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.