Gracious Host

In mid January of this Anno Domini year of 2018 I was walking in a parking lot toward my vehicle when my attention and line of sight was drawn downward to a slip of paper on the asphalt. I saw that it was a fortune cookie message. “Oooh”, I thought, “A delightful message from the Cosmos. Just for me!”, and I gleefully picked it up. 

It read: You will be the guest of a gracious host within the month.

“I like it and I’ll take it.”, were my immediate reactions. In the top right hand corner I dated my fortunate message and put it in a little compartment next to my steering wheel. Meanwhile my mind began envisioning an elegant evening gala. I and other women were dressed in beautiful sequenced gowns and the men were sharply and neatly suited up in tuxedoes. In the background there was a live quartet playing soft classical music. The stars were sparkling as we engaged in meaningful conversation and I sipped sparkling mineral water, accented with a sprig of mint and a splash of cranberry juice. (Alcohol is “against my religion” – my “personal religion” – that is unless there is a super extra ordinary event. Then I will issue myself a temporary dispensation and have a sip or two. In the last ten years there have been only two such extra ordinary events. I like my crown chakra open to the Divine Flow and my thoughts crystal clear.) The meal was clean, delicious, and nutritious … my imagination kept building a beautiful event with this “gracious host” as I drove home.

Life went on it’s normal, peaceful, and calm on-course and I forgot about the fortune cookie message. That is, until Ash Wednesday. On St. Valentine’s Day I received ashes on my forehead as I replied in the affirmative that i am and i would “turn away form sin, and live and love the Gospel”. 

The next morning I was burnin’ burnin’ burnin’ up. 

Those ashes still had some live cinders in them and they lit me up with a fever. The fever completely halted me and grounded me. Life stopped. Everything that seemed important yesterday and needed to be done today, vaporized into nothingness, meaninglessness and irrelevancy. For the next three days and three nights sleep became the new agenda and put itself on the top of the list. All I wanted to do and all I had the energy to do was sleep sleep sleep, and sleep some more. In the day i slept on the couch and at night i slept in bed. I awoke in the dark in soaked pajamas as my body released all kinds of nitty gritty energy. The past was vaporizing.

Even my stomach got into the game with some of its own action by regurgitating an attempt at a meal.  This I had not done in at least a decade or more. At first I was baffled as to why I had gotten so feverish. I could not even recall the last time I was in such circumstances: ten, fifteen years? What had brought it on? Where did I “go wrong” in taking care of myself to be served a fever?  It took about a week for me to feel strong enough to leave the house. Thus, being physically and energetically immobilized, I had a lot of time to think. And think I did. Being the optimist that I am, and always looking for the silver lining, deep down inside I knew that there was a Gift in this situation.

I recalled how a medical intuitive once had told me that when we complete a healing journey on the inside, that is when the body then develops “symptoms” on the outside to release or expel that energy from the body. Thus, I began to review in my thoughts all the lessons, all the encounters, all the shifts, all the trials, all the emotions, all the setbacks, all the failures, and all the victories that had been on my path and that I did not back away from. I embraced them. I embodied them. I wrestled with them. I danced and sang with them. I loved them dearly and at times cried bitterly too. And then, I moved on because that  was part of the Cosmic Plan, part of the Divine Design of my Soul’s earthly sojourn. Whew, no wonder I was exhausted. Just thinking about it made me feel tired. I realized then that this fever was a Gift. It was my Graduation Gift wrapped in a package that allowed me to REST, recap, and bring closure to a large segment of my journey. 

Fire is purifying and the fever did just that. It burnt away all the remnants of the bygone battlefield. It purified my body, spirit, and memories. It left behind the ashes of a skin/identity that was no longer needed nor necessary for the new journey and the new era. Now that I think about it, the involuntary regurgitation of food was like the old way of ingesting, processing, digesting, absorbing, and releasing was also being “thrown up”. It was a symbolic cleanse and parting of ways of the old way and making room for the new way. All that sleep gave rest, calmed me down, and reset my system.

I also had developed a cough. I KNOW that whenever symptoms arise around the throat, that my throat chakra is not fully open or not being used as it should be. My voice had become small and meek. I KNEW that I needed to once again give voice to that which was within. I KNEW that I needed to use my voice, lest my voice be lost. I knew and know that a lot needs to be said through the voice. And in time, it will be. 

Toward the end of February, I once again found that fortune cookie slip in my vehicle. When I read it I laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed because of the disparity between what my vision had been of the “gracious host” and what the Cosmos actually delivered. There was a huge disparity. However, in hindsight, I am now BEYOND GRATEFUL for the feverish “gracious host” that really did show up. The host did fire me up so as to de-light me temporarily and put me out of commission in order to in-light me for the next segment of the journey. 

Life is a Gift – and sometimes we need to expand your vision and shift our focus so that we see the Gift. “Let those who have ears, hear (and those who have eyes, see – with their Heart, and Soul).”, Jesus.

Abundant Grace, Wisdom, Humility, and Strength,                                                        Irena As I Am

Message in a Funnel

This past Sunday, on the Eve of the new year the Western World calls 2018, I went for a long walk in the desert. The desert has become a place of refuge for me, a place of healing, and a place for receiving messages. A lot can happen in the wilderness.  Much can be discerned and many messages heard during times of silence and contemplation – whether in nature, in a temple/church, in meditation, or in one’s home. Silence and contemplation, this is where I am reconciled and recalibrated  gently, gracefully, and peacefully   back to filial obedience to Yahweh. This is where my joy in the Journey of Love and with Love is refreshed and refilled. Thus, this is why in my Walk of Faith, I make quiet time a priority. For me it is as essential as food, water, shelter, clothing, money, and transportation. It is the spiritual equivalent to these material items. And, it sets my feet, my thoughts/mind, my Heart, my being, my life on the “Path of Truth”.

On this particular day and on this particular walk, Christmas was on my Heart and thus as I stepped onto the desert path, I felt like singing. And so I did. I sang Christmas carols, litanies, and different melodic versions of “Alleluia”. I once heard a spiritual teacher (Hay House Podcast, I think it was?) say that the Soul loves hearing our voice , or its voice, and especially in out loud prayer. I sang and caroled to the desert, the sky, the plants and trees, the quail, the zipping hummingbirds, the scurrying lizards, the attentive ground squirrels until I was all sung out. Then I walked in silence, listening to the crunch of the gravel beneath each step I took. I let my mind and my thoughts do as they please. I let them be like the ocean: at times they came in waves and at times there was just stillness, nothingness – calm and peace in the mental domain.

As I walked on I noticed some trash here and there. My response to trash in nature is varied. Sometimes I pick it up. Sometimes I send a blessing to the litterers. Sometimes I just walk on by. This time I did all three. Toward the end of my walk,  I could no longer justify walking past the trash and so I began picking up what was on the side of the path which was aluminum pop/soda cans. Some of them were so old and so sun worn that they were full of desert sand. All it took was a bit of a shake, their sides gave way and the sand returned back to the ground. And then near the trail head I came upon a most unusual object: a small black funnel. I thought it odd being there. I wondered how it got there and from whence it came. I picked it up and with the cans tossed it into the nearest trash bin, thinking that was the end of it, and patting myself on my shoulder for being so loving toward Mother Earth – just a little ego self-gratification, not too too much.

This picture of the funnel I borrowed from Google Images and the image source is Amazon. This funnel is identical to the one that I picked up. Had I known I would have written about it, I would have taken it home and taken a picture. (On this particular walk I chose not to take technology (my phone) with me.)

But the next day and the day after that, the first and the second days of the year 2018, that funnel kept coming back into my thoughts. I thought it odd that these thoughts were fluttering through my mind. So I asked in my Heart, “is there a message for me?” and “what is the message of the funnel?”, and then went about my day. The image or impression that came to me was that the funnel represented my energy and its being wide or dispersed or spread out or non-focused or non-focal-pointed. It was telling me to harness, to reign in my energy and focus and get it flowing and going and centered in the Divine Direction. Or, said another way: stop being distracted by things that seem important to you and do what the Divine is telling you is Divinely Important for you to do. Stop missing the mark and get on target. Oh my! It was gentle nudge. It was a gentle message. It was a gentle reminder and reprimand. I’ve known that “They” have wanted me doing this and not that for some time, for a long time actually. I see that St. Paul had the same issue: Romans 7.

 I do not understand what I do.                                                                                  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my Walk of Faith. When I am asked to “start doing this and stop doing that” it seems like the “tests” or the “opportunities” or the “importance of the opposite” multiples and magnifies in taking me in the opposite direction. It is almost like the opposite steps up its campaign in “alluring” me away from the Divine Directive. Anybody else experience this? It seems like Genesis 3:1 all over again:

Did God really say… Did God actually say…                                                      Indeed, has God said…Is it really true that God said…

These thoughts are like thugs. They are little big seeds of doubt that get us to either delay or not do or stop doing that which we know in our Heart is a Precept of the Lord. And sometimes, the current of life can even take us on tangent streams, no matter how strong a swimmer we may be. But if we do do that which we are Divinely called to do, the rewards are phenomenal. Always. Remember that. Always.

The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.                                  The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.                                     Psalm 19:8

In hindsight this is not the first such message. I’ve been seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, dreaming, and knowing about the “funneling of my energy”, my efforts,

for a very long time.  One way to look at Divine Messages is that they are like a snow covered mountain. God does not just send us one snowflake, but rather a whole snowfall of messages that covers the landscape of our lives. The BIG QUESTION is whether we take the time to stop, listen, discern, and RESPOND in a peaceful, graceful, gracious, grateful, loving, joyful, trusting, and timely manner to these promptings, to these Divine Directives or Precepts.

I have come to grow in my love for the passage in Hosea 2:14 where Yahweh speaks tenderly to Israel as though Israel were His wife:

But look, I am going to seduce her                                                                         (away from the false gods she has been worshiping                                                          and which have led her astray from my Love),                                                                and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart                                          (and/or – speak persuasively/tenderly/lovingly/comfortingly to her heart). 

It especially resonated even more deeply with me when I found myself actually living in the desert. It now even gives me a good chuckle as it went from a figurative passage into a literal womanifestation. But seriously, the false gods in our lives are very subtle in that they seem “urgent/important/necessary” and yet they are VERY LOUD in telling us that theirs is “serious matter which we must attend to, immediately”. In doing so, we become subjects of their fickle demands which lead us away from peace in our Hearts.

For many years now, the Bible passage from Ecclesiaticus or Wisdom of Ben Sira or Sirach 37:15 has been a mantra inscribed deep into my Heart. It reads:

Most important of all, pray to God to set your feet upon the Path of Truth.

My prayer is always that it is God’s Truth and Divine Wisdom upon which I base my feelings, thoughts, and the actions of my life and not the fickle sways of the ego or temporary emotions or external circumstances. That is not to say that I am always 100% on point or on target, far from it, and no human being ever is, but it is the lighthouse or beacon of Light that I try to hold myself accountable to. When I fall short, or miss the mark (sin**), I ask for ABUNDANT GRACE to pick me up, dust me off, strengthen my resolve, and re-set me on The Divine Way. When I am on point, on target, I ask for ABUNDANT GRACE to keep me humble, reverent and continuing in my obedience before God and God’s Precepts.

Either way, Grace is there for the asking and the thanking.                                           Either way, Grace always responds.                                                                                  All we need to do is ask.                                                                                               Then do.

Grace in Abundance to All,                                                                                            Irena As I Am


**Note**                                                                                                                    Revised Definition of Sin – In my journey from fearing God to loving and revering God, I came upon an article many years ago in a small local paper – “Arcadia News”, (I think it was?)  that wrote about the definition of “sin”. The author explained how the word “sin” was an actual old archery term which meant “missing the mark”, or “missing the target”. It implies that we do our best, but just like an archer does not “hit the target” 100% of the time, neither are we always able to “hit the target” in our walk with God. This definition game me IMMENSE relief for my Heart and Soul and Mind. It took me from the “sin and hell” mindset to “pray, ask for grace, and do your best”. It also helped my reframe God from being a punisher to a Lover. I no longer have that article, but I will always be grateful to that writer for sharing, easing my burden and lightening my Heart. Angels are all around us.