Tag Archives: religion

Join Us For Michelle Church In A Soulless Hotel Room

As I write this I am sitting on my comfortable bed in a Marriott Hotel in California. Maybe it’s something about the soulless hotel room that somehow robs me of the words I love so much. Who’s to say?

What I know for sure is that over the last three days I’ve set at the feet of master teachers and communed with like-minded individuals. It is for further training in my career that I am here, and though I miss Mr Dreamboat, there’s no other place I’d rather be. I feel both full and empty, full of love and light and possibility… and empty of coherent thought.

Or maybe that’s just the soulless room talking.

These last three days have taught me things I never knew and reminded me in a powerful way of things I already did. Perhaps what’s come most clearly into focus is that knowing a truth is quite different than knowing about it. If I am not living it, the depth of the knowing is of little worth.

If I preach judge not and yet I judge, I don’t know it’s true. If I say kindness is the best of all attributes but I am miserly and mean, what is it I really know?

It is of little concern to me to what particular religion you subscribe. What it is I’m far more curious about is how you live, how you love and what beliefs are so deep in your soul that you don’t just know about them, but you breathe them into your life and the lives of those with whom you cross paths.

This week I’ve been reminded of the things that I know about and the things I wish to bind with my DNA in a way that is everlasting. I want to live in such a way that when we meet you feel cared for and loved.

These days I concern myself less with “the great mysteries” I’ve yet to divine, and more with the simple things that really matter to me. I gather these things along the way and with a little luck and a lot of perseverance, they won’t just be a few nice thoughts in my collection, but they will equal a life of knowing the things that really matter.

Whatever your truth, live it. Whatever your beliefs, share them with others by living them. And whatever you know about, be about.

Like, share, comment, tweet and can I get an amen?

How To Be Bad ~ Michelle Church

Somewhere along the way I began to focus on those things I didn’t do over those that I did. That is to say, I found myself worthy based on those things I abstained from over the things I did in every day life.

There is something not right here. Something off.

Making choices in favor of well being is wise. Choosing not to do drugs or abuse our bodies is never a bad idea, but it is not a definition of who we are. And it is most certainly not a definition of who anyone else is relative to us.

We’re all subject to these tiny indulgences. Defining our goodness based on self-sacrifice and control is a vice none of us doesn’t indulge in from time to time. But it’s never healthy. It’s certainly not a worthy practice.

For much of my life I had very specific ideas about what and who was right and what and who was wrong. Based on my own background and history, there were “bad” things and “good” things in every circumstance.

What troubles me most about this very illogical line of thinking is how much judgment is going on. By definition I judged myself as a good person or a bad person depending on the day, the mood or the situation.

As much as I’d like to be able to say I judged no one else along the way, by definition all the world is dragged into our judgments by comparison. If I’m good because I do this, then you are bad if you don’t. Boom. Now no one has to wonder.

I remember being very young and very aware of myself as good or bad. I think the judgments tended to lean toward “bad” when I was still a little kid, for whatever reason.

There’s no denying that by anyone’s account I made some pretty bad decisions as a teenager. I did things that were dangerous and chose relationships that weren’t healthy for me. And I judged myself.

But if you were to ask my mother if I was a “bad kid” I am certain she would tell you I was not. I know her and she’s known me my whole life and while I wouldn’t call her opinion particularly objective, I would say we each know how it feels to love someone regardless of their decisions. Are they good or are they bad? Who’s to say? Not us.

It is only when I can release myself from judgment that I can release you too. You make some good decisions and you make some bad ones. It’s how being human works, but at our essence, we are whole and perfect. We are wabi sabi. And when we can embrace that at our most essential core, we can then gift it to others.

No matter what they do or don’t do.

Like, share, comment, tweet and repeat after me, “I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, happy and grateful.” Feels niiiiiice…

tim mcgraw wisdom

Vicar Michelle & The Rebel Jesus

I have chaffed against The Rules for the entirety of my life. Rubbed raw by their inflexible edges, it is likely they troubled me because I took them so seriously. Perhaps most of all when I was breaking them.

As a teen I imagined myself a rebel. Rules were burdensome and so I threw them off to shatter on the floor of my life. This is a good way to hurt oneself, but the rules tend to remain undamaged.

Some people say Jesus was a rebel. I cannot speak to that. I’m no historian. But I like the idea of it. The idea of the powers that be, saying how things are and a man, a gentle and kind man, perhaps even a son of deity, standing up and saying, “This thing, I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

My kind of rebellion wasn’t nearly so worthy. I was irresponsible. I smoked and drank and practiced a sophisticated level of self-loathing.

This was nothing more than unattractive and a little sad.

But today, inspired by the Rebel Jesus, I wish to be a nonconformist once again. This new rebellion would look nothing like it did in my youth, all bold and aggressive and daring others to call me out. No. This kind would look kinder, gentler and loads more loving.

Every day we cross paths with people who deserve love but in our complicated society have none. Maybe they don’t fit into our norms, the norm for color or sexual preference or perhaps they are sad rebels practicing their version of self-loathing. But in a radical and rebellious world, they too would receive love. In this world, everyone is found worthy.

Conditional love is not really love at all.

I am grateful for rules. We all should be. Without them we would be slaves to our appetites, aimlessly wandering from one diversion to the next. But I am also grateful to understand rules and their inherent limits.

I will never chafe against the rules again. Just as anything else in this transient world, they are to be understood and evaluated and depending on whether or not they are found worthy, they are to be respected or thrown out like the garbage so many of them are.

They say Jesus was a radical in all the best kinds of ways. Let’s do that.

God Is On The Combine ~ Michelle Church

I was 13 years old and working in the potato fields of southeastern Idaho. The sun was pouring down from the early October sky and I was being paid to simply sit there. It was not a bad gig though the farmer paying me while he went to find parts for a broken tractor couldn’t have been as thrilled as I was.

Like this, only it was so long ago the world was black and white.
Like this, only it was so long ago the world was black and white.

There’s no way to know the name of the girl I worked with that summer. We were not bosom friends, we didn’t even really like each other but circumstances required quality time as the hours passed that afternoon.

“I sure hope the second coming isn’t soon,” she confided. My initial response I did not verbalize. I think, considering her line of thought, she would not have resonated with my, “What the hell are you talking about?”

As the afternoon unfolded she shared her concern that she hadn’t yet done her family history and it was troubling her young soul. I cannot recall what exactly it was that I did say, but it is my hope that I somehow assuaged her seemingly real pain.

It’s almost certain this wasn’t the first time I’d considered the state of my immortal soul, but it was the first time I think I’d ever felt so very far away from God. At least in my childish mind I had bigger fish to fry than simple sins of omission.

Since that time so many sunny days ago, I have struggled and suffered in the name of God.

Far from simple family history concerns, I have made massive mistakes. Gluttony and selfishness, lying and laziness. Name the sins and it’s likely I’ve dabbled in at least most of them.

Who amongst us, if we’re being honest, hasn’t?

The trouble doesn’t arise from being human, I don’t think, the trouble comes when we believe the love of God is painful. That it should hurt. The problem is when we believe that to be lovable and to be loved we must run faster, jump higher, give and serve and love and pay penance and painfully pray that we may in some way measure up.

Because we never will.

It is said about human love that it should not hurt. And I submit to you that the love of our Creator should go beyond that and not only not hurt, but it should heal.

And if we consider ourselves followers of God, the love we give should be the same.

From time to time I think about that girl on the combine, laying in the sun and daydreaming about her eternal salvation. And I want to give her a big hug. I want to tell her it’s okay and that life is a journey and it’s about experiences and about honesty and weakness. It’s about being like the God you say you love, a God that is worthy of love.

And while I was there, I would give me a big hug too. Maybe that’s where it all starts. Self love.

Like, share, comment, tweet and allow yourself all that you wish others to have.

God Is Not A Water Balloon ~ Michelle Church

Sometimes I think too small. If I’m being completely transparent, most of the time I start out thinking small. This does not serve me. In my dream version of Michelle I start out with big dreams, but it’s just not my way. I build up. I think some good thoughts, little ones, and when those work out, I build a few bigger thoughts.

Sadly, for me, this is how spirituality and God have worked as well. Did I mention that sometimes the whole “building” process is a very slow one?

For years God has been, what I like to think of as, a water balloon. Metaphorically speaking of course.

This Idea had specific attributes, tangible and understandable. Fluid, lifegiving and knowable. A sort of comfortingly understandable concept. Tidy even.

Here I find myself in my 47th year and in my mind I am standing with an orange water balloon in my hands. It is warm and cozy. ocean blue At the edge of the ocean I watch as the waves crash conversationally. I can see the vastness, the depth and the breadth of something beyond my understanding.

I can see it, and yet I know It cannot be fully understood. It is massive. It is life, and not even the most brilliant of scientists know everything about it.

So I pop the water balloon, and it releases into the sand, into the earth and ultimately it will become a part of the deep.

It makes a lot of sense that I’ve made the idea of God/The Universe into something understandable and finite, but I don’t think I was doing myself any favors by stopping there. And while certainly the water balloon might come from and be a part of the ocean, the differences are seemingly infinite as well.

I am standing at the edge of the ocean without my water balloon. And I feel a little like a child who grew fond of a toy now broken. I am disappointed and a little sad.

But oh! The discoveries that lie ahead.

Like, share, comment, tweet and embrace the metaphor as weird as it may be…

Living Outside The Box ~ Michelle Church

On Friday morning, bright and early, I drove the many, many miles inherent in an event that is away from the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary. I don’t mind the drive that much anymore since Deepak is my co-pilot via the audio books that keep me going every bit as much as the low gasoline prices do.

This was the first class since the end of October for me and I was glad to get back to my Friday ritual and pleased to be in the company of artists I both admire and like.

There in the chill morning air or the Northwest we settled into our folding chairs and we began to draw an antique fire truck on display at the Lake Oswego Fire Department.

I love art and I like to draw. That appreciation notwithstanding, I admit I was totally rusty. A craft of any sort requires consistent effort and it is not surprising to me that even though it’s been just a few weeks since I practiced, I felt awkward and the lines were tight. Without grace.

I wasn’t the only one. As each of us sat studying the intricacies of an automobile nearly 100 years old, we struggled and strained to capture the reality in a way that was beautiful even if only subjectively.

There are specific rituals my art teacher recommends. She likes us to draw with pens rather than pencils, she

mind = blown
mind = blown

recommends three or four rough sketches before any attempt at one’s main drawing or painting, and without exception, one must remember the four most important lines.

The four most important lines are simply these; before you start your composition, make a box. Then you draw inside the box. It’s amazing what the simple context can do for a drawing, taking it without effort from “meh” to “ooohhh”.

It’s a rule, and it’s a good rule to follow. And…

One of my fellow artists said as our fearless leader entreated us not to forget the box, “I hate the box. I always end up drawing outside of it.”

“That’s what it’s for,” she said, “you’re not supposed to work inside the box, it’s only to give you context, show you what’s important.”

If life is not an artistic event I do not know what is. Life is nuanced and striking and the colors and the elegant lines of it are so beautiful that I am sometimes brought to tears.

And just like in art, we need boxes. Boxes to give us perspective and dimension, boxes to help us know where to put things and when we’re getting too small. But the box isn’t the thing. It simply houses the thing. And it isn’t the point. The box is just to make a point.
By all means, live your life outside the box.

Like, share, comment, tweet and do something that breathes life into your art every day.

People Aren’t Killed Because Of The Truth ~ Michelle Church

Mr Dreamboat and I see things very differently. Though we both come from the same, small sub-culture, even so, we interpret the world very differently. Once when I was laying out the bare facts of my life, his life and our life together, my therapist asked incredulously, “And you two get along well?”

She wasn’t a great therapist. Let’s just call that spade the spade that it is.

“Yes,” I answered emphatically, “very well.”

If you were to look at our histories as children and young adults on a superficial level, yeah, I can see how it seems like a hands of the worldstretch. But it is not. It is lovely and we work well together, not despite our differences, but because of them.

Yesterday Mr D and I went out on a date into the wild and wet weather of the day. Snug in the car we ran errands and I did much of the talking, I’ll admit that right now. He’s been out of town and it seems I’d stored up some thoughts and opted to give them all to him in one sitting.

Gracious man.

One of those thoughts was something like, though I can’t be certain of the exact wording, “I do not believe there are absolute truths.”

He is gracious, but never condescendingly indulgent.

“I completely disagree with you,” he said. “There are truths, absolute truths, but what most people do is grow up with beliefs, traditions and things that are familiar to them. And they call those things truths instead of comfortable. Right now there are people all over the world killing people because they believe ‘with every fiber of their being’ that what they have is the truth.

There are laws of the universe that are true. There are not just a few of them. That’s for sure. However, they never have anything to do with the traditions of our fathers, the dress code to which we subscribe or the foods that make us feel comfortable. Those things, by and large, are about customs and comfort and while yours are valid to you, mine are equally valid to me and that’s about the extent of the truth of the matter.

Mr Dreamboat and I are very distinctive people. We have had different experiences and those that we do share, we have interpreted in dissimilar ways. It is not that we have a strong marriage despite those differences, it is because of them.

And so it is with all the world, we just have to be willing to listen to one another and find the truths together. I recommend going out to dim sum afterward. It worked for us…

Like, share, comment, tweet and embrace the rainbow.

How Blessed We Are To Have Lost

It is a distinct honor to be alive. Miraculous even. And I have lived these past 47 years in some remarkably blessed circumstances. That I cannot deny.

And so it is that when I say I have known loss, I am not complaining. Far from it. I am simply looking over the years of my life as they have unfolded and I am taking the bitter right along with the sweet.

The losses I have known were of a variety of kinds. Certainly disillusionment when we went through the whole jail ordeal. let-it-go-temporary-tattoo-t4awDisillusionment with the government and with the idea that good always wins over evil. It was a nice fairytale while it lasted. In fact it was one of my favorite bedtime stories.

I’ve lost big chunks of family in one fell swoop. That’s gotta smart, ya know? And I’ve lost belief systems in entirety. I’ve lost friends and I’ve lost family.

We’re all losers. That’s a given.

What we often fail to do is note what happens after the loss. We miss the big signs that are there for the taking.

I have lost and I’ve been in full-bodied pain, but even more interesting than that has been what sneaks in to fill the void. What creeps into our souls and sustains us, makes us whole, makes us more fully human.

It is not then, surprising that after years of healing and the practice of letting go, when I look at my life I see the greatest lessons were the losses. I see now that when I lost the most, I gained the insight into what true happiness looks like and where real peace can be found.

Maybe it’s that when we lose what we thought were unquestionable truths, we then have the freedom to truly embrace the transient nature of everything and in doing so we don’t have to grasp those “truths” so tightly. We can look for magic and wonder where once all we had was security.

Security is a poor substitute for magic. I know this. I thought I had one of them and when that turned out to be a mirage I gave in to the other.

Here is to the gift of loss, to the naked truth of transience and fallibility. Here’s to giving in to the whims of The Universe and perhaps finally, someday, embracing the fullness that was there all the time. We just had to be stripped naked to receive them.

Silly Universe.

Like, share, comment and tweet the universal nature of loss. It’s like skeletons, we’ve all got ‘em.

I Do Not Know The Name Of God ~ Michelle Church

It always strikes me as a bit unbelievable when someone tells me they know for sure the true nature of God. Maybe they were born with a direct line to heaven that was not issued to me, or maybe a back alley access was discovered on some roadway I’ve never walked down.

I amEither way – or some other way I’ve not yet discovered, my guess about the Almighty leans toward the ancient religions where there is no name for He/She/It. Because of the limitations of human thought and the vastness of the Great Unknown, because God resides someplace beyond our knowing, That is where He stays for me. Beyond.

But I admit that’s too far away for me. Though I cannot think of a word or an attribute I know for certain to be credited to the great I Am, perhaps then, I cannot think of one that cannot.

And so I search. In meditation I seek Him, in the actions of others, and in my own choices. I seek in nature and in the bustling crowds on busy streets and packed theaters.

And it seems to me there is evidence of a Brilliant Universe in every step I take, ever breath, voice and spider crawling on the wall. I find evidence in quirky coincidences and in the baby’s laugh.

It used to be I needed to know things for sure. I suppose most of us seek the sure thing. We need to know the truth and, to a certain degree, we wish to be right. Yeah, me too.

But the older I get the more comfortable I become knowing I have likely never been right. At the very least my intentions were good, at best, I made the road a little easier for myself and for others with whom I crossed paths.

God is in the details, in the smiles and in true companionship. And I will continue to seek Her. I will continue to meditate and continue to pay attention to the smiles of the people around me and the generous coincidences and I will choose to believe.

The truth is, well, my truth, is that I can wait to know the specifics. What I know now while very little, is certainly enough.

Like, share, comment, tweet and remember it’s enough.

God Is In The Chip Bag ~ Michelle Church Lists Ten Things

The books in which I’ve recently been indulging have taken me down deep rabbit holes of gratification. I am discovering for myself, philosophers and ideas, artists and adventures of which I was completely unaware. It’s like Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, only it’s reality… only better.

It is the delight of discovering like minds and new thoughts that keeps me going down the rabbit hole and I am blessed with time at the beach to indulge myself in my quasi-erudite pursuits. “Quasi” as I am no more erudite than the next guy. I’m only self-indulgent.

Because I am shoveling in philosophies like potato chips on a lonely night, I have few opinions right now, just a lot of ideas and they’re not yet catalogued.

In an effort not to spout off about things I’m not yet sure of, I give to you a few niblets of the beliefs I retain. Think of them as crumbs from the chip bag of my mind…

1. The best way to live is to seek the good, the positive, the kind. When we look for things to be happy about, we find them.
2. The hugest irony in life is that the more we focus on ourselves the more unhappy we become. God must be giggling as each of us must discover this for ourselves in our own way and our own time. Some of us are slower than others.
3. On the same topic, but seemingly counterintuitive is that we cannot love others until we learn how to love ourselves. No, I’m not talking out of both sides of my mouth, ventriloquism was never my strength. It’s a complicated idea, but both #’s 2 and 3 coexist.

Just because they're crumbs doesn't mean you can't use 'em.
Just because they’re crumbs doesn’t mean you can’t use ’em. Click on the pic for Sunday Dinner.

4. Living my beliefs has nothing to do with making you live my beliefs.
5. The best way to spread “the good word” is to live it. The love part. The love part is the core and the heart. The rest is commentary.
6. The most fundamental truths are universal. They include, but are not limited to, light and love and probably M Theory. Beyond that, I’m not sure.
7. One time I thought I was right and then I found out I should have been thinking more.
8. I know, for sure, that kindness is where it’s at.
9. As soon as I believe I know it all, I’ve stopped learning and growing. This is perhaps the most dangerous belief of all.
10. We are who we are, we believe what we believe and the best line of action to my way of thinking is live as our best selves and allow others the latitude to do so in peace.

I admit it’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got.

Like, share, comment, tweet and you do you. Amen.