Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Life Is Best When Shared

441pm. Starbucks Uptown Waterloo

I'm sitting here at Starbucks on a rainy end-of-November afternoon, and I just got together with a friend from my spiritual centre. We had an enjoyable time talking about our lives, religion, spirituality, etc.

As I sit here with my now-cold grandé decaf coffee, I am thinking how life is so much more enjoyable when shared with others.

I used to spend a lot of time alone. Find the nearest Tim Hortons to where I lived and you would most likely find me sitting there, with journal and pen or self-help/spiritual book in hand. I'd stay there for hours. And part of it is because I have an introverted part of me. I'm not saying that it is wrong to spend time by yourself, but there have been many times in my life when I've overdone it. Perhaps I did this -and continue to do this sometimes - because you don't have to be vulnerable when you're all alone; there's less chance of being hurt. So instead of vulnerability and the chance of being hurt you instead settle for the pain of loneliness.

But there are so many things that are best when shared. Walks through a park or down a trail, coffee at a café, movie-watching, sex. I think we are meant to be relational, that's how we were created. We aren't meant to be alone. This is the point of the movie Into The Wild if you've seen it. The title character - it's a true story - goes off into the wilderness by himself to figure life out, only to come to the conclusion that life is best when shared.

It can be hard to break out of my pattern of spending hour upon hour at coffee shops by myself, but when I do make the effort I am rewarded. I just came off a wonderful weekend spent with friends, and today even though I felt kinda bad I had a really good conversation over coffee with a friend.

We are beings of Love, and Love is relational. If we want to live in Love, we will live in relationship.


Mark Andrew

Monday, November 29, 2010

Something Old, Something New On The Verge Of Christmastime

4:17pm Café 1842 Uptown Waterloo

As Christmastime is fast upon us even though it's not yet December, I am appreciating things familiar and things new.

Today is a crash day after an unusually long weekend of traveling and getting together with good friends. I allowed myself to sleep in till the early afternoon. Soon after getting up I found myself here at 1842, among the familiar. There's the all-day breakfast, a skillet of homefries, onions, peppers, and ham, with 2 eggs done how you like them and toast. There's the Javanilla coffee that is yumalicious. And there's the Toronto Star, with an almost mandatory article on the scoring woes of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and another article discussing Justin Bieber's hairstyle. I like the familiar, it makes me feel nice and warm. Ohhh...Tony Bennett just came on the music system, singing Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town. I like the familiarity of old Christmas carols like Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Away In A Manger, and Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire. Traditional versions, not all pop-y by current artists. Tonight I will bus down to my spiritual centre for a meditation class, where there'll be the familiar sanctuary and cozy library and a cup of mint tea at break-time (perhaps with a splash of egg-nog if there's any left over from the other night's decorating party.)

I am also thinking about being with someone you love and the calming, warm familiarity that so often comes with that. Holding or being held by that someone you love as you caress each other's skin and give each other gentle kisses.

Now on to something new. I am still struggling with finding a personal meaning of Christmas, several years now after leaving evangelical Christianity. Back then I believed that Christmas was about Jesus coming down from heaven as a baby who was also God, who came to be the sacrifice for humankind's sins. In the first few years after leaving these beliefs I simply said that Christmas was about family and friends and peace on earth. And still this is what Christmas is about to me. But this year another possibility is arising, that Christmas can be a celebration of the Christ-presence, or God-presence, within each and every one of us. It can be a celebration of our divine nature that allows us to have immense power and to dream big dreams. At Christmas we remember Jesus, but we can remember our own Christ-presence within.

A few thoughts on a nice Autumn Monday afternoon.

Mark Andrew

My Evening At The Church...But Not-Church


It's the end of a busy weekend filled with friends and Christmas tree admiring and decorating among other things. And now I'm finally able to relax on the couch in my pj's with my jar of No Name Crunch Peanut Butter and unwind.

This morning I went to my spiritual centre Unity, and though I mentioned this in my last post it is worth repeating - actually a couple of things. I love Unity, don't get me wrong, but this morning after singing Deck The Halls and Go Tell It On The Mountain, the band led us in My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music. This had got to be on my list of 10 Most Hated Songs of All Time. I don't want to sing about mittens on kittens or warm apple streudal!!! Secondly, these days at Unity there is a designated "Hug" entrance, and a "Hug-Free" entrance. Seriously. I suggested today that there be a designated kissing entrance (tongue or no-tongue). Not sure how that's gonna fly.

Last night I got a text (or wait for it..a Blackberry message 'cause we're cool) from a good college friend, Dan Grace. Other than the fact he once stole a girlfriend from me years ago and read the love poetry I had written for her, he's a great guy! Anyways, Dan invited me to go with him and his lovely wife to a worship night at The Meeting House, a self-described "church for people who aren't into church." It's one of these contemporary churches (oops...places!) that meets in auditoriums or movie theatres (just a question, but is it ok to sit in the back row on Sunday mornings and make out with your significant other?) Anyways, I had heard of this movement for quite some time and wanted to check it out, and this was a good opportunity. On the last Sunday of every month they hold a worship (music) service called The Attic (sadly there were no bats or owls present.) This evening, an artist from out west named Jodi King was leading worship as well as singing a few of her own songs.

I am glad that I went tonight. In particular it was very good to spend time with Dan and Faith again. Also, it was an interesting exercise to observe myself in how I was reacting to the messages that I was receiving during the evening. I have two predominant feelings whenever I go to a Christian church service nowadays. One is a feeling of nostalgia - I am taken back to my days in the church and the worship music scene. My life was so filled with both for 20-some-odd years that I find myself having feelings of familiarity when I am in those settings again. Secondly, I find myself wanting to "build bridges" or find common ground between what I used to believe (evangelical Christianity) and what I currently believe.

First of all, the things that I liked about this evening's service. I like the passion that is put into the songs; it is palpable and authentic (not just a show). Also, the quality of the presentation was excellent (acoustic, electric and bass guitars, drummer, keyboard, vocalists).

Now on to the content of the lyrics. I like how relational evangelical Christianity can be, that is, singing to God as if he is someone you are close with, like a very close friend or family member. I believe that the Divine is relational and that we experience the Divine when we are relating to people, nature, who we'd call God. A lot of the songs sung - actually probably all of them - were sung as if to someone who was in the auditorium.

Now on to some of the theology that I don't believe in and why I couldn't sing along. (And I am NOT trying to antagonize anyone or belittle anyone's faith. These are just some observations.)

1) In a couple of the songs there was language about darkness being driven away by the light, by God. This immediately brought to mind a conversation that I had with my friend Ken over Starbucks yesterday about darkness. He said that Christians can't seem to deal with their own darkness, so they objectify it, remove it from themselves and call it the Devil. I highly agree with this. Today I find it much more useful to "love my darkness," to love the parts of myself that previously I had thought unlovable.

2) The Trinity - There were a couple of songs talking about the "Three In One" and they weren't talking about a combo from Wendy's. Rather it was Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Personally, I find this confusing and I just don't see the Divine that way. I see God as One, period. 'Nuff said.

3) There were songs that talked about how "undeserving" we are to receive of God's grace because of our sin. This is what I disagreed most strongly with and is one of the first beliefs I jettisoned when I started heavily questioning my Christian faith. This view of God is that we as humans are born with a sinful nature, there is a separation between God and us as a result, and we need someone to build that bridge back to God and make us worthy. I do not agree. I believe that we have a divine nature, are already one with God, and that we are indeed deserving of God's good gifts in our lives. I've mentioned this in a blog quite a long time ago, but evangelical Christianity can go a long way in reinforcing a person's low self-esteem issues.

4) Jesus - There were many songs about Jesus tonight, including an old hymn I used to really like called All For Jesus. Christianity is a religion based on Jesus' teachings (duh! I'm smart!) but evangelicalism takes it one step further and, in my opinion, makes an idol out of the person Jesus (wasn't there a commandment about making idols?) I have been thinking more and more lately that if Jesus were to walk into most Christian churches today, I think he'd say "Why the hell are you still talking about me?" (Then he'd go to the gymnasium and munch on chocolate chip cookies and coffee after the service.) I doubt that it was ever Jesus's intention to have people worship him the man. Rather, he was always teaching a way of living your life (peace, taking care of the poor and sick, etc) and talking about the kingdom of God (which he said, is within you!) I think he'd find it baffling that people were worshiping his name. He'd just be concerned whether the widow or the orphan was being looked after. Also, instead of realizing our divinity (not just his), we're more comfortable or used to putting one man on a pedestal. I personally believe that we need to spend more time concentrating on our own divinity and what that means in terms of the power we have at our disposal. God doesn't want worshipers as much as he wants co-creators.

Anyways, phew! That's a long blogpost at the end of a busy weekend. Again, I am glad that I went tonight, and my aim is not to "nit-pick" and critique everything, but I love talking about religion and thought I'd jot down a few thoughts.

Blessings as you start out a new week!

Mark Andrew

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

5:01pm Starbucks Uptown Waterloo

This morning the alarm on my Blackberry went off at 9am, and it was one of those mornings when I wasn't sure whether I'd get up and go to my spiritual centre or if I'd go back to bed. But I wanted to make it to Unity for the first Christmad themed service, so I got up. It was nice to sing Christmas songs like Deck The Halls and Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. I appreciate the band at Unity, but if I hear the song My Favourite Things (from The Sound of Music - and it has nothing to do with Christmas!) I will remove my eardrums with a spoon and boil them with my tea. :) Oh well, what made it all tolerable was that after the service I found some left-over egg nog in the refridgerator and added some to my coffee...mmm.

At Unity now there are designated "Hug" and "Hug-Free" entrances. What's the deal? No "Kissing" entrances for "tongue" or "no-tongue?" I feel gipped.

This afternoon my good friend Millie came over and helped me set up and decorate my Christmas tree, to the sweet carolling sounds of Bing Crosby, The Rankin Sisters, Sinatra, Bruce Cockburn, and Boney M among others. We had a grand time. Now we're at Starbucks, but not before making a snow angel (see pictures on Facebook). It made me feel like I was 5. We were going to watch a movie, such as The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, but alas we didn't have time.

Anyways, that's all for now,

Mark Andrew

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Opening A Walled-Up Heart

930pm - Bay & Dundas, Toronto

It's the end of my day in Toronto and I've had a wonderful time with my best friend Ken. I've enjoyed walking around looking at the Christmas decorations and drinking Starbucks. I am wonderfully blessed, and tomorrow will be the same!

I have learned a couple things today as well as been reminded of a thing or two.

1) I like Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte, but not as much as something chocolatey.

2) When a friend tells you that there will be provocatively dressed waitresses at the restaurant you'll be going to, don't necessarily believe him. (Actually to be fair they showed up later, and the place was called W Burger Bar. They serve Bison Burgers there too.)

3) I've been reminded again how bless-ed it is to have a friend you can tell absolutely anything to without judgment.

I'm also thinking of how wonderful it is to open up a closed heart. I think we can close up our hearts for many reasons. One reason may be because we think we're too fucked up for someone to love us. And we make up excuses like "when I have this figured out" or "when I've fixed that part of me" then I'll open up my heart. And to be truthful, sometimes we do need to work through issues before entering into friendships or relationships. But guess what:

1) To one extent we're all fucked up somehow, and...

2) It's ok to need other people. This is an important one for me to keep learning. For quite awhile I was afraid to need someone too much, probably because of relationships I have witnessed in my life. But then you can go to extremes and wall up your heart because you don't want to be too needy. To this line of thinking I would say "Trust Yourself. You aren't as fucked up as you think. You are worthy to be loved." In fact, we deserve to be loved, you and I.

Being alone may indeed be safer, but it isn't as satisfying. As my best friend said today, it's in relationships that we learn. We are made for relationships. It's ok to want that someone to curl up on the couch with, to lay beside on a cold winter's night that can be so deep. Sure you make yourself more vulnerable, but no risk no reward. And the reward can be so rich. As you give love your heart opens up and feels the way you have so wanted to feel.

Let's tear down the walls around our hearts. I'll try my best.

Sent from my Tricorder.

An Irish Lyle Lovett, & Other Things

Blogging via Blackberry - who knew? This is a first.

it had been forever since I'd written a blog just about the goings on of my days, and now here is the 2nd in as many days; it's an epidemic!

I hope you are well today. Perhaps you're still snug in your bed on a chilly late fall day.

This is the first morning I've awakened to step out of my apartment building and find snow on the ground. Thank God for a warm coat and scarf. I bussed downtown, grabbed an Irish Cream coffee and banana nut muffin from Matter of Taste, and now am happily on my way to Toronto to see my best friend Ken. It's been several months since I've made the trip into the city.

What do you think the function of our imagination is? We all have one. Is it merely to drift away daydreaming? An escape from the humdrum of our everyday lives? Perhaps it can function that way sometimes. But I'm thinking that we can, by the power of intention, use it for something far more powerful. In imagining we become aware of our deepest dreams, whether that be in regards to careers, our futures, relationships. Often our truest and purest selves come out through our imaginations. Our imagination raises our consciousness to anothe level, we can almost feel our inner selves flying out of our bodies.

I think the trick is to lasso or coral our imagination and use it to actually create a better future for ourselves. This is far better than merely daydreaming. In this way the sister or brother of imagination comes into play - visualization. The things that we imagine and then consciously visualize in our minds are the things we will see come to pass in our lives. Caught in the humdrum of everyday life? Have your expectations of how happy your life could be dimmed? If we hold limiting, negative thoughts in our mind, we will most likely see a limiting negative future. Imagining a happy, fulfilled life? Visualize it, create a picture in your mind of what that will look like, and PERSIST, day in day out, and there is a very good shot you will see happiness and fulfillment. We have a very powerful tool at our disposal - our minds. We have the power to create our own lives each and every day - we are not merely bystanders in our own lives. I challenge myself, and you, to start using your imagination and visualizing what you want your future to look like. Think powerful, positive thoughts and see the results come flowing in. Let me use myself as an example. I seemingly have a few reasons to be down and out right now. I've been off work for months with health issues that I've battled for years. When I am ready to work again I don't know where that will be. Money is low as I've been off work. Christmas presents will have to be foregone this year. But how am I feeling? What is my outlook? It is one of thankfulness for the many gifts that I already DO have. I have family and friends who love me, I have an apartment and food, I am part of a vibrant spiritual community where I can learn and grow. And I love Christmas, for reasons that do not include gifts. It's a struggle some days, but I am using my imagination and my mind to visualize a more prosperous future for me. I have faith as I sit here on this bus that I will have that future.

Just a few words as the bus towards Toronto rolls on. Now it's off to sip some more Irish Cream and to listen to the King of Cool, Lyle Lovett.

Love to you,

Mark Andrew

Sent from my Tricorder.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ramblin's: A Magical Weekend Ahead

Good afternoon. It is 440pm and there are only about 20 minutes left of sunlight, which I still haven't quite adjusted to. But that's ok, because: IT'S A MAGICAL WEEKEND AHEAD!

Right now I find myself at Matter of Taste coffee shop downtown Kitchener. The flavour of coffee I am about to enjoy is Chocolate Butter Crunch, which tastes like...give me a second to sip...chocolate and nuts...mmm. The muffin is banana nut, which shall be followed by one of the gingerbread variety. There are two workers (or should I call them baristas) working today. One of them seems to be of middle eastern descent, the other is wearing a hat that looks as if it previously was employed as a pot cover at my great Aunt Myrtle's. It's yellow and all quilty-like.

In a couple of hours I will be at my spiritual centre, called Unity for an evening called Deck The Halls. This will be my first year at this event. There's a turkey dinner (I can't remember the last time I had turkey this early!!!), followed by everyone helping out to decorate the centre for Christmas. That will be followed by Christmas carols.

Tomorrow morning i am heading into Toronto for the first time in a long time. I am very excited, I am going to see my close friend Ken. First I will visit my old friend the huge Christmas tree at the Eaton Centre, then I will find a comfy coffee shop to sit and read or write for awhile. Apparently there's this restaurant that sells interesting burgers that we'll be going to for dinner, and the selling point: apparently the waitresses dress slightly revealing. Don't worry, I'll cover my eyes. :) I'm really looking forward to it...the visit that is. I like the sights and sounds...and smells of Toronto.

I'll head home on the 1130 Greyhound and be back home around 1. It's debatable whether I'll get up for Unity on Sunday morning, but I always miss it when I don't go, and who knows, we may even be starting to sing Christmas carols. Who wants to miss that? In the afternoon I shall be putting up my tree while listening to the sweet sounds of Bing, Frank, Dean, The Ranking sisters, Amy Grant, etc. Then I'm planning on watching The Bishop's Wife, a holiday movie starring Cary Grant.

This gingerbread muffin is to die for by the way. Still, I haven't been checked out by any of the women in here...yet. This differs from a couple months ago at Starbucks when this girl and her boyfriend came in and our eyes met...on several occasions. Next time I'll slip my number...

I have a lot to be thankful for. A warm coffee shop, great coffee, yummy muffins, a nice sweater, a nice apartment. Friends and family that love me, a centre where I can go and be with spiritually like-minded people. And oh, egg nog. Who can forget egg nog?

'Tis going to be a magical weekend. I hope yours is too,

Mark Andrew...or for those who know me from before a year or so ago, simply Mark.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Do We Actually Believe That Our Prayers Will Be Answered?

"Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, "Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you." - Jesus in Mark 11:23

There were two thoughts that I had when I would read or hear about this verse as I grew up within Christianity. The first was "Come on, Jesus must be speaking figuratively here. The second was, "Perhaps miracles such as this happened in Jesus' time but they sure don't happen anymore! Certainly not in our time!

But I am coming to believe that these are cop-outs and that he wasn't pulling our leg or talking only of his specific time with history when he said these words.

Surely a taking of these words literally could change our lives, indeed our world. Jesus wasn't speaking in riddles, rather he was speaking plainly. There's also the well-known verse that says "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." - Matthew 7:7 But somehow throughout the years our faith has become weak, or we've added "ifs" or "buts" to this verse and others.

"If it be God's will" is one such "if." "But God may want me to be struggling and suffering right now" is one such "but." Sure, some people can be selfish, I get that, but I would wager to say that the majority of prayers that go out to God are not meant in a selfish way at all. "God, I ask that you would remove cancer from my friend." "God, please help me to find the right and perfect job for me." These are not selfish prayers. "God bring people into my life that I can be in loving relationship with" is another. Still we get caught up in "ifs, buts, and timidity." Are we meant to be timid when we pray? I don't think so.

I think we are meant to be bold when we pray. How do we do this? We not only ask, but begin to expect the outcome as already having come true. We shift our minds from a place of lack and want to a place of expectation and acquisition. The key word in that sentence was our "minds." We can switch from a place of lack to a place of extreme and total faith. We do this by our thoughts. The law of attraction states that those thoughts we harbour in our minds ultimately attract positive or negative things into our lives depending on which way we're persistently thinking. Think about lack, disease, family discord, unemployment day in and day out, and guess what, you're probably going to see these things manifested into your life. The key is to change your way of thinking to an mind focused on faith and trust. The reason that many people were healed by Jesus was not only because he had healing power within him. He repeatedly said to those he healed, "Your faith has made you well." We have a huge part in our own healing and what we see in our lives.

In conclusion, we can have just as powerful of a prayer life as Jesus did. We can see miracles happen, and we can bring them about. Don't believe me? Here's another teaching of Jesus himself:"Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." - Jesus in John 14:12

Let's learn to have an unshakable faith when we say our prayers, and we will see magnificent things happen.


Mark Andrew

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Time To Live

It is amazing how, just when outwardly it looks like you're done for, you are finally just beginning.

It is funny how when everything seems to be falling apart that things are really starting to come together.

It is something how just when something about you is dying, something is being born in you that has wanted to come out for a long long time.

There's a line in a song that Rich Mullins wrote that says, "I can't see how you're leading me unless you've led me here, where I'm lost enough to let myself be led." You were always meant to be a person of faith, but for one reason or another you've always thought it was too good to be true, something in theory not reality. Still your soul has longed for this kind of life. And thank God your soul is finally seeing it come true.

Your dreams are never too big, never too lofty. The things that make your soul dance are the things you should be - no, must be - doing. Not engaging in those passionate things can only lead to decay. Decay and hardness.

Your dreams were placed in you for a purpose. Not so you could theorize about them or daydream endlessly. They were meant to be born into the world.

Each and every part of life is a miracle, something to be marveled at; this includes you. You bring something to the table that no one else can. So settling for less or trying to copy anyone else is a crying shame. You have more to contribute to the symphony.

This is only the beginning of your life. You have a long road of success ahead of you. A road filled with smiles and joy, and a happy happy heart.

It's time to live.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Touching Trees

When I am walking down the street and I simply take the time to stop for a minute and touch a tree, wondrous, magical things happen.

When I touch a tree I am connecting with something that is very old, perhaps older than me.

When I touch a tree I am coming into contact with something steady and stoic, which is comforting to me and my varying emotions. Though its branches may sway with the wind, its trunk never wavers.

When I touch a tree I feel at one with all of the nature around me.

When I touch a tree I often say "Hello brother," and it responds.

When I touch a tree I have a short but comforting conversation. I say "Hello" and it says, time and time again, "You are fine. Everything's going to be alright. You're on the right path."

When I touch a tree.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are You Worthy Enough To See Your Dreams Realized?

Are you worthy enough to see your dreams realized?

Are you like me in that you've harboured dreams about what you want to do and what you want your life to look like for a long time, but for some reason you're not seeing those dreams come true? Why is that? I think that one reason could be because we don't feel worthy enough to see these dreams realized. For one reason or another we've been held down, suppressed, either by others or by ourselves. Happiness and success are for other people, better people, people who have their shit all together. But for us? Nah, can't be so. We're not talented enough, not strong enough. We are the second-class citizens who are meant for a life of the mundane, simply working 9 to 5 in a job that gives us no joy or fulfillment. Some of us live this way - if you can call it living - for years and years, perhaps their whole lives.

The antidote for such negativity is self-acceptance. This is something that perhaps we heard a few times as we were growing up (I'm thinking of Mr. Rogers and his repeated message "You are special exactly the way you are) but as "real life" hit we drifted farther and farther from it. Perhaps because we grew up in less-than-ideal family situations, or because we began to compare ourselves to our peers and found ourselves wanting. We bought into self-denial or even self-loathing, so of course we wouldn't believe we were worthy enough to see our dreams realized. Instead we learned to settle. But now, yes, now we are adults and we have a choice to accept ourselves and love ourselves in a way perhaps never realized. As we get into this habit, we will see, and perhaps it will take time, that we are worthy of realizing our dreams.

Along with unworthiness being a reason that we don't see our dreams realized, I think that trust and confidence are also issues. Even if we practise self-acceptance, we can still see our dreams as being too lofty, unrealistic, or even stupid. Take someone whose passion is dancing, for example. They grow up dancing as a child, but as they grow up they are told by society or someone around them that "Well, dancing is well and good but you need to get a real job, be more practical." This person, if not confident or trusting in Life, may very well give up their dreams and end up working a job that, sure, pays the bills but leaves their soul empty. I think we need to trust and have faith that as we pursue our passions, which is our purpose here on earth, doors will open and opportunities will arrive. Who do we trust? Some may call it God, others Spirit, still others simply Life. I believe that there is a divine energy at work in this world and in our lives that is working and directing all things together for good. This divine energy is both the source of our dreams, and the avenue by which we see our dreams realized. How powerful this is that there is an energy in us and around us that is working things together for good for us. This is much better than a vindictive, aloof, or even ambivalent God. As we trust this God and take steps forward, we will see Life open doors for us and our dreams.

In closing, you are worthy enough, you are beautiful enough to see your dreams realized. And you can trust that there is an energy at work that wants you to trust it and wants to open doors on the way to that realization.


Mark Andrew

Monday, November 8, 2010

Diving Off The Cliff

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you were meant to make a decision but the material things in front of you make you say "That's crazy! Why would you ever do such a thing?" Let's use moving for an example. Have you ever felt in your heart, in your soul, that you were not meant to be living where you are and instead should be moving to a new location? You hear this voice inside you (which I believe is the Spirit of God), while "common sense" would tell you the exact opposite? Perhaps even friends or family have tried to convince you that this is a dumb, unthought-out idea. But still inside you hear that small voice, a whisper but a voice that seems so true.

I think that at moments like this we have to take the leap. We have to be like the diver who stand at the top of a high cliff who knows she wants to jump, and has every reassurance that the water below is deep enough for her to proceed. She could spend all of her time second-guessing herself, and the safety of it, but inside she knows these are just false voices. What is she to do? Take the leap, or be held back by her fears, which are just shadows?

Lately in my life certain things are up in the air that are challenging me as to if I actually trust Spirit or not. Do I trust Spirit's voice, which I hear many many times throughout the day, the voice that says "Trust me," "Walk by faith not by sight," "I will take care of you," "You have nothing to fear." Or do I give into my lower voices, which encourage me to panic and fill my days with anxiety and fear?

It's your choice, and it's my choice. For me, I know that life has led me to this point where I am being called to place absolutely all of my trust in Spirit. It is what I was made for, it's the kind of relationship with the divine that I've always wanted to have. But Spirit can't make me do anything. It's my decision.

And today, I decide to jump off the cliff, knowing that the cool water of Spirit is there to gather me up and protect me.

Blessings today my friends,


Mark Andrew

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Holy Moment

The World English Dictionary defines the word "holy" in this way: "endowed or invested with extreme purity or sublimity." If this is true, then we can have holy moments wherever and whenever we are.

If you would have asked the average person 50 or 60 years ago when and where holy moments occurred, you may very well have heard responses such as "in a church," "while on my knees praying," "while singing hymns." These are all valid responses, but I think more and more people all the time are realizing that holy moments can occur anytime, anywhere.

Why can we experience holiness at any time? Because you and I are one with the creative, Divine Energy, and as such we are one with this holy God. Wherever we walk, God walks. Wherever we go, God goes. Nothing can separate us from the divine. As a result, each moment is a holy moment, it's just a matter of whether we're conscious of it or not.

I experience moments of "extreme sublimity" while I am in the shower singing old jazz tunes, for example. At other times I may be reading the newspaper and having coffee in a café and a feeling of holiness may come over me. I may be walking through the park watching the ducks. Also, one thing that I am learning is that holiness may be more palpable when it is experienced with others. This may happen while conversing with a friend, or running your fingers through your lovers hair. The holiness within you touches the holiness in them, and sublimity is experienced in a powerful way.

How can we experience this holiness more regularly, rather than them being sporadic or irregular? I think that we cultivate holiness and our experience of it through set-apart times. I believe prayer and meditation can be most helpful with this, even if you spend 10-15 minutes at the start of your day focusing on holiness and your divine nature. Surely we all can spare 10 minutes at the start of our day. Or, perhaps you're a parent and it may work better in the afternoon when the kids are napping. When we spend quiet time focusing on God within us, our consciousness is raised and we can experience times of pure ecstasy throughout the day.

Wishing you moments of "extreme sublimity" today,

Mark Andrew

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bob Dylan On An Early November Afternoon

Do you believe that there is a divine power at work in the universe that is always working for good in your life? This is something I have been learning over the past several months, something I continue to learn on this lazy November afternoon with Bob Dylan piping through the speakers at the coffee shop.

It is easy to believe that there is a power at work in the universe, a power that is life-giving and life-growing. We see this every spring when the leaves reappear on the trees. We see it when someone we know gives birth to a beautiful new baby boy or girl. We see the majesty at work when we stand under a hundred-year-old tree.

Why then do we doubt that this power is at work in our lives? I believe that Spirit (or God, or Life, whatever name you use to refer to the divine) is unchanging and constant, and that Spirit has our best interests at heart. A Bible verse that speaks of this is "God works everything together for good for those who love him." What's more, we don't have to beg God to bless us with good things in our lives: "It is the Father's pleasure to give you the kingdom," which consists of love, peace, joy, prosperity. Therefore, it is not our job to beg, but instead to tune our minds into the frequency that God operates on. In the face of our problems we get bogged down. Instead, we should walk by faith. If we are sick, we should think thoughts of health. If we are lacking financially, we should think thoughts of abundance. And on and on it goes.

God is not capricious or even ambivalent. God wants to bless us with many good gifts, if only we would set our minds on higher things.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Listen To Your Highest Voice

Sometimes the answers are closer than you think.

Have you ever prayed and wondered when or if you will receive an answer? What's more, where are you directing your prayers when you pray?

My answers to these questions have changed radically in the past few years. For the first 2o-some-odd years of my life I prayed to a God who, I thought at the time, was primarily a Supreme Being who resided outside of myself, in a Heaven above the earth. I am thankful that I was introduced to spirituality from as far back as I remember, but there came a time when these beliefs started to change, and I have never looked back.

Let me give you my answer to the second question first. Where am I directing my prayers when I pray. Nowadays when I take time to pray, I am praying not to a God who is disconnected or separate from me, but to a God I am one with. God's home is within my soul, so when I pray I often find myself directing my prayers inward. This brings a power to my prayer life that I hadn't known. This of course radically changes how I experience answers to my prayers. I have been learning that God speaks to me through my Highest, or Best Voice.

When facing a predicament or problem there are often 2 sets of thoughts that go through your mind. Lacking in money? You can listen to the voice that says that you face certain ruination, OR you can listen to the voice that says "I will take care of you, you don't have to worry about your finances. Facing a dire diagnosis from a doctor? You can listen to the voice that says "I face a lengthy illness or even death," OR you can listen to the voice that says, "You have access to great healing power and I want to pour that out on you." Facing loneliness? You can listen to the voice that says "You are unlovable and deserve to be alone," OR you can listen to the voice that says, "I am here, I will take care of you and I will bring the people into your life who you need right now."

There are countless examples. The question is "Which voice will you listen to?" Now I know some people may be uncomfortable with this, but I believe that when we are attuned to Spirit within us, when we are aligned with Her, She speaks directly to us through our Highest Voice. Scripture is great, books are great, spiritual leaders are great. But if we face times when we don't have access to them, whether we're on the bus, commuting to work, in the shower, walking through the park - heck, even if we found ourselves on a deserted island - we would still have access to the Highest Voice.

Even in the face of excruciating hardships, we are not alone. Spirit lives within us and speaks to us through our Highest Voice. Listen for it today, and then walk by faith and put it into action. Step out of the boat and walk on the water, just as the disciple of Jesus did. Walk by faith, not by sight.