Why I like January and yes I am crazy!

pexels-photo-688660.jpegI have come to like January for a couple of reasons. First, January signals the end of all the holiday madness. I love the holidays, but I also crave resumption to a routine. The holidays disrupt our normal flow of life which in turn disrupts our souls.

In December we are torn between meeting the needs of family and friends and living our lives in a peaceful way manner. If you have kids to buy presents for there is always the pain of them wanting too much versus what’s in your wallet. Add to that parties and gatherings and life gets very messy. When I hit January, I breathe a sigh of relief because now I can focus on the new beginnings that a new year holds.

Second, I like January because January provides a starting point to orientate our lives. Some of you may call your new year resolutions. I prefer to call it a reorientation for the new year.

For example, I recently retired early to pursue my dream of writing full-time. In the past week, I have created two blogs, outlined a mystery novel and took steps to add a stream of income. Reorientation is more powerful than any new years resolution because a resolution is singular like losing weight or reading more or being a better parent. The challenge is any change in our lives takes multiple steps. Losing weight not only means making healthy food choices, exercise, and a shift in psychology. A dieter needs to eat to live instead of living to eat. Most dieters just make one change, choosing different food, thus they fail because they have not addressed exercise and the mental changes they need to make.

When we are committed multiple steps in our change process, we are telling the universe/God that you are committed to changing your life thus the universe/God responds. Why? If you are committed there will be no wasted resources. For example, when you join a gym you might employ a trainer. If you are only half-hearted in your efforts, you have wasted the trainers time and you have spent funds that could have been used differently. If you are dedicated to reorientation and making the appropriate changes, then the power in the Universe/God works behind the scenes to bring the right people and information into your life.

Contrary to some beliefs, the Universe is charged by God to support us in our journey thru life. We have a choice. We can either find the stream of life that supports us or swim upstream trying to make something out of nothing. So I say let go and let God supply what you need as you reorientate yourself in 2018.

Peace,

Frank Szewczyk

 

God is not out there!

sky-space-dark-galaxy.jpg

Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and Founder

for the Center for Action and Contemplation. His meditation for January 5th, 2018 is a powerful reminder that God is not out there.

From the Center for Action and Contemplation https://cac.org/

Where Is God?

Friday, January 5, 2018

When I was on retreat at Thomas Merton’s hermitage at Gethsemani Abbey in 1985, I had a chance encounter that has stayed with me all these years. I was walking down a little trail when I recognized a recluse, what you might call a hermit’s hermit, coming toward me. Not wanting to intrude on his deep silence, I bowed my head and moved to the side of the path, intending to walk past him. But as we neared each other, he said, “Richard!” That surprised me. He was supposed to be silent. How did he know who I was? “Richard, you get chances to preach and I don’t. Tell the people one thing.” Pointing to the sky, he said, “God is not ‘out there’!” Then he said, “God bless you,” and abruptly continued down the path.
The belief that God is “out there” is the basic dualism that is tearing us all apart. Our view of God as separate and distant has harmed our relationships with sexuality, food, possessions, money, animals, nature, politics, and our own incarnate selves. This loss explains why we live such distraught and divided lives. Jesus came to put it all together for us and in us. He was saying, in effect, “To be human is good! The material and the physical can be trusted and enjoyed. This physical world is the hiding place of God and the revelation place of God!”
Far too much of religion has been about defining where God is and where God isn’t, picking and choosing who and what has God’s image and who and what doesn’t. In reality, it’s not up to us. We have no choice in the matter. All are beloved. Everyone—Catholic and Protestant, Christian and Muslim, black and white, gay and straight, able-bodied and disabled, male and female, Republican and Democrat—all are children of God. We are all members of the Body of Christ, made in God’s image, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, whether or not we are aware of this gift.
Can you see the image of Christ in the least of your brothers and sisters? This is Jesus’ only description of the final judgment (Matthew 25). But some say, “They smell. They’re a nuisance. They’re on welfare. They are a drain on our tax money.” Can we see Christ in all people, even the so-called “nobodies” who can’t or won’t play our game of success? When we can see the image of God where we don’t want to see the image of God, then we see with eyes not our own.
Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don’t see it at all.Once we see God’s image in one place, the circle keeps widening. It doesn’t stop with human beings and enemies and the least of our brothers and sisters. It moves to frogs and pansies and weeds. Everything becomes enchanting with true sight. We cannot not live in the presence of God. We are totally surrounded and infused by God. All we can do is allow, trust, and finally rest in it, which is indeed why we are “saved” by faith—faith that this could be true.

Gateway to Presence:

If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Creation as the Body of God,” Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, ed. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (The Golden Sufi Center: 2013), 235-241; and

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2003), 58-59, 117-119.