Monday, January 21, 2013

Bless, and do not curse

President Barck H. Obama -- Congratulations! and God continue to bless your work  as our nation's leader and advocate.
I watched most of the Inauguration festivities today. There was a lot of blah-blah-blah by the reporters, but I was moved several times during the day by snapshots of the people attending, the President's address, the patriotic songs (Byonce blew me away!), and the poem by Mr. Blanco.
The theme of the day - unity in diversity - was poignant, inspiring, and very much needed after 2012's parade of challenges.
Mr. Blanco's poem - One Today - a pastiche of American life - included just about every choice of life which makes up the quilt of American democracy - and yet, with all the diversity that our borders embrace, we are each assured by law the freedom to pursue our happiness.
And I was impressed with the constant mention of God by all the speakers, in giving thanks to, and in asking for, divine blessing. Connecting to the source of our being must always be our primary work - then success and nurture and contentedness will be ours - though not without the challenges that this dimension presents us with.
Staying connected to our Source draws into the individual and collective experience the energy which inspires and creates the future present we live in. The more we acknowledge our connection with the Divine, the more is our resolve strengthened, the more we discover that the universe is ready to help us in our need. We are all connected - and every thought, every prayer, every emotion flows out through invisivble connecting threads, like in a spider's web - the slightest movement anywhere on the web is felt by the spider. All of us are somewhere on that web. All of us are affected by the slightest vibration on that web. Do you seek happiness? Then be happy. Do you seek comfort? Then be comforting. Do you seek to be understood? Then work at understanding others. Do you seek peace? Then be peaceable yourself. Do you seek love? Then learn to love others. Do you seek being recognized for your gifts? Then be thankful every day for the gifts you have. For if you are not grateful, the little you think you have will be taken away. That's Karma, the Law of the Universe.
All-in-all, there was an uplifting energy today which I am sure was felt by all. And such blessings strengthen us for the next challenge - whatever that may be. Stand fast, stand tall, stand strong. As the President mentioned in his speech - we are capable of accomplishing anything. May our decisions be confident and always be filled with light - that is, with compassion and love.

Monday, January 7, 2013

You are loved.

I recommend "Proof of Heaven" by Dr. Eben Alexander -- a neurosurgeon's experience of Life while in a coma for seven days. Enlightening.

The three lessons revealed to him:
1. You are loved, you are cherished.
2. There is nothing to be afraid of.
3. You can do no wrong.

This physical world is the microcosm -- the inner world, the dimension(s) of Spirit, is the macrocosm - reality so vast, no one can measure it, nor know its borders. And it is ruled by Love, unconditional Love.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Little Merry Christmas to you!

Epiphany - January 6th, 2013

Today is Epiphany - The Revelation - revealing the true nature of Jesus of Bethlehem/Nazareth - Son of God and Son of Man. Revealing His nature reveals to us our true nature as well -- Does not Scripture say that you are gods, and children of the Most High? His nature is our nature - God-filled, Mega-creative, Love-inspired. Live as such. Here is a prayer that sums up the meaning our celebration of Christmas. May your mind always be set toward the Star.

O God, who sent fire from heaven upon the sacrifice offered by Elijah, the prophet of the Anointed One; who led the children of Israel through the desert with the pillar of fire; who led wise men from the East to the house of Wisdom by a fiery star; and who fulfilled the prophecy of John the Forerunner by sending the Christ who baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire: Pour your blessing upon this Epiphany flame that it may be a reminder to all of the true Light who came into the world as at this time, and who ignites us with the Holy Spirit to lead us on our pilgrimage with the fire of his Love; through Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.  Twelve Days

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Twelfth Day of Christmas....

January 5th

It is often called the "Christmas star" and it is seen in crèches and in artworks depicting the Nativity of our Lord. But the star does not actually come into the story until the entrance of the Wise Men, and Matthew indicates that their visit was some time after the birth of Jesus, perhaps as much as two years. By the time the Wise Men arrive, the Holy Family is neither in a stable nor in an inn, but a house. We do not have to be literalists about details like this, but we could save the star for the end of Christmas, and as a segue into Epiphany. If the Wise Men for your crèche have been making their way through the house or even just across the room, today might be the day to hang the star. Before hanging the star, get out your favorite cookie recipe and your star cookie cutter and make some star cookies. (If you don't have a favorite recipe, here is one that looks good.) Make enough to have some samples when you hang the star, and more to eat tomorrow when Epiphany is in full swing. The shepherds and the angels should be back in their box. In fact, they could have been removed days ago. The Wise Men may need to make their visit to a stable, rather than a house, but, as we said, we do not have to be literalists about this. And, wherever they encounter the King for whom they have been searching, they may arrive in the crèche either tonight or tomorrow morning.
Epiphany really begins this evening, as Twelfth Night is the Eve of the Epiphany, so we have two reasons for a party: the end of Christmas and the beginning of Epiphany. In the middle ages, these Twelfth Night parties could get quite rowdy. It was the Feast of Fools in which the order of the world was turned upside down, with fools reigning as kings and all sorts of people taking on roles quite the opposite of their true character. Shakespeare, in his play by the same name, gives us a picture of such a topsy-turvy world as Viola masquerades as a man, people fall in love across class lines, and the lowly indulge in ridiculous delusions of grandeur. It would be quite foolish to deny the Christian significance of all of this. There are few things more serious and true than the games people play. The medieval Feast of Fools reminds us that Christmas celebrates nothing less than a world turned upside down in which God becomes man in order that man might become divine. So, party on!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

January 4th

Christmas is a time of wonder when the imagination works overtime. And out of that imaginative energy have come many stories that tell us how the Holy Child of Bethlehem has touched the lives of people, both great and small, through the centuries. If you have some favorites, use today to sit down and reread them. Better yet, have a reading. Gather family and friends, and especially children. Those who are old enough to read can read their favorites out loud. And those who do not yet read should be encouraged to request their favorites for someone else to read.

One of our favorites is the story known as "The Clown of God". It appears in several different versions, but if you do not happen to have one, Tomie dePaola has illustrated a lovely one. It is the story of a traveling juggler who has come home to the town of his birth after he has become too old to carry on. He arrives on Christmas Eve as the townspeople are gathering for the Midnight Mass of Christmas. The old juggler has no gift for the Child and so he gives the performance of his life and juggles.   Twelve Days

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Tenth Day of Christmas

January 3rd - Celebrate Life

Another activity we have suggested for the Twelve Days of Christmas is to learn some new Christmas carols and hymns. Why not invite some friends in, warm up the leftover wassail, and do some singing? You could even include some of the old favorites everyone already knows while you warm up your voices.

Celebrating a special holiday never gets old, especially if you keep the spirit of that celebration alive. If it is just a materially-oriented holiday, it becomes an empty, robotic ritual. But the spirit of the celebration can enliven the heart and mind, and teach our understanding. Keep the spirit alive in your daily life, like the First Nation peoples did - celebrating Life, Family, Nature, and Spirit. To do so blesses you, your surroundings, your endeavors, and the people you meet day-to-day. We are co-creators with God - what you think, will become reality.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Ninth Day of Christmas...

January 2nd, 2013

In the Orthodox Church, January 1st is the Feast of St. Basil the Great, who is pictured in the top portion of the icon above. Although he is celebrated in the West on June 14th we would not want to miss an opportunity to incorporate a custom and a recipe into our observance of the Twelve Days. And, since the West tends to prefer a limit of one feast to a day, we have moved Basil over to January 2nd. In Greece, it is the custom to bake a bread or cake called Vassilopita (Basil in Greek is Vassilis). The cake has a coin baked into it and the person who gets the coin in his or her piece of cake is destined for good luck in the coming year. Here is a link to one of the many recipes for Vassilopita, together with an explanation of the protocols for cutting and distributing the pieces. 
  Twelve Days

I started off the New Year going for walk and then going out to dinner afterward with a friend. We went to the Jamaican Cafe in Winchester -- I had jerk chicken - hotter than hot, but great food! I drank coconut water to cool the burn -- great day. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Eighth Day of Christmas...

The Eighth Day of Christmas - January 1st
The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

St. Luke tells us that, in accordance with Jewish tradition and law, eight days after his birth Jesus was circumcised and named. While a "rose by any other name may smell as sweet", nevertheless, the name of the rose evokes particular memories and sensations for those who know the flower by that name. Many parents spend hours and hours thinking about the name they want to give to a child. Sometimes a child is given a name with the intention of honoring a member of the family or a friend or a hero. Sometimes a name is given simply because the parents like the sound of it. Sometimes a name is given because it signifies a meaning that will be, or the parents hope will be, manifest in the child's life: Mary and Joseph named their son Jesus because the angel told them that "he will save his people". Jesus, in Hebrew Joshua, means "the Lord will save". Does your name have a meaning? There are lots of websites that will help you answer that question--just GoogleTM "names" and you are in business. Do you know why your parents chose your name? As part of the celebration of this day, use your favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut the cookies into the initials of members of the household as a reminder of their names. Your name, or your baptismal name, may also be the name of a saint. Do you know when that saint's feast day is? That is your name day, which in some countries is celebrated instead of a birthday.     
 Twelve Days