Category Archives: Goodness

Family Values

I hear a lot about “family values,” although never more than during an election cycle.

My question is: What are family values? People tout that phrase all the time, yet when pressed, I can’t imagine that a one of them could mention a single value that would fill the bill.

values

(As an aside: People who talk about “family values” are usually the same people who say they’re fighting for “social justice,” but I suggest that most of them cannot define “justice.”)

So for people interested in values, these are the seven that I hold dear. I believe they are universal as well as personal. I believe they are inherent in our DNA. I believe that any law written anywhere should be held up to this short list of values to see if it passes muster. If so, let it be. If not, then tweak it until it does.

Life

Equality

Quality of Life

Opportunity for Personal Growth

Empathy

Compassion

Love for Humanity

Please note that Life, Equality, and Opportunity for Personal Growth are strangely similar to: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, a phrase etched into the Declaration of Independence. Those men knew what they were talking about.

These are good values for your family. If we all taught our children to admire these values and adhere to them as adults, our society would be a better place. Our world would be a better place.

It’s never too late to adopt them as your own.

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Filed under Beauty, family, goals, Goodness, Truth, Uncategorized

2014: My Year of Good Cheer

2014 marks the sixth year I have named my years. It provides an interesting focus for me throughout the year as I remind myself (via a post it note on my desktop) my name for the year and gives me something to live up to. To strive for.

2009 was The Year of Hesed (lovingkindness)

2010: The Year of the Tao

2011: The Year of Living Simply

2012: The Year of Forgiveness

2013: The Year of Living Sustainably

2014: The Year of Good Cheer

Have I achieved any goals with these years? I don’t set out any goals, per se, it is just a reminder of ways in which I can adjust my thinking.

In The Urantia Book (a spiritual endeavor that I have studied since the early 1970s), whenever Jesus encountered one of his disciples, the first words out of his mouth were: “Be of good cheer!” This is in the Bible, too, John 16:33.

Words to live by, those. What good does it do us to be critical, to add negative thought-energy into the world, to hate, hold resentments, argue, and live our lives in cynicism?

Why not be happy? Happiness is a choice. Only we can choose whether or not to be happy. No one on earth can make us happy if we do not want to be. Conversely, nobody can make us feel bad if happiness is our chosen state of being.

Only we can choose to put cynicism aside. Only we can choose to focus on the right side, the light side, the good side of things instead of the ugly. Only we can choose to see the successes in apparent failures, to view the future with excitement instead of dread, to banish depression and decide to be of good cheer.

I was privileged to deliver a sermon last summer, the topic of which was how we can change the world with our thoughts.

It starts with a single decision to lighten the world with positive thoughts, thoughts of happiness and gratitude and love and light. There are enough people who add the darkness to fabric of planetary thought with their thoughts of greed and anger and me-first-ness.

It is a mighty challenge to change the balance from dark to light, but we can do it, one day at a time, one person at a time, just by being of good cheer.

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Filed under Discipline, goals, Goodness, Joy, peace, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, The Urantia Book, Uncategorized, years

Every Season is Cranberry Season

I should write a cranberry cookbook. I love cranberries, in all forms. I almost wrote that I like them even more than blackberries and raspberries, but that’s not entirely true. They’re so different, with different characteristics, moods, and creative potentials.

After Christmas, I buy cranberries on sale and stock up the freezer. I have lots of cranberry recipes.  In fact, cranberries are very versatile and can be chopped and added to lots of different things for a tangy surprise. I make juice, cookies, breads and scones, but most of all, I just like a good cranberry relish. There’s nothing new or different, particularly, in these recipes. They’re just designed to bring out the cranberry flavor.

Here are two recipes, one of which I just made. I love both of these, and we eat them year round.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 package cranberries (I chop them in the food processor while they’re still frozen so they don’t turn to mush)

1 whole navel orange, skin included

A good inch of fresh ginger

1 cup sugar

Chop the first three items together, add the sugar, mix and store, covered, in the fridge overnight to let the flavors blend.

Here’s another. Similar, and yet oh, so different:

Cranberry-Jalapeno Relish

1 package cranberries (I chop them in the food processor while they’re still frozen so they don’t turn to mush)

1 whole lime, skin included

1 jalapeno, seeded

1 bunch of cilantro

1 cup sugar

Chop the first four items together, add the sugar, mix and store, covered, in the fridge overnight to let the flavors blend.

Yum!

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Filed under Goodness, Joy

The Legend of El Gringo Grande

While in Zihuatanejo, Mexico last January on a writing retreat, my husband Al and I walked over a beautiful stone bridge that spanned a canal. This was a flood water control canal, and as this wasn’t the rainy season, there were only about 3″ of water in it, flowing across the beach to the bay.

During the day, this canal was filled with birds: ibis, snowy egrets, greater egrets, pink spoonbills, all feasting on the minnows that were silvery thick. Beautiful. At sundown on our first night there, we saw a snowy egret try to fly away with the rest, but his leg was caught in something and he couldn’t get loose.

Al had a restless night, thinking about that egret. Named him Edgar. In the morning, we borrowed a pair of scissors from the front desk of our hotel, and went to rescue Edgar.

The canal had 8′ concrete walls and a concrete floor, except for the south side by the beach, which had broken away. Al couldn’t see that the floor was broken from his vantage point, so he endeavored to wade into the canal from that side. Soon the water was up to his hips and it was clear that he couldn’t go any further. From my vantage point on the bridge, I could see the deep hole and encouraged him to go back out to the beach and come in on the north side, where the concrete floor was intact. This is what he did.

A Mexican man came up to me all in a panic and said, “What is he doing?” I pointed at poor Edgar, still sitting there about thirty yards up the canal, and told him what Al was about. “There’s a CROCODILE in that hole!” the man said.

“Al! Al!” I yelled. “Crocodile!”

Al looked around. “I don’t see any crocodile,” he said, and continued on his way.

Soon, a crowd gathered. The gentleman who had warned me about the crocodile now became the emcee of the event, giving everyone who gathered in the morning light a blow-by-blow description in both English and Spanish, of what they could certainly see with their own eyes.

Then someone called the fire department. I can only assume that having a tourist eaten in the canal is not good PR.

A Bombero (fireman) conferred with Al over the wall , then two of them went to the beach side of the canal where they saw the croc and they trained their M-16s on it until Al was safe.

Al calmly picked up the bird and while it pecked at his hands, he cut it free from the entanglement of fishing line.  

Big applause by everyone crowding the bridge.

Then he picked up the rest of the yards of old fishing line and one of the firemen told him a better way to get back out of the canal. The Emcee said to me: “Your husband, he’s”–he flexed his bicep–“grande!”

“Si,” I said.

Then he turned to the crowd, puffed out his chest and made an announcement. “Mr. and Mrs. Al,” he said. “You Americans come to Mexico and RESCUE OUR BIRDS!” Wild applause.

Al knew nothing of any of this. He just came onto the bridge, pockets full of old fishing line, and wanted to go have breakfast.

For the rest of the trip we called him El Gringo Grande. He liked it until he found out that it didn’t mean “great man,” it meant “big man”.

I say it takes a big man to brave crocodile-infested waters to rescue a bird.

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Filed under Goodness, Social Consciousness, Writing

What is a Prayer Shawl?

We can cook!

A prayer shawl is a soft item of comfort. It can be an actual shawl, or it can be a scarf, a chemo cap, a hat, a pair of socks, mittens, gloves, a quilt… Anything that is hand made with the intention of bringing peace, comfort and love to someone who suffers is, in my world, a prayer shawl.

Last Sunday afternoon, seventeen women got together at Textiles A Mano to knit, crochet and sew soft items of comfort. We talked, we laughed, we ate (boy oh boy, can we cook!) and we combined our spirits, and our positive healing energy to infuse the items of love in our laps.

This, to  me, is a sacred act. For seventeen of us (eighteen, if you include Paul Shang, who baked and brought over an amazing cheesecake) to lay down our lives in the service of those who suffer, whether we know them personally or not, is a wonderful act of love, mercy and ministry.

Most churches have prayer shawl ministries. Two of the women who came to Sunday’s event knit prayer shawls every week with a group at their church. These are the world’s unsung heroes. These are the members of The Global Conspiracy.

It didn’t take much time or energy, you know, to organize this event. I found a place to hold it (the last one, last February, was held in my living room), sent out a few emails, bought some cheese and crackers and people came. I like to think that in those four hours, we generated a great amount of calm energy to contribute to uplifting the spiritual tenor of the planet.

It was easy to do, and you could do it too.

I hope you will.

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Filed under Goodness, knitting, peace, Prayer, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, time

The Global Conspiracy

On the surface of the world right now there is war and violence and things seem dark.

But calmly and quietly, at the same time, something else is happening underground

An inner revolution is taking place and certain individuals are being called to a higher light. It is a silent revolution. From the inside out.

From the ground up.

This is a Global operation.

A Spiritual Conspiracy.  

There are sleeper cells in every nation on the planet.

You won’t see us on the T.V.

You won’t read about us in the newspaper.

You won’t hear about us on the radio.

We don’t seek any glory.

We don’t wear any uniform.

We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles.

Most of us work anonymously.

We are quietly working behind the scenes in every country and culture of the world.

Cities big and small, mountains and valleys, in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands.

You could pass by one of us on the streetand not even notice.

We go undercover.

We remain behind the scenes.

It is of no concern to us who takes the final credit, but simply that the work gets done.

Occasionally we spot each other in the street.

We give a quiet nod and continue on our way.

During the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs.

But behind the false storefront at night is where the real work takes a place.

Some call us the Conscious Army.

We are slowly creating a new world with the power of our minds and hearts.

We follow, with passion and joy.

Our orders come from the Central Spiritual Intelligence.

We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking.

Poems ~ Hugs ~ Music ~ Photography ~ Movies ~ Kind words ~Smiles ~ Meditation and prayer ~ Dance ~ Social activism ~ Websites Blogs ~ Random acts of kindness…

We each express ourselves in our own unique ways with our own unique gifts and talents.

“Be the change you want to see in the world!”  That is the motto that fills our hearts.

We know it is the only way real transformation takes place. We know that quietly and humbly we have the power of all the oceans combined.

Our work is slow and meticulous. Like the formation of mountains, it is not even visible at first glance.

And yet with it entire tectonic plates shall be moved in the centuries to come.

Love is the new religion of the 21st century.

You don’t have to be a highly educated person, or have any exceptional knowledge to understand it.

It comes from the intelligence of the heart.

Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse of all human beings.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Nobody else can do it for you.

We are now recruiting.

Perhaps you will join us.

Or already have. All are welcome. 

The door is open.

                                           –author unknown

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Filed under connections, goals, Goodness, Possibilities, relationships, Social Consciousness, Spirituality

I’m Outraged

Matthew Fox (the theologian, not the actor) said that while there is a time for calm meditation, there is also a time for action and that in his opinion, we were quickly approaching a time for moral outrage.

That time came for me yesterday when I turned on CNN and watched a Christian preacher bully a Muslim Imam, decrying Allah and trying to convert him to Christianity. Despite the Imam’s calm presence and suggestion that he only wanted to be good neighbors, The “Christian” was rude, argumentative and aggressive. I was appalled. And outraged.

“The fundamentalist Christian mind-set has hijacked the name Jesus and the term Christ and the word Christianity,” says Fox in his book A New Reformation. “Fundamentalism has become a religion unto itself…based on control, dominant and domineering patriarchy, on the notion that it is in the right while everyone else is wrong, that those who follow it will be saved while everyone else is damned. But what is the origin of this certainty?”

Really. What is the origin of that pervasive and despicable certainty?

The instigating incident, of course, was the Muslim community center proposed for six blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. That controversy in itself is ridiculous. If not six blocks, then how about seven? Eight? The local officials have determined that the proposal is within the law, so that should have been the end of that. No national politician needed to weigh in, but once someone did, the firestorm ignited.

All those protestors need a little history lesson in why America became America. We have religious freedom here, and that is no small thing.

Matthew Fox writes: “Isn’t it time to stop trying to convert one another and start delving into one another’s spiritual riches?”

Riches are everywhere, but spiritual riches will not be had by resting on a static belief. True religion is dynamic, loving, active, and filled with truth, beauty and goodness. True religious living emulates the actions of a loving and merciful God, no matter what we call him.

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