Monday, July 31, 2006

what does love mean?

"God is love." The best three words in the whole Bible. Next to the Bible showing an incredible way to understanding more of divine Love, kids are a close second.

This has been seen cruising around cyber space. This is wonderful.

When a group of professionals posed the question, "What does love mean?" to a group of kids between the ages of 4 and 8, they got answers that were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. Enjoy their comments below:

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth."

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him to make sure the taste is OK."

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more."

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate."

"Love is hugging. Love is kissing. Love is saying no."

"When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you're scared they won't love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more."

"There are two kinds of love: Our love and God's love. But God makes both kinds of them."

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."

"Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken."

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."

"I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her."

"Love cards like Valentine's cards say stuff on them that we'd like to say ourselves, but we wouldn't be caught dead saying."

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

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the call for moral courage/peace in the Middle East

Excuse me while I pray myself out of some angst. Peace in the Middle East is the hardest challenge I have had to pray about. Sometimes I feel I do not recognize the country I was born in. The ethnocentric view of democracy, moral frailty and double speak of our leaders has been deeply disturbing.

Why is there no ceasefire? "Thou shalt not kill" is good enough for me. Is it not good enough for all? Kofi Annan's cry is my question - cannot we stand together and demand a ceasefire? This is insanity. "Complete deadlock", one newspaper writes. Another comments that the US is fast losing any credibility as an honest broker for peace. I do not want to be counted among those in the indifferent West.

These are some of the ideas I have been praying with:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

In the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes,

In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal
solvent of Love the adamant of error,— self-will, self-justification, and self-love,—which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death.

This demands plunging beneath the surface of the swirling of chaos and politics to get to the primitive core of who we are -- as spiritual beings, -- children of God. Mary Baker Eddy writes of moral courage :

Moral courage is "the lion of the tribe of Juda," the king of the mental realm. Free and fearless it roams in the forest. Undisturbed it lies in the open field, or rests in "green pastures, . . . beside the still waters." In the figurative transmission from the divine thought to the human, diligence, promptness, and perseverance are likened to "the cattle upon a thousand hills." They carry the baggage of stern resolve, and keep pace with highest purpose. Tenderness accompanies all the might imparted by Spirit. The individuality created by God is not carnivorous, as witness the millennial estate pictured by Isaiah:-- The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, And the leopard shall lie down with the kid; And the calf and the young lion, and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.

Good is not helpless. Love is omnipotent. I say these to myself first almost as a mantra, then until I can understand it, recognize the authority and power of God as Love in my own life, and extrapolate it to see it for all life.

The power of Christian Science and divine Love is omnipotent. It is indeed adequate
to unclasp the hold and to destroy disease, sin, and death.

It is a time for noble actions. Government leaders cannot be blinded into a type of moral idiocy by using human lives as a means towards political ends. Mankind is not devoid of nobility. In fact, the growing outcry peace is evidence of man's natural inclination to peace and harmony. Why? We are made of that stuff. War, hatred , envy and revenge cannot overwhelm what is omnipotent, that is Love.

I continue to pray, and write to help clarify my thoughts. Please feel free to post your own prayers. Prayer, based on an all-inclusive Love, can move mountains.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

peace in my piece of the world

I have been seriously thinking about peace a lot lately. Even a brush through the headlines demands our attention to the crying need for peace and you can see why.

I remember a time when I chose peace over self-justification and blame in resolving a conflict with a neighbor. It is comforting to know that the principle behind loving our neighbor applies in the small situations as well as global situations.

Although we had a neighbor with a yippy dog, who would let the dog out at night underneath our bedroom window, we still liked dogs and got ourself one.

One day, we let her out too long, and she started to bark. When we got home later that day, there was a nasty note from our neighbor, complaining about our dog and threatening to report the dog to the authorities if we didn't do something about it.

It seemed almost absurd that he would complain to us! Ooh! The things we could come back with ! Accusations, blaming, and self - justification. ( He's the one with the yippy dog, we are the ones not getting sleep, he never responded to our requests about his dog, this just happened once with us, etc.)

However, we stopped the internal arguing that went on in our heads. What we really wanted was to be good neighbors. We wanted harmony in the neighborhood. So, we wrote a letter back to this neighbor. We apologized. We said that we hoped we would be better neighbors. We were sincere and truly wanted peace.

What happened next was sweet. Two days after we gave him the letter, there was a full pot of blooming flowers on our porch with a note saying he was sorry to have over reacted.

We went over to his house and talked. And that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Not only did we have better behaved dogs on both sides of the neighbor fence, but we had a new friend, who became a friend to my two little boys ( who knew him as the candy man) and a mentor to me as I was studying photography.

It's like we proved the principle that says peace and loving your neighbor have creative power, power to create even better conditions and better solutions. Just like 3+3 = 6, so does 3 duodecillions+ 3 duodecillions = 6 duodecillians. This principle of love can operate under the smallest situations and the largest situations.

As these next few days are critical times for the UN, US, and 13 others to work with "utmost uegncy" to determine the details of a truce in the Middle East, I know the same principle applies. Nobility, forgiveness, desire for peace and loving one's neighbor can transform this whole situation. It is the only thing that ever has.

Mary Baker Eddy, reformer, healer and author, wrote the following which has inspired me to pray daily:

For many years, I have prayed daily that there be no more war, no more barbarous
slaughtering of our fellow-beings; prayed that all the peoples on earth and the islands of the sea have one God, one Mind; love God supremely, and love their
neighbors as themselves.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

loving our kaleidoscope of humankind

Yesterday was a day for me to see a broad spectrum of human experience and to see how we are all connected.

  • A friend from the west coast wrote a chatty email detailing her travels, near misses, glorious connections and whimsical frolics with friends and family.
  • I remembered my father‘s broad smile as son, husband and I came in from an early morning bike ride to join his senior neighbors in a pancake breakfast.
  • Another friend (east coast this time) and I talked on the phone and she spoke about the lazy, wet summer and let us hear the torrential rain, as a result of a hurricane just skipping the coast.
  • I went back to the computer and started mapping out the who’s who in the Middle East so I could better follow it; I brought up prayers and spiritual weapons to fight against a growing thought that the earth is rejecting us; I viewed emotionally laden photographs tearfully tugging at broken hearts.

I reasoned: We are all on this same planet, displaying such a range of emotion, experiences. What is it that binds us together --our kaleidoscope of humankind?

I am reminded of a humble statement made by a little girl during the Holocaust, Anne Frank, "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."

Another moment, listening to a story on CNN during the Bosnian war. A hospital in war time with overworked staff. Suddenly, a cry from a baby is heard. And everything is quiet.

In the midst of the horrors of war or in the everyday experience, it struck me that what ties us all together is the insistence of Life and Truth (both of which are synonyms of God).

Life is sacred and always insistent on being life. Truth is always the victor.

Another friend ( back to the east coast again) who brought up her children in three different countries, said, we are all the same, we all want the same things. We all hope for our children, believe in love and look for happiness. We all have one God, one Love, one hope.

A rousing article from includes this idea:

I see the whole of humanity as sitting in one boat, sailing in the same direction, facing similar issues wherever we are. Can I be content with relative safety and calm in Western cities if any member of our large human family is suffering and needing? I feel called to dedicate my daily affairs of life to a larger goal—to work for this world to become a better, fairer, safer place for my global family.

I am aware of an arsenal of prayer online:

This broadens my whole perspective. I can enjoy today – with all its love and beauty and peace. And, in doing so, I give witness to grace and goodness, beauty and peace. And I know, with more understanding, that this grace and peace is not limited to only my time and my place, but for all time and for all places. I can be that prayer who holds the reality of God - peace, joy, power - as our reality.

Together – the pray-ers of the world, can figuratively join hands and encircle the torn and tried hearts of the world and help to lift mankind up and out of the mess and into the experience of goodness and peace. There have been times when I have been the one needing to feel those encircling arms, now I can be there for others.

One last thought from Mary Baker Eddy's writings:

The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's
need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good

I get it.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Happiness in everyone's language

Happiness! What a goal, what a word! It is described as something "spiritual, born of Truth and Love," a state of inner awareness that enables a person to maintain an inner calmness, and as related to joy.

The Beatitudes represent one of the cornerstones of Jesus Christ's teachings and maps out the path to happiness and well-being.

Here is The Message's rendering of these sacred teachings. Although this translation is considered controversial among Christian scholars, some feel the it provides a fresh look at sacred texts:

"You're blessed when you‘re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule."

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you."

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought."

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat."

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,' you find yourselves cared for."

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world."

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family."

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you deeper into God's kingdom."

Here are some other teachings re: contentment and happiness taken from the book Oneness:

God provideth everyone with his daily food; why O man, art thou afraid? - Sikhism

Contentment is the greatest wealth. - Buddhism

A tranquil mind gives life. - Judaism

Contentment is the root of happiness, and discontent the root of misery. -Hinduism

True wealth is no in vast riches, but in self-contentment. - Hadith sayings of Islam

Every little yielding to anxiety is a step away from the natural heart of man. -Shintoism

Have the happiest of days!

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Folding the towels

I think about this every time I fold towels and sheets.

One of my many jobs I had when I was going to college was as a Christian Science nurse's aide. A Christian Science nurse is one who takes proper care of the sick while that patient is receiving Christian Science treatment ( specific healing through prayer). My job as an aide was, of course, to help the nurse and to assist by keeping the patient's room orderly as well as other similar duties.

During our training, I actually loved the approach to everyday tasks. Everything we did, from giving a thermos of cold water, to making a bed was done being mindful of the spiritual qualities that were being expressed.

For example: The thermos of cold water - the spiritual qualities behind that service were to make available fresh, clear and rejuvenating ideas; Making the bed - the qualites here included the grace and balance and unobtrusiveness of the movement of making the bed, to the qualities of restfulness, comfort, warmth, safety and peacefulness for the one for whom the bed was made.

Every staff member was involved in this effort: the nursing staff ( of course), the kitchen, maintenance, administrative staff and the laundry staff. Folding towels and sheets were done with the qualities of efficiency and accuracy, cleanliness and orderliness. These items were folded in such a way that the nurse would be able to make a bed or supply a bathroom quickly and unobtrusively - able to support the patient's main focus on their treatment - and not the interruptions and superfluous actions in the sick room.

The results of this? Later, when I was adminstrator of this facility, I would hear of visitors and the occasional sales person and medical professional comment on the tangible sense of peace and vitality they felt while they were at the facility. One social worker, who was in to interview a patient, took me aside and said - "If I ever need to go somewhere for help, I want to come here! You treat your people with such respect!"

Another woman was visiting her friend who was a patient. This woman was, by profession, a physical therapist. She took me aside and said how almost incredulous she was at the beautiful care her friend was being given. "You simply bathe her in spirituality!"

Another sales person needed to come in for two consecutive days. On her second day, she asked, "What is it about this place!? I came in here yesterday with a day long headache that immediately disappeared when I left!"

The commitment that all of the staff had to expect healing for each of our patients and to provide a healing mental environment to support their healings benefitted everyone who came in the doors.

Now that my husband and I have switched roles and he is the primary breadwinner and I am the primary caregiver, I am the one in charge of laundry. I fold our kids' clothes, our clothes, our bed linens and towels. It's my time to be grateful and to think of how surrounded we are by such spiritual qualities of comfort, protection, investigation, beauty and activity. It's my time to support our vibrant healing mental environment of home.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Being rich

“What would you do if you had a million dollars?” This was a question my young son would ask me for months on end, hoping to get a really good answer.

“Are we rich?” was the other one.

I loved it that he couldn’t tell our economic status from one day to the next. I would always tell him that we were very rich and had much to be happy about. But the fact is that I have been rich (lots of money in my bank account) and I have been poor (little to no money in my bank account). The lesson I learned was that poor can be rich and rich can be poor.

I think that enough has been written about how material wealth doesn’t bring happiness (check out the Happy Planet Index - an index worthy of its own blog!), so I won’t say any more on the subject, but I do want to explore the richness of being “poor.” There is something deliciously radical about being able to do so much on a limited budget and without having to have things upon things. Here are some of the lessons I learned:

Even though we all have to deal with life within some constraints or limits, there are still an infinite number of ways to accomplish things. For example, it would seem that there is very little between the numbers 6 and 7. However, if you delve a little deeper, you see that there are an infinite number of numbers between 6 and 7. We have 6.1, 6.125, 6.1259, and so on; Then, we also have 6-1/8, 6-2/5, etc. Likewise, if we have to live within a certain monthly budget that seems small, there are really an infinite number of ways in which we can live and enjoy our lives and still meet all our obligations. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
“Soul [another world for God] has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more secure in our keeping if sought in Soul.”

Other lessons learned:
  • Appreciate the details of life. One friend found herself as a single parent with little income for her two children. She started by being grateful for her tube of toothpaste. This gratitude grew and grew, and soon more opportunities for bringing in an income came to her.
  • Get creative. I have had more fun when traveling to different places in the world on my own. Creative modes of transportation, making friends and staying with friends, seeking out the best deals in the market all gave me a very different perspective than that offered to a regular tourist. In another situation, one woman, prior to living with us, used to get her food at a local food shelf. When she lived with us, she could make the best meals from a bag of potatoes.
  • Trust God. Living closer to the financial edge, I have learned to live closer to God and lean more on God. God is a God of abundance. “Behold it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
  • Be open to sharing, cooperation and uncommon solutions. We have had many people live with us throughout our married lives. Some of our friends were going through a transition; others were going to school, moving back into the country, looking for housing, etc. And what happened in these situations was wonderful. They were blessed and we were blessed as we shared everything. Caring for my boys was shared, meals were shared, stories were shared over tea and an extended sense of family was established.
  • Money doesn’t determine who you are, what you do, or the direction you take in life. You do. And with your hand in God’s, you can draw on the wealthy inheritance of your Father –Mother. She is guarding, guiding and providing you a life rich in goodness, experience and adventure.

The answer to my son’s questions? We are rich and if I had a million dollars, I would probably be doing what I am doing right now!

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Friday, July 14, 2006

healing through prayer for all time

I came across this recently (see below) and was inspired - again - at the universal scope of Christian Science and its timelessness. By naming her discovery "Christian Science" I don't think that Mary Baker Eddy meant for it to be seen as a division of Christianity, which is a division of one of the three main world religions. I believe she presented Christianity in its broadest and at its most universal. She presented Christian Science as the law of God - for everyone, to everyone, for all time.

Below is an editorial excerpt from the Christian Science Sentinel about one of the main buildings of The Mother Church at the Christian Science world headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. It does such a good job of translating a building into the meaning behind it - healing through prayer for all time.

The significance of this building is not to be found in the material structure, but in the lives of those who, under the consecrated leadership of Mrs. Eddy, and following her example, are doing the works which Jesus said should mark the lives of his followers.

It stands as the visible symbol of a religion which heals the sick and reforms the sinful as our Master healed and reformed them.

It proclaims to the world that Jesus' gospel was for all time and for all men; that it is as effective to-day as it was when he preached the Word of God to the multitudes of Judea and healed them of their diseases and their sins.

It speaks for the successful labors of one divinely guided woman, who has brought to the world the spiritual understanding of the Scriptures, and whose ministry has revealed the one true Science and changed the whole aspect of medicine and theology.

(written up in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 28, and taken from the Christian Science Sentinel, June 9, 1906)

In this explanation, Christian Science can be likened to music. The discipline of Christian Science may be taught specifically from its textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and through its educational channels via the church for those who are committed to healing through prayer, similar to those who attend a music school to become musicians; and just as music is sung by all (and not just by musicians) so is Christian Science being sung - being practiced in varying degrees - throughout the world.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

a daily cup of cold water for the world

Think of running a long hot race. At the end , you are given a cup of cold water. Clear with a slightly sweet taste, it splashes freshness onto your lips and tongue and your body sponges it up. The water relaxes and refreshes the entire body, nourishing it and giving it vital energy and alertness.

The cool water washes through every bit of your system and you are rested and assured that you can handle any upcoming race.

My prayer for the world today is just like that. It recognizes the cup of cold water given in Christ’s name that soothes the world’s ills, and wipes out prejudice, violence, inequality, cruelty, ignorance and deception.

Mary Baker Eddy's poem "O Gentle Presence" reads in part:

No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain,
No night drops down upon the troubled breast,
When heaven’s aftersmile earth tear-drops gain
And mother finds her home and heavenly rest.

Flowers continue to bloom. The sky continues to be blue. These are gentle and persistent reminders of the impenetrable glory of God’s kingdom, right here on earth, accessible in even the most remote places.

Each man, woman and child has their home, each one has their heavenly rest. Each one of us is restored daily with fresh promises that we are strong and powerful to run the race that God has set before us.

With peace and confidence washing over us, each one of us has our own Sabbath of renewal and we “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.”

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Monday, July 10, 2006

PLaYing ---- part two

Finally, after haven written 100 posts, I am getting around to doing Part Two of this blog! See Part One written as my very first post!

We talk about play in order to convince other people that it is okay to play. So I have been collecting play quotes. I write down these quotes because I agree with them and it makes me look as if I am not alone in these thoughts that I have. Even better, because other people have had these thoughts, and they have written books and have some sense of notoriety, I can ride on their proverbial coattails.

Here is a favorite: “Games are the most elevated form of investigation - Al Einstein” taken from the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. Daniel Pink’s book, in addition to being an incredible read, is full of quotable quotes.

Here is another one: “There is no question that a playfully light attitude is characteristic of creative individuals,” Says Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (see

Of course my father has also said this, but he never wrote it in a book and has a name much easier to pronounce. My cousin would write something like this, but she is busy writing other books and talking around the world about communication, technology and culture and we are all terribly proud of her. (see

Here is another quote that shows, indeed, my six year old son was right on target ( see story in Part One). Mr. Pink writes of the research of two neuroscientists (last names) Shammi and Stuss who "maintain that humor represents one of the highest forms of human intelligence."

He goes on to report that laughter clubs have been born in India and are spreading, with their mission to heal the world. ( Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of these laughter clubs, and his mission to heal the world through laughter are also featured in BBC’s program entitled FACE with John Cleese.)

There is healing in the joy, limitless nature and empathy of humor. Below is an arsenal of quotes to be used when justifying our play: (Please note - I know that this is a long list of play- full quotes, but if you read through them all, you will be rewarded with a website that you can play in.....)

In rare moments of deep play, we can lay aside our sense of self, shed time's continuum, ignore pain, and sit quietly in the absolute present, watching the world's ordinary miracles. No mind or heart hobbles. No analyzing or explaining. No questing for logic. No promises. No goals. No relationships. No worry. One is completely open to whatever drama may unfold. — Diane Ackerman in Deep Play

To play is to listen to the imperative inner force that wants to take form and be acted out without reason. It is the joyful, spontaneous expression of one's self. The inner force materializes the feeling and perception without planning or effort. That is what play is. — Michelle Cassou and Stewart Cubley in Life, Paint and Passion

It is a happy talent to know how to play. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a mystic in every one of us, yearning to play again in the universe. —
Matthew Fox in Wrestling with the Prophets

Laughter is a holy thing. It is as sacred as music and silence and solemnity, maybe more sacred. Laughter is like a prayer, like a bridge over which creatures tiptoe to meet each other. Laughter is like mercy; it heals. When you can laugh at yourself, you are free. — Ted Loder

Play exists for its own sake. Play is for the moment; it is not hurried, even when the pace is fast and timing seems important. When we play, we also celebrate holy uselessness. Like the calf frolicking in the meadow, we need no pretense or excuses. Work is productive; play, in its disinterestedness and self-forgetting, can be fruitful. — Margaret Guenther in Toward Holy Ground

When we play, we sense no limitations. In fact, when we are playing, we are usually unaware of ourselves. Self-observation goes out the window. We forget all those past lessons of life, forget our potential foolishness, forget ourselves. We immerse ourselves in the act of play. And we become free. — Lenore Terr in Beyond Love and Work
Imaginative play is a key that opens the doors of intuition. — Frances E. Vaughan in Awakening Intuition

It is interesting that Hindus, when they speak of the creation of the universe, do not call it the work of God, they call it the play of God, the Vishnu-lila, lila meaning play." And they look upon the whole manifestation of all the universes as a play, as a sport, as a kind of dance — lila perhaps being somewhat related to our word lilt. — Alan Watts in Zen and the Beat Way

Be patient also with life itself. those who love life are tolerant of its ups and downs, its reversals and leaps forward. Those who love life enjoy playing it by ear, engaging life without a printed score, simply flowing with its melody. By keeping our agendas flexible and minimizing our demands, life can be a melodic song.

Whenever circumstances interrupt the normal rhythm of life, those who cultivate patience and inner freedom are able to improvise with a life situation like jazz musicians, making up music as they go along. The emphasis in playing it by ear is on playfulness. Those who use that gift of the Holy Spirit make their way gracefully through life. — Edward Hays in The Great Escape Manual

OK. That's enough. Now - time to play . For all you Jackson Pollack fans, click here and have fun. (You will see an empty screen. Just start clicking and dragging.)

For those who want to get to know Jackson Pollack before clicking there and having fun, click here.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

the year of patience, meekness, love and good deeds

As of last week, June 29th to be specific, we have been in Wisconsin exactly one year. Some of my highlights have been to learn to be more patient, meek and to do good things - like support the Christian Science Reading Room, write an article, volunteer for a school project, comfort a friend, be more accessible to help others with healing through prayer and to pray for the world. I learned to be more mindful of things. Taking things more slowly - appreciating the details.

I have a new friend who is also a chaplain who works at the hospital where I volunteer on the prayer team. Prior to this work, she spent over a dozen years as a cloistered nun. We had lunch one day at my urging. I definitely wanted to know her take on prayer for the world and how she felt that prayer impacted the world. Her life, it seemed to me, fully embraced that life of patience, meekness, love and good deeds. Here is just a smattering of the ideas we talked about - in no particular order:

  • When asked how she prays, she responded, "I pray as if the world depended on it. "
  • When asked why she chose the contemplative life for that period of time, she acknowledged that she was called into it and called out of it toward other things. But the love behind answering that call to the contemplative life came from a deep desire to get to the heart of the matter. If she was going to pray, she needed to aim right at its heart.
  • There is a website for the Carmelite sisters of Indianapolis,who are cloistered and contemplative, and are engaged in active prayer for the world.
  • "The distinctive human capacity for reflection and intentional choice carries a corresponding moral responsibility to care for one another and the planet. We are the ones we have been waiting for." David Korten
  • Spiritual growth has three stages: to purify, to illuminate and then to commune with God.
  • Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, mystic and contemplative author, was asked how he prayed. His response: "I breathe in and I breathe out."

Prayer is like breathing. You receive and take in God's thoughts. These nourish and sustain you and bring you to action. Then you breathe out, let go and move on to the next idea.

Our prayer for the world can take on these three stages of spiritual growth as we purify our concept of the world and let this light shine. This brings about the whole world's communion with God. We breathe in, we breathe out. We breathe in and let God's inspirations form our lives into lives of patience, meekness, love and good deeds and we breathe out, letting go and trusting that love will continue to grow until we all breathe in as one and breathe out as one.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

meditation for the hard-working over-achiever

Driving down a road thickly surrounded by lush evergreens, I thought of how gently my family has been brought here, provided for, and how happy it has made so many people. It hit me that this was not a reward for doing good things. It was simply recognizing God's grace poured out to all of his children. I realized that a harshness and distance I had unwittingly accepted about God was dissolving. Grace is a way to simply accept God’s gifts to us.

This seems such an easy thing to do.

There were layers of feeling that I needed to accomplish great things, or do extreme things, to feel God’s presence. I was dropping off this subtle and unspoken fear that God’s presence is a fleeting thing. I was letting go of the noise of busy-ness, and the pain of comparisons.

Driving down that road, I could smell the sweetness of the air. “This, too, is for you.”

I entertained the idea that I was worthy of God’s love. A quiet persistent idea said that I did not need to prove myself, I was not in debt to pay back for an abundance of blessings.
An abundance of blessings is what is natural. God is All-in-all.

An old song, “Oh how happy, You – oo have made me, O-oh how happy You have made me” comes to thought. And I picture me singing this song to God. Then another aha! I picture God singing this song to me. “Oh how happy, you – oo have made Me, O-oh how happy you have made Me.”

God is love.
God loves me.
Nothing can alter or hide this fact.
God loves me.

It was easy to take this prayer exponentially to embrace all of God’s children – everywhere.

God loves each one of us.
View this video about awe and the connection to beauty we all share through our infinite and intimate Father –Mother God.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. from Psalms - the songs of King David

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

When good boys do bad things

Remember in my last blog when I mentioned that our car was vandalized? Well, the vandals were caught. They were a group of boys. Not angry, protesting, resentful boys out for revenge, but 9 to 10 year olds seeing how far they can push their limits. It was a thrill for them, perhaps an experiment in the aerodynamics of rocks.

My heart went out to these kids. I knew, from my discussion with the police, that the kids had some serious discipline coming their way both from the police force and their parents. There are consequences for actions like this.

When I heard about these kids, I went to prayer and affirmed that the power of good is operating on their behalf. I understand the innate goodness of all and could forgive the ignorance that brought about this act. (Read about this kind of prayer in Science and Health.)

God is all and all is harmony. So when senseless acts like this occur, I know that there is a divine law that says good is omnipotent and evil cannot overpower or define a child of God -- and this helps to transform thought and adjusts action to conform to harmony -- another one of God's laws.

Prayer recognizes the attraction of good and helps affirm that others can see that the adventure and deep satisfaction of doing good works far outweighs the promised short-lived thrill of doing bad and hurtful things.

Prayer helps confirm that good is operating right now and draws the thought to the substance and attraction of helping others, and our inherent creative power to invent things, construct things, and attract others to good works.

Vandalism is a cheap and cowardly thrill that is short-lived and soon forgotten. Those who vandalize may be convinced that they have nothing to lose in a society where things seem so easily tossed away and are maybe even convinced that this is the only way to make their mark, get some atttention.

These boys are not "throw-away" boys, but have the capacity to do good, to be heroes and to be remembered. The greatest attention they can get is in knowing they are loved and known by God and they are needed and have something unique to give to the world.

Good always prevails. It is more powerful than evil. When good boys do bad things it is important that we not let those bad things be the defining act for those boys' characters. They are children of God. Wrong acts can be rectified and whatever resolution needs to be made can be made. They can claim their ability to do good things, and their God-given natural inclination to do good things. Their innate goodness defines who they are and it cannot be hid.

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