Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Meaning of Hope.....

Let me start this post by saying that we all desire to have and maintain HOPE (even when we don't know what it is).  We hear the word being used in various contexts, but do we really know what it means?  In the past, I've heard many people say things like: "have hope" or "remain hopeful that all will be well".  Some people like to put hope and faith together in one category, but I think that there is a reason that they are separate concepts and words.  They definitely go 'hand in hand', but each concept is unique unto itself.

First, I want to tell you a little bit about how this interest in 'hope' came about.  A few months ago, I was struggling to understand why God placed something in my heart, but wasn't showing me the way towards it.  I'm a very creative person, so when a desire to do something hits me, it's hard for me to be patient.  This is where trust and faith usually come in.  However, this time, things were different.  I had a strong desire to create something, but felt I didn't have the tools to do it.  Just as I was struggling with this, someone told me "have hope".  I have to admit that it almost seemed strange to hear those words, but it did get me thinking: "what is hope?".  If we are to have hope, shouldn't we understand what it is?

When you look up quotes about 'hope', hope becomes synonymous with 'encouragement'.  However, the actual etymology of the word is from the Old English 'hopian' which means: anticipating something good to come in the future.  It's waiting for something, knowing that the result will ultimately be good.   Is this the same as encouragement?  Perhaps, but I think that there is more to the concept of hope.  I like to look at everything from a spiritual perspective, to examine not only what something means, but how does it contribute to knowledge of the self.

In digging a bit deeper, I came to understand that the word hope and definition of waiting for something good is the result of being hopeful.  Since hope is mentioned quite a bit in the bible and the etymology of hope is from the Old English translation, I began to wonder what was the original Hebrew word for hope?  It turns out that it is: qavah or qawa, which translates to: waiting, being patient and enduring.  I know that when I need to endure something, i'm not always filled with encouragement.  In fact, the impatient/ego side of me that is 'waiting' has a very difficult time with being 'hopeful'.  As soon as I realized what I was writing and telling myself, I had my 'a ha' moment.  Hope is what you need to have while in the midst of waiting.   It is at this point that I began to see the connection between faith and hope.  You truly need to have both while in the midst of what you are going through.  These words are not concepts, they are TOOLS.  They are essentially your 'flashlight' while you are in the dark of your situation.  Hope helps you and allows you to see the light in the midst of darkness.  Faith is giving God the 'ok' to get you out of the dark (instead of trying to do it yourself) and hope is enduring the dark with the knowing that all will be well.

The next time you hear or see the message of hope, know that you are being given a sacred tool with which to be united with the 'Will of God' and this universe.  It's almost like a beautiful invitation and adventure, where you get to see how awesome God is.  Imagine if no matter what you're going through, you know you'll have the ability to withstand it and be taken to a different level of consciousness - this is the gift of HOPE!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The New Year IS Letting Go

I think that the buzz word around this time of year is 'resolution'.  New Years just seems to be synonymous with the concept of making changes and new resolutions.   I get it - what better way to start something new and fresh then when we bring in the New Year.  In fact, I used to always get a bit excited to make New Years resolutions.  I remember even going to a New Years 'resolution party', where we all had to write down our resolutions and then put them in a big Tibetan singing bowl.  The person who hosted the party then played the singing bowl and said an affirmation prayer.  Then we all went outside where she burned the resolutions and we watched as the smoke left the bowl and headed towards the stars.  It was actually a pretty cool experience.

Then there was year that I participated in the Venetian 'red underwear' superstition.  A bunch of us went out to buy red underwear for each other, we wore it throughout New Years Eve and then at midnight, we went outside to burn the underwear and make affirmations of all the amazing things we wanted to make happen in the New Year.  Good times :)

So what am I going to do this year?  I'll probably make a few standard resolutions and be mindful of what I want to accomplish this year (you know, out of habit).  However, what I'd REALLY like to do, is go back to the origins of the Latin 'resolvere', which is to 'loosen' and 'release'.  How is it that over time words and concepts lose their original meaning? Back in the 14th century, the Latin 'resolutionem', was defined as: "process of reducing things into simpler forms".  I personally, love this definition of a resolution.  Why are we always trying to do something more or new?  Why can't we resolve (or release) something in the New Year?

I really like the concept of the simple life.  I think what I really need to do this year is ask myself: "What can I let go of?"  I'm not just talking about things, but also: beliefs, perceptions, ideas that no longer serve me.  People who study the concept of decluttering will tell you that there is a direct link between the physical aspect of your home and your internal emotional/mental state.  As you release all the things that are cluttered in your home, you feel better emotionally too.  How many of us are holding onto things from the past?  Isn't it time to let that shit go???

I'll end this post with some words of wisdom.  The Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu said: "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."  Similarly, Jesus spoke the following in Luke 9:62 "No one, having put his hand on the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God".  So you see, the true meaning of a resolution is 'letting go' and not looking back.  It's about moving forward, with faith, and taking off the layers of things that no longer serve us.  That may include people, things, concepts, mind-sets etc etc.  Release the old and let in the new.

Happy New Year Everyone :)  BE BLESSED!!!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Lesson of the Catapult

There are many people who feel that their life path is not headed in the right direction.  Life tends to throw us curve-balls sometimes and it can be frustrating to keep up.  Instead of feeling inspired and at peace, sometimes we may even feel like we are moving backwards instead of forwards.  I was in this position a few years ago.  I couldn't understand why certain things kept happening or why certain people in my life suddenly became 'toxic' to my spirit.  I felt like I was being pulled down.  What I didn't understand at that time, is what I now recognize as the lesson of the catapult.

Before I explain the amazing yet paradoxical idea of the catapult from a personal growth perspective, the English teacher in me needs to provide some definitions, etymological origin and context to the word 'catapult'.  Let's start with the etymology of the word.  Before the common French and Latin base from which the word derived, there was the Greek 'kata' and 'pallein', which translates to "down hurl".  It was later that the Latin 'catapult' translated to: "war machine for throwing".  To 'hurl down' can be seen as a common idiom, when something or someone is pushed to the ground.  The catapult as a machine, launches or sets in motion, the thing to be 'hurled'.  If you look at the catapult from the context of a war device, it caused destruction and great impact based on force, which resulted only through the process of launching. 

Let's take the idea of the catapult as a war device and apply it in a deeper, more spiritual context.   I strongly believe that change is impossible without action.  I also think that many people avoid change out of fear of the unknown or sheer disturbance that is caused by leaving one's comfort zone.  Change requires effort.  It requires facing some scary inner-deamons sometimes too.  This is when God takes charge and provides the catalyst.  When we are at war with ourselves, the same tactical devices apply.  I find it interesting that in the Bible, David takes down Goliath with a hand sling (i.e. hand held catapult).  There is definitely a spiritual component to God using catalysts and catapults in our lives.  I think that if we can understand the mystical nature of the catapult, we can win the war against fear or any other stumbling block in our lives.

Using the Biblical story of David and Goliath as a reference, I'm sure David must have felt fear when he was faced with Goliath.  His faith is what allowed God to use him to destroy Goliath, but how many of us can look fear in the eye and not tremble?  Imagine now that God decides to grace you with being catapulted out of your current situation.  What would that feel like?  I know myself that I'd be shaking in my boots.  In fact, a few years back when I was facing my own Goliath, that is exactly what happened.  I couldn't rely on anything BUT my faith to get me through that situation.  Perhaps that is a key to the whole lesson - can you rely only on your faith in the face of fear? or will you allow your inner-Goliath to win?  

It's only once our inner Goliath is defeated that we can fully understand the value of the catapult.  Of course it's scary, but think about it - you are being 'launched', moved with force to a new place.   It may FEEL like you're being 'hurled down', or pushed to the ground, but in fact, you are being 'set in motion' for something new.  I recognize now that all the toxic people and situations in my past were catalysts to launch me to a different place and frame of mind.  There are so many analogies that can be used to describe this: the rough diamond that must be polished, the labour pain before the delivery, the struggle of the plant to grow, the stumbling first step before learning to walk etc etc.   

The lesson of the catapult is to allow God to take you to that next level.  However, instead of fear of being hurled down, we need to trust the process.  How do we know that God isn't using us/launching us to a whole new life?  Be like David - Have FAITH!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Greetings :)

Instead of trying to figure out how to write a decent introduction for this blog,  I'd rather tell you how this blog came to be.  I'm a writer, a teacher. a seeker, an intuitive and an artist.  To be honest, I'm much more than these mere labels, but for the sake of establishing a reader-connection with you, it's important that you understand where I'm coming from.  This blog was born out of a desire for truthful self-expression, a need to heal and stay grounded and a safe place to share my journey.

This morning I was having coffee with a friend when she said something that resonated with my core.   She asked me "why are you so afraid to allow yourself to just 'be'?".  I'm an over thinker.  In fact, I'm an over-over thinker.  In many ways, this has served me well.  I'm able to analyze poetry and beautiful works of art.  I'm able to create new, imaginative spaces with my mind for future paintings.  I can engage in deep, meaningful conversations and I can philosophize/argue till the cows come home.  Things are great when you're in the yin/yang of thinking.  However, when there is a shift in the use/context of thinking, this once amazing, fantastical human tool, turns into a maze-trap.  Creativity becomes anxiety and bright, saturated colours of the mind become dull shadows.

This blog is by no means meant to be depressing or a glimpse into the stereotypical 'tortured soul' of the artist or creative mind.  What I would like to do, however, is challenge those who are between the fantastical and anxious to re-examine the truth behind their perceptions.  Mother Teresa said "There is a light in this world....more powerful than any darkness we may encounter", which reminds me so much of the quote "Stars shine the brightest in darkness".  What if the way/path between all pleasure and pain is to BE the light inside of the dark?  Why are we so afraid to just 'be' in dark moments?  My friend inspired me to not only write about this, but to start this blog as a portal to deeper understanding and wisdom of the self.  This is my opportunity to 'just be' - whatever that means.  I want this to be an outlet of pure, truthful and intentional musings.

It's interesting that sometimes when we feel out of balance, be it with our health or any other area of our life, it's the thing that 'rubs us the wrong way' that becomes our greatest opportunity for growth.  I am currently experiencing this with my 'gut' - something inside the pit of my stomach is irritated or if I was honest, inflamed with 'fear'.  The intuitive part of me knows to seek within and ask "What am I supposed to learn from this? - What are you here to teach me?".  The poet Rumi once said: "If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?".  I know that this current inner-irritation is a blessing in disguise.  Perhaps it's even the catalyst to start this blog.  I have to admit that the most profound truths come from the Bible.  If there is any inspiration for the spiritual value of this blog, this is it 'Ephesians 4:22-24' - "to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness".

BE BLESSED and 'Just BE' - I'm uber excited for the evolution of this blog :)