The following reflection is exerpted from my book, The Woman Who Changed Time: Spirituality and Time, available on this blog under the Store section.
DO WHAT HE TELLS YOU
“Pure energy, came into physical time in the only way consistent with human nature–as a human with the ability to choose freely. The person selected to be the mother of our Master is a remarkable woman named Mary. She taught him many things about what it means to be human, particularly the meaning of wisdom. She knew the destiny of the Master and she knows your destiny. She offers the same help that she did to the early disciples, ‘Do what he tells you.’ Read John 2:5. Mary is the mentor of the Master.” —The Center for Contemplative Practice
The Master came down to show us how to walk through the mine fields of life without getting blown up. These best practices are some of the ones that are important to me.
Read John 11:25-27. The best spiritual practices are those which you practice the best.
LOOK FOR MIRACLES IN ORDINARY DAILY EVENTS.
Gretchen was about ready to retire. With thirty-two years of service, she could submit her retirement papers to the company at any time. She had made the trip to the company office, first by bus, then by automobile, and now by car pool. When she turned sixty, Gretchen had a life-changing experience. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although it was treatable with chemo- therapy, it scared her. She began to look deeper into her religion than she had ever done before. Gretchen looked at the example of Mary, Mother of God. She had never been aware of the significance of this woman before. She dedicated the remainder of her life to finding out more about this unique person. At first she only sat in silence and reflected on the words of scripture. Day after day, she would contemplate for thirty minutes. She just leaned her head back and began to think about her life, her close call with cancer. Nothing was out of the place, she thought, so maybe this medication did not work. Then she began to notice the golden sun as it came up in the morning. “Where did that come from?” she thought. Gretchen began to see the miracles of life in each day. When you can look at all that is and not take it for granted, you have learned a great lesson.
PRACTICE THE BEATITUDES.
As an accomplished surgeon, head of Orthopaedic Surgery for a prestigious hospital, Geoff had little to worry about. Making far more money that he could ever spend, his attention was on his practice. Geoff had become fixated on medicine as the purpose for his existence. With little use for any type of religion, he scoffed at the bible and teachings of his church. “Fluff!”, he would mutter disparagingly when the sub- ject came up. Later that year, he was sued by a greedy lawyer for performing unnecessary surgery. It was a particularly dirty and bitter contest. Geoff won the suit but was devastated. He took some time off to regroup his thoughts. As a joke, one of Geoff’s colleagues told him to go to a monastery and chill out. When the laughing died down, Geoff decided it was a good idea. He went to a Trappist monastery in Georgia to “get his head together”. What happened to him was something he never thought possible. He discovered a profound knowledge of a belief system he never knew existed. The experience prompted him to read Matthew 5. Geoff put a new center in his life. When you can practice the Beatitudes on earth, you will have learned a great les- son to prepare you for heaven.
MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW THE RIGHT PRINCIPLES.
One of the fundamental questions humans must face is, what is truth? Do you get your values from how you feel? Is your value system based on democratic principles? Is your center based around self-satisfac- tion? When you join the spiritual universe, you make a statement that your values come from “outside” of yourself. Where you get your values may determine where you spend eternity. Make sure you follow the right principles. Most individuals go through four levels of spiritual maturity:
BE A MEDIATOR.
To look at spirituality is to look for patterns, just like paleontologists look for dinosaur footprints. One of the patterns is that of mediator. If you want to practice what the Master did, be a mediator. Look at his pattern. In the first epoch (reread the section on epochs begin- ning on page 95), the Creator is the mediator between physical time and spiritual time. In the second epoch, the Father mediated between animality and humanity. The result of Adam and Eve’s choice was to reject any mediation. In the third epoch, the Master is the media- tor and Mary made all of this possible with her free choice. Mary accepted the mediation of her son. In the fourth epoch, you are called to be a mediator. If you are not spiritual, it means you have a limited viewpoint of reality and are incapable of moving to the next step. It doesn’t mean you are bad, or lack intelligence, it means you have not freely chosen to be a part of the spiritual universe. The role for the mediator is to enable life to continue, to move to the next level of reality, to facilitate meaning and purpose, to enable all those who freely choose to move to…Forever. You are called to be that mediator for the world in which you live.
THAT IN ALL THINGS, GOD BE GLORIFIED.
Benedict of Nursia lived about 480 to 547 A.D. http:// www.osb.org/osbsitemap.html Scholars claim that he wanted to adapt monasticism from the harsh rigors of desert monks to that of Western countries, such as Italy. He founded a monastery at Monte Casino in Italy and wrote his famous rule, which many people practice today. St. Benedict’s motto was: that in all things, God be gloriﬁed. Each day would be devoted to prayer, work, and reading. Trained in a monastery, I received incredible insights into the meaning of life, some of which are contained in this book. What’s your point? You don’t have to be a monk to follow spiritual practices, but you do need some plan. You can begin each day with a dedication of that day to God’s will. If you are a neurosurgeon, or a school teacher, it mat- ters little. What matters is the pattern of your daily conversion. You must be reborn each and every day. The impact of St. Benedict is as strong today as it was in 540 AD. Some people dedicate their whole lives to following this rule. Is this life-style a waste of human potential, or the fulﬁllment of what is human?
FAITH IS INFORMED BY REASON.
Faith should be informed by reason. Bertrand had just been baptized and was aglow with the spirit. He had never felt like this before. The words of his minister rang loud in his ears, “Go out and tell people that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Only through Christ can we be saved.” Bertrand took this statement very literally. Bertrand took this to mean that he was saved, and everyone else was not, just because they were of a different faith. He was ordained a minister in his church the following month. When he settled down, some new friends got into a discussion about religion, or should we call it an argument. They said that scientific evidence showed that the world had evolved over billions of years in a galaxy that was billions of years older than that. Bertrand trumpeted the bible and told them that it was made in seven days, and that all this science was a plot by unbelievers to undermine God-fearing people. The people to whom Bertrand was talking were archeologists. After politely listening to him, they said that they respectfully dismissed his ideas as lacking substance. Each age must make adjustments to spirituality. Truth may be one, but ﬁnding it can be elusive. Faith becomes reasonable, when informed by reason. Blind faith is still blind.
Choose wisely. Not everything you choose is good for your spiritual health. Angie was stunningly beautiful. When she entered into a room, all eyes would instantly follow her every move. At first, she was amused by the attention she was getting from people. As she grew older, she found herself using her great beauty to get things, such as money, travel, love, jewelry, and cars. Men would throw money at her. She soon discovered that she was independently wealthy. Angie was ob- sessed with looking good. Her favorite television shows was Entertainment Tonight which showed gorgeous men and women in striking costumes. What glamour! As Angie grew older, she found that her standards for men were so high that no one could meet them. They had to be rich, they had to be handsome, they had to have connections to Hollywood, they had to be excit- ing to be around. Married four time, Angie approached her half century mark with fear. She went to the plastic surgeon almost yearly. Peels, botox, dermabrasion, laser treatments were taking their toll. In all of this Angie never thought to feed her spiritual self. She never chose to join the spiritual universe. She continued to play cosmetic catchup until her death, from too much drinking. Did she choose wisely?
WHAT IS ESSENTIAL MAY BE UNSEEN.
Each universe has its own set of measurements. You can not use the tools of one universe to measure another one. What is essential is unseen, but real.
Patti had long been skeptical of science. She was brought up Roman Catholic, and her understanding was that science’s purpose is to prove that you believe only what you can verify. She did not like that. When she was thirty-five, she married a scientist named Porter. Porter worked for NASA as an aeronautical engineer in the manned space flight center. They met at church and Patti had misgivings at first over his approach to life. As Porter told her about some of his research, Patti gradually gain a new appreciation of those who worked in science and medicine. Both of them were growing because of their mutual relationship. It was exciting to stretch the mind, Porter told her. Patti agreed. What hap- pened to Patti and Porter is very common. New ideas are assimilated into what we know about life. One of the lessons to learn about spiritual best practices is, each universe has tools to measure what is there. The problem comes when you use the tools of science to measure a another universe. It doesn’t work.
MARY AS OUR ADVOCATE.
You will find no greater advocate for entering the spiritual universe than Mary. She knows what is on the other side. Mary’s purpose was to teach us about the Master. The Spirit of Truth is the great teacher of for humans. Mary was overshadowed by this energy and told us to do whatever he tells us. For Mary, her Son is the reason for her purpose. God has done great things to Mary, not because of anything that she did, but because of the greatness of God. As our advocate, Mary always points us to her Son, rather than to herself. Mary is not God, but rather the first disciple of The Master. The purpose of the Son is to give glory to the Father. All actions, all life should give glory to the Fa- ther. Mary gave glory to God by accepting the invitation to be the mother of our Master. We give glory to God by accepting his decision to become one of us. Phil. 2:5-12.
As an individual, you are the only one that can glorify the Father through the Son. We don’t go to the Father direct, only through the Son. Read John 14:5-7. The Master is our advocate before the Father, as well as our friend. Mary can be our advocate, through her Son, if we but ask.
NOT EVERYTHING IS WORTH THE WORRY.
Not everything in life is worth the worry. Worried about money, work, if the children will turn out with moral values, if people will think you are old, or how you can start a small business? That is natural worry. Here are six degrees of separation and what happened to them. When Jasper lost his teeth, he thought he was going to die. He just lost his teeth to gingivitis. Fitted with new dentures, he learned to eat all over again. His friend, Roscoe, told Jasper that two years ago was a bad time for him. Roscoe was working building an underground tunnel in Manhattan. The roof fell in on him. He was laid up for a year in rehabilitation, but was complaining about not feeling good. Roscoe’s wife had a friend that found out that she had cancer of the larynx. She told Roscoe’s wife that they had to remove her voice box and she had to use breathing control and voice amplifiers. She told Roscoe’s wife that she knew of a co-worker who broke his neck in a fall while diving into their swimming pool. Roscoe’s wife’s friend said the gentleman told her that his wife had chronic sleep apnea and had to use oxygen to sleep each and every night. The moral: Not everything is worth the worry, Jasper. Be grateful for what you have, Roscoe.
The master shows us that being spiritual is our destiny., opposite of what the World tells us is true.
The first part of the Beatitude tells us what we must do on earth to be happy. The second part of the Beatitude tells us of our reward in Heaven. When I read the Beatitudes, one thing sticks out at me. None of them make sense. It was only when I actually realized that what Jesus was talking about must be seen in three universes (physical, mental, spiritual) and not just two universes (physical and mental). They are the ultimate sign of contradiction and can be comprehended only when we use the Rule of Opposites (when we enter the Spiritual Universe or the Kingdom of Heaven, what is opposite of what the world says is true.)
“Happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Happy the gentle; they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what
is right; they shall be satisﬁed.
Happy the merciful; they shall ﬁnd mercy. Happy the pure in heart; they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right; their is the kingdom of Heaven.
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kind of calumny against you on my account; Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in Heaven…” Matthew 5:3-12
If you want to be a true follower of Christ, you must make the Kindgom of Heaven, the one of the Beatitudes, happen while you live. When you die, you are judged on how well you were able to practice loving others as Christ loved you. Read Matthew 22:37 and 25:31-46. May God be merciful to all of us who try to take up our crosses daily and follow His Way, His Truth, and His Life.
Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology