Can we find “balance” in the chaos that surrounds us?  

In “normal” times people talk about, write about, strive for keeping balance in our lives.  I struggled with that concept, thinking something was wrong with me, very wrong.  I tend to careen from unfinished project to unfinished project, I rarely eat 3 meals a day, I have little to no energy for social interaction, I watch too much T.V. . . .  My life did not reflect the “balance” I read about.

Search for “balance” can create, dissatisfaction at best, guilt and self-blame at worst. After 30+ years of listening to clients looking for balance I had intellectually decided “balance” for the majority of us is almost impossible on a daily, even weekly basis.  

As long as I identified what was needed, wanted and what was non-negotiable and I managed to fit them into a month, a season, or a year that was my “balance”.

Judy journal, mixed media

The current pandemic has forced me to re-evaluate my needs, wants and non-negotiables.    “Balance” is dependent on, connected to things I can’t control – the inter-connectedness of world health, economies, commerce, weather cycles, time, availability of resources, other people’s needs  . . .  not to mention my own capabilities.

One of the positives to come out of the Pandemic is I’ve stopped looking for any illusion of “balance” in my life’s activities and am putting faith in doing the best I can with what I have and what I know at any one time.

“As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance — this is the balance —this is the balance.” Baha’i World Religion

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8

1 To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR LIFE?

A reminder of what our souls know but our minds forget.

Spending time in isolation and watching from relative safety the entire world being engulfed by uncertainty, fear and death gives time to reflect on life and living. I often wonder what the “best of my ability” truly is.

I originally posted this on CurioustotheMax – it’s WORTH WATCHING.

Gabrielle Garcia Marquez

Considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century and one of the best in the Spanish language, he was awarded the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Before he died on 17 April 2014 at the age of 87, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Colombia’s illustrious Nobel Laureate for literature, had declared his retirement from public life. He had terminal cancer and sent this letter of farewell to friends and lovers of literature:

If God, for a second, forgot what I have become and granted me a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.

I wouldn’t, possibly, say everything that is in my mind, but I would be more thoughtful of all I say.

I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

If God would give me a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.

To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

Death and Eternity

Years ago all life was the color of dirty grey.  I was in a fibromyalgia flare, feeling depressed, helpless.  I wasn’t suicidal, just weary, very weary, of pushing through the pain and exhaustion. Half jokingly I wrote to my Baha’i guide & mentor “I’m ready to leave this earthly plane. Beam me up into eternity”

He wrote back four words which rocked me to my core:

 “You are in eternity.”

Looking Beyond, a judy-journal page, mixed media

It was a paradigm shift for me.  I had always assumed life here on earth as a human was separate from the “eternal realm”.  I thought that after I died I would then be in eternity.  

It is comforting to know we are all already in eternity – you, me, my friends.

Believing knowing

we are in eternity

life is never short

Click here for my post on Fear of Dying

Sunday Sermon – Part I, The Interconnectedness of all Beings

I attended a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.  

Our first workshop assignment was to brainstorm topics.  Probably because I spent a large part of my life as a psychotherapist, steeped in life and death matters, I thought up dozens of topics.  Thinking is one thing, writing another . . .  and sermonizing? . .  .

My topic choice was “selected” by two of the participants (who shall remain nameless in case my topic is a bust) as the one that interested them most.  Not sure about the title yet but the theme is the interconnectedness of all beings.  

Here’s Part I:

2027-60-640x640

“This limitless universe is like the human body, all the members of which are connected and linked with one another with the greatest strength . . . “   –(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 245–246)

Sounds lofty but I’ve believed that since childhood.  Don’t know where my belief came from – it wasn’t from any religious leader because I didn’t have any.  Even as a child I had the notion – I hesitate to call it a knowing – that we are all connected. . . that we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.

My belief probably originated in my own magical thinking.

I was in grade school during the height of the threat of nuclear destruction, the cold war between the United States and Russia. In 1950 the U.S. began the construction of the hydrogen bomb. Nuclear destruction wasn’t an abstract idea in my 6-year-old mind because I had seen newsreels at the movie theatre – (the days of black and white newsreels, two cartoons and a double feature for 50 cents)newsreels with pictures of hydrogen bomb tests and people digging bomb shelters.

During the school day I believed the drop-and-cover drills we regularly practiced would protect me . (How adults thought that going into a school cloak-room because there were no windows and covering our heads with our arms would protect us from nuclear attack boggles my mind today.)  

At night, in bed, in the dark I lay awake trying to decide where I could go in our tiny 2-bedroom house when we were bombed and I wasn’t at school.  There was no safe place, all the rooms had windows.  In our backyard there was an old, deep, dark cellar dung into the ground and covered by huge, heavy wooden doors.  Too heavy for me to open. The concrete steps were really steep and led into a pitch-black hole.  It smelled and I knew that there were spiders and maybe even snakes inside. The cellar was even more scary than the bomb.

The more I thought about being killed by a bomb, the more terrified I became.  

I knew nothing about prayer, not to mention God, but one night, having exhausted all the possibilities of safe places, I silently prayed.  Silently, so no one would hear me, I prayed for world peace.  The next night I prayed for world peace and my mother and father being safe.  Another night I added my younger brother.  I didn’t particularly care for him but I was as scared of my parents’ thinking I was a bad sister as I was of the bomb and the cellar.  Night after night I silently prayed, each night adding another an aunt, an uncle, another relative.  Newly added was my fear it would be my fault if anyone was killed by the bomb because I didn’t pray for them.  It was my secret ritual and the only way I could stop thinking about that cellar.  One night I was over-whelmed with the responsibility of remembering to include everyone I knew . . .  . and I stopped praying . . . I stopped praying for almost sixty years.

    *       *       *

I’ll post each Sunday so stay turned for:

 Part II, Head and Heart

Part III – Stardusted

Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird

Why Am I Here?

“Do you remember when you first framed that universal human question, the one we all eventually ask: “Why am I here?”

“I do: it happened one warm summer night in my sixth year of life, as I lay in the grass and stared up at the night sky.”

Suddenly, without warning, the mystery of human existence opened up inside my six-year-old mind that summer, and I began questioning its ultimate purpose. All of us do. We each, at various points in our lives, want to know the answer to the primary human question.

That “why am I here?” question has many forms: “What will I be when I grow up?” “What’s the meaning of life?” “What is my purpose in this existence – if I have one?” “What can I personally contribute to the world?” “What happens to me after I die?”

These important questions essentially ask the same basic thing: Why do I exist?

No scientific answer to that question has ever emerged, or likely ever will, because science has a defined sphere of influence, a limited scope. Science helps us describe the world, and then we have to decide, with a higher code of ethics, morals and spiritual guidance, how to use that knowledge. Science confines itself, by definition, to systemized knowledge regarding the physical world. Because of those limits, scientific understandings can only take us so far:

Moral judgments, aesthetic judgments, decisions about applications of science, and conclusions about the supernatural are outside the realm of science, but that doesn’t mean that these realms are unimportant. In fact, domains such as ethics, aesthetics, and religion fundamentally influence human societies and how those societies interact with science. Neither are such domains unscholarly. In fact, topics like aesthetics, morality, and theology are actively studied by philosophers, historians, and other scholars. However, questions that arise within these domains generally cannot be resolved by science. – Understanding Science: How Science Really Works.

Only the most strict materialists believe that science can answer every human question. Matter and motion, the materialists say, constitute reality. Those who base their philosophy of life on those terms believe that perception defines what’s real – which means that everything else, then, must be false.

That, of course, isn’t science speaking – it’s a philosophical postulate, not the result of scientific reasoning. Because science restricts itself, by definition, to the material dimensions of existence, its conclusions will inevitably be material in nature – which makes it a fallacy to believe that the material world comprises everything that exists, and that humans can only perceive what our outer senses comprehend. Instead, as the Baha’i teachings point out, human beings inevitably want to perceive more deeply, to go beyond the senses and transcend the material world:

 … man is endowed with a power of discovery that distinguishes him from the animal, and this power is none but the human spirit. …

Man ever aspires to greater heights and loftier goals. He ever seeks to attain a world surpassing that which he inhabits, and to ascend to a degree above that which he occupies. This love of transcendence is one of the hallmarks of man. – Abdu’l-BahaSome Answered Questions, newly revised version, p. 217.

Most people want answers about the purpose and meaning of life – that’s the crux of the “Why am I here?” question. Materialists may claim that no such answer exists, that anything beyond the physical is a fantasy, that all meaning reduces to mere mass and motion. But that’s a highly unsatisfying and even grim philosophy. Few people want to live with such a  outlook on life – instead, we crave a deep inner life filled with love, beauty and meaning. The Baha’i teachings point out the path to that inner life, through the spiritual development of the human soul:

The soul is eternal, immortal.

Materialists say, “Where is the soul? What is it? We cannot see it, neither can we touch it.”

This is how we must answer them: However much the mineral may progress, it cannot comprehend the vegetable world. Now, that lack of comprehension does not prove the non-existence of the plant!

To however great a degree the plant may have evolved, it is unable to understand the animal world; this ignorance is no proof that the animal does not exist!

The animal, be he never so highly developed, cannot imagine the intelligence of man, neither can he realize the nature of his soul. But, again, this does not prove that man is without intellect, or without soul. It only demonstrates this, that one form of existence is incapable of comprehending a form superior to itself.

This flower may be unconscious of such a being as man, but the fact of its ignorance does not prevent the existence of humanity.

In the same way, if materialists do not believe in the existence of the soul, their unbelief does not prove that there is no such realm as the world of spirit. The very existence of man’s intelligence proves his immortality; moreover, darkness proves the presence of light, for without light there would be no shadow. Poverty proves the existence of riches, for, without riches, how could we measure poverty? Ignorance proves that knowledge exists, for without knowledge how could there be ignorance?

Therefore the idea of mortality presupposes the existence of immortality — for if there were no Life Eternal, there would be no way of measuring the life of this world! – Abdu’l-BahaParis Talks, p. 92.

So why am I here? The Baha’i teachings answer:

… since [the human soul] is a sign of God, once it has come into being it is everlasting. The human spirit has a beginning but no end: It endures forever. … immortal, enduring and everlasting. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised version, p. 273.

Man – the true man – is soul, not body; though physically man belongs to the animal kingdom, yet his soul lifts him above the rest of creation. …

By the power of the Holy Spirit, working through his soul, man is able to perceive the Divine reality of things. All great works of art and science are witnesses to this power of the Spirit.

The same Spirit gives Eternal Life. …

Our greatest efforts must be directed towards detachment from the things of the world; we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life’s ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 84-87.

What’s UP?

My good friend Peggy Arndt, who is also a retired psychotherapist, suggested we collaborate on blogging the tips, tools and techniques for health, happiness & well-being we have accumulated over our combined 60+ years of experience.  

I’ve been blogging CURIOUStotheMAX for 10 years and have over 1,500 post (yes, you read that right . . . over one-thousand, five-hundred posts!)

CURIOUStotheMAX – Stuff that makes us love, learn and laugh.We post anything and everything we find “curiously” interesting & inspirational along with our own art, prose, poetry, personal reflection, inspiration, animals, FREEBIES and . . . .FREDDIE the dog.

MAXyourMIND -“Catnip”* for the mind.
We focus on the well-being of mind, body & soul – the serious, the inspirational and  whimsical cat/dog/critter drawings all shared with a wink and a smile and . . .FREDDIE of course
*(MAXyourMIND is dedicated to Peggy’s cat Maui who had an incredible healing journey demonstrating the power of neuroplasticity) 

Click here:

MAXyourMIND 

CURIOUStotheMAX

We would love you

to take a look and follow! 

With love and many blessings,

judy & Peggy . . .and Freddie of course

A Mini Musing on Fear & Faith

I was inspired by this quote from John Steinbeck.  It also serves as an explanation and apology for what I write today:

“But sometimes in a man or a woman awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable. There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness. The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness. In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. And sometimes if he is very fortunate and if the time is right, a very little of what he is trying to do trickles through — not ever much. And if he is a writer wise enough to know it can’t be done, then he is not a writer at all. A good writer always works at the impossible. There is another kind who pulls in his horizons, drops his mind as one lowers rifle sights. And giving up the impossible he gives up writing.”  John Steinbeck

Acrylic

Acrylic by judy

I spent 50 years of my life terrified of dying, haunted since I was eight years old by my father’s answer to my asking what would happen to me after I died. Dad said, “You get put in the ground, your body turns to dust, and you are nothing.” There was no further discussion. 

I spent many dark nights, lying awake in bed, trying to imagine what it would be like to be nothing until the incomprehensible overwhelmed me with fear and I pulled the covers of sleep up to my chin and slipped into nothingness.

Fear has graciously been replaced by the inexplicable – a diaphanous belief I am already in eternity and with the disintegration of my human body begins the integration of all I’ve experienced into what my soul already knows.

 

 

 

To see the light . . . we need the dark

Moana Judys

Mona Lisa

An art lesson I’ve learned is that some of the greatest paintings have strong darks juxtaposed with the lightest lights.  The contrast creates volume, focal points and interest.  It’s not just an art lesson it’s a life lesson.  Out of my darkest periods have come my greatest life lessons  . . . the contrast between pain and pleasure have been too sharp to not notice and, hopefully, learn how to better paint my life.

Thank you Lyn G. for sharing this!

Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘Through suffering he will attain to an eternal happiness which nothing can take from him. The apostles of Christ suffered: they attained eternal happiness.’

God is like . . . 5th Graders, Divinely Creative

A fifth grade teacher in a Christian school asked her class to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them in ways to communicate ideas about God.  Here are some of the results: 

God is like 
BAYER ASPIRIN
He works miracles.

God is like 
A FORD
He’s got a better idea

God is like
COKE
He’s the real thing.

God is like
HALLMARK CARDS
He cares enough to send His very best.

God is like 
TIDE
He gets the stains……..out others leave behind

God is like 
GENERAL ELECTRIC
He brings good things to life.

God is like
WAL-MART
He has everything.

God is like 
ALKA-SELTZER
Try Him, you’ll like Him


God is like
SCOTCH TAPE
You can’t see Him, but you know He’s there.

God is like 
DELTA
He’s ready when you are.

God is like 
ALLSTATE
You’re in good hands with Him.

God is like
VO-5 Hair Spray
He holds through all kinds of weather

God is like 
DIAL SOAP
Aren’t you glad you have Him?

Don’t you wish everybody did? 

God is like 
The US POST OFFICE 
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor ice will keep Him from His appointed destination.

God is like 
Chevrolet. . . .the heart beat of America

God is like 
Maxwell House. …. Good to the very last drop

God is like 
B o u n t y
He is the quicker picker upper. Can handle the tough jobs! 
And He won’t fall apart on you


God is like.
The Energizer Bunny
He Keeps Going, and Going, and Going…..

 

Thanks Linda B. for sharing this.

There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in

Above my desk in my psychotherapy office hung a picture of Leonard Cohen and the quote from his song Anthem.  The picture was given to me by a beloved client. Yesterday he sent me this video.  Cohen’s song transcends time.  (Thank you Hank.  I love you.)

Please listen, pause and absorb. 

Anthem

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be
Yeah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free
Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
We asked for signs
The signs were sent
The birth betrayed
The marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
Of every government
Signs for all to see
I can’t run no more
With that lawless crowd
While the killers in high places
Say their prayers out loud
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
A thundercloud
And they’re going to hear from me
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
You can add up the parts
You won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
But like a refugee
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
Ring the bells that still can ring (ring the bells that still can ring)
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in

Leonard Norman Cohen CC GOQ (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet, and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, depression, sexuality, loss, death and romantic relationships. 

Cohen was described as a Sabbath-observant Jew in an article in The New York Times:

Mr. Cohen keeps the Sabbath even while on tour and performed for Israeli troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. So how does he square that faith with his continued practice of Zen? “Allen Ginsberg asked me the same question many years ago”, he said. “Well, for one thing, in the tradition of Zen that I’ve practiced, there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity. So theologically there is no challenge to any Jewish belief.”[168]

Cohen showed an interest in Jesus as a universal figure, saying, “I’m very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says ‘Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek’ has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness … A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion. I’m not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ. But to me, in spite of what I know about the history of legal Christianity, the figure of the man has touched me.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Cohen

 

“I speak of faith but do not beg for miracles”

A good friend and wonderfully creative, compassionate soul Sharon Bonin-Pratt sent this out.  I believe it speaks for many of us and I could not have said it better.  

“We’re trying to stay in, away from all of you, though we hold you close in our thoughts. We must occasionally venture out, wearing masks and gloves, then sanitizing when we return. Learning independence (maybe how to bake or garden or repair our own breakdowns of every sort) is a good lesson for anyone.”

“I worry about all the people doing so much so that the rest of us can sit at home and wait for deliveries. Thinking farmers, harvesters, grocery workers, everyone in the health care industry, all the first responders whose lives are always on the line, those who shop for us, those who deliver to us, food service workers in every capacity, warehouse laborers, the mailmen/women, essential utilities employees and repairmen. I may have forgotten your title but I do not forget you.”

“Someone is making it possible for me to type on my computer, to shower under a stream of clean water, launder our clothes in my electricity powered washing machine, turn up the heat from our gas furnace, and veg out with hubby in front of the TV. It’s an enormous army of people out and about in this infected world, hoping to stay healthy so they don’t bring home this terrible disease to their families, so some of us lucky few can stay home and complain about the last potato. Never in my life did I imagine I would be in this favored upper class.”

“Thank you for this luxury, I do not take it lightly.”

And wrote this for the obvious:

Passover 2020

I speak of faith but do not beg for miracles

I speak of love but do not see your face

I speak of hope but do not plead for proof

I speak of justice but do not offer verdicts

I speak of atonement but do not loudly weep

I speak of rebirth but fear to fully submerge

I speak of belief but cannot imagine the light

I speak of future but do not count on dreams

I speak of redemption but do not feel its weight

I speak of rage but do not whisper its name

pharaoh slavery despair covid

Shema Shema Shema Shema


I speak of children but now my voice falters

How can I speak of children

Through the lens of this plague

I speak of love I speak of hope

I speak of justice I speak of atonement

I speak of rebirth I speak of belief

I cannot speak of future without a howl of rage

I speak of faith and I yearn for miracles

Redemption not for me

Redemption for the children

pharaoh slavery despair covid

Shema fervently Shema silently Shema chanted Shema forever and ever and ever


Amen

read  Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s INK FLARE blog

 

Holding a “virtual” Sedar or Easter Celebration

Whether you are Christian celebrating Easter or Jewish celebrating Passover, we ALL can celebrate the thousands of people worldwide who HAVE survived Coronavirus infection and pray you and your loved ones will be passed over. 

The Passover story, with its focus on plagues and hardship, feels particularly poignant in an age of the coronavirus pandemic.  

In Hebrew, Passover,  is known as Pesach (which means “to pass over”), because G‑d passed over the Jewish homes when killing the Egyptian firstborn on the very first Passover eve.  Some Christians observe a form of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The practice is found among Assemblies of Yahweh, Messianic Jews, and some congregations of the Church of God (Seventh Day). It is often linked to the Christian holiday and festival of Easter.  The redemption from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Christ is celebrated, a parallel of the Jewish Passover’s celebration of redemption from bondage in the land of Egypt.[1]  WIKIPEDIA

Pesach, as it’s called in Hebrew, is observed from sundown Wednesday, April 8 to Thursday, April 6. The traditional Passover seder (or ceremonial dinner) includes specific symbolic foods and biblical plot points about what happened with Moses and Pharaoh before God freed the enslaved Jews more than 3,000 years ago.

Physical isolation does not preclude people celebrating one of their most significant holidays of the year.  But how does one honor the holiday when resources for food are limited and there are public health orders against welcoming people into your home?

Take a look at his suggestions and then modify your own celebrations

Video Chat

If you decide use video conference as part of your celebration, Leivenberg recommends Zoom, which he and his Jewish Federation colleagues successfully used recently with more than 100 attendees for an abbreviated seder. 

“Is video chat kosher?   For certain denominations of Judaism, using electricity on Shabbat and other Jewish holidays is a no-no. But there are prominent groups of Orthodox and Conservative rabbis who have okayed the use of video chat just for this year, with the Rabbinical Assembly noting that “ideally, the video option should be accessed in a way that does not involve direct interaction with an electronic device.” (I.e. Siri could potentially be used to activate the stream.)”

How to get set up on Zoom

In order to use Zoom, you’ll need a laptop or computer with a webcam, an accessory webcam, a smartphone or a tablet with a built-in camera. 

  1. Begin by going to the Zoom website or downloading the app and registering your account.
  2. From there, once registered, click “Host a Meeting” and send out the invite URL to others to join. (Or you can await your invite on the other side, if you’re a participant. The meeting can be joined on a host of devices.)
  3. Invitees don’t even need to be on a laptop, or use the app. They can simply call in on a phone number as well.
  4. In order to make sure your conference isn’t easily hacked, adjust the screen share options under “Advanced settings” so that only the Host can share the screen. (Read more about privacy measures to take while using Zoom here.)
  5. You can get creative on camera:
  6. “Make sure you do an audio test and have decent lighting before you start your call.
  7. If you don’t like your regular background, go to “Preferences” and consider uploading a photo or maybe even a themed graphic that you can use as a Zoom background.”

“There’s opportunities in Zoom for you to raise your hand or ask a question or use the chat box,” says Leivenberg. “If you have enough time to prep, you could technically change your virtual background as you’re telling the Passover story.”

“Another benefit to Zoom: You can share your screen and allow others to read from your prayers or Haggadah. But if you want everyone to have their own copy, send PDFs around (see next item).”

Share digital prayers, rituals, Haggadahs with your guests

“Although Leivenberg already mailed his family and friends the same Haggadah for his virtual seder, but for those who didn’t get a chance to plan so far ahead he suggests sending attendees the same online Haggadah. One free option is available on Haggadot.com, a site that lets users create their own Passover book to download and print.”

Don’t stress over the menu or seder plate

“Food supplies are limited and multiple trips to the grocery store are discouraged these days. So instead of worrying about having every single seder plate item, Leivenberg suggests reimagining the harder-to-get foods.”

The traditional seder plate includes shank bone, egg, bitter herbs, vegetable and haroset (fruit paste).
“Instead of tracking down a shankbone, maybe try a roasted carrot.  Roasted carrots symbolize not just the animal sacrifice of ancient times – which is what the shank bone is supposed to symbolize – but also the value of sensitivity to nature,” he says.

Keep the menu simple

“Make whatever is going to make you feel nourished.”

Hide Easter eggs or Afikomen a bit differently

  • Pick a hiding place in your mind and play ’20 Questions’ to have people guess where the eggs or afikomen are, whether it be a place in the house that everyone knows or somewhere in the world.
  • You could also hide eggs or afikomen in your own “Where’s Waldo?” drawing or
  • Inside a self-made wordsearch puzzle.

Focus on WHAT you’re celebrating,

not HOW you’re celebrating

“Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jews from slavery into Egypt,” says Leivenberg. “The holiday really is a lot about redemption and resilience and community and regrowth.”

Today, amid global upheaval, it seems especially important to celebrate REDEMPTION, RESILIENCE, COMMUNITY & REGROWTH

 

 

Jason Leivenberg, who leads an initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater LA called NuRoots, about how to host a modernized seder while under quarantine.

How to “release” anger – Spiritual heART Tutorial

Anger & my fibromyalgia (or ANY LIFE ALTERING CONDITION) were sometimes buddies.  Both hung out together, sometimes publicly, always in private when I was first became symptomatic. They prefered to be invisible to others  . . . and sometimes to myself.
I’ve never thought of myself as an angry person, still don’t, but the UNEXPRESSED anger I sometimes felt over having my life turned upside down with the symptoms of fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue and not knowing how to redefine myself created an indescribable loss of control.   Seemingly out of no where I was inpatient, short tempered and surprisingly jealous of others who I perceived as “whole”.  All these emotions & behaviors are incompatible with my spirituality, my belief in a God of love, compassion and wisdom

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Anger is incompatible with spirituality.  Anger is not a virtue and covers over our more vulnerable feelings of sadness or fear.

HOWEVER, we are human and have been endowed with the neurochemistry of emotion.  When I feel angry I try (TRY being the operant word) to use it as an opportunity to let go of negativity and embrace love and compassion – sometimes compassion for others and sometimes for myself.

There are lots of ways of letting go of anger and embracing spirituality. 
Here’s an heARTful way to do so:
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This is not an exercise in making beautiful art.  Its focus is using color to express feelings.  Work quickly (it doesn’t matter if colors blend), intuitively and spontaneously.  I’ve outlined the general steps but add, modify, embellish in any way that moves you.
Materials:
  • Piece of cardboard – back of cereal box works well.  Why cardboard?  There’s nothing “precious” about cardboard.  You can let loose and not be concerned about creating “art”.
  • Black marker – permanent is best so the ink doesn’t smear in later steps.  If you don’t have a marker use a pen.
  • Cheap white acrylic paint – If you have gesso that works well too.   Don’t have white paint?- use a light color. Don’t use oil paint as it takes weeks to dry.
  • Make-up sponge – No make-up sponges? – cut a piece of any sponge you have on hand.
  • Expired plastic credit/gift card.
  • Your fingers are the best tool you have.  Helps you really FEEL the process.
  • 3 or more paint colors that appeal to you.
1.  On a piece of cardboard, with a permanent marker, write whatever angry thoughts come to mind.  Swear, yell, name names, draw stick figures or symbols.  Write anything and everything that angers you past, present, future. Write to someone who has hurt or harmed you.
Turn the cardboard, write upside down, sideways, big, small, scrawl.  Don’t censor what you write because all or most of it will be covered up.
2.  White-wash over the words you don’t want to show with diluted white paint or gesso.  Why Dilute?  You can control words you want to be semi-visible.
3.  Splatter drops of paint that represent for you “giving love”.  There is no right or wrong just pick the color intuitively.  The color(s) you chose can change if you do the exercise at another time.  
Using your fingers, credit card and/or a sponge brush smush, scrape, spread the colors of “giving love.”
4.  Splatter drops of paint that represent for you “receiving love”.  There is no right or wrong just intuitively pick the color that catches your attention.
Using your fingers or a sponge brush  smush, scrape the colors of “receiving love”
5.  Splatter drops of paint that represent “God’s love”.  Spontaneously pick the color that speaks to you.
Using your fingers, credit card or a sponge brush smush, scrape, DAB the colors of God or whatever spirituality is for you.
6.  Finish your board in anyway you choose:  Write more words, doodle, drizzle paint etc.

If you don’t have time, energy (or cardboard) use the same steps in a journal or a single piece of paper.  If you don’t want to use paint be creative and try crayons and markers. 

Make it your own and let me know what your experience is.

Better yet – send a picture of your graffiti board and I’ll share it on the blog.

(Thanks to Laurie Zagon for creating the original painting process which I’ve modified.  Check her non-profit out www.Art4Healing.org, it’s incredible)

Dream on! – Bells, Boots & an Insect Critter

Had a dream the other night – the details of which elude me but the images won’t leaveblack high boots with HUGE gold jingle bells parading down the front, a big long black insect with a semi-human male face.   I’m searching my closet for my boots  . . .  but can’t find them, only jingle- bell-boots which I would never wear – calls too much attention, too weird, not my style.  In the search for my boots I see the insect crawling high up the shower tile.  I hesitate, wondering if I should kill this critter that doesn’t belong in my shower but the thought of smashing him doesn’t appeal to me. I return to look for normal boots.  

The images a week later are unshakable, did not fade into the morning, and I’m plagued by what the dream might be telling me.

I have the habit of walking through the stacks of libraries and picking books at random that catch my attention.  Some of the books I check out I never finish and some of them are interesting “finds”.  My recent finds are 3 books:  Medical Marijuana;  Ursula Le Guin’s No Time to Spare Essays (thank you Lisa!) and 7 Lessons from Heaven by Mary Neal, M.D.

The night of my boot-dream I read Dr. Neal’s book before going to sleep.  It’s an easy read, no thinking necessary, which meets my bedtime book criteria.  Dr Neal is an orthopedic surgeon who had a near death experience (NDE).

Something I just read or watched on TV does not usually appear in my dreams so I didn’t immediately think about the book.  When deciphering dreams I trust my instincts and almost always go with the first thoughts/associations that come to mind. Suddenly the dream images, religion and Dr. Neal’s reluctance to talk about, much less publish a book, about her NDE coalesced.I’ve always disliked proselytizers  as their “pitch” feels invasive and disrespectful.   On another level I envied people of such deep faith that they had the where-with-all to share their beliefs with such resolve and never seemed dogged by religious questions, skepticism and searching that I experienced.

As I wrote in my “Mini Sermons” Interconnectedness of all Beings I’ve studied most of the major religions and in my 60’s landed in the Baha’i World Faith.  It provided several “aha” moments for me the more I delved into Baha’i writings and tenants.   There’s a sense of wanting to share what I know, what I hold to be true and wanting to connect with others with a common spiritual “knowing”.

I have a bit more compassion for “proselytizers” (but they still bother me).

I’ve never wanted to proselytize,  wear jingle-bell-boots . . .  How do I share my deeply held Baha’i beliefs without jingling my bells, calling attention to my own walk, and still being respectful to others.  What constitutes walking the talk or talking the walk respectfully?

Baha’is are respectful of all regions and beliefs one of my “aha” tenants of the Baha’i faith is that it embraces all major religions – we all pray to the same God who has sent Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, to explain that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.

My dream, the sermon writing workshop, and posting my writing was a boot . . . with a couple of bells.

If you can figure out what the stick insect critter was doing in the shower or what “he” was about, let me know.

At least he didn’t crawl out of the  jingle-bell-boots.

Sunday Sermon, Part IV – Two Wings of a Bird

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … “

Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Hold up your hand for just a second.  Feel anything?

At any given second 100 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body  . . .RIGHT NOW.

The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. The solar neutrino flux for us on Earth is about 65 billion neutrinos, passing through just one square centimeter of area on earth, every second.  That’s a lot of neutrinos and we are not able to see them, sense them nor understand them.

There is so much, too much, that is not perceivable to our limited senses nor explainable by our reason.

I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years.  Not only did people share their fears and sorrows but unexplainable encounters with spirits, near death experiences and life altering experiences with the divine. I admit I was sometimes skeptical.  Over time it became impossible, to dismiss what intelligent, discerning people shared.  

I now think of science as one wing and religion as the other wing of a bird; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless . . .  

 . . .  and I circled back to my study of faith and my belief we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.   I discovered two faiths I’d not originally studied – Unitarian Universalism and Baha’i. They not only complemented each other but each offered something a bit different.  

Baha’is believe in and share all the UU principles:  

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
  4.  A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

. . . and most importantly the 7th UU principle –

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The Baha’i World Faith brought me full circle back to childhood and to God but it wasn’t the God of fear but of love.

When I read the three core principles which are the basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity From these stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers: MuhammadJesusMoses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh.  It was an “ah-ha moment for me that all establishers of religion. the great religions of the world, represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. That religion is seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age unexpectedly resonated.

Through decades of trials and tribulations I realize the magical thinking in my childhood, that the world revolved around me, wasn’t quite accurate . . . however,

. . .  perhaps some magical thinking persists 60+ years later.   Every morning I say a Baha’i prayer for family, friends, acquaintances,  past clients and a prayer for those who have passed.  The recitation of all the people grows longer each day and takes longer than the prayers . . . The difference between then and now is my prayers are steeped in love, not terror. 

        *          *           *

To read Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE

Read Part II, Head & Heart click HERE

Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 

 

Sunday Sermon, Part III, Stardusted

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, says it best . . .

“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”

Not only are we synchronizing our heads and hearts, one with another, (Part II) we are interconnected with the Universe.  All is  from the same matter.

We are made of stardust. It’s like a line from a song, but there is some solid science behind this : Almost every element on earth, including you and me, was formed from the heart of a star.

Next time you’re out gazing at the stars, (all 5 stars we can actually see in a city) twinkling in the night sky, you are looking at the energy released by nuclear fusion reactions at their cores.

When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, the resulting high energy enables the creation of oxygen, carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements – the building blocks which make up the world around us and in us. 

The explosion disperses these elements across the universe, scattering the stardust through stellar winds which makes up planets including Earth, eventually some of it finds its way into our bodies.

There is so much we are not able to perceive through our senses:  The Earth’s electromagnetic fields that guide animals engaged in long-distance migrations, sea turtles and Monarch butterflies, birds, use Earth’s magnetic field as a navigational system; smells which compel my dog Freddie to lift his leg; dreams that portend the future. 

I admit I don’t understand science.

How do liver cells know how to make more liver cells and new heart cells know how to take up the beat?   We’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process, a transient body, cells continually dying and rebuilding all the time, and a continual flow of energy and matter being created . . . without my awareness . . .

Not only are our hearts synchronizing, our brain waves vibrating in unison but the very atoms of our cells are dying, being reborn and quivering in recognition we are all made of stardust.

Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.

     *          *           *

To read Part I,  Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE

 Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Next Sunday:

 Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird

 

Sunday Sermon – Part II, Head and Heart

As you read on my last Mini-Sermon post – I didn’t pray again for 50 years*.  During those decades I studied or was exposed to the tenants of many faiths and beliefs:  Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Baptist and even atheist. 

I discovered two things: First,  the bedrock of all religions is love, compassion, unity and the interconnectedness of all beings.  Second,  no matter what belief I studied something was amiss to me.  It just didn’t make sense (if belief could ever make rational sense) how each could claim to be the only truth, the true spiritual path.

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So scientific research became my focus and bolstered my belief in the interconnectedness of all humans  (and animals).  With newer and newer technology the science continues to be even more fascinating and compelling.  Here’s just a small sample**:

  1. Mirror Neurons – These are a type of brain cell that respond equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. This neural mechanism is involuntary and automatic and with it we don’t have to think about what other people are doing or feeling, we simply know.  When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile.
  2. Touch – When you hug another person, brains release oxytocin and causes secretions of endorphins.You don’t have to be in love, have sex, or give birth to get a boost of oxytocin (although these experiences certainly do that). Cuddling, hugging, making eye contact, and even shaking hands gets oxytocin, the bonding hormone, flowing
  3. Epigenetics – Scientists have long-known that parents pass genetic traits down to their children, current research suggests that life experiences like famine, trauma, stress can also produce chemical effects in DNA which shorten life-spans, appear as anxiety, depression and fear, inherited through generations and generations down the line.
  4. Neural synchrony –  Singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and synchronizes our heart beats.  When we pet an animal our blood pressure lowers and even more astounding their blood pressure lowers too. Studies of 3-month-old infants and their mothers have determined their heartbeats synchronize to mere milliseconds.

The electrical neuronal activity of two people involved in an act of communication “synchronize” in order to allow for a “connection” between both subjects.  The rhythms of the brainwaves corresponding to the speaker and the listener adjust according to the physical properties of the sound of the verbal messages expressed in a conversation. This creates a connection between the two brains, which begin to work together towards a common goal: communication.

Scientists can find out if two people are having a conversation solely by analyzing their brain waves. 

There is more research but just these four areas alone reinforce my belief in the interconnectedness of all beings. Next . . . our inter-glactic connection on Mini Sermon, Part III.

    *           *           *

To read Part I,  Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE

 Coming next Sundays:

Part III – Stardusted

 Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird

The HeART of Spirituality – Finding Balance

How can we find balance in the chaos that surrounds us?  This was the question at a HeART of Spirituality workshop held at Tapestry Unitarian.

“As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance — this is the balance —this is the balance.”Baha’i World Religion

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The participants picked images that represented spiritual balance and spiritual imbalance and made collaged Contemplation Cards.  Similar to tarot cards or vision boards these cards can be used in many ways.  

In an effort to create more balance in my own life I’m posting ALL the Contemplation Cards

Can you tell which cards represent BALANCE and which represent IMBALANCE?  See all the cards on

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8

1 To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week

“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Baha’i World Faith

I was heartened by the response of people of all faiths, believers and non-believes alike, from around the world protesting the ban of immigrants to the United States.  It is my hope that someday – probably not in my lifetime – we will be physically united as one people, and spiritually united under one God, in love.

A small step in that direction is the World Faith Harmony Week.

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Annual UN Observance Week: Feb. 1-7

“The World Interfaith Harmony Week is based on the pioneering work of The Common Word initiative. This initiative, which started in 2007, called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. The Two commandments are at the heart of the three Monotheistic religions and therefore provide the most solid theological ground possible.”

“The World Interfaith Harmony Week extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour’. This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith.”

“The World Interfaith Harmony Week provides a platform—one week in a year—when all interfaith groups and other groups of goodwill can show the world what a powerful movement they are. The thousands of events organized by these groups often go unnoticed not only by the general public, but also by other groups themselves. This week will allow for these groups to become aware of each other and strengthen the movement by building ties and avoiding duplicating each others’ efforts.”

“It is hoped that this initiative will provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.”

I add a loud, AMEN.

HeART of Healing – Mind, Body & Soul

Physically, biologically anger and fear create a neurochemical cascade from the brain to the body triggering powerful stress responses. These two emotions interfere with physical healing and are incompatible with spiritual healing.  

Healing was the focus at the last HeART of Spirituality workshop.  The medium was journaling.

Since you couldn’t attend here’s the materials for you!  

Workshop Introduction:

My personal experience with fibromyalgia and my Baha’i belief is that ultimately all healing – physical, emotional, situational,  is spiritual.  Basic to my belief are:

  • We learn how to develop God’s virtues through pain and earthly trials & tribulation.
  •  God does not want us to suffer, He wants us to learn.
  • Suffering comes from our distorted perspective of spirituality and our ego needs.
  •  Praying for “healing” is first and foremost for spiritual growth, not physical remedy.

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Our first exercise “Stacked Writing”:  focusing on releasing the emotions of anger and fear.   Participants wrote, non-stop for 20 minutes, filling the page with sentences, phrases, words on top of each other so that what was written became indecipherable.

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Second exercise – “Found Poetry”:   Everyone cut out approximately 20 words from newspapers and created a poem from their words.  Take a look!

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Did Found/spontaneous poetry

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Meet the wonderful HeART group!

 

 

 

A Frankly Freddie Thanksgiving

Dear Human Beings,

(I know, I know this is posted on my other blog “Curious to the Max” but I must say thank you to those of you who are only subscribed here because I love you too!)

This is my ANNUAL Thanksgiving ‘Ode To Tom’ and tell you what I’m thankful for:

  • I’m thankful that I was not born in a country where they eat dogs.
  • I’m thankful you are all my best friends!
  • I’m thankful for all the treats I get even if I don’t get as many as I deserve
  • I’m thankful I am soft and fluffy so people want to pet me
  • DSCN4217Freddie Parker Westerfield,  Poet Laureate

A Turkey’s Tale

by Freddie Parker Westerfield

A turkey named Tom lived on a farm

His story is such, so they say

Waking at dawn

he’d peck at the lawn,

searching for bugs,

nibbling on slugs

of which he was particularly fond.

Then on Thanksgiving day

Gobbledy gobbledy gone!

So if  YOU took Tom from off his farm

in the middle of the night

please give him due thanks

for gracing your table.  (It’s  fitting and only right).

And for all the bugs and many slugs

which make him an organic delight

P.S.  I was told to tell you that my Human-being wishes you all things to be grateful for in your life, like she’s grateful for me.
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My BEST FRIEND Shari sent me this picture.  I think she might be a Turkeytarian . . .

 

How art mirrors life

Haven’t posted in quite a while as I’ve been smushed, smashed and trashed with a fibromyalgia flare-up and have not had much energy.  Periodically, I  post my own art work on Curious to the Max.  “Curious” has a gazillion more followers (well, maybe a few less than a gazillion) than The HeART of Spirituality so when I have any energy “Curious” gets it all.

I’ve long known that all creativity – whatever the medium – is an expression of its creator.  I’ve seen my choice of color, subjects and expression change with my mood and circumstances.  

Watch painter Alyssa Monks’ TEDTALK  and see a powerful example of how life and art intersect.

The HeART of Spirituality – Journey from Dark to Light

Here’s a synopsis of what we explored at the last HeART workshop at Tapestry Unitarian (scroll down for the pictures):

No one like to hear this, but pain is a necessary ingredient for growth.  It’s what motivates us to change, learn and grow.  Without pain we strive to maintain the status quo.  

God created  “negative” neurochemical emotions for physical survival & spiritual survival:

  • Anger – protection from hurt
  • Sadness – to reflect on past actions to learn and make increasingly correct action in the present
  • Fear – to protect from future harm/extinction
  • Disgust – to steer us away from what would harm

Happiness and “Positive” neurochemical emotions guide us towards right action and connection to God’s love:

When we are neurochemically flooded with fear/anger etc it is a powerful spiritual test to NOT respond to or behave on those feelings and instead find understanding and connect to love which lead to fulfillment, happiness and spiritual growth.

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We explored a painful experience, the coping mechanisms and strengths that helped us survive that experience and the spiritual lessons learned.

It was a really wonderful group of women who came together for 4 hours to explore their own personal experiences of pain and spiritual growth through process painting and visual journaling.  Take a look!

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“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

We don’t look forward to pain but when we look backward at it we cans see what spiritual lessons we learned.

The HeART of Spirtuality – Power

The word “Power” conjures up many thoughts from ruthlessness to ritual to right action.  When I explored the idea of power in relation to my own spiritual Baha’i belief is that I’m  both powerless and powerful: Powerless in the face of God’s power and grace;  Powerful in that I have free will and can choose my actions.  It’s an interesting dichotomy that probably can only be explained through faith.

At the last HeART of Spirituality workshop at the Tapestry Unitarian Church the collaged Contemplation Cards were made with the focus on “power”.  

Power also conjures up incredible images.  Take a look.

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Because it was a small group each person got a chance to talk about and process their cards for conscious and unconscious meanings and messages.  I love these groups of open, creative people willing to share and try new things.

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Join us at the next workshop.  It’s FREE!  Dates and times are posted on the Workshop Schedule pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HeART Workshop

A WONDERFUL group at Tapestry Unitarian for our May HeART of Spirituality & Wisdom.  Talked about how to break into the trigger of emotional memory to help with mindfulness and not getting hijacked by old out-dated feelings.  

Then everyone made a Contemplation Card focusing on PATIENCE!  We talked about what the images represent and their personal meanings.

The Cards can be used for mindfulness, as mini vision-boards and contemplation to explore unconscious messages.  

Take a look!
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Nala Knows

This little black teacup poodle is on a mission.  She has had no training as a therapy dog, but she knows what she’s doing and where she’s going, and she has free run of the nursing home and makes the rounds visiting patients and riding the elevators with no human assistance, except for someone to push the floor button.

The video picture is rather dark but the message is one of light.

Thanks Linda B.!!!!

The HeART of Spirituality Workshop – Mindfulness

It was a WONDERFUL group that gathered at Tapestry Unitarian Church.  Everyone made a collaged Contemplation Card.  

The focus for this card was all the attributes and qualities you like about yourself.  Since our theme for April was Mindfulness I showed them how to focus on their cards MINDFULLY!

Take a look at the incredible cards:

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here’s pictures

Humans are beginning to grasp the truth

“It is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man.

Jonathan Balcombe, author of many books on animal behavior and emotion, including the forthcoming What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousinshad this to say:

“This touching video shows virtuous behavior in two distantly related vertebrates. A porcupinefish bravely keeps vigil for his entrapped comrade, while a kindhearted snorkeler gingerly negotiates the situation with an improvised cutting implement — the bottom of a broken bottle.

“A skeptic might think the bystander fish is just curious, but if that were the case, the fish would have fled the scene when the large ape approached. Like many fishes, pufferfishes (of which the porcupinefish is a member) can live a decade or more and can form lasting bonds with others of their kind or with human caregivers.”

“Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel. And yet in truth, what difference is there when it cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities … Therefore it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let them try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.”

Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

My 2 left feet

Do not ask God to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet.

Not sure where this saying came from but it made me think about how I don’t finish projects.   I enjoy the process of conceptualizing and planning but it’s hard moving my thoughts and dreams into reality. 

I have written children’s plays, poems and stories – they languish on my computer.  I start knitting sweaters – they are half done.  The dresser I gave a make-over to is half made-over.  There are enough beads and findings in my cupboard to outfit the queen of England (if she wore costume jewels). I could go on and on but at risk of making myself feel badly I won’t! 

I love the conceptualization, gathering the tools and reading the how-to’s.  It’s as though when I’m done with all the preparation finishing the project is anti-climatic.  It was already finished in my mind long before I started.  Process motivates me.  Product isn’t so important.

two-left-feet

Not sure why God gave me two left feet.

Easter and Creation

“O ye that dwell on earth! The religion of God is for love and unity; make it not the cause of enmity or dissension.”

I just returned from a “Flower” service at Tapestry Unitarian Church. Everyone brought a flower and the children passed them out to each congregant.  Of all the things Reverend Kent Doss spoke of in his sermon what remained with me was that as beautiful as we find flowers they are literally the vehicles of creation.

Because of all the chaos, destruction, fear and violence around the world it is often hard to keep focused on the beauty of creation.   The prophets –   Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Mohammad, Buddha, Baha’u’llah et. al. –  dedicated and gave their lives for the creation of a world of love and peace. 

Now when I admire a flower it will be a reminder to replace my doubt with purpose, ambition with love, dread with wonder, and my fear with courage.

Watercolor

Watercolor

“Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind. Let your eye be chaste, your hand faithful, your tongue truthful and your heart enlightened.”  The Baha’i World Religion