Category Archives: faith

Showered by Grace

What is it about Grace that we can have a thousand different definitions, from a thousand different people, and yet somehow we can all be saying the same thing?

For me, writing my piece for 365 Moments of Grace became an exercise in gratitude. When I began, I was unsure where my words would take me, but I was certain that wherever I ended up I would feel better for it, and I did. Before submitting my work to the book, I vetted it with a couple of friends. What I found interesting was that one of my friends’ replies went something like this: “Oh, honey, I am so sorry…”

I was startled by her words, because I had felt only gratitude for my experience in the shower. Even then, as it was happening, I felt grateful for the peace it brought me. I think that’s because it was fueled by Grace. Grace transformed my despair into something greater.

“Grace is a power that comes in and transforms a moment to something better.”
–Carolyn Myss

So, without further ado, for those of you who have not purchased the book yet, I would like to share my Moment of Grace with you here, knowing that there are 364 more stories within its pages that are similar, and yet wholly distinct. This magical book is filled with over 250 voices sharing their stories of Moments of Grace, all saying something different, and yet, somehow, all saying something similar.

Finally, as I geared up for the book’s launch, I tried to describe and define Grace for a friend. I wrote: Sometimes Grace is that still small point of breath, where nothing is needed and everything is possible.

grace

I’d amend it today to say that what’s needed, in fact, is Grace, though it’s rarely ever identified. In our deepest moments of despair we rarely have the ability to ask for what we truly need. And in those moments when Grace is needed most – it always seems to show up.

xoxo


 

Showered by Grace
by Martina E. Faulkner

Years ago, as I started my journey through the refiner’s fire, I was brought to my knees at a most inopportune time: I was in the middle of my morning shower.

While lathering up my hair, I found myself overwhelmed by grief, pain, and tears. My journey of shedding layers of imperceptible veneers had begun, and it was painful. Unexpectedly, with a mountain of bubbles on my head, I fell to my knees, sobbing.

Crumpled on the shower floor, with water pouring over my skin but not cleansing any part of me, I couldn’t utter a word. I silently wailed as my tears mixed with the stream of soap and water from above. I could barely breathe. Immobilized, I watched in awe as my hands reached up.

Like a child drawing on a foggy winter window, my fingers knew what to do when I had lost any semblance of presence in myself. They wrote on the shower wall:

Help.

A single word inscribed in the mist was my call for assistance.

The effort it took humbled me further. As the water began to cool, with the bubbles all but gone and my shoulders hunched forward in a semi-fetal position, I felt a calm fall over me.

My mind began to settle as my heart returned to a steady rhythm. My tears, though still flowing were a gentle trickle instead of a torrent. As I started breathing more deeply and steadily, I noticed my pain had eased.

My cry – my plea for help – had resulted in a warm embrace in the most unlikely of places. Mixed with the water from the shower, my tears had become diluted, free to flow out and away from me. I felt held.

I still use the shower wall to send messages to what I now refer to as my spiritual team. Whether they are messages of gratitude or renewed requests for assistance, there’s a knowing that comes almost instantly the moment my fingers begin to glide across the steamy glass.

©2016 Martina E. Faulkner

showered by grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

P.S. Fore more information on 365 Moments of Grace, or to order your own copy, click here

Check out a few other co-author blogs about the book using these links for yesterday, today, and tomorrow:

July 4: Julia Van Der Sluys and Lore Raymond
July 5: Julie Jones
July 6: Catherine M LaubMarva Collins-Bush and Nicole Levac

Faith, Spirituality, and Religion (plus my thoughts on their role in terror, violence, and love)

Just after the San Bernardino mass shootings, I queried a trusted group of friends for suggestions for my blog – the one that was supposed to run last week. (Perhaps you noticed that I never wrote one.) You see, I found myself somewhat incapable of writing in the wake of such tragedy and senseless violence, again. Everything I wrote kept devolving into anger and frustration. I was mad. What’s worse is that I was aimlessly mad, and the arrows that were the words I was typing were not hitting any marks. I simply couldn’t coherently get my thoughts on paper without some random rants and expletives in the mix.

Instead of offering suggestions, however, my tribe of trusted souls encouraged me to share my thoughts and my process with regard to the violence. My friend, Tyler, said, I’d love to hear what you’re really feeling and where you’re at and how you’re working through it. The real-er, the better in my estimation.”

At the time, I couldn’t go there. I hadn’t worked through it. Like most of the rest of the world I was in shock and disbelief that yet another report of gun violence and a mass shooting had occurred. I have many more thoughts that I will eventually put to paper, but it would’ve been a disservice to my readers, and indeed to myself, for me to write an emotionally reactionary piece on the violence and instability of terrorism, both at home and abroad.

And then, this past weekend I had my first-ever Ayurvedic consultation. Paul, my consultant, said something so poignant to me that I think I stopped breathing for a moment from the depth and simplicity of the words. He shared a wisdom from his teacher, Maharishi, that went something like this:

‘If you are willing to go to war, kill, and fight in the name of your religion, you’ve misunderstood your religion.’

I am certain I have paraphrased, but you get the idea. Which is what has prompted me to write this week about Faith, Spirituality, and Religion. Because, frankly, I think it matters more than we’re admitting. When people are making statements and taking inhumane actions based on their “religion” it bears taking note and actually discussing the topic.

I’ve tackled these topics before, individually and sometimes together. There certainly is a lot of language “out there” about the difference between spirituality and religion. So let’s start there.

Colloquially, religion is thought of as the practice of one’s faith within set rules of doctrinal teachings, typically conveyed in writing or sacred texts. The best examples of this are: The Bible, The Quran, The Torah, and the Vedic texts. These writings hold the foundational teachings of their respective religions. Over centuries or millennia, they have been shared, taught, and, at times, imposed on people, with the mindset of exclusivity. This last phrase is where we developed our current understanding of the word “religion.” Modern understanding of the word revolves around keeping ourselves separate and apart from each other, by practicing “exclusive” rights to the Divine. (aka: My religion is better than your religion.)

But years ago, I attended a lecture by Pittman McGehee, D.D. at the Jung Center in Houston, and he proposed an alternate definition of religion that restores it’s original intent based on the origin of the word. Religion is akin to religare, which means to reconnect.

From this perspective, religion is about the act of reconnecting to that which we hold to be true and know in our hearts, which resides outside of us, and is not exclusive, but rather inclusive. For me, this is how we currently define spirituality.

Spirituality is, in my opinion, the knowing that there is something greater than yourself, that you can’t touch, see, or quantify, but is connected to all things, inclusively. The Druids knew this as the inherent wisdom in Nature. The Abrahamic religions refer to it as God, Yahweh, or Allah. Spirituality is an act of reconnection. It is an inclusive practice that recognizes the collective above all things, allowing each to practice his or her own faith, with respect for the intention of reconnecting to something greater, something to which we all have access, in myriad forms.

So, what is faith then?

Historically, and currently, faith has been used as a scapegoat for war, terror, violence, and oppression. “People of faith” have committed atrocious acts of horror in the name of their beliefs. Five hundred years ago, the Christians persecuted non-Christians during the Spanish Inquisition. Seventy years ago, the Jews were practically decimated, and now a statistically small group of Muslims are terrorizing the world in the name of their faith. But it’s not their faith that’s driving them. It’s their beliefs.

Is faith belief? No. Belief is a choice. Faith is a knowing, a knowing that transcends choice. Faith is, above all else, a feeling that requires no justification or defense. It simply is.

Which is why I needed to take pause and write about this trifecta of theology. I think the horrific events in the world have caused many of us, myself included, to dig deeper into my faith, into what I know – and, more importantly perhaps, to challenge what I’ve been told (or taught) to believe. Beliefs can change. Inner knowing is constant. It’s what gives you hope when times are at their darkest. Faith is the seedling of Hope. It’s the flint that creates the spark that leads to the fire. And faith is all-inclusive. We can actually use logic to understand this concept.

Let’s assume for a second that I am God. If I were God, and I wanted all of my creations – but specifically my human creations – to find their way back to me, would I limit the paths to just one? Or would I want every human on earth to find me in their way, from their hearts? Would I plant a seed within them that would one day rise and grow? I would. I would be that smart. I would know that it would take billions of seed plantings – one for each human – to ensure each one had a path back to their knowing, to me, however that shows up for them, as they are ready and able to receive it. For some this is religion, for others it’s nature. For everyone, though, it involves some measure of faith.

So, logically, faith is infinite. Faith is what some call the God gene or the Divine DNA. We all have it within us. It springs to life in different circumstances and at different times, as we need it or pursue it. I’ve created an acronym to define faith. You may have seen me use it before. Faith is

Feeling
Alive
In
The
Heart

At this holiest time of year, celebrated from Pagan times as the Winter Solstice, on up through the various holidays we enjoy today, we find opportunities to explore and restore our faith, in ourselves, in each other, and in humanity. We are being called to unite as one, to hold onto hope in the light of tragedy, and be the beacons that guide others to that same light when they are shrouded in darkness. A darkness I found myself flirting with after the most recent tragedy at San Bernardino.

The process of restoration that I’ve undergone in the last 10 days has involved a fair amount of numbing, distraction, reflection, self-care, and pursuit of joy. I have taken walks, taken pictures, enjoyed a lot of tea, as well as a salt bath, listened to music, and restored my connection with myself, and with what I know – with my faith. Faith in action is my spirituality. As I explored and embraced what faith means to me, I wrote about it. I share that writing with you here.

What Faith Means to Me

Faith gives me something to hold onto
when I feel like I have no strength left in my hands.

Faith brings me peace when everything around me,
outside of my control, is in chaos.

Faith restores me to my heart when I’ve lost my way.

Faith reminds me of what’s important, what’s less important,
and helps me create those two lists.

Faith shows me what’s possible in a world
that would have me believe otherwise.

Faith inspires me, every day, to be the best I can be, even when that “best” involves staying in my pajamas all day, behind closed doors, licking my wounds. Especially then.

Faith fills me when I’m running on empty.

Faith offers me abundance when I’m feeling less than worthy.

Faith grounds me in who I am, what I do, and where I’m going.

Faith shares wisdom and truth with me through beauty and through pain.

Faith leads me forward through darkness, fog, and broken terrain,
as well as the smooth pathways and flowing pastures.

Faith provides me with a sense of self, a sense of purpose,
and a sense of inner peace.

And mostly, Faith offers me all these things and asks nothing in return.

Faith, spirituality, and religion have been used for good and for evil. They have been the life jacket and the straight jacket, the prison and the freedom. The difference in how they manifest lies in the practitioner, resulting in love or terror. When respect, inclusion, understanding, and unity are their hallmarks, this trio of theology is the very definition of possibility, hope, and love. It is up to us – all of us – to ensure this is the way forward.

Wishing you many blessings for a joyous and loving holiday season, however, you choose to celebrate. May the light of the season be yours, and may you spread that light forward in peace.

Resilience, Faith, and Self-love

As part of my book tour for What if..?, in September I spent a week in New York for media meetings. I love New York, and I grew up in the area. Since leaving in 1990, I have gone back to visit every so often. Fourteen years ago, almost exactly, I flew to New York for a friend’s engagement party. My presence was to be a surprise, so my then-husband and I decided to spend a few days in the city before heading out to the suburbs for the event. We made our travel plans about six weeks before, or early August 2001.

We never could have known what would transpire two weeks before our trip on that fateful day – September 11th. The world could never have known. And we never could have planned for how it would impact and change us as a global society.

But, on that weekend 14 years ago, after the unimaginable had happened, we had to make a choice:

Live in fear, or
Live in love.

We chose love, and went to my friend’s engagement party. Nobody expected us to keep our plans. People weren’t traveling, least of all to New York. But my ex-husband and I knew it was the right thing to do. So, we boarded our almost empty plane in Chicago and headed to the Big Apple less than two weeks after the towers came down.

After being in town for a day or possibly two, we decided to head down to Ground Zero. It was not fully roped off yet, and we were able to stand within feet of the bent and collapsed ribs of steel. When I looked up, I saw the thick layer of dust encapsulating every building – it looked like a layer of spray foam insulation. We bought American flag bandannas from a vendor, partially out of national pride, but mainly to cover our faces and protect our lungs.

We walked among the resilient, the curious, the fatigued, the torn. We listened to stories as we shared in the national after shock of tremendous tragedy.

As I stared at the remains of my beloved buildings, decades of my life flashed before my eyes. “I’ll never get to enjoy a meal at Windows on the World again,” was one of the thoughts that flew into my brain as I remembered my 11th birthday. I was lucky enough to have experienced it once.

My New York was changed forever. I knew it at the time, but I had no idea how far-reaching that sentiment would be.

During our walk so long ago, as things became overwhelming, we stepped inside Trinity Church. I had never been in it before, but it felt like a fitting time to stop in, take pause, and simply breathe.IMG_6898

Now, 14 years later, I had the same idea as I meandered the streets of Ground Zero. In the midst of media meetings promoting my new book, a quiet pause seemed fitting – and needed.

One World Trade Center is a sight to behold – it’s a marvel. The surrounding area is busy, chaotic, vibrant, and alive – the New York we all know, with a slight edge to it. An awareness of tragedy, rather than the former insulation provided by a sense of invincibility. So much has changed, and yet, it felt oddly familiar.

Walking into Trinity Church 14 years later, I still felt the gratitude, calm, and refuge the church provided so long ago. The miracle that it survived such an event unharmed is evident in the grain of the wood in the pews. IMG_6897Serenity and peace filled the air as I sat quietly staring up at the stained glass in between writing these words:

Fourteen years have passed and it feels like I have lived many lifetimes. Fourteen years have passed and it feels like both forever and yesterday. Fourteen years have passed and I know more gratitude, love, and joy today than I ever could have imagined then. I’m not the same person I once was, and yet, I’m exactly who I have always been.

With some time in between meetings, sitting in Trinity Church, I allowed myself to sit, reflect, breathe, pray… connect. Or rather, re-connect to what I know to be true: I am who I have always been. Gratefully, I am finally living my life in alignment with that statement. Gone are the struggles to conform, seek approval, bargain for acceptance. It’s not 100% all the time, but it’s getting closer every day. And when old habits or patterns are triggered, I have the resilience, understanding, and faith to return to self-love – to return to myself: Who I am… who I have always been.

Perhaps that’s what faith, resilience, and self-love are all about. Like the Trinity Church, they help us to survive. They stand strong through the chaos as a safe haven in the midst of struggles and challenges, just waiting for us to return, to re-connect. Regardless of what’s going on outside, we know that the familiar stability of a strong internal alignment, however that manifests, is the home in which we can always find comfort, draw resilience, and feel peace.

On Faith and Questioning (and what to do when you disagree)

I recently had the opportunity to meet and do some work with an energy healer who is very good at what she does (ie: she has quantifiable – scientifically measurable – success). I wasn’t planning on working with her, but she asked, so I agreed. Not surprisingly to me, we butt heads. (My initial reluctance confirmed.)

I’ve since reflected on the experience and the “why” of it all, and I’ve come up with this:

She had a very clear and defined view of her interpretation of religious history, its role in energy work and spirituality, and how that plays out today. She said some things so firmly and unwaveringly that I reacted. I reacted not to what she said, but how she said it, following up her statements with a list of her credentials in theology and inquiring about mine.

That was enough for me to simply let it go and step away emotionally, hearing the thought in my head: You don’t want her imposing her beliefs on you, so do not impose yours on her. With that I remarked, “We simply have a different perspective on this, and that’s ok.”

It’s always a “red flag” for me when someone doesn’t seem to leave room for someone else’s knowledge, wisdom or experience. Here’s why:

Faith doesn’t require credentials.

A PhD in religious studies doesn’t automatically translate into greater (aka: better) faith or wisdom. It may mean more book knowledge, but it ends there. All wisdom and all experiences are valid.

Faith doesn’t exclude anyone.

In fact, faith is all-inclusive, opening its arms and welcoming anyone who is looking for its embrace, regardless of which religion, god, or belief you hold.

So, for me, it was an opportunity to renew my understanding, my experience and my belief in what I have learned, what I know in my heart, and what I have experienced – always leaving room for more. Because

faith without questioning isn’t necessarily faith.

This person suggested to me that questioning the words, or the belief, renders it powerless. She said that the minute we question something, it automatically loses all its power and magic. I couldn’t disagree more.

In my experience, questioning has always led to a deeper understanding, and a greater sense of reverence for the belief itself. A deeper connection, if you will.  This is just my experience, and it’s what I know to be true. It might be something different for you, as it is for her. And that’s the beauty of it all.

We each get to have our own understanding and experience of faith and divinity. Where we collectively overlap, we join together and connect with each other. The only times we get into trouble are when we try to impose those beliefs on others, and prevent them from having their own inspired experiences.

Faith, Empowerment and Life

faith pic

If you follow me on Facebook (Do you? Because I think you’d like it if you did. If you’d like to click here), you’ve already seen this little gem of a ‘definition’ I created last year. What you don’t know is where it came from. I thought it was time I shared that with you.

One night last Fall, I woke up at about 3am. If you’ve ever done any spiritual studying (or listened to Wayne Dyer, for example), you’ve heard that the “veil” between the 3D world (earth, human, etc.) and the spirit world is thinnest around that time. It’s when we seemingly have greatest access to our intuitive self and our guides, angels, etc. (Unless, of course, you cultivate this work – then access is 24/7, which is awesome!)

Anyhow, it was about 3am, and I was awakened by a stream of creative thought coursing through my brain. On this occasion I thought it best to sit up, pop on some lights, and write things down (much to my dog’s annoyance). In the space of a few minutes, a new workshop was born. A workshop in which the quest for the authentic self could be made more accessible, fun, and engaging – yay! (It’s coming soon.) And, in the middle of this creative flow, came the words:

Faith is Feeling Alive In The Heart

I wrote it down. I wrote everything down, and promptly fell back into a deep sleep.

The next morning I woke up with a vague memory of having done all this in the middle of the night, and I fumbled for my notepad. There it was, staring me in the face, like a little gift. I suddenly realized that so much of what I’ve been studying, learning, sharing, and processing comes back to a simple question:

What makes you feel alive?

I’ve used variations of that question in countless sessions with clients and groups, such as: What brings you joy? What makes you smile in your heart? What gives you giggles in your belly? The truth is – all of these things make us feel ALIVE. And when we feel alive, we feel viable and valid. We feel strong, capable. And we feel empowered. And therein lies the Faith.

Faith, for me, is not about religion nor is it about a specific practice or belief system. It’s not some altruistic lofty goal that defies understanding and prompts philosophers and physicists alike to explore its meaning in our world. It’s much more tangible than that.

Faith is a feeling – a very powerful feeling. Faith transcends doubt and fear, and brings it back to the heart – the center of your individual Universe – which is empowerment in itself. It can show up as a gentle knowing, a powerful source, a calm acceptance or understanding. However it presents itself, Faith is life-giving.

For me, then, Faith is a lifeline, a vibrancy in my heart that is always accessible, even when I forget it’s there. And that is a gift indeed.

Faith and Belief

I recently had a conversation with a friend on Facebook that prompted my thinking about Faith and Belief. Although I was raised with a specific religion, and it influences who I am today, I don’t associate with it specifically. Instead, I have discovered the joy and purity of faith, regardless of religion. To have faith in something greater than yourself is one of the greatest gifts ever given. Why? Because it creates an awareness of possibility, and in possibility lies hope.

I remember when I was in college, my father taught me something very wise. And like so many other “young” people, I never appreciated the depth of his teaching until more recently. He said that it was in questioning our religion, all of it, that we were able to arrive at true faith. In other words, he didn’t believe that following something because you were told to was actually believing in it – but by questioning it, and raising your own awareness of it within your life and soul, you would arrive at a level of faith and belief that was pure and strong. Like I said, at the time, I didn’t get it – but I definitely know what he was talking about today.

For me, my faith is based in the knowledge – the true knowledge – that there is something greater at work in the Universe. That different religions and cultures give that “something” different names, but that, for me, in the end, it’s all the same. The differences are human-made. They are not Divinely-inspired. They were created in order to bring understanding to that which is not understandable, only knowable.

In this conversation with my friend, I shared my belief that faith is Divine like the soil under our feet; and religion is human, like fences placed in the soil to separate out the masses according to their beliefs. It doesn’t change the soil. The soil remains the same.

So – what is faith? Well, faith is knowing. It’s not about understanding, reconciling, looking or searching. Faith is knowing. Whether given the name “God,” “Allah,” “Mother Nature” or anything else – faith is knowing that ‘it’ exists. That’s all. How you choose to honor that knowing is about religion and beliefs. So, now I’m going to share my word with you. I often refer to “the Universe” or “God” or “Mother Nature” in my writings – but recently, I’ve defined what ‘it’ is for me, and that’s: Divine Grace. For, when I tap in to Divine Grace, my life and spirit are filled with gratitude, compassion, light and love. And, in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

In Love and Light,
Martina

Seeds

In reading the book “Jesus Lived in India” by Holger Kersten, I have been taken on a journey that I could not have imagined when I started it a few weeks ago. So many questions are running through my mind, and yet, at the same time, I find that I have no real need for answers. I have rediscovered that faith in something greater than myself, is simply that: faith. Whether Jesus died on the cross, didn’t die on the cross, lived in India, or didn’t live in India – it doesn’t change the faith I have in the Divine. And Divinity is different for everyone. Some see the Divine in nature, for others it’s in a church or a child’s eyes. You get the idea. Wherever you see and experience the Divine presence, one thing binds us all together, and that is the seeds of faith. Amazing.

With that said, there was a quote toward the end of the book that I wanted to share with you, because I felt it was particularly prophetic. It is a parable, presumably taken from Jesus’ life in India.

People hear my words: a farmer goes to sow his fields. Then the birds come and eat the seed. Other seed falls on the path. And behold, some falls on the rock where there is no earth, and withers away. Some falls under the thorns and cannot grow. The seed that falls on the good earth, however, sprouts and brings forth fruit. The sower is the sage and the seeds are his words of wisdom. The seeds that are eaten by the birds are like people who do not understand the words. The seeds that fall on to the rock are the words of wisdom that go in one ear and come out the other. The seeds that land under the thorns are those who actually hear and see, but do not act accordingly. But the seeds that land on the good earth are like those who hear the words of wisdom and act accordingly.” (attributed to Sheikh Al-Sa’id-us-Sâdiq and his book “Ikmâl-ud-Dîn” – translated by Max Müller; excerpted from “Jesus Lived in India” by Holger Kersten)

What are your seeds? Where have your seeds landed? And who has sowed them for you? Are you even aware of what seeds are growing in the gardens of your body, mind and spirit? The final sentence in the book contains the seeds themselves:

– he (Jesus) actually lived what he taught. Toleration at all times, care for the welfare and benefit of others (human and animal), giving and sharing, selflessness in helping others to carry the burden of their suffering, a universal and unconditional love for all –

Lovely. Now, what could we grow if we all allowed these seeds to land on good earth, receive water, sunlight and care? I think we must also ask: is our earth “good” enough to begin with? Perhaps that’s the better place to begin. There are so many ways to interpret that question – and I imagine most of you will read it differently. Here’s some clarifying questions to ask yourself: What does your earth look like? Is it fertile? Could it use some assistance or clearing of debris? What can you grow the way things are now? What would you like to grow, and how can you change the soil of yourself in order to create the garden of your possibilities?

THree Things

This week, the THree Things are quite simple.

Body – What “seeds” have you been planting in your body? Quite literally: what are you eating and drinking?

Mind – What seeds have you allowed to be sowed in your mind? It’s ok – we’ve all allowed others to “plant” things – but perhaps it’s time to do a little weeding.

Spirit – Your faith in the Divine is just that: yours. Hear the wisdom and follow it, on your path, nurturing the seeds that you know to be truth.

In love and light,

Martina