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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Restoring Faith In Humanity

I saw this photo of a monumentous event. At a Gay Pride parade in Chicago, a group of Christians bravely stood up with/for their Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters as they countered centuries of homophobia. Imagine the celebration that took place as those whose choice of who they love was disparaged at minimum, demonized at the extreme, read these signs. I got goosebumps at the possibility that all followers of Christ could choose to be Christ-like and refrain from judgement of those whose love-styles were different from their own. It in no way means that they all agree with the choices, just rising above condemnation.  I wonder what the heart of someone who selects hate and fear over love and acceptance, looks like. Anger and bigotry poisons the one holding it even more than the one to whom it is directed.

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I am not a big tv watcher; usually my viewing takes place at the gym while on the ellipitical or gazelle machines. There is a show called “What Would You Do?” which is of the values clarification Candid Camera genre, hosted by John Quiñones. One episode involved a woman trying on a wedding gown.  She was a beautiful blonde (really an actor) who when wearing a gorgeous dress was being admired by the saleswoman (also an actor) who said something like “Oh, he’s just going to love seeing you come down the aisle. You look stunning.” The bride replied, “Not he….she. I’m marrying a woman.”  At that, the (seemingly) shocked saleswoman told her that she couldn’t possibly allow her to buy the fabric confection since it was appalling to her that she was a Lesbian. This scene was repeated several times and at one point the tearful woman was being pulled at as the saleswoman attempted to get her to take off the gown. Each time, the other customers were disgusted at the saleswoman’s reaction and comforted the bride and a few guided her out of the store and refused to shop there themselves. The most poignant was an African American mother and daughter who cried when witnessing the altercation and one of them said that this was equivalent of the racism that multi-cultural or bi-racial couples have faced. How relieved they all were, when John waltzed in and  it was revealed that it was staged for the camera. The sad part is how often this does happen in real life where same sex couples are not afforded the same right to marry. When I officiate at ceremonies, I consider them weddings; not commitment ceremonies as some refer to them. The only difference is that in most places, it is not yet state sanctioned.

Seeing this photo and watching that show have restored my sometimes wavering faith in humanity.

 

http://youtu.be/-z2LNsifEzg  Love’s In Need of Love by Stevie Wonder

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Already There

A quote from one of my favorite authors:

Can miles truly separate you from friends… If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?”-Richard Bach
I am blessed to be sailing on the love-ship with a crew of heart-y ship mates that hail from all over the world. I was encouraging someone recently to take an inventory of the people who have crossed paths with them over the years; from the most fleeting encounter in a check out line in a supermarket, to the most long term and meaningful partnerships.  I could likely count into the six figures when I imagine those who I have had direct face to face friendships and intimate romantic relationships,  co-workers, clients, students, couples and families I have worked with as a minister, notables I have interviewed for the various publications for which I write,  people I have met when I have attended classes and workshops, folks I have  served as a volunteer….and then there are facebook friends whose lives touch mine via the marvels of modern technology. There are those who are still in body and those whose love surrounds me from the ethers. We are taught that those in our immediate, proximate circles are of greater value. Certainly, there are degrees and levels of intimacy that we have in our lives and commitment to our families. I am in awe of the connection I have with what I call ‘family of choice'; those kindred souls who show up by Divine Appointment and tickle my life so wondrously.  When I think of them, I get a big ‘ol goofy grin on my face. It’s amazing how quickly we can bond with someone when we recognize that spark.
I had mentioned ongoing connection with loved ones who have passed. My husband and both parents are among that group, as well as aunts, uncles and grandparents, friends and co-workers. Although I do feel pangs of awwwww and owwww when I think of them at times, I feel an even stronger sense of the eternal threads that bind us together.
I hold this image of a loooonnnng table around which sits folks from all aspects of my life and all eras, getting to know one another, laughing and smiling, finding their common threads. Lively music is playing, and some choose to get up and dance. The table is filled to over-flowing with all of their favorite culinary delights that they share with one another.  As I think about this scene, I know that they are all already there and I hug them close while we sail on our ship of dreams.
http://youtu.be/gQDJ45qJHBQ Dreamboat Annie by Heart

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The Other Side of Fear

Fear is a funny thing….both ha-ha funny and strange funny. It sneaks up on me in ways that I had never expected and in circumstances I had never considered. I have been able to laugh in its false face, once I have been brave enough to pull off its seemingly sneering mask and perceive it for what it is…an attempt to allegedly keep me safe, while limiting my horizons.  I use the acronyms False  Evidence Appearing Real   and Forgetting Everything (is)  All Right when supporting others in leaping past their own trepidation and hesitation.

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Yesterday, I was called on to face a fear that seems silly, but once I did it, there was a sense of triumph.  I had taken my Jeep in to get serviced since I am going on  a long road trip to Canada on Sunday to speak at The Grail Lady Faire at Grail Springs; my first international conference. After the usual oil change-check tires-fill fluids routine, the smiling man behind the counter asked when I was leaving and informed me that the ball joints were shot and needed replacement. He advised not even driving around locally, let alone an 800 mile trek.  He knew the work would be complete in a day or so. Fortunately, my son was off work yesterday and I could borrow his car to get to my new job. Here’s where the ‘gulp’-y thoughts came in. Adam’s car is a manual transmission and I hadn’t driven a stick shift for at least 15 years.  The monkey mind started in immediately…”What if you stall?  What if there is traffic behind you honking at you?  What if you grind the gears?  What if you burn out the engine? Holy smokes, woman….get it together.”  When I raised those fears to my son, he sagely (he’s getting so good at calling me on my stuff:) asked “Weren’t you nervous about leaving your full time job? Aren’t you nervous about speaking in Canada? Don’t you sometimes get nervous doing new things?”  And so, yesterday, on a scorchingly hot Pennsylvania day, this 53 year old woman, was riding top down (his Nissan is a t-top), feeling the breeze on her face (I put on lots of sunscreen for the 20 minute ride to my part time job at a drug and alcohol counseling center), shifting gears like I had done it forever. Sense memory had kicked in and I actually found it easier to do than when we had our Jeep Wrangler in the 1990’s. I didn’t stall, I heard one grrrrriiiinnnd when it wasn’t fully in third gear, no one honked at me and I felt a sense of freedom that had me laughing with delight.

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It may sound silly, but taking those kinds of leaps are my growing edge these days, as I am incorporating new experiences along the way to finding my freedom where lies everything I want.

Wishing you Strength, Courage and Wisdom   http://youtu.be/u6P4jI8t-0I    India.Arie

www.grailladyfaire.com

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Summer Solstice

 

On a sweltering day here in Bucks County, PA, as I am sitting in air conditioned comfort, while my  Jeep is getting pampered (well, at least  serviced), an annual planetary phenom is taking place. Summer Solstice 2012 is bounding forward in color and vibrance, heralding the longest day of the year.  For many, it is considered the first day of summer, bring with it lazy, hazy, crazy days…. but for those of the Pagan tradition, it is an important holy day. Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still”. It seems as if, when the sun is at its highest point, that it is standing still.

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According to George Thomson, priest of the Wiccan Church of Canada’s (WCC) Temple in Hamilton, Ont., today’s Wiccans celebrate in similar ways to their ancient counterparts, in some respects.

“The festivals go back to agrarian times when people were dependent on the land to sustain all their needs,” he says. “So they would feast on the newly harvested grains and meat from first cows slaughtered.”

Likewise, at celebrations Thomson will attend on the solstice this year — which begin June 20 at 7:09 p.m. in Hamilton, 4:09 p.m. in British Columbia, 5:09 p.m. in Alberta, 6:09 p.m. in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and 8:39 p.m. in Newfoundland — there will be a circle, a ritual and feasting on foods appropriate to the season, such as berries, bread, grilled meat and fruit wine.

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Wicca — and many forms of paganism — revere two deities, a god and a goddess, and give both many personalities and names. Part of both ancient and current solstice celebrations, according to Thomson, is the presentation of a mystery play, wherein the Sun King and the Winter King battle each other for dominance and the hand of the goddess. They win in turn when seasons change at both solstices (winter and summer) and both equinoxes (the first day of spring and the first day of fall). These observances would have been very important to people who depended on the land for sustenance and today, serve to remind us of our agrarian roots, though we are deeply rooted in the technological age.

“The change of season reminds people that there are limited resources and that we must care for the planet,” says Thomson.

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If the ritual is outside, Thomson and the other WCC members will light a balefire, as Celts would have in times of old.

“All the fires in the house would be put out and relit with torches dipped in this balefire, considered holy, to purify and celebrate the sun.

“They would also light two fires and the livestock would be driven between them to purify them with the holy fires. This ritual also had a practical purpose because ticks and other bugs would fall off from the heat,” he explains.

He goes on to say that the fires would burn through the night — from solstice eve and all through the day — until they went out and the ashes would be scattered on the fields to bless them and ensure fertility of the crops.

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I love ritual and symbolism and for me, Summer Solstice offers the opportunity to immerse in fire and passion, dancing with new energy. Letting go of Winter darkness, shadow thoughts that I had allowed to freeze me over into near emotional paralyis at times. Now, I am basking, head back, all chakras generating, absorbing and transmitting.

On Saturday, I will be attending a gathering at the home of my friends Stephen and Kathy Redding as I have for the past few years. They live on the  gorgeous grounds of Happy Tree Farm and I think of Stephen as being like The Lorax who ‘speaks for the trees’. Every time I set foot on the property, I feel as if I am transported to wonderland.  The theme this year is :

Our Place in Creation :Celebrating the goodness and satisfying the challenges life places before us

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Friday June 22-Sunday June 24

Music, potluck meals, dancing, drumming, swimming in the lake that has magical, healing properties, communing with kindred spirits, a roaring bonfire at night.

And then on Saturday night, I will be enjoying the music of my dear friends Faerie Elaine Silver and Deva Troy as they combine their beautiful voices at Pebble Hill Church which is an interfaith community in which I have been involved since 1984.

Welcoming the rays of illumation into all areas of life. Blessed Be.

A Summer Solstice Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. and “Honoring the Light” concert at 7:30 p.m. with Faerie Elaine Silver and Deva Troy at Pebble Hill Interfaith Church on Saturday, June 23rd
www.stephenredding.com
www.pebblehillchurch.org
www.elainesilver.com
www.devatroy.com
http://youtu.be/yGlNtJgyA4k  Summer Solstice Song by Lisa Thiel  (Litha)
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