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I am a pastor and a clinical psychotherapist. My life's passion is defining healthiness from a human perspective and paralleling it to the holiness of God, divine perspective. Shifting perspectives creates a paradigm that is alongside of rather than over and against. The parakalein of God and the paradoxes of humanity are redefined. Humanity is all about winning and yet we are losing ground everywhere. Divinity is all about letting go of the desire to win and the fear of loss. The Divine embraces the world with loving care regardless of anything.

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Waves of Adversity, Storms, Calm, and Cleansing

Posted by Don Paine

I was talking to someone today abouts waves as his mental picture of his internal world.  AS we explored his visual sensation and representation of his inner world he saw only that waves distorted his vision.  He noticed that he was faceless in the wave. As he found his face be began to see more about the waves:  they were resilient and kept coming, they were powerful as in a storm crashing against a boat or on the shore.  As he looked out he saw that they dissipated into calm.  As he looked in toward the shore, he saw them crashing on the shore.  I asked him to notice what happens to the shore.  He saw that the waves washed the shore.

(Unspoken to him, I recalled the line from Amy Carmichael that comments on the doubt in humanity of forgiveness:  "As if the God who washes every seashore clean of all the footprints we leave there could not also wash away any footprints we leave behind us clean as if we had never done what we did, or gone where we went.  While I kept this to myself it was a good internal reminder of the grace of God always there for all, at all times, and in all places.)

I asked him what it made him think of or how he felt toward any of these images or parts of him.  He felt appreciative that he had not seen the calm looking outward toward the vast sea and the cleansing looking inward toward shore.  He distrusted himself because he could not see himself and as he could see more he began to see the crown of his head.  He is on a journey of seeing more and trusting more which I was privileged to bear witness too.

Another time I may tell him about what my part recalled as he was having his vision but it was his time and place and that was about me not him.  It may come up a gain as we ran out of time and it was his time not mine.

I am thankful that I see not just the troubled sea but the calm and cleansing see as well.

Paws and Pause

Posted by Don Paine

I was preaching yesterday from the lectionary.  In I Samuel 1 is the account of David and Goliath.  When Saul told David he would be no match for Goliath, David's defense was sure.  Saul said that Goliath had been a soldier with great battle experience and great weapons. David said, "Yes, but I was a keeper of sheep and when the paws of a lion grabbed a sheep and took him away I went after him grabbed the lion by the hair and made him give up the sheep.  Same this with the paws of a bear."  In effect David was saying with the help of God and without any artillery, he had proved himself a fierce and fearless warrior.

When we see an enemy or an adversity and are gripped with fear we do not have to look at the paws of the enemy that have us in its clutches but rather we "pause" look up and are strengthened by the one who is always present.

Si in the midst of the paws that grab you with fear, look up and take "pause" and see with faith the gripping power of God presence.

The paws of natural and unnatural adversity cause us to "pause" and see the presence of God.  No giant is so big that he will not fall to faith that is fear having said its prayers.

Arab Spring and the Eternal Spring

Posted by Don Paine

The Arab Spring became a movement to freedom and the practice of peace and love in Egypt and the Arab World.

There is an Eternal Spring inside of every member of humanity in every corner of the world.  Jesus spoke of it to a women at the Well, Jacob's Well.  A well is different from a spring.  the woman got it.  A well is something I go to for water.   She did that daily and more.  Jesus said, "If you knew who it was that asked you for a drink, you would ask him for living water.  That living water is like a 'spring of living water, springing up form deep inside of you.  A Well of Living water springing up into everlasting living, loving, and peace."

Her response, "Give me this water, please".

The Arab Spring is a human phenomenon that I support.  The Eternal Spring of living water is a Well I embrace.
It is the Love of God springing up then out from inside of all toward all.

Imagine a world where all people Love one another not due to a command from command central but from compassion form a internal center.

God loves me as I am not because I am love able nor because I act in lovable or unloveable ways but because love is in me as an Eternal Spring.  

Just as God is Love and lives in peace and love toward me not as his favorite but as favor. It is all that God is!

So I live in peace and love toward all not because they deserve it nor do I withhold it because I think they do not deserve it, but because love and peace are in me.

The Mustard Seed in You

Posted by Don Paine

New and fresh every time.
For me God's word comes alive as I live and breathe new thoughts and new ideas.

I am preaching in a church that uses the lectionary so one of the benefits is that it forces you to look into the teachings of sacred scripture rather than come up with a sermon on your own.  I have done it both ways and grown in both ways yet the latter forces you to do more work and so to benefit more.

Last Sunday as I was preaching, I realized a deeper truth.  I had prepared to say that we all need to have a mustard seed of faith to see others as they are and to live as God wants us to live: by faith not by sight.  This is not a new thought.  What struck me and came out my mouth is that the mustard seed that smallest of seeds is in all of us.  Jesus taught in Mark 4:25-34 that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.  The farmer sows the seed then waits until the seed does what it naturally will do, grow and flourish.  The farmer just lets the seed grow.

The mustard seed is the seed of God in you and me.  So small we often do not see it in ourselves or in others.  The Kingdom of God is like that.   It is in you and in me but we often do not see it so we work at and on things that we do see.  Namaste  is the expression that means: the soul, spirit or seed of love in me sees the soul, seed, spirit of love in you.  I do not have to work to cultivate this seed.  It flourishes as God flourishes in us regardless of anything until the harvest.  We have to "stop working" on the things that we see and count as important.  Evaluating and others based on what we see them do misses the work of the kingdom. Evaluating ourselves based on what we do does the same.  Exploring and expanding our capacity to see ourselves and others as God sees us from the inside, where the mustard seed of faith lives, helps us to live form the inside out and to love others from the inside out.  This is the Kingdom of God in you and me.  Loving and living from the inside. Loving and living in faith not by sight.  We them look at people not triggered by what we see them do, say or act but because we choose to see the seed of God in them from the seed of God in us.

Be the mustard seed.  See the mustard seed in everyone.  This is the work of the Kingdom.

Walking Talking and Witnessing: A "stand by" legacy

Posted by Don Paine

Rev. John McKinistry, who has been and continues to be supported and accented in ministry  by his wife Ann, received his earned "50 years of Ordained Ministry Award".  This ward reflects resiliency, re-energizing and re-affirming call to ministry. Today, 50 years after he first entered into the association of fellow ordained clergy, set apart for service he remains set apart for service.  For years he served as pastor, overseer, and muti-talented artisan of God's creative and courageous, extravagant and extraordinary love.
Today he and the wife of his youth walk and talk of God's love in downtown Lee where they reside.  There perennial smile, purposeful mindset, and compassionate heart reflect the love of God to strangers and friends, new comers and old standbys.  I know this because I have witnessed it.  Because he and his wife were always greeting us, the new comers until we felt and now feel like their standbys.

Maybe that is their legacy:  "they are stand by people".  They to not need a pulpit or a place to serve though they have embraced both over the years.  All they need is people with whom they can be people who love God and do not just talk it but walk it as well.

We satnd by them in appreciation, with admiration, and with anticipation of being better because they stand by us!

Thanks John and Ann for who you are as human beings and spiritual beings, walking together you bear witness to the love that breeds togetherness.

The Snake has a message, Look Up

Posted by Don Paine

I was on a walk and saw a snake and noticed it was crawling on its belly more afraid of me than I was of it.  I had read earlier the passage of scripture that announces:  "To the serpent, Cursed are you above all and on your belly you will crawl all the days of your living".

I realized that this consequence given out to the serpent was not about the serpent but about humanity.  Adam and Eve had hid and blamed each other.  God did not turn and blame the serpent nor Adam nor Eve.  God steeped out of the circle of hiding and blame and offered the circle of love and grace.

As long as we keep our heads down and our bellies to the ground we are in a state of self protection and self preservation.  That is where blaming and shaming come from.  That is the nature of the serpent in all of us.  When we look down not up, when we look at the temporal or earthly things we miss seeing the heavenly things.

Our dog Ginger who is a Golden Retriever that we referred to as the Bronze Evader when she first arrived for she would not retrieve and was more bronze than gold.  She was nervous and jumpy not loving and trusting of anyone or anything.  She had been wounded by her first owners in various ways.  It took two years before she trusted us enough to show us her belly, her soft and vulnerable side.  Only when I trust God and lay on my back in the open field of God's love can I receive all the love and peace that gives me love and peace.  The curse of "on your belly" was a call to open our eyes to see in love and peace everyone, to blame, shame or give guilt to no one.  The curse offered an illustration of corrective focus not a sentence to eternal darkness.

"Look up for your redemption is from above where love and peace are the fruit of SPirit offered to transform the effect of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil into the Fruit Tree of Love and Peace."

Take Eat!

The Curse and The Blessing, Trying to sort it out

Posted by Don Paine

A Grandfather's wisdom?:

When I withhold the blessing of love and peace from my grandchildren in an attempt to get them to obey and respect I short circuit the circuitry of the internal system.  It is the curse that disses the system and disavows the intuitive nature of the system.  When I lavish love and peace on my grandchildren without an agenda and with full acceptance the internal system of love and nurturance is sustained.  I do not ignore the parts that misbehave.  I address the part that misbehaves while not neglecting the core of love and peace.  I nurture the system that is self-regenerating, self-sustaining, and self healing and self correcting when love and peace offer the same to the triggered parts in the system.  Loving my grandchildren into the experience of perpetual love and peace through welcoming and loving all triggered parts into a life of balance, harmony and integrity is my goal.

So here is some musing to that end.

The curse and the blessing that the church has held out to the world is one that basis its focus on the doing of good or not doing bad.  This creates a curse so that when I do good it is not at all about me and when I do bad it is all about me.  The blessing and the curse are equal curses in different ways.

Another way to look at the curse and the blessing is to move the focus from doing to being.  The curse that is before us is not the force which has us sin but the inclination to reach outside and down for our sense of worth and well being.  The belief that we need to go outside for validation and worth is a curse.  Likewise the focus on doing and not on being creates a perpetual curse cycle.  The curse is not a curse because we disobey but a curse that leads to disobedience. The blessing if we obey is not the obedience to a moral code of conduct but the obedience or obeseness that is intuitive and internally focused that knows we have inside all the blessing we need.  Look outside for blessing is the curse of the system that has lost its focus.  The intuitive system knows that there is a well inside all people that springs up into everlasting living when it is released from the burden and betrayal of the system.  The curse is the burden and betrayal of the system when it believes it has to look outside.  The blessing comes naturally when we believe that everything we need is already in us, begotten not created.  We reach in and up not out and down.

Believing in God outside and inside harmonizes and balances the system and generates meaning, purpose, and worth from inside thus blessing it to perpetual compassion and calmness.
Disbelieving in God and reaching outside the system for meaning, purpose and worth creates imbalance and disharmony in the system thus cursing it to perpetual frustration and fear.

Wounded witnesses of Wonderful Love

Posted by Don Paine

So as Adam and Eve as the first couple of earth reached for value and worth outside of themselves they stumbles into and set the stage for the trap that we all stumble into.  The trap of looking outside rather than inside for what we truly need, autonomy, authenticity, audacity, and accountability.

I have a part that really worries about what others think of me but it is based on a faulty idea that my worth is tied up in what others think of me. I have another part that does not care at all about what others think as it just wants to be and breathe as it chooses.  They are both true parts of me.  In the center of me is an energy of compassion and calmness that has all I need.  Like the adage:  "All I ever needed to know I learned in Kindergarten" this inner source of truth says: "All I need is already inside of me, I know it already, but I just do not know that i know it".  I know it intuitively but doubt it similarly. I do not know it cognitively but I do know it intuitively.

So the sin of Adam and Eve was not what they did even though reaching up and outside was a trap.  It was doubting that all they needed they already had.

Imagine the dialogue had they known this intuitively and cognitively.  Instead of going into hiding or blaming or shaming each other for what they did they would shift the focus to what they already knew and already had.

They would join hands and hearts, stand together indivisible, with no shame and in total nakedness, they would say to God he/she/they arrived into the garden the next day, "Oh God are we glad to see you.  A part of us joined together to do something that as we were doing it and especially afterwards we knew it was not good.  Even though our intention was good as we desired to multiple our knowledge and awareness of all things, the effect was to shift our focus form trusting each other and the love and energy of spirit in us to reach beyond ourselves only to wonder away from the peace and love within our selves.  We know of and now need your mercy and grace to heal our hurt and wounded hearts. We were tempted to turn from you each other and hide in our fear and loss but we knew better and turn instead inside where love and trust remains."

We open our minds, our eyes and our hearts to see and know you and each other and to have the restoration of innocence through the honesty of our hearts wounded by the transgression of trust.

Knowing and knowing

Posted by Don Paine

I was in a training for Internal Family Systems (www.selfleadership.org) at one of the lead trainers was doing a demo of sculpting.  After the demo one of the students commented that it looked like she did not know what she was doing.  After some awkward laughter as he was not saying she did not know anything but rather something else.  Namely, that she trusted the energy and the process to go with the flow and not impose her "knowing, figuring out, interpreting or controlling parts".  All those parts would have simply interrupted the process and the energy.

We, as humans, like to know things, then appear knowledgeable then use that knowledge to control, figure out, and interpret the world from the lens of our knowing.  No one likes a "know it all" because they interpret and interrupt the flow of knowing.  So why do we think, "God is all knowing"?  Is that God in our image rather than looking at humanity and process through another lens.

So I mused that there are four kinds of knowing:
1) The knowing of facts or data that can inflate the ego
2) The knowing that imposes or controls from the seat of knowledge (I assume this one does what assume does) that can deflate the ego
3) The knowing that is an internal knowing, an intuitive knowing that without anxiousness and with authentic presence just trusts the process and the energy.  Maybe that is "All Knowing" as the attribute we give to God.

The lead trainers response was, no I did not know what was happening as it was happening but afterwards as I look back it makes perfect sense.  I simply trusted the process and the energy.

Amazing.  It is not what we know but our capacity to suspend what we think we know in favor of trusting the energy and process and let the discovery begin and the recovery unfold.  How is that for knowing?  Is that the creative God with compassion, courage, and calm letting the world unfold like  a flower unfolds to the energy that it needs and trusts.  God knows.

Qualities of Church, Synagogue, Temple, Mosque, etc

Posted by Don Paine

What are the essential qualities of faith in all religious groups.  I suggest the three H's.

Honoring of all parts within and without while not allowing any part to permanently or powerfully dominant the system,

Honestly speaking for any and all parts in me and listening to all parts in you with compassion, courage, and calmness.

Humility is embodied with multi deference and multi differences and the multiplicity of parts and the essential sameness of all.  Humility invites all parts to step aside and step forward.

When we all practice these three: humility, honor, and honesty we experience community in the multiversity of the multiplicity of all.

The church in whatever its structure and all religious institutions whatever their structure fundamentally denies its essence when it lives in duplicity, dishonesty and distinctives that serve its ego need and desire rather than its core of compassion, calmness, and courage.

To quote Soren Kierkegaard, "To know the truth and not be the truth is to embellish that very truth with error".