The post you are about to read is not political, not religious, but it is spiritual.
I’m speaking from my heart and deepest understandings, knowing that some people are going to potentially get “their panties in a wad.” But some things in life are more important than whether someone is offended or not, the biggest cause worth sticking my neck out for to me–is children.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord,” a psalmist once said.
A heritage is a legacy, a gift by will, to be passed down to future generations.
A child is the most precious thing on this entire planet and according to Jesus, the closest thing there is to heaven. All the gold and silver on earth is less important in the grand scheme of things than the life of one child. Yet, each day, thousands upon thousands of children are treated with no regard. If you mar the child, you mar the future. If you kill a child, you kill parts of the future.
I believe the most important job any human has ever had on this earth is to raise children to be humane and compassionate and if we fail at that, nothing else we do matters. Nothing. It doesn’t matter if you are a biological parent or not, the way you treat a child (a neighbor’s child, a nephew, niece, cousin, student, etc.) makes a difference; each of us has an obligation to humanity to demonstrate what it means to be humane to the next generation or else, we get this:
Kids are not put here to pleasure adult sexual fantasies. They are not meant to work in sweat factories or be the source of black market body parts (if don’t believe me, check out the fate ofAlbino children Tanzania: ) Children are not meant to be tools that divorced adults use to “get back” at one another or to “punish” one another. They are not meant to be a means to getting government subsidies or punching bags for frustrated adults who were most likely abused themselves. Nor are they put here to live through vicariously, pushing them into things that are torturous to them so that a mother who never got to be a beauty queen can be one through her child (like on that Tots in Tiaras show) or a father who was never good at baseball can shine through his son (the dad in at the little league park who yells and screams at his 8 year-old son over a ballgame that will be forgotten in a few weeks). They are not miniature adults and they DON’T understand all the things that can hurt them; that’s why they need parents: mothers and fathers and that’s why they need caring mentors, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) They are meant to be loved unconditionally, trained (notice that discipline is training and punishing is abusive and punitive) and taught that they have potential, unique callings and gifts to give the world.
Children end up bearing the brunt of brutality, abuse and hatred and they can’t fight back. They don’t have a voice. Who’s marching for them? Who’s standing up for the most vulnerable population in our county? Where are the protestors against thugs who shoot little kids?
Tonight I ask all of you who believe in prayer, to pray for the children, pray protection around them. Pray that the eyes and hearts of this nation be opened and that all those kind-hearted people of every shade, gender, spiritual and economic background unite to make this world a better, more-loving place for our heritage. And I ask that we band together and raise loud voices online, stating that we do not condone the harming of children, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually for any cause or purpose.
No more human trafficking.
No more drug culture.
No more abuse.
No more shootings.
Kids are more than a substance that takes up space and has weight. Kids are more than a clump of molecules and atoms. Kids are more than matter. They are humanity’s greatest potential.
Over the past week, I’ve spruced up my porch, painting things, planting flowers, etc. and in the process, I took down the American flag that’s been hanging there for the past ten years, because it doesn’t match the new decor. Today, I picked it up off the picnic table where I’d rolled it up and laid it down, intending to dispose of it in the proper way with the proper respect. But I stopped in my tracks, noticing how faded it really was, how frail, thin and torn. I noticed how it was so stained and that the red had turned rust and the white had turned gray. Suddenly, there was a pain in my spirit and tears in my eyes, because I was no longer looking at a symbol of America. I was looking at America herself.
America: Stained. Torn. Tattered. Faded.
America: Land of the free.
America: Home of the Brave.
I cried, realizing that I love America, even when she’s stained, torn and faded. I’m an idealist. I know that. Some might call it a weakness, if so, then let me be weak, because I dream of a land where all life is respected from the unborn to the ancient, where there are no color lines and the only hue is humanity and the only responses humane. I straightened the flag as best as I could and hung her back on my porch, where she waved in the southern breeze that blew up from the cow pasture. She may be tattered, worn and faded, but she’s still beautiful to me.
I’m from a multi-racial family in a small town in Southern Appalachia. We have a modge-podge of ethnicities: White, Black, Latina/o and Native American. I don’t think we have any Asians—yet, but my CRI Genetics test says I have Asian ancestry, so, it was there at one point in time (approximately 5 to 6 generations ago). I believe we are all human and that genetically, we are 99.5% the same (according to 23andMe), and what we do to one, affects us all.
Now before I make the next few statements, let me say that my little spill here will likely not change the minds of most people. I’m not speaking to minds now anyway. I’m speaking what’s in my heart, because I need to speak it. So, this blog post is a selfish one. I’m doing it for me, not you! But hopefully, someone will find something worthwhile within it.
That broken flag is a sign of blatant symbolism to me. You see, I’ve caught myself praying a lot these past few days. I was walking through the Dollar Store and realized that I was praying, out loud, asking for America to be healed and then I realized that healing has to come one heart at a time and that the reason our country is broken is because our people are broken. If we want to fix our country, then we have to fix our people and we can’t fix people by killing them, robbing them, burning their homes, etc. We also can’t fix people by legislating morality to them. Politics can’t fix our country, because politics can’t mend human spirits or awaken the ones that are asleep. Only a spiritual awakening in human hearts can fix our country. Notice that I did not say a return to religion, by the way. I said a spiritual awakening.
I think about how Gandhi said that if we live by an eye for an eye then the whole world would be blind and how Jesus said that if the blind leads the blind then they would both fall in the ditch and Crazy Horse who said that a good leader was one who served others rather expecting others to serve him. Yet, I feel like so many people today are concerned only about serving themselves and they will blindly follow anyone who makes that a little more possible. That literally that they are lovers of themselves, angry, proud, arrogant, loud, aggressive and filled with hate and fear, while others are self-loathing, depressed (and some strangely proud to be that way). However, I know there are peace lovers out there who believe we evoke change in the world by being the change, that we can protest injustices without more murder and destruction. Jesus said that if you live by the sword you die by the sword. Or in other words, violence simply breeds more violence and it is never the answer. The only time it may be the answer is when someone invades your home and threatens your family. Then you fight for survival. A lack of the right tennis shoes or want of a better job is not survival.
I think about the man called John who wrote that if we say we love God and hate our brother (or our neighbor or our fellow human being) then we are lying to ourselves. How can we love God that we haven’t seen if we can’t love the human being that we do see? And what is love, anyway? Well, in this context, it simply means to treat others with decency. This is where healing begins, with brotherly love. And love has to come from a heart that’s been touched by love.
So, tonight, I pray for a healing in the hearts of Americans. I pray for Love’s light to over power the darkness that has settled upon our country and I employ every child of light to shine, shine and shine. Shine your light. Love, love and love radically because if ever there was a time when America needed the healing of radical love, it’s now.
So, my tattered flag waved in the afternoon breeze and I realized that through her thread-bare stripes, there were patches of sunlight.
I believe there are only two basic emotions that exist in the world; LOVE and FEAR and that all others — happiness, jealousy, anger, sympathy, compassion, etc. are manifestations of whichever one we are walking in at the moment. I believe that it is impossible to act from fear and love at the same time.
If an action is intended to harm another, either physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, socially or spiritually, it’s motivated by fear. Sometimes, it’s a fear of being wrong about something, like politics or religion. The fear is that if we are wrong about one thing, then somehow our entire universe and grasp on reality will come undone. Sometimes, it’s a fear of change, because people fear the future or that the past will repeat itself. Some people are the opposite and fear a life of boredom and sameness. Some people fear a lack of control. Others fear being controlled. Sometimes, it’s a fear of being “without,” meaning having less financially or of being poor. Sometimes people fear those of another religion, race or ethnicity. Sometimes people fear getting older while others fear dying young. Some fear they will never have a relationship while others fear commitment. Ultimately, most are afraid of death, yet everyone must face it.
Some people have been raised up in fear, believing they might not be as good as other people, so they constantly lash out at anyone who threatens their notion of being “somebody.” Maybe they get angry over something as simple as a social media post that they disagree with politically or religiously or something like that, so they lash out violently with foul language and cruel private messaging, but it’s their own insecurities and learned behaviors that come into play, not really anything you’ve done.
If someone reacts violently or hatefully to you, they are reacting out of fear. Maybe it’s a generational fear that is buried so deep in them that they don’t even know it’s there. Maybe it’s a learned behavior, instilled and ingrained, but it’s still a fear.
If an action is intended to help another, either spiritually, physically, financially, emotionally, mentally, or socially; then it is motivated by love. Love compels us to acts of faith, *true confidence, *true humility, kindness, gentleness, *forgiveness, *objectivity, patience, and selflessness. Love brings joy and laughter and fond memories. It doesn’t lash out in anger and understands that others get tired and stressed. It doesn’t hold others to impossible standards or double standards. It doesn’t act in covert contract mode, expecting something in return. Love gives for the sake of giving, not receiving and shows gratitude when it does receive. Love brings growth, joy and life to everything it touches.
Every kind, compassionate and uplifting thing is done out of love. Every unkind thing is basically, an extension of fear or just plain old habit. In some cases, it’s both. If I am secure in love, then it doesn’t matter what someone says, it shouldn’t rattle me, or at least not for very long.
Love is like sunlight and water. Where there is love there is life.
A lot of people live in fear and the ironic thing about fear is that it causes people to run away from the positive, from hope and encouragement. It causes them not to recognize what is good when they see it and to label the strongest attributes of humanity: gentleness, kindness, patience, meekness, forgiveness, mercy, etc., as weak and mistakes brutality and violence for strength.
The truth is that it takes great courage to be gentle in a world where harshness is the standard. It takes great faith to be positive in a world where we are bombarded by negativity. Love brings us that courage and faith.
I’m reminded of Gladys Aylward, a tiny English woman, who led a hundred orphaned Chinese children to safety over the mountains during a time when all of China was in the grip of fear and war and she did it with love.
Love is the greatest force on earth. It is greater than war, greater than violence. It is greater than fear and it is greater than disease. Love endures forever and nothing can ever change that. Love is God and God is Love. If you want to know the Creator of the Universe, the One Who Never Dies, Great Spirit, Ancient of Days, the Force and Source of All, then look no further than Love.
*my definition of true confidence as opposed to cocky self-assurance is doing what you need to do with the faith that all will work out as it should and without the need to control people or outcomes.
*objectivity–in my mind–is the ability to remove your “personal” preferences, likes and dislikes, from a situation and see it from many angles and from the perspective of others involved and make the decision based on what pathway yields the most positive or favorable outcomes for everyone involved, taking into considerations the effects on and motivations of others.
*true humility–I believe that there is such a thing as false humility where a person acts humble in order to appear to be a “good person” or “more spiritual” but in truth the act is motivated by self-interest. True humility doesn’t care who’s watching or who’s not and will often try to perform in secret without getting recognized or needing recognition. True humility doesn’t need a pat on the back or a trophy. In the same way, true humility will propel you to the stage even when self pride wants you to sit back and not make a fool of yourself. It does what needs to be done for the good of everyone involved, regardless of who does or does not get the credit.
*forgiveness–does not mean forgetfulness. If a person has it in their nature to lie, cheat, steal or whatever, you don’t have to be blind to that fact, just accept that they are that way, keep your distance from them. Simply let go of any anger they caused you and don’t carry it or hold it against them. Caring a grudge will not punish them. However, it may add extra stress to your life and make you physically ill.
Lisa was 97 years old when I worked at the center for the elderly. She always sat in the chair by the door with a romance novel in her lap. I commented on her love of romance one day and she said, “I’m old, but I’m still human.”
I squatted beside her chair; her eyes sparkled. “When you grow old,” she said, “you don’t stop being human. You don’t stop having feelings or having dreams.” She shrugged, “I’m nearly a hundred, but as long as I am in this world, I have hopes.”
She then spoke of what it was like to have people look at her as if she weren’t in her right mind, because she was elderly and what it was like to have others think she needed someone to make decisions for her. She told me of how it wounded her pride to be treated like she was senile when she wasn’t, of how people just assumed that because she was old, she had somehow stopped having any pride or emotions or feelings of self-worth or that she deserved pretty things. Then spoke of how she had served as a nurse in WWII and how she had paid her dues for her country. She was a veteran. She told me of how she had come from the Choctaw Nation and she was an American of all Americans.
She asked me for hot cocoa and told me the special way she liked it. I went in the kitchen to make it and the young worker in there said, “You making chocolate for Lisa? She won’t like it. She’ll send you back. That old bitty can’t be satisfied.”
But I made it exactly as Lisa had told me to make it and if she had asked me to redo it, I would have done so. I sat beside her and listened to more stories until I had to go attend to another matter. Daily, I listened to Lisa’s stories and I read manuscripts from 80 year olds with dreams of becoming writers and I discovered something that I hope every 30 year-old will soon discover, age is nothing. Our spirits, the real us, are ageless, eternal.
Lisa at 97 was the same Lisa who had done all of those amazing things in her 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Lisa, at 97, was more mentally clear and intelligent than that 30 year-old who called her an old bitty. It is a foolish person who writes someone off because of age or appearance. She wasn’t any more demanding than I would have been in her shoes. Who wants to eat tasteless food and drink watered down hot cocoa? She wasn’t hard to please, she just wanted to be treated with dignity and respect. I don’t know what ever happened to Lisa. I’m sure she’s gone by now or else she is 115 years old, which isn’t impossible, but I doubt she’s still with us. Still, at 97, she taught me a thing or two about life and I am forever grateful for the two summers I spent working at the center and the insights I gained into human nature.
**Another post I found here in my drafts. I apparently, never finished it. It’s dated 2010. It sort of just leaves off in the midst of a train of thought, but I decided to post it anyway….
I think I’ve spent my whole life trying to communicate, to truly connect with others. This connection can’t be made in a materialistic way and it crosses all racial, cultural, gender and economic barriers.
I think I’ve always been trying to say what can’t be said with mere words, seeking a pure communication of the heart. I remember a co-worker once telling saying of me that I “always spoke my heart.” I responded with, “Is there another way to speak?”
I believe it was Like Ironweed who said, “You must speak straight so that your words may go like arrows to the sun.” I’ve tried to speak straight, to speak my true heart and to be true to what I believed. I think that perhaps in matters of style I have often wavered and changed course, but in matters of spiritual truth (not religion for there is an enormous difference between spirit truth and religious traditions forced upon others by those in authority) I have remained steadfast.
What matters to me most is spiritual truth and in knowing those spiritual truths, how we treat one another as human beings. So often the words we use are clumsy and get in the way of what we really want to say. Edgar Cayce, an American psychic, is quoted as having said that God put artists on the earth to act as windows to the spirit world. But in order for a window to offer a clear view, it has to be clean. I believe it was King David who prayed, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.” I wish for a pure spirit, a spirit without malice or intent to do harm or take advantage of others, a heart that doesn’t want to manipulate or control, a heart that sees the good in others, even when it’s not obvious.
I have long believed that my entire purpose for living in this world was to be a conduit, a window, to the spirit world. There is a way of wisdom and I long to walk in it. I’d rather be wise than beautiful. I’d rather be wise than famous. I’d rather be wise than wealthy. Once, when I was thirteen, I prayed that above all else, above beauty, above talent, above wealth, that I would be wise.
The spirit world is all around us every day. It is in the pond, it is in the rain and wind, in a baby’s giggle, a kitten’s purr, the night songs of the crickets, early spring peepers, because it’s in us if we chose to listen. In the spirit way, ordinary things are sacred and blessed and are of far more value than all the man-made things combined. The spiritual laws is the WAY in which we should conduct our lives in order to obtain true satisfaction, which is far above what the world deems as successful. It is the way is the way of kindness, forgiveness, love, selflessness, compassion, mercy, endurance, patience, understanding…everything that is good and lovely and worth thinking about. It is the way of the spiritual warrior.
The spirit world does not operate on the same value system as the laws of the materialist world and for that reason, the person who choses to walk the spirit way will often be misunderstood by those who value the material world most….
I diverge from my writings on depth psychology today and revisit a concept I found in my notes from some years ago. It comes on the heels of a post I made on my artist blog concerning one of my paintings. I look in the mirror and I see gray hair beginning to peep out of my dark strands and yet, I’m okay with it. I may dye it, eventually, if I don’t like the way it looks later on. But if I do, it’ll be my choice and not something that I feel pressured to do. However, like with many things, the voices in our world scream that we need to “fix” that gray hair, and instill fear that if our hair is gray, we are less attractive and if we are less attractive, then we are less valuable.
We are daily bombarded with messages that we need to be slimmer, taller, prettier, smarter, richer, younger-looking; that we need newer gadgets, smart cars, smart phones, smart homes, and I-everthings. The internet tells us what to wear, what to eat, and where to go. We get the message that we need to have these things or do these things in order to have a better life, to be happier. I actually know women who will not walk out their front door without make-up, because they’re afraid someone might see them and reject them. I want to tell them that make-up can’t make them beautiful or more acceptable. Beauty first has to come from inside.
It kind of reminds me of the story of Adam and Eve when the serpent told Eve she needed to bite the fruit because then she would be better. She would have something she didn’t already have, know something she didn’t already know. She would ‘move up in the world.’ Yet, Eve was already at the top and she already had all the knowledge she needed inside herself. All she had to do was trust the voice she already knew was true. But I don’t fault Eve. The liar was probably persistent, showing up day after day, looking good, charming, appealing, promising high rewards. The same thing happens to us all on a daily basis. The same lie, the lie that we “need” to obtain something to be worthy or better or just good enough, is being pitched to us all every single day and like Eve, we bite into it, and then offer the same critical lie to someone else. I believe happiness is found when we know our own worth and live according to our own values. In other words, we have to assert that we are ENOUGH and don’t need to bite into anything else.
Somewhere in our pasts someone criticized us out of their own insecurities or thoughtlessness or ignorance; but the criticisms stick, the lie continues, the lie that says, “You’re not _______ enough.” The lie says that you need to do something, obtain something, to be better, to have more knowledge.
At the very least it is a lie that causes a woman to look in the mirror and turn away with a knot in her stomach, feeling that she isn’t–enough. I hear women make negative statements about themselves all of the time. They look at some woman in a magazine and compare themselves. The kind of beauty we see on television and in magazines is what some money hungry cooperation has designed to get more in their bank accounts. That’s why fashion is always changing. They want things to consistently be hard to obtain so that people will pay more to get it…and that includes everything from beautiful hair to buns of steel…anything to make money.
Now, I’m not advocating letting yourself go. I believe in being responsible for the house I live in and not just letting it fall apart. Yes, we should try to eat right and get adequate sleep. We should exercise, but the belief that our value is tied up in our physical appearance or the things that we own, etc., is a lie. If that were so, beautiful young celebrities who “have it all” would not be overdosing or committing suicide.
Real beauty is found with the inward adorning of the heart. It’s okay to look our best, to want to be pretty, but the mistake comes when we began to believe that our value is tied to our appearance or that anyone in this this world actually knows what true beauty looks like. Who gives “them” the right to define what is beautiful? Is not beauty in the eye of the beholder as the old saying goes? When we allow anyone to determine our value based on…anything…or when we believe that our value is determined by what we look like, what we have or what we can do…we believe the lie that we are not____enough. It all comes down to who and what are we believe and our beliefs determine the quality of our lives, not our looks, not our bank accounts, not our popularity, but our beliefs. So, that is where beauty lies.
I recently found the following draft from a post I intended to publish in 2011, a month after my dad died. For some reason, I never published it. I thought it was fitting to post it now. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
I’m a writer and an artist.
I have discovered that whether I’m writing about a person, a character, or painting a person’s face, there is one thing I must do. I must really SEE the person.
I don’t mean that I have to notice the color of his hair or eyes, but I must really SEE. I have to determine what makes that woman in my chair, her. What characteristic makes that man, him.
Sometimes I portray a distant sadness, a longing in the eyes, sometimes…pride, self-importance and sometimes, a free and generous spirit. Sometimes a sketch ends up projecting a sense of wandering, longing. Often a person will sit in my chair and in ten minutes time tell me his or her entire life story. There is a comfort in having a stranger draw your face, much in the same way that there is a comfort in sitting next to a stranger on a bus or an airplane.
As an artist, I often feel like a bit of a palm reader. I have to look into a face and discover what line, what shadow or smudge, portrays the depth of a person’s character and if I leave it out or add what is not there, then I loose something.
It’s not so much an emotional experience. I suppose it can be, but it’s more like a revelation. I think drawing is a spiritual experience, not a religious one. Pencil on paper is honest and it’s hard to mask. Not everyone will sit in my chair. Some people are afraid to see themselves through the eyes of another. Some people are too self-important. Some just aren’t into art. Some just have ants in their pants and can’t sit for ten minutes.
Another thing being an artist has afforded me is a fly-on-the-wall view of people. Often times when I paint murals in a public place, people come and go without so much as realizing I’m there. I hear their conversations, pick up on body-language, and other things that I would not maybe notice if they were in conversation with me.
Whether I’m painting in a resturaunt, a school, a church, a business or drawing faces at a festival, pow-wow or some other type of gathering, I have come to understand that inevitably I will encounter the following types of people:
1. The-Whatever-People. These folks follow trend. They make up the vast majority. They don’t want to stand out, or think too deeply. They worry about being branded as weird, yet, they secretly want to confide their hopes, fears and life details to someone. They are usually good-hearted, hard-working people. They just want to be reminded that they have value.
2. The -I’m-More-Powerful-or-Spiritual–Than-You-or-Anyone-Else-Here-People. I call them the Moses Wannabes, because they want a crowd of followers. I’ve met them in churches VERY often. They are the ones who exert power over others, who tell me what I should or shouldn’t wear or whether or not my motives are “righteous”. They are the self-appointed gaurdians of everybody’s lives and the ones who rejoice to know that all the “unworthy” are gonna one day get what’s coming to ’em. They know more scripture or are somehow more equipped by God to tell me what it all means. They are the ones who expect people to follow them. And, of course, at Pow-wows, they are the ones who self-proclaim to know the “Old Ways” better than any of the rest of us and they are also the ones that get mad and storm off like a child when someone doesn’t swoon over them or asked them a question which they can’t answer [um, yeah, I do that sometimes]. They seem to gain energy from other people by exuding some type of control over them. I guess, in some ways, they are intimidators. They control by lording over others. They are dictators at heart.
2. The “Lone Wolf” People, this is usually the I’m-so-cool tough guy, you-can’t-touch-this type or the “Redneck Woman” (like from the song) kind of woman. These people are usually putting up a big front to mask the insecure child they still are on the inside. They’re usually full of a life lived in pain, fearful of rejection and terrified of being ridiculed and embarrassed, so they put up a front. Often, when they know they can trust me, the front falls. I meet a lot of biker, redneck types who are like this. I meet a lot of women who are like this. They often cuss and talk bold. They sometimes brag about fighting, but sometimes they tell me stories that tell me that they are fragile and vulnerable. They don’t want pity. They want someone to say to them that they are brave spirits. They are still searching. Their pretense isn’t to gain power over others. It is merely to protect themselves from pain and hurt and from those who want to exert power over them.
3. The I’m-a-Mystery-so-Notice-Me People. This is, I hate to say it, often the artist. Sometimes when I go to art festivals I will encounter artists who feel they don’t need to actually “talk” to you. They can just drift around, being all mysterious, because they get some kind of pleasure from people trying to find out about them. Seriously. I meet a lot of musicians like that, too (and oddly enough…mechanics) Sometimes, these folks will try to be all “mystical” and “super spiritual”. I don’t know what the deal is except that having a Merlin persona somehow gives them a boost of energy. Then there are the ones who are self-sacrificers because looking super humble and meek makes them feel more spiritual which in turn really feeds their ego.
4. Then there is the I’m Smarter Than You People. No matter what subject you bring up they know more about it. They are the “experts” on everything and rarely shut up long enough to learn anything. Whatever topic I bring up, they twist it back to their own topic of choice and ask me questions so they can prove how much more they know. They get power from imparting information, whether it’s correct or not. They just have to know that they know more than I do. So, I let them believe they do, because informing them otherwise might destroy their fragile selves.
5. There are the Poor-Me-Feel-Sorry-for-Me-Because-My-Life-Sucks People. These are the ones who gripe and complain and tell me all of their woes, their angst. It gives them a sense of power when someone feels sorry for them and it feeds them, at least for a little while. They have predetermined that their lives are full of negativity and it makes them feel good to know that they feel worst than the next person.
6. Finally, there are the Genuinely Rare People Every once in a while, I will encounter these rare gems. There are people wandering around out there, some who have endured great hardships, others who have not, yet they do not need anyone to pity them, nor do they need to be in charge, or to know more or to feel they are more spiritual. They do not need put on a show or try to prove how tough they are, because they KNOW who they are. They are like sparrows and dragonflies, they just exist and go through life being what they were created to be and doing what they were created to do. They aren’t afraid to laugh or smile or cry. Nothing is done for a show or to gain dominance over others and upon these people rests the responsibility to let others see that when you know what is true and you act on what is true then you are free.
They have no need to control because they have no fear of being controlled. They have no need to dominate because they have no fear of being dominated. They are the people who have learned the secret–the one who lets go, gains all and that the one who holds on too tightly ends up empty-handed.
They are not religious. They are not prideful. They do not feel that they have prominence over others and whenever one of these people happens to be a leader, they understand that being a leader means never asking another to do what you would not do yourself. It means never lording your posisition over others just for the sake of feeling important, not proclaiming yourself more annointed, or spiritual, or needed. They understand that each of us is a spoke in the wheel of life and no one spoke is more important than another.
When I was a kid I used to start giggling so hard that I couldn’t stop. My parents would say that I had my “giggle box” turned over. I see kids getting their giggle boxes turned over once in a while and tonight I’m thinking about how good that is for them and how maybe adults need to laugh a little more. It’s okay to be silly. We’d all be healthier if we could just let loose and giggle. It’s not just may opinion, either. Long ago King Solomon of Israel said, “A merry heart doth good like a medicine but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” It seems that modern science agrees, too.
Laughter releases dopamine and endorphins into a person’s body and activates the pleasure pathways to the brain. If a person laughs hard enough and often enough, these pathways become easier and easier to access. and this may be a key to overcoming depression. Granted, it’s hard to laugh when you’re depressed, but one chuckle can lead to another. When we’re down it’s tough to pull ourselves out and surround ourselves with funny but doing just that can potentially cure us.
So many times when we are sick, I’ve come to believe that it isn’t the sickness that gets us down as much as it is the worry, anxiety, pain and fear that go along with the sickness, not to mention the stress that comes with dealing with mounting bills, hospital stays and coping with how to handle every day life. These things continue to worsen a person’s emotional, mental and physical health. That’s where laughter comes in. Deep belly laughter triggers endorphins in the body, which act sort of like natural painkillers.
Humor is as important to our health as eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. George Burns, the famous comedian who lived to be over 100, attributed his long life to laughter. Many other centurions accredit laughter as one of the reasons for their longevity. You can’t take life too seriously, or it’ll take you out. I believe a person needs to laugh several hundred times a day. Psychoneuroimmunology is a field of research that is telling us that depression actually suppresses our immune systems. Laughter affects us exactly opposite of the way that stress does by decreasing epinephrine and cortisol levels. Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Medicine discovered that laughter also increases in germ-fighting cells.
Laughter ramps up your heart rate and circulation, and afterwards, the heart rate drops below average while the improved circulation continues. The body goes into a state of relaxation. In the same way that anger and stress can elevate your blood pressure and heart rate, laughter can lower it. Laughter also exercises your lungs and diaphragm. It creates vibrations that massage your internal organs. While stress and tension elevate stress hormones, tighten your muscles, constrict your blood vessels, upset your hormonal balance, and tax your immune system, laughter relieves tension, lowers stress hormones, improves hormonal balance and boosts your immune system.
I remember reading a Bible verse that talked about how the “joy” of the Lord is our strength. I do believe that evidence bears it out that joy which brings about laughter truly does give strength to our bodies. So, go ahead and get your giggle box turned over!
I believe Love is the force of all creation. When I speak of love, I’m not talking about romance. Romance is a compulsion to get people together so they will pro-create. I’m not talking about infatuation or needing to be with someone because they make you feel better about yourself. Some people think they are “in love” with a person but what they are really in love with is the way that person makes them feel, usually about themselves. Others say they “love” a person but what they really love is the sense of safety and security that the person gives them. Love isn’t about how someone makes us feel about ourselves. It’s not about “feeling” good, because if it were, it would be impermanent. If it’s impermanent, it’s not love. It’s something else disguised as love.
Love is an eternal connection that may or may not involve sexual interaction. Love is the spirit energy of life itself. Love is the light of the world and without that light, life on earth would have ended long ago. In essence, Love is the author of life, the source of faith and without it, hope is squelched.
Now faith is the substance (foundation, elemental make-up) of things hoped for, the evidence (proof) of things not yet seen. Faith works on the principle of Love and Love casts out all fear. If we are made perfect in Love we are not acting in fear. If we are acting out of fear, then we are not acting from a center of Love. Fear has to do with punishment. I have heard it said that there are only two true motivators for every human act: love or fear.
Some would argue that greed, violence and the struggle for power are not motivated by fear, but they are. If a person feels the need to keep getting more and more and more material possessions then ultimately he or she has a deep rooted fear of not having enough, not being powerful, etc. All acts of narcissism and selfishness are rooted in some realm of fear; fear of disrespect, fear of lack, fear of death, fear of disapproval, fear of abandonment, fear of being powerless, fear of physical harm, etc. Fear compels us to harm others, to manipulate others and to try to control others.
Love, however, is fearless. Love is God and God is Love. God doesn’t “have” love. God IS love. Those are not my original words. They were written by a man named John, the same guy who said that perfect love casts out all fear. So when we live by the principles of Love, we live by the principles of God.
What are those principles? We have Paul’s account in I Corinthians 13. We have other accounts in other books, too. Here they are in my own words.
WHEN YOU ACT FROM LOVE….
*you never give up on a person or a dream. You may have to walk away sometimes in order to protect your other loved ones or even your own life, because you do have to love and care for yourself, forgive yourself and be kind to yourself (think of it as putting the oxygen mask on yourself first when a plane is going down so you can be alive to help save the person with you.) Walking away doesn’t mean you’ve stop caring; only that you have to think about others and is sometimes as much or more an act of love as staying.
*you don’t wish “bad” on others
*you don’t want what others have or plot to take it
*you don’t think yourself more deserving or better than others
*you don’t force yourself on others. Real love, real respect, doesn’t push itself on people.) Respect them enough to walk away or let go and not keep pushing on them until they react the way you think they should.
* you aren’t arrogant and need everything to be all about you and your needs or wants. Believe in yourself and seek to do your best but don’t expect or wish for others to pat you on the head and tell you how wonderful you are.
*you don’t brag about how great you are.
*you don’t always assume that your needs are the most important and insist on being first all the time.
*you aren’t quick to get angry and fly off the handle or throw a fit every time something doesn’t go your way or when people don’t give you what you want.
*you don’t plot revenge on people or seek to socially destroy them even when they don’t do what you want or even if they do something that “hurts” you. Remember that they may not be very spiritually advanced and pray for them to be able to ‘see.’
*you don’t constantly bring up someone’s short-comings or past mistakes.
*you don’t try to guilt people into behaving the way you want them to or doing what you want them to. I’ve heard so many people pull the “if you really loved me you’d________) card.”
*you don’t take pleasure in the downfall of others, even those who have been unkind to you.
*you are glad when someone or yourself learns true things, receives beautiful things or has a joyful experience. Celebrate in the successes of others.
*you rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.
*you look for the best in others and see the best in all situations.
*you don’t look back. The past is over. The future is out of sight. Make today the best it can be.
*you keep going. Never give up on yourself, your dreams and never give up on others.
*treat everyone with dignity, basic human respect and compassion
THIS IS LOVE.
Love doesn’t force people to bend to its will, doesn’t manipulate them into conforming, guilt them into acting, intimidate them into surrender, interrogate them into sorrow or dismiss them into despair. Love simply accepts people as they are and asks nothing in return. Love has not strings attached and no covert contracts.
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
I believe in the spirit realm that we are all equal regardless of our gender or shade of skin. All the trappings of gender issues are man-made, not God-made. Sure there are biological differences between men and women, but the truth is that honor is not bound by gender. Dreams are not bound by gender. Having a purpose is not bound by gender. Faith, courage, nobility, intelligence and personal values are not bound by gender. Your worth as a human being and to society is not bound by your gender.
I remember hearing teachings in church when I was a teenager that left me feeling sad that I’d been born a female. I sometimes felt like that without saying it outright people actually believed that God valued men more than women. Certainly, some societies did and still do. And yes, that makes me angry.
It bothered me that a God who was supposed to be just and kind could love one kind of person more than another when we didn’t even get to choose which kind of body we lived in. That seemed like loving people who lived in big houses more than people who lived in small houses and to me that seemed awfully narrow-minded for such a “big” God.
Women have made enormous contributions to history and society. They just haven’t always been reported.
without Suzanna Wesley there would be no Methodist Church. She taught Charles and John Wesley to read before the age of five. She was extremely intelligent and highly literate.
without Joan of Arc French battle strategies would not have evolved.
without Sacajawea Lewis and Clark would have utterly failed. She was the bravest one, the most enduring one in that crew and she did it with a baby strapped to her back.
without Pocahontas the greedy gold grubbers of Jamestown would have all died of starvation.
without Rahab the whore, Ruth the pauper and Mary the teenage mother, Jesus Christ would never have been born. There would be no Christianity.
without Ester, the harem girl, the Jewish nation would have been slaughtered.
without Boudicca the people of Ireland and England might never have driven out the Roman Empire.
without sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington, Paul Revere’s warning may not have been enough. He wasn’t the only one who rode that night. There was a young woman who was just as brave. She simply didn’t get printed in most history books.
without Rebecca Boone, Daniel’s kids would have starved. While he was gone for two years at a time (and got one of his sons killed by dragging him off into the wilderness,) she hunted game (like deer), carried it home herself, skinned it, cooked it and fed ten kids. Daniel got the recognition, but Rebecca was the hero.
without Lozen Geronimo’s stand might not have been as impactful.
without Elizabeth Jennings African Americans would not have been allowed to ride on New York street cars until much later than 1860. She went to jail a century before Rosa Parks and for the same reason, standing up for rights.
without Rosa Parks the freedom movement might never have been born. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream might never have come to be.
without Clara Bardin there would be no Red Cross.
without Mary Shelley, Frankenstein wouldn’t exist.
without Madame Curie, where would nuclear physics be now?
without Nancy Grace Roman there probably wouldn’t be a Hubble.
without Chien-Shiung Wu there would be no atomic bomb. Although, she didn’t receive credit for it, her work made it possible to develop a process that separated uranium metal into isotopes through a process known as diffusion. This led to an increase in the amount of uranium that could be used as fuel for atomic bombs.
So, whether we are male or female, we can live with honor and courage and respect. We can walk in kindness and love and it is never anything to be ashamed of for wanting to do what we believe is the right thing.
Few songs have touched my heart like this one has. To me, Irish music moves the soul, stirs the spirit and I feel that of all the gifts Ireland has given the world (and there are many) her music is most penetrating.
“Therefore, on that day when I was rebuked, as I have just mentioned, I saw in a vision of the night a document before my face, without honour, and meanwhile I heard a divine prophecy, saying to me: ‘We have seen with displeasure the face of the chosen one divested of name.’ And he did not say ‘You have seen with displeasure’, but ‘We have seen with displeasure’ (as if He included Himself) . He said then: ‘He who touches you, touches the apple of my eye.'”– Saint Patrick
Old Irish: Rop tú mo baile, a Choimdiu cride: ní ní nech aile acht Rí secht nime. Rop tú mo scrútain i l-ló ‘s i n-aidche; rop tú ad-chëar im chotlud caidche. Rop tú mo labra, rop tú mo thuicsiu; rop tussu dam-sa, rob misse duit-siu. Rop tussu m’athair, rob mé do mac-su; rop tussu lem-sa, rob misse lat-su. Rop tú mo chathscíath, rop tú mo chlaideb; rop tussu m’ordan, rop tussu m’airer. Rop tú mo dítiu, rop tú mo daingen; rop tú nom-thocba i n-áentaid n-aingel. Rop tú cech maithius dom churp, dom anmain; rop tú mo flaithius i n-nim ‘s i talmain. Rop tussu t’ áenur sainserc mo chride; ní rop nech aile acht Airdrí nime. Co talla forum, ré n-dul it láma, mo chuit, mo chotlud, ar méit do gráda. Rop tussu t’ áenur m’ urrann úais amra: ní chuinngim daíne ná maíne marba. Rop amlaid dínsiur cech sel, cech sáegul, mar marb oc brénad, ar t’ fégad t’ áenur. Do serc im anmain, do grád im chride, tabair dam amlaid, a Rí secht nime. Tabair dam amlaid, a Rí secht nime, do serc im anmain, do grád im chride. Go Ríg na n-uile rís íar m-búaid léire; ro béo i flaith nime i n-gile gréine A Athair inmain, cluinte mo núall-sa: mithig (mo-núarán!) lasin trúagán trúag-sa. A Chríst mo chride, cip ed dom-aire, a Flaith na n-uile, rop tú mo baile.
Modern Irish: Bí Thusa ‘mo shúile a Rí mhór na ndúil Líon thusa mo bheatha mo chéadfaí s mo stuaim Bí thusa i m’aigne gach oiche s gach lá Im chodladh no im dhúiseacht, líon mé le do ghrá Bí thusa ‘mo threorú I mbriathar ‘s i mbeart Fan thusa go deo liom is coinnigh mé ceart Glac cúram mar Athair, is éist le mo ghuí Is tabhair domsa áit cónaí istigh i do chroí
English: Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light. Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one. Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight; Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight; Thou my souls Shelter, Thou my high Tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power. Riches I heed not, nor mans empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art. High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heavens joys, O bright Heavens Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.