As we are immersed in holiday time, many folks are still scrambling to think of the perfect gift to give to family and friends. Colorful wrappings and ribbons that have already or will adorn boxes and bags, will be torn and strewn and then scooped up and tossed. This year instead of focusing on presents, the best gift to offer yourself and those you love, is your presence. I remember last year, sharing that same message, but this year it has even greater poignance. 2012 has been the year of Superstorm Sandy, a contentious election and the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and the (as she rolls her eyes) apparently erroneous belief that the end of the Mayan Calendar meant the end of the world. Not for a moment, did I think it was more than “the end of the world as we knew it”. At such times, we step up and take care of each other. I vote for that, all year long, how about you?
For such a long long time, I have found myself a member of many overlapping soul circles, some in my immediate locale; the Philly area and others scattered world wide. In the past few weeks, I have been embraced literally and figuratively by sweet souls in my home at the Annual Latke Party last weekend, as well as a Solstice gathering on Friday night at which we placed what it is we wanted to release from this past year into the Yule Log and then burned it. My friend Deva Troy says each year that the log literally feels heavier by the time it gets passed by each of us (about 40 people). Last night, I ventured 3 1/2 hours southward to visit Patti and Michael in Gaithersburg, MD who got married in Hawaii in September and since that ceremony was only attended by their immediate family, this was an opportunity for their family of choice to join together to celebrate both their marriage and the Solstice in our typical fashion. Alot of hugs, cuddles, snuggles, laughter and love were present in this house that we were all blessing with our presence. It had been a few years since I had gotten together with some and it felt like coming home. Time melted away as light hearted bantering ensued well into the wee hours. My head touched the pillow at 2:52 a.m. and blessedly I slept until 11:00 a.m. followed by brunch that included leftovers from the festivities. More laughter, love and snuggles ensued…how much of that can one woman stand?
When I consider my relationships, I feel enduringly blessed, especially when I remember that there was a time when these dear souls weren’t even on my radar screen. Even if we don’t see each other often, there is a comfort in knowing that they are out there, doing their life as I am, mine. Their friendship is a gift that keeps on giving. For that I am eternally grateful.
One of my favorite unconventional holiday songs www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MtgYLjv6cg Christmas in the Ashram-Tom Prasado Rao and Cary Cooper
A few days ago, this beautiful image came across my computer screen. I was drawn to it for many reasons. The first thing I noticed was that it reminded me of a shaddai or hamsa (Hand of God) which is said to be sacred in Jewish, Islamic and Pagan traditions. Add to it, the ‘mudra’ of a peace sign and the mantra ‘share love now’ and it is the perfect trifecta. When I learned what its purpose was, I jumped on board. It represents an invitation from a group of intrepid peace mongers, planetary lovers and world healers to join together with everyone around the third rock from the sun and make a huge difference. What if, in every precious NOW, you could share love, in spoken, written and action form? What if you could infuse your own heart, mind and body with that essence and energy so that even the most virulent fear couldn’t penetrate it, the most obnoxious monkey mind inner critic thought would just bounce off of you like a super-ball? Considering that puts a grin on my just woken up sleepy morning face. Share Love Now encourages (as a start at least) for folks to be in love-mode for 12/21-23.
Today is 12/21/12; a day drenched in meaning for so many reasons. It is the ‘end’ of the Mayan calendar, the meaning of which I and most others in my circles choose to see as a portent of peace and positive transformation rather than a time of crisis and cataclysm. It is 7:22 a.m. est here in the Philadelphia, PA area and obviously since I am still here to write about this, the world has not ended. Perhaps ‘the world as we know it’ has indeed taken a turn into something more fulfilling and soul satisfying. The question is, what will we do with this newly birthed opportunity? I choose to love it into maturity with my thoughts, words and deeds.
It is also the Winter Solstice, bringing with it, the newly dawning Light. Tonight, as I have for many years, I will sit in the living room of my friends Deva and Stan Troy and other member of overlapping soul circles, many of whom are part of a group called PeaceWeavers. Their focus is healing and sustainability for the planet. We will drum, pray, sing, chant, let go of stuff from this year, set intention for the new year and share pot luck delights.
For me, personally, it honors the passing of my husband Michael who died 12/21/98 from Hepatitis C after a 6 year dance with the disease. It wasn’t always graceful, but always Grace-filled. Fourteen years ago today, I was launched into a new life that at 40, I had not anticipated; that of being a widowed mother of a then 11 year old son. Uncertain of what was to emerge from the pain and fear, the loss and grief, the letting go of the familiar, I entered into an existence, that now delights and enthralls me. I had transitioned from being a magazine publisher and nursing home social worker, to becoming a free-lance journalist, interfaith minister, author, transformational speaker and organ donor educator; since Michael died while awaiting a liver transplant. I have drawn into my life, too numerous to count, sweet souls that I would not likely have met otherwise. I have welcomed opportunities to be a Love Ambassador each day and for that in particular, I am incredibly grateful.
From the Share Love Now website:
MISSION POSSIBLE: Create a Better World Together
Your mission…create a viral, self-organizing, globally coordinated Movement of Love & Solutions in Action. Proceed carefully: This movement is highly likely to cause chain results of positive and radical transformations.
Should YOU choose to accept this mission….read on.
The website is filled with all kinds of ideas for ‘spreadin’ the luv’, from creating events or attending those already in place that celebrate love, to blogging about things that you observe or do in that realm. Check it out.
It is my certainty that love is the Force that keeps this pretty planet spinning through space.
http://youtu.be/y1y4gVCwub8 This Pretty Planet-Tom Chapin
Although it might feel sacreligous to some, imagine a spiritual rave during which you are called on to the dance floor with music spun by Divine DJ’s. Jesus, The Buddha, Yemaya, Kwan Yin and Shiva are rockin’ the house with their celestial song stylings. They know that music stirs souls and is really a form of worship. Have you ever been to a rave? Originally, it was a place of loud music, drugs and wild goings on. The intent, I imagine was to transcend the ‘ordinary’ day to day existence and connect with the Divine. I’ve attended a few events that were, instead fueled by the fire of faith in different forms. I was introduced to the phenom by Matthew Fox; formerly a Catholic priest who was defrocked because of his beliefs that ran counter to those of the Vatican and instead became an Episcopal priest. He refers to his co-creation as a Technocosmic Mass. It is a true collaboration as it is planned, designed and carried out by folks with a shared vision of what worship can be. Music, dance, chanting, ritual items, creation of altars, celebrating union and com-union amongst a group of what I call ‘overlapping soul circles’, sweating your prayers, offering praise to Spirit. It does, in the midst of this freedom to BE, have a particular structure.
The Cosmic Mass: A New Home for an Ancient Ritual By Matthew Fox © 2000
According to the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality: The Via Positiva or celebration of existence (Thomas Aquinas says this is the first dimension to Worship: To say Thank You for Creation); the Via Negativa or sorrow for sins; the Via Creativa, the blessing of wine and bread as the food of the Cosmic Christ; and the Sending Off which is the Via Transformativa. Our first 18 minute dance is during the Via Positiva, the last at the Via Transformativa wherein we receive the energy to be the spiritual warriors we need to be to transform society after we leave worship. In between there is a deep experience of shared grief (via negativa) often including wailing and lamentation and the sharing of communion (via creativa).
I was honored to be on the planning team for two such events; one at Pebble Hill Church in Doylestown, PA and other via Common Ground Fellowship in the Philadelphia area. Such love and ingenuity went into putting them together, as if the One whispered into our ears, inspiring us to make them full sensory happenings that, rubbing our hands together with glee, we knew would delight and enliven those who attended.
This past October, I joined a group of yogis and yoginis for Yoga Rave Philly as we danced, prayed, meditated and experienced yoga off the mat to the heart pounding rhythms of many bands including the Baltimore, MD based Bhakti Tree. By the end of the night, surrounded by my ever growing tribe, I was sweaty, wrung out, inspired, spirit infused and drunk on The Divine (a good thing, since I don’t drink alcohol).
(That’s me, by the way in the lower middle portion of the photo, elbow up next to one of my favorite dance partners, my friend Gary Schoenberg)
www.thecosmicmass.com Matthew Fox
http://soundcloud.com/bhaktitree/ links to Bhakti Tree’s music
WHY I YOGA RAVE! http://vimeo.com/elan/videos from one of the organizers Elan Gepner
Photo credit Cynthia Greb 2012
Tonight, a friend who is facing some life challenges texted and asked for me to send reiki and hold her in the light of love. My response was that she was never anywhere else but there. Earlier in the day she had a rather disheartening experience that took her by surprise and caused some fear. People she had trusted had used what I think of as new age terrorism to let her know that she was in danger psychically and spiritually because she wasn’t going along with their particular program. You know, much like fundamentalists of any religious orientation who tell you that if you don’t do things ‘their way’, then you are condemned or at the very least have fallen out of favor with Source. The only difference was in the languanging of it. My take is that no one has a monopoly on truth, simply their perspective. I don’t believe anyone, clergy, spiritual teacher or lay person has the right to tell anyone what to believe spiritually. As a minister, I have no special ‘in’ with the Almighty, no more direct hotline to the Divine than anyone else on the planet. Some refer to themselves as “God fearing.” I say that I am “God loving.” The God of my understanding communicates through the language of love and not fear. Fear of “God’s wrath” doesn’t do much to make the world a happier, healthier or more compassionate place. How many people sit in houses of worship then go out and commit acts of aggression against others, sometimes in the name of one who created them? How many people take the name of All That Is in vain as they mis-use it to justify hatred against those whose beliefs run contrary to theirs? I’m not convinced that God takes sides, whether we are talking about a sporting event or sexual orientation. I think God is on everyone’s side. Hard to accept sometimes when someone else’s values butt heads with yours.
So many of the conflicts that occur on a planetary basis could likely find solution if they themselves were held in the light of love. Imagine if you will, an embrace so large and all encompassing that nothing could slip through, no one could escape it. And who would want to? What if you could scoop up all of your fears, hesitations, belief in lack and limitation, harsh self criticism, denial of pleasure and place it into those metaphorical arms? How might you feel in this moment? And further, what if you knew, knew, knew beyond any doubt that you were One with Source, what couldn’t you get through?
And would you ever feel as if that light is not big enough to take you in, regardless of the darkness you might feel around you?
http://youtu.be/2EEFSB0zyE0 In The Light of Love-by Deva Premal, Miten and Manose