Friday, December 8, 2017

Coexisting in Peace and Love

In 2000, Polish Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec, submitted an entry in an international art competition sponsored by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, understanding and Coexistence.  The image consisted of several icons that represented a variety of religions.  Since then, various versions have emerged, but they all represent and honor different religions with respect.  You may have seen these images on bumper stickers.  They’ve become one of my favorite images because they strive to bring religions together in love and peace. 

The Dalai Lama said, “The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love, compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness.”  He also stated, “When there is peace among religions, there will be peace in our world.” 

One thing I’ve learned is that in order to find this peace, we need to come together and learn from each other.  If you want to know more about a religion, ask people from that religion to find out what they believe.  Don’t just believe the speculations, beliefs, rumors, lies, or whatever anyone says on the Internet. Even then, please remember that the person’s beliefs may not necessarily represent their religion as a whole.  Misinformation has been one of the biggest propagators for hate, disharmony, and even wars.  Learning about other religions and embracing them doesn’t have to threaten our own beliefs or the religions we currently belong to.  They can even enhance our beliefs and help us to have more love, compassion, and understanding for one other.

I love the diversity of all our belief systems and I’ve learned from many of them.  I’ve also met and made friends with so many wonderful people from other religions.  Instead of focusing on our differences, we need to focus on what we have in common and how we can get along.  As Prince sang, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” 

Shakieb Orgunwall declared, “Somewhere in our pursuit of being better Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or Jews, we’ve forgotten to be human beings and what it means to genuinely love and respect one another.  Being human and expressing a common concern for humanity is a prerequisite to membership in any faith.”  

And I love what Paul Enso Hillman proclaimed:  “I say ‘Namaste’ because I like what it means, not because I am Hindu. A lot of people here think I am Christian because they think I talk about Christian values, but the truth is I am really talking about human values.  I’ve been asked if I am a Buddhist, just because I have discovered inner peace.  A lot of my friends are Pagans, and they think I am one, too, because I say that being in Nature is my idea of going to church.  Do you want to know what I really am?  It’s very simple.  I don’t need a label to define me.  I am a piece of the universe, sentient and manifested, and I am awake.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 8, 2017.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Proverbial War on Christmas

Tis the season of bringing good tidings of great joy!  Children look forward to Santa’s visit bringing them delightful gifts.  Adults attend parties and buy presents for each other and their families.  Homes, stores, businesses, schools, towns, and cities are brimming with holiday decorations, and lights sparkle in an array of colors everywhere you look.  In other words, Christmas is upon us!  People love the Spirit of the season!  They’re a little kinder, more compassionate, and they give a little more generously to those in need.  This is the bright side of Christmas and the holidays, and I love that loving Spirit!

There is also a dark side to the holidays.  It is also the season of fighting and arguing and it can bring out the worst in people.  Some fight over whose holiday should be celebrated and that the season is only for one particular religious holiday.  They argue over whose greeting we should use or not use and they get nasty if you don’t say their greeting of choice.  People fight over whose decorations should be put up and where.  They’ll run over anyone to get the gifts they want, sometimes hurting or even killing others to get them.  People go into debt buying gifts they cannot afford.  Families fight over whose family they should visit and on what day.  For many, the holidays are extremely stressful and not always in a good way.

And then there’s the argument that always goes around this time of year that there’s a war on Christmas.  There is no war on Christmas.  If there were a war on Christmas, it would be illegal to celebrate Christmas at all.  People would be arrested for celebrating, for putting up decorations, for saying Merry Christmas, for going to their Christmas church services, or for even saying they believe and celebrate this holiday.  Raids would be conducted on homes if the authorities even thought that someone may be celebrating in secret.  And possibly, people could be shot for even doing so.

But it’s not that way!  Just look around during this season and everywhere you look, all you see is Christmas!  You can’t get away from it!  On TV there are countless Christmas movies, TV shows, and Christmas commercials, Christmas music is played on many of the radio and TV stations, and there are decorations galore everywhere.  Drive around and see all the Christmas decorations and lights on people’s homes and in their yards.  Walk into any store and see all the Christmas decorations and items you can buy, as well as listen to the Christmas music that plays over the intercom.  There are Christmas parades in many cities and towns.  Schools and churches hold their Christmas programs.  Nativity scenes are in yards. 

And there is no law saying you can’t say Merry Christmas.  You can say any greeting you wish.  Instead of fighting and arguing over what greeting to say, whether it’s Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, let’s show the love that our spiritual masters taught us and greet people with the same greeting they give us and do so with kindness.  

Let’s show the love by blessing and honoring each other’s holidays that also occur during this season.  Christians aren’t the only ones who celebrate Christmas.  There are many different religions that also celebrate this holiday even though Jesus isn’t the Master of their religion.  There are also many who don’t belong to a religion who participate in the celebrations as well.  When it comes to this season, I have rarely seen any decorations or mention of any other holidays during this time such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, and so many others, and these deserve to be celebrated and mentioned as well!

Some people say that Jesus is the reason for the season, and during this season we proclaim, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”  Lately, though, it’s sometimes hard to find the peace and the good will toward men (and women) with all this fighting and arguing.  The holiday season should be a season of love and peace.  We should be showing more compassion and kindness towards all regardless of their beliefs during this season.  

W.C. Jones said, “The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing others’ loads, and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts, becomes for us the magic of the holidays.”  Calvin Coolidge stated, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.  To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”  These are two great quotes that say so much.  We can always tell who believes in the real spirit of the season by the way they treat others.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season (whatever holiday you celebrate) with much love, peace, happiness, prosperity, joy, and magic!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Every Day...

Every day, I get to wake up in a warm and comfortable bed, eat breakfast, get dressed, and go to my job where I hopefully get to make a difference.  After work, I come home, sit in a comfortable chair, eat dinner, shower, watch TV, and then go to bed in my cozy bed.  I'm in pretty good health, can get around, have a car, family, and friends.

I think all the time about what others are going through.  For instance, all the victims of the hurricanes and fires and so many losing their homes, trying to get to safety, and survive.

I think of the homeless never knowing where they’ll sleep or if they’ll eat that day.

I think of those who are struggling with health issues and financial issues.

I think of those who are experiencing hate, bigotry, or discrimination in any way, and are fighting for their very existence in a country that doesn't always fight for them.

I think of those who are victims of cruelty and crimes, who are murdered, and those who lose the lives of their loved ones as a result.

I think of all the animals that are harmed, who are left to roam the streets, who may not know when they will eat.

I think about those who are fighting in wars, never knowing if they'll come home in one piece or if they'll even make it home at all.

I think of those who are struggling with addictions that have completely taken over their lives.

I think of all the children who are abused and who are so hungry for love.

I think of those in other countries who are victims of genocide, seeing their family and friends slaughtered and having to live with those memories, of those trying to escape with the clothes on their backs to a place of safety, being labeled immigrants, and wondering if the new country will even accept them.

I think on these and so much more.  Then I realize that I have nothing to complain about.  Sure, I have my share of bad days and I sometimes get down on myself.  I have those moments where I wonder if life is worth it.  Then I think of all those who are fighting just to make it through another day. 

Instead, there’s so much to be grateful for.  In the realm of everything that could go wrong in my life, I'm actually doing quite well.  I've learned that I should not take the life I have for granted for even a split second.  Sure, it could be better, but it could also be a whole lot worse.  I'll accept the life I currently have and accept it gratefully.

My heart goes out to all those who are struggling.  It is only by fate that we’re not in your shoes. 

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”  Cynthia Ozick 

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

At What Point Did I Become An Old Lady?!?

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many people, but for me, it’s…okay.  I think I’ve only been to two or three Halloween parties in my life (maybe more when I was a young child).  I just don’t like all the candy that we feel we “must” eat because it’s…well…it’s Halloween.  My hips and thighs love it.  My double chin?  Not so much.

One Halloween, I was home alone watching the movie “Halloween H20” and handing out candy to the few kids who did come to the door.  When children came, I would hand out the candy, comment on their costumes, and maybe joke around with them a little bit, depending on their ages.  A group of four came to the door, and knowing a couple of the high school kids, I kidded with them.  Before leaving, I heard the one saying something about my being “the nicest old lady.”  Huh?  Old lady?  This both shocked and amused me.  At what point did I become an old lady?  I am currently, um, middle aged, and definitely do NOT consider myself to be an old lady. 

As I pondered his statement, I remembered that when I was young, people in their middle age were considered to be old.  At least to us.   After giving myself a good talking to, I was able to talk myself down into not taking it too personally.

They say something along the lines that 50 is the new 40, 40 the new 30, and so on.  We’re only as young or old as we feel.  We older people can feel really young, possibly even in our 20’s, and the only thing that gives it away is our body.  They don’t always work the way they used to.  We’re not as fast, limber, or spry as we were in our young whippersnapper years.  (Oh, my.  Just using the word whippersnapper gives me away.)  Parts of our body start sagging where we didn’t know they could sag.  Our knees argue with us as we try to bend down.  I always say that the older you get, the farther down it is to get to the ground.  It becomes harder to trim our toenails and you almost have to become a contortionist just to reach your feet.  Wrinkles appear where we didn’t know we could get wrinkles.  I’m proud of my crow’s feet.  They give me character.  Problem is, my crows keep getting more feet.

Personally, I don’t believe in age.  If Einstein proved that there is no such thing as time, then there’s no such thing as age.  Besides, I refuse to be identified by a number, whether it’s my age or my weight.  Time is just something man made up to keep track of…well…time.  If we didn’t have time, would we even know how old we were?

Men grow into themselves.  They can grow older, get the wrinkles, put on some pounds, become bald, and they can still be dapper and dignified.  Women are expected to stay young with youthful bodies, and if we get a wrinkle or a drop of cellulite anywhere…heaven forbid!  Walk into any store and you see aisles and aisles of products directed at women that are supposed to take years off of our faces, beauty products that are supposed to make us look more beautiful, and hair products to make our hair look like any fashion model.  Only thing is, most of them don’t work and we waste countless amounts of money hoping they do.

Getting older.  We can’t avoid it.  It’s inevitable.  There are many good things that come with getting older.  We become wiser.  We have a wealth of experience to pass on to the younger generations.  Our children may be our future, but we are our history.  Let’s learn to embrace getting older with high esteem and class.  We are unique.  We are magnificent.  And we should give ourselves a lot of credit for making it this far.  It especially helps if we can have a sense of humor about it all as well.

So, as I go about my days, still trying to find that youthful serum that may make me look at least a few weeks younger, and that outfit that will make me look 1/16” an inch thinner, I will continue to work on loving and accepting myself as I am and to accept the fact that in some eye’s, I have become….an old lady. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

My Articles Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen Newspaper

Many of you have followed my articles in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper and know that I then post them to my blog after they are published in the paper.  Over a month ago, the religion section of the paper was downsized to one page; therefore, out of eight writers, only two of us will be published each week.  Though I have not stopped writing, I do not know when I will be published next.  

Please know that when I am published again, I will then post them to my blog and will let everyone know via Facebook and Linkedin.

I want to thank you for all your support and your encouragement.  It really has meant a lot to me over the years; more than you can know. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Saving All Saints

“All Saints” is an amazing movie which was inspired by a true story that took place at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee.  It’s a beautiful faith-based story that isn’t preachy or dogmatic and is a film that can be enjoyed by people from all belief systems.

Newly ordained Michael Spurlock, along with his wife and son, were sent to the church to close it down.  Because of lack of funds and the dwindling attendance of just a handful of people, the diocese could no longer afford to keep it open.  He was to inventory the property and oversee the sale.

A week before the scheduled demolition, dozens of refugees from war-torn Burma, who are ethic Karen farmers, arrive and start attending the church with more refugees to follow.  They are very poor and to hear the stories of what they went through with the war was heart breaking.  Many lives were lost and they were left with horrendous memories of their journey.

Spurlock’s son asks about the refugees and Spurlock says, “Let’s keep them in our prayers and ask for God’s help.”  His son replies, “Aren’t you God’s help?”

Later, Spurlock believes he hears the voice of God to use the church land to grow crops to help provide food and shelter for the refugees, as well as to create an income for the church.  The Karen farmers are experienced in growing crops, and with the help of the church members, they plant a field of vegetables. 

During one tragedy, the Smyrna community, which included other religions, comes to their aid.  It didn’t matter that they were helping refugees, and color, race, religion, wasn’t an issue.  They came to help human beings who were in need.  This was a community that followed the teachings of Jesus to love and care for one another no matter who they may be. 

In a time when refugees are being de-humanized by so many, this was a brilliant movie which showed that these beautiful human beings are just trying to survive and make a life for themselves.  It also showed how these wonderful Christians embraced them and sacrificed personally and financially, and how they welcomed the Karen and showed them a love that you would hope to see come from Christians and others.  This glorious community not only saved the church, but they saved each other through the love, compassion, and kindness that was taught by Jesus.

“Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people.  Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all his children.  Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.  In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”   Cory Booker 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 1, 2017.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

In the Midst of Chaos

Recently, a dear friend asked if I had any suggestions on what she could do to make a difference in the midst of all the chaos that we are seeing in the U.S. right now.  There seems to be so much hate and bigotry manifesting into violent protests where people are getting hurt and some are even losing their lives.  She wants to do something, but doesn’t know where to begin.  There are many of us pondering the same question.

Some of us are fighters, some are lovers, and some are both.  Not all of us are able to join the protests and rallies.  Many of us are so busy with our lives that we don’t have time for much of anything else, but we still feel like we need to contribute to the cause of love and peace.

If we can’t join the protests and rallies, we can help by just continuing to live our lives with love, compassion, and kindness, and touching one person at a time.  Mother Teresa said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”  Just an act of kindness can help lift someone’s spirits and even change lives.

If we do anything at all, though, let’s do so in peace.  Sometimes we feel we have to do something huge to make a difference, yet all those small things we can do add up, too.  Also, let’s not judge others when we think they should be doing more to get involved.  We can only do what we can do.  If nothing else, we can make a difference by writing letters to politicians, sending emails, and most importantly, by getting out and voting in future elections.

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a ways to go, and it’s sad that we still have to go through all of this to this day.  People are fighting for equal rights (and rightly so), and some are even fighting for their lives.  There are many who can’t speak up for whatever reasons, so many of us need to speak up for all of us.  Malala Yousafzai stated, “I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.”

Robert Kennedy said, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”  And Nelson Mandela declared, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”   

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper August 25, 2017.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans

Recently, I watched a beautiful movie starring Kevin Bacon titled “Taking Chance.”  It touched my heart so much that I knew I was meant to write about it. 

“Taking Chance” is based on a true story about the experiences of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl (Bacon), who escorts the body of fallen Marine PFC Chance Phelps back to his hometown after being killed in the Iraq War.

His journey as the soldier’s escort begins at the Dover Mortuary where Phelps was being respectfully prepared for transfer.  Because of his injuries, it was to be a closed casket at the funeral.  Strobl is given Phelps’ personal affects in a velvet bag and was instructed that they were not to leave his hands under any circumstances. 

When Strobl arrived at the airport to get his ticket, the agent, knowing his mission and with tears in her eyes, upgrades him to first class.  Every time the casket was loaded onto another airplane, Strobl stood by and saluted.  Any airport personnel and passengers nearby also stood by and paid their respects.  At one point, the casket needed to stay overnight in the airport hanger, so Strobl decided to sleep next to the casket rather than stay in a hotel.

On the final leg of the journey by vehicles, an impromptu funeral procession forms on the highway as people in other vehicles realized that the one vehicle is carrying a fallen soldier.  They turn on their lights and follow rather than trying to continue to pass. 

When Strobl finally gets to meet the soldier’s family and friends, he finds out more about the life of the fallen soldier, how loved he was, and how much he would be missed.

This movie touched my heart and I cried numerous times while watching.  I had no idea that our fallen soldiers were treated with such great care and dignity during their entire journey home.  The respect that complete strangers showed towards another complete stranger in a casket was overwhelmingly beautiful.

We have many military personnel who return from the war and some are fortunate to come home healthy and sane, while others come home broken in mind, body, and/or spirit.  We need to take care of all of them, and not just the ones who arrive home in a casket.

I would like to honor all of our military personnel and to thank them for their service.  We bless you, honor you, love you, and appreciate you!  My dream is that one day, you will no longer need to sacrifice your lives in any kind of war and that the world will one day be at peace.

“All Gave Some, Some Gave All.  Some stood through for the red, white, and blue, and some had to fall.  And if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall…Some Gave All.”  (“Some Gave All” written by Billy Ray Cyrus and Cindy Cyrus)

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper August 18, 2017.

Friday, August 11, 2017

I Got You, Babe!

The other morning I was doing a crossword puzzle and one of the answers was, “I Got You, Babe.”  Immediately after finishing the puzzle, I got on the computer and read an email from for my daily ‘Note from the Universe,’ and in the message it said, “I got you, babe.”  Coincidence?  I think not. 

On my spiritual journey, I’ve become more aware of the synchronicities in life and how they can be used by God (or the God of your understanding) to give us messages.  Seeing “I got you, babe” twice within just a few minutes of each other was more than just a coincidence.  It was an ‘in my face’ message and one I couldn’t ignore.

How many times do we have those moments when we think we may not matter, that we’re not worthy, or that God may have forgotten about us?  I’ve had my share, for sure.  Then we receive those uncanny, synchronistic messages that remind us that the Universe constantly has our back.   

We are always worthy.  If we weren’t worthy, then God would not have made us.  Every single one of us was made from the essence of God; therefore, God is always with us and within us.  It could never be any other way.  How could God create anything different?  If God is pure, unconditional, perfect love, then how can we not be made from the same source since God is the one who created us?

Some teach us that we’re unworthy and that we don’t matter.  They may use fear and guilt to control us into believing that we are alone, unworthy, that we are condemned, or that we’re a nobody.  The truth is, every single one of us has glorious value and we’re worth more than all the riches in the world!  We are all loved unconditionally and beyond measure!

“Real love has no conditions, no attachment, no request.  It only wants your highest good.  It only wants what’s best.  It would always give you freedom to be what you would be.  It would never dwell upon your faults, just your goodness it would see.  It would completely honor the journey of your soul.  It would see you in your beauty.  It would know that you are whole.  It would touch your hand with kindness.  It would softly speak your name.  It would always be supportive.  It would never “play the game.”  It would look into your eyes and, there, see the God within.  And know that Love is Who you are, and Who you’ve always been.”  (The Truth About Love by Donna Corso)

And another message from the Universe (  “You're going to be shocked because one day you're going to look at yourself, your life, and your ways, and you're going to see that your every idiosyncrasy, quirk, folly, and so-called fault, were among your greatest assets.  Oh my, I was having such a good day when I first dreamed of you.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper August 11, 2017.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Stop It!

There is a great skit on YouTube titled “Stop It” starring the legendary actor, Bob Newhart.  Newhart plays a psychotherapist who uses tough love on a patient when she comes in looking for cures for her various extreme fears that have taken over her life. 

After listening to her go on about all her fears, Newhart answers (paraphrased), “I'm going to say two words to you right now. I want you to listen to them very, very carefully. Then I want you to take them out of the office with you and incorporate them into your life. Here they are. Stop it!”  No matter what else she said, he would reply with the words, “Stop it!”  It’s a great and funny skit and I would highly recommend that you watch it.  (Google “Stop It! Bob Newhart.”)

Stop it!  Seems so simple, right?  But is it?  We all have our fears, destructive behaviors, mental and emotional issues, limiting thoughts, habits, etc., some of which have probably been with us for years.  With some of our issues, we are able to stop immediately.  Others are not so easy and can take years to overcome, if at all. 

One of my pet peeves is when someone says, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”  That is so NOT true.  If someone can do something, that means its ‘possible’ for others to do it, but does not necessarily mean that anyone can do it.  There are too many other factors involved such as physical or emotional traumas, as well as issues deep within someone’s subconscious mind that they may not even be aware of. 

This is where compassion and understanding come in.  We can encourage and support someone in just stopping whatever negative thoughts and/or behaviors they are dealing with, but we also can’t judge them if they are unable to do so.  We don’t know their whole story or how deep their issues are, nor do we really know their state of mind.

Anyone with any kind of addiction can tell you how hard it is to just stop them.  I’d say very few can stop suddenly.  Some struggle for years trying to overcome them, even with professional help.  And then there are those who never do win their battle.  We also never really know what one’s soul came here to experience.

Whatever our issues, we need keep trying to do our best to overcome them.  Albert Einstein said, “You never fail until you stop trying.”  And states, “One day it just clicks.  You realize what’s important and what isn’t.  You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think of yourself.  You realize how far you’ve come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that you would never recover.  And you smile.  You smile because you are truly proud of yourself and the person you’ve fought to become.” 

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper August 4, 2017.

Here is the video link for those who would like to view it:

Friday, July 28, 2017

I Choose Peace

Not too long ago, I came across a quote from that said, “Today I will not stress over things I can’t control.  Today I choose peace.”

At the time I saw it, I was stressed to the gills for various reasons.  I thought that if I didn’t find some peace soon, then something was going to give as it was affecting my health both mentally and physically.  My mind was in constant chaos, it wouldn’t shut up with the negative chattering, and my spiritual life was taking a major hit.  I had given my power over to others, as well as to stressful situations, and I knew that I had to somehow take back my power for my own sanity and sense of well-being.

Then I saw this post.  I choose peace.  Somehow, just that simple phrase calmed me down, quieted my inner pandemonium, and brought tranquility to my inner spirit.  After that, whenever I was feeling overwhelmed, I would take a deep holy breath, close my eyes, and quietly say either out loud or to myself, “I choose peace.”  Every time I did so, I felt a glorious peaceful feeling embrace my whole being…mind, body, and spirit.

How often do we let others or situations control us to the point where we become so stressed that we can hardly function?  We become so engrossed in the drama of everyday life that we forget who we really are.  We forget that we have the power of the Universe within us.  We are directly connected to the God-Universal-Mind (by whatever name you use) and we have everything we need within to handle whatever comes our way.  Our souls have more power that we could ever know because our souls are a part of God and God is a part of us.  Horace Mann said, “The living soul of man, once conscious of its power, cannot be quelled.”  That’s so true!

It’s in those times that we forget who we really are that we let our ‘humanness’ take over, and that’s so easy to do.  I do this way more times than I care to admit.  But when I do remember to let my heart and soul lead, then I can remember to choose peace.  We can remember that no matter what we’re going through or how badly someone is treating us, if we can come from a space of love and peace in our hearts, we can deal with anything.  Too many of us think that only outside circumstances will bring us peace, but real and lasting peace can only come from within. 

So the next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with people, circumstances, or just life in general, stop, take a deep holy breath, say or think “I choose peace,” and say or think it as many times as you need.

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”  Peace Pilgrim  

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

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:

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.

Postscript:  I'd like to clarify the "Are You Spiritually Advanced" title of both Ellen's and my post.  I can't speak for Ellen, but for me, it was not meant to mean that anyone was better than anyone else, which I mentioned in my essay above.  And it doesn't necessarily mean that anyone is more 'advanced' in an arrogant 'I know more than you know' kind of way.  The gist of both my and Ellen's articles is that we had come to the point where it seems that everything we read, the workshops we attend, and so on, tend to be the same, but different information, and we really want to go beyond what we have already learned and know.  

As she said in her article, "I hesitate to use the term "advanced" because you've heard me argue there are no advanced spiritual principles.  We just keep using the same ones over and over in new situations." 

If you want to read more from Ellen, please go to:  

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, 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  

“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!)

Friday, June 2, 2017

For the Love of Cookeville

Cookeville is a beautiful city filled with wonderful, kind, caring, and loving people.  We come in all colors, races, religions, nationalities, and cultures.  As individuals, we may have our differences, especially in beliefs, but we basically get along peacefully with our neighbors. 

As everyone knows, we recently got hit by a disastrous storm that took down trees, power lines, and caused destruction to vehicles and homes.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  Afterwards, neighbors checked on neighbors and strangers checked on strangers to make sure everyone was okay.  People are coming together to support each other and to help clean up wherever needed.  This is the Cookeville that I believe in.

On one side of the city stands a huge, white cross.  Regardless of how you feel about it, I am assuming this church means for it to stand for the love of God and Jesus.  Unfortunately, I recently learned that we have another sign somewhere in Cookeville that has been making national and international news and is paid for by the TN Pastors Network.  The sign reads, “Why Support President’s Immigration Ban?  19 Muslim Immigrants Killed 2,977 Americans 9/11.”  This sign does NOT represent me or many of us in Cookeville, yet sadly, it will reflect on our great city, and I don’t believe that’s who we are.

As of 2015, there were approximately 3.3 million Muslims of all ages in America living here in peace (about 1% of the U.S. population).  There are also approximately 4,000 Muslims in our military fighting for our country to save Americans and other lives.  Muslims around the world are speaking out against terrorism.  And yet some people hold the actions of a few against the whole religion.  When a non-Muslim commits a heinous crime, we don’t ask about his religion.  And if they happen to be Christian, we don’t hold it against all Christians (or other religions).

Time magazine reported that according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security based on surveys of 382 law enforcement groups, “Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face.”  Why aren’t we speaking out against these groups, especially when many in these groups profess to be Christian?

We wonder why so many are turning their backs on God, religion (particularly Christianity), and church, and yet it’s because for many, they are seeing the hypocrisy of what some religious leaders are saying and doing, when in fact, Jesus spoke of love, compassion, and kindness.  Jesus never stood for hate.  He stood only for love.

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."  Nelson Mandela

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 2, 2017.

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.