Category Archives: Reading

I Am Not Sure I Am Up For This

Recently my friend (?), Dr. WooWoo gave me a book to read called The Autobiography of a Yogi.  Most of the time, I am open to reading pretty much anything someone puts in my hand.  This was a challenge.   Not only was my cerebral bandwidth at an all time low, the material was daunting.   Paramahansa Yogananda cites as much Biblical teaching (primarily New Testament)  as Hindu in his tome, so naturally this was fascinating to me.    It is pretty much a yoga classic.

My father, seeing the book on the dining room table, said, “Oh!  Paramahansa Yoganada used to live down the street from us in the Pacific Palisades.”   He said the guru’s name right.  I can’t say the name right. And indeed, PY’s Center for Self-Realization was in the immediate vicinity of his teenage home.  Grumbling, Big Mike referred to all the “weirdos” in their garb going in and out of the place.  Hmmm  …  Although my father is not enamored of yoga, he has gone to chair yoga classes  – but only if I am teaching.  He even closes his eyes in shavasana.

But I get ahead of myself.  This is not the type of yoga PY practiced.  He focused mainly on breathing and meditation as a way to get to Samadhi, bliss, union with God.  He called it Kriya yoga, based on the teachings of his own guru.  No asanas, or poses, were involved.

At the end of his autobiography, Paramahansa Yogananda references some of his favorite chants.  A few weeks ago, out of curiosity, I checked out the chants on Spotify.  DING DING DING DING DING!  There they were!  Not only that, Paramahansa Yogananda’s own chanting was recorded!  From shortly before his death in 1952!

I listened to it and was overjoyed I’d listened after reading the book.  I would NEVER have started the crazy long book  if I had.   Bottom line:  I am pretty much ensconced in Christianity.  Karma sounds terrible to me.  The truth is, I do not ever want to come back (DO YOU HEAR ME?).  Reincarnation (unless you are perhaps Jesus) sounds like a terrible idea to me – to keep fixing my mistakes of prior lives, a spiritual “catch and release” if you will.   Jesus for me = ONE AND DONE.    But there was a lot of food for thought in that book and a lot I do not disagree with.  It was worth the cultural voyage.

Finally, as I was doing some glancing research today on karma, I came across this website.   Of course, it is of the organization PY started.  When I get to Heaven, I am sure he will be on my greeting committee.  I can pretty much hear his laugh – he had a great sense of humor – as he points me to the EXIT door ….    Perhaps I will be so enlightened I will change my mind?

 

 

 

 

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Happy Spring!

Another one of my favorite spiritual authors is Brother Richard Rohr.  A Franciscan priest, he approaches the Universe in a unique way, deeply, profoundly.  Sometimes so deep and profoundly I don’t know what he is getting at.  But I persist in trying to understand him.  I do not think I understood most of what he wrote before I turned 50.

Today is his 75th birthday.  Reading his birthday memoir post was a gift to me this morning that I would like to share with you.  The truth, of course, makes an appearance.  Enjoy!

Hot music tip:  download Sarah MacLachlan’s Prayer of St. Francis and Medicine for the People (all of it).

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Jesus Calling

As I have noted, I lost my reading brain last year.  It is just beginning to come back.  One of my favorite books is a book some of you know of called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  Jesus Calling is a daily devotional, perfect for short nuggets of truth, Biblical uppers which remind one of important promises.   Texas Belle gave me a fancy edition which I love because it is large print.  In addition to losing my brain, I am losing my eyesight.  You can also get the Jesus Calling app for your phone.  Bea Long gave me one too that’s by my bed.   Even this easy practice evades me frequently.

But today I picked up my book and this snippet of Wisdom spoke directly to my heart:  “I speak to you from the depths of your being. ….  I speak to you in love-tones, lifting you up.  My Spirit convicts cleanly, without crushing words of shame [emphasis mine].  ….  Be transformed by the truth that I live within you.”

This morning I took my yoga class to the beach.  As it was thunder storming outside, we laid our mats down the studio floor.  Each student picked a shell from my collection.  If you can’t find God in a shell, I don’t know what to tell you.  Think about it:  The hard exterior protects our soft insides.  A pearl is born of irritation and friction from the depths of our gushy innards.  How often do you hide your true selves with a complex outer layer to shield our truest self?

Some shells are smooth, others spiny, bumpy, or rough.  Some have crusty ridges.   Some are plain and others are iridescent or colorful.  Large or small, curling or flat.  You get the idea.  God loves variety.   Within each shell there is order.  How would you describe your shell?  Do you honor it?

Johnny Nash‘s Mr. Sea made an appearance on the playlist as did Miley CyrusMalibu and the Eli Young Band‘s Saltwater Gospel.  There was a little Antonio Carlos Jobim bossa nova to boot.  When the class was over, it was a bright, sun shiney day.  When my class leaves happy and relaxed, I know I have done my job.   Inside I am mentally jumping for joy, fistpumping the Universe, giving thanks, and loving the shell that houses me just a little bit more for carrying me through another hour in the ebb and flow of life.

 

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Truth Reinvented

This morning I went down a gigantic rabbit hole in search of the truth.  Initially, I was hunting for different types of truth but all I found were academic articles that made my eyes glaze over.  What I was really after were discussions on the following:  sad truths, terrible truths, absolute truths, universal truths, etc.  We use these phrases all the time.  Rarely, however, to we use the phrase HAPPY TRUTH.

I could leave the topic there and end the post there but no, you are going down the rabbit hole with me …

In my research I went to a website called thetruth.com.  What do you think this is all about?  If you haven’t clicked, it is an antismoking campaign for teens, born out of big tobacco settlements in the late 90s.  Can you imagine how on their game someone was to get that domain name?  for anti-teen smoking????  You can read the history here.

The idea was born out of a project Florida taxpayers spent $65 million dollars on in the late 90s called Truth.   The larger project was called the American Legacy Foundation.  It was/is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.  Run for years and years by a woman named Cheryl Healton,  in 2008 she made a salary of $570k.  The ALF also helped finance the purchase of her nearly million dollar home.  In 2011, as part of the IRS filing, the ALF had to disclose a “significant diversion of funds”, in the end totaling more than $3.4 million dollars.   You can read the Washington Post story here.  Ms. Healton, by way of explanation, offered the following:  “We are horrified this happened on our watch …, the truth hurts  – we screwed up.”  Ruth McCambridge of the Nonprofit Quarterly provided a list of organizations who had also checked the same IRS box  for the “significant diversion of funds”.   Names such as New York University, the Trustees of Columbia University, Feed the Children, AARP, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center were on the list.

In 2013, the truth and the ALF were rebranded with a new CEO Robin Koval and a new name, the “truth initiative” .   Cheryl Healton apparently landed on her feet as Dean and Professor,  NYU College of Global Public Health.

What do you think Ms. Koval is making now, 10 years after Ms. Healton’s reported salary of $570k?  Charity Navigator does not have them rated as a charity and thus I could not find her salary on their site, nor anywhere else on the web.  Personally, I would like it if the truth would take the initiative to be transparent about their finances.

Although I laud and applaud the efforts to eliminate teen smoking, reading about “the truth” made me uneasy this morning, nauseous with a feeling in the pit of my stomach akin to inhaling second hand smoke on an empty stomach.

Perhaps we should explore the fine line between veracity, objectivity, and propaganda?  At what price???

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Radio WLOV

Psalm 51, a Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon, is one of my go to Psalms.  Everyone should have a go to Psalm.

The only one I have successfully memorized is Psalm 23.  During our period of Great Distress, Mr. Understanding and I memorized it together, reciting it to each other before we went to sleep.  I had found Phillip Keller’s book A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm   in an “antique” mall in Arkansas for $2 and Mr. Keller’s explanation of the psalm greatly enhanced my understanding and propelled me to memorize it.  This came in handy when I had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death a few months after the fateful purchase.

I have memorized parts of Psalm 51 but not the whole shebang.  Verse 6 has always fascinated me:

“You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. [NRSV]”

The heart is notoriously fickle and unreliable, a self-deceptive, self-center capable of fooling even (particularly) the brain.

What is the inward being and where is your secret heart located?  What kind of wisdom are you requiring right now? Do you have a go to psalm?

My secret heart is still expanding, gathering in sheaves of information, on my all my manifold weaknesses.  I continue to adjust the dial on truth.  Stay tuned.

Today’s post is dedicated to the Rev. Billy Graham, whose heart was humble, subservient, and honest.  I can only imagine the party in Heaven.  The angels are whooping it up!

 

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The Belt of Truth and the Sword of the Spirit

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is unarmed truth and what does it look like?   Literal or metaphysical?  I think the final word is love.  It was also the first word.  But I am not sure about unarmed truth (see below).  Someone please explain!

Ephesians 6:10 – 7  says:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our[a] struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these,[b]take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Get your word ON.   Do you have one or two for 2018?

 

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Birthday Song

 

The Radish & Her Baby Princess

The Radish and Her Baby Princess

 

Many thanks to all of my family, friends, and internet companions for your well wishes on my birthday.  As many of you know, it was also my dearly beloved mother’s birthday as well.  I had nine months to prepare for the day and I used every one of them.  There has not been one day in which I have forgotten that she is no longer on this earthly plane.  Not one day.  But in the end, it had nothing to do with me, really.  It had everything to do with YOU, dear reader, and my mother.  Instead of a day of intense sorrow, there was peace and joy.

Let me explain for those of you interested enough to keep reading.  Warning:  Jesus will be involved.

As I wrote earlier in the year, my mother Sally’s word for 2017 was REJOICE.  She only had two weeks on earth to work on that word but apparently it was enough.  My words for 2017 were HOPE and RESTORE.  Honestly, though, I adopted and focused on my mother’s word and by so doing, hope and restoration followed.

Let me explain, for those of you interested enough to keep reading.

As I also wrote earlier in the year, my Reading Brain and my Prayer Brain were adversely affected by my mother’s untimely passing.  For the first time ever in my life, reading brought little solace.  The Bible (gasp!), bible studies, People magazine, House Beautiful, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, the news held no appeal.  A voracious reader, my appetite was gone.  GONE.  My Prayer Brain was even worse.  Meandering.  Directionless (at a time when Direction is most urgently needed!  We need a job!  Health!  Peace!  Stability! Focus!).  Distressing.  What to do???

Let me explain, for those interested.

On Friday night I attended a pipe organ concert at our church in St. Augustine with my father,  Big Mike.  The organist, Ken Cowan, play from memory eight complicated compositions.  You have no idea how amazing this musical contortionist was [an grammatical edit is needed here but see above paragraph].  One of the pieces had what Mr. Cowan described as a “fugue”.  After the concert, I asked my father what the musical term “fugue” meant.  Musically illiterate,  I could think only of the word “trance” .  Naturally, my father gave me the definition almost verbatim from Merriam-Webster:

1

  • a :a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts The organist played a four-voiced fugue.

b :something that resembles a fugue especially in interweaving repetitive elements

My interpretation was close to the secondary definition:

  • 2
  • :a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the acts performed

This is as approximate a description of the last nine months of my year, a “fugue”.  Between the moments of total functionality and quasi-normalcy, there have been many other moments of which I have zero recollection.  I have done some pretty random things, like become a certified yoga instructor.  (Say what?  Yep. I still can’t explain it to myself.)  Point, counterpoint, enter a voice or two, sing high, sing low sweet chariot.

Let me explain.

Yesterday after receiving my annual birthday blessing, I had an epiphany or three:

1) My mother came to church with me and even went so far as to engineer the liturgy for the day:  Phillippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord; and again, I say rejoice!” and Psalm 23, “He restores my soul …”.   While The Word in its totality has not fed me this year, the words REJOICE, HOPE, AND RESTORE have.

2) Jesus is the last person to care that I am not on my prayer game – there is no condemnation in Christ. [Romans 8:1].  Thanks, Jesus, for once again getting me off the hook.

3) Music, the language of angels, has soothed me.  To quote Eric Church, I have had “a record year.”  Mr. Church, Motown, and hippy dippy trippy yoga music have nourished my soul instead of books.

Finally, I took such great comfort in knowing that so many of you were hoping and praying I had a great day that I ACTUALLY DID!  YOU LIFTED ME UP FROM WHEREVER YOU WERE AND I THANK YOU.  I FELT THE LOVE!  THERE’S A PAIR OF WINGS WAITING FOR YOU IN HEAVEN.  Sunrise at the beach, a nap after, back to the beach for some vitamin Sea and D, a pitcher of beer with Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Pride and Joy at Finn’s rooftop bar, and dinner with my extended Florida family = birthday bliss.  Kudos to Mr. Understanding for bringing me coffee every morning of Birthday Week.  And if, in my fugue,  I have forgotten to thank you for a kind note or act, please forgive me!  It was not my intention. For those who perhaps have been in a fugue of their own, don’t worry!  I get it now.

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