Claire, my youngest niece, on just a regular, normal day.
Children give us such wisdom and love. And we are privileged to be a part of their spiritual journey, reminding us how we, too, are children -- of God.
This little story has made the rounds on the internet and came to me from a good friend:
A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work.
As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."
The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."
Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied,
"They will in a minute."
This collection of posts comes from my earlier blog and highlights the wisdom and wonder of our lives filled with childlike goodness, growing maturity, and pure, pure joy. It's because of children, we all know what God looks like.
Just some of the women heroes in my life:
For this very special month, I certainly wanted to do more than just celebrate the achievements of women, I wanted to dig in deeper to understand the spiritual impulse behind the many lasting reforms women have initiated throughout the years. So what I did was to collect a number of selected stories and ideas from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy that highlight the spiritual undercurrent behind all reforms. In the Bible I share a story from the Old Testament when a group of sisters were able to overturn an oppressive law about inheritance. In Science and Health, I chose selections that bring out what true reform is and how it is happening today.
A question and a response are central to these readings:"A higher and more practical Christianity, demonstrating justice and meeting the needs of mortals in sickness and in health, stands at the door of this age, knocking for admission. Will you open or close the door ... ?"
"In this revolutionary period, like the shepherd-boy with his sling, woman goes forth to battle with Goliath."
For those of you who would like to listen in on these readings (which are then followed up by people sharing their inspiration, healing and spiritual progress), please check out the following:
The Wednesday Gathering is a live, teleconferenced prayer and gratitude meeting open to all, hosted by prayerfulliving.com.
To participate by phone, call:1+559-726-1300; Participant access code:463846#
The Wednesday Gathering begins at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time; 10:00 am Pacific or 1700 hrs GMT
For those of you who would just like the citations, here they are!
Num 27:1-8, 11
Num 36:5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13
340:23-28 (to ;)
Hymns are taken from the Christian Science Hymnal
Peppered throughout my site and blogs I talk about joy. Joy totally captivates me. It is the foundation of my practice and my reward. I just can't seem to get enough of it! Definitions of joy vary but generally agree that joy is the root of happiness and well being. But the most thought-provoking definition came to me years ago while scouring over the 200+ Bible reference book library of a friend. I have not found that definition since.
I was looking up the definition of joy in the context of Hebrews 12: 2
"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set
before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the
right hand of the throne of God."
The chapter focuses on the theme of discipline and the unshakeable kingdom of God. And the word "joy" is about calm delight and grace. But my long ago found definition of joy defined it as the understanding of the ultimate triumph of life. This one idea has led me through all kinds of challenges. It deserves its own headline.
Joy = the understanding of the ultimate triumph of life
This answered so many questions!
How could Jesus go through the betrayal, the crucifixion, the discouragement? Because he understood the ultimate triumph of life.
What vision sustained Mary Baker Eddy through her trials so that she could persist with the discovery and founding of Christian Science? She must have understood that Life, God always triumphs.
But joy is more than a coping mechanism that puts on a happy face and hopes that whatever challenges we face will blow over at some uncertain time. Joy is the very essence of light, which has an immediate effect on darkness. Joy is a powerful therapeutic force.
Sitting in my office, I considered the times I have been pulled up and out of questionable times. In each case, I saw that it was sometimes a glimpse, sometimes a full realization, that good will always have the last word. That lets us start out addressing a challenge as having already won.
Love never fails and Truth is always the victor.
So now, knowing that whatever race we are in, that we have already won, how do we deal with the day to day impact of these questionsable times? Know this:
Life triumphs. This lifts discouragement. God will always give an answer of peace.
Love wins. We can see that right now. In small gestures, in past kindnesses, in a receptive thought - we bring a magnifying glass to that seemingly small pinprick light of Truth and that light immediately replaces the darkness with what it true.
Truth reveals and heals. Light's immediacy is at work. We see more through God's eyes -- through Love's eyes. We feel the hope and the freedom that God is governing.
We keep walking in that direction and find that we trust God fully and understand the ultimate triumph of life. What joy!
Some say that it is instinctive. Some say that it needs to be learned. But either way, sharing is what brings the fabric of mankind together.
Recently, I got a facebook message from a classmate from high school. She shared that a classmate and her family were going through a tragic situation and urgently asked us to pray for this family. Even though I hadn't heard from these classmates for years, many of us did just that and prayed.
I knew I needed to write something to my old friend, but I deliberated and actually spent hours praying and then deciding what to share. I finally wrote it, sharing a personal story that I thought related. I just got a message from her today. She was so grateful for the message. It gave her comfort.
So why, oh why, oh why, I asked myself, did I feel the least bit hesitant to share? Giving and receiving are profoundly satisfying and healing.
How did I get over myself enough to share? When my sense of compassion overcame my sense of self.
Here some of those stop signs that I found would try to halt one's sharing of good words and works on the highway to meaning.
Watch out for thoughts like:
Oh, they won't remember me.
They won't understand my message.
They are probably too busy and don't have time to read this.
What if they are offended by what I write?
I am not articulate.
Someone has probably already shared this same idea.
(These are rather lame, aren't they?)
And here are some of the green lights that let our love and compassion overflow, offering a healing balm to whatever situation we see is calling for healing:
"Whenever the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts." (1)
"Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us." (2)
"Give them a cup of cold water in Christ's name and never fear the consequences. (3)
"Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying and elevating it." (4)
"...Love is the fulfilling of the law." (5)
And finally, "(Happiness, Truth and Love) cannot exist alone, but require all mankind to share it." (6) So go ahead, and love your neighbor. Share a cup of cold water, a simple idea, a healing story. Gently ask if they would like you to pray for them. "Love never fails." (7) You simply can't go wrong. And the good you do just keeps blessing.
A former Evangelical Covenant pastor in the Yup'ik villages of Hooper Bay and Scammon Bay in Southwest Alaska recently emailed me. He has been living among the Yup'ik Eskimo since 1974 and was looking for the name of the translator of the Eskimo 23rd Psalm that I had posted on my site some years ago. He collects historical documents about this region and shares it with the villages, and wrote to share this background with me.
Tim (also known as Kanglek, one of his Yup'ik names) shares: "...it could have been written by a missionary in the northern part of Alaska. Loraine Burdick was a Presbyterian missionary in Barrow. She later wrote a column in the Anchorage Daily News in which she shared drawings, stories, and crafts about Alaska. In 1967 she turned her column into a book. The book entitled Alaskettes included the 23rd Psalm. She said this adaptation of the 23rd Psalm first appeared in David C. Cook's 'Adult Bible Class.' Author unknown. She gave no date. " (Thanks Tim!)
Eskimo 23rd Psalm
The Lord is my master;
I am his dog.
He makes me lie down in soft snow;
He leads me across firm ice;
He calls to me encouragingly.
He drives me on good trails
because I belong to him.
Yes, though I travel
Through storms and troubles,
I will not be afraid
Because he is with me.
My harness is securely fastened
And his hand is on the sled.
He guards while I eat,
Though enemies lurk near.
He doctors my hurts.
My heart overflows with gratitude.
Only kindness and gentle care
will be mine from the hands of this master
And I will be on his team
Beauty before me, I walk with.
Beauty behind me, I walk with.
Beauty above me, I walk with.
Beauty below me, I walk with.
Beauty all around me, I walk with.
Navajo Night Chant
Beauty is the radiant of all the radiant qualities of God. We swim in beauty everyday and as the Navajo saying shares, beauty is truly all-encompassing and always present.
This new cluster of posts are all about beauty from all different perspectives. Beauty as power, beauty as the harmonizing agent in relationships, beauty in identifying who we are, beauty as healer, as laughter and as wonder. Give yourself a beauty treatment and enjoy these posts!
I realize I have a strong snow theme going here. My facebook posts are full of snow pictures. But if you could see out my window, you would understand why. It is basically all you can see.
So I have been mining my older posts to see what lessons the snow has given me. And I came across this one written in April, 2008. Toward the beginning edge of spring, we had another snowstorm, much like the situation we have now. Hopes dashed for an early spring, I thought more about the eternal spring we have right now. So curl up with a hot drink, and enjoy!
HERE COMES THE SUN
...we hope. I woke up this morning to eight inches of freshly fallen snow. My heart sunk. We have had months of a record snowfall. I scrambled to find all my past posts where I lauded the beauty and magic of the first snowfall. But the beauty and magic of the snow alluded me now.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were waiting and waiting for something, and then, right
when you thought you were going to get "it" (whatever it was you were waiting for), you realized you had to wait some more?
When I have been in these situations where the waiting is prolonged, I remember being brought out of a
sense of impatience and irritation by being more present and grateful to what is happening now.
We all need to wait for things, but when that waiting turns into thinking that you lack what you need now, and can only have it sometime in the future - and the nearer that future the better -thought turns inward and restrictive. You get crabby.
What has been most helpful to me is Christ Jesus saying: "the kingdom of God is within you."
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is defined in Science and Health with Key to the
Scriptures by MBEddy as "the reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme."
And most comforting of all, MBEddy writes,'.... remember Jesus' words, "The kingdom of God is within you." This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility.'
So the atmosphere of Spirit, the reign of harmony is a present possibility. Right now. Right now as you are reading this. But how can that be? When we have waited so long? Step up to this claim and make it your own. You can claim this. Harmony right now is a present possibility.
Harmony, goodness, love and abundance aren't stuck in a material expression. They are qualities of thought. And we can align our thought with all we know of God. We can harmonize with God. We can pray. We can accept that the kingdom of God is here.
It is this yielding and letting go of sometimes our most cherished hopes that may be hardest to do. But
actually it is harder to hold on to these hopes when we can only see that they come in a certain form: For instance if we feel that we have to see that person, or we have to see green grass growing or we must get out of this place -- in order to be happy, we are stuck. Letting go of those materially based hopes help us see the good we already have - now.
The kingdom of God is already within us. We can expect to feel that satisfaction that we have what we need, and trust that God is guiding us to those places that are best for us. And best of all, we can see the beauty and loveliness that exist around us right now.
photo by Brad Crooks; location: Patagonia
I could have been the poster child for Overachievers Anonymous. I was pregnant with my second child. Our first child was 2 1/2 years old. I was working fulltime, co-leading the church services, weighing in a major decision regarding re-location and involved in a court case. And I wanted to do everything right. I worked hard at it - emphasis on the "I". I put the responsibility squarely on my shoulders. But being so right, trying so hard and taking on so much had a breaking point and any amount of doubt or fear would set everything tumbling.
My private time with God was between ten at night to midnight. One night, I was exhausted and prayed to God. I don't remember the specifics, but some of my prayer had gotten to the low point of berating myself for not knowing how to pray better. (Otherwise, I wouldn't have all these issues, now, would I?)
I got a direct response. And it surprised and humbled me.
Like an iron hand with a velvet glove, it was as if a hand came into my thought and swept away the cobwebs of false responsibility, worry, doubt and anxiety. A comforting wave of assurance rolled over me. I was loved. God approved of me. God understood everything. And all was well.
That was it. A direct hit to the heart of the beast of anxiety. An explosion of the heaviness. The thunder of the Truth came in with the gentleness of Love. And then, I felt a calm joy, and a rested confidence. Well, God loves me! God knows me and approves of me! I simply wept with the relief of it all and ended up laughing. I accepted the fact that I did know how to pray, I did know how to listen to God. I accepted God and God's love for me. God and I had a wonderful understanding of one another. And to this day, we have a great working relationship1
Each situation I was involved in was resolved in its own time: the baby, the potential move, the church services and the rest. All was well. All is well. And, as the hymn says, all must be well.
Years later I came across this correspondence written by Mary Baker Eddy from the collections of The Mary Baker Eddy Library. It fit this story perfectly:
You are not alone.
Love is with you, watching tenderly over you day and night.
And this love will not leave you but will sustain you
and remember all thy tears
and will answer all thy prayers.
So for all you over-achievers out there, take heart. Stand back and see God's work. All is well!
Kim C Korinek, CSB
banner photo (c) Micah Korinek; other photos by Gabe Korinek, Kim Korinek, Brad Crooks. Leslie Larsen (c) 2016