Pride and Compassion


Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,

but that we are powerful beyond measure.

~Marianne Williamson

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I recently attended a wonderful retreat based on the theme of compassion.  Throughout the week we were accompanied by this beautiful peacock with its vibrant colors of various shades of blues and greens.  As I spent time reflecting on the grace of God’s unconditional love for all of creation, experiencing healing through meditations on self-compassion, and opening my heart to compassion for all of life, I kept gazing at this peacock and felt God had a message to share through this stunning creature.

But what could a peacock possibly have to do with compassion?

Compassion is the act of extending loving kindness. I find that experiencing compassion, both from God and the compassion I have for myself and others, leads to great healing of the broken places in life.  When I allow myself to be embraced by the fullness of God’s love for me, I begin to understand that just being “me” is enough.  And when I welcome all aspects of myself (those I’m proud of as well as the parts that try to remain hidden) and I bring them into the light of God’s grace, I am no longer divided and struggling with the need to hide who I truly am from God or others.  I can become the person God created me to be.  I can celebrate the “beauty” – in whatever shape or form that takes.

 Just as God  accepts and loves me, God created and loves all people.  Extending unconditional love, grace and compassion to others invites them to experience healing and wholeness. There is no competition or selfish acts of “doing good” just to make me feel better about myself.  Practicing loving kindness to others allows us to see the beauty that lies within them.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians he writes, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12, 14)

When we clothe ourselves with these things, then like the peacock, we too radiate the glory of God…

And of that we can be proud!

The Glory of God

The glory of God is being fully alive…

                  fully alive    

This is a slightly altered quote from St Irenaeus in 185 A.D.

There’s such richness and depth if we sit and ponder this idea… much more than could ever be covered in this simple blog post.  But I’d like to share a few beginning thoughts and invite you into your own reflection on what is the glory of God and how are you fully alive?

I think of the GLORY of GOD as being the LIGHT of GOD.  How does God shine brightly through humanity?  The incarnation or indwelling of the Holy Spirit within each person is such a beautiful concept.   In the Christian Bible we read Jesus saying, “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16

For me this is an acknowledgment that the light of God is burning brightly within me and I must look at ways that I am indeed hiding it under a bushel.   When I discover the places and ways of my life that are hindering God’s love from shining through, I am invited to surrender into the transformative process where God helps remove those bushel baskets and my light shines a little brighter.  Eventually the light/glory of God will be a beacon and then I will feel fully alive.

But it works the other way too.  Rather than focusing on the blocked places, if I pay attention to the times and places in my life when I feel “alive” – those places of energy, love and connectedness to all that is beyond myself – if I pay attention and then put myself in those places of life, I am slowly transformed and my fullness of life again allows God’s light/glory to shine forth.

One small example is noticing that I feel more fully alive when tending to my physical self-care.  Three areas that I currently monitor are exercise, diet, and sleep.  When I take the time to check in and am mindful of my physical self, I make wise choices. The result is an increase of energy, clarity of thought, and purity of spirit.  In other words, I feel more alive!  This “aliveness” in turn lifts my spirit and I am more loving, compassionate, and open to others and the world around me.  I am allowing God’s Glory to shine through!  Imagine, practicing self-care isn’t selfish at all.  It’s one way of glorifying God.

To encourage me, I put my name in Irenaeus’ quote, “The glory of God is BECKY fully alive!”

Try it for yourself, “The glory of God is ______ fully alive!”

Now that’s something worth celebrating!

Stretching Open

Who am I?

I find this to be a very intriguing question; this search for the “True Self” as it is often called.   I could think of a quite a few words to describe myself, such as: wife, mother, daughter, friend, patient, peacemaker, etc.  One word I typically wouldn’t use, nor do I think others wold use, is “athlete.”  For some reason, that word just doesn’t fit even though in truth, I’m a runner.  I enjoy running for exercise and am currently training for my second marathon.  But since I’m not trying to win any races, I just don’t see myself as an athlete.  (Which by the way, “slow and steady wins the race” isn’t true.)  So I do some running but that’s about the extent of my athleticism.  One thing
I know should go hand in hand with running is stretching and I’m terribly guilty of not doing that!

So what does this have to do with discovering my True Self?

Well, I find that running without stretching causes me to be very tight and inflexible.  When I do take the time to stretch andOpeningtotheHeartofWholeness_small practice yoga, my body opens up and creates space for me to move freely.  This is a metaphor for my spiritual life.  Running without stretching is like living without meditation.  I can give and give of myself; loving others, ministering to those in need, engaging in holy listening.  But if I haven’t taken the time for meditation, then like the physical running, my spirit begins to tighten and I’m in danger of serious injury to my soul.

I believe that within each of us is a holy place where we are at one with the Divine and it is there that we discover our True Self as we are created to be.  This sacred space holds the truth of Love and Grace that gives meaning and purpose to our life.  How do we discover and dwell in this place?  We must “stretch open” our soul.  We must take time for prayer, meditation, and contemplation so we can quiet the distractions of life and loosen all the muscles that contract around this holy of holies blocking our entrance.

So today I will begin a more diligent discipline of stretching.  Stretching my body to open to the wonders of the world and stretching my soul to open to the wonders of the Divine within.

How do you open yourself?