Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sharing Our Gifts

Christmas is upon us, merely a few days away. As if on cue, an inch or so of snow has graced the ground here and just a bit more is anticipated. It allows for a beautiful landscape.

We have been rather consumed by events here at home. We have not sent out our Christmas cards and have
decided that we will send New Years cards instead while reminding people that Christmas is a season, not just a day.

After twenty-five years of gift giving, Frank and I have trimmed that down to a trinket or two - hopefully something edible
as we attempt to downsize our lives here.

We all know how to give the gift of a present, but it is more important to share the gifts that we were born with.

When the holidays come around, most of us join the masses in shopping for gifts, wrapping them, and giving them away.

Once we are in the mind-set that this is what we are going to do, we don’t hold back or struggle with the process.

We simply give the presents we have acquired, letting them go in the awareness that they were never ours anyway.

If we could apply some of this unquestioning generosity with our own inner resources and gifts, we might be able to give of ourselves more freely.

In truth, the gifts we hold within us only make sense when we give them away.

Imagine carefully procured and wrapped presents that remain in the house of the giver, never getting to the people who were meant to have them. If we hold back, not knowing quite when to share our gifts, we all lose.

Ironically, the more we give of ourselves, the more we have to offer.

For example, if we have a talent for singing but we hold it back, we sing less and have less experience. On the other hand, if we offer the gift of our voice to the world at every opportunity, our talent develops and becomes still greater, and we have that much more to give.

The same goes for any talent, including, listening, caring, helping, driving, laughing, smiling ... the list goes on. And, just like that Little Drummer Boy, so do we.

How we present our gifts can be likened to wrapping paper and ribbons.
When we truly value what we have to offer, our presentation honors what lies inside it.

We speak well of our talents and introduce them with confidence and panache. Like a performer who chooses carefully what to wear and how to set the stage, we provide an environment that complements and enhances what we have to offer.

Far from being superficial, a beautiful presentation is as much a part of the energy of gift giving as the gift itself.

All these things together - the gift, the presentation, and the giving away -make up the joyful experience of bestowing our offerings upon the world.

The only gifts I have to offer for you throughout this season of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Solstice are my thoughts and words, and my love and light.

How appropriate on this day as we emerge from the darkness of winter and grow into the season of light as the days slowly grow longer.

There is a popular song "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays", but remember ... "Home Is Where the Heart Is".

Blessings of the Season,


Saturday, July 14, 2012



Each of our lives has changed or evolved dramatically over the years.

The years may be ten, thirty, fifty or more, but the reality is that life changes and we must adapt to and accept these changes, as we plant the seeds of change early on in our relationships. These may be personal relationships or business.

I've had an office in a beautiful condominium complex where my mother lived just a short walk away until my sister and brother in law invited her to live with them in Illinois. It was wonderful to have my mother close by and stop in for a visit or for me to go to her home for an escape and spend some pleasurable time listening to stories and sharing mine. My mother's move to Illinois was the best thing for her as she is well provided for and looked after. Mothers can be a true gift, and we need to be a true gift in fair return.

My office, affectionately known as "903" is where I found my peace and where I was able to write my first book. I could sit for hours and meditate, ponder and pray. Because of a need to consolidate and downsize, I have moved my office from 903 to Fairview, our home. From my desk in the loft, I have a beautiful view of the woods behind us and I overlook our swimmimg pool, which Frank loves dearly.

I enjoy watching him swim. He is very much at peace when he swims and he returns rejuvenated and relaxed.

From behind me the morning sun lights my desk with blinding radiance through the skylights, so I've learned to not keep white paper on my desk. There's something soothing about a softly tinted parchment that makes a difference in one's perspective as well as writing.

Additionally, our dog Fritz and the kitten who lived at 903 seem to know when I need a moment of
distraction, and they seek me out at those times.

Since I've decided to consolidate and downsize, I held a "Yard Sale" today.

Having my office in a condominum complex, with all of the rules and regulations, has been a challenge as far as advertising a sale.

I marked everything with a price tag and I brought some items from our garage at Fairview to add to the sale. It was all set up professionally - or at least impressivly, and the advertisement went in to the local newspaper -- "by appointment only". Several people phoned, but only one woman showed up. I never did ask her first name, and she purchased nothing. However, we spent about twenty minutes or so in a beautiful conversation about life. She shared her history with me and I believe that I am all the much better for that. After hearing her stories of loss and changes in her life, I wondered if she came here just to talk. One of her first remarks was that she had too much :stuff" and was looking to be rid of things. We talked for a while and she told me that she was a widow and estranged from her family.

I was sad when she left, Not because I didn't sell anything, but because I didn't pursue the opportunity to get to know her more. However, I was happy to have made that connection, and she will be forever in my memory, thoughts, and prayers. This is how the universe builds itself -- through our own energy.

Afterward, I sat outside with a glass of wine and the deer came to feed from what I put out for them.
They are timid, but they are also trusting as they sense the kindness and they know that they are safe
from the hunters, so they come right up to me to delight in the treats I'm able to offer to them.

I will miss that.

Tonight there were two young deer and three very small spotted fawn. They were about the size of a Chihuahua and barely able to walk.There was also a young buck whose antlers were still covered in fur. They fed for a bit and then walked away, never knowing if I would be there again to feed them yet trusting in the belief that they would always find nourishment.

That's faith.

I wondered if that young buck would ever grow into his antlers or what might become of him.
When they would look up at me with seemingly trepidation, it was a moment of Namaste -- "I recognize the spirit within you."

Soon I will no longer be there to provide nourishment and human contact for them, and I will no longer gaze into their eyes from two or three feet away.

Change can enter our lives silently and suddenly. This change can be just as important as change we have worked hard for.

There exist changes which I need to make in my life, and it will have its effects.

We all see things about ourselves, our relationships, and our world that we either want or need to change. Often, this desire or need leads us to take action toward inner work that we need to do or toward some external goal. Sometimes, without any big announcement or momentous shift, we wake up to discover that change has taken place, seemingly without us. This can seem like a miracle as we suddenly see that our self-esteem really does appear to be intact, or our partner actually is helping out around the house more. We may even wonder whether all of our hard work had anything to do with it, or if it just happened through the way of grace.

As modern day humans in this age of technology and busy-ness, we tend to have relatively short attention spans, and we can easily lose track of time.

We may worry about a seedling in a pot with our constant attention and watering for several weeks only to find ourselves enjoying the blooms it offers and wondering when that happened, and how we didn’t notice it.

Frank keeps a beautiful Hibiscus plant which, during the summer, lives on our front terrace off our bedroom. He tends to it daily and always tells me about how many buds are on it. During the cooler months of autumn and winter, it lives in our living room at the front window where it can enjoy the sun for most of the day, and it continues to bloom. We each see and enjoy the beauty of the blooms. However, Frank sees the potential of the plant and nurtures that.

Nature has infinite patience and stays with a thing all the way through its life. This doesn’t mean that our efforts play no part in the miracle of change, they do. It’s just that they are one small part of the picture that finally results in the flowering of a plant, the shifting of life, the softening of our hearts.

The same laws that govern the growth of plants oversee our own internal and external changes. We observe, consider, work, and wonder, tilling the soil of our lives, planting seeds, and tending them.

Sometimes the hard part is knowing when to stop and let go, handing it over to the universe. Usually this happens by way of distraction or disruption, our attention being called away to other more pressing concerns. It is often at these times, when we are not looking at the growing plant in the silence of nature’s embrace, that the miracle of change happens.

With love and light, and the miracle of change,


Monday, June 4, 2012

Prayer and Meditation
Asking and Receiving

I have recently re-instated a "Prayer Chain" through my church, Trinity Episcopal in Mount Pocono. We reach across the nation and as far as Mexico City. Not so bad for a tiny little church hidden in the middle of the woods.

Our Prayer Chain is powerful and complete with loving people who pray with strength. 

Prayer and meditation offer us unique opportunities, and each can be a powerful tool. Prayer and meditation are similar practices in that they both offer us a connection to the divine, but they also differ from one another in significant ways. Put simply, prayer is when we ask the universe for something, and meditation is when we listen. 

When we pray, we use language to express our innermost thoughts and feelings to a higher power. Sometimes, we plumb the depths within ourselves and allow whatever comes to the surface to flow out in our prayer. At other times, we pray words that were written by someone else but that express what we want to say. Prayer is reaching out to the universe with questions, pleas for help, gratitude, and praise. 

Meditation, on the other hand, has a silent quality that honors the art of receptivity. When we meditate, we cease movement and allow the activity of our minds and hearts to go on without us in a sense. Eventually, we fall into a deep silence, a place that underlies all the noise and fray of daily human existence. In this place, it becomes possible for us to hear the universe as it speaks for itself, responds to our questions, or sits with us in its silent way. 

Both prayer and meditation are indispensable tools for navigating our relationship with the universe and with ourselves. They are also natural complements to one another, and one makes way for the other just as the crest of a wave gives way to its hollow. If we tend to do only one or the other, prayer or meditation, we may find that we are out of balance, and we might benefit from exploring the missing form of communication. There are times when we need to reach out and express ourselves, fully exorcising our insides, and times when we are empty, ready to rest in quiet receiving. When we allow ourselves to do both, we begin to have a true conversation with the universe. 

I wish you times of speaking and time to listen. 

With Love and Light,


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rainy Days

We have enjoyed a very mild winter here in the Pocono Mountains, and now it is spring.
The arrival of spring has brought about quite a few rainy days. Clearly these days have brought life to the flowers and the trees, as well as the weeds! However, these rainy days tend to slow us down and therefore can also be interpreted as a signal to slow down and contemplate life.

The simple miracle of water falling from the sky has been interpreted in many ways by many cultures. In various areas of the world, rain has been viewed as a nourishing gift, given by well-pleased deities.

Rain has also served as a symbol of emotional cleansing and represented the unending union between earth and sky. Consider as well the cleansing nature of tears.

Today, rain is often seen as an annoyance, something to be borne doggedly while attending to one's usual duties. But the arrival of one or more rainy days can also be interpreted as a signal to slow down and, once again, contemplate life. When Mother Nature darkens the sky and causes drizzle to fall, freshly opened buds close and many animals settle into their nests for a period of repose. We can honor rainy days by following the example put forth by the flora and fauna around us. Even if we must or choose to venture out into a shower, we can still slow down and appreciate our connection to nature.

A rainy day spent indoors can be wonderfully uplifting.

As the rain pours down, we can fill our homes with light, sound, and comfort so that we can fully appreciate the loveliness of being snug and dry during a downpour. Or we can settle into the warmth which also exists within the darkness.

A sheltered spot like a covered porch, sun room, or window seat can provide us with a wonderful vantage point from which to meditatively observe raindrops as they make their descent to earth.

Also, the pitter-patter of rain on a rooftop or car window can be a therapeutic and soothing sound,
one that reminds us that while the unforeseen will always be a part of our lives, we should never forget that nearly every cloud that comes into our lives will have a silver lining.

With love, light, and drops of rain,


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Supporting Your Spouse

In one week and one day, Frank will celebrate a benchmark birthday.we will soon after celebrate twenty-four years together. Fifty-one days after that we will celebrate twenty-four years together.

That gives me one year to save up for a trip somewhere for our twenty-fifth!

It is natural in a marriage for shifts to take place, and these can be navigated smoothly with open communication. In our case, I have always been the provider and Frank has always been supportive of my career and tended to the homestead, as well as to me.

Throughout the course of a successful marriage or long-term commitment, the two people in the relationship may shift in and out of various roles. For example, I've gone from a successful career to becoming a starving author while attending classes for a real estate license, life insurance license, and theological studies. I never thought that, as I approach the half century mark in my life, I would become a full time student! However, life changes, and we must be supportive of one another if we are to survive as couples or families. And sometimes roles change.

For example, one person in the couple may support the other person going back to school. 
In order to do this, he or she steps into a supporting role, setting aside certain goals or aspirations in order to provide a stable base from which his or her partner can launch forth in a new direction. There are many gifts of learning inherent in this role - from having the opportunity to embody a nurturing stance to feeling the pleasure of seeing a loved one thrive. When our partner expands his or her horizons, ours expand, too, and we gain access to a world that would otherwise remain closed to us.

However, there is also much to be said for having a turn to be the one stepping outside of our space, perhaps taking time to attend to our personal healing, spiritual pursuits, or other interests. In order to maintain balance within our relationships, it’s important that we address these issues each time one person steps into a supporting role so the other can try something new. When we are conscious about acknowledging that one person is bearing a bit more of a burden so that the other can grow, we stand a better chance of making sure the ebb and flow in the relationship remains fair and equal. 

The most important part of this process is open communication in which each person has a chance to express how he or she feels and come to an understanding about the roles they have agreed to and when they expect them to shift. 

Each time a dynamic shift occurs, a ceremony of acknowledgment can lend an air of distinction to the moment. This can be a simple dinner date at home or an elaborate ritual, depending upon what works best for us at the time. Perhaps the most important thing is expressing gratitude to the person in the supporting role and encouragement to the person moving in a new direction. 

When the flow of feeling and communication is mutual and open, a healthy closeness develops that allows each person in the relationship to have a turn at each of these important roles. It is then that we build our relationship in maturity through absolute love and commitment. 

With love and light, 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moving Mountains

Keeping Things in Perspective

Recently, I have been deluged with prayer requests.

In fact, there have been so many that I have not been able to focus on my own personal concerns. That is fine for me as I believe in care for others first.

Thankfully I have Frank to keep me in balance with that and remind me that I do need to tend to our life together here at the top of Mount Pocono as well.

When someone asks me to pray for them, my typical response is "Prayers ascend from atop Mount Pocono".

It almost sounds as though prayers ascending from a mountain top are better from those from a valley, although I don't subscribe to that train of thought at all.

However, we do have certain perspectives.

From the top of a mountain, we are able to witness life from a different perspective, bringing us a new awareness.

Mountains have always captured our imaginations, calling us to scale their heights, to circle and worship at their feet, and to pay homage to their greatness.

Granted, Mount Pocono has nothing to compare with the Rocky Mountains or the Himalayas, but it maintains its own history as a break-away from a glacier as it moved south from Canada during the end of the ice-age.

Mountains can be seen from hundreds of miles away, and if we are lucky enough to be on top of one, we can see great stretches of the surrounding earth. As a result, mountains symbolize vision, the ability to rise above the adjacent lowlands and see beyond our immediate vicinity. From the top of the mountain, we are able to witness life from a new perspective. Cities and towns that seem so large when we are in them look tiny. We can take in the entire landscape with a single glance, regaining our composure and our sense of proportion as we realize how much bigger this world is than we sometimes remember it to be.

Mountains are almost always considered holy and spiritual places, and the energy at the top of a mountain is undeniably unique. When we are on top of a mountain, it is as if we have ascended to an alternate realm, one in which the air is purer and the energy lighter.

Many a human being has climbed to the top of a mountain in order to connect with a higher source of understanding, and many have come back down feeling stronger and wiser.

Whenever we are feeling trapped or limited in our vision, a trip to our nearest mountain may be just the cure we need.

There’s a reason that mountain views are so highly prized in this world, and it is because, even from a distance, mountains remind us of how small we are, which often comes as a wonderful relief.

In addition, they illustrate our ability to connect with higher energy.

As they rise up from the earth, sometimes disappearing in the clouds that gather around them, they are a visual symbol of earth reaching up into the heavens.

Whether we have a mountain view out of our window or just a photograph of a mountain where we see it every day, we can rely on these earthly giants to provide inspiration, vision, and a daily reminder of our humble place in the grand scheme of life.

After all, humility is not thinking less of ourselves, it's thinking of ourselves less.

Mountains are also often viewed as obstacles and take on a negative connotation.

In these instances, they seem overbearing. These would be our own mountains of grief, sorrow, troubles, and despair.

Can we move those mountains?

Yes. One rock and one shovel at a time, carefully spreading what we remove so as the share the burden of the weight of the mountain and being careful not to build another one behind us and on top of others.

So, the next time that something insurmountable appears in your path, grab a rock from it and a shovel of soil, and pass it along for someone else to help level that mountain - and do the same for the person in front of you.

With love and light from atop Mount Pocono,


Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Beginnings

I'm writing this during the simultaneous occurence of the Christian celebration of Easter and the Jewish celebration of Passover.

These events take place during springtime as Mother Earth renews herself and all of Creation springs forth in newness, fullness, and gladness of life.

We often take this time to freshen our homes, our bodies, our minds and our spirits. However, we can choose to start over at any moment. There is no need to wait for a new year, a new season, a new month, or a new week. There are times in our lives that lend themselves to starting something new.

The beginning of a new year, finishing school, changing a career, or moving to a new home.These all are times that turn our minds to fresh starts. Their advantage is that they bring with them the energy of that event, creating a tide of change around them that we can ride to our next shoreline.

However, we can choose to start anew anytime. In any moment we can decide that a bad day or a relationship - be it personal or professional - that has taken off on the wrong foot can be started again.

It is a mental shift that allows us to clean the slate and approach anything with fresh eyes, a fresh mind, and a fresh expression of our thoughts.

We can make this choice at any time.

Starting anew is most powerful when we focus our attention to what we are choosing to create.

Giving all of our attention to the unwanted aspects of our lives allows what we resist to persist.

We need to remember to leave enough room in the process of new beginnings to be kind to ourselves, because it takes time to become accustomed to anything new, no matter how much we like it.

There is no need to become difficult or judgemental on ourselves if we don’t reach our new goals instantly. Instead, we acknowledge the forward motion and choose to reset and start again, knowing that with each choice we learn, grow, and move forward.

Making the choice to start anew has its own energy. It’s a promise we make to ourselves. This type of forward momentum creates a sort of vacuum behind it, pulling toward us all we need to help us continue moving in our chosen direction.

Once the journey has begun, it may take unexpected turns, but it never really ends. Like cycles in nature, there are periods of obvious growth and periods of dormancy that signal a time of waiting for the right moment to burst forth.

Each time we choose to start anew we dedicate ourselves to becoming the best we are able to be.

We can begin to improve our overall physical well-being by first starting to notice not only our thoughts, but our reactions to our thoughts as well. The power of the mind is a curious thing, because it is so powerful yet so difficult to control sometimes. We often find ourselves thinking a certain way, knowing that this thought may be creating trouble for us yet we find it difficult to stop.

For example, many people have the experience of becoming ill at the same time every year or every time they go on a plane. They may even be aware that their beliefs impact their experiences, and so they continue to believe they will become ill, and then they do.

Sometimes we feel as though we need to suffer illness, be it physical or mental - such as depression, in order to process something or move something through our bodies. However, we often suffer at the hands of our own minds and become ill, or feel exhausted, because we don’t make the effort to galvanize the power of our minds in the service of our physical or mental health, which is one of its most important functions.

We really can use it to communicate to our bodies and our minds, yet we often regard the two as separate entities that have little to do with one another. Knowing this, we have the power to create physical health and mental health, simply by paying attention to the tapes running in our minds.

Once we hear ourselves, we have the option to let that tape keep running or to make a new recording.

Frank often tells me that it's "time to weed the garden".

By this, he means that it is time to cleanse ourselves of the negativity, impurity and distraction of the weeds we have allowed to thrive within us. It is time to cull the gardens of our homes, our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. We harness the power of the mind in our defense when we choose supportive, healing words that foster good health and high spirits. All we need to do is remember to tend the field of our mind with the attentive and loving hand of a master gardener tending the flower beds and gardens of our lives, culling out the weeds so that the blossoms of springtime may come to fruition.

The beauty of life is that we don't need to wait for spring in order to begin our spiritual garden. Perhaps it's time to dig our hands into the soil and plant our future.

May your garden be fragrant and fruitful.

With love and light,


Thursday, February 23, 2012

We're Stronger Than We Realize

Very often our anxiety gets to the better of us.

Often this is for valid reason, but there are times that we permit this to happen as we are almost always stronger and more capable than we believe ourselves to be.
Our capacity to cope successfully with life's challenges far outstrips our capacity to feel nervousness. Yet in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to an event that we believe will test our limits, we can become nervous. 
While we may have previously regarded ourselves as equal to the trials that lie ahead, we sometimes reach a point at which they near and our anxiety begins to mount. We then become increasingly worked up, until the moment of truth arrives
We are almost always stronger and more capable than we believe ourselves to be. 
Anxiety is not rational in nature, which means that in most cases we cannot work through it using logic as our only tool. Reason can help us recognize the relative futility of unwarranted worry but, more often than not, we find more comfort in patterns of thought and activity that redirect our attention to practical or engaging matters. 
Most of us find it difficult to focus on two distinct thoughts or emotions at once,but we can use this natural human limitation to our advantage when trying to stay centered in the period leading up to a potentially stressful situation. 
When we concentrate on something unrelated to our concern - such as meditation, prayer, deep breathing, visualizations of success, pleasurable pursuits, or exercise - anxiety dissipates naturally. 
Meditation and prayer are also useful coping mechanisms as they provide us with a means to ground ourselves in the moment. This can provide us with a focal point wholly outside of our own sphere.

The intense emotional flare-up we experience just before we are set to embark upon a challenge is often a mixture of both excitement and fear.
Once we take steps to eliminate the fear, we can work with embracing the excitement with confidence.
We may find it difficult to avoid becoming worked up or anxious about our situation, but our awareness of the forces acting on the supportive side of our feelings will help us to return to our center accept that there are few hurdles we will face which will ever be as high as they at first appear.

With love & light,


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Wisdom of the Owl in Our Darkness

The night before last, Frank turned on the television in our bedroom at 1:00 a.m.
That woke me and, once awake, I have trouble returning to sleeping.

I remained in bed and thought that I saw an owl perched outside our window. I was not certain if it was an owl and we have many birds that gather outside our window. Frank counted twenty doves the other morning. I decided to retreat to my Wine Room, which is where I read my prayers, and I first noticed a figure of an owl that I have atop the curtain rod next to the wine cabinet.
I thought about the renewed interest in owls since the Harry Potter craze and I pondered my own fascination and interest in owls.
For as long as humankind has recognized animals as teachers, wise men and women have recognized traits worthy of respect in both wild and domestic creatures. 
The cultural and spiritual significance of certain animals transcends geographical boundaries, unifying disparate peoples. Not so the majestic and mysterious owl, which has over many millennia served as the focal point of numerous contradictory beliefs.
Though owls have been regarded with awe and fascination, they have also inadvertently served as agents of fear. Since owls are nocturnal, human to owl encounters tended to occur at night and likely when the bird was swooping silently down to earth to grapple with prey. Yet even as some shied away from the owl, calling it an agent of darkness, others recognized the depths of awareness in beautiful owl’s eyes. 
Often owls are understood to be patient messengers, bringers of information, the holders of wisdom, and capable of seeing the unseen.
In the classical Greek tradition, an owl could often be found perched on the shoulder of Athena, goddess of wisdom, while owls could ward off bad luck in Roman lore.
It is in Native American mythos, however, that the owl attains its own unique identity. With their keen eyesight, it is believed that they can glance into the soul to discern meaning and motive, and they are totems of truth. Unlike our distant forebears, we may never encounter an owl in the wild, but we can nonetheless internalize the wisdom of the owl by attuning ourselves to its most venerable qualities. Fully integrating the insightful abilities of the owl into our own spiritual existence is a matter of considering how we might open ourselves more fully to the wisdom that can be found in the larger universe. 
Should we find our efforts blocked as we attempt to comprehend and commune with the owl, we need to remember that it was not always revered as an icon of wisdom. 
This creature of the night has overcome many prejudices in its long association with humankind. To reveal those hidden elements of the self that impact our lives for better or for worse, we must often make our way through the darkest parts of our souls as if we are the nocturnal hunter in order for us to overcome prejudice and obstacles.
There is indeed darkness both inside the self and outside the self. However, like the owl, we can transcend the darkness by drawing nourishment from the insights we receive once we penetrate it and allowing ourselves to shine as clearly as the eyes of an owl.

May your true heart shine through the eyes of your soul with the wisdom of the owl.

With love & light,


Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Maps of Our Lives

We recently discovered that we have lost our GPS.

We're not certain if it was removed from our vehicle by someone or if we relocated it from its usual indoor residence while decorating the house for Christmas.

Either way, we have been forced to return to tapping into our memories in order to find our way out of the driveway.

Just the other day, I drove a friend home from our shift serving at our local food pantry and became lost leaving her community. I didn't mind being lost as I saw it to be an opportunity to explore, and I knew that I would find my way eventually. So I just enjoyed my ride.

I did consider what my partner Frank had said about how we will have to return to paper directions until we either find our GPS or purchase a new one. I could have referred to the directions I keep in my BlackBerry, however, I tend to prefer to rely upon instinct.

Typically, most of us have an internal sense of direction and this brought me to my decision to explore. However, this also brought to mind a good friend of mine who is entering seminary.

David is infatuated with paper maps of any sort. Upon seeing one, his eyes light up as those of a child and his attention is often lost to the map.

Thinking of his journey in life causes me to reflect a bit upon my own insistence to travel without specific direction, but rather to allow myself to wander and trust my instinct.

When we learn to attune ourselves to our inner compass we follow a map that only we can see ... our own path.

All the major spiritual traditions serve the purpose of offering us a road map to guide us on our individual journeys to enlightenment. These road maps are made up of moral codes, parables, and, in some cases, detailed descriptions of mystical states.

We often study the fine points of a particular narrative in order to better understand ourselves and to seek inspiration and guidance as we travel along our journey.

In the same way, when we plan a road trip, we carry maps and guidebooks in an effort to understand where we are going.

However, in either situation, the path we choose has a life of its own.

While maps are helpful, they can only take us so far. There is just no comparison between looking at a line on a piece of paper and driving our own car down the road that line represents.

Some of us prefer following maps, while others among us are always looking for new ways to find our destination.

In relation to our spirituality, the only reliable compass lies within us.

The maps and travelogues left behind by others are great blessings, full of useful information and inspiration, but they cannot take the journey for us. When it is time to merge onto the highway or pull up anchor, we are ostensibly on our own.

Strange weather patterns, closed roads, and traffic jams arise in the moment, out of nowhere, and our maps cannot tell us what to do.

We can take refuge in the comfort of a local Inn by the side of the road, persevere and continue forward, or turn back altogether. The decision is entirely up to us.

Maps are based on observations from the past and we are living in the present, so we are the only true experts on our journey to enlightenment.

We may find that the road traveled by our predecessors is now closed.

We may feel called to change direction entirely so that the maps we have relied upon no longer apply.

It is at such times that we learn to attune ourselves to our inner compass, following a map that only we can see, as we make our way into the unknown territory of our own enlightenment and journey through life.

With love & a map-light,


Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Wisdom of Surrender
Very often, resistance equals persistence.Resistance tends to strengthen the energies it attempts to oppose us by giving them power and energy to work against us.

We all know the feeling of being repeatedly haunted by the same issue, no matter how we try to ignore it, avoid it, or run away from it.
This might come as a need to tend to loved ones, pick ourselves up in order to move past experiences which harmed us, or a call to arms -- be that for country or for our faith.
Sometimes it seems that we can become rid of something we don’t want by simply pushing it away, in the manner of which we sweep away the dust and dirt from our sidewalks, lest the filth and debris enter our homes or shops. We build thresh-holds in order to keep away the silt.
However, most of the time, the more we push away the silt the more it returns with the motion our our broom.

There are laws of physics and metaphysics which explain this perceived phenomenon.

This can be summed up as "That which you resist persists".

This "law" exists in physical motion, emotional reaction, and spirituality.
Through human nature we tend to resist our strengths, and it is only through resistance that we can physically build and grow the very muscles of our bodies.

Resistance training is how we grow from that proverbial ninety pound "weakling" to the muscle bound hero.

Resistance strengthens our physical muscles and bodies in the same manner of which it strengthens our metaphysical energy and spirit.

On the obverse, resistance keeps us from learning more about what we resist.

In order to fully embrace and comprehend and ideology, theology or perception, it is absolute that we must open ourselves to the energy which we explore.
If we fail to do so, we fail and we become ignorant of the lessons which the universe yearns to yield to us.

In our Wine Room, each corner and angle is protected by a statue of a monk.

I was taught that this must be done as I researched the construction of this little room.

Some statues are rather tall and built of stone.

Some are tiny and rather whimsical.

The point is that, in this tiny space which was built for private meditation, there are many.

There is a Tibetan story of a monk who retreats to meditate in a cave only to be plagued by demons.

He attempts to evade them by all means ... chasing, running, fighting, hiding -- anything to be rid of the demons.

You can imagine the horror he endured.

Exhausted by the battle, he lays down all that he held to battle the demons and surrenders himself.

The demons disappeared.

Do you see?

There was no hand-forged sword on earth that could defeat the demons. The only manner in which to be rid of them was to surrender.

However, this monk did not surrender to the torment of the demons. He surrendered to his faith.

Now, this is a story, and the wisdom earned here must be applied with practicality.

It is not the intention of our life's universe to place ourselves in the pathways of harm or foolish intent.

Bur rather, this story speaks of how, in essence, our demons are inside of us.

What plagues and pursues us, what prevents and prevails us, exists on an inner level and has the ability to manifest itself in many different ways in our emotional environment.

This manifestation takes place in the way that we treat the people in our lives, the way we treat ourselves, and the way that we respond to exterior situations. These may be community,
local, political, national, global ... the plague can become consuming.
However, it is nowhere near all "doom and gloom". Once we become aware that this perception of manifestation is merely a perception and that it exists only within the limitations of our minds and not our souls, we can then embrace the reality  that these expression which haunted us were merely reflections of the fears that lived within ourselves.

Once we surrender to our faith, to our belief, we become strong.

With faith comes strength. With strength comes bravery. With bravery comes strength in faith, and therein lies courage.

And with that, the more demons that plague us disappear in their weakness, and the more courageous we become.

With love, light, and an uplifted sword in my heart,