Friday, October 21, 2011
"How do we allow God into our minds, bodies, relationships, and life? We stop squeezing the divine out through our preconceived notions of what is sacred and what is profane. When we assume the mind-set that everything is ultimately divine, though sometimes more disguised than others, then we can see that all of our thoughts, impulses, and desires arise from and can bring us back to awareness of the sacred." ~David Simon
“… your essential nature is pure consciousness. Beyond the disguises of ego-mind and the physical body, you are pure awareness, pure joy and pure potentiality.” – Deepak Chopra
When we drop away the ego and the physical, we realize that our essence—all of us—is a Divine nature, and the Divine doesn’t have a physical body. We inhabit our physical vessel for such a brief period of time and yet, some people spend far too much time noting the differences between our bodies instead of the sameness of our souls.
You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
~ C. S. Lewis
We are not our bodies. When our mortal vessels can no longer live and we are released from our body, we will no longer have gender. We will no longer have skin color. We will no longer have sexual differences. We will no longer have handicaps or illnesses.
All these require a physical body and without a body, we then fully and completely realize Truth: in our essence, we are the same.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
When I become a more peaceful person,
I add more peace to the world.
When I become a more understanding person,
I add more understanding to the world.
When I become a more loving person,
I add more love to the world.
I cannot change the entire world,
but I can change the space that I occupy in it
by changing my self.
The world is more peaceful,
when I create more peace, understanding and love in me.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
I am a summer person. I adore the long, sun-filled days, days where even the sun is so happy it’s summer, that it lingers even longer, reluctant to cede day to night. I love going to work in the morning sunlight; I love coming home in the early evening with the sunlight still dancing long into the day. I can take a walk or ride my bike to the beach at 7 or even 8pm.
From the HB pier, we can look toward land and see the snow on Mt. Baldy in the distance
Or look out to sea and see Catalina Island.
I love the endlessness of the ocean stretching out before me, the endlessness of the blue sky. The sheer vastness fills my soul with a beautiful ease and gentles my spirit.
I don’t want to give up the beauty of summer, the love of summer, the length of summer, the smells of summer. In the evenings, I’ll sometimes drive along the beach, enjoying the smell of the bonfires and the ocean air.
For many years, I’ve tried to embrace change and tried to find some joy in fall and winter. I’ve never succeeded, though. Everything starts to die in fall; the beautiful days die sooner and I go to work and return in the dark, saddened by the lack of sunlight. The trees start to turn colors, losing their aliveness, their greenness, as they, too, start to die off and detach themselves from the living tree. I can’t ride my bike when I get home from work, or take a walk in the dark or garden or sit outside reading. My joyfulness in these everyday things dies off when fall blunders in, destroying all the light and happiness of summer days and nights.
Fall’s dampness makes my allergies worse; already I’ve had a sinus headache the last few days and my eyes, ears and throat are filled. I don’t like the heavier foods of fall; I’m a summer-salads-and-stone-fruits girl. I understand that people who live in other places don’t get the wonderfully amazing summers that we enjoy here. To them, fall brings a welcome respite.
But not to me. I want to hang onto the hem of summer’s flowing dress for as long as possible, embracing the beauty, feeling the joy and the lightness of spirit that summer brings.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I recently read To Bless the Space Between Us, a book of blessings by one of my favorite authors, John O’Donohue. He has this way of capturing the depths of a soul, the vulnerability, the inner doubts in the midst of certainty. I wanted to share his poem On Grief in honor of my cousin, Richard Oropeza, Jr., who we loved as Dickie. Maybe you’ll resonate with some of the sentiment he expresses. It’s beautiful, honest and says the things we often feel when a loved one’s body dies:
"No one knows what has been taken from you ...
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed ... "
I believe that we do learn acquaintance again with our loved ones whose bodies have died, a new way of loving them while we remain temporarily in physical form. This acquaintance is such a beautiful and loving gift.
A body is temporary. We are not.
I love you, Cousin Dickie. You have left your footprints on our hearts and we are forever changed.
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure,
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
~ John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
I popped one of my fave CDs into the player, picked up my book and went outside to read and lounge in the warm sun. A quiet day, perfect for relaxing. The music started …
Love is but the song we sing,
And fear's the way we die …
Ahhhh, The Youngbloods, singing what I sometimes consider my anthem.
C’mon people, now
Smile on each other
Everybody get together
Try and love one another right now
The cultural phenomenon of the 60s is generally considered to be from 1963 to 1973. If you had any part in the 60s, you’d love this CD, Summer of Love, The Sound of 1967. Songs like Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum), Daydream Believer (The Monkees), Groovin’ (The Rascals); bands like The Mamas & The Papas, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Grass Roots. Great music.
Everything just felt so perfect, listening to the music, easing into a Sunday afternoon reverie. I laid down my book and closed my eyes … the music sparking memories, floating through my thoughts …
- Inna Gadda Da Vida playing at the junior high dance; the school auditorium’s screen pulled down; colored gels on the glass of the overhead projector creating a psychedelic light show
- my comfy moccasins, dark brown suede, no fringe
- wearing feathers on a length of leather thong, tied in my long hair
- the British Invasion: music, clothing, make-up styles; hot pants, mini-skirts, halter tops made from Indian cloth; Twiggy’s painted-on lashes that I tried so carefully to emulate
- Love’s Baby Soft: “Wear your love like heaven …” (Donovan)
- Innocent love: Johnny Angel (How I Love Him)
- Casio keyboards
- Lovely, gentle, happy hippies; the Peace Movement; wearing flowers in my hair; Mom calling me Joan Baez as I sat cross-legged on the family room floor, playing my guitar (Wake up, Maggie, I think I’ve got something to say to you …)
- John F. Kennedy. My mom campaigned for his election and we spent many hours stuffing and licking envelopes as little kids. JFK was the first president I was truly aware of and, as such, he set the bar for what I feel a president should be. I’ve not known another president to come close to the stature and greatness that I perceived in this man.
- The Space Program. Civil Rights. Women’s Rights. The end of Jim Crow laws. Vietnam. Sit-ins. Freedom. Counter culture and social revolution. The Peace Corps. The assassinations. Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby? Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I was just growing up and all of this social upheaval around the world became part of my childhood experience; this was my normal. The world did a profound shift and I shifted with it. It still seems like such a golden time, the music integral to the experience. Images continued to float through my mind as I lounged in the sun, enjoying my quiet Sunday afternoon.
What makes you think love will end
when you know that my whole life depends … on you …
The Association - Never My Love by epb21
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
“What inspires you?”, my friend Sandra posted on Facebook. Oh! So many things, my friend! The smell of fresh air, of ocean air: fresh, summery, full, vibrant, with a tinge of citrus around the edges. And the green of the trees outside my window, where the squirrels chase one another up and down and across the limbs and tiny hummingbirds come to visit and peek in my bedroom window. Wide, open horizons stretching out to forever. Watching the sun setting over the ocean, painting the sky in pinks and purples, a giant orb slowly descending toward the water, slowly, slowly, then—flash!—and it’s gone.
Everything made by the Divine inspires me: a budding flower, a tumbling waterfall, the ocean breeze lifting my hair and tossing tendrils across my eyes, a playful puppy with too-big paws, the waves as they move in and out, never ending, calming, rhythmic.
All these inspire me. What I think I find most inspirational of all, though, are children. Their honest, plain-spoken truth of exactly what they know. Unfiltered, unedited, untarnished by others’ thoughts and opinions. Trusting absolutely. Confident and beautiful. Children already know everything they need to know. They laugh and play. They fall down and get back up and run again and again. Free, unfettered. Whee! One child asks another “Do you want to be my friend?” and they join hands and run off to the swings together, with nothing more in common with one another than their mere presence on the playground at the same time. No judgment, no conditions. You are here, I am here. Let’s be friends!
Children know how to be. Their world is comprised of everything they’ve ever experienced up to this moment; nothing more, nothing less. Children know how to open their arms wide and spin, faces lifted to the warm sun, happiness beaming from every pore. They can dance without reservation, just for the sheer joy of moving, light and happy and natural. I always say, I want to party like a 10-year-old.
Children are pure. They are filled with unconditional love. Fresh from the Divine, they still sparkle and glow with an aura that vibrates with all that is holy.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
My dad remarried several years after Mom’s body passed away. He gave me some of Mom’s things then, including an old suitcase that we’d used my entire life when we did our annual summer road trips. Hard sides, snap-open locks, a tweed-like pattern and a couple of little pockets on the inside lid. Inside the suitcase were a few treasures that Mom had kept. None of us in the family are hugely sentimental about keeping physical objects, so these must have been very important to her for her to have kept them.
The contents of the suitcase included several white linen or cotton baby garments, most of them exquisitely handmade, hand-embroidered with the tiniest little stitches and teeny little buttons. The detail is beautiful on each of the pieces she saved. There is also a little baby bonnet and cloth baby shoes. Just a few pieces, not many. Mom sewed and embroidered, so I imagine these are pieces that she made and so they are now my treasures.
Laying aside the delicate garments I found a gauzy fringed top and pink harem pants: my harem girl outfit she made for me as a young girl! Next to it was my brother’s Aladdin outfit in blue with a fancy vest. So exciting to see these again and think of her making these for us. I also found a gorgeous white beaded evening purse, all the beads still on it, perfectly preserved.
There were a few other things but I found two very special items tucked into one of the pockets on the lid. One is a small black book: my dad’s military missal. And the other a pocket calendar. Odd to find it saved like this; my mom didn’t keep calendars. Once the year was done, so was the calendar. And she didn’t generally use a pocket calendar.
Leafing through it, January was blank, as was February, March, April and every page in that calendar except one: July. For some reason, she’d posted a payday and a couple of payments. But the oddest thing was on Friday, July 3 on which she’d written “No” and the following Friday, July 10 which said “Yes.” No other notations on any other pages except July. A No and Yes. What could they mean? And why did Mom keep this little mostly empty pocket calendar?
I took a look at the front of the calendar and noted the year and saw that it was the year before I was born. Counting backward, I realized that July was about 7 months before I was born. My heart broke open and tears etched down my face. Mom! You found out you were pregnant with me! I’m her firstborn, the oldest child in the family. I let myself cry, missing her so much in that moment, and held that little calendar that Mom had saved all these years.
Mom had spent that year before I was born caring for her mom who was dying of lung cancer. It broke Mom’s heart when her mom’s body passed away. I remember every Sunday after church, we’d go to the cemetery to take flowers and polish the headstone until it gleamed. Mom mourned the loss terribly. She once even told me that she didn’t like seeing old ladies on the street because her own mom didn’t get to become one. And my mom didn’t get to be an old woman either.
I hope that July 10 was a happier day for my mom. I hope that her pregnancy lifted her heart some. My mom was a generous, kind, loving, laughing, joyful, joke-telling, warm, nurturing, smart, amazing woman. I continue to be enormously touched that this woman who didn’t keep “stuff” kept this pocket calendar where only one month is notated, a month that had deeply personal meaning for her. Yes.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who are moms, here and there, and to all who mother.
Flowers I took to the cemetery today. I love you, Mom!
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Whew! Whatta week! My family has been staying with me the past 5 weeks while they were between homes as they moved from one and waited for their new home to be renovated by their new landlord. First one granddaughter came, then the other, then my daughter and son-in-law with two dogs (a pit and a chihuahua), then the other two dogs (both pits) who had been staying with a friend. It’s really been very nice having them here and I feel so blessed to have been able to help them for a few weeks. They weren’t a bit of trouble, even with mattresses and four dog crates on the living room floor. My daughter made delicious meals each night, something I rarely get to enjoy when cooking for one; I could hug and kiss my grands and take them to school each day, and my son-in-law added joy and laughter to the mix.
So life has been a bit irregular around here, but still totally wonderful. This week, though, tempted to tip the apple cart. I work for an interactive marketing agency as a QA analyst; QA tests all the interactive properties (web sites, client sites, analytics work, mobile sites, dealer sites, search pages, etc.) for our client. (My office is dedicated to one client.) We started development on a huge project a few weeks ago, and this week, my team was to start testing the project.
Here’s how the week went: On Monday, I had to replace my water heater to the tune of $1200. Ugh. Tuesday morning, my boss quit, sending an email to management. Wednesday, I received a note that the other QA analyst in my office would be out the rest of the week. I had to do my job plus her job plus my boss’s job, plus ramp up for the big project, plus provide oversight for our QA team in Costa Rica. Friday, we suddenly got additional work that is due to launch on Monday (in addition to the big project). All I could do was tell myself “OK! Let’s do this!”
I am truly grateful for yoga that gives me the tools I need to keep me balanced in times like this. I can maintain a strong focus, not get overwhelmed, stay in the moment and take one thing at a time. I repeat to myself the phrase from “Peaceful Warrior” – Where am I? I am here. What time is it? Right now. I was able to manage it all, provide documents and test plans for the big project, manage testing efforts on the other projects (even when more work was added late on Friday), attend meetings, provide training, communicate with QA Directors in other offices – I got ‘er done. Thank you, yoga and Divine grace!
My daughter and her family moved into their new home on Friday. They left my home absolutely spotless, as if they’d never been here. I chuckle because my home looks so spacious and open now without mattresses and dog crates and clothing and suitcases – haha! Makes me appreciate my home even more.
Life is good, it’s wonderful, it’s kind and loving. I am happy for my daughter and family; their new home will be a wonderful new space for them to love and grow and enjoy their journey. And I’m grateful for the time spent together here and for the loving energy they leave lingering behind in my sacred space.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
“Redemption and resurrection are neither words nor objects of belief. They are our daily practice. We practice in such a way that Buddha is born every moment of our daily life, that Jesus Christ is born every moment of our daily life.”
—from Going Home, Thich Nhat Hanh
I pray all my Jewish friends had a blessed Passover. (I just learned from my friend Laura that the Hebrew name is Pesach. Thank you, Laura.) And I pray that all my Christian friends had a blessed Easter.
Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us that Easter (or Passover) should be more than just a date on the calendar, more than a beautiful celebration and memorable time spent with family and friends on a lovely spring day. The events and teachings should be something that we live each and every day; redemption and resurrection should be in every moment and in every breath. Our grateful hearts should reflect Divine unconditional love to others and to ourselves.
Each Christmas, I watch Heidi; each Easter season, I watch Jesus Christ Superstar. The movie really opens my heart to a better understanding of the human side of the story, both of the Jews and of Jesus himself. I could relate to the emotions and desires of a people that are occupied by foreign invaders, persecuted and fearful. In “Heaven on their Minds,” Judas (wonderfully played by Carl Anderson) sings:
Listen Jesus, do you care for your race?
Don't you see we must keep in our place?
We are occupied
Have you forgotten how put down we are?
Judas was fearful that Jesus and all the Messiah talk would get them all killed. Understanding the human aspect of the story makes it more than a story for me; the people become more real, their emotions become more heartfelt for me. (Ask my family: when Jesus is whipped - with Pilate crying out “Twenty-one! Twenty-two! …” - I dissolve into tears.) The redemption and resurrection become more personal.
I continue to pick up on and learn different things from the movie. In “What’s the Buzz,” the disciples want to know what’s happening, what’s next. They’ve started a movement; where do they take it now? Jesus (played by the utterly amazing Ted Neeley) reminds them:
Why should you want to know?
Don't you mind about the future.
Don't you try to think ahead.
Save tomorrow for tomorrow;
Think about today instead.
Be here now. What a wonderful lesson! Live each day with Heaven on our minds, with Divine love and joy in every moment of every day. The future will unfold, whether we worry about it or not. Release any worry; inhale love and beauty. Everything we have is in this precious moment. Cherish it. See the beauty. Smell the wonder. Smile from deep inside, knowing peace and calm. Save tomorrow for tomorrow. Be here now.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Waaaaaaaay back in February, my sweet friend Sheri was kind enough to give me this thoughtful award. Thank you, Sheri! Now, I don’t normally “play” memes and such, but good golly, Sheri has given me countless hours of delight through her blog. She has a sense of humor that I can relate to, a delicious sense of irony and her kids just say the funniest things! (The apple obviously doesn’t fall far from the tree!) If you want a few moments of absolute delight, go pay Sheri a visit. You’ll be glad you did!
I’m supposed to share seven things about me. So just because it’s you, Sheri, here goes.
1. One of the people I’d most like to emulate is … Kwai Chang Caine. Yes, that Caine, played by David Carradine in the classic 1970s TV show Kung Fu. Something about that character seemed to crack something open in me and made me want to have that same sense of balance, peace and spiritual understanding.
Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear? Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds. Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat? Caine: No. Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet? Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things? Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
2. I love aqua. It makes me happy. I love colors that are cheery and fun. Neutrals just don’t do it for me. I painted my dining area Aqua Spray around ‘03, then later painted my entry Surfer (a deeper aqua), then my living room Valley Mist (pale aqua/green/blue that changes with the light; love it!). I have aqua pillows, candles, accessories. I decorate with seashells and sand in bowls and trays. I love the energy in my home. I call it my sacred space.
3. I love my yoga practice. I have fibromyalgia and spondylolisthesis and the physical practice of yoga helps hugely with easing the pain and getting me to a peaceful place. I love learning about the eight limbs of yoga, learning about pranayama (breath), ahimsa (non-violence), pratyahara (non-attachment) and so much more.
4. My favorite movie is Heidi. I love all Shirley Temple movies. They make me happy. But Heidi is my favorite; the way a little girl’s love transforms an old man’s heart … sigh …
5. An old boyfriend once told me “You know what the problem is, Rose? You don’t’ need me.” That puzzled me initially. I wanted him, but I didn’t need him. I’m just not a needy person. Neediness is not my thing. I love the Buddhist tenet: Want less. Suffer less. It’s not the lack of something that makes us unhappy. It’s the wanting that makes us unhappy. How many times do people think “if I only had that special thing, I’d be happy?” Shortly after getting it, they’re unhappy again. Let it go. Release wanting. Be at ease. Fill your heart with love and then fill every molecule of your being with love, letting the warm goodness ooze from every pore.
6. Fave book: Happy Yoga: 7 Reasons Why There’s Nothing To Worry About by Steve Ross. It’s a wonderful guide for living and happiness. I’ve read it; I’ve re-read it. I can open it to any page and find a wisdom that I can use in the moment. Wonderful book. I recommend it to everyone.
7. Family: I have two brothers who I love to spend time with. They “get” me. We can talk and laugh for hours. I have an amazing daughter, wonderful son-in-law and two sparkling granddaughters. My mom’s soul parted from her body in 1990; I miss her physical self, her softness, her smile, but I feel her constant love. My dad is my hero; I’m happy that he’s still on this side to make me laugh and hold me with love. I have an abundance of cousins; many of whom I’m very close to. I have three close almost-brothers; we met when I was married and we grew into a family after I divorced.
So those are seven random things. Of course, I’m thinking about changing some of them already—ha!—but I’ll let ‘em be. I’m supposed to pass on the award to seven other bloggerss, but I’ll have to skip that part, if it’s OK. Life has been moving at warp speed lately and I haven’t spent enough time enjoying my favorites. I do recommend everyone on my blog list at the right, though. From spirituality to décor to travel, there’s a little something for everyone. Check ‘em out!
Namaste … Grasshopper …
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Really? it’s been over a month since I’ve posted?
For some reason the past month has had less time than any given month usually has. Does that ever happen for you? One day sometimes seems a bit longer than normal, stretching out and extending every minute into the very fullest, maxed-out minutes ever. Then another day seems to have the shortest minutes ever dashed into time and space, the kind that surprise you as you watch the day speed by in a blur.
I’ve had a month of those teeny minutes, too-short days and just couldn’t fit it all in. I LOVE reading my favorite blogs and I haven’t even read any of them for weeks. Time to catch up! (I’m supposed to be doing my taxes right now, but I’d much rather check out what everyone’s been up to. You understand, right?)
First, thank you so much for those amazing comments on my last post about heaven being in the everyday moments. There is such beauty, grace, love and wisdom from each one of you. I bow (and hold it a few minutes. You really touch my heart. Namaste) If you didn’t read the comments, you might enjoy checking them out.
Laura - You mention angels among us. I regard you as one of them, gentle one. Your thoughts and honest wisdom always resonate with me.
Debra – Yes, there is true joy and peace found in the small, simple and everyday. Seeing the life force and beauty of a small stone or a bird’s song.
Darla – Goodness, but I always adore your loving enthusiasm! We are blessed!
Connie – I am so blessed by your friendship and so grateful for it. “Heaven is all around us - we only have to stop, look, listen and smell.” You’re part of my heaven.
Sharon – Glad you enjoyed the pics! I hope things are warming up and you’re enjoying your blue sunny skies!
Carol – Woods work, too! Any place with a life energy fits the bill, doesn’t it?
Roselle – I’m amazed and in awe that your life has been a message of angels and miracles. So wonderful that you realize it and acknowledge it! I think most of us experience heaven and miracles, but aren’t always open and aware of it. You have a grateful heart because you know.
Rebecca – “I believe that when we are at peace and when we feel loved, we tend to see the good that is out there.” I agree and concur! It’s interesting to me how two people can have the very same occurrence in their life, yet they can react to it in totally opposite directions, with one person grateful and blessed and the other person feeling unhappy or victimized. Peace and love (or lack of it) alter the experience. (( abrazos ))
Sheri – Thank you for the blog award! I learned much about you and share the same feeling about living near the water and about being truly, madly, deeply in love with life right now. SO AWESOME! You always always make me smile. I don’t usually do those lists myself, but for you, I will be very happy to make an exception – lol!
So, here I am … I’ve been doing some freelance writing for a website. Very cool project and I’m enjoying the content development. That’s part of the reason for my absence here; a lot of writing in the evenings or weekends.
And here I am … I’ve been trying to adopt a rescue dog for about two years and recently ramped up my efforts, checking petfinder.com daily, contacting organizations about specific dogs, completing applications and attending weekly dog adoption events at the pet supply stores. There are some great dogs out there! I’m allergic so have been focusing on non-allergenic breeds like Havanese, Maltese, etc. No luck so far, but I’m sure the time will come when “my” dog will present itself somehow. I think the organizations prefer to place the dogs in homes where they won’t be left alone the entire day. I understand that and I’m being patient. I totally trust that I’ll have my dog when I’m supposed to have her. I’m happy and grateful already knowing that there will be a four-legged companion in my life for me to love and care for. Peaceful and content.
And here I am … My daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters have been living about 50 miles away from me for the past few years. Good news: They’re moving back to Huntington Beach! I’m so thrilled! They’ll only be 2.5 miles from me; we can ride bikes back and forth on the weekends. Their landlord is totally sprucing up their new home; everything should be complete May 1. They’re moving out of their current home next weekend 4/9 and will just stay with me for a few weeks before their move-in. This way the girls can get into school here for the last couple of months. Jasmine (14) moved in with me last weekend; Brianna (10) will be here this Wednesday; we’ll move ‘em next weekend (their stuff will go in the garage of their new place for now) and then everyone will be here. My usually peaceful home will be fun and funny and filled with family. I’m so happy they’re coming back to HB!
And now I’m off to catch up with you all! Those taxes can wait …
Sunday, February 6, 2011
There are those who feel that heaven is not some far-off place with winged angels up there among the clouds, but that heaven is all around us and that we encounter angels every day. I tend to agree with them. I get glimpses of heaven in moments throughout my day; moments of bliss and ease, where I feel at perfect peace and contentment. And angels! I think we encounter them more often than we realize. My mom taught us to notice them; when a good samaritan once helped push our car out of a deep puddle during a downpour and then disappeared, I remember her telling us that he was one of God’s angels and we prayed our thankfulness for the help we received.
My life is good and I am abundantly grateful. All are well, all are loved, we are abundantly blessed even as we face life’s challenges. Life is simple and good. It’s these simplest of moments that reflect heaven to me. Simple moments of family gathered together, teasing, laughing, loving. Simple moments of a warm ocean breeze blowing against my skin. Simple moments of life growing in my garden. Some recent simple moments:
My granddaughters recently spent the night while their parents went to a party. We went to dinner, watched a movie and gabbed all night. Their parents came and spent the night after their party. I love the notes added to the whiteboard on the refrigerator; these sweet words light me up inside when I look at them each day.
The next morning, we walked down the pier to Ruby’s restaurant for a nice breakfast. Gorgeous—heavenly—day. Warm, sunny, the ocean bobbing with surfers, the pier with eager photographers aiming their cameras at the waves.
Looking toward land, we could see the snowcap of Mt. Baldy in the distance. (Approx. mid-center)
Looking the other direction out to sea, we could see Santa Catalina Island.
A day shared with the love of family, ocean, sunshine, warm breezes—peaceful, happy, heaven on earth.
The garden’s just starting to edge toward spring. Below, orchids and cyclamen are blooming.
The yellow/green orchid is ready to bloom, too. I’m really glad it’s doing so well. I split it into three pieces (sawed it, actually) last year, giving the other two to friends. This one came back in great shape and has even more stalks starting up.
And just check out the freesia in this one pot! Freesia naturalizes in surprising spots each year in my garden. coming back in the usual places, but also showing up in new places. I’ll have to stake these somehow; all of those blooms will be too heavy for these slender stems.
Family, ocean, flowers in the garden – surely this much joy and peace are true glimpses of heaven. Have a beautiful week.
Monday, January 17, 2011
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.”-John Lennon
"I look forward confidently to the day when all … will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions."- Martin Luther King Jr.
I caught a few minutes of “Driving Miss Daisy” recently; there’s a scene where two Southern cops call Hoke “boy” several times, in that superior, swaggering, dripping-with-honeyed-hatred manner some Southern whites of that time held. That accent toward anyone has always turned my stomach. I also just finished reading “Island Beneath the Sea” (Isabel Allende), a story of slavery in Sainte-Domingue (before it was Haiti) and then later in New Orleans. Brutality toward any other being is so difficult to read about or watch.
When Fear rules and guides a person—instead of Love—anyone who is the “other” (not like “us”) is to be viewed with suspicion, instead of welcomed and embraced with kindness. Witness the separateness and segregation of early immigrants: Jews, Italians, Irish with their foreign languages and customs; the separateness of women, requiring new laws to break that separateness; the separateness of Cuban refugees; the separateness and segregation of blacks, of the hatred and brutality they endured; the separateness of gays; the separateness of Latinos, those with legal status and without.
The elimination of separateness seems to move through four stages:
No one really likes “them” in our schools and society, but the “other” is tolerated, allowed limited contact
At some point, it’s accepted that the “other” is here, like it or not, so just make the best of it.
Beyond acceptance, there comes a measure of equality and the “other” becomes more integrated into society, less noticed as different.
The most complete acceptance is when the “other” is so fully integrated into all facets of life (work, schools, business, politics) that one makes no distinction at all. There is no longer any difference that fosters fear as before.
Ignorance of any difference is the goal, of course, where there is no fear or suspicion, no separateness. It’s the place where we truly become One. We see a person as tall, short, black, white, one-armed, male, female, gay, straight, etc., of course, but we make no judgment or criticism. We make no assumptions based upon the physical make-up of a person.
“… your essential nature is pure consciousness. Beyond the disguises of ego-mind and the physical body, you are pure awareness, pure joy and pure potentiality.” – Deepak Chopra
When we drop away the ego and the physical, we realize that our essence—all of us—is a Divine nature, and the Divine doesn’t have a physical body. We inhabit our physical vessel for such a brief period of time and yet, some people spend far too much time noting the differences between our bodies instead of the sameness of our souls. We are not our bodies. We are not our bodies. We are not our bodies. When our mortal vessels can no longer live and we are released from our body, we will no longer have gender. We will no longer have skin color. We will no longer have sexual differences. We will no longer have handicaps or illnesses.
All these require a physical body and without a body, we then fully and completely realize Truth: we are the same.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I have a wonderful, grace-filled friend who has a debilitating chronic illness; each day, her symptoms can change, and they’re usually not very pleasant changes. And yet, she remains a whole, wonderful, amazing gift to those who know her and are inspired by her and her wisdom and grace.
Recently she posted:
“Time, patience, sitting, being with what is, watching it unfold, turn, expand, shrink, stay, move forward and onto another awareness altogether …”
I told her that I should write “being with what is” on my blackboard as a reminder. Her response:
“We so often think we can avoid "what is" particularly when "what is" is unpleasant...NOPE...it still "is". ..well until it becomes "was"...or we run towards "will be"...but come on, lets face it ..."IS," is where we are actually living and breathing.”
How often do we resist “what is?” A chronic illness, loss of a job, divorce, death … some things cannot be changed, others can be changed over time, but in the meantime, we have to be with what is at that moment. I’ve shared many times that one of my favorite mantras is “Receive what you have been given.” When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1995, I did not receive or accept the diagnosis; I resisted. I continued to search for other answers, something that could be fixed. I finally had to receive what I’d been given and once I did that, I could learn and grow and find what modalities would work for me in managing the pain and avoiding situations that triggered it. It took several years, but I do OK now. I spent too much time, though, not receiving, not being with what is. Resistance was futile. As my friend reminds me: All is welcome. ALL is welcome. all IS welcome. all is WELCOME.
The Buddhists believe that resistance causes needless suffering. When we resist what is, we can’t move forward. We uselessly fight what is un-fightable. Through the usual gamut of life challenges, I feel I’ve learned the lesson pretty well now, not perfectly, but pretty well. When I was laid off last year, I didn’t spent time fretting over it. I worked at finding a new job, but I didn’t worry. I accepted my situation and worked to change it over time. I now trust that I will land where I’m supposed to land and that things will work out the way they’re supposed to (even if it’s not what I would choose).
Bruce Lee expressed this lack of resistance as being fluid, like water:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.
May we learn to Be with what is. Be like water.
Thank you, Laura!