fire

Whatever your problems and challenges, you are, you exist in this bright world with others, with trees, sky, water, stars, sun, and moon. If you sit there long enough and regularly enough you will feel this, even in your darkest moments.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ~ Zoketsu Norman Fischer

What have been your sources of inspiration these past couple of weeks? What have you read, seen, or heard that has opened up your heart in expansive ways, filled you with hope?

Yes, I know. That all seems counterintuitive right now.

If you’ve been like me, in these anxiety-provoking, sheltered in place times, it’s easy to find ourselves on the edges of something other than inspiration. Up and down, teeter-tottering between joy and sorrow, courage and fear, energy and fatigue, hope and despair, confusion and certainty, discouragement and elation, and so on.

It’s important to acknowledge the authenticity of our feelings. They often serve as somewhat humbling reminders of our connection to other humans who feel these things too. They’re important information for how we’ve got our world constructed.

“But it would be good to have some perspective--and occasional relief,” says poet and Zen priest Norman Fischer, “so these thoughts don’t get the best of us and become full-blown demons pushing us around.”

I shared with some folks recently that my own ups and downs are directly related to how engaged I am in my spiritual practice. How much time I make for self-nurture. For me that means being with my spirit through meditation, writing, being in nature, listening to soul-satisfying music, and reading something that puts me in touch with what I know to be my essential self, and who I aspire to be. It often means listening to the wisdom of others. And being heard, sharing truth with another heart to heart.

I don’t get to do all of these things every day but I do know that each day I must create the time to do at least one of them. I’ve learned that it helps to have something readily available that I can reach for no matter where I am, or what time it is. A song, a walk, a reading, something to scribble my thoughts on. Movement for my body. Inspiration for my heart.

A few months ago our Deepening Spiritual Practice class discussed that, unlike other denominations, in Unitarian Universalism we do not make use of a lectionary, a cycle of scripture readings that are meant to be used on particular occasions for worship. The lectionary reminds people of what is important about their faith.

However, we Unitarians have been known to create personal lectionaries. Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested in 1836, “Make your own Bible. Select & Collect all those words & sentences that in all your reading have been to you like the blast of a trumpet out of Shakespeare, Seneca, Moses, John, & Paul.”

My personal lectionary rings more with the sounds of Morrison, Walker, Angelou, Hafiz, Chodron, and Coates. But I get what he means.

What’s in your personal lectionary? What words, what music to inspire your soul?

In the same vein, religious scholar Andrew Harvey says,” So many people don't know how to inspire themselves. Use everything that moves you: music, walking by water, flowers, photographs of the enlightened ones. Inspiration... summons what the Sufis call the fragrance of the Beloved into everything.”

Your personal lectionary is needed for such a time as this we are in. I can think of no better time to create one. Or continue in building the one you’ve begun.

Palms together,
Rev. Jacqueline