Loving the Dark-Stuff

Lent as a way of Releasing and Embracing

Living a Spirit-filled Life

Living a spiritual life is not easy. Though it often sounds like it, it is really not about sitting for a while daily chanting  some mantra hoping that all that is challenging or uncomfortable in our life will magically disappear. 

In our commitment to living a life with the Divine in it, we commit to change and to align ourselves with the ‘will’ of God. Though it sounds spooky, it actually means that we allow God/the Divine to guide us. We do not give up control over our choices in life, we just allow the inflow of Loving to move us to places that is dark and sometimes scary. These scary places need to be discovered so we can bring God’s unconditional Loving Light into it; so we can heal.

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In my experience as I meditate and invite God to walk with me, It starts showing me where I carry pain, anguish, anxiety, fear, hurt inside of me. The Divine wants me to Love me for the beautiful and unique creature I am. God wants me to see myself as Its seems me in Its infinite Loving. 

But I cannot.  The Dark Places, the unhealed places, inside of me prevents me from connecting to the Divine Loving. I sit and call upon God/the Divine, we connect, I feel Its gracious Love for me, then, suddenly, all I can feel is pain and anger. What has gone wrong? Nothing, God has just guided me into a place inside of myself where I store past huts, a sense of powerlessness and shame. I cannot tell you how uncomfortable and difficult it is to sit and look into the darkness and the pain!

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Release

Release and Letting go is a conscious inner action, a strong desire to reconnect with the Grace and the Loving of God. The deeper I moving into the Darkness, the more clarity I gain on what this darkness is about. With every bit of clarity I call upon the the Divine Presence and Release it. I say: ‘God, I release this pain and anguish and I am willing to let go of whatever caused it in the past.’

When memories start flowing from the past, I simply forgive them. Regardless of what happened, whether I was wronged or I wronged someone, I do not ponder over the event. I look at it and forgive it. I say: ‘I forgive myself for having generated this experience or I forgive myself for judging myself and others.’ Nothing else.

Then, I start listening into God’s caring whisper: ‘Love it all!’ With that, I start embracing parts of me who felt judged, unloved, uncared for, all that the darkness has covered up until now. I bring it all into the Light, offer it all up to God to be Loved. 

Divine Love

In my release, I create a vacuum, some space is freed up inside of my consciousness that is now available to be filled with Divine Love. This Love is not a fuzzy feeling but a new level of consciousness, a new way of seeing myself and my life. This Love makes me a happier person without any change in my physical environment. 

All it is an inner action, not an outer one. The Love the Divine has in store for us is immeasurable and incomparable to any human love.

40 Days from Release to Embrace

Release and Letting Go is rather appropriate as we are moving into the Lenten season starting on the 22 February, 2023. Till the 6th of April, I will walk the 40 days of Lent from Release to Embrace daily. I will share my journey in short posts daily offering something to contemplate on every day. Join me if you like! I would love to have some company!🙂 

By Ildiko Kudlik, ministerial student at Unity UK, DailyWord UK, and UUMS

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Let’s Walk this Journey Together

Join me by …

either reading the daily blogposts I create or joining the FACEBOOK GROUP where I am going to share my writings and daily contemplative questions. I will also post a short video/audio material on the daily posts. (click on the buttons below to join)

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40 Days of Lent

From Release to Embrace – An Introduction

What is it about? 

As I was looking for some material for contemplation for LENT this year, I decided to meditate and contemplate of some quotes from a book called ’40 Rules of Love’ by Elif Shafak. (Read more about the book below. )

Background 

At first, I thought that Shams Tabrizi wrote a book – which is very unlikely – and started to look for his ‘rulebook on Love’. Since he was a rather particular 13th century Sufi Mystic known for being the teacher of Rumi, I thought,  that he might have left some notes behind which served as a base for the book. Well, nothing like that. The book – 40 Rules of Love  – is a fictional story. It is a story of Love, on Shams and Rumi, but most importantly the book offers 40 so called ‘rules’ on how to live a Spirit-filled Life.

I have collected some information on Shams’ Life and his impact on Rumi’s Spiritual unfoldment that you can read HERE

As I was reading the book, I have fallen in love with both the story and the ‘rules.  I found them thoughtful and deep. Each one made me think. They reminded me how much we are attached to the phantasy of rom-coms that tell nothing about the Truth of Love. They do not make it real or even believable. But there is a kind of Love that is beyond the warm and fuzzy emotions and fantasies, a Love that Rumi and Shams wrote so beautifully about.  

We often spend countless hours trying to find love in another person or in the world but what we fail to see is that the Love we are so desperately searching for is right there within ourselves. It has always been there. We only need to discover it or uncover it, more like.

Personally, I think it is important to find the True meaning behind the word ‘LOVE’,  understand it and experience it as a Spiritual Quality inherently within us. 

I am going to walk this 40-day Lenten journey contemplating on the True meaning of Love, Divine Love, Spiritual Love for me by experimenting with the 40 rules and quotes from the Lent Booklet. Every day,, between the 22nd of February and the 6th of April, I will post a ‘rule’ from the book ’40 rules of Love’ and an a release idea from the book ’40 days of Letting go – Lent 2023′ by Unity.org. Then, we will contemplate on it and share about it in this  Facebook Group.

Let’s walk this journey together!

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Everyday Miracles

We read in the Bible about many miracles that supposedly happened.  Many people today dismiss them out of hand as myths or creative inventions and do not accept that such things as miracles exist. Others staunchly insist they were literally true. Some believe that these incidents happened, but only demonstrate some law of nature that people did not understand at the time. For me, there are daily miracles that happen which are every bit as mysterious as the ones in ancient spiritual literature.

For example, how do people find one another? Not only is this a big planet where the likelihood – of, say, my wife and I – ever meeting must be astronomical; this entire physical creation is gigantic and souls could exist here for eons without ever running into one another.  Let me tell you our story. 

My wife and I first met decades ago at one of the spiritual classes I taught.  She was one of many students who attended, and we did not have a personal relationship back then.  Thirteen years passed.  She was proctoring at a regional academic spell bowl.  My son wanted to attend to support a friend who was competing, so I drove him there and dropped him off with the teacher from his school. I was in the building for barely five minutes. During that brief window, Ani saw me, recognized me, and came over to speak to me. That was the beginning of our reacquaintance, our romance, and eventual marriage. Thirteen years!  Five minutes!  That was a miracle to me.

How do we find our spouse, our closest friends, our spiritual community, our life’s purpose? How do we find God?  How did you find this path? How did you find the people and books that have changed your life?

Did you know where to find them before they showed up?  What is behind the amazing sequence of apparently “random” circumstances, all of which have to happen at just the right time and in just the right order for these connections to take place?  The logistical mathematical probabilities to make it “just happen” to occur in just that way are staggering! 

There is an invisible, but intentional, movement going on behind the scenes of our life all the time, and it is done so well and so skillfully that we seldom even notice it.  Yes, even in the bad things, the unpleasant and painful ones, something – insight, wisdom, compassion, strength, new and profound life-changing connections – comes out of those that we could (or would) never anticipate or design on our own. Something as simple as getting a puppy, meeting someone through a mutual friend, showing up at a particular event, or just walking down this street instead of that one, can create an unexpected connection and intimacy that forever alters the course of our lives for the better.

Who knows what lies in store for us today? Whose path will we cross? What new friend is wending his way toward us, unbeknownst to either of us? What new discovery will awaken us to new understanding? What opportunity is just around the next corner?  Is that, in itself, not miraculous, and completely worthy of our awe?

This much I am sure of: if I am the new connection that Spirit is planning on bringing into someone else’s life, I want to be worthy of that. I want to be a blessing, something that the person I’m affecting is thankful for, and not something they will regret having encountered in life.  

Oh, and by the way, finding you is something for which I am deeply grateful.

in loving,

Steven

Written by Rev Steven McAffee

With questions and for counselling contact Rev Steven at onebyonecommuity@gmail.com

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Things Are Not Always As They Seem

There is an old story that I remember went something like this: Two angels were walking upon the earth in the garb of human beings, one was an elder angel and the other a young angel who was traveling and learning from the elder.  

They had walked a long way and were tired as evening was approaching.  They came to a large, wealthy looking, well-manicured home with several large outbuildings. They knocked on the door and explained they were travelers who were hungry and tired and asked if they could please have lodging and food for the night. The grumpy man who answered the door said that he had no room for them and nothing to spare, but that they could spend the night in his barn and eat the slop with the pigs.  So, they bedded down in the barn as best they could on some unsoiled hay and ate the filth in the pig trough. It was a thoroughly miserable night.  They noticed as they lay down to sleep that there was a small hole in the wall behind them in one corner of the stable.    

In the morning, when the younger angel awoke, he discovered that the elder one had patched the hole in the wall. They set out on the road again, still hungry, and now sore.  The younger angel said, “I do not understand – he obviously could have fed us decent food and let us stay in comfort, but he was so miserly he did not, and yet you fixed his wall for him! Why…??”

The elder angel answered, “Things are not always as they seem!”, and then fell silent.  

That night, after another long day’s journey, they came upon a poor, dilapidated farm house and noticed one spindly cow in the small field nearby. The farmer and his wife both greeted them at the door. Hearing their tale, the elderly couple who lived there welcomed them into their home, saying, “We do not have much, but you may sleep in our bed tonight, and we will sleep on the floor. And you can share dinner with us, such as it is – a loaf of bread, some cheese, and milk from our cow.  We barely get by selling her milk in the village. I am sorry we cannot offer you more.”  The two angels expressed their gratitude for the couple’s kindness and slept well that night after dinner.  

They awoke in the morning to the sound of the woman crying. They went to the kitchen to find the man comforting his sobbing wife at the table. The younger angel asked them what had happened. The man answered sadly, “In the middle of the night our cow died.”  The elder angel said a brief prayer and some words of comfort before the two angels took their leave and were on the road again.

The younger angel said: “I do not understand. This couple had so little and yet were so generous to us, and you did nothing to help them! You even allowed their cow to die!  Why?”   The elder angers answered, “Things are not always as they seem”, and continued walking.

After several hours the young one spoke up again, distraught. “No, this is not right! It should not be this way. The grumpy wealthy man offers us nothing, and you fix the hole in his wall.  The kindly couple opened their hearts and home to us, and you did nothing to help them at all! Why? I need to understand. And please do not just say that things are not always as they seem!”

The elder angel stopped walking and looked at his young companion. With a sigh he explained, “While you slept in the straw in the barn, I explored what was behind the hole in the wall. It was a vast collection of gold and money and jewels – where the wealthy man hid his treasures.  So I did not fix the wall, as it appeared to you; I sealed it so he can never access it again. 

“And in the case of the elderly couple, I awoke to find the Angel of Death in the house in the middle of the night and asked him why he was here. He pointed to the farmer’s wife as she lay sleeping, and told me he had come for her. I stopped him and said, ‘Take the cow instead.’ ”  

The younger angel said, “So he still has his wife.”  The old angel smiled, “You see, things are not always as they seem.  He will get another cow.”

In my life, in yours, things are not always as they seem. What looks one way often turns out another, and there are hidden blessings going on all around us.  All we need are the eyes to see…and it is the light of love within our hearts that makes that vision possible.

12.21.22

Written by Rev Steven McAffee

With questions and for counselling contact Rev Steven at onebyonecommuity@gmail.com

Did You Know?

Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash

Did you know that Jesus – whose Hebrew name was Yeshua – never started Christianity? It developed years after his death, primarily built around the theological concepts and teaching of Paul, whom as far as we know historically, never met Yeshua?  And those teachings were often at odds with what Yeshua and his apostles did teach?

Not only did Jesus not start a new religion, he never even started his own synagogue (a local center for worship, study, prayer, and community gatherings in that era).  He worked within the religion and culture into which he was born.  And in a time before the advent of modern technology, with no internet, no media, no mass marketing, no public transportation, he and his small group of devotees transformed the world.

While he did speak in public arenas from time to time – such as at local synagogues, on the steps of the Temple, and in the marketplace, most of his teaching was done in private.  Where?  In homes.   He and his friends and students would gather in homes to listen to his teachings, to share meals, to learn his “way.”  The innermost teachings about the Path were given in these settings.  To the public he spoke in parables – meaning he basically told inspirational stories that would transform their way of looking at things. To his disciples, in these private gatherings, he revealed the mysteries of God: 

“And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the  mysteries of  the kingdom of God, but to the rest they are told in parables…”  (Luke 8:10)

This is not just a history lesson. I share it to point out that what he accomplished, he accomplished by working on a small local level with the means he had at hand and spread the word through sharing in homes and private venues – not through the means of wealth or mass communications.  Today, though we are blessed with the technology to stay in touch over long distances, our opportunity is the same.  We can connect with one another in our homes in small gatherings (even virtually) – listen to the teachings, share our experiences, and serve God one soul at a time, one life at a time.  No matter how limited your resources may appear to be, you can learn and live and support the work of the Lord right where you are.  And while it may not seem like much, neither did a handful of Jewish fisherman and village women two thousand years ago.  And look what happened.  You are in good company. 

12.14.22 

Written by Rev Steven McAffee

Contact Rev Steven at onebyonecommuity@gmail.com

Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

Connection vs Separation

“When I accept my humanity I can claim my divinity.” There is a very popular saying in Unity, “I am a spiritual being having human experiences.” It is the perfect reminder that I am not ‘only human’; I am of Spirit as well. Yet, living in such a fast-paced world, many feel isolated, alone, frightened; …”

Rev Kimerie Mapletoft – Director of Silent Unity and Daily Word UK

As I was reading Rev Kimerie’s thoughts – see above – I felt reminded of the ‘ separation’  we generate by not being aligned with our ‘greater self’, the living-loving spirit with in us, that is of the Divine or God (chose your word of preference).

I started to wonder what it is that I can all do to feel closer to the Divine not only in myself but also in others.

 

Rev Kimerie continues …

Yet the good news is that as we begin to accept our humanity, our foibles, mistakes and errors for what they are, our experience as human beings, learning and growing in a human body, we can move beyond identifying with these errors and claim our divinity. We will be able to say with joy that I am, and you are, a beautiful, creative, inspiring being; a blessing in the world.

The invitation, in all of this, is for every single one of us to accept our differences, our human mistakes and experiences, to help us see through and beyond them to Spirit that shines brightly within, whenever we open the door to this experience. As we accept our humanity, we can claim our divinity.

Rev Kimerie Mapletoft -Director of Silent Unity and Daily Word UK

How true! By honestly looking at my mistakes and flaws, I become aware of them. This awareness helps me embrace and love ALL OF ME: the silly-me, the hurry-scurry part of me, the arrogant-me, the scared-me, the fat-me, … And as I do that they start dissipating, kind of being removed from obscuring my connection with the Divine. As a result, not only do I become aware of the Greater-part of Me, but I am also enabled to see the Divine in others. 

The separation that was created inside of me by looking for our differences and judging them in fear, disappears. I become free and let others to be free in themselves, too. 

Read THOUGHT OF THE WEEK blogpost on UNITY UK website here (CLICK)

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