Fear seems to be on the rise. There’s climate change, mass murders, fires, the Delta variant of the COVID19 virus. What to do? We could get guns, or attachments to make guns even more potent. We could become a more militarized society. We could let the fear grow and grow until emotional and spiritual paralysis sets in.
Or, we could transform our understanding of fear – and our approach to it.
We could turn fear into hope and F ace E verything that is A gainst R eason
with H ealing O penness and P ossibilities of peaceful action and response, by and for E veryone
Will changing our approach to a single word bring about change within our Spirit?
Will changing our Spirit bring about change in our actions, our attitudes, our abilities to cope with the pandemic?
How will we know … if we don’t try?
When fear attacks, may we Face Everythingthat is Against Reason with Healing, Openness and Possibilities of peaceful action and response by and for Everyone.
Letters of the alphabet … They can be fascinating. They can be a focus for artwork. They can remind us of our childhood as we recite the letters. They can lead us to better awareness of our world and ourselves as an Alphabet of Life.
Here’s one suggestion Why not make up your own Alphabet of Life.
Accepting of self
Be-ing (not just do-ing)
Creating something each day
Drawing on our inner resources
Elevating our thoughts to new heights
Feeding our soul
Graciously accepting compliments
Initiating contact with a friend
Joyfully receiving the gift of life
Keeping our head while the world seems out-of-whack
Loving ourself as we do our neighbour
Mirroring the goodness we admire in others
Nourishing our spirit
Opening our heart to receiving love in new ways
Paddling through each day in spite of the blocks
Questioning the imponderables
Realizing our potential
Smiling when we meet a stranger
Treasuring the transient moments of each day
Understanding that we don’t have all the answers to life
Valuing our education and those who have been/ are our mentors
Weaving experiences of life through a loom of learning
Xtracting information from the Universe so we grow in wisdom
Yielding to the holy, however we understand that term
When I transplanted the bleeding hearts in the garden, I didn’t think they would “take” in their new location.
Oh, me of little faith! They survived the transplant and blossomed!
Each time I walk by them, I am reminded to pray
… pray especially for those around the world
who live in situations where bleeding hearts are inside human bodies
… pray on this July 4th day in particular, for my neighbours in the United States.
On the Fourth of July, the U.S.A. marks the adoption of their Declaration of Independence in 1776.
It included the phrase: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men <sic> are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is difficult to wish them “Happy July 4th”
when so many are struggling with fear.
It is difficult to wish them “Happy July 4th” when many do not believe that all men <sic>
are created equal.
It is difficult to wish them “Happy July 4th”
when so many are convinced that conspiracy theories are real.
It is difficult to wish them “Happy July 4th.”
But I do.
And as I do, I pray.
I pray for the leaders.
… the individuals who can make a difference
And I pray for the other kind of leaders
… the individuals who can make a difference and choose otherwise.
This day, I particularly pray
for the bleeding hearts of the people of the United States.
May the Holy Force (the Fourth) be with them.
With us all.
As always, you are welcome to share with accreditation.
When life hits unexpectedly, it hurts. And when it hurts, it can wound
not just physically
not just emotionally
not just spiritually.
Sometimes all three.
When life hits unexpectedly
when life happens and pain results
when life brings exhaustion beyond imagining
when the rain of sadness is in our heart
Hopefully, the God of Compassion will be with us (you/me)
holding us close when we are weary, hurt, alone (May Holy Compassion be with us – you / me.)
Hopefully, the God of Mercy will be with us (you/me)
forgiving those who have caused pain,
forgiving Holy Other. (May Holy Mercy be with us – you / me.)
Hopefully, the God of Gentleness will be with us (you/me)
caressing us with sunlight, rain and summer winds;
and shining through us to all who hurt and are lonely. (May Holy Gentleness be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Wonder will be with us (you/me)
delighting us with sunrises, daisies, songs, baby’s laughter
enchanting our senses
filling our hearts; giving us wide-open eyes. (May Holy Wonder be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Simplicity will be with us (you/me)
opening us to a clear vision of what is truth;
and dealings with others will be marked by honesty, which is simplicity. (May Holy Simplicity be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Patience will be with us (you/me)
waiting with outstretched arms
and encouraging us to “be still, deep within ourselves.” (May Holy Patience be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Love will be with us (you/me)
listening, drawing us close as we tremble,
lighting fires of faith and hope in the hearts of all.
May God’s love glow in our eyes.
May we meet God’s love in the eyes of others. (May Holy Love be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Tenderness will be with us (you/me)
enfolding us with the desire to bring warmth
to those who are dis-eased in body, mind or spirit. (May Holy Tenderness be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Strength will be with us (you/me)
holding us close, on eagle’s wings;
and we will be the sacrament of God’s strength to others. (May Holy Strength be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Peace will be with us (you/me)
stilling the heart that hammers with fear or doubt or confusion,
bringing the warm mantle of peace cover those who are troubled or anxious. (May Holy Peace be with us – you/me.)
Hopefully, the God of Joy will be with us (you/me)
thrilling us with holy nearness, filling our heart to fullness,
and our soul with an awe that is profound. (May Holy Joy be with us – you/me.)
And hopefully, the God of Forgiveness will be with us (you/me)
encouraging us with strength, peace, and love. (May Holy Forgiveness be with us – you/me.)
There are times when we experience wilderness moments
… when temptation calls us to sow seeds of negativity in our social media posts, blogs, conversations,emails, thoughts
… when wild beasts of anger, fear, disillusionment, bitterness, resentment are ravenous and eat at the core of our personal peace and corporate unity.
Those wild beasts and temptations can be deadly.
How can we resist the temptations
remain steadfast in the face of the wild beasts
raise one another up, instead of tear one another down
be encouraged when we falter
have willing hearts to forgive one another and ourselves
be mindful about what is good in this world
repent of those moments when we allow temptations and wild beasts to detract us
Those times when we feel unloveable,
may we feel unconditional love.
Those times when our bodies hurt,
may we know a gentle, healing touch.
Those times when our minds are confused and stressed,
may we be blessed with a sense of peace that passes all understanding.
Those times when the storms of life have battered us,
may we experience a soft embrace.
Those times when all we seem to hear is a cacophony of cruelty, gossip and negativity,
may we know a comforting, encouraging and affirming ‘still, small Voice’ within.
When life seems bleak, the future seems uncertain and/or frightening,
may we discover a glimmer of a spirit of hope.
Yes, ‘Poohiah,’ because it was a most unexpected Winnie the Pooh who once said: “Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get. They’re things which get you. All you have to do is go where they can find you.” (A.A.Milne author of “Winnie the Pooh”)
Music speaks to my soul. It nourishes my soul. It delights my soul. Winnie the Pooh knows whereof he speaks and maybe I should have titled this blog post “A Poohian Theology of Music” rather than “A Poohian Theory of Music”?
The “poetry and hums” get to us! And when they do, the body expresses emotions, being experienced in the soul, as fingers rap out a rhythm, toes tap a beat, heads nod, larynx hums a tune or sings out loud.
When the “poetry and hums” get to us, healing can happen … feelings of sorrow, anger, frustration, fear, rage, passion, grief and even boredom can be relieved … courage can be awakened … love, passion, happiness and devotion can be nurtured … our physical body can become stimulated with increasing blood flow, speed of circulation, muscular energy, and metabolism … and we can be connected with the Source of All Life in a unique way.
Music is gift. Music gifts us with the ability to reflect, remember, and become re-created. Maybe it’s the combined right/left brain activity that takes place when we sing, play instruments or listen to music on the radio, tv, CD’s, stereo or at a concert. Maybe it’s the soul-soaring as hymns are sung, psalms are chanted, sung prayers are offered. Maybe it’s the unique embodiment of theology, art, truth, wisdom, lesson and emotional release in word and song that captures our heart and mind.
Whatever it is, music appeals to our soul and senses, and society reminds us that music is a wonderful part of our existence: music awakens astronauts (and us!) first thing in the morning … music entertains at concerts … music enriches movie experiences … music can be found in stores, elevators, airplanes and even restaurants … and music has an endurance that is retained in the deepest recesses of memory.
Those who have worked with stroke victims and neurological disorders know that people who have forgotten so much (even the names of their partner, children) have been known to play music on the piano, hum the melody of beloved hymns, toe-tap to remembered songs, and respond to meditative choruses.
One of the greatest conductors of all time, Leopold Stokowski, once said that “there are regions so elusive in our life of feeling that only music can express such intangible and sublime visions of beauty.”
There is no doubt that music awakens the soul and that an inner part of ourselves connects directly to the Holy Other whether that music be Rock, Country, Classical, Reggae, Chamber Music, Jazz, Latin, Folk, Celtic, Gospel, Spa Music, Country, Blues, John Philip Sousa marches, Gregorian chant, Chuck Berry, Celine Dion, Paul Anka, Barbra Streisand … whether it be penny whistle, French horn, bass, bagpipe, bassoon, cello, comb and tissue paper or even one’s own whistling!
Music can make us dance and skip, move us to tears, and encourage us to be as happy as Winnie the Pooh on a fine summer’s morn!
It’s true, Pooh, music can be a wonderful bridge between the body and soul. “All you have to do is go where they can find you.” May we make time to go where music can find us. And may we give voice to the “poetry and hums” that nurture and touch our soul beyond cognitive understanding.
“Create” said my friend with enthusiasm. I looked at the blank piece of paper and was numb. “Create? Create what?”
“Let it flow. Put paint on brush, brush on paper. See what happens.”
“She’s got to be kidding” I murmured to myself. “I need her to show me what to do. I’ve never painted before”. The others were mixing paint colours, adding water, having fun. One was even humming. And I? What was I doing? I was looking at the others, trying to figure out what to do … looking at the instructor … trying to have her tell me in simple, easy, step-by-step instructions, how to create. But there I sat. Immobile.
Schoenberg created twelve-tone music. Bette Nesmith Graham invented liquid paper. Picasso created cubism. Maria Telkes & Eleanor Raymond developed the first solar-heated home. Auden made verses. Gates created Microsoft. Gutenberg invented moveable type. Cartwright invented the game of baseball. Earle Dickson invented bandaids. Anna Connelly created the outdoor fire escape. Walter Hunt created the safety pin. Grace Murray Hopper invented COBOL, the first user-friendly business computer software program. Jack St Clair Kilby created the microchip. Arthur Wynne created the crossword puzzle. Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper. And then there was Einstein, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Pasteur, Eli Whitney, and …
They all created. Were they ever ‘immobile’? Why was I? Thoreau wrote “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”
The Deuteronomist wrote “Choose life!” So what did I have to lose?
Paint went on brush. Brush touched paper. Creation! Finally.
Another life lesson: … risk … go confidently in the direction of your dreams … choose life … create. Just begin.
The first time I heard someone look at something I had created and say “June, you are an artist,” I was taken aback.
An artist? No, not me. I can’t draw or paint or do calligraphy or sculpt or quilt or … I just play.
And then it dawned on me … just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is artistry / creativity. But for many years, I denied that anything I had made was creative or artistic. Each time someone made a positive comment on a handmade card they’d received from me or a painting I’d done or a book I’d made, I mumbled something along the lines of “oh, I’m not an artist. I just like to play” and never uttered a “thank you” to the person for their kind comment.
And then one day, I heard my husband deny his artistic talent to someone who had just admired his work at an art show. I was shocked. Hans was an artist! His sketches, paintings, and calligraphy had sold; he and his artwork had been featured in national magazines and art shows; his work was proudly displayed by many in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Australia. That evening, I asked him why he was so negative about his work and didn’t thank the person for their comment. His reply echoed my thoughts about my own work … “I’m not very good, compared to …” Ahhh, there was the key – comparison.
Renowned calligrapher Peter Thornton often says “When you look at your neighbour’s work, you see it for what it is. When you look at your own work, you see it for what it isn’t.” Why do we do that? Why do we see the value of our efforts and work in comparison with the work of others and not for their own intrinsic worth?
There will always be people who do what we do, only better. There will always be people who are ahead of us on the learning curve – who we admire and want to emulate.
But that doesn’t mean our efforts, our work, is of any less value.
That evening, as Hans and I talked about the way we both denied that we were creative/artistic, we agreed to not compare our work with others and try to see ourselves as artists. I’d been a teacher for decades and loved seeing the light come on when a student “gets it” – whatever the subject.
After that evening, I found myself consciously encouraging Soulistry workshop students to see themselves as artists, not to compare their work with someone else. In so doing,
I hoped that seeing themselves in such a way would make a difference.
This past week, a student wrote and reminded me of the import role of encouragement – of one another – of ourselves. “I just want to thank you. I drove on a stormy day in October to attend your ‘Picasso Portraits’ class. During that class you quietly said to me, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not an artist.” I so needed that comment at that time. I was questioning why I was “wasting” my time making art and asking myself what the heck I was going to do with all that so-called art that I was generating. I held your comment in my mind. Repeated it to myself often, when needed. And yesterday I sold my first painting!!! I entered a piece on a whim, and it sold on the first day. I am encouraged to continue making art. Because it makes me happy.”
She is an artist! Not because she sold one of her pieces, but because making art makes her “happy.”
I believe that expressing our creativity, our artistry, deepens our spirituality. That deep belief was the inspiration for the birth of *Soulistry* – the workshops, then the book, then the blog, the website, and the Facebook page. And, and it’s why the Soulistry book has a sub-title: “Artistry of the Soul,” for I believe that every person can be an artist.
Whether we are a flower arranger, sculptor, writer, painter, paper artist, surgeon, chef, book-maker, musician, fabric designer, singer, sew-er, cartoonist, dancer, poet, graphic designer, woodworker, gardener, knitter, card-maker, doodler/tangler, inventor, jewellery-maker, calligrapher, hair stylist, blogger, weaver, quilter, car builder, beadmaker, etc. … whether we sell our work, win awards, are ‘the best’ in our field, isn’t the issue. When we create, we make a spiritual connection, we are nourishing our spirit, having fun, playing, challenging the synapses in our brain, learning something new, exploring our playful nature, experiencing a sense of happiness and indefinable joy.
Many years ago, at the end of a Soulistry retreat where retreatants zendoodled, decorated wooden mirrors and made their own paper beads, each person was presented with a certificate with their name and the letters C.S.A. – Creative Spirituality Artist and encouraged to add those letters after their name. 🙂
I like that – not because I made it up <g> – but I like it because it speaks to an understanding of who I am when I create … an understanding of who I believe we all are, when we create. We are creative artists connecting to spirit aka “Creative Spirituality Artists”.
May we all be Creative Spirituality Artists with openness, with abandon, with play and with joy!
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I think of, and pray with thanksgiving, for … the women who are rejoicing for they gave birth to a healthy child … the women whose child had children and they became a grandmother … the women who adopted a child.
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I think of and pray for women who are experiencing a wide range of emotions … the women who never birthed a child … the women who miscarried … the women who were infertile (or their partner was) … the women who had an abortion … the women whose child was stillborn … the women whose child had serious health issues … the women whose child ran away and put into custodial care … the women whose child was raped … the women whose child was taken away at birth by authorities … the women whose child was kidnapped … the women whose child died due to the pandemic, accident, overdose, illness, murder … the women whose child lives in COVID19 fear. … the women whose child became alienated from them and there is little or no loving communication … the women whose adoptions fell through, artificial insemination didn’t work … the women whose surrogate changed her mind and kept the baby … the women whose children are in prison or still in cages … the women whose child had a debilitating physical/mental disability … the women whose child committed suicide … the women who were surrogate mothers, carried the child to term, but who never became that child’s parent.
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I think of women who are mothers, but may not see their role to be one of selfless mothering … foster moms … spiritual moms … mentor moms
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I think of … women who lost their own mother through death or alienation … women who suffered abuse from their own mother.
May acknowledgment of Mother’s Day, be done with sensitivity. May there be acknowledgement that there are women who will be celebrating and giving thanks while there will be women who will be grieving and in pain – all on the same day.
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I think of, and pray for, each.
Sunny. It’s a name that suits my friend well. Her easy, friendly manner encourages smiling responses in those she meets. Her patient, open acceptance of others, her loving nature and grace blesses those who encounter her. She brings sunshine in her every step. Yes, Sunny is well named.
Each time I encounter Sunny, I find myself learning something because Sunny is a gifted teacher who by example, teaches a simple lesson: “Take each day as it comes. Appreciate it as gift. Play a little!” and who embodies the saying of the Jewish Rabbi, Joshua Heschel, who wrote: “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.”
Sunny points to the truth that “Yesterday was the past. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift, and that is why it is called the present.” (author unknown)
Sunny is right. Each day is a gift, a new beginning, an opportunity to look at the world with new eyes and an opportunity for one’s spirituality to be enriched through playful artistic expression.
When I meet Sunny, I can’t help but look at the world in a new way. She reminds me to slow down, relax, be aware of the sacredness of all that is around me, feel joy at an indescribable part of my spirit, appreciate all of life and play!
One day, Sunny came to visit. She seemed curious about the garden so I invited her to have a look.
When she returned, her attention remained focused on something that was outdoors. She watched, and seemed to be at peace. In that moment, once again, Sunny was my teacher.
She taught me to remember to look and “see” … see beauty in the familiar … see wonder in the everyday things of life … see joy in simply be-ing, not always do-ing.
Sunny reminded me that mortals are called ‘human beings’ not ‘human doings.’
I remember the day of Sunny’s visit – and will never forget it.
In spite of the day being very long a day that began very early, before the light came through my curtains a day that ended very late, with physical fatigue, I was spiritually renewed because of Sunny’s gentle reminder
I realized it was a day where I had touched the face of Creator God in many humbling ways – ways of peace, spontaneity, patience, compassion, mercy, love, thoughtfulness, kindness, humility, joy, goodness, solitude and grace in so many ways.
… In the joyous laughter of children at play in the nearby schoolyard, I met the Creator’s gift of spontaneity.
… In the busyness of the office where phones rang, people dropped by unexpectedly, emails / phone messages needed replying, letters needed writing, I met the Holy One’s gift of patience.
… In the sanctity of morning quiet time and quickly-offered arrow-prayers during the day, I met God’s gift of peace.
… In the tears shed by a woman whose marriage was tenuous and cried for solace and comfort in our time together, I met the Creator’s gift of mercy.
… In the phone call from my son who walked me through the repair of a computer problem that was delaying completion of the design of a special project, I met Spirit’s gift of thoughtfulness.
… In the wonder of the baby born at the hospital after a protracted labour and unexpected live and healthy birth, I met the Holy One’s gift of love.
… In the youth holding open a door for another, I met God’s gift of kindness.
… In the delight of the child who gleefully shouted to her mother “Look! It’s a butterfly – on my hand!” I met God’s gift of joy.
… In the unsolicited smile by a stranger on the street I met Spirit’s gift of goodness.
… In the quiet of my home which shelters me from the elements at day’s end, I met Holy Other’s gift of solitude.
… And in the gentle lesson from Sunny, that no matter how busy each day may seem, spiritual renewal comes in taking each moment as it comes, I met and continue to meet, the gift of grace.
Sunny’s visit was a gentle reminder that spiritual renewal doesn’t come in dreading the future. Spiritual renewal doesn’t come in regretting the past.
Spiritual renewal comes in accepting, entering into and being grateful for the gift of the moment, be that a moment of struggle, a moment of accomplishment, a time of bereavement or loneliness or fear or frustration or anger or anxiety or laughter or joy or wonder or whatever!
Spiritual renewal comes in ‘simply being.’
In case you were thinking that Sunny is a human being, she’s not.
Sunny is a delightful four legged creature – a pomeraniapoo (is that what you call a cross between a Pomeranian and Poodle?) who was used by the Creator that day in a very profound way.
May we all encounter and welcome the Sunny’s into our lives.