Welcome to Round 4!
We return now to “I” as the subject of the Guiding Thought. Hopefully after going through the rounds of “you” and “we”, you will have a different understanding of “I” that takes into account what you have learned through “you” and “we”.
Love is my natural state; In Love I remember who I truly am; I remember my holiness, my innocence, and my infinity. Love enlightens my mind and lifts my heart. I feel buoyant and expansive! I am now aware of my Self as Infinite Love, unbounded and free.
I went through a time in my life–more than a few years–where I practiced the daily prayers of the Holy Russian Orthodox Church. For that period of time, it was very meaningful and instructive. I still hold much of the prayers and the “feel” of them very dear (I have a picture of Saint Herman on my home alter; if saints have taglines, his is, “I am not alone; God is here, as God is everywhere”– and I have that phrase at my desk at work.)
One of Orthodox evening prayers begins like this:
What shall I offer Thee, or what shall I give Thee, 0 greatly-gifted, immortal King, 0 compassionate Lord Who lovest mankind, for though I have been slothful in pleasing Thee, and have done nothing good, Thou has led me to the close of this day that is past, and established the conversion and salvation of my soul.
That prayer is preceded by a prayer that begins like this:
0 Lord, Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, show compassion and have mercy on me Thy sinful servant, and loose me from mine unworthiness, and forgive all wherein I have sinned against Thee today as a man, and not only as a man, but even worse than a beast…
It’s no secret that Christianity marks people as wretched sinners out of the gate (at birth).
So I wonder, as I read the Guiding Thought about Love being my natural state, about my holiness and my innocence, I am thinking about how I “grew out” of the Orthodox ideology of wretched sinner. Because now, I am truly in love with Love, and I can feel It enlightening my mind and heart.
Here is what I know:
When I was doing the Orthodox prayers daily, I felt like they tapped into the part of me that in a very visceral way felt unworthy, undeserving, wretched. That part of me–which really was sub, or un-conscious–got a voice. There were times of sobbing at my unworthiness, standing before God, wonder what I, a wretched sinner could offer to God.
But the beauty of the prayers, is that through it, there is also the prayer of redemption and forgiveness. Lifting my voice as a sinner and admitting the lowliness of my being, opened the space for the Light of the Holy Spirit to enter and cleanse me.
I did not remain stuck in holding onto the idea of being a sinner. I am more than that; the Holy Spirit washed me clean.
All of that was many years ago, and I have done even more work of purifying and cleansing (releasing) my ego, allowing the Divine Beauty of my Soul to shine.
Now, when I read, “What shall I offer Thee, or what shall I give Thee…” the feeling is no longer one of unworthiness or despair. It is a feeling of Joy and gratitude, a feeling of wanting to give to God, purely. These words “What can I give Thee?” now are a sincere asking for God to let me know what He wants, so that I can rush right out and give it, because I want to give whatever I can to Him.
In the meantime (until there is something specific that I know I can give to God), I offer Him my heart, my emotions, my actions, my thoughts, my words, my deeds, my life, in joy and gratitude for the life He gives me. A child, giving a finger painting to the parent who has everything.