Memory and Forgiveness…Tools of Inspiration

During the past few weeks, significant events from my past have resurfaced as memories worth noting. What has been so different about the remembering process, however, is that I’ve taken the time to appreciate the dominant ‘feeling’ experienced during each remembered event. Whether it was sad, empowering, scary, motivating or something else, I allow myself to feel what made that particular memory stand out, protected by my stronger and present Observer Self. I question why it is showing up now. Does something still need to be healed?

Gratefully, I’m often able to verbally express to my husband, family member or close friend what happened ‘back then’ and how it impacted my life up to the present moment. I give myself permission to track the behavior patterns that came from a particular experience. Then, upon deeper reflection, to determine if those behavior patterns still serve me as the person I am today. If not, what can I do to fully heal and release the past? What else do I need to do to re-pattern my behavior so I can move forward in a more uplifting manner? What Good came from that experience? There is Good in everything that happens; sometimes it just takes a long time to see what it is/was. 

Not surprising to me anymore, forgiveness is a key component for releasing the past and honoring it as an integral part of who you’ve become, and starting anew toward a vision of expanded living and higher consciousness. Forgiveness – of self, of others, or of patterns of behavior – does not mean we have to forget what happened. We can learn from all of it! Forgiveness does not mean we want to hang out with someone who abused us or that we approve of their behavior. Forgiveness does not create relationship with them. Perhaps we could have participated in a different way or wished we would have been stronger or kinder in some long-ago moment.

Forgiveness does open our heart and mind to connect with Divine Love. Forgiveness is an inside job. It’s to heal that which is in you that needs release so you can focus on the vision of your future self. If we try to totally block out a certain memory, we block out a piece of ourselves, our personal past. I know there are experiences I would never have chosen for myself. Yet, as difficult as they may have been…those experiences created the me I am today. And I like this NOW person.

I see memories and the forgiveness process as valuable Tools of Inspiration. Whether it was 50 years or 5 minutes ago, each memory provides a gift that supports me toward the vision of who I want to become. With this loving mindset, I look forward to witnessing what comes up from the past to teach me something about my today self. I now live life more fully, immersed in the present experience, knowing it will someday be a memory that inspires and supports a version of me not yet created, but a perfect me that  already exists in the mind of God.

Vision Work: Mental Activity or Real Thinking?

In the Science of Mind philosophy, great emphasis is placed on thought and creating through your word. Since I’m currently doing a lot of “visioning” for my next stage of life, creating through my word has become very important. Thus, when I heard the following statement recently, it gave me pause about how I think: “Just because you’re having mental activity, doesn’t mean you’re thinking. Thinking is creative.” (Mary Morrissey)

Ernest Holmes, recognized as the founder of Religious Science, writes volumes about our thinking processes, whether consciously or sub(un)consciously. He encourages us to “learn how to think abundantly” and “instead of thinking of the problem, think of the answer…principles never have problems.” When we’re faced with a challenge and get all out of balance by it, it’s simply the Universe showing us an opportunity to resolve, a way to grow and to gain more knowledge, perhaps wisdom, too. In his book “The Science of Getting Rich,” Wallace D. Wattles claims that “…sustained and consecutive thought…is the hardest work in the world.” I agree with him.

It can be very easy to get thrown off-track. The power of the unconscious mind (ego), race consciousness, daily media updates about the negative state of the world, and even concerned friends can plant seeds of doubt, even fear, in our thinking about what needs to be done in certain situations – yours, theirs or a common goal. However, if we continue to think about the current circumstance, rather than raise our thinking vibration to the resolution level, our problems cannot be solved. We’ll just keep going around in circles, creating more of the same form. Albert Einstein taught us this when he said, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”

What I’ve noticed by being in the world is that, generally, those who are most tapped into Divine Mind are the most difficult to disturb by any problem or uncertainty. And that is as it should be. The more we study and become immersed in living according to these Truth Principles, the more aware we become of our thinking habits, and the more we incorporate the belief that what we think about with regularity becomes our reality … then the more careful we are about who we hang out with, what we watch or listen to in the media, and WHAT we think, say and do. We hold our precious and sacred life vision before us and move accordingly in the world; not be of the world.

To solve any challenge or create your next vision, you must raise your thoughts, your thinking and words; lift them up to and come from First Cause. Be open to possibilities from ANY direction so you can recognize them in consciousness, active or otherwise, and use a Spiritual filter to decide what’s for your highest and best expression. (It’s important to differentiate between inspiration from Divine Source or advice from ego.) You may have to modify your habits, change your use of certain phrases, or take risks. If your vision is one based on Love and Good – for yourself and others – make that the focus of your thinking. “Life is a mirror reflecting your images of thought.” (Ernest Holmes)

So… if your vision is at least possible, what one thing would you do today to support it? Think about it.

My Community, My Family

“Community” has been at the forefront of my consciousness lately. Whether it’s recovering from the recent layoffs at my office or attracting new people to our church. Community can be defined and experienced in many ways.

Rev. Michael Beckwith has his definition of community – communicate in unity. That can be talking things out, no matter how difficult the subject, or working together on a special project. Community is spending time at a business gathering or church service, just getting to know the people who are there and letting them get to know you. Isn’t that why we come together? To support each other for as long as we can?

Some of our members have been part of the PCCRS church community for a long time; others have joined in just the last year or two. What keeps us coming together? 

I used to think it was the minister and his/her style of delivering the Sunday message, and for some that may be the draw initially. Or maybe it was the music that filled the cracks of consciousness and made the Sunday experience one of rich harmony. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to serve and overcome challenges. But ministers come and go, presentation styles vary, problems get resolved, and even musicians move on to greater compositions.

The folks that are dedicated to a particular community don’t really come for those reasons. They’re here for each other. The minister, the message, the music, the challenges, even the treats and coffee…those are all just details. These can be important details because that’s what we’ve become accustomed to. But it doesn’t take much of a change or a shake-up to find out what’s really important in a community – it’s the people.

When a company lets go of several employees at the same time, those still holding jobs also hold onto each other and cherish the time they had with the ones saying ‘good-bye.’ When people come and go from a congregation, we miss them, welcome them back when they visit, and release them again, holding them in friendship inside our cherished memories. It doesn’t take a deep meditation practice to recognize the cycles of life apply to the coming and going in a community, too.

Community is what brings us back to the church in which we’ve grown as spiritual individuals. Community is an intangible, unseen bond that helps us recognize who we are within certain human circles. Community is what causes us to wear name badges that identify us with a particular group. Community is where we find love and support when life seems unusually challenging. Community helps us find strength to get up, dust ourselves off, and even laugh at our mistakes and trials as we move forward with greater awareness in a new and better direction. Community is our family of choice.

We don’t always have a say as to who will be part of our family, our community. All we can do is love the ones who are here.

The Garden and the Gardener

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can tell a great deal about a person’s character based upon the way they tend their yard. A correlation can be made to such activities when examining how a person faces life’s challenges, relationships and successes…a hint to the homeowner’s character.

Russian Thyme blossoms
Garden flowers - Russian Thyme

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can tell a great deal about a person’s character based upon the way they tend their yard (“garden” as it’s referred to by our Australian friends, and the term I prefer to use). A correlation can be made to such activities when examining how a person faces life’s challenges, relationships and successes. Granted, not everyone likes to garden; that could be why there are so many landscaping companies available from which to choose. But in that, hiring professionals to maintain one’s property, there shows a level of integrity and concern, a hint to the homeowner’s character.

I’ve spent the past few days dedicated to cleaning up the large garden of my former home, preparing it for the realtor’s photographer and in hopes of making it more appealing to potential buyers. Each feature of the garden brought back memories of its design, installation, and years of maintenance, primarily by the strength of my own hands (and back). I’ve cleared ground, planted trees and flowers, and worked in sun and rain – alone and with family members – to create a garden and peaceful retreat in nature. It’s a park-like setting and a lovely sanctuary when it’s all cleaned up!

My days of pulling weeds have been many. The depleting strength in my arms bear witness to years of stem grabbing, ground softening, and roots breaking under my hands’ pressure to release their rooted grip from soil not designated for their existence. I’ve discovered there’s a lot that can be learned about a person’s character simply by observing the way they go about this solitary task.

For example, a friend of mine, an avid gardener, once offered to help me catch up on my weeding chore and ease the pain my arms were experiencing from the arduous process. I welcomed such help. My husband, though skilled in so many areas, is not a gardener and left its design and maintenance to me. On the other hand, my friend professed to be quite fond of gardening and adept at pulling weeds. I was excited to have someone with such an ardent passion for gardening volunteer to help me. She and I labored near one another, each of us addressing a different plot so as not to get underfoot of the other.

For a couple of hours we pulled and tugged at the noxious growth, stacking them up in piles as we went. While evening’s light became dim, there was enough to see several large piles of wilting weeds, evidence of where she had been, left behind in the wake of her weeding frenzy. I bagged my discarded weeds as I went along. She did not. Plastic trash bags were handy and close by, but unused. I pondered this, deciding whether to continue my own direction and another flower bed or to start collecting her weed piles before darkness fell or the wind scattered them about. I decided on the latter. While she chattered away on her cell phone to a distant voice, I silently stuffed trash bags with dying, unwanted plants and started to form some opinions about this weed-pulling style. When her conversation with the distant voice ended and the thick of darkness no longer allowed us to determine what we were pulling, and without offering to help pick up any of the weed debris, she went home, with my gratitude for her time spent in my garden.

The next morning’s daylight revealed some disappointment of the experience and further evidence of what I had begun to contemplate the previous evening regarding this person’s character.

A significant number of larger weeds still remained in the areas where my friend had been working. The tops were gone, the stems were stripped of leaves, but their roots remained intact. Only the smaller, easy-to-pull species had been removed completely. Many of the leaves that had been stripped from the larger plants still lay near the stem rather than having been tossed on the collection pile…a pile that remained for someone else – me – to pick up. It wasn’t just one or two weeds here and there; in every area she had worked the previous evening, it needed to be redone to some degree.

As much as I had welcomed this friend into my outdoor sanctuary, I wondered if I would have been better off without her help. Staring at the clean-up that laid before me, I started to make sense of little things that had come up in our friendship and which I had been unable to identify until now. I realized the correlation between levels of gardening care (weeding, in particular) and character traits didn’t just be relevant to her specifically, but could pertain to anyone. I became grateful for the awareness she had brought so clearly into view.

In pulling off just the leaves of the larger weeds and leaving behind the naked stems and imbedded roots, even when there were tools handy to dig them out and a watering hose available to soften the ground, it now made sense that she had left so much unfinished – that was the way she handled many areas of her life, including the relationship she had with me.

She had often headed up other projects in which I was involved, taking the lead and the credit for the goal’s success, but leaving the details and the cleanup to be completed by others. Someone else would have to dig in to get to the bottom of the project, reveal the hidden objections and challenges, and gather up all the materials after the venture was over…so that the next task or group could come forward. It was an “ah-ha” moment for me. Once again, as a result of choosing to partner with her, I was digging in, cleaning up, and carrying out the trash while she shared with others (I learned later) how she had come to my rescue to help me with some much-needed weeding.

I reflected on my own style of gardening and how it related to my sometimes pefectionistic nature and other personality traits. I had to test my theory even further. So how does it correlate? How do I measure up to these standards of weeding?

In many ways my gardening approach is very similar to the way I conduct my life – with a plan. I approach it methodically and with foresight so that, hopefully, I won’t have to redo any steps, such as planting a tree then realizing it’s in the wrong spot and having to move it later because it won’t survive in the first spot it was planted. I’d rather take a little more time planning than have to do something repeatedly due to a lack of preparation.

Following a path or plan

I have a tendency to be practical, taking things in logical sequence, following step-by-step procedures, paying attention to the details, and evaluating the importance of each along the way. I can troubleshoot as I go, make adjustments accordingly, and end up with better results, even if it means the overall plan must change from what was originally conceived. Thus, I focus on one garden bed at a time and pull the weeds in a small section, one area at a time. None are left behind. I thoroughly clear away all unwanted weed-like flora, leaving only those flowers, plants and shrubs that have been lovingly planted and will continue to be nurtured for the gifts of scent, fruit, and beauty they bring. Yes, some weeds will come back. However, with diligent awareness and care, they become less a nuisance and reduced in number. It’s a matter of focus and commitment.

I am practical, efficient, and tenacious. As long as something has to be done, why not do it with the least amount of effort – or create the condition so it isn’t so difficult (i.e., watering the ground around the weeds). Life doesn’t have to be hard. Weeding is easiest done after a rain storm or watering with a hose. The proper tools assist with the most stubborn of weeds – dig down to the root, loosen up the surrounding soil, and the buggers don’t stand a chance of staying intact. The idea is to be smarter than the weed and not give up!

I’m discerning. Some weeds grow in the most inconvenient spots (like in the middle of your favorite bulbs or ground cover) so that digging them up is a delicate proposition. Also, the weeds may be structured in such a way that too much pulling just breaks off the top at ground level and the roots can be difficult to remove totally (e.g., thistles). I can let the ground soften through watering, hoping they’ll come out more easily, but sometimes even that doesn’t work. This is when I have to decide just how much of a perfectionist I am – how important is it to get every single weed’s root out?  The answer: it’s not!

I know with every fiber of my being that the thistle will grow another stem and leaves before the season is over. I can count on it! I find peace in that assuredness of nature. Even if I don’t succeed with this one plant now, I’ll get another opportunity to uproot its minor annoyance later. I don’t have to dig up my flower bed now, damaging my precious flowers or vines, to make a point…to be the “victor of the weed” and destroy a treasure of my heart.

I am dependable. I can be counted on to finish what I start until it is complete or no longer serves a worthwhile purpose. There have been many times when I question my annual weed-pulling ritual. Gardening often takes large blocks of time, energy, and strength; it’s a perpetual act – spring comes each year and the activity starts all over again. With each new spring the foliage has grown, become more mature and, usually, more glorious! It’s the first blossoms of the season that ignite the fire in me to garden once more. It’s a call to serve Mother Nature that I cannot ignore. My hands must reach deep into the dark, pungent soil to support this new life and clear away the dead or unwanted growth of the previous winter. It’s a time of examination of what can be saved, what can be restructured, and what must be discarded. In the same way I examine those parts of me that no longer serve my highest good, those that honor the very essence of my existence, and those that need love and care to develop into something even greater. I remove the weeds of negative thought, forgive that which I cannot change, release what no longer benefits my life, and nourish those gifts in me that best serve God and humanity.

And what gifts the garden offers in return! While engaged in the garden’s repair, I reminisce about the struggle to get the children to help with mowing, the yard games we shared, the pets that have lived and died here, the parties we’ve held, and the evenings sitting with my husband in front of the outdoor fireplace, roasting marshmallows with our grandchildren, or sitting alone meditating. My husband and I were married inside this house, and we restated our vows 10 years later on the wooden bridge I had built and placed over the small pond I dug by hand.

As I kneel now on the cool damp ground, pulling weeds once again, my back is gently warmed by the sun and I am lovingly grateful to a long-ago friend for helping me on this path. Hummingbirds whiz by in their quest for nectar or convenient urban feeders. I fondly remember the faces of others who helped sow seeds here, resulting in resplendent blossoms and vivid colors. I hear the gentle trickle of my pond’s miniature waterfall, just enough of a sound to bring a sense of joy to my heart. The gentle breeze rocks the willow tree’s branches to and fro as I gaze up in amazement at how much it’s grown in just five short years. The little blue spruce I planted fourteen years ago is now taller than me. I will miss this place, this private corner in Mother Nature’s world, this sanctuary for my soul…until the next one is created.

Creating and nurturing a garden is not a voluntary act for me; it’s an integral part of who I am. And while the size, variety, and location of my garden may change as the years go by, for whatever reason, I will always have a garden and feel the need to meld with the earth…to play in the dirt…to be in awe as the miracle of life grows from a seed to a blossom. Regardless of the work and effort it takes to create and maintain it, I have to do it…and do it well!

For in its creation, the seeds of who I am are grown.