Return to Joy

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Return to Joy

Go Joyfully

I went to the grocery store specifically to get an all-natural, pre-cooked chicken for my supper. They had none. I walked the store for a while but, unable to decide what else to get, I left empty handed, growing hungrier by the minute. While driving home, I toyed with the idea of going to Panera Bread, one of my favorite restaurants, for a quick soup and sandwich. All these thoughts came up: I have food I can fix at home; I really shouldn’t spend the money, especially just for myself; I should wait until I have someone to go with or for a more special occasion; Sometimes I feel a bit tired and foggy headed if I “cheat” on my healthy diet; my waistline doesn’t need any more broccoli cheddar soup! . . . On and on they went.

Clearly, I was feeling conflicted, so I asked for guidance. Instantly I heard, Only go if you can go joyfully. No fear. No doubt. No guilt. Wow! Just as quickly as my resistance thoughts had surfaced, I was able to let them go. I walked into Panera feeling peaceful, abundant, deserving, healthy and, yes, joyful! I knew exactly what I wanted to order and there was no waiting line. My order was ready in two minutes. The big, overstuffed chair right in front of their beautiful stone fireplace was vacant. I pulled up a side table and enjoyed my meal right there. The soup was piping hot like I like it. The ambient noise was minimal and very soothing. I felt one with my surroundings. The experience was amazing. I didn’t need any company, and it was, indeed, a “special” occasion. I topped off my meal with a cup of hot coffee, sipped leisurely by the fire. My “quick” soup and sandwich turned into an hour and a half excursion into pure joy.

 

© 2015, Pathways of Light. http://pathwaysoflight.org
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The Button

My elderly mother has a new medical alert call button that she can push anytime she needs assistance. Help is available to her 24/7. Commercials for similar products show someone lying on the floor, pushing the button and saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

It occurred to me this morning that I have an internal button I can push for spiritual assistance whenever I believe I have “fallen” and can’t get up on my own. The Holy Spirit is available to me 24/7.

At first, my mom wasn’t wearing the call button at all. Then she opted to use it some of the time. I’m having trouble getting her to understand the importance of wearing it all the time. Perhaps that is a reflection of my own reluctance to asking for the Holy Spirit’s help. Like her call button, His guidance is always available to me, but I opt to use it only on occasion or not at all. Unlike her call button, I don’t need to wait for a “fall” to ask for His help. In fact, using His help 24/7 is the very best insurance against falling in the first place.

© 2015, Pathways of Light. http://pathwaysoflight.org
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The Voice

If you’ve ever watched the popular vocal talent show, The Voice, you’ve seen the four judges selecting members for their team through a process called “blind auditions”. They sit with their backs to the singers so that their choice is based solely on the voices they are hearing. They cannot be distracted or influenced by the many other factors that would be evident if they were allowed to watch them sing.

I realize that I am a lot like the judges. I, too, am listening to, and comparing, different voices; the ego’s voice of fear and the Holy Spirit’s voice for love. The difference is, I usually forget to turn my back on what my eyes would tell me. I often choose which voice to listen to based on appearances. Gradually, I am learning that my eyes never show me the truth. True vision comes when I close my eyes (and ears) and listen only to the voice of love within.

On the show, ultimately, one voice is chosen above all others to be the best, but everyone knows that there are a number of superb voices worth listening to. Unlike the show, there are only two voices I can choose between and only one of them is real. The ego’s fearful voice only leads me to more illusion and suffering. The voice for love leads me home. I know it’s time to close my eyes and open my heart because, between these two voices, quite frankly –

there’s no contest.

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The Choice

This morning, I am thinking about the different personality traits of the many memory impaired seniors I work with: the one who is extremely opinionated and snobbish; the one who’s facial expression and whole body are so contracted in fear that she can only move forward in tiny, timid steps with someone pulling her along; the one who feels rejected if I don’t kiss her cheek each time I arrive, and again upon leaving . . . and so on. I find myself very upset by these behaviors. I realize that they are so disturbing to me because they reflect unhealed aspects within myself.

In the movie Sybil, Sally Field portrays a woman with multiple personality disorder. Her treatment requires her to become aware of – to acknowledge – those seemingly separated aspects of herself, take them back, and love them. Until today, I think I thought that owning these behaviors within myself somehow meant that I was condoning or, even worse, admitting that I am those behaviors – that I am a judgmental, fearful, needy person too. But, now I get it. By loving and reclaiming those parts of myself and seeing us as One, those behaviors dissolve. If I am whole and complete – not separate from anyone or anything – then there is no one and nothing outside myself to judge, to fear, or to need!

I sit weeping with joy as I write. After years of study, I am finally starting to understand what Oneness means. What helped me was a recent new practice of mine. Each time I feel even the slightest annoyance towards anyone, I try to remember to tell myself, Don’t judge. JOIN! Quite often, I am able to instantly see past the behavior I am judging and connect with the love that was hidden underneath my own fear and extend it to that person. The wave of peace I experience is amazing.

This is the choice available to each of us in every moment. We can judge . . . or join.

© 2015, Pathways of Light. http://pathwaysoflight.org
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The Beginning of My Journey

When I was a little girl, my family took a trip from our home in Massachusetts to Canada. I didn’t even know what Canada was back then, but I was excited. We left so early in the morning that it was still dark outside. I settled in with my favorite stuffed animal for what I was told would be a very long ride. We had only driven down our short street, across an intersection and up one hill when I popped up from the backseat and chirped, “Are we there yet?”

In my mid-thirties, I found myself still asking the same question. Like my vague concept of Canada many years ago, I didn’t quite know where I was trying to get to in my life. I just wanted to know, was I there yet? It didn’t feel like it.

Although I was married to a wonderful man, with whom I had two children I adored, owned a lovely home, and had a successful nursing career, something still seemed to be missing from this good life. I kept wondering, what more did I have to offer the world? What was my heart telling me to do? Who was I beyond being a wife, mother, daughter and nurse? And more importantly, why weren’t those roles enough? I was determined to find out.

Thus began my journey.

In order to move forward, there were many things I felt I had to leave behind. At times I felt sad and frightened, but the more steps I took toward uncovering my true self, the happier and more peaceful I became. I discovered that the only thing missing from my life was the joy of knowing the truth that I am One with God. All my searching led me back to myself, where He has always been.

Turns out . . . God was never lost.

I was.

© 2015, Pathways of Light. http://pathwaysoflight.org
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Rev. Paula Richards By Rev. Paula Richards, O.M.C.
 


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