One very important, very essential part of anyone’s path to spiritual fulfillment is that of contemplation. Our ability to know God begins with our ability to understand our Divine relationship with God.
I remember when I was 13 or 14 years old. We lived on a 10-acre piece of property about 2 miles outside of a small South Texas town. The land was pretty rocky and largely without trees, but between the house and the road along the front of the property, there was a small oak tree grove. The trees were probably no more than 50 or 60 years old, and they reminded me of a shivering group of people huddled together against some outside force.
In one of the larger trees, a previous resident of that property had built a small platform, a type of treehouse. I added some additional pieces of scrap lumber to give it a bit more size and stability and it soon became the place I went when I just needed to be with myself. I would spend hours in that tree. I would write terrible poetry, imagine myself asking a pretty girl to dance, or confronting a bully. And sometimes, I would think about why I am here. I would contemplate my relationship with God and Jesus. The treehouse was where I felt the most mentally alive because, as it turns out, it was just me and Spirit at those times.
Do you have a place like that? Some room or place you go to just be with yourself? Maybe it’s not a place, but an activity. I know people who find tremendous solitude in exercise or playing an instrument. Today, my place for my contemplations is my shower.
I’m not sure why the shower is my best contemplative retreat. I think the noise of the water gives me the freedom to talk out loud, much as showers give many the courage to sing at the top of the lungs. I suppose that, metaphorically, the water represents a cleansing, too. It allows me to explore ideas and concepts without the burden of old preconceptions or limitations. As I talk through my contemplations out loud, I’ve come to refer to them as Shower Sermons. And, like singing in the shower, if only I could record them…
The point here is that I know you think about divine concepts, as well. In fact, contemplation is a tremendous aid to elevating your spiritual consciousness. I do believe that at some point, you have to release these thinking exercises because you will come to a place where Divine Truth comes into your awareness and you recognize it as such.
We have those moments, do we not? Where we receive truth from Spirit? Those are glorious experiences. For me, they come all too seldom, however. But as I spend time in contemplation, I also recognize that Spirit moves in my existence in more ways than I previously knew.
For example, the events that led me to this place where I am the Spiritual Leader of a Unity congregation were created by Spirit. The events that led our family to move to California for 12 years, then return to Texas 9 years ago, were created by Spirit. And there are so many more.
I would never have recognized or appreciated the Spiritual source of my life’s events had it not been through contemplation.
Now, the opposite of contemplation – surrender – is how I follow Spirit’s path. I can do nothing of eternal significance without simply following the course provided to me by Spirit. But, the ability – at least for me – to surrender begins with understanding that to which I am surrendering. Contemplation gives me the ability to discern Truth and to know with full faith the source of my existence. And, contemplation allows me to know when to move from thinking into experiencing. All the contemplation in the world does little to advance my soul if I don’t simply listen to the voice of Spirit and follow its lead.
Before I go further, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without your love and support of my contributions to Unity of Lake Travis, I’m not sure I would be spending as much time as I do IN contemplation. I contemplate more than ever before because I feel a great responsibility to shine a light on various parts of the spiritual path you’re on. I want you to see with excitement and joy that which lies ahead. And by shining that light, I’m seeing my own path, as well. And I am so blessed to be on this journey with you.
But I don’t have more time to contemplate because I have this position. I have more time because I prioritize what is most important. We can always have the time for Divine activities. If you think time is limited for you, then perhaps you should take some time to consider what is most important in your life.
It’s not easy – this prioritization process. I know. But, I’ll tell you a little secret: once you prioritize your divinity above all else, everything becomes so much better. Everything is easier, more abundant, more joyful, and more serene. I know this because Cyndi and I made the choice to put my divinity above all else, and we are enjoying the results of that decision.
Let’s get back to contemplation and why I bring this up today. This series of talks – the one last week, today’s, and the next two weeks – are about a contemplation I’ve had that seems to be working for me in terms of how to understand my relationship with God, Jesus, you, and everyone else. It’s the same type of contemplation I used to have in that treehouse decades ago. The difference, today, is that I come into my contemplations with a bit more education. I feel I can explore more intelligently having studied many of the great contemporary writers such as Charles Fillmore, Eric Butterworth, Emily Cady, David Hawkins, and Eckhart Tolle. In my studies at Unity Worldwide Ministries, I am realizing deep, deep truths in scripture I had not seen before. And, today, meditation and listening contribute to my ability to discern what is Truth with a capital T.
Last week, we talked about the idea that God IS. That God is all there is, and that Its omni-presence means whatever we are, was created in the very beginning as Divine Substance. I suggested that what God created was this substance and the Divine Law of how to use the substance.
So what is the Divine Law of God? What is it that God wants us to shape from Divine Substance?
In Unity, there is presented the concept of Mind-Idea-Expression. That God is Mind, what creates Divine Ideas, such as justice, peace, beauty, etc., and that those Ideas are expressed through us and It’s creations.
The challenge I have with this expression of God is that the Divine Ideas of things such as justice, peace, beauty, etc. are subjective ideals. If we choose to express a Divine Idea of “beauty,” we have to make a judgment as to what is beautiful. But who among us can judge what is Divine beauty? What is beautiful to God, if not everything? What is justice? As we witness the explosion of pent-up frustrations of minorities, we can easily see that what society may have thought constituted justice was not justice, but, in many ways, was repression.
So, what is God’s Ideal that is not subjective? What could God create that we could easily understand and for which there would be no argument?
To me, the only thing God would allow us to create from Substance is Love. Only love is not subjective. Either you love something or you don’t. And for God, the idea that It loves us all is much easier and more powerful than thinking that God has created a scale of what is beautiful, just, peaceful, or righteous.
Therefore, if the substance of God is meant to be used to express Its Love, then something must shape, mold, and use that Divine Substance to express God’s Love.
That, to me, is the only Divine Idea. If we revisit the metaphysical trinity of Mind-Idea-Expression, we can now substitute God-Love-Expression, or, perhaps, Substance-Law-Love. Maybe that should be our new trilogy: Substance-Law-Love; the concept that God is Divine Substance which, shaped by Divine Law, creates Divine Love.
You can see, my contemplations continue to evolve and swirl. But that’s okay. As long as we – you and I – spend time in these mental realms, we are moving along our Spiritual Path. We’re getting closer to that time when we can easily listen and discern Truth.
Most importantly, to me, realizing a Higher Truth to which I can commit the belief system of my soul enables me to feel and be more powerful. The concept that God’s only true Divine Idea is Love is so incredibly empowering to me.
It means that you and I have now only one litmus test to use to judge whether something is Divine or not; whether an idea, an action, a belief, or an experience is Spirit inspired or something of our ego consciousness. That test is simply this: does it come from Love with a capital L?
Are we operating from Love? Do we make a decision to share our abundance – or not – based on Love? Do we choose with whom to associate based on Love? Do we make purchasing decisions based on Divine Love? Yes, even our daily activities can be either from Love or without Love.
This is why Love is so important. Someone asked me last week if the protesters were expressing Love. For many of them, the answer is most likely, “yes.” For some, no. Even among the same protesters, some are acting from Divine Love, others from ego-centric hate, anger, and fear.
Cyndi and I took a walk around Lady Bird Lake last Sunday. It was a very hot afternoon and the water and shore around the lake was crowded with people on floats, kayaks, and paddle boards. Families were having picnics everywhere.
And as joyous as many were, I can’t help but think so many were not there out of a sense of Love, but of selfishness. I know that sounds harsh, but I’ll explain. As we walked around the lake, we maintained a safe distance from everyone we came close to. Because we love our fellow man, we do not want to spread any infection. I’m really not worried about getting the virus. I’m sure it’s a very uncomfortable and potentially deadly illness, but my biggest concern would be if I unwittingly spread it to someone else.
The crowds at the park were not exhibiting Divine Love or they would have maintained safe distancing and wore face masks. No one had masks on. Thousands of people, shoulder-to-shoulder in the parks. No wonder Texas is seeing its largest daily new cases just this past week.
Now, I’m not angry with those crowds. I don’t hate those folks for what they did. I completely understand their need to get out of the house. I use this, however, to illustrate a point: if we just take a moment to judge whether our actions and our feelings truly reflect a higher sense of Love, then we can only make the correct choice. In fact, there is no choice necessary then, is there?
God’s Will, Its Divine Idea, the one thing for which we are given the power to express as the Child of God is Love. This is why I continually return to the two greatest commandments in scripture.
He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’Matthew 22:37-39 NRSV
Jesus knew the Divine Idea. Maybe it’s time we listened.