Growing All The Time

Sometimes, as we take the first small steps forward, plant the first seeds of change into our lives, we wonder whether we’re getting anywhere or accomplishing anything.  We know that we’re “supposed” to grow; yet when we seek signs outside ourselves, the landscape still appears barren.

I believe that Jesus understood our continual desire to both plant and grow.  In the “Parable of the Growing Seed” [Mark 4:26-29], which some Bible scholars believe is an Earth parable, Jesus explains:

The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he[/she] does not know how.  Earth produces of itself; first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.  And when the grain is ripe, at once he[/she] goes in with a sickle, because the harvest has come.

As appropriate for his 1st century agrarian culture, Jesus uses the analogy of seeds and Earth to reveal how transformation occurs, within the Earth — and — within us.  He reminds us that once we choose to plant, we also choose to trust that our harvest will unfold before us, little by little, one step at a time.

Our understanding and acceptance of this is tremendously liberating as we remember: Seeds produce as is their nature — and so do we.  We are divinely created by God, Divine Creator of all things, to grow and thrive.  And when we remember that we can grow all the time, we also can choose to rise above and grow beyond daunting challenges.

The humblest farmers admit that they don’t completely understand how crops grow, although they understand their role: They nurture growth; they don’t force it.  This awareness reminds us to remain faithful throughout the process, whatever our process is, and trust in divine outcome, especially if we want to steer the whole Universe to make something happen before its time.

It also reminds us that crops grow in their time, which isn’t always ours.  Because the truth is: It isn’t our job to know how, when or where. That’s God’s job.  So on the way, we do what we can:

  • Basking in the sunshine and/or resting in the moon glow of prayer, meditation, reflection and contemplation.
  • Nourishing ourselves with healthy foods and yummy treats; a peaceful night’s rest; enjoyable exercise; fun, laughter and play.
  • Watering with encouraging words and loving deeds from those who most appreciate, honor, support and value our growth process.
  • Nurturing with gratitude for each day’s blessings.
  • Rejoicing in even the smallest sprouts and tiniest buds.

As we continue on our way, we begin to notice the depths of our innate faith, strength and wisdom.  Then we discover how perfectly our road is unfolding before us, as we allow God’s divine power and presence to lead the way.

© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.

Trust God’s Will

Staying faithful requires that we release preconceived notions about how our lives “should” unfold.  It also requires that we cease giving God directions and follow the directions and guidance always available to us.

In their life-transforming work The Quest: A Journey of Spiritual Rediscovery (© 1993, 2001), Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla, former directors of Silent Unity, ask:

“Why do we insist on having things our way, when God’s way is so much better?”     (p. 141)

Here are a few of their thoughts about God’s Will:

“. . . God’s will for you comes more as a never-changing murmur that laps gently upon your consciousness like ripples on the shore of a peaceful lake.  God speaks to you in a still, small voice like the tapping of a conductor’s baton.  It is a gentle tapping, a sweet nudging in the direction of your good.

“You will never know God’s will by intellectualizing and conjecturing what that will is.  God doesn’t speak in words.  God speaks to you in feelings, in dreams, in intuitive perceptions, through the words of others, through the love of others, in an inspiring story, in a beautiful scene, in the gaze of a loved one, in the face of a child, and in dozens of other gentle ways.  You cannot know God’s will intellectually.  Only be becoming aware of life, of living . . . can you hear it.” (p. 142)

As we allow ourselves to become aware of the life around us, we hear God’s Presence in new and wonderful ways.  Then, we begin to feel ourselves guided in the best directions for us.

Faith and Expectation

“To expect the good, to expect answer to our prayers — this we think of as faith.  The other half of expecting is waiting, and we do not often associate waiting with faith.  In fact, if we pray with great faith and expectation and our answer does not come immediately, if we have to wait, we may think that we have failed, that our faith has failed.  In our despair we may even think that God has failed. . . .

“Expecting and waiting: both are forms of faith.  It takes faith to expect answers to prayer, to expect healing in the midst of pain, to expect guidance when darkness envelopes us, to expect peace when turmoil prevails, to expect success though we have heretofore failed.

“It takes faith to expect answers to prayer, it takes faith to wait for the results that we have the faith to believe are forthcoming. . . .

“When Jesus compared faith to a grain of mustard, He was showing us that our expectation can far surpass the present smallness of that in which we place our faith.  An acorn is a small seed, but ‘lo! the mighty oak.’”

— Martha Smock

Thriving in a Drought

Last week, I retreated along the Frederica River in Georgia.  In the evening, I watched the sun set gold, pink, red and purple as sailboats dropped anchor for the night.  In the morning, I meditated at my bedroom window, gazing at the river’s gentle flow.

Such a lovely contrast it was to the baked ground and dried grass here in North Central Florida, where we’re experiencing a drought.  “My” pond has disappeared, and I miss it.  I loved the flowing water and spurting fountain which reminded me to remain in the flow of life.

Sometimes, in our lives, the flow ceases.  Sometimes things dry up and die, no rain is forecast, and all possibilities are dead ends.  We may experience these droughts in various aspects of our lives: dating, romance or intimate relationships; the best work for our gifts and talents; illness which requires extensive medical care and/or rehabilitation; seeming insurmountable debts or obligations; an unfulfilling spiritual practice.

Droughts, even though we don’t like them, provide opportunities to develop greater spiritual strength.  If you, Blessed Reader, are experiencing a drought, here are some spiritual practices to sustain you:

  • Embrace and rejoice in your time of contemplation, meditation, prayer and reflection.
  • If you haven’t done so already, mourn any losses associated with the drought. Resist the urge to go back and do something the “old way.” Remember that the desire to look backward and wish we’d done it differently is part of the mourning process.
  • Forgive yourself for any choices you made which could have “caused” this drought. Remember that you made the best choices at the time.  Know that you have the inner strength to heal, grow and choose differently, with keener awareness and understanding.
  • Release, in healthy ways, any anger, frustration or impatience you may feel in your body: yell, cry, hit a punching bag, beat a pillow. Also, notice any clenching or tightening in your body. Remember to breathe deeply.
  • Practice gratitude, blessing the past for its gifts. As soon as you can, even if it begins with clenched teeth, thank the past relationship for the love you shared; the medicine and exercises for helping your body heal; the loan for confidence in your ability to repay; the companies or contacts for assisting you in knowing your divine gifts; the spiritual practices for leading you to your new, best path.
  • Discern whether the drought signifies a pause or an ending. Either way, as you prepare to move forward, consider what you can clean, clear or re-purpose while you wait.
  • Avoid clinging to one particular way and resist the urge to rush or force anything. Trust in divine outcome and in your inner wisdom to lead you through your open doors.
  • Remember, no matter what, that you are God’s beloved creation, unconditionally loved, enfolded in infinite compassion and ever-abiding grace, and that you are made to thrive.

© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks.  All rights reserved.