Monday, November 26, 2018

Surrendering to Divine Will

          Doesn’t it irk you when someone says it must have been God’s will for a loved one to get sick and die? Or when a friend says, “God needed another angel” to explain a tremendous loss? And how about the insurance companies that refer to natural disasters as “Acts of God?” Why do we blame God when bad things happen? It’s no wonder some people balk when they think about submitting to divine will. Doesn’t that mean giving up control and letting bad things happen? God gave us free will for a reason, so why should we let it go?

If there is any aspect of traditional Christianity that metaphysicians agree with, it is that God gave humanity free will. When the earth was first created, it was truly a paradise, as symbolized by the Garden of Eden. People chose to live within divine will because it was a blissful existence of beauty, peace, harmony, love, and light. This heaven on earth existed at a higher vibratory level than the dimension we live in now. This is why archeologists will never find the remains of those advanced civilizations, nor the dragons, unicorns, and other so-called mythological beings that actually lived on earth at one time.

Having free will allowed people to experiment, and eventually our experimentation led us away from divine will. The allegory of Adam and Eve eating the apple from the Tree of Knowledge symbolizes their taste of self-will which they found to be seductive and titillating and led them away from God. We were not kicked out of the Garden of Eden. We chose to leave our state of perfection in order to experience the physical delights of this three-dimensional existence. Eventually we forgot what it was like to be in divine will, and some of our free-will choices led to the poverty, sickness, and violence that we know in this world.

Jesus reminded us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In my version of the Lord’s Prayer I wrote: “We give thanks for your blessing of the kingdom within and ask that you help us to know it is here and now when we choose your will over our own.” I wrote this because I realize we have to do more than ask God that divine will be done. We must choose divine will in our own lives if we hope to see God’s plan for the earth to manifest.

How do we know when we are choosing divine will rather than our own self will? When we act in love; when we choose to do that which is for the highest good of all, not just what we want for ourselves, we can be pretty certain we are in alignment with divine will. Often there is more than one possibility for a divine will decision, just as there are many paths to Oneness with the Divine.

As Edgar Cayce’s readings tell us: “We are capable of choices that are truly free because we are children of God, spiritual beings, and as cocreators with God, capable of truly creative expression.” Sometimes our choices lead us away from our soul’s mission for this life, which is the same for everyone: Christ consciousness - the return to Oneness with the soul of God. Cayce said that all souls were created in the image of Love, and it is our destiny to be conformed to that image. We as spiritual beings, possessing free will, must one day manifest that accord through using our free will and co-creativity in total accord with the great commandment: to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and our neighbor as our self.

In other words, it is our destiny to surrender to divine will, but we can take as many lifetimes as we want to fulfill that destiny, and we can do it in whatever way we choose. Some choices lead us through difficulties from which we can learn and grow. Eventually Divine Love changes our stumbling blocks into stepping stones that lead back to the path of Oneness. This is the slow and painful method of spiritual growth that all of us have chosen – or we wouldn’t be here, in this school of life.

Maybe when we think about doing God’s will we imagine a narrow, rigid life, like that of a nun or a monk who does nothing but fast and pray. We forget that God is a Creator who made us in His and Her image, to be co-creators. God gave us free will so that we could be creative! But “divine will” implies choices in harmony with universal law which give us greater freedom to create and express ourselves.

I used to think that there had to be a specific plan for my life, and if I could only learn what God’s will for me was, I would know what to do. I can’t tell you how many psychic readings, attunements, and horoscopes I had in my search for the answer. According to these readings I could have done any number of things with my life. People used to go to Edgar Cayce for vocational advice, and he would tell them to choose! Like me, they wanted to be told what to do, so they wouldn’t have to make a decision. But like me, they learned that being in divine will doesn’t mean we don’t have choices. It just means we have to make our choices based on love, and there are many ways to do that!

Whatever you choose to do with your life, do it in love, and you will be in alignment with divine will. One of my favorite channels, Sanaya Roman, channeled these words from the higher light being, Orin: “As you align with Divine Will and allow your life to change for the better, you make a wonderful contribution to humanity. One life well lived, aligned with the soul, guided by higher energies, and in harmony with the souls of all life can impact thousands of lives in a positive way. You do not need to be famous, give speeches, change professions, or do anything differently with your life to serve humanity and to make an important contribution. It is your vibration, your inner light, and the qualities that you embody that are your greatest gifts to humanity.”

But, we might ask, how do we know if we are aligning with Divine Will? When faced with a decision, if we automatically choose what we want without considering whether it is for the highest good of all concerned, it is probably not in alignment with Divine Will. 

When I discussed Divine Light in a previous post, I mentioned that the First Ray of Blue Light, that is strongest on Mondays, is the Flame of the Will of God. The Master El Morya, whose physical embodiments included those of Abraham, King Arthur, and Sir Thomas Moore, is in charge of the First Ray. According to El Morya’s transmission to Aurelia Louise Jones for her book, The Seven Sacred Flames, “The First Ray has a unique position in this great evolutionary plan of Creation because this ray represents the initial impulse by which the ideas, born of the Heart and Mind of God, are given to Life.”

Most of us in the third dimension do not like change, even if it is for our benefit, because we are used to our lives the way they are. How many of us would be willing to pack up and move to a new city if we knew it was God’s will for us to do so? Would we be willing to change our beliefs if we learned that some of our cherished ideas were not in sync with divine will? Will we give up some of our leisure activities to spend time on the spiritual disciplines that will help us to pass the initiations of the First Ray?

In order to ascend, to be admitted into the fifth dimension, we must be willing to make the changes necessary to express our unconditional obedience to the great Love, Wisdom, and Power of God. El Morya says: “When an individual dedicates himself to becoming a ‘candidate for Ascension’ or a ‘Teacher of the Law,’ and his motive is to spread the light with purity of heart and transparency, not simply to make a living, we immediately enfold such a one under our Wings of Love and offer protection and guidance. One must learn to become a disciple before becoming a master.”

When every member of the human race surrenders to Divine Will, we will no longer need bridges to Oneness – because we will BE one with one another, with God, and with all of Creation.

The Lemurian Connection

Mount Shasta

       For many years I have heard and read bits and pieces about the hollow earth theory and wondered if there could be any truth in it. It was one of those ideas that I put on "the back burner" because it was too far-fetched, and I didn't see any reason to take it seriously or delve into it very deeply. But last year I started to learn about Mount Shasta and all of its mysterious connections. I discovered that Mount Shasta is said to be the home of the Lemurians who escaped from the ancient continent of Lemuria before it sank into the Pacific Ocean over 12,000 years ago. 

       The Lemurians live in a crystal city, called Telos, inside of the mountain. They are greatly advanced beings who live in the Fifth Dimension, which is heaven on earth. Telos is connected to other underground cities which are all inhabited by advanced civilizations. I am not going to offer a lot of details about Telos because so much information is available online. I have read several books on the subject, my favorites having been written by the late Aurelia Louise Jones who channeled Adama, the high priest of Telos. 

       Some readers of this blog will think that the whole story of Lemuria, Telos, and the hollow earth is mythology, and they are free to believe as they do. I have chosen to believe the truth of this story because the books I have read are so convincing and full of wisdom, and because I WANT to believe that these advanced beings are offering to help us on our own path to ascension. When humanity proves that we are ready to meet them in person, they will come to the surface to assist us in creating paradise on earth, just as they have within our world.  

       You can learn much more about the Lemurians and what they have to teach us at The Lemurian Connection. The Lemurians can help us to build bridges between heaven and earth, and to one another. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Two Kinds of Wheels


       My husband, Mark, is a motorcycle enthusiast and a cyclist. One day he will take to the back roads on his motorcycle and the next day he'll head out on his bicycle. He enjoys riding both ways for different reasons, but when he's out on the road he experiences different reactions from fellow riders. When he's on his motorcycle, he waves to every other biker and cyclist he passes. The bikers wave back, but very few of the cyclists respond. When he sails down a hill on his bicycle, waving to everyone he passes, the other cyclists wave back, but very few of the bikers do. He has come to the conclusion that there is a club for each type of rider, and the club members don't mix. He wrote a song about riding both kinds of bikes and how we might build bridges by recognizing the attributes of both. 

       You can see the video we made to go with the song here. If the link doesn't work for you, please try going directly to You Tube and search for Mark VanLaeys. The name of the song is "Two Wheels." Mark VanLaeys: Two Wheels.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Presence of Divine Light

The following is a sermon I delivered at the Oneonta Institute of Spiritual Development: 

Most of us in this room think of ourselves as “lightworkers.” It is our purpose in life to bring divine light and healing to the world. Each of us performs this service in our own way. We can feel the energy of this light when we work with it, but very few of us can actually see it. Some believe that divine light is a metaphor for truth and enlightened wisdom. What do you think? Is divine light really just a metaphor? Is it an energy? Or is it a physical light or flame that can actually be seen in the higher dimensions of existence?

Of all the symbols and metaphors attributed to the Divine, Light is the one found most frequently throughout the religious scriptures and spiritual beliefs of humanity. Followers of earth-based religions have worshiped sun gods and fire gods for thousands of years. The Psalmist wrote: "The Lord is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear?" The Quran proclaims: "God is the light of the heavens and the earth."

Anyone who is familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures knows that they are full of references to Light and Fire, starting at the very beginning: And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:3-4)

Light is the very first thing that God created from the “formless void” of the heavens and the earth. The author of Genesis does not specify the sun as the source of this light. The sun and the stars were not created until the fourth day! This discrepancy may just be the understanding of the author’s primitive mind. Or is it possible that light actually exists in the universe apart from the sun, the moon, and the stars?

In the 19th century, British physicist James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated that visible light was merely one small portion of the vast electromagnetic spectrum. Heinrich Hertz discovered the existence of radio waves, and since then scientists have discovered X-rays, microwaves, infra-red, ultraviolet and gamma rays — all invisible forms of electromagnetic radiation. In his book, The Akashic Light: Religion’s Common Thread, T. Lee Baumann, M.D. says: “. . . even in the deepest, darkest vacuum of space, there are over 400 million photons of non-visible light per cubic meter.” This non-visible light may or may not be the original light that the author of Genesis was referring to. But then, our Creator God is invisible to the human eye, just as are these various forms of light.

Dr. Baumann also tells us that “Quantum physics has successfully established that light is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and that it has characteristics that some describe as consciousness.” Baumann believes that science and the world’s sacred texts support the claim that descriptions of God in terms of light may well be literal – not metaphorical.

We, in metaphysical circles, will agree that much of the Bible is allegorical, metaphorical, and symbolic. So, what do we think about the story in Exodus 3:2 where: “the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, and yet it was not consumed.”

Moses seems to be an exception to the “rule” that human beings cannot see Divine Light. Notice that it was not God, but an angel of the Lord who appeared in the burning bush. But in Exodus 3:4 we read: “. . . the LORD saw that he had gone over to look,” and “God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’”

Moses lived in constant communion with God, obedient to God’s will. I am guessing that he spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation in order to maintain this relationship. After all, God says: “Be still and know that I am God.” Moses must have known how to still the chatter in his own mind so that he could hear God’s voice. Perhaps the years spent in meditation had nurtured his clairvoyant abilities so that he could see the light of God that is invisible to most people.

These are just two of the many references to Divine Light in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Bhagavad Gita, holy book of Hinduism, also contains many references to Divine Light. One of the most beautiful passages is as follows:

The Blessed One said: . . .
I am light in the moon and sun . . .
And brilliance in fire am I . . . .
 (Bhagavad Gita: VII:8-9)

And then:
Of a thousand suns in the sky
if suddenly should burst forth
The light, it would be like
unto the light of that exalted one . . .
A mass of radiance, glowing on all sides,
I see Thee, hard to look at, on every side
With the glory of flaming fire and sun, immeasurable.
I see Thee, whose face is flaming fire,
Burning this whole universe with Thy radiance. (Bhagavad Gita: XI:12-19)

Surely the author of these scriptures had personally experienced the radiant light of God, just as Moses had. In a meditative state, he could have seen the radiance of the non-visible photons that fill the universe.

The Buddhists of ancient times knew about the Divine Light that we meet when we leave our physical bodies; the love-filled light that is encountered by veterans of the Near-Death Experience. A Tibetan Buddhist lama reads from The Buddhist Tibetan Book of the Dead to a dying or recently deceased person. This is a section of that reading:

Now thou art experiencing the Radiance of the Clear Light of Pure Reality. Recognize it. Thine own intellect, which is now voidness, yet not to be regarded as of the voidness of nothingness, but as being the intellect itself, unobstructed, shining, thrilling, and blissful, is the very consciousness, the All-good Buddha.

Zoroastrianism was founded in Persia sometime between 1500 and 600 B.C.E. Zoroastrians believe in a single god: Ahura Mazda, the “Spirit of Light and Good.” The religious rituals of Zoroastrianism are performed before sacred fires, which represent God. The wise men who followed the light of a bright star to find the child Jesus, are widely believed to have been Zoroastrian priests and astronomers.

The child Jesus grew up to be Jesus the Christ, who said to his followers: “I am the light of the world." Jesus was our way shower; his life was a pattern that demonstrated how we can live as bridges of light between earth and heaven. Jesus also said: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-17)

Traditionally this verse has been interpreted as a metaphor -- with light symbolizing the gifts and talents we use to perform good deeds. But now that scientists have discovered that invisible light shines throughout the universe, we can ask, why shouldn't some of this invisible light dwell within our very own selves?

       Mystics and those who have returned from near-death experiences have had first-hand encounters with the living, intelligent Divine Light. They describe the Light as the embodiment of unconditional love. Whether we can see it or not, we, too, can experience this Light in meditation and prayer, let it fill the cells in our bodies, and radiate it back out to the world.

       It wasn't until nine years ago, when I worked with the CD: Solar Radiance: Becoming a More Perfect Light, Orin Meditations channeled by Sanaya Roman, that I experienced light as an energy that I could invite into my body, be transformed by, and send out to be shared with others. Having reached the understanding that every aspect of Creation is composed of the same Light, Love, and Intelligence as its Creator, I understood that the sun truly is Divine, just as many ancients believed. I enjoyed these meditations during a sojourn to Ocean City, Maryland, where my husband attended a physician's assistant conference. While he was listening to medical lectures, I soaked up the rays of the physical sun on the beach, and encountered the radiance of the sun's soul (solar soul light!).

       Later, back home, I invited a clairvoyant-gifted friend to visit and watch while I meditated with solar light. I knew that this friend had the ability to see what was happening on the higher planes of reality, so I wanted to find out if her observation would verify the experience I thought I was having. She took notes while I meditated, and later told me she couldn't write fast enough to document all of the changes she saw! The first thing that happened was that my face and form grew blurry and blended into my surroundings. Then my face began to glow with a white aura. It became lighter as I meditated on filling myself with more light. When my face and body grew distinct again, it was a younger, taller, and more beautiful version of me. (Gee, I wish I could have seen that!)

       When Sanaya's voice told me to radiate my light out into the room, my friend saw the light in my living room grow brighter, and she felt its peacefulness. During the section about joining with latticework of light in the universal mind, she saw a pattern, like a checkerboard of light, emanate from my head out into the room. Near the end of the meditation, Sanaya says to imagine a more and more perfect light, at which point my friend saw the white light from my face rise higher and higher.

       This experience taught me that the imagination is more powerful than most people realize. While I was imagining the experiences that Sanaya described on the CD, they were actually happening in the spiritual realm that my friend could see. Afterward, I knew with certainty that Divine Light is a real force in our lives, that we can experience it ourselves, and use it to transform the world into the beautiful, peaceful place God meant it to be. It will take many people working with the Light to expand its beauty from the confines of our homes, but the more we work with the Light, the stronger it becomes.

          Something else I have learned about divine light in recent years is that, in the higher vibratory levels of existence, there are many realms of Light, and there are more colors and varieties of Light than we can imagine, and all of them embody different facets of Divine Love. Some of these Light energies take the form of colored rays that infiltrate the earth and all who live here, to aid us on our path to reunion with God. There are seven major rays, one for each day of the week.

          All energies of the seven rays flood the earth daily, but on each day of the week one of the rays becomes predominant, and we can focus on that ray in our meditations. On Sunday, the Yellow Ray of Wisdom, Illumination, and the Mind of God is amplified. On Monday, it is the Royal Blue Ray of the Will of God. On Tuesday we can focus on the Rose-Pink Ray of Divine Love. Wednesday is the day that the Emerald Green Ray of the Divine Flame of Healing and Abundance is amplified. On Thursday, focus on the Golden Ray of the Resurrection Flame. Friday is the Pure White Ray of Purity of the Ascension Flame, and Saturday is the day for the Violet Ray of Transmutation and Freedom.

          There is a lot to learn about these rays and how to use them in your spiritual work. If you’d like to know more, I recommend getting a copy of the book, The Seven Sacred Flames by Aurelia Louise Jones. The seven rays are also referred to as flames. The ascended masters tell us that these immortal and eternal Flames of God will work for us as we work with them. Spiritual progress is brought forth as the result of daily application of God’s laws, God’s energies through the seven main rays, and the clearing of one’s karma and emotional body.
I know that most of you are already working with Light in your own ways. If you haven’t tried it, though, I suggest imagining the golden rays of Divine Light, or the color of the ray for that day, entering through your crown, and filling every atom of your body. See the light growing brighter and brighter. Reality arises from the realm of imagination. As you visualize yourself growing lighter, you will feel light and peaceful within. When you feel that you are full of light, visualize streams of light emanating from your body out to the people or places that need healing.

Many believe that the only way to true transformation will come when more people understand that Light is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and that each of us can use Light to heal our lives and our world. When seen with our spiritual eyes, this inner light will shine so brightly that our bodies will be full of light. Let us radiate our Light out into the world, to bring peace and goodwill to all of Creation.

You are the light of the world - so let your light shine!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Building Bridges with Letters

Image result for painting of woman writing letters   

    The other day I came across a magazine article that advised readers to slow the pace of modern life by handwriting a letter – on stationery – and putting some pretty stamps on the envelope. What a novel idea!  And what a way to make us seniors feel old, telling people how to enjoy an old custom that used to be a common practice. As a high school student in the 1960s I had a dozen pen pals – several in different states, and others in England, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. We loved filling each other’s mail boxes with the letters we decorated with a variety of stamps, because stamp collecting was part of the fun of receiving mail. Our letters were handwritten, because very few kids knew how to type in those days. Typewriters weren’t used for personal letters anyway. They were used for school papers and business letters, if at all.

I learned to type during the summer of 1969, between my sophomore and junior years in high school, because typing was not part of the regular curriculum for college-bound students. When I started college in the fall of 1971, my parents gave me a manual typewriter that I would use to type papers for my classes. I have to wonder why typing was not included in the college prep curriculum since it was an essential skill for a college student. Some of my peers had to pay a typist to do what they had never learned to do themselves!

I was still using the old manual in graduate school and beyond, to bang out the stories I submitted for publication by obscure periodicals. The term “bang out” applies to manuals because the keys have to be hit pretty hard to make a mark on a sheet of paper. The carriage had to be returned manually at the end of every line. Errors had to be repaired with correcting or liquid paper, and sometimes a page looked so patched up it had to be re-typed. No wonder we preferred to handwrite letters – and pretty stationery was always a welcome gift.

After college and graduate school, I held several office jobs where I learned to use an electric typewriter that didn’t require as much muscle as the manual.  In my job as an editorial assistant I used an IBM Selectric – a new-fangled machine that used a typing element or “type ball” instead of individual typebars. Wow, did that thing go fast!  But I would have been happy to have a regular electric typewriter to type the stories that I wrote when I got home from work. I planned to buy one when my husband graduated from the surgeon’s assistant program at UAB and got a job. Little did I know that Mark was selling his blood to the plasmapheresis bank in order to surprise me with an electric Smith Corona for Christmas in 1979!

That Smith Corona served me well for nearly twenty years. Then the “Q” typebar malfunctioned, and I had to ink in a ‘q’ every time I wrote about a queen, a quilt, or a quintet. In 1999 I broke down and took a computer class at the Utica School of Commerce in Oneonta. I realized I would have to learn to use a computer if I was to be a part of the twenty-first century working world. A computer keyboard has so many keys that aren’t found on a typewriter! Crazy things happened to my manuscript when I hit the wrong key: entire paragraphs would disappear in a millisecond. Sometimes I cried and called a computer-savvy friend, who came over on her lunch break to rescue me from despair.

The first position where I had to use my new-found computer skills was as administrative assistant for the local Girl Scout office. I thought I was doing fine until a Girl Scout leader called to find out why I wasn’t answering the email messages she was sending. Email? What was that? So, I learned about email and eventually set up my own email account.

These days I check my email about once an hour. I receive messages from family and friends, as well as clients. My business, Custom Ceremonies, would not exist without access to the internet. My clients, mainly prospective brides and grooms, find me online, and their personalized ceremonies are created on the computer and sent to them for approval via email. But I still check my mailbox every day – the one on the front porch – because I occasionally receive a letter from one of my friends who likes to write letters the old-fashioned way. And I answer their letters in handwritten prose, affixing a pretty stamp to the envelopes, because I know my friends will enjoy receiving them as much as I enjoy receiving theirs.

The Trials and Tribulations of Gardening

Image result for images of deer in gardens

When we moved to our home in Oneonta, New York 29 years ago our driveway was bordered by hosta and daylilies in a variety of colors. Tulips bloomed in the spring alongside daffodils and forget-me-nots. The kids liked to pop the hosta buds and the orange and yellow striped day lilies were Mark’s favorite flower. I was thrilled to have a good head start on the perennial flower beds I planned to have in abundance. Knowing that perennials would return every year, I figured I could look forward to many lazy summers once I had done the initial work of establishing my gardens.  

I started by reading books on perennial gardening and how to plan a color scheme with continuous bloom from spring through early fall. I dug up my garden beds, amending the soil with the free horse manure Mark helped me collect from a local farm. Then I went shopping for plants!

The first few years I was very pleased with the results of my labors. Then strange things began to happen. Some of the perennials that I thought would last forever disappeared. Volunteer plants would show up in odd spots – ruining my scheme but looking too pretty to remove. Slugs nibbled holes in hosta leaves, powdery mildew mottled the leaves of phlox and beebalm, and aphids devoured my lupines. I tried to deal with each problem organically, but without success. Purchasing a package of ladybugs to kill the aphids, I followed the directions to pour coke on the ladybugs before releasing them into the garden so they wouldn’t fly away. Why would they want to leave when there was a feast of aphids just waiting to be consumed? But leave they did. The coke dried up, the ladybugs flew off, and the lupines had to be dug up.

One spring I found tulips petals lying on the ground, but I never discovered which garden pest lopped off blossoms just for the fun of it. When the deer invaded our neighborhood, they came to feast. Our hosta bed was their salad bar and the tulips were dessert. The demolished hosta were ugly and had to be removed. Digging up those colossal root balls was a formidable task. I posted an ad in the paper: “Deer-nibbled hosta. You dig it, you can have it.” Gardeners from deer-free neighborhoods came to take the hosta, and then the deer attacked my daylilies.

So much for the lazy gardening life I had anticipated. I learned that gardening is an ongoing challenge. Many of the plants I started out with had to be replaced with deer-resistant varieties. After Mark fenced in the backyard I was able to have hosta again, but the backyard is so shady that many of our favorites will not bloom there. I am still digging up daylilies, hydrangea, and other deer favorites in the front yard, replacing them with sage, ferns, fuzzy lamb’s ears, and other things that are distasteful to our ruminant neighbors.

The deer are not the only culprits that turn gardening from a labor of love to a battle with nature. Sometimes a flower that looks beautiful one year will be riddled with bugs the next. Plants with runner roots, such as lily-of-the-valley and creeping bellflower take over an entire flower bed. All of this digging is hard on the body of someone of a certain age and I have suffered back and hip pain as a result. Cutting back plants can be dangerous, too. One year I contracted tennis elbow after using my garden shears too enthusiastically. Another year I clipped off the end of my left pinky while shearing a clump of dead flowers.

Last year I conceded to myself that I can no longer maintain all of the flower beds I planted in my younger years. I started digging up three beds that I planned to cover with grass seed. This spring I commenced digging again. I found that I could not throw my beautiful plants in the compost pile, and with the daylilies and bellflower nearly gone, I thought, why not replant the empty spots with deer-resistant coreopsis and daisies? So I did, and I even added some annual marigolds and ageratum, to ensure long-lasting color.

While I have the time and ambition for the gardening challenge this year, I know I can’t count on continued health and energy as I age. So, I’m still digging up the one large bed next to our driveway – the one that used to bloom with Mark’s beloved daylilies. I work on it little-by-little – putting my spade down when my back starts to ache – and when I am done we will spread grass seed over this once colorful space. Next year I will have more time to tend the remaining beds and foil the invasion of pests and runner roots. At least that is my plan.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Building Bridges with Spiritual Fiction

     It looks like I've discovered a new favorite author this year. In January I read Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo, a humorous novel that builds bridges between people of different faiths. The guru, Rinpoche, who answers questions about the meaning of life while sharing breakfast with the protagonist, Otto Ringling, is not actually Buddhist, and encourages his students to embrace a more inclusive, universal spirituality. 

     The second book I have read by Merullo is Vatican Waltz, which I like even better than Breakfast. In this novel the protagonist is a young Catholic woman, Cynthia Piantedosi, whose deep spiritual life leads her to the understanding that one does not need to adhere to any particular religion in order to know God. As she says at the outset of her story: "The God I imagine and worship, the Being I give thanks to for every breath and pulse, doesn't care as much about labels as about love; and my style of prayer isn't so much about asking for things (though I sometimes ask) as it is about searching, in an interior silence, for my truest self, my reason for being here, in this place, in this body, at this particular point in the endless sweep of time.  I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, and to this day I hold a good deal of reverence for those rituals and beliefs, but my story is really about what happened as that label fell away, as I found the courage to un-name God, as I came, so slowly, to understand who I really am."

     From there, the story of Cynthia's life unfolds. Most of the novels I read involve romance, but there is no romance in this young woman's life. Her deep love is for God, with whom she spends hours of devotion every day. For her adoration she receives the visions that send her on a journey of danger, intrigue, and discovery. I won't give away the plot, which will keep you turning the pages, but for the purpose of our building bridges theme, I will say that Cynthias' story testifies to the common bond of truly spiritual people who see beyond the rules of particular churches and religions. She echos my feelings about leaving the Christian Church when she thinks: "Why be a Catholic or Protestant or Jew or anything else with a label and rules? Why not . . . just lead a simple life of prayer and work, try to love, try to give, and not do anything at all that separated me from other people?"

     I used to have a deep longing to find the one church or spiritual organization where I would feel completely at home and totally in sync with its teachings and practices. After a lifetime of exploring different paths, I came to the realization that there is no system of belief that I can claim as the ONE I want to follow. And I have decided that I prefer it this way, because I agree with Cynthia that labels separate us from one another, and separation creates misunderstanding and discord. Of course I realize that it's not Cynthia, but her creator, Roland Merullo, with whom I feel a deep connection. I highly recommend his books for bridge building inspiration.