The Agreement

I am in Japan on a Tourist Visa, which means I cannot work while here. And, because I cannot work, money has been tight. I have to think about the remaining months, I have to think about rent and other bills and food and transportation, and make sure that the money I saved earlier this year covers all of that.

Needless to say, it’s a point of stress for me. Especially when things keep arising that I hadn’t budgeted for.

But in this season, as in all seasons, I know God will take care of me. It was part of our agreement, after all, when I welcomed him into myself. I will use all my resources to follow him, and in return, he will take care of me in the way he decides is best.

He has been surprising me with little gifts lately, as is his way. Just little things to show his support. An entrance fee was refunded to me. My friends’ party ended up being smaller than expected, so the “chipping in” cost was removed. I even found almost 200 yen ($2) in the bottom of my purse.

They were all nice surprises, but the nicest thing about them is knowing who they were from, and why they were given to me. It’s as if God was saying. “See? I’ll take care of you. You don’t have to worry.”

So I won’t worry. I’ll try to trust instead.

Wind and Spirit

There’s something sacred about the wind, but I can never put my finger on it. Only that, when it blows against me, filled with all the smells of where it has been, caressing me and getting into my hair and clothes, I feel more connected somehow. As if it’s blowing away the layers of flesh that separates me from other manifestations of spirit.

And in that moment, I want to strip off the rest of what keeps me back and become one with it, scattered over the earth. Fully integrated into the realm where nothing matters because everything matters. Where all is spirit and all is one.

But then I must still go home and do my homework for tomorrow’s class. Not only encased in flesh, but encased within a minuscule niche inside a purely human context. Oh the juxtaposition. I know it’s good, and everything has its time. But some days I can hardly stand it.

Sin as Contextual

Determining whether something is sin is a lot like determining whether two chemicals mixed together are going to explode: it depends what you are mixing with what.

Some chemicals are prone to explode on their own, and some actions are bad news for whoever participates in them. Things like murder. That one’s pretty cut and dry.

But most chemicals only explode when mixed with specific other chemicals. In the same way, whether or not something is harmful differs from person to person. What is harmful for one person is just fine for another. What is fine in one situation is not fine in another.

For example, it was noble to lie to protect Jews from Nazis. But it is not noble to lie to protect myself from embarrassment.

Another example is porn. For some people, it adds to their intimacy with their partner and helps them explore their sexuality. For others, it fosters harmful fantasies and thoughts.

To make matters even more gray, there may be things that didn’t used to be okay for someone to engage in but they are now, and vice versa.

Actions and thoughts affect each person differently. That’s why there’s no point to judging others.

Good Possession

I’ve come to realize that not all spiritual possession is bad or harmful. Like most things in life, it seems to come down to who is involved and what consent was given.

We have all heard the horror stories of harmful possessions by demons, etc. Possessions that cause the host to lose control of their body and hurt themselves or others. Possessions that require long, intense exorcisms. Those are forced possessions, where the spirit decided to possess with no input from the host.

What we often forget is that a lot of religion, especially Christianity, encourages a kind of possession as well. But it encourages possession that is consensual, loving, and built on trust.

In Christianity, it’s commonly called “asking Jesus into your heart” or being “born again.” You ask a manifestation of God called the Holy Spirit to enter and reside inside of you for the rest of your life, influencing how you think and act, guiding you to become more like him.

He doesn’t force his way in. He is gentle and attentive, and keeps a dialogue going the whole time to make sure you are 100% on board with what he is proposing. And if you aren’t, he takes a step back and you go back to discussing, to see why you aren’t okay with it and whether you truly want to continue.

Personally, I didn’t understand the “born again” concept until I started thinking about it in terms of possession. It sounds creepy put that way, doesn’t it?

Everyone is different and everyone finds different paths towards their own enlightenment. But for those who think they might want to give that kind of intertwined existence a try, I encourage them to.

But listen to me babbling on. I’m such a lovestruck flesh-thing that I think everyone should give it a go. Don’t listen to me. Go at your own pace (or don’t go. It’s your choice). But if you have any questions about it, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message and I’ll answer the best I can.

Small Things to Ask Spirits

I stumbled upon an online list of small things to talk to spirits about. It included asking for advice and such, but it also included things like asking them for their story, or asking them about the area, or even asking them about their friends.

I’d never considered speaking to spirits about these kinds of things, not spirits I didn’t already have a strong relationship with.

Maybe I’ll try more of these kinds of casual and positive questions. Not every question needs to be about natural laws and eternity. Relationships need a bit of this kind of conversation, as well. Especially starting out. You don’t want to jump straight to the scary stuff.

Here is a link to the list, if you are interested. Link.

Envy

I am reading through a book my friend lent to me and while it is a great read, it has also been stirring up uncomfortable feelings surrounding an already uncomfortable topic for me.

Among other things, the book is about how evangelism isn’t about converting people to a list of doctrines so much as just being there to do life with them and help them in any way you can. That’s great. Totally agree.

Except, I’m not a “hanging out” kind of person. I’m not a talk-with-strangers-on-the-bus kind of person. So…what does that mean for me? What do I have to give?

While I’m not good at being friendly and inserting myself into people’s lives, I am better at other things: like learning, listening, and creating.

Part of being okay with being a good listener and not a great befriender is accepting that I can’t be good at everything. To have a healthy view of myself and others, I need to be okay with my own failures and my own embarrassments. I’m not a god in skin. I’m just a human: one that has trouble relating to other humans a lot of times.

Envy comes when you feel ashamed because you aren’t good in areas other people are. And while self-improvement is good, that self-improvement can’t come from a place of shame. It has to come from a place of acceptance, love, and curiosity.

Elemental

Tonight I found my small box of Nag Champa incense and it made me think of my elemental (nature spirit) friend back home.

As I take in its sweet, heady scent, I remember how we didn’t used to be friends: how they used to hate me and how I used to be scared of them. But somehow, despite my egocentric, human-conqueror-minded stupidity, we eventually grew to enjoy each other’s company (once I stopped talking at them and started listening. But that’s a story for another time).

I’m reminded of that one time I wanted to burn incense as a gift to them to thank them for sharing their practical wisdom with me.

I often burn incense and candles to God (rose in particular), but I didn’t know whether forest elementals liked incense. I certainly didn’t want to give them a gift they wouldn’t enjoy.

So I thought back to our previous conversations, to think of something they would appreciate, and I remembered that when we were talking about plants, I had mentioned the plant I was tending in my room and how they said they’d like to see it sometime.

With my phone, I took a few pictures of my plant, showing how it had grown. Then I brought my phone to the forest where the elemental resides and we looked through them together.

That elemental is one of my best friends, and I miss them terribly. I can’t wait to sit and talk with them again.

Distractions

I went back to the park with the saturated spiritual feeling and sat on the bench for a while. However, there were too many people around for me to focus properly. Since it’s in a busy part of Tokyo, I don’t think there will be any time that there aren’t at least five other people there.

I need to regroup and think of some new strategies to achieve that kind of focus, even when there are plentiful distractions. Maybe noise-cancelling headphones and quiet meditative music would be useful. It’s not as effective as solitude and silence for me, but maybe it will allow my thoughts to be quiet and focused enough to listen.

God’s Little Gifts

All spirits have their own trademark qualities and God, being a spirit himself, is no different. It is an interesting exercise pondering which characteristics God has, especially those that aren’t explicitly listed in literature.

One that I am continually reminded of is how he likes surprising his church/hosts with little gifts. These are often unnecessary and unrequested extravagances. Just little gifts to surprise us and make us smile.

Some branches of religion get caught up in these gifts, which is sad because it misses the point. Following God for his gifts would be like marrying someone for their house.

But the fact remains that God likes to give those little surprises. Like a mother who picks up chocolate bars for her kids while grocery shopping, even though her kids are at home and weren’t expecting anything. The gifts are an expression of love. And, though he doesn’t give expecting anything in return, his love makes us want to surprise him back.

Negativity

I told a friend something in confidence and was rejected for it. God has been teaching me not to look to others for validation, but instead look only to him. This is just the latest lesson in that vein, I suppose. I do not regret telling them, but I am still sad we couldn’t stay friends.

I avoided the large, saturated park on my walk home. As much as I’d like to deny it, I have some strong stormy emotions swirling inside me today. I don’t want to pollute its space with my negative energy. I don’t want to start our relationship that way.

Negative energy is potent and it spreads like rot. It hurts positive spirits it comes into contact with. I learned this when I was struggling with depression and I continued to visit my elemental friend back in America. They all but booted me out of their forest. Nothing personal, but they didn’t want me spreading that in their forest, because it’s hard to remove. You may notice negativity is contagious from human to human as well.

I went back later when I was in a better mental place, apologized, and promised to be more careful in the future. The only spirit I’ve met who is unaffected by negative energy is God/the Creator/the Source/the Holy Spirit. Perhaps because he is the base of the stem where all energy originates.