Rev. Arlene’s Blog

Rev. Arlene Meyer, our Minister, posts mid-week messages on this blog. Come back often to read her inspiring and thought-provoking posts. Learn more about her.

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Lessons from Buddha

Buddhism is one of the world’s major religions and yet it is really not a religion in the true sense of the word.  Whether it is a religion or not, its teachings give us ways to live with more peace and serenity. It also gives us an understanding of what keeps us from that peace and serenity, and it is not outside circumstances

Buddhism acknowledges that there is suffering in the world then shows us how to overcome that suffering.  In today’s world, we can certainly use ways to live our lives less affected by external conditions.

Practicing mindfulness and meditation are key Buddhist teachings. Mindfulness practices aim to curb impulsive behaviors with awareness.  With mindfulness, one can become more aware which can then help us change our habits.  For example, by being mindful, we can avoid touching the face and washing the hands on a regular basis.

Regular meditation allows us to acknowledge what we are feeling but also to recognize that these feelings are simply passing reactions to an impermanent situation.  All things change – it is our attachment to things that cause much of our pain

Buddhism teachings emphasize “four immeasurables” – loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.  It is believed that these four attitudes can replace anxious and fearful states of mind.  When you are feeling anxious or fearful, try thinking of examples of compassion and kindness in your life.

Buddhism understands that there is an interconnection between everything and this certainly has become obvious during these days of the pandemic. What we do does matter and affects not just ourselves but for others as well.

Quote of the Week

“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

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An Amazing Prayer

One of the most famous prayers is the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.   Although not actually written by him, it is the way he lived and how he believed.  No matter who wrote it, it is a prayer that is as effective today as it was when written over a hundred years ago and certainly one that is needed in our world today.

The topics covered – forgiveness, hope, faith, joy, and love are all things we need for today.  Many people today feel hopeless – they may be out of work, losing their homes, and just feeling the loneliness of spending months in isolation from their friends and family they love.

Their faith may be shattered, they may have resentments, and joy is slipping away.  However, the prayer is not a prayer of misery, but a call to be that which we wish to see in the world.

Whatever is going on in our lives, it is important for us to be who we were created to be – God’s vehicles for love, light, joy, forgiveness, hope, and faith.  Things will get better – good does prevail, and we must remember that this prayer is really about being in the solution, not in the problem.

To be hope where there is despair, pardon when there is injury, joy instead of sadness, faith no matter how things may appear, and most importantly – love.  When we live as suggested by the prayer, we are lifted up and we, therefore, lift others.

Quote of the Week

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”

St. Francis of Assisi

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Free Will

In Judaism, it is believed that there are three components of a human being.  Two are the body and soul.  The body desires physicality while the soul wants spirituality.  At any point in time, what decides which will prevail?  In Judaism it is believed that there is a third component, free will that makes that determination.
 
Of the three, only free will exists in the present time.  For example, a person can live their whole lives based on a moral or religious code and at a moment can decide to completely shift course.  The free will determines what course to take at that present moment. 
 
Our souls and our body’s condition is based on the past –the present condition of our bodies is based on how we have cared for them in the past. Have we taken good care of them?
 
The same is true of our spiritual nature. Where we are on our spiritual path is based on what we have done in the past.  In both instances, at any moment in time, we can use our free will to change physically or spiritually or both. 
 
We are where we are today based on our choices (free will)  but we can use that free will in the present to change if we do not like where we are. 
 
Every day we use the free will when we make decisions,  If you are unhappy where you are,  decide today to change and you will then become co-creator with God in your future.
 
Quote of the Week
 
“What people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change.” 
Madeline Albright

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The Power of Resilience

A word that I never gave much thought to, until recently, is the word “resilient.”  The more I looked into the word, the more I wanted it as one of the words to describe myself.

To be resilient means 1. Bouncing back; rebounding; 2. returning to the original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched; 3. recovering steadily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.

When we go through challenging times, it is not so much that we are not affected by the events but that we can cope with adversity and use the challenges that face us to forge strength, prosperity, joy, and wholeness in our lives.

When we are resilient, we can endure the hardships without breaking, take any action needed, and solve problems as they arise.

Resilience is a powerful trait to have because life will, from time to time, present us with adversity.  It’s hard to be human and not have challenges, but it is what we do with what we are given, that determines the true character of someone.

May we all grow in our resilience during these times and emerge with stronger souls, so we will always be able to bounce back from whatever life gives us.

Quote of the Week

“I can be changed by what happens to me.  But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Maya Angelou

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Beginning the Day

How are you holding up?  If you have a firm spiritual practice, chances are you are doing OK.  

If your spiritual life is missing something, by now, the whole Covid19 thing is getting pretty old. 

I know, for me, that I have a daily reprieve from all the stress based on my spiritual condition.  It is a daily reprieve, so each day can be different from the day before.  I don’t know about you, but some days I can handle things a lot better than other days.  

That’s because some days I spend the time in the morning connecting to my Higher Power through praying, reading, and meditating.  Other days I get up and rush through the morning.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the correlation between what I do in the morning and the quality of my day.

Knowing this, you would think I would not leave the house without being fully connected but some days, that is just what happens.  The result is never good.

I have decided, I cannot afford not to be prepared properly for the day with everything going on in the world.  Can you?

Quote of the Week

“Begin each day with optimism and end each day with forgiveness.  Happiness in life begins and ends within your heart.”

Doe Zantamata

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