Posts tagged: America

Summer So Far

Ye gods! I just realized that the last time I posted on my blog was MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND!

I am a blog loser.

Well, I won’t beat myself up too much. It’s been a busy summer. I hit the ground running in June when my boys wrapped up their school year, and I traveled to Pennsylvania to teach a Tarot workshop for my good friend Gloria at her beautiful Spirit Education Center and Sanctuary. When I came home, I was ready to party with my theatre friends to celebrate the end of another successful community theatre season here in Cincinnati. By that time, it was July, and I celebrated my birthday with good friends in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a glimpse of the festivities:

Yummy cake batter-flavored martinis created by my friend Jonathan. And  my husband baked a yellow cake with homemade caramel icing. I know, you’re jealous!

Once my birthday was over, it was time to pack and head to beautiful Lily Dale, New York to teach some workshops. I never tire of walking the lovely grounds there, working for Spirit at the outdoor message services, and meeting new people to share ideas and experiences. If you are at all interested in metaphysics, you should definitely plan a trip to Lily Dale for a future summer holiday. Here are some photos that might capture your interest:

The welcoming gate sign at the entrance to Lily Dale.

The Lily Dale Auditorium, where many famous speakers and mediums have addressed crowds.

The lovely Healing Temple, a space filled with amazing peaceful healing vibrations.

A gorgeous view of the lake from the Lily Dale grounds.

One of the gorgeous Victorian homes on the grounds. Need a new place to live?

While in Lily Dale, I also got to meet up with one of my best buddies, my dear friend, fellow author Char Chaffin. Without Char, my novel Merlyn’s Raven would not have seen the light of day. Here we are together for breakfast:

Photo taken by Char’s wonderful husband, Don, who was good enough to share his wife with me that morning. 

My workshops were well-received, and I truly enjoyed my time at Lily Dale. Coming home just last week, I celebrated my 22nd wedding anniversary with my husband. And now I realize it’s time to get back in the swing of things here at home. Only a few more weeks of summer remain until my boys go back to school. Time moves so fast, and we are left with our jaws hanging open, saying, “When did that happen?”

I have quite a few more things on my plate this summer. I am offering a one-day Tarot class on Saturday, August 4 at my office. I am starting a 6-week Mediumship Development class for beginners on Wednesday, August 8. On Saturday, August 18, I will go to Camp Chesterfield in Indiana to teach a 3-hour workshop on Protection. Lexington, Kentucky is my last destination of the summer, when I travel to Patti Starr’s Mystical Paranormal Fair on Saturday, August 25 for a book signing and gallery-style message event. Details for all of these events are available at the websites tagged above or on my website’s events calendar. If you are in the neighborhood and so inclined, I hope you’ll join me for some summer fun.

So now, I’ve got to wrap up this blog. My boys are learning to drive this summer, and it’s time to leave for our dental check-ups. The Universe continues to bless me with plenty to keep me busy. I hope you find the blessings in your everyday life, too.

See you soon!

 

Perspective

pregnanat-shadow

I was having one of those days.

I have been filled with anxiety recently. Maybe it’s because work has not been booming and I’m concerned about finances. Maybe it’s because I finally took the plunge by making my business into an LLC and I’m worried I made a bad decision. Maybe it’s all the extra work that seems to be never-ending yet doesn’t seem to help me get any nearer to my goals. Maybe it’s the church responsibilities, worries over my aging father, concerns about my husband and his job, problems around our house, extra bills, and the fact that my teenaged sons seem to be becoming more distant every day. All of these thoughts swirl through my brain at any given moment, and I sometimes feel like I’m in a tornado of chaos.

Yesterday, I got a nice helping of icing on the cake.

My boys both currently have braces on their teeth. I like our orthodontics office, the doctors, assistants, and staff. It’s in a fairly convenient location, but one thing I don’t appreciate is that sometimes, they insist that they boys come in for appointments in the middle of the day. One son currently needs x-rays, which the office only does until 2:30 in the afternoon. I couldn’t book an after-school appointment for him, something I find extremely irritating. I don’t like to pull my boys out of school for any reason short of a death in the family or a major illness. In my opinion, school is the most important thing children do, and their education should not be disrupted if it’s at all avoidable. I was irritated anyway about having to make this appointment for both of my boys in the middle of the day, and it didn’t help that they would have to miss lunch at school and eat in the car on the way to and from the doctor’s office. I had to make sure I packed lunches for them both and brought their toothbrushes with me so they could be presentable for the orthodontist when they finished eating. More stress, but nothing a mom can’t handle. Or at least, a normal mom.

Unfortunately, we were running a few minutes late for our appointment. My one son is terribly self-conscious at times and gets embarrassed easily when he doesn’t understand the procedure for something. He is still getting used to his new high school and wasn’t on the ball yesterday about how to go about dismissal from class. I had to have the front office find him when it was time for him to leave, which added extra time to what I had carefully allotted for the commute to the doctor. Since I hate to be late, this made me even more anxious, and I had to drive like a maniac to get to the appointment. So after all this, we rushed into the office only to be told by the receptionist that we didn’t have appointments scheduled. They’re NEXT Tuesday.

I thought my head was going to explode.

So. I made a mistake. I tend to be very meticulous about scheduling things and it rarely happens, but apparently I wrote the appointments down on the wrong Tuesday in November. I can’t say how it happened, but it did. And I was absolutely furious with myself. Not only did I get the appointment wrong, but I pulled my boys out of school on the wrong day. Now I’d have to go through the whole insane rigamaroll AGAIN next week–the writing notes to school about it, the extra driving to and from work on my day off, the lunch-and-did-they-eat? stress, the timing of it all–just the thought of having to do it all again and making them miss more school nearly drove me to tears.

In fact, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I didn’t want to act like a complete idiot in front of my children, but I was doing a slow boil all the way back to school. I teetered back and forth between wanting to hit something hard enough to break my fingers and needing to collapse in a wailing heap. I dropped the boys back off at school, dreading the fact that I would be going home to sit around in misery for an hour and then get back in the car to pick them up again. It seemed all I ever did was drive to and from school, and the thought of doing it one more time made me absolutely morose. But I dropped the boys back off and headed the car toward home. Maybe I’d just go into my bedroom, lie down on the bed, and cry. That sounded like a good option.

But something stopped me from doing that.

As I got off the highway at my regular exit and slowed the car for the stop light at the end of the ramp, I noticed two people at the side of the road. One was a young man, standing and shielding his eyes against the glare of the Indian-summer sun. The other was a young woman seated in the dust at his feet, holding a hand-written sign that read, “Homeless and Hungry.” She rubbed her rounded belly as she held the sign. She was pregnant.

The first thought that went through my mind wasn’t very loving. It was, “Oh my God! She’s homeless, and she got pregnant? What was she thinking?” But then I realized that this thought was extremely judgmental and not very fair. I didn’t know anything about this woman’s life. Maybe just a few weeks ago, she’d had a job and a place to live, thinking that her life was stable and that she’d have an easy time raising her baby. Maybe she didn’t have any loved ones to help her or to take care of her. Maybe her family kicked her out when they discovered she was pregnant.

As I drove toward home, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. What must that be like for her, to be pregnant with nowhere to go and no money to speak of? How terribly worried she must be about her baby. Was she getting enough to eat to nourish her body and the baby’s? What if she had to give birth on the side of the road because no hospital would help her without insurance? What if she had problems nursing and couldn’t feed the baby? How would she diaper it? Where would they sleep at night? I realized as I turned familiar corner after familiar corner that my worries and anxieties were really nothing when compared to hers. I had a pleasant home, a source of income, two healthy children, a loving husband. I had a crock-pot full of lasagna cooking in my kitchen, and I could afford to send my boys to private school and to put braces on their teeth. I had a really wonderful life, even on days when I made stupid scheduling mistakes and cried angry tears over my frustrations. What did she have?

When I got home, I ran into the house and grabbed a shopping back from my cupboard. I stood in the panty, trying to decide what I could take to her. I wished I could give her something cold, but I didn’t know how she’d be able to keep it that way. I wanted to make her sandwiches, but I didn’t know if she liked pepperoni and salami, the only two lunch meats I had. I settled on packing a 2-liter bottle of 7-Up, two plastic cups, a box of cherry bars, several individual servings of applesauce with spoons, napkins, several packages of peanut butter crackers, and the two ripe pears I had in the refrigerator. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

I drove back to the highway exit, anxious that maybe the cops had stopped by and made them move along. They were still there. I parked at a nearby restaurant and walked across two lanes of traffic to get to them. As I approached, the young man, still standing, smiled tentatively at me. I smiled, too, and said hello. I walked over to the girl in the dust.

She looked up at me. Her face was pale and tired. Her skin was milky-white, so pale I was afraid it would burn in the bright November sunshine. I wished I’d thought to bring her some sunscreen. She was young, maybe 18 or 19, maybe not even an adult yet. Her nose and lip were pierced with thin silver rings, and I thought about my nieces, girls around the same age. My eyes filled with tears. I don’t think she could see them, though, because of my dark sunglasses.

I crouched down next to her with the shopping bag. “Hi,” I said. “I saw you before when I was driving by, and I wanted to bring some things for you. It’s not much, just a few small things to eat, some fresh fruit for you and the baby.” I stopped, not wanting to babble, not trusting myself to say anything more. She put her hand on the handle of the bag. It was shaking.

She looked me in the eye. “Thank you,” she said. “Thank you very much.”

I briefly touched her bare shoulder. I am a touchy person–it comes with being a service provider, a massage therapist, my belief in the healing power of touch. “Take care of yourself now,” I said. “Take care of yourself, and the baby.”

I walked away. I went back to my car with tears streaming down my cheeks. I drove to the bank to run an errand, and my heart felt lighter. My anxiety was gone.

That girl doesn’t realize it, but she was a gift to me. She may not see much in her life to be happy about right now, but she brought some much-needed perspective to mine. She touched me in a way that was deep and profound. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.

I feel anxious again today, but I’m going to try not to let it get the best of me. I keep seeing her in my mind, sitting in the dirt, the sun glaring down, her hand on her belly. If she can be calm in the midst of all that, then I certainly can try to find some peace, too. We are two different women in two different sets of circumstances, but we are still connected. Our life journeys are distinctive, but we had a brief moment in time when we were linked. We each gave the other something that was needed. I know I am grateful to her, even though I didn’t say “thanks.”

I’m saying it now.

Religion in America

Since we’re going to talk a bit today about religion, I thought I’d use a pretty picture here of what my good friend Melissa calls “Biblical clouds”:

rays-of-sun-in-black-sky link to an article in USA TODAY, knowing I’d be keen to read it. You should probably read it, too. Go ahead…I’ll wait for you.

I love how the article describes people as exploring “spiritual frontiers.” To me, this is an incredibly apt descriptor, and I see it all the time as a minister at my own church. Folks often come to a Spiritualist church because they’re curious about mediumship and spirit messages, and they want to see if the wacky psychics on the platform during the service will be able to connect with them. Hopefully, by the time they leave, they have a little more respect for and understanding of what we believe as Spiritualists. But over the last 9 years as a minister in a church, I’ve seen more and more turnover, and more people really just “trying on” a spiritual practice to see if it works for them.

And you know what I think of this? I think it’s great.

This attitude would, of course, get me into a lot of trouble with more traditional pastors and ministers. Spiritualism is, by definition, a less-than-mainstream religion, one that some denominations don’t even take seriously as a legitimate religion. I’m not here today to argue the validity of my religion or to criticize people who don’t believe in it. What I find interesting is that, according to this article, more and more Americans are searching for a spiritual practice that fits into their lifestyle and their way of thinking. And I really support this because I don’t necessarily believe that Americans are looking for new religions, per se.

I think what Americans are seeking is a personal relationship with God, and they’re not finding it in the mainstream churches.

To many traditional ministers serving churches and congregations, this may appear to be a reflection of the decline of American values, the hedonism and selfishness of Americans, etc., etc. I would say in response: you’re wrong. I believe that more and more Americans really want to develop a personal relationship with Creator that is not contingent on how many times they attend church services or how much money they drop in the collection plate. Throughout our history, Americans have always been an intelligent, inventive bunch. Because of our inherent nature, we ask questions, and we strive to learn more. I believe the churches that survive into the future will be those that honor the personal struggles to connect with God that their members express. They’ll be the communities that support these individual searches for communion with God, and the ones that help those seeking Creator’s divine presence to understand how to keep that channel open and viable. They’ll be the ones that encourage their members to ask questions of God and to expect to receive answers. They’ll teach the members of their community that Creator is a real presence, not a story in a book or an intervention that happened thousands of years ago. These communities will help others to see that God is right here with us every day, and He manifests within each and every one of us. He is us.

Some critics would equate the decline in religiousness to laziness or a lack of dedication. I would argue, though, that to be a spiritual being, we must be dedicated and responsible. Just because we don’t go to church doesn’t mean that we live our lives without purpose and integrity. We don’t need to go to church every week to recognize the inner divinity of every living creature and to honor that divinity in our words, deeds, and thoughts about that part of creation. We don’t necessarily need our minister or pastor to read stories and explain to us what they mean. We can do this on our own and possibly draw even deeper, richer meaning from them. We need to stop relying on other people to tell us how to live our lives and get in touch with the hidden Source of all life within us, which will lead us in the right direction. We can certainly look to other great spiritual leaders and scripture writings to give us direction, but our ultimate guidance must come from within, which is how we are connected to God in the first place.

Having said that: church is about community. Belonging to a group of like-minded individuals is imperative to some of us, especially during times of trial, pain, grief, and other heavy emotions. It is within these communities that we can truly show all sides of ourselves and share support with others. If we want these communities to grow stronger, we need to help each other connect to Inner Divinity as well as teach all to recognize and respect this beautiful quality in every person. Being a true part of a community takes time, effort, and sincere commitment. But these help us to grow as spiritual individuals, and as we utilize these attributes, we understand how important they are to us as evolving beings.

So…I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Do you think that religion has a chance to continue in this country? How do you feel about religion or churches/communities in your own life? Do you need this? Feel free to leave a comment.

I bid you all Namaste on this lovely Friday: the Divine within me honors the Divine within you.

WordPress Themes