Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Devotional

If you are searching for a daily meditation through which to mark the days of Advent, try Light of the World: A Daily Advent Devotional. by Jennifer R. Sandberg. It's being made available through the UUCF website. Each meditation includes a Bible verse, a reflection and a prayer--just enough to get those spiritual juices flowing.

Wishing you a reflective Advent!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gratitude as Motivator

Somewhere in my reading and listening, I came across the assertion that the Unitarian Universalist experience often leads to an awareness of how SMALL each of us is in the world and of our total dependence on the Web of Existence. This feeling of smallness can lead to many reactions: fear, wonder, anxiety, uncertainty, awe. In UU's, a common reaction is gratitude. Gratitude to the Mystery of Life, to a Higher Power, to God for making our lives and experiences possible.

Progressive Christianity tends to emphasize this gratitude as a motivator. Christians give back to the world, live in kindness, serve justice in gratitude for the blessing of life.

Some Christians work from a center of fear. There will be retribution in this life or the next if one does not perform good works, live a life of service. Other Christians look forward to Salvation in the afterlife. If one does all the right things, one will be rewarded with eternal Bliss.

All three motivators--Fear, Salvation and Gratitude--can result in the same outcome. I think that's important to remember.

But I like the concept of immediate payback. I get blessings from Life. In gratitude, I say "Thanks" to Life right away by supporting Life and encouraging Life to bloom. I also like being grounded here and now. Being fully present in the miracle that is Life. There is less drama with Gratitude as motivator, but Life hands out enough drama of its own. I don't need to create more.

How's your motivation today?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Empty Bowl

There is a story Sue Bender relates in her book “Everyday Sacred” of a monk who, each morning, takes his empty begging bowl in his hands and stands in the flow of crowds in the city. Whatever is put in the bowl that day—money, rice, a bit of fruit—he uses for his nourishment. Each morning he begins again with an empty bowl, and each day he finds that he receives enough to live.

Each morning we are blessed with a new day. A new beginning. Whatever we did the day before, whatever decisions we made, are done. Finished. Can not be taken back.

But each new day provides the opportunity to do something new. To change the direction that we might have chosen yesterday. To act differently, to look at a problem with a new perspective, to seek advice. To begin again.

What a gift!

Do you berate yourself continually for past decisions? Do you miss the present because you’re focused on the past? Can you not look at today with fresh eyes because of the past? Do you sit in judgment on yourself? If so, remind yourself of the empty bowl and the possibilities.

Move on. Move forward. Look back only to seek clues for how to move ahead today.

Nothing is set in stone.

For each morning, you have an empty bowl.

Your Own Empty Bowl
Find a bowl in your house—any bowl. Something that reflects how you feel about yourself. If you love to bake, perhaps a mixing bowl; if you cherish fine china, a piece from your favorite pattern. A plastic cereal bowl. Place the bowl where you can see it when you wake up each morning and remind yourself that yesterday is past. You have an empty bowl into which to gather new gifts, new decisions, new challenges, new woes, new joys.

May it be so. Amen.