The Metaphysics of Football
Next week is Super Bowl Sunday. For those of you who do not follow football, this is the culmination of the Professional Football season, where the supposedly, top two teams play each other to see who is the best. We all have favorites and deep down feel that team is the best. Just maybe not this year.
I thought it might throw some additional interest into the day by a discussion about football and how it relates to life. I do realize it will not top the interest in the commercials before, during and a little after the game, for it’s the commercials that many watch the game.
And then there is the Super Bowl Parties, which have gone beyond mere hot dogs and chips!
In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest quotes his mother saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Well, today we are saying “Life is like football.”
And humorist Lewis Grizzard agrees, “The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.”
Those would-be growth opportunities.
I know some of you are probably thinking that football isn’t very spiritual, but I would dare say that there are probably more prayers said on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day.
And in case you are thinking the whole idea of sports is not very Biblical…I refer you to the words of Paul in I Corinthians 9:24 as he uses sport as a metaphor: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
So, Paul is talking about the sport of running and boxing here. He doesn’t mention football…which had not been invented yet, but there certainly is a lot of running in football and only one team receives the prize. And that is the whole purpose of the Super Bowl…to determine which team played the best this year and wins the prize.
Football is really just a game. Every game has an objective and ways to go about winning it. Football has such a strong visual—the goal line marking the place where touchdowns are scored. We could say our spiritual goal is to connect with Divine Spirit or our God Self. Winning the game of life is using our divine power to create our experience of happiness, health, wealth, love, or whatever good we desire.
Any game has a structure and must be played by certain rules. The game of life requires knowledge and use of spiritual laws. To successfully play the game of life, we must train the imaging faculty to image only good, which brings every righteous desire of the heart. Directing our consciousness is the key to the game.
In football, you have TWO TEAMS. The team you are on could be your family, your spouse, and your friends, those you know here at Unity. And it is important to know what team you are on and who your teammates are…which is why they wear uniforms. Our uniforms are of the Spiritual kind…an aura of light surrounding each and every one.
And it could be our Unity of Rehoboth Beach T-shirts!
You want to make sure you have the right people around you, supporting you and carrying the ball for you. JESUS knew this and had a team of 12 disciples around him supporting him on his journey and he supported them on theirs. And he had many others following him and providing for his needs, many of them women.
Then there is the OPPOSING TEAM…. they are not the enemy, are they? No, they are another team wearing their own uniforms and playing the game with you. They are there for learning opportunities. And sometimes the opposing team is our own fears that need blocking.
Teams use plays and tactics for meeting the opposition and moving forward. So, too, we use the powerful strategies of prayer and affirmation to meet opposing forces and develop spiritually. Remember, Through the power of our spoken word, we are continually making laws for ourselves. One says I never—another says I always or I will. Each has made a separate law for themselves, one of failure, one of success. Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever we voice, we begin to attract.
In a way, our words are like the football in a game helping us to move forward to our goal or backwards, away from it. In a game, sometimes after the kickoff, the football is run all the way down the field for a touchdown, but that’s rare. It is more common for there to be steady progression, yard after yard, sometimes even inches forward. Likewise, in the game of life we make steady progression, meeting each instance of fear with faith and courage and trust.
Arnold H. Glasgow said; “In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.”
So, it’s IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHAT DIRECTION YOU ARE HEADED. You don’t want to be like Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels who in the 1929 Rose bowl picked up a fumble and then ran 69 yards in the wrong direction.
Life is about setting goals and working to achieve them. Part of moving towards those goals is finding obstacles in the way and sometimes getting tackled to the ground. Illness, financial problems, relationship issues can all seem to tackle us sometimes,
But remember the people involved in those scrimmages are not your enemy…. they are just another player or team heading towards their own goals. And the role they play in your game of life is to provide the learning opportunities that will…if you let them…. serve as your tools for growth.
After every game the team gets together and watches the film of the game to see how they can learn and grow and play the game better the next time. I’d like to suggest that no hard feelings are shared between teams, but we all know that there are some intense rivalries between professional, and college as well as local teams.
And the same is true for our lives…the people in our lives that seem to provide the obstacles in our way are there as a part of our game of life…and we can learn from our contact with them…if we take the time to take responsibility for our part in the scrimmage and learn whatever lesson is there for us to learn.
We sometimes hold a grudge against someone for something we perceive as a wrong against us. Did they say or do something that we thought should have been done differently? Are we throwing a penalty flag for some illegal motion or an off-sides?
And the assessment for the infraction could be the first step in the forgiveness process. Step off 10 yards and re-start the game again. Something is given to offset the perceived penalty. That’s what forgiveness is ‘giving for something.’
Of course, knowing where we went wrong and changing are two different things. We learned that lesson thanks to CHARLIE BROWN. Remember, Lucy is holding the football and he runs to kick it and every time she pulls it away at the last moment and poor Charlie Brown falls flat on his back. Over and over again she does this…until finally she puts the ball down, but he refuses to kick it. He tells her, “why should I kick it if you are just going to yank it away at the last minute and I fall on my back.” And Lucy gets all teary eyed and admits that she has been terrible…and begs him to give her one more chance. And Charlie Brown does…. he goes running to kick the ball, and once again she yanks the ball away at the last minute and Charlie Brown falls on his back. Lucy’s last words were, “Recognizing your faults and actually changing your ways are two different things, Charlie Brown!”
So, if we are going to win at this game of life it would behoove us to review our life and the times we’ve fallen flat on our backs and instead of blaming someone else, learn what is ours to learn…and then change our ways.
In football there are REFEREEs who oversee the game to ensure the teams play fairly. And sometimes they will throw a penalty flag on the play…which means an error has been made and most likely there will be an adjustment in yards.
Well wouldn’t it be great if we had a referee to throw a flag every time we made a mistake? It would make life so much easier, wouldn’t it? If you knew in the moment every time you made an error….it might not stop you from making them, but it would sure help us in getting more conscious.
Don’t we all have an inner referee….and if we are in touch with our inner referee we can notice when we are off center. I certainly notice a lot quicker when I’m off center.
We can spend time nurturing our inner coach…. our Higher Self…. through prayer, meditation and study….and when we do that and we say or do something that we know is off center, we will notice it much more quickly. We can throw down our own flag and delay the game …..and possibly have an opportunity for a ‘do-over.’
Every team has a COACH…someone to cheer them on and to offer plays and strategies. I like to think of myself as one of your coaches…. you come here on Sunday mornings and I offer you strategies for life…. ideas and tools for playing this game of life. But you have an inner coach as well…. God…your Higher Self is there for you any time you call on her.
Every team spends time in the HUDDLE…. that’s the place where the strategy for the play is set…. where the intention for this upcoming play is shared, and you need to be alert and present in that huddle. I think in this game of life…the huddle is the time we spend in prayer and meditation…and I like to think of our Letters to God that we write at the beginning of every year as our huddle for the year. It’s where we set our intentions for the year.
A sportswriter once said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” In the game of life, how you play the game is everything. We don’t sit on the sidelines, but play fully, powerful in our oneness with divine power. Faith is the primary ingredient in the game of life. Faith holds the vision steady, focused on the goal line of what is desired and blocking adverse thoughts.
If one asks for success and prepares for failure, he will get the situation he has prepared for. We must prepare for the thing we asked for, when there isn’t the slightest sign of it in sight. Prepare to have a demonstration! Act as though it is already yours, we must be bold and assertive in our affirmation and belief.
And the last point I want to make is that every game has a SET TIME to play. There are four quarters in a football game and each quarter is 15 minutes long. However, if you’ve ever watched a football game you know that it takes way longer than an hour. There are time outs, running out of bounds, and penalties that stop the clock. And then of course there are all those commercials…which is the main reason many people watch the Super bowl….and the Half Time entertainment.
So, in truth you never really know how long the game is going to be. The same is true for our lives. Your life might have 80 years or 90 years…. you’ll have certain milestones in life…which I guess could be considered the quarters…. any there is always the possibility of a midlife crisis some folks go through…their halftime, which can be entertaining. Who doesn’t want a new sport car???
It doesn’t matter how much time; the game is never over until it’s over.
There have been many games where the game ends with a hail Mary pass to the end zone or a last second field goal attempt.
In life, as in football….it is not over til it’s over. I don’t care if you are 99 years old…. you still have time…you still have a chance. All you must do is keep going forward, have a supporting team around you…. huddle daily with your inner coach…. learn from your past mistakes and adjust.
So play full out till the end.
In the game of life, there can be mistakes or fumbling—missing opportunities or being tackled by fear and immobilized. There can be penalties for “unnecessary roughness”—unkindness and condemning of self or others. You can be blocking your own good, so you don’t receive. Are you a tight end or a wide receiver? You can be penalized for “holding”—on to money, grudges, or the past.
“Living in the past is a violation of spiritual law. The robbers of time are both the past and the future. We should bless the past, and forget it, and bless the future, knowing it has in store for us endless joys, but live fully in the now. Living in the past is running the wrong way down the field, which will never win the game.
The rule is to keep our eye on the ball—on the greatest vision for our lives, keeping focused resolutely on good and only good, letting every situation of fear move us to greater faith and belief. We get out of our own way. We use our divine power to speak our word of declaration. We cast the burden to Higher Power and hand it off to the divine. So, day by day, moment by moment, we are winning the game of life.
Richard Rohr reminds us: “Remember, everything is a revelation of the divine—from rocks to rocket ships. The divine is disclosed everywhere for those who have eyes to see. Our only blindness is our own lack of fascination, amazement, humility, curiosity, awe, and willingness to be allured forward.”
And most importantly…while this spiritual growth is important stuff…. it’s also important to enjoy yourself along the way. If you aren’t having fun at least most of the time …. then change your game plan. ENJOY THE GAME! ENJOY YOUR LIFE!
The Season of Nonviolence
Name some people you respect…often the names of Nelson Mandela and MLK come up when people are asked that question. Why do you think that is?
The Gandhi King Season for Nonviolence (SNV) commences on January 30, in cities across the globe. The annual 64 day campaign, co-founded in 1998 by Dr. Arun Gandhi and The Association for Global New Thought (AGNT), is an educational, media and grassroots awareness campaign spanning the January 30th and April 4th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The purpose of the campaign is to focus educational and media attention on the philosophy of attaining peace through nonviolent action as demonstrated by legendary leaders Mohandas K. Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar E. Chavez, and President Nelson Mandela, as well as living legends such as His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Spiritually guided citizen leaders in over 900 cities in at least 67 countries have participated since the campaign began in 1998.
If you go to the website for the Season for Nonviolence, there is a guide for Daily Practices one can do to promote Nonviolence and Peace. (show)
We must ask ourselves what is my part in the goal of global peace?
In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “… I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ … Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
This is what our Way-shower asks of us…we are to look out for the disenfranchised. This is what the Safety pin movement is all about. Trying to be available for those who feel fear for their safety in this new direction that the country seems to be headed.
Fr. Richard Rohr commented in a recent blog, “every viewpoint is a view from a point, and we need to critique our own perspective if we are to see and follow the truth all the way through.”
Why do I mention that quote? Because part of being a Truth student is questioning our own views, thoughts, beliefs.
Have you taken inventory of your thoughts? Beliefs?
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Does peace matter to you, does it matter in your life?
“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.” Mahatma Gandhi
Isn’t this what our 5th Principle states: Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.
We say all the time that Peace begins with me…with each one of us. We sing the peace song at the end of the service. But when we walk out the door, do we follow through with that concept?
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians – you are not like him.”
That is unfortunate.
Unity bases itself on the teachings of Jesus. Our 5 Principles are the essence of His teachings.
- There is only one Presence and one Power, God the Good.
- God is present in all people as our divine essence, our Christ nature.
- We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.
- Through affirmative prayer and meditation, we connect with God and bring out the good in our world.
- Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.
Gandhi also said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
So how do we go about being the change we wish to see in the world?
Shams Tabrizi, a teacher of RUMI, suggests: A life without love is a waste. “Should I look for spiritual love, or material, or physical love?”, don’t ask yourself this question. Discrimination leads to discrimination. Love doesn’t need any name, category or definition. Love is a world itself. Either you are in, at the center…or you are out, yearning.
I find true peace when I turn within. There, in the stillness of sweet Spirit, I enter the Silence and rest in the presence of profound love.
Again, Fr. Richard Rohr: “…spirituality and action are connected from the very beginning and can never be separated. Some people set out to act first, and their inner experience is given to them on the journey itself. Others have an inner experience that then leads them into action. It does not matter on which side you begin, but eventually action and spirituality must meet and feed one another. When prayer is authentic, it will always lead to actions of mercy; when actions of mercy are attempted at any depth, they will always drive you to prayer.”
“Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.” Mahatma Gandhi
What happens when Spirit talks and we don’t act? It’s called a Spiritual 2 x 4. I’ve had a few and believe me, you do not want to experience it. Take steps that Spirit is asking of you.
And where do we start? I have a bumper sticker that suggest this: Think Good Thoughts: Words become action, actions become habits, habits become character, character becomes destiny.
I have it at my kitchen sink so I can be reminded often.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.”
100 years ago, the Fillmores created “A GOOD WORD CLUB”
Rules for Admission were:
- Members are admitted upon request
- There is no charge for membership or dues
- Members agree to avoid subjects of negativity and anger for a period of one month.
- Members are expected to report in one month
- Each member is requested to spread the word.
- To speak daily for one month:
“Let there be Good Words on earth and let them begin with me.”
- I believe that there is power in united effort.
- I believe in the power of the spoken word and I realize that I am held accountable for even my lightest words.
- I desire to be a member of the Good Word Club that I may unite in supporting others as well as myself to speak only good, true words & to participate in actions that support those Good Words.
- I agree to guard my conversations against all words of gossip, anxiety, foolishness, impurity, untruthfulness, crime, fear, nagging, complaining, sickness, poverty, vengeance, and anger, and to turn them toward words of trust, wisdom, goodness, health, prosperity, praise, joy, and goodwill.
- I will abide by the rules of the Good Words Club for a period of no less than one month and if I notice that I am not using Good Words or Good Actions, I will take a deep breath and start over again; for I know that it is that simple to start anew, to begin again.
- I will, at the end of one month of participation, send a report of the changes I have personally experienced from being willing to participate in this Good Word Pledge.
I am not suggesting you do something so formal, but just remember who you truly are; and if you wish to try this, let me know how you are doing and what changes you notice.
These quotes from MLK – Remember. “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
And from Mahatma Gandhi: Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
Remember, not choosing, is choosing.
I am not being political in any way. No party or person other than the quotes were mentioned here. This is not a political issue, it is a people issue, a national issue, a world issue.
We do what is ours to do to the best of our ability.
That is what this is all about…what you do after you walk out the door.
I love this phrase that has been a part of my evening reading all month: I am the place where god stands forth in the world as myself
White Stone Ceremony
Typically, the new year is a time to consider the goals we will attempt throughout the next 12 months. It is a great opportunity to set an intention, or a ‘theme’ for the upcoming year. It could be a quality you would like to enhance in your life, such as love or abundance. Selecting a theme allows you to study it and put it into practice.
So we ask ourselves, What are my intentions? What do I hope to accomplish? Do I have time and energy to see these into fruition?
Something new is being born in you. You can feel it. The old ways don’t fit anymore. It’s time to release the shackles of limitation that have lived in your own mind and listen… A miracle awaits you…
We participated in the Burning Bowl last week, which was a releasing and forgiving ceremony, believing in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “So, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away!”
This ceremony is a profoundly impactful experience. It helps us release, which is very freeing. And when we release, we create an empty space, which will be filled with something! This morning, I invite you to consider what will fill that empty space.
Many Unity churches do a second ritual along with the Burning Bowl. It is called a White Stone Ceremony, and it is typically done as a follow-up to the Burning Bowl, as a symbol of starting anew. It can help us at the beginning of the year to claim our good for the coming year. I will invite you to do this very personal ritual in a few minutes.
Ask yourself: “Who is Spirit calling me to be?”
As a spiritual trailblazer, you know that all change begins within. The White Stone Ceremony is a powerful ritual for beginning this journey to the center of your being and emerging with spiritual clarity about who you called to be in your life and in the world.
You have been given small white stones when you came in. We will use these in the ceremony to identify our “new name.”
The ceremony is inspired by a quote from the Book of Revelation: chapter 2:17. Consider these thoughts:
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
This passage refers to a couple of actions and promises:
The first activity is listening: otherwise known as Meditation
An ear to hear is not an outer ear, but the ear of the soul; the ear that hears the “still, small voice”. We develop this inner listening quality by getting out of our intellect and into our hearts, through meditation. It is a tool to help us quiet our busy mind and listen to the Divine Voice of Wisdom. We open our minds and hearts to a deep intuitive “knowing.”
Another activity or tool is surrender:
The passage says: “To everyone who conquers…” The conquering is not an outer war, but an inner one. To everyone who takes the time to listen to the still, small voice; to everyone who practices release and affirms inner spiritual qualities…. We realize it requires surrendering personal will to Divine Will, and the paradox is that in that surrender of the egoic self is Victory. It is a birthing of the Essential Self, just as Jesus taught and demonstrated.
In this passage there are also 3 Promises:
It said, “To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
The first promise is “Hidden Manna:”
In the days of wandering in the wilderness with Moses, the manna was sent by God. The people only had to go and collect it each day; they did not have to do anything to earn it. If they tried to save it, it spoiled. When we are in “the wilderness” of our spiritual searching, we receive “hidden manna,” not visible to the world. We are given spiritual energy and nourishment that sustains us. Grace. It nourishes the soul and the body. It benefits the whole being.
The 2nd promise is a White Stone
Back in the time when Jesus was teaching and someone served time in prison or in bondage of any kind, they were given a white stone when they were released. It served as a symbol that they had done their time and they had been given passage to live with all the rights of a free man. Each of us comes from the bondage of past nonsense – false limitations, old beliefs, error thinking that have been a prison. With a release from bondage, comes a sense of worthiness: we are beloved of God, one with the Divine, free and unlimited!
The 3rd promise is a New Name
In the Bible, we read of many name changes. For example, Saul – which means personal will – was struck to his knees. He was blind for three days and had to look within. He was given a new name at the time of his awakening. Saul (personal will) was transformed to Paul, which means enlightened will. He is a symbol of human will that surrenders to Divine will, and in that surrender, he claimed Divine Power.
Other stories of a name change in the Bible are Abram, as he grew in spiritual awareness became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob was renamed Israel. Simon was renamed Peter (Faith).
The prophet Isaiah wrote in Chapter 62, Verse 2; “The lower consciousness shall see your freedom, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.”
So when we awaken to inner Spirit, we take on a new identity, a new name so to speak. This refers to the new, higher realization of the I AM, a new awareness of our God Self. And this is where the Ceremony called White Stone” comes in. In the passage, we are told “I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
I invite you NOW to hold the stone in your hands. As you hold it, open your mind to “hearing” your new name. At any time in the next few minutes as I am speaking, if the new name comes to your awareness, go to the table in the back and write the name on the stone. If nothing comes to you during this ceremony, take the stone home with you and continue to ask. Whenever we ask there is an answer.
Allow yourself to ask a question: Who am I or what am I called to be in this coming year? As I let go of my old habits, those I released during the burning bowl ceremony, what is it that I am called to be known as? This new character Identity that you intend to cultivate in the coming year might be connected to that which you released at the Burning Bowl ceremony.
Let your awareness drop from your head down into your heart and gut: from your intellect and into your deep inner knowing. an awareness of Divine Love and Wisdom. Listen for a moment to your still small voice.
Right now, in this place and time, at the beginning of a new year, I invite you to consciously surrender to the activity of the Divine Mother/Father. – for the next few minutes. Open your imagination, allow Wisdom to speak. give your ego a few minutes off and let that divine holy Voice in you come through. Perhaps there is a new career, a new title, or a new quality that Spirit is pressing out through you.
Give yourself permission to know that as you release that which no longer serves your highest good, you can claim a new quality, a new name.
This is a moment in which you know you are free, free from all that has bound you. Breathe in, live in this new beginning.
And so, as you are guided by Spirit, I invite you to trust in this now moment, ….as Spirit gives to you in this sacred place…in this moment of Truth…an insight into your divine purpose… an insight into your holy essence, I invite you to allow yourself to hear the new name that is speaking within you.
it may be a title, it may be something like published author…or clean and sober…or grateful…whatever.
Sometimes people who write the word peace, love, or presence, take on a new essence of who you are becoming.
And, as that name becomes clear, to write it on your stone…
If a name has come to you, remain quiet and allow yourself to ask for a deeper understanding, to ask if there are any steps to take. Allow yourself to simply open to Spirit, to say, “God in me reveals my true essence. God in me reveals my next step. God as me lives a joyous, peaceful, fulfilling life.”
Anytime you look at your white stone realize that you have the gift of choice; the gift to live differently, to live a more fulfilling life, to begin again, to connect with God and create with God.
The white stone carries a new name, the spiritual identity and a deeper awareness of your soul’s journey at this time in your life. No one, in the entire universe except your inner wisdom, knows what this new name is. But it has come to your awareness to be lived out, to be expressed, to be embodied as you. It is what your True Self, the Divine is calling you to be or do. It is a whisper from your soul that you are so much more than you have ever let come into expression.
Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you this kingdom. Accept this consciousness of ever increasing good in your life. I invite you to carry this white stone as a reminder of that promise.
A thankfulness flows over us as we receive our new name. Along with it comes the power and guidance to achieve all that we desire. This is our new name. We see it. We decree it. We are on the path to gaining greater insights and awareness and a new beginning.
Your greatest power is the power to be:
To be more loving
To be more courageous
To be more joyous
To be more friendly
To be more sensitive
To be more aware
To be more forgiving
To be more forgiving
To be more tolerant
To be more humble
To be more patient
To be more helpful
To be a greater human being