Return to Reverence


In Arabic there is an expression of gratitude that holds a sacred vibration, Alhamdulillah. It translates to mean “Praise to God.” It’s a much deeper way of saying “Thank you” in response to a compliment because you are essentially saying, “I accept your compliment because you are only seeing in me an expression of the Divine. All glory goes to God.” Doesn’t that feel amazing? And what about the Eastern greeting “Namaste” which means, “I bow to the divinity that resides within you.” It provides the ability to speak one’s heart in a much truer sense than the standard greeting of “Hello.” In the epic-movie Avatar, the people of Na’vi greet each other with a phrase that means “I see you.” Not just “I see you with my eyes,” but “I see into you, I see the truth of who you are.” Can you imagine if we all started greeting each other this way? Not just in church, but even out on the street? Surely changing our language to convey more honoring of one another would be a step in the direction of peace.

We’ve lost a sense of sacredness and reverence in our society today. There was a time when humanity generally held an attitude of “Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground,” at least in certain situations. How often are we in a space today where that is the attitude held by those around us? Hardly ever.

For many of you who are reading this, I realize I’m preaching to the choir. But one thing I’ve learned is that truth is drawn to truth. Light is drawn to light. Often times when I’m listening to one of my favorite speakers, the notes I write down are absolutely things I already know to be true. But I love hearing it again. When I write it down, it’s my own affirmation of truth and I’m saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” to it. Funny how I’m drawn to speakers and teachers who are teaching what I already know. I don’t know much about advanced mathematics and yet I’m not interested in attending lectures by mathematicians, even well-respected mathematicians.

So I offer this information today, not in the expectation that I’m teaching anything new, but rather in the spirit of honoring the dynamic that truth is drawn to truth and I hope it resonates with you, my beloved reader.

How do we get back to a sense of reverence?

Let’s begin with a quote from Gary Zukav from his book Seat of the Soul. “Reverence is engaging in a form and a depth of contact with Life that is well beyond the shell of form and into essence. It is contact with the interior of beingness. Even if you cannot sense the interior, it is enough to know that the form, the shell, is merely an outer layer, and that underneath it the true power and essence of who a person is, or what a thing is, is present. Reverence is an attitude of honoring Life. Whether a person is reverent depends essentially upon whether he or she accepts the principle of the sacredness of Life, any way that he or she defines sacred. Reverence is not respect. Respect is judgment. Reverence is perception, but it is a holy perception.” Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground.

Reverence is all about perception. We can not wait for external circumstances to qualify as worthy of our reverence, we must feel we are worthy of the sense of reverence, and when we do, opportunities to experience reverence will be found around every corner.

I find it funny that this year I’m understanding the meaning of Christmas for the first time. I mean, I’ve been celebrating the holiday my whole life, but was clearly missing the point. I was raised in a traditional, charismatic, evangelical Christian household so the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus was told often by my mother around the holidays. As I grew older and began to think more independently, I started a journey in which I began to question what I was raised to believe and found myself doubting the whole “one way to heaven” idea. At that point, I adopted the attitude, “Okay, we’ll just go with Santa and Frosty then.” However, I gotta say, Santa and Frosty just don’t command the same sense of reverence the manger scene commands.

I’m realizing Christmas is about reverence. Think about it. The wise men didn’t come to hear Jesus teach, preach or inspire them; he wasn’t old enough yet to do any of those things. They came to worship him, and offer reverence for the miracle of life. Pretty compelling, huh? Makes me want to get back to my roots and breathe in the manger scene at Christmas.

So getting back to the question at hand, how can we begin to cultivate a sense of reverence in our own lives? There are several keys that can open the door to an inner-sense of reverence. I call them the Big 4: Creativity, Gratitude, Silence and Presence.

#1 Creativity~ When we are in the presence of our own creativity, or the expression of someone else’s, a doorway is open to the miraculous. Most of us have been lucky enough to experience the electricity that shoots through the core of our being when we are hit with creative inspiration. Whether it’s writing, painting, dancing, singing, sculpting, etc., when the Hand of Creativity moves, we are no less than in the presence of the Divine. The same goes for when we witness someone else’s expression of the Divine in them. Music can move us into a state of reverence. Beautiful artwork can take our breath away. Watching two dancers move as if they are lost in another dimension can bring tears to our eyes. Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground.

#2 Gratitude~ Nothing can throw one into a state of wanting to fall on his or her knees quicker than an intense feeling of gratitude. A wonderful young woman I know, Amy, is a cancer survivor. As a result of her treatments, she lost her hair. She’s been cancer-free for almost a year and her hair is slowly growing back. I ran into her recently and she said, “Tara, look how long my hair is getting.” I said, “I know Amy. I always notice your hair. It’s so beautiful.”How many of us experienced the sense of gratitude about our hair this morning that Amy experiences every morning? I wish you could have heard the tone of reverence in her voice when she asked me to notice the length of her hair. She went on to say, “I’m not going to cut it for a while.” I was thinking, “Of course, I wouldn’t either after not having hair at all for so long,” but I quickly learned the real intention behind her comment. She finished by saying, “Yeah, I’m going to let it get long enough to donate it to Locks of Love.” Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground.

#3 Silence~ When we are silent, a space opens which connects us with the very source of life in the Universe, which is the object of our reverence. Eckert Tolle says, “Stillness is the language God speaks, everything else is a bad translation.” Francis Chan is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in California and a Christian author. He speaks the language of Christianity, but his message is universal. In his book, Crazy Love, he writes, “Have you ever met someone who was utterly and desperately in love with Jesus? I have. My wife’s Grandma Clara. Every morning Clara would kneel by her bed and spend precious hours with her savior and lover; later in the day, just the sight of that corner of her bed would bring joy-filled tears and a deep anticipation of the next morning spent kneeling in his presence.” Wow. Can you imagine what Clara experienced during that time by the corner of her bed? I bet she wasn’t gabbing away that whole time, she was in deep silence, and enjoying every minute of that reverent state of being. Take off your shoes.

#4 Presence~ This key is a prerequisite for all the others. Whether soaking up the beauty and brilliance of creative expression, feeling a deep sense of gratitude about an aspect of our lives, or swimming in the sacred pool of silence, it’s essential to be present. Bringing a sense of presence to everything we do, enhances even the most mundane tasks. God can be found everywhere. A case for reverence can be made in all situations, but we have to be present to find the evidence. In Deepak Chopra’s book The Way of the Wizard, Merlin says to Arthur, “If you could really see that tree over there, you’d be so astounded you’d fall over. But, I can all but hear your mind groaning, ‘Oh, that old thing again,’ as you rush past.” When we are present, like Zukav says, with the interior beingness of a person or thing, when we seek to experience life through this holy perception called reverence, we will be so astounded by what we find that we could fall over in awe. Eckhart Tolle says this about being present, “When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises, which is different than thinking. Thinking compared to that is almost a dreamlike state, you’re up here (in your head), not present here. A certain alertness arises, you become more conscious of what’s around you. But, also, strangely, it’s hard to talk about but I will, a sense of presence arises both within and without. We could call that a Divine Presence.” Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground.

Alhamdulillah and Namaste.



The Art of Alchemy


The art of alchemy has historically been shrouded in mystery. This ancient art is often believed to be the process of magically turning base metals, such as lead, into gold. Webster’s defines alchemy as 1: a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life 2: a power or process of transforming something common into something special and 3: an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting. I have my own definition of alchemy…the art of personal transformation.

Personal alchemy is most certainly about turning lead into gold, but in this case, we’re referring to emotional lead which is transformed. Through time we become burdened by the lead that accumulates in our system. It can begin even before we’re born depending on the karma with which we come into this life. And then of course there’s all the trauma we face during childhood, because no parents are perfect, and we haven’t even hit adolescence yet. During the tumultuous teen years and beyond life continues to challenge us. Until we begin to awaken from our spiritual slumber, we manage these challenges by taking them on as a part of our very being. Slowly, slowly, our backpack of lead becomes heavier and heavier. We try with all our might to prove we are strong enough to carry it all. All the sadness, disappointment, shame and heartache eventually weigh down our psyche until it is difficult to separate ourselves from our emotions. We become one with our thoughts, feelings and memories and it requires a chemical shift to begin to strip away that which we are not in order to uncover who we really are.

In chemistry, the primary element used to create transmutation in a substance’s chemical composition is fire, i.e. heat. Fire has long been valued for its power to purify; it is the ultimate cleansing agent. Since its discovery, fire has been used for two primary purposes, to destroy and to illuminate.

Fire is also the element used in personal transformation alchemy. Transforming our psychic lead into gold can be extremely uncomfortable. As the pressures of life heat up, we experience what we commonly call a “meltdown.” Our emotional lead literally melts down due to the intensity of the heat in order that it should be transformed into gold.
So the question becomes, when we find ourselves going through an alchemical change and feel ourselves smack dab in the middle of the burning heat and pressure required for the process, will we allow the fire to consume and us, or will we allow it to illuminate? The ultimate cleansing is by fire. Surviving the fire of purification can be our greatest challenge, however, it also holds the key to our greatest awakening. Even in the midst of the hottest heat, insights and understandings begin to emerge. As much as we’d like to believe we are victims of circumstance, a deeper part of us knows better and seeks the illumination the fire promises.

It’s beautiful how the alchemical process puts teachers on our path. It’s in the fire when we are sure to find inspiration for hope through people we meet, books we read, seminars we hear, etc. Because our spirit believes in hope. Our spirit knows there is something more than suffering so it automatically gravitates toward evidence of such. Our spirit knows it can not be destroyed. Wait, doesn’t that sound a little bit like a key to eternal life? Oh yes, another alchemical metaphor. Remember, Webster’s says alchemy is “discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life.” The process of personal transformation inevitably brings us to a place where we realize our full spiritual potential.

And with that realization comes the sure knowing that we are more than this body. Who we really are can never be destroyed. So there is no need to fear the fire any longer. It’s a simple change agent, that’s all. We can begin to walk through the toughest challenges with our eyes wide open, bearing a spirit of “Bring it on!” because we can’t wait to receive the enlightenment waiting on the other side.

Webster’s also says alchemy is “the discovery of a universal cure for disease” and that is absolutely correct. As we begin to embrace more and more our spirits as being our true nature, life becomes an exciting adventure, with cool twists and turns around every corner. But, since we no longer fear being destroyed, our souls are at ease. We are permanently cured of a sense of dis-ease, or a feeling of not being at ease with oneself. What could possibly be better than that?

Alchemy, or personal transformation, doesn’t always feel like fire. Intense joy or gratitude can also transform us, as well as an infinite number of other possibilities.

In his book The Way of the Wizard, Deepak Chopra says, “You know little or nothing about this art, yet you have practiced it every day since you were born. Every baby is born an alchemist, then loses the art, only to gain it again. Each of you mortals come into the world to seek the Grail. Everyone is created to reach freedom and fulfillment.”


Well, these days isn’t every writer supposed to have a blog? And isn’t every speaker/public figure supposed to have a Facebook page? Let me correct that, actually, isn’t every person alive supposed to have a Facebook page? Well, I’m definitely behind the ball and working hard to catch up. I’m finally blogging…yay! AND I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…amazing, huh?

This is not to say that I’ve been lazy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Instead of creating a Facebook profile and Tweeting regularly, I’ve been busy publishing a magazine every other month. And producing the annual Live Your Best Life Conference in Cincinnati. AND hosting a weekly radio show. Not to mention working on my book, speaking at events, facilitating groups…oh, yes, and raising three children.

Not that I’m making excuses. I mean, explaining why I haven’t been on Facebook until recently is like trying to explain why I haven’t been breathing, because it’s jut not excusable in today’s world, right?

So here I am at this all important moment, updating my Hello World page when I should be cranking out the next issue of Whole Living Journal. Oh I’ll get it done somehow, I always do. In the meantime I’m remembering why I haven’t jumped into the on-line world so far. I’m about to pull my hair out. My social media buttons on my homepage weren’t linked correctly when I set up the account so now they don’t work and I’ve spent the last three hours trying to figure out how to re-link them. Any suggestions? Entering the social media world is like falling down the rabbit hole and entering a vortex that eerily resembles a black hole. Seems impossible to get out.

And get this, I don’t even have a smart phone! I don’t know how we are functioning as a global society when there are  constant demands on our attention. It takes conscious effort to remain present and plugged into what’s in front of us.

So this is me. I’m just a mom who is determined to answer my calling but not get lost in cyberspace.