Let nothing frighten you, really? How is that possible?

It’s been 4 weeks since I closed my brick and mortar business due to this pandemic.  It’s the business I’ve owned and operated for 30 years.  As a single mother and grandmother, for the past 17 years, it has been the way I’ve supported my family, kept a humble roof over my head and food on the table, for which I am eternally grateful.  It has been the way I’ve contributed and served others by employing between 20 to 30 people, mostly women.  Many over the years were single mothers, themselves. Though rewarding, It has been quite challenging throughout the years to be a small business owner; however, it has given me the flexibility I’ve needed to give birth to this ministry of 20 years, that God planted in me since I was a child.  This experience is in the top three dark challenges: divorce, child’s drug addiction and now living through a global pandemic.  I do not say this glibly, as I’ve fought some hard won battles, but I’ve come to the realization that all as gift.  I’ve lived the reality that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.  Now is no different. 

When I heard the invitation of Christ decades ago, to “Follow me” I was so naive.  Yet the desire for authentic connection with God and my truest self could not be appeased any other way.  It requires grace and grit, freedom and surrender all of which are the action of God within me. During those times of darkness and pain when I’ve tried to control the outcome is when I suffered the most.  When I tried to escape what I feared the most, control outcomes or take the go along to get along approach, is when I created more suffering for myself and others. 

So what has allowed me to not be utterly battered by the storms?    It has been my relentless pursuit (which is the fire of the Holy Spirit in me) of a deeper relationship with God through Centering Prayer.  That has been the common denominator.  Yes, meditating on scripture and other forms of prayer have been integral to my life as well, however, Centering Prayer is the sacred container that holds my unbridled yes to God.  So whatever draws me into prayer, whether a global pandemic or the love for my family, friends and strangers is drawing me deeper into God, into Love, into Peace.  I can say whether life circumstances appear as  blessing or curse I enter into Centering Prayer where I put into practice the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “Let nothing disturb younothing frighten you, all things are passing, God never changes. Patience wins all things; those who have God lack nothing: God alone suffices,”  

Getting Unstuck Might Be Simpler Than You Think

Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first step. What is there to do when you’re feeling so stuck as if your feet and your mind are in hardened concrete?!?!  Maybe you’re stuck in your head or in an uncomfortable situation or a difficult relationship or dead-end job.  Or maybe you’re stuck big time in a comfort zone.  When you pause you feel that Something Deep within you is stirring and you know God is calling you out.  I’m here to invite you onto the path.   It’s time we take the next step.

You know that I share with you from my personal experience and life history. How I lived and continue to live out this journey from Christ-unlikeness to Christ-likeness. Yes, I may have a degree as a Pastoral Counselor and Spiritual Director. Yes, I’ve attended and led many workshops, conferences, retreats etc. but that’s A BIG FAT SO WHAT compared to how I live this sacred journey of transformation with and through Christ right along side of you.  My desire is to help you hear, listen and act on what the Teacher is revealing to you personally.  You need it and the world needs you.  This ministry ,The Deeper Connection, is here to support, serve, enlighten, inspire, guide and help you expand your own holy transformation. 

Right now, wherever you are, however stuck, however off the path you feel I’m here to encourage you to take the next step, whatever that may be.  You can do it.  I am with you and so are all the angels and saints on this side of heaven and beyond the veil. 

God is in the movement.  You have the Spirit’s energy undergirding you, but you have to take the first step to experience it.  Notice and feel whatever it is that’s been holding you up.  Then instead of analyzing or wrestling with it,  move right through it, in-spite of it, like walking through a cloud.

Regardless of what those thoughts are take the next step. 

Regardless of how hard it seems, take the next step. 

Regardless of how painful it appears, take the next step. 

Regardless of how long you’ve put it off, take the next step. 

Regardless of how long you’ve been hiding, take the next step. 

Regardless of the anxiety take the next step.

Regardless of the shame and guilt take the next step.

Regardless of how long you’ve been waiting…

It is time, dear soul friend, to #takethenextstep #stucknomore #inGodwetrust  🙏✌️❤️🔥

Sending you much love as I take my next step…

Maria

p.s.  I’ll see you at our Global Centering Prayer Meeting on Zoom, every Sunday 8am EST.  Here’s the link:

Join URL: https://zoom.us/j/198390445

What if today is the day you’ve been hoping for?

 How would you choose to live it out?  You opened your eyes to a new sunrise, a new display of nature’s magnificence. You’re included in God’s master plan for humanity.  How will you choose to spend it?  I first thought seriously about this concept as a 17 year old high school senior.  I was chosen to play the lead character, Emily, in the play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder.  Little did I know that role would change my life forever.  Even now, I could cry as I recall the moment.  Emily was a young woman who died giving birth to her first child.  There was a scene after her death in which she pleaded with the Narrator, who was the God character, to live once again.  After some deliberation on his part, her desire was granted; to come back to earth for just one more day.  “Make it an insignificant day”, said the Narrator, “for it will be significant enough”.  Emily was thrilled and spontaneously blurted out, “My twelfth birthday!”.  She began to relive this ‘insignificant day’ with her family in the scene, just as it had happened.  Suddenly her eyes were opened as she tried without success to get her mother to stop and truly listen to her.  From her new vantage point, she could now see the beautiful gift of life in the simplest moments.  “Mamma, look at me, really, really look at me.”, she said, as her mother busily scurried about trying to prepare the meal.  As the scene unfolded Emily could not contain her feelings any longer.  Turning to the Narrator, she burst into tears crying out with deep sadness, “Doesn’t anyone realize life while they’re living it, every, every minute?”  He wisely replied, “Some poets do, I suppose”. Thornton Wilder, in his great wisdom, unveiled the meaning of the play and life in that one sentence,  “Doesn’t anyone realize life while they’re living ?”.  

Will you realize life while you’re living it?  I ask myself once again, that same question; will I realize life while I’m living it?  While I still have breath?  As you’re reading this, turn inward and notice that yearning you feel right now as it emanates from the deepest recesses of your being.  It is the desire to live fully, authentically, deeply connected and engaged.  To know God and be known by God.  To love and be loved.  The spiritual journey is the foundation for all of life, for it is life and life is the container for relationship, first with God, then with self, others and the world.  How will you choose to honor this day, to receive the gift of this day?  Don’t let another moment go by, another breath leave your body without your awareness of the magnificence that is your life.  Don’t wait until your moments are numbered before you wake up on the inside and cherish each one, for even the most insignificant of days is significant enough.  

Freedom Comes From Within

God is Relentless. Love will never stop pursuing you. What you desire and have longed for your whole life…what makes you cry quietly in your pillow…what would cause you to move a mountain…is already available to you.  It is the Presence of Love, the Living God in the core of your being and Love will not let go. The culmination of your deepest desire dwells so profoundly within you, is so intimate and immanent you can not be separated from It; not in sleep or wakefulness, in life or death.  Yet, to deeply connect with It comes with a great price.  A price that not many are willing to pay. The price of letting go of the ‘you’ you’ve come to know.  The price of turning off and identifying with the loud voices of the world regardless of where they come from and who is speaking. The price of shutting down your need to be right.  The price of being willing to turn from the direction you’ve been traveling for a lifetime. The price of turning from the feelings, emotions, thoughts, behaviors and ideas that you think will make you happy. (Which never seem to work anyway.) The price of making the Sacred Turn that will save your life from ebbing away into unfulfilled dreams, hidden sorrows and private suffering. So I ask, are you willing to pay the price to receive the Love you seek? To connect authentically and deeply with the God you desire?  Are you willing to awaken to the Presence that is sustaining your life?  That is keeping your heart beating and lungs breathing?  Are you willing to be stirred from your slumber, awakened by the Most High Spirit?  Are you willing to receive and believe that your God has already made a way for you in the desert of this world, to be happy and to live in peace and freedom?  Then it is time to receive and believe.  For true freedom comes from within.  True peace is given by God regardless of external circumstances.  I invite us all to let go of our personal agendas, to embrace the intention of our hearts and celebrate Freedom in the Silence of our souls. 

Help Me Understand! Does Intercessory Prayer Make God my Genie?

It’s always interesting how God answers the queries in my own mind. I had been reflecting on the meaning of intercessory prayer. Though I’ve been a “prayer warrior” as long as I can remember, questions around the impact of this type of prayer have been rattling around in my brain quite a bit recently. Then I received this question in an email from a dear friend and soul sister.
“In praying with words what is the point of asking God for something….isn’t that like using God as our Genie?  Do you think God changes circumstances because we ask for them to be changed or does God just change us?” Because she was asking me, it caused me to give intention and attention to this question rather than just let it meander through my mind. After prayerful reflection this is what came to me. When I pray with audible words God changes me and everyone.

I know there is so much more happening beyond my understanding but this is what I notice:
1. My ego shrinks because I’m not trying to fix anyone or anything. Nor am I trying to analyze the complexities of the circumstance. Intercessory prayer is a way for me to open my heart and mind rather than lock myself in worry or concern. It’s a way for me to release control and attachment to an outcome. Praying for a Divine shift in the real world.

2. When I pray for someone I envision them while praying. I see them whole, healthy and happy. I repeat the words, “I trust you are healing (insert name) right this very moment.” It actually raises the feel good chemicals in my brain which then increases trust and faith.

3. I believe Spirit and Light are Divine Energy available to all. As I pray I am connecting with and touching the Divine for others, especially when they are unable to do it for themselves. My words are like dropping a stone in this Divine Pool of Love causing a ripple effect in all directions that will touch the life of the one I am holding.

4. I sense that through faith I’m partnering, co-creating with God. Out of my head and into the heart of the world.

5. Did I mention my ego shrinks?! I am reminded by reaching out or sometimes crying out, there is a God and it is not me. Thank you Jesus!

6. I have this image that my prayer is like a reflector shield for the Light. As I open up, the Light of Christ reflects off of the faith and love (the reflector shield) I am intentionally drawing my attention to. Through my words and prayer undergirded by love, the Light is dispersed outward and inward. I love imagery that helps me connect.

7. I am reminded of a poster that hung on the wall in my parent’s basement, that had one of my favorite quotes when I was a young girl. It read “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, can not keep it from themselves.”

In short I believe that’s what happens when we pray for others, we are reflecting the Light of Christ present within us out into the lives of others and in doing so we become transformed carriers of the Light and healing abounds for all.

I’ve Fallen Into Negative Thinking and I Can’t Get Up!

What is that one nagging, critical thought that keeps you stuck and has you believing you aren’t meant for an abundant whole life, inner peace, freedom and purpose?  
 
I’ll share my big one today with you and then you get to share me yours. To think I’m not even halfway through my day yet! Here it is…drumroll please…”You’re so lazy”. Yes, that’s a big one for me. Probably because I heard it as a child. As an adult I can look back and realize it wasn’t true, I wasn’t lazy at all.  (Listen to me defend myself.) I was just a young contemplative!! I always did what I was supposed to do, told to do, expected to do. However, my mom didn’t understand all those hours spent alone in my room, praying, thinking, reflecting or reading.  I’ve always had a contemplative nature. Yet, after all these years you would think that thought wouldn’t even be on my radar screen.  Well, it is.  Especially on a day when I’m not up dressed and out of the house early.  It is a thought that can hook me. It can sidetrack my attention and worse yet my intention.
 
Sometimes I notice the false thoughts and am able to do my Prayer of Turning. However, there are those times that I fall for the lie, usually because I’m tired or feeling a bit overwhelmed by responsibilities or both.
 
When UNABLE to turn away from the critical story line what do we do?  Here are FIVE important things that really work.
1.  Don’t be afraid of the thought.  Notice it and recognize it is not of God.  There’s nothing holy or humbling about self-critical thinking because God never accuses or condemns.  To merely engage the thought with more thinking isn’t effective.  Movement is necessary.
 
2.  Sit in Centering Prayer either more times during the day or longer periods of time. In this case more is more and more is best!  Yes, Centering Prayer is movement.
 
3.  Talk to someone.  I call my bestie soul friend who knows and loves me.  Her compassionate listening and loving input always puts me in a place of acceptance.  I confess to her my negative self introspection.  Just hearing the words come out of my mouth I start to feel the shift within me and the thoughts dissipate.
4.  If there’s a recurring thought, remember to bring it to your next Spiritual Direction appointment.  Unpacking it as your Spiritual Director holds you in the Light of this sacred space, is transforming.
5.  Remember God is in the movement.  I’m not talking about frenetic busyness or pressured action but movement.  Sometimes just putting your attention on making a good meal can be enough.
 
So right now, breathe deeply.  These self critical thoughts can sneak in on anyone, like dust floating in the air.   The next time one of ‘those’ thoughts floats across your mind, remember to be gentle with yourself.  Remember thoughts are not reality they just are and remember transformation, inner peace, freedom and purpose is possible through The Deeper Connection. 

Synchronicity

Ever wake up late or get out of bed already preoccupied with stuff and you simply let your Centering Prayer time slip away?  Before you know it, you are dressed for your early morning appointment and out the door.  That was me this morning.  I prayed with my St. Patrick’s prayer and the Lord’s Prayer while moving through my morning.  Now, as I sit for Centering Prayer I pick up the book The Cloud of Unknowing and these words jump off the page and into my soul.

Chapter 41:

“ I hope you’ll never stop doing this loving work as long as you live.  I’m not saying that it’s possible to keep the same high intensity all the time.  You can’t always keep your zest for contemplation.  Sometimes you’ll be sick or worn out mentally or physically and sometimes life just intervenes, pulling you down and preventing you from scaling spiritual heights.  Stick to it, in all circumstances…When something intrudes and you can’t practice contemplation prepare for it still.  Remain spiritually alert…For the love of God try not to get sick.  Discipline yourself as much as possible so you won’t be the cause of your own weakness…You must learn what rest is.  So because you love God take care of yourself.”

This, my dear soul friends is the synchronicity of the Holy Spirit.  I experience life and the Spirit intervenes beckoning me to stay the course.  I simply recognize that no matter what,  “ in him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28  I will admit a day without Centering Prayer is like a day without oxygen.  So disciplining ourselves is necessary for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Without it we participate in creating our own weakness. 

So press on, set your heart’s intention in alignment with God’s desire stirring deep within you and you can not go wrong.  Remember there is no judgement or condemnation in Christ.  God’s will, God’s yearning for you is always and in all ways drawing you deeper into His Presence and Love lives in you and through you.  Love God, love you and live. 

Being Present Is Simpler Than You Think

I make it a habit to ask anyone I come in contact with a simple question.  Whether in a store, on the street, getting gas at my local gas station, etc.  when the opportunity presents itself I always ask, “How’s your day?” Most respond surprised  and with a simple answer like “It’s ok.”,  “Not bad.” or “Good, work is almost over.”  It’s a way to help me be more present and notice the person in front of me.  I don’t believe in coincidence so I will say God caused my path to cross with a man yesterday who until then, was a complete stranger.  As I looked into his eyes I felt prompted to ask a simple question, “How’s your summer been so far?”  I expected to hear one of the typical answers of, too short, too hot, too busy, but not this time.  He looked up at me with the saddest eyes and said, “Not good, not good at all.”  I was taken aback but quickly replied, “Oh, what’s happening?”  Without hesitating he answered, “My wife is on hospice and is going to die any day now.”  I was blown away and in that moment I understood how profoundly important it is to be present to this man.  I looked deep into his eyes and said, “I am so very sorry.  Truly sorry for your loss.”  It’s as if time stood still for a brief moment.  I reached out to take his hand and he reached back with both hands.  I held his hands in mine and simply looked at him.  No words were necessary.  It was a moment of deeper connection that I speak about all the time.  Had I been lost in thoughts of anxiety, worry, doubt or judgment about something else, I would have missed it completely.  Consolation, connection and a sincere smile is what he needed and what I needed to share.  That was a moment of being present to the Presence of God I hope I never forget.  What did the moment require?  Me.  Looking at the person in front of me. Seeing him.  Engaging him. Listening to him.  Reaching out, bringing a simple word of consolation and silently praying for him.  God happens when we least expect God to show up. 

Transformation happens in the ordinary moments.  If you string together enough of those moments through the simple way of seeing, listening, reaching out, connecting and praying you will experience the peace and contentment you long for through the  life-giving, life-changing Presence of God.

The Tomb Is Empty, Now What?

The world just celebrated the highest holiday on the Christian calendar, Easter.  The day we honor the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the grave.  The day we celebrate new life.  

Spring reminds us that new life exists in all of nature, but Easter reminds us new life exists for each one of us.  Without the Resurrection we’d be left with no way out;  left dealing with the darkness our own wounds and dysfunction create.  Without the Resurrection we’d be faced with perpetuating these same wounds on others.  Without the Resurrection we’d be left with the impossible task of having to redeem our lives from the pit of our own despair.  We’d be left with the fact that a dysfunctional, false self can not transform itself into one’s true Self, one’s Christ Self for there would be no Christ self.  

Because Jesus lived truth, fully human and fully divine.  Because He showed it’s possible to live always in union with God the Father, the Creator.  Because His body absorbed the wounds from all of  humanity.   Because the death of His mortal body could not keep Him in the grave.  Because the Presence and Power of the Spirit of the Most High triumphed over death.  Because He lives we too can live.  Too great a mystery to comprehend, only to be received as pure gift.  There is just one major, existential question that Jesus walking out of the tomb creates, “Now what?” 

The only answer is to follow the Master into new life the way He taught and lived, the contemplative way.  The way of tending to your soul.

You are a follower of Christ wanting to answer the ‘now what?’ with your life.  You are a follower of Christ wanting to rise out of the darkness of codependency, anxiety and depression, addiction, grief, shame or whatever is keeping you stuck .  Have you been putting off whole-hearted living and tending to your soul?

Do you find yourself saying “Tomorrow, I’ll pay more attention to this transformation thing”.  “Tomorrow I’ll get to this prayer, meditation thing.”  “Tomorrow I’ll go to that recovery meeting.”  The list goes on.  Guess what?!  Tomorrow is today.  Resurrection life is now.  What does that mean for you?  Christ is tapping on your heart, shaking up your old belief system and patterns of thinking.  Does it seem a bit daunting?  You don’t have to do this new life on your own. 

The way has already been forged for you, but you have to take the steps to intentionally tend to your soul.  The Deeper Connection is here for you.  Spiritual Direction, Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, a deeper prayer life, meditation, an intentional new way of living, is all possible.  You do not have to stay in your tomb.  You do not have to figure this out on your own.  You happened upon this blog article for a reason.  I’ve been where you are.  I have felt what it’s like to live in the dark and follow the Christ way out of the tomb.  

Contact me, like The Deeper Connection facebook page, listen to the prayer tracks on Insight Timer, subscribe to The Deeper Connection YouTube channel, schedule a Spiritual Direction appointment.  I would love to partner with you on your transformation journey, the contemplative way to new life.  It is time.

 

Before Tech Support

Here’s the back story leading up to my prayer encounter during my chat with email software tech support. I awoke that morning to the peace of a beautiful winter day. I was soon interrupted by anxiety when the realization of a very challenging financial situation crossed my computer screen as I opened up my online banking site. We all have fear triggers and I’ll be transparent here, one of mine is financial security. Couple that with some real financial challenges and I’m doing a face plant on my bedroom floor in prayer. Now, I absolutely love my ministry work and can’t imagine my life without it, to the point that, I can get so engaged in prayer, writing, recording, teaching, client sessions and more that I have to remind myself passion doesn’t pay the bills. This morning was one of those times when the trigger hit provoking a litany of doubts, “Am I really supposed to be doing this?” “If so, how do I keep a roof over my head?” “Am I doing something wrong or missing something I should be doing?” “Creating an online presence might be necessary but it’s so confusing!”

The voiceless Voice finally managed to get my attention in the brief gap between these thoughts and I heard, “Keep moving”. So, I returned to my computer and started plowing through some administrative and technical stuff. I got stuck on something when the little ‘live chat tech support’ window popped up as if prompted by an angel. No one but me knew I was struggling in that moment, or so I thought. I opened up a conversation with ‘Zoe’ and the rest you can read about in my blog post “Even Tech Support Needs Prayer”. (Pause here and read it, if you haven’t already.) I was humbled to the point of tears to say the least and grateful my ‘in the moment’ need for encouragement was met. God has shown me over and over again throughout the years, this is my work; inviting people into a deeper connection with our Most High God, themselves and others through contemplative Christianity. Inviting people into partnering with their Beloved as He transforms their lives. Inviting people to honor their stories of transformation and freely sharing mine. Reminding everyone, of who we truly are, the beloved of The Beloved. Perhaps most importantly, sharing my love of Christ, in my little way, letting the world know He is real, He is alive and He will meet you where you are.