February 2018 (Vol. XXXI, No. 2)

Dear Friends ~ A lawyer, attempting to qualify who he ought to love as himself, asked Jesus: "Who is my neighbor?" After responding with the now well -known parable, Jesus asked in return —"Who acted like a neighbor?" I can still remember an incident at the end of a whole year of working to build community in my class of kindergartners. During field day, one boy refused to partner, even momentarily, with a girl who didn't look like him or play like him. He chose to sit out the game instead, sullenly muttering, "You don't get it. You think we're all friends but we're not." I told him I knew full well that they were not all friends; that was beside the point — the point was they needed to treat each other well whether they were friends or not.

We are being invited to seek a new salvation

In what sense can individual strands be torn from the one fabric of reality and be considered complete? My well-being will come only in relationship to our well-being and the well-being of all things. We are being invited to seek a new salvation. It will come through and with one another, not in separation from one another.

~ from CHRIST OF THE CELTS by J. Philip Newell

The Realization of Oneness

True communication is communion —the realization of oneness, which is love.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Building on the Mistakes of the Past

It is not "forgive and forget" as if nothing wrong had ever happened, but "forgive and go forward," building on the mistakes of the past and the energy generated by reconciliation to create a new future.

~ Alan Paton

For Lost Friends

Bring warmth again to
Where the heart has frozen
In order that beyond the walls
Of our cherished hurt
And chosen distance
We may be able to
Celebrate the gifts they brought,
Learn and grow from the pain,
And Prosper into difference,
Wishing them the peace
Where spirit can summon
Beauty from wounded space. 

~ from "For Lost Friends" by John O'Donohue

Othering

Did the two sides reach agreement… Doubtlessly not. Yet something more profound happened: They saw each other as people. This is an increasingly rare occurrence in our country; we have become skilled at avoiding practically all interaction with those with whom we disagree...we have the ingredients for a culture polarized by the perception that we are good and virtuous, while they are inhuman and evil. The law professor John A. Powell...calls this "othering" and has shown that it leads to hatred and discrimination. But on the odd occasion that people are exposed to each other as people...othering is hard to maintain. And that is the rare moment when human compassion and empathy can break out.

~ from "Empathize With Your Political Foe" by Arthur C. Brooks, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Jan. 21, 2018

To say that it is not our fault does not relieve us of responsibility

To say that it is not our fault does not relieve us of responsibility... we may not have polluted the air, but we need to take responsibility, along with others, for cleaning it up. Each of us needs to look at our own behavior. Am I perpetuating and reinforcing the negative messages so pervasive in our culture, or am I seeking to challenge them? 

~ Beverly Daniel Tatum

One of the Faces of God

I am not in charge of this House, and never will be. I have no say about who is in and who is out. I do not get to make the rules...I am a guest here, charged with serving other guests—even those who present themselves as my enemies. I am allowed to resist them, but as long as I trust in one God who made us all, I cannot act as if they are no kin to me. There is only one House. Human beings will either learn to live in it together or we will not survive to hear its sigh of relief when our numbered days are done...

Reverence for creation comes fairly easily for most people. Reverence for other people presents more of a challenge, especially if those people's lives happen to impinge upon your own...I have an easier time loving humankind than I do loving particular human beings...Particular human beings rarely do things the way I think they should do them, and when they prevent me from doing what I think I should be doing, then I can run short on reverence for them...

~ Barbara Brown Taylor in AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD

School Prayer

In the name of daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery
as a messenger of wonder
as an architect of peace.

~ from "School Prayer" by Diane Ackerman
I Praise My Destroyer: Poems
By Diane Ackerman

Kindness softens

Kindness softens and opens up the heart, as oil opens a rusty lock.

~ Elder Paision

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.

~ Joseph Campbell

January 2018 (Vol. XXXI, No. 1)

Dear Friends ~ Recently I came across a few lines I’d written years ago in a journal: “They say that trees and plants encased in ice incur more damage by attempts to free them. The slow work of the sun gently melting them heals by warmth. We too, should learn, as Barry Lopez says, to ‘lean into the light.’” In winter it is all too easy to succumb to gloom, lamenting the long nights of darkness. World events echo this seemingly endless chill, encasing hearts in unyielding ice. What more urgent time than now, in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, to “trust in the slow work of God.”

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It does matter what energy we put out into the world

How can I stay completely present to this world—the light and the dark—while still keeping an open loving heart: Who ever promised me the world would be perfect...I need to set a different course by reminding myself that humankind has always been flawed...and Love and light continue to exist anyway. The news should simply inspire me to be extra loving and tender...Today I resolve to balance every dose of darkness I receive with an equal, if not greater, dose of light...I resolve to check the balance daily and provide myself with the silence and solitude I need to maintain it. I truly believe it does matter what energy we put out into the world.

~ Ann O’Shaughnessy, former co-editor of “Heron Dance,” founder of soulflares.org

Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond

The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary.

Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond.

~ Mark Nepo

I want the light locked inside to awaken

I want the light
locked inside to awaken:
crystalline flower,
wake as I do:
eyelids raise the curtain
of endless earthen time
until deeply buried eyes
flash clear enough again
to see their own clarity.

~ from Skystones by Pablo Neruda

After seeing a patch of light differently

Crying was my most constant companion. One day, walking on the beach after a sleepless night, I saw the reflection of the sun on the water. Inexplicably, I felt a sense of a Presence larger than life itself after seeing a patch of light differently than ever before. The light image kept me alive... I was suffused with love...It felt comforting, life-changing and dramatic, but peaceful. Although I couldn't rationally explain it, I lost the desire to die.

~ from A Mantle of Roses by Virginia Swain

Only light can dissipate darkness

Darkness cannot be dissipated with more darkness. More darkness will only make darkness thicker. Only light can dissipate darkness. Those of us who carry the light are called to shine the light, to share it so that the world will not sink into total darkness.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

The challenge is to brave our dark nights and wait for the dawn

True spirituality is about self-surrender, about bringing our wills into alignment with the will of God. Not about the cessation of pain. Throughout history there have been many cases of people finding God while under lock and key. My own experience in jail confirms for me that something does happen when our souls hit rock bottom, when we are trapped in prisons that are sometimes of our own making and not always constructed of iron and steel. Life can sometimes feel like a cage from which there is no escape...Yet, beyond the crucible of spiritual darkness is the light of inner redemption. If we believe that a descent into the abyss can ultimately make us stronger, we will outlive the nightmare. The challenge is to brave our dark nights and wait for the dawn.

~ from GOD AT THE EDGE by Niles Elliot Goldstein

Sometimes our light goes out

Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.

~ Albert Schweitzer

The pieces of light we crave

There are insects always within sight, there are lights and shadows at play this very moment, but in our distraction we miss the drama that could accompany our quiet attention and give us the pieces of light we crave.

~ from ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE by Marv and Nancy Hiles

Making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light

How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.

~ Barry López
Arctic Dreams
By Barry Lopez

Where does one find the Divine?

If we cannot see the multitudinous splendor of light in every form when it is right before our eyes, then we have to be awakened, jolted out of complacency, cast down from the ivory tower, and buried under the black earth of all our materialistic fantasies. It’s quite a shock and painful. Fearing loss, fear will bind us to forms that have already collapsed and are dissolving. But light is there even in the darkness. At the point where one dies, at the point where one stops trying to assert the ego, at the point one gives up in despair, at the point where one says, “I yield. I give in,” then one finds the Divine within.

~ Normandi Ellis
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