Q: Why can’t a leopard hide?
A: Because he’s always spotted.
Q: How do moths swim?
A: Using the butterfly stroke.
Q: What do you get from a pampered cow?
A: Spoiled milk!
Q: Why are spiders so smart?
A: They can find everything on the web.
Q: Which is faster, hot or cold?
A: Hot, because you can catch a cold.
Q: Why are elevator jokes so good?
A: They work on so many levels.
Last Sunday, America celebrated Father's Day. And these jokes reminded me of my father. Are Dad jokes...an affliction you had to endure or a great memory? Sunday started me thinking about all that fatherhood stuff. Do you remember when you realized your father didn't know everything? When his fallibility and foibles as a human became evident? Some of you may have had a lot of that in their life, which made childhood very unpleasant in some cases. There comes a time when we have to remember that Dad's have a past, too. The seed of each of us and our beliefs have history and we should take a look at them in that light, as well.
|Ralph Waldo Emerson
The list goes on...fathers, fathering and fatherhood. During Re-Discovery month, I want to tell you about a man, a father. Though he fathered two daughters, Elizabeth and Eliza, it is of another idea he seeded that I want to blog about today. His name was John Newton.
John Newton once described himself as "arrogant and insubordinate, living with moral abandon." He once said, "I sinned with a high hand and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others." Newton was 22 years old...wow, these millennials!
The slave ship was owned by a trader named Clow who had a lemon plantation on an island off W. Africa. Newton was treated cruelly and beaten by Clow and his African mistress, becoming ragged and having to beg for food. This went on for several years, finally he was transferred to the service of the captain of the Liverpudlian ship, the Greyhound. On its homeward journey, the ship was overtaken by an enormous storm. After thrashing about in the north Atlantic storm for over a week, its canvas sails were ripped and the wood on one side of the ship had been splintered or torn way. The sailors had little hope of survival, but kept working the pumps, trying to keep the vessel afloat. On the eleventh day -imagine 11 days in a constant storm in the very chilly North Atlantic Ocean- after eleven days, Newton was too exhausted to pump. They crew decided to tie him to the helm, so he could keep the ship on course while they continued pumping the sea out of the hull. Newton was tied to the wheel, rain and wind blowing at his face, bludgeoning his body, for 12 hours. Twelve hours! Well, Johnny had a lot of time to think in those hours. His life seemed as ruined and wrecked as the battered ship he was trying to steer. He realized that, since the age of 11, he had lived a life at sea with a reputation for such profanity, coarseness and debauchery that he could make other sailors blush at his antics and behavior. In this contemplation, in the midst of the storm both at sea and in his soul, Newton remembered his mother teaching him a passage from Proverbs 1:24-31 ...
Because I have called and you refused, have stretched out my hand and you did not listen; have ignored all my counsel and were not pleased with my reproof...I also will laugh at your calamity and will rejoice when terror and destruction overtakes you; when your fear shows up as desolation and your destruction shows up as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come upon you. Then you shall call upon me, but I will not answer; you will seek me diligently, but will not find me. Because you hated knowledge, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, you shall eat the fruit of your way, and be filled with the fruit of your beliefs.Let's break this quote down, clarify a few things. First of all, the definition of reproof is admonishment, yes, but it is also, simply, answer. The Universe was saying, "Hey I let you know what was messed up in your life, put a bug in your ear now and then, counselled you, showed you the way, but you did not listen, you weren't please with my answer." Secondly, the passage talks about the Universe laughing and rejoicing at, in this case, Newton's calamity. We understand now that Divine Intelligence doesn't laugh like a human might laugh. The Universe assumes you enjoy or want the crap in your life; your belief is what is mirrored in your experience and until you tell it otherwise, positive or negative experiences will continue. That is the non-judgmental, unconditional love of Spirit. Newton's disconnect with love, peace, grace and wisdom, brought him hate, self-disgust and ignorance. And until he changed his thinking, with the feelings backing those thoughts into his perspectives and beliefs about himself, he undoubtedly imagined the Universe laughing and mocking him. It was his “woe is me” attitude, his self-disgust and, as well, his desire for a better personality, belief system and basic existence that was doing the actual mocking laugh. The Universe does not laugh or mock, but can seem that way as it answers in kind, from your beliefs into your experience. In fact, God's unconditional love can sometimes suck.
Newton waited, like many of us do, till he was in deep.... waters, inwardly and outwardly before he re-connected to Source. Like too many of us, too many times, in midst of the storm, the chaos, the depths of sorrow, the brink of death; Newton began to open his heart and awareness to his birthright, through the muck and mire of his life to reveal the Divinity within him.
Surviving the storm, his life was transformed. John began a disciplined spiritual practice that led him, at 39, to become an Ordained Christian Minister. He quickly became disgusted with the slave trade and his role in it, writing that it was "a business at which my heart now shudders," working with others to have it abolished as part of his Divine calling, though it took a couple of decades.
For the Sunday evening services, Newton often composed a hymn which helped develop the talk for that week. After a few years, 280 of them were collected and combined with 68 hymns by Newton's friend and parishioner, William Cowper, and published as the Olney Hymns. The most famous of the Olney Hymns was originally called "Faith's Review and Expectation." Not exactly a pithy song title. But, by a couple of hundred years later, it had been recorded by the likes of Diana Ross, Judy Collins, The Celtic Women, The Three Tenors, Alan Jackson, Stephen Tyler, Whitney, Elvis, Aretha, Mahalia, and many others. And it had been featured in several movies as diverse as TOMMY BOY, SILKWOOD and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (the best ST film :)) It began like this:
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)Not usually a song you would think to hear in our philosophy, but it is. I have spoken at several spiritual centers that have that song in their service. It has quite a beautiful melody, yes? Now usually they change the word 'wretch' to 'a soul like me.' Understandable, I suppose; don't want to empower that word, 'wretch,' in our life. Yet, let's step back a moment and understand how and why Newton uses that word in the song; acknowledging the facts of his journey. Though the term wasn't used in his time, he avoided the proverbial 'spiritual bypass' and called it like it is; acknowledged his surrender to the Divine by openly admitting to the horrors of his beliefs and actions of the past. This is not a spiritual mind treatment or affirmative prayer. And though thoughts are things and our thoughts (words) are our prayers, this song is describing an evolution, a transcendence, a transformation. He is actually doing, through the dramatic movement of the lyrics, what Ernest Holmes taught us to do... turn away from the condition.
That sav’d a wretch like me!
Let's be factual here; we may not use the word 'wretch,' (especially since it is not common in our vernacular at present) but we use other terms that evokes the same feelings as 'wretch': unfortunate, unhappy, poor, despicable, loser, loafer, coward, failure, and any of the other 'woe is me,' lack and limitation, self-loathing words and phrases we say in our heads and out of our moths. In essence, we are saying, “I am....a wretch.” So let's not sugarcoat this. But, at the same time, let's re-discover the true meaning of the word and its use in the song.
We all have those moments when we feel like limitation and lack is rampant in our minds and life or feel hesitation or that time is against us or we feed on some sort of shame/blame/guilt trip. In those times, effective prayer doesn't always come easily; it is forced, feels whiny or dumb. When those thoughts show up, I believe we can use this song as an affirmation, a start to returning to an open calm heart, not in a whirling dervish of chaos and fear, desperation and hopelessness. We can use this "Amazing Grace" to step up, dig in and reboot our thoughts, feelings and, eventually, beliefs to reveal, illuminate, illustrate and demonstrate our Divine origin; allowing answers to arise and to not only know the Truth about ourselves, but live It. Then, as we see or sense the hints, the red flags, the Divine inspired moments in the Law's plan for the manifestation of our bettered, if not magnificent life, we can sit in gratitude. And gratitude, the acknowledgment of our greatest life being present, will inspire you to make the mental statements and declarations that serve you and reveal the passion and fire within your heart for your greatest good over and over again. We can transform any chaotic fire, dis-ease fire, disappointment, anger, hate or lack and limitation fire into the passionate flames of health, wealth, joyous creativity and loving, respectful, kind relationships.
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)It's time to step up from knowing to believing, and father...and mother...a life that is fabulous, loving, prosperous, happy, full of vibrancy and vitality. Let's do it together, let's do it now....allow yourself to be amazed by your grace!
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Divine Right Action flows through me freely and passionately!
Stepping into the fiery passion of my heart, I gracefully finesse anything and everything with integrity, gratitude and love.