We Are God’s Word

We are God’s word, just as the world came into being by his word.  God’s word was made flesh in us at our birth.  We are a mysterious incarnation of God.

We are part of God’s creative nature, part of God’s redemptive word to the whole world.

We had no idea what was in the mind of God as He created the world.  Likewise, we have no idea what was in God’s mind when He begot us.  We have not tried to discover the latter.  We have just lived our lives and in many cases let life happen to us.

We have the opportunity every day to dialog with our life and in so doing give God the opportunity to reveal to us important information.  And invite us to transformation.

Blessing

Luke 2: 25-32

There was a righteous man in Jerusalem named Simeon.  He was told he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s anointed.  He went to the temple courts when the parents of Jesus brought him to do what custom required, to make a sacrifice to the Lord.

Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God for his eyes having seen the special child who would be a revelation to the Gentiles and a glory to Israel.

When we embrace our own godchild, we cannot help but praise God for birthing his essence into our conscious awareness.  We cannot help but want to be a blessing to all around us, and a messenger from God to people of all faiths.

Presentation to God

Luke 2:22-24, 3:21-22

Mary and Joseph, at the appropriate time, according to Jewish law, took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer the prescribed sacrifice of a pair of birds.  Scripture also tells us when Jesus had grown to be a man and witnessed his cousin John baptizing people who wanted to repent of their sins, Jesus asked to be baptized as well.

As an infant Jesus was presented to the Lord in a ritual traditional in Jewish faith culture.  And as a grown man Jesus presented himself for a ritual cleansing.

Jesus’ parents present him to the Lord in thanksgiving for his birth and in recognition that he belongs to God, that he is a child of God.  Later Jesus participates in the ritual of baptism, presenting himself to the Lord to be God’s vehicle.

No matter who and how many people enact the ritual of Mary and Joseph, praying for us and paving the way for us to know God, we must eventually take the initiative and present ourselves to be cleansed and remade in order to be God’s holy vehicle.

Marveling

Luke 2:  “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about Jesus.”

When you birth your godchild and it begins to behave as the new you, people will talk.  They may not say to your face that they see  you talking differently, doing differently, being different, but they certainly will be talking behind your back.

People who know you, the old you, will surely see something different about you after your transformation.  You become so different that folks can’t help but notice—a different sparkle in  your eyes, a more genuine laugh, and a more relaxed personality.

The change God has wrought in you is obvious.  So let folks talk!

Magi Came Searching

Matthew 2:1  Magi from the east came to Jerusalem looking for the new king.  They had a seen a sign and were sure a new king had been born.  Eventually they found him and worshipped him.

We, too, want a new ruler over our lives, someone who will make our lives all we want them to be.  We haven’t seen a sign, we’re not following a star, we’re not even sure that a new ruler for our lives is predicted.  We just know we want a new one.  One that will bring us peace.  One that knows how to rule with justice.  One that knows how to make things happen.  One that cares about his subjects.

Are we required to see a sign?  Do we need to travel somewhere?  Or is it enough to want?

Seeing for Yourself

As soon as the angels left them the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem and see for themselves what the angels told them.  They weren’t satisfied just to hear the angels’ story.  They wanted to witness this phenomenon. After all, the angels had given them direction to the place where they would find the miracle.  Why shouldn’t they go to find the newborn?  So they went.

They found.  They saw.  And they began to spread the word, to tell the story of what had happened to them.  And all who heard were amazed.  We’re not told whether the hearers believed.  But they all were amazed.

But did they believe?  Probably they wished they had been visited by the angels.  And had seen and heard the angels sing.  And had heard and seen for themselves the miracle. 

Is it possible for us to see and hear of God’s amazing miracle in us?

Yes indeed.

Peace

Luke 2:14 “peace to all on whom God’s favor rests.”

The angel appearing to shepherds tells them God has great news for all people: “I bring good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

The heavenly host reiterates what the initial angel said.  The good news of great joy is going to take the form of peace—peace to all because the angels had already told them the joyous news was for everyone—all the people.

This idea remains large in the memory of mankind because deep in our psyche we sense there is something for us.

Peace—that nebulous, evasive quality that would be the response of nearly everyone if asked what they most want.  This is certainly true of those attempting recovery from addition, experiencing grief over the death of a loved one, or making difficult decisions, and all the rest of us dealing with life.

The heavenly host—we can imagine a whole “host” of angels filling the sky, singing in unison, praising God for His amazing essence and announcing what he has designed for all people, since all people have found favor with Him.  All are his favorites.  All are intended to know the favor of the Lord, the peace of God.

A Child is Born

Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born . . .”

The prophet Isaiah predicts a child shall be born to us, one who will be called many wonderful names, one who will be a counselor and an agent for peace.

This child shall be given wisdom and understanding and will judge with righteousness everything that is given him to judge.

This child is not born of the will of the flesh but rather born of the will of God.

Look at all things in terms of the kind of spiritual child God wills to birth in us.  Look again at Isaiah and think of this prediction in terms of an individual, unique child born to each of us.  In addition to whatever we believe about Jesus, God wants to give us each a godchild born of the Holy Spirit into our conscious awareness who will change for always the way we think and behave in this life.

The Second Name

The angel tells Joseph to name the baby Jesus, “Jehovah is salvation.”  In an earlier era a prophet predicts a virgin will bear a son and the child will be called Emmanuel, “God with us.”

We can carry those two names as secret names we remember to remind ourselves to think about.  These two names together tell us much about God.  God is with us and also He is salvation.  Together these names tell us where God is and what He can provide for us.

In the disclosure of God’s nearness to us we cannot help but understand that God wants salvation for us.  Wants us to experience that nearness.  Wants us to experience the salvation present in that nearness.  Wants us to discover the essence and activity of the Holy Spirit.

Isn’t that something we want as well?

Swaddling Cloths

Luke 2:12 “a sign  . . . a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger”

You need to let God wrap you in spiritual bands of cloth, embracing you like a mammy wrapping her precious child—knowing you are God’s only begotten, divine Child.

Swaddling cloths were wound snugly around the baby as a simulation of the womb that had nurtured the infant for nine months.  Interestingly, the use of swaddling cloths has become a modern phenomenon as health care professionals recognize the benefits of keeping the infant bound in bands of cloth.

Think of yourself as a child; imagine yourself as infant, wrapped snugly in bands of cloth—similar to a mummy, your whole body wrapped—not too tightly but firmly enough that you feel safe and secure.

We have the responsibility of wrapping our new being in spiritual swaddling cloths.  Our new being comes to us as fragile and tender as a newborn—and needs special care—spiritual swaddling cloths of care.  We are both the new being and the one who has experienced the birthing pains.  Our swaddling cloths will need to take the form of whatever special care we recognize that we need which requires us to be attentive in a concentrated way.  Attentive to what will best serve the protection and care of our new little one.

When we find ourselves wrapping our God babe in swaddling clothes we show proof of our new birth.

The Name

Jesus was named before he had been conceived (Luke 2:21).

Remember, Jesus was named twice before he was born: once by the angel who appeared to Mary and again by the angel appearing to Joseph in a dream.  Perhaps that is the secret name God has for each of us.

Perhaps we have been named in God’s heart of hearts, a name that begets other names, a name God hopes we’ll discover as we begin to live out our lives and begin to understand what a relationship with God might mean for us.

Perhaps in essence we have the same names as Jesus—peacemaker, compassionate counselor, messenger of God.  And God’s desire is that we discover those names and act on them.

Matthew 1:20 Do Not Be Afraid

Over and over again throughout the Biblical narrative God speaks directly or through angels, prophets, visions, or dreams to say “Do not be afraid.”

Here in the Nativity story Joseph is visited with those words.  “Do not be afraid.”   A reassurance in the midst of confusion, indecision, trepidation, anxiety, and yes, even fear.  “Do not be afraid . . . because . . .is from the Holy Spirit.”

Whenever the Holy Spirit is involved the outcome will be a good one.  Whatever the Holy Spirit is a part of will turn out to be of the will of God.  We can depend on the result.

Anytime we are willingly cooperating with the Holy Spirit we can be assured that any fear we might have will end in rejoicing.  We have multiple opportunities to allow the Holy Spirit to conceive newness in us.  Let us not be afraid to say yes to the  Holy Spirit.

Our Godchild

Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born”

…unto us, unto each of us a child is born, each of us is born our own individual godchild.  This child to be born in you and in me is not the same child, just as you and I are not clones of each other.

My godchild is unique just as yours is.  God has different gifts to give each of us in our newly birthed child, gifts that had been designed for us before our birth, gifts we will use to promote love and joy and peace.

This godchild in each of us will be a son, the transformed masculine, thinking, willing part of us, now with new God power, now willing God’s will in us, embracing the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, imbued with all the creative insight and compassion our inner feminine can provide.

Our Firstborn

Luke 2:7 “. . . and Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son”

Our spiritual godchild is our firstborn.  No matter how many physical children we might have sired or birthed, no matter how many creative ideas have hatched in us, no matter what serious insights we have been privileged to consider, no matter how old we are in calendar years, the godchild is our firstborn.  The firstborn of the essence of God in our conscious awareness.  The firstborn from our soul womb, the holy place deep within us.

Expecting a Child

What if everyone was expecting something new and exciting to happen in them?  Wouldn’t it be amazingly wonderful if all of us knew there was something new and transforming growing in us?

A baby, wanted and expected, is the most exciting gift a family can receive.  The infant conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit presents a perfect symbol for the new spiritual being God wants to birth in each of us.

We have so much going on in our minds that there are no open passages to hear the angel’s telling of the favor God has found in our essence and His desire to birth in us our own holy child.  No lines open to understand from our Inner Wisdom the assurance that the change in us will be for the better.

God’s eagerness to hear our permission to let Him impregnate us may create in us some crisis that gets our full attention.  Probably, though, God is working through a crisis that we have created for ourselves.

We need not hope for the miraculous God wants to work in us.  That may be too much for our callused minds to embrace.  All that is necessary is that we want the absence of something and the arrival of something new.

Your Bethlehem

Your Bethlehem is your beginning place, the place of your spiritual DNA. 

You are of the house and Lineage of David as well as whatever genealogy your mother and father come from.  You are of royal lineage.  You are of the house and family of God.

Your history begins in your own Bethlehem.  Begins in that place where your soul received life in your tiny body.  Begins where you started to record in your spirit sensations of the physical and spiritual world.  Begins where you began to receive all the love and woundedness you have accumulated thus far.

Hebrew prophets foretold that from Bethlehem Ephrathah, though the smallest of the clans of Judah, would come one who would be a special ruler.  Out of our Bethlehem, the small place deep inside us, will come something that remakes our personality, that becomes the ruling factor in our lives, the new motivation and guiding principle, reigning supreme.

Go to the place of psychic history where your deep woundedness continues.  It is at that place you will experience healing, transformation.

Go down to Bethlehem.  Let yourself experience afresh your deep woundedness so it can dissolve and make room for new love as your spirit is reborn.

Salvation

Matthew 1:21 “you are to give him the name Jesus”

Joseph is told in the nativity story to name Mary’s son Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.”  A look at the origin of the name Jesus gives us an even larger idea to consider.

Jesus is the Latin form of the Greek which is a transliteration of the Hebrew Jeshua which means “Jehovah is salvation.”  What a huge concept.

“Jehovah is salvation.”  More than any one individual performing an individual action.  More than a personal or communal belief system.  More than the performance of certain rituals proclaiming what we believe.

“God is salvation.God is the essence of all we need in order to experience our spirits made whole, the passageways to communication cleared and open.  To be with God becomes the goal, the necessity.  To be with God makes us who we were intended to be.

Hungry and Humble

In the Nativity story Mary’s Magnificat included two states of mind.  In her monologue praising God after the angel has visited her, Mary talks of God’s having lifted up the humble and filled the hungry with good things.

This praise of God for His past deeds presents the idea that God can and will do the same again.

What must we do to become like Mary and receive God’s best gift, new birth?  Hunger and humility seem to be the answer.  Hunger not for physical food but for something more.  We may not even be able to identify what it is we are hungry for, but recognizing we are not just wanting something we don’t have but sensing that we are hungry and our hunger borders on a kind of starvation.

We need desperately to have this hunger satisfied.  And humility begins in that recognition.  Humility becomes full blown in the realization that we do not know what will satisfy our deepest hunger nor can we discover and produce that good thing.  When we admit our inability and are open to being served by something beyond ourselves, we have become humble.  The first step in being filled.

The Boy Child

Luke 1:31  “you will be with child and give birth to a son”

Of course the spiritual child born in you must be male.  It is the masculine part of us that needs to be transformed, made new.  The thinking, willful, decision-making part of us is the part that needs to be reborn.  And that is precisely the part of us that must give permission for something new to emerge in it.  It is the masculine free will that must will a new beginning.

The inner, creative, feminine knows all along what needs to happen and is more than willing to be the womb for this godchild.

Through the Holy Spirit

Matthew 1:18 “found to be with child through the Holy Spirit”

How is it that we become with child through the Holy Spirit, that Spirit that blows where it wills and is not constrained or detained?  How do we access this unpredictable, uncontrollable spirit?  This Spirit that comes from God, that is of the essence of God.

We must use the part of us that is uncontrollable, that comes from the essence of our personality, the center of what we know about ourselves.  We must evaluate where we are, not physically but metaphysically, and where we want to be.  Or perhaps we can’t envision where we want to be.  We just know we’re not at a good place, not filled with excitement about our life.  Somehow we need some new life.

That is the first step.

Our Holy Grail

“Each morning we must hold out the chalice of our being to receive, to carry, and to give back.”                        Peter Traben Haas

(please excuse this duplicate)

Medieval romances told of knights who went in search of the Holy Grail, the chalice used by Jesus to serve wine at his last supper (and some legends went on to say it also caught the blood from his side at his crucifixion).  Some of the more popular stories told that whoever found the Grail would receive from it whatever his heart desired.

The quote above suggests that we are that chalice, that we have within us that which can satisfy our heart’s desire.  Our task then is the same as that of the ancient knights.  But rather than search externally, we need to search elsewhere.

Something More

Christianity points, as is true of all major religions whose basis is love, to something larger, something more wonderful still.  The essence within and beyond the creative energy of the universe.  The energy that beckons us to let it move through us in amazingly creative ways.  The energy that longs to satisfy the deepest yearnings of our soul.

Organized religion falls prey to the same temptations inherent in all communities in the physical world:  will to power and greed.  The idea that for there to be winners there must be losers.  That there must be rules and regulations, doctrine and dogma in order for belief in and worship of a higher power to triumph.

Physical life is an opportunity to allow the energy and creativity in our spiritual center to emerge and function uniquely in the material world through our personality.  The energy of the spirit longs to mimic the activity of its source and thus  become in union with the Ground of Being.

Fruit Production in Quarantine

Prayer

Prayer—reaching outward

reaching inward

reaching toward something

more real than I find myself to be—

reaching toward a light in darkness

toward a confirmation in the midst of doubt

toward fulfillment in a time of emptiness

toward something other.

 

Prayer moves in emptiness

moves below emptiness

to a place of silent stillness

where there are no words

no feelings

but a sense of completion

as my “I am” dissolves into the Other.

 

Ann Glover O’Dell

13 January 2020

Light in Darkness

It is significant that Christmas is celebrated by us at the winter solstice–the point of shortest daylight and longest night.  The nighttime represents our unconscious–the dark, hidden part of us that must birth the new being within us–the Christ into our personality.  This birth comes only after a period of gestation within the unconscious womb.  The long dark winter represents the long gestation period.  The new birth occurs when the darkness is the longest, out of which comes the dawn of a new life.  Only after the longest, darkest period in our lives can this new birth occur.

In the mythological story of the soul–the Christian Nativity narrative–the conception takes place in the spring, the time when nature exhibits her greatest fertility.  Birth takes place in the season when nature manifests no sign of life.  Most vegetation seems dead.  Even light–the source of life–wanes to the point where the days are shortest and the nights are longest.  It seems that light is being swallowed up in darkness, that life is being consumed by death.  But out of this darkness–this womb of winter–comes something new and wonderful–hoped for, longed for, desired above all, yet not dared expected.

Darkness also represents the unawareness of our conscious to the light within us–the abundant life Jesus said he came to give.  Jesus is the physical person who represents the spiritual person of God that wants to be experienced within each of us.  The darkness of our conscious awareness to spiritual matters is such that it does not understand, expect, or even “have a clue” to the inner light that continues to shine in our soul even though we do not see it, do not experience it.  We must finally experience our fill of darkness–become sick and tired–even despairing of looking for some sort of light to warm and illumine us.  We must finally come to the “dark night of the soul” and cry out for light in order for God to be able to make us see and experience the light he placed within us before we were born–the light he begot us with–his own holiness.

Winter is the worst time to have a baby–cold weather, lots of germs and disease going around, little sunshine.  It is difficult for a newborn to get a good start physically.  Winter is the best time for a baby to be born for non-physical reasons: it puts a ray of hope and joy in the midst of our bleak mid-winter–a ray of human light into the short days and long nights of the year’s end.  In the winter of our lives, when the days are short, light has faded from our lives.  We need new light, a new kind of light.

How does birth of a newborn connect with the winter solstice?  Think small.  On the shortest day of the year, in the smallest amount of light, is born the smallest unit of human life.  Solstice and the birth of Christ come together to point us to a celebration, not only of what has happened, is, and will be in terms of the patterns of earth and sun and a special baby born one winter’s night in a cattle stall, but of something that is designed to occur within our individual lives.

Not only do we celebrate the mid-winter’s lengthening of days and the Christ-Child as the “Light of the World.”  We also celebrate the possibility of the coming of a kind of light the kindles a fire within us on the altar of our hearts–a fire that we shall never stop tending because of all that is provides for us: light, warmth, life, joy.

Womb Work

In Genesis we learn that out of the womb of darkness and chaos God birthed Creation.  Out of the womb of the ark, new life began after the flood.  Out of the womb of the great fish Jonah was given a new opportunity for life.

So out of our inner spiritual womb God wants to bring a unique Creation that only we can experience–His own holiness, placed within us before our birth.

In one sense Mary represents a part of each of us–the Virgin Womb–our Spiritual Womb–unused, undisturbed, unfulfilled–awaiting the planting of the spiritual seed–the seed of conscious insemination–our conscious desire for something new to be born in us.

God was preparing Mary’s heart long before the angel came to ask permission to plant the seed within her.  God has been doing the same with us.  And the message is the same! ‘Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’  Each of us is God’s favored one, his special, precious Child, to whom and in whom he wants to communicate great joy.

The physical is always a symbol for the spiritual.  What we need is a spiritual frame of mind to perceive it.  The physical rite of passage from virgin to initiated participant in sexual enjoyment–the fullest possible expression of human physical joy–gives us a clue to the kind of spiritual ecstasy God wants us to experience on a spiritual level.

This spiritual pregnancy is a different kind of pregnancy.  Many biological children are conceived accidentally.  Not so in our spiritual virgin womb.  This conception can only occur intentionally–where our conscious gives permission to have the seed of new life planted.  Our conscious will not only must want new life but must give permission for the incubation period to be as long or as short as needed, and for the birth to take place wherever it chooses.

This is not a nine-month pregnancy.  The gestation period varies with each individual. And birth does not take place in a hospital labor room.  It may take place in your own home, on a trip, or in a distant place.  Your spiritual birthplace can be anywhere.  Your womb will know the time and the place.  You may be, in fact, already on the road to Bethlehem.  I hope so.

 

God’s Message

An ancient Christian theologian penned this couplet:

“Of what value is God’s message to Marie [Mary, mother of Jesus]

if He has not the same message for me?”

God is trying to give us the same sign, send the same message to each of us.  He wants a special birthing to take place in each one of us, each of us being his unique, holy, precious, only begotten child.

I was told by a former pastor that the pain in me had a message I needed to hear.  He sent me home to have a written dialog which revealed that something new wanted to be born in me, and something had to die for the new being to emerge.  The process awaited my permission.  It depended entirely on my consent.  God does not birth himself into our consciousness without our cooperation.

God wants to birth Himself into our awareness in such a way that we possess our own Immanuel, our own internal God-With-Us, God-Within-Us.

God’s signs are around and within us.  If we don’t witness one, God invites us to ask for one, our own personal sign.  The message to Mary is God’s message to us.  He awaits our permission.

 

Your Kingdom

The Magi had been informed in their study that a new king would be born in their lifetime and a special star would appear in the heavens to indicate the birthplace.  They waited and watched until they saw the star.

We are kings of our own kingdom, rulers of individual realm.  We are not watching for a star because we’re not interested in a new king.  We don’t want any competition for our throne.

But sometimes when we’re most introspective, we realize we would like something new and wonderful happening in our lives—we’re not sure what but something that will give us a kind of joy we haven’t experienced in a long time.

We need not look for a star in the heavens.  Our sign is within us, beckoning us to the manger deep in our weary spirits, lighting the way for our conscious awareness to see something new, waiting for us to arrive so the new birth can be witnessed and celebrated.

Don’t be afraid to follow your sign to the place where only you can be reborn.  All you need to do is give permission for the new king, your own benevolent monarch, to be born in you—to give you peace, to make you a co-creator with God in establishing a new kingdom of justice and love.

Hurry!  The world needs the new you!

Ann Glover O’Dell

January 2018

Your New Name

God wants to rename you.  God wants your name to be Emmanuel.  In your heart of hearts God wants you to be able to rename yourself.  And the only way you can authentically give yourself that name Emmanuel is to experience God within you—to such an extent that you know beyond doubt that God is with you and within you.

The Jesus story is our story—the story of each of us as God’s holy child, born to testify to the love and grace of God.  Jesus came to testify to who God is and who we are.  Jesus’ life story showed us the love of God and the divinity as well as humanity within every human being.

Isaiah is your prophet!  He is predicting all the names that will belong to you once your godchild is born in you.

Wonderful Counselor—you will be able to counsel others on how to connect with their Inner Wisdom—on how to participate in the birth of their own godchild.  What a gift that will be that you will have to give others.

Prince of Peace—you will find a kind of peacefulness in your personality that will make you a new person.  And the peacefulness that you experience will be evident to others who will want to know how you obtained it.  You will have opportunities to help others to become peaceful people.

Emmanuel—God with us.  That will be your most important spiritual name.  It means God is with you and you are able to be with others in new and loving ways.  You will be God’s representative to those with whom you come in contact.  You will be able to rejoice with those who are rejoicing without envy over whatever has happened to them to cause them to be joyful.  You will be able to grieve with those who are in sorrow without losing your balance.  You will be able to be compassionate to those who need comfort, encouragement, and guidance without trying to control them.  You finally will be able to be your genuine, original self, full of grace and love, God’s child.

Ann Glover O’Dell

December 2018

 

Godchild

What a beautiful word.  Godchild is primarily a term given to an individual, a young child, whose spiritual life we agree to take responsibility for (and sometimes to become legal guardian of in case of parents’ death). The term suggests a reminder that this individual is God’s child whose spiritual as well as physical being is unique and special.

What about our own inner godchild?  That’s the part of us that God wants us to find and watch over.

God imprinted us at our beginning with his image—indelibly. Frederick Buechner reminds us that we have “the mark of God’s thumb” on us.  The world has covered it with debris of all sorts.  But the imprint never dissolves or disappears.  Just as all mammal infants experience the imprimatur of bonding, our souls are permanently bonded with God.

Our task is to let God destroy the debris, the detritus of our lives, so that what is in our holy place can come forward—so our godchild can emerge and become the motivating force of our new lives, become the all-pervasive essential characteristic in our personality.

What a perfect time Christmas is to ponder our own holiness.

Ann Glover O’Dell

June 2018

Wisdom

Wisdom is seeing within/beyond the facts of visible reality.  Children are wise because they live within the truth that will be hidden once they become part of the duality of the world.

We adults become wise as we rediscover where we were, who we were, what we knew.

Our task is to bring the duality of our world into unity—head and heart, thinking and feeling, will and imagination.  We have an Inner Wisdom ready to assist us in that task.  We just need to be open to it.

Ann Glover O’Dell

12 August 2007

Wrestling Blessing

The story of Jacob and the angel he wrestled with during the night is an intriguing one.  In an ancient Jewish version of the story the angel asks Jacob for a blessing, not the other way around.  Perhaps this indicates that they blessed each other.

Jacob is between what we know of ourselves and the other Self we don’t know.  Each has a blessing for the other.  Each is a blessing for the other.  Wrestling each with each, determined not to release until the blessing wrested and fully given, reveals the name of one (I Am) and changes the name of the other.

Perhaps the wrestling matches in our lives hold potential for blessing both ways.  Just as the struggle provides a blessing for our personality, our participating in the struggle may provide a blessing that reaches out into the world.

Ann Glover O’Dell

8 August 2007

Jesus as Mirror

Try looking at Jesus as a mirror of ourselves, who we were originally, who we essentially are now, the divinity within the humanity.  When we see our godhood mirrored in Jesus, we are able to see that same godhood in others, or, if their divinity is so covered as to be unrecognizable, we sense that it is there—somewhere—along with its yearning to be made manifest.

Bob Goff often uses a real mirror, holding it up to individuals and instructing them to accept the fact that God loves them just the way they are.  Then he tells them to see themselves just the way they are and make some choices about who they want to be.

Ann Glover O’Dell

8 August 2007

Being vs. Doing

I once heard a convincing sermon on being vs. doing. The emphasis centered on man having been created as a human being first and foremost, not a human doing.  We often move through life with the attitude that we must do in order to justify our existence.  That was certainly my M.O.

A friend who is a practicing Christian told me once that guilt was his primary motivating force.  That without guilt he wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.

Is the God we worship a god who capitalizes on guilt and coercion to influence his children?  I know this to be untrue.  God is rather nudging us from deep inside in a different direction.

Since the essence of God is love, compassion, and presence, it is impossible for Him to try to influence from negative motives.

Man as well as all the rest of creation was pronounced good.  Man, in fact, was labeled very good.  So where did this sick mentality come from that says we are only as good as the good that we do?  that we are only good as we produce?

I suggest that mentality comes from what might be called our antichrist—the consciousness that has been separated from our spiritual source.  Let us reconnect with our Center, our goodness, our Self.

Ann G. O’Dell

28 July 2015

God’s Excitement

Is there any doubt in our minds that God wants us to be rid of guilt and shame and whatever obstacles called sin that come between us and an intimate relationship with Him?  God cannot have the intimacy he wants with us as long as anger and “shoulds” rule our lives.  There is no room for the joy He wants to give us.

John Claypool said his notion of God was a divinity who was so excited being himself that He couldn’t help but want to create creatures to share that excitement.  How can God fully enjoy us unless we experience the excitement He feels in his creative endeavor?

Our first step is to want God’s excitement.  Then to recognize that something in us needs to be destroyed.  Then to engage our Inner Force in conversation to determine that is indeed a force for good and one that can take away what is blocking us from God’s joy.  Then to cooperate with that Inner force by giving it permission to do in us what needs to be done.

God wills us to participate in our miracle of transformation.

Ann Glover O’Dell

17 September 2018

God’s Questions

God’s ultimate questions to us are of being—not questions of knowing and especially not questions of doing.

His question to Adam and Eve about location (“Where are you?”) has greater bearing, not on the bushes they were hiding in, but rather where they were in relationship to Him.

Where are you spiritually?  Where are you in relation to your real Self—which is, after all, God-within-you?

Elijah flees for his life after Jezebel promises to kill him.  Then he decides he is no better than his fathers and tells God he is ready to die.  God tells Elijah to stand before Him on the mount.  And a great wind came and an earthquake and a fire.  But God was not in the wind or earthquake or fire.  And after the fire came a still small voice.  We, too, seek a knowing in a still small voice.

God directs us through the psalmist to “be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).  Notice the need to be still in order to know.  When we know God, we come to know ourselves and the divinity in our being.  We come to know that our being in relationship with God is his greatest desire.

Ann Glover O’Dell

June 2018

Garbage Collectors

I believe we are garbage collectors.  No, we don’t deposit in a dumpster or a landfill.  We don’t even use a trash compactor.  We hold on to it and let it multiply.

A friend who is a committed Christian says he needs guilt in order to get out of bed in the mornings.  He says guilt is his biggest motivator.  Another friend tells me she is attached to her sins and can’t imagine letting them go.

One of my sons as a little boy announced he wanted to become a garbage collector because that was something everyone needed.  On a spiritual level that is what God is (among other things).  A garbage collector.  But He doesn’t steal our garbage from us.  He waits for us to offer it up.  He waits for us to want Him to collect and destroy it.

What would life be without our garbage?  We can hardly imagine.  A heavy burden lifted?  a sense of freedom?  A clean slate?

In the enormous space our garbage occupied will come laughter, peacefulness, creativity, and joy.  And if we miss our guilt and anger and want it back, God will probably help us conjure it up.

Ann Glover O’Dell

20 September 2018

Challenge

Someone disagrees with my conviction that under the skin we are all much alike: we have the same fears, the same shame, the same anger, the same existential angst.

Further, I am certain that each of us has an Inner Wisdom, a force for good that wills us wholeness and can give us blessings we cannot give ourselves.  This Inner Wisdom is available to all of us in dialogue.

I challenge you readers to prove me right or wrong.  First, let me say that the folks I know who have engaged their Inner Wisdom are glad they did.  Two I know who had cancer found the cancer no longer remained the hated enemy but actually disappeared.  My own debilitating illness was also healed.

The dialogue with your Inner Wisdom is not a courageous act, not a leap of faith, not surrender.  Your free will is never compromised.  It is an interview—questions and answers.  Your rational conscious self is in charge at all times and you can end the conversation whenever you wish.

Begin the written conversation with a question, keeping in mind that your Inner wisdom is concerned with your spiritual and physical well-being, not with tangible things you might want.

The first response from your Inner Wisdom might be, “What do you think?” and that simple question may very well cause your mind to begin thinking in a whole new way about something you thought you had exhausted.

As the dialogue continues, you may find there is something your Inner Wisdom can do for you that you cannot consciously do for yourself.  And all it needs is your permission—your unconditional permission to do its work in its own way in its own time.  You decide whether to give that needed permission.

If you do, save your written interview as proof positive later on when you want to demonstrate to others that you initiated something that changed your life.

If you give permission for your Inner Wisdom to act on your behalf, eventually I predict a catharsis will occur in your life, washing away whatever has kept you from experienced your real Self.  And I hope you will report to me so I will be proved right.

Ann Glover O’Dell

7 July 2018

Our Second Birth

Many Christians today are not interested in what others describe as a second birth.  But Jesus gives a graphic picture to Nicodemus about the spiritual birth that needs to happen before one can enjoy full relationship with God.

Nicodemus kept thinking in terms of something physical and Jesus kept talking about being born of the Spirit.  Birth is the essential word because as our anger and guilt and shame are washed away, our new original Self is born in us.  We are not the same as we were before.

Both kinds of birthing include labor—and pain.  Our spiritual birth includes the tears and anguish of remorse of all that we have committed and omitted in our attempts to make ourselves into what we thought we ought to be.  There has to be some rearranging of our personality—which has a similar trauma to the pain of parturition.

But just as a mother will declare, as she dotes on the infant she has born, that all the labor pains are worth the result, so one who has experienced spiritual rebirth will declare those labor pains produced something invaluable.

Your second birth awaits your cooperation.

Ann Glover O’Dell

5 August 2018

The Secret

Throughout the Psalms the writers entreat God to take away their sin.  And through the prophets God tells his people he will take their sin away.  So what does that have to do with us today?  Is anybody asking God to remove his sin, and does God’s promise still hold?

Many wonder if God desires to be active in the lives of mankind since few examples are seen.  I argue that once we remember the secret and act on it, we can be recipients of the sin-dissolving grace of God.  Remember the prophets who engaged in conversation with God?  Especially the one who looked for God in the storm and whirlwind but found him in the still small voice?  And Samuel who heard God calling his name in the night?  And look at the example Jesus gave, repeatedly going to a quiet place to commune with his Father.

And Gethsemane.  We have only one part of the conversation but we can imagine that God was making himself heard in that exchange.  God’s secret, which is described throughout scripture, is the spiritual conversation God wants to have with us in order to initiate the cleansing we need.

Our free will is as important to God as his love for us.  He will not override the will he has given us.  Instead, he waits for our permission to do what is necessary to wash away all that is blocking us from joyful relationship with him.  Our participation in God’s salvific act is what is required.

It is up to us to initiate the dialog that will give us the confidence in God’s power so that we will give the important permission.  Take paper and pencil and begin with a question.  You are always in control.

Ann Glover O’Dell

6 August 2018

What to Do About Garbage

We know what to do with our domestic garbage: set it on the curb at the appointed time and sanitation workers will take it away.  What about our internal garbage—the kind that seems to increase no matter our attempts at removal?

Perhaps we think we haven’t yet exhausted all our ideas for removing the debilitating mess of resentment and unresolved grief inside us.  Perhaps we think our angry tapes will simply self-destruct if we have enough patience.  Perhaps we’re practicing detachment from our guilt and shame and hoping that will work.

The truth is we cannot by our own power rid ourselves of what has come between us and the Kingdom of God.  We cannot set out on our spiritual curb a container of what separates us from the peace of God.  Our spiritual garbage is none other than what scripture refers to as sin.

The psalmist declares that once God washes us, we become whiter than snow.  The psalmist does not declare, however, that we are able to wash ourselves.  If we were able to cleanse ourselves of our spiritual garbage, we might decide we had no need of God.  God wants us to need him to effect the miracle of cleansing and transformation.  And God wants us to participate in that miracle.

Ann Glover O’Dell

6 august 2018

 

My Friend Has Moved to Assisted Living

I found her sitting for the last time

in that comfortable chair

on her beloved front porch

where each day for who knows how long

she has sat

observed the neighborhood

waved at friends

entertained guests

and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells

of the place her home has occupied these fifty years.

“I don’t have a very good attitude,” she said,

as my heart filled with grief

and my mind’s eye saw the view

from her new “place”—tree-less commercial construction everywhere.

How can we not become attached

to place and things and people

since our nature embraces beauty in all?

How can we not meld into our environment

in almost indivisibility?

How can God’s Spirit compensate when

our oneness with creation is torn in two?

Oh, Lord, have compassion!

Ann Glover O’Dell

2 July 2018

Your Inner Wisdom Awaits You

Your Inner Wisdom awaits your engagement.  Whatever you choose to call it—Guardian Angel, God, Higher Power, Holy Spirit, it is that secret inner part of your personality.  The creative part.  The part that cannot be controlled by your conscious willful self.

Your Inner Wisdom is a force that can do for you what you cannot do for yourself–make you into your original self.  It is always a force for good.  It wants health and wholeness for you and can give that to you if you cooperate.

Your cooperation is required in the form of giving your Inner Wisdom permission to do whatever needs to be done in you to make room for the goodness it has to give you.

You can glibly say to yourself, “Sure, I give permission for something good to happen to me.”

But that is not enough.  In a written dialog you need to converse with your Inner Wisdom until you realize you want a new life with all of your conscious might.  And you need to discover that your Inner Wisdom is a benevolent force.  Then the permission becomes authentic.

You are always in control of the conversation.  And can stop it at any time.  There is no coercion. Your free will is left intact.  The conversation is not surrender, a leap of faith, a courageous act.  It is a dialog—questions and answers.  Begin with any question and listen for a response from deep within you.

You are on your way to experiencing God’s special miracle for you.

Eggs and Rabbits

Easter traditions abound all over the world, and they vary from culture to culture.  Often  people who observe them do not know their origins, but something in the individual and collective psyche of the people embraces and celebrates the traditions each year. Usually people don’t  think much about them until some visitor asks.

In the West some of our Easter customs are even rather contradictory.  Rabbits don’t lay eggs, yet every Easter the Easter Bunny brings them to fill children’s baskets on Easter Eve.

Germans immigrating to US brought the idea of the rabbit as the spring symbol of reproductivity.  And they are also believed to be the ones who brought the idea of colored eggs.  An ancient Teutonic legend states that the rabbit was originally a bird and was transformed by Oestre (Ostara, Eastre), the goddess of spring, into its present form.  In gratitude for his transformation, the rabbit laid beautiful eggs each spring in honor of her festival. Our word Easter  comes from her name.

Rabbit and egg give a double symbol of new life–and thus are exactly right for us.  Some of us  seem to need to be told twice–and in unusual metaphors.  Trouble is, we seem to have lost our desire to investigate the metaphor.  It sometimes takes internationals coming to this country to inquire as to why we engage in such a strange ritual, and even then some of us are content just to admit we simply don’t know.

Rabbit is an ancient symbol not only for fertility–since it reproduces so quickly–but also for the divine.  This idea comes from ancient Persia to Africa and was brought to us by the slaves–in the stories of Br’er Fox, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Rabbit.  Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear have great schemes for capturing Br’er Rabbit, and often do, but Br’er Rabbit’s wit always serves to save his life.

The rabbit is one of few animals that has no natural defense system and is easy prey for larger carnivores.  But in some cultures it’s the very vulnerability of the rabbit that appeals as a symbol for the divine–the idea that God doesn’t come as king of the beasts but as a defenseless creature. The rabbit is a timid, harmless, peaceable creature, who will not retaliate, no matter the provocation.  It has teeth similar to rodents but will never bite, not even in self-defense.

The egg has been used throughout history as a symbol of new life.  And today  in Eastern Europe Orthodox Christians exchange red eggs at Easter as a symbol of their faith, new life, and joy, red symbolizing the blood of life.  In a number of countries the decorating of eggs has evolved into a painstaking and beautiful art form.  Pysanky is a time-honored folk tradition, established in the Ukraine, handed-down from one generation to another, whereby intricate and beautiful designs in color and wax are painted on the shells of raw eggs. The wax seals the porous quality of the shell and eventually the egg dries up.

We need  dig only a little into the soft soil of symbolism to discover that the Easter Bunny is much like St. Nicholas–a metaphor for the God who has good gifts for us–and the egg–representing new life–is one of the special ones.  A passage from Luke has Jesus comparing the kinds of good gifts we give our children to the gifts God has for us.  The lesson is that even though we can identify what are gifts good enough for our children, we cannot imagine all the good gifts God has in store for us.

In addition to everything else the Jesus narrative tells is the GOOD NEWS that we are EASTER EGGS–each one of us unique and precious, a gift from God.  And each of us has a new creature–God’s holy creature, our original being, inside, wanting, trying to hatch out.

Some of us are a lot like the Orthodox Christians who paint over the shells of their Easter eggs.  We are porous, vulnerable creatures, and we’ve tried to make our shells impervious to cracks, nicks, anything that might penetrate and further damage the already wounded  self we know ourselves to be.

But there are individuals who have had egg-cracking, hatching out experiences.  They identify with Humpty Dumpty but recognize they don’t need to be put back together because something wonderful has emerged.

The Ukrainian Pysanky eggs dry up eventually.  If one of those eggs is kept safe from cracks, the yolk and white eventually dry up and the egg has almost no weight. We may get to a point where we feel life drying up within us.  But God has a better idea for us than that.  The Resurrection narrative tells us the shell must be destroyed so that new life can emerge.

Jesus was trying to patch up the brokenness of the world’s shell–by preaching, teaching, touching, healing, performing miracles.  But that was not enough.  God’s design was to show the world the human Easter Egg–whose body/shell,  cracked and broken, opened the way for new life to emerge.

Whether we believe in the Easter Bunny is not the issue.

Whether we believe in John 3:16 is not the issue (For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believed in him should not die but have eternal life).  The issue for us is the Easter Egg and the question it presents:

Do we want new life–in this flesh–in this body–enough to cooperate with the new creature within us that is trying to hatch out? to cooperate in stop trying to glue the cracks in our shell? to stop trying to paint over the vulnerable parts and protect ourselves from further wounds?

The spiritual pain and psychological agony in our lives is telling/begging us to quit gluing and patching and let the birth–the hatching out take place.  This new creature within is like a little chick who has developed inside the egg shell.  The chick must grow until it has a beak strong enough to penetrate the shell–from the inside out.

See how God likes to do the opposite of what we imagine.

Think about eggs this Easter season.  Think about yourself as an egg–-with a beautiful new creature inside ready to hatch out. Think about yourself , already a beautifully decorated egg, having something even more beautiful inside that wants to emerge.  Think about the real you pecking against the shell–from the inside.  Think about letting your egg shell crack open and the new creature hatch out.

Ann Glover O’Dell

March 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Room for a Baby

Sometimes babies are born in the most unusual places: a subway station, the back seat of a taxi, the corner of a crowded restaurant.  We never know where a baby might choose to make his appearance into the world.

The pregnant mother makes all possible preparations, packs a little suitcase for her trip to the hospital, or lays out all that will be needed when the midwife arrives.  A little nursery is made ready, a place for the infant to lie safe and warm.  If there are available funds, colorful decorations are hung to attract the infant once his eyes are able to focus.

But all the time no one knows exactly when the baby will decide to be born—or how much in a hurry he will be to get here.  Sometimes the mother has no time to travel to the clinic or wait for the midwife.  She is not able to make the baby postpone his appearance but rather must cooperate with this child who is eager to become a citizen of this earthly kingdom.  Babies generally have their own time-table and will not be thwarted in their determination.

The godchild within us is indeed one of those with a birthing mind of its own.  We absolutely cannot predict when God will bring our transformed spirit into our conscious awareness.  It is God’s secret, meant to reinforce his design and determination to have his way, to act on his own time schedule.  And it matters not whether we have made any preparations at all.  In fact, our ability to make any preparations is highly unlikely.  This birth is God’s surprise for us, the best Christmas gift ever, whether it comes on December 25 or any of the other 364 days available.

Ann Glover O’Dell

18 December 2017

Prophesy and Reality

The prophesy and the Nativity story both give significant clues as to God’s intention and activity.  The prophets talk of something new emerging from something old, of a culture where all animals live peaceably together with no danger to humans; of the appearance of one who manifests characteristics of Almighty God himself.  The foretelling emphasizes the determination of God to make this happen and the energy He will use to bring this about.

Furthermore, God’s design, energy, and essence are to be known throughout the earth by all.  The birth narrative confirms prophesy and impresses on reader/hearer alike that the new being is conceived and nurtured by none other than the indomitable will of God.

Are we ready to see that both prophesy and Nativity story are what we want to claim for our own?  Not simply a belief system but rather transformative agents in our individual lives?  If we want that it can be ours.

Do we feel old in our spirits and want a new beginning?  Are we weary of all the conflict in our lives?  Do we yearn for a peace that passes understanding?  Are we ready to encounter the prophetic voice deep within us, to dialog with it to learn if it has a special annunciation message for us?  If so, become the scribe of your own wise messenger.  Ask a question and write the reply.  Allow your Inner Wisdom to give you the information you need so that you may, as did Mary, agree to cooperate with the process.

Ann Glover O’Dell

18 December 2017

Be!

When God’s voice said, “Be!”

and all the guilt and anger in me vanished

I began to know as I am known—

to understand in deepest heart

that what our mind has told us we must do

can never be divine directives

because our mind attempts to be God,

not listening for his holy will.

When God said, “Be!”

He gave me new relationship

where tasting, feeling, sensing

takes precedence to thinking and deciding.

When God told me to be

I became a born again as Jesus once described

those apprehending life’s abundance.

 

Ann Glover O’Dell

20 November 2017

To Hell and Back

John Noonan says religion is for people who are trying to keep from going to hell and spirituality if for people who have been there and who don’t want to go back.

In order for us to be in intimate relationship with God, something that is not of God must die within us.  As we witness that death, we experience our own personal hell.  There is no way around it if we would truly know God.

Jesus told his God to work out his will.  Jesus gave permission to whatever would follow.  Jesus cooperated with God’s will.

If a death was necessary for God’s plan to materialize in the life of a man like Jesus, how much more is a death necessary in us.

Ann Glover O’Dell

22 November 2016