Linda DeGraf

April 2014 (Vol. XXVII, No. 4)

Greetings, dear friends! As creatures emerge from dens and frozen ponds and seedlings poke up toward the light from deep layers of earth so we, too, emerge from winter grateful for life and breath and the gift of movement. Is it joy that makes us dance or dancing that brings us in touch with joy? Sufi whirlers recognize that all life is turnings and revolutions—electrons spinning around nuclei, blood cycling round from heart to limb and back again, planets orbiting, wind and wave whirling. They dance the narrative of spiritual journey, reaching beyond ego toward divine love and channeling that love out into the world. Children naturally live out their feelings and thoughts and explorations of the world through their bodies. Many spiritual traditions connect meditation with movement, posture with prayer, and body with mind and heart. However you express gratitude for being alive, embrace it with your whole being.

May 2014 (Vol. XXVII, No. 5)

In this little corner of the world we welcome spring, made all the sweeter by the relentlessness of the passing winter. So many treasures in nature are tiny, unassuming graces— diminutive wildflowers, wriggling tadpoles, crimson ladybugs, and the melodic double songs of the brown thrasher. To blink or hurry by is to miss them. We live in a smog of attention deficit disorder; I don't mean the children, but all of us on this treadmill of overstimulation. In this culture of too much, too busy, too distracted, too bombarded, can we learn to sift through the chaos and lift out the truly important? I have become almost obsessed with butterfly watching— luminous wings call to me as if to say, follow my flight path, sit patiently while I feel the sun's warmth on my wings, see how I unfurl my perfect little straw to sip this nectar. I want to learn how to focus on small, sacred moments that nurture the soul.

March 2014 (Vol. XXVII, No. 3)

Beneath yet another blanket of gently falling snow, I find myself pondering the warming glow of hope. Endless gray days, dying yearling deer, and seemingly lifeless forest encroach upon my heart. I know that spring will come, with its joyful melodies and vibrant hues and teeming life. Likewise that winter holds its own still beauty, paring down the landscape so we can see its silhouettes more clearly. Yet at times our world seems too far cast in winter's thrall to be able to remember and envision its renewal. How does one hold on to hope amid the chill of our inhumanities and senseless overpowering of the earth? From whence does hope come? How can we cradle our hands around it to protect it from the snuffing winds and cynical voices? To choose hope is to tap into the memory of faithfulness and to wait with gratitude for seeds of possibility hidden beneath the snow.

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February 2014 (Vol. XXVII, No. 2)

Greetings dear friends! Having recently returned from a trip to Israel and Istanbul, I find myself pondering how we nurture compassion within ourselves? What makes one choose gracious hospitality and open gestures of the heart? Bedouin camel herder, Palestinian shopkeeper, Hassidic father, Israeli soldier, Kurdish innkeeper —such a tapestry of religions, beliefs, ways of life, hopes, and fears. Whether we interact through simple kindness and respect or fear and antagonism depends on what we see in the other. Do we look with eyes of the heart to find our common humanity? Do we put relationships in the context of I–Thou or do we build walls and establish divides of right and wrong? Do we allow our eyes to meet and spark a connection or do we turn away? What inner work will help ignite the fire of love?

January 2014 (Vol. XXVII, No. 1)

Welcome to the unfolding of a new year! At this turning of the season, we look back with gratitude on the past and peer hopefully into the future. Outside, shortened days and wintry chill seem to suspend time as nature burrows in to wait. Snow has cast its icy aura over barren trees silhouetted against a soundless, white landscape. And yet beneath the ice, the seeds of spring are waiting to be born anew. Perhaps we too need to slow our heart rates, burrow down within our souls, and gather near the warmth and light to discover the timelessness of grace. Let the gift of winter be the practice of being fully present to each sacred moment as we wait to see what will be born anew within our hearts.

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December 2013 (Vol. XXVI, No. 11)

Winter greetings, dear Friends! In this busy holiday season, let's stop and contemplate, for a moment, our angel companions. Some say we have angels all around us all the time, unseen and unheard, and that they act as our guardians. Others feel angels are among us as flesh and blood human beings who come along at just the right time when we need them most. Some feel they really dwell within each of us, coming to us as a whisper or an urging of our soul in response to our needs and questions. Whatever your particular feeling about angels, know they are freely available to us in the silence of our hearts, and they always respond to us if we but ask. Angelic blessings to all, in this season of greatest blessing!

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