Praise for the Mountain

If I were a cow

I would roam beneath a mountain

and drink from a cool stream.

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If I were an Arrowleaf flower

I would grow on a mountain hillside

and smile proudly at the hikers passing by.

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If I were the remains of an old mining cable

I would stare at the mountains

and remember a time

when miners depended on my strength

to transport their coal.

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If I were a wooden bridge

I would keep walkers safe as they crossed

and as they stopped in my middle

to admire the the mountain stream view

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And if I were a mountain

I would look to the clouds and smile.

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A plea for humanity — Will you join me at the river?

It wasn’t a Sunday morning. It was a Thursday evening.

I sat on a wooden pew where, beneath my feet in the 1800’s, slaves had congregated to worship in a hole made of dirt. On April 27th, at that same location, I was inside the Simpson Methodist Church erected in the 1930’s.

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I haven’t been a church-goer in a long while. I was not there to worship. Yet, inside, a hymn came to me – “Shall we gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river.

In my past, I’ve held workshops on tolerance and celebrating diversity. I taught my early childhood staff how to teach bias-free education to our young children. I paired kindergarteners from east Austin to the kindergarteners from west and gathered the 800 or so children together at Burger Center to enjoy the music of Kinderman.

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I’ve done many things to teach tolerance and acceptance of others and each one has made me proud. Yet, each time we step out of our “comfort zone,” we learn something new. This meeting was no exception.

We were not there to worship. Nor were we there to hear a lecture. We were there for the unfolding of a “warm” conversation on diversity and equality.

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Reverend Robert Waddle was strong in appearance and gentle in manner. He led the group – around 15 warm souls- in prayer. Then, our local president of the NAACP, Nelson Linder and Dr. Guner Arslan, a Muslim from Turkey and director of the Dialogue Initiative Austin, began the discussion.

Here is a bit of what I learned, re-learned and processed:

We, as human beings, have always strived for identity — both within ourselves and within a group (or tribe). Identity is core to our “humanness.”

But here’s the problem–

When we don’t attempt to understand or appreciate “different” identities, an “us vs. them” scenario is created. So imagine how having 4200 religions around the world could easily contribute to this unfortunate scenario.

As we struggle to understand ourselves, and who and what we identify with, we often reject the identities of others.

Unless we expand our awareness.

Have you been integrated as a person? Who are the folks you struggle with?

Nelson Mandela once said, “Everyone has a seat at the table.”

How round is your table?

“Love is the absence of judgment” – Dali Lama

How much do you love?

What are you fearful of?

Try being comfortable being uncomfortable.

Mr. Linder and Dr. Arslan told us, “Find excuses to bring people of ‘differences’ together to discover commonalities.”

So, the small group at Simpson Methodist Church became our small group. We had metaphorically gathered at the river, “the beautiful, the beautiful, river“.

 

Folks, this river is wide. And there is plenty of room for everyone. Yes, let’s gather at that river. Or any other place where thoughtful hearts are shared.

I was not there to worship, but I did. There are many ways to worship Great Love for Humanity.

Please join us at this round table for a warm discussion on diversity, acceptance and love. I will bring the water for your parched throats but there will be no need for food. Our hunger will be satiated by the breaking of bread in our open and honest dialogue.

I hope you choose to be part of the discussion.  Because, if you do, and as the song says, “Soon our happy hearts will quiver with the melody of peace.

I would be most grateful if you would leave a response, a personal experience, even a link to similar posts or articles related to this topic.

See you at the table.

The Ultimate Sign of Compassion

As many of you know, I consider myself more “spiritual” than religious. I have not attended a church, for various reasons, in many years. I did grow up in a Lutheran church – baptized, confirmed and married in the same one. I also know that every religion teaches us something.

In the Bible, Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet is a wonderful metaphor of how we need to treat others. No matter how powerful, important, confident (or lack thereof) we might think we are, humbling ourselves and serving others can only be a good thing.

 

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painting by me, CD-W

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”

Happy Birthday, Anne Lamott! I first “met” this woman when I read Traveling Mercies. Not only did I feel the “spirit”‘ of this book, I also laughed out loud. She admitted that when she prayed, she used the F-bomb saying God didn’t care. He knew her. I love this kind of honesty.

In this same book, she also talked about the female’s image of herself. At first a bit self conscience when going to the beach in her swimsuit, she saw the perfect bodies of the young women and realized that they were more self-conscience than she was. In fact, Anne didn’t worry about body image anymore. She had grown into it.

And then, there was Bird by Bird. This book truly helped take away the fear writing.

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Born on this day in 1954, I know she will continue to inspire us for many years to come. Thanks, Anne!

If you are a Christian

As I sit here researching human rights, including the treatment of immigrants, the poor, the oppressed, I am reminded of my spirituality and the religions that are based on LOVE. One Christian song goes like this:

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in his sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

If you are a Christian, do you believe the meaning of these words?

If you are not a Christian, what religion of love do you worship and celebrate? 

I know there are many and, for that, I am grateful.

With love,

Carolyn

Astronaut Jim Lovell’s idea of heaven

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Yesterday, when speaking with a friend of mine about the 1960’s, he showed me this famous photo. “And to think,” he said, “that when Jim Lovell took this amazing photo of earth, we were there.” That thought was powerful for me. If you were born after December 4, 1968, perhaps your soul was still forming in the universe until ready for this magical sphere.

“You have to really kind of think about our own existence here in the universe. You realize that people often say, ‘I hope to go to heaven when I die,'” he said. “In reality, if you think about it, you go to heaven when you’re born.” – Jim Lovell

Read more here.

Do your loved ones visit you after they’ve died?

None of you will question that as we live our lives – go to work, parties, travel, have relationships, etc., –  experiences combine and create how we view the world and ourselves. And grieving the death of loved ones is an experience we all share.

First, let me say that I do not call myself a “religious” sort. I consider myself more as spiritual and intuitive and I never considered the possibility that a deceased love one would contact me. Until it happened.

In the 1980’s, when I thought going through infertility would drive me over a cliff, I had an early morning phone call from my grandfather who had died in the 60’s. “Grandpa,” I said. “Why are you calling? You’re dead.”

“I’m calling to check on you.”

“I’m fine,” I lied.

My husband woke me to get up for work. I was furious and sad that my call had been abruptly ended. The “dream,” was not like a real dream made of scene or stories.  I only saw Grandpa’s face, and I felt him as real as the pillow my head rested upon.

Not long after, my deceased grandmother “called.” I said the same thing. “Grandma, you’re dead. Why are you calling?”

“I’m calling to check on you. How are you.”

“I’m fine.”

Then she asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Yes. Will you ask God to give me a baby?”

There was a long pause as if she were thinking. Then, she said, “I have to go now.”

(Today, I have two grown children, two grandchildren and another due in May.Who knows, right?)

Mom’s first contact with me was different. I had just left the cemetery when a song I’d never heard before came on NPR radio. To this day, I cannot find that song but its words were something like, “don’t worry, we’ll see each other in heaven.” The song made me smile.

Later, in a dream-vision, Mom had simply smiled at me, looked youthful and happy, and pain-free.

As my father lay dying, I asked, “will you check on me after you’re gone like Mom, Grandma and Grandpa did?”

He said, “I’ll always check on my babies.”

Wherever Dad is, he must be very busy since he has yet to “contact” me.  That’s okay, too. He’s probably teaching Mohammad Ali how to play checkers or dominoes.

Some people call these signs “Pennies from Heaven.”

Knowing my experiences, I recently ran across this article. Take a look. Perhaps it will apply to you as well. And please, let me know if it does.

http://www.ask-angels.com/spiritual-guidance/signs-from-heaven/

 

 

When Mother Nature thumps you into awareness

Yesterday morning, when I woke up, I couldn’t talk. This morning, when I woke up, I still couldn’t talk. I mean, NOT AT ALL. Laryngitis is an interesting condition. Perhaps it is nature’s way of telling you to listen, to be still, to be contemplative.

I counted my blessings.

But damnit, I wanted to add to the lunch conversation! I had things to contribute, information to share!

“Ha Ha,” the Universe laughed.

“Holler if you need anything,” a friend laughed.

“Now she can’t yell at me,” my husband said, laughing in the phone with my doctor.

My mini Aussie cocked his head at my silence, but could still read my body language as I could still read his. “Ball time! Ball time! Ball time!”

I counted my blessings.

This evening, I count my blessings. Not because I can now croak out a couple of words in a lengthy sentence.

I count my blessings because they are there. Silence did not destroy even one.

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Be still and silent when you can.

Otherwise, Mother Nature will make you.

She’s clever like that.

-Carolyn

Redefining Disease

This man, Chris Hageseth, my writing and editing buddy, has Parkinson’s Disease. Instead of giving in to it, he redefines it. Chris is “The Director of the Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, a retired psychiatrist, author and an outspoken activist on sweating out Parkinson’s disease through exercise.”

Please read THIS outstanding article! Go Chris!! You are an inspiration!

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