This morning, as I was cooking breakfast…oatmeal pancakes with bananas, I had a thought that after a day spent in flannel pj’s under the covers, napping and nursing a cold, I felt like I was on the other side of it. Pouring a glass of orange juice that my son insisted I drink to assist in moving the yukkiness on its way, a memory from more than 30 years ago, flashed across the mental movie screen. Outward Bound; January 1981, via Dartmouth College. Ten days spent in the wilds of Maine and New Hampshire; camping, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, freezing my tush and other assorted body parts off. I had the time of my life and brought home valuable life lessons that serve me to this day. One is that I never want to do THAT again. Another is something an instructor told us that I can hear as if he is saying it now. I have written about it before, but it absolutely bears repeating, Not sure if he called it this, but I do….MAKE A POSITIVE CHANGE. All along the journey, he would tell us: ” If your socks are wet, change them. If you are hot, take off a layer of clothes. If you are cold, add a layer. If you are hungry, eat. If you are tired, sleep.” Simple as that. No kvetching and complaining, expecting that circumstances will meet our desires all the time. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. What I have discovered is that a simple shift in perception (which is a definition of a miracle, according to A Course In Miracles) might bring about a much needed change in what is going on around me. When I change how I look at things, the things I look at, change. Yesterday, that meant re-framing the need to stay in bed, when I had (in my recovering TYPE A brain) ‘so much to do…errands to run…cleaning….laundry…deadlines to meet’. Instead, I read, wrote, napped. How sad that I needed to remind myself that I had ‘earned’ a rest, having been keeping a hectic schedule with full time job, book promo events, writing assignments, housekeeping responsibilities, the gym…and oh yeah…a social life. If I wanted to be able to continue to do that, I needed to ease back…and so I did.
Back to the orange juice reference… there really IS, what my friend Peter Moses calls a ‘think link’ here. On one of the last days of the Outward Bound Course, we ran up a hill. At the top, our reward, besides a much needed collapse and recover time, was a huge pot of freshly made, ice cold orange juice. Served with a ladle into my cup, I gazed at it as if was manna from Heaven. Feeling the sweat pouring down my body, heart racing from the exertion, wanting to collapse on the snowy ground, I gratefully gulped the liquid gold. Orange juice had never, and not since, tasted so good! It was a potent reminder that nourishment comes in all forms and often at the pinnacle of performance, as a reward for a job well done. Not that I rested on my laurels 30 years ago, nor am I doing it now, but I am still learning; work in progress that I am, that if I am to continue, as sings Kate Bush ‘keep running up that hill’, I need not to wait until it becomes necessary to rest, as it did yesterday. Better, it seems to slow down and pace myself to get up the incline, little by little. I raise my glass in toast to a new day!
http://youtu.be/wp43OdtAAkM Running Up That Hill Kate Bush
In the past few days, I have been observing and taking part in conversations on Facebook about the greetings we use during this holiday season. Some people were taking offense at the idea of a generic “Happy Holiday” salutation, indicating that it was their right ‘as Americans’ to say “Merry Christmas” and no one was gonna take that away from them. I am not intending to make fun of those who wrote that, but that is truly how it was expressed. I responded respectfully in all cases, that we live in a world in which this time of year honors many holy-days, including Christmas, Hanukkah, The Winter Solstice and Kwanzaa. If I am missing any, please forgive me. I don’t assume anyone celebrates any particular holiday and I celebrate them all. I was raised spiritually and culturally Jewish and shared holidays in our home and theirs, with friends from diverse backgrounds. I was taught to respect other people’s practices. As an ordained interfaith minister, I appreciate the common thread that the Light is present in us all and is at the core of all of the winter rituals.
We have an annual Latke Party at our home, with the smell of sizzling potato pancakes permeating the air not only on that day, but for a week afterward. Friends and family stream through, bearing their own culinary delights and open hearts to share. Laughter, music, fun and celebration abound. White twinkle lights are around my hallway and dining room, a menorah and a miniature tree on the table in my front hall, decorated with feathers, faeries and angels greet those who walk through my door. Candles shine brightly throughout the house. A feeling of warmth and welcome radiate outward from those glad hearts in my life. That energy remains as powerfully as the food aromas for quite awhile.
Wishing you the beatitudes of the season, however your soul sees fit to celebrate. And in that spirit, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Blessed Be.
One of my favorite songs that honors two traditions:
Christmas in the Ashram
After years of penning and performing her divinely inspired songs for her family and friends, as well as at local concert venues in the Philadelphia area, Deva Troy has expanded her musical reach and now offers it as a gift to a world in need of inspiration and sonic sustenance. Those of us fortunate to have been bathed in the music, which, if I close my eyes, reminds me of Joan Baez, are grateful for Deva’s leap into recording for posterity. I was blessed to be in the audience of her CD release party at Pebble Hill Church recently, among 100 or so singing and clapping along.
“It was the gentle prompting of my dear friend of 30 years Gary Schoenberg that got me my first gig, opening for Elaine SIlver a traveling singer/songwriter with several cd’s and a lovely following who has the voice of an angel.
She has graciously invited me every year to open for her for the past 6 years at Pebble Hill Church
and also has encouraged me to write, sing and record my songs. Fairie Elaine has been a good friend and mentor for me starting out in my “middle years.” Without the Pebble Hill venue I don’t know if I would have found my place in the community with my music. Singing there has shown me that my niche’ is people who are into growing, healing and transformation. They “get” my music and are visibly touched by it. There is nothing better for a recording artist than to hear people sing their songs, request their songs, make your songs their own….”
Light of Seven Mornings (the title and theme of which come from a medieval Jewish poem) is the name of the CD and the lyrics in the chorus have long touched my heart, since hearing them in childhood:
May you lie down in peace my friend.
May you rise up full of wonder.
Wrap yourself in the one,
Morning after morning, morning after morning.
A treatise called The Meaning of Life lays at the foot of the listener a simple and profound guide for finding direction.
The meaning of Life at the core
Is to love unconditionally more,
To accept all the lessons as the gifts and the blessings
That make this life worth living, living for.
As a seasoned woman, by far, my favorite piece is called Raging Hormones
First I’m hot, then I’m cold,
Who’da thunk that growing old
Could power up the neighborhood,
With my raging hormones!
Can I get an amen, sistah?
Other song titles:
Gentle Sister, The Woman Honoring Song, Hands of Light, Help Me Stay Humble, Summertime, My Father Said, Hold Me Mother Earth, We Are the Ones and What If Peace Broke Out? Each song is a treasure to be unwrapped savored and shared. There is something for everyone on what I know is only the first of Deva’s delights.
An ordained interfaith minister, Deva is greatly influenced by her Earth based spiritual practice and she is one of the founding members of the Peaceweavers community based in the Finger Lakes region of NY.
For more info, go to www.devatroy.com where you can enjoy Youtube videos from her concert.
What would you do if you had “time and a sense of wonder?” That is a question that beckons to me today, after watching this magnificent TED Talk offered by film-maker Louie Schawartzberg.
When I consider the 24 hours a day, we are each granted from the moment the sun rises, until the moment it sets and then rises anew, I am in awe, because I know that it is ripe with opportunity to make a difference in my own life and that of those with whom I cross paths. Thinking about the number of hours I wasted in the past, worrying, second guessing, ‘what if and if only-ing’, I shake my head in dismay, because I know that it could instead, have been invested wisely. How much richer and fuller could my relationships have been had I known then what I know now? How much peace of mind could I have experienced instead of disturbing my own peace? These are simply inquiries and not condemnation. These days, I am amply aware that time is a precious commodity to be used to grow love seeds instead of a patch of weeds.
And then there’s the wonder part. I look at the world through opti-mystical, miracle eyes and what comes back to me is that it is a pretty awesome place. Life is endlessly fascinating and I am never bored. One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie Joe vs. The Volcano. “My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.”
What is it that you find amazing?