‘Stand up in Me’

For everything there is a season 

The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 

Stand up in me.’

I first heard these words in October 2018. Lying down after a trying day, a wash of emotion passed over me. A deep sense of hopelessness pinned me down.

My spirit sunk as thoughts scrambled to make sense of the inexplicable overwhelm. And I began to openly cry.

After some minutes I heard a voice. A voice I knew without knowing how was Jesus.

Stand up in me’, he said.

Aye right’ I thought. ‘Easier said than done. And what good would that do anyway?’

I immediately regretted my ungracious attitude to the King of Kings. He, eternally forgiving, repeated:

Stand up in me Karolyne.’

And there and then, as I let his words settle in me, I felt a flicker, a flame, a pa-ching… hope struck alive in me again!

I can stand up in Jesus‘, I thought. No matter I haven’t got a clue what that means… I’m going to do it anyway.’

BREAKING DOWN BEGINS

A month later, I had left the clinic I’d been working in for 4 years, ceased practising therapies, and moved cities to Dunfermline where a form of spiritual ministry and teaching began.

In this time, I entered an Episcopal consecration process of discernment. I was baptised Coptic Orthodox with the blessing of my Episcopal spiritual director, and pilgrimaged the early Celtic Christian sites of Britain. I sunk deeply into God and Christ, and integrated Jesus’ teachings and a Heavenly perspective into the broader cosmological understandings I live and work by.

As my daily prayer practice took shape, I asked Jesus into my mind, body and soul. At these times of deep peace, as I lay prostrated on the floor, I would sometimes hear him speak into my mind:

Stand up in me.’

I still didn’t know what that meant or how I could stand up in him. And when I asked, I was met with silence.

‘WE MOVE’

Then one night, sitting in the dark before a ‘Meeting the Beloved’ workshop, as I listened to worship music, the room opened up and filled with the Holy Spirit.

‘We move’, God’s voice boomed into the space.

Just as it was when I followed the call from Australia to Britain, He said the same words:

‘We move.’

And added, ‘We go home.’

I was then shown a map of New Zealand.

ADJUSTMENT

Settling into this new season was not smooth at all. I’d been in a season of building-up for years. And so to move into a time of breaking down and dismantling was one of the hardest things I’ve done.

I had great reluctance to move. To begin with, I didn’t want to live in New Zealand. My life here has been deeply fulfilling. I’m part of loving communities. It’s taken me so long to build my network of wonderful students and clients, and Scotland was a place I finally felt at home. So when I got word to move, I was like a child throwing a tantrum in the face of her Father’s words: ‘Noooo’, I said aloud.

It took a lot of adjustment. It is still taking a lot of adjustment.

Yet God’s Word was repeatedly confirmed to me by Christian and non-Christian prophets alike, in scripture and the flow of circumstances that proceeded that night. And while we always have free will, I could not ignore the very thing I teach: I had to move in the Spirit of Truth.

THE ENEMY

I’ve learnt a lot in this seasonal change – about myself and others. One thing I found immediately was the strength of opposition that can come when resolved to move in God.

This ‘enemy’ or spirit of inequity borrows into and exploits weakness. It undermines our will in God. Its insidious poison gives rise to the spirit of division. And that spirit will separate parent from child, friend from friend, lover from lover, wife from husband, companion from companion, business partners, communities, groups – it won’t matter the connection; once the enemy gets in people are blinded by their own false pride and indignation. And so it was with me and among people I held dear. And with this, as ‘the enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat’(Matthew 13.25), seeds of doubt began to sow in me.

Praise God I now know the deceiving tactics and can recognise the great challenge of remaining with an uncomfortable season. Now, I have complete faith that God will fight for me and give me victory against my enemy (Deuteronomy 20:4).

Now.

I didn’t have that faith when thoughts turned to betrayal, hurt, anger, rejection. I wasn’t in God’s strength on the Sunday I told two dear friends of my plans to leave, and watched their crushed faces; or after falling out with those I love most; or when I declared my intention to rethink moving altogether. I didn’t know about the enemy then. I only knew that something was broken.

And that something was me.

BROKEN

The Sunday evening I returned from my friends at church I cried so hard. Never before have I wept such a flood in my life. Uncontrollable, ruined crying that had me wandering the house blindly hitting up against walls and doorways. Tears just pouring down – where do they all come from? It was as if the love of my life was dead. And it was existential too – a torrent of grief. An inconsolable pain as if I was crying for all of humanity; as if all the pain of the world was coursing through me.

Collapsed just wanting to die really, begging to die: just take me please, utterly broken, sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. Finally, leaning up against my bed, completely spent, I fell asleep. In and out of dream for however long, I dragged myself out of this fitful slumber, opened my eyes…

…and there was Jesus.

‘STAND UP IN ME’

Stand up in me’, he said.

Jesus said.

Jesus was just standing right in front of me. I kid you not. And he was actually talking to me.

His arm was extended down to me as if offering me a lift up.

Stand up Karolyne. Stand up in me‘, he repeated.

And he leant down towards me. His hand extended out, wanting me to take his arm, he said again: ‘Stand up in me’.

And me being me, I made sure that it was actually the son of God and not some enemy trickery. I remembered Tamav Irini saying to St Mercurius when he came to her: ‘Now do the cross, and tell me the Lord’s prayer’. And as this thought crossed my mind a kind of smile appeared on Jesus’ face. He had straightened up, acknowledged my reference, and leant forward again, saying:

Stand up in me. I am of God’.

I took his arm, and he lifted me up. I had this incredible sense of weightlessness. I am saved. And I just stood before him, looking into eyes of Light as he repeated:

Stand up in me. Walk with me. Follow me.’

And I asked ‘Where?’

And Jesus said, ‘Home. Come Home’.

I looked at him and he continued, ‘Follow your heart’.

And then he showed me the sanctuary at the monastery in New Zealand, which is what my Heavenly Father had shown me when He told me we were moving. And Jesus showed me the picture at the far end of the room – a sacred painting of St Peter’s Monastery on Mount Athos – a representation of himself, of Christ.

And he said, ‘Come home Karolyne’.

And there was a great sense of Peace and rightness that fell upon me then, as if I had always been moving towards this moment.

I let that rightness settle in me.

Jesus waited then said, ‘One more thing’.

I looked at him, and he bade me, ‘Breathe the Gospel Karolyne. Breathe the Gospel.’

And I acknowledged him, blinked and he was gone.

SEASONS

We all move through seasons of change; seasons that we often don’t recognise or understand, rally against and try to move away from; seasons our soul is moving us in for a plan we cannot see, but are invited to trust in.

Some of these seasons are laid out in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which begins, ‘For everything there is a season, and a time to every matter under heaven’. My season of breaking down is coming to an end. Broken, I have stood up in Christ. I begin to live his Gospel, even now as I finalise the remaining things to organise for my move.

This was a hard season. The hardest. Of course, they are not all like this… This was a time of loving and hating, mourning and dancing, embracing and refraining from embracing, weeping and laughing, a time to die and a time to be born all within the season of breaking down. It revealed that we can experience many mini seasons within the broader seasons of God’s plan and divine movement in us.

So, how might we navigate these seasons?

  • Firstly, we recognise the season we are in
  • We adapt our thinking and behaviour to suit it
  • We trust in God that this season is right for us now
  • We allow the season to run its course
  • We vigilantly and diligently remain with our season despite disruptions
  • We surrender some more
  • We act according to the season
  • We notice seasonal change and welcome the shift when it comes… flowing into our next season…

Most importantly, we know that God is working a magnificent plan for us.We might not have to be broken as I was to surrender to this plan; we might simply have to seek God’s will in all we do, and he will show us which path to take (Proverbs 3:6). Mine is clear – I am heading home, and I am living the Gospel – Jesus’ teachings – and embracing this season in its fullness!

Whatever season we find ourselves in right now, my prayer is that we are able to embrace it and trust, and open to all the fruits that come with such faith.

Angels will guard you in all your ways

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways‘ Psalm 91:11

One of the precious things about travelling and staying in B&Bs is the stories people share.

Staying in Downpatrick, the burial place of St Brigid, St Columba and St Patrick, Rob and I stayed at a B&B close to Down Cathedral in order to take Holy Communion during Lent. The morning service was very moving. Locals were welcoming and friendly, but it was our breakfast at the B&B that truly blessed us.

The B&B was clean and non-descript. No family photos, paintings or prints gave away details of the owner’s private life. The only personal items hung in the house entry. We hadn’t noticed them the night before but coming down to breakfast, they shone like diamonds in the desert.

Small alabaster sculptures of Irelands spiritual life: Celtic crosses, such as the one seen here, now in my mentoring room, St Brigid crosses, angels, churches, spirals, four-leaf clovers and so on.

I set my heart on the cross you see here in the photo, which was marked 30 Euro. Our host, Margaret would only accept 20 Euro but I insisted. Rob spoke with her about faith blessing, and the notion of paying forward in God. Margaret was very taken with the idea and said moved to leave the dining room to get our breakfast, she said she’d give the extra 10 Euro to a favourite charity.

Rob and I commonly practice a form of Grace before eating meals. That morning we hadn’t realised that our host had returned and was waiting in the doorway with our toast until we’d finished.

Margaret placed the assortment of white and brown toast on the table, stood back, hesitated, smiled, and then walked out. This hesitancy happened a couple of times, until we were finished breakfast and about to leave the room. Margaret then sat down on the couch opposite the dining table and began to open up about her story.

‘I don’t speak about this much’, she began, ‘but I feel I can tell you both.’

Rob and I sat back, both with a sense of Holy Spirit healing in the room.

Margaret’s story began with her son, Jonathan, aged 5 telling her she mustn’t feel sad when he goes away. Naturally, Margaret asked him what he meant. He relayed that an angel had told him that he would come to live with them as a boy. Margaret hid her shock and fear from her son, but thereafter attempted to make every moment with him as meaningful as possible. She’d been brought up Catholic but was no longer practising and hadn’t been to church since a child. Still, she told us, she had faith.

At 10 years old, John was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

That year, in an attempt to do anything that might help heal her son, Margaret, her daughter, John and Margaret’s closest friend all went to Lourdes. There, in the grotto where St Bernadette received her visions of St Mary, Margaret begged a reluctant John to stand in the healing waters. After much resistance, the boy removed his shoes and socks and soaked his feet.

Margaret described then a great peace that came upon her boy. She told us how his physical body was never healed but that from that moment on, John went about with a sense of inner ease. When he suffered, he was profoundly philosophical and mindful of others. She conveyed a great love that came from him after Lourdes.

Sadly, John passed a year later.

Margaret was surprisingly calm when she told us of this awful loss. She smiled a little and continued, saying that a few days before he became unresponsive, John, who could barely talk by then, asked his mother to lean forward. He whispered to her:    

‘Don’t be afraid mum. It’s all right. Place me in the bed of pink roses next to the water. The angel will be there. And so will I. It’s okay. I’ll be okay’.

Rob and I listened quietly as this brave mother’s words flowed out amid the gentle tears that had started to fall.

Margaret held onto John’s ashes not knowing what to do with them; not wanting to let him go, when one day, she and the friend who had travelled with the family a few years earlier were in a local book store.

Margaret recounted to us how a book fell off the shelf she was standing in front of. She picked it up without looking at the title and replaced it. Continuing to browse, she startled as the book fell from the shelf again. A little puzzled, Margaret picked it up once more and securely stowed it away. At this point, she described turning away from the shelves and walking towards Jenny who was in the opposite aisle. Jenny had already turned to meet her and yelped as the same book ‘leapt’ out of the shelf and landed at the feet of Margaret.

Our B&B host looked at us a moment, checking for any scepticism in our faces. Having heard of many similar experiences over the years, indeed, having had them myself, and with Rob having worked the miracle healing circuit, neither of us batted an eyelid.

Margaret continued:

‘I know what it sounds like’, she said, ‘but Jenny was there, and she’d heard it drop twice before. When it came out the third time, Jenny swore, and left the store!’ We all laughed at this point.

Margaret told us how she bent down and turned the book over. It was a book on angels. She sighed, took it to the register, paid for it and promptly stowed it in her bookshelf at home forgetting it was there.

About 3 years later she was sitting in a café when she noticed the woman at the table next to her reading the same book. Wondering what had become of it, Margaret went home and began reading. Within its pages were stories about people’s real life angelic encounters, miracle healings and prophesy.  As Margaret read the book she felt it was speaking into some the experiences she had shared with her son over the short span of his life. By the end of the book, Margaret was ready to spread John’s ashes.

That year, the same friend, Jenny was returning to Lourdes. Margaret’s mother had taken quite ill, and ended up passing, so she couldn’t go. It was with great reluctance but with a sense of divine guidance, that Margaret handed over John’s ashes to Jenny, sure that Lourdes – the place that had so impressed itself upon her son – was where he had meant his ashes to be scattered.

Late in the afternoon, Margaret got a call from Jenny who was somewhat distressed.

‘Peg’, she said, ‘I’m so sorry, but I’ve looked everywhere for some water and pink flowers but there’s nothing like that here’.

Margaret described her sense of sadness, as if she’d let John down, and felt anger at herself for having gone with a silly notion of divine guidance.

Jenny asked if Margaret thought it best just to scatter the ashes near the statue of St Bernadette, seeing as how John had been so taken with the saint. Margaret agreed.

Jenny, who wasn’t too far away from the grotto entrance, stayed on the phone as she walked to the rise where the statue stands. Margaret could hear her greeting people as they passed, and her friend’s breathing as she held the phone to her ear, the urn presumably in her other hand.

Then all of a sudden, Margaret heard a cry, a crash, and some loud swearing. Then silence.

When Jenny called back moments later she was crying.

‘Peg, peg, you’ll never believe it. You’ll never believe it. I was walking along the path, moved to get closer [to the statue] by walking over the water – I know, I know – well, I ****ing well tripped on something didn’t I, fell on my a***, and the urn, oh Peg, the urn broke!!’

Margaret listened, shocked but silent. Thoughts running through her head but no words as Jenny continued:

‘Peg. Peg, you’ll never guess. The urn broke and all of John’s ashes spilled out all over the foot of Bernadette, and guess what??? They fell on top of all these pink roses!!’

Margaret could barely comprehend her friend’s message.

As it turned out, the Italian party 

that Jenny had passed on the path had laid out a fresh array of pink roses for St Bernadette. When Jenny fell, smashing the urn, John’s ashes spilled out all over the roses at the feet of his beloved saint.

John’s dying words to his mother to place him on the pink flowers near the water and he and the angel would be there, came to be.

Margaret joined her friend in tears and with great healing knew beyond doubt – as St John of the Cross says, she had a ‘knowing beyond all science knowing’ that her son had been guarded over by angels, and she guided by angels.

As you can imagine, Rob and I were both incredibly moved by Margaret’s story, and that she felt able to share it with us. We came away feeling blessed, humbled and grateful. Our prayers for Margaret and her family were raised up in the Downpatrick church that morning.

You may know people who have suffered terrible tragedy – maybe even yourself – who have been upheld by happenings in life that defied everyday occurrences. My own life, as well as those of my students and clients, is full of the glory of angelic, saintly, Holy Spirit and Christ’s presence. God wants to be in this kind of relationship with us. And our soul sings a whole other tune of faith when we open to God’s majesty in trust and faith.

From Margaret’s story we can see that she entered into that relationship with her son and with God through belief, prayer, healing action, faith, dialogue, creativity, response to guidance, trust, openness and more. These, along with scripture, church, fellowship and reading the words of others of faith can help us move into the stream of God’s Light in our life.

In the end, and in the face of such loss, Margaret did this and was comforted by knowing that just as her son had said, he was ‘okay’.

Divine Synchronicities

 ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to God’s purpose’  Romans 8:28

If you think about it, you’ve likely had moments when you just know angels have brought aspects of God’s plan for you into alignment. These angelic acts appear as favourable coincidences, but when we live and have our being in faith, we recognise them as divine synchronicities that create for us small or major miracles, or rich happenings of joy and flow. Everything lines up and the sense of wellbeing, and being part of something greater than ourselves is truly palpable. Well, our trip from beginning to end was amazingly blessed with these divine synchronicities. They began on the first day of our travels…

Kilmany, Fife, Scotland

On a dreich and grey day of April 6 we began our pilgrimage locally researching 5 generations of Presbyterian ministers in the Perth-Fife area here. Our divine synchronicities began to play out immediately: We just happened to be ‘lost’ and driving in a tiny village of Kilmany on the only

miserably wet day of our trip when we saw a man out in the garden! Of all the weathers to garden. We stopped and lowering the window, called him over to ask him directions to the local church where our ancestor had preached and lo and behold he was a practising Anglican, and not only knew the family name we looked for – Borwick or Borthwick – but had published his thesis on the local church and its pastoral history – and gave us a copy of his book! What a start!

Orkney Isles, Scotland

If you’ve never been to the top end of Scotland, pop it on your must-do list.

Honestly, the vast openness of sea and sky; the isolation and natural beauty is magnificent. We stayed in Kirkwall in a lovely self-catering B&B, which lent itself to our vegan cooking and meant we could walk to St Magnus’ cathedral where we acknowledged our Norse ancestry. We had the Ring of Brodgar – that Neolithic henge 

and stone circle of 3000BCE – to ourselves and our visit to the Italian Chapel was blessed too. Arriving to find the church closed, I spied a woman leaving the ticket office and approached her. Explaining that Rob was from New Zealand, and had hoped to see the chapel due to his wife of thirty years, now passed having been Italian. The woman said not a word but opened the office door again, came out with a set of keys, led us to the church and proceeded to give us a private viewing of the chapel. She also happened to be of the family that hosted the Italian Prisoner of War who painted the chapel, Domenico Chiocchetti when he was alive and would return to visit the island and his chapel. So we had not only had the beauty of it to ourselves but we received in-depth story of the the Italian POWs and how the chapel came to be. A beautiful testimony to faith built in such a time troubled times.

Kells, Ireland

One of our special hopes was to view the Book of Kells (c.800CE) in Dublin. Even though the original is locked away somewhere safe, seeing the brilliant duplicate was on our ‘wouldn’t that be fabulous’ list. Unfortunately, with little time in Ireland we made the hard decision to by-pass Dublin. As a small consolation we decided instead to simply drive through the town of Kells where the manuscript Gospel was housed in a Columban monastery for centuries. Upon entering Kells we spied Columba’s church and drive into the grounds, gates open to receive us. The doors to the main chapel were open and we entered. We crossed ourselves accordingly with Rob touching the ground when the priest approached me. ‘I see you are Orthodox’, he said. ‘Yes, we are’ I admitted, not knowing if this was appropriate. And then… ‘Would you like to see the Book of Kells?’ I kid you not! He took us over to an alcove where a direct replica of the book was encased and several of its illuminations available to view. We took our time marvelling and appreciating, and as we were leaving, the only other person in the church, a woman with keys in her hand said ‘You had good timing, didn’t you?’ We looked at her enquiringly. She explained she and the priest had only opened the doors for that 20 minute window to set up for the Easter festivities the next day. The church was actually closed to the public! Divine Synchronicity.  
Easter Sunday, Durham

Finally, joy of joys! Christ is Risen! And so did we at 4am for the dawn Easter service at Durham Cathedral. And what an exceptional service it was. The service began with the lighting of a bonfire outside in the large grass compound within the walls of the cathedral grounds. It included a number of candidates for baptism and for confirmation. It was an extraordinary ritual that raised sentiments of the old Druidic, blended with modern day Christianity. Candles were lit from the bonfire and the clerical procession eventually made its way inside this huge ancient cathedral. We all followed, and our candles were lit from the candles of the priests and deacons. The service continued in candle light for some time, to the extraordinary voices of a full choir including brilliant sopranos, and the huge sounds of a pipe organ.

Eventually, after a truly wonderful celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and all the hope and joy he has manifested in the world because of his life, the lights came on and our hundreds of candles were one by one extinguished. We heard the gospel, a very apt sermon from the Bishop, and sang a myriad of responses and hymns very well selected for a contemporary and personally relevant celebration of the several elements of this service: the resurrection, baptisms, confirmations, and holy communion. Tears of gratitude flowed from us both so moving was God’s presence in this Cathedral. At the end of the service people began to pour outside but we lingered. This was fortunate indeed because Rob had really wanted to see the tomb of St Cuthbert and King Aiden of the 500-600s. This was almost top of his ‘must do’ list for our pilgrimage. The only thing was – the tomb was closed for Easter Sunday!! Just one of the small miracles of our time was me approaching one of the deacons. One man past me first and my Heavenly Father whispered into my mind ‘Waaait’, so I did. Another man approached and I heard within ‘Now’. I approached the deacon with a large smile and a ‘Happy Easter’ and a few moments later we were escorted through the high altar to the sacred area atop the whole cathedral where we had a private viewing St 

Cuthbert’s tomb. To say that we were both completely over taken by the Spirit of reverence and joy and gratitude is an understatement! At length we left this area through a door that brought us back into the high altar area of the Cathedral. Three deacons were organising the altar items but other than them we were entirely alone in this vast and magnificent Cathedral. We couldn’t believe our eyes and God’s blessing. As if we were invisible, we took innumerable photos and video clips of all the standout features, artwork and sculptures, and then, when we were completely satisfied we let ourselves out the main entrance door, lingering on the grassy pathways where lie the graves of ancient knights and nobility and saints.

Cultivating Divine Synchronicity

Within reach is the personhood of God wanting to be in relationship with us; patiently waiting for us to turn around and embrace that Divine invitation. When we take up that offer we change. We spiritually increase as our will and God’s will increasingly align. And a harvest of blessing flows into our life. 

Where do we begin?

  1. We start by acknowledging the Divinity within us; that the essence of God within us yearns to be in relationship with us; to guide us on our trajectory and life purpose towards a destiny of unity. 
  2. We enter into communication with that Divinity – the Beloved. We pray. We speak within or aloud. We worship. We sing. We share our innermost.
  3. We trust and have faith in the promise of God we can depend upon. We depend upon that promise until it proves to be true in our life. Paul in Hebrews 11:1 says: ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’
  4. Understand that the Divinity within is working for us and that we can listen and watch for Its guiding influence. There are ways to discern this and with practice it comes. For example, we recognise the influence of the Divine by the way It speaks into our current context; how that influence is only ‘good’ for us;  the blessing that it brings to us and others…
  5. Expect miracles. Expect that God within wants to uplift and spiritualise your life, and that the old ways of thinking, being and living are transformed when we begin to lean into the Divine relationship.
  6. Act in faith. When divine synchronicity shows itself to us we have a choice whether to embrace the opportunity or not. Remembering that every encounter with God uplifts and spiritually increases us; Divine synchronicity often requires us to act in ways that stretch us – speaking out when voice is our challenge; saying yes when it’s more familiar or comfortable to say no; whatever our growth points are, our relationship with the Divine will nurture and in some instances stretch them. In most of encounters of Divine synchronicity the blessing came after either myself or Rob had acted on it and spoken up; action in vulnerability equals courage; action in divine synchronicity equals faith – a little bit of both amplifies our harvest of blessings. 
  7. Gratitude absolutely grows the experience of Divine synchronicities. Research shows that adopting an attitude of gratitude statistically enhances not only a person’s rate of success in challenging situations but overall sense of wellbeing. When we are filled with awe and reverence, worship and gratitude – when we are Glorifying God – the harvest of blessings also grows and grows. This can be expressed as simply as a one-word prayer of ‘Thank you’. Thank you, thank you, thank you – as your heart opens to the majesty that is you in connection with the Beloved. 

Holy Whole Spiritual Being

Tuesday, 31 July, 2018

‘Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.’  1 John 4:8

With light rain clearing, I went out into the garden and up into the back grasses. Summer warmth has brought all manner of life to the ground, flowers, and trees. For a moment I wondered how God would marvel at such creation. What beauty the Holy of Holies has created with Mother Spirit and Earth. As I turned my thoughts this way, I found myself dedicating my walk to God. And as if I was introducing a Beloved to the wonder of the world for the first time, I offered up my joy to my Heavenly Father. I saw through new eyes each creature, colour, texture, living growth. I was in love with it all… See, look here, you made this flower, this bumblebee, this prickly thistle; you made this loving smile. Oh, let me show you it all. It was so beautiful, and so rich to experience the land and creation as an offering in relationship to God.

And yet, there was a time when I could not have even said the word, let alone conceive of a notion that God existed.

Life dreaming

My awakening to the divine was slow. It began with a dream of fragmentation, fear and bodily death! I was only 17 years old, but in the dream, Mother Mary came to me and showed me the challenge of my path – to reunite my scattered parts. The Holy Mother took my hand and led me down a corridor of light. With such tenderness she smiled, ‘It will be a long journey and it will be painful, but it will be worth it’. And yes, she was right. In my waking state I couldn’t fathom why Mary had come to me. I had no faith formation path and religion had played only a miner part in my life when I was a child sporadically taken to church by a neighbour. I have since learnt that I come from a long line of prophetic Scottish Presbyterian ministers, and wonder if my genes were talking into me! Regardless, the dream was embedded and over the years it gave me comfort that I was guided.

‘You really believe that?’

It was another twenty years or more before my heart truly opened to the rhythm of the divine. As a young adult, I didn’t believe in God. I knew that there was symmetry in the world, and that there were unexplained happenings, spirit and natural synchronicities that hinted at a creative pattern. But I thought Jesus was either an alien from the stars or a fictitious character out of the minds of humans, the protagonist in an historical drama. And the idea that an old man in the clouds doled out mercy and punishment failed to convince me of God. High-school debates with Christian friends, who argued for the existence of an unseen almighty creator, simply left me feeling sorry for the way their parents had obviously brainwashed them as their own parents had done generation after generation. As far as I was concerned, there was no-one holding the reins on all that mystery, and the people in the Bible were simply characters in a story.

Over time, apathy toward religion turned into antipathy. I couldn’t even say the word ‘God’. I associated God, church and Christianity with war, torture, death, hypocrisy and the persecution of women. I couldn’t have told you where those feelings came from; I only knew that they were there inside. And I had no answers for why a supposedly benevolent God would let his creations suffer so badly and consistently.

Coming to God

Given all this resentment, imagine my surprise when what I call ‘the miracle night’ happened. It was in the middle of winter, on a night just like any other. I was 40 years old and sound asleep in my Melbourne apartment. In the early hours of Wednesday 19 August 2008, I awakened suddenly, and became aware that I was not alone in the room. Terrified, realising that something or someone was hovering above my bed, I became very still. When I opened my eyes, I saw a young boy floating cross-legged in the air above my knees. He appeared about seven years old. He held out his right hand and looked down at several small, coloured orbs floating above his palm. They looked like jellybeans, but like the boy, they glowed the most peaceful, powerful light.

The boy looked from the objects in his hand to me, and without a word, communicated that these tiny lights could show me what I had not yet integrated – what was keeping me from being whole. Watching the small orbs float and rotate I was suddenly back into the hospital ward where I had visited my grandmother only a few days before. I was rubbing cream into her heels where they were raw from the hospital sheets, and I felt such love – the kind of unconditional love that a parent feels for their child. And then I was back in my bedroom with the hovering boy. I followed his gaze to the centre of my chest and saw a cavity that went right through my body, and as I marvelled at it, my deep love for my grandmother resonated within, and I heard the child say in my mind, Turn that love around and love your self so.

And with those words, I turned my attention to my self in love and compassion, and I felt a build-up of energy that rose and rose, and burst out from the heart cavity in the most brilliant white light. It streamed out of me, and yet I could still feel the love nestling within me like a dear friend long absent. I knew in that moment that the journey of integration was the journey to loving myself. And I realised then that this beautiful child was a messenger of God.

The angel’s radiance and my own light are the last things I remember from that night. The next I knew, it was daylight. There was no angel in my room. Everything was just as it had been when I went to bed – except that it wasn’t. Everything had changed, because I was changed. Suddenly, and most profoundly, I knew God. I had come to love, real love. And I knew beyond all knowing that we are born to find our way home to God, and to that love.

I could speak the word ‘God’ now. I knew the feeling of God. I could argue, if I needed to, that God existed. But I couldn’t have explained what God was, or even what it meant for me to have reached this profound experiential truth. I had no frame of reference for my new state so I drew on the new age and Qabalistic teachings with which I was familiar. These clothed my experiences in 7 years of tangible understandings that satisfied my seeking of truth, beauty and goodness, but they did not engender faith. It was only when Jesus entered my heart that faith blossomed in me, and my life changed in ways I could never have imagined.

… and Jesus

My first encounter happened in an everyday way. I was lying on a physiotherapy couch with acupuncture needles in my skin and third eye. The physiotherapist left the room, but with eyes closed I suddenly felt a presence in the space. Opening to see, there was Jesus standing at the bottom of the couch. He was looking at me, arms wide open, and he said ‘Come to me child’. And was gone. But not before allowing me to feel the immense love he had for me.

Many years later, it occurred to me that this was the beginning of my faith (more on faith in another message).

Loving and Knowing ourselves

Although the Bible does not command us to love ourselves, it is implied that we already do in the verse ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’, Mark 12:31. I liken this to the aeroplane safety rules when travelling with little children: put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then you are more readily able to assist the child. Love yourself and you are freely available to love others. 

Over the years since first coming to love God and welcoming Jesus into my heart, I have experienced rich spiritual connection, and self-healing. This, and my work with companions in the Spiritual You™ programme has highlighted the value of not only loving ourselves but really knowing ourselves.

It’s not only modern psychology and mainstream consciousness studies that compel us to plumb the recesses of our psyche, motivations and behaviours for the sake of a richer life and societal contribution; there are countless passages in many religious texts, including the Bible that compel us to understand ourselves. 

Towards connection

One of the great maladies of our time is our sense of disconnection. And one of the great tragedies of our time is the plethora of ways western culture perpetuates isolation and dislocation through technologies and devices, whether material or by way of individualist, competitive, norm and strength-based rhetoric that generates disconnection in those who do not see themselves reflected in their culture, environment or the systems that govern them. Such is the magnitude of the isolationist paradigm that the illusion of separation extends not only to self and other, but to self and environment, Earth, and self and God or the divine. 

Increasingly, we detect a yearning in society to connect, and a push toward experience that massages truth, beauty and goodness within an individual, relationship and communities. When we come to love and know ourselves, we heal the perception of separation that our historical and cultural wounds amplify.

The great angelic gift I was given helped me to see that my wrath towards God was rooted in my own childhood experiences of powerlessness, and later as an adult as this translated into a sense of injustice in the world. I felt it incongruous that a benevolent God could allow such pain and global atrocities, or condone horrors in His or Her name. It’s only recently as my two notions of that mystery of life and God have coalesced that I am at rest in new understandings, which I hope to share as we go along. And that in my care of self, I have been able to come Home to the Beloved. My prayers are that each of us can move and live and have our being in the world in ways that bring us to greater connection, however and whatever that looks like for you.  

So in this series of messages I’ll explore some of your questions within the context of my work, my personal and Spiritual You client experiences while drawing on the Word and Spirit to lead us. I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

Invitation to Reflect

  • What would you count as a spiritual experience?
  • Have you had spiritual experience/s that altered your perception of life? And did you change any aspects of your life according to the spiritual revelation?
  • Do you believe in a Supreme Being or creative power? How does that enrich or influence your life?
  • How do you experience the presence of God within yourself?
  • Do you love yourself? How do you know and show it?
  • What helps you to connect?

I’m Karolyne Quinn. Thank you for joining me in this message Holy Whole Spiritual Being. May we meet again. In the meantime, bonny wishes, and God Bless.


Image Credit – Velvet Dream by Freydoon Rassouli 


KAROLYNE IS A SPIRITUAL MENTOR, WRITER AND TEACHER, LIVING AND WORKING IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.

Lostness & Presence: Part 3. I was lost and now am found

This is the third and final part of this series of Messages… Listen to the Podcast here… 

Thursday, 28 June, 2018

‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Luke 15:6 

In Parts 1 and 2 of Lostness and Presence, we were invited to stay with and befriend our lostness, moving through pain and uncertainty, fear and doubt into curiosity and silence, and deep inner listening. In the final part of this message, we learn to deepen our ability to listen in ways that promote and strengthen being found. And we acknowledge that the shift from being lost to being found can be a gradual one.

We cannot hide when we are lost. Truly, we are naked in emotion and body, in environment and thought. We allow the air of lostness to completely overcome us. We submit to its permeating the fibre of our being so that even our body may at times feel foreign while our thoughts are unsure. We completely let be into this lostness. And in this state, we are primed so fully to hand ourselves over to the Spirit of our soul.

I open to being found

We open to being found a number of ways, including but not limited to: prayer, meditation, contemplation and reflection, ceremony in nature, creativity, spiritual counselling and accompaniment. You may have your own ways of listening deeply for the soul’s return. And you’ll likely find that you resonate more with some methods than others. I tend towards Jesus, prayer, chant, and quiet contemplation and meditation. I also take time on the land, with nature. I’ll be open to the Holy Spirit moving through birds, wind, trees, animals and the ways these speak to my interior world and the depth of my lostness or how the gifting of signs points to my being found.

Here is a small summary of ways of being in lostness… 

Prayer

In prayer, our uncertainty is given over to the Other. As Jesus said, ‘I will not leave you a spiritual orphan. I am coming for you’, you are invited to surrender into God’s hands. This abandonment of worry, of having to know, of reaching for, can be deeply satisfying, and life affirming. And while the art of prayer in relationship with the Other has taken a back seat in popular philosophies of consciousness and identity formation, the very intention to turn, through worship or appeal can in itself be uplifting. It may simply be that we voice our request in prayer. It may be that we beseech the Lord for answers. You’ll have your own words, and perhaps even your own deity, or none. Either way, prayer is a powerful method of opening and surrendering, of handing over our burden to be carried by the Other, and of listening for ‘the return’. The return is that echo of response, whether in deep silence, words, indications or signs, that signals you have been heard. 

Remember to pray confidently. To hand all you need to over to the Other. Be natural in your expression, honest and open. Be clear with your intentions and motives of only goodness. Speak your vulnerabilities, your frustrations, fears, doubts, and hopes. Just pray true, and trust that your prayers are received without judgement. And lean into the lighter feeling of having laid down your burden.

Ceremony

As ecotherapist and depth psychologist, Bill Plotkin writes, ‘We hear the Other through the numinous declarations of dreams, deep imagery, inner voices, sudden insights or revelations, synchronicities, powerful emotion, love, death, the voice of God, and epiphanies of nature. These communications from within (soul) and without (nature) and both/neither (Spirit) constitute the Other’s way of speaking to us. We make it a conversation by way of ceremony.’ Ceremony in this context is the active engagement of intention and awareness built around a form of conscious noticing, awaiting the return, having invited the Other to aid us. This can be a walk in the woods and a deliberate encounter with the trees and all that nature has to offer. It could be asking a question before you go to sleep and recording your dreams for answers in the morning. It may be the resounding voice within that speaks a truth unlike what you’ve heard before. Or those moments of synchronicity when the revealing to us of signs and wonders helps us to become found.

Meditation

When we meditate we are questing for an inner relationship with self and Other in some form, whether active or passive meditation. Generally, in meditation we are doing the work, and we seek to have a conversation with the Other. In mindfulness meditation, this conversation is with presence; awareness of being in the moment. We become the observer of all that is happening within us; the external and internal stimuli that gives rise to thought, feeling, sensation, memory, emotion. We rest and are curious in our observation, noticing the rising and falling of inner activity. There are many online and in-person mindfulness classes and courses available these days to help you in this coming to presence and awareness. Through mindfulness, we can come to know ourselves better – our processes, reactions, beliefs, limiting thoughts, emotional responses. By knowing ourselves we create greater options for us and are freer to choose more healthy and helpful ways of being. 

In religious, faith-based or spiritual meditation, we continue the relationship, but we are seeking out the Other through various forms of inner dialogue, whether verbal, imaginative, sensory or thinking. We are beseeching, searching, and actively pursuing that relationship with an expectation that our inner endeavours will elicit a returning Word that will ease or guide. 

Contemplation 

Both contemplation and meditation have the similarity of quietening the soul, but where meditation involves focus, contemplation moves out of meditation towards a lightly holding of a seed thought, sentence or concept. We take the subject of contemplation into the quiet space with us, and permit our mind to move in and out of touch with it. In considering the seed thought, we roll it around, ponder it and allow revelation to rise up; we consider it again; we question it; we converse with it; praise it; thank it, ask for guidance, forgiveness, help, and we flow back into considering and conversing with it… In and out of engaging the contemplative subject with our own light touch, while simultaneously we offer it up to our soul. It is in this space that we are open to the return of the Other in relation to the seed thought. Here, in the contemplative space, God reveals His deep interest and love for us, and we come to fuller immersion in our relationship with God.  

Spiritual Accompaniment

Spiritual Accompaniment can be a formal or informal process with another person, generally of the religious or church that helps someone come closer to God. In our times of great spiritual awakening, both companion and seeker may be secular laypersons of any variety of spiritual paths. However, in the role of accompaniment, the spiritual companion fosters a space of trust in which to open to deep connection with the wisest source of freedom and joy. It is a space where we are held in our deeper understanding and awareness of the presence and movement of the great mystery or God in our life. We have a companion to accompany us as we move through uncertainty, doubt, fear, jubilation, discovery and myriad other emotions as we experience and respond to our spiritual unfoldment. The space is a fostering of support and encouragement as we enter a relationship with the Other, God or Source, through coming to unity of self. In this way, we remember the holiness of wholeness. This is the space that I primarily share with people these days in my Spiritual You™ programme. 

Connection

In the silent space of being lost, we open ourselves to being found. As we have discussed over these weeks, when at first we experience uncertainty and fear in our lostness, we are invited to remain with those states. For even when we are lost, all is not lost. Though we may feel the abyss of uncertainty swallowing us, paralysing our decision-making abilities, still, there is a greater force, a higher power that we can hand our lostness over to. We lean into presence and discern there all the pain and emptiness, uncertainty and lostness. And if we stay there, if we can be there with awareness and with openness, eventually, with some measure of self-support or practice, we come to connection.  We come out of our expectations and imagined future to make space for being present with the soul. Everything inside quietens down and this gives the soul a chance to speak true with us. In this state of presence, God or Spirit moving through our soul, speaks to us, and there we come to discern the desire we have for a loving union with that Source; not as a matter of dissolution of self, but as a relationship and a way to live our life. In this, we look to connection – not happiness, not joy, not contentment or desire, dream or anything else. When we look to connection, the Holy Spirit works wonders. The Spirit of God in us awakens and us come into relationship with it, and everything else follows.  

I Am Found

So, in lostness, having rested there a while, we begin to emerge by being presence and connection. And we aim high! We reach for the Other, however we perceive that – for me it’s God. It may be something else for you. But we go to that place, and if it’s God, we ask Jesus to take us there… Jesus, take me and connect me with the Spirit of God within me… Know that this is a great path of connection; that whenever there is lostness we are simply experiencing the falling away of out-dated ways of being, and that our state of presence helps us to realise this truth, and to guide us into newness.

Staying in lostness for the transformation is not necessarily easy, but out the other side, it is magnificent!  From the clear light of truth and harmony we can rejoice, I was lost, and now I am found.

To read Part 1. Leaning into our lostness, visit here…
To read Part 2. We need our lostness, visit here…
To see what else Karolyne offers, visit here…


Image Credit – Angels on Earth. Freydoon Rassouli

KAROLYNE IS A SPIRITUAL MENTOR, WRITER AND TEACHER, LIVING AND WORKING IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.

Lostness and Presence: Part. 2. We need our lostness

This is the second part of a three part message… Listen to the Podcast here…

Wednesday, 20 May, 2018

‘For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.’ Psalm 73:14

In Part 1 of Lostness and Presence, we were invited to lean into our lostness; to stay in that place we call lost and to be curious about it. What are its characteristics? And in that space, with awareness, coming to know our inner needs. Here, in Part 2, we say we need our lostness in order to begin the gradual emergence into new ways of being. Let us start by honouring that we are lost, and opening to not having the answers.  
 
I don’t know

Last weekend, while visiting cousins in London, my heavily pregnant, going-to-give-birth-any-moment cousin explained that she and her partner didn’t want to know the sex of their baby before the day of baby’s arrival in the world: ‘It’s one of the few things that you can’t Google. There aren’t many questions you can’t find answers for online, but we won’t find the sex of our baby there. It’s a really precious thing’. Well, she’s since given birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy, and she had a point. 
 
Lostness is a state that won’t be answered online. And, rather than moving away from grief, from fear, from loneliness, from absence of feeling or reactionary feelings; rather than busying ourselves through distraction and seeking for answers, we hand all of this over to our unknowing; to the ‘I don’t know’. We don’t have the answer, and we simply stop trying to find one. And the moment we surrender to knowing nothing about our state, we become more readily able to know everything about ‘where to from here’.
 
I know only that I am lost

When we surrender to not knowing, and only knowing that we are lost, we leave behind all expectation of where we think we ought to be. We stop beating ourselves up for not having the answers or finding the way; for not being stronger or better or more capable or together. We release the weight of self-expectation. We sigh. We cry. We may rage in despair. But we let all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and ‘have tos’ melt away. And we plop down – in the woods or on the sofa – and we sit in our lostness.  
 
And I breathe

And we breathe. And we breathe. And we breathe. And we breathe. And we bring all our awareness to our breath. We come out of our thoughts and into our body, and through any emotional or physical pain, into our breath. We breathe. And we count our breath. One and two, and three and four, and five, and six… And we breathe.
 
I let go of expectation

As we breathe, we open fully to where we are. We move deeper into presence, into right here, right now. And this is where eco-psychotherapist, Bill Plotkin says the great discoveries happen. In this place, in the where we are, we find that our expectations of ‘what next’ dissolve. By trusting our unknowing enough to stay with it, we surrender our desire for outcome, and in doing so, we relinquish the hold that old stories, history and past experience, other people’s ideals and expectations, and our conditioning has had on us. We effectively release the old and ineffectual or the unhealthy that we relied upon in the past to guide us out of the woods. And we are now available to an entirely new mode of guidance.

I open to deep listening

And in this surrender of expectation, from the space of not doing, even in painful uncertainty, we find lostness is a friend, with whom we have the chance to listen. We open to deep listening.  And we listen in new ways. And there in the stillness we encounter so much beauty speaking to us.
 
And I come home to my self

When the old has dissolved, all expectation let go, we pave the way to discover the new, and we are free to be present to the voice and guidance of our soul; to the murmurings of nature, to connection with God, and to the brush of the Spirit as we come home to our self. Everything quiet now. Except sounds that ring true.
 
And my heart leads the way

And we listen to our heart. Our heart leads the way. As we move into presence and stillness, the rhythmic beat of our heart, rolling gently upon the melody of deep rest, born of surrender, tells our brain, all is well. Our brain tells our body, all is well. And we in turn feel… all manner of things shall be well. Gratitude and appreciation are known to create the ideal conditions for the heart-brain-body state of feeling uplifted and well. As our felt experience changes, we open even more to receiving internal and external stimuli that upholds and guides us anew.

And Spirit is there 

From out of lostness into presence, through gratitude and appreciation, open heartedness and joy, in the silence of surrender, we discern the voice of Spirit – in the leaves in the trees, in the breeze on our face, in the call of the raven, in the dance of the deer. We make space for the voice of Spirit to be heard inside us. Quiet at first, and growing in presence, Spirit is there.

Next Week, Part 3. I was lost and now am found

To read Part 1. Leaning into our lostness, visit here…
To see what else Karolyne offers, visit here…


Image Credit – Fire Dance. Freydoon Rassouli

KAROLYNE IS A SPIRITUAL MENTOR, WRITER AND TEACHER, LIVING AND WORKING IN EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.

Lostness and Presence Part 1 Leaning into our lostness

This is the first part of a three part message… Listen to the Podcast here…

Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

‘I have gone astray like a lost sheep…’ Psalm 119:176

Recently, a dear friend at church asked me if I was okay. She said I felt ‘lost’. I immediately thought, ‘But I feel found’. As I sat with her comment, it occurred to me that even when the old is falling away, paving way for the new and delightful, the right and utterly sublime, still, we can experience the realm of lostness. We can be lost in the interim period of change, whether that change is devastating and bereaving, or our soul is calling us to rise up and move deeper into life-affirming deliciousness. Regardless, the in-between space of familiar-old slipping away and emerging-new not yet arrived, can be a tough place to inhabit. It came to me that my friend had identified my experience of the ground being pulled away as I lean more fully into the call of my soul in God, spiritual accompaniment and ministry. No matter how exciting and right, still the unfolding detail and route engenders a form of lostness in the process of change.
 
During my time in counselling and spiritual companionship with folk, I have heard these sentiments expressed countless times. As keenly as I’ve witnessed the joy of connection, so many people have shared with me their sense of feeling lost, of being ‘unsure’, ‘uncertain’, not being able to ‘find my way’ or ‘feeling stuck’, ‘alone’, and experiencing a ‘dark night of the soul’, which sometimes extends into weeks and months. 
 
One companion on the Spiritual You programme recently said to me, ‘I didn’t even know I was lost, until I saw how stuck in those behaviours I’d been’. And this is often how it is when we are caught in the acts of doing, reacting or responding to situations and emotional states, trying to find resolution. And I’m referring here to those existential moments brought about by our psyche’s dilemmas as our soul projects us upon a momentum of change. Those times when we are called to be in a place of upheaval, turmoil even, emotional unrest and paramount discomfort so that when we emerge out the other side, we do so clear, processed, healed and aligned to the new we have entered.

In these moments, days, confusion, uncertainty, heartache and even in the high-flying groundless joy, we are invited to be radically truthful with ourselves. 
 
I am lost.

Just acknowledging this is a step in a liberating direction. Then staying in the lostness. Allowing ourself to be lost. To sink with fear of never finding our way out. 

I am lost. 

Let us be in this lostness that we may open to what being lost has to teach us. Let us not hide in distraction, denial, excuses and busyness, but rest naked in emotion and body, in environment and thought.

I am utterly lost.

Without compass or roadmap, simply and entirely handing ourselves over to the lostness. At first it will be like holding our breath, bursting for relief. The pain may be so great, and desperate to find a sign, seek out a path, riddle our way through to an answer, we find no such thing. It is then that the primal, instinctual panic rises up. We may flail around, body jolting from pillar to post in search of a way out. We might stand very, very still as the sweat of fear and the unknown drips down our back. Or we may fall in a heap, sobbing like a child so keenly wanting to be held. Natural responses to the state of being lost. Initial reactions to the sudden realisation that we are feet off the ground, treading unfamiliar waters.
 
Here then, we are invited to rest in this place. To allow the air of lostness to completely overcome us. To submit to it permeating the fibre of our being so that even our body feels foreign in the likeness of our unsure thoughts.

Let me be in the lostness.
 
Sinking into the depth or unknowing, the unfamiliar, the fear, doubt, the uncertainty or sense of aloneness – sinking into lostness, we just stay awhile.

I am leaning into this lostness.

We just be in this space. We lean into it. We get to know it. What are the qualities of this state of being? How do our senses experience it? What thoughts are we having there? What feelings and emotions rise up inside of us? We stop. We listen and we look. We allow the damp cloth of fright and flight to settle into curiosity.

What is this place I now call lost? 
 
It is so valuable to our soul’s emergence in our life that we really let our lostness reveal itself to us. What are its needs? What does it reach for as most urgent to survival? What ‘familiar’ is most keenly absent and longed for? And what lengths will our lostness go to so that we are found? Are those measures in our best interests or are they short-term solutions? Do they wither us away, depleting our verve for wholeness, and the rightness of our being… Or do they enrich us, and feed us the story of our soul-psyche-spirit union…

I lean into lostness with awareness
 
From this place of leaning into and resting in our lostness, we come to know our inner needs. And in this stripped bare state, we begin the process of reclothing and nourishing ourself – of returning to what was already, always there. 

Next Week, Part 2, How we find ourself in nature and the mystery of life
To see what else Karolyne offers, 
visit here…


Image Credit – One with the tree. Crescent moon. Susan Seddon Boulet.