February 25, 2018: A Ferocious Love by Sara Gorham
It's hard to believe it was just two weeks ago that my fellow Practitioner Marcia Mode-Stavros was up here talking about the odd little conundrum of having Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day. Such a curious little mash up! Love and loss on the same day. Hearts and ashes. How in the world will people reconcile this, she mused, and which do we think will prevail, love or death? It was a fun and lighthearted rumination.
And then three days later, on February 14th, Parkland, Florida and Stoneman Douglas High School were added to the unthinkable list and that “love or death” question appeared to have been answered in the most of awful of ways. Seventeen lives were lost and the life of every student there was forever altered. It might have looked like death and ashes had won, but if that is what we thought and what we were expecting, then we underestimated. We underestimated the Stoneman Douglas students who survived that day for they have shown us not death and ashes but a ferocious love and caring.
Love comes in many flavors and many manifestations. Generally on Valentine’s Day we celebrate romantic love, but in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting we have seen love show up in all its power, with its feet planted and its chest out saying "this is no longer acceptable." We have seen love rise in the voices of those who survived as they say "we are tired of living in fear and we are here to be the force of change. We will care for ourselves and for each other even if those who have been charged with our protection do not protect us. We will not be dismissed, discarded or disregarded. We will not be collateral damage, for we are life itself."
That is the voice of love speaking in all of its power and that is how change begins – when someone says, “I claim my worth and I claim my right to be. I claim my dignity and my value and, no, I won’t give up my seat on the bus.”
So as I mourn those lost at Stoneman Douglas I applaud those who remain and give voice to the voiceless, who are choosing to be masters of their fate rather than victims of their circumstance. May we all be wise enough and humble enough to learn from their example.
February, 2018: Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday By Marcia Mode-Stavros
Whomever is in charge of this year’s calendar seems to have had a little confusion when they set a few key dates. For example, Easter falls on April Fools Day. As if that isn’t bad enough, next Wed. offers an even more unusual pairing - Valentine’s Day and Ash Wed.
These two seemingly opposite holidays haven’t been on the same day since 1945 for obvious good reasons. I mean, how can one day possibly have room for two polar opposites? Ash Wed., which begins the most sacred season of the Christian year, is a somber day of fasting, reflection, introspection, marked by ashes on one’s forehead and the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” Valentine’s Day, on the other hand, celebrates secular love, often with flowers, elaborate verse, fine wine, beautiful gifts, or lavish dinners, so popular a day that Americans spend $20 billion to mark the occasion.
Which leaves us asking again just how to handle this odd pairing? One greeting card company has suggested they be combined, with cards reading such sentiments as:
Roses Are Red
Violets Are Blue
It’s the Start of Lent
No Chocolate for You.
The Catholic Church, on the other hand, has issued guidelines urging its members to keep Ash Wed. sacred and celebrate Valentine’s Day the night before or the week-end after.
Other clergy suggested this is a perfect day to bridge the two, focusing on love … both spiritual and secular, love of God, of Spirit, of Mother Nature, of whatever word you choose – paired with love of family, friend, neighbor.
Isn’t this exactly what we teach here, creating an inclusiveness that contains the perfect pairing of Divine Love and love in action throughout each day? As Ernest Holmes, founder of our philosophy, wrote, “Life must contain two fundamental characteristics … there is an Infinite Spirit, operating through an Infinite and Immutable Law. … We come to understand that all is Love and yet all is Law. Love rules through Law. Love is the Divine Givingness; Law is the Way. Love is spontaneous; Law is impersonal…Love points the way and Law makes the way possible. (pg 43-The Science of Mind-rearranged order)
At this spiritual center, we are blessed because we need not choose an either/or path. No one hands us a rule book of what we should do. In fact, I don’t know exactly what your spiritual belief looks like, nor do you know mine. I don’t know what you see or feel when you close your eyes and connect with the Divine, nor fo you know what I experience. But I do know there is a common thread flowing through each and every one of us, connecting us as children of Spirit, one with the Divine, love inward and love in action.
On Wed., then, it will be rather routine for us – because in our spiritual work we honor Ash Wed. by contemplating on love- and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we then give that love legs, expressing the spiritual love in an outward way, spreading God’s love from the inside out.
And so for you, I send this Ash Wednesday’s Valentine:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
My love turns inward to God
Then outward to you.
01/28/2018: Speaking Our World Into Being by Sara Gorham
The book of John in the Christian Bible begins this way: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." When I heard that as a child I had no idea what it meant but it was clear that it had a gravitas to it, a "pay attention" kind of quality.
I'm sure I still don't really understand the depth of its meaning but here is what I think that passage might be trying to tell us as it applies to the level of our lives: that there is power in our words and it is through our words - and the consciousness and intention behind them - that we create our world. True, that passage is talking about Source or God, not you and me. And it is talking about bringing the entire physical universe into being. Clearly, that's an order of magnitude beyond our pay grade, but I think the fundamental force of creation is a constant. When I say that you and I create our world I'm not thinking mountains and oceans and a sky full of stars, but I do know that the tone and look and feel of the world as we experience it is absolutely ours to create. And like the Divine of which we are all a part, I think we speak it into being. We take thought and intention and give it a form and a resonance that creation responds to.
My question is, what world are we collectively speaking into being? Are we speaking into being our vision of a world that works for everyone? Or are we diminishing the power of our word by mostly using it to rail against things we don't want to see?
And when we do that what consciousness are we projecting? Are we not buying into the great lie of separation, of a world composed of a "Them" and an "Us," where some are righteous (that would be Us) and some outside the embrace of the Divine (clearly Them)? Are we forgetting that when we hold someone outside of the Light, we only join them in the darkness?
In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us to be impeccable with our word, and that is indeed a good reminder. But before we even do that we have to examine the consciousness and assumptions behind our words and see if they actually reflect what we say we want. To make that reflection happen I think we have to anchor into our consciousness the one great Truth of the Universe, that of our unity. In order to have that be our realization in form, the end point that we wish to create, it has to be our start point in consciousness.
So here is an exercise, a challenge, I would like to invite all of us to try: locate in your mind your biggest boogey man, the one who pushes all your buttons, the one you hold most responsible for the ills of the world – and now, hold that person in your heart. Know them as divine and as kindred soul, know them with their wounded heart, and recognize that all of us carry a wounded heart but are healed as we hold the whole world in Love. For when we hold no one outside of the Light, none of us need live in darkness.
And now here comes the really hard part. When we're done silently knowing that Truth, we need to speak it at the next opportunity. Instead of joining in with the next rant of outrage, can we find the courage to speak of our unity, to speak of our collective delusion of division and of the healing available to us all?
I'll tell you right now, speaking that Truth is not always easy. You might be jeered. You might be thought naïve or regarded as soft in the head, or perhaps as an enabler of bad behavior or ruinous public policy. But know that as you speak, you speak an eternal Truth and that the entire force and power of the Universe is arrayed behind your words, and that each of us, in our own small but irresistible way, in choosing those words, helps to speak a new world into being.