Midweek Faith Lift
February 19, 2014
“You Are In the Express Business”
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
This week we are on Chapters 5-6 of Butterworth’s Spiritual Economics and these chapters are about gratitude and your work. For some folks, it may be a challenge to put those two things together, but let’s give it a shot, shall we! We have explored gratitude extensively in our community; in fact we have a whole “Season” devoted to gratitude so we are no strangers to this practice. But gratitude in your work, that may be a whole “nother” ballgame so to speak. Work is something we do to earn a living and keep body and soul together right? Well….maybe, but maybe not so much! We are here to express more of God in this world and our work is one venue in which we do that!
If ever there an imager that brought gratitude and expression together I saw it while watching the Olympics last Thursday night as we watched the men’s slope style skiing. The skiers were clearly in the express business—they were expressing pure joy. They had no question about whether they should be there or not. When one of them had a bad run, he looked at the camera at the bottom and just said, “Next run!” and winked. You could see and feel the joy, even when all did not go well.
One of the skiers, Nick Goepper, is from Indiana, not a state known for its wonderful snow-capped mountains! There was a video of Nick’s path to the Olympics and it showed a rail of PVC pipes his dad had wired together in the back yard for him to practice skiing across. Not exactly state of the art equipment! But that was of no concern to Nick who skied and jumped anywhere he could find. There were other homemade obstacles for him to jump and to practice his tricks. It was about as makeshift as it could be, but that did not matter.
When Nick’s dad lost his job in the recession, Nick went door to door asking for work from the neighbors to raise the funds to attend a ski camp and training in Oregon. He babysat, mowed lawns, washed cars and stained a neighbor’s deck to earn the money. The whole neighborhood rallied to support him and Nick did it! He made it into the Olympics and onto the podium, winning a bronze medal. He is the first Indiana native son to win an Olympic medal! Wow! It was his first Olympics and he clearly was in deep gratitude and joy just to be participating, just to be there on that mountain, expressing his gifts.
All of the skiers were supportive of each other, hugging and encouraging each other. You could feel the exuberance and joy and gratitude in all of them. There was a skier from Finland, who did not have a chance of winning, but he had such a good time and was clearly so grateful and happy to be on that mountain that it did not matter! That is the type of gratitude and joy in work that Butterworth is talking about in this chapter! It is the intersection of our Divine/human selves where we express all of who we are and who God is in a creative outpouring of our energy in gratitude! It is the intersection of joy and gratitude and it was a pleasure to behold this in action on that mountain during the Olympics.
What is it that was so inspiring and infectious in this outpouring of energy by these athletes? It is the out-picturing of gratitude and work that Butterworth is talking about in these two chapters. One clear thing about these athletes that you notice as you watched them was their ability to focus and access the power of their inner strength and freedom. They determined their own thoughts and responses to their experience on that mountain. You could see in other Olympic venues when ego and self-consciousness got the better of the athletes and their focus was on winning the medal, and not expressing the joy of the sport. These skiers were exuberantly joyful and grateful and that is how we are when we connect with that ever-present Substance of God. They wouldn’t call it a Spiritual experience, but I certainly would! They were in that Spirit zone on that mountain even though they would not call it that!
When we are in that Spirit zone, we expand our faith in the stability of our own inner wholeness. And then, all things will be added to us out of the expanse of our wholeness, not at its expense. When we are in this space, we are very much able to do what Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:1-18 “But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in all things give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (NRVS) When you fall, give thanks; when you hurt, give thanks; when you are in the messy growth process of finding your passion, give thanks; when it goes well, give thanks; when it falls to pieces, give thanks! Not for all things, but IN all things, give thanks! And know that your work is a giving of yourself, all of yourself! We are told to not hold back, to give our all….go for it! And when we do, we are at the intersection of our Divine/human self that experiences unimaginable joy!
There is no doubt about it….you are in the Express Business….the business of expressing your joy, your gratitude and your God-self. That is what Spirit is asking of us in this life time and what will open the gates of the flow of our good. It is not about having state of the art equipment….it is about the state of your heart! Butterworth says that as we cultivate a consciousness of gratitude, “Keep alive the commitment to the view from the top. Keep centered in the feeling of thanksgiving…your thanksgiving is a celebration of Truth, which becomes a causal assurance of a continuity of blessings leading prosperity toward you.” That was the lesson on the mountaintop for all the skiers, and it our lesson too as we embrace with joyful enthusiasm that which is ours to do.
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were greatly influenced by Emerson and frequently quoted his statements about prayer. I want to share with you the entire quote:
Prayer that craves a particular commodity, anything less than all good, is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing His works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action.
It is not about state of the art, it is about the state of your heart! And that mountaintop view! Change my heart oh God, may I be like You!
Blessings on the mountain,