Quitting a 40-day Journey

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Call me a quitter; call me weak. Regardless of what you think, I am ending my 40-day journey today, weeks before day 40. This is not to say I won’t read the rest of the books; I will continue reading, but I am no longer going to blog about my take on the readings, etc. [I can hear the applause and cheers. I’m applauding, too. I wont miss my overly dramatic (and boring) take on the messages of Warren and Tolle.]

Due to several moments last week, my viewpoints changed. Which, really, my viewpoints are in a constant state of change. I am a woman, after all.

Beatrice Potter said, “There is something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they will take you. Mine took me here. Where I belong.”

I am here; where I belong. I don’t need to continue traveling down my self-proclaimed 40-day journey. The following thought may seem trivial, if not obvious: I was consumed with myself during this journey. And, while consumed with myself, I had friends and family suffering greater challenges in life than whether or not one eats too much ice cream. My self-centeredness seemed inappropriate and rude. (Hmmm…is it ever appropriate to be self-centered?)

I remember when my Dad died, I wanted the world to stop and acknowledge the pain and sorrow felt by my family. The reality is – death and suffering is all around us all the time. It isn’t until we feel the sting directly that we ‘get’ the grief. And, we get the triviality of self-made problems.

Am I saying we should spend each day thinking of the sorrow being felt by nameless, faceless people in the world? No. Although, I do think putting things into perspective on a daily basis is helpful. And, if that means, realizing pain and suffering surround you, so be it.

I do not like the spotlight. As much as I babble about myself and my life, you may find the previous statement hard to believe, but it is true. Instead, I want to be there for my family and friends. And, I don’t need books to find my purpose in life. My purpose in life is to help others. I thrive when I believe I am helping. Granted, times exist when I thought I was helping, but I was merely sticking my nose where it did not belong. Plus, there is a fine line between helping and nagging.

Before someone suggests that I find it easier to worry about others because I do not want to worry about or deal with my own issues, I say I do not have issues when I stop and compare my gripes to the meatier things in life. Unless I am facing a life or death situation, losing my home or loved one, going without food for an extended amount of time or some other true tragedy, well – I think I am OK. More than OK.

Do I battle depression? Yes, and I take a pill for that battle. Am I cranky sometimes? Yep, and I get happy again. Do I get overly emotional? Obviously. Do I think PMS sucks? You betchum; then, my period starts. Does my family think PMS sucks more? Yeah, and the two weeks of normalcy is never long enough. But, I am alive, and my family is healthy. I’d rather spend my time and energy allowing myself to help those who need it most. Who knows, one day it may be my family.

While it may be important to focus inward from time to time, sometimes enlightenment comes from a place outside of yourself and has nothing to do with yourself. Someone recently posted the following quote, from the Dalai Lama, on her Facebook page: “Once you shift your focus from yourself to others and extend your concern to others, this will have the immediate effect of opening up your life and helping you reach out. The practice of cultivating altruism has a beneficial effect not only from a religious point of view but also from a mundane point of view; not only for long-term spiritual development but even in terms of immediate rewards.

Amen.

A Sunday Morning

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WARNING: I am not a scientist. I am not a mathematician. I am not a theologian. And, I was born with blond hair. Proceed with caution.

How Natural Selection Works by Spiritgreen

This morning I played hooky by not going to church. And, in a show of superior hypocrisy, after I drove my boys to church, I came back home. I assumed, because I left them with a group of Christians, the boys would be safe and completely fine until I returned two hours later. That’s OK, right?

Easy there, readers. I did not leave the boys with a bunch of strangers. Rob was there waiting for the boys. See, last night, the boys stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, while Rob and I went to watch a baseball game. Then, this morning, I went to the grandparents’ house and picked up the boys, while Rob stayed behind, had a casual morning and met the boys and I later. Once I dropped the boys off safe in the hands of their Dad, I left to enjoy my Sunday in my own spiritual way.

On my way home, I noticed a couple of church passenger vans. Seeing two different ‘churches on wheels’ pass me, I wondered what it was about Christianity that made it so hard to stay together. The Bible is one book, yet there are countless opinions about what the stories mean within the Bible. Whether you break it down by Protestant faiths: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. or Catholic faiths: Roman, Orthodox, Byzantine, etc., the same Bible is used to ‘back’ their beliefs. Although, Catholics do incorporate the Apocrypha and Protestants do not. How can one book be interpreted differently by various groups of people, claiming their way is the right way?

What about Jews and Muslims? Are there different ‘parties’ within the Jewish faith? I know there are Orthodox Jews and Hasidic Jews, but I don’t know if there are other types of Jews. And, because of the multiple types, is it safe to assume Jews also read the Torah differently? I know the least about Muslims, when it comes to variety. If I base it on Christianity and Judaism, I assume Muslims read and interpret the Koran differently.

On Friday, while in my car and literally driving out of the drive-way, two men approached my car. Being a polite Christian woman, (snort) I stopped short of their toes. I put my window down, and I let them speak to me. As I pointed out my hypocritical ways earlier, it should come as no surprise that I also stereotype people. And, I stereotypically assumed these men were about to witness to me about why their faith was the best faith. And sure enough, this was the goal of these two Jehovah Witnesses. Again. Same Bible – different interpretation. Mormons? They have their own book, as well as various ‘parties’.

Perhaps, the fact that the various forms of religion cannot agree on their own individual religion, people are deterred from organized religion. All I know for certain is that while I was enjoying the wonderful morning, picking clovers, feeding the bunnies and patting the barn cat, I couldn’t help but thank God for what surrounded me. I don’t know if it is a sign of weakness or a sign of strength, but I have a hard time comprehending the world, the galaxies, the universe and space without believing a greater being created it.

I remember one of my friends from elementary school and I would stay up late at night, when we spent the night together. She and I would go back and forth trying to visualize ‘nothing’. We would start laughing hysterically, while also getting a bit freaked out at the impossible task of visualizing nothing. It cannot be done. Because the instant you think of nothing, you are, in fact, thinking of something. Isn’t nothing something? What is divisible by zero? Wait. Nevermind.

How is it possible that something can be created out of nothing? And, nothing must have existed for a micro-second (or less), because the instant something existed then nothing was no longer. And seriously, why do cats always land on their feet? [Do you have a headache yet?]

As I wasn’t saying, I am thankful for my faith. I am thankful for experiencing mornings like my morning today. And, I believe my faith provides me with a greater sense of appreciation, because I don’t take it for granted. What surrounds me is not mere happenstance. What surrounds me is not just a fluke. What surrounds me is a miracle in and of itself. There is beauty in the greatness of this world, galaxy, universe and space. And, I don’t understand how someone can shrug it off as ‘meh’ or have the thought that there is nothing greater than him/herself.

I wish the faiths of the world would unite. Though many may not realize, the Bible, Koran and Torah have many similarities. But, as is the case within the each religious sect/order, when a fork was seen in the road, different paths were taken.

I’m not sure of my point today, readers. I had a lovely and peaceful morning, and I was left with a feeling of gratitude and blessings. I know there is a great deal of crap in the world. I know the world is filled with pain, suffering, poverty, starvation and oddities within Wal-Mart. One of my hopes is that you are able to take a moment each day to see the miracle – see the wonder that exists amongst the crap. And please, when I am having a really icky day, would you remind me of the day I had today, relaxing in a clover field, feeding the bunnies and patting the barn cat? Thanks!