Peggy Lee, a popular contemporary vocalist of the 1950s and 60s, recorded a song which reached into the top of the charts in 1969. “IS THAT ALL THERE IS” expresses disillusionment and disappointment with a life which should be filled with unique experiences. She suggests that we “break out the booze and have a ball—if that’s all there is”. Peggy Lee died in 2002.
Sometimes our life’s experiences parallel the lyrics of this song of hopelessness and melancholy. We strive to achieve, to find acceptance within our communities, to perform according to the edicts of our traditional religion. We fear the god of vengeance and punishment portrayed by exhortations from the pulpits of our churches while we fervently pray to that same god for forgiveness and redemption. Yet in the secret recesses of our inner selves we intuitively know that the god of our religions and churches somehow misses the mark of truth, compassion, and relevance which we earnestly desire in our lives. This inner search drives us to search for another day when we can sincerely say “yes, Lord, I will follow”, when we can finally change the word god to a capitalized God.
“9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9 KJV
That day of transformation from god to God reveals to us an inner trek which fills our lives with the beauty, mystery, awe, and inspiration which God intended for us. It is not a new realization; rather, it has been practiced for thousands of years by Teachers sometimes called “mystics”. They and their followers shared the wonderment of God residing within and without, present in all beings and all creation, available to any who would seek. The Kingdom of God is not reserved for the righteous; it is not a distant, heavenly sphere of religious correctness; it is not the eminent domain of any of the world’s religions.
“21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21` KJV
The writings of the New Testament attribute the above verse to Jesus, one of the Teachers who understood the mysteries of the inner search for truth. When his sayings, as recorded in the Bible, are processed in the realm of spiritual rather than worldly understanding we become keenly aware of the depth of inner communion with a God who becomes intensely real and personal.
Luke 17:21 is the essence of “TREKKING WITH THE MYSTICS” and the basis for a necessary life-changing redirect. If our “rock and fortress” dwells within then surely hatred, bigotry, intolerance, government agents, worldly oppression shall be powerless in the presence of the great “I AM”. We are proclaimed to be instruments of and witnesses to that which is Truth and Light. We are destined to walk the earth fearlessly pursuing for all people equality, social justice, and personal liberty. Doing so is our birthright and our Supreme duty.
Perhaps one of our greatest challenges in life is walking that mile. We have endured painful obstacles in promoting a healthy family atmosphere. We have worked in jobs that were nothing more than a weekly paycheck. We have served our country to the best of our abilities only to be spat upon and denigrated. We have given beyond expectations and then been told “that’s not enough.” We have sacrificed personal comfort and security in vain attempts to be the people we thought we ought to be.
Yes, we are good people; no, we are GREAT people. None on earth can dispute America’s generosity and charity as shown through numerous relief agencies and private funding of world need. Good will is synonymous with the United States of America.
Yet, individually, many of us are unwilling or spiritually unable to walk a most difficult mile. We are quick to point out another’s deficiencies, to make judgements, to take inventories and absolve ourselves from personal responsibility for that person’s well-being. We no longer value our role as the keepers of brothers. Ego and self promotion are the founding principles in our lives. Perhaps we have always been this way and only now in our condensed, sardine can society it is more obvious.
How much more effort and sacrifice would be required of us to take that most difficult mile, the one walked in another man’s shoes? We have all heard this bit of wisdom; some say it’s American Native folklore. But what would happen when, instead of condemning a man for his behavior, we could change places with him, envision our behavior in his situation, consider what we would do given his circumstances?
Even then, when we have walked that mile with him and our attitude remains harsh, our HP takes us to another principle of his Kingdom. Forgiveness, for most of us, is just as difficult but, equally necessary.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others” is a fundamental tenet of our fellowship and for anyone who seeks a ‘clean and serene’ life. As recovering brothers and sisters we believe our HP has forgiven our lifetime mess and continues to forgive our human nature while we continue in His service. To deny forgiveness to others is akin to denying that God has forgiven us, that our sins were too great to be forgiven even by the most awesome and omnipotent power in the universe, and that his example of forgiveness is not applicable in our lives. When we don’t forgive, we are rejecting the power of HP to transform our lives.
We do not aspire to perfection. Growth is our objective. Let’s be willing to walk that difficult mile with our brothers and sisters and then extend the forgiveness which our HP has accorded to us. For most of us this is the most difficult mile we will ever walk. But, it can also be the most beautiful, enlightening experience of a lifetime.
“Father, we honor in holiness your name; we seek your kingdom as we yearn for your will in our lives. Let it be here within us that you dwell. Give us spiritual food for this day. Forgive our trespasses and guide us to forgive our brothers and sisters just as you have forgiven us. May our fellowship with others in sober living and our love for You keep the temptations of alcohol at bay; protect us from our demons. We recognize and revere your omnipotence and power which is everlasting. Amen.”
“We have an opportunity at this time in history to completely change the course of human culture. That opportunity is not simply an option anymore, it is a gauntlet thrown down by the forces of history before a generation still not decided whether money and power or love and brotherhood should form the basis of our civilization. And we will decide, or life will decide for us. The human species will learn to become profoundly compassionate toward itself and toward all life. We will learn it through wisdom, or we will learn it through pain. But we will learn, because it’s God’s will that we become the people he has created us to be. It’s not up to us where we are going—but, how we get there and when is determined by every choice we make, every moment of every day.”
Marianne Williamson, “EVERYDAY GRACE”
Whom are we created to be? The world’s movers and shakers today chase after money and power while over 75% of our world’s population lives in poverty only dreaming of having enough food or proper sanitation or potable water. Corporate and personal wealth in the United States is mind-boggling yet one in five American children go to bed hungry. The compassionate world our God intended was not one divided over issues of power, wealth, and theology. The world’s massive wealth was not intended for just 1% of the world’s population. Every sacred scripture points to enlightenment as a civilization where all are created equal, where all are deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, where all share a piece of God’s blessing in brotherhood.
We seem to forget that our Creator had a game plan. Whether you believe in the creation story of the Jews and Muslims, the Hindus, or the Buddhists is unimportant. We were created as a compassionate species whose sole purpose was to please and venerate our Father. We seem to forget that God is holding the trump card, that his will shall prevail with or without our approval and cooperation. So, how do we conduct ourselves? Shall we learn through wisdom or through pain? It’s our call.
The world which we see on broadcast media and in newsprint is a world based on fear. From this fear the news stories evolve depicting terrorism, murder, abuse, desolation, and human depravity. We read, we process, and usually we respond shaking a fist at and cursing the perpetrators. Anger is our most readily available response and we allow it to overwhelm us, to defeat us, to negate our innate spiritual bearing.
Our anger only encourages the darkness. Our anger allows that darkness to trespass upon our natural, God-ordained state of serenity and peace. It colors every thought we harbor until we get on bended knee and return to the inner peace which is our true and natural state of being.
We believe that love is compassion in action. We believe that the opposite of love is fear and indifference. We believe that, although the arising emotion appears to be anger, when we question ourselves about what is driving that emotion the response could be:
“I am sad, very sad, and frightened. Sad over what this world is and frightened about where this world is going, what it holds for the children and grandchildren.”
When we take ourselves from the fist-shaking, cussing realm of anger into the deeply honest and soul-searching realm of concern for others and the world they are inheriting, we transcend the ego of self to the eternity of love and compassion. When we turn it over to God and ask blessing on those who make us angry, we are putting the world into the hands of the only Power who can transform and enlighten. As people in recovery state so perfectly:
“Let go and let God.”
No, we should never give up or not be concerned about the world’s hatred and bigotry. We should always uphold the worthiness of all people and endorse their right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. But, when we do it prayerfully in obedience to a Higher Power we are connecting to the powerful stream of light which no darkness can conquer.
“I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind.”
OK, so the Beatles were not the poster boys for sober living. But, unlike many of their contemporaries, they did survive the drugging and drinking and left us with numerous memorable lyrics. Lennon, the peacenik, the rebel, the political activist who found himself on the FBI’s “watch list” for subversive activity wrote “IMAGINE”, the lyrics of which could be a blueprint for world peace.
Ironically, Lennon’s life ended prematurely in 1980 when an assassin gunned him down in front of his apartment building. A man dedicated to compassion, love, and peace was taken from us by a gun-wielding madman. Today, 50 years after the Beatles and 37 years after Lennon’s death, the music and the words continue to remind us that there is a better way to live this life which our HP has given us.
“I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little peace of mind” resonates with the comfort and good will which has always been intended to be God’s gift to us. For a man of immense wealth and talent to write those words offering everything he’s got for a little peace of mind should reveal to us that what is important in life is not riches nor fame.
Peace of mind is especially difficult to capture in today’s violent, unstable world. We will not find it in church, religion, or philosophy. It will not suddenly appear through the right ritual or prayer. It is an inside job which only our connection with a higher power can accomplish. When we realize and accept that nothing of this worldly existence is greater or more important than the God connection, then we will know the beginnings of “peace of mind”.
from EVERYDAY GRACE by Marianne Williamson
“We cannot give what we do not have. We cannot bring peace to the world if we ourselves are not peaceful. We cannot bring love to the world if we ourselves are not loving.”
LORD, it all starts with me, doesn’t it? Challenge me to acknowledge your power, live your power, share your power. It is the only reason for existence in your world. Transform me, bring light to the dark places, reveal love where I believe there is none.
It’s an inside job that only you are qualified to do. AMEN
from ST. FRANCIS
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where injury, pardon; where doubt, faith; where despair, hope; where darkness, light; where sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”
DALAI LAMA XIV
Recovery from alcoholism is often referred to around our meeting tables as an “inside job”. Every time I hear this my mind immediately goes to the questioning of self, “how is my inside world?”
It would be absolutely hypocritical to allow others to think that my inner being is always peaceful. It would be fatal to my sobriety to convince myself that all is well inside at all times. I am human, the world is flawed, God is within and the three are involved in a battle for my soul. It’s truly that simple. I no longer have the idealism of a younger man who is on a crusade to change the world. The crusade now is for soul to emerge victorious over ego and the world.
Escaping the ravages of alcoholism and living in the beauty of recovery has allowed my Higher Power whom I call Lord and Savior to work the miracle of saving grace, a grace that is unmerited and undeserved. The anger is gone, the self-loathing is gone, the fear of life is gone. That has been replaced by introspection, meditation, and reflection. Through these disciplines, I believe, compassion is initiated. When I experience the peace through soul searching and self forgiveness, as my HP has forgiven me, then I am more able to regard my brothers and sisters with active compassion.
It’s an inside job. World peace starts with me.
Are you a battler? Do you argue at every turn with the ones you already know to be right? We simply have a need to be scrappy. No one can counsel us, no one knows better than us, and certainly no one shall tell us how to run our lives. This is not a just a denominational problem or a cultural problem or a societal problem. It is a human problem and it creates an enormous load of unnecessary baggage and heartache.
Psalm 46:10New International Version (NIV)
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
Exploring great verses of Scriptures and studying the possible meanings often brings renewed comfort for the soul and deeper understanding of the human condition. So it is with this verse found in the book of Psalms. David, the assumed author, is one of the most studied and dichotomous characters of Jewish literature. A great warrior and king, his lineage to the person of Jesus Christ is presented in the New Testament’s Gospels. But, King David was also a man of exquisite writing skills expressing elements of peace and calm in his society’s volatile environment. The Jewish rendering of “be still” is often “cease striving”. Relax, accept, understand that I am God. In this context the required action is passive. “Just stop and shut up for a minute, listen to me.”
But another response which requires initiative on the reader’s part is to view this with more emphasis on “know that I am God”. The God of the Jews is telling us in no uncertain terms who He is and that He indeed is Lord of the universe, of all nations and of all peoples. He is saying, “Relax, I’ve got this under control because I am God, not just your God but everybody’s God.” The act of accepting and knowing has to be accomplished in the stillness of God’s presence. This is not just a Jewish or Christian obedience; it is part of any faith’s supplication to the entity called God.
And therein we can find peace within. The inherent human need to challenge, to argue, to dispute spiritual matters can readily be appeased and need not be a part of our inner sanctum. First, be still. But then, know the truth of your God.
Very often we have said, “I am going to let God control my life.” Truly, does God need us to give control to him? Maybe we need to kick back and understand that He is in control. Matters not if we give him control. He’s already got us covered. The peace within happens when we accept that.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ― Albert Einstein “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” ― Jo…
Source: PEACE FOR YOU