I have mentioned the past two weeks. . . conscious love is at the root of Jesus’ teaching and choosing to engage relationships consciously is an embodied spiritual practice we can live out with ourself, other humans, living and non living ancestors or spiritual guides, God, non human creatures, animals, the earth, plants, and places.
Part of consciously loving and engaging with one another is recognizing both the ways we are similar and the ways we each have unique individual experiences. You probably know, here in the United States, February is Black History Month. This is an important time of engaging with history and celebrating and honoring the Black community from years past and now. Collectively and individually. Although we can and certainly ought to do this all year, it is still an a good time to continue to acknowledge systemic racism, ancestral trauma, and the need for ongoing healing. If you have not already begun to do so, it is a good time to explore the ways you can increase your awareness. Check out some of these ways to honor Black History Month. If you are a black bodied human, I honor and celebrate you now and always.
In Conscious Love,
Here most of the Readings from this week's pauses:
"…how do you practice that conscious love that will renew itself and renew your relationship? After all, if you are disciples, there must be a discipline….
Here is the one that works for me… it can be practiced by all of you, in all circumstances of your lives, if you wish to deepen your own practice of conscious love.
It’s contained in one sentence—four little phrases—in that great hymn of love so often read at weddings, 1 Corinthians 13:7:
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
If you understand and recognize what each of these four phrases means and entails, you will be able to practice conscious love in all circumstances of your life.
Love bears all things…” But this does not mean a dreary sort of “putting up with” or victimization. There are two meanings of the word bear, and they both apply. The first means “to hold up, to sustain”—like a bearing wall, which carries the weight of the house. Love “holds up and sustains.” You might say this is its masculine meaning. Its feminine meaning is this: to bear means “to give birth, to be fruitful.” So love is that which in any situation is the most life-giving and fruitful.
Love believes all things…” This is the most difficult of the four instructions to understand. I know a very devout Christian lady back in Maine whose husband was philandering and everyone on the island knew it, but she refused to see it because “love believes all things.” But this is not what the words mean. “To believe all things” does not mean to be gullible, to refuse to face up to the truth. Rather, it means that in every possible circumstance of life, there is a higher and lower way of perceiving and acting. There is a way of perceiving that leads to cynicism and divisiveness, a closing off of possibility; and there is a way that leads to higher faith and love, to a higher and more fruitful outcome. To “believe all things” means always orient yourselves toward the highest possible outcome in any situation and strive for its actualization.
Love hopes all things…” Generally, we think of hope as related to outcome; it is a happy feeling that comes from achieving the desired outcome, as in, “I hope I win the lottery.” But in the practice of conscious love you begin to discover a different kind of hope, a hope that is related not to outcome but to a wellspring…a source of strength, which wells up from deep within you, independent of all outcomes. It is the kind of hope that the prophet Habakkuk speaks of when he says, “Though the fig tree does not blossom and the vines bear no fruit, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” It is a hope that can never be taken away from you because it is love itself working in you, conferring the strength to stay present to that “highest possible outcome” that can be believed and aspired to.
Finally, “Love endures all things.” But there is only one way to endure. Everything that is tough and brittle shatters; everything that is cynical rots. The only way to endure is to forgive, over and over; to give back that openness and possibility for new beginning, which is the very essence of love itself. And in such a way love comes full circle and can fully “sustain and make fruitful,” and the cycle begins again, at a deeper place. And conscious love deepens and becomes more and more rooted…”
— Cynthia Bourgeault, full article here
‘Our Little Lives’
Our little lives our big problems—these we place upon Thy alter!
Each of us, an assortment of vast mixtures!
The quietness in Thy Temple of Silence again and again rebuffs us.
For some there is no discipline to hold us steady in the waiting
And the minds reject the noiseless invasion of Thy spirit.
For some there is no will to offer what is central in the thoughts—
The confusion is so manifest, there is no starting place to take hold.
For some the evils of the world tear down all concentrations
And scatter the focus of the high resolves.
War and the threat of war has covered us with heavy shadows,
Making the days big with forebodings—
The nights crowded with frenzied dreams and restless churnings.
We do not know how to do what we know to do.
We do not know how to be what we know to be.
Our little. lives, our big problems—these we place upon Thy altar!
Brood over our spirits, our Father,
Blow upon whatever dream Thou hast for us
That there may glow once again upon our hearths,
The fire of Thy contagion.
Pour out upon us whatever our spirits need of shock, of lift, of release
That we may find strength for these days—
Courage and hope for tomorrow.
In confidence we rest in Thy sustaining grace
Which makes possible triumph in defeat, gain in loss and love in hate.
We rejoice this day to say:
Our little lives, our big problems—these we place upon Thy altar!
— Howard Thurman
“Few skills are more essential than the ability to settle your body. If you can settle your body, you are more likely to be calm, alert, and fully present, no matter what is going on around you. A settled body enables you to harmonize and connect with other bodies around you, while encouraging those bodies to settle as well. Gather together a large group of unsettled bodies or assemble a group of bodies and then unsettle them- and you get a mob or a riot. But bring a large group of settled bodies together and you have a potential movement-and a potential force for tremendous good in the world. A calm, settled body is the foundation for health, for healing. for helping others, and for changing the world.” — Resmaa Menakem