You Got It?

With the 2015 World Series now underway, I’m remembering an old, black and white film which includes a scene on a baseball field. In it, Bud Abbot plays a manager and Lou Costello an outfielder. Abbott yells at Costello to catch a line drive careening toward him in the outfield. Costello calls out as he chases the ball: “I got it! I got it!” As he appears ready to grab the ball in his glove, he repeats, “I got it!” Then the ball drops to the ground. He looks at it dumbfounded and says: “I ain’t got it!”

Sometimes in life, I think the same thing happens to us, especially when an unexpected fly ball comes our way. We know we can get it; we’re sure we have our eye on the ball. Then, when the ball hits the ground, we stare at it, shocked and surprised. We wonder how we missed it. We thought we could just see it into the glove, as if our personal will power would make it so.

Except, some of us have a lot to juggle in our lives, let alone track all the fly balls which sail into the outfield of life. Sometimes we believe we’re supposed to catch every line drive which comes our way or that we’re meant to be full-time jugglers. We can put ourselves through all kinds of machinations, believing we’ve “got it.”

The Truth is: Sometimes we just don’t have it. Sometimes, although we hate admitting it to anyone other than our dearest loved one, we feel scared, worried, upset, confused, or overwhelmed. Often we’re exhausted from trying to keep up, catch up, do it all, get it all and have it all.

Yet, some of us still walk around saying, “We’ve got it,” which is only a lie we tell ourselves. Sometimes we need great courage to admit: “I don’t have it. If you could grab this one, I’d really appreciate it.” Sometimes we need to dig deep down into our inner well of faith. Or we need to rest on our raft as we go with the flow of life, occasionally without any kind of map for where the journey is leading.

That’s when we remember: We can’t control everything which happens in life. But, if we choose, we can control ourselves. So we stop juggling, put down the glove, and allow God to play the outfield. This is the surrender which gets us out of our own way and lets God catch the ball, so to speak. It actually gives us power, because it lets us flow more easily on the sacred journey of life, just as many other biblical sages and spiritual masters have done before us. Then we notice that someone else can plan the meeting; write the report; make the dinner; mow the lawn; clean the garage; or grab the line drive.   Because even when we don’t “got it,” God always does.

© 2015 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.

Rushing To Red

On my travels from my home to the church I serve, I often drive a four-lane stretch of road with a 45-mile-an-hour speed limit. Much of this journey takes me past several churches. Hence, the road is sometimes called Church Row. It’s also sprinkled with shopping centers, office parks, residential developments, the turn-off for a college, and the north-south entrances to a state highway. Several cross streets lead to other parts of town and, further away, other parts of Florida.

Each main intersection has a traffic signal. So, invariably, one is obliged by law, to stop, at least once, at a red light. I can’t remember a time when I’ve driven from one end of town to the other without one stop. Perhaps the lights are timed this way. But that doesn’t deter some people. Because I’ve noticed on these drives, as I’ve noticed in life, some people are determined to get from here to there as quickly as possible. Never mind the speed limit, weather, construction, or other cars on the road. And as I’ve watched the speedy processional, I’ve been passed on the right, side-swiped, nearly clipped, and as my grandma used to say, practically had another car in my backseat – even if I’m driving 48 in a 45 and have no way to change lanes to let them pass.

I’ve also noticed that all the people who rush ahead of me have to stop – at a red light. Occasionally, they don’t, and fortunately one of the city’s finest stops them on the other side. Because we live by earthly laws and spiritual laws also, I sometimes wonder where these drivers are headed that they want to reach the red light first. Or what might be happening in their lives that they forget that the laws to protect all of us do apply to them.

Lots of us are rushing to get somewhere. We don’t like red lights, stop signs, yields, detours or closed roads. And something under construction can really set us off. The spiritual seven-year old within us usually wants to know if we’re there yet, wherever there is, no matter whether it’s a road trip or a life passage.

Some people talk about slowing down for God, though I prefer the idea of slowing down with God, or to the pace of God. Which is even more amusing as I travel along Church Row, because I’ve noticed, and perhaps you have also, Blessed Reader, that God’s pace is similar to God’s time; it doesn’t always go according to our personal plans.

So, we’re reminded: Sometimes we need to stop at a red light. Occasionally we need to take a detour. Yet, if we’re traveling faithfully, we notice, while we’re waiting for the red light to change, that we have a few moments to catch our breath, cherish the silence in our car, put on lipstick, comb our hair, or gaze at the flowers planted along the roadside. Because the truth is, life comes with red lights, and we can choose to plan accordingly and enjoy the journey.

© 2015 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.

Imagine, Then Harvest

One of my favorite scenes in the delightful movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is Gene Wilder as Wonka singing Leslie Bricusse’s song “Pure Imagination.” In particular, the lyric, “Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it” reminds the children, their parents and us of life’s vast possibilities and opportunities.

Lately, though, I hear a lot people dismiss their imagination. It’s easy to do these days with so much information and thousands of Instagrams of everything from hair styling to home decorating. If we can’t choose for ourselves what we like or what we want, we can check what everyone else is saying on Twitter or posting on Facebook and Pinterest.

If we misunderstand imagination, we think it’s silly, childish daydreaming. We say dismissive things such as, “That’ll never happen.” Or we tie ourselves up in knots of worry, centered in fear, rather than faith. Some people even have stopped imagining that their opinions about their own lives matter, such as choosing not to vote for the candidate of their choice. Others worry more about what everyone else thinks than what they think themselves and then wonder why they’re so challenged to make any decisions.

We forget – or maybe we never learned – that imagination is actually a divine spiritual faculty. And in this season when we celebrate harvests, we can consider what dreams, desires, goals or ambitions are waiting to be nurtured within us. We can consider which of these we’ve neglected or negated because they didn’t meet someone else’s standards – whatever those are.

Often, we believe we have to search outside ourselves to harvest our creative fruits. Yet, the truth is, what we seek we merely need to recognize and awaken. To do this, we must be willing, faithfully, to see not what is, but what can be. This is the supreme quality of creativity. I call this contemplative process In-Visioning because it requires that we go within ourselves, rather than consider what other people are thinking, saying and doing.

And, despite what some new age gurus might have us believe, our creative process doesn’t unfold through magical thinking. Magical thinking believes that if we want something, such as a new car, we find a picture of it and paste it on a vision board. If we stare at it long enough and hard enough, we’ll manifest that exact car in our lives. But this is working the process backward. Because our need is likely for transportation, not necessarily a classic Mustang.

When we try to put something outside of ourselves inside, instead of releasing what’s already within us, we force the creative process. Having faith and trust in what can be means we don’t push or force anything. Instead, we faithfully use our imagination to In-Vision – see within – what we want to harvest and express.

Want to change the world? Your world? Turn within, In-Vision, and know your harvest is at hand.

© 2015 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.

Let Your Light So Shine

As I enjoy my first autumn in North Central Florida, I notice the various ways the sunlight shines into the house and when. In this season before we return the clocks to Standard Time, sunlight creeps into the bedroom a little later in the morning and casts sharper angles into the living room in the evening. The sun glows in a pale, blue sky with fluffier clouds than it did in the sticky summer humidity as it sets across the neighborhood pond.

When I was a little girl, before I knew about hemispheres and Greenwich Mean Time, I thought the light went out when it disappeared and I could no longer see it. I imagined that somehow it needed to be turned on, re-created anew every morning, to depart all over again at night.

Sometimes, I think that’s how it is for us, also. We mistakenly believe that we need to create our light. We forget that we’re already bright, shining lights because no one ever told us that we are divine creations of God, an infinitely compassionate, unconditionally loving creator. And maybe no one ever told us, as Jesus the Christ told his followers, according to the Gospel Writer called Matthew in “The Sermon on the Mount”: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Jesus also tells his followers that they, and we in turn, are to let our light so shine before others, so they may see the glory of God we are.

How much differently might we choose to live if we truly believed that we are a light of the world? What would it take for us to shine the light within us? The truth is, each of us is a light in this world. And we don’t need to search anywhere outside ourselves for this light; it isn’t something we have to create. It’s what we are and we’re born with all we need.

What Jesus reminded his followers, and we can remember also, is to shine our light as the divine expressions of God we are. We do this by faithfully and courageously sharing our unique character and passion for life. We’re not meant to hide our lights under baskets because our light represents our greatest physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gifts. Our light reflects all the energy, creativity, love and joy within us.

And while some people may want to stamp out our light or put a lampshade over our heads, that’s about them, not about us. To anyone who doesn’t want to see our light, I say, “Then put on your sunglasses.” The good news is, we don’t actually have to create the light.   Instead we shine the light we are, radiating as vibrantly as the brightest star in the night sky, as gloriously as the noon day sun.

See with God-Colored Glasses

Just as millions of others around the world this past week, I have watched and listened to Pope Francis and reflected on much of what he’s said. While I don’t share the exact theology he does, I greatly honor and respect his desire to live the Gospel as he understands it, especially his belief that all people deserve care and comfort, and his call for us to support and uplift one another, as we each strive to transform our corners of the world.

In particular, I’ve reflected on his mention of Moses, Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton: All faithful people, who traveled extremely difficult faith journeys, struggled with inner and outer demons, and, at times, doubted both their calling and their successes in transforming this world. All of them were theologians who had an intimate relationship with God, especially when life seemed dark and bleak.

As we reflect on these spiritual masters’ faith and works, we may imagine that things are different now, that they faced different hurdles and obstacles than we do. Except for the various politicians vying for authority and power; or the many voiceless people who are poor, sick, hungry, and downtrodden; or the current unrest in the Middle East; or the people exiled from their homeland, not sure where they’ll rest tonight. Sometimes, we think it was different back in the day. Although, it isn’t that much different; some of us just have more stuff now.

The Truth is: Pope Francis and these spiritual leaders he praised all have something else in common. They chose to see the world, as noted Unity minister and writer Eric Butterworth said, “with God-colored glasses.” This means they viewed the world “from the consciousness of God,” as they understood God.

We are called to do this also. Because in seeing with God-colored glasses, we cease creating the world in our image. For many of us, this requires pressing our internal delete key to remove all previous images we have of God, especially those we created in our human image.

The God of Moses, Jesus, Lincoln, King, Day and Merton has no gender or appearance. This isn’t the capricious, puppeteer, superhero God who looks like Superman, Wonder Woman, George Burns, or Morgan Freeman. This God doesn’t send bolts of lightning to strike us down, nor does It challenge, threaten, or hurt us. It has no human emotions. This God isn’t a being. This God is Being. So awesome and wondrous few of us will ever fully comprehend It.

So, we’re invited, as people of faith – whichever faith is ours – to create the world in God’s image, with compassion, faith, trust, perseverance and understanding. As we remove our personal selves from the equation of outcome and allow our sacred selves to lead, we – just as those blessed leaders before us – express the divinity we are. Then, step by ever-faithful step, despite darkness and doubt, we transform our corners of the world.