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 transformationjourneysww.com 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 (valariekaur.com), a lawyer and Sikh activist, who founded The Revolutionary Love Project (www.revolutionarylove.net).  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.