Advent of Joy

“The Joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

I delighted in sharing in a pre-Christmas celebration with my family in St Pete this past weekend.  We sat around the Christmas tree and sang with Evan and Eden Jingle Bells while their new kitten scampered and fell all over herself. Such joyful moments create lifelong memories.

It was an unexpected conversation but we started to talk of the spiritual practice of renunciation and what it means and what it takes to devote oneself to living a God centered life.  We had been watching a PBS special on Deepak Chopra and my daughter in law Anita shared she has a friend in India who  longs to leave everything, and devote himself to Spirit.  She pointed out this is a culturally accepted, traditional path that Buddha himself took, leaving his wife and child to find God, Spirit, Nirvana…

Gangaji writes in her book Freedom and Resolve: “To seek spiritual truth by becoming a recluse or hermit thinking one is escaping phenomena is a trick the mind plays.  When you attend to Truth you are acknowledging what no phenomenon has ever touched – the truth of yourself. This is not hating phenomena, not loving phenomena, not leaving phenomena, just attending to truth.”

The world of phenomena that must be left is the word within our own mind. Let us retreat from our interpretations, our measurements, our opinions, our beliefs, just for an instant and notice the gap, the peace, the spaciousness that holds everything.  In that moment we have an open opportunity to inquire “what is it I want.”  Many people chase more phenomena, more experiences.  But as Gangaji says, if you want Truth, then let go of everything you thought would bring you closer to God or Truth and experience what is already here.

The following morning I sat in the courtyard with my baby grandaughter Eden in her stroller.  The sun was streaming on us and the air was crisp, clean and fragrant with flowers.  I was filled with a sense of joy and gratitude as I watched Eden, her face had a dreamy smile as she was dreaming in her midmorning nap.  In that moment I was absolutely one hundred percent sure that I saw and experienced God fluttering in her eyelashes.

Merry Christmas,

Rev Janice


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