LIVING THE SOULFUL LIFE
By Scott Kalechstein
CONFESSIONS OF A FUMBLING MINISTER OF LOVE
"If you have an address book, then you have a
- Marianne Williamson
Recently I was on my way to church to give an inspirational talk and sing a few songs. Having received a license in the mail a few weeks back that said I was now an officially ordained minister, I was excited to be giving my first legal sermon. (Before going straight, I had been an illegal minister for four years!)
Driving in my car, I noticed what appeared to be a speck of dirt on my clean white pants. When I went to brush it off, somehow it smeared into a dark streak of oil. I looked down at my lap and, as is the custom of spiritually advanced souls such as myself trained in Mystical Christianity, I immediately called on Jesus. "Jesus Christ!" I yelled, venting my exasperation, "How am I going to stand in front of the congregation with my pants looking like this?!" My frustrations turned from Jesus towards myself. "How stupid of me not to be more careful. When am I going to learn how to pay attention and stop being such a klutz! What am I going to do now? I can't go to church looking like this!"
The inner critic continued his clothes-minded sermon for a few more moments until the voice for peace took a turn at the pulpit. "Let's take a breath and remember what's really important. We're on the way to church to express light and love. What do we want to focus on, the stain on our pants or the love in our hearts? Do we have the time and energy to spend on beating ourselves up?" I took a breath, re-established my priorities, and dropped the self-criticism. Just like that. Without therapy, affirmations, lengthy meditation, colonics, or psychic surgery. I just drove to the church in peace, spending the time receiving inspiration and reflecting on the ease of my attitudinal adjustment.
I wondered why it had been so easy, almost effortless, to let go of the self-attack. So often I struggle for hours or even days with my inner critic, shaming myself for what I perceive to be shortcomings. What could I learn from the ease of this experience that could have transfer value to some of my more challenging lessons in self-loving? I realized that I shifted so quickly in that moment because I was on my way to church, and I knew that it was part of my divine job description to be lighthearted in front of the congregation. I knew that self-judgment would be a heavy weight on my shoulders that would interfere with my ability to get out of self-consciousness and into the expression of love. Self-criticism, I recognized, was off-purpose, a luxury I could not afford to indulge in while preparing my consciousness for my talk. I dropped it instantly because quickly I saw its valuelessness.
Then I had an insight in the form of an inquiry that stretched me and excited me, and truly pissed off my critic, which is always a good thing. The inquiry was this: "Aren't I always on my way to church? Is there ever a moment or a place where the opportunity to express love doesn't exist? In God's eyes, is speaking to a congregation any more holy or important than speaking with a gas station attendant or smiling at a clerk when she hands me my change? Is there really any moment when the energy drain of self-criticism is constructive?"
Shame is a condition of mind that can make a convincing case for the belief that suffering is my lot in life and that I have little of substance to offer humanity. It is a shovel that has the power to temporarily dig my soul into a grave. Each time I make my way out of that tomb, I rise with a story to tell, a gift of hope for those still climbing out. I re-connect with more love to give and more enthusiasm for living. It is becoming obvious that self-criticism paralyzes my heart and accomplishes nothing. Is that the kind of sermon I want to practice while on my way to church? Not!
That day in church I proceeded to sing and speak from a joyous place of spirit. I started my talk by mentioning what I went through in the car. Everybody could identify with how I initially made a big deal about the stain, and people were inspired by how I let it go and the insight I shared about my process. I realized that my sermon was more effective and more fun because of the stain on my pants and what I learned from it. Perhaps there is more wisdom and happiness to be gained from dealing with stains gracefully than from keeping our pants forever white.
Now, when I find myself in critical condition, I can remember the experience of spontaneous remission in my car. I can say to myself, "Hey, let's wake up! We have a ministry of love here. The entire planet is a church and all people, including myself, are the congregation. What I preach to myself in the pulpit of my mind is simultaneously being broadcast to the world, so let's put the sin, fire and brimstone away and remember some original innocence."
In my life I am always faced with the opportunity to choose between placing my attention on the dark spot on my white pants, the mistakes I will inevitably make as an evolving human being, or on my unchanging love-ability. I want to remember that just as the dark spot doesn't alter the fact that the pants are white, my fumblings don't change the fact that I am of the light, and anytime I transmute self-criticism into acceptance I am doing my job and living my purpose as a minister of love.
Scott Kalechstein is a minister, a modern day troubadour, a lighthearted miracle mischief maker, and a friend and guide to those making the transition from suffering to celebration. He travels the United States, as well as Canada and Europe, speaking and singing at conferences, Unit and Religious Science Churches, and wherever people are open to humor and play blending in with truth and wisdom. For bookings, inquiries, or to order a catalog of Scott's recordings, call (760) 753-2359.
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