Via Transformativa: Awake, My Soul! – Soul Source

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m begging you to beg me
I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me

–Cheap Trick, I Want You to Want Me

This really is the ego’s theme song … begging to be noticed, to be loved, to be wanted and needed. When we’re enveloped in our ego’s grasping and wanting, it’s hard to recognize the Holy in anything – be it other people or ourselves. To get that glimpse of the Holy, you have to drop the ego, you have to abandon your stories about how you’ve been wronged, or neglected or taken for granted.

You have to stop looking outside of yourself for anything that will sustain you, because the moment you put your trust in anything outside yourself, the process is already beginning for that external thing to fail and betray you.

This is how the universe works, Jubilants. Whenever we put our faith in anything outside of our own divine soul, it will fail us, whether it’s a job, a relationship, a house or other possession or, yes, even a church. Maybe especially a church, because we tend to put so much trust and faith in the community and leaders of a church to meet our needs, to love us and care for us and make us feel special, divine and holy.

But, the Holy has designed this external world to utterly fail you if that is where you put your faith. Why? Because with each disappointment we have a choice … we can either let those external failures make us become bitter and jaded and end up hating the world, and especially hating the church. Or, we can let those experiences open up our hearts, enlarge our compassion, and help us realize the true source of our lives … our soul … that seat within each of us where the Holy resides, ready to provide everything we need.

This is not to say, of course, that the church community shouldn’t help its members or others when they need necessities such as food, shelter, clothing or even a visit in the hospital or a call to say we missed you. All of those things we are commanded to do in scripture. Jesus tells us to take care of one another in these ways. But, when we deem anything outside of our divine self, as the sole source of our wellbeing in life, it will fail us.

I can guarantee, right now, that this community will fail you if you look to it to provide for all of your emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs. Even if you just pick one of those and expect this community to be the sole source of any of them, expect disappointment. Expect your ego to start telling you stories about how we don’t care about you and perhaps you need to find a place that really, really cares.

But, when you find that place, they will disappoint you, too, until you’re left with a story about how all churches are just filled with a bunch of hypocrites who say one thing and do another. It’s a vicious cycle that only ends when you realize that anything outside of yourself will disappoint you if you put your entire well-being on its shoulders.

This inner life, this authentic, awakened soul, is the place Isaiah invites us to where we can buy wine and milk without price. This is the place where we can feast on all good things … that divine food that never runs dry. We can’t get milk and wine for free anywhere outside of ourselves, but that Holy nourishment, that spiritual fulfillment we crave, is already inside of us, waiting to be awakened.

When we realize that our divine self – our soul – is the source of all we need in this life, then we shall go out with joy and be led back with peace, the trees of the field will clap their hands, the hills will burst forth into song, because we finally have realized the truth about this life – we are divine, we are pieces of God walking around on this earth, and we don’t need to do anything but breathe deeply, and live each moment in its fullness. Because when we live like that, recognize that everything we need is here, in this moment, and our divine selves are the source of all of that, then that peaceful easy feeling … that peace that passes understanding … will fill us.

This is the essence of what Jesus is saying in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you.”

If we don’t recognize that our true source is inside of us, in our awakened soul, and then bring that peaceful, easy feeling out into the world, we will never be free of our ego. Remember, ego stands for Edging God Out … and when we edge God out and live solely from our ego, expecting the world to serve our every need, that true self will eventually wither and die.

But, if we can come to place where we can awaken to the soul as our only source for fulfillment, we deal with the world differently. In this awakened state, we don’t concoct stories about how people and places have offended us. Instead, we don’t take things personally, even if someone is directly attacking us, because outside of our ego, we understand that the attack is really about them – and their ego – not about us.

When we are firmly living from an awakened soul, we are no longer sucked into the emotion of the drama, instead we can stand back and look at things with logic and compassion and solve things in a peaceful way … a way that is best not just for you, but for everyone concerned.

This can seem cold to those still wrapped up in their ego, but it’s the best way to survive. Like on an airplane, you’re told to put your mask on first, then help others. You have to awaken your soul first before you can help others awaken theirs. If we all panic and let the ego suck us in, we all die. A person who is calm in those situations may seem cold, but they can also be the one to save your life.

In this place of living from an awakened soul source we can see the world for how it is, not how our ego tells us it is, or ought to me. As Eckhart Tolle writes in A New Earth, when we are one with one is, “the motivation to take action comes from a deeper level, not from egoic wanting or fear.” In this awakened place, we can see the world clearly and understand that everyone struggles with their ego. Everyone is doing the best they can, and our choice to enter into community together will always be challenging and messy.

But, if we look at these things head-on and talk deeply with one another about our wants, our needs and how we can love one another, not from that conditional and limiting place of ego, but from a place of genuine, soul-awakened concern, then we can achieve a peaceful easy feeling … that inner peace that Jesus said he has left with us.

Breathe deeply.

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Via Transformativa: Awake, My Soul! – Soul Resurrection

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

In our Jesus story (John 20:1-18), we encounter the classic Easter morning scene with a fun revolutionary twist … it’s a woman who discovers the empty tomb, and a woman who first encounters the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene is out early to visit Jesus’ tomb after the crucifixion only to find the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body gone. She runs to tell the disciples, who have to come and see for themselves … but they soon lose interest and wander off. Mary, however, stays. Jesus’ body may be gone, but she can’t make herself leave the last place she knew where he was.

Suddenly, a man she mistakes for the gardener, speaks to her and she doesn’t recognize her until he calls her name. This is a moment of transition for Mary, a time when her soul is on the verge of awakening … the lantern of her heart is about to lit up as Jesus speaks to her.

“Do not hold on to me,” Jesus tells her, and continues to tell us today. If we can grasp this sentence, Jubilants, and put it in action in our lives, it guarantees and instant resurrection of our soul.

“Do not hold on to me.”

This is the key … but we miss it in the darkness of our despair. We want to keep holding on to Jesus. We cannot let him go, so we continue to use him to suit our needs. We use Jesus as a weapon, declaring others as infidels or sinners if they don’t believe as we do. We use Jesus as our Golden Ticket to heaven, saving us because we believe all the right doctrines and dogmas the church tells us to, or we use Jesus as an excuse to pass the buck. We say we want to know, “what would Jesus do?” but then we don’t do it because, y’know, he’s God and we’re not, so what’s the point?

The point, Jesus tells Mary, and us, is to stop clinging to him as if he’s a weapon, a ticket or an excuse, and instead see him as a model for how to resurrect our own spirits. What made Jesus unique on this earth is that his soul was totally awake – it was aware of its own divinity. Jesus dispensed with his ego … he didn’t let the powerful in this world … or even the weak … get in the way of his mission to try to awaken the world to the realm of God that exists right here and right now if only we’ll recognize it.

“Do not hold on to me,” he says … don’t weaponize me or use me to get to heaven or use me as an excuse … use me as a model. Stop looking out here for God and look within. Allow your soul to rise up from its tombs of insecurity, it’s tombs of fear, it’s tombs of grudges and desire for revenge. Rise up, Jesus told Mary, and tells us today. Ascend to the heights that we’re meant to soar to as free, awakened souls, with our hearts shining brightly to keep ourselves and the world from stumbling.

Breathe deeply.

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Via Transformativa: Awake, My Soul! – Soul’s Passion

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

May my desire be worthwhile, my God, before your divine presence, and don’t look at my lack of merit. […] Watch with care, because everything passes quickly, even though your desire makes the certain doubtful and the short time long. Behold, the more you struggle the more you show the love you have for your God and the more you will rejoice in your Beloved in a joy and a delight that cannot end.  — St. Teresa of Avila

In our Jesus story (Mark 14:1-9), we find a beautiful example of what it looks like when we break open our soul’s passion and pour it out onto the world.

To set the scene, this is after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on that lowly donkey. He’s attended the Passover feast with his disciples and now he’s relaxing at the house of Simon the leper.  Just before this relaxing scene, however, we’re reminded of what Jesus’ coming fate as the chief priests and scribes are beginning to plot Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.

For now, though, that’s all in the future. Right now, in this moment, Jesus is trying to teach those around him, and us thousands of years later, what it means to live into your passion. He’s approached at Simon’s home by a woman with jar of expensive oil. Without a word, she breaks open the flask and begins washing Jesus’ feet with this pricey concoction, much to the disdain of those sitting with Jesus. “Why was this fragrant oil wasted?” they demanded. “For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.”

Indeed, it’s a noble idea … selling the this expensive elixir so that the poor may eat, but Jesus has other ideas, saying “Let her alone. She has done good work for me.”

There are a couple of important points in this story that can be easily missed. While we may sympathize with Jesus’ hosts about wasting good ointment that could be transformed into a good deed for the poor, Jesus is trying to show us what it looks like when we are living into our soul’s passion in the world.

Number one, when we are living into our soul’s passion we don’t really care about the worth of what it is we’re giving away. Instead, it’s only important that we give it. In this case, the oil was only valuable to those who could give some money for it. While the guests had noble visions of selling the oil to pay for some food for the poor, it all depended on someone richer to buy it from them.

Instead of thinking about what they could sell to help the poor, perhaps Jesus is really asking them, “Where is your real passion for the poor? If you were really passionate about serving them, you’d be out there doing it, even if it meant giving them that expensive bottle of oil to sell for themselves to do it.”

Instead of having grand visions of something, Jesus tells them, and us even today, do what this woman is doing … serving. She’s out there doing the act of love, living into her passion to serve.

Number two, the very act that she performs, anointing Jesus’ head with the oil, shows that she understands what true passion is all about in the first place … blessing other without regard to our personal cost … that “desire be worthwhile,” as St. Teresa put it thousands of years later.

By anointing Jesus in this manner, this woman is affirming several things about him at once. Anointing was a common practice for kings at the time, so her actions show that she is placing Jesus above herself, paying him honor, not just as a fellow human being, but by recognizing his divinity as well. Anointing is also used to signify health, so this action is also one recognizing that Jesus, just like everyone, is deserving of the blessing of a good life. Anointing is also something done for a person before death … and as Jesus approaches his final days, this blessing becomes and especially powerful sign in the life of Jesus.

By standing before Jesus and freely pouring out the most valuable thing she had in her possession, she tells us all we need to know about awakening our soul’s passion in this world. She knew, like Teresa before her, that we don’t have a lot of time on this earth … and Jesus had even less than she did.

To live into our passion, Jubilants, is to live like we’re dying … to love wastefully, to pour our extravagant and priceless love out onto this world without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, political persuasion, shoe size or hair length. Our “desire to be worthwhile,” should be the passion that burns deep within all of us, and we should be willing to act on that no matter what the critics might say.

Breathe deeply. 

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Via Transformativa: Awake, My Soul! – Soul Power

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog, “God.”
First, he looked confused, then he started smiling,
then he even danced.
I kept at it: now he doesn’t even bite.
I am wondering if this might work on people?

How do we recognize the true Word of God? We’re told in James 3:17-18, that the wisdom from above “is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” That doesn’t sound like the hallmarks of anyone who wields power in this world, does it?

Political leaders are not harvesting any righteousness – because none of them have sown any peace – because the Word of God has not come to the powerful. Instead, it’s pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, certain and sincere words have come where it is least expected – to the margins of society – to the politically powerless.

So, what are we supposed to do with it? If we have the Word of God here among us, how in the world does that help us? Or, better yet, how does that help us in the world? It won’t help us stop any wars. We can’t feed the hungry with it or house the homeless. It doesn’t help us stop the killing around the world.

It doesn’t bring soldiers home from war zones. This Word of God and four or five bucks might buy us a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but what, in real terms, can it even do for us if we are powerless to immediately right the world’s wrongs with it?

Years ago, Wanda and I put together a new computer desk for me. Anyone who knows us knows that Wanda is very handy and I am very – not. Wanda never met a tool she couldn’t use and I have met many that I wouldn’t know what to do with even with instructions. As we were starting to put the desk together, Wanda’s phone rang and she left me alone with the desk for only five minutes or so. You can already see trouble coming, can’t you?

Well, I looked over the instructions and thought, “this isn’t so hard,” so I put the middle section together and had it ready when Wanda’s call ended. It wasn’t until we started to put the top on that we noticed that this all important middle section was a little bit – well, wrong. A drawer panel and the front panel were upside down. My mistake didn’t spell doom, but it did mean that we spent a lot longer putting the desk together than we should have. The moral of this story is that I can’t be left alone with construction projects, and when I am, I need to wait until Wanda returns and not touch anything while she’s gone.

Whenever I look around at the condition of the world, I get discouraged. I can’t possibly do all that is required to bring order to the chaos that envelopes our world.  The good news is that I don’t have to do it all. Some of us are not cut out to do certain jobs, like put together computer desks, or end wars or feed the hungry. We all have skills and talents and we do what we can in the world – even if it’s handing someone else the tools to do it and looking on while they work.

The scripture tells us that we have the Word of God with us – that means that we are truly powerful, but not in a way that the world would recognize. I’d be locked up if I truly thought that I had the power to bring troops out of a war zone or end hunger or genocide or any other human misery. Even Jesus shows us that it’s not political power that we should be seeking. He didn’t seek to overthrow Roman rule or the Jewish leadership of the day. He didn’t end poverty or suffering in the world because that isn’t how the Word of God works.

How then, does the Word of God change the world if it doesn’t change it through political power? The Word of God changes the world because it changes us by awakening us to the true soul power we all possess.

The Hindu poet, Tukaram, found a way to live out this idea … by naming his dog, “God.” As you all may or may not know, we have a German Shepherd named, “The Lord,” because, “the Lord is my shepherd,” the scriptures tell us.  We believed it to be a joke … and perhaps a blasphemous one at that … but re-framed by Tukaram, perhaps it was divinely inspired.

After bestowing the name “God” on his dog, Tukaram writes that his dog now dances, and no longer even barks. “I am wondering if this might work on people?” he concludes.

And why not? If we can manage to see God in everyone, from the most powerful to the most powerless, from the in-crowd to the misfits, from the headliners to the forgotten people of this world, can it be such a terribly big leap to see how we can transform the whole world?

When we have the Word of God with us, we as individuals, and as a community, can transform the world by letting the Word transform us – just as it did Tukaram’s dog – making us “pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” In that transformation, we become people who will bark less and wag more – which always brings more words and acts of love into to the world.

Breathe deeply.

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Via Transformativa: Awake, My Soul! — Soul Vision

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

I have come to learn this: God adores His creation.
— St. Francis of Assisi

In our Jesus story (John 9:1-12), we learn a lesson of how confusing it can be to see the world through finite eyes. While out for a walk with his disciples, he comes across a blind man. He makes a bit of mud from dirt and his own spit and wipes in the eyes of the man, telling him to wash off in a nearby pool. When he does his eyes are opened.

This is where the trouble starts. Once his sight was restored, nobody recognized him anymore. His neighbors questioned his identity because they were used to the blind beggar, not this guy who kind of looked like the blind beggar, but now could see. It’s not like he could whip out his Hebrew driver’s license and prove who he was.

The neighbors were so disturbed by this familiar stranger that they took him to the temple leaders to demand to find out who had ruined this perfectly good beggar. This is the problem with our finite vision. We like things as they are. We don’t want to be surprised by seeing something new … especially familiar things that have seemed to change.

The disciples, early in the story, want to know who to blame for the man’s blindness – was it his parents’ sins or his own that caused his condition? Neither one, Jesus tells them, because y’know what, we’re all blind until we get a glimpse of what it’s like to see the world with new, infinite eyes.

We’re all blind, Jesus says, because we choose it, and who would blame us? It’s easier to be a beggar by the side of the road than to be a sighted man who now has to go and get a job to support himself. Jesus actually took away this man’s way of life when gave him sight. He changed his whole world, and we’ll do all sorts of things to avoid having our world changed even one iota. We know that if we get that infinite vision, and can see the world as God sees it, we cannot unsee it. We can’t go back to the life of blindness we knew before.

Jesus tells us not to be afraid of receiving our infinite eyes because finally seeing the beauty of the world will be worth whatever you’ve given up.

But, those who remain blind to the Holy beauty all around us may not recognize us anymore. Our friends and our families may protest that we’re not like we used to be, blind to the infinite view of the world like they are.

They may protest and want us to put our blinders back on … they may even stop associating with us because they think we’ve become some unrecognizable, woo-woo, kind of weirdo.

It’s okay. That’s the price we sometimes pay for seeing the world through Holy, infinite eyes. But, the good news is, we can still have compassion for those who choose to keep their limited view of the world, because we still see their beauty, even if they don’t. We still rejoice in their divinity, even as they choose simple humanity. We still love them with an infinite love, even if their own love is limited. Because now we know, as St. Francis did before us, that God adores all of Her creation … even those who refuse to see with infinite eyes.

Breathe deeply.

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