Seeking Submissions: Exploration

Explore, Interfaith PatternThis month at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, we are focusing on the theme of EXPLORATION. On many spiritual journeys there is a time a exploration. Exploration is often at the heart of our various journeys. So look deeply and tell us what you are exploring on your spiritual journey right now and how has exploration defined your spiritual experiences.

If you are lacking inspiration for your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What/Where do you wish you had time to explore on your journey?
  2. What spiritual, faith, or religious journeys of others are you interested in exploring?
  3. How might exploration change your faith?
  4. What small things are you exploring in your daily life? What deep concepts are you exploring?
  5. How has exploration lead you to struggle? How has it helped you through a difficult decision?

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

The Searching Sophia’s Pockets Team

A Prayer For Healing, A Blessing In Disguise

By: Autumn Elizabeth, Editor in Chief 

Prayer for Healing, Blessings, Interfaith, weepingI have a friend who is in the midst of battling cancer, but this friend is just one of many who needs healing. Lately, I find myself praying for healing often, a little too often for my liking. My private prayer journal is filling up with friends asking for good thoughts as they heal from surgery, for strength as they heal from broken hearts, for spiritual healing for this broken world or simply prayers that they will feel the healing power of love as they struggle with death and dying. This is the prayer I say when I get these requests:

Dear God,

Give_____ what they need in abundance.

Let them feel the wholeness that comes from being loved,

because they are indeed loved.

Let them find a way to heal their wounds seen and unseen.

Let me find a way to help them the best I can.

Amen

This is a prayer of healing, but this prayer isn’t just about healing for others. By saying it so often, I have found a blessing there too, in disguise. In praying that others are healed, I am freeing myself from the awful feeling of uselessness that comes with loving those who are suffering, and for me feeling that I am doing something is a huge blessing.

i was not raised, neither by my church nor my family, to be useless, I was taught to serve, to help, to work, and to persevere. But in these recent times of so much hurt and suffering to those so near and so dear to me, I have often felt useless.

I struggle with questions like: What can I do to heal this world? How can I help when I am so far away? What use are my skills with words in times like these? But I have found that in praying for the healing of others, I too am healed. In praying for healing, I am blessedly useful. Thus, the prayers of healing I offer are, in some small way, my biggest blessings.

The Blessings of Memories

We’re pleased to share another guest post from Aya Nejim, who previously wrote on The Courage to Start Over. Aya is a young English teacher, living between Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Cairo, Egypt. Today, Aya shares with us the blessing of the memories we hold dear to our hearts; the pictures we flip through when we’re nostalgic, the letters and cards we never get tired of reading, all the gifts and little trinkets, which are a reminder that nothing is ever lost forever, and that also nothing ever remains the same.

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No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories. – Haruki Murakami

We often forget the beauty of memories, their value. Memories have become – for most of us – a source of pain, grief and loneliness, reminding us only of what we lack, what we have lost. I believe that memories are a gift, a blessing that we need to thank God for daily. Their beauty lies in the mere fact that in a way we get to see several versions of ourselves; the person we once were and the person we have become. It is like tiny little founding pieces of how we are today.

I think of memories as spirits that transform into energy which our bodies encompass; the good ones give us joy and hope, while the bad ones transform us from pained, sad and lonely people to people filled with knowledge and wisdom. Even the people we lose, we keep their memories in our hearts and by doing so we carry a part of them within our soul. I like to believe that the pain goes away and that all that is left is simply a piece of ourselves in a different world with different people.

At times of despair, I often wished to lose everything; who I am, who I was, but then I realized that if I did, I would have never become the person I am now. Looking back at my memories, I saw how much I have come through and how different I had become. All the different versions of myself; the strong, the caring, the broken, the intellect, it reminded me that the journey still continues and nothing ever remains the same, not the sorrow, not the pain and not even me.

I am grateful for my memories because they give me hope and faith and fill me with warmth, knowing that even in my darkest days, another version of me has survived before and shaped the person I am now.

Being a Blessing

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness… all the good things.

Maya Angelou

Elizabeth Gilbert discusses finding a guru in her rather famous book, Eat, Pray, Love. I had the pleasure of reading her story while on a stretch of beach in the Gilly Islands, sisters to Bali (cliche, I know, stop sighing at me). Finding a guru? I thought. Skip that- I want to be one!

Disclaimer: It has already been discussed in a previous entry that modesty is not my strong point. I said I would work on it, and it is a work in progress.

A guru is a spiritual leader, someone to help you along your spiritual path. So yes, me being one would be a perfect example of the blind leading the blind, but what can I say? I love wisdom. I love journeys. It might take me a while to get there, but at least I have goals!

During this month of focusing on blessings, my guru-seeking mind jumped to the idea of being a blessing to other people.

This idea is all candy and rainbows. Me in priestly robes magnificently throwing holy water on the masses, or in a Pentecostal Sunday suit vigorously shaking hands with members of the congregation, or cross legged outside of a temple handing flowers to children. “I bless you!” I will say, all magnanimous-like. It’ll be great, like throwing thunderbolts of sunshine into people’s lives.

Until certain people come to mind. Certain people I do not want to bless. Not with holy water or handshakes or even a daisy chain.

It hurts just thinking about it.

Maya tells me to wish them joy, peace, love, prosperity, happiness… All the good things.

I realize that’s what a blessing is. Wishing with your whole heart for all the good things to come into existence for that person. Manifesting it yourself because you want it so bad for them. Becoming “all the good things”- whatever that means in the moment. Money? Hugs? Clean dishes? I also know blessings don’t grow on trees. They come from a seed of forgiveness first, and then love. I suppose you can only bless someone if you love them.

But maybe not. Maybe by blessing someone, by pumping that heart muscle into determination to be “all the good things”, love might come out of it. And that is, after all, what we are called to do. Love.

I hope you join me on my guru-training journey and try to bless someone around you, just so I’m not so lonely in this quest. Preferably someone who really, really, really needs it. Forgive them. Love them. Bless them. Be all the good things, and I promise you’ll get some good, too.

The Blessing of Living

We’re pleased to share another guest post from Esraa Mohamed, who previously wrote posts on rituals and desires. Esraa is an Egyptian Muslim and physical therapy student with strong passion for the universe and its mysteries.Today, she shares with us her own reflections about blessings; a blessing we all take for granted: simply being alive and healthy, breathing in and out.

Generally, I consider myself way too blessed, but sometimes life makes me too busy and I give a blind eye to all the blessings I have. Sometimes it takes loosing my breath to make me aware again.Cloud, Breath, Interfaith

Seven months ago, I had an allergy that took my lungs to the edge of a cliff. I felt death vividly inhabiting my ribs. And I swear I could sense my pleura gluing together. As I was faintly slipping to unconsciousness, I wanted to pick up my phone and tell somebody that I was dying. I wanted for once to tell somebody “Hey I am not okay, I need your help”.

I also wanted to hold my pen and scribble like a note of gratitude for the blessings I have taken for granted; my family, my friends, my health, even for the blessings I didn’t have.

My life flashed in front of my eyes, teasing me with the uncountable things I have taken for granted. And all what I wanted back then was one last chance to say thanks for all what I had. But my lungs brutally attacked for one last time, leaping the tottering guts out of my soul and I became too fragile to fight any longer.

My life dwindled amidst the agony of this night, so I sucked my nose into the cushion and cried God for mercy, for death, but even death was the tranquility that my situation couldn’t afford. I lost consciousness without any idea how did my lungs make it through the night.

I woke up to the morning breeze grateful to nothing more than being alive. I knew that I have left my lungs at the battlefield with all faith that they would make it for another battle yet to come. And I was really grateful for every little sip of sluggish breath.

Breath by breath, I realized that one of the biggest blessings that many of us, including myself, fail to cherish is simply the blessing of being alive. To live, to breath, even when it is hard, is truly a blessing.

Counting Blessings

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

Tecumseh

Dad and me, July 4th

Dad and me, July 4th

The Bernstein Bears (and my parents) taught me to count my blessings. I would look around the room when I was a little kid for inspiration to fill up the appropriate amount of time for a bedtime prayer. “Thank you for my moooooooom, thank you for my daaaaaaaad, thank you for my teddy beeeeear… thank you for my sooooooocks…” Somewhat scrambled, not necessarily sincere at all times, but hey- practice makes perfect, right?

I live a blessed life. On accident or on purpose, the universe has given me wonderful, beautiful things. Too many to count.

But that’s the secret, isn’t it? To count them anyway. Even my socks (one pair equals two blessings- win). To say thank you for the morning light streaming through my window or for the same light even when I can’t see it. To use that crazy thing called faith to say thank you even for the things that haven’t happened yet.

Right now I am extremely blessed to not only live abroad, but to come home and be surrounded by people I love. There is a hesitation that happens after not being home for a while. Circles of friends shrink, people are married with kids and have less accessible couches covered in baby spittle (adorable baby spittle, mind you). People change. You change. Worry and anxiety kick in and you wonder if there is really anything to come home for at all.

But then I get a hug from my dad as pictured above and I feel like I just jumped in a blessing bubble bath. I get messages from friends, and their unconditional love and excitement for my life that is usually far from exciting melts my heart and reminds me to be the kind of person they are proud of. I am blessed with so many amazing, positive people in my life- how can I not count?

So I do. I count, I smile, I look around and think of even more. I’m surrounded by blessings, and it’s just the beginning of the list.

Seeking Submissions: Blessings

Interfaith, Flowers, Blessings

This month at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, we are focusing on the theme of BLESSINGS. WE can find blessings in so many places along our spiritual journeys. So look deeply and tell us what you are grateful for on your spiritual journey and how you find blessings your spiritual experiences.

If you are lacking inspiration for your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Who in your life do you see as a blessings? Why?
  2. What blessings do you get from the spiritual, faith, or religious journeys of others?
  3. How might blessings, gratitude, and faith be linked?
  4. Where do you find blessings in your daily life?
  5. When have you struggled to feel blessed?

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

The Searching Sophia’s Pockets Team

Many Sources of Inspiration

Today’s post comes from our regular contributor David Etim, who is writing from Lagos, Nigeria. He shares with us the many ways he finds inspiration on his spiritual journey. His wisdom comes from a deeply Christian perspective, and also holds value for us all. It is also a beautiful transition from our theme of inspiration to next month’s theme of blessings.

Wisdom, Interfaith, Candles

Progress gives inspiration. And inspiration? That is what allows me to make my way towards greatness.

I have found inspiration in looking at what Gloria Copeland says,

Even if it seems costly at the time, always do what God puts in your heart to  do. Your whole future may depend on it.

I found inspiration too in what is written in the Bible. Hebrews 10:35 says,

Do not lose your courage, then, because it brings with it a great reward.

And in my own life’s progress I have found inspiration. On my birthday last month, I was given a number of gifts including  an additional job and  a self-contain apartment in a parsonage. These were great progress in my life and gifts from God.
God has used this providential turn of events to teach me to know God better, to become more obedient to God and to give me inspiration combined with steadfast persistence.

Finally, I find inspiration in the people God has sent to my life. God will always bring the right people, at the right time into my life, and their steady love for God and humanity are a constant inspiration to me.But there is more. Contact without inspiration is a waste and inspiration without improvement is a great waste as well. Take for instance, ever since I came in contact with Searching Sophia’s Pockets, there have been a tremendous improvement on my writing skills. This work inspires me too.

Inspiration is the key to aspiration. Inspiration averts expiration. Inspiration comes little by little developing my capacity and moving me to the next level.  I enjoy this supernatural ride of divine inspiration, which enables me support my projects with the spirit.

Please celebrate the many sources of inspiration with me, and celebrate their source.
God is awesome! God is wonderful! God is All-Inspiring!

A Prayer for Inspiration

As we move towards through our month dedicated to inspiration, we offer this prayer in hopes that it inspires all of us.

Divine Spirit of Inspiration,

Inspire us to do good in this world.

Let us be living examples of hope.

Bring us inspiration to create, to pray, to live beautifully.

Give this world the inspiration it needs to move toward true unity.

Inspire us every day to do our best as we care for ourselves and those around us.

Amen.

If you would like to share your own prayer, please feel free to submit it to us! Like all prayers on Searching Sophia’s Pockets, please feel free to edit and shape this prayer for use in your home or place of worship, and then share the experience with us!

Inspiration as Communion, Combustion, and Co-existance

Today’s inspiring post on inspiration and connection comes from Matheus Yuhlung. Matheus is a Christian blogger who is pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy and currently lives in New Delhi, India. This beautiful post in is one part theory and one part poetry, and all parts wisdom. 

Fireworks, Interfaith, Celebration, Inspiration

It is often said that the communion between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit was so spectacularly un-containable that they had to create men to join in their blissful co-existence. Though, there really are no theological grounds or scriptural references to support such sayings; it still never fails to fascinate me.

As a Christian, my greatest source of inspirations has always been the Bible; which in turn is said to be inspired by God himself. And yet, I can’t help but be inspired by things that are not based on scriptures too, like the one I mentioned above.

The way I see it, the act of being inspired and inspiring others is both a conscious and a subconscious act. It’s like a need-based dependency, where we are obligated to take a chunk out of another being’s soul or to give ours to them, to motivate each other in our spiritual sojourning.

For this, we hand pick some sources and curate it with utter care and imbibe the inspirations we cultivate from them in our lives. While, there are some sources through which inspirations just grow in our souls when we come in contact with them, say: culture, people, education, art et cetera.

But as much as inspirations can act as a metaphysical adhesive that glues us together for good, it can also work in the opposite direction as well; and so Rabindranath Tagore wrote:

My song has put off her adornments. She has no pride of dress and decoration. Ornaments would mar our union; they would come between thee and me; their jingling would drown thy whispers.

Ornaments of my soul i.e. ego and its siblings called pride and vanity would certainly mar our union and this is one thing that I’m most uninspired to do.

But, if life is a spontaneous combustion of a great blue flame, the act of being inspired and inspiring others, I believe, becomes the intricate entwining of our souls that forms the very basic elements of hydrogen and oxygen that burns this great blue flame of our spiritual co-existence. And if in such a flame, I’m by the very nature of my being obliged to burn; I’ll put my best effort, to try to burn with the finest particles of my soul.

For more from Matheus find him on twitter:  @matheusyuhlung