In my first article of this series I talked about the importance of Perspective, the first pillar of joy in Desmond Tutu’s and the Dali Lama’s book on JOY. I think I will hang out here with that powerful word Perspective and slowly move my way to the second pillar of Joy, which is Humility. Today, I will visit this hard and complex word, relationship. What is a relationship? How is a relationship defined? Who defines the relationship? And most importantly, does this relationship bring you joy? As we change our Perspective on relationships, relationships change.
Relationships regardless of how much joy they bring you, relationships require cultivation like a fine garden. Gardens, beautiful ones do not just happen, gardens take work. The soil must be rich with proper nutrients for a seed to be nourished, water and light must be just right. In many analogies, you may have heard things like, God is the gardener and we are the garden, or God is the Potter and we are the clay. That my friend is an analogy that presents a very passive relationship that requires nothing from you but makes you subtlety into a victim of whatever happens to yo in life. I have never met someone with a victim’s mentality that is joyful.
Let’s flip the analogy and accept the fact if we want a relationship with the Divine, we must then plant a relationship with the Divine. If we accept personal responsibility for our lives and happiness then we can have abundant joy more times than not, regardless of the circumstances in our life that we do not have control over. We cannot control whether a disease like cancer comes into our lives, we can only do our part in practicing techniques and using tools that promote a healthy lifestyle and realize that even then we will all die of something. Thus, if you accept that you are the gardener of your relationship with the Divine, then you get to decide how you want this garden to be.
If you want a Divine relationship with one that communicates with you then you must invite the Divine to communicate. This request for communication is not one of pleading and begging like a child but a request that is open ended. For instance, start with what is. “Dear Divine, thank you for my ability to breathe, to touch, and to see. Today heighten those abilities to help me see you and experience you in ways that I have not been open too in the past. Help me to see you in others around me and to experience a sense of connection to you when I least expect it. Surprise me with the mystery of life today in small ways and allow me to open to new ways of seeing and being in the world.”
This evening take out your journal and reflect on the question, “How did I experience the Divine today?” By opening yourself in the morning and bringing things full circle in the evening you are raising your conscience to explore and experience the Divine. You are creating a communication pattern that helps you explore the reality of the Divine around you all day long. This is a practice. It takes practice.
On some days, you are going walk through your garden and you will notice the weeds that need to be pulled and you may think, “this garden is too much work.” However, weeds are a part of life. Sometimes your thoughts are like weeds. Your thoughts are unruly and grow wild, especially when things are not going the way you would like them to go or our feelings are hurt by those around you. Here is where the hard work of Perspective comes in. If you walk out of the garden and give into the weeds then you will have no fruit to enjoy. That perfect sweet strawberry or those beautiful broccoli florets will not be experienced. Where if you accept that weeds are just a part of the process and bend down and pick them one by one, letting those negative thoughts go by the wayside and replace them with a positive thought, such as, “at least I can still pick weeds,” or just notice your breath, breathing in and breathing out in mindful ways then you are re-focusing your attention on the fact you have a garden to grow and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Perspective is a mental exercise. It takes work to re-focus your thinking to something productive. Cultivating a relationship with the Divine, in many ways is just like cultivating any other relationship. You must communicate, stay conscious, and take risks. Rather than choosing to stay hidden lost in your connections take a risk to reach out and connect in some small or big way today.
Ask for what you want or need. Use your voice. No one is going to do it for you.
Observe the nuances in your day. Look for the magic.
Ask yourself, “How did I experience my relationship with the Divine today?”
Practice and practice some more and you will begin to see in new ways.
Stay Curious and Enjoy the Journey.