Actually, I remember in Sunday school, at one point, they were talking about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and basically they said that God destroyed an entire city filled with people because of homosexual acts that were happening in the city. … And I just remember thinking, “Wow, God would wipe out an entire city because of gay people. It’s not OK to be gay. I could never tell these people that I might be gay, because they would never accept me.” And that was a really hard and lonely place to be in, and that sent me into a spiritual crisis where I didn’t know if I had to choose between my sexuality or my religion, and I didn’t think that they could fit together.
… I think it’s really important to know that it’s OK to let go of those people, and you don’t need to care what they think, and you don’t need to carry the weight of their negative energy in your life, and that there are other people that will grow with you, and that their love for you is so strong and so much that they will change their views, and they will accept you and support you. And I think it’s important to know that you can’t maybe change everyone’s mind, but the people that you can change, they’re worth having in your life. And it’s worth sharing your full self with them.
29th Aug 2014
Virginia Harris, C.S.B.
…And are there weeds growing in your garden of thought?
There is a necessary conversation going on in the US today, on social media and in social commentaries, about the influence of bias in legal, employment, and social arenas: unequal, unfair, and often harmful treatment due to race, gender, or religion.
In the aftermath of the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri a couple of weeks ago, many thinkers are raising the question, “What is behind the actions that point to disparity between differing peoples…and how do we eliminate prejudice and injustice?”
Society’s actions are simply the output of the various strains of thought leading to behavior, so it is critical that each of us be alert to whatever influences are at work in our own thinking.
Sometimes these thoughts are so hidden and subtle in consciousness that they are not obvious until you have an emotional reaction – an outburst devoid of reason and clearly not based on your best intentions. It is as if a negative force has overpowered your natural inclination to be kind, compassionate, wise, good. This force, while directed to someone or something, is actually destructive to you and your best intentions.
However, once the negative thoughts are recognized for what they are (hostile and dangerous) by the ever-vigilant consciousness of your highest selfhood they can be eliminated. These harmful influences are not natural to who you are as a spiritual being inseparable from divine Spirit, that divine consciousness or spiritual Presence that has dominion over all. This is your only authority.
So if your intention is to do and be good, where do these sneaky condemning thoughts come from?
One of Jesus’ much-discussed parables in the Gospel of Matthew is the one about the tares and the wheat, also called the Parable of the Weeds. In the story, a farmer plants seeds of wheat in his field. Under a cover of darkness, an enemy of the farmer sows tares, or a type of weed that looks really similar to wheat when it sprouts. The farmworkers could tell that weeds were beginning to grow alongside the wheat and told the farmer. He knew right away where the weeds came from: “An enemy did this!”
What I love about this parable is that the farmer didn’t rush around the countryside looking for the enemy. Instead, he focused only on the field and how to secure the healthy wheat to the harvest.
When asked by his servants if they should weed out the tares right away, he said, basically, “No worries…the tares won’t hurt the good wheat while they both grow, but we need to be absolutely clear as to which sprout is which. Only at the harvest will we know for sure, then we can uproot the weeds and burn them.”
In other words, come the harvest, the weed will be obvious because only the wheat has the right result.
Jesus called this parable a metaphor for the kingdom of heaven. Mary Baker Eddy , in her bible commentary Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, specifically makes the direct connection to every individual’s spiritualized consciousness:
“Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love – the kingdom of heaven – reign within us…”
Yes, the garden of a good heart and blessed consciousness has dominion! It does reign within us. So where then do destructive, biased, hostile thoughts come from in this wholly – and holy – harmonious consciousness inherent to each one of us? From a faceless, baseless, powerless enemy that is easily identified by its lack of good fruit or results.
Every harmful influence in your thought is your enemy and must be rooted out. Put another way, whatever is destructive to your neighbor and is not cast out of your thought is destructive to you – your life as an influence for good. You don’t want it.
What you do want is to see through or beyond the personal and physical differences of another person in order to focus on their divinely-bestowedindividuality – those spiritual qualities or soul-identity of each one comprising all that they are. The kingdom of heaven in you sees only the kingdom of heaven in another individual.
Anyone who wants to focus on their spiritual growth must be alert:
“…first separate the tares from the wheat; discern between the thought, motive, and act superinduced by the wrong motive or the true—the God-given intent and volition—arrest the former, and obey the latter.” (Mary Baker Eddy)