This follows nicely on the heels of my forgiveness post from the other day. Enjoy!
Today I had the chance to share my journey into forgiveness with someone on Facebook. I thought I might post it here in case it might be helpful for any of my readers. There really is healing ahead – assuming you want it badly enough.
How do I stop holding an ex accountable for their behavior? How do I let go and forgive?
I have been going through this for the past 3 years, so for what it’s worth, here’s how it went for me.
1. I started a vision board for my trip to Ireland, and in the process, ran into a little meme that reads: “Forget shit and move on.” It didn’t have much to do with Ireland, but I put it on my board anyway. It became a very useful tool when I needed to stop the stream of hateful thoughts that came up often in those days. In terms of painful experiences, a short memory is the fastest road to salvation (read: freeeddoooommm). (See Joe Dispenza for more on this.)
2. I spent a reasonable amount of time sending the white light of love to him in meditation. Not something I could do when I was NOT connected to my inner being (who loves him, despite my feelings about it).
3. I started noticing that I kept meeting men who were JUST LIKE HIM. Seriously, ALL of them. Hm, I knew enough about the LOA to know that it was my focus on his faults that was pulling these people into my experience. I was doing it – ME, not him (reminder: I attracted him into my experience in the first place, after all). When I finally had enough, I began with the new people who were rubbing me the wrong way (I couldn’t begin with him). I reminded myself of an old adage, “hurting people hurt people” and started finding positive aspects in those folks. Then I thought about and talked about those positive aspects to anyone who would listen (especially others who were annoyed by those same people). Soon the weird relationships I had been encountering either disappeared (I started meeting really wonderful people), or the relationships began resolving themselves. One in particular continues to amaze me in terms of how much the person changed in my view of them over a very short period of time! Perspective really is everything. Now I just don’t think ill of the ex anymore either – maybe I’ll call it ‘the bleed effect’. I’ve seen too much positive change in my world to want to go back there again.
4. I reminded myself over and over that we ALL do the best we can with what we have. There are people in this world who simply do not have useful tools in the emotional box. Asking a crippled person to walk and then becoming angry when they don’t is worse than counterproductive. Shouting their disability to others who can see clearly that they have limitations is less than helpful. Usually just makes me look like an ass, not them.
5. I started believing Abraham Hicks – that I really don’t need to explain anything to anyone or justify my divorce by trashing the ex. None of it is necessary. Who I was then is not who I am now. If he chooses to change, great; if not, it’s his loss and still won’t affect me in the least. I began choosing to look into the future and stop wasting my energy in the past. A good quote: “Unforgiveness is equivalent to me drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.” You have to get tired of being sick. An even better quote: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Something that will never change no matter how much energy I give to it. The past really IS passed!
6. Finally, this person is the father of my children. If nothing else, I can find great satisfaction in the joy that these three beings continue to bring me. Without him, there would be no them. I am learning from Abraham that the road to healing is paved with appreciation for the positive aspects of everyone in our experience. After all, each person I meet contains wanted and unwanted. What I focus on is MY choice, and only mine. I got tired of being miserable and started either focusing on his positive aspects or looking at something else entirely. It does help to bang a pickleball around 5 or 6 times a week. hehe
Perhaps I have not yet achieved total freedom, but today I am much happier on my journey than I have ever been. And I can even say that I am grateful beyond measure for the 28 years of pain that taught me how important happiness really is – AND the truth about where happiness comes from. Hint: Happiness cannot come from any source outside of myself, so why would I hold anyone accountable for not giving me something that they could never have given me anyway?
Many blessings on your journey into joy!
… but the Future is Now
Three years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. The following is my attempt to ‘flesh out’ where I stand currently on what it means to live in the present moment.
~ ~ ~
Anyone who knows me very well is aware of the serious condition from which I suffer. I
affectionately call it made up a name for it: Youtubeitis. It’s more of an addiction than an illness. That’s right, my name is Cindy, and I am a YouTube addict. Whether driving to and from the pickleball court, preparing a meal, or sitting on the couch in my room, you will most often find me listening to back to back talks given by my favorite teachers, all offering their wisdom for free on the Interwebs. My AT&T data plan cannot begin to keep up. The good news is, I think it is finally starting to pay off.
When I turned the last page of The Power of Now, I was fairly convinced that whatever Tolle was talking about, it was both impractical and unreachable – at least for me. Nothing about sitting on a park bench for two years, while becoming enamored with the life force of the leaves on the trees has ever remotely appealed to me. I watched the online class that he and Oprah Winfrey put out to help us ‘get it’, but I still didn’t, and I knew it.
Right around the time that I encountered The Power of Now, a cousin of mine introduced me to Dr. Joe Dispenza. Quickly I found that the science of spirituality made much more sense to me than the esoteric, ethereal notions presented in Tolle’s book. I have since read two books by Dr. Joe, listened to almost everything he has out on YouTube multiple times (this is a great place to start), purchased (and use) several of his meditation CD’s, and in December of 2017, I attended a Progressive conference in Austin, TX. Here is a meditation you can try for free. Let me know what you think in the comments.
About 6 months ago, I stumbled upon Abraham Hicks, and suddenly everything I had learned from Dr. Joe was amplified ten-fold! I moved from directing thought and emotion during meditation to becoming aware of my moment-by-moment feelings throughout the day in light of all that I have become. I am now learning how to elevate my thoughts and emotions in real-time, and the skill is transforming my life in ways I never imagined.
When I first read Tolle’s book, probably my most memorable take-away was that the moment you realize you are in the ‘now’, that moment is gone, and you are actually looking back at the past! Clearly I did not understand how to live in the present moment if every now moment is really a past one by the time it registers in my mind as present. (Try repeating that sentence five times fast.)
This week I have been re-immersing myself in Dr. Dispenza’s interviews on YouTube. Here is one of them. So far, he has not said anything that I have not already heard him say. In fact, the books and conference materials explain the same concepts in much more detail than he provides in the interviews, but somehow I am receiving a greater understanding in terms of application. Maybe something that Abraham said is bringing new meaning to Joe’s words, or perhaps some life experience has built a proper framework for me. After all,
words don’t teach, life experience teaches.
Whatever the cause, I am making new connections that I was unable to make before.
The concept is simple enough. We use our memory of who we were yesterday to remind us of who we are when we wake up today. That means that the majority of us depend on our memories of past experiences to tell us who we are in the present moment. Likewise, the beliefs we have about life and others, come from the thoughts of the past that we have practiced over a long period of time. Added to that, the subconscious mind guides and directs 95% of a person’s actions and emotions on a daily basis, yet the majority of the beliefs governing the subconscious were established before we turned five years old. On a subconscious level, we live completely out of our past experiences. This is why lasting change is so difficult to come by.
So the problem becomes that even though the past is gone, we do not actually live like it is. Every morning when I wake up, I formulate a view of myself and the world based on it. If that past was painful, then pain becomes the defining hallmark of my life. I define others based on the past as well, determined to hold a person hostage to the day I became the target of their bad behavior. But because we define our present reality based on the past, we are unable to imagine a different future. And when we do try to imagine our future (thanks to the subconscious programming in our brains) we envision the worst case scenario based on things that happened to us in the past. We know these fears are rooted in events that are now gone, yet we allow those same events to color our picture of tomorrow in dire shades we dare not entertain thoughts about.
What if a person was able to wake up and only see themselves through the framework of who they wanted to be, rather than who they were yesterday? What if people approached everyone they encountered on any given day as if it were the first time they met? No history of wrongs, no preconceived notions of what that person was like, only a soul, just like them, living out the greatest expression of themselves that they could be in that moment in time. What if people learned to ignore everything from their past (since the past literally does not exist in any form as a reality) and began to focus their attention on the present moment, in the context of becoming the greatest expression of themselves that they could be? Maybe that is what John Lennon really meant.
Would you be willing to imagine such a world? Do you think that you could imagine it? A world where people everywhere viewed themselves and others in light of what we are becoming, rather than dragging forward what we/they have been. The fact is, the only way to truly live in the present moment is to utterly leave the past behind. Tolle probably said that, but clearly I did not get it.
The key to it all is the human brain’s incredible ability to use thought. Did you know that when you entertain a memory (a thought) of something that occurred in the past, your brain produces the exact same cocktail of chemicals that were released during the event itself – no matter how far removed you are from it in time? Human beings are the only species on the planet who have the ability to make a thought as real as an actual event. It follows then, that our brains are capable of producing chemicals equal to future possibilities through thought alone as well. In this way, our thoughts are able to bring the future we desire into the present moment, but instead we continue to practice the habit of dragging the pain of the past into our now. We could be dreaming about a future filled with joy, appreciation, love, health, peace, and happiness – all along releasing the necessary chemicals that can change the hard-wired programming in our brain. This skill would enable you and me to live with intention going forward, and it is the true meaning of the power of now.
Backward is impossible. Forward is inevitable. And if you can imagine it, you can create it – good, bad, or indifferent. We have the choice to stare fixedly at the past, or to dare to imagine a better future. Whatever we give our attention to is what we will create in our present now reality.
Perception really is everything.
For a long time I have known something about myself: I am really good at starting things, but finishing them? Not so much. A friend recently reminded me that this is but one mark of a Pisces. Imagine my surprise when, on May 29, 2018, the paperback version of my book went live on Amazon. That’s right! I actually succeeded in beginning and finishing a full-length novel. Wow! I have not completely wrapped my brain around this yet, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.
The thing is, I am not exactly sure how to get my brain around the completion of something I began almost four years ago. I should be ecstatic – and I am, don’t get me wrong! But there is also the very distinct question of ‘what’s next?’ banging around in my head right now. I mean, I spent almost every waking moment for the past several YEARS thinking about and writing the book that I wanted to read. And when I wasn’t consciously thinking about it, I could hear it whispering in the back of my mind, “Git ‘er done!” I did that. Now what?
Let’s see … I have several Tarot books I’ve been meaning to read, Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey, and two travel books on Ireland to tackle before my trip in September. There are several metaphysical books gathering dust on my shelf, oh, and one incredible poetry book by Ra Avis that I have been meaning to get to. The hardest thing about writing was not feeling like I had time to read much of anything (or feeling a bit guilty when I did take the time). I still did read – a lot – seeing as it’s so difficult for me to not be in the middle of five or ten books at one time. I worked my way through everything that Patrick Rothfuss has published (Rothruss is by far THE best fantasy writer I have ever read, and I am not kidding even one little bit), The Four Agreements, two of Joe Dispenza’s books, one by Eckhart Tolle, Inner Engineering, another book on meditation and one on yoga, some things I reviewed right here on this blog, and a handful of novels that I listened to on CD (written by Sanderson, JRR Martin, and Mark Lawrence, all excellent writers of high fantasy). Now I am looking forward to finally knocking out the twenty or so more books that have been calling for my attention. I won’t be writing one anymore, at least for a little while.
If you are at all inclined to read fantasy fiction, check out my first novel. Honest reviews are appreciated, of course (although, if you really hate it, I would appreciate that feedback to come to me personally before it’s posted on Amazon – maybe let me catch my breath before flogging me publicly. 😉 ). Please feel free to email me with suggestions or comments about the book at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always looking to become better at this. Mostly, though, I hope you enjoy your journey into the little world I was privileged to create.
You can find my book
on Amazon.com, in either Kindle or paperback.
Meanwhile, I would love to hear about any new adventures happening in your life. Leave a comment to get the conversation started.
As always, thanks for reading!
“So you’re saying that you’re open to dating now?” It was asked innocently enough. By someone well acquainted with the practice.
“Dating…” I hesitated. “That’s a funny word. And I’ve never been all that fond of it.” I took another sip of the Kentucky Mule. “Let’s just say that I’m open.”
“You’re open to exploring a relationship, then?” he asked.
“Yeah, that sounds about right.”
S p a c e is being made.
Eight days later, I sold my guitar. I remember distinctly the day in 1995, walking around a music store in Atlanta. Row after row of dreadnoughts hung from the ceiling overhead. The Guild was mounted on the wall. It had been my first choice, but that was Sue’s fault. What did I know about guitars? Not very much. She had played a 12-string Guild, and had done it brilliantly. She used to tell me that I had “thonky” fingers. After all, my true instrument was my voice. The guitar was just accompaniment. In the sound room, I plugged them in, one after the other. The Guild was dear, but it had the only bass sound that resonated in that deep space inside of me. More than the Martin. Certainly more than the Taylor and the much cheaper Ovation. What were they but names anyway?
When the Guild was plugged in, the richness of sound was astonishing. Not at all “tinny” like the round-bodied Ovation I would leave behind that day. Inside a molded black case, complete with strap and tuner, I carried my 6-string with me for 33 years. One of my favorite pictures was taken of me standing behind my guitar. Midnight jam sessions, beer and Bible studies, and the last day spent with my sister are just a few of the memories we shared. I never forgot that it was handcrafted. I always knew that it was beautiful. At one time, its music defined me. Now I have no instrument to hide behind. But then, I’ve lost the need for accompaniment.
My guitar case has been closed for the better part of three years. Still, it felt strange to let it go. The man who bought it played it for me one last time tonight. He told an endless stream of stories of guitars owned, lost, and sold, and then he told me that I am going to miss it. I have only ever had three guitars, and only ever loved one. Now space is being made.
Seven days from now, my first novel will be available for purchase. It sat open on my desktop almost every day for a good 3-1/2 years, begging to be closed. It feels strange to let it go. Even before I have done it, really. The question, “What now?” keeps coming up. A marriage and a lifetime of music are behind me, and now the novel is too – almost. It feels like I am making space. But, for what? I have no clue. All part of the adventure, I suppose. The new normal that is my life on the fly.
I may not know what is coming next, but I’m open.
S p a c e has been made.
At the start of 2018, I posted a piece about vibration and how it relates to achieving goals. Here we are, almost halfway through the year (believe-it-or-not!). It’s a good time to go deeper. Continue reading “Learning to Harness the Quantum Field”
I can no longer remember how or when the idea for a vacation in Ireland came to me. I know it began as a desire to spend an extended time (3 months, even) in a different environment, possibly tied to writing my novel (fantasy fiction with a Celtic feel). I do remember creating a bucket list, and those few short sentences morphed into a vision board overflowing with photos of Ireland, modest homes surrounded by peaceful gardens, and a few pithy quotes to help me move past a difficult divorce. Continue reading “One Magical Life”
Yesterday I drove from D.C. to the end of the Jersey Turnpike. And back. In the rain. Sometimes in fog and sometimes in the dark. But mostly in traffic. Probably about one-fourth or more of that stretch of highway is undergoing some form of construction. The vast majority of it is surrounded by concrete, factories, and high rises. There was a bit of water along the way but very little green that I could see. Yes, it is wintertime, but still. It was heartbreaking. Continue reading “Dreaming of Change”
Winter is my least favorite time of the year. Even as a kid, I could take or leave the snow, and I have never, by any stretch of the imagination, enjoyed cold weather. As for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding? Blech, I am hopeless at both! No wonder I adored the time we spent in Hawaii. But this winter has seemed particularly harsh to me. Besides an early snowfall and frigid temps, the wind has been brutal. And if you know me at all, you have heard me complain about it too. Continue reading “Heart Space”
My daughter, Rachel Bleicken, is 2018’s first guest blogger here at Ripples of Insight. Rachel owns and operates a Waldorf-inspired daycare in her home and is an avid proponent of RIE parenting. You can check out her amazing vision and work by visiting http://www.marigoldchildrensgarden.com. If you’re looking for a yoga mat, Reviews.com can help you find the best one for your needs. Continue reading “4 Ways that Yoga can Improve your Life”
Abraham Hicks likes to remind us that our inner being never looks back. In fact, whatever is manifesting today is the result of a bygone vibration. She often describes the present reality or current manifestation as a piece of gum that has had all of the flavor chewed out of it. If Hicks is right, then for me to experience any kind of change, my vibration must change ahead of the manifestation. But humans have a difficult time not looking back. We find it almost impossible to take our attention off of what is in order to really focus on what could be. When we focus either on what was (past memories) or what is (current reality), we stay locked into old patterns of thought, action, and reaction. For me, a cursory examination of past and present realities is only useful for one thing: Identifying attitudes, patterns, and habits that I need to leave behind. Continue reading “Looking Forward in 2018”
I would bet money that you have heard this one:
Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results
Late autumn, my favorite time of the year. The air is getting cooler, the leaves have turned and fallen, in some places there may even be the first dusting of snow. Everyone is taking a deep breath in anticipation of the busiest season – the Christmas holidays. Right there, slammed in between Halloween Christmas, comes Thanksgiving. Supposedly the time of year when to count our blessings. The real danger is finding ourselves lulled to sleep by the turkey or drifting into a diabetic coma by Grandma’s pecan pie. Much worse is the feeling of overwhelm in a house full of visiting relatives we never really liked anyway. In today’s world, how many of us truly use the time to give thanks? Continue reading “The Energy of Gratitude”
Sometime in May of 2016, I began a quest for 20-20 eyesight. In conjunction with that, I started sun gazing and have worked my way up to 40 minutes. Although my eyes have a ways to go before I can flush my last pair of glasses, the speedy improvement to my vision has been astounding. Never mind feeding my lifelong addiction to sunlight.
In sixth grade, I complained about an inability to see the blackboard at school. Soon afterward, an opthamologist explained that my eyes were curved too much, or too little, or the wrong way or something. Apparently my eyes projected the incoming images onto the wrong section of my cornea. All I know is that I will never forget the day that I could see actual leaves on trees. It was glorious! Corrective lenses became a permanent part of my existence and have been for some forty years.
In 2003 an optometrist told me I was a candidate for retinal detachment. He began dilating my eyes every year and warning me to pay attention to floaters or bright flashes of light. I was living in Hawaii at the time – a place I would call “eye candy” for a completely different reason than the accepted use of that phrase. During the two and a half years I spent there, I could easily say that I witnessed a rainbow well beyond half of those 912 days. The exit from the H3 Tunnel offered a stunning view of Kaneohe Bay, but all I ever saw were the infinite shades of green and blue that comprised the color of the water. The sight never failed to take my breath away. Once I was lost in Aiea. As I was making my way back to the main highway, there, directly over Pearl Harbor, I saw the most beautiful sunset ever. A flip phone is useless at capturing such beauty, so you will just have to settle for the Hawaiian sunset I did manage to photograph:
I met a lady with a detached retina in 2008. She basically lived with a large black spot in the center of her eyes. At all times. With no hope for change. The spot covered almost everything she looked at. She lost the ability to work, drive, or read. But to no longer be able to enjoy the sparkling blue eyes of my grandson … two red-throated hummingbirds fighting over territory … my daughter’s wry expressions … a window to Ireland … my son’s incredible talent … the crashing waves of the ocean beneath the rising sun of a new day … my daughter’s colorful clothing … autumn leaves, spring flowers, summer rain and winter white. I do not even want to imagine life without all of that. As a child, I sometimes played a game with a friend where one of us would pretend to be blind and the other, a guide. I never told her how much the idea of blindness terrified me.
Of my five senses, sight is the one that brings me the greatest joy. It is also the one I could least do without.
What the doctor in Hawaii failed to tell me is that corrective lenses were responsible for retinal detachment. And I am happy to note that since beginning this journey, I see virtually no floaters at all anymore. If you are interested in learning more about what myopia really is (and how to fix it) hop on over to Jake’s site and read the blogs. Not to be punny, but I found them quite eye opening.
My quest for clearer eyesight happened to coincide with my journey towards clearer insight as well. I have often wondered if the vision coming through my physical eyes could in any way be related to what I see with my spiritual one. The pictures I receive in my inner or third eye tend to be a bit blurry around the edges too. Could there be a connection, or does every clairvoyant “see through a glass dimly”?
There is no real way to tell, I think. It is certainly simpler on the physical plane. If a clear-sighted person wanted to see what the world looks like to me without glasses, they need only to put mine on. But finding out what anyone else sees through their third eye is beyond me. Perhaps on the day when I no longer need glasses, my question will be answered. Until then, I will continue my quest for 20-20 vision, all the while remembering to be thankful – so thankful – for the ability to see.
This blog was inspired by the November Sense-sational Blogging Challenge presented on the Litebeing Chronicles WordPress site. Hop on over and check it out! Oh, and please don’t forget the other contributors. The blog before mine was penned by Kristen on November 16. The next blog in the series will be published by Anupriya on November 20. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
A monster lives inside of me. It is ugly. It is powerful. It is a wall. A wall with claws and teeth. It protects me and hurts me at the same time. I have spent most of my life trying to tame, cage, or hide it.
My monster’s name is Rage.
Welcome to my blog and the very first International Tarot Day Blog Hop!
I’m thrilled and honored to collaborate with Bree Ferguson from Nym’s Divination in celebration of International Tarot Day (July 8, 2017). For this year, I was asked to contribute my thoughts for the 10 of Swords. I hope you enjoyed Attila Blaga’s look at the 9 of Swords. For a complete list of all the blogs in the hop, click the ITD thumbnail to the left. A link to the next blog in the hop can be found at the bottom of this page.
Below is a poem I wrote that encapsulates my understanding of the meaning behind the 10 of Swords. Please feel free to start a conversation in the comments. I would love to hear your take on this challenging and at times frightening card. Continue reading “Ruination”
I remember the days when carnivals wandered in and out of America’s small towns. Rickety roller coasters, acrobats, games of luck and skill, and icky-sweet sticky cotton candy in pastel shades of pink and blue were just a few of the offerings. My favorite ride was a toss-up between the Swings and the Ferris Wheel, but what carnival would be complete without its resident Fortune Teller? Continue reading “Out of the Tent & into the Light”
Josh never fails to touch my heart with his writing. But this one, this one fairly astounds! Enjoy! kintsugi
- Completing a novel and seeing it published.
- Spending some time in Ireland.
- Purchasing a home suitable to run an Air B&B.
In December, 2016 I completed my first novel. It is currently in the editing stage and I hope to submit it to a publisher for review by the end of June 2018. My other two goals have proven a bit more elusive. Last year I created a vision board in two parts – one for my trip to Ireland and the other for an Air B&B.
Last fall I made the decision to postpone the Ireland trip until a more opportune time. In December I began searching for a house, and three weeks ago I viewed number fifty-one. I did make an offer on a cute bungalow (probably number forty-six or so), but it was rejected by the seller due to circumstances my agent was unaware of. I think fifty-some houses is more than enough, don’t you?
January 12, 2017
I felt an episode of SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) coming on last night. Okay, I admit it, I hate winter. Hey, what can I say? I’m a beach girl. And a Pisces. With a Scorpio Moon. Water is in my
blood chart. Definitely not snow. Snow doesn’t count as water in my book. Scientifically it is water, yes I know, Einstein. Frozen water disagrees with me. Probably because I abhor being cold. Maybe more importantly, because frozen water does not move. It has lost its ability to flow. Continue reading “Going with the Flow”
In college, my friends and I had a saying:
You cannot begin to change until you know the opposite of what you are.
It was a reminder that the only way to learn and grow was to face the truth about yourself and then understand the way in which God was different from that. Sometime in my mid-thirties I realized that most of what I knew about success and godly character had been learned by example of what not to do or who I did not want to be like. I began to understand experientially what our college saying meant in terms of the power of contrast to teach.
As time, experience, and study have expanded my understanding of the Bible, I begin to see that the bulk of the stories it contains are pictures of God showing us what he is like often by revealing what he is not like. This particular learning tool can prove quite effective with human minds struggling to comprehend a silent and invisible God. But nuance is easily missed under a strictly literal view of the text.
For example, countless sermons have been preached on Genesis 22, the story of Abraham’s call to sacrifice Isaac. Most people, commentaries, preachers, and Christians believe that God was testing Abraham’s faith when he told him to take Isaac up on a mountain and offer his only son as a sacrifice. They believe that God provided a ram for himself that represented God one day sacrificing Jesus to appease his own wrath. But is that really what this story was designed to teach? Does God test peoples’ faith in such horrific ways? Is this same God so offended by sin that he requires a human blood sacrifice to be appeased? Hm, sounds an awful lot like the Canaanite gods to me.
Most (if not all) cultures contemporary to Abraham practiced blood sacrifice to appease their gods’ anger. In fact, some sort of blood sacrifice has been practiced for centuries in almost all cultures ever to exist. Here’s a decent site on the history of blood sacrifice around the world (I found the conclusions page fascinating). So when God told Abraham to kill Isaac, he was not telling him anything new. Sacrificing children (even the first-born) to the gods was commonplace in those days. In fact, everyone was doing it. To Abraham it would have been business as usual for God to demand the kind of worship that required the ultimate sacrifice of human blood. While the story began ordinarily enough, the end revealed something radically new. Abraham found a ram caught in a nearby thicket. God showed Abraham how he was unlike the gods of the surrounding nations.
Lesson #1: God does not require human blood to be appeased.
If you believe that the revelation of God’s nature to mankind has been given throughout history progressively, then this little nugget would have rocked the ancients’ overall understanding of deities in general and the God of Israel in particular. But this was just a stepping-stone to a broader understanding of what made the God of Israel different. Fast forward to the establishment of the temple cult under Moses’ leadership. Here God distinguished himself from other gods by commanding one animal sacrifice each year that would suffice for the entire nation.
Lesson #2: God does not require unlimited animal sacrifices.
The last straw can be found in ringing in the voices of the prophets. They called the nation of Israel to put a stop to ritual sacrifices altogether. According to them, the God of Israel had no need for blood at all.
Lesson #3: God does not require blood. God does not need to be appeased.
Despite this final clear message from the prophets at the close of the Old Testament, the Christian church continues to believe and teach that Jesus was the ultimate blood sacrifice for our sins. They even go so far as to say that God himself put Jesus to death as our substitute. Which brings me to why I am writing this post today.
In 2011 I wrote a blog post called Walking Through the Pieces. It went on to become my second all-time most-read page, clocking in at a whopping 1,622 lifetime views at the time of this writing. Only my Homepage/Archives have received more hits and no other post of mine comes anywhere near these numbers. Looking at the vast amount of interest in this topic has prompted me to keep digging into the story.
I have finally come to the conclusion that Genesis 15 is yet another look at what God is not like.
In the cultures contemporary to Abram, people made agreements this way: they cut animals in two and spread the pieces apart, leaving a path between them. Both parties then walked down the path and stated the terms of the covenant they were making. The pathway between the animals symbolized a vow and a curse in one: I promise to do thus and so, and may this happen to me if I do not keep my end of the bargain. The practice was quite common and would have been second nature to Abram. Problem is, Abram was asleep when the covenant was ‘cut’. He did not walk through the pieces of the animals at all.
Throughout the Old Testament it was God’s practice to reveal himself over and against the surrounding gods and cultures of the day. In Genesis 15 we find a God who does not bargain with mankind. When God says he will do something, he will do it, independent of any belief or behavior on our part. The lesson here is clear: God does what is right without requiring anything in return. He is a God of blessing not cursing, a God of grace not law and burdens. Too bad Sonny did not understand that all he need do was ask.
Today, most Evangelicals will tell you that salvation is part of a covenant with God called the gospel (good news). They say our part of the bargain is to believe that Jesus’ death paid God back for our sins because God requires a blood sacrifice. Whoever refuses to hold up our end of the covenant (believe) will be treated like those slaughtered animals and suffer an eternity in hell (at the hand of God, no less)!
What if that interpretation of the gospel story is incorrect? What if the church is as wrong about God as ol’ Sonny was? What if Jesus’ death is a picture of what God is not like? What if Rome (not God) sacrificed Jesus on the altar of their power because his message of spiritual freedom was a threat to them and the religious order they supported? What if the story of Jesus’ life and death is a picture of how we were made to live – spiritually free from guilt and shame – and not what will happen to us after we die?
What if the story of Jesus dying on a cross was never about salvation, because we don’t need salvation, because the prophets told true: GOD DOES NOT REQUIRE BLOOD OR NEED TO BE APPEASED?
The literal interpretation of the Bible has served for hundreds of years to perpetuate division, hatred, and war – our modern forms of ritual sacrifice – all in the name of religion. It is time for the world to be turned upside down again. It is time to challenge the powers that be with the nuance of a Biblical narrative that reveals a God more loving and full of grace than any of us have ever dared to imagine or hope for. A God who blesses no matter what, loves no matter what, and requires nothing in return – not even belief that he exists. A God who needs no blood to be appeased but stands in opposition to the angry gods invented by violent men to control people ruled by fear, guilt, and shame.
True change could begin to happen once we know the opposite of what we are. God grant that we be given the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the courage to face the truth.
Coming (back) into my own.
I have written sparsely over the years about my family of origin. My favorite piece was part of a fictional tale crafted from the story retold every Christmas of how my grandfather came to America. The vast majority of the rest of my family posts relate in some way to my sister, who passed in December, 2013. During the year and a half following her death, writing was my way of grieving that loss. I have not, however, devoted any time to writing about myself as I stand within my family of origin.
How appropriate that I should run across this writing challenge. My family is where I learned of my own magnificence, and it is what brought me home to it at last.
My father is the youngest of eight siblings, and I am the youngest of four – by eight years (I do have a cousin a mere four years my senior). Being the last offspring of a large Lebanese-American family makes a person a lot of things: privileged and spoiled for sure, but also very much loved. Being my Fambly’s version of Lebanese makes a person an entirely different list of things: bold, hard working, loud, extravagant, and fiercely loyal. No, we are not all extroverts, but growing up, it certainly sounded like it – thanks for all the memories Uncle Saiad and Uncle George (by far, the loudest of the lot).
My family excelled at many things: tennis and hearts, laughter, good food, affection (Aunt Evelyn always kissed you three times, be you friend or total stranger), playacting (costumes and props included!), great food (did I mention food already?), telling the story, criticizing outsiders, teaching the importance of having a close-knit family, and gathering together around amazing food. My daughter and I often joke that with my Fambly, it really is all about the food, but the truth is, food was just a very large part of the love; and if this Fambly did anything truly well, it was love.
As is typical of immigrants of every race, my family looked within to find its identity. Sure, my father and uncles served in the military and all of them worked hard at their jobs and hobbies, their wives had friends and sometimes jobs, but when it came to who we were, our core values and beliefs, it was the Fambly that defined us. It was there that we turned for guidance toward our goals and the support we needed to reach them, but, above all, we discovered who we were in a deep well of unconditional love. I was far too young to have been a part of my siblings’ and nearby cousins’ lives, and now see myself as the last and arguably least of my clan. Yet, somehow, I always felt magnificent.
I am not sure what to make of my own feeling of magnificence or why it was given me. It was simply an unspoken truth that I was special (the cousins still joke about it today at family reunions, so this year I reminded them to never forget it!). Perhaps it can be attributed to the years of space preceding my arrival (I was a ‘surprise’ after all), or that I was the baby of the baby, or maybe my parents just told me of my own magnificence in enough ways that it became true for me. No matter the cause, the fact remains that I grew up believing that I shone brightest.
I was the most magnificent of all.
On paper that line reads as egotistical, but I am speaking with the voice of a child the emotions of a child. A child filled with wonder and at times quite overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of a Fambly able to loom so high above her. I wonder sometimes if I did not make myself magnificent just to be heard over the booming voices of my Uncles when they were arguing over the cards, the clattering noise of my Aunts as they busily prepared enough food for armies, and the uninhibited din of my cousin’s reunited horseplay. Other than age and my much-indulged precociousness, I cannot remember any clear distinction between myself and my same-generation family members. If anything, they outshone me in a hundred myriad ways (actors and artists, doctors and lawyers, musicians and teachers…the list goes on). Yet, astoundingly, while everyone in the Fambly knew I believed myself to be the brightest star, for some reason they encouraged that belief – or I simply convinced myself that they did!
After years of hearing about my own magnificence, other voices entered my life. Many disparaged and criticized my origins, or mocked the qualities that made me ‘me’. Some even urged me to put out the light that used to shine so brightly. Under the constant drone, I forgot my place. For a time, I could not remember who I was, where I came from, and how truly bright I once was allowed to shine. But the Fambly that indulged my youthful aspiration to be most magnificent of all reminded me that I am magnificent because I belong to each and every one of them, and they to me. We make one another magnificent.
Unconditional love taught me that I do not have to shine the brightest, but I do have to know my own magnificence if I want to bask in the love of such a Fambly. This kind of love will not settle for less in the beloved.
Slowly I remember. I begin to see glimpses of the star-child of my youth in the reflected gaze of my Fambly – and, even occasionally, the mirror. May I never forget my roots again. They are strong supports and the stuff from which I am made, and remind me that no matter what I do or where I go, I am a part of them and they of me.
My roots remind me that I am magnificent.
I hope you will take the time to visit Litebeing’s site and read what some others have written about their own magnificence. If you are so inclined, join the challenge and put a link to your post in the comments below.
I am fairly certain that I have not donned a costume for Halloween in at least 35 years. This particular celebration, while fun as a child, never really found a foothold in my heart. Add to that, in Christian circles, Halloween was disparaged as “Satan’s high holy day” – something to be avoided as avidly as cursing or reading Harry Potter.
Tonight it occurred to me that little about the rituals and celebrations of Christianity ever took hold in me either, despite spending 30+ years in that paradigm. Granted, as a child, Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year, to borrow a well-worn lyric. Certainly my parents and their tradition of Santa Claus helped (I can still remember my father peeking into my bedroom to ask if I had heard the sleigh bells – his voice was as filled with wonder as my child’s heart!), but even later on in my teen years, I remember sitting in our living room mesmerized by the glowing coals in the fireplace, while white lights twinkled between evergreen boughs laden with ornaments and tinsel. Sometimes when I think about what peace feels like, that is the picture that comes to mind.
Over the years, Christmas came to mean less and less to me – especially once I understood that December 25th was not the birthday of any deity in the flesh, much less Jesus of Nazareth. In the early 2000’s I stopped putting up a Christmas tree, and have been hard-pressed to find ways to create meaningful traditions for myself or my family ever since. Anyway, every Christian holiday is nothing more than a hijacked pagan celebration of one kind or another.
In 2006 I began what turned out to be a 10-year trek out of my Christian faith. Not that I am an atheist per se. I believe – probably stronger than I ever did as a Christian – in the absolute existence of a spiritual dimension. I am certain that death is not the end. But the job of determining whether there is a personal god out there running our universe is beyond my pay grade, the purview of religion, and better left alone by li’l ol’ me.
Perhaps because of my recent fascination with the Celts, faeries, and magic, I have gravitated most towards the old religion or what many call paganism. Admittedly, my stint in Christianity has caused me to shun any and all religious traditions, especially those who claim to know ‘the way’ or ‘the truth’. But the seasons of the year and of life are something I am familiar with. And I have always had a special affinity for the moon. That is the other strong memory I carry from my teenage years: monthly chats with the man in the moon. I had a perfect view of the moon at its full from the swing in our backyard, and I have always been able to see a face on the surface of it. In fact, I am hard-pressed to look at a full moon and not see a face.
At the same time that I find myself drawn to the cycles of the moon, I also feel a renewed sense of connectedness to the earth. I do desire to establish traditions to follow, but I am content to move slowly, listening closely to my own heart and what it whispers about the lessons, comfort, joy, or depth that a particular holiday celebration can lend my spirit. I began following the full moon cycles sometime in 2015, and this year added the new moon cycles to my monthly observances. Late in the summer, I determined to celebrate as many of the eight pagan festivals (beginning with Samhain, pronounced Sow-en) I am able to this year. October 31 marks the end of summer, the last of the harvest celebrations, and the beginning of the new year for the Celtic pagans of old. Samhain is a time to give attention to our ancestors and other loved ones who have passed. Many see it as an opportunity (perhaps even an obligation) to learn about their heritage and honor dead loved ones in some fashion. Still others believe that the veil between our world and the world of the dead is thinnest on this night, making possible communication with those who have passed.
For me, I wanted to take some time to think about how those family members who have gone on affected me while they were here. To that end, I put together a display of photographs, peppered with candles, fresh flowers, and crystals (particularly those related to the root chakra) on my buffet.
I started the process the first week of October and did not complete it until this past Friday. I took my time, and thought through the many photo choices, discovering a couple of folks whose legacy I found myself unable or unwilling to honor. They are not on display this year, but perhaps I will come to terms with them enough to include them in future.
Through this process, I began to think about the legacy that I want to leave behind. I even asked myself what kind of legacy would be left should I pass today. Sometimes I wonder if the reason many of us throw our lives onto the wide screen of the internet is in hopes that something we say, do, write, or photograph will touch enough random people that our legacy may somehow live on after we pass. Perhaps it is our way of dealing with the fact that death comes to us all. We as a society have certainly invented many ways to avoid ever thinking about our own death, yet that is precisely why we remain haunted by the prospect.
My sister used to tell me that she believed when we die, there is nothing, it’s over, kaput. Nonsense, I say. Her belief created years of fearful living, but now she knows the truth. Those who are able to celebrate life understand that death is not the end, but merely the beginning of a new phase of our journey. J.R.R. Tolkien said it right well:
PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
For C.S. Lewis death was an expansion of the world of the heart. Narnia opened up into infinite possibility, like the layers of an onion peeling back in reverse. Because of him, I will forever think of death as a doorway from the barn into the open field, with mountains beckoning beyond. (The Last Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia)
Last night was the new moon, a black moon (by definition, the second new moon in 1 month). Tonight begins Samhain, the Day of the Dead, and tomorrow the Wheel will start to turn anew. The near overlap of the black moon and the beginning of a new year holds special significance for me. I have learned that new moons are a good time to set intentions for the coming months. Since this was a rare black moon so closely connected with the start of a new year, it became a time for me to consider what I would like to see in my own life in the coming months. As I reflected on my day, I realized that it was filled with exactly what I want for the coming year: meditation, healthy eating, work, writing, and loving encounters. A good omen for what is to come, I think.
Whatever your tradition, Halloween, Samhain, or All Saints Day (November 1), may you find comfort in your roots. May you come to understand the legacy your ancestors left behind. May you honor that legacy, and learn from both the victories and mistakes of those who precede you. Above all, may you find comfort in knowing who is watching over you, and who waits for the joyous reunion to come.
Yes, I still exist and (sort of) keep a blog.
I did not want you all to imagine that I fell off the face of the earth in the recent past, but truly, the blogs I am working on are not quite up to posting snuff as yet. You will have to content yourself with a short
blog resuscitation question and answer session. (Apparently, this has become a thing on the Interwebs in my absence.)
List 2 things you have to be happy about?
- My grandson. In a few short days, the miracle born on my Birthday will be 6 months old! There are not enough adequate blogging words to convey my joy when I am with him. Happy is a poor weak word for it. Ecstatic, over-the-moon … these come a wee bit closer to the mark.
- I live less than 20 minutes from my parents. My mother graciously cooks me breakfast every Wednesday before work, and I sit and sip my coffee while listening to my father and brother talk politics (government or church, whichever is the choice of the week). On Wednesdays I come to work with a smile and a heart filled with love. I also live close enough to my daughter, my son-in-law, and my grandson to spend almost every other weekend with them! The presence of my family members in my life has served as a much-needed anchor through the turbulent seas of divorce. Perhaps now you will know why I have been conspicuously absent of late…
If you could take a photograph, paint a picture or write a story of any place in the world, what and where would it be?
The coasts of Ireland – the one place in the world I most want to visit. I often think of my novel as basically Irish, and I love everything Celtic, for one reason or another.
Should children be seen and not heard?
Not hearing my grandson would be a tragedy in every sense of the word. His gurgles warm my heart; and although his squeals at times may pierce my ears, I eagerly await the day when his amazing words of wisdom pierce my soul.
List at least five of your favorite first names.
Collin, Aubrey, Ian, Desdemona (Desi for short), and Justine
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last week I created a gratitude wheel prior to finding out that my contract (job) would be renewed in September. I am grateful for the contract renewal, but even more-so that I have learned to be grateful without needing everything in life to go smoothly (did I mention that divorce is hell?).
I have another 3-day weekend coming up, during which time I plan to engage in deep discussions with my daughter and her husband. We like talking about parenthood, spirituality. money. education, and even politics. I will be
cooking new GF foods making a mess in my daughter’s kitchen (not mine!), and rolling around on the floor taking pictures of the wonder of my world (yes, of course my grandson) gurgling, squealing, attempting to crawl, or all of the above. His bubbles remind me that all is right with the world.
My life simply could not be any better than this.
So, what’s going on in YOUR world? Please share, then link back to your post in the comments below!
I got this idea from Anxious Mom. Be sure to stop by and give her a holler!