Learning to play guitar, like gardening, is a lifelong process. I wear my left-hand fingertip calluses proudly. One of the best things about playing guitar is enjoying it with my husband. It has become quite a bonding experience for us. I’m so grateful for his humility and patience as I began playing years after he did.
Music touches the soul and plucks inner chords we didn’t even know were there.
Christian rock is a style of music that often has me singing as tears wet my face. I am proud to worship even if I’m perhaps more all-encompassing and non-denominational that most contemporary Christian music concert-goers. But the same way that the Bible is an incredibly wise book available to all to read and learn from no matter their faith, so too is the music of this genre an enlivening style that brightens the hearts of so many listeners.
While I frequently listen to instrumental music when driving, if traffic is not too congested I’ll turn on the radio and enjoy my local Christian music station. This song came on and although I’d never heard it before I began singing along. There are times when it feels like my chest is peeling open because I’m filled with so much love and gratitude. This song continues to elicit this response.
Anyone who has the the desire and determination can learn how to play this song because the chords are included with this video. Learning to play any song requires repetition, and that helps the wisdom seep in. I highly recommend it!
May this timeless truth expressed with musical passion brighten your heart and your day.
Christopher Dwayne “Chris” Tomlin is an American contemporary Christian music (CCM) artist, worship leader, and songwriter who has sold nearly 30 million records.
He is a husband and father who was born on May 4, 1972 in Grand Saline, Texas, United States.
“The greatest teacher is our own soul’s connection with the Source. To access wisdom, distortions within our human nature must be removed: beliefs that do not serve, emotional attachments that cloud. We arrive in the present moment with no agenda of our own making. Here in the eternal present, a fountain begins to rise from within. It is the inner waters of wisdom, the essential wellspring of remembering.” ~Ann Mortifee, In Love With The Mystery
My gratitude to the maker of this image with the spectacular photograph and inspiring quote. I wish I knew who to credit it to and will certainly add it as soon as I discover it. Namaste. Gina
Dehydration has been shown to negatively impact people’s moods. Mild dehydration is “associated with confusion, fatigue, and negative moods.” Moderate dehydration symptoms include “lethargy or extreme sleepiness”. [source]
As with dehydration, an early symptom of a weakened spiritual connection is a feeling of listlessness, making us wonder why our zest for life seems to have evaporated.
Symptoms similar to dehydration surface when I have been negligent with my prayer and meditation practice. The ‘busyness’ of life and the distractions of pain are excuses I’ve used to allow lapses in my prayer practice. It’s terribly ironic that when I need that grounding connection the most is when I often forget to be still and go within.
Let’s remember to refresh our body and our spirit. As I reach for a glass of water, I also reach within. I bring my glass to set on the table beside my small altar. I close the door, light the candle and have a seat. It is time. God patiently waits while I run around distracted and in pain. At last I notice my spiritual dehydration and take a moment, no – I make the time – to sit down and empty my mind. Calm those thoughts. Observe them and let them dissolve. Feel the deep calm and bubbling-up of love that rises to the surface to fill all of my life, if I will but make the time to actively pursue my connection with God. Once I am quiet enough it feels as though the still small voice within seems to whisper ‘there you are’.
I like to remember this old poem by an unknown author:
Whoso draws near to God one step, through doubtings dim,
God will advance a mile in blazing light to him.
(Note: To my women friends and spiritual sisters, we know this is beyond gender and speaks to the love God has for us all: if we will take ‘one step’, God will advance towards us ‘a mile’.)
Today I propose that we maintain proper hydration for our spirits as well as our bodies. As healing as a glass of water is for the dehydrated, actively maintaining our spiritual connection nourishes our soul and refreshes our life. Energy and vitality return, bringing a flush of growth in the form of enriched gratitude and renewed awareness of our vast blessings.
Whether you turn to the scriptures of God or other spiritual texts or turn towards a walk in the woods, whether you sit to pray at an altar or practice meditative yoga, whatever works to help you feel God’s love surrounding you, do that. Let us strengthen our relationship with the One who patiently waits. It is we who must make that first step. We must pick up the glass. God is waiting to fill it to overflowing if we but ask.
Are you feeling hectic and busy? Overwhelmed? Depressed? Tired? Take a pause. Close your eyes and go within. Relish some deep calming breaths. Pray, or go for a prayerful walk. You deserve some nourishing refreshment of the most divine kind.
Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE
[Gratitude to the makers of these amazing images found on Pinterest and Google]
“The universe has a way of pushing us to go beyond our limits. At first our challenges seem like curses, but in the end we learn to bless them. Challenge is God’s way of getting us to wake up to the fact that we are bigger than we thought we were. God is our best friend because He remembers our potential even when we don’t, and He will not let us slumber in the stupor of limited living.” ~Alan Cohen, Dare to be Yourself
“If you shelter yourself from challenge, your spirit will wither and you will grow weak of will. Your creativity will be reduced to a trickle. You will become bored and wonder what you are doing here. Learn to recognize boredom as a sign that you must escape the shell in which you have become entombed. Let restlessness spur you to reach out and stretch to your next creative adventure.” ~Alan Cohen, Dare to be Yourself, p.304
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” ~Helen Keller, The Open Door (1957)
Nature is superior to our human mistakes. The vastness of her power is beyond our comprehension. One way to celebrate Earth Day, beyond enjoying time outdoors, is to focus on what is working. Certainly let’s take action with conserving energy, purchasing less and repurposing more. But let’s also help with our minds and hearts as we pay attention to what is working. Let’s focus on building the new. Together, with Nature’s awesome power and our opportunities for making a difference, we can fix this. Happy Earth Day! And let’s BE HAPPY for Earth Day. Namaste.
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
“God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.” ~Jeffrey R. Holland
Some Suggestions To Help Those in Grief
I would sooner bring a blanket than flowers and cards to offer genuine comfort for someone in grief. A new cozy throw can say ‘it’s okay to be not okay’ without having to put it into words. As one who adores cards I have learned through my own grief that cards didn’t help (I read them, but not until much later). If you bring flowers, bring them IN a vase or be ready to find one and cut the flowers for it. Don’t let your grieving friend prep the flowers themselves because that’s not helping the situation; it’s making them work (of course they might love the distraction of doing it, so just be aware).
Bring them food but don’t expect it to be eaten right away. Offer it and if not wanted immediately, put it in their fridge. Bring sandwiches and fresh fruit for easy snacking, and small containers of casseroles or meals that can be heated later (label contents and add directions if needed). Small nutritious meals are the best but perhaps some decadent comfort foods can help get them to eat something. Also bring nutritious beverages like tea and juice (or good coffee, but it’s wise to avoid alcohol – in my experience anyways; hangovers just make everything worse).
Allow the silence. Words mostly fail during times of tragedy anyways but being nearby can help more than you may realize. Be there without fussing over them (unless of course that comforts them but for me and many others, please don’t fuss or be too busy). Let them cry if they need to, or sleep, or rant even. Just listen. Make some tea, watch something together or sit in silence. Read on your own, and let them stare or sleep. Perhaps even reading out loud to help them fall asleep on the couch. There’s tremendous healing to be found and comfort to be offered in just being with someone.
Pray. For yourself. For your friend who is in grief. For everyone in and around the situation. People you might know and those you’ve never met. Survivors who were there. The victims’ families and loved ones. Emergency responders and doctors. Everyone who’s been affected. Pray to find your connection with Source, with God. Whatever word you use and whether you turn to the scriptures or chime a bell and meditate deeply or spend time doing yoga or going for a walk. Whatever works to bring you closer in contact with the highest, brightest source of light and love within your heart, do that! Pray so that you may shine healing Love onwards and outwards. Radiate the biggest feelings of compassion you can generate. It’s important and it helps, I believe, more than we can comprehend or realize. Praying is one of the most essential things you can do to help after a tragedy.
Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE
“Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.” ~Edith Hamilton
Click to view images on a Pinterest board I’ve compiled about grief
From an excellent article on helping the grieving at HelpGuide.org:
Comments to avoid when comforting the bereaved
▪ “I know how you feel.” One can never know how another may feel. You could, instead, ask your friend to tell you how he or she feels.
▪ “It’s part of God’s plan.” This phrase can make people angry and they often respond with, “What plan? Nobody told me about any plan.”
▪ “Look at what you have to be thankful for.” They know they have things to be thankful for, but right now they are not important.
▪ “He’s in a better place now.” The bereaved may or may not believe this. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless asked.
▪ “This is behind you now; it’s time to get on with your life.” Sometimes the bereaved are resistant to getting on with because they feel this means “forgetting” his or her loved one. In addition, moving on is easier said than done. Grief has a mind of its own and works at its own pace.
▪ Statements that begin with “You should” or “You will.” These statements are too directive. Instead you could begin your comments with: “Have you thought about. . .” or “You might. . .”
Be the one who takes the initiative. There are many practical ways you can help a grieving person.
You can offer to:
▪ Shop for groceries or run errands
▪ Drop off a casserole or other type of food
▪ Help with funeral arrangements
▪ Stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests
▪ Help with insurance forms or bills
▪ Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry
▪ Watch his or her children or pick them up from school
▪ Drive him or her wherever they need to go
▪ Look after their pets
▪ Go with them to a support group meeting
▪ Accompany them on a walk
▪ Take them to lunch or a movie
▪ Share an enjoyable activity (game, puzzle, art project)
“A weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes,
whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.” ~ Victor Frankl
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield
but to my own strength.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” ~George MacDonald
“Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness,
or else forgiving another.” ~Jean Paul
“When tragedy strikes, our first human response is to react in anger and with rage in our hearts, to attempt to end such dark behavior by throwing more darkness at the problem. Yet our rational minds tell us that reacting with darkness in the form of hatred and madness simply expands and multiplies the darkness. The only answer to so much darkness is to bring light. As Saint Francis of Assisi reminded us, Where there is darkness, let me bring light.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer [source]
Let us pray and help bring light to this time of sadness and darkness for Calgary, Alberta. Rest in peace Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura. My prayers are with all affected by this tragedy. Here are prayers from Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson
Prayer For The Victim of Violence
I have been wounded in body and soul.
My memories, my thoughts, dear Lord, are full of horror, and I am powerless to heal them.
The hatred I feel,
The pain I feel,
Is beyond my ability to deal with.
Please, dear God,
Come into my mind with your spirit, dear God,
Please wash me clean.
Take out of me this sword.
Take out of me this wound.
Take out of me this pain.
Help me forgive,
For it is beyond my power to do so myself.
Release the one who did this
And release, dear God, my heart.
I need new life.
Please give me this.
Thank you, Lord.
Prayer For The Perpetrator
“While we strive to heal the world, the darkness is putting up a massive assault on the planet. God’s healing must extend itself, not to heal light but to heal the darkness. The perpetrator of violence may or may not be consciously horrified by his own behavior. For those who are, that horror does not always lead to the cessation of criminal behavior. As with any addictive pattern where the drive toward certain behavior overwhelms and drowns the yearning of a human conscience, it is only through the power of a genuine spiritual awakening that the deepest darkness is turned to light. For the perpetrator of wrong action, the need for prayer is great indeed. God hears all prayers. He judges no one.” ~Marianne Williamson, Illuminata p.237
I recognize the evil of my behavior.
I ask forgiveness for the pain I’ve caused to others.
Forgive me, God, and cleanse my heart.
May God cast out this evil from within me.
May I be returned somehow, through Your grace, dear God, to the ways of goodness.
Please bless and protect those who have been victims of my perpetration.
May my life be somehow lifted up that I might be redeemed and receive from You the chance to live the rest of my life on the path of good, through the grace of God and in service to humanity forever and forever.
During prayer, when I go beyond life’s chatter and listen for the voice within that says ‘Be still and know that I Am God’ I fall into love and release attachment… to anything and everything. Through the process of connecting with the vastness of God’s power and love throughout the universe as well as in every fiber of my being, I fully let go and relax.
If I forget to pray, I lose my equanimity and can become grasping and desirous of outcomes. These lower energies are felt in my shoulders and stomach as tight muscles and tension, concern or worry, or even excitement and anticipation. Left undirected and untrained, my mind wanders and generates passionate reactions over this and that, with emotions as unstable as sand beneath my feet.
But when I carve out time to sit and be still, to quiet my thoughts and go deeply within, everything in my life benefits. The time I spend in prayer and meditation grants me a sense of stability that speaks to me of ‘building my house on a rock’.
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” ~unknown
Deepak Chopra shared in an interview that there has not been a quarrel in his family for decades. He has worked on and mastered his inner calm and remains unflustered by outer events. I admire that and work towards it. Whether I am driving in traffic (often a button for me) or preparing a meal for many people, I endeavor to bring the results of my daily prayers to the task. A sense of non-attachment is what I am learning, and from which I have discovered tremendous calm.
As one who used to live amidst perfectionist tendencies, learning to release outcomes has improved my life. I still make lists to help me stay on track. I still plan ahead because it helps set me up for success. And I still visualize the best and highest outcome, yet I now include the phrase ‘this or something better’ and turn it over to God.
Putting it all in God’s hands makes me feel safer than when I used to strive to be in control. Having been on my own from a young age, taking care of all I could was an essential skill. However now it no longer serves but rather limits my true freedom. I’ve learned that when I forget to pray and attempt to control things, events, and people around me, deep within I feel unsafe.
For example, driving alone to attend an evening workshop across the city can generate feelings of fear if I’m only operating from my logical human awareness. I attempt to be in control and know everything: where to park and will it be well-lit; how early should I get there to get a close spot; can I walk out with a crowd to remain safe on the way back to my car; is my car fully gassed up; battery charged on the cell phone; and someone knows where I’m going and when I will return home?
Certainly all these steps help ensure security but they do not help me FEEL any safer. Only prayer helps me feel safe and secure. It is in acknowledging I control nothing that I notice the solid rock beneath me. It is in letting go of my human attachment to control that I truly feel safe. I embrace my trust and celebrate my faith in the One who controls everything.
Matthew 7:24-27 NIV ~ Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.
This is what prayer and meditation does for me. It is the rock beneath my feet and the awareness that I am truly safe.
Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE
“We need to have the courage to claim our spiritual identity in the midst of a world afraid of light. We don’t need to flaunt our spirituality, argue about it, or attack anyone who does not see or agree with it; we just need to live it. The path of mastery does not require us to convince anyone else of anything; it simply asks us to remember who we are and be it.” ~Alan Cohen, Dare To Be Yourself