Friday, November 15, 2013


   A baby has to be one of the best bridge builders in the world. Take a baby to any country, any church, temple, or mosque, any political rally - and people from different backgrounds and different world views will smile and coo at your little bundle of joy. 

   I hadn't thought a lot about babies in recent years . . . until now that I'm expecting my daughter to give birth to my first grandchild next month. Now I'm remembering everything I experienced as a new mother, nearly 28 years ago: the joys and the challenges, the tiny clothes that are so quickly outgrown, and the favorite picture books. I'm pulling books and stuffed animals out of storage, dusting and washing them. Knitting booties and a tiny hooded sweater. I can't wait to meet this new little person when he enters the world, and I'm revisiting the mind-boggling questions that new life brings up. 

   We all started out as babies, but very few remember a single moment from that first year of life. Fewer still remember where they were before they were born. Where did we come from? I'm not referring to the dance of sperm and egg and how they got together to create the physical body that we inhabit temporarily. I'm talking about the eternal part of us, the part that connects us all, that we recognize in the face of the little child who trusts us to love him or her unconditionally. 

   As babies grow, we realize each one has a unique personality. Each has a mind and a soul, an ego and emotions. Many believe that everything we are comes into being at the moment of conception and starts to grow at that moment. Many others, including me, believe that we have lived before, and that each spirit enters a baby's body from another world, bringing with it a plan and a purpose for this particular life. 

   When my daughter was a newborn, I talked to her and asked if she remembered where she came from. If only she could have told me about it! By the time she could talk, she had of course forgotten. I'll probably ask my grandson the same questions, just because it's fun to wonder about. Someday, when we all return to that place, we'll discover that we really do all come from One Source - and we'll wonder what all the fighting was about in this world!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Experiencing Different Cultures

       Among the ways that we can increase our experience of oneness is to reach out to people from cultures and countries other than our own. There are lots of ways to do this, even for those of us who can't afford to travel.

     As a child, I collected pen pals and stamps from all over the world. I learned about the customs of Japan, England, Australia, and New Zealand, by writing to young people in these countries. We sent each other stamps, shells, and small gifts. I still have the bookmarks featuring Japanese architecture that Tatsuo sent me 45 years ago. Today, of course, I have Facebook friends all over the world, and it's even easier to share pictures and news now, although I do miss the thrill of finding envelopes with exotic stamps on them in my mailbox.

     Later, as an adult, I became a member of Amnesty International, and wrote letters to the heads of state in countries where citizens were tortured and imprisoned for their beliefs. Many years I have sent holiday cards to prisoners of conscience through Amnesty International. This is just one of the many opportunities we have to connect with people who are suffering around the world. 

     When my children were young, we introduced them to people from other lands by inviting exchange students into our home. Our kids enjoyed playing with college students from Germany and Japan when they came to our house for dinner. 

Dinner with our German friends
     When Vera was in 8th grade, we hosted a Japanese exchange student for three months. Yuu, who was four years older, shared a room with Vera and taught us a lot about Japanese culture. Yuu taught the kids how to make origami creations, and she showed me how to make sushi. She told us about the custom of inviting teachers to your home and offering them cake - which the teachers always refuse. After the teacher leaves, the family eats the cake by themselves! 

     Yuu learned some things from us, too, like showing affection with hugs. In Japan, family members show their love for each other with bows. Sometimes they just bow with their eyes. I think Yuu enjoyed the warmth of our hugs, though - especially when we found her after she got lost on a walk in my sister's North Carolina neighborhood!

     Yuu brought us many gifts from Japan to remember her by. We also like to decorate our home with crafts from other countries - some of which we have purchased from fair trade organizations such as SERRV and Ten Thousand Villages

Haitian artisans made this Tree of Life from 55-gallon drums.
     We purchased this metal Tree of Life from Ten Thousand Villages to hang over our kitchen sink - because it's water-proof - and also beautiful! It is just one of the pieces of multi-cultural art that adorn our home, helping us to feel just a bit more of a connection with some of the different people we share this earth home with. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Portrait of My Heart by Emily VanLaeys

Emily's Heart Chakra

       Last Saturday I had the privilege of meeting a beautiful soul, whose name in this life is Leiah Rubin Bowden, of "Lightspeak Transformational Arts."  Leiah has the intuitive ability
to see and draw chakras, and to interpret what she sees to assist healing and understanding 
in her clients.

         I met Leiah at the Shift New York Holistic Living & Psychic Fair in Oneonta. Although Leiah offers full chakra portraits, these take a couple of hours to create. At the fair, she only had 20 minutes to spend with each client, so she drew an interpretation of just one chakra for each of us. She said my heart chakra was the one calling for attention, I'm guessing because I meditate on "I Am Love" more than anything else. 

         Leiah chanted as she gazed at my heart chakra and began to draw. As she drew she talked about what she was seeing. I can't say I totally understood it all . . . .Some of the symbols that she saw and drew have to do with my "off-planet" being. She talked about how we are all multi-dimensional beings, existing simultaneously on different worlds - even though each self is not consciously aware of the others. The pink and gold rectangle in my heart chakra shows that my off-planet being is structured, benevolent, and clear, with a divine gold lining. 

        The purple flower with a white center in the middle of my heart shows my dedication to a beautiful source. The surrounding pink color comes from the feeling of love and warmth inside of me. The green outside of that shows that I have a mature, nourishing heart. I open my sacred heart energy to everyone in my world. It is an automatic flowing forth - I don't have to think about it to make it happen. 

             I don't remember for sure, but I think the gold symbols at the top and the silver ones on the left are also related to my off-planet being. I don't think she knew exactly what they mean. The last thing I wrote in my notes says: "Attunement of heart to universal appreciation of what love can do." It's all very positive and affirming. My understanding is that everyone who receives a chakra portrait has a positive experience, because our chakras emanate from our divine being rather than the ego where the negative aspects of ourselves reside. 

            Working with our chakras is a good reminder that our true beings are divine, eternal, and good. What could be more affirming than that? 

A Wrinkle in Time - More Timely than Ever!

A Wrinkle in Time is one of my all-time favorite books. I first read it when I was ten years old, and I have read it many times since. The story has more meaning for me as I grow in wisdom and understanding. The heroine, Meg, has lost her little brother, Charles Wallace, to the clutches of IT, a cold, dark force that feeds on human fears and controls the entire population of the planet, Camazotz. There has been no trouble of any kind on this planet for centuries, because everyone is exactly alike and there are no differences to fear. IT told Charles Wallace that he would have peace and utter rest if he surrendered his mind to IT. Charles decided to be free of all responsibility by giving in to IT, and so he lost his individuality and his desire to return home with Meg.

The planet Camazotz has been compared to communist countries; a natural connection since Madeleine L'Engle wrote this book during the Cold War. But now I compare Camazotz to the world we live in, because even though we are not all alike, there is a constant fear and hatred of those who are different from those who belong to the status quo, and these negative emotions are constantly fed by the Powers that Be: in the media, in government, in religion – nearly everywhere. And when we fill our minds with the violence we are fed by the media, the exclusiveness we are taught by certain institutional religions and governments, and the materialism that society showers us with, we lose sight of who we truly are.

Meg knew that she was the only one who could save her brother, and the only way to save him was to discover what she had that IT did not. She had tried fighting against IT, but violent emotions just made IT stronger. The voice that spoke to her from Charles Wallace's body, that was the voice of IT, was full of hate. And so she realized that the one thing she had that IT did not – was love. She could not bring herself to love IT, but she could love Charles Wallace. She knew that the mind and soul of her little brother were still there, deep inside. The first time I read this book, when Meg felt her love for Charles Wallace with all her heart, and her little brother broke free from IT's grasp, the tears rolled down my cheeks. Even now, as I think about it, I feel chills of joy!

And yes, there is a lesson here for all of us, in this present day. There is a dark force attempting to rule over our planet, just as IT ruled Camazotz. This negativity tries to control us by leading us to believe that the world is full of enemies that we must fear and hate. It controls us by entertaining us with mindless drivel on our television sets, and violent sports events. It controls us by feeding us too much of the wrong kind of food. (Have you been out to eat lately? Did you feel like you had to clean your plate even though there was enough food for three people on it? Did you feel fat, content, and happy afterward?) It controls us by leading us to believe that we belong to the One True Church, and we are citizens of the Best Country on Earth.

The only way to break free from this dark force, is through love. Jesus said: “You will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free.” The truth is not that you must worship Jesus and bow down to him. The truth is that we must live as he and the other great ones have, loving our neighbors and our enemies: Transforming our enemies into friends. The truth is that we and all of humanity and all of creation are one in spirit - and so there really is nothing to fear!

When we watch the News on television, and give in to fear and horror over what we see, we feel heavy and bleak. Our vibrations are dense and sluggish. This is exactly the result that the dark forces want, because these low vibrations keep the world under their control. Other activities contribute to humanity's low vibratory rate: taking toxins such as nicotine, recreation drugs, alcohol, and food additives into our bodies; resorting to anger or violence as a way of dealing with challenges; or just turning to mindless entertainment instead of facing the deeper questions of life.

Just as Meg set her brother free with love, we can free ourselves and our world with love, and the higher vibrations that emanate from love. Love is not just an emotion that one person feels for another. It is the energy of creation! Feel love and gratitude for your life and you feel light and joyful. Love yourself and your life, and you will not need to numb your mind with drugs or an excess of food. Meditate by inviting love and light into your life, and you feel bliss. At this time,more and more people are living with joy, in gratitude and in love, and so the vibrations of the world are becoming finer and higher. As a result, the dark forces are fighting even harder for a stronghold on human minds. They are doing their best to spread fear and hatred over the media and any way that they can. But fear and hatred are illusions. The only real truth is Love, and Love will win in the end. This is something I'm sure of. But I'd like to see it happen sooner than later, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No "Ism" in Oneness by Emily VanLaeys


       For much of my life I searched for a religious or spiritual group that I could call my own. I wanted to "belong" to a church or spiritual organization whose teachings I believed in. I have been affiliated with Unitarian-Universalist Churches, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, the Unity School of Christianity, Rosicrucianism, the Association of Research & Enlightenment, and many others in my quest for an organization I could truly belong to. I have explored the beliefs of other religions, from Catholicism to Buddhism and Hinduism to animism and paganism. I have found elements of truth in each of these paths. Not that I claim to know what Truth is - but when there is something that feels right and resonates with my soul, it becomes my truth - at least until a new idea feels better. 

       This fall I turned 60. We often hear that wisdom comes with age, although what is wisdom to one person will be folly to another. The wisdom that has come to me, that is surely folly in the eyes of many others, is that I am happy not belonging to any particular religion or spiritual organization. I have realized that to claim one "ism" as my own is to separate myself from those who belong to other "isms." To claim one path as "truth" is to label all others as "false" and set myself above those whose beliefs differ from mine. 

       I have also found that there is no one path that is totally inclusive. And so, it seems that the best way to experience Oneness with all of creation is to remain outside of all humanly-constructed belief systems. I do not avoid these systems though: my husband and I still attend church nearly every Sunday - but not the same one every week. There is always some bit of inspiration to be gained from a church service, and it is beneficial to spend time with others who are seeking a higher path in life. But I no longer feel the need to join one of these churches, and I do not wish to be labeled as a member of any "ism." 

       I claim "Love and Light are All-That-Is" under "Religious Views" on my Facebook page. This is my current belief -  but the details are ever-changing and I feel no need to engrave them in stone.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Beloved Presence


     Several years ago I wrote a blog about the many paths of God and how I honor them in different ways. At that time my husband and I were attending the same Red Door Presbyterian Church every Sunday. Now we alternate between our old church and the Unitarian-Universalist Society. When we're able to make the 90-mile trip to Albany we like to visit the Unity Church. When we go to the Red Door Church we hear the familiar old stories about Jesus and his ancestors and see our old friends. We attend the other churches to experience the Divine in different ways, and to hear new and different ideas.

     While I love to hear the stories of God's love from the Bible, I also like to be reminded that Divine Love is known in other cultures and other religions. Today's reading in the Unitarian service is from Shams Ud-Dun Mohammad Hafiz, a Muslim, and it is beautiful:

Beloved Presence

Cloak yourself in a thousand ways;
still shall I know you, my Beloved.

Veil yourself with every
and yet I shall feel you,
most dear, close and intimate.

I shall salute you in the springing 
of cypresses
and in the sheen of lakes, the 
laughter of fountains.

I shall surely see you in 
tumbling clouds,
in brightly embroidered

Oh, Beloved Presence, more
beautiful than
all the stars together,

I trace your face in ivy that
in clusters of grapes,
in morning flaming the
in the clear arch of sky.

You gladden the whole earth and
make every heart great.

You are the breathing of the

     The talk for today was about the Koran, and how it compares to the Bible. The similarity lies in the stories of violence and massacre in which both the God of the early Hebrews and Allah urge their worshipers to slay those who do not pay homage to the "one true God." It is because of these passages in both holy books that I contend there is a great deal of the human ego intermixed with whatever divine inspiration lies behind these scriptures. I see more of the divine in Hafiz's poem than I see in any scriptural stories of violence. 

     If there is ever to be peace and unity in this world, people will first have to recognize how the human ego has inserted itself into the scriptures and teachings of  our religions. The simple truth is that the Prime Creator of this universe is Love, and every bit of Creation is part of that Love from which we emanate. Anything that is not of Love is of the fear and ego that want to be separate from and better than others. I visit different churches and different spiritual groups in search of those who follow this simple teaching. I find the teachings of Love and the teachings of Ego everywhere I go - thus my reason for not choosing a single church or path to follow.

     I recently saw the movie "Life of Pi" in which Pi's parents tell him he is making a mistake by trying to  embrace several different religions. They want him to choose one, even if it's not the same one as theirs. I love the way Pi finds the Divine in a variety of spiritual practices, because he can choose the highest and best of each path, thus growing closer to God than he might if he followed the best and worst parts of a single faith. I think the time has come in human evolution when more and more people will follow the way of Love and Oneness as taught by a variety of divine teachers, realizing that a multi-strand path can take them higher than a one-lane highway. And the Beloved Presence can be felt in any church, in Nature, in our homes, and everywhere we go!