Saturday, July 22, 2017

Are You Spiritually Advanced?

Ellen Debenport wrote an excellent article recently titled “Are You Spiritually Advanced?”  As I read it, all I could think was, “Wow!  I really resonate with this!”  (Ms. Debenport works at Unity World Headquarters and is also a speaker and author. Website:  ellendebenport.com/blog.)

The point of this wonderful article is that so many people “are hungry to be fed spiritually, but they don’t know where to look anymore.”  She goes on to say how so many of us have read all the books, have gone to numerous workshops, listened to countless speakers, and yet we still want more.  She goes on to say, “They want to learn something new, go deeper, feel challenged and inspired.  They want a greater awareness of their divine identity.  No, not just awareness, but an experience of, an embodiment of the truth of their being.” 

Many of us just believe whatever anyone tells us to believe, and we’re okay with what we already know and don’t want to go any further. For others, we want that inner knowing; we want to grow beyond the traditional and/or conventional religious/spiritual knowledge to discover the wisdom of the Universe.  We’re having our own inner conversations with God (by whatever name you use) and we’re listening to that inner guidance that’s always based on pure, unconditional, perfect love.  But we want to go further and deeper into a spirituality that goes beyond the ordinary.  To be clear, no matter what path someone is on, it’s all okay.  None are better or worse than the other; it’s just where we are at the time. 

We’re constantly working on ourselves to become better human and spiritual beings and to be the best that we can be.  We understand our connectedness and that what we do to another, we do to ourselves.  We continue to keep an open mind because we never know where or how that wisdom and knowledge may appear to us.  We know that unconditional love for all really is the answer.

Oprah Winfrey once asked actor Sean Penn if he believed in God and he replied, “I’m okay with the mystery of it all.”  I almost envy him with his simple belief.  But I can’t be okay with just the mystery of it all.  I’m spiritually wired to want to know more, I live my spirituality, and I want to continue to learn so that I can help others as well.

Rumi said, “God writes spiritual mysteries on our hearts where they wait silently for discovery.”  And Albert Einstein stated, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 21, 2017.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Messages Animals Gift to Us

Those who know me know how much I love animals.  In fact, I call myself an “animaltarian” because I love animals too much to eat them.   

I’m pretty much an empath when it comes to animals (as well as people) in that most times I can sense what the animal is feeling, and on occasion I could sense an illness or pain they were experiencing.  In fact, it’s very hard for me to see dead animals because on some level I can sense the pain and fear they felt right before they died.  I also totally believe that animals have souls and I have an extremely deep spiritual connection with all of them.

Some believe that when animals appear to us out of the norm, they are bringing us messages.  Therefore, when that happens, I always research the spiritual meanings to see if there could be a message for me.  I’ll give a few examples.

Years ago, while working in the yard, a deer in the pasture was trying very hard to get my attention by running around.  As soon as I looked at her, she stopped, looked right at me, and I clearly heard the words, “Lighten up on yourself!”  Then she disappeared.  Deer messages include gentleness, ability to listen, grace, and appreciation for the beauty of balance, power of gratitude and giving, and connection to the woodland goddess.

One time a frog was on my window screen (second floor).  Its spiritual meaning is cleansing, renewal, rebirth, fertility, abundance, transformation, metamorphosis, life mysteries, and ancient wisdom.

Another time, two doves sat in front of my window and sang to me.  Some meanings could be receiving true divine guidance through feelings and intuition, bringer of peace and love, understanding of gentleness, spirit messenger, communication between the two worlds, and prophecy. 

Many times dragonflies will appear to me out of the blue.  Their message could mean carefree, strong imagination, higher aspirations, lightness, joy, transformation, and connection with nature’s spirits and fairy realms.

Hawks tend to surprise me with their appearance.  Their meanings are messenger, intuition, victory, healing, nobility, recollection, cleansing, visionary power, guardianship, take the lead when the time is right, power to see, clear vision, strong connection with spirit, and increased spiritual awareness.

While coming out of the parking lot at a store, a black snake was slithering right towards me.  Snakes represent healing, transformation, life changes, connection to life force, and spiritual guidance

There are numerous websites that can help you find the meanings, but make sure you get a legitimate site.  You can search for these under ‘animals-spiritual-totems-meanings.’  These sites also go into more detail of what these definitions mean.  Make sure the meanings resonate with you and check these meanings with your inner spirit.

Anatole France said, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."  And Martin Buber stated, “An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.”  I absolutely agree!  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 14, 2017.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Magic of Optimism

Recently I watched the movie “The Celestine Prophecy” based upon a book by James Redfield.  If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book (or its series), I would highly recommend it. 

The movie reminded me to focus on everything that is beautiful in the world.  That doesn’t mean we ignore any of the negative, but we can focus our energies on all that’s beautiful and good, not only in people, but our world and in our lives as well.

We may not be able to do much to change others or the world, but we can change ourselves. And here’s the magic…  When we change ourselves to be positive, optimistic, and loving, and to be the best that we can be, then we can influence and change the world around us.

I’ve included this poem by Christian D. Larson before, but I would like to include it again because I think it is so important. 

“I Promise Myself...  To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.  To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.  To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.  To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true. To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.  To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.  To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.  To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet.  To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.  To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.  To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds.  To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.”

And my prayer for all of us…  Great Spirit, Creator of All That Is, please send to us the most positive energy and light possible in this time and space to watch over us and those we share this experience with. Send to us the highest force or forces possible to keep us safe, focused, and positive in our intent. Let your love and light shine upon our path and penetrate our mind, body, and spirit.  We release the negative with love and forgiveness and allow your blessings into our lives. In return we give thanks and gratitude, love and positive light, for the universal good of all. Blessings be upon us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  And so it is.  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper July 7, 2017.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tender Loving Care

Recently, my mom had another visit to the ER via ambulance and ended up staying in the hospital for four days.  Anyone who has had a loved one in the hospital, whether it’s for something serious or minor, knows that it can be very difficult seeing them deal with diseases, injuries, terminal illnesses, operations, or even the unknown.  Fortunately, mom was able to come home.  Many do not.

I do have to say that whenever my parents were at Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC), they’ve always received good, quality attention by very caring medical personnel.  Everyone from the EMT’s, doctors, nurses, cleaning people, those who deliver food, and hospital staff have been very gracious to both of them, and for that, we are very appreciative. 

Of course, once in a blue moon, we may come across someone who isn’t quite so nice, but then we have to consider that they’re human and have feelings just like the rest of us.  We don’t know what they’ve had to deal with that day.  They may have just lost a patient or dealt with a very difficult health situation for someone.  They may also have some heavy personal issues they’re going through.  Therefore, maybe we can cut them a little slack. 

While there, we would hear Code Blues (basically meaning someone’s heart may have stopped), or other codes that require an immediate response to that patient’s room.  When I hear these, my heart aches for the patient and their family not knowing what the outcome will be.  I wish so much there was something I could do to help, but I know it’s not my place; therefore, I can only hold all concerned in loving consciousness.

Most of these men and women in the medical profession give their all to their patients and they really care for the patient’s well-being.  They deal with seeing people in some horrible and possibly traumatic health situations, as well as having to deal with losing their patients.  Then they go home to their families (if they have one) and have to pretend that everything is okay.

If you’re ever in the hospital and receive outstanding care by anyone, why not write a thank you note, or even send a note to the hospital administrator singing their praises?  In today’s world, not too many people will go out of their way to acknowledge the good work people do. 

Also, if you know someone in the hospital, CRMC has an option where you can send patients an email and their volunteers will take your notes to that patient.  Go to www.crmchealth.org, click on ‘Patients and Visitors’ at the top, and then ‘Email Greeting’ from the drop down menu.  Trust me…patients really appreciate receiving those caring, well-wishes.

So to all those who have taken care of my parents over the years, I give you my heartfelt gratitude and I really appreciate you.

“The most important medicine is tender love and care.”  Mother Teresa


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 30, 2017.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome

Let’s face it.  There are countless numbers of people turning their backs on church, religion, and God, and many are experiencing Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.  This is also the title of a wonderful book I recently read about one woman’s spiritual quest to heal from being so traumatized from her past church experiences. 

Reba Riley, the author, describes PTCS as “a condition of spiritual injury that occurs as a result of religion, faith, and/or the leaving, losing, or breaking thereof; the vile, noxious, icky, and otherwise foul aftermath of said spiritual injury; and a serious term intended to aid serious spiritual healing - without taking itself too seriously in the process.”

Consequently, because of PTCS, she found that she could no longer pray, go to church, or even say the name ‘God,’ and it was the reason she became one of the increasing Nones.  She stated, “I saw thousands of stories of brokenness. I see the millions of people who crash into religion when they go looking for God. I see people so tired of being spiritually bruised that they give up on faith altogether.”

Many of us have either been there or find ourselves there now.  I, too, have met countless people who have had these same experiences mainly because of the way they and/or others were treated, and because they know that the hate and judgment they are seeing in so many religions just isn’t right.  I can also say that I’ve been there so I know how they feel.

Riley knew she needed to heal from these traumas so she decided to go on a spiritual adventure and explored thirty religions by her thirtieth birthday (she was 29).  Some of the religions she visited were Christian Spiritualists, Mormons, Amish, Pagan, Pentecostals, Catholics, Baptists, Islam, Buddhism, Quakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many others, all the while studying with an Eastern Orthodox urban monk.  She met many wonderful people along the way and learned the best from each of the religions. 

And she began to heal.  She learned, as I did, that it’s okay to question our beliefs and to learn from all religions without sacrificing our core beliefs.  Personally, my faith is now stronger because I opened my heart and mind, and I wasn’t afraid to question and look for answers.  Reba wrote that her faith is bigger than religion, God is bigger than any of us knows, and love is bigger than everything.  I totally agree.  I also loved her new term for God:  Godiverse.

If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing woman’s extraordinary journey of her being healed from PTCS, I would highly recommend you read it in her words.  You can also go to her website at www.rebariley.com.  

“I think God is like a round diamond with millions of facets.  You have a facet; I have a facet; everyone has a facet.  God spins in the space between us, reflecting the light in each of our perspectives.”  Reba Riley 


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 23, 2017.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule has been taught by countless philosophers and spiritual masters throughout time; though it seems to be a rule many have forgotten.

Living the Golden Rule means to have empathy for others, to be kind, compassionate, understanding, and to show respect.  It goes right along with the spiritual masters’ teachings to love one another.  Basically, it just means to treat others the way you want to be treated.  Sure, others will treat us badly, but we are only responsible for the way we ourselves treat others.

The rule is in just about every religion imaginable, but it has somehow gotten lost among all the other verses in the Holy Scriptures that people use to keep us separated.  To me, the Golden Rule and the verses to love one another should be front and center in any religion.   Some credit Jesus for the rule, and yet it is also in many writings that preceded him. 

Here are a few from the various religions:

Baha’i:  Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.

Buddhism:  Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. 

Christianity:  All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. 

Confucianism:  Do not do to others what you would not like yourself.  Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. 

Hinduism:  This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. 

Islam:  Not one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. 

Judaism:  What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man.  This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. 

Native American: All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.  

Sikhism: I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me.  Indeed, I am a friend to all.

Taoism:  Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. 

Unitarianism:  We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence.

Zoroastrianism:  That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself. 

Mike Dooley said, “When you understand that what most people really, really want is simply to feel good about themselves, and when you realize that with just a few well-chosen words you can help virtually anyone on the planet instantly achieve this, you begin to realize just how simple life is, how powerful you are, and that love is the key.”  And Edwin Markham proclaimed, “We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.”  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 16, 2017.

A Seeker of Love and Truth

“Live righteously and love everyone; you will build up around you an aura of light and love.”   Unknown

I’m a seeker…a seeker of love and truth.  I don’t know why I was put on this path, but for most of my adult life, I’ve been on this incredible spiritual journey always looking for answers to life’s greatest mysteries.  I went from believing in a religion which said that if I questioned what they told me then I was a bad person, to opening my heart and mind to learning everything the Universe (or by whatever name you use) has for me to learn.  I may have come a long way, but I still have a long ways to go.  In fact, I usually say that in the realm of everything there is to know, I still don’t know anything.  Yet I keep learning.  I keep learning from these amazing people who have learned before me.  And I also learn by going within to listen to that still small voice that never steers me wrong and always speaks with a voice so full of pure, unconditional, perfect love.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that unconditional love really is the answer.  Love not only for others, but for ourselves as well.  If we lead with this kind of love in our hearts and lead from our souls, then that love will guide us into some of the most remarkable experiences; experiences that will not only change our lives, but the lives of those around us.  Is it easy to have this kind of love?  Not always.  The more we work on it, though, the easier it becomes.

It’s the reason I became an ordained interfaith minister.  I love to love and I’m not ashamed of it.  I’ve taken some hits for teaching people to love and to be kind to one another.  It’s hard to understand how anyone can find fault with teaching love, kindness, and compassion, the same things that Jesus and so many other masters have taught before us.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 even states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” 

The Prophet Muhammad said, “There is reward for kindness to every living thing.”  He also stated, “Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it.”  Anita Moorjani claimed, “Unconditional love is our birthright, not judgment or condemnation, and there’s nothing we need to do to earn it.  This is simply who and what we are.”  And Alphonse de Lamartine declared, “To love for the sake of being loved is human, but to love for the sake of loving is angelic.” 


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 19 and June 9, 2017.  (The paper accidentally reprinted an article twice within two months.  I took it that the Universe thought this message needed to be said again, especially after my article from last week where I received some hateful emails.  The Universe works in mysterious ways!)