Here I Am

Few stories of the biblical canon are as abhorrent to the modern sensibilities as the one where Abraham takes Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him to this new god that he had chosen to follow.

Recall that monotheism was relatively new among the Semitic tribes in the area we know as the Middle East. Abraham, considered the father of the “people of the book” (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) was a pioneer in this regard (the one-God concept).

If your Sunday School story days are a ways back, here’s a refresher (caution – if you’re not familiar with biblical tales, this one is a bit tough to start with).

 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 

Genesis 22
Valentin de Boulogne – Abraham sacrificing Isaac

Many modern readers will shake their heads, wondering what kind of god would ask for such a sacrifice – even if it was only a test; and I’d have to agree if this was historical.

Metaphysical scholars, however, do not read the biblical canon as history but as allegory, so let’s examine this story through that lens.

Abraham and his wife Sarah wanted a child for a very long time. I wrote about the metaphysical meanings around their saga in an earlier blog post. Isaac, their son, was the most precious thing in their lives. While all children are precious, the story of how Isaac came to be underscores the seemingly rare and fragile gift that he represents.

In this story, the God of Abraham, the same God that answered his prayers for this long sought-after son, asks Abraham to sacrifice him as a way of honoring God.

Being an obedient and observant man, Abraham puts the plan in motion. He most assuredly has a heavy heart as he misleads his son on the way up the mountain, and then overpowers him to bind him, and lay him on the sacrificial altar.

Just as Abraham is about to carry out what he believes he must do, an angel stops him.

11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Genesis 22

Many teach this story as one of obedience. I disagree, and think that the concept of obedience to a religious authority has created more problems and pain in the world than it has solved. Instead, I see it as a lesson about trust.

In the physical world, the world of Caesar, it can sometimes seem that walking the spiritual path is a one-step-forward, two-steps-back proposition. We pray, intend, meditate, chant and make some forward progress, just to have more challenges show up in our path that seem to reverse the Good we’ve just received, and then some.

In the story of Abraham, Isaac and the ram we are being taught that the blessings we have received are not being given and then yanked back in some sort of cosmic joke, as it appeared was happening with Isaac. The gifts and blessings that come from Spirit are freely given, but we too often doubt our worthiness to receive; we question whether this good fortune is “too good to be true“, and we wonder if we have been foolish to think that “an old woman could give birth to a son“.

When it begins to look like we really can’t hold on to the blessings we’ve had come into our lives, we need to stop, realign with the sacred Trust that allowed us to believe that our dream (success, healing, restoration, etc.) was possible in the first place, and look around: there’s a ram in the thicket – a solution close by, placed there in divine perfect timing and divine right order.

No matter how awful things appear on the physical plane, we need to remember that we exist on the mount of “the Lord will provide“.

Traditional religions teach of a God that is all-powerful and loving; as well as stern and prone to anger and retribution. These descriptions sound an awful lot more like an unstable human than the creator of the Universe.

In metaphysical studies we move away from this very-human understanding of God and onto one that comprehends God as a power for Good that exists everywhere, always. Omnipresence is a term that was used extensively in the Divine Science writings of the late 19th century and the quantum physics of the 20th century began to add some scientific validation to that concept of an ever present Substance, as some early 20th century teachers taught it.

Ernest Holmes is famous for many things, but perhaps none more so than the statement he opened his radio show with each week: “There is a power for Good in the Universe, greater than we are, and we can use it!

Yes, there is a Power, and yes we can use it – but not unless we’re tuned in to receive the guidance; to hear the voice, to see the ram.

The best tools we have to ensure that we are tuned in are the tools of a daily spiritual practice (meditation, prayer, contemplation, etc.). These help us to avoid unnecessary sacrifice of the Good that we have in our lives.

It can be as easy as turning off the TV, putting down our phones, walking away from drama and gossip. We can sit quietly in nature, walk outside, offer an ear to a friend in need, spend time with those who are lonely, smile at someone for no reason, do Good, be peace, live in integrity with people and the planet, strive always for the highest and best for all in every circumstance. All of these choices (as well as many others) help keep our connection to Spirit clear and open.

One of my favorite New Thought musicians, Denise Rosier, wrote a song titled “I Couldn’t Love You More“. It reads as a sort of love note from Spirit – and there’s a particularly touching line early on:

“I’ll, always be with you, I’ll – I’ll never leave you;
See, my Light here to guide you,…”

There is indeed a Power and Presence that is always with us and will never leave; a Light here to guide us out of the darkest places. It’s not hard to find, and is impossible to miss if we are willing to pause, and say, “Here I am“.

And so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

Fear & Promises

In my meditation this morning I was reminded of the promises of protection in the Hebrew Scriptures – some of the most profound and direct promises in the biblical canon; and promises that are broad enough to cover many circumstances, and yet specific enough to grant peace.

Psalm 91:4 is a powerful one, and as I shared in an earlier post, inspired me to add it to a photo of a perfect, white feather that had arrived in my driveway one morning.

The 27th chapter of Psalms also has some powerful protection language, and is worth committing to memory for times of distress.

For (God) will hide me in (a holy) shelter in the day of trouble;
(God) will conceal me under the cover of (a holy) tent;
(God) will lift me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:4

The fear that can inspire an outreach for spiritual support is in many cases, non-specific and the language of the Psalms is helpful in addressing these needs. In addition, an affirmation that reinforces the knowing that “All is Well” can be helpful. Karen Drucker’s song (YouTube video below) is one that puts a wonderful affirmation to music.

Here are the words:

All is well – I can rest – I am safe – All is well. 

Karen Drucker

When affirmations, music and the reading of a scripture verse seem to fall short, a direct Spiritual Mind Treatment (affirmative prayer) may be in order. Here’s one that you can use at anytime when you are feeling the need to take action and speak your word that all is well.

There is One power, One presence; One omnipotent and omnipresent Spirit – the Alpha, Omega; the only, the all. Spirit is the inexhaustible, unlimited Source, ever expressing, in every moment across space and time.

I am one with this infinite Spirit – contained in, a part of and expressing as God in all that I am, and all that I do. As I accept that I am an individualized expression of God and a unique idea in the One Mind, I am always aware that where God is, I am and where I am, God is – no matter the outward appearance.

Right here, right now I make the declaration that I am safe from harm, knowing that God is my shield, and that I am protected under the wings of Spirit. Regardless of what I am facing, I feel calm in the knowing that God hides me in a sacred shelter in time of trouble; concealing me under the cover of holy safety. God lifts me out of danger, and onto high ground – safe from that which rages below. I know that regardless of the circumstance, the appearance of things, the history, or what others may say; I am protected, provided and safe.

I am grateful for this Truth, and as I embrace it I release my word into the Infinite Law, knowing this is already manifest in my life. I know it, I speak it, I let it go – and so it is.

(C) 2019 Practitioner's Path

Related blog posts:

An Affirmation

(adapted from Ernest Holmes’ Science of Mind, IV: How to Use It)

I reside in the center of the Divine, a point of God-conscious life, truth and activity. I am always divinely guided in the direction of right action and optimal results.

My words have power; perfect flow and continuous right action is present in my life and my affairs; any/all negative beliefs are immediately neutralized.

Infinite Spirit animates everything that I do, say or think. Divine ideas come to me regularly; they direct and support me without effort. I am continuously guided and compelled to do the right thing at the right time, to say the right word at the right time, to follow the right course with the best motives at all times.

Any suggestion of age, poverty, limitation or unhappiness is eliminated from my thinking. I am happy, well and overflowing with Life. I live in the Spirit of Truth and know that the Spirit of Truth lives in me. My word manifests according to the Law, and there is no unbelief, no doubt, no uncertainty. Every thought of doubt vanishes from my mind – I know the Truth and I am free.

And so it is.

A prayer for the nation

spiritual mind treatment for AmericaRegardless of the noise, the fear, the political unrest, I know that there is only One Power. This Power and Presence – the Infinite One – is all there is; the beginning and the end – the alpha and omega of everything. I know that I am an expression of this One divine Spirit as It is individualized in me, expressing through me, as me in each moment of my life. And as I accept this for myself, I know it as the Truth for my country.

Tonight on the eve of an important election event, I rest peacefully in the knowing that the Infinite is ever-present in the hearts and minds of each citizen as they ponder their role in this democracy; as they vote for men and women to represent them and their families in every level of government. I trust that each vote is made with integrity and the earnest desire for the highest and best for all persons in this nation and beyond.

I reject the politics of fear and division, for they have no power. The universal power for Good is greater, stronger and more abundant and It expands to fill every state, every county, every community, every corner of this land. This groundswell of Goodwill permeates the environment and passes, person to person from coast to coast. It is palpable in the air from New York to Seattle, Georgia to California, North Dakota to Texas, Florida to Wisconsin; from North to South, East to West in communities large and small.

Tonight my heart overflows with gratitude for the Goodness that is the abundant Truth of the American people. I am thankful for the generosity of spirit, the welcoming hearts, the kindness and basic decency that are the Truth of the men and women I proudly call my fellow citizens and I celebrate the demonstration of these Truths as they out-picture in tomorrow’s election results.

From this humbled and grateful perspective I release my word into the Infinite Law, knowing that it returns fulfilled; confident that Goodwill, Peace, Integrity and Wholeness are everywhere present in this land – in these United States of America – and so it is.

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

 

Prayer of protection

Sometimes when in deep despair or turmoil, the standard affirmative prayer can feel a little lacking. I ‘m not saying that affirmative prayer IS lacking, but it has been my experience at times that the standard 5-step (or 6 or 7 step) Spiritual Mind Treatment can feel a little prescribed in times of deepest fear and great despair.

Enter Joseph Murphy. His writings and lectures are filled with demonstrations of prayer that intercedes in a way that not only produced great results time and again, but that feel a little more targeted (to me anyway).Refuge (feather)

If you, like me, feel that there is some room for more “oomph” to the prayers we feel compelled to offer when awoken in the middle of the night with a nagging feeling; or when concerned with the immediate safety and security of a loved one that is far away from us, I offer this (only slightly) edited prayer from the archives of Joseph Murphy.

“(person’s name) is known in Divine Mind. S/he’s in the secret place of the Most High and s/he abides in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord – God is (person’s name) refuge and fortress – in God I place my trust. I know with certainty that (person’s name) is surrounded by the sacred circle of God’s eternal love, and the whole armor of God surrounds her/him. S/He is watched over by the overshadowing Presence of God; immunized from harm and filled to overflowing with the Divine!”

Similarly, we can use this prayer for ourselves, as follows:

“I Am known in Divine Mind. I Am in the secret place of the Most High and I abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord – God is my refuge and fortress – in God I place my trust. I know with certainty that I Am is surrounded by the sacred circle of God’s eternal love, and the whole armor of God surrounds me. I Am watched over by the overshadowing Presence of God; immunized from harm and filled to overflowing with the Divine!”

Whether we are praying for our children, grandchildren, other family or friends – this is a powerful prayer of protection. Use it as often as you need.

Blessings – and so it is.

(C) 2018 Practitioner's Path

Music makes it simple

I first encountered New Thought in a small Center where the ministers taught what is known as the 7-step Spiritual Mind Treatment (affirmative prayer) process. I can recall thinking that those prayers were more complex than the Latin prayers of the Catholic church in the last century.

I eventually learned the rationale for the various steps, and see the wisdom in laying out the process as it has been designed by various corners of the New Thought movement. Of course there are multiple and divergent views on how to apply that wisdom which can leave the casual observer scratching their head and wondering why something that seems to be aimed at making God more accessible needs so many rules and steps.

Ernest Holmes wrote about 2 different approaches – argumentative and realization in a more streamlined (about 3-step) process. Today there are churches and centers that teach 7-step, 6-step and 5-step which is the “official” form recognized and taught by the CSL parent organization.

Here’s the deal, though. In formal settings, like on Sunday morning or before a Board meeting or even as a part of a regularly scheduled daily routine, there’s ample time to run through 5, 6 or 7 steps, ensuring that all are in order, and appropriately addressed; but how often do we turn to the Divine in a time of stress, in the middle of the night or when thinking logically isn’t working so well?  Unless we are well-schooled in this form, it can be a challenge to stay focused: does this render this form of prayer moot for all but the most practiced?

No, but it does require an understanding and some prep. The understanding comes in knowing the difference between traditional prayer (supplication) where we ask for something and the power of speaking our word (affirmative prayer).

The prep comes in finding mini versions of affirmative prayer that are easy to remember and apply, and the good news is that these abound in the music of spiritual artists. The lyrics that comprise many if not most of the spiritually-uplifting music we are most likely to hear on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening in a metaphysical or New Thought center are prayers in songs. Here are just a few examples:

  • Karen Drucker 
    • Thank You for This Day
    • I Am So Blessed
  • Michael Gott
    • I Release and I Let Go
    • Shine Through Me
  • Faith Rivera
    • Called to Be
    • God Is
  • Eddie Watkins, Jr.
    • God is, I Am

And there are many, many more.

One of my favorites is Karen Drucker’s All is Well – it doesn’t get much simpler or more profound:

All is well, I can rest, I am safe, all is well.

Most of us can recall song lyrics from our childhood with precision and ease, no matter how long it’s been since we last heard the song. Music seems to make detailed memories more resilient, and we can use that fact to give ourselves some easily-accessible options.

Browse through your favorite New Thought (or other) artists, and find a few lines that resonate with you; write them down and the next time you need a little spiritual first aid, pull out one of these mini-treatments.

 

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

 

 

Prayer Bracelets (craft idea)

It’s easy to remember to pray on Sunday morning, or mid-crisis. What about the rest of the time? Sometimes it seems easy to forget!

In my crafty travels, I came across “wish bracelets” that whip up in minutes, are super affordable and just happen to be a great tool for 5-step or 7-step New Thought prayer models!

It’s not unusual for us to have things on our hearts that seem to need consistent spiritual work. And being human it can be easy to slip back into “woe is me” when the answer to those prayers seem to stall.

It’s also not uncommon to worry that we didn’t do or say it “right” when results aren’t forthcoming according to our timeline.

These little bracelets are a great answer for these and other prayer/spiritual challenges. 

First of all, they’re a wonderful, intentional way to “seed” a prayer by putting our attention on our heart’s desire as we braid and thread beads onto each strand, stating each step of the treatment or prayer as we go.

When we’re done, we tie the bracelet into our wrist and leave it on until it falls off (why we make it with hemp). 

Before it falls off, each time we look down at the 5 or 7 beads we can reconnect with each step of the treatment or prayer that is on our heart. 

Once the hemp weakens and the bracelet comes off, we can let it go, knowing we truly gave it enough of our time, attention; and are ready to release & let it go.

There’s no end to the number of ways this simple crafty idea can be used for Good! Consider using 7 beads as a reminder to hold yourself or someone else up as aligned with and expressions of the 7 qualities of Spirit.

“I am life, I am love, I am light, I am power, I am peace, I am beauty, I am joy!” 

or “S/he is life, s/he is love,…”

However you decide to use them, these little bracelets are a wonderful way to incorporate a spiritual practice of prayer into your every day routine.

Enjoy!

Here’s a tutorial for “wish” bracelets – made the same; slightly different intention: all good!