2016-06-30

Stained Glass 'Space' Window
As a child, I loved to gaze into the night sky. I was awestruck by the beauty of the stars, and the vastness of God's universe. The first time I saw the famous stained glass "Space Window" in Washington National Cathedral--dedicated by the crew of Apollo 11, and featuring an actual moon rock at the center--I remembered that sense of wonder. Now, a postcard of the window hangs by my desk, where I am still drawn into the deep blues, the radiant solar spheres, distant stars, and the trajectory of a manned space ship depicting the spiritual side of science. The inscription reads "Is not God in the height of heaven?" (Job 22:12) If you have a scientist or a stargazer on your gift list, consider this 13-inch stained glass reproduction of the Space Window.--Martha Ainsworth
Cost: $70
Where to Buy It: Washington National Cathedral Museum Store
'Compassion' T-Shirt
If you're like me, while you're shopping for your sister and your gal pals during the holidays you end up shopping for yourself, too. She must have those fabulous earrings (and so must I!). She must have that great sweater (I'll take one in turquoise!). For this and (we hope) purer reasons, you'll love the J.Jill 'Compassion' T-Shirt: It comes in hip colors, such as "aruba" and "sprout." It has one of those nice satin bands around the neckline. It even comes in petite and women's sizes. But the best thing is, when you buy your sister and best friend one of these shirts (and then you buy two for yourself!), you'll be donating $1 per shirt to the J.Jill Compassion Fund, which provides financial assistance to community organizations that help needy women and children. --Deborah Caldwell
Cost: $20
Where to Buy It: J.Jill
Tzedakah Box
When I was growing up, every Jewish home had a blue metal box where we put our pennies. Known as a pushke (Yiddish) or Tzedakah (Hebrew) box, it was a place to collect spare change to give to the poor. These days, the mass-produced tin cans have given way to aesthetically pleasing, hand-crafted versions, such as the beautifully hand-painted Tzedakah boxes from The Bariff Shop of the Spertus Museum in Chicago. "Tzedakah"--which comes from the same Hebrew root as "tzedek", the word for righteousness--is more than discretionary "charity" in Jewish tradition. It's an obligation all Jews share to care for the least fortunate among us. These colorful, charming boxes make lovely gifts that foster the act of giving all year long. --Alice Chasan
Cost: $18
Where to Buy It: The Bariff Shop
Inspirational Chocolate
Who can resist chocolate that satisfies both your palette and your metrospiritual well-being? Belgian chocolate-makers NewTree have made a set of 6 chocolate (4 dark, 2 milk) bars infused with natural fruits and herbs, each paired with an inspirational mood to "fuel your body" and "nourish your senses." Wrapped in sleek white packaging, the four dark flavors are Pleasure (pure dark), Renew (blackcurrant and grape), Vigor (coffee), and Forgiveness (lemon); the milk flavors are Tranquility (lavender) and Rejoice (orange). Having tasted Tranquility at a recent chocolate show, I can imagine how further indulgence could help me "relax and reduce stress." Be wary of the Forgiveness bar, which, however ironically, has an unfortunate bitter taste. Overall, a delicious gift for chocolate connoisseurs as well as friends and family interested in spiritual renewal with just the right dash of chocolate. --Sherry Huang
Cost: $3 - $5
Where to Buy It: Amazon.com
Spiritual Scrapbooking Supplies
The holiday season offers a plethora of family photo ops, colorful celebrations, and meaningful memories that are ideal fodder for documenting and preserving in scrapbooks. Fortunately, dozens of companies offer stamps, stickers, ribbons, and everything else the spiritual scrapbooker on your gift list could want. True Faith, a division of the popular Jolee's Boutique line of scrapbook supplies, offers several ornate Christmas stickers, including this beautiful nativity scene. Reminders of Faith, a Christian scrapbooking company, offers a set of "Peace tags" to decorate scrapbook pages with this important message of the season. And Biblical Impressions, which calls itself a rubber stamping ministry, offers a large variety of rubber stamps featuring Christmas-appropriate Bible verses. If your favorite scrapper isn't Christian, don't fear: Adherents of several other faiths have paved their own way in the country's scrapbooking craze. Ruth's Jewish Stamps offers a wide variety of unique Hanukkah-themed and other Judaic stamps. And Silver Envelope offers a beautiful selection of Islamic scrapbook supplies, including stickers, specialty papers, and this masjid rubber stamp. --Rebecca Phillips
Cost: $3 and up
Where to Buy Them: scrapbook.com, Reminders of Faith, Biblical Impressions, Ruth's Jewish Stamps, Silver Envelope

Sushi Kit
Because of the meditative principles of sushi-making, some consider it a kind of spiritual practice. In fact, both the Omega Institute and Kripalu are offering courses in sushi-making these days to teach sushi lovers the calm concentration necessary to create carefully arranged raw fish and rice meals. Giving a sushi-making kit to a loved one who shares your affection for healthy Japanese cuisine is a great idea. This kit includes a small sushi cookbook, rice, nori, pickled ginger, paddle, and rolling mat, among other items that will guarantee a good start until you can get to an Asian market or health food store for refills.--Amy Cunningham
Cost: $40
Where to Buy It: Peaceful Company
La Bele Marie: Songs to the Virgin from 13th-Century France
You will feel transported straight to heaven with "La Bele Marie," one of the last CDs made by the Anonymous 4--Marsha Genensky, Susan Hellauer, Jaqueline Horner (who replaced Ruth Cunningham in 1998), and Johanna Maria Rose--who recorded medieval and Renaissance songs for 10 years before splitting up in 2004. The quartet combined crisp, lilting harmonies that have been described as "celestial" with a scholarly knowledge of the techniques of medieval music, sacred and secular. "La Bele Marie" is a collection of 13th-century hymns to the Virgin Mary ("bele" was how they spelled "belle" back then), mostly in Latin but a few in Old French. It's perfect Christmas music honoring Mary, the mother of Jesus, but it can be enjoyed all year round, especially in May, Mary's month. --Charlotte Allen
Cost:$14.99
Where to Buy It: Amazon

Shield of Faith, Mayan Kippot, Clean Water, & More >>

Clean Water
A while back, creative (or just financially strapped) people used to give each other "chore coupons" for the holidays--"I'll wash the dishes for a week," "I'll vacuum every Saturday for a month." I never got one of these coupons, but always wished I had; they'd make my life a lot better than a new sweater.

So imagine what a gift it would be to eliminate a repetitive, backbreaking, and sometimes dangerous chore for dozens of people. Thousands of villagers in the developing world have to trek long distances for fresh water or take their chances with stagnant, germ-laden pools nearby. For years, charities like WaterAid, Water for Humanity, and Lifewater have drilled wells for villages in Africa, Asia, and South America. In this year's holiday catalogue, the Christian aid group World Vision offers many water "gifts" you can give the person who has everything and would rather make a difference than open another box. --Laura Sheahen
Cost:
  • Share of a traditional well in Africa: $75
  • Drip irrigation kit: $40
  • Share of a deep well: $100
  • Treadle pump for farmers: $135
    Where to Buy It: World Vision
    Muslim Prayer Clock
    Remembering to say your five daily prayers shouldn't be tough for Muslims. But with our lives being so hectic, I am the first to admit that I've forgotten a prayer or two as the day goes by. That's why I love the azan (call to prayer) clock from Al Fajr. There are many Muslim prayer clocks on the market, but Al Fajr's clock has the right combination of sleek design, a beautiful-sounding azan, solid mechanism, and affordability at U.S. $40. The clock includes self-adjusting azan times for 250 cities, and if your city is not programmed, you can enter your latitude and longitude coordinates to get the correct times. The clock has other nifty features like a display of the Qibla (the direction of Mecca toward which to pray), a full screen light, two alarm settings, and a bookmark to keep track of what you may be reading in the Qu'ran.--Dilshad D. Ali
    Cost: $40
    Where to Buy It: Online Islamic Store or UFI Inc. 1-800-357-2160
    Shield of Faith Pendant
    As John Eldredge's "Wild at Heart" highlights so powerfully, we live in a world at war. The Apostle Paul said that the battles of this world aren't against flesh and blood but are in the spiritual realm where forces of good and evil war for their master, God and Satan. This very cool "shield of faith" pendant helps us remember this reality. On the back of the small shield is a quote from Joshua 1:9: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." It is a good reminder of what kind of world really exists around us. --David Kuo
    Cost: $6
    Where to Buy It: Bob Siemon Designs

    Mayan Kippot
    There aren't too many Mayan Jews, but that hasn't stopped a group of Mayan craftswomen from creating a line of fair-trade Jewish items, including colorful kippot (yarmulkes) and Hanukkah-themed table runners. It's all available through MayaWorks, a Guatemalan organization that returns 65 cents of every dollar to the artisans and 10 cents of every dollar to technical assistance, scholarships, and grants. The kippot come in an assortment of bright colors and unique designs, while the other items stick to the traditional Jewish blue and white. The women who crochet the kippot use the funds to support their work as health promoters in their community. So buying MayaWorks Judaica not only provides a spiritual gift for Jewish friends and family members--it's a mitzvah that will help support people in need, who are themselves helping their neighbors maintain good health. MayaWorks also offers Christmas tree ornaments and wreaths, and for those Christian ministers on your gift list, clerical stoles. --Michael Kress
    Cost: $8
    Where to Buy It: MayaWorks
    "A Biblical Feast: Foods From the Holy Land"
    Have you ever wondered how the loaves Jesus multiplied tasted? Based on archeological data and food references she found in the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Moroccan-born author Kitty Morse offers in this cookbook nearly 50 recipes inspired by what people of the Holy Land ate thousands of years ago. As you prepare these simple, unfussy recipes--featuring ingredients such as lamb, pistachios, dates, barley, and of course, olive oil--you will learn how food and drink related to the spiritual life of the people of biblical times. Foodies of all faiths will enjoy the book for its cornucopia of ancient Mediterranean recipes, although Muslims may wish to skip over or adapt the recipes calling for wine. --Hala Shah
    Cost: $15
    Where to Buy It: Amazon.com

    'Tranquil Meditation' Gift Basket
    Holiday time is very busy here at Beliefnet, so when I found this "Tranquil Meditation Gift Basket" from Mandala, I knew it was something I had to add to my Christmas list.

    The beautiful White Willow Bark basket includes a "Tranquility" silk Himalayan aromatic pillow, a Tibetan "Aqua Bodhi" gold singing bowl gift box set, Tibetan "Aqua Bodhi" incense discovery box and Himalayan mare's milk and rose soap.

    The teal blue pillow is stuffed with a mix of relaxing herbs, including fragrant chamomile, blended by a Tibetan healer. The soap, made with real mare's milk and moisturizing oils, like palm and coconut, is wonderful for my skin, which tends to get very dry during the cold winter months.

    The small singing bowl set is great for meditating anywhere, even at work. And the lovely incense box contains, among other things, a hand-carved mantra stone and a bundle of natural resin sandalwood incense.

    Did I mention the contents are all fair trade? According to Mandala, proceeds from purchases benefit causes like the Tibetan refugee community and rural economic development in Nepal. So I can indulge and feel like I'm doing some good in the world.--Dena Ross
    Cost: $79 with free shipping
    Where to Buy It: Mandala.com
    Nature Ties
    My son just started his first grown-up job and now has to wear a tie to the office. Having raided his father's dusty collection of stripes and paisleys, he's put in a request for something a little different. I discovered the beautiful silk ties (from Mulberry Neckwear) designed especially for the Nature Conservancy. Ten-15% of each sale goes directly to the Conservancy's mission of "saving the last great places on Earth." Designs include starfish, tropical fish, elephants, lizards, angelfish, lizards, and frogs. --Wendy Schuman
    Cost: $30
    Where to Buy It: Corporate Casuals
    Cross Wallet
    This leather top grain wallet comes in brown and black, with both styles sporting a "tufted inset cross" of a coordinating color. As a bonus, each comes in its own reusable tin, perfect for giftgiving. I've been using the wallet for several months now, and I must admit the quality and functionality are nothing short of stellar. It stands up to the wear and tear of everyday use, and the inset cross sets it apart from the generic, unembellished billfolds you'd ordinarily find in your local department store. That's not to say that all other wallets are somehow soulless, but the design on this one does beg the question, "What would Jesus buy?" --Tim Hayne
    Cost: $25
    Where to Buy It: Kerusso

    Zen Alarm Clock
    Dear Santa, the digital Zen alarm clock from Now & Zen was on my Christmas list last year, yet each day I'm still jarred awake by the blaring, ugly black box on my dresser. Even after I've wacked its snooze button, its menacing red numbers stare me down until it delivers the next jolt. What gives? Did I have bad karma last year? Surely, Santa, that would improve with the help of this lovely wooden creation. I imagine that waking gradually to its melodious chimes (which increase in frequency after the initial gong) would rouse me out of sleep so gently that I would start the day calm and refreshed. Although any clock could be used as a timer for meditation, I think soft chimes from this timepiece would complement one's practice rather than rudely disturb it. You can even set the clock's chimes to repeat at regular intervals, so you could use it to pace your yoga postures. So you see, Santa, this enlightened gift would help me sleep better, become more mindful, and help me get healthier--in addition to getting my behind out of bed in the morning.
    I like the compact size of the digital version, but the more aesthetically pleasing designs are nice too.--Lisa Schneider
    Cost: $99.95 & up
    Where to Buy It: Now & Zen

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