Religion and Spirituality

Wednesday Thoughtfulness

photo by Casey Keal

photo by Casey Keal

“Learn the wisdom of compromise,  for it’s better to bend a little than to break.” – Jane Wells

 

As children get older and go on their way to self discovery, parents sometimes get nervous and worried about the paths they are choosing to go down.  We hope and trust that we have taught them right and that they will hold true to the principles and knowledge they’ve gained while growing up.

Yet, there is a time when each person asks the question, “who am I and why am I here?” “What’s my purpose?”  “What am I going to do with my life?”

Some figure out the answers to these questions early on and hold true to their dreams, growing and learning, constantly reaching for their goals and owning their destiny.

Others of us go through different stages of growth and self discovery, a journey that lasts a lifetime, filled with ups and downs, leaps of faith, grand mistakes and endless opportunities. 

No matter the background, whether born into a life of plenty, or growing up with a struggling single parent, we each own our own destiny.  It is our response to life, to the challenges that we face and the choices that we are given that make us who we become.  Our perspective, our ability to remain open and humble enough to admit when we are wrong so we can learn new ways to do things can make all the difference.

I’ve been a parent now for over 19 years, and I am learning as I go.  I am not perfect and don’t profess to be, and neither are my children.  Yet God put us together on this journey for a reason.  Together we will face the future, learning from each other, facing obstacles in our path and offering hope and encouragement when needed. 

Take a moment today to be thankful for the people in your life, whether friends, family or co-workers, we each have a purpose for being in the life of the other. 

Cherry Coley (c)

 

I Don’t Feel So Merry

christmas1It’s Christmas time.  Yesterday we had snow, just a light dusting, and it was beautiful.  There is a chill in the wind today, it makes me want to stay home by the fire and drink hot cocoa

I have been looking at Christmas decorations, but they don’t seem quiet as sparkly as they used too.  I have been avoiding Christmas music for the most part.  I simply cannot listen to much of the Christmas music yet.

I am trying, but the truth is I just don’t feel the Christmas spirit much this year.  I try to remember last year, but all I can think of is that my days with my mom were running out and I didn’t know it.  Instead she and I stayed up late talking on Dec. 11th.  We were talking about  how everything was going to be different without dad, and we should try to make new Christmas  traditions. 

We had a long conversation that night about past Christmas’, about new plans, about the Bible and our beliefs, about my kids and our family.  Mom and I talked late into the night enjoying each others company.  I missed her,  I had not seen her in a week or two since Casey was working and using my car more.

Now, the song that best describes how I feel is “Where Are You Christmas?”  The answer is, I am not sure.  I think Christmas is the same, the spirit is the same, it is me that has changed.  I am still healing, still searching for answers that don’t exist and longing for conversations I will not get to finish until I see my mom and dad again someday.

This Christmas is a little better than last year, but it still hurts, aches.  Yet I know that time, faith, and hope will eventually heal the hurts, though they won’t fill the gaping hole left in my heart where my parents once lived.  I miss them. 

If you’re parents are still here, take the time to go see them.  If they need you, listen, and be there for them as they were for you.  If you have family you haven’t talked to in awhile, here’s your chance, your excuse, break the ice, heal the rift and share the love while you still can.  Christmas is about love and that is the greatest gift of all, don’t miss out on this free and wonderful gift.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

The Choice is Yours!

Today I am thankful for choices.  I love the fact that we have so many choices each day, starting with our attitude.  We can choose to be happy, choose how we approach the day ahead and choose the direction our day will go. 

 Even if you have a day when everything seems to fall apart, you keep making mistakes, or other people get on your nerves, you still have the ability to choose how you will respond.

 Choices are among the most important things we have available to us.  Our choices will lead to decisions that over time will show others who we are and what we stand for.

 Today celebrate your ability to make choices.  There is always hope when there are choices to be made and there are always choices to be made.  Today choose to have a cheery attitude, choose to share your time with others, choose to make a difference, choose.

 Cherry Coley ©

Thankful for Small Acts of Kindness

Today I am thankful for small acts of kindness.

 Every act of kindness is like ripples on water, the effects are far reaching and potentially endless.

 I am thankful I am healthy and can offer a helping hand to the elderly if they need it at times.  I am happy to open a door for someone else or offer a kind word and a smile in the elevator.  I enjoy saying and hearing “Good Morning” to my co-workers and friends, both in person and on Face Book. 

 More than any of those things I am thankful that others also appreciate small acts of kindness.   Phrases like “please” and “thank you” can make a difference in what someone might be thinking about a situation or having to be slightly inconvenienced.

 I love to watch a son or daughter helping their parent in the store.  It reminds me of visits to the store with my mom.  While she was looking around the fruit and vegetable section, my daughters and I would divide up the rest of the list and bring it back to her.  This saved time, allowed her to look for her produce at her leisure, and kept her from getting too tired.

 Small acts of kindness can cause a person to pause, sooth an angry or upset spirit even on really bad days.  I have on occasion paid the toll for the person behind me on the toll way, or paid a cup of coffee for a stranger just because.  I once saw a priest pay for a book and rosary for a small child.

Small acts of kindness are like a tiny nudge or whisper saying “everything is going to be alright.”  My wish is that you would be touched by a small act of kindness each day and you will pass on the blessing.

 Cherry Coley ©

 

Just a Bit Foggy

It was foggy outside this morning, enough to make visibility questionable.

Opening the door to fog always makes me think of the dramatic scene in Gone With The Wind, where Scarlet pleads with Rhett – “Rhett, where ever shall I go? Whatever shall I do?”

Rhett replies, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” then disappears into the fog.

Fog like darkness is scary because our senses are inhibited.  Both fog and darkness limit our sight, can muffle or distort sounds, and can even cause smells to become more noticeable (since other senses are dulled) or distorted as well.  Things that mess with our senses are scary because we aren’t completely in control of what we perceive.  How many nightmares contain fog?

Life is a struggle, a journey where we are often searching for answers and seeking to find our way.  Fog and darkness are physical obstacles until we learn to navigate them.  As we go along we learn to slow our pace, turn on the lights and proceed with caution in times of darkness and fog.

We must also learn to approach many of life’s mental and spiritual challenges the same way, by slowing our pace, turning on the inner lights – resting in the knowledge of what we know is true, and proceeding with caution until the path becomes clear.

Fog is not the enemy and darkness is not permanent. 

Cherry Coley ©

Mid – Week Thought

“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will follow.” – Lao Tzu

In this rush around busy world it’s easy to get distracted and off course.  It’s also easy to fall back into old habits, procrastinate, become impatient because you’re suddenly feeling stuck and frustrated enough that your attitude begins to go in a direction you really didn’t want it to go.

Stop the madness, take a deep breath, close your eyes just for a moment and visualize the blessing in your life or even just something that makes you smile.  Feel the tension leave and your mind reset. 

When we correct our mind, control and focus our thoughts on the end result instead of the past or even the chaos around us, our perspective shifts and so does our attitude.  Only by clearing and calming our mind can we again see the possibilities in front of us. 

I love the visual that says when you come to a cliff and it seems there is no way out, throw out your arms and prepare to take a leap of faith.  Go on, leap into that dream, that new opportunity, the net will appear. 

Cherry Coley (c)

Thinking Out Loud

You can’t control all the events in your life, that is a given fact.  You can control your reaction, your thoughts, your actions.  You can keep your mind open so you notice opportunities along the way.  You can take advantage of the resources that are available to you at any given time.  You can also reach out to others and find that there are those that will help you along the way.

Life is full of change, storms, mountains, valleys, sunlight and darkness, it’s just the way it is.  How you handle things is a choice.  At any given moment in the middle of joy, or crisis, there are choices to be made.  Don’t let your emotions get in the way of good judgement, take a break, take the time and choose wisely.

Cherry Coley (c)

Understanding the Beattitudes

I grew up in church and have listened to the Sermon on the Mount for most of my life and still wondered at the various interpretations of some of the verses.  These verses are located in Matthew 5:3 and 5 if you want to look them up.

 For instance:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek,

For they will inherit the earth.

 I have seen many versions of the Bible and some even change these two verses to read: Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth.

So, why did they take out the word “spirit” in the first verse?  I think that is incorrect.  I think it should be read as originally written.  I also think that the assumption that Jesus was talking about the poor is incorrect.  It says, poor in SPIRIT.  Understand that this is my opinion, so you can disagree, but I am excited to see this because it answers a question I’ve had FOREVER that no one could really answer.

 Who is poor in Spirit?  When you think about our spirit and our minds you must realize that in order to learn, to grow, we must have the mental facilities available to us to use to understand what is being said or written.  If we do not have the ability to understand and make our own choices, then those would be people who are poor in mind and in spirit.  The ones who were born severely mentally handicapped.  The innocent brought into the world to exist and affect the lives of all those around them.  Many children who will never speak, or do things for themselves, but who are here to serve a purpose nonetheless – of what may be yet to be determined.  I know some who have had their lives forever changed by a handicapped child, and have become completely different people in the process.  These are the ones – theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

What about the meek?  I was taught to be meek was basically to be silent, soft spoken, well-behaved, prayerful, submissive, humble.  How many truly meek people do you know in this day and age?  Being meek does not mean you have to be a door mat.  What I believe this actually means is that we need to watch our ego’s and be in more of a humble mindset.  A humble person is slow to jump to conclusions, aware of circumstances and surroundings, and more eager to learn.  A humble person is not one who is quick to pass judgment or blame, or point fingers.  A humble person will listen to reason and learn from their mistakes as well as the mistakes of others.

What does it mean that the meek will inherit the earth?  I think it means that those with a humble attitude and an open mind, that seek knowledge – for them the way will be open.  When we act in humility, then things like mercy, grace, love, joy, and forgiveness all go hand in hand.  When we are meek, the other Beatitudes all fall in line, from those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – or have a hunger and thirst for knowledge and spiritual fulfillment, they shall be filled. 

 It’s an interesting thought that I came across today as I studied another ancient text.  It’s interesting to me how studying things from different angles make the words come alive and mean so much more. 

 What a gift to spend a lifetime in the pursuit of knowledge and baring witness to the changes yet to come, by studying history to keep in mind where we’ve been and learning how to live in the process.

Cherry Coley ©

Burning Bowls

The Inspiring Blogger Award

Someone asked me about burning bowl rituals the other day, what they were and what the purpose is.

I actually love burning bowl rituals.  What a great way to let go of things that are bothering or hindering us.  I wound up not being able to do this like I wanted to on New Year’s, but decided to go on and do it now.  After all, the year is over half over and I keep finding myself hanging on to stuff I shouldn’t, and blocking or hindering myself in the process.

 I am not sure when I started doing burning bowl rituals.  I think it was at a young age though, and it wasn’t initially with a bowl, just a candle.  It’s really quiet simple and something that is generic to any belief system according to how you make it.  I liked the idea of something I didn’t need in my life anymore going up in smoke.

 Find a bowl preferably metal or glass (you don’t have to have one, but it makes it nice and neater), fill it up a third of the way with rock salt or salt, and stand a white candle in the middle.

 Simply take two sheets of paper – on one sheet write all the things like bad habits you want to get rid of, excuses for things you haven’t done, weaknesses, temptations, things that are bothering you or you would like to be gone in your life; including negative ways of talking to yourself, or beating yourself up for things that go wrong.

 On the second sheet of paper write down all the things you want to take place of the things you are getting rid of in your life.  If you are getting rid of negative ways of talking to yourself, then write that you will find daily affirmations that will work for you.  If you often beat yourself up when something goes wrong, write that you will celebrate when things go right.   Once you have this list written, fold it and put it in an envelope and attach it to a month on your calendar – say December since that is the end of the year.

 There is no right or wrong way to do this, it is totally up to you what you are making a point of letting go of in your life whether it be emotions or specific things.  Take some time to really contemplate this, then either roll the paper, or tear it into pieces and feed it to the flame and let the paper burn out on the salt by the candle.   (NEVER leave a candle unattended).

 As the paper is burning see and visualize the things you wrote down going up in smoke and say a prayer of forgiveness, recognize that you are letting go of the things that are clogging your creativity and holding you back from who you want to be and thankfulness that these things no longer have a place in your life and you are making a point of letting them go and choosing another direction right now.  Again, it can be as elaborate or as simple as you want to make it.

 Have fun releasing all the bad things and things that just seem to linger and never really do any good.  Then in the month that you attached the other envelope or reminder – take out the other list and see how successful you were at implementing the changes you wanted in your life.  The important thing is to move forward.  You will be pleasantly surprised how small acts of faith can make things happen. 

 Cherry Coley ©

 

 

 

Be Like Water

“Be like water.” – Bruce Lee

 

I have thought about this quote before and what it meant to me as I was taught and later learned more from Cherokee friends.  It is a lesson that is passed down in various ways and through various religions, but the basic truth is the same – we should be like water.    I think I like the wisdom of the Tao and its explanation for being like water.

 

Think about water and what it does, we are nourished by it, everything has to have it to live and grow, we are made up of something like 85% water.  Water can help cleanse, heal, if it is stationary it can become stagnant, but left to flow freely it stays pure.  Water doesn’t seek elevation, instead it settles into the lowest places, gathers into our rivers, lakes, and streams where it makes its way to the seas and oceans then evaporates to become snow or rain to fall down and restart the cycle. 

Water doesn’t play favorites, it doesn’t map out things, it doesn’t plan to irrigate our crops, to quench our thirst, to provide for animals or marine life and definitely not to provide entertainment for us to be able to fish, ski, sail, and swim or scuba dive.  Water is simply doing what comes naturally to water and that is enough.  Water is what it was created to be.

Now stop and think about that quote again – “be like water.”  What does that mean according to how we should live?  It means we should not assume to put ourselves in a place of importance, but by being our authentic selves we can touch and affect many lives.  It means being receptive to everyone and aware of our surroundings as well as other people.  It means to be aware of the low places, have an open mind should you go there and be willing to cleanse, heal, and make a difference. 

Water is not irritating, it is soothing, but at the same time water should be respected, appreciated and not taken for granted.  This does not mean you should always just go with the flow.  Water, like us, wants to be free.  When we are bottled up and not allowed to be who we are supposed to be we become stagnant, poisoned and polluted with bad attitudes and clogged emotions. 

The bible says that Jesus is the Living water and we nourish our souls by Him through His word and study.  The Toa also suggests spiritual water given by God to nourish the mind and soul.  Take a moment to be thankful for water, for without it we could not live, then take a moment to be thankful that the very unassuming substance that sustains our life is also a great example of how to live.

 Cherry Coley ©