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Showing posts from 2008

Letting Go of the Year

The wind howls fiercely, and I think the trees all around me are going to topple...

As I wrote a friend this morning:

"May this howling wind of the departing year,
blow away all that does not serve
and make way for many blessings
in the coming year!"

So many of my thoughts have been consumed with a mental review of the year - an examination of conscience so to speak - seeking some sort of absolution. So many failings considered, and areas of improvement envisioned...

I resolve to have a different year. My prayer of the last few days comes from Sister Gyanamata, who endured much physical suffering in her life, and prayed - not that her circumstances be changed, but that she be changed. I read the pertinent passage in a book about her life, and repeat over and over again in my own prayers: "Change not my life - change me!"

I come across many suggestions for ushering in the New Year. This comes from Christel Nani's newsletter, a gifted healer and medical intuitive:

"H…

The River at Sundown

It was one of those days that was full - but with good things...

I began my morning by rising and meditating briefly, then by teaching and practicing yoga, followed by meditating in the company of another devotee. Meditating with someone who shares a committed practice, particularly in your lineage, is like filling your gas tank. You can go a long way on that shared spiritual energy and you can literally move mountains and remove obstacles in your life and spiritual path - so I try to schedule those opportunities for shared meditation on a regular basis. It was good to touch base with my friend and share our Kriya Yoga practice and discuss some of the inspirational things we had been reading.

It was also a warm day, and the sun shone brightly and the sky was blue for much of the day. I ran some errands, and then after trying to get a new boat launch pass for the coming year, I decided to go home and get Grace in the river for a while. At about 4:00 PM, we were paddling away from the sho…

Letting Go of Control

I came across these wonderful quotes recently, and found them to be especially relevant for these trying times - when it seems that we are constantly being reminded that we are most certainly not in control...

"The world is not to be put in order;
the world is order, incarnate.
It is for us to harmonize with this order."
- Henry Miller

"It is not action or effort that we must surrender;
it is self-will, and this is terribly difficult.
You must do your best constantly,
yet never allow yourself to become involved
in whether things work out the way you want."
- Ekanath Easwaren

"True spiritual surrender responsibly
opens itself to the unknown."
- Stephen V. Doughty

Dreams on Fire

A couple of nights ago, I went to see the movie Slumdog Millionaire. It is a movie everyone is raving about, and the only thing my husband really wanted to see. It is also the kind of movie I would have thoroughly enjoyed in another era of my life, when I literally looked forward to seeing just about every movie released at this time of the year.

As my life has increasingly shifted, I find that the things I once loved doing, are so much less enjoyable now. While Slumdog Millionaire has a satisfying ending and many truly funny moments, I was overwhelmed by so many instances of violence and cruelty and the reality of how many live in third world countries, deprived of basic rights and things we in the West take for granted. I couldn't help but weep through a good portion of the movie.

At the center of this drama, is a love story, and the love theme is haunting. The love story spans a couple of decades and is a beautiful reflection of the loyalty and selfless dedication of one young m…

Alphabet for Life

I came across a plaque recently entitled "Alphabet for Life," with each letter of the alphabet consisting of both a kernel of wisdom and a dictum for living life fully. As we stand on the threshold of ending one year, and beginning another, there is much to ponder and which we can embrace in these simple maxims...

Accept differences
Be kind
Count your blessings
Dream
Express thanks
Forgive
Give freely
Harm no one
Imagine more
Jettison anger
Keep confidence
Love truly
Master something
Nurture hope
Open your mind
Pack lightly
Quell rumors
Reciprocate
Seek wisdom
Touch hearts
Understand
Value truth
Win graciously
Xeriscape
Yearn for peace
Zealously support a worthy cause

May the coming New Year be one where these jewels blossom in your awaiting heart!

Christmas Prayer

Two lovely readings received...

"...The Lord comes again and again in
in God-illumined prophets to light the way.
The glory of Christ in the form of Jesus
made visible the Invisible Light
that leads to God."
- Paramahansa Yogananda

A Christmas Prayer

"Let us be still in the darkness of our sacred space,
And listen to the quiet around us.
For even in the quiet, there is the gentle being with others.

Let us feel the warmth of our community,
Knowing we are not alone.
For in the quiet shadow is the glow of life within all.

Let us know in the darkness the gift each candle bears,
A small flame, a diminutive light -
Yet the wondrous gift to kindle another's glow.

Let us be in awe at this moment as we each take up the flame
And the light that envelopes this room,
As hope for peace and goodwill fill this night."

By Lisa Rubin

Joy to the World!

Christmas Eve, gently yields up its spirit into the joy of Christmas Day, during Midnight Mass, at Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown, where John F. Kennedy once worshiped, as we sing:

Joy to the World!

I awaken late in the morning but still manage to meditate in the quiet stillness while my household peacefully sleeps...I lose myself in time, sitting without needing to observe any time constraints, experiencing bliss and wishing for all:

Joy to the World!

I enjoy a simple morning exchanging very few but thoughtful gifts, brunch and coffee, with my husband and my son, who has spent the night for the first time since he moved out on his own, six months ago. I am grateful and proud of all of his accomplishments, as my heart proclaims:

Joy to the World!

I head down to the river on a magnificent day, and decide I can paddle for a brief while, under the observant eyes of my men, who have never really watched me engage in my sacred ritual. The currents are delicious, the water looks blue, and I am…

One Blessed Night

The Cantata The Birth of Christ by Arthur T Miller, begins and ends with a beautiful song titled "One Blessed Night." On this Christmas Eve, I wish to share the chorus from this piece:

One Blessed Night

"One Blessed Night
a Star shone bright,
a symbol of
The Light of Christ.
Cast from on high
to stable low,
so that all the world
might know...

Gloria, Gloria, Gloria...
Gloria in excelsis Deus...

One Blessed Night
a Star shone bright,
a symbol of
The Light of Christ.
Cast from on high
to stable low,
so that all the world
might know...

He came for us...
He came for us!

I sit in meditation on this cold and wintry morning, reflecting on the many ways the Divine has come into my life this year - in ways seen and unseen - both perceived and unnoticed - and for these many, many moments - my heart gives thanks...

Blessed is She Who Believed

I have been listening a lot to the Birth of Christ - the Cantata I have referred to a few times in previous posts. One of the most beautiful pieces is entitled "The Visitation," where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, herself with child at an advanced age.

Luke 1:39 - 48 tells this story of the Visitation, and it is followed by the Magnificat - and both of these passages have figured prominently in my heart and soul of late.

Both the song, and the passage from scripture that this piece is based on, narrate Mary's visit, and how the child in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy upon hearing Mary's greeting. Elizabeth in turn responds by exclaiming:

"Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And why has this happened to me,
that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting,
the child in my womb leaped for joy.
And blessed is she who believed
that there would be a fulfillment
of what was spoken by the Lord...&qu…

Standing Still in the Silence of the Solstice

Here are two timely messages I received yesterday, from two bright lights in the Anusara Yoga community - they are such beautiful reflections on the Winter Solstice that I want to share their insights with all of you.

The first of these was sent to a friend and colleague by Stephan Bodian, the author of the book - Wake Up Now, that I wrote about back in the late summer. The second comes from BJ Galvan's newsletter, Shakti Flash...

"In the depths of the darkness, light appears. Out of the emptiness, form arises. In times of greatest loss, we discover the treasure that gain and loss cannot touch. This is the essential message of the Winter Solstice holidays. The baby Jesus symbolizes the Divine potential bursting into manifestation. The light that burned for eight days in the temple of the Jews, even though they had oil enough for just one, signifies the boundless radiance of our essential Self.

As we reach the darkest day of the year, we have an opportunity to allow everything ex…

From Solstice to Solstice

I awaken early in the morning to the softly falling rain, and imagine what the river might be like. I am sure it is swollen as it continues to release all that does not serve and nourish it, in preparation for the end of this year and the beginning of the next one. But I will not have time to visit it this morning, for I must sit and meditate, and then ride out to the other side of the river, to take my last yoga class of the session with my teacher. It is also my last class with her as her student after three incredible years under her tutelage...

I have learned much in her care - both as student and as teacher - more than can ever be articulated or shared here in this one entry - but much of which I have already documented in my blogs and other writings for the last few years...

I ride in reflecting on the impact my teacher has had on my practice and my teaching. My thoughts also turn to many of my own former high school students - spanning several decades - that are now re-connecting…

Coming Full Circle and Leaving it Behind

I survey the river in the silent grayness of this morning reflecting on so many things...I cannot sit by the rocks because they are all underwater, due to all the winter rains that have fallen. It is so cold and windy it cuts through me like a knife, and I will not be able to stay here as long as I would like. Winter has truly settled in...

I am mindful of the many people I know who have experienced profound loss and change, and think of my own experiences as I mark a personal anniversary of sorts - coming full circle - but not back to where I was - it is more of an experience of stepping out of the circle and leaving it finally behind... This week also witnessed another major decision and shift for me, and culminated in two sessions with two wonderful healers as well...

As I shared a significant decision with a gifted therapist yesterday, he noted that many of the experiences I have had in the course of the last year or so - while difficult and challenging at times - were not really ne…

A Silent Night

This beautiful text accompanying an inspirational short movie, comes from Mary Robinson Reynolds, and is titled A Silent Night:

A Silent Night

Silent Night
Holy Night.

The birth of a new consciousness
through a Holy infant child
a consciousness of peace
of alignment
of simplicity.

Through an infant
is born a new way to think
the power of thought
that on this night created
peace
silence
connection
to Spirit within.

...All convened for this birth
on this starry night.

This night
this Silent Night
was the one unifying silence
felt throughout the world.

Silence throughout the world
peaceful minds,
peaceful hearts,
A Holy Night.

This birth brings all people together
on one night
a silent night
a heartfelt night
a connecting night
to God and man
and all of nature.

Nothing else matters
but silent connection to Spirit on this night.

Our connection with that which breathes us.

In the silence and stillness of our beings
we can feel the oneness with heaven and earth
we know
we feel
the connection
in the silence
in the darkness
in the cris…

A Season to Restore

Many yoga teachers typically offer a restorative class at this time of year. I had the opportunity to experience two different ones this week - taught by two of my teachers. Each one truly restored me at a time when I really needed it. I found them calming to my nervous system...

Every year I teach a class at the end of the session just before Christmas that combines a yin practice with a restorative one - and a mini yoga nidra, which means "yogic sleep" - and is a type of full body relaxation. As my students hold and release deeply into the poses, I read inspirational passages and spiritual poetry to them.

This particular year - it seems that so many close to me have been affected by serious illness, injuries, physical infirmities, and the deaths of loved ones. I thought of this during the classes I took this week, as I creatively sought to adapt poses so that I could experience them as best as I could, given some medical cautions and restraints I had to take in consideration…

Seasonal Blessings

The reading from Paramahansa Yogananda this morning is lovely and appropriate:

"Christ is born in the cradle of tenderness.
Love is a greater power than hate.
Whatever you say, say it with love.
Harm no one. Judge not others.
Hate none, love all;
behold Christ in all.
Think of everything in terms of universality."

Many do not know that Yogananda spent his life showing to his followers and the world through his writings and teachings, how the wisdom of both the East and the West merge in Christ Consciousness. To someone like me, a theologian with a strong background in the spirituality of various traditions, I have often found Yogananda's words uplifting and inspiring, and simply truth spoken and imparted with purity, and received gratefully, in the cave of my heart and the depths of my soul. For decades I was drawn to his writings and teachings - but mostly - to his haunting smile, inviting me to follow and delve more deeply in my meditation practice...

We never know when w…

Waiting in Silence

This beautiful excerpt comes from Proclaiming the Good News of God's Peace, Advent Devotions 2008, produced by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Foundation. It is a little booklet I picked up when I walked the labyrinth at the beginning of this month...

"For God alone my soul waits in silence." (Psalm 62:1)

"Advent is a time of preparation. Typically this means an ever-expanding to-do list, frenzied activities, eating, and drinking well but not wisely, and arriving at Christmas utterly exhausted. The psalmist suggests another way to prepare:

'For God alone my soul waits...in silence.'

Our silence can be passive, such as when we place ourselves in a safe setting...and invite God to speak to us and touch us. Working through our waiting and stillness, God then uses our passive silence for healing and discernment.

Our silence can also be active, such as in those times when we focus our energies on listening to others and understanding what they have to say...

Passive and …

Magnificat at the River

I head down to the river with Grace after a long absence...We can no longer stay away - the deep longing to commune with this river and be embraced by its healing waters calls us...

My soul is singing and proclaiming the first verse of the Canticle of Mary - over and over again - like a mantra:

"Magnificat anima mea, Dominum..."

"My soul magnifies, glorifies, and proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
My soul rejoices in God my Savior,
For he has looked upon the lowliness of his servant,
and henceforth, all generations will call me blessed."

I lose myself in the middle of this river, chanting over and over again - "Magnificat anima mea Dominum" - my soul and essence saturated with the vibrations of a special rendition of this canticle - from a Cantata that was sent to me by a very special soul - the mother of a dear friend. I wrote about this Cantata in my August 30th entry and how I was deeply moved by watching the performers and listening to the exquisite compos…

One God

A couple of days ago, I observed that there are songs we only sing or hear once a year at this particular time. An article in the paper recently noted that precisely for that reason, there are mental cues and vivid memories that are undiluted and only elicited - precisely because certain pieces are re-visited once during the course of the year...

As I listen to certain collections and pieces, I marvel at their beauty and how the are able to captivate my heart in the way that only new songs heard for the first time can do...

The last few times I have walked at dusk, I have listened to a song sung by Barbra Streisand on her album titled "Christmas Memories." This particular song - "One God" - is haunting - and in her notes Barbra observes that she first heard it sung by Johnny Mathis when she was very young. I was struck by the impact the song had on Barbra and I feel, that this year, given this election, it is even more meaningful and appropriate, and so I share the l…

The River Swells

On this Saturday morning, I head out to the river for a moment before I begin a busy day. I have not been down here in over a week...

We've had so much rain that the river is swollen and very dirty. The rocks are all underwater and I cannot make my way down to the riverbank. The currents are swift, and many pieces of tree trunks and other debris are very hastily being carried downstream...

I come this morning, hoping - however faintly, that Grace and I can go inside - if only for half an hour. But I know it would not be prudent or safe - so instead I look on - both lovingly and longingly from it shores...

The river is purging once again as this year nears its end...So much letting go that has transpired on so many levels for both of us...Yet, there is always more work to be done...

I reflect for a moment on yesterday - not only a powerful day from the standpoint of numerology - 12:12 (twelfth day of the twelfth month) - but it was also a full moon, and the closest the moon has been to…

Emmanuel: God is With Us

This is a time of year when there are songs we only listen to once...

I like to pull out old Advent and Christmas classics and new ones as well, and allow their rich melodies to fill all the corners of my heart and soul...

A friend recently asked me what kind of music I had on my ipod. I proceded to describe the wide variety of genres and playlists I had so carefully organized - spanning from folk rock, to classical, to jazz, and to mantras and liturgical music. My friend stopped right there - totally surprised - though in the seventies - when we were in our late teens and early twenties, she and I earned our spending money by playing liturgical music in several parishes...

I love classic Advent songs of awaiting like "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," and my favorite rendition is by Mannheim Steamroller. I wait all year to hear this song and enter into the deep longing and stillness it calls me to.

I also love an original piece by Michael W. Smith where the chorus gently echoes with ye…

Giving and Receiving Joy

Joy is one of the greatest gifts that we can have and we can give - not only at this time of year that naturally invites it and elicits it - but in every other season as well!

"Joy is prayer -
Joy is strength -
Joy is love -
Joy is a net of love
by which you catch souls.
She gives most
who gives with joy."
- Mother Teresa

"Never miss a joy in this world of trouble...
that's my theory! Happiness, like mercy,
is twice blessed: it blesses those
most intimately associated with it
and it blesses all those who see it,
hear it, touch it or breathe
the same atmosphere."
- Kate Douglas Wiggin

Feel joy, and spread joy. And remember, that ancient Egyptians could only cross over to the next life if they could affirm that in that lifetime, they had indeed found and received joy....

Steadfast Love

Recently, the site Following the Star, focused on the beauty and the reality of the steadfast love of God:

www.followingthestar.org.

This site provides a reading from scripture, a meditation, and a reflection for each day of the Advent Season.

On one particular day last week, the daily devotional contained an excerpt from the Book of Lamentations - a book, that in all my years of studying and teaching scripture, I had never really explored in any depth.

I flipped through this book today, and found passages that immediately spoke to my soul and heart. The passage that Following the Star explored, contained these verses from Lamentations 3: 22 - 24 - which I copy here:

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
'Therefore I will hope in Him.'"

In times of trouble or when things are bleak, a passage like this brings solace and comfort to the …

Inspirations

I sit here, in the early morning silence, as I do every morning, dedicating my first breaths and thoughts of the morning to the Divine in my sitting practice...

I begin as I do, every morning, by reading my Master's inspirational words for the day...

As we enter deeper into this season, these readings from Yogananda focus on the role of silence in meditation and prayer:

"The true practice of religion
is to sit still and talk to God.
But you don't get to that point of intensity,
you don't concentrate enough,
and that is why you remain in delusion."

"The silence habitual in Sri Yukteswar [Yogananda's Master and Guru]
was caused by his deep perception of the Infinite.
No time remained for the interminable 'revelations' that occupy
the days of teachers without Self-Realization.
A saying from the Hindu scriptures is:

'In shallow men the fish of little thoughts
causes much commotion.
In oceanic minds, the whales of inspiration
make hardly a ruffle.'"

I pon…

Prepare the Way of the Lord 2008

One of my favorite scriptural passages for the Season of Advent is Isaiah 40: 3 - 5:

A voice cries out:
In the wilderness,
prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill made low...

The glory of the Lord
shall be revealed,
and all people shall see together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

Every day at this time of year, I go for a walk at dusk, and listen to Advent songs. The first one I listen to, is appropriately titled - "Prepare the Way of the Lord."

A year ago yesterday, I posted an entry about this piece:

"This piece, sent to me by Carolyn, is exquisite. It brought back many memories of being a liturgical musician and singing in church choirs.

It is truly moving and uplifting and fitting for this Advent Season. Truly, a voice cries out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord!"

http://www.hopepublishing.com/html/main.isx?sub=31&workid=1705

May we always prepare …