We have to deal with stuff as it comes. If we forget to take out the trash, our kitchen starts to smell like old fish. If we don’t do the laundry, we end up frantically searching for clean socks. If we don't deal with our mail right away, it piles up on our counters and in our inboxes. Sometimes we don't even realize how much the clutter has been stressing us out until it's gone. Then, when all is clear and clean, we realize that we can finally breathe!
In her thoughtful "meditations," on NewChurchPerspectives.org, Chelsea Rose Odhner draws our awareness to certain kinds of mental clutter that can collect, and she offers us her words of wisdom for how to sort it all out.
The following outline offers a sample structure to help you work through the selected meditations in a small group setting.
Click on a week, below, to see an outline for weekly study.
Read the meditation Letting go of the outcome: reality is better
"Rendering judgment is saying what is true. Snatching spoil from the hand of the oppressor is doing good deeds that embody love for others. The fire stands for the hellish punishment experienced by people who do not act that way—that is, who live by the lies that hatred spawns. In the literal meaning, this kind of fiery fury is attributed to Jehovah, but in the inner sense it is exactly the opposite." Secrets of Heaven 1861
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2: 3-4 (NIV)
"This is what Jehovah has said: 'Render judgment in the morning and snatch spoil from the hand of the oppressor, so that my fury does not go forth like fire and burn (and no one to quench it) because of the wickedness of their deeds.' (Jeremiah 21:12)
- What do you think about the idea that the reality is better than your hope or your desired outcome?
- Do you ever feel like the oppressor is your own thoughts? What kinds of thoughts oppress you?
- What kinds of thoughts release you?
When you find yourself fearing what could be, decide not to “live by the lies that hell spawns.” Remember that all of this is in the hand of Providence, right now.
Read the meditation Forgiveness
“The Lord cannot be worshipped except from charity” (Secrets of Heaven 440).
“The Lord… said that we should not forgive our brother or sister up to seven times but up to seventy times seven. This means that we should forgive as often as our brother or sister sins, without limit, or to eternity, which is holy” (Secrets of Heaven 433).
- Think about something you’re having trouble forgiving now. Is there an “if” there? “I can forgive them IF…?”
- When you were a child, is there something someone did that you had a lot of trouble forgiving them for?
- Have you ever been forgiven for something, big or small? What was that experience for? Have you forgiven yourself for it?
- What you hear the word “forgiveness” what comes up for you? Relief? Fear? Anger?
If you’re finding yourself annoyed at someone, forgive yourself for being annoyed, and then forgive the other person for being human too.
Read the meditation There Ain’t Nothing Like a Sound Mind
Every single thing that exists on earth exists in an infinitely more perfect form in the heavens… After death, we are perfectly human. In fact, we are more perfectly human than we were before in the physical world... [A politician reflected,] “I cannot actually tell any difference between my being alive then and my being alive now, except that my reasoning is now sounder. When I have reflected on what I used to think, a number of times I have felt ashamed of myself” (True Christianity 693).
- Do you resonate with the politician who once thought so differently? What is something that you’ve changed your view on over time?
- Have you experienced times when you felt like more was being asked of you than you could handle? What was it? How did you handle it?
- Do you ever find yourself fearing “what could be?”
- What are the things you’re afraid of?
When something unfortunate happens, try seeing it as part of providence, instead of turning it into an opportunity for resentment and blame.
Read the meditation Shoveling
“Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made" (Psalms 7:14-15).
"The Lord witnessed the outer self at its most beautiful, when united with the inner self. He also witnessed what it is like when not united to the inner self (verses 10, 11, 12, 13 [quoted as follows])" (Secrets of Heaven 1538).
"And Lot raised his eyes and saw the whole plain of the Jordan, that it was well watered (before Jehovah had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like the garden of Jehovah, like the land of Egypt as you come to Zoar.
And Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan; and Lot set out from the east, and they separated, a man from his brother.
Abram lived in the land of Canaan, and Lot lived in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent as far as Sodom. And the men of Sodom were very evil and sinful against Jehovah" (Genesis 13:10-13).
- How do you gain distance between the “me” and the “it?” Between your true self and the negative thoughts that come through your mind at times?
- Do you know what it’s like to be digging a hole, mentally, and then to realize that it’s time to put down that darn shovel? What is something that you find yourself shoveling, that might not actually need to be shoveled? What unnecessary hole do you sometimes dig?
When you notice yourself struggling with the age old babble, “put down the shovel and step away from the hole?”