Wednesday, October 18, 2017

We are ALL chosen



Why are there only 7.5 billion people in the world and not 7.5 trillion?

I ask this question because I recently watched a news program about the Hubble telescope. The scientist being interviewed said the minerals in our body come from the stars. If we are made from the stars and there are more than a trillion stars in the universe then why are there so few of us, in comparison to the number of stars, living on earth? I think it is because we are the chosen ones!

Matthew 22: 2-10, 14
The kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. He sent his servants to tell the guests to come to the feast but they did not want to come. So, he sent other servants with this message for the guests. “My feast is ready now; my steers and prize calves have been butchered and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast. But the invited guests paid no attention and went about their business, one went to his farm, another to his store, while others grabbed the servants, beat and killed them. The king was very angry so he sent soldiers who killed those murderers and burned down their city. Then he called his servants and said to them ‘my wedding feast is ready but the people I invited did not accept it. Now go to the main streets and invite to the feast as many people as you find. So, the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, good and bad alike. The wedding hall was filled. Jesus concluded, many are invited but few are chosen.
·         Chosen means one who is the object of choice or of divine favor.
·         Chose means to select freely and after consideration.
Every one of us, 7.5 billion people, are chosen through our existence, our life. We are ‘of divine favor’ because we are created, given life. And our life is the living invitation to the wedding feast, the kingdom. 
The idea of God choosing only a few of us breeds separation among us because it means that only a portion of the 7.5 billion people God created are favored by God and this is not true. All are of divine favor. Otherwise, we would not be here on earth, alive and experiencing God's abundance. We would still be stars.
The king’s servants invite the guests and they chose not to attend. They prefer to take care of their fields, businesses, their everyday personal errands and events. And this is how many of us are today. We are invited to cultivate God’s kingdom through loving, liberating and life-giving relationships with God, ourselves, others, animals and our planet yet we choose to remain as we are, busy with our daily activities, harming and at times killing ourselves, others, animals and our planet figuratively and literally.
We have the opportunity to choose to say yes to God’s wedding feast invitation, (being loving, liberating and life-giving) by cultivating seven qualities within ourselves and helping others do the same. 
I received most of the information below (italicized text is my interpretation) from a Jesus Movement retreat presented and led by the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellars. https://www.episcopalchurch.org/
Become Loving by cultivating the qualities of;
1.      Belovedness.
2.      Gratitude.
Become Liberating by cultivating the qualities of;
3.      Freedom.
4.      Curiosity.
5.      Humility & Resilience.
Become Life-Giving by cultivating the qualities of;
6.      Compassion.
7.      Joy.


How to cultivate the seven qualities
Become Loving by cultivating the qualities of;
1.      Belovedness.
Belovedness is not a feeling, we claim it ~ I am beloved, I am possible. Recognizing that we are beloved enables us to be love for others. God invested time and energy into our creation. Our life is the symbol of God’s love. Knowing we are loved, God’s beloved, gives us courage to share an open loving spirit that helps to heal the world and communicate the gospel. 

Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 

·        Recall a moment when you truly felt beloved by God. What was happening? How did you feel?
·        How would being rooted in God’s love change the way you share love in the world?
·       What helps/would help you to cultivate your belief in your own belovedness? How might you help to cultivate that belovedness in others?


2.      Gratitude.
As beloved we feel gratitude towards God, ourselves and others. We come to know that everything is a gift. The fact that we can consider to be thankful is something to be thankful for. We cultivate gratitude by practicing it throughout the day. Begin by writing one or two people/places/things/experiences you are grateful for. Thank God throughout the day for breath or the sun. As we practice gratitude it becomes easier and our grateful list grows. Gratitude shifts our thoughts of scarcity to abundance. And as our gratitude grows we are able to give sacrificially for the love of the world. Life, hope, food, money pour out of us. Our game changes from ‘the one with the most toys wins’ to sharing our gifts with others for all to 'win.'


Gratitude Resource:

Psalm 95:1-6 O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 

·       Recall a moment when you felt deep Gratitude. What was happening? How did you feel?
·       Did your gratitude move you to act or share with others differently? How?
·      What helps/would help you to cultivate an inner sense of gratitude? How might you help to cultivate gratitude in others?


Become Liberating by cultivating the qualities of; 

3.      Freedom.
We are free when we are able to be our authentic self, help others find their authentic self and are excited when we see someone being authentic. I visualize freedom through the soaring hawk gliding through the air effortlessly. Being our authentic self means that we know who we are, how to be and what to do with our lives. We accept ourselves and others. Cultivating freedom enables us to celebrate and participate in others’ liberation.


Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbors as yourself.” 

·       Recall a moment when you felt truly FREE. What was happening? How did you feel?
·       Did your sense of freedom move you to act or to share with others differently? How?
·       What helps/would help you to cultivate an inner sense of freedom? How might you help to cultivate freedom in others?


4.      Curiosity.
Cultivating curiosity enables us to receive hospitality and wisdom of the other.
As an educated, trained and experienced coach and spiritual director, curiosity it the most important quality to have because it states that I do not have the answers for anyone but myself. Being curious by asking open ended questions enables the person I am serving to find their own answers. This process helps them to see what they could not see on their own.
We help others cultivate curiosity by being aware that we all hold a part of truth, allowing others to share their ‘stuff’ by talking less and listening more, listening for what is not being said. And coaxing the unsaid through open ended questions which leads the other to ‘aha’ moments. 

John 4: 7-12, 27-30 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” ….Just then His disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to Him. 
In the scripture passage, Jesus pushes the cultural norms of His day by visiting with a Samaritan woman at a town well. Back in that time, community wells were the source for water. And women used this time to converse with other women of the town to hear the local news. This is where the saying ‘heard it at the water cooler’ evolved from. This woman is at the well during a time when she knows no other women will be there because she is not liked by the other women. And here is Jesus talking with her! LOVE it! He is so radical and courageous in His love for us, ALL of us! 
  • Why didn’t the disciples say anything about Jesus’ speaking to the woman?
  • Jesus’ time with this woman inspired her to tell people (she knew did not like her) all about her experience. Have you ever been so excited about something that you had to tell everyone?
  • The Samaritan woman’s enthusiasm inspired the people to leave to city to see for themselves! Has your enthusiasm inspired curiosity and action from those you told?
  • Recall a moment when you were surprised by the wisdom of someone unexpected. What was happening? How did you feel?
  • Did you become more curious or open to such experiences – and people -going forward? If so, how?
  • What helps/would help you to cultivate curiosity within? How might you help others to cultivate curiosity?


5.      Humility & Resilience.
Cultivating humility and resilience enables us to take risks and persevere for the gospel. Humility is a realistic assessment of who we are and who God is. Humility and Resilience is strength. It is being able to admit that I do not always live the way God calls me to, take time to reflect and continue trying. It is being able to admit that I make mistakes or I mess up, apologize and move forward with a ‘continuous improvement’ mindset.


Mark 6:1-6 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are no without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. 

This scripture reveals that our inability to cultivate humility results in our inability to see the truth that is right before us which closes us down from living freely. This scripture also reveals Jesus’ resilience because he accepts that not all of the chosen is open to his way of life and he continues to teach it all the way to the cross. His resilience encourages us to share his truth of freedom (gospel) with those in our lives so they too may live and share it. 

·        Recall a moment when you messed up and were humbled but bounced back. What was happening? How did you feel?
·        Did you approach failure or taking risks differently after that experience? What did your capacity for Humility and Resilience make it possible for you to do or to share later?
·        What helps/would help you to cultivate humility and resilience within? How might you help to cultivate an appreciation of humility and a capacity for resilience? 



Become Life-Giving by cultivating the qualities of; 

6.      Compassion.
Cultivating compassion enables us to partner for others’ healing and liberation. Compassion is our capacity to feel for others. It gets awakened by being in touch with our own pain then we can experience the pain of others and don’t want to see them go through it. Other words to describe compassion are; womb love, tender love from the mother place, gut love, concern for someone else, interdependence and union, I am because we are. 

Sometimes it is too hard to stay with all the pain in our world. Watching the daily news is so heartbreaking and frustrating because we don’t know how we can help and when we cultivate compassion we desperately want to help. One way to help is through prayer. In the 1800’s, there was a woman named Adelyn who was bedridden due to illness. She shared with her friend Emily that she wanted to serve Jesus in some way and was frustrated because she was stuck in bed. Together, Adelyn and Emily, decided that they would pray. Intercessory prayer became their way of service. And from this desire to serve the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross (SCHC) and Adelynrood (Adelyn + rood which means cross) Retreat center was born. The SCHC is comprised of women who take vows of intercessory prayer, social justice and simplicity of life, they do not live in community, they live their lives like we do and they live their vows. They run the retreat house and invite us to join them in their service by attending various programs, volunteering time/talents in running the retreat house or donating money. All of this came about through the desire of one woman who wanted to help! What can we do!!! With God’s help everything is possible! 
Please visit http://www.adelynrood.org/ to learn more.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of Lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 

I think this passage spells out that we are nothing without God which is a compelling reason to be compassionate. 

·        Recall a moment when you felt deep compassion for the suffering of others… or for yourself. What was happening? How did you feel? Where in your body did “compassion” reside?
·        Did your sense of compassion move you to act or share with others differently? How?
·        What helps/would help you to cultivate compassion within? How might you help others to cultivate compassion? 


7.      Joy.
Cultivating joy enables us to share joy and delight in God’s presence in the world. After we have cultivated all of the 6 qualities above we understand that our life is love, liberty and life giving which results in feeling joy and living joyfully all the time. And we become contagious, others want to know what we know. And we can tell them with the hope that they will open their hearts and mind to the truth of the gospel.
Isaiah 12:3-6 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
·        Recall a moment when you felt great Joy. What happened? How did you feel? How did you respond?
·        Did your sense of joy move you to act or move differently in the world? How did others respond?
·        What helps/would help you to cultivate inner joy? How might you help others to cultivate joy?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Troubled? Think on this.

This morning I began my scripture and mediation readings in the quiet of darkness. As I moved from one reading source to another I saw the sky shown in this picture peaking through the window shade. I had to stop.

After gazing at the beauty before me, I picked up my bible and opened to Sirach 43.
A note I wrote next to this passage at an earlier reading says: "I am filled with delight when I read this!"

Sirach 43:1-12

How beautiful is the bright, clear sky above us! What a glorius sight it is! The sun, when it appears, proclaims as it rises how marvelous a thing it is, made by the Most High. At noon it dries up the land; no one can stand its blazing heat. The setting sun sets fire to the hilltops, like a metal furnace glowing from the heat. It sends out fiery rays blinding the eyes with its brightness. The Lord, who made it, is great; it speeds on its way at His command.

There is also the moon, marking the passage of time, an eternal sign of the changing seasons. The moon determines the holy days. Its light grows full and then grows dim. The "month" is named after the moon, marvelous to watch as it grows fuller each night, a signal light for heavenly armies, shining out in the dome of the sky.

The shining stars make the night sky lovely, brilliant ornaments in the Lord's high heavens. They stay in the places assigned them by the Holy One and never relax their dutiful watch.

Look at the rainbow and praise its Creator! How magnificant, how radiant, its beauty! Like a bow bent by the hands of the Most High, it spans the horizon in a circle of glory.
Good News Bible

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Spark



The scientists in their quest to find the start of life have concluded that it started as a big bang or explosion. This explosion sent an unquantifiable number of sparks into nothing which turned into something, the reality in which we live and breathe.




Each of us is one of those sparks.





Take a moment and if possible look at your hand.
Use your hand to touch your ear.
Imagine your feet and legs.
If you are able, walk one step.


Take a moment to imagine and if possible look at a tree.
Think about how it lives.
Roots for water.
Leaves for nourishment.
An eco system all within itself.






All this and more from a spark.

The Hindu tradition uses the greeting, Namaste as a way to recognize that spark in themselves and in others. The greeting in essence is saying, 'the spark in me recognizes the spark in you'.

Our life purpose is to cultivate this spark into its original form and essence.
Some may say that because the start of life occured in a violent way that our essence is violence and this is what we cultivate.
The evening news tells me that we are doing a very good job with this cultivation.

Violence leaves us feeling fearful, frustrated, lost and abandoned.


We have had many people who cultivated peace, love, joy, gratitude and a concern for the common good of all.

Some of these people can be found in this book called Holy Women Holy Men.

I find it to be a source of inspiration and guidance in working to cultivate the same within me.


It takes work to cultivate anything worthwhile. Our life is filled with opportunities to learn, explore and shift our way of being.

In order to 'be the change we want to see in the world' as Gandhi encourages us to be, we start with our spark. Get to know it. Ask it how to help it grow its light and splendor so that those we interact with recognize it, they can feel our spark connecting with something within themselves. They begin to question and seek to find and cultivate their spark.

And together we will work for unity and peace.
How are you cultivating your spark?


Saturday, April 15, 2017

iPhone iAm


I had a cell phone in the early stages of this technological breakthrough.
<-------  It looked something like that.

It was huge in size and it did not have all the functionality as it has today.



I used the cell phone, back then, for emergencies while on business travel. Most of my friends and family did not have cell phones so it was inactive most of the time which led me to get rid of it.

Today, I have an iPhone and use it throughout the day for various purposes from texting, talking, meeting planning, email to GPS and research.

I did not have my IPhone at work one day and at first I worried that I would be out of touch! It lead me to think about how connected I am to this iPhone and it is to me. I felt a bit lost without it. Almost to the point of doubt in being a fully functioning person!

I found, throughout the day, that I was less distracted and more focused without it. I rested in  knowing that if there was an emergency my family could call me on my office phone. And having internet on my work computer, I could check my personal email.

Phew, all is well!

Or is it?

Where is my faith and security?

It sounds like it is in the iPhone and the Internet.

I read that Steve Jobs' iPhone vision was to create a personal device that would be an extension of its owner.  So much so that when the owner looks at the iPhone they see an image of themselves.
I think he is 100% successful with accomplishing that vision. Me and my iPhone. What else do I need. I feel like a complete functioning adult with it. Lost without it.

Recently, a 60 Minutes news reporter interviewed a Google product manager who said the mobile devices are programing our brain to create habits to check our phones. Here is an excerpt and link for the full interview:

From 60 Minutes:
"Harris compares smartphones to “slot machines” because, he says, “Every time I check my phone, I’m playing the slot machine to see, ‘What did I get?’” He is referring to “likes” on Facebook and Instagram, cute emoji in text messages and more followers on Twitter – powerful reinforcement for staying on your phone. It’s a flood of gratifying information that keeps coming via the so-easy-to-use scrolling method on digital devices – another way to keep us engaged".


1 Corinthians 7:17,20,24; 10:31
Each of you should go on living according to the Lord's gift to you, and as you were when God called you. My friends, each of you should remain in fellowship with God in the same condition that you were when you were called. Whatever you do, do it for God's glory.

God is calling, ready, willing and able to connect with us and help us in our lives 24/7, just like that iPhone is ready (as long as it is charged) willing and able to connect and serve us.



The iPhone is in my hand. I see it and can easily access all it has to offer.
Not so with God.

Or is it?

I learned about God's connection over 20 years ago when I was interested in learning about God and the New Testament's Christian principles through a bible study being offered at my church. At the time I knew about, from my Catholic elementary school education, four books in the bible - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

We discussed some of the 'sins' or disconnection with God in the bible study. One such 'sin' that intrigued me was gossip. I wanted to know if I was a gossiper or not and decided to pay close attention to what I do and say to find out.

One day at work I was sharing my experience of a colleague with another colleague because she was going to work on a project with this person.

Later that day, I felt bothered by what I had said and I ask my colleague if she thought it was gossip. She didn't think so because I was sharing my experience of the person.

That night I had a dream. I saw a book with its pages flipping and the words/numbers - Kings Kings James 369. I woke up in the morning remembering this dream and wondering what it could mean.
I went about my day and at times this dream came back to me. I spent a few minutes wondering what it could mean and then forgot about it. This continued until I realized that the book may be the bible. I thought, 'could there be a book in the bible called James'? I looked in the table of contents of my bible and sure enough there was a book of James! FEAR rose up in me as I thought, 'is this God talking to me'?

I looked into the book of James, found chapter 3 and then looked at verses 6,9.

James 3:6,9
6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  9With the tongue we praise our LORD and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness.

What? How can this be? Really? God was there in the conversation I had with my colleague? Listening and then instructing me in a dream? As I pondered this experience I realized, yes, of course this is possible! Why not!  The creator of all and everything has the ability to connect with us in any way that we will receive it!!! 

Why hasn't this type of interaction happened more often and as easily as my interaction with the iPhone?

What was different in me was my willingness to learn, to question, explore and measure my actions against the Bible's principles and wisdom. 

I was OPEN to receiving, powered up, fully charged!

God is online, connected, fully charged, listening in on our lives. God is waiting for us to acknowledge that with a question, curiosity, exploration and measurement. And when we do, we receive more than we can imagine. We receive guidance and love.

May we receive comfort in knowing without a doubt that God is, I AM, present with us without separation, ever.



Saturday, September 17, 2016

Where dreams come true



BMW = Barbara Monahan’s Wheels
Where dreams come true.

I was a tomboy growing up. This means that in addition to playing with ‘girl’ toys such as dolls, I enjoyed playing sports, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, baseball, basketball, football, and with cars.

The cars my sister and I played with were mostly hand me down match box American model cars from our brothers. And occasionally, when we had some money we went to the five and dime store to buy a new car, usually a hot rod!

We played with the cars in and outside our home. We were builders. We liked to build environments to drive the cars. We used the materials we had at our disposal. Couches, chairs, pillows and coffee tables. Outside we used bricks as pavers to pave roads in the dirt. We used dirt, rocks, sticks and grass to make parking garages, offices and homes. And while I played with these cars I dreamt of owning my own car  someday to drive where ever I wanted to drive.

My dad worked in construction as a mason and my mom did not work or drive so my siblings and I had to walk to and from school every day. Sometimes an upper classmate who lived a few blocks away from our home would ask his mom to give us a ride. His dad worked for Ford Motor Company and would get a new car every year. I thought that was the coolest deal in the world and wanted the same when I grew up.

I bought my first car when I was 19 years old. I saved $2,800 to buy a used 1974 Pontiac Lemans with 4 doors, green exterior (green being my favorite color), black interior with front and back bench seats (enabling me to pile in all my friends for road trips). My dad took me to buy the car. I was beginning to date my husband at the time and had to cancel our date. He reminds me of this to this day after 30 years of marriage. Sorry, but sometimes the car comes first! As it did in this case!! It was so exciting to have my own car to make those paved dirt roads of my youth become real!

The Pontiac was totaled when, while driving down a very dark curvy road, I swerved to avoid hitting a 1965 Mustang and the people in it. I can still see their faces in the headlights of my car. The Mustang had stalled as the driver tried to make a u turn in the curve in the road. After I swerved to avoid the Mustang my car hit the guard rail which cracked the engine block. No one was injured.
Mustangs were another model that I thought was the coolest. And the next car I got, from my sister, was a 1972 Mustang with two doors, manual transmission, green exterior and black interior. It wasn’t a 1965 Mustang but I was glad to learn how to drive a manual transmission, something everyone should learn!


I came home from my college classes one day to meet my sister’s friend who I learned through our conversation that she worked at BMW. I asked her, “Do they let you drive their cars?” And she said “yes, we get a new car at least once a year.” I said, “I am going to work for BMW one day.”

My first Accounting position after graduating from college was at Chase Manhattan Leasing Company which was a branch of Chase Bank (now JP Morgan Chase). We managed leasing contracts for large construction machinery to small office equipment. The Accounting Management team consisted of two women as Controller and Assistant Controller. They saw my potential and gave me interesting projects, like relocating the Piper Aircraft back office functions in Lakeland Florida to our New Jersey Headquarters. And helping the Moberly Missouri office with some accounting issues. After a short 5 year career the parent company, Chase bank, decided to sell the leasing portfolio to GE Capital which meant that I had to look for a new Accounting position. The positions offered to me by Chase were not interesting to me so I had to look outside the company. The Assistant Controller gave me a lead from a recruiting firm that was looking for someone with my qualifications. I called the recruiting firm who, it turns out, was working for BMW. BMW, at that time, had a small leasing portfolio that was being managed by GE Capital and they wanted to bring it in house. I felt like KARMA was working in my favor and the aspirations of my youth and young adulthood were coming to fruition. In addition, the position was a perfect fit! At least from my perspective because one of my career goals was to be involved with a startup and here was the opportunity with BMW! I went on the interview and met with several BMW managers who were impressed enough with my qualifications to hire me!

Several years into my BMW career the BMW Roadster was manufactured. The Roadster is one of my favorite models. Mazda had come out with the Miata several years earlier and I dreamed of owning one. I drove the BMW Roadster and fell in love with it! BMW really does make the Ultimate driving machines!

I have had many great experiences in my BMW career because the environment was one that had room for me to stretch my skillset, explore new areas of interest and develop how and what I wanted to develop. My underlining work ethic stems from my philosophy that regardless of where I worked or the position held but especially at BMW (because BMW in my mind stand for Barbara Monahan’s wheels) that I own the company. Receiving a paycheck and benefits is my return on the investment of my time, experience and talents. My BMW story reflects that and an unfolding of my life dreams.
Dreams do come true at BMW!




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