Author: Rev. Leo Booth/Thursday, September 25, 2008/Categories: Spirituality
Years ago I was impacted by a friend, Dr Conway Hunter, who said to me, “Leo, you need to think outside of the box. Spirituality is not something that we explain, it’s something we experience”.
Some years later I was attending The Spirit Conference in Los Angeles and I heard John Bradshaw say, “Poetry is felt thought”.
And so my journey into spirituality began again, it was not unlike revisiting an old friend who I had known for years but had not known completely. I needed to know more.
As an Episcopal priest, I had always been attracted to metaphysical thinking, and since becoming a Unity minister I was convinced that God, Higher Power, Divine Energy was not separate from my being but very much involved with who I AM.
I had been talking and writing about the difference between spirituality and religion for years and yet I had not captured, in a clear and challenging way, the divine union that existed between the Creator and creation. I needed to capture the essence of this connection because I know, for me; it was the beginning of my outside of the box thinking.
I also knew this was an old theological and philosophical question that went back to Pelagius, a British monk who felt that a human being was essentially good and Augustine, who believed human beings were essentially evil and without God’s grace they would remain mere animals.
Pelagius was declared a heretic by the church and yet I had always been sympathetic towards his point of view!
Even the greatest minds in the church had struggled with the relationship between God and His creation.
Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) mused:
“From my breath I extract God and my eye is a shop where I offer Him to the world”.
Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1328) had declared:
“If He let go of my hand, I would weep so loudly,
I would petition with all my might, I would cause so much trouble
that I bet God would come to His senses and never do that again”.
John Bradshaw was right
“Poetry is felt thought”.
Early on in my writing days, when I had written Say Yes to Life, a daily meditation book for alcoholics and addicts, I stressed the opinion that I believed that God wanted people free from drug-addiction, but that they needed to want it too. God is not co-dependant. He does not fix people or make them good or healthy, that is truly their responsibility. In Say Yes to Life, I had declared that often a spiritual person makes the choice to be positive and creative; in this sense spirituality becomes an inside job!
And yet as a Unity minister, I believe something more; wherever I am, God is…and all is well. My relationship with God is not separate but ONE. I carry within me the divine and my daily challenge is how I manifest God in the world. With all this percolating in my mind I began to write Say Yes to Your Spirit. My understanding of the relationship with God and spirituality moved in the direction that we must take responsibility for the life we wish to live. God’s spirit is alive in each and every one of us and our responsibility is to reflect it, and manifest the divine which includes being actively involved in creating a safer and more accepting world for others.
I didn’t want to call the new book, A Daily Dance with God, because that would imply a separateness I did not believe in; rather, I wanted to state clearly, a daily dance in God. In this sense I was living out Dr Conway Hunter’s challenge… think outside of the box.
My discomfort came from the fact much had been written in the name of spirituality and that it was too religious, too Augustinian…remember the debate between Augustine and Pelagius? It seemed to me much of the spiritual writings were about asking God for what had already been given. Looking for a spiritual fix. Pleading, nay, begging, for what we already had…the power to change our lives and our thinking, yet out of all this turmoil emerged the title for my book, and it became…………Say Yes to Your Spirit
Here are a few examples showing how I take this philosophy and apply it to daily self-help.
When we say yes to our spirit we acknowledge that there is a thing called time; it is the space that makes up our hours days, weeks, months and years. We are born into time.
Spirituality teaches us to respect time. Take time. Relax. We can rush at life or we can seek balance. I believe that if we are always in a hurry, rushing, never smelling the roses, that we abuse time. The psalmist suggests, “Be still and know that I am God.” Take a breath. If we are to dance in God, then we need time to make the correct steps, gliding into creativity.
Today we know that compulsion, obsession, addiction and fanaticism are all unhealthy behaviors because they are frantic. We all need the gift of balance, if we are really to create anything in our lives.
It’s hard to discuss anything with a fanatic. When I wrote my book addressing religious addiction and religious abuse, I called it When God Becomes a Drug. Fanatics seem to be “shooting-up” with their words of hate, becoming ever more delusional.
Say Yes to Your Spirit always seeks inclusion and reconciliation.
I accept the differences in this world and I celebrate diversity.
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On Humanity June 8
Say yes to Your spirit is daring to examine that part of every human being that cannot be seen, touched, or quantified; it is the soul of humanity. Yes, it is life, but it is also mysterious.
This concept is my spirituality today; it is the music between the notes, the poetry that is within every poet, and the vision that drives every artist. What is it? It is the myserterium tremendum: the creativity that fuels our dance in God. Without this insight, life would be dull, basic and animalistic.
Spirituality is a willingness to serve
How many times do we hear it said, “If you want to keep something, you must be prepared to give it away”? In the 12-step program, we are reminded that service enables us to get out of ourselves. We begin to think about others rather than stay a prisoner of self. A friend recently said, “If you feel you need to drink, get out of the house and find somebody to help. It will keep you sober.”
Say Yes to Your Spirit involves services. We dance in God and in the process entertain others.
I feel good when I’m helping somebody. My life is meaningful when I can bring joy into another person’s life. What I give, I receive back in abundance. Service is the loving aspect of investment.
How important is this shift in thinking from the previous ‘self-help’ daily meditations that have gone before? Extremely powerful, more than powerful…cosmic! You see, in Say Yes to Your Spirit we are claiming and manifesting the divine gift. Poetically when Jesus suggested that the Kingdom of God was within each and every one of us, it was the precursor of “Wherever you are, God is…and all is well”.
Spiritual empowerment becomes divine empowerment; we manifest God in the world.
This is what I have come to believe. And what are the implications?
Now I’m beginning to understand on a much deeper level the meaning of an old Japanese saying:
“When death finds you, hopefully it will find you alive”.
God is love. Spirituality is the demonstration of that love. And we all have it. Say Yes to Your Spirit is affirming this knowledge in every moment of our day. If we fail, we start again. It is the effort that creates greatness.
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