All good things must come to an end, as they say, and writing my Salon is no exception to that. I’ve been writing this monthly Salon for more than ten years now and it has been a pleasure to share ideas and guidance with all of you. Now I find that my time and energy is drawn more to developing my online courses, most especially in Spiritual Direction. I will write Newsletters instead of Salons, although they may not come out on a monthly basis.
That said, I’ve given a great deal of thought to what I should say in my last Salon. I decided to end by offering you a list of my “greatest spiritual truths” – how’s that? These are the teachings I hold most dear to my heart and I hope they will serve you as much as they do me:
1. Miracles are real.
However, don’t expect a miracle to do something you can or should do for yourself. Miracles are not for cowards but for brave and courageous people who are filled with an unrelenting faith in the Divinely possible. Anything and everything is possible with God. Lazy, complaining people never experience miracles. People filled with hope who never give up trying or believing no matter the odds are prime candidates for Divine intervention.
2. Kindness and patience matter at all times.
3. Believing you are extraordinary – or that your kids are – is an unnecessary suffering in life.
Of course your children are special to you – but they aren’t to the rest of the world. You were not born to be extraordinary. No one was. Just step up to the challenges that life presents to you and do your best. Doing something extraordinary for others – now that’s a worthy goal.
4. Stop searching for God, for purpose and for meaning.
If you haven’t found it by now, you should ask yourself, “What the heck am I looking for? Is it attention? Is it success?” God is in the small details of your life, not in how others see you or in big opportunities. The Divine works behind the scenes, not in front of the camera. At the same time, every function of nature is a testimony to the order of the Divine: The laws of Nature mirror the nature of God. Learn the Tao. Learn to live according to the laws of balance. God is balance. God is cosmic law and order. You are the engine of meaning and purpose. Those forces will never show up at your door. Either you generate them or you don’t. You can make anything meaningful. Meaning comes from how you value something. Nothing has meaning or purpose until you are able to generate those graces from within.
5. Look for something special in each day – something new.
Don’t assume that this something new is going to change your life or do something for you. That something new could be that you notice how much a flower has opened up since the day before; yet, in noticing something so ordinary, you realize the elegance with which life carries on. Life is constantly growing, moving – alive. Life is everywhere. This planet is a huge, alive Being. We are walking and living and sleeping on a huge living creature that provides food and water and shelter for us. That is wildest of thoughts – and it’s the truth.
6. Put your life force into something useful.
Don’t waste a second of your life on things that are useless – like painful memories or grudges or resentments. What good does that do you? Every day is one less day of your life. In fact, today could be the last day of your life for all you know. Make it a good last day.
7. Dedicate your life to a good cause along the way.
Make a difference in this world in some way. Leave a positive footprint, not just a small carbon one. Make a difference. Your life should count for something.
8. Take time to pray in your own way.
Prayer is power – pure mystical power. It’s not rational power and it’s definitely not intellectual. You can’t see it. There is no proof that prayer is “working”. But it does and it is. And praying is not a hobby; it’s devotion. Figure out a way to weave prayer time into your daily life.
9. Feed your inner life. Do things that enrich your soul.
I believe people need spiritual direction. I believe that many psychological disorders are unrecognized spiritual sufferings. Professionals are still intimidated by the reality of spiritual crises. They don’t know how to treat a spiritual crisis or what to say to someone or how to respond to questions about the reality of the unseen outer – and inner – world. You need to know your soul and you need to know when to reach for spiritual guidance. Drugs will never solve a spiritual crisis – never. Drugs cannot combat darkness or evil.
10. Evil is real. Sin is real.
A basic definition of sin is this: Knowingly doing or saying something that you know will damage another person’s life OR knowingly/deliberately allowing another person to pay the price/take the consequences for a negative action of yours. The conscious act of knowing that what you are doing is wrong – and that what you are doing is harming another in any way – and yet you do it anyway – is Sin. Done. No getting around it. A conscious negative act against another human being is not just a boo-boo or a bummer. It is a Sin because it is CONSCIOUS and thus an act of CHOICE. It is a conscious misuse of your power of creation – and we are held accountable for these choices. That is why we cannot shake free of such choices. That is why the guilt from these choices sticks to us like gum on our shoes. That gum is our soul connected to the soul of the person we harmed. Never tell yourself that evil does not exist. It does. Every time you easily play with the truth, ask yourself, “How come it’s so easy to lie? What’s wrong with me? Why is telling the truth so difficult? Shouldn’t this be the other way around?” The spiritual path is a path of becoming One with Truth, which means confronting our relationship with the shadow in ourselves. It’s not easy and that shadow meets us around every corner in our life. My counsel to everyone – and the one I practice is to repeat a simple prayer whenever you feel that fragile edge of weakness or compromise-of-self coming on, “Hover over me, God – right now.” Surround yourself with grace. Live in grace.
11. Practice joy, love, charity, compassion, understanding, and healing.
Share your graces. Be ridiculously generous with your gifts. Don’t listen to people who tell you not to spread yourself too thin. Spread yourself so thin with your graces that you become invisible. Be as loving as you can – you’ll find that you recharge instantly. (Loving by the way is not the same as behaving foolishly. It means holding lovingness in your way of being, in the tone of your voice, in how you approach people, in giving someone that extra second before you get feisty with impatience.) No one should ever say, “I’ve got so much to give and no one to give it to.” That’s just being selfish. All that means is, “All I want to do is love one person who loves me back.”
12. Finally, live a bold life.
Don’t retire. Die exhausted from creativity, loving, adventure, service, sharing and wonder. It doesn’t take money to make a difference in this world; it takes choice, courage, and your willingness to get off the couch and make a commitment to show up and do the work. Pray for others. Send grace to the places in this world that are on fire with pain – the suffering people of Aleppo comes to mind. Channel grace wherever you go. So long as you are alive, remember that every choice you make is either one that releases grace or withholds it. Simple as that. At the end of the day, reflect on your choices. In those circumstances in which you have withheld grace, figure out why you made that choice and then think about others withholding grace in their choices when it comes to you. It’s an uncomfortable thought, to say the least. But it’s the perfect motivator to make us aware of the power of every choice we make in life.
Thank you again for all the support through the years in being a part of the Salon family and all my work. My gratitude to you is more than I can express. Expect to see me via Newsletters.
I wish all of you a blessed holiday season and a holy and wondrous 2017 – wow, look at that number – 2017. Whew. See you next year, I hope, at a workshop or at an online class – or in my prayers.
All my love,