Sacred Sanctuary

“People encounter God under shady oak trees, on riverbanks, at the tops of mountains, and in long stretches of barren wilderness. God shows up in whirlwinds, starry skies, burning bushes and perfect strangers.”  Barbara Brown Taylor

Growing up my experience of sanctuary was a tall building with a steeple, enormous stained glass windows, large looming statues, and lots of marble everywhere. There were so many rules in the sanctuary, one of them required being still and quiet. Only whispers were allowed unless you were praying or singing in the mass. When I was there I recited prayers I had memorized and followed the instructions of the adults. There was no laughing allowed, of course, that rule alone brought out the giggles at the most inopportune moments.

I never felt good enough to be in the sanctuary. I was there to confess my sins and my unworthiness.

Today my experience of sanctuary is anywhere I feel connection with the Divine. In the forest, at the beach, or out to dinner with friends. Sanctuary can be playing with a puppy, helping a neighbor, or going for a walk in the park. 

My home is my sacred sanctuary — a place where I feel love, peace, freedom and harmony. Laughter, joy and fun are absolutely permitted in my sanctuary. I affirm everyone who comes into my home feels the presence of love. I am free to communicate with Spirit through my tears, my anger, my gratitude. My prayers are free flowing, joy-filled whispers, shouts, songs and cheers. 

How freeing it is to have the world as my sanctuary. It is such a blessing to feel God’s presence and love wherever I am. 

Where is your sanctuary?

Imagine the Possibilities

Bahamas Vacation 020There is a part of the brain called the reticular activating system. It works like a filter between your conscious mind and subconscious mind. When we think about something we want, we start to notice it everywhere. If you are interested in buying a red Toyota Highlander, suddenly you will see red Toyota Highlanders wherever you go.

What is fascinating is that the reticular activating system of the brain does not know the difference between what is imagined and what is real! The effect of our doubtful imagination stirs our emotions, pumps up the adrenaline and gets the heart racing: at which point we are in full-fledged stress mode.

Imagining what we want is infinitely more beneficial to us than focusing on the fear about what we don’t want. Imagining the possibilities of a life of harmony, peace and prosperity changes our mood, outlook and energy. More importantly, we have the power to imagine what we want.

Each one of us has the power to transform doubt into faith. Wisdom from Albert Einstein, “Imagination…is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Opening to imagination opens us to the limitless expression of Spirit.

Necessity of Faith

flowerIn her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, author Sheryl Sandberg shares that Forbes ranked her as the fifth most powerful woman in the world in 2011. Even though she was a CEO at Facebook, she felt embarrassed and self-conscious to be listed with such a powerful group of women. When anyone congratulated her, she told them the list was ridiculous.

Finally, her executive assistant took her aside and told her she was revealing her insecurity by not receiving the acknowledgement graciously. It was a wake-up call for Sandberg to recognize her doubts.

We all face doubts. Whether in the boardroom or on the assembly line, as a stay-at-home Mom or an entrepreneur, we all have feelings of fear and misgiving. Doubt stops us from moving forward and using our talents and strengths to their full potential. Doubt weakens us and takes away our power if we let it.

Here is the good news! Once we admit the doubt, we can begin to change it. We don’t have to be victim to it. We can recognize our fears for what they are, get them under control and take dominion over our own lives. We can build our faith.

As we develop faith we expand our awareness and realize we don’t have to walk the path alone. A necessary step in our spiritual growth is to practice placing faith in trust in God. In Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knows, the door will be opened.”

The Gift of Gratitude

Grasses in the sunThe hospital staff person came in to empty the trash. “Thank you so much,” Laurence said. “Where are you from?” “Guatemala,” she replied. He asked her about her family, her life, and her journey to the United States.

My husband Laurence was in the hospital at the time diagnosed with leukemia. It was just one more jolt in a long series of medical complications. Wherever he was or whatever he was doing, he always stopped to express his gratitude.

He said thank you to everyone. He thanked his business associates, children, family members, clients, and the clerk at the neighborhood deli. He thanked me for taking care of our home, for doing the laundry and for buying the groceries. He said a prayer of thanks before every meal.

More trauma. A bone marrow transplant, complications with medications, a series of strokes. Laurence was in a coma for a week in Intensive Care. At Day 7, his doctor told us to get his affairs in order.

Prayers intervened and Laurence miraculously awoke out of his coma. As he regained consciousness, he began to whisper. Can you guess his first words? Thank you.

Laurence is no longer here on this earthly plane. But he left those of us who knew him with a reminder of the power of giving thanks. Gratitude acknowledges that we have received the gift that is being given, whether it is a compliment or an act of kindness. Gratitude puts us into a humbled state of appreciation. It connects us with God.

I am quite confident that Laurence is aware of the love and gratitude being sent his way. I am convinced he watches over his children and grandchildren, his mother, siblings and me. I am certain he is sending each of us extraordinary beams of love.

I know he hears my prayers of gratitude in the middle of the night for the amazing life we shared. I hear him whisper his reply. Thank you. I love you too.

The Voice

Couple sitting on logHave you listened to the voice lately? No, not the TV show with the amazing singers. I mean the voice in the back of the mind. Some days it reminds me of being in a car with a back seat driver who is constantly nagging, criticizing and itemizing all the things I’ve done wrong. It can be exhausting!

The voice is the inner critic and it is very sneaky. It shifts attention away from itself and makes me believe that “those people” are the enemy. THEY are the ones who are judging and criticizing me. THEY are the ones who are keeping me from success. THEY are the ones who are out to make my life miserable.

Truth is, “those people” are a fabrication of my imagination. There is no one waiting to pounce on my mistakes or criticize my actions. We are all on this journey of life together. THEY were created out of fear. Together we are love.

When I step out from behind the walls and barricades created by fear, I look out at the smiling faces that are glad to see me. I notice people that are eager to help and those that are willing to listen. They have been there all along. Now I can clearly see them!

The next time the voice in the back seat starts ranting about what you are doing and where you are going, tell it to chill, be quiet, or take a hike. There is no time to listen. Life is full of amazing people ready to connect and collaborate with us. We are on a mission to make the world a better place. Together we can get it done!

Back to the Basics

Caregivers_JournalThings we take so much for granted are enormous tasks when dealing with an illness. Often after a serious illness the patient has to regain their strength. The simple things we take for granted like eating, walking and getting to the bathroom can be overwhelming for the patient.

The caregiver may appear to take it all in stride as we acknowledge and celebrate each success along the way. But often the pain of watching our loved ones struggle can be overwhelming.

Acknowledging grief and the sense of loss during an illness is so important. It can be a powerful way to move through changes an illness brings. It paves the way for love.

Excerpt from A Caregiver’s Journal: Recording Lessons of Love and Hope by Christine Green. Available soon at a bookstore near you. ISBN: 978-0-945385-45-5