Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: spiritual (page 1 of 10)

Poison

Yes, dear children. That man was sick. That stinky pile over there, where the bugs swarm and the dogs sniff, remains evidence of his sickness.

No, young twenty-something. There’s no need to lie or cover up. He didn’t have the flu.

The simple truth is this: too much of anything in this world will poison you. 

Last night, for this man, it was drink. It probably happened to many people, with the holiday and all. But it’s easy to point out someone else’s poison and label it bad, wrong, evil. But abstaining from alcohol won’t help you if your poison tends to be carbs, shoes or a growing Swiss bank account. You can give yourself a little pat on the back for shying away from the brown bottle, but it won’t heal your soul of its own tendencies to self-medicate.

Honestly, our numbing agents are relatively powerless until they’re mixed in to our souls. In and of themselves, the contents of a bottle, a shopping bag or a wallet have a neutral effect. They simply are. Until your soul attaches meaning to them, gropes for them in the midst of heartache or jealousy or hatred. Then those potions become poisons.

First it affects your body. Your body is the first line of defense. It’s where we feel, where we experience, where we synthesize what is happening in the world. And when you let in too much of anything, your body is the first part of you to tell you it’s too much. Listen to your body.

The poison will also begin to effect your mind. Your thoughts go toward it in the light of day and in the deep of night. Beware, sweet child. When you find your mind saying, “if I could just have one more…” then you’re probably being poisoned by your own hand.

Sadly, it will settle in your soul. It doesn’t make you an evil person. Our society tends to believe that a poisoned soul is the result of poor decisions and a lack of fortitude. No self-control, self-sufficiency, self-respect. I have trouble believing the exaggerated versions of our own struggles can be so other.

Fear not, my children. For every poison there is a remedy. Our sicknesses of self can be healed. The most common antidote is freely available and widely popular: love. Love for self, love for others, love for God, love for the created order.

Many old farm houses came equipped with 2 water sources: a cistern and a well. I imagine we all have within our souls two deep reservoirs. One is more like a cistern, catching whatever comes in. When it goes sour, it takes some work to return it to health. We use this kind of water for flushing and rinsing, maybe watering the garden. Another place in your soul is rather like a deep well. The water there is pure, good for drinking. Incredibly, it can meet the thirsts of others. The key to a good well is to dig deep.

You can spend your days trying to fill the cistern. Or you can put your energy into digging the well deeper. With every loving action and every generous intention, we drill another meter closer to the source. God put a well of love in you, an unlimited supply from which you may draw forever. If you find it running dry, perhaps it’s because you’ve been going to the cistern instead of the well.

When you start seeing evidence of poison, it’s not because the well went bad.  You’re simply living off of what you put into the cistern. Get to the well, my children and keep digging until you drink clean water.

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Blinded by the light

While my evening Pandora listening fluctuates between Mumford & Sons or Nora Jones stations, my morning routine is dominated by the David Crowder Band worship station. This morning I took note of how many of the songs revolved around God’s presence during hard times – storms, raging seas and general calamity. Much of the language (though, thankfully, not all) includes an element of God lifting us out of the pit, our places of desperation.

Looking at it with a historical-critical approach, a good amount of worship music amassed just after our country went through its collective dark time of 9/11 and now we’ve been introduced to living in an era of uncertainty. I recall (a personal favorite) Blessed Be the Name rising in popularity after the towers fell, as a response to tragedy. Later, I sang David Crowder’s Never Let Go on repeat while I miscarried our first baby. I would “sing until it’s true” and music became a rope to pull me from the depths of grief.

It’s a beautiful thing to find God’s presence in the darkness. We need to see the light breaking through.

The other morning, we headed east toward the school and drove directly into the sun’s blinding morning rays. I tried sunglasses, a visor and even my hands to block the glare and see the stoplights. The light was so bright – as one of my kids says, “there’s too much day!” – I couldn’t see right in front of me.

As a culture, we’re good at finding God in the darkness. But could we be blinded by the light?

Is it possible to have so much light, so many good things, that we can barely sense God’s presence? Instead we settle for the neon and chrome the world artificially produces.

When you ask people of faith why they believe, they often site the ways in which God got them through the hard times, which is good and right. Such experiences are unshakable. Finding God in the darkness is not the easy way out. Perhaps, just as believing is often finding God in the darkness, a life of  faithfulness means finding God in the light.

Just before God took his people into the Promised Land, he told them (Deuteronomy 6) through Moses: When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Emphasis mine)

Though far from perfect, I’m living a pretty blessed life right now. We have strong families behind us, friends among us, a family of faith around us. We can pay our bills and feed our family with enough to spare to send them to a wonderful preschool and go on vacation. We’re healthy, happy and free. If my faith was only big enough for God to move into the darkness, then it would be a pretty small place for Him right now. The challenge, then, is to keep moving toward the true light.

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Dead Leaves & Hidden Fruit

JJ has been less than impressed with my contribution to the family garden this summer. I blame it on our constant comings and goings, but the fact remains I nary picked up a hose this summer nor reached into the dirt to pull a weed or 5. Now, as the tomato harvest overwhelms us, I’m left to pay up.

tomato plant

Image credit: CC Benjamin Chun

The first time I went into our patch of plants, I realized part of the problem lied in our poor spacial skills. Our plants live very close to one another and, because of it, the leaves on the bottom part of the plant die quickly. I remembered my friend Dan Who Knows Everything had said that those leaves actually inhibit growth – if they’re not taking in sun to nourish the plant, then they’re taking nutrients away from budding fruit. If memory serves me correctly, he used to trim the bottom leaves from his plants as they were growing to increase productivity.

Last week I made an appointment with a pair of scissors and that garden. I hacked away at all the deadness beneath the surface. And lo! What did I behold? More fruit. There were tomatoes in there I couldn’t see through the brush. And now with the plants a little lighter on the bottom, our harvest is multiplying. I’m actually not sure what we’ll do with all the tomatoes other than offer them as a parting gift to anyone within a 50 foot radius of our front door. Perhaps I’ll take them out to the bus stop and give them to small children on their way to school. They enjoy that, don’t they? Fresh, raw vegetables as a treat?

Gardening is my spiritual metaphor so often – I know, it’s largely overdone. I reflected as I snipped and snapped through the tomato forest, I wonder where I need to trim things up in my life. What is taking all that sunlight and energy my body and life is making and rerouting it away from nourishing good fruit? What dead leaves remain that hide the good things already growing so that no eye can behold them, let alone enjoy them?

[box] But what happens when you live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (Galatians 5:22-23)[/box]

Am I not showing the fruit of affection for my kids? Serenity with my work? Compassion for those not like me? Perhaps it’s not because I’m not growing fruit. Perhaps it’s because the dead weight in my life keeps them from my line of vision. I often hear people say, “I need to grow more patience.” I’m not convinced you do. I think it’s probably growing – at least budding – in there. Ask, instead, what might be getting in the way? Are we too stressed by a busy schedule to enjoy moments of joy? Are we overwhelmed with financial worries that we cannot slumber in peace?

Don’t be as concerned with the fruit: spend some time pruning the plant.

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