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.

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

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