Reflections on a Board Game

Anne and I have played Scrabble regularly for years. We like the mind exercise involved in forming words to fit on the board in often difficult places. Recently we bought a new board game called Wingspan, which I had read about online. It was a bit complicated to learn, but now we love it. Players create small bird sanctuaries on their individual boards, using bird cards, bonus cards, food and egg representations, and colorful markers and dice. In the course of four rounds of play, each player fills their habitats, and points accumulated from various plays and cards determine the winner. Overall, we are fairly evenly matched, with Anne usually winning more frequently at Scrabble and me winning more often at Wingspan. Occasionally we tie!

So, board games are fun, right? Relaxing as well as stimulating to the mind. But could they also be seen as a reflection of life, something we could learn from? This way of looking at them occurred to me recently when I was repeatedly losing every Scrabble game. It seemed that I was always drawing letters that did not make words—all vowels or all consonants. Meanwhile, Anne was sailing along forming five- to seven-letter words, often with triple scores. After the sixth or seventh game like this, I began to feel frustrated and angry, as if it was more than just bad luck. When I then lost a Wingspan game in similar fashion, it seemed like the last straw: God was literally “stacking the cards against me”!

As soon as that thought passed through my mind, something clicked, and I realized that each game was a reflection of life, and together they were demonstrating to me a spiritual teaching that I thought I already knew by heart: Accept what is. If you resist whatever is occurring, you will be angry and upset. In a board game and in life. And so it is. Spirit has such imaginative and humorous ways of showing us life’s truths and exactly how they work. As long as I continued to be annoyed at the way a game was unfolding, I would be unhappy—and furious that I couldn’t control the outcome. So it is with life. Accept whatever comes up, and you will feel peaceful. Resist, and you will grumble and complain throughout your days on Earth.

When I came to see that Spirit and my soul were playfully reminding me of this deep truth and that it applied everywhere all the time, I smiled—and then laughed out loud. Life flows if you allow it to be exactly as it is. Board games do too. The secret is seeing them that way. Who knew that Scrabble was hiding spiritual wisdom in all those letters?!

P.S. The evening after I had this insight, I won the Scrabble game (not that it matters… ha!)

Do You Plan?

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”—John Lennon

I love that quote because it is so true, so human. Many of us have been, or are, planners to one extent or another—myself included. From an early age (at least in Western cultures), we are conditioned to believe we can somehow shape our future by making lists and detailed plans. When these plans do not work out, we may feel we have failed somehow, but it doesn’t stop us from making a new plan. “Practice makes perfect.” We think that if we keep reshaping our plans, they will eventually work out exactly as we wanted. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

In truth, we are trying to control something beyond our control. The design for your life was put in place at the soul level before you were born. Your soul and Spirit came up with a flexible vision for your life that self-adjusts on its own without any directed effort from you as an incarnated human. There is a natural flow to all our lives, to our collective life, on this planet, and only when we accept and surrender to that do we begin to flow too. Letting go of over-planning is part of that.

The only “plan” that really works is a simple one that just aligns you with your soul’s guidance. “Let go and let God,” as the saying goes. Life has its own wisdom, which often is a mystery to us—until we allow everything to unfold as is without trying to force it. Then the mysteries and magic begin to reveal themselves. Synchronicity arises; miracles occur. Small pieces of the cosmic grand puzzle become visible. And the more you let go, the more you see.

Of course, you will never see it all because that is the nature of infinity. However, when you realize you are part of that infinite flow yourself, no matter what you do or don’t do, then trust begins to guide you. We don’t need to plan every detail (or harbor regrets). Life is just happening on its own, and with a greater openness, complexity, and wonder than we could create alone. Perhaps this is the most powerful lesson we will learn in our lifetimes: Trust that all is well, whatever it may look like. Over time, this truth is revealed, again and again.

Something greater is at play in your life and mine, in all of life. No matter how you or I think things should occur, they will follow their own course—the course of the soul’s design and God’s. You may only see the absolute perfection of that at the end of this lifetime, but if you release your hold on mental to-do lists and the need for certainty, then you begin to experience every single moment as perfect just the way it is. Those “other plans” will fall away, and you will be left with the wondrous life you were always meant to live.


We all do or say things at times that we regret afterward. Perhaps from thoughtlessness, impatience, or our own tightly held opinions. In one moment of anger or upset, we can hurt another with our words or actions. When we apologize later, we long for forgiveness. To sweep clean all pain, conflict, or guilt and begin again with compassion and kindness. Perhaps this is a universal wish, humanity’s greatest prayer, on so many levels.

Many years ago, when I was still in college, my dad and I had an argument over something, and in my anger, I said things that I immediately felt terrible about. Later, I went to him in tears and said how sorry I was, asking him not to hate me for my insensitive outburst. His answer was such a beautiful example of a parent’s unconditional love: “I could never hate you. It doesn’t matter what you say to me—I will always love you.” All my life, I have held his words in my heart as one of the most generous, tender gifts he ever gave me. Truly a guiding star of wisdom and kindness.

As we live our lives, we may repeatedly stumble over our own inability to see circumstances or individuals from a wider lens. So often, our minds convince us we are “right” and others “wrong.” We lash out in anger at another’s opinion or we stand in judgment of their behavior. Yet, if we knew their life story from the inside, we might suddenly see everything differently. A friend’s irritability may stem from a family member’s illness, that we know nothing of. A stranger’s rudeness may be a domino effect from someone else being rude to them. Others’ opinions and attitudes often arise from their life circumstances. If we pause for a moment, we can give them the benefit of the doubt and respond from empathy instead of antipathy.

No one is always upbeat and friendly, kind and generous. We forget our best intentions and say or do something that we wish we hadn’t. That moment is the perfect opportunity to remember the power of forgiveness. To be vulnerable enough to admit our mistakes and ask to be forgiven. And then to forgive others (and ourselves) as well. To let go of grievances and grudges and choose peace instead. If we could do that, so many of the walls between us would begin to crumble.

Much of the world is currently divided by conflict and adherence to single-minded views based in fear: defense against the threat of the “other.”  As individuals, we may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we can each live our lives in ways that may ultimately affect the whole. If we drop habitual defenses and live from acceptance and love instead of suspicion or hatred, then so much could begin to be healed on this planet. See another soul, not an adversary. No matter what someone says or does, hold them in your heart. Forgiveness is pure love; it is pure giving, and it touches the entire web of life.

Practicing Peace

Based on my writings, you might think I am in a continuously peaceful outer state, untouched by life’s vacillations. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Mostly, I find my way to it, again and again. Peace is a practice for me, a daily connection to my innermost being, which plays out as occasional reminders to myself when my mind or emotions wander into uncertain territory. It’s easy to get lost in worry with one anxious thought. For instance: “What if it is rainy and windy on the day I fly?” An entire chain reaction of worries can follow: turbulence, zero visibility, plane crash. In a split second, fear can vividly project an imagined end to my life. Unless I consciously intervene with a deep breath and a return to peace (an ever-present part of my soul), my thoughts/feelings can take me on a rocky ride with no return ticket. Best to nip it in the bud.

My life is the fulfillment of a soul plan, a divine design. I know that with everything in me. I am not the designated solo artist of the big picture. It actually reassures me to realize I can’t control every outcome, to trust that a greater Presence weaves the cosmic tapestry. Yet, human habits of fear arise. We inherit them, as a species and as a member of a particular human family. The only real solution is conscious awareness and acceptance. We came to this planet to experience all the emotions—and then to reach a point of realizing their lack of substance, their temporary status. If we don’t get stuck in them, emotions pass right on through. What remains is stillness, where peace itself resides. This is soul territory.

Each time I take a deep breath and receive that deep inner soul peace, my entire world is also peaceful. Inner = outer. That’s how it works. Breathe consciously. Be grateful. You then move through your day in a quieter, gentler state of mind. Your heart opens to everyone and everything. You radiate the peace that is an integral part of your being. If each one of us on the planet breathed peace into our lives, consciously connected to our heart and soul, a shift would occur at a global level.

Of course, it is an ongoing practice. And by practice, I don’t mean struggling, efforting. Rather, gentle reminders throughout the day; it’s as easy as breathing. Take a deep breath; let go; accept what is; live in gratitude. The world outside reflects your inner world. If you feel fear, that is what you will experience. If you see wonder and miracles, that is what you will experience. Sounds simple, and it is. Just remember the peace that dwells within you always. Life can be sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth as silk, but it’s all worth it. The exquisitely beautiful living mural that is our life on Earth can be clearly seen through the eyes of peace.
“There is no path to peace,
Peace is the way.”—A. J. Muste

Your Identity and Soul

Your identity and your soul dance with each other throughout your life. You are born as pure soul into a physical form and return to formless soul presence at death. Gradually, with each life experience, that form takes on an identity, made up of memories, thoughts, and feelings. The soul steps to the background as the identity experiences life in this way. It never disappears; it just allows the identity to follow the course of its destiny, the one the soul and God designed for you before birth. You chose to have certain life experiences, both joy and sadness, loss and celebration. Through it all your soul is a quiet voice whispering guidance. Sometimes you hear it, sometimes not. Either way, life continues.

Then at a certain point, your identity may reach a moment of awakening, perhaps through spiritual epiphany, perhaps through crisis. That crack in the seemingly solid form your identity has taken, opens the door for your soul’s more expansive presence. The wisdom of acceptance and surrender to the course of life events arises in your consciousness. You stop trying to control and begin to allow. A deeper love of life, of self, and of others comes to the fore. This is your soul’s greatest gift.

I have experienced much of this over the years, both through spiritual practice and through life’s challenges. A global pandemic and breast cancer were my greatest teachers about the inner peace that comes from acceptance. They occurred one right after the other in my life after many years of spiritual exploration and growth. With them, I felt my identity begin to recede a bit and my soul move to the fore. There was no sense of loss, but rather a profound peace and trust in all of life, as well as death and eternity. I had feared the latter since childhood. Perhaps it took actually coming face to face with the possibility of death for me to let go into trusting in an infinite consciousness that held me and all of the world in loving beingness.

This may sound like a fairy tale or wishful thinking, but I assure you this is what happened for me. It is not an instant transformation but rather a gradual opening to full soul awareness. Today, I feel more deeply aligned with my soul, trusting in the divine flow of the universe. Yet, my identity has not entirely disappeared. It is like a thread that tethers me lightly to this lifetime, present in a passing thought or feeling. I know my identity is not to be disregarded and discarded. It is to be loved along with everything else in my life. My soul gave me my identity so I could experience life fully. If I can remember that whenever I feel apprehensive about something, then soul trust arises and all is well.

Your identity and soul are partners, your life support system, linked in love. Your soul is eternal, your identity temporary, but together they fill your life with meaning and purpose. Acknowledging their interconnected presence allows you to experience life with full conscious awareness of the miracle and gift that is life on Earth.