Last year our Christmas tree died 5 days before Christmas. When I say “died” I mean, of course we know once it is cut it is dying but for some reason it stopped taking water after a week and so the slow, and sometimes lightning quick, crustification process occurred before my eyes. After two weeks I asked Ty, “Does that look less green to you?” and he couldn't tell, I need to mention he is color blind of course. But each day as the needles drooped, then hardened, and eventually the pale brown crept in, and yes, even as I prayed every night it would last until Christmas, the inevitable happened. Total and complete death. I couldn't even plug in the lights for fear of our home going up in flames.
What to do? This is when I like to stroke my ego that because of my mindfulness practices I remained calm and collected like an er worker on the 4th of July. I assessed the damage as quickly as possible, weighed the options and called the nursery we bought it from. Afer a very nice conversation where I assured them the tree was NOT next to a radiator or heater or nuclear device and that is why it died, oh, and that I also watered it…they agreed to let us have a free one in exchange. I mean c’mon, 5 days before Christmas?
I don’t know about your kids but as excited as they always are about decorating the tree, the more skilled and accomplished they are at it, seems to match the exact degree to how tired they get doing it. Toddlers? Could decorate like a crack addict, all day long. Teenagers with impeccable skill for detail? Mayyyybe 20 minutes. So we bring in the new tree, and the kids aren’t interested in helping, but I was happy just relighting it and decorating it myself. BONUS! Because they had fizzled out I had full control over spacing and color coordinating the ornaments! Ha! Score one for mom!
I was trying to finish reading the Book of Mormon by Christmas and just plugged into my headphones and went to work. It was one of my favorite holiday memories from last year, I cried listening to the love of God for His children in each story, and love love love the glow of Christmas lights in a dark room. It was a beautiful blessing from a so called "holiday tragedy".
And guess what? Here we are as a family, another year later, and despite 10 months of me pleading for Ty to let us switch to an artificial tree to avoid the 2018 dead fire hazard fiasco, we ended up with another fresh cut tree (newsflash: it is still absorbing water!).
In the car the other day one child (sorry, can’t remember who) asked, “So is the tree already dead? Or is it dying?”. And it actually had me thinking, is it dead? Or dying? Ty responded right away, “It is dead, once you cut it from its roots it is dead.” It’s like the watering just prolongs the appearance of life.
Anyhoo, I didn’t mean to write about the Christmas tree incident in such detail (thanks for hanging in here), but it had me thinking about spiritual death.
Just like a plant cut from its roots, when I stop connecting with my spiritual roots, my eternal connection, luckily just like the tree, it isn’t noticeable right away.
It actually almost feels like a relief too, because you look spiritually alive and feel alive still…but without having to take time to do the work. Saved 2 minutes not praying this morning! Didn’t have to meditate! No scriptures or spiritual writings for me! YAY!!!!!
But maybe, just like a tree, as soon as I’m cut off from the roots, I’m already dead. Snap, just like that.
I may still look alive, but it’s just a poor substitute for real spiritual connection and energy. Sure I can keep watering it here and there to prolong the eventual dullness, drooping, dropping of needles and then pitched into the trash pile on garbage day…but in reality, I’ve been dead for a long time.
One of my favorite New Testament chapters is Romans 8, which all about spiritual life and Christ’s love. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
What is to be carnally minded? EGO. Ego is weakness in the flesh, an enmity to god, it only cares about things about itself. Spiritually minded is oneness. Connected to God and all that is. The roots, the real roots. How vast and far do these roots reach? My brain can’t really take it all in, but from what I’ve felt in my spiritual moments on my meditation mat and at our temple….pretty darn far.
We are heirs of God for all that He is and does. We forget this…a lot. We lose our root connection and live in our mind all day long. We believe our thoughts and actions are who we are. We are scared, we are competitive, we are mean, we are sad, we are small.
When we aren’t going to the spiritual gym and dead to that connection, we think bad things are “bad”. We think we are punished for our mistakes and blessed for our good actions. WE think that love of God is transactional, and that love itself is an action. It isn’t, love is a state of oneness. Acceptance, peace, pure connection.
His love is ALWAYS with us, all around us, in everything. It never leaves. We leave with our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. We leave His presence with our ego identity, because we think we are separate and only actions can bring us back to Him. We “believe” in God, but we don’t live WITH Him, and that is a poor substitute.
I love how Jen Sincero talks about divine growth and connectedness as going to the spiritual gym. If you stop going, your spiritual connection to who you are gets weak and flabby, and just like muscle and Christmas trees, can atrophy and die. YOU HAVE to GO to the spiritual gym EVERY DAY. Actually for me, it’s like almost minute by minute.
As I've grown back into my connection and roots through spiritual gym exercises, I have learned a lot of what I believed and lived about who I was was wrong. I was living through my ego, and now I realize that's not who I am, and that I can't even put into words who I am.
What if there is no separation? What if we are all connected? What if you aren't anything you think you are? Could you be ok being nothing? Could you ok being freaking amazing and full of glory and power? Could you be ok letting go of everything you think you are and are not to be one with HIM? That’s where the spiritual gym muscles are really strengthened and ripped apart again and strengthened some more. You cannot be ONE with your spiritual roots if you think you are someone other than a divine and perfect being.
There is no difference between me and you or anyone else. I am above no one, I am beneath no one. I am connected by all through those roots.
“The sufferings of this present time are NOT WORTHY TO BE COMPARED to the glory which shall be revealed IN US.” Romans 8:18
That means everything we go through in this life is a drop in a bucket to your eternal and infinite glory that is ALREADY within you. What? Yup, seriously.
One of my favorite sayings goes something like this and I’m going to hack it and that’s ok, but basically,
Who are you? Do you know who you think you are?
A quick way to test this out is by WHAT BOTHERS YOU.
If small things bother you, deep down you believe you are small.
If only large things bother you, you are getting closer to knowing who you are.
Connected to your spiritual roots and living with God all day through forgiveness? TRUE INNER PEACE. Basically you are bulletproof.
“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.” CS Lewis
Do you remain unharmed by life? Or do little things bother you? My guess is if your diet is tap water and tree preserver, you don't have the strength to meet life and remain aligned with who you are every day. You will be bothered, stressed, depressed and anxious. You aren't alive and connected to truth through your roots.
“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed.” Marcus Aurelius
I believe most of us are getting tired of walking around “pretending” to be alive, like a Christmas tree cut from it’s life sustaining roots. We’ve accepted poor man made and yet, socially acceptable substitutes for spiritually living, instead of deep and connected living. We have our spiritual gym membership, and pay the monthly dues, we have our gym bag and fancy shoes that motivate us (legit science, it works), but aren't actually going to the spiritual gym every day? WHY?
Let’s be honest, unlike gym life, it’s because most spiritual living, the real kind, just ain't cool. I know I seem weird now, I know I am not fun to complain to anymore. All of my sarcastic humor is gone and I’m boring (I need to learn spiritual humor ;). But what do I have instead of fitting in and being cool? (Which, c'mon now, is that even-ever-actually possible?)
I may not look normal anymore, but I have peace. The peace that passeth all understanding. Am I perfect? Nope. Still learning. But besides being able to not lose my mental fruit loops over a tree dying 5 days before Christmas and many other normal life things that happen all the time…I am peaceful and enjoy life. I am content.
Heck, I even enjoyed addressing and putting the stamps on our Christmas cards this year. Usually I would rush through and would only feel “happy” once they were all sent out. I only enjoyed the end of everything, the completion of things, “once” everything was perfect etc.
Even today people ask me all the time, "Are you so excited for when the baby comes?", well, yes, but I'm excited and happy today. With a big buddha belly and my reflection that looks like an African fertility statue as I step into the shower. With heartburn and constipation and finding it hard to breathe and talk at the same time and I can't get off a couch without grunting. I am happy! I am peaceful! I literally, love all of it. No joke.
I am no longer hating every day waiting for the time when everything is perfect and I will be, FINALLY, happy and at peace.
The truth is, if you can’t be peaceful now, right now, in this very moment?
You won’t be peaceful and happy when anything changes.
But how do we find inner peace and God’s love and live in it? Only through Him, our roots, our spiritual connection.
We connect through utilizing the atonement every day. I once heard that forgiveness is not just letting go but passing through. l love that.
The tremendous gift of eternal atonement helps me pass through my moments of weakness, the unkind thoughts about myself and others, the judgements, the crappy decisions, both small and large and reconnect with who I am and all that I can do in God's power.
The most important thing you can do to get connected and stay connected to all that you are and be peaceful is to establish a super testosterone boosted and juiced Spiritual Gym routine in your home, especially in the morning to start the day, with other reaffirming exercises throughout as needed.
I’ll share a few of mine here, and I do these because I want to, and I feel good doing them. I no longer go to the spiritual gym out of obligation, competition or fear. I love connecting with God and feeling his love. It's a gym membership I actually use and am not wasting, also BONUS, it is ABSOLUTELY FREE!
-When I wake up, and open my eyes, I try not to leave the bed until I feel gratitude or positive thoughts.
-Daily prayer, all day long. Especially giving thanks.
-Daily silent meditation, 20 minutes
-listening to spiritual talks, teachers and materials.
-walking, exercise (someday again for me), yoga
-nature, always always nature.
-breathing, breath work changed my life.
-gratitude and intention setting as I fall asleep
Somedays I miss a lot of these, somedays all of them! But not a lot, because I really love not being miserable anymore. I can't miss meditating 3 days in a row without losing my shizzle because my connection is gone.
But what about you? How are you with your root connection? What are your spiritual gym practices? Are you connected? Or are you cut off and just watering yourself with sprite water and staying away from open flames?
No judgement, just where are you? And do you want change?
Your desire is a sign that you are ready. So go get some new workout clothes and a sweatband and hit that spiritual gym!