Posted in Bloggers in Planet Love, Corina L. Ravenscraft, General Interest

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE hosted by Corina of “Dragon’s Dream”

Editor’s note: This evening we celebrate Valentine’s Day by demonstrating our love and concern for planet Earth. Directions for linking your post are at the bottom of this evening’s post.

TRASH

How many of you are aware of your carbon footprint?

HERE is a handy-dandy calculator for those of you who don’t know but would like to.

Bizarro comics "The Evolution of Trash" image borrowed from earthisland.org
Bizarro comics “The Evolution of Trash” image borrowed from earthisland.org

How many of you consciously try to make less of an impact on the amount of things you consume and the subsequent amount of trash you generate?

HERE is an easy sheet to fill out to get a general idea. Of course, it takes a bit of work to sort the things you throw out in one day.

Being aware of it is enough to give anyone pause in this day and age. The amount is staggering. Truly. Unfortunately, there is just no getting away from trash. Every person creates some, and those of us fortunate enough to live in non third-world countries (hell-bent on rampant consumerism) produce more of it than others. A LOT more of it. Recycling is great and I encourage anyone and everyone to do what you can! But it’s not enough; there is SO much more that needs to be done!

Do you know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? How about the North Atlantic Garbage Patch? Well, guess what? These aren’t the only ones. There are FIVE of these “islands” between the U.S. and Japan! These are basically gigantic islands of plastic and man-made debris waste that have collected over the years from both land-based and sea-based human pollution. The one in the Pacific alone is estimated as twice the size of Texas with a mass of roughly 100 million tons. Think about that number for a minute: 100 million TONS. And it gets larger every year.

Captain Moore’s Description of the
North Pacific Garbage Patch:

“It was and is a thin plastic soup, a soup lightly seasoned with plastic flakes, bulked out here and there with ‘dumplings’: buoys, net clumps, floats, crates, and other macro debris.”
– A quote from the book,
Plastic Ocean, by Captain Charles Moore

“Remember, plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it only gets broken down into smaller and smaller bits of plastic, and if you’re in the Pacific it all ends up getting pushed into this massive floating garbage pile. ” – Planetgreen.discovery.com

Photograph from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Obviously, this happened when the turtle was young and it grew this way. 😦

Are you upset yet? Angry? Are you more aware now?

In June, I will be joining with the Ocean Conservancy to do my best to be “trash free” for 30 days. It won’t be easy and I probably won’t succeed 100%. But I’m going to try. I invite all of you to join with me and take the Trash-Free Challenge. 🙂

Here are some things you can start doing NOW to help keep your trash out of the ocean(s). For those of you already doing your part, THANK YOU!!! 😀 I believe in the power of 1+1 into infinity = anything is possible. Together, we can all make a difference. It’s the only planet we’ve got…there is no “Plan”-et B. It starts with you and me.

From Squidoo.com:

What Can Be Done?

Plastics are so integrated into so many people’s daily lives that this is clearly a global problem. Change needs to happen through awareness and education. Start with yourself. Evaluate your daily routine and assess exactly what you use plastic for, and more critically, what plastics are you throwing out every day? Systematically try to minimize the amount of plastic that you use and throw out. Here are some ideas to help.
  • Buy in bulk, and bring your own cloth or recycled grocery gags to the store.
  • Keep litter, leaves, and debris out of the street gutters and storm drains.
  • Stop drinking plastic bottled water! If you live in an area with safe tap water, drink it! Tap water in the United States is much more strictly regulated than bottled water. If you need bottled water, get a reusable bottle that can be refilled
  • Reuse whenever possible.
  • Choose products which have been packaged in recycled materials.
  • Buy local products whenever possible because this reduces the amount of fuel and plastic packaging used to ship materials to you.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Refuse!

From the Ocean Conservancy site:

Number 1 Reduce your carbon “finprint.” Our ocean is on the front lines of climate change — absorbing half the carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the atmosphere. Use mass transit, carpool, and find other ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Number 2 Take only pictures. Choose vacation spots working to protect endangered sea animals. When snorkeling or diving, take pictures and tell stories but never stand on coral reefs or touch the marine life.
Number 3 Be a green boater. Protect the boating experience along with the ocean. A little spill makes a big difference; be especially careful with oil, gasoline, solvents, and sewage. Bring your trash back to shore. Join Ocean Conservancy’s green boating program Good Mate.
Number 4 Ask for sustainable seafood. Let chefs, wait-staff, and the folks behind your fish counter know that sustainable seafood is important to you.
Number 5 Sign up for Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers remove trash from beaches and shorelines, and data collected by these citizen-scientists help inform solutions that keep trash out of our ocean in the first place.
Number 6 Reduce. Since packaging materials account for much of the trash we generate, they provide a good opportunity for reducing waste. Consider items with less, reusable, or recyclable packaging.
Number 7 Reuse. More than 60 percent of the litter collected during the 2009 International Coastal Cleanup consisted of disposable items. Choose reusable shopping bags, coffee mugs, and food containers.
Number 8 Recycle. If you can’t reuse it, recycle it. Check online with your local government to see what you can and can’t give back, and recycle everything possible.
Number 9 Prevent contaminated runoff. No matter where you live, the ocean is downstream. Don’t use chemical fertilizers and pesticides on your lawn. On the driveway, avoid harmful cleaning products, and take proper care of spilled oil.
Number 10 Vote Blue. Urge your elected representatives to support ocean-friendly policies that protect our ocean. Stay informed through e-alerts from Ocean Conservancy and share your passion at facebook.com/oceanconservancy and twitter.com/OurOcean

© 2014, essay, Corina Ravenscraft, illustration, Ursula Vernon All rights reserved

effecd1bf289d498b5944e37d8f4ee6fAbout dragonkatet Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post a lot of poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE

JOIN US!

We invite you to join your voices with Corina and the other members of The Bardo Group by linking one of your own post’s on nature and its beauties, environmental protection, animal welfare (which is Earth welfare too), global warming and so on. The work can be anything essay, video, music video, poem, photography, photo essay, art or craft. At the bottom of this post you will find Mister Linky. Click on it to paste in the url to your post. It does not have to be a new or recent post, just one that is in the spirit of this event. Jamie will visit and comment and we hope that you will all visit one another to comment and support and connect. Thank you!

Posted in Corina L. Ravenscraft, General Interest, Mental Health

National Shut-In Visitation Day

February is such a long, dreary month, don’t you think? It has grey skies and brown landscapes, cold and wet outside, seemingly endless. Many folks are getting “Spring Fever” already, so tired of being cooped up inside with nothing to do.

Image borrowed from http://www.aclutteredmind.org/the-blogging-blahs/
Image borrowed from http://www.aclutteredmind.org/the-blogging-blahs/

I was looking for a way to make a post for February that didn’t have anything to do with Valentine’s Day. It seems like when the middle of January hits, it becomes the Hallmark season for hearts and candy and flowers, etc. I have nothing against Love, per se, I just wish it weren’t so commercialized, is all.

Image borrowed from http://www.treehugger.com/culture/be-my-anti-valentine.html
Image borrowed from http://www.treehugger.com/culture/be-my-anti-valentine.html

Anyway, I did some digging, and I discovered that there is a holiday in February that probably not many people know about: February 11th is “National Shut-In Visitation Day”. 🙂 I rather like that, because it shows the true spirit of “love” when people can take the time out of their busy lives to spend an hour or two with someone who never or hardly ever gets to go outside and enjoy so many of the things that a lot of us take for granted.

Image borrowed from http://weighing-success.blogspot.com/2013/02/february-11-national-shut-in-visitation.html
Image borrowed from http://weighing-success.blogspot.com/2013/02/february-11-national-shut-in-visitation.html

What if you couldn’t just go outside and take a walk when you wanted? Or what if you couldn’t just jump in your car and drive to the store when you needed? For thousands of people, this is the case. They may be bound to a wheel-chair. They may be in a nursing home or place where they are not allowed to just “get up and go”. They may be elderly, or sick, or blind, too young, too old, or a hundred other things that make them a “shut-in”.

The true spirit of LOVE, in my mind, is the one that connects ALL of us. It’s the one that reaches out with compassion to say, “I’m here. I care.” Even when…no, make that especially when…it’s to a stranger. So perhaps if you have an hour or so to spare, you could visit a nursing home, a children’s hospital, or someone you may even know personally who isn’t able to get out and enjoy life the way you do. Your visit might very well be the only bright spot in their day! 🙂 Wouldn’t it be wonderful to bring some happiness and cheer, some sunshine to someone who would really appreciate it? I guarantee you that if you do, you will BOTH be much better for it!

And maybe next year when February rolls around again, you’ll remember how nice it was to celebrate “National Shut-In Visitation Day”. Or heck, who says you have to wait until February? 😉

© 2014, essay, Corina Ravenscraft, illustration, Ursula Vernon All rights reserved

Editor’s note: This was supposed to post on February 11, which is National Shut-in Visitation Day. We apologize for the delay. It was the editor’s bad, not the writer’s.  

effecd1bf289d498b5944e37d8f4ee6fAbout dragonkatet Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post a lot of poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

Posted in Niamh Clune, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Into The Blue

would I were sure-footed,precipice
not stumble, fall for you,
be exposed on craggy precipice,
tumble into blue.

would the wind might carry me,
to distant, silky shore
holding my heart tenderly
breaking it no more.

then would I dance lightly,
arabesque with perfect poise
never losing my sure-footing
never hear the rushing noise
of pulsing rivered life-blood
coursing through my veins
as fool, I step off madly
to break my heart again.

copyright 2013 Niamh Clune

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books Blog) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Dr. Clune is the CEO of Plum Tree Books and Art. Its online store is HERE.  Niamh’s Amazon page is HERE.

Posted in poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

night-blooming lovers

file0001371332238 maybe a thing about particles and waves
or wave-particles and the way light works
and moves, the way soulmates’ eyes ignite
into stardust, the way some ancient god

smiled and blinked, flicked an able wrist
to strew some billion stars across a darkly
barren sky, then asked his goddess to
suspend the yellow moon, a caress so

softly lighted, it stirred the hopeful hearts of
night-blooming lovers into endless devotion,
though for sure the years run like the cheetah
and soon-or-late all hearts quake asunder,
just as sure as moonlight and stardust and
the way a true love fills in the fault lines

– Jamie Dedes

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo courtesy of morgueFile

A ROMANTIC VALENTINE’S DAY POST because Valentine’s Day itself will be devoted to our BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE event, which will start on Valentine’s Day at 7 p.m., that is Friday, February 14. We invite writers, poets, artists, musicians and other creatives to join in by linking your work that shares your appreciation for the beauty of nature or your concern for environmental issues. You can share the url to your post via Mr. Linky, which will stay up for seventy-two hours. Corina Ravenscraft (DragonDreams) hosts and Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day) will visit sites and comment. We hope you will also visit others and comment on their work, lending support and encouragement.

photo-on-2012-09-19-at-19-541JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~ I am a mother and a medically retired (disabled) elder. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and reading continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as a creative outlet, and as a part of my spiritual practice.

Posted in Charles W Martin, poem, poetry

buddy can you lend…

buddy can you lend

how well
do you
need to know
a soul
to
care
do you
need to be
on
a first-name basis
or
have shared
some common
moment of
pain
or
epiphany
or
is
your
faith
enough

678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.php41V9d9sj5nL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_CHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics. Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography). Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period. Charlie’s lastest book, When Spirits Touch, Dual Poetry, a collaboration with River Urke, is available through Amazon now.

Posted in Essay, General Interest, Guest Writer, memoir

Some Thoughts on Adoption

Editorial Note: In April 2013, John Nooney wrote a series on his adoption. We think his message is an important one and he agreed to cut the 12,000 word feature down to 1,000 words to accommodate the needs of this site, a frankly heroic effort and something for which we are most appreciative. After reading this post, you may wish to read the longer piece on John’s blog HERE and we encourage you to do so. The details are interesting and thought-provoking.

hands-together-871294932977UgO“Have you found your birth-mother?” is, more often than not, the first thing people ask me when I mention I am an adopted child.

Think about that.

When you share information about yourself, it is the first response that matters most; the first reply has the biggest emotional impact.

So, if the first response to news of adoption is wanting to know if you’ve found your birth-mother (often stated as Real Mother), one begins to feel they need to seek her out.

People ask this particular question, breathless with excited anticipation of an affirmative answer — they’re wanting a feel good story, with a big, bold headline: “Adopted Child Reunited With Real Mother!”

The question ends up making me feel as if the asker somehow views my adoptive parents (the people I think of as my only parents) as being inferior to Real Parents. It’s like they imagine I was kidnapped from my Real Mother, raised by people pretending to be my parents, and that I need to be rescued and returned to The Real Parents.

It’s insane.

And, it’s hurtful.

I’ve not spent much time thinking about my birth-parents. Sure, I’m curious what they look like, what their story is, and, more importantly, what their medical history is, so I know what to watch for. Other than that, I have little interest in them. Not for bad reasons — I don’t hate them for giving me up for adoption. I think my birth-mother made the best choice she knew how to make at the time. When people want to know if I’ve sought her out, I begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Am I supposed to find her? Is there supposed to be a yearning for my Real Mother’s loving arms?

They say mothers have an unbreakable bond with the child they carried in their womb, that they’d do anything to protect that child. Am I, as the child in the womb, supposed to have that same unbreakable bond?

I don’t feel that bond.

I thought of searching, but when I began to think about the consequences of finding my birth-mother, I lost interest. What if she was married to a billionaire? Would I then hate my middle-class roots? What if she turned out to be a meth-addicted prostitute? How would I feel then? Knowledge can be dangerous. I was scared of what I might find — and what I might or might not feel.

I’ve spent many helpful hours in therapy over the years, though I’ve left several therapists because they’ve tried to convince me that my issues started by being abandoned by my birth-mother; that even though I was newborn, I was able to sense her abandoning of me, and its impact is at the root of many of my issues.

One thing I have absolutely no doubt about: I do not feel that my birth mother abandoned me.

We don’t know what communication passes between mother and fetus —  though we often surmise. Perhaps because giving up a child is such a gut-wrenching decision for a mother, the trauma she feels imprints itself on her unborn child, and, perhaps, leaves some children with a sense of an emotional abandonment

Maybe there is a reverse that is also true: maybe a mother can tell her unborn child that it is being given up for the best reasons, that the decision she is making is one made out of an unimaginable love — a love that wants her child to have a home better than the one she can provide. And, maybe, communicating that love can leave an adopted child feeling that it hasn’t been abandoned, but that it is a child, being given as a gift — a great gift.

Sentimental claptrap? Maybe.

Our society runs on the belief of individuality. We take pride that we’re all different, that everyone’s story is not the same. Yet, we’ll try to claim that every adopted child should feel abandoned? It makes no sense. We are either all different, with different stories, or we’re not.

Growing up, my mother told me a story:
“There was a man and a woman who loved each other very much. They wanted to have a family, but, unfortunately they couldn’t have kids. One day, they got a phone call — there was a young woman who was having a baby, but, she was young, and was struggling to make ends meet. She wanted her baby to have a better home than she was able to give him. She knew that the man and woman would give her baby a loving home. So, the man and woman got on a plane, and, when they came home, they had the young girl’s baby with them. They were very happy to have him, and they loved him very much. There are many kids in this world who live in homes where they aren’t loved or wanted,” my mom would say, “and adopted children are special: they’re wanted very much.”

Mom would ask if I knew who the man and woman were, and I’d say “you and dad”.  It was a story I liked to told, and would often ask to hear it.  I especially liked the ending: they were happy to have him; they loved him.
Adoption gives birth to thoughts and feelings across the emotional spectrum: from feelings of profound love, to feelings of despair and abandonment. Mixed in with those feelings, at least for me, is a sense of loyalty to the people who adopted me, who opened their hearts and home to me. Along with that sense of loyalty goes a sense of obligation: to believe that adoption is ok, that it’s a wonderful, loving thing. I grew up in an environment that felt loving, so it was something I never questioned.

I’m adopted, but it doesn’t change the fact that my family is as much a family as anyone else’s family.  We’ve managed to look past the wounds and the scars that all families accumulate over the years. I like to think that in spite of all the pain and hurt, that when we look at each other, we see the love, see the strength of a love that’s been tested and that still holds us together.

This is my telling of one person’s adoption: mine. I am in no way trying to say that my words apply to all adopted children. My opinions on adoption may be different than yours — and, that’s ok. Adoption, just like any other family issue, is unique to each individual and each family. Please do not interpret my words as a generalization of the experiences of all adopted children. This is my tale, my story, my thoughts.  

– John Nooney

(c) 2013, feature article, John Nooney, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Vera Kratochvil, Public Domain Pictures.net

unnamed-3JOHN NOONEY (Johnbalaya) ~ lives in Aurora, Colorado with his partner of thirteen years, his ninety-year-old mother and their three dogs.
Posted in General Interest, Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

The Flight of the Sparrow

Last summer I saw a baby Stellar Jay perched on my arbor, resting after trying out its wings. I looked away for an instant; when I looked back, it was gone.

It reminded me of something The Venerable Bede once said.  Bede was an Anglo-Saxon monk born in 672A.D.

In  The Ecclesiastical History of the English People he compares a person’s life to the flight of a sparrow.  Imagine sitting in a mead-hall at supper by the light of a blazing fire, while outside a winter storm rages.

A sparrow flies in one door of the hall, into the light, then darts out out another door, back into the cold dark night.  “So our lives appear for a short space,” said Bede, “but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant.”

People have many different thoughts, feelings, beliefs and explanations as to what or if anything comes before…

…or after the sparrow’s flight.

Sooner or later each of us will fly out into the night.

That seems to be the only thing everyone can agree upon.

I don’t need to know all the answers before I fly back out.

I am right here, right now, basking in the warm and beautiful light of life.

Whatever happens outside the mead-hall won’t change the way I live my life here and now.

I have work I am passionate about…

..family I love and good friends to play with.

I care about issues in the wider world…

…and in my own little sphere.

I hope I can make some small difference…as a writer, a storyteller, a parent, a friend…

…and to leave even just a little nightlight shining…

…when my flight is done.
null

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in General Interest

The Legend of Tír na nÓg by Niamh Clune

niamh
First seen in The Hulk Comic #18 1974

Niamh Chinn Óir mounted her white stallion to ride the warm, west wind. Her golden hair, wild and free as horse’s mane danced in gay abandon. This journey, fit for none other than she of the faery folk had not been made for centuries. Leaving Tír na nÓg far behind, she crossed the perilous ocean.

What lover’s call had summoned her?

What sweet voice, carried on sea mist had entered her slumber? She would know his name.

The Giant's Causeway.
The Giant’s Causeway.

Oisín, son of Fionn mac Cumhaill sat on a rock gazing over the crashing sea. The young warrior-bard paused from his labour, disturbed as he was by unquenched longing. His father, fierce and wise chieftain of the Fianna had conquered the Scottish giant Cú Chulainn. Oisin was tasked to write the victory for posterity making it known to all those who were destined to belong to the future.

A wind stirred his hair, just a whisper that carried sweet, unfathomable promise.  He was lifted up into the air, dazzled by golden streams of sunlight. He looked upon the face of Niamh and knew the one for whom he had longed.

celtic-horseShe carried him across the sea to Tír na nÓg, the land of Eternal Youth. The journey was the passing of a second. No mortal had ever crossed the perilous ocean to the edge of time, to the furthest, western-most reaches of the world where faery and mortal knew no distance or fear between them.

She was his arbour; him, the conqueror of all he surveyed ~ prince of timelessness.

But mortality is ruled by time. And soon the restless spirit summoned him to his father’s purpose. In his deepest heart he was of the blood-line race of Fianna and must return to Ireland to attend his kin.

Niamh warned him of succumbing to his mortal destiny. “If you set foot on Irish soil, it will be your end.” Echoes of her warning called after him on the high-pitched voice of the ill wind that carried him home.

François Pascal Simon Gérard: Oisin.
François Pascal Simon Gérard: Oisin.

Oisín was shocked at how his land and people had changed. He was a giant among men. Fields were cleared, forests cut down. Hunting had given way to farming.   He sighted a group of workers as they struggled to lift a boulder and clear a new tillage. The boulder was of no consequence to Oisín. He leant from his horse to toss it aside. As he did so, his stirrup broke and he fell to the ground. Ageing in an instant, the three hundred years that had passed claimed him and returned him to the soil from whence he had come,

In Oisín’s passing, contact with faery was lost forever. Niamh came no more to the Emerald Isle. Although I hear it told that her name lives still in some of Erin’s daughters.

© 2013, story Niamh Clune, All rights reserved

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430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books Blog) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Dr. Clune is the CEO of Plum Tree Books and Art. Its online store is HERE.  Niamh’s Amazon page is HERE.

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Walking the Sacred Path with President Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

This post is complementary to a post created at http://beguineagain.com/. I encourage you to read this and then read that post.

Today is the wrap-up in our recent series about President Nelson Mandela. As I was pondering how to close out the thoughts and hearts of our community, I remember that President Mandela was a deeply spiritual man who relied on the African theology of Ubuntu to carry the day. Ubuntu, which I have written about before, is the idea that “I am because we are.” It is deeply rooted in Africa with not only Mandela but Desmond Tutu subscribing to Ubuntu as core beliefs. Ubuntu is described below by Mandela himself.

“A traveler through our country would stop at a village, and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but Ubuntu has various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to improve?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx0qGJCm-qU#t=28

Knowing that this deeply spiritual man connected so strongly to a traditional spirituality, I have decided to combine the traditions of President Mandela and the gleanings of the Bardo Group with the ancient prayer practice of Midday Prayer. I am relying on the ancient rhythm but substituting readings from our authors and from President Mandela.

The general pattern of Midday Prayer is opening, hymn, psalm, Gloria, reading, prayers of the people, Lord’s prayer, collect, conclusion. This will be an adaptation of this ancient pattern. Someday we can discuss the prayer pattern and its ancient roots that extend beyond Christianity into Judaism and earlier.

Take a moment, light a candle, slow down and begin again with President Nelson Mandela leading the way.

A Midday Meditation in the Tradition of Ancient Mystics

Honoring Nelson Mandela

Help us as we pause at this point in the day to find safety and refuge, peace and mercy.

Glory to all that ties us together and brings our hearts into the center so we may listen. As it was in the beginning, it will be now, and will be forever more. Amen.

Hymn, excerpted from John Antsie

As the West winds blew their fury
the earth let out a cry;
as if to deny the awful truth,
it was more than just a sigh.
As if one life had greater value
than all of this; all of the love
that a world full of great lives
could bear; bear to contemplate
the loss of a legend, but
whose wisdom will be immortal …

Psalm, excerpted from Charles W. Martin

once
or twice
in a lifetime
an ancient returns
showing
the way
not
as a prophet
or
god-like figure
but as
a man
or
a woman
willing to expend
all their life forces
to open
the minds
of all those
willing
to listen

Glory to all that ties us together and brings our hearts into the center so we may listen. As it was in the beginning, it will be now, and will be forever more. Amen.

Reading: Inspired by Jamie Dedes, by President Nelson Mandela, Speech on World Civilisation, November 2000

The world had become much smaller, as I realised when racing on jumbo jets that I had never seen before, and talked every day on amazing new international telephones. I had to acquaint myself with this new phenomenon of globalisation, that enabled money and capital to flow instantly across the globe, and made the economies of the world startlingly more interdependent.

The effects and consequences of globalisation had to be internalised by many other South Africans, as well. South Africa became isolated from the international community during the apartheid years, and now saw how closely interconnected countries and economies had become. We welcome the process of globalisation. It is inescapable and irreversible. We can no more ignore it, as I said before, that we can reject the idea of winter by refusing to wear warm clothes. It can carry with it not only investment and transfer of expertise, but also knowledge and understanding of other people and cultures.

But if globalisation is to create real peace and stability across the world, it must be a process benefiting all. It must not allow the most economically and politically powerful countries to dominate and submerge the countries of the weaker and peripheral regions. It should not be allowed to drain the wealth of smaller countries towards the smaller ones, or to increase the inequality between richer and poorer regions.

Please take a moment for silent reflection.

Meditation: Inspired by Jamie Dedes, by President Nelson Mandela, Africa Standing Tall Against Poverty, 2 July 2005 [edited]

Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times – times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation.

We live in a world where knowledge and information have made enormous strides, yet millions of children are not in school.

We live in a world where the Aids pandemic threatens the very fabric of our lives. Yet we spend more money on weapons than on ensuring treatment and support for the millions infected by HIV.

It is a world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger.

Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.

While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.

Please take a moment for silent reflection.

Have mercy on our souls.

Group prayer

Holiness, wholeness, perfectedness
The Name of the path of healing is sacred
Let the cosmos be filled with mercy and kindness!
Let the cosmos be filled with acts of justice and love!
Let it be so, here, on earth, and everywhere in the cosmos.
Let our needs be fulfilled with love so that it
Staves off temptation allowing an end to injustice and poverty.
The cosmos of love and mercy has power to move hearts and make it so.
Forever. And ever.
So it shall be.
Amen and amen.

Intercessory prayer for the poor and concluding collect

We lift up all who live below the poverty line – knowing that we do not succeed if they do not succeed. Each one is a unique and precious beloved person in the human family.

We know that good things can go to them if we work towards justice, love, and mercy to provide for the needs of one another in loving kindness and in political will. Let us seek help so that we may help the less fortunate who experience the apartheid of poverty.

This is an abundant world if we would act with mercy and justice for all. Sharing our resources in an equitable manner worthy of the label, loving kindness. While we ask for strength for the impoverished, we ask for the hearts of the comfortable to be shattered with love for neighbors both known and unknown so that we may truly live in an Ubuntu world, erasing the line between the haves and have-nots and transforming the cosmos into Sacred Wholeness.

Peace I give to you, peace I leave with you.

Shalom and Amen.

~Terri

(c) 2013, post, Terri Stewart

(c) 2013, photo, Ted Eytan, CC AT-SA 2.0, http://www.flickr.com/photos/22526649@N03/11235545336/

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.beguineagain.com ,www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Charles W Martin, Nelson Mandela, Peace & Justice, Photography/Photographer, poem, poetry

mandela…

mandela

once
or twice
in a lifetime
an ancient returns
showing
the way
not
as a prophet
or
god-like figure
but as
a man
or
a woman
willing to expend
all their life forces
to open
the minds
of all those
willing
to listen
and
do
as they
have done
the world
always
sees
them
and
offers up
great praise
so
when they die
mourners
shed tears
in the rain
but
the world
quickly
loses its way
in the fog
of greed
until
the next
ancient
is
reborn

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.php41V9d9sj5nL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_CHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics. Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography). Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period. Charlie’s lastest book, When Spirits Touch, Dual Poetry, a collaboration with River Urke, is available through Amazon now.

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

What’s in a Name? Finding Sacred Space in Identity

Christening  (c) 2009, Paula Bailey CC 2.0
Christening

A little secret: I am preaching on Sunday. So today’s inspiration is gleaned from random thoughts about what I have been studying. And I have been studying names. In the Gospel of Matthew, the story of Jesus’ beginning has an angel telling Joseph the name for this baby:  Jesus. Jesus is the English form of Yeshua which is a form of Joshua. Yep. Joshua. Where have we heard that before? Joshua is the name of the guy in Hebrew scripture who takes the people into the promised land. How is that for being saddled with a name? Joshua also means, arguably, “God saves.” Additionally, Matthew references the Book of Isaiah and the name Immanuel, “God with us.”

And I think being saddled with a name like Terri is a problem! Well, I don’t really think it is a problem, but in second grade, I had problems. My reading teacher put masking tape on each reading book so she could write our names onto our book. I don’t know why, perhaps because I was as boisterous then as I am now, but she put “Terrible Terri” onto my second grade reader. I was distraught. But, being ever so bashful, I said, “no, you need to change this.” And then it became Terrific Terri. Just goes to show that advocacy has always been in my personality. But I was hurt that a teacher would label me as Terrible.

Naming, labeling, creates expectations that can hinder us or help us in our journey. I think the name “Terrible Terri” is a hindrance! But the name “God Saves”… well, it could go either way. You either live up to that name or you become completely overwhelmed. Or maybe even both! It can be both an inspiration and an absolutely terrifying expectation. I wonder if Jesus ever worried about getting it wrong? For example, he was out in the country, and this woman runs up to him asking for him to heal her daughter and he says, “I did not come for your kind…you’re like the dogs underfoot at the dinner table!” Ouch. I hope he at least winced at that one. He did not live up to the expectation, at that moment, of being the perfect picture of saving grace. But he grew into it as he changed his mind. (Matt 15:21-28) and included the very ordinary mother and her daughter in his ministry. That’s kind of inspiring, isn’t it? A picture of someone willing to listen, hear, and change. We don’t get much of that in our daily life. Witness: CNN, MSNBC, FOX. Maybe that is one place where “God saves.” When we engage in a relationship, listen to each other, hear what is said, and change for the better. That might be new growth. That might be creating sacred space. Can I get an Amen?

My son, Colin, is transgender. His original name was Caitlyn. Caitlyn means “pure.” Pure is quite a lot to live up to. When Colin came out, he chose his name. He chose Colin for two primary reasons-he likes the name and it was close enough to Caitlyn that it would be easier for people to make the transition. Colin has several options in its meaning, but since Caitlyn is of Irish origin, we decided to continue with the Irish origin (much to the Scottish family’s dismay!). Irish-ly speaking, Colin means “peaceful dove.” Hmm. I don’t think Colin is quite the peaceful dove, but maybe he will live into it. In fact, upon reflection, I think he has lived into it in many ways. He may not be a quiet, peaceful dove. But he does advocate for right relationship between people and has zero tolerance for bullying. Can you exuberantly advocate for peacefulness? I think so.

We finally took Colin in to get his name changed legally. The judge looked at the paperwork “Caitlyn” to “Colin,” looked at me, asked me if all the signatures were valid and if this was something “she” wanted. I answered, “My son desires to change his name to Colin.” The judge blinked. Looked back down at his paperwork and then decreed it so. Then Colin got 100 pats on the back as he left court. And not one negative word was said. He was beaming from ear to ear. This was his naming ceremony. The moment in time where he stepped into who he really was. It was important. There is something sacred in claiming yourself and knowing your own identity, your own story. There is also something very difficult in the process. And, it is ultimately a very loving act. Can you love yourself enough to know your name? Not the name slapped onto your second grade reader, but the name you choose? Is your name Inspiration? Compassion? Love? Challenge? Maybe your name is a complex amalgam of inspirational-compassion-that-challenges-while-whispering. (Well, I would not whisper, but you take my meaning?!)

What name do you claim? What name do you want to jettison? What name has claimed you?

Shalom and Amen!

~Terri

(c) 2013, post, Terri Stewart

(c) 2009, photo, Paula Bailey, cc licensed 2.0, http://www.flickr.com/photos/32625013@N00/4195762309/

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.beguineagain.com ,www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

You Mean It’s NOT a River?

Some people say life is a river.  I think it’s more like a mountain.

 

It has its ups…

…and downs.

It can be glorious.

Mysterious.

Precarious.

Fraught with fire…

…and ice.

No one can climb it for you.

But, oh, what a trip.

As you find your way…

…the climb can be difficult.

The right path isn’t always clear.

But there will be beauty all around you.  In little things….

…or stretched out before you in all its grandeur.

In Hawaii they say love is like fog–there is no mountain on which it does not rest.

May there be friends to share the journey.

…to make you smile…

…to guide you…

…and support you.

Life is a delicate balance, a precious jewel, a piece of work.

Yes, look before you leap…

…and wear the proper footwear.

But as the saying goes, we don’t trip on mountains.  We trip on molehills.

All words and images c2013 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

one lifetime after another

Angel and Dove, original watercolor by Gretchen Del Rio, all rights reserved
Angel and Dove, original watercolor by Gretchen Del Rio

one day, you’ll see, i’ll come back to hobnob
with ravens, to fly with the crows at the moment
of apple blossoms and the scent of magnolia ~
look for me winging among the white geese
in their practical formation, migrating to be here,
to keep house for you by the river …

i’ll be home in time for the bees in their slow heavy
search for nectar, when the grass unfurls, nib tipped ~
you’ll sense me as soft and fresh as a rose,
as gentle as a breeze of butterfly wings . . .

i’ll return to honor daisies in the depths of innocence,
i’ll be the raindrops rising dew-like on your brow ~
you’ll see me sliding happy down a comely jacaranda,
as feral as the wind circling the crape myrtle, you’ll
find me waiting, a small gray dove in the dovecot,
loving you, one lifetime after another.

– Jamie Dedes

© 2013, poem , Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
© Illustration ~ Gretchen Del Rio, used here with Gretchen’s permission, All rights reserved

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. My most meaningful tags are mother and daughter. This is my sixth year of blogging  at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  I’ve hosted The Bardo Group (formerly Into the Bardo) for three years come 22 February 2014. Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Sacred Space in Particles

I am fascinated with astrophysics. And I am probably just skilled enough to be dangerously inept! One thing that just makes my heart flutter is the idea that all matter is already created! We can neither destroy or create matter. (Except that we can, according to the Higgs Boson discovery – but that will be for another discussion!)

In general terms, matter is neither destroyed or created so that essentially the particles we immerse ourselves in are the same particles that have been around forever and ever. The Oxygen molecule I breathe in was perhaps breathed in by some semi-ancient ancestor. Who would I choose to share breath with? Maybe I would connect to some fabulously wonderful pioneering women such as Christine de Pizan or Joan of Arc. Or maybe with some substantial spiritual leaders like Jesus of Nazareth, Gautama Siddartha, or Mary of Magdala. I could be breathing their particles!

I am also breathing the particles that were created at the moment of birth of the cosmos. That rapid expansion of the universe when it really did somehow go from nothing to something. Pushed outward in a violent burst of matter, light, and waves. Culminating in this moment. This time. At least for us. This moment is the culmination. Until the next moment, that is!

So, I was thinking cosmologically in this way and I stumbled across a book called, The Tree. It is a children’s book written by a Pacific Northwest author. I imagined the particularity of matter as residing in the tree. And then I read the story of how this book came about. The author received this story while sitting underneath a Douglas Fir in the Pacific Northwest. He received it as a song, not as a story. He sang it often for various events. Half-heartedly claiming that the tree wrote it.

Later, he was invited to a celebration to celebrate the return of the Madrona Point burial ground to the Lummi people. The tribal chief wanted to hear his song. He sang it. And then offered the story of the song’s origins with the additional wondering, “Did it really come from that ancient Douglas Fir?”

The tribal chief said, “It did. I recognize the tune.” He went on. “It is known in our tradition that each tree has its own song. Our music comes from them. We show our respect for the great trees by singing their songs and playing them on the flute. We must all work to save the ancient groves in our territory.”

Hmm. That is really quite beautiful.

And so, for this offering in the quest towards finding sacred space, I invite you to connect with the particles of the cosmos, the particles of the tree, and to sit back and enter into the story of The Tree.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post and video, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to terri@cloakedmonk.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding Sacred Space In the Other

This week in my church, it has been filled with conflict and dissension. That makes for a tough week! Let me clarify – structurally, from the upper echelon of the decision-making bodies, there has been a reinforcement of codified discrimination and what I think is just pig-headed wrongness. Ha! I am not feeling very charitable at all. I always have the choice of staying within the system or leaving. But leaving does not really move the ball forward for me. Why? Because my basic anthropology is that we are all connected. Even if I left this system and surrounded myself with folks that were just like me (how irritating that would be!), I am still connected to the people that I find the most frustrating.

Harrumph.

Then, I discovered this exercise written by Troy Bronson in his book Drawn In. It is an exercise for integration and forgiveness. Or perhaps forgiveness and integration. I am fairly certain that full integration is not possible without forgiveness! At any rate, I have adapted his exercise and now I offer it to you as a spiritual practice to aid in integrating those people that drive us bananas.

Take a piece of paper and fold it in half twice so that you have four quadrants. In the bottom right list your enemies: those who mean harm to you and your family; those who are politically opposed to what you are for; those who persecute you and others associated with your causes and passions.

In the bottom left list your friends: advocates for those associated with your religious, political, or social causes. Write all of this so that both groups are at the bottom of the page, with only a crease separating them.

On the Horizon (c) 2013, Terri Stewart
On the Horizon
(c) 2013, Terri Stewart

Now, draw a horizontal line to separate both groups from the empty top half of the page. Read this adapted version of Psalm 121.

I look to the hills!
Where will I find help?
It will come from the immense force
that created the stars, sun, sky,
And earth.

You are protected by Love,
And Love will not sleep
Or stumble
Or snooze.
Love always is.
Protecting you,
Standing at your right side,

The Tree shades us from the sun
The sun will not harm you
Nor will the
Moon.
Protecting you,
Keeping you safe from
All
Dangers.

The incredible creative force
That was, that is, that shall be
Is with you.
Now and always.
Wherever you go.

Reflect on the line, “I look to the hills!” and imagine that the line you’ve drawn is a horizon line made by hills way off at the distance. Imagine your friends and your enemies looking into a future where all things are met with love, justice, and mercy. Where the separating walls between these two groups are healed and taken down. Where the grievances are forgiven. Where they gaze lightly upon one another and see beloved rather than the other.

Now, offer your thoughts to love and reconciliation choosing to step forward into the hills that were once a divider, but now, as we all step into them, cocoon us in beauty.

Adapted from Ephesians 2:11-22

Don’t forget that you used to be the other! The enemy! They used to call you crude and rude. You were a foreigner in this land with no understanding of tradition. You had no hope and were held far away from life giving love.

Creative, responsive love unites all in peace! Breaking down the laws that separate us – that separated us. Following religious rules that are not grounded in loving kindness is not helpful! We all suffer, feel pain. But we are all one, one body united together. We are in this one life together.

You are no longer a stranger or an enemy! You are beloved. Just as those you persecute are beloved. All who went before you are the foundation for who you are today. And it is held together by Love and grown into holy ground where Loving Kindness dwells.

You are part of that holy ground.
You are holy ground.
They are holy ground.
We are
Holy
Ground.

There is no near and no far.
There is only here.
Be one.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Charles W Martin, Poems/Poetry

the quilt…

the quilt

today
was quite warm
so i
was wondering
as i approached
the front porch
why aunt bea
was sitting
with a quilt
on her lap
then i noticed
she was mending it
and
although
i knew better
i still had to ask
why
aunt bea
said
this quilt
was hand sown
by my mother
and
given to me
on the day
i was married
its tight seams
were meant
to last a lifetime
though few do
its
patchwork patterns
of discarded cloth
are like
life’s broken dreams
and
fragmented moments
of joy
and
pain
all woven
into something new
if you look
at each part
separately
there is nothing
special
about them
but
when you
combine them
and
truly see
the full pattern
the beauty of life
and
the reasons for
holding on to it
become
quite clear

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.php41V9d9sj5nL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_CHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period. Charlie’s lastest book, When Spirits Touch, Dual Poetry, a collaboration with River Urke, is available through Amazon now.

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding the Sacred in Impermanence

Today I have been thinking about the beauty of impermanence. These thoughts were inspired by an artwork installation I saw recently called Shimmering Tree. Shimmering Tree is a projection of a digital tree onto a huge wall in a gallery. The tree is shimmery, animated, and changes seasons. But it is digital! I wondered about this digital artwork media installment sitting next to traditional portraiture or other more concrete forms of art. Shimmering Tree is art from digital artist Jennifer Steinkamp. An earlier piece of hers is Dervish:

It is a fascinating thing. Steinkamp’s work may be a valuable lesson to not become too attached to a physical manifestation and to embrace the beauty of what is.The inherent contradiction is that this temporary art is captured forever kn a digital form!

I think there may be a deeper spiritual practice lurking in the embrace of impermanence. This is more than recognizing that things change-it is a deep-seated gratitude for impermanence. A recognition of the beauty inherent in change, impermanence, evolution.

I wonder, what have I been holding onto that I need to let go of? Usually those things are behavioral for me. But it could be something else. Shoes. Books. Things. Sometimes I get this fleeting impression of impermanence when I wish I had my camera with me to capture a particularly beautiful vision. But I am forced, in that moment, to receive the image and to release it-with gratitude.

Thinking of impermanence and developing a greater appreciation for it led me to remember a video I saw from Ukraine’s Got Talent. This art is the epitome of grace, beauty, and impermanence.

Of course, life has always been impermanent. Art decays. But usually it is with us more than 5 minutes! Much art outlasts people! What are we going to do when everything has a lifespan tied to the technology cycle?

We better learn to master this! I wonder if there is one word you would like to offer as a movement towards seeing the beauty of impermanence? My word is: ego.

How about you?

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Jamie Dedes, memoir, Poems/Poetry

sleeping without walls

My mom died twenty-two years ago this month. She has been much on my mind these past few weeks.

squeezing a penny

my mother never knew the names for things
the trees were just trees, the flowers just flowers,
but she knew life as a sigh and love as a linchpin
and how to get to work and maneuver in the dark,
she could squeeze a penny and was known to force
tired feet into worn shoes, she could make them dance

Mom and Me 1950, Brooklyn
Mom and Me
1950, Brooklyn, NY

sleeping without walls

camp that year taught the art of sleeping outside
sleeping without walls, watching the stars and moon,
gathering dreams from sunsets and morning dew

we slept in bed-rolls configured of old white sheets
and army blankets made of itchy khaki-colored wool
i wondered if my uncles slept on them during the war,
as I wondered about many things, many things …
and that summer held other delights, climbing trees
and eating cherries without washing them, oh!

and there were blueberry bushes and fig trees and
i lined the path to our food hut with odd sunday stones,
my own bare prayer while the big girls were at Mass,
i marveled at my middle-aged mother’s plump knees
and marked her spirit for wearing shorts and for her
joining in children’s games and singing ‘round the fire

now i wonder at summer camp morphing into metaphor ~
all our lives we did those things: gathering dreams,
mom and me, outsider artists sleeping without walls

Mom and me 1980, San Francisco, CA
Mom and me
1980, San Francisco, CA

in the shadow of the moon

like lucid dreaming, like light-infused rain drops and
the untarnished silver stars above country terrain,
my mother calls to me from the shadow of the moon
my father beams his smile at me from the milky way
gone and gone, still their essence scents my nights

– Jamie Dedes

© 2013, poems and family photos, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For nearly six years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding Sacred Space Within Our Own Skin

I am attending a retreat this weekend. I have done two exercises today that stretched my own perception of myself. I’d like to offer one to you as a Spiritual Practice geared towards finding sacred space within your own skin and being willing to see yourself.

I don’t know about you, but that can be the most difficult spot for me to discover. Somehow, I can look at others and see their beauty, but acknowledging my own beauty seems at once terrifying, bold, and that I may fall short of being that … what? That person. That human. That woman. That mother. That chaplain. That presence of comfort. Oh, I think it is true that I fall short – we all do – but failing myself at simply just seeing myself is not okay!

Nowhere is that more present than in the myriad of photos I have of family and family vacations. Where am I? Behind the camera. I may be in 1 in a thousand photos. Seriously. It’s not okay! This Spiritual Practice is geared at self portraiture. It is a series of photos. (None of these photos are touched up. I am intentionally resisting the temptation!)

First exercise … find a place where you can intentionally photo bomb yourself with a weird background. I thought this was fun with a mural in the background. I think I can use this one when I am mad! This will let you have a humorous, gentle start!

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Next, consider what a self-portrait consists of … it is any part of you that is in a picture. Gather photos of you reaching for something, holding something, stepping onto a path, you name it! Hands, feet, hair!

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Next, learn to use that timer on your camera! I understand that iPhones have Gorilla and Windows phones have Auto Timer Camera. Now take full shots of yourself doing different things.

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Last, look into the camera and be love. You may think of someone you love and gaze into the camera or think of loving yourself or think of loving the world. Start here. Be an image of love.

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I spend a lot of time “being love” in the world. Working with incarcerated and homeless youth. But without a loving foundation that includes spiritual practices that let me see and be myself, I won’t be able to sustain compassionate action. Even the healthiest egos need times of sustenance.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”
― Desmond Tutu

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

It’s All Sacred Space II

"I AM" Sacred Space
“I AM”
Sacred Space

Following up on last week’s “It’s All Sacred Space.”

Two pastors that I know are extraordinary. They both pastor homeless people. One lived as a homeless person for two weeks so he could understand what was going on. The other is homeless. She refuses to live in a home and sleeps on the streets every night of her life. She takes this so seriously that given the opportunity to sleep inside at a convocation, she made special arrangements to sleep in the doorstep-declining housing thousands of miles away from her people. She is the only one who would have known! And nobody would have judged her in error for sleeping inside at a conference she was attending.

I am amazed at the depth of commitment they both have.

In my context, that would be sleeping in a detention center. I am not sure I am prepared to be locked up in order to be one with the people that I am committed to walking with.

But maybe that is because I am not viewing all space as sacred. If I imagine that a jail cell is the Cathedral of Notre Dame with an air of mystery, sacrament, and holiness…does that change the context? Maybe. But could I put on the blue scrubs, white t-shirt, white socks, and orange plastic flip-flops? Using harsh soaps, eating questionable food, everything? Hmmm. I am not sure I could ever do that. I am also not sure that it is a requirement to do so. But, perhaps what is a requirement is the holy imagination it takes to think of what this walk would be.

That is the spiritual practice I’d like to invite you into today, holy imagination. I believe that we are all called to support the least among us. In other words, those who cannot take care of themselves. Those our societies often label “other.” People who are “other” than us—outside the norm—impoverished, imprisoned, hungry, sick, non-gender conforming—whoever is being “othered.”

Who is your other?

Could it be someone from a different faith tradition? A different political point-of-view? Or any of those I listed above? Generally, there is always someone we “other-ize.” Even though I am working with people every day that are affected by incarceration, I found myself in a spot today where I felt the person I was sitting with was totally “other” from me. She is telling me flat-out that when she returns to her community, she will return to drug use and gang involvement. Period. She sees no other way. No other hope. That is hard for me to fathom. She says, “I will probably be dead by 21” without blinking. Wow. And sheesh. I need to find a way to sit with her in a way that is hopeful and not descend into other-izing her even though her current ideas are so foreign to my mind and heart.

If I use holy imagination, maybe I can put myself into her life and feel where her self-imposed traps come from. And seeing where the traps are, maybe I can point out a way she can negotiate the traps and bring herself greater freedom. I don’t know. I will continue to work on it.

Today, using your own holy imagination, can you take five minutes (really, 20 minutes is more like it!) to do some visualization work?

First, relax as much as you can. Keep working at it until you have quieted the monkey mind (or brain chatter—but my inner chatter is more like a monkey!).

When you have fully relaxed, set your intention. Here, I am suggesting your intention should be a conversation with whoever you “other-ize.” (Could it be yourself?)

Next, focus on what you want. Today, our desire is closer understanding. How can you begin to understand the figurative foreigner across from you? What questions can you ask in order to bring you deeper understanding? I am always amazed at my own capacity to carry assumptions. How can we leave assumptions and expectations behind so that there is room for increased understanding?

As realizations and understandings grow, there may be a struggle. Give your struggle up. It is like the monkey-brain. Keep offering both of these things away. I usually visualize putting these on a cloud and whooshing them out of my space. Don’t struggle too hard. If it isn’t happening, it isn’t happening. Then, don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be another day, another try.

Finally, don’t get tangled in negative thoughts—whoosh them away on that cloud! Experience your highest self—the one that sits in loving kindness, compassion, and hope.

When your conversation is complete (and you may get horrible answers, let’s be honest), hold onto the highest self for a moment and see yourself. See the person who took a risk today of entering scary, sacred space. A person who was willing to love. Look at yourself and see the sacred space within.

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post , Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com