Friday, August 31, 2012

Out of Time

It was but a moment that thundered into Eternity

It was but an instant hurled out of Time

An instant of Self-knowing

An instant of the deepest Peace

An instant of complete stillness

You have touched it

In the moment before sleep

In the pause between thoughts

In the rush of profound joy

Or the hush of deepest shock


What this poem attempts to describe is an experience we all have had but which may have been so subtle or fleeting our awareness barely picked it up and our memory may have forgotten. It is the experience of the connection to the source of all being, the source of life itself. This experience is available to us at all times. The reason we don’t notice it is the self-talk, the chatter in our heads drowns it out. It is this experience of deep stillness that meditators seek. It is this experience that those who practice deeply in prayer seek. It is unknown to so many people because they simply have never been made aware of its possibility in their lives. So much of our education, our cultural conditioning actually trains us out of being in a state of mind that is receptive to this experience.


With it comes a relaxation so deep that it is impossible to describe in terms of daily life. You may wonder how is it possible for me to ever experience such a thing. The answer is very simple, so simple in fact that it is not easy. Our minds love complexity and constantly wallow in it, spinning out story after story. The answer is simply to forget yourself. Forget who you think you are. All the complexity, all the stories all the drama in our lives is what holds together our self-image. A self-image needs constant maintenance precisely because it is false. The truth of who you are is very simple. It has been with you always. It is with you now shinning forth in the ground of your being. This experience is being obscured by streams of thoughts. Take each thought one at a time and ask yourself: Is this true? Just keep asking for every thought. Obviously this is not a practice one can do in the hurly burly of life, at least not in the beginning. It takes some practice. To start sit with your morning tea or coffee and ask for those few minutes: Is this thought true? You need not even find an answer, just keep asking. At the very least it will slow the thought stream down which is a good thing. You can practice again as you lie in bed just before you fall asleep.  To conclude I offer this final poem from my own experience to give you inspiration in the practice. 


When I Fell


When I fell


The space

Between thoughts

I lost



Time stopped then


I tasted


And wanted

Nothing else



Rev. Laura West, Minister-at-large First Christian Church, Ukiah CA

                                                      140 North Spring St



The Spirituality of Little Things

Stress is pervasive in our society. There are so many little things to get accomplished in any given day, and sometimes big things. The key to de-stressing one’s life is to be present while you are doing any given activity, to be fully there, not in the past, not in the future, just there. If you can manage to do this, the activity flows freely in the absence of stray thoughts. It’s actually these stray thoughts that create friction, mistakes, absentmindedness and stress. Be here now, wherever you happen to be.


The following is a poem I wrote about something that really happened to me. I felt like praying but for some reason I got up and did the dishes instead. And then later wrote a poem about the experience.


I Did the Dishes


I did the dishes

Instead of praying

I almost lost it

The prayer that is

And then I remembered

It was about the spirituality

Of little things

Howdy do!

It’s the how not the do

It’s the how do you do

A welcoming of little things

Enjoying the moment of doing

Even if the prayer

Goes down the drain

With the dishwater

Because doing the dishes

Was the prayer


It’s the how not the do. In other words it’s how you do something that matters not what you are doing. In this sense praying and doing the dishes can be the same experience of flowing freely along in life, an effortless Being. When we think of prayer so often we think of prayers of petition, asking for the stuff we want. But that is not the only form of prayer. There is also prayer of gratitude and prayer of embracing what is, embracing Life fully. This indeed is a truly wonderful prayer. It gives you everything you ever truly wanted in an instant and is available to you at any time. It blesses your life continually. If you are enjoying the summer breeze and singing of birds and then notice your nosey neighbor. Ooops! You’ve fallen out of life’s embrace, out of a state of Grace. Try embracing her too in kindness and gratitude, if only with your thought or with your eyes. If you can’t do it, well OK. But notice within yourself the contraction, the tightening of muscles in your face, throat, neck…wherever it might be occurring. Then realize you have just invited stress into your life. Non-acceptance is a form of self-hurting. At root it is non-acceptance of your own self. If you stop and look at this one day you will be able to give it up. It’s not a matter of being nice to others, of following the golden rule. It’s a matter of truly loving yourself, then all else follows from that. That is why the rule is called golden. If you feel kindly toward yourself then you will spontaneously feel kindly towards others. All those pesky people at work, in the family or in other cars won’t seem so pesky any more. It’s like magic!


You can start practicing when you are alone, next time you are doing the dishes, folding the laundry, mowing the lawn or whatever little thing that needs to get done, try being fully present, try embracing Life. And see what happens!


Rev. Laura West, Minister-at-large First Christian Church, Ukiah CA

                                                      140 North Spring St