When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
What was your earliest experience of The Unknowable, of The One, of God? How old were you when you first came to know that you were a part of something great and magnificent, vast, wondrous and loving?
I am not sure how old I was, but I was young, very young, perhaps, four- or five-years-old. My holy habit was to lay on my stomach in the green grass of our well-kept yard and look for Four Leaf Clovers. I still remember how soft the grass felt, how sweet it smelled, and how much fun it was to gently separate the longer pieces with my fingers in the hope of finding a tiny treasure tucked in there somewhere. Eureka! To find such a gem was the hallmark of my day.
Yet, more was stirring beneath the skies on those days, a feeling within me as I rested there—body cradled by earth and caressed by sun—of complete well being and belonging. A sense of being connected to everything, and that this everything was perfect just as it was. And Something, Something, had put this whole majestic scene together, including me. We all belonged together—earth and sky, Something and me.
Since those early days of clover hunting, Nature has consistently served as the portal for my connection to the Divine. And today was no exception.
Decades later, I find myself on the grass again. This time on a protective blanket, pillow under my head (because comfort matters more today than when I was young), gazing up at three sister maples, azure blue sky in the background, with nuthatches and chickadees darting up and down their branches. It has been years—eons, it seems—since I have rested under the firmament this way. No clock, no sense of time, only the movement of the sun across the sky. I turn on my side and surrender to the hum of cicadas, a sweet lullaby for the woman child in me who longs to connect with the Something on this most perfect of days; to remember the Oneness, the feeling of timeless belonging to Something so much grander than myself, and give myself over to its embrace.
Eyes closing, I drift and surrender to the song. I am a child again and the Divine One welcomes me as I am. Glory be.
I no longer search for Four Leaf Clovers. In fact, I stopped searching for anything a long time ago. Today, on this most precious blue-sky day, I simply let me go, for the only thing that prevents me from feeling the blessing of oneness is myself.
The child we were, the one who knew the hug of earth and kiss of sky, still lives in us, and is eager to reconnect with the Sacred as we did then. All we have to do is get our adult (oh, so mature) self out of the way and let go. Let go into Something. Or Nothing. Or Everything.
What was your earliest experience of the Sacred as a child? How did this experience shape your adult spirituality?
In 2008, my book Your Truest Self, was released by Sorin Books. When it made its way out into the big wide world, I felt tenuous about it. This was my most visible attempt yet to share what I had come to know was true about the nature of the spiritual journey. The book offered 12 Transformation Truths that could guide and enable women to live more peaceful, confident and open-hearted lives.
The first chapter alone, "I Am Free to Live a Spiritual Life of My Own Making," felt especially risky, because in it I wrote about my non-traditional approach to the spiritual life. I had often described myself as "having Christian roots and Buddhist wings." But there was more, so much more that I was not ready, nor confident enough to share about the wondrously, unique way I had met up with, welcomed, and integrated the Divine into my heart and life. This was an interspiritual journey of grand proportions, and one I was certain would banish me from certain circles once I revealed it.
It's time for the next step for me. And a new story. In fact, one month ago a spiritual friend said to me, "When are you going to write your memoir? People need to know this stuff." Hmmmm, I thought, perhaps someday. It still feels risky to go "out on a limb" in Shirley MacLaine fashion.
What I do know is this. It is time for me to speak up again about "The Heart of the Matter", at least in my view when it comes to our spiritual journeys, thus the focus of this blog. As well as the focus of a new online offering I'm getting ready to launch soon. It's an interspiritual dive into Perennial Wisdom as a time tested trail we can follow to access the deepest truths about how to live.
I'm starting the conversation about this here on my blog, sharing scraps of a not-yet-written memoir to lend support to what feels like a sea change: a growing number of people globally who long to experience the Sacred in their own unique way. And to do as Rabbi Rami Shapiro attests, "work for the spiritual liberation of humankind."
I am not alone in this holy purpose. According to the Pew Foundation and their survey of America's changing religious landscape, a growing number of individuals do not identify with traditional religion:
• 22% claim to be "unaffiliated"
• 15.8% are "nothing in particular"
• 4% are agnostic
• 3% are atheist
Additionally, the Pew Research Center reports that as many as 40% of millennials do not consider themselves to be religious.
This is the "sea change" of which I speak. And it is swelling, not just in America, but all over the globe. Many seekers are out to sea, untethered from tradition, or have "one toe in the pond." Others are rooted in a religious tradition but "want more," as one friend said it recently. There is a longing for a heartfelt spiritual connection but after much searching, they haven't found their "perfect fit." Then there are those who appear to be "spiritual but not religious" or claim "spiritual independence." And what about those who see a deep connection between the beautiful truths at the heart of each of the world's religions ("Perennial Wisdom"), but are frustrated that they do not see these values played out in the world at large?
So, this is where I find myself this September, 2017, eager to bring this conversation to the forefront and, most importantly, provide "temenos space" ("safe place" or "sanctuary" in Greek) for people to explore their inner lives, including all of the confusion or conflict they may feel about religion and spirituality at this point in our cultural evolution.
There is a new story to be written and I hope you will join me for the writing of it. Your voice matters and I treasure your contribution to this conversation.
Where do you find yourself in this changing religious landscape?
My new blog post for Spiritual Directors International:
It was my 18-month old daughter who deepened my experience of wonder. As soon as she could toddle, her chubby little legs carried her outside to explore the big, wide world.
I can still see her in my mind’s eye, crouching down in the grass to point her tiny finger at any number of nature’s surprises: ants busily building a house, fragments of a pale blue robin’s egg, the delicate tapestry of Queen Anne’s Lace. “Look, Mama,” she would say, “isn’t it pretty? Come see!” And she would continue to crouch and wait until I did the same. Every waking moment of her day, all she wanted to do was go outside to explore nature’s handiwork. This little soul lived in a world of wonder. (Continue reading here)
It was J.R. Tolkien wrote "All who wander are not lost." It's a line from the poem "All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter" written for The Lord of the Rings.
It's a fitting statement because, according to the 2015 Pew Report survey on religion, 23% of all Americans claim to be "unaffiliated." 35% of Americans under 30 are unaffiliated. It seems many of us are doing a lot of wandering these days!
Additionally, the Pew survey projects that this number is on the rise, so much so that their previous projections for 2015 came in low. According to author Elizabeth Drescher, author of Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America's Nones, "Clearly, Nones are the overachievers of the US religious landscape."
I can relate.
In a recent blog post for Spiritual Directors International, I pondered my "wide and deep journey" and my passion for the search. I also made a plea for us to be cautious about how we label those who are not attached to religious institutions or communities, especially those who are seeking "outside the box" for a spirituality that rings true for them.
Wanderers? Yes. Lost? Not usually. Having a thrilled time searching for what matters most and how to live an authentic spiritual life may be more like it.
Here is my post. I hope you find it supportive of your own wanderings.
If you were raised in the Christian tradition, you are familiar with Lent. And depending on your family of origin, perhaps you honored Lent in a particular way.
The German mystic, Meister Eckhart, wrote,
“If the only prayer you ever offer is
‘Thank you,’ that will suffice.”
So often our prayers are supplications.
We ask Spirit for things, people, opportunities.
Our needs naturally bring us to the act of prayer.
Yet, prayers of gratitude, of thankfulness, are important acts
that deepen the connection between ourselves and Spirit.
To offer a heartfelt, “Thank you, God!”
delivers us to the realm of unseen abundance.
We view life as blessed and fruitful instead of scarce;
we begin to live from a place of fullness in our lives.
We are and have enough.
From "Thank You" Is My Prayer: Reflections, Prayers and Blessings for a Grateful Heart
This was the topic of a recent morning message (sermon) I delivered at the Unity Center for Spiritual Growth in Ada, MI. They were kind enough to record the service, including my talk, and I am happy to share it with you here.
The title, "Who Do You Think You Are?" speaks to the nature of our true identity and if we are in touch with that or not. As "divine-humans" we have an obligation, I believe, to uncover all the virtues of the spirit that reside within us—often hidden—and bring them to the light of day. We do this for self-knowledge, which leads to God realization, which contributes to the beauty and well-being of the world.
I invite you to listen in.
You will hear the Guided Meditation, "My True Identity Is Spirit" at the 26.14 mark.
And the sermon at the 31.36 mark
Enjoy and be blessed!
A writer I deeply admire, Anne Lamott, wrote the most enticing book on prayer. Its title reflects what is so often in my heart, “Help, Thanks, Wow.” She names these as the three essential prayers. They are essential, and I find that this truth-telling trio is the very nature of my prayer these days.
I ask for help quite often. I simply cannot manage my life as it is all by myself. Many days, I don’t even have the words to formulate a hearty prayer. “Help” is the only word that comes, and it has to be enough. This is an emptying-of-self sort of prayer because, in the moment it’s offered, I feel pretty darn help-less, fragile or weak. “Help” works to reorient me, to re-align me with Grace. I then await its appearance.
“Thanks” is the prayer that is often in my heart when I am able to rise above my small self to see the glory of what is here, what is always here. Abundance is present and ever-flowing. Life is ripe with opportunity. Gifts are being given all the time. When my eyes are open, my heart too, “goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life.” The invitation is to look at life through the eyes of my heart.
“Wow” is the result of “Thanks.” The grateful heart is an inner reservoir of awe and wonder. Simple wonders—the butterfly emerging from its cocoon, the cry of a newborn babe, the wind whistling through the reeds. Complex, mind-blowing, miraculous wonders—the cure, the windfall, the long-held dream come true. With “Thanks” we bow our head. With “Wow” comes a full body prostration, bowing down to the One who makes all things possible.
©2016, Janice L. Lundy
Excerpted from"Thank You" Is My Prayer: Reflections, Prayers and Blessings for a Grateful Heart.
What is YOUR Prayer today?
I am pleased to announce the release of my new book, "Thank You" Is My Prayer: Reflections, Prayers and Blessings for a Grateful Heart. A timely collection of my ORIGINAL writings on gratitude, thankfulness, & appreciation. I invite you to learn more about the book, read excerpts and watch a short video here.
E-books and print versions are available.
With purchase, you will receive a bonus 90-minute audio seminar, "Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice" to use along with your book.
We are moving through what, for most of us, is the busiest time of the year. Three major holidays that require much focus and preparation have passed. The new year looms large.
Our thoughts in December and January often turn to "What's next for me?" "What will 2017 be like?" Perhaps you enjoy making a bold new plan for yourself for the coming year; launching life-stretching goals. That's wonderful.
I prefer a gentle turning, simply remembering that each day I can make a new start. We all can. Each day—in every moment—we can begin again. This heartset can serve us well, keeping us attuned to what is good, right, and true for us right now. In this way, our future unfolds naturally by honoring the Now.
Let us enter 2017 gracefully, gently, kindly with compassion for ourselves and all beings. May it be so for you today.
Happy New Year!
Every day offers a new beginning.
Resentments put aside.
With the dawn, comes the opportunity to begin again.
Just as the sun rises each day,
creating a unique and breathtaking panorama,
so can you paint a fresh and brilliant day for yourself.
©2016, Janice L. Lundy
“When you wish upon a star …” Do you remember these lovely lyrics, sung by the character Jiminy Cricket in the Disney film “Pinocchio”? They assure us that if our “heart is in a dream, no request is too extreme,” all of our dreams will come true.
When we were children, it seemed like anything was possible. Wishes could be granted with the wave of a wand or a sprinkle of fairy dust. As adults, we may hold a more mature, realistic view, understanding (from life experience) that wishing does not always make it so.
And, yet, there is something to be said about intentions, wishes of sorts, and holding a clear vision for one’s life. The ability to intend in this way—with passion and purpose—may lead us to the place where dreams are born, Jiminy Cricket style. The alternative—feeling hopeless or embittered—leads us nowhere.
This holiday season, as you find yourself making choices about gift giving, consider what gifts you might like to intend and consciously create for yourself this year. What treasures of the Spirit would you like to bring to life? Here are three of mine. I invite you to pull up a chair, pour a cup of tea, and write down three of your own. Wishing may not make it so, but wholehearted intention will.
One of the very best gifts I can give myself is to be fully aware of my thoughts and feelings. When I am awake and alert, I can choose how to respond to what is happening around me with grace—instead of reacting to others with sloppy words, impatience, or temper. React or respond, this is the key to inner freedom. We do have the power to choose our words and actions. This is an incredibly powerful gift! If we intend to stop, look, and listen before we do anything, it ensures peace of mind and harmonious relations with others—two more shining stars of the season!
Health and Longevity
I want to be healthy and strong. I’d like to live for a very long time. I love this life! It is a precious thing to be born a human being. But wishing for my body to be healthy is not good enough. Each year many of us intend to eat healthier, organic, and lower on the food chain. We intend to get more exercise to build muscle and stamina. And simply thinking about this by sitting on the couch eating fast food we purchased at a drive-through restaurant does not support that intention. Choice by choice, we give our body a healthful gift or a booby prize. We must make choices every single day to give it what it needs to be strong, fight off disease, and maintain energy.
Did I save the best wish for last? Perhaps. The older I get the more I realize that not much in life matters if I don’t have love. Love of my partner, of family and friends. Love of work and creative expression. Love of the Earth and her bounty. Love of growth and the opportunity to be all that I can be. But in order to receive this love, I must have an open heart. I must be able to fully give love, too. So my third and final wish would be for me to live with a wide-open heart as best I can; to not shut down or close off to others; to not judge or discriminate or neglect. I wish to be kind; to extend myself to others as best I can; to live with unconditional friendliness toward all beings—both animal and human. This is a life worth living, one rooted in love.
“Fate is kind,” sang Jiminy, “She brings to those who love the sweet fulfillment of their secret longing.” These are my secret longings this holiday season— inner freedom, health, and love—and because I do love, I hope they will be granted.
What are yours? Perhaps we can meet under the tree and share our gifts. What bounty we would have!
(Originally published in Women's LifeStyle, Dec. 2010)
The attitudes and behaviors we scorn in others
will be the ones that offer us
the greatest personal and spiritual growth.
When we witness things like rudeness,
selfishness, arrogance, insensitivity, or callousness,
we can remind ourselves to exhibit its opposite.
When you see someone act in this fashion,
consciously choose not to walk that path.
Choose the higher road,
the one characterized by compassion and forgiveness.
You may be surprised how your choice of
"the road less traveled"
may be the one they choose to walk in the future.
Be your own best example.
Gratitude Can Be Your Spiritual Practice
Just in time for holiday gift giving: my new collection of original prayers, blessings, affirmations and reflective essays on how to keep gratitude in your heart, even in difficult times. Gratitude is a potent spiritual practice that can transform your life from the inside out.
Learn more and read excerpts here.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
Continue the conversation with me and others on my Facebook page.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.