Friday, May 26, 2017

To Honor and Respect All Life

"To honor and respect means to think of the land and the water, air, plants, and animals who live there as having an equal right to be here. We are not the supreme and all-knowing beings living at the pinnacle of evolution, but are in fact members of the sacred hoop of life, along with the trees, rocks, coyotes, eagles, fish, and toads. Each performs its given task in the sacred hoop of the Great Spirit, as we have one, too."  Wolf Song of the Abenaki Tribe

According to the Bible and other religions’ holy books, God (by whatever name you use) created the world and everything on it.  We call this beautiful, magnificent world “Mother Earth.”  Since the beginning of time, she has been providing for us and she gives us everything we need to survive. 

Everything in existence is made of the exact same thing.  If you put a sample of everything upon the earth whether it’s human, animal, anything in nature, solid objects, etc., under the most powerful magnifying scope, you would find that we’re all made of the same energy, which consists of protons, neutrons, electrons, and mostly empty space.  Once we awaken to this wisdom, we realize our connectedness to each other and to all of life. 

And yet we have this illusion of separateness, and we separate each other and all things with labels.  Wayne Dyer, a well-known spiritual author and speaker, said that if you take the labels off of everything, you will realize that everything is one energy.  So, I tried it.  I stood in our front yard and looked at everything around me.  I took the labels off.  It only happened for a few seconds, but for those few seconds, I saw everything blend into each other.  That’s when I had the most amazing aha moment!  I saw everything as one energy and I got it.  Everything really is connected!  Since then, my perspective on all of life changed and it deepened my spiritual beliefs. 

I also realized that it is only we humans who separate each other from each other.  We separate ourselves from our glorious Mother Earth to the point that we don’t take care of her.  In fact, many are destroying her.  The creator gave us this magnificent being called earth and if we don’t come together to save her, we will only destroy ourselves.  By disrespecting and dishonoring our planet and everything on it, as well as each other, we are disrespecting and dishonoring the very one who created us.

“Grandfather, look at our brokenness.  We know that in all creation, only the human family has strayed from the Sacred Way. We know that we are the ones who are divided and we are the ones who must come back together to walk the Sacred Way. Grandfather, Sacred One, teach us love, compassion, and honor that we may heal the earth and heal each other.” Ojibwa Prayer  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 26, 2017.

Friday, May 19, 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, 2017.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Love is All Inclusive

At one time, Native Americans were mostly considered savages and were moved to reservations or slaughtered.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, approximately 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, mostly American adults and children, were forced to live in incarceration camps in America.  Then there was the Holocaust where German authorities committed genocide on over six million Jews, Gypsies, disabled, Slavics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, mentally ill, and others.   Also throughout history at various times, women were considered property and men could do whatever they wanted to them, and black people were kept as slaves.  These are just a few examples throughout history. Many of these groups were even considered subhuman.

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.  Today, Muslims, Mexicans, blacks and other people of color, women, those in the LBGTQ communities, the homeless, poor, those of particular religions, and so many others continue to have to fight the battle to equality. 

For those of us who aren’t in any of the above groups and have not yet had to experience any of these injustices, it’s hard for us to understand what they went through or are going through.  We can have an idea in order to have empathy and show compassion, but we can never truly know how anyone actually feels. 

John F. Kennedy stated, “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”   The good news is that there are millions of people all over the world who are uniting to bring people together in spite of any perceived differences!  They’re out there practicing the teachings of their spiritual masters in that they’re lifting people up, working to bring equality to all people, and working to overcome the injustices that so many are experiencing just because of their beliefs, color, lifestyles, nationality, religion, and so on. 

Nelson Mandela said, “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”  He also said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

Max de Pree stated, “We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”  Desmond Tutu declared, “Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people?”  And Gandhi said, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”  

We all share space on this great planet called Mother Earth; therefore, can’t we just learn to live together in peace and harmony?  As someone once said, “The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people.”  And personally, I believe that because of our diversity, we are one beautiful planet!

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 12, 2017.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Lucky to Have Friends

“If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky.  If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.”  S.E. Hinton

Over our lifetime, we have the opportunities to meet countless people and hopefully be lucky enough to make some good friends along the way.  The Merriam Dictionary describes a friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem; a favored companion.”  Of course, there are numerous degrees of friends, everything from acquaintances to deep, bonding lifelong friends.  We have them in schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, churches, and so on. 

Hopefully, we can get along with most of the people who are in our lives whether they are friends, co-workers, and/or even family.  Some relationships can be a real adventure in that there can be conflict or even outright hostility for whatever reasons. These can be great lessons in learning how to deal with difficult people.  Some of these difficult relationships will work themselves out to where we can eventually get along, and if we’re really lucky, we may end up being the best of friends.  With some others, no matter how hard we try to get along or how nice we are to them, we realize that there will never be any kind of relationship; therefore, we just have to bless them and let them go.

There are many reasons why we may not be able to get along with someone no matter how hard we try.  It could be a personality conflict, they may have issues in their personal lives, they may not agree with your beliefs, lifestyle, religion, etc., and therefore, don’t want to associate with you, or it could be any number of things. 

There are some who are happy being miserable or they’re constantly surrounded by chaos and they may not know how to be friends.  I once knew someone who was consistently surrounded by chaos, and I asked my inner spirit why.  She replied, “Because that’s all she knows.”  Sometimes that chaos can become our identity.  Thich Naht Hanh said, “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.  He does not need punishment; he needs help.” 

There’s not much we can do when people are determined not to be our friends no matter what the environment.  What I try to do is to see them embraced with love and light, to have more compassion and understanding for what they may be going through, and then I release and let them go. 

Then there are the rare friends who will make you laugh a little louder, your smile a little brighter, and your life a little better.  They lift you up, encourage you, support you, lend you their shoulders, and they’re always there to love you unconditionally no matter what.  These are the friendships we should concentrate on building.  These are the friendships that can last a life time.

“A friend loves at all times.”  Proverbs 17:17

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper May 5, 2017.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Chattering Mind

I’m a huge fan of actor Jim Carrey, who’s been on a serious spiritual journey.  I enjoy listening to his talks on YouTube and have learned a lot from him.  Recently, I was listening to a snippet of one of his talks about our chattering minds.  He mentioned specifically how he’ll have these constant conversations with people in his mind and they’re not even there at that moment.  I found myself thinking, “Wow!  Jim Carrey does that, too?!?” 

How many of us do this on a regular basis?  I know I do, especially if someone is treating me badly.  We also can go over and over certain events that have happened.  Usually these thoughts are negative.  In our minds, we argue, we fight, we stick up for ourselves when we didn’t in person, and on and on it goes.  Sometimes these thoughts are of the future about things that haven’t even happened, and more than likely won’t happen.  I know when my mind gets to chattering like this, even I get tired of hearing myself think those same repeated thoughts.   

Our thoughts are powerful and can even affect our minds and bodies with either good or ill health.  Negative thinking can also affect what we believe and the way we perceive people and things around us.  It’s not only what we think about others that matters, but what we think about ourselves.  Buddha said, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.”

Buddha also said, “Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.”  Is it easy to change our negative thinking so that we can have peace of mind?  Hardly.  I’m known as a pretty positive thinking person, but I struggle with my thoughts just like everyone else.  Yet I know the key is to change those negative thoughts into something positive even if I have to force myself to do so. 

If I find myself thinking negatively, I’ll sometimes yell “STOP!” in my mind.  I then replace it with a positive thought or phrase such as “Every moment of every day, I’m getting better and better!”  If the thought is about another person, I’ll try, “Sending love and light.”  I’ll even sing happy and/or loving songs either out loud or to myself.  When we think positively, it puts us in a happier frame of mind and makes us feel a whole lot better physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

The Positivity Pledge states, “I shall no longer allow negative thoughts or feelings to drain me of my energy.  Instead, I shall focus on all the good that is in my life.  I will think it, feel it, and speak it.  By doing so, I will send out vibes of positive energy into the world and I shall be grateful for all the wonderful things it will attract into my life.”

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” Peace Pilgrim

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper April 28, 2017.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”   Charles Dickens 

“A Tale of Two Cities” was published in 1859 as a historical novel about the French Revolution that occurred in the late 1700’s. What’s interesting is that the statement above could be just as applicable today as it was back then.  We could even say the statement could very well cover every time period since the beginning of mankind.

When you look at the news today, it seems like the world is falling apart, but what if it’s really falling together?   The media tends to only communicate the negative and that’s sad because it gives us a much distorted perspective of what the world is really like.  In reality, there is so much more good in the world!  We shouldn’t ignore the negative as we do need to stay informed, but instead, we can put our focus on the positive and all the good that people are doing! By choosing to focus on the positive, the good, and the beautiful, it gives us hope and we can stay in a more loving frame of mind.   It’s a scary time for sure, and yet it’s an exciting time because we’re seeing that love really does prevail!

Throughout time, we’ve had countless spiritual leaders and masters such as Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others teach us that there is a better way.  With love, compassion, kindness, and knowing our connectedness, we can come together and live as one in peace. 

All the hate, bigotry, and violence we are seeing in the world are uniting people on a greater scale than we could ever have imagined and people are waking up!  People are becoming the change they wish to see in the world.  All this negativity we’re seeing is actually teaching us to love and to accept one another as the brothers and sisters that we really are regardless of any perceived differences.  We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.  I totally believe that so much good can come from even what seems to be the most horrible situations, and we’re seeing it happen in that people are uniting all over the world!

“No matter what, we always have the power to choose hope over despair, engagement over apathy, kindness over indifference, enthusiasm over lethargy, love over hate.  This is our true freedom.  Whatever life may throw at us, we have the freedom and ability to choose our attitude.  And I believe it is in those moments of choice that we manifest our destiny.”  Cory Booker 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper April 22, 2017.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Teaching is a Work of Heart

“You have a big heart, you’re clever, and I know you’re a good boy.”  These were the words of Chen Miller, a special needs teacher in Israel, when she spoke them to a child who was convinced by others that he was ‘disturbed.’  The child cursed, spat, and screamed at her daily for weeks, but she would repeat the exact same words.  One day, she came into class and found the child had moved his chair next to hers, and he began to blossom and learn.  “There is no child that can’t; only a child that can.  Remember always that education is the forming of impressions on souls.”

One of the most important professions in the world is teaching.  Teachers, as a whole, are under-appreciated and underpaid for what they do.  When I first started working in the schools some eight years ago, I gained a whole new respect and admiration for teachers.  For about seven hours or more a day, parents and caretakers entrust their children to these wonderful individuals so that they can impart knowledge and wisdom to these precious minds.

In spite of what some people think, teaching is not just an eight to three job, nor do teachers get all these ‘vacation’ days.  Most teachers come in early, leave late, have papers to grade in the evenings and on weekends, plan their day on their own time, and many of their vacation days are spent planning, taking classes, and attending meetings.  Many spend their own money for classroom supplies, and sometimes to even buy much needed personal items for their students. 

What does this have to do with spirituality?  It’s called showing kindness and compassion to our teachers and the school administrators.  They deal with a lot to try to give our children the best education possible and to do their best to keep our children safe. 

If you can, write a note of appreciation and let teachers know that you are grateful for what they are doing for your children.  Maybe you can even help buy supplies for their classrooms.  But most of all, let’s not take our teachers and education opportunities for granted.  At any time, it could all be taken away. There are many children in the U.S. and the world who don’t have access to schools and are desperate to learn.  There are also those who risk their lives to go to school, getting beat up and maybe even losing their lives just because they want an education.

Our children ARE our future and if we don’t take care of them now and into the future, then what kind of world are we leaving them?  Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  And Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Love Through Religious Diversity

“I’m a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian…  I’m whatever you want me to be.  It all comes down to the same thing.  You’re in a loving place, or you’re in an unloving place.”  Jim Carrey

In the mid 80’s, because of some experiences I went through, I gave up on God and my religion.  I had a crisis of faith and didn’t want anything more to do with it.  In hindsight, I believe that I was being knocked off my holy high horse because I had gotten too high and mighty in my beliefs at the time.  I was very judgmental of others who didn’t believe the way I did, of others who were different, of those who were of another religion, and of those who lived a different lifestyle.  Even though I totally believed in Jesus, I wasn’t living the teachings of Jesus.  I was also believing what everyone else told me to believe rather than going within and listening to that still small voice of Spirit whose words are based solely on unconditional love for not only others, but for myself.

In the early 90’s, I was introduced to Unity and what is called New Thought (even though it is ancient wisdom).  The teachings of Jesus are still their foundations, but they’re also open to the teachings and wisdom of other religions.  They respect and honor everyone’s right to their own beliefs.  I also learned that God (by whatever name you use) can be in all religions and beliefs.  Once I opened my heart and mind, I learned to love all people regardless of any perceived differences.  I learned to love the diversity, to embrace the wisdom in all religions, as well as to embrace those who have no religion.  I also learned that when I’m secure in my own beliefs, there is no need to be threatened by anyone else’s.

I totally believe that we are all connected and that we all come from the same Source.  I also believe that we’re all on the same journey except we’re taking different paths to the same destination.  Many of us use the Sanskrit term Namaste` which means, “I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.  I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace.  When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.”

Bishop Carlton Pearson wrote, “God is not a Christian, nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu…  God dwells with us, in us, around us, as us.”  Sri Chinmoy stated, “If we live in our oneness-heart, we will feel the essence of all religions which is the love of God.  Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood, and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion.”  And Gandhi said, “If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.”

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Peace Is a Revolution of Love

“Peace is not just about the absence of conflict; it’s also about the presence of justice.... A counterfeit peace exists when people are pacified or distracted or so beat up and tired of fighting that all seems calm. But true peace does not exist until there is justice, restoration, forgiveness. Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.  Peace is about being able to recognize in the face of the oppressed our own faces, and in the hands of the oppressors, our own hands. Peace, like most beautiful things, begins small....  Peacemaking begins with what we can change – ourselves. But it doesn’t end there. We are to be peacemakers in a world riddled with violence. That means interrupting violence with imagination, on our streets and in our world.”  Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

There is a fine line between being a peacemaker and being passive, and being a peacemaker and being actively involved in helping to make our world a better place.  Many of us on a serious spiritual journey sometimes struggle with this line especially when it comes to politics.  We want to make a difference, fight the injustices in the world, and to help save lives, but to do so without any conflict.  On the other hand, we know that sometimes it takes that conflict in order to get people’s attention, and at times it can get a little chaotic.  It’s quite a quandary. 

We can all help humankind, animals, and our environment in various ways, whether those ways are subtle or obvious, and all of them are okay as long as we’re not hurting anyone.  Personally, my activism is in my writing and in my public speaking.

I also know that the first peace we seek should be the peace within, and to remember that we’re all connected no matter what we look like or where we live.  Black Elk said, “Peace comes within the souls of men when they realize their oneness with the Universe, when they realize it is really everywhere, it is within each one of us.”

Peace Pilgrim expressed, “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”  Buddha stated, “The only way to bring peace to the earth is to learn to make our own life peaceful.”  And Neale Donald Walsch declared, “One simple change – seeking and finding peace within – could, if it were undertaken by everyone, end all wars, eliminate conflict, and prevent injustice.  World peace is a personal thing.  What is needed is not a change of circumstance, but a change of consciousness.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 31, 2017.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear

“That thing isn’t even human!”  Those were the words I found coming out of my mouth when I encountered my first transgender person almost forty years ago, and I regret saying them to this day.  It pains me that I could be so heartless to even think of another human being in such a hateful way. 

Not long after, I stopped into a Christian bookstore and got into a conversation with the store clerk. To my horror, I discovered that he was a transgender male.  A few minutes later, a transgender female walked in with an acquaintance of mine.  I was about to have a panic attack when my friend suggested that we all hold hands and pray together.  Here I am holding hands with a transgender person on both sides of me, trying to keep from breaking free and running out the door, when I heard the words just as clearly as if someone were standing next to me saying, “Karen, these are my children and I love them just as much as any of my children.”  I didn’t quite understand it then, but a seed was planted.

Fortunately, I’ve since grown and become more enlightened in my spiritual walk.  Back then, I didn’t know any better.  I was ignorant about the issue and just believed what everyone else told me to believe.  In the past several years, I’ve been meeting wonderful transgender people and several have become friends.  They’re kind, loving, and good-hearted people who just want to live their lives in peace.

I get that it’s hard for many to understand this issue because we have no way of relating to those who have these experiences, especially if we’re heterosexual.  Instead of judging and dehumanizing these beautiful people, we could educate ourselves so that we can understand where they are coming from and why they go through the transgender process.

Once I really understood and embraced Jesus’ teachings to love one another (no exceptions), as well as all the other great spiritual masters’ teachings to do the same, it really helped me to open my heart to loving all people regardless of any perceived differences. I also learned to overcome my fear and ignorance.  1 John 4:18 states, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

Chaz Bono (formerly Chasity Bono, daughter of Sonny and Cher) recently wrote a great book titled “Transition - Becoming Who I Was Always Meant to Be,” and I would highly recommend reading it if you would like to become more knowledgeable on this subject.  You can also check out for more information.  I met Gabrielle Claiborne, one of the founders and a trans woman, and found her to be absolutely delightful.  If you can open your heart and get to know trans people, you’ll learn that they’re just like the rest of us.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” J.K. Rowling

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 24, 2017.

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life

March 10 saw another birthday come and go for me.  Since I don’t believe in age, sometimes I have to really think to remember how old I actually am.  Age really isn’t an issue for me, but as I get older, I tend to reflect more on my life.  It’s easy to look back on our lives and wonder if they could have been different.  We sometimes even play the ‘what if’ game:  What if I had done this or hadn’t done that, would my life have been any different or better? 

Playing the ‘what if’ game can be dangerous in this respect because we cannot change the past.  Sure, there are some things I wish I would have done different.  And of course, if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, then I could probably change the course of my life and all my dreams could have come true.  But I didn’t have the wisdom and knowledge that I have now.  In fact, I’ve become the person I am because I didn’t gain this wisdom until later in life. 

All the things I’ve experienced in the past have made me who I am today and I like who I am.  I just don’t always like who I’m not.  I’m still a work in progress, still trying to figure things out, and still hoping some of my lifelong dreams will come true. 

Then there are those occasional times that I wonder if I’ve wasted my life.  Have I made any difference? Would life have been better without me?  Many of us have those thoughts including some of my friends, so we’re not alone in this thinking.

We all know the Christmas classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart.  It’s about a man who thinks all is lost, but his Guardian Angel shows him what his life would have been like without him, and how much he really did touch so many hearts and changed so many lives for the better.

Many of us think that if we’re not doing something on a greater scale to make a difference, then what we’re doing doesn’t really matter.  But it does!  There are many who touch lives by the hundreds and thousands, and that’s absolutely fine!  We need them!  But for the rest of us, we make a lot of difference in people’s lives just by living our day-to-day existence, and it’s just as important!  We touch and change lives one person at a time, and all those one persons can really add up!  Never underestimate your ability to help others or to make a difference in their lives!

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  Leo Buscaglia

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 17, 2017.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Never Give Up Hope

It was a beautiful spring day with the sun hugging Mother Earth with her love and light.  I was taking on the weight of the world again and my heart was heavy because I was feeling the pain of so many all over the world.  Since nature feeds my spirit, I decided to go to a local state park and sit in my usual spot overlooking a gorge with a magnificent waterfall pouring from the other side.  Tears became sobs as I let the intense pain I was feeling release from my body and soul.

All of a sudden, I heard a noise behind me.  As I turned, I wasn’t surprised to see Jesus walking toward me.  Since I was crying so uncontrollably, I couldn’t speak so I nodded to acknowledge his presence.  With a look of concern on his face, he sat down beside me, put his arm around my shoulder, and my tears continued to flow as I let him embrace me with so much unconditional love that I couldn’t help but feel comforted.

“My dearest, Karen, why so many tears?” he asked. 

“Jesus, there is just so much going on in the world and I’m just taking on the weight of the world again.  My heart is so heavy because people are being torn from their homes and families, and they’re being made into refugees in other countries.  Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized, Mosques are being burned, people are being harmed just because they look different or have different beliefs, people’s lives and homes are being destroyed from wars, hate crimes have been climbing, some politicians and religious leaders are using fear to control people’s lives and to promote more hate and violence, and….  I just don’t think I can take much more!”

Calmly, Jesus replied, “Karen, the empathy you have for others is heart-warming.  Feeling other’s pain is not a bad thing.  It helps you to have more love and compassion for others which allows you to help them because you understand.  Human beings can be pretty complicated.  You need to remember that people treat others based upon the way they feel about themselves.  Humans as a whole have forgotten who they really are.  You were born innocent and pure and so full of love.  Hate is taught.  At the same time, more and more people are awakening and remembering that they are spiritual beings living a human existence.  Your love and the love of others is changing the world even if only one person at a time.  Never give up hope.”

As he dried my tears with his sleeve, our eyes met and I knew what he said was true.  We humans are evolving and we’re beginning to realize that unconditional love really is the answer.  We can’t give up. 

Suddenly, I looked up to see a hawk flying overhead, and it was then that I felt Jesus had left.  But his love for me and all of humanity remained.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 10, 2017.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Revolutionary Love

Recently, I discovered an amazing woman named Valarie Kaur (, a lawyer and Sikh activist, who founded The Revolutionary Love Project (  I would like to share with you their declaration because it says so much of what I believe.

“We pledge to rise up in Revolutionary Love.  We declare our love for all who are in harm’s way, including refugees, immigrants, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, LGBTQIA people, Blacks, Latinos, the indigenous, the disabled, and the poor. We stand with millions of people around the globe rising up to end violence against women and girls (CIS, transgender and gender non-conforming) who are often the most vulnerable within marginalized communities. We vow to see one another as brothers and sisters and fight for a world where every person can flourish.

We declare love even for our opponents. We vow to oppose all executive orders and policies that threaten the rights and dignity of any person. We call upon our elected officials to join us, and we are prepared to engage in moral resistance throughout this administration. We will fight not with violence or vitriol, but by challenging the cultures and institutions that promote hate. In so doing, we will challenge our opponents through the ethic of love.

We declare love for ourselves. We will practice the dignity and care in our homes that we want for all of us. We will protect our capacity for joy. We will nurture our bodies and spirits; we will rise and dance. We will honor our mothers and ancestors whose bodies, breath, and blood call us to a life of courage. In their name, we choose to see this darkness not as the darkness of the tomb – but of the womb. We will breathe and push through the pain of this era to birth a new future.” 

More and more people are rising up all over the world to bring people together and they include people of all colors, races, nationalities, religions, cultures, genders, all sexual orientations, politics, and more.  It’s so easy to feel discouraged when we see so many people being harmed just because of a difference in beliefs.  Hate, bigotry, ignorance, and violence seem to be the norm only because that’s mainly all we’re hearing in the media.  But what we’re not hearing so much are the stories where millions and billions of people are awakening to the power of love and learning that we really are all connected.  We’re practicing the teachings of our great Spiritual Masters who taught us to love and care for one another.  As I always say, never give up on hope or on humanity because love will always prevail.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”  And the Dalai Lama stated, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 3, 2017.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Love is Sane; Fear is Not

“Everyone is on a spiritual journey; most people just don’t know it.  Spirituality refers not to some theological dynamic outside ourselves, but to how we choose to use our minds.  The spiritual path is the path of the heart; at every moment, we’re either walking the path of love and creating happiness, or swerving from it and creating suffering.  Every thought we think leads deeper into love or deeper into fear.  Love is sane, and fear is not.”

“The spiritual universe is the Mind of God.  Miracles are the thoughts of love, extended from the Mind of God through the mind of humans and out into the world.  God is Love, and as God’s children, so are we.  Our purpose on earth is to think as God thinks, which means to love as God loves.  When our minds are attuned to love, things unfold miraculously.  Loving thought creates loving feelings, and loving feelings create loving behavior.  In this way we create happiness for ourselves and for those around us.”

The above is an excerpt from an article in the March/April 2017 issue of Unity Magazine titled “The Miraculous Universe,” which was written by Marianne Williamson in her book, “Tears to Triumph.”

I’ve always believed that when we were born, we were born as the pure, unconditional, perfect love of God (by whatever name you use).  If we were made in God’s image, and God is Love, then how can we be anything else?  After we’re born, we start to become ‘humanized.’  Our caregivers begin to teach us what it is to be human by passing onto us all their strengths and weaknesses, all their beliefs, and everything they’ve learned from their own life experiences.  And soon, we begin to forget who we really are.

I also believe that on some level within our hearts and minds, we have a slight remembrance of how it felt to be embraced in this love so pure that human words cannot even begin to describe it.  Therefore, we become seekers of Truth, and on our spiritual path, we try to remember this love that we once knew so well.  In order to find this love, we need to quiet ourselves, go within, and listen to that still small voice that speaks only of love, compassion, and kindness from the deepest recesses of our souls.  This is how we know that we are hearing God’s voice because God only speaks the language of unconditional love.

Marianne Williams said, “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”  Willa Cather stated, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”  And A Course in Miracles teaches, “Teach only love, for that is what you are.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 24, 2017.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Shack

“The Shack” is a beautiful book by Wm. Paul Young that has been made into a movie being released March 3.  Though it is a work of fiction, it has so much spiritual truth in it, and it questions everything we might ever have believed, but in a good way.  And even though its foundation is Christianity, there is something to be found for people of all faiths. 

The story is about Mackenzie, a man who suffered a great tragedy that turned his life upside down.  Four years later on a very snowy day, he receives a note in the mail signed by God suggesting they meet at the shack that was part of what caused ‘the great sadness’ in his life.  Not knowing what to expect, he decides to venture back to the shack and back into his darkest nightmare.

Instead of the beaten down empty building he once knew, the shack had been transformed into a beautiful home.  To his absolute surprise, God answered the door in the form of a beautiful black woman.  Jesus was there, too, as well as the Holy Spirit in the form of a very pixyish yet amazing young woman.  It questioned everything he believed about who or what these three entities were, but they appeared to him in these forms for reasons that would start healing his heart from ‘the great sadness’ and all the horrible experiences from his past.

Please open your mind and see this movie as there really is so much to be learned from it.  Better yet, please read the book, too!  Of course, I may not have agreed with everything in it, but that’s okay.  We can take from it what works for us, file in our minds what we need to ponder further, or just ignore anything that doesn’t resonate with us.  And yet I received so much wisdom and knowledge about who or what God really is (by whatever name you use) and just how much we are totally and unconditionally loved no matter who we are or what we’ve done in life.

In the book, Jesus said, “Those who love me have come from every system that exists.  They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims; some are Democrats, some Republicans and many don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.  I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous.  Some are bankers and bookies, American and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians.  I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.” 

I think Jesus said it well.  And if you love “The Shack,” please read the sequel* “Crossroads.”  You’ll love it just as much if not more. 

“As much as you are able, rest in what trust you have in me, no matter how small, okay?”  God.

*Clarification:  "Crossroads" isn't an actual sequel to "The Shack" with the same characters, but is a sequence of books with the same, but different, story line of meeting God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit with different characters.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 17, 2017.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Peace Happens One Heart at a Time

One of my favorite poems on Peace is “The Prayer of Peace” by Ilchi Lee.  It’s a beautiful prayer and probably says more than I could ever say on the topic, especially when it comes to peace and religion.  (Verses are separated by commas.)

“I offer this prayer of peace, Not to the Christian God, Nor to the Buddhist God, Nor to the Islamic God, Nor to the Jewish God, But to the God of all humanity.

For the peace that we wish for, Is Not a Christian peace, Nor a Buddhist peace, Nor an Islamic peace, Nor a Jewish peace, But a human peace, For all of us.

I offer this prayer of peace, To the God that lives within all of us, That fills us with happiness and joy, To make us whole, And help us understand life, As an expression of love for all human beings.

For no religion can be better, Than any other religion, For no truth can be truer, Than any other truth, For no nation can be bigger, Than the earth itself.

Help us all go beyond, Our small limits, And realize that we are one, That we are all from the earth.  That we are all earth people, Before we are Indians, Koreans, or Americans.

God made the earth, We humans have to make it prosper, By realizing that we are of the earth
And not of any nation, race, or religion, By knowing that we are truly one, In our spiritual heritage.

Let us now apologize, To all humanity, For the hurt that religions have caused, So that we can heal the hurt, Let us now promise to one another, To go beyond egotism and competition, To come together as one in God.

I offer this prayer of peace, To you the almighty, To help us find you within all of us, So that we may stand proudly, One day before you, As one humanity.  I offer this prayer of peace, With all my fellow earth people, For a lasting peace on earth.”

I wish I had the magic words that would bring love and peace to everyone in the world, but I don’t.  What I can do is to work on myself to try to be the most loving and peaceful person I can be, as well as to commit random acts of kindness whenever and wherever I can.  When we do so, we spread a little bit of that love and peace to all those around us.

Galatians 5:22 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “If we are to have peace on earth…our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”   Dr. King also said, “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 10, 2017.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Never Give Up Hope

I admit it.  I enjoy Facebook.  I’ve connected with old friends, as well as made new friends from all over the world.  It used to be that the majority of the posts I saw on my stream were spiritual and inspirational.  Now?  Not so much.  The majority of the posts I see are now political.  I don’t mind the political as long as they inform and are from legitimate sources.

I’m also seeing countless posts about the millions of people, not only from our country, but from all over the world who are uniting and coming together for the common cause of embracing each other with love, peace, and harmony.  We’re done with the hate, bigotry, and ignorance that are separating people. 

What’s sad and heart-breaking is to see all the comments from people, some I know and others I don’t, who are expressing their fears and hopelessness at seeing what is occurring because of politics.  In fact, some are living in complete terror and it doesn’t matter their color, race, religion, politics, nationality, gender, etc.  One friend commented that she gets up with less and less hope, that she goes to bed feeling defeated, and that this is not the country she loves and was so proud of.  Most people really do love and care for our country and its people.  And then there are those who could care less about others as long as it doesn’t affect them.  Until it does. 

We need to uplift others with love and hope, but there are times that even I feel discouraged and hopeless.  It is during these times that I need to get quiet, go within, listen to spirit, and be reminded of who we really are.  We are messengers of light, love, and peace and we need to continue to try to lift people up and to encourage each other to never give up.  There’s always hope.

As for Facebook, there are all kinds of posts that show people coming together in spite of the illusions of any differences.  They warm my heart and re-fuel my hope.  I’ve seen numerous videos and posts that have had me bawling a river of tears because of the love and kindness people are showing towards each other.  We’re coming together to be supportive and encouraging, and we’re reminding each other that we really are one humanity regardless of what we look like, what we do, or where we live.

Maya Angelou said, “Love recognizes no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.  Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.  Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”  And for those who follow Jesus’ teachings, he stated, “As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 3, 2017.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Power of Love

I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Women’s March held in Nashville, and I know numerous people from Cookeville attended marches in Washington, Chattanooga, and elsewhere.  What an amazing experience with 15,000 to 20,000 marching in Nashville alone! 

The diversity of those participating was fantastic!  Men, women, children, people from all religions, colors, races, politics, genders, and more, came together in love and peace for a common cause…to unite humanity for the civil rights of all people. 

These marches didn’t just occur in America; they were happening all over the world!  It warmed my heart to see millions of people loving, supporting, and encouraging each other to be brave, stand tall, and to know that we will not let anyone take us backwards in time, and that we will continue to promote equality for all.  There has never been a one-day protest this large in the history of the U.S., and overall, every one of them was very peaceful.

This is much more than politics.  In this time of spiritual awakening, people are coming to the realization that we really are all connected.  No matter where we live in the world, we are all human beings, and we need to really start loving and caring for each other.  I’ll say it again and again.  Jesus commanded us to love one another and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  He didn’t make any exceptions.  The great spiritual masters from all religions taught the same thing, and people are starting to get it.   The love and connection we felt towards each other at these marches was phenomenal, and I believe that this love is going to continue to grow!

Recently, I was in a situation where I was with some people who didn’t believe the way I did (which was fine), and some negative comments were made about others.  I felt myself begin to shrink inside when I suddenly heard the words very clearly, “Don’t shrink!  Shine!”  I can’t let anyone make me feel less than or that I don’t matter.  We ALL matter and we are ALL meant to shine!  When we embrace each other with love, compassion, and kindness, then love will always prevail!

James Van Praagh wrote, “You are a soul being beyond human comprehension; your soul light endures through eternity.  The power of love not only transforms your soul but also contributes more to the world than you’ll ever know.”  The Dalai Lama stated, “I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.  The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.”  

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper January 27, 2017.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dear Humanity...

Chuck Lorre is a television writer, producer and composer, and has created numerous successful sitcoms.  At the end of his TV programs, he writes what he calls “vanity cards” and shows them at the end of the credits.  I’ve often wondered what they said as they weren’t on long enough to read.  I decided to look them up on the Internet and found that he posts all of these cards for everyone to see.  I began reading through them and found that Lorre has a beautiful spiritual side; therefore, many of his cards are filled with much wisdom and knowledge that would be of interest to the spiritual seeker.

One of my favorites is card #524:  “I don't mean to offend anyone, but God told me to write this vanity card. The following are His words. I just took dictation.  ‘Dear Humanity, You are all animated by me. Like electricity lights a bulb, I light you. What you call awareness is, in fact, me. Some awareness plays soaring piano concertos, some shoots three from the perimeter, some drive around in little cars looking for parking violations.  It's still me.  Just in a different guise.  God in drag, if you will.  Simply put, each and every one of you is a perfect expression of my timeless, universe-straddling ineffability.  You are also meaningless and inconsequential.  It's a paradox, I know.  But only to you.  Which brings me to the purpose of this vanity card.  In your endless quest to forge an identity, you have lost sight of what you are.  So I will say it again.  When you strip away all the temporary labels - American, Iranian, Israeli, Russian, Chinese, young man, old woman, soldier, florist, gay, straight, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, or Jew - when those identities are taken away, and believe me, they eventually will be, then all that is left of me. Consider this the next time you feel compelled to hurt or kill someone.  Look at them.  See me.  Then act.  On a lighter note, that was a really funny episode of Big Bang tonight! That Sheldon is a hoot!’”

This card was the very first one I chose to read and talk about having a wow moment!  What he wrote is so true.  If we strip away all our labels, all you have is God (by whatever name you use).  It’s the labels that keep us separated from each other, and most importantly, separated from God.  Everything in existence really is connected and we are all a part of each other. 

Swami Vivekananda said, “Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.” Thich Nhat Hanh stated, “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.”  And as I always say, “If you want to see God’s face, look in the mirror.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper January 20, 2017.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Magic of Synchronicity

Synchronicity, serendipity, coincidences…  All three have meanings in common, but synchronicity has a little more of a spiritual or magical quality.  In other words, synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence.

Synchronicity is something that seems to have happened just by chance, but when looked at more closely, we come to see that it was meant to happen.  We’ve all experienced them.  It’s those moments where the odds of something occurring are so great that they leave us in awe and they can take our breath away. 

As we move forward on a serious spiritual path, the synchronicities occur more often and at faster speeds sometimes leaving us stunned and amazed.  It’s a ‘wow’ moment that reminds us that there really is a plan.  It can also give our spiritual lives a huge boost in confidence, while at the same time increasing our faith and belief that all of life is connected.  For many of us who are awakening, synchronicity reminds us of our direct link with the spiritual realm.

Recently, I had such a wonderful synchronistic experience that it actually brought me to tears.   A beautiful soul from our church had recently passed and a memorial was held to honor her wonderful life.  A couple nights before, the secretary from our church asked me if I had a template for a memorial program since I’ve done them in the past.  I told her I’d be happy to put a program together for her.  I immediately got on the computer and was able to easily design all but the poem on the back.  I wanted the poem to be special in order to honor the exceptional lady that she was.  I searched for numerous poems, but I couldn’t decide which one would be perfect enough for her.  Finally, I settled on one that was very charming and I hoped it might be meaningful for her and to all the attendees.

At the service, a visitor spoke up and said she was surprised that this poem was on the back of the program because she had previously taken the poem and put it to music.  She then proceeded to the piano where she sang this magnificent song.  Her voice was like an angel and the melody, along with the words, brought many of us to tears. 

I was astonished at the synchronicity of it and that it did have so much meaning to those present.  It was a great reminder that we are all spiritually connected, and because of that direct connection, it helped me choose the perfect song for this occasion.  From now on, I will surely be more aware of other synchronicities that may occur in my life and will always be just as amazed as I was with this one.

“When you stop existing and you start truly living, each moment of the day comes alive with the wonder and synchronicity.” Steve Marabol

“Synchronicity is choreographed by a great pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature, and is manifest in each of us through intuitive knowledge.”  Deepak Chopra

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper January 13, 2017.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Mystery of It All

“Should you believe in a higher power or not?  I say yes.  But I don’t believe in a higher power that is owned by any one religion or one that shows a preference to gender or color.  I don’t believe in a him or her, a he or she, or the God claimed by a specific religion.  I believe in a higher power that we have to answer to.  My higher power has something to do with the inexplicable, massiveness, mystery, and beauty of the universe.  The higher power I believe in does not discriminate and does not tolerate discrimination.  The higher power I believe in has left it up to us to figure out how to navigate all the complexities that get in the way of us understanding that the only things that truly matter are compassion and love.  We get the gift of life; we have to figure out how to make it better.”

The above was written by actor and legendary Dyke Van Dyke in his recent book “Keep Moving.”  I love it that he has respect for everyone’s beliefs, no matter how much they differ, and yet he is comfortable in what he believes for himself.  This is basically what I also believe.  No one knows what God looks like or what form he/she/it takes.  No one has ever seen the face of God.  We only have our beliefs and experiences as to the God we believe in.

Several years ago, actor Sean Penn was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and she asked him if he believed in God.  His response was, “I’m okay with the mystery of it all.”  He was at peace with his beliefs and it also didn’t matter what others believed.

Every religion has its own beliefs as to whom or what God is and none of them are right or wrong.  They’re just right for that religion and for whoever chooses to believe in that religion.  Even people within those religions have various beliefs.

Yet so many people fight and argue over who is right or wrong and think that their particular beliefs are the only right way of believing.  Why can’t we respect and honor whatever anyone else believes?  When we’re secure in our beliefs we don’t need to fight and argue, nor do we need to try to force our beliefs on anyone else. 

I love the diversity of all the various religions and whatever anyone believes.  I even share other religion’s beliefs because I’m secure enough in my own beliefs that I can also learn from other religions and the people who practice them.  It is then that I can understand, have more love for others, and know our total oneness.

Ram Dass said, “As we grow in our consciousness, there will be more compassion and more love, and then the barriers between people, between religions, between nations will begin to fall. Yes, we have to beat down the separateness.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 6, 2017.