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  • Beth Bradford

A Tree Gives Glory to God



When I feel out of touch, I always return to Thomas Merton. I picked up New Seeds of Contemplation this morning and was directed to his chapter on identity. He starts off the chapter with this profound sentence:


A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.

Dude! That knocked me off my rocker, and I wasn't even sitting on one! Essentially it goes back to the various identities we create for ourselves when we don't think we're enough. We idealize people for their status, power, or income and try to adopt their behaviors. We try to be more like them, but meanwhile, we lose ourselves.


Eventually this patchwork of these idealized identities covers up our authenticity. I know for myself that I have struggled with this. I've spoken these esoteric memes that are opaque to get people to think I was this deep, philosophical being. But to be honest, philosophy dizzies me.


I don't want to contemplate the "I" beyond the "I," or wonder why we're here. I want to live in healthier relationships with others. I want to help others live in healthier relationships with themselves and others. Whether or not they believe in God doesn't matter to me. As long as I can inspire the sincerity in each person's heart, that's what matters to me.


I've been more than inspired by leading meditations on Insight Timer. I love hearing from people who yearn for a deeper relationship with themselves, others, and God. I definitely feel a connection to those who join me.


I received a message on Facebook from one of them the other day. It more than warmed my heart because she told me something that was my intention all along--she told me that I was "real."


I suppose I could take on a persona on Insight Timer, give myself a fake, esoteric name, and speak these vague but pretty words that really don't have any meaning but to confuse people. Instead, I chose to be my ridiculous self, who makes mistakes.


The little corner from where I shoot my live sessions is a corner of my bedroom. It's where I meditate each morning. It's where I practice yoga. I don't have any other space in my 800-square-foot apartment. I don't have that luxury of having this open conservatory space. Because my live sessions are usually in the morning, I don't have any makeup, I am usually in my pajamas, and my hair is perfectly styled by the pillows on my bed.


I can't be anything more than that. My giving glory to God is letting my quirky, skeptical, ridiculous, yet compassionate self be.


I'm not perfect, and my path to the mountaintop might be different than yours. But I love the climb, and I hope you embrace your climb as well. If I can give you a hand, let me know.


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