said last night that it doesn’t feel like it’s been 11 years because he has had his two sons and the love he feels for them is the same as the love he has for his guru, the love he has for God.  My heart was really touched as he spoke this, because I could feel that continuum of love that is the wave and the ocean of God.

In fact, this is precisely why God sent us gurus and saints and little baby Jesus.  I suspect this is also why God gave us cute little puppies.

Sometimes it is too far of a stretch for us to love GOD.  The ocean of God is so vast, how do we connect?  I am a drop of water, how do I love the ocean?  How can we know how to love something so perfect and mysterious?  How can our little hearts love something bigger than the universe?  So, God gave us Her waves to love.  The waves are not as vast, but just as beautiful, and the waves are something our hearts can open up to embrace.

Years ago I heard an explanation of the Christ Consciousness that pertains simply to consciousness, not to one religion or another.  I don’t even remember where I heard this explanation but it stuck with me.  You see, the “fall of man” wasn’t really about evil or us doing something terrible, it was just a fall into separation.  It’s just that we lost touch with our Divine Selves, we forgot about our oneness with God and were in a sense “lost” (though if God is holding us at all times we can’t ever really be lost, but we can feel like we are lost).

Jesu KrishnaFrom this state of forgetfulness, it was too large a leap for us to get connected to God again.  God Consciousness is PERFECT.  Everything is perfect in God Consciousness and there IS no separation, there IS no suffering, there IS no pain – so how can we get out of the suffering that feels so real to us and go directly to the perfection of God?  So, God created Christ Consciousness as a bridge.  The Christ Consciousness is One with the perfection and the absolute Love of God, but is also connected to the apparent suffering of humanity and reaches out to us in our state of forgetfulness with compassion.  The Christ Consciousness is a form of God’s Love that we could see and accept and open up to in our state of fallen consciousness.  And once we are open to the Love, the Christ can lift us back again into our connection with the perfection of God.

It is the birth of this Christ Consciousness that I contemplate and celebrate every year at Christmas.  For God so loved the world, that She gave us the Christ Consciousness in the form of Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, Buddha, Quan Yin, Rama and yes, cute little puppies.  It is this connection to God’s Love that I see every time Peachy wags her little tail at me. It is this love of God and guru that my friend has seen every time he has looked at his sons for the last 11 years. It is the love of God that we experience whenever we love our neighbor as our Self.

20141209_215756_HDRThe feeling I have in my heart when I love God is the same feeling I have when I love my sisters or my Peachy and the love flows seamlessly back and forth in either direction.  When I look at Peachy with her furry little 7 pound body that breathes and beats and runs around with her nimble little jazz paws, I am struck by what a miracle she is.  Her sweet puppy eyes that look at me with that puppy love soul opens me up inside.  Feeling my love for Peachy flows right into feeling my love for God.  Feeling Peachy’s love for me reminds me of God’s love for me.  I feel like God created her as a gift personally for me, God’s love manifest as a cuddly little wave in the ocean just for my tiny soul.

Sometimes it is easier to love a single wave than to love the whole ocean.  Yet the wave is not separate from the ocean, and the entire ocean is loving us in each wave.

Find Your Soul (Mate)

soulmateLet me start with a warning:  you are about to read relationship advice from a woman whose last date was in 1998.  I have spent the last 16 years more or less as an interfaith nun… well, the last 15 years and then 1 year as a recovering interfaith nun.

However, I see a lot of marketing materials for how to find “true love,” and I’d like to think that in all my years focusing on God I’ve learned a little something about true love.

It’s all over the place:  workshops with easy steps to “find the one,” sponsored facebook posts promising secrets on “finding your twin flame.”  There are books and blogs and all kinds of things you can buy to help you “attract your soul mate.”  Even scarier, there are sites promising “tricks to make him fall in love with you.”  Is loving you something you want to force on someone using some kind of manipulation or programming?  Really?

I don’t know if I believe in soul mates or not.  I do and I don’t.  What seems more likely to me is that we have soul families – groups of souls that we are closely related to on the family tree of life that we meet again and again and when we do, we resonate.  Like one soul might be my husband in one lifetime, my sister in another and my mother the next time around.  Sometimes we might be best friends, then we’ll come back as gay lovers.  So, even if I don’t think we have just one soul mate, I read Richard Bach’s “One” just like all the other spiritual young girls of my day and I waited for lightening to strike.

Then I fell in love with God – I guess lightning struck.

53fdab8bbe56b29abea204d21You see, when I see all these romantic comedies, romantic dramas, romantic thrillers and romantic horror movies – how practically every movie, tv show, novel or salsa recipe has some sort of emphasis on a romantic relationship, I can’t help but think that this incessant focus on finding our other half is really coming from our yearning for union with the Self.  When I see people selling romance-scented-crystal-candle-dream-guy-catchers, promising to help end the lonely empty feeling inside, it just feels like it’s a misplaced yearning for God.

I give you an example from my own life.  I think it is safe to say that I am a Bhakti – I love loving God, I have a very devotional nature.  Well, I didn’t grow up in India where I could channel this part of myself down at the local Krishna temple.  I was in the 8th grade and I was living in Sweden.  Sweden is not an overly devotional place.  So, instead of a gopi, I became what was known as a Duranie – a somewhat deranged fan of the musical group synth_phDuran Duran.  I had a jacket covered in 52 Duran Duran pins.  I had so many posters of Duran Duran (especially John Taylor, the cutest one!) on my walls that I ran out of space and started putting them on my ceiling.  For their birthdays I hand sewed them personalized teddy bears with each of their names embroidered on them and sent them off to their fan club.  I had so much devotion in my being and I had nothing else to aim it at – so I displaced my devotion and idolatry onto these poor unsuspecting Englishmen.

Now that I have pictures of Jesus in every room, now that my house is filled with devotions for Amma, Ramakrishna, Mother Theresa and St Francis, I understand where this devotional urge in me was coming from.  I just didn’t know I could love God, yet.  I didn’t find that out until years later.

the-wedding-industry-has-been-drawn-into-the-debate-over-gay-marriageSo, when I see all these ads and articles about “finding your soul mate,” I can’t help feeling that it is our misdirected longing to find God.  Not that we can’t also find a beautiful loving partner in life, a soul from our soul family who gets us and supports us, who gives us love and affection, safety, trust and intimacy, fun and laughter, tears and comfort, understanding and compassion and all the most valuable things we can hope for from our human connections.  It’s just that I think if we put ALL our needs and ALL our fulfillment in the hands of this one person, if we think this one person is going to COMPLETE us, we set both of us up for heartache.

So, since I do not have vast dating experience to speak from, I can say that in my observation of the nature of my own heart, that love that we are seeking is about finding our own SOUL, not a soul mate.  It’s not about finding that special someone who is easy going, who loves to laugh and have fun and also likes to dine out.  I believe that to truly experience the love of a soul mate – you first have to experience your own soul – to see the Self in your beloved, you must first know the Self in your own heart.  And to think that some other person can do that for us is frankly lazy and irresponsible.

19meditate you-go-girlIt is up to US to complete our own selves – to know our own hearts and to awaken our own souls and to fill our own beings with so much LOVE that we want to explode and share it with the world – and then we can share it with that special someone.  I think we will all be happier if we stop looking to our latest date or to the latest and greatest rock star or celebrity to fill us up.  I think we will all have healthier and more fulfilling human relationships once we recognize that Love Itself is what completes us.  Then we can, as a whole and complete person, share our journey with another happy and fulfilled human being and live happily ever after.

So, that is what I think is behind all the hoopla about soul mates, Duran Duran, Elvis and the Beatles.  God is everyone’s soul mate and rock star.

 

Peachy Keen, Light Warrior

image(1)Back in March I got a little rescue dog and after knowing her for the last 6 months I ask myself – who rescued who?

Peachy Keen is a tiny little 7 pound fuzz ball of a Light Warrior.

She is cute.  I am not the only one who says she is the cutest dog they have ever seen, so it’s a fact – she is cute.  On the show “Cosmos,” Niel DeGrasse Tyson said that cuteness was a beneficial evolutionary trait in dogs because the cuter they were the more their humans would feed them – so my little Peachy is the pinnacle of canine evolution.  But I see how she is taking an active part in the evolution of humankind, as well.

Everywhere we go, people smile. I see how we walk by all these people and they instantly smile, make cooing noises, come up to pet her and just melt.  People’s faces light up with just a little bit more joy than they felt before seeing her. Sometimes they just half smile and silently walk by, sometimes they utter loud exclamations – “oh my God, what a cutie!” Sometimes they call to their spouses or children to make sure that they, too, get a chance to look at this adorable little dog. Big tattooed biker dudes giggle with glee and rub her belly.  One time a lady told her husband to pull over and stop the car so she could get out and say hello to Peachy. My dog opens hearts wherever she goes and brings more love and happiness into the world every day.  It’s actually a very high service that I strive to attain – and Peachy does it naturally just by being Peachy.

But she does more than that. She’s a little healer. I cannot tell you how many times Peachy has helped me keep my heart open in order to let some pretty tough emotions pass through. Sometimes something is stirred up in me, some emotion or issue from the past percolating and bubbling around as a murky uncomfortable feeling of I don’t know what, just below the surface – and then little Peachy runs up to me with her tail wagging, her eyes just loving me. All of a sudden I shift my focus to how much I love this little being and my heart bursts wide open and all the emotions that might otherwise have gotten trapped or stuck come rushing out and get released. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I laugh at the ‘duh’ of some obvious realization – but somehow by not shutting my heart down, by shifting into giving love, I have some kind of resolution.

Peace bean bagPeachy also protects me from negative energies! Yes – she barks and tries to protect me from the UPS guy, random people walking by our house and the thunder – but that is not what I’m talking about. For many years I have heard how radiating love is the best protection from any negative energies or thought forms. But if you’re having negative thought forms run around in your head or you’re feeling negative energy flying around – sometimes it’s hard to just start radiating love. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling in a funk – I was grumpy, I was having negative thoughts, I kept getting paper cuts and bumping into things, and it just kept going. Pretty soon I was starting to feel anger – anger that didn’t feel like me, that didn’t feel like who I am or who I want to be. So – I started paying attention and I started setting my intention to clear my energy.  I did some chanting, some breathing, some offering up – I still felt pretty funky. I walked around the corner into the living room and there was Peachy curled up in her little blue bean bag. All of a sudden I was overcome with how much I love her and poof – negativity gone! In an instant! I didn’t even have to try. Thanks to my little dog I was quite naturally and spontaneously radiating love!

Love is an amazing force. And keeping the heart open is such an instrumental key in any process of healing, awakening or happiness.  And I am witness to how much having my little Peachy in my life is helping me.  I know it sounds cute and fuzzy, and it is – but it’s real.  Does it qualify as a spiritual practice?  Is having a dog a part of my awakening?  From my own experience I would have to say yes.

So – I am a firm believer that all these cute little dogs and cats that we have in our lives are actually beings of very high service. When I think about how much more happy I am, how much more I smile, how much more I laugh, how much more love I feel on a daily basis because of Peachy I am amazed. And when you multiply that by however many pet owners there are in the world… and all the people we walk by on the sidewalk… and all those darn cute videos on you tube… think about the magnitude of the vibration of love that these little beings are contributing to our collective world!  Even though I feel almost silly writing this post about my dog, it’s seriously astounding.

 

P.S. To add a furry friend into your family – please rescue, don’t give any money to the incredibly inhumane puppy mill industry – you’ll be rescued in return.

Thank you to V.I.P Pet Rescue of Florida for finding my little Peachy

Locally:  S.A.F.E Pet Rescue

Anywhere:  Pet Finder