Christmas morning found me at one of my interfaith communities where I share spiritual sustenance. It is called Circle of Miracles, and for very good reason…miracles flow through the place, like sweet aroma of lavendar on a breeze, they reverberate in my ears like rhythm, rhyme and harmony and they glow brilliantly like illumination from on high. At the end of the service, as we share our miracles, offer healing for those in need, we wish each other “unrestricted miracles.”
On this day, the founding minister, Rev. Hannelore Goodwin offered inspiration in the form of what would (in other settings) be called a sermon, that she titled: “What Did Jesus Know?” Before she put fingers to keyboard to write what she would be sharing, she sat in silence, went within and asked that question. What came through was nothing less than divine nourishment for body, mind and spirit. Call it channeling if you will…but it resonated as truth for me and with the nodding heads of the others who were in the room, it seemed, for them too.
The first word that issued forth for Hannelore, was heart-space and that indeed, she felt Jesus was that…a sacred vessel for offering the healing love that he knew he was without question. He recognized his purpose from an early age (at 12 years old, he was found communing with the elders, having spiritual discourse) and went about living it, in the face of challenge and disapproval. He would become still and silent and go within, asking his Source for guidance. He surrounded himself with support in the form of his disciples AND he clearly knew that he was in charge of his path and made decisions from that place. He was adept at using the laws of the universe to morph matter…turning water into wine, healing the sick and even transcending death, because he was never taught that he couldn’t. He was firmly rooted in what he knew and couldn’t be toppled or distracted from what he was called on to do. So powerful was that calling that it overcame societal mores. He was the soul of love and compassion AND he had the human emotions of anger and fear; honoring the dichotomy inherent in that. He walked between the worlds of life and death.
As I sat in the comfort of my trans-denominational community, where folks were raised in various ways, my shawl wrapped around me, I looked back at my relationship with Yeshua ben Joseph; born, according to the Old Testament, to a young, unwed mother, whose betrothed Joseph questioned the parentage of her son until he accepted his role as earthly father to the celestially fathered child. Mary, a nice Jewish girl like me, and Joseph raised Jesus in the Jewish tradition and later in his life, he was called Rabbi. No question about his earthly lineage and faith.
My relationship Jesus was a challenging one. Paradoxically although I was permitted to go to church with Christian friends, my father, in particular had a hard time with what people justified doing (including persecuting Jew) in Jesus’ name. There was an element of fear. When I began studying A Course in Miracles, I had headaches, feeling that the languaging flew in the face of my upbringing (Bat Mitzvah and Hebrew school until age 16) and my parents would have disapproved had they known. Later in life, I began to accept the ideas he embodied and found a picture (the one above) that spoke to me of the essence of Jesus. Laughing since he got the cosmic joke that we are all One ; as he was quoted as saying definitively “I and the Father are One.”
In 1998, I enrolled in The New Seminary to beome an interfaith minister. When I told my mother I was becoming a ministerial student and not a rabbinical student as they would have much preferred, she said, “I have only one question for you….are you converting?” This would have felt like a huge betrayal to my parents. “No”, I responded, “I’m expanding.” to embrace it all. “Ok. If that makes you happy, we support you.” and they came up from Florida to NYC for my ordination in 1999 at The Cathedral of St. John The Divine. An ultimate act of love and acceptance from them for which I am eternally grateful.
These days, Jesus feels like companion, friend and guide, not the hell-fire and brimstone judge that some would make Him out to be. Although I am not a biblical scholar, I like this quote:
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
“Timeless truth, I tell you: whoever believes in me, those works which I have done he will also do, and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to the presence of my Father.” Seems to me, Jesus made no bones about it, that we are capable of following his example and it would likely honor his teachings by living in that heart-space and acting on the very things Hannelore mentioned in her sharing on a beautiful crisp, clear Pennsylvania Christmas morning.
Last week, my friends Jenny and David posted this beautiful video on my Facebook page and I knew I had to write about it for the Bliss Blog. Families come in all configurations. I was raised by two heterosexual parents, in the NJ suburb of Willingboro, with a younger sister, in a multi-generational family in which at one time or another, each of my grandmothers lived together with us. My maternal grandmother was one of 13 children, so I had lots of aunts, uncles and cousins who would frequent our home, or we would visit their homes. Although my father’s side of the family was smaller, there was the same sense of closeness that it exuded. Although most of the elders; including my parents, have since ‘re-located’, I remain in contact with my cousins on both sides of the family, knowing that we are there for each other in times of celebration and sorrow; what I call ‘oys and joys’.
I remember back in my 20’s beginning to understand the concept of ‘family of choice’, since I was blessed to have been immersed in one at a counseling center in Glassboro, NJ where I went to undergrad, called Together, Inc. (great name for the concept of inclusivity). There are times when family of origin just isn’t able to meet important needs for love and support. I am blessed to have both a circle of family of origin and those who showed up by Divine Design, who grace my life remarkably every day.
In my circles, I am delighted to witness families that include 2 parents of opposite sex, 2 parents of same sex, solo parents, hetero couples and same sex couples, poly triads and ‘moresomes’, multiple families in the same house or community, single friends sharing living quarters, unmarried couples of either gender mix, multi-generational homes, where elderly parents live together in the same home as their children and grandchildren. There are also divorced parents who not only amicably, but cooperatively and lovingly live near each other and share co-parenting. In my home, I am a widowed parent with a son I raised solo (well…with my village of loving friends and mentors for Adam who we had adopted when he was nearly 5 and before he came into our lives, we were foster parents for a little boy from the time he was 4 months until he was 18 months old) since Michael died when he was 11.
I am all for increasing the sense of community so as to make the world a more loving place. Gone are the days when married, hetero parents who have 2.5 children with a white picket fence surrounding their suburban home, is considered the norm. Some may feel threatened by that phenom; but it is the truth and in no way does it undermine ANYONE’s choice. My take is that love is love is love and is no more valid when shared in that more ‘traditional’ way and is no less valid when shared in a ‘non-traditional’ manner.
The photo above is of my friends Annabella and Dene and their four legged furry kid named Quark who took a cross country truck trip with Annabella this summer via Twilight Wish Foundation, when she offered the gift of fulfilling the dream of a lifetime for an octogenarian named Margarette. I’m certain that she has been enfolded into Annabella’s family.
May you expand your definition of what loving family means.
With a voice that is reminscent of early Jim Morrison, chiropractor turned musician, ( or is it musician turned chiropractor?), Flagstaff, Arizona based David Milgram offers music-medicine in the form of his debut CD Live From The Heart. I initially heard it while at the home of my friends Dianne and Kelly in ‘Red Rock town’ which is the name of one of the pieces on this exquisite offering. He shares a story of a man and woman who meet there and discover love “in the desert sand, where nothing grew before.” I was delighted to discover that the lyrics of that song were penned by one of my favorite authors; Shel Silverstein. The opening track called Wings of Heaven lifts the listener aloft with the chorus “Carry me away, carry me today.” Angel With No Disguise is a waltz feeling song with sweet lyrics: ” You’re an angel with no disguise. It’s easy to see that through your eyes.”, highlighted with pennywhistle and harmonica.
Most of the songs are influenced by the beauty of the vortex laden part of the country which has its own sense of magic about it. His music seems also to be shaped by the Native American philosophy that permeates the region as well; one with Mother Earth. Ka-Eh (Corn Maiden) is considered a ‘Hopi Love Song For the Ages’.
This CD is his 4th or 5th. Out of Nowhere, and Just Before the Helpers Come are his first two.
The title of the CD Live From the Heart, seems to me to carry a double entendre’ since it is wise to live from the heart and I am certain that when Dave sings it is sometimes live and not recorded and his music emerges from his great big heart. The cover art is a vivid and whimsical portrayal of Sedona, a place that feels like home within my soul. The yellow butterflies that dance about have special significance for me as they symbolize transformation and remind me of my mother. I encourage you to immerse in this CD and live from your heart.