Finding My Balance

While I progress in finding the balance in my life between the secular and spiritual I have learned many things about myself and it seems that I have been on the moving end of a large pendulum.  I started my life being raised as a Lutheran Christian in rural North Dakota knowing little else than weekly routine church and working hard at anything I was told to do.  There was never an emphasis put on faith or my relationship with Jesus or God for that matter.  There was really only the expectation to be honest, work hard and do what I was told.  I attended church but really never understood the real history of my religion or how it came about in relation to all the world’s religions.  I know now that what I really perceived was not unlike my perception of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny or even Santa Claus for that matter.  They were all stories that I was only supposed to take on faith and not to question why I felt so many inconsistencies about what I was being told to believe.  It’s not that I can really say I even understood how I felt about what I was being taught because I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Subconsciously there was an unsettling feeling about it all, but since I had grown up feeling that way, it didn’t “feel” wrong.  Does that make sense to you?

I don’t believe I was intentionally mislead by my parents when it comes to religion because I don’t think they ever really knew anything different than what they were told either.  I think what they taught me was a mix between what they learned as children and their own perceptions of religion and faith at the time.  I think this is important to understand – I am not blaming my parents on how I was raised.  I believe completely that they did all they could with what they had.  I also believe that each step in their lives was also a balancing act between survival of life and finances; along with all the secret struggles they had as a married couple and themselves as individuals.

If I had to characterize my first 40+ years of life, I’d have to say it was mainly around the secular aspects of life.  I survived childhood, my school years, professional career, marriage and children.   It’s only really been in the past couple of years that my journey has taken a fork in a road focused on spirituality.  

Initially I was very dedicated and excited about my spiritual teachings.  I experienced other religions which gave me a lot of wonderful perspective on my own “birth religion”.  For the first time I had a very good understanding of the historical aspects as well what was really being taught to me as a child.  I also experienced some metaphysical and magickal practices that are truly amazing and powerful.  I became more interested in the tangible aspects of working directly with the Divine as well as all the earthly elements which became manifest from the Divine.  I dedicated several months to these types of experiences and in a way I was hooked on it.  In looking at it now, I was hoping that these “ways of being” would help me more quickly  understand myself and what I needed to do.  For much of my life I have been lost as to my purpose and my hope was that through talking with psychics, intuitives, and any other number of gifted people I could finally understand myself and my life’s purpose.  What I’m finding is that each insight I’ve been given has been a slight variation on the same themes I’ve heard all my life (e.g. I am powerful, I can achieve anything, I am here to help others, etc) 

What I’m finding is that I can have the most insightful person on the planet tell me exactly who I am, what I’m meant to do, how to do it and a pretty clear picture of my future; but all of this means nothing unless I believe it first and secondly, that I take action on that belief.  I also found the addictive nature of working with psychics.  I became very addicted to knowing all the what-ifs about myself and those around me.  This addiction was just another form of fear controlling my life with me second-guessing and needing confirmation on each idea or decision.  This isn’t living my life by my will, but rather by my ego and fear.  I was hoping that by working with these “gifted” people or becoming one myself, I could find the switch inside me to turn on my life, my motivation, and my confidence.  I wanted so desperately for the solution to be found by others and to end my suffering and life anxieties.  I was convinced that I did not have the ability or intelligence to find the solution within me (since I had failed at this all my life) and so it must be something others could find and activate in me from without.

Now that my pendulum has swung fully from the secular to the spiritual aspects of my life and am finding that I need both of these to be balanced in who I am.  Since I am currently an earthly being, I have earthly needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc).  To have these things means doing the normal things humans do like work or run a business to receive money.  Also, since I am a spiritual being, I need that connection to the Divine whether it is direct or directed from others.  I need to recognize the messages given, know the Divine power I have within and allow this to be incorporated into my daily life just as naturally as anything else I do.

My journey continues and I will keep showing up each day to experience and grow in it.  I will occasionally back up from seeing the individual tiles in my life’s mosaic to see the whole picture in its grand perfection.  I will remind myself that each experience is of my own design and no matter what the outcome is, I will always be welcomed back to the Infinite Divine.

Dwight Raatz

The Moments in Between

There are two significant events happening in my life this week. My youngest son’s birthday and I am celebrating my wedding anniversary. For my son’s birthday we joined him, his fiancé, their newborn son (hehe – yep I’m a grandpa) and his soon-to-be family-in-law out at a nice area restaurant. These celebrations gave me pause to step back and consider all that has happened in my life. I think it’s natural, as a parent, to review life a bit when one of your children celebrate a birthday or some other significant life milestone.

As I was pondering how fast things seem to have gone, I’m amazed to consider all the events and decisions that I’ve made in my life that have guided me to this very moment in time – right here, right now. I think about how all of the things I’ve done and all the things everyone else on the planet have done that created the perfect combination of events to make this current state I’m in. I mean it’s wild to consider that a decision I made years ago has resulted in the birth of my two sons, the meeting of my youngest son with his fiancé, and now with a the birth of my grandson. Not to mention all the relationships that were made along the way to bring us all to this moment in time that had a direct and necessary part in my grandson’s birth.

I feel, as most of you probably do, that life for the most part has seemed like a random bunch of events that are served up to you one-by-one for your consideration and decision. Should I get up (yes/no)? Should I wear the same clothes as yesterday (yes/no)? Should I eat cereal (yes/no)? Etc, etc, etc. On and on we go hour after hour, day after day, year after year with these Yes/No decisions with each one guiding us forward on a path that doesn’t exist until we make the decision Yes or No for each question presented. So from a current perspective “looking forward” it all seems so random. But when I look backward to the series of events, it is all perfection in its design. When I look to the future, I feel as if I’m only looking at but a few tiles on a larger mosaic; and when I look backward at what I have experienced, it’s like I’ve stepped farther back away from the mosaic to see the bigger picture of my existence.

As I live, there are many times in my life that I have regrets about something I’ve done or said. I have thought that if I had only made a different decision, I would be better off than I am now. This perspective is a very narrow view of life, not considering all of the wonderful things that have happened or that you have learned because of that “bad” decision. So when I look at my grandson now in all his wonder and splendor, I shiver to think that if I had made the “good” decisions every time in my life – he might not even exist today. And that is a scary thought indeed.

We are faced with challenges and decisions our whole life and we need to act upon them. It is in these actions that God’s creation happens. You might think this is a bit odd to consider that you and I have anything to do with God’s creation. After all, isn’t it all pre-designed and we are destine to the fate He has planned? In my perspective, no AND yes (perfect right?). No, it’s not ALL completely planned out as to what we do or how are lives will go moment by moment. After all, we do have Free Will and can mess with the plan all we want. The beautiful thing about this is that, that’s exactly what He wanted for us and Himself. The only way for Him to know who He is and how awesome He is, is through experience. So, he gave us all Free Will to do with life as we please and at every turn He has been with us, experiencing his Creation by having us create it for Him through Him. We were created in “His Image” as creator beings ourselves. We can choose how to live our lives and do whatever pleases us and He will ALWAYS be there no matter what we do. This is true because God is beside us, in us, around us and we are part of Him. There is a quote from the movie, Eat Pray Love that I really like and it is:

… “God dwells within you…as you.” God’s not interested in watching a performance of how a spiritual person looks and behaves. The quiet girl who glides silently through the place with a gentle, ethereal smile…who is that person? It’s Ingrid Bergman in “The Bells of St. Mary’s” – not me. God dwells within me…as me.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

I like to think about God’s creation as the, “moments in between” those decision points in our lives. The decision points are Free Will (us) and the moments in between is God’s grace unfolding that Will in ways that we could have never imagined and for the Divine to experience his creation. His Will is my will.

And the “yes” part of, “… isn’t it all pre-designed and we are destine to the fate He has planned?” means that the Divine’s “plan” is that we have the life experience that we want for ourselves. This life I have was MY plan all along – even before I was born I knew what I wanted to experience here. God’s blessing to us is that we fulfill this life plan and then we will return unto Him. Our experience of life is His experience. We are infinitely creative in how we want to experience life and this is “the plan”. We are born, we create life and then we die and the cycle starts again with a new plan of experience.

Remember the Moments in Between as the life you have created with the ones you love – all with Divine blessing.

Dwight Raatz

Who Are You Really?

Throughout my spiritual journey as a seeker of truth and enlightenment, I have often been told that I am not showing my true self to the world. I’ve been told that I am hiding “Who I Really Am” because of my fears of letting out this truth. While I do not argue with this assessment, my challenge and struggle has been to know who I really am so I can let “him” out. I understand that I have many fears in life, but what am I afraid of letting out? It seems to me that the first step in solving any problem is to understand the problem to its fullest extent. I need to know who I am before I can understand my fears of “letting him out”. Then I will have something to hold onto, a direction to go in, a goal to achieve.

As I consider this challenge of discovery I have come across a few tidbits of truth and consistencies. I have found that the answers to my questions have revealed themselves in the quiet moments in life. The quiet moments are those moments when time seems to stand still for you. You “accidentally” intersect with the exact combination of events that lead you to a moment of perfection. You know what I’m talking about. You might think that its never happened, but I know it has for you too. For example: you are busy walking from your car to a client meeting and it just so happens that it’s a beautiful warm and calm summer day. As you are walking you just happen to hear a bird singing joyfully on a tree branch hear by. You stop for a moment and look up at the bird, you feel peaceful, you feel the warm sun on your face, the thoughts of your meeting are on pause for a moment, you feel connected to yourself and the earth around you. In that moment of perfection you are just “being”, even if it was for only a few seconds. It’s important that after those moments of perfection, you store that feeling of peace inside your heart. It’s like recharging your battery.

As I consider these moments of perfection I have had throughout my life, I know that these have been the sneak previews of who I really am. The times when thoughts and story just seem to run out of my fingers through the pen onto paper or keyboard and screen. The times when I am speaking to a friend about life and from out of nowhere these words come to mind that are just perfect for them at that moment. Or, even the times when I hold my grandson in my arms and know the unconditional love I have for him and he has for me. These moments of perfection show me the peace that is possible in my life.

As I wrote in my previous posting (Noticing), I am becoming more aware of the “bold print” of my life. I am noticing more and more moments of perfection and learning who I really am. I am Compassion – I am a Divine Messenger – I am a Teacher – I am a Healer – I am Love. I look at these aspects of myself and wonder how I can Be this at all times. How can I share this Being with the world and have it understand me? How can I Be these things and still function “normally” in today’s world? This is my next hurdle.

So, Who Are You… Really?

Dwight Raatz