Unity of Monroe
The Courage to Imagine: I Am Love
February 4, 2018
Today I hear there’s going to be a football game. Ah yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday and whether you care about it or not millions will tune in and probably be thrilled with a not so thrilling game. For all of us in Ohio here’s a real puzzler from the “how many people does it take” department. Q. How many Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns players does it take to win a Superbowl? A: No one knows, and we may never find out! Of course that has nothing to do at all with todays lesson unless you have The Courage to Imagine both those teams being in the Superbowl in the coming years. Imagine all you want - but I think it’s more like fantasy.
Today we continue our once-a-month yearlong series on The Courage to Imagine and as we kicked this off last month, I invited you to consider how Courage comes from the heart. The literal definition of Courage from the French means heart for it takes great heart and great courage to love ourselves, to love others or to love the world when they let us down or don’t act in ways that are also loving. Yet this is exactly when it takes Courage to Imagine there is love always at the ready to bring healing, hope and happiness. The Courage to Imagine: I Am Love begins at any moment where we feel seeds of doubt about healing, hope and happiness. Can I simply find the Courage to Imagine a more life-affirming way than what I see present in the physical realm? To me this is the height of Metaphysical Thinking, when you think about it. A Metaphysical Thinker rises above and beyond the human, physical plane to the courageous - the realm of imaginative possibilities. Even the most difficult person or experience can be seen as an opportunity of love when we have the heart or Courage to see it as such.
Charles Fillmore taught us always to think in such terms and said this on the power of love: “It (Love) insists that all is good, and by refusing to see anything but good, it causes that quality finally to appear uppermost in itself and in all things.” What is implied in this is that Love is the change agent for all we grow through and thus things change. We get that chance every day for you and I are GIFTED with countless moments and opportunities to live and express love. Yes, each time we feel a sense of separation from someone is a GIFT to practice, practice, practice love. To find this I’m reminded of the story about a very successful thief, who used to hang around the diamond district to see who was buying gems so that he could pickpocket them. One day, a well-known diamond merchant bought the largest, most beautiful stone, and the thief followed him onto a train. He tried numerous times during their journey to pick the merchant's pocket to obtain the diamond; yet, at the end, he hadn't been able to find this rare, precious jewel. Frustrated, he finally confronted the merchant and confessed, "I've used all the skills of my art. How did you hide it from me?" "Well," said the merchant, "I saw you watching me when I purchased this stone at the diamond district and suspected your intention, so I hid the diamond in a place you'd be least likely to look ... your own pocket!" How like that hidden jewel do we find our own hidden gem, that brilliant and dynamic, often hidden jewel of brilliance and clarity that is Love. What I speak of is not found looking to take from others to find IT or expect others to provide...rather, we just have to be remember to let that imprisoned splendor out and affirm I AM LOVE! That is our job every day, our only function in every moment of frustration or every encounter - to know it’s in the pocket of our own heart.
In the New Testament Jesus gave teachable moments as parables ready for each person’s heart to open to find the esoteric meaning. The depth of these teachable parables comes during moments of insight and inner revelation. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price is found in Matthew only but a version does appear in the non-canonical Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. The Gnostic Gospels are a part of the treasure of the Nag Hammadi collection found in 1945 written in Coptic with the Gospel of Thomas being the most well known. It is a sayings gospel and has similar sayings in the N.T. Gospels. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price reads as follows: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking beautiful pearls: when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." - Matt. 13:45-46. In this case as we move inwardly we find an inner treasure, something of supreme value that takes root - the establishment of the Kingdom/Queendom of God. Notice in the parable the merchant has other gems but knew the greater was what he sought after. It’s like knowing the other inherent Godly powers we have like wisdom, power and faith but without the PEARL OF LOVE we miss out.
We do all we can to establish our consciousness in the pearl of Love. On a human level we all can love with the best of us yet each day we can also find that pearl of a greater dimension of being able to love. Many great spiritual teachers have stood for and spoken of love as the greatest gem we can find and we could say that Jesus identified completely with Love. Love is certainly the word most strongly associated with him as he loved his neighbor, loved God and himself. His was a teaching not of EXCLUSION but one of INCLUSION. Where we have gotten away from this Prime Principle is that the ancients fell into the trap of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” What do I mean by that? Early religious leaders had an opportunity to teach this Prime Principle of Love as the only answer but as I said fell into trying to be acceptable to society. Acceptable back then and unfortunately still today is the seemingly acceptable human cycle of violence. The “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” thought is that since society embraced violence Jesus ultimate message of Love often became an afterthought. So the main principle of establishing and being in the realm of Love as a path to transformation is only love.
Using The Courage to Imagine, can we take moments to say I AM LOVE? Can we walk in the dignity and grace of allowing Love to go into every situation and circumstance to guide and bless our way? I say we can and we all must for the betterment of all humanity. It is that which I think all of us strive for yet often don’t quite have the Courage to Imagine and that is to “let love have it’s way with us.” What does letting Love have it’s way with us look like in our field of experience. Do we feel our own inner worth to be able to let it flow freely? As Jungian analyst and Episcopal priest John Sanford wrote about in his book The Kingdom Within, “Very often theologians and teachers have dwelt upon the unworthiness of human beings,... our worthlessness in contrast to God’s supreme goodness; they have even laid the responsibility of evil at our doorstep. THERE IS NONE OF THIS IN THE TEACHING OF JESUS.” Despite what we may have learned in our earlier religious upbringing, I think we all need to know that God's love for us is completely, totally, 100% unconditional love. Think for a moment what that means. No strings attached. No requirements. We don't have to be a certain way; we don't have to do anything to earn it; we don't have to behave ourselves to receive it! God's love is freely given. It simply washes over you, through you, in you and as you! It is our Divine Inheritance and thus we can claim it RIGHT NOW!
Even if we think that having Courage to Love is just a bit too much and was not how we were taught or what we had modeled for us when we practice loving what is near, (ourselves, our intimate loved ones) we get off the level of mushy sentimentality or abstract philosophy and sink into the soulful difficulty of the actuality. The actuality then is as a wise spiritual leader once said that our human relations are the intersection between what we learn spiritually and how we show up in the world. It's where we do our human homework. It is what we are here to experience! I truly believe that the most important thing we can do in life is to be a presence of Love and Let Love have it’s way with us. That doesn’t mean that we are always going to be perfect and do everything just right. When that happens we must call on that inner dimension of Love that calls forth healing for all and inclusive of ourselves. That doesn’t mean we allow others to mistreat, use or abuse us. I recall many years ago a woman coming to me from a different religious background telling me that she had been counseled to stay in her abusive marriage and it took it’s toll on her and her kids. I listened, prayed with her and shared that it took great Courage to Love to remove herself from the abuse. We can behold God’s good in the love that comes forth when we have enough love to remove ourselves from such situations. So we invite ourselves this month to be good to ourselves... very good so we can then be the same to others. So no matter who you favor in the big game, take the time today and this month to favor The Courage to Imagine... I Am Love.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Father Teilhard de Chardin, a French priest and paleontologist who wrote: "The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire."
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