In some Jewish tradition (especially among ashkenazik Jews), when someone dies, friends and family often leave a small stone on the grave.
Some say stones are left because stones are a sign that someone has visited the grave … stones enable visitors to share in the commemoration of the deceased … and are in keeping with an ancient tradition of stone mounds marking graves to preserve the location. While I am not Jewish, I like to leave a stone on graves for those reasons and for one other reason. I find graves to be holy places.
The Hebrew word for holy is “qodesh” meaning “sacred”
… something that is considered worthy of spiritual respect.
When something touches my heart to the core of my being; when I find tears close or flowing at a level I cannot explain; when my soul soars at a joy, deep within, I know that I have experienced something holy, something sacred.
While I find the holy at grave sites, I often find the holy in other places and experiences, too.
As I watch media reports and images of women, men, children, youth of all ages, abilities religions, ethnicities, languages, races etc., … city after city … country after country … continent after continent peacefully processing, peacefully protesting, peacefully walking hour after hour … with babes in arms … with toddlers in strollers … with handmade signs waving, I know I am witnessing a holy event. And for that, I am grateful.
And so I end this blog with a simple “o” … the shape of a stone
… in humble gratitude for all who march for human rights.
© june maffin
Before closing the blinds, a wondrous silver beam of light shone brightly in the sky and into the patio door. It was magical and oh, so welcome in an unexpected way, for it seemed to bring hope. In spite of threats of war possibilities, government shut-down, unspeakable horrors happening to human beings of all ages, that light brought hope that there will be a tomorrow.
When the mind replays troubling words from a world leader, other political leaders, medical specialists, financial advisors, unhealthy relationships, employers, the moon is shining.
When clouds began to form and the moon seemingly becomes hidden, its light diminishes and seems lost. Not too dissimilar to those times when it can feel as if our light has gone out … when clouds of fear, isolation, loneliness, sadness, grief, self-doubt, anger begin to form within us.
But we are still here.
The moon has existed for more than four billion years, shining and giving hope to countless generations. Why would we think that the moon will stop shining now? Why would we think that the clouds of fear etc. being felt will never disappear?
Like the moon, simply covered up waiting for the time when whatever cloud is being experienced will pass and the light once again will shine forth, the clouds in our lives will pass in some way and the light will shine forth once again. Scientific proof is a reminder that the wondrous silver beam of light shines brightly in the sky. Somewhere it is bringing light and bringing hope that there will be a tomorrow.
Just “when” that tomorrow will come we don’t know. But it will come.
Dark days happened when the saying which originated with Thomas Fuller in 1650 “It’s always darkest before the dawn” were first uttered. There were dark days happening before then. There have been dark days since then. Many feel there are dark days now.
But tomorrow came ‘then.’
Tomorrow has come ‘since then’.
Tomorrow will come.
There will be a tomorrow.
© June Maffin
Text & Photo © June Maffin
FB can be frustrating. At times, it can be VERY frustrating!
Are you on Facebook (FB) and have had thoughts of leaving it? Perhaps the negativity has been too much and you’ve left … such a decision is exactly what the nay-sayers want. Perhaps the ads are a nuisance … FB is rolling-out a new plan that will see more posts from FB friends and fewer ads.
I’ve had those same frustrations and yet I choose to remain on social media – on FB. I choose to be a realist with hope and choose to try to bring light into the darkness with personal and Soulistry blog posts.
It’s our choice as to who we follow on FB, whose posts we hide, who we unfriend, who we block. It’s our choice to leave – or stay. It’s our choice and I believe that it’s a choice that Darkness is eager to see us acquiesce, surrender, for then there would be one less Voice that stands for Light, that shares Light, that is Light.
If you are on FB and find that there is too much negativity on the posts you receive, start clicking on positive posts. “Like”, “Share”, “Love” the posts in groups, of friends who offer thoughtful, helpful, upbeat, hopeful, positive, life-giving things. Don’t click/read the negative posts or continue to ‘follow’ friends who seem to be posting yuck.
If you’re not seeing posts of your FB friends, go to their page and click on the “Following” icon and you’ll see options. Click “See First”. Sometimes, people change and if their viewpoints are too difficult for us and only political “points” are posted and it’s negative stuff, not conversation, we have a choice about whether we continue to follow them. We can still be their friends – just not follow their posts. I don’t think anyone likes the bullying that’s going on on FB at times, on either side.
If we were honest with ourselves we’d realize that there are people we connect with, people we know, people we don’t know (in the grocery store, in traffic, at a sports game etc.) whose anger seems to erupt for no reason and sometimes we’re the recipients of that anger / frustration / religious intolerance / racial prejudice / emotional distress / mental illness etc. We do what we can to avoid such people, but sometimes it happens (hence road rage etc.).
And what about FB “groups”? If you want to see the posts from a particular group (for example, Soulistry <big grin>), go to that page (www.facebook.com/groups/soulistry), click “notifications” and then click “see first.” Facebook has an algorithm that feeds stories and posts to you based on the kinds of stories and posts you follow, click “see first”, “like”, “love”, “share”. So when you do those things, you’ll see more of the posts from the groups you want to see.
FB is a free service and while there are some wonderful benefits (I’ve met some fabulous people, made some very special friends, learned lots), there are also consequences of being there. It’s up to us. We can choose who we’re friends with and who we follow. And if we don’t like the kinds of things they post overall, we can unfollow them, unfriend them, block them.
We can choose to remain on FB with people who bring Light or follow posts of people who bring Darkness. And in that vein, as many Soulistry blog followers are not on FB, I decided to share this post with you all here in the hopes that some of you will bring your light to Facebook and we’ll all benefit.
An aside about the photo in this particular blog post: the snow has disappeared, spring flowers are beginning to emerge and be sold in local stores, a string of white lights symbolizing the Season of Epiphany (the Season of Light) weaves its way through spring tulips and more. Recently, Martin Luther King has been honoured in many places around the world. His words (“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” from his book “Strength to Love”) motivated me to share this photo of my Epiphany display of lights, flowers and plants.
Hope to see you at Soulistry on Facebook. Let’s let Light shine and weave its way in hearts, words, actions.
© June Maffin
Political claustrophobia is surging, bringing fear and a growing sense of disbelief, helplessness, inevitability, even hopelessness for some.
It’s time to breathe possibilities – possibilities that no matter how bleak and impossible it may seem now, “this too shall pass.”
It’s time to “think lovely thoughts” like Peter Pan and reflect with Maria in the Sound of Music about our “favourite things.”
It’s time to move our mind and soul into areas of gentleness and beauty … to imagine a time of peace and joy and hope.
It’s time … to find a pastoral photo to help focus our eyes away from the tv and phone and tablet and computer … listen to a piece of quiet music that can encourage our rapid beating of the heart to slow down … have a leisurely soak in the tub … walk outdoors … spend a moment in prayer … play with the children, grandkids, pets … share a meal with a loved one … meditate … create something in the Studio, kitchen, garden, workshop, our favourite chair … make time for self.
Political claustrophobia must not be given space in our soul to invade, possess, overwhelm.
Text & Photo © June Maffin
Photo taken in Friesland, the Netherlands
Ahhhh, love …
I love fresh fruit, lemon-anything, Greek food, cooked chocolate pudding, the smell of coffee. I love freedom, justice, flowers, the sound of rain on a tin roof, animals. I love learning and dialogue and travel and writing and being creative and being healthy and being able to see and hear and breathe and eat and walk and …
I love, and am grateful, for them all.
But none of these is the same as the love for the special people in our lives that moves us into moments of self-reflection, selflessness, forgiveness. Such a love takes time – and work. It is a love without conditions … unconditional love.
How is love-without-conditions … unconditional love … shown? How do families show love? What about people beyond our … families … religious organization … work situation … in the world? Do we show our love by speaking/writing words of love? Do we show our love by our action of the ‘fruit of the spirit’ – patience, kindness, goodness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, self-control, selflessness? Is it just words? just action? combination?
And what about people who say they love us but their actions (only love when the conditions are right for them) deny the words.
If only … those who ‘said’ they loved, actually demonstrated that love in action, our world at home, at church/synagogue/temple, community organization, in social media would be places of healing, support, encouragement, nurture … love.
© June Maffin
Where has the year gone? It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago today that the little “Nourish Gently: The Soulistry Cookbook” e-book was published.
In the past year, emails, cards and letters from families, individuals, family physicians, pediatricians and children’s psychiatrists from various parts of the world have come my way. I love knowing where the cookbook has travelled and am deeply humbled and grateful for the interest and support of the “Nourish Gently” project.
Thank you – and thank you Gumroad and Amazon for providing safe and secure transactions for my books. www.soulistry.com (click “books”).
In celebration of this anniversary, “Nourish Gently” is available at an anniversary price: $4.00 and will be available at www.soulistry.com/books (or see above link) for a week … January 14, 2018 … at that anniversary price.
Here’s to good health and may we “gently nourish” our bodies, minds and spirits this year in new ways. June Maffin
The month of January is a week old today. The new year has begun. As we open the door to the future, let us take a deep breath and step on through, an encourage the Alphabet of Life to be our guide:
A – accepting of self
B – be-ing, not do-ing
C – creating something each day
D – drawing on our inner resources
E – elevating our thoughts to new heights
F – feeding our soul
G – graciously accepting compliments
H – hitting goals
I – initiating contact with a friend
J – joyfully receiving the gift of life
K – keeping our head while the world seems out-of-whack
L – loving our neighbour as ourself
M – mirroring the goodness we admire in others
N – nourishing our spirit
O – opening our heart to receiving love in new ways
P – paddling through each day in spite of the blocks
Q – questioning the imponderables
R – realizing our potential
S – smiling when we meet a stranger
T – treasuring the precious moments of each day
U – understanding that we don’t have all the answers to life
V – valuing our education and those who have been/ are our mentors
W – weaving experiences of life through a loom of learning
X – xtracting information from the Universe so we grow in wisdom
Y – yielding to the holy, however we understand that term
Z – zeroing in on the truly important things of life
© June Maffin
I love the word ‘Epiphany’… those “ah-hah!” moments in life when we suddenly feel that we ‘understand,’ we ‘get it,’ we unexpectedly gain insight into the nature or meaning of something or someone we hadn’t quite grasped, gotten or understood previously.
Many around the world are celebrating something called the Season of Epiphany which began when it is said that a star guided three Magi to the baby Jesus. Me too. I love the image of the Star … an image of light … and delight in that image bringing people to the baby Jesus some call the Light of the World for it evokes many things within me – not the least of which is a play-on-words.
I make handmade Origami paper stars which appear on an indoor plant at Epiphany. It’s a fun, creative, require oh-so-few supplies, and easy to make activity to welcome the Season of Epiphany. And, to add to the fun, I add tiny white lights around the house to welcome the light that continues to come into the world through ordinary people of all religions, ethnicities, sexual identities, abilities, races who bring kindness, caring, gentleness, peace, patience, goodness, love, hope … aka “Bearers of The Light” (www.soulistry.com/let-us-be-the-light).
I love words … and playing with words. When I hear people use the word “so” inappropriately and far too often, I begin to get frustrated. Rather than focus on my frustration, I play a word game with myself: I think “SEW,” not “SO” and let it be a reminder of my Star Epiphany Word (S.E.W.) … a word I choose to guide me to epiphanies. Epiphanies – you know … those “ah-hah” moments that teach, surprise, delight, and potentially transform.
Each Season of Epiphany, I have fun choosing my S.E.W. This year, it’s going to be “open.” I want to be ‘open’ to possibilities in terms of personal growth; the “Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul” ministry; health of body, mind and spirit. I choose to be open … to joy and love and peace and hope; open to possibilities, learning, sharing, networking; open. Open to changing frustration into play – like creating the S.E.W. word game. 🙂
What about you? What S.E.W. do your choose to guide you in the coming year? So many possibilities! Choose one. Next Epiphany, choose the same or another word. Whatever word you choose, know that it will be the right word for you. Happy Epiphany!
Photo & Text © june maffin
Where there is darkness … we must bring the light.
Where there is darkness … we must send the light.
Where there is darkness … we must *be* the light.
We can “be the light” as we offer good thoughts, prayers, healing energy
on the dark places of this world.
We can “be the light” as we us focus on goodness … not evil … even in the face of evil.
May the Season of Epiphany bring light into the world – into the part of the world where we live and work and play – into the world of our family and relationships – into the world of ourselves.
Let us “be the light.”
© June Maffin
Twelfth Night marks the ending of the Season of Christmas for many around the world who celebrate Christmas for religious, cultural, sentimental, family or “just because” reasons.
Each year on this night, I spend some quiet time reflecting and collecting moments-of-love from the previous twelve days (Twelve Days of Christmas). If the aging process teaches anything, it’s that ‘things’ have little importance in the wider scheme of life. But “moments of love” … ahhh, those have great significance and can bring blessings that transform, energize, comfort, heal. So, I collect moments-of-love … those moments when loving words, listening and action intertwine.
For me, this year, the first such moment that comes to mind about this past Christmas is my dentist’s receptionist who listened with her heart when I said that ‘something was wrong’ and I needed to see a dentist asap. But, their Christmas holiday would begin in a few hours and all dentists were solidly booked. I quietly said that I would be happy to sit in the waiting room with my book and if someone came in late or a procedure finished early, hopefully someone could see me. In fifteen minutes, I was in the dentist’s chair waiting to get results of the xray – the tip of a tooth (extracted over 40 years ago!) was embedded in my jaw, causing an infection and I needed emergency dental surgery to remove it. The second moment-of-love came when a friend offered to drive me through the snow and over a mountain to get to the dental surgeon, wait and drive me home again. And the third was on Christmas Day when I had developed a fever, had a swollen jaw and the bruising was spreading quickly. The surgeon immediately answered his phone and gently eased my mind, telling me what was causing the problems and what I needed to do.
The love in each of these three moments gave me a Christmas I will not forget. It was blessing upon blessing.
Another Christmas I won’t forget … my husband and I delighted in the snow which suddenly appeared on Christmas Day and then disappeared later that same day. It was a moment of beauty, peace, love, shared laughter … and no shovelling of snow afterwards!
Long after tangible Christmas gifts have broken, been lost or forgotten, what moments-of-love expressed in words, listening, action, kindness do you remember?
What moments-of-love did you collect this Christmas?
What moments-of-love will you collect and remember in Christmases-to-come?
Something to think about on this Twelfth Night, eve of Epiphany?Happy Twelfth Night tonight!
© June Maffin