Time to go…. within

Jack holding our Buddha statue in front of the rose-bush (in our living room!)

I wasn’t raised with the idea that the Spirit of God was within me, was the animating Spirit of me, and so as a little girl, when I prayed, I imagined that God was something other than me; something distant, remote, unknowable and ultimately impossible to please. This logically led to prayers that were more like groveling, pleas for help, hopeful wishing, and sometimes despair, anger and frustration. I finally abandoned this conception of God altogether in my 20’s and declared myself an atheist which frankly seemed like a step up (at the time) in the living of a happy life.

I had a spiritual awakening when I was 30, and this was the beginning of a conscious quest to find the The God of connection, peace, harmony, acceptance, beauty, wisdom: The God of Love. The thing that I feared, rejected, and finally found, was never lost, but it was in the last place that I looked: within myself….within each beating heart.

Even today, I sometimes catch myself praying as if I need to convince someone else that I am worthy. And if I pay attention to the tone of this kind of  prayer, I can feel that it is not a recognition of the Spirit within, but  is coming from a fearful, desperate place of “small human trying to get Big God to act on my behalf”. When I do slip into this way of thinking, I now recognize that I’ve simply (temporarily) fallen asleep spiritually…I’ve forgotten that God/Spirit/Universal Life Force is as close as my breath, my heartbeat, my thought, and it’s time to go within.

“As soon as man is (consciously) at one with God, he will not beg.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

43 thoughts on “Time to go…. within

  1. Hi Mary, well said! i am at the tail end of a such a spiritual awakening and it has been quite the journey. Having been raised Catholic, i needed to take this journey to find out for myself what i believed because I truly believed it and not because someone told me to. I took this spiritual journey through art and was able to express myself visually. It has been an amazing trip and everything you say here in this post is as if you are inside my head! thank you for putting it into words.

  2. This is something I want desperately to understand. Beyond understand–I want to “get” it at every level of being. I believe it would change so much. I had a lifelong strong faith in an external God that has diminished (or maybe is in the midst of changing) in the last couple years. Any direction–books, advice–from any of you wise ladies?

    • Yes Cynthia! writers such as Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, are writing wonderful easy to understand work now. Also, Neville Goddard, H. Emille Cady, Emmet Fox, Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Collier,..anything written by these authors that speaks to you. (on another note, one thing I’m trying to move away from on the blog is giving each other “advice”…it gets a little to confused and cloudy)

  3. The image that sprang up for me was of Sleeping Beauty, drifting in poisoned dreams and then awakening to the kiss of her True Love so that Life and Spirit could live happily ever after.

    • So many of these “fairy tales” really do have, at their core, truth! Thank you for this wonderful image Barbara!

  4. I’ve been losing my religion for quite some time now. I really dislike religion although I admire those who maintain an inner spiritually. Maybe one day I’ll find that, I don’t know.

  5. So many of us, Mary, are either going through this spiritual change or have gone through it at some point in their lives. Sometimes it’s a wonderful journey and other times it’s a true ‘dark night of the soul.’ I have experienced it as both, and wouldn’t change a moment of it.

    Thank you for bringing the subject out into the (L)ight!

  6. Dear Mary. This is one of the most beautifully written posts! Thank you for your eloquent and sensitive insight into the true nature of God within. It is a wonderful visualization, the thought of each breath and each heartbeat as an expression of the divine within being expressed.

  7. Mary, this is a journey I am undertaking, a shift in my thinking and soul work. I don’t think my seeking will ever end and I am so grateful for your guidance. Peace to you and all who gather here.

  8. Joseph Campbell helped me to put my complicated thinking on religion, mythology, and spirituality to rest. Years ago, when I was watching the Bill Moyers Interviews of Joseph Campbell, I was impressed by the fact that although he had let go of the idea of a personal God (for himself)…for others he said words to the effect “do what works for you; if the religion you have been following still works for you, why switch, that would be like switching discs in the middle of a computer program…or some such computer language…now out of date, but the idea still helps me. He also showed a film clip of monks humming the “Oooommm”, then he smile like a buddhist sage and said, “They know”.

    • Mary Rita, thanks for this excellent reminder of the Moyers interviews with Joseph Campbell. There are so many things in life you never want to lose track of, and these interviews were among those for me. These interviews so impressed me and, in a way, gave me the insight to realize where my own sense of spirtuality was resting and growing.

      So glad you posted this.

  9. “one stream, many wells of wisdom” is what my yoga teacher chose to have printed on her business card. I love that image. We seek, we question, we rebel and reject at times, but it is in the seeking that we will find our inner truth, that kernel of God that is planted within us all. The seed of our imageness, having been created in His image. And in Genesis it is said that He blew his very breath into the clay that was Adam, and Adam was brought to life. My devotional yesterday from the book Jesus Calling, said “Refresh yourself in My company, breathing deep draughts of my Presence.” A friend of mine sent me this yesterday – a beautiful short poem by Albert Einstein that so beautifully addresses the entity some call God, the unknown and unfathomable, but what the human heart seems to yearn for like a moth seeking the light.

    http://www.panhala.net/Archive/Sensation_of_the_Mystical.html

  10. P.S. – a couple of my favorite authors writing on spirituality: Matthew Fox (who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for his liberal views), The Coming of the Cosmic Christ profoundly affected me some twenty years ago (Fox’s book) and another one of his: Original Blessing, – get that! Not original sin! love him. Also Howard Thurman, Frederick Buechner, Kathleen Norris, and Annie Dillard. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Dillard). I hear what you’re saying about advice, Mary, but I sure would welcome anyone’s reading suggestions at any time.

    • sharing of helpful personal experiences (reading or otherwise) are great Susan, and always welcome! It is the specific “advice” (to another) that has come up enough times in response to recent comments that I’m talking about…but I’ll say more about this in a general comment.

  11. So well stated. I 100% understand exactly what you mean. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  12. Recently, I’ve been re-evaluating the blog ..it has been quite an amazing almost year and a half since it started. I had no idea that such a loving community would begin to develop and I am delighted by it. However, I feel a need to offer a reminder of what the purpose of this blog is, and what it isn’t.
    If you have a deep concern about an issue in your life, or in the world, it is my sincerest hope that you will find upliftment here, and maybe even a new lens to view it from.
    I do ask that we stay away from “struggle stories” about others. I ask that we offer prayer and/or uplifting thoughts rather than advice.
    Importantly, what is the YES here?
    Yes to sharing stories of hope.
    Yes to asking for prayer for yourself or your pet.
    Yes to commenting on how the post or a comment positively impacted your thinking or your life.
    Yes to posting a poem, a book, a movie that uplifted you. 
    There is a traditional standard held by 12 step groups that I believe will offer clarity to us gathered here:
    In 12 step meetings, “comments” are confined to our own experience. No advice or evaluation of another’s sharing is “permitted” . This allows for free and open thought without the opinions of others being taken into account. 
    Even though this blog community has members that are Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Agnostic, Pagan, or follow no specific path, the blog itself is essentially simply a spiritual way to look at life, and not specific to one, or any, religious tradition.
    The depth and strength of the White Feather community lie in its generosity of spirit. I thank all of you for honoring these guidelines.

    • Mary, thank you for posting these guidelines. They will be very helpful, especially to me, as I am one who tends to wander into the realm of offering advice. The advice is always lovingly given, but it might be advice, nonetheless.

      We have a very unique gathering here in the flock, and I feel blessed to be in contact with all of you. And if it wasn’t for Mary, there would be no flock. So let’s raise our glasses to Mary in thanks for her daily efforts to feed us spiritually. We all feast well.

      • Thank you for this Suzanne…. I am in awe of the strength and love here….my concerns that posting guidelines might make others feel hesitant about sharing have been put to rest!

    • I confess to going off tangent myself, Mary, particularly yesterday’s posting by me with my deep concern for another who has suffered a serious car accident recently. As to being an aetheist earlier on, I was told years ago by our minister in the city that I was an agnostic and that I sat on the fence because I said that I neither believed nor disbelieved (feeling that, as I do now, I have to figure these things out myself) but as he said then, I must believe as a child and this I cannot do. So, it’s good to have you set out guidelines for your blog which I hope that I can adhere to and to which I may occasionally or more than occasionally fail at doing so at times though I hope not. My prayers also many times are how you describe, praying to a god outside me, not inside, yet when I ask for strength it is given to me so that must be working somehow. I realize that you are sharing your own belief system that has developed for you over the years and as such, when your concept for a blog goes off the path, it’s good to bring it back to centre and what your concept is…for it is your blog.
      SandyP in canada

      • Lovely SandyP in Canada, I am re-reading people’s reactions to Mary’s guidelines, and your words ‘off on a tangent myself” and then “good to bring it back to the centre ” – I sense that the reason we all want to be here is for the very reason you so beautifully expressed, I so often feel a disconnect with the society around me, but find my center in this lovely community of friends – like moths, Mary, we humbly are drawn to your Light and Message every morning –

  13. Mary – This is a very powerful message and another one that speaks so directly to me. The God of Love within us all – how beautiful and unifying! Your thoughts are invaluable as a guide for my own quest. Thank you.

    Oh, and thank you for including the guidelines. They are helpful.

    • I’m so happy that you let me know this Pam, both about how the post spoke to you and how you appreciated the “guidelines”…thank you so much!

  14. Speaking only for myself, I think that 12-step guideline is helpful. Thanks, Mary.

    *Everyone* here is kind and well-intentioned; personally, I have worried in the past about somehow “overstepping”, so it’s good to have a framework. I’d never want to offend anyone by offering unsolicited advice when that person might prefer simply receiving some positive energy (and if I have inadvertently done that, please accept my apologies).

    This blog and its community are gifts that I treasure. Keep up the great work!

  15. Well, with one eye on Mary’s guidelines, I will do my best to post appropriately. I appreciate the guidelines and think we will all benefit from them.

    I was struck by how many of us have become disenchanted with our previous belief system, myself included. I am in a period of serious questioning and trying to find my way after having thought for years that I knew what the “right” way was. Having just lost my youngest sister to cancer three weeks ago, I realized none of the four speciifc prayers I prayed to my “Big God” throughout her illness and subsequent death were answered in a way that seemed humane or satisfactory. So now I am taking a step back, rethinking just about everything I thought I knew about prayer and God’s will and even the very nature of God. Truth be told, I guess I have been rethinking for longer than three weeks. That’s probably why I was led to this sanctuary in the first place. I know there are many pat answers about why God does what He does, despite telling us he will answer our prayers if we are “fervent and righteous,” but right now they ring a bit hollow. I also know that questioning God’s goodness after a bitter loss is common. I am just trying to make some sense of it all, to try to see how “God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good” (a theme of my church) fits into situations like mine.

    All that said, I can’t say there weren’t blessings throughout the six years of her illness. I am just trying to come up with some way to reconcile the goodness of God with the horror of watching a person I loved go through so much pain and loss these past several months. I’ll keep trying.

    I was glad to see Frederick Beuchner mentioned above. He has become a particular favorite of mine. Thanks to all for the other suggestions, too.

    • Dearest Carol – may your heart find some rest and solace in the days to come. I am so sorry for your loss and three weeks is just way too soon to feel anything but raw, constant grief. Please be easy with yourself, and know that in time, (I know, a cliche but true – I too lost a sister to cancer 3 years ago) – in time, you will feel her in the setting of the sun, the blossoming of a flower, maybe seeing a bird that was her favorite. Her spirit will always be with you and she will comfort you, believe that. Jane Kenyon, poet wife of Donald Hall, former Poet Laureate, she died all too young at 45 years old from leukemia. But she left behind her singular voice in some of the most beautiful spiritual and uplifting poetry I know. It may be something you could find comfort in right now. A poem unlike a novel, can be savored in minutes, but will stay without you throughout the day, sort of like all the friends here. We will be here for you Carol. Blessings. Here is a sample of Jane Kenyon’s poetry:

      Let Evening Come

      by Jane Kenyon

      Let the light of late afternoon
      shine through chinks in the barn, moving
      up the bales as the sun moves down.

      Let the cricket take up chafing
      as a woman takes up her needles
      and her yarn. Let evening come.

      Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
      in long grass. Let the stars appear
      and the moon disclose her silver horn.

      Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
      Let the wind die down. Let the shed
      go black inside. Let evening come.

      To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
      in the oats, to air in the lung
      let evening come.

      Let it come, as it will, and don’t
      be afraid. God does not leave us
      comfortless, so let evening come.

    • Carol, I want to offer my condolences for the loss of your dear sister. Bless you and your family as you go through the work of grief and be comforted by the loving support offered here.

    • Carol, I am so sorry for the pain you are feeling right now with the loss of your sister. There is no easy way through it and each day of it is different.

      I send you love, prayers and, above all, hope you will ultimately find peace within it all. Blessings.

      • Susan, Terri, Suzanne and Kelly (which was my sister’s name)…thanks so much for your kindess and wishes. I am so happy to have found this place and know I will continue to learn and grow here. Susan, the poem is lovely and I will find more of her work…thanks so much, all of you.

    • Carol, I can understand how you feel when you’ve prayed yet watched your sister suffer as she has over the past six years. I long ago came to the conclusion that not a lot of what suffering entails makes sense to me…some of the most curmudgeonly people live long lives and some of the most with goodness in their hearts, die young(er). At that time I try to remember that we are all children of a certain god of our choosing and try not to discriminate but it doesn’t help when someone you love and with whom you are close, spends the last few years of their lives suffering as your sister obviously did. I trust you’ll find some peace and acceptance eventually in your soul.
      SandyP in Canada

      • Thank you, Sandy. Kelly had a quiet and humble heart…lived her entire adult life caring for others and all the birds and animals she could attract. She was only 49. I know the world is full of similar stories. Enough heartache for all, and few are exempt. Thanks for your kind words…it helps to remember that others can’t make sense of suffering, either.

  16. Like the beacon of a lighthouse
    The stature of a lightning rod
    A weightless beam of light force
    Diversely attracting us all here
    In singular love and light.

    From the depth of my being, Mary Muncil, I give thanks for how you’ve shaped my daily outlook and spiritual practice—whatever label you put on it. I am a better, more compassionate and open person since I landed on this site.
    Blessings to all who share this with me. I am enriched!

  17. I just want to say thank you to all who posted reading suggestions yesterday. I have felt a huge need for direction and I’m excited to have options that have worked for others.
    Carol E., my heart goes out to you. I lost my dad 8 months ago. I feel so adrift without the same understanding of the faith that has been my lighthouse and my rock throughout my life as a result of going through his illness with him and now being without him in the world. I wish you blessings of peace and love of friends and family to surround you.

    Cynthia R

    • Thank you very much, Cynthia. We are feeling quite the same. I didn’t mention that we lost our mother last September, so it’s been a period of illness and loss for a while now. Kelly was so happy that she had been able to care for our mother in spite of dealing with her own serious illness. My heart also goes out to you…the loss of a parent changes everything, despite their age. This blog is a wonderful place to find wisdom, solace and fellowship with other seekers. Thanks again for your message. May you also find the peace that will allow you to see the lighthouse once again, even if it’s a different one.

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