Tag Archives: Baha’i

The HeART of Healing Workshop

To see all the MARVELOUS “Found Poetry” the participants created and the full report you’ll have to click HERE:  The HeART of Spirituality – Healing

“Do not run away from grief, oh soul. Look for the remedy inside the pain because the rose came from the thorn and the ruby came from a stone”. – Rumi

Here’s a sample!

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The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one becomes… ”   Abdu’l-Bahá,  Baha’i World Faith   

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December 29, 2016 – https://judithwesterfield.wordpress.com

“When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself”.

Pema Chödrön (born Deirdre Blomfield-Brow is an American, Tibetan Buddhist and ordained nun)

Turn the World Blue

“This small planet is not worthy of division. Is it not one home, one native land? Is not all humanity one race?”

“To mark this anniversary, monuments and buildings across the world are being illuminated in UN blue. As we shine a light on this milestone anniversary, let us reaffirm our commitment to a better and brighter future for all.” – Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

Un Headquarters New York
Un Headquarters New York

Every year the U.N. and its member nations observe October 24th as United Nations Day around the world. This year, as the U.N. marks its seventh decade,

“Consider the creation of the infinite universe. This globe of ours is one of the smallest planets. Those stupendous bodies revolving in yonder immeasurable space, the infinite blue canopy of God, are many times greater than our small earth. To our eyes this globe appears spacious; yet when we look upon it with divine eyes, it is reduced to the tiniest atom. This small planet is not worthy of division. Is it not one home, one native land? Is not all humanity one race?” – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy

There is no “between the lines”

Do unto others

Do not read between the lines

It’s no mystery

Haiku Horizons - prompt BETWEEN
Haiku Horizons – prompt BETWEEN

The Golden Rule originates in a well-known Torah verse (Hebrew: “ואהבת לרעך כמוך”):

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. —Leviticus 19:18

Baha’i:  Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship . . . So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. Baha’u’llah, Teachings on Spiritual Reality

Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.  Matthew 7:12

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 31:a

Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. Mahabharata 5:1517

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana Varga 5:18

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you. Analects 15:23

Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5).

Jainism: Killing a living being is killing one’s own self; showing compassion to a living being is showing compassion to oneself. He who desires his own good, should avoid causing any harm to a living being. Suman Suttam , verse 151

READ THIS! – There is hope.

This fascinating article helps me understand the Baha’i principle – The “greater good” outweighs the “lesser good”.   I do know that good things are born out of suffering and sacrifice but I must remind myself that this world isn’t instant cup-a-soup.  

Below are some excerpts  

judy journal page - collage
judy journal page – collage

How The World’s Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

“The world’s largest refugee camp is also a giant social experiment.”

“Take hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing a war. Shelter them for 24 years in a camp in Kenya run by the United Nations. And offer different opportunities than they might have had if they’d stayed in Somalia.”

‘”Probably the most interesting and misunderstood thing about Dadaab is that the refugee camp has had a kind of liberalizing influence,” says Ban Rawlence.”

“They are a ready-made middle class,” Rawlence says. “Educated Somalis who are ready and waiting to move into Somalia to rebuild the country.”‘

“The Kenyan government wants the experiment to end, soon. It’s pushing the refugees to return to their home in Somalia, though the camp called Dadaab is the only home many have known.”

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“Habiba Abdurahman fled the war in Somalia when she was six, with her mother and sisters. She had lived in a village where girls rarely went to school. Suddenly she was in a camp where international organizations offered free tutoring for girls to catch up academically. In her village, female genital mutilation was common. In the camp FGM was not only illegal but there were constant messages against it.”

“At 27 Abdurahman was elected a camp chairwoman, under election rules designed to promote gender equality. Last year she went back to Somalia on a U.N.-sponsored “look and see” trip to the liberated city of Kismayo. The trip was meant to assure refugees that parts of Somalia were finally safe enough to return to. But what she saw shocked her.”

“What kind of person would she be if she’d grown up there instead of here in the camp?”

Click here to read the entire article: 

How The World’s Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

by GREGORY WARNER

 

 

“L” is for the only word that matters

“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”

Gautama Buddha

“ . . . Love is greater than peace, for peace is founded upon love.”

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Counting up to 70 – “Up a Tree”

“Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.” Baha’i

As I “count up” to my 70th birthday” I think more and more about choice & inevitability,  and the wonder of the unknown.  When I received these pictures from my friend Sharon they struck me as reflecting the human condition . . . mine included. 

unnamed-11Tree, speak to me

of essence

Speak to me.

unnamed-10reaching ever reaching

for the Source

unnamed-9clinging to the sky

soaring from the earth

unnamed-8growing visible invisible patterns

in time and space

unnamed-7clinging tenaciously

clinging by my roots 

 to a passage yet unknown

Thanks Sharon for sharing!

Becca Givens posts pictures of  trees she photographs on her blog Sunday Trees.  Becca has much more discipline than I do as it is every Sunday!  Here’s some of her “trees” Sunday Trees 03Sunday Trees 08Sunday Trees 26 in the Mayan Ruins

 

 

Hooked on the Haiku BRANCH – tu haiku for yu

 Rooted in God’s love

we are all leaves of one tree

and fruits of one branch

“A fundamental teaching of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith,  is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind, He says: “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.”  

“In this way His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh expressed the oneness of humankind whereas in all religious teachings of the past, the human world has been represented as divided into two parts, one known as the people of the Book of God or the pure tree and the other the people of infidelity and error or the evil tree.”

Photography by Becca Givens
Photography by Becca Givens

“The former were considered as belonging to the faithful and the others to the hosts of the irreligious and infidel; one part of humanity the recipients of divine mercy and the other the object of the wrath of their Creator.

His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh removed this by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity and this principle is specialized in His teachings for He has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity. Some are asleep; they need to be awakened. Some are ailing; they need to be healed. Some are immature as children; they need to be trained. But all are recipients of the bounty and bestowals of God.”

Golden Snub Nose
Golden Snub Nose

When you’re stuck in mud

need to climb to higher ground

any branch will do

 

Haiku Horizons – prompt BRANCH

On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea, Becca Givens 

The Baha’i World Faith

Four For 4-Love Flags

Pictures from The HeART of Spirituality & Creativity

Love flags representing the 4 kinds of love*

The first is the love that flows from God to man . . .  Through this love the world of being receives life. . . This love is the origin of all the love in the world of creation.”

Rachael, Hole in the middle =
Rachael

“The second is the love that flows from man to God. This is faith, attraction to the Divine. . . .This love is the origin of all philanthropy.”

Carol, #2 = #3 =
Carol, 

“The third is the love of God towards the Self or Identity of God This is the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His creation. . . . . . .Through one ray of this love all other loves exists.”

Katie, the elements from the first two combined
Katie

“The fourth is the love of man for man.  The love which exists between the hears of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. . . ..This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.”

Carol, Katie, Rachel The love for man flags to give to each other.
Carol, Katie, Rachel
The love for man flags were exchanged with each other

 

Katie, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -
Katie,
1 – Love that flows from God to man
2 – Love that flows from man to God
3 – Love of God towards the self
4 – Love of man for man
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Carol

1 – Love that flows from God to man
2 – Love that flows from man to God
3 – Love of God towards the self
4 – Love of man for man

Rachel 1 - 2- 3 -
Rachel

1 – Love that flows from God to man
2 – Love that flows from man to God
3 – Love of man for man

*From The Divine Art of Living, Baha’i Publishing, Wilmette, Illinois, 2006

Check out MORE Flags made on Week #1 – click here!:

Purple:  Truth'Pink:  Beauty - intertwined flame Green: birth & goodness by Jo Anne
Purple: Truth ‘Pink: Beauty – intertwined flame
Green: birth & goodness
by Jo Anne
Green: Plants & Life Orange: Monarch Butterfly Purple: Goodness, sparkly & shiney
Green: Plants & Life
Orange: Monarch Butterfly
Purple: Goodness, sparkly & shiny

Kindness to Animals

” . . . And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities … Therefore it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let them try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.” ‘Abdu’l-Baha

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi

Thanks Carolyn!

View from my deck

“You are living upon the great continent of the West, enjoying the perfect liberty, security and peace of this just government.  There is no cause for sorrow or unhappiness anywhere; every means of happiness and enjoyment is about you, for in this human world there is no greater blessing than liberty . . .

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  . . . You do not know.  I, who for forty years have been a prisoner, do know.  I do know the value and blessing of liberty.  For you have been and are now living in freedom, and you have no fear of anybody.  Is there a greater blessing than this? 

Freedom!  Liberty!  Security! 

These are the great bestowals of God .  .  . ”   

(`Abdu’l-Baha:  Promulgation of Universal Peace, Baha’i Faith)

Where Mermaids Fly & Pigs Swim

       It’s Heavenly

In a place nearby

By Carla Sonheim
By Carla Sonheim*

mermaids fly through the sky

and pigs swim, 

on a whim.

One day you’ll know

if you follow their flow.

Just keep your eye on the ground

your feet in the air

hold your nose with your toes

There’s time to spare.

Know there is more.

Wonderous sights in store

waaay beyond blue sky.

to meet your third eye

 So feel the waves of the breeze

waft through your knees

and the currents above

float you with love.

*Carla Sonheim’s sweet mermaid inspired me.  Carla always make me smile with her whimsical creatures.  I’ve taken several of her on-line classes and recommend them all.  Her how-to draw books replace the fear of art with whimsy and fun!

The Bahai faith teaches:

“It is good to laugh. Laughter is spiritual relaxation.”

Abdu’l-Baha

My First Art Class

Baha’i teaches: “We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient, but also with our own poor selves.” – Abdu’l-Baha

The first art class I ever take is first semester, freshman year in college 1983. I think it will be a fun way to get units.

Placing object in a scene
MOVING object in a scene
Rabbit pitcher with cigarette in pour-hole.  (parents smoked, it was 1963)
Rabbit pitcher with cigarette in pour-hole. (parents smoked, HEY! it was 1963)

We work on easels, drawing huge pictures on large sheets of paper.  The first class I discover that during breaks students walk around the room looking at each others drawings. I walk around too.  Their drawings are REALLY good, so good that I dread going to the second class and the first class is only half-way over.

Second class I get there early to claim my spot.  I position my easel at the very back of the room, in a corner, making it very difficult for anyone, including the teacher, to see my drawings.

Anatomy study - my own foot with a plastic rose
Anatomy study – my own foot holding a plastic rose (better than a cigarette)

The teacher walks around the room commenting on the students’ drawings.  He scrunches himself in the corner to see my drawings, says nothing and walks on.  The third class he pulls me aside and instructs me to get a large sketchbook and draw 50 pictures outside the class. (Turns out this is the ONLY instruction he ever gives me the entire semester)

The fourth class I discover I am the only student enrolled who isn’t an art major and has never taken an art class in their life.  Being straight out of high school and extremely conscientious it never crosses my mind to withdraw.  It probably crosses the art teacher’s mind.  To my relief the other students stop trying to see what I’m drawing.

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Mom’s kitchen, staged – slightly askew

P.S. I kept the sketch book.   I commuted to the University from home so all my drawings were things in or around my parent’s house.  I was always desperate trying to find things that were easy to draw. The 4 drawings on this page are some of my first 50 sketches.   That was the last drawing class I ever took at that University.

Drawing class

painful,  humbling

Sketch book – priceless

Haiku-Heights prompt - HEALTH
Haiku-Heights
prompt – HEALTH

and now drawing with words, my “Health” haiku:

creating from heart

pure emotion of being

soul singing out loud

Bridging my Haiku

Haiku-Heights prompt -BRIDGE
Haiku-Heights
prompt -BRIDGE

Thanks to all of you that PRIVATELY sent me e-mails asking if I’m ok after my last Haiku post.  (For those who just want a follow-up haiku, you’ll have to scroll down to the end . . .)

When I write or paint I  just plunk it down – whether it be words or paint.  I plunk rather quickly and only sometimes go back and tweak.  If it takes more than tweaking a word or two, a painted area or so I just delete, or discard. I call it the creative process.  It’s possibly ADD!

When I wrote the Bridge haiku, as per my usual, I just wrote – counting on my figures not to exceed the 17 syllables – of course!

I was too tired to take the time to sit back and reflect because I had been at my office all day, and evening, sitting and back reflecting on what all my clients were feeling!

Haiku #1 for me is just a fact:  Hey!  We are all just in the NOW, even if we keep trying to get here by meditating, reminding and unwinding it’s all in the now.

Silently waiting
straddling my future and past
knowing only now

Our human orientation of “waiting for something in the future – a trip, a cure, an event, a different feeling . . . or dwelling on past hurts, loves, hopes . . ..  Our thoughts rush ahead or dredge up “past nows” while we remain in the present nanosecond.

We can’t be anywhere else except in the now.space-243-flame-nebula_67015_600x450

Haiku #2:  This one’s a bit tougher.  I have had – have  – relationships in my life that are very important, very close and are no more – relatives, friends, colleagues, clients, pets, through death, separation and time.  All reside only  in my memory .  Memory is only “human bridge” I’m conscious of while on this earth.

Connections broken

Don’t talk to me of bridges

know I am alone

My belief is that being human is a striving for connection that comes from an inner longing for connection to pure, “unconditional” love.  A yearning so deep that it drives us to behaviours and choices that can create pain which then creates more yearning (and fear of loss).  Not sure if I’m making sense?

It’s deeper for me than an intellectual understanding.  It generates from My Baha’i belief is that our human journey is about loss and detachment.  Detachment, disconnection, from earthly “things”, people, places, labels, longings and experience connection to God’s unconditional love.

autism-cause-1Un-Haiku #3:

Connections broken

Don’t talk to me of bridges

know I am alone

with God.

Nothing more or less

Not for me to understand

just believe

It’s called faith

Haiku #4: Can’t say that my faith is so deep it totally sustains me.  It doesn’t.

I question, I cry

longing for the elusive,

a bridge to somewhere.

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Mother’s Day is Every Day

Striving to love us

The story of mothering

Each in their own way

Scan 2
My Mother

When I was about 10 I remember thinking:

My mother has a flat rear end.  (Mine wasn’t flat . . . yet.)

When I was about 15 I remember thinking:

My mother is really old.

When I was about 20 I remember thinking:

I don’t REALLY need my Mother anymore.

When I was about 30 I remember thinking:

I wonder what Mom would do?

When I was about 40 I remember thinking:

I’m becoming my Mother.

When I was about 50 I remember thinking:

I never told her I loved her enough.

When I was about 60 I remember thinking:

I miss her.

“For mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith of their little ones.”  Baha’i

Haiku-Heights prompt -STORY
Haiku-Heights
prompt – STORY

Faint of Heart Need Not Apply

Human Condition

Faint of heart need not apply 

Varied positions

Picture, emerging head, DCP_8561Been a hard couple of weeks, maybe months, but who’s counting  . . .  won’t go into the gory details . . .  When I complained about aches and pains, my loss of energy and motivation to my Baha’i “guide”, Jim, his response was:

“Being human and/or getting old is not for the faint of heart…….”

It made me think (There she goes again . . . “thinking”): Very few of us get out of this condition called human without pain, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional;  I have to accept (perhaps not like) that my life, all life, is ultimately about loss.

Starting from birth and losing the comfort of our mother’s womb, we are on a continual, unremitting passage of loss.  Some of the loss is welcome and some not.

Perhaps what is important is less about the actual loss and more about how we “work”  it.  

(But right now I’m too exhausted to work anything . . .)

Haiku-Heights open prompt
Haiku-Heights
open prompt

 

Happy New Year! Happy Naw-Ruz!

A wonderful Persian client just brought me a huge plate of deeeeelicious cookies.  I’d include a picture but I ate them.  

The cookies were a gift in observation of  Naw-Ruz.

Like the ancient Persian New Year, which is also called Naw-Ruz, the Baha’i New Year, too,  occurs on 

March 21, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Drawing inspiration from the Baha’i Writings, Carlos Santana, from his multi-Grammy award-winning album “Supernatural” sings “Primavera” (“Spring”):

“Similar to Thanksgiving in the United States, everyone joins in regardless of affiliation, a greater ideal unites across ideological lines and families spend time together.  Naw-Ruz is the only holiday celebrated by all Persians, of every religious background, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Baha’i or of no religion.”

Naw-Ruz is also a cultural holiday in India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

 This beginning of spring portends a spiritual promise:

“…the spiritual bounty and springtime of God quicken the world of humanity with a new animus and vivification.

All the virtues which have been deposited and potential in human hearts are being revealed from that Reality as flowers and blossoms from divine gardens.

It is a day of joy, a time of happiness, a period of spiritual growth.

I beg of God that this divine spiritual civilization may have the fullest impression and effect upon you.

May you become as growing plants.

May the trees of your hearts bring forth new leaves and variegated blossoms.

May ideal fruits appear from them in order that the world of humanity, which has grown and developed in material civilization, may be quickened in the bringing forth of spiritual ideals.” Baha’i Writings,

A lovely demonstration of the universal appeal of this holiday is seen in this video clip from families all over the world wishing Happy Naw-Ruz!:

Just as Santana sings those words about Spring, inspired by the promise of a new era, and a divine springtime, the Naw-Ruz holiday is building a growing universal appeal.  

Happy New Year!

 

42,500 Acts of Kindness Needed

“. . . do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections.”*

Sense the breeze of love

soothing every beating heart 

Connected as one

Haiku-Heights prompt - BREEZE
prompt – BREEZE

My father, the oldest of 5 children, was born in England where his father and pregnant mother fled to from Poland.  The story of why and how has died with all my relatives.

No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha'i faith
No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha’i faith

The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

“THIRTEEN years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.””What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.””The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.”

“. . . Dr. Megargee said he expected to find perhaps 7,000 Nazi camps and ghettos, based on postwar estimates. But the numbers kept climbing — first to 11,500, then 20,000, then 30,000, and now 42,500.

“The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.”

“As Germany invaded and began occupying European neighbors, the use of camps and ghettos was expanded to confine and sometimes kill not only Jews but also homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe. The camps and ghettos varied enormously in their mission, organization and size, depending on the Nazis’ needs, the researchers have found.”

No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha'i faith
No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha’i faith

42,500 acts of kindness is a start – a tiny, symbolic start,

so that hatred and bigotry may end.

*“Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy.”
“Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls. He created them, trains and provides for them, endows them with capacity and life, sight and hearing; therefore, they are the signs of His grandeur. You must love and be kind to everybody, care for the poor, protect the weak, heal the sick, teach and educate the ignorant.” 
― Abdu’l-Bahá
To read the entire article click on the title or here: www.nytimes.com
 

Spirituality According to Max, A work in progress

“Therefore I say that man must travel in the way of God. Day by day he must endeavor to become better . . .”*

When I drive my car into the garage to park I align my right headlight on Max’s right paw.  That leaves just enough room for me to get out on the right side and my husband’s car to get in on the left side. But  I’m ahead of myself . . .

We live in a small 3 bedroom home – The bedroom I use for my home office  has glass french doors that open to the hall way.

I looked everywhere for a screen to put up blocking the view into the room for when guests stayed.  It had to be 4 panels wide and extra high for privacy.  My father would tackle anything.  So years before we adopted Max, Dad made the screen to my specifications (with the exception of  the frame’s legs not being quite the same height and needing a bit of propping.

The screen’s frame stayed folded up in the garage for many years until I decided to cover it with canvas.  It stayed folded up in the garage for several more  years until I decided to paint Max’s picture on it.

It stayed folded up in the garage for several more years until I lightly penciled in (which you can’t see in the pictures) some corrections to his anatomy, his fluffy facial hair, and planned to create some interest around the outside edge.  There it stayed folded up in the garage.

A few months ago I drive in to find the unfinished screen blocking the view of  garage “stuff”.  My husband had been decorating.  At first, I’m disturbed. Max lost all his fluffy facial & body hair before he passed.  The picture I’d not finished was a reminder of the last painful month of Max’s life.

Now it turns out my husband is a great decorator, who knew.  When I drive in or drive out I can smile at the silly picture I started years ago.

I’ve decided not to “finish” the screen painting – It will remain a work in progress, just like Max, to remind me every time I travel, driving in and driving out, we are all eternal works in progress.

*The full Baha’i quote:

“Therefore I say that man must travel in the way of God. Day by day he must endeavor to become better, his belief must increase and become firmer, his good qualities and his turning to God must be greater, the fire of his love must flame more brightly; then day by day he will make progress, for to stop advancing is the means of going back. The bird when he flies soars ever higher and higher, for as soon as he stops flying he will come down. Every day, in the morning”. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Journey of the Soul

If you missed the chapters I’ve written to date about Max here are the links (they need to be read in order):

Prologue & Epilogue
Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule
Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick
Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven
Chapter 4 – Unleashed
Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel
Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control
Chapter 7 – Love has No Bounds
 

With Liberty and Justice for All

images-4One of the things I continually give thanks for is having been born in The United States of America.  Today, watching the peaceful exchange of power, the hallmark and legacy of every United States of America Presidential inauguration, was moving.  Listening to the President’s words reinforced many of my beliefs.  The following passage to me was the heart:

That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time.” President Barack Obama, Inaugural  Address, 2013,

Action for me is the heart.  And to pump blood through the heart of action, no matter our 15226939-medical-abstract-backgrounds-with-human-3d-rendered-heartcountry of birth, political persuasion, belief, color or creed, each and every human on this earth need base their actions on The Golden Rule.  It’s that simple:

“The Golden Rule”

The Golden Rule originates in a well-known Torah verse (Hebrew: “ואהבת לרעך כמוך”):

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. —Leviticus 19:18

Baha’i:  Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship . . . So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. Baha’u’llah, Teachings on Spiritual Reality

ChristianityAll things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.  Matthew 7:12

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 31:a 

Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. Mahabharata 5:1517 

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah 

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana Varga 5:18

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you. Analects 15:23 

Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5).


Jainism: Killing a living being is killing one’s own self; showing compassion to a living being is showing compassion to oneself. He who desires his own good, should avoid causing any harm to a living being. Suman Suttam , verse 151

 

A Child’s Prayer

“O Thou Kind Lord! I am a little child, exalt me by admitting me to the kingdom.  I am earthly, make me heavenly; I am of the world below, let me belong to the realm above; gloomy, suffer me to become radiant; material, make me spiritual, and grant that I may manifest Thine infinite bounties.  Thou art the Powerful, the All-Loving.”

Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i

Spirituality According to Max, Chapter 7 – LOVE Has No Bounds

“Be not content in showing friendship in words alone.
Let your heart burn with loving-kindness for all who cross your path.”
Baha’u’llah, Baha’i
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 

If you missed previous chapters here are the links (they do need to be read in sequence to understand the thread):

Prologue & Epilogue
Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule
Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick
Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven
Chapter 4 – Unleashed
Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel
Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control
Chapter 7 – Love has No Bounds

Dad is grinning, despite himself, as Max licks him on any and every part of his body that is accessible. All this is happening ON the couch

My Dad never comfortable with outward displays of loving emotion, even from a dog, starts a wrestling match.  Max is more than up for the challenge.  Jumping on Dad over and over as  Dad pushes him back over and over.  With every jump and every push Max’s eyes grow bigger and bigger . . . a wild look that I can’t describe.  “Dad, Stop it!”  Max  gets wilder and wilder . . . his eyes get bigger and bigger.   “You’re riling him up”.  My sweet little angel looks possessed.  I will only see this look in Max’s eyes as long as my Dad is alive.  They have a primitive bond, a bit unnerving, but a special bond.

Dad finally stops, he’s 92 and no match for Max, “You picked a good one.”

Outwardly I smile. Inwardly I feel triumphant.

My Max loves his new family.  My brother Rick visits. Max’s very first “encounter” with Rick he jumps on the couch smothering Rick’s ear, inside and out, with licks of love.  Rick tries to dodge,  unsuccessfully, Max’s attentions  laughing so hard it brings tears . . . which of course, eggs Max on even more.

Max flagrantly disregards generations of controlled outward displays of affection.  He disregards etiquette and throws pretence away.  He licks my husband, he licks my Dad, he licks my brother, he licks me with unbridled loving passion. I’m sad that Mom, having passed on 4 years prior, didn’t get her share of all this public display of affection.  Max would have licked and loved her too.

Max’s first outing since coming home from the shelter is taking Dad to the grocery market.  Dad never spends much time shopping so this is a perfect opportunity for a short car ride.  Max is more than eager to go. When the car starts he begins squealing, and I do mean squealing, with delight. Non-stop squealing in delight.

I attempt to wait with Max in the car while Dad shops. Max has other ideas.  In self-defense, we take a little spin in the parking lot.  Max in the lead, sniffing, zig-zagging, choking  while I, hang on for dear life.  Abruptly he comes to a dead stop in front of the supermarket clerk who’s  corralling shopping carts.  “What a cute dog, what is he?”, the clerk bends down to pet Max, who without hesitation  exuberantly licks him on his face, his arms, his neck.  The clerk breaks out in delighted laughter.

My world simultaneously crashes and soars.   It not just me, not just my family . . . MAX LOVES EVERYONE.

This is a dog who now has a proper name that reflects his personality – distinct but cute, short but sweet, unique, memorable, independent,  a gourmand not a gourmet  . . .  I add indiscriminate lover to the list.

 

Spirituality According to Max, chapter 5 – Our Little Angel

“The meaning of ‘angels’ is the confirmations of God and His celestial powers. Likewise angels are blessed beings who have severed all ties with this nether world, have been released from the chains of self and the desires of the flesh, and anchored their hearts to the heavenly realms of the Lord. These are of the Kingdom, heavenly; these are of God, spiritual; these are revealers of God’s abounding grace; these are dawning-points of His spiritual bestowals.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha – Baha’i)

max3

If you missed previous chapters here are the links (which need to be read in order to follow the story line):

Prologue & Epilogue

Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule

Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick

Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven

Chapter 4 – Unleashed

“We are truly blessed” I tell my Husband.  He hasn’t peed in the house once.  He has a great appetite and look how cute he is!”  Our little angel adoringly looks up at me  with big brown eyes. My husband is examining the gouged edge of the cover protecting the couch from doggie hair.  “There are no scraps of material anywhere.  Can you believe he swallowed it?.  Maybe we should take him to the vet?”

I look up at my husband trying to appear not the least bit concerned, ” He’s just a bit anxious. OF COURSE he would chew it up.  If you were the one who was rescued an hour before you were to die only to be imprisoned in a horrible enclosure without any companionship and now find yourself in strange surroundings, you would do the same.”  My husband looks at me like I’m nuts. Homer looks at me lovingly, nudging my hand for more petting.  (It’s obvious that human men just don’t get it).

The bigger more pressing issue is doing something about that name.  HOMER!  It’s stressing me out to think he has a name that simply doesn’t fit his personality.  This is my priority right now, NOT an old throw cover.

“Call him Butchie”, suggests my Dad. “That was the name of my first dog.”  “Dad, that has been the name of every dog you have ever had. We’re not calling him Butchie. Look at that sweet little angelic face.  Butchie is for a bulldog.”  My Dad looks at me like I’m nuts.

This is a dog who deserves a proper name that reflects his personality – distinct but cute, short but sweet, unique but memorable, independent but loving – a doggie name?  a human name?

I get a baby book of names.  I read the dictionary of names.  I poll friends, family, colleagues.  I ask strangers on the street what their dog’s name is.  I call out different names to see what he might respond to.  He tilts his head and looks angelically at me with big brown eyes at every name I try.  He’s so cute.

“Take a look at this,” my husband waves the gouged edges of our bed comforter at me.  “There are no scraps of material anywhere.  Can you believe he’s eaten it?”

Just remember that we are so blessed.  He hasn’t peed in the house once.  He has a great appetite and look how cute he is!”  My little angel proceeds to lick my face, my arms my neck in a display of doggie love.

 (Maybe Dad is right. There has been a lot of fabric “butchered” in his first week home.)

 

Spirituality According to Max – Prologue & Epilogue and a haiku

Max stormed into life!

Then silently passing on

leaf drifting in air

prompt, storm

 *     *     *

To all my haiku friends who may not know of Max’s passing

at the bottom are the posts of Max’s story.

*   *   *

Max, Prologue & Epilogue

” . . . it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. “ Bahá’í World Faith—Selected Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 

Max, 1968 – 2012

I mourn the passing from my life of this incredible lively, quirky and wonderful spirit.  Max was a love – stubborn, incredibly stubborn, but a love.

This December 2012,  he would have been 14 years old.  He was about 10 months old when he adopted us 1998. In his last week in both appearance and behaviour he wasn’t “Max”.

Before our eyes Max lost his hair, his pep, energy, stubbornness and his bearings.  He stopped greeting us at the door, giving hundreds of loving licks, he became completely disoriented, standing in space, staring at some unknowable sight, unable to move forward, backward or lie down.  Max’s body was here, his spirit was lost.

We knew without question it was time,  on November 26, 2012,  to release him

I have turned even more to the Baha’i spiritual teachings and prayer to stay as graceful and loving as possible through my tears  and  rely on Max’s loving, quirky spirit to help me keep perspective.

I began writing a series of remembrances days before we euthanized him, unconsciously knowing he had not many days to live here on earth.   I want to share a bit of Max and my journey  together.  If you choose to accompany us on this spiritual path Max & I will be honored.

Here are the links to the chapters I have posted to date.  They are a bit wacky,  just like Max!  Stay tuned for more . . .

Links (they do need to be read in order to follow the story thread):
Prologue & Epilogue
Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule
Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick
Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven
Chapter 4 – Unleashed
Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel
Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control
Chapter 7 – Love has no Bounds
 

 

 

A Love Letter to M.M.

“Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God.”  Abdu’l-Baha,  Bahai quotes        

 Years ago you named me “judyJudith” bridging in one word the essence of my being – the serious and the silly, the public and the private, the secular and the spiritual.  I intuitively embraced the name you gave me as part of my cyber-space identity, half tongue in cheek, and half knowing you had identified the truth.

Yesterday morning, before my husband and I put Max to rest, there you are in my office and there you are, again, helping bring clarity to who I am and what I do.

It’s no one’s business what specific issues we were addressing.  But I found myself saying . . .amidst ALL the things I say (for the few billions of you who have never been a client of mine, I “tend” to talk a lot and give my opinion a lot – violating all the therapist training I’ve had – another story) . . . amidst all the things I said was what I needed to hear undoubtedly more than you.

We talked about a dream. – where a once beautiful and symbolic piece of jewelry broke into pieces and trying, trying, trying  to glue them back together and all attempts failed . . . in the dream.
I vaguely and clearly remember (yesterday was a vague haze of total clarity) saying to you that for all of us, when we stop struggling to put back together what once was we can submit to what is.  This the now moment where we can detach from the fantasy, the futile dream of what “SHOULD be, COULD be.  This  is the moment where detachment opens us up freeing our mind, freeing our spirit.  This is the moment, embracing the truth of what is and experiencing the pain of grief, we move on.  This is the fleeting moment we can embrace God.
In that very moment I hear my  truth –  Max’s little body was broken and his spirit needed to be set free.
A LONG time ago another client gave me a moment of truth. I no longer remember details of the session.  I DO remember thinking I was brilliant, on the mark with lazer like focus on exactly what that client needed to hear.
The following week she came in with a huge smile announcing that our last session together was a turning point for her and what I said had stayed with her all week.  Beaming inwardly  (I was trained that a “professional” therapist never outwardly shares their own feelings, experiences or reactions – keep a blank slate at all times), I reply, “Yes, tell me about it” (that’s another thing I learned in training).
My brain turning to a pile of ego-less mush as she recounted something I didn’t remember saying, some throw away words that were insignificant to what I thought was important.
My wonderful M.M., whatever it is that puts the smile on your face are your jewels.  I have no idea what those look like.  I only know that they are yours and yours alone, I’ve not given them to you.
I also know yesterday you gave me a priceless gem.  Thank you.
with eternal love,
judyJudith
P.S. I’m still charging for the session.  Max would want that . . .
 

Max, Prologue & Epilogue

” . . . it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. 

Max, 1968 – 2012

I mourn the passing from my life of this incredible lively, quirky and wonderful spirit.  Max was a love – stubborn, incredibly stubborn, but a love.

December 2012,  he would have been 14 years old.  He was about 10 months old when he adopted us 1998. In his last week in both appearance and behaviour he wasn’t “Max”.

Before our eyes Max lost his hair, his pep, energy, stubbornness and his bearings.  He stopped greeting us at the door, giving hundreds of loving licks, he became completely disoriented, standing in space, starring at some unknowable sight, unable to move forward, backward or lie down.  Max’s body was here, his spirit was lost.  

We knew without question it was time,  on November 26, 2012,  to release him

I have turned even more to the Baha’i spiritual teachings and prayer to stay as graceful and loving as possible through my tears  and  rely on Max’s spirit to help me keep perspective.

I began writing this series of remembrances days before we euthanized him, unconsciously knowing he had not many days to live here on earth.   I want to share a bit of Max and my journey  together.  If you choose to accompany us on this spiritual path Max & I will be honored.

MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANIMALS

 

“It is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities … Therefore it is essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let them try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.” 

Bahá’í World Faith—Selected Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 

Next, Chapter 1 – 

How Max picked me for adoption

 

Passing Souls

I was told by my Baha’i spiritual guide that all souls acknowledge each other in passing whether we literally greet one another or not.

 That notion has brought me incredible pleasure.  So wherever I go – to the market, post-office, a walk down the block – when I pass a stranger I smile knowing that my soul is saying “hello” to their soul.  Sometimes the strangers smile back.

In silence we touch

Strangers passing without words

soul to soul to soul.

Haiku-Heights

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
Mother Teresa

Listen to the Children Sing Out “ARISE” TOGETHER!

Watch the music video for the first single, ‘Arise’, a cute and colourful piece of Congolese-pop which features four of the youngest members of the group.

As the war in the east of Congo worsened in 2008, Pembe Lero decided to show the world that his country was about more than just poverty and bloodshed, by forming Shimama.

In a tiny recording studio in one of the slum areas of the capital city, relying on faltering electricity from a generator, Pembe started co-producing 16 tracks for a new English-language children’s album, Arise.

Shimama actually means ‘arise’ or ‘stand up’ in Swahili,” said Lero, “and that’s what we’re asking kids around the world to do.

” . . . after nearly two decades of war and lawlessness, starvation and widespread disease.“It’s a message of empowerment for children coming out of the Congo, and that’s the most important thing for me because the only thing the media seems to focus on from here is war and poverty!”

“The Congo is about so much more than that and music is one place we can start to show it. We’ve always been famous for our sounds.”

After returning from working in development in Afghanistan, Lero decided to rally together young professional musicians and singers, create a music label called Blackrose, find marketers to build a website to sell the music to the world and bring in trainers to teach the group how to create their own music videos.

Lero is ecstatic that after one year of hard work and many challenges, Shimama’s debut album, Arise, is ready to be launched world-wide.

“You’ve got to understand that in the Congo there isn’t even a functioning postal system,” said Lero, laughing. “We can’t send out the CDs from here, we have to do it from Atlanta in the USA.”

But despite all the challenges, the internet has given us this window to the world, and hopefully the world will look in and finally start to see something different about this place.'”

For enquiries or to order CDs, contact Pembe at shimamamusic@gmail.com

Excerpted from full article at: Shimama: Empowering Music from the Congo, Baha’i Blog

“Gumping” Through 2011

Forrest: “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama.

For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going”.

At the end of every year I find myself at another ocean, re-viewing my own “run” . . .

2011 has been an eventful year — Tallulah was falsely blamed for my light-headedness, chest pain.  That went on for about 3 months.  I was visited by “mysterious visitors” that kept me up all night coughing.  That went on for about 6 months. (recurs periodically but still don’t know why).  Couldn’t run without pain for about 6 months. (Finally gave in and had a cortisone shot).

I worked 7 days a week.  Every week I figured since I already had worked 5 I might as well work two more.

Consequently I got fibro fogged and messed up my appointments – double booking or forgetting to write down the right time or writing the right time on the wrong day …

Those are the things that went wrong.  What went right?  I’m sure there was a lot – I just don’t remember where I wrote them down.

Not quite sure what I’m suppose to learn from 2011 . . . yet.  With years of hindsight I figured out that having fibromyalgia gives me greater compassion; Having  heart problems reminds me to wake up everyday with a  loving heart;  My study of Baha’i removed my fears and gave me faith and  a bit of wisdom.

I can hear my friends saying it was time to apply the compassion, love and wisdom to myself and stop running.

Hey, Forrest, pass me the box of chocolates . . .

P.S.  In case you didn’t notice, I have been lying on the beach without a computer for the last several days!


What Stuff do you Need? What Stuff do you Want?

Needs and wants are perhaps even more significant a topic at this time of year.  Every year I am faced with getting my husband both birthday and Christmas presents.  This strains my brain to figure out what he “wants” or “needs”.

Gifts of need or want?

never knowing what to buy

A strain on my brain

Then yesterday I received this comment from a “linkedin” friend:

“You seem like a lady who has everything?  

I wonder…what do you want for
Christmas?”

At first, I wondered what I had said in a post or comment to give the impression that I had everything?

Humph, All I want is water

Then I wondered if I really take the time to think about the distinction between what I need and what I want.

Then I thought about Ida who has to weigh this question daily since she  is, out of necessity,  forced to survive on the bare minimum.

Susan Gammage wrote an excellent post on the topic.  It’s too long to repost but here’s how it starts:

“Recently I was listening to a podcast on our relationship to money by my favorite minister, Jeremy McClung of the Muskoka Community Church, which left me asking the question:  When is enough, enough?  This is an important question to ask especially at this season of excess we call Christmas.”
“In his talk, Jeremy handed out index cards and asked us to write “stuff I have” on one side and to write “stuff I want” on the other.  We were to make a detailed list of everything we own (land, cars, houses, clothes, electronics, appliances, toys etc)”.
“What surprised me was how much was on my “want” side!  Even though I have everything I need, and more, the list of what I wanted was longer than the list of what I owned.  This was profound!  I urge you to take out a sheet of paper right now and do this exercise for yourself.”
“My income comes from a small disability pension, supplemented by some paid work, and I live in a small one bedroom apartment in a “geared to income” building.  Some people look at my lifestyle and long for me to be better off financially, and sometimes I wonder if they’re right.  
My well-wishers see the transformative path I’ve been on for the past couple of decades, and how far I’ve come in ridding myself of the anxiety and depression that robbed me of my life, and they think it’s time for me to get back into the “real world” and get paid for all the work I do.

Susan citing the following REALLY got my attention:

If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of:

  • 57 Asians
    21 Europeans
    14 Americans (North, Central and South)
    8 Africans
  • There would be:
    52 women and 48 men
    30 Caucasians and 70 non-Caucasians
    30 Christians and 70 non-Christians
  • Humph, Zero fish?
  • In addition:
    6 people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA
    80 would live in poverty
    70 would be illiterate
    50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
    1 would be dying
    1 would be being born
    1 would own a computer
    1 (yes, only one) would have a university degree

    Humph, One Blobfish left high and dry

      If we looked at the world in this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious.     But, consider again the following…

  • If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people
  • If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion (that’s right) people.
  • If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world’s population.
  • If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet and a few coins in your purse, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world.
  • If your parents are still alive and still married, you’re a rare individual.
  • If you’re reading this message, you’re extremely lucky, because you don’t comprise one of those 2 billion people who still can’t read.    (source unknown: http://www.movebeyond.net/417/know-no-limits/quote/lightening-in-a-jar/

Dear Linkedin Friend,  Thank you for asking.

My greedy little ego will probably never be satisfied.

My soul tells me I have everything I need. 

http://susangammage.com/when-is-enough-enough-a-bahai-perspective/comment-page-1#comment-1298

Humph, All I need is water.

Is Spirituality Connected to Pain and Suffering for You?

Walking with Max we passed a house decorated with hundreds of lights, candy canes and Charlie Brown Characters with huge stacks of gifts.  On the gate was a tiny sign that read “Happy Birthday Jesus”.

How and what, I wondered, did this family celebrate.  Many of my clients experience more pain, much suffering, emotional and physical, during the holidays than almost any other time of year.

The spiritual is lost in the longing for what they perceive is missing in their lives – that elusive dream or fantasy of how it should be.

I am NOT minimizing the loss experienced, remembering those who have died or left.  I have experienced the emotional “anniversary” “pain” of the death of loved ones. I am referring to the yearning for the picture in our mind of how we think it should be and the belief that “everyone else” is having that “Hallmark experience”.

Then I read a timely post from Carol D. Marsh at Chronic Pain and Spirituality Her blog is about spirituality, not religion.  As she says, “. . .pain and suffering are universal and so I take a universal approach”.  

I also believe that physical and emotional are so interrelated that whatever the origin of the pain, of the suffering Carol’s post applies.

Here’s an excerpt.   Tell me what YOU think:

“. . .  It’s a simple as this: when I am in pain, I do not care for theological arguments or doctrinal matters, I care about relieving, managing and living with the pain.
 
“. . . Here is how I see it: pain is the migraine – stabbing, pounding – and is physical; suffering is the contortions – worry, fear, despair – and is mental.
 
I have little or no control over migraine pain (behind that statement, there is a long saga of therapies tried, drugs taken, and alternative medicine explored), and that can lead to a sense of helplessness that is truly depressing. So there is something hopeful, something liberating in the knowledge that there is one area in which I have control: how I relate to the pain, or, how my mind thinks about it.
 
It’s the ancient Buddhist saying, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. For those of us with chronic pain, the physical discomfort is inevitable. We are trying everything we can to alleviate it, and until something works for us, the hopeful news is we do not have to resign ourselves to being victims of it.
 
It is in our ability to choose to leave the egoic mind and turn toward Being that we become most fully and wonderfully human. Here we find what Jesus called, “the peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) And here is where I have found my most effective and healing pain management practice, in a calm of body and tranquility of mind that somehow miraculously reduces in significance the pain of my body, while eliminating the suffering of my mind.
 
” . . . Relieving the mind of thinking and emoting is about connecting to one’s essential Being. This is the journey to Wholeness that must take into account and include our body with its pain and our mind with its suffering. Perhaps that is the hidden blessing in chronic pain: it makes impossible the human tendency to split body and mind, thereby opening the door to our spirituality.”   Carol D. Marsh 
 

To read Carol’s post in it’s entirety click here: 

Chronic Pain and Spirituality 

“Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit…”
(Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 50)


Before you die, follow your heart with spirit

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart”.    Steve Jobs, Stanford, 2005

Liberty of Life

You are already naked

to follow your heart

Elixir of Death

 The powder that dries all wounds

return back to God

http://Haiku-Heights.blogspot.com

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t even hear the word death without bursting into tears,into painful, bone marrow deep fear.  My father told me over and over as a child that when we die we are nothing.  Our bodies shrivel into powder and we are nothing.  I would lie awake agonizing over that impossible thought; That one day I would perish into a blackness so profound that I would no longer exist.

He also said that energy was never lost, it only changed form.  I was too young to notice the discrepancy between his view of death and his view of life.

I no longer burst into tears.  I no longer believe that we will not exist beyond this human life.  It’s only taken about 60 years for me to embrace the scientific fact that matter never is lost, and the spiritual belief that the human spirit is never lost, that our souls simply transform as we grow spiritually, spiraling higher and higher, closer and closer to God.

Know thou that every hearing ear, if kept pure and undefiled, must, at all times and from every direction, hearken to the voice that uttereth these holy words: “Verily, we are God’s, and to Him shall we return.”
 
The mysteries of man’s physical death and of his return have not been divulged, and still remain unread. By the righteousness of God! Were they to be revealed, they would evoke such fear and sorrow that some would perish, while others would be so filled with gladness as to wish for death, and beseech, with unceasing longing, the one true God–exalted be His glory–to hasten their end. …
    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-82.html

http://Haiku-Heights.blogspot.com

The Perfect Healing: Love, Peace & Prayer!

   My post yesterday  https://judithwesterfield.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/unrequited-love/ about how looking at art creates the same neurochemistry as love and a post several months ago about making art/crafts creates the same neurochemistry as calm merged when I read Cloe Filson’s blog. 

Cloe is an artist, a “real life artist” and a Baha’i.

When I saw how Cloe’s illustrated her Baha’i prayer-book I had a aha moment! What a perfect combination:  Love, Peace & Prayer.

Take a look at how Cloe combines all three in this tiny sample of Cloe’s two posts which you can access in the links below

reallifeartist.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/bahai-prayer-book-illustration-project-1/

reallifeartist.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/bahai-prayer-book-illustration-project-part-2/

Cloe Filson’s Baha’i Prayer Book art

“I’m a Baha’i. Every Baha’i prays at least once a day, but all are welcome to do so as much as they feel inclined, sometimes by oneself and sometimes with others. Baha’is think of prayer as conversation with God, and God as the unknowable essence.”

“Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote prayers to help His followers articulate the needs and longings of their souls, though we are also free to use our own words. Baha’is also meditate in whatever way they choose.”

“I myself pray to align and realign myself with the circumstances of my life and the general thrust of the universe. I also pray because Bahá’u’llah, Prophet-Founder of my faith, instructed His followers to do so each day.”

“One year, at camp, my friend Samuel and I came up with the idea of adding some illustration to our prayer books; we figured that, since prayer is a beautiful thing, we might benefit from using beautified prayer books. It has been an ongoing project, at least for me, ever since. Every now and then, I do another page or two.”‘ Cloe Filson, RealLifeArtist


There’s a lot more illustrations on Cloe’s blog of how she illustrated her Baha’i Prayer Book.

Stick to it!

Galaktoboureko

Having lived, loved and eaten my way thru Greece for almost 3 years in my 20’s and studying Baha’i in my 60’s Cloe’s poem caught my attention.  

It brought back memories and my favorite Greek pastry Galactoboureko.  Layers of filo dough that sandwich a most deeeeeeeeeeeeelicious custard and all of it infused with a honey syrup.  I’ve never been able to find a restaurant in the USA that makes it like I remember.

Of course I was in my 20’s when everything was new, delicious and I had a memory.

God Loves Baklava

by Chloë Filson, 26. Halifax, NS, Canada. Poet and generally silly person.

http://reallifeartist.wordpress.com/

Baha’i, This faith of ours is a little like:

Baklava—
Not dull, dour or dry.
Here’s why:
It’s not a dessert like your mom used to make
(It isn’t much like chocolate cake
or pie)
But you still might try….

A finger gets sticky, then a finger and a thumb,

Baklava

And to help these two, another must come.
And when you try to lick away the honey—
It’s funny—
Your lips just get sticky. Tricky!

You may never be able to touch anything again!
Everything will stickify.
You are the Midas of syrup and pistachio crumbs.
Here it comes!

So don’t just get your hands “dirty”,
Teaching,
Serving.
Get them sticky.

http://reallifeartist.wordpress.com/

Chloë Filson is a self described jill-of-all-arts with a cheery disposition. She is a writer and a poet, who occasionally does calligraphy and illustration work. She also likes to sing in choirs. Chloë spent almost two years doing research and volunteering at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel. She currently works as an editor for Edit Owl and lives in Halifax, Canada. Check out some of Chloë’s creative work.

            Baklava Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
  • 1 pound chopped nuts
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey
 Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
  3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
  4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

God Loves Baklava. He created Galactoboureko!

“Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.”—–’Abdu’l-Bahá

This is a VERY small representation of all who have crossed my path

with loving kindness this past year.

To all of you I don’t have pictures of I am honored to be a part of your life.

With love always,

Judy

Giving Gratitude

It’s November in Southern California where flowers are confused and think it’s spring.

What a day!  Cool, crisp, slight wind, clear blue sky.  Went on my daily prayer walk with Max – my way of celebrating God,  giving gratitude and Max’s way of celebrating being a dog.

Giving gratitude always includes Jim.  When I was at a crossroads,  Jim was heaven-sent.  He  taught me about Baha’i.  It was as if my eyes opened to a world I had always known and believed:

Jim, my eternal appreciation and thankfulness for Your guidance, gifts of confirmation and Your love. You’ve opened my heart, ignited my mind and elevated my soul.

with Love,

Judy

P.S.  from Max who wants you to know he’s eternally grateful for the prayer walks!