The devil and God

Sometimes I’m reluctant to read the news. Murder, slander, hate crimes, prison escapes, it gets to be too much.

This is where “the devil” comes in handy. And, I mean that in a singular tone. A devil; an impersonal devil. Not a bunch of human devils.

To believe people are devilish, is futile to a consciousness improving. The thinker gets caught in a whirlwind of seeing horrible acts, trying to identify its motivation, and applying non-conclusive solutions.

All the while, horrible acts still continue in the world, even though we have confinement, capital punishment, and counseling.

The advanced consciousness, though, is able to separate the person from the act, and better defeat the “tradition” of horribleness, the devil.

I can only arrive at this belief in “a devil” by believing in one God, even if my concept of God expands each day. But it allows me to get out of myself, my fears, and my egomania, to connect with the ideal of goodness, God. I’m better prepared to overcome the devil.

My mind opens to see goodness overbalance the crap.

In the world, I can not only read about, but also experience, milestones reached, forgiveness, cooperation, and common sense. I can move forward in these traditions.

thresh wheat

How to know what we need to know

I meet brilliant people, but find they are brilliant only in a specific field. They can even be dull in another area in life. This is because the human mind is limited. It can’t know everything. It can’t see everything.

So, we meditate. We take in more information. We study to learn. Yet, the human mind is still limited, because there is never an end to discovery.

Spiritual knowledge allows me to recognize the infinite Mind. I don’t pray to know what infinite Mind knows.

I pray to affirm that infinite Mind knows everything, and knows exactly what it needs to know at any given moment, and that I reflect that knowing.

My human mind yields to those epiphanies that keep life meaningful and fun.

This is natural. I see nature reflecting the all-knowing. Animals just know how to live.

2c horse near Gammys house

Finding those oases

Spiritual power can sometimes be oases in the middle of the big desert of birth, maturity, decay, death, fear, gain, and loss.

Our life journey takes us from one oasis to another as we look for that heightened consciousness that controls the physical world with goodness, healing, and strength.

It’s a letdown when moving toward an oasis, only to find it is a mirage.

This is when we can tap into our reserves. Like the body. It starts breaking down fat when famine is the case.

My reserves can come in the form of memories. Because I don’t want to live in the past, my memories aren’t necessarily brought up often. But when I feel desolate, I can choose to remember when I felt forces of love.

As much as I’m convinced I love my children, I can apply that conviction to a God who loves me. A God who can do anything for me to make my life full of grace. I find an oasis and am revived to move on in the infinite.

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.

—Isaiah 35: 1-2

desert oasis

Learning how to pray by not praying

If I could go back in time to deliver a message to my 16-year old self, it would be this: Relax and just be.

In high school, I was willingly interested in playing piano, but just as willingly convinced that, to be candid, I played abysmally.

I spent a great deal of time listening to music on the radio and trying to mimic the piano in the background, but fixated on the seemingly endless gulf between my lofty expectations and my relatively undeveloped abilities.

I vividly remember the time when I begged my piano teacher, Mrs. Courtoue to let me learn how to play a popular song. She yielded.

The sheet music arrived and Mrs. Courtoue explained the counting.

Soon, I thought, I’ll be playing behind the likes of Elton John.

So, when I sat down at the piano during my practice time, it was with the full weight of my own expectations for myself looming over me at the keyboard, plus the affliction of my own not-inconspicuous ego turning my every move into a potentially life-changing event.

I struggled to hit the correct piano keys with the necessary sharps. It didn’t matter if I knew how to count the song. My playing was so patchy that counting was only added noise. Every misplayed key resounded doom in my mind, not only for the song, but for my future as the next great piano player. After 3 weeks, I hated the song.

Based on this, I’d persuaded myself that I was terrible at piano.

But the urge to create harmony hasn’t gone away. My inner Elton John called to me when I was in my 30’s.

We’d needed someone to play piano at church. I brought out the hymnal and sat down on the bench. I began finding keys. Everyone in church supported me even when I played the songs with one finger. The willingness to make music returned. The keys on my fingers felt good. And to my great surprise, I improved. I found that all the things that had vexed me when I was 16-years old, besides comparing myself with other good piano players my age, caused me little anxiety. They were far away.

Somewhere between the time I was a teenager and the time I was in my 30’s, I’d learned how to play piano as background music.

It reminds me of other things that had seemed so intimidating, so uncomfortable and so scary to me as a 16-year old, that in fact became easier as I got older—after my false expectations and ego got out of the way. If I catch myself praying with anticipation of being Mary Baker Eddy, or any other spiritual leader, I stop praying until the anticipation is dissolved.

I can pray effectively. I can play piano, ride a motorcycle, write, and publish my writing. I can forgive my self-criticism. I can forgive others who criticize me. I can pray and heal things not healed before. I can see what is before my eyes, rather than be distracted at what could or should be. I can enjoy relaxing and just be.

lookg at piano

What to serve?

From the abridged version of Footsteps of Truth

The best way to circulate Truth is to live it. The result of living Truth is the destruction of wrongdoing, disorders, and death but your focus will be on Truth, God. Jesus pointed out, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”[1]

Serving obsessions, selfishness, misleading appetites, hatred, fear, lust, and the like, makes for unreliable infrastructures or relationships. As we yield to spirituality and serve Truth, the essence of reality is on the side of God, good, and Truth will make “a new creation.”[2]

[1] Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13, ESV

[2] II Cor. 5:17, NIV

serving spoon

Growing spuds in upstate New York

We stopped to talk to some neighbors. The nicest couple. They were planting potatoes, using an old-fashioned planter. The husband had to put each seed potato in a slot, so they’d drop into the ground with synchronized precision. Well, some precision at least, and it beat planting by hand, as they both remembered doing from the old days.

The evening was calm. The weather was inviting. Our conversation led to a featured newspaper article that I wrote.

They plant one acre of potatoes each year and share them with friends and family.

I can appreciate the intimate sharing. I also can remember my dad, who farmed hundreds of acres of potatoes. My sisters and brothers and I would cut the seed potatoes before planting with a large 6-row planter. Then we’d worked on the potato harvester, pulling weeds out of the freshly dug potatoes moving along on a belt onto a truck.

The magnitude of Dad’s operation seemed to lose any intimacy, but thousands upon thousands of more people were fed compared to our neighbors farming.

Neither method is right or wrong.

We can move forward in our spiritual journey with the method that speaks to us, that we can relate to and know it’s productive when it does touch others. Our smiles can feed other people’s famished hearts.

Matthew 9

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (NIV)

Ruth drives as Jim Sickler plants potatoes in Franklin

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