Category Archives: 31 Days

Holy Graffiti!

Spiritography Day 2: Imaging the Sacred in Everyday Life

I recently journeyed to Memphis, and while there, I stopped by Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home (and final resting place).  While I wasn’t interested in touring his home, I found myself fascinated by the stone wall that lined the property.  I was struck by the outpouring of adoration for someone who sang and gyrated his way into people’s hearts.  Messages of love covered the entire length of the wall. It was like rock ‘n’ roll’s version of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Fans clamored for a piece of the wall to leave personal messages and prayers to the King.

Holy Graffiti.

I snapped these photos because they reflect the spirit of pure devotion from fans all over the world. What compelled me to capture these images was their heartfelt vibrancy; it made me take serious pause. I was standing on sacred ground.

"Holy Graffiti"

“Holy Graffiti” by Penny McDaniel

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“Pammy Loves Elvis”

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“Always and Forever”

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“Graceland’s Graffiti Wall of Love”

Even if one were not familiar with Graceland and its famous owner, this wall simply can not be written off as just another blatant example of vandalism. It calls us to stop and take notice. It is meant to be encountered. It is meant to be engaged. And it makes its statement loud and clear.  What may look like acts of vandalism are really acts of devotion.  Fans have turned this wall into a timeless memorial with their endearing messages.

The word “memorial” comes from the Latin word “memos,” meaning “mindful.” And the German word for “monument” is “denkmal,” meaning “thought object.”  Graceland’s wall is both of these because it takes us back to the past and forward to the future, linking generations, while leading us to think of our own lives and to contemplate questions of mortality and meaning. The wall is a place where spirit is alive and well, giving fans a sense of warmth and welcome, and it will tell its tale to the many generations that follow.

Our need to establish memorials is a universal one. We want to remember and be remembered. No one wants to be forgotten. For centuries, we have erected commemorative statues, buildings, museums, and monuments, in memory of those who have perished in natural disasters, major accidents, and wars.  We do the same for famous people who have brought inspiration to our lives through their gifts and talents. From the pyramids to roadside memorials, we commemorate our loved ones to keep their memories alive, not just in the world but in our hearts. It allows us to cope, to heal, to appreciate, but always to remember.

Pruning: Not Just For Plants — How You Can Benefit

Spiritography Day 1: Imaging the Sacred in Everyday Life

Photography is one of my spiritual practices.  Though I am but a mere amateur, I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture a reflection of the transcendental.  Photography allows me to find the sacred in the ordinary.  It’s not about the product; it’s about the process. Whenever I view the world through a camera lens, my mind quiets, my body slows, and my appreciation deepens.  It serves as an effective form of meditation and contemplation.  The camera’s eye becomes my eye and together we compose and capture moments that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Pruning Shears and Coreopsis by Penny McDaniel

“Pruning Shears and Coreopsis” by Penny McDaniel

In “Pruning Shears and Coreopsis” above, I was struck by the contrast between the shadows and light, the harshness of the shears baring jagged teeth juxtaposed with the frailty of the flowers sprawled on the ground. But in their frailty, the flowers seem to embrace — almost forgive — the shears for their “assault.”

And so transcendence begins.

We deal with our fair share of pruning on the spiritual path and it hurts like hell at times, but it is necessary to improve our overall spiritual health. If we are honest with ourselves about our lives, we will find that there are areas that siphon off our nourishment and prevent us from growing and living an abundant life. Sometimes we need to refocus our efforts, energy, and gifting; pruning allows us to redirect our spiritual growth into other areas where we’ll be more effective.

Sometimes we have to cut away any relationships, attitudes, behaviors, habits, and beliefs that are spiritually sick or dead.

Sometimes we must cut away anything that is unnecessary, distracts us, or clutters the spiritual process. If it’s unfruitful, it can’t serve us or our highest good.

Take a good look at your lifestyle and any conflicts that may have arisen. Which habits, beliefs, or attitudes are you holding that may have given rise to these conflicts? When we let our ego run the show, our inner world becomes distorted and disillusioned.  We start to live according to an image we want to protect, thus causing separation on many levels. If we want to live a more simplified and unified life, we must seek to make the necessary changes, no matter how difficult or frightening they may appear.  Deep down, we know what needs to be done if we want to find the connected thread that subtly unites the moments of our lives.

I shuddered at the thought of taking shears to my coreopsis plants because they had bloomed so beautifully throughout summer, but they were beginning to look haggard and were blooming less and less. If I wanted them to thrive again, I knew I had to cut them back, and now a few weeks later, they are blooming abundantly, even more so than they were in the beginning of the season.  The flowers didn’t cry or complain about the process; they simply accepted it as part of their blooming potential, a lesson not so readily accepted by me in my own life at times.

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“Coreopsis in Bloom”

Pruning doesn’t only involve cutting away the dead branches of our lives; it involves cutting off some of the healthy branches as well, forcing us to focus on our roots — our priorities and our values. Sometimes we are spread so thin in many areas that we can’t concentrate on fully growing in one area. If this is the case, then the wisest action is removing something that is preventing what we want more of, rather than adding more to our plates. Less becomes more, and space opens up to areas that can make a bigger and better difference in our lives.

Pruning our lives is a spiritual discipline that helps us cut back to grow more and create the results we most desire.

We have the power to change ourselves in any given moment, and when we do, our relationship with everything around us begins to change.

Give your life a healthy trim.  Cut out the superfluous parts that no longer serve you.

What are the heavy boughs or empty branches that are weighing down your life? 

Break The Spell and Go To Health

Many of us have been under a powerful spell.

The spell of social conditioning.

It’s time to break it.

We don’t realize how much of our life’s choices are governed by this type of programming.

We are told how to act, how to look, how to speak, what to wear, where to live, what to think, what to learn, and so on.

Basically, we are told by others how to live our lives, and the sad thing is, we actually listen without question, thinking that because everyone else is doing the same thing, we should do the same.

Images of Macbeth‘s three witches, the Weird Sisters, come to mind, chanting, “Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble” over their hell-broth as they plot the duping and demise of Macbeth. All sorts of vile ingredients, scavenged from animals and humans, go into their spell-casting.

Unfortunately, Macbeth never breaks the spell, even after taking part in the creation of it. By the time he realizes the truth, it’s too late.

But it is never too late for us to get out from under the spell of societal conditioning. We can take back our power and create our own “spells.”

I’ve always found that whenever I “had” to follow the dictates of society or the expectations of others, my body would react violently in the form of massive migraines that would send me to the hospital; I’d be wiped out for days at a time. I “knew” that what I was being told I should do was going against what I wanted to do for my own highest good. 

I had to do something or else live my life in a debilitating state, and when I finally stood up to those Goliaths, all hell broke loose, but it was the best thing to happen because I got to live life on my own terms. If I wanted to make a mess of my life, then I could. If I wanted to make something of my life, then by God I could to do that, too.

I broke the spell when I realized that I had a choice. I could choose to live by others’ rules and expectations, thereby sentencing my life to one of misery and hell, or I could choose to live a life of my own creation, freely, openly, and expansively, from the inside out. The migraines vanished, and I got my health (and my mind) back.

Whenever someone says to me, “Well, you’re supposed to do this,” or “You should do that,” I always come back with “Who says?” especially when I’m not feeling in alignment with what they are telling me.

To break the “spell,” you must first reclaim your power. Our power can be taken away when we are unaware, unarmed, or unprotected. Realize that your power is yours to give, to keep, or to take back. Be aware of your choices. Take responsibility for yourself. Say no when you must, especially if you are not in alignment with someone else’s choices for you. 

Own up to your part in the creation of things past. Things don’t simply happen “to” you; they happened because you allowed them to happen. Let these go; they no longer define you. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Move on.
Once you’ve reclaimed your power, decide how to use that power. Will you use it to inflict harm on others for what has happened in the past, or will you use it to create the highest good for all? The power to create is an awesome responsibility. School yourself in this responsibility to know how to use it wisely.
Trust your Inner Guidance System. Tap into this system on a daily basis. Honor it. Let it speak to you. Here you will find an abundance of wisdom to guide you. It will let you know when it is not in alignment because your body will react physically with discomfort or unease.
Believe in Divine Direction. Your Divine Essence will not lead you down a harmful path. Know that you are being divinely led in the direction you are meant to go, even if others think otherwise. An uncommon strength will rise up to help you power forward on your path.
Do no harm to others or to yourself. When you are in alignment with Spirit, you will cease to do or say anything harmful as you create and expand. You will act from a place of great love, not fear.

Breaking the spell of social conditioning is about taking control of your life, rather than letting others control it for you. As you practice your own brand of Spiritcraft, you will find all areas of your life improving, growing, and expanding. 

Blessed be!
Spiritwork:

Create your own “spell” or “healing-broth.” Write it in the form of a short rhyming poem. Fill it with compassion, empathy, and respect for you, others, and your Creator. Let it guide and direct your energies for the good of all. This can be your creed, personal statement, mission statement, etc. Recite it often, pray it, meditate on it, or chant it as a mantra. Create a special “brew” such as a cup of tea to accompany your “spell.” You may also create your own special ritual around this activity.

Also, get my free e-book The ABC’s of Dealing with Negative People by clicking here.

Coming Out Spiritually

When I was five years old, I looked my mother in the eye and said, “I’m never having children.”

“What?” she said as she cocked her head. “But you’re a girl, and girls are supposed to have babies.”

“I think it’s a big, fat lie,” I told her.

That memory is as vivid today as it was decades ago.

I may not have known what I wanted, but I “knew” that I didn’t want to have children. Something about it didn’t feel “right” within me. Sure, if it had happened, I would have embraced it, but it was not what I wanted from life.

For years, my mother hounded me to have children, and it got to a point where she told me I needed psychological help.

I laughed. It was the most absurd thing ever to come out of her mouth.

Because I didn’t fit into her construct of what a woman should do with her life, she tried to manipulate me into thinking that I had a problem. Nice try. She was angry because she wanted to be a grandmother, and in her mind I was denying her.

I never wanted the “traditional” life, not that there is anything “wrong” with that kind of life. I just know it’s not for me. And while others aren’t okay with it, I am.

Walking the spiritual path and living the authentic life, as I have stated in previous posts, is not for wimps. Coming out of the spiritual closet takes initiative and courage.

And as soon as you do, the Goliaths will show up to challenge you because you are not doing things “their” way; that is, you are not doing things in the ways that they think you should. This is because of the social programming they learned. As you live your authentic life, the Goliaths will fade harmoniously away, or they will use your example to begin transforming their lives. Some of those Goliaths will be in your own mind and may need deconstructing through the help of your support system, spiritual practices, and personal educational plan.

A former student and close friend of mine is now facing this dilemma. She said she “doesn’t want to feel awkward” because she’s “not dating” or because she doesn’t know what she wants. She ended by asking, “Is getting married and making kids supposed to be what I want?”

Supposed to? There’s that programming again.

She is absolutely torn because she is looking outward for answers instead of inward.

Such questions are the starting points of the journey to the authentic self. We start feeling our “right” in the middle of all the “wrong.” What we once thought of as gospel becomes garbage. It no longer works, it no longer fits, it no longer defines.

The spiritual path to your authentic life requires an open mind, free from the distractions brought on by social programming. This means deprogramming yourself and letting go of others’ ideas of how you should live your life. Society doesn’t dictate who you are, though it thinks it should. You dictate who you are.

Choosing to step out on your own path takes testicular fortitude. It takes asking the deeper, sometimes harder questions of yourself. It takes facing yourself in the face of others.

Being spiritual means breaking with convention. Call it “breaking bad” because that is how some will perceive you when you veer away from the “establishment.” Sticking with convention may have its advantages for those who need it, but thinking — and living — outside of the box is more expansive and creative.

Coming out spiritually is an act of self-love. It gives you the freedom to grow, to create, to expand, and to express yourself uniquely and authentically.  No longer will you feel held back or stifled by the expectations of others. There is no reason to hide behind the door of fear any longer. Your light wants to shine. Let it.

Everything that happens on the spiritual path becomes a learning, or relearning, experience. As you unlearn the social programming thrust upon you in your formative years and reinforced for many years thereafter, your true vision begins to return. You will be able to “see” again through a holistic lens.

Spirtwork:

Stand in front of a mirror. This is an exercise in learning to love the person you see, even if you don’t like everything about yourself. This is not about perfection, and perfection is certainly not necessary for love.

If you find it hard to love yourself, you’ll need to examine what thoughts and feelings stand in the way of loving yourself. Most of the time, if not all, you’ll find it going back to your personal or social programming.

As you stand in front of the mirror, start with one part of yourself that you do not view as “perfect” and say “I love my _______________.” Every day, return to the mirror to view this part of your body and repeat, “I love my _______________.” If there is another part of your body that you view as “imperfect,” repeat that you love that area as well. Repeat for at least 3 – 5 minutes. Do this every day for 30 days. Examine your reflection and your parts through eyes of love instead of the disgust you were programmed with, as you repeat your love for yourself. Make this a daily meditation.

A variation of this exercise is to start with one part of yourself that you love, and say “I love my __________.” Each day add another part of you that you love. If you start with your eyes, say “I love my eyes.” The next day add “I love my eyes and my toes.” On the third day add “I love my eyes, my toes, and my hair.” And so on.  Do for 30 days.

Blessings.

Related Posts:

Read the introduction of 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.

Watch Your Language!

When I was a kid, whenever I said anything unkind or unsavory (who, me? cuss?), my mother would wash my mouth out with soap.

If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all, young lady!” were her famous words.

My mother went through a lot of soap in those years.

She made me realize that my words, my sentences, and the language in my mind and in my conversations had power. I had some thinking to do.

I could use my mind language and words to hurt others, including myself. Or, I could use them to help and heal others, including myself.

I learned that they played a very big role in creating my future.

Our words and thoughts will either limit us or expand us.

We can speak as if we are in charge or as if we are victims of circumstance. We can speak in the language of creation or in the language of reaction.

The language of creation is like this: “I choose…,” “I intend…,” and “I will…,” while the language of reaction says, “What should I do?” or “I don’t know what to do.”

Big difference!

It’s going from an “I don’t know how to” mentality to an “I want to” attitude and that’s because desire is not a fixed state. It is fluid and dynamic, ever-burning within us, making us burst at the seams as we expand our consciousness and awareness in the creative process.

So, if you want to transform your life, watch your language. Carefully choose what you say and think.

Awaken to your status as creator, not victim.

As creator and owner of your life, focus your energy on creating what you want by using language that builds your future, not on wasting your energy with language that describes (and keeps you in) the past.

 As you commit to creating, you’ll sentence yourself to a life of goodness.

Spiritwork:

Pay attention to the words that come out of your mouth today. Are they kind and loving, or harmful and hateful? If you find yourself thinking for saying unkind things, correct them by turning them into kinder, more positive words (or you can wash your mouth out with soap, but I wouldn’t recommend that!).

If you want to spread some good cheer and lift people, compliment them. When you do this, you will find that you will receive a surge of creative energy, too. Make sure the compliments are sincere. If someone is facing a challenge, encourage him or her. Use your words to inspire others. Give as many as you can in the course of the day, and if you’re feeling really daring, continue this exercise the rest of the week or longer.

People love compliments because it makes them feel good about themselves. As a teacher, I made it a point to always find something encouraging to say about students’ papers, even if the paper needed improvement or a do-over. If for some reason I forgot to put my signature smiley faces on their work, they would let me know about it in an instant! Give away smiles today and see what happens.

Blessings!

Related Posts:

Read the introduction to 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.

Get my new e-book, The ABC’s of Dealing with Negative People. Available now!

Downgrade Fear By Upgrading Your Thinking

I knew an agoraphobic who lived her life as a recluse. Everything worried her. She lived in a continual state of fear. She kept her shades drawn, never letting in any light. Her home was very dark, the air stale, the energy heavy.

Cancer finally cured her.

She said it was the best thing that ever happened to her because it forced her out of her comfort zone to get the help and treatment she needed, and as a result, she began living her life again once she was cancer-free.

We don’t need something drastic like cancer to happen to us to move us past our fear.

We can move past fear by taking responsibility for it.

Much of our fear comes from downgraded thinking. Rather than focus on our possibilities, we play out the worst-case scenarios in our minds, and as we play them over and over, we get addicted to this kind of thinking. Sooner or later, we end up tumbling down the staircase into a dark pit of despair.

We hit bottom.

Ouch. And then we are faced with a serious choice.

Do we stay there? Or, do we find a way out?

Finding our way out requires us to upgrade our thinking.

Our brains are designed to seek solutions.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have video games. We had to make up our own games. One fun (and scary) game was flashlight tag…in the graveyard.

Well, I was “it” and had to search for someone to tag. As I was creeping around, I didn’t see a newly dug grave and in I went. I screamed for help, but no one came. They were too busy running away from me!

The grave was just deep enough where I couldn’t climb out.  I. Was. Petrified.

It was dark. It was cold. My heart knocked at my ribs. I kept imagining zombies coming to kill me. My mind became a circus of fear. I screamed again, and then I got angry. So I started kicking the wall of dirt in front of me. Each time I kicked I left an indentation.

And then it hit me. If I made a few more indents in the wall, I could climb out! I went to work with my flashlight, using it to carve out spaces for my feet so I could step up and get the leverage I needed to lift myself out. My fear left me. I was out in no time. Bruised and battered, but out.

When the solution came to me, my thinking immediately shifted from one of panic to one of freedom. An opportunity presented itself, and I took action.

Otherwise, the zombies would have gotten me.

Moving past fear means moving through it. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where there seems to be no solution whatsoever. That’s because we are focused on the fear of no solution. As soon as we upgrade our thinking from an outdated version, by telling ourselves that there is a solution, that fear downgrades and we find ourselves pushing through with a renewed vitality.

The first step is the biggest step, and that is the step we take within when we change our thinking from one of defeat to one of victory.

You take the first step. Source takes the second step. By the time you get to the third step, you realize that it was Source that took the first step. Source was with you the whole time.

And all those zombies that you invented can now rest in peace.

Spiritwork:

Masterminds Emerson and Twain both said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” When you confront the T-Rex of fear, it turns into a tiny gekko. If you run from it, it will continue to chase you and consume you.

Think of something you’ve always feared doing. Maybe it’s an activity like ballroom dancing or parasailing, or it’s something that directly addresses a phobia.

Divide a piece of paper into two columns. On the left hand side, list that fear.  Carefully express and define exactly what it is you are afraid of. On the right hand side, write the steps that need to be taken in order to overcome this fear that you created. These steps may be personal or practical. As you write your solutions, your brain will store them, mull them over, and eventually generate some creative and useful responses.

Looking at your list of steps to take, choose one to work on and begin today. Start with the easiest one. When you accomplish it, celebrate yourself, and then move on to the next step.

Blessings.

Related Posts:

Read the introduction to 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.

Your Divine Design

You are a unique expression of life.

You have a sacred purpose.

You have been created and designed to express your unique pattern of life energy in a way that only you know how.

It’s a way that no one but you can do. People may copy yours, but theirs will never be as original as yours.

As you spiritually awaken, you will become aware of some personal life patterns that have held you down or have held you back.

Some of them you may find quite surprising, especially when you decide to rid yourself of their programming. They will say, “No! You can’t live without us!” They will kick and scream and throw tantrums like never before.

They will try to manipulate you with their fatalistic attitude by telling you that your life will end without them. They have been parasiting off of you for a long time. The reality is that they can’t live without you. 

Whoa!

Why are those past patterns screaming so much?

They are making noise because they want your attention. They don’t want to be forgotten; they want to be transformed, healed, and integrated into your new life, one that allows you to be more balanced, creative, and wiser. After all, they are a part of your consciousness, but they are going to need your help in changing them.

How?

Remember that you are not your personal history. You have a personal history, but it is not your essential identity.

Remember that the life of those patterns will end, but life will not. Those old patterns will die, and you will no longer identify with them.

Remember that as you let go of identifying with those old patterns, new, unique, healthier patterns will emerge. Your new pattern is for you to discover. Don’t worry. Spirit will send you the resources, people, and help you need to intuit and pioneer your way.

Remember that you are a unique expression of the Divine on a unique path designed especially and specifically for you, and it will unfold in any way you so choose with the help of the Divine. The Divine created you and wants to create with you. It doesn’t want your path to be the same as anyone else’s. We are each a fingerprint of the Divine; no two are alike. Ever.

Think about that.

Spiritwork:

Celebrating yourself does not need to be reserved for your birthday. Today, do something extra-special to celebrate your new path. Go on a walk and hold hands with the Divine. Start an art project. Take a photo of something in nature that reflects the new you and frame it as a way to honor the way you view the world. Be creative!

Or…

If you are are having difficulty letting go of past patterns and need to unburden yourself, create a postcard that represents what is holding you back. Then mail it to PostSecret (www.postsecret.com), an ongoing community art project that allows you to relieve yourself of your burdens anonymously. There’s something wonderfully freeing about finally unburdening ourselves. See the website for the physical address. Warning: the website contains mature themes. Instead of mailing it, you can perform a ritual in which you release the burden of your patterns to the Light for healing and transformation (i.e., burning it, burying it, bottling it, etc.).

You may also want to consider talking to someone whom you trust (pastor, priest, rabbi, spiritual counselor, life coach, doctor, etc.), so that you can work on forgiveness, self-love, and removing emotional blockages.

Also…

On the flip side, create a postcard that represents your transformation and your new, unique, view of life. Share it with those you love. Place it in a prominent place like your refrigerator, a mantle, or your personal altar.

Blessings.

Related Posts: 

Read 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.

Catapult Your Desire

I’m always amazed by high jumpers and pole vaulters with their grace and agility to leap over a bar set high above their heads. Their athleticism is awe-inspiring.

It just makes you want to set the bar higher in life because deep down inside we all have the desire to reach our greatest potential. It’s hard-wired into us.

We have been designed to yearn. Setting the bar high in our lives gives us purpose. It gives us something to strive for.

It allows us to stretch and grow and learn so that we can be the best that we can be.

This yearning, this desire that draws our souls to our Highest Good, is characterized by an inner restlessness that only a Higher Power can fill.

It fills us with passion and makes us want to break free of the status quo. And as we move beyond the petty wants of ego, we find our lives bursting with meaning.

Many people get seduced into playing it safe. They set the bar low, doing just enough to get the job done without standing out; either they are afraid of failure, or they are afraid of success.

Michelangelo knew this all too well when he said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and we miss it but that we aim too low and we make it.” When we play it safe, we drown our desire because we may be too cynical or pessimistic to believe that any life other than the one we are familiar with is possible.

Yearning is a gift given to us to embrace and express our Highest Self. It nudges us to aim high and to go for what we want in life. It is a great force of energy that takes us beyond ourselves.

To nurture our spiritual yearning, we must love it and strengthen it. This can be done through seeking, studying, and devotion. As we act, we honor.

Why not allow yourself to reach for fulfillment? How high will you set your bar?

Spiritwork:

The Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi has written some of the most inspiring and ecstatic poetry and stories about his yearning for and love of God, his Beloved. Spend some time with Rumi’s words as you reach for fulfillment. One such book is The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks. Note how artfully Rumi describes his desire for union.

Another exercise is to personify (giving human qualities to non-human things) Desire.  In other words, describe Desire as a human being, but characterize it in such a way that the meaning is evident without giving away the definition. Is Desire male or female? What does Desire look like? How does Desire dress? What personality traits does Desire have? How does Desire talk or behave when s/he walks into a room? How would you know Desire if s/he walked up to you? Write at least a paragraph to bring Desire to life. I would really love to read your descriptions!

Blessings.

Read the introduction to 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.

Staring Down The Barrel of Truth

A former student once described me as a “buddha with a shotgun.”

Excuse me?

“You enlighten us…at gunpoint,” she explained.

I couldn’t help but laugh at her description. She’s always had a way with words.

“Seriously,” she said, “you make us see things in new ways. You rip off our blinders, you tell us like it is, you make us face things about ourselves and life that we would never consider. I sit in class and wonder what bullets of truth you’re gonna shoot our way. It’s scary at times, but I love it.”

That was probably the best compliment, or criticism, I’ve ever received from a student. The image of a gun-toting buddha, though, seemed paradoxical. The more I thought about that image, the more I thought about truth and how it comes to us.

Sometimes truth comes gently to us, on the soft sound of sandaled feet, at which we sit and listen and learn.

And sometimes it comes like a shot…BOOM…jolting us from our stagnation into a new state of awareness.

We are either ready for it, or we are not.

No matter how truth comes, once it is revealed to us, then we are left with the question of what to do with it.

Some people will integrate the truths they learn into their lives to live more fully and authentically, while others will simply shrug their shoulders or walk away in denial.

Some may even use the truth to hurt others; they may use it to justify their need to gossip or talk negatively about others, twisting truth for their own selfish gain.

And others may not know what to do with truth; they may let it incubate for awhile until they figure out what to do. Some will go on to test the truth.

Sometimes truth is not always the truth. This doesn’t mean it’s a lie. It just means that what is true for one person may not be true for another. Discernment is key here.

Truth can be scary. It can be challenging. It can be downright painful at times. It takes courage to wake up to it. It means pulling our head out of the butt of our ego and doing something to help or better ourselves.

Whatever the case, no matter how truth comes to us, we must learn to respect it. We must take responsibility for it. We must learn from it, no matter how ugly it may appear. We must address it with care, with maturity, and with humility. Sometimes we will accept it; sometimes we will reject it. Sometimes we will learn from it; sometimes we will hide from it. Our state of readiness will determine how we’ll deal with it.

What are your thoughts about truth? How does truth come to you? How do you handle truth when it comes?

Spiritwork:

The biggest blur in life is the fact of our mortality. Death is one of those truths in life that strikes fear in many people. Looking death in the eye, or even thinking about it, is not easy for some, but it’s inevitable. We tend to think of death as some grand abstraction. The poem I want you to read brings it into a more concrete perspective.

Consider that every year, we celebrate the day of our birth. But have you considered that during this past year you have passed over the very day that will turn out to be the anniversary of your death? Think about that. Brings shudders, doesn’t it? What day comes to mind?

Read the poem “For the Anniversary of my Death” by W.S. Merwin (click here).  Note your thoughts, feelings, and responses.

Sometimes it takes the realization of our mortality to wake us up into living a fuller life. What will it take for you to begin living a fuller life, and to being living your truth?

Related Posts:

Read the introduction of 31 Days of Spiritual Growth here, and find links to all posts in this series.

Mountains and Valleys and Rivers, Oh My!

I was surfing through YouTube for some background music while writing when I found myself in the mood for the soulful voice of Michael McDonald. I came across his rendition of a famous Motown song, and even though I’ve heard this song many times, I was struck by the simple, yet profound words of the chorus (I’ve linked MM’s version for your listening pleasure): 
 

Ain’t no mountain high enough


Talk about perseverance. 
There is no stopping this person from getting what he wants. He is not focused on the heighth, depth, or width of the obstacles in front of him; his main focus is on what he wants, and nothing — no mountain, no valley, no river — is going to make him quit.
That takes an uncommon strength. 
We all have things we want. We have goals. We have dreams. But if we don’t become practitioners of perseverance, we won’t realize them. 
Perseverance is that spiritual ingredient with oomph. It’s got that extra kick in it that pushes us forward. It’s a combination of endurance and the absolute assurance that what we want is going to happen. 
Let’s take a lesson from these lyrics.
If we are to persevere, we must first know our purpose. We need to have a goal in mind. No goal means no direction, and then we wander aimlessly in the desert of our minds. 
We must also be passionately committed to what we want. Passion fuels us, giving us the strength and courage to power through to the finish. No passion means no purpose, and then when the winds blow, we are tossed about, when all along we could have harnessed that energy to set sail.
Once our purpose is fueled by our passion, we must remain positive. Our positive self-talk assures us of our success. It minimizes the enormity of any obstacles that try to get in our way. No positive self-talk means no passionate or inspired action, and when that happens, we fail even before we try.
Perseverance allows us to see those mountains, valleys, and rivers from a new perspective.
 
Instead of seeing the mountain as something separate, large, and looming over you, see yourself as that mountain. A mountain never wavers despite being shined upon, rained upon, snowed upon, or stuck upon by lightning. Stand tall and strong as the mountain.
Instead of seeing the river as something that you could never swim against or navigate across, see yourself as that river. A river flows continuously; it cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence, as Jim Watkins reminds us. Flow with the river.
Instead of seeing the valley as something that is a low point that leaves you wide open and vulnerable, see yourself as that valley. A valley contains some of the most fertile soil; it is rich with nutrients. Harvest your strength from the valley.
Heed the words of Alexander Graham Bell when he says, “What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when you are in that state of mind in which you know exactly what you want and are fully determined not to quit until you get it.”
Spiritwork:

It’s time to finish unfinished business. Think about a project that you have abandoned because the work just got too hard, or you simply got tired of it. Dig it out of the closet or the basement or wherever you left it, and approach it with new eyes. Maybe it’s that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Maybe it’s the renovation you’ve never completed. Maybe it’s the exercise program that you quit because you hit a plateau. 
Revisit it and renew your commitment to it. There is a reason why you started it in the first place. Somehow you got the idea to do this, but this time go back to it with the understanding that your idea came to you as a gift. Now it’s time to honor it by seeing it through to completion. Think of it as your gift back to Spirit since Spirit endowed you with the skills and talent to accomplish it. 
Blessings.