Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordy Wedesday - February 29

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi

" . . . but as for me, I will always have hope." -- Psalm 71:14, Bible

"Every person's life is a fairytale written by God's fingers." -- Hans Christian Andersen

"Life is too important to be taken seriously." -- Oscar Wilde

"Be curious, not judgmental." -- Walt Whitman

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordy Wednesday - February 22

"Loving God, it turns out, is hard precisely because it does not promise
the reassuring logic of accomplishment or failure." -- Lauren F. Winner
in Still - Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

“Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.” -- Wendell Berry

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire. --Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“I hope that one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love.” -- Jonathan Safran Foer in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Monday, February 20, 2012

What is Lent to me?

Originally, Lent started out as a time of penance and renewal for early Christians. Irenaus of Lyons mentioned it during his writings between 130 and 200 A. D. It's considered one of the oldest holy times in Christianity. They talked about it at the Council of Nicea in 325 A. D. but the notes taken don't make it clear if it was meant to be a commitment for everyone in the church, or just for those preparing for Baptism at Easter. Regardless, it became popular after that and many early Christians began to follow it. The 40 day timeline that is most often used today didn't come about until Gregory the Great moved it to a Wednesday and created the Ash Wednesday beginning to the 40 days (which don't include Sundays, which are feast days and outside of the Lenten season). It's all very complex in its history, and if you Google "lent" you'll find about 360,000 entries on it. Browse to your heart's content. Depending on the Christian sect you are reading about, you will get different stories about the history of Lent. I recommend reading for yourself and coming to your own conclusions!

I have been celebrating Lent for about 20 years. Long before I had any real connection with the Christian church, I had been using the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter as an exercise in self-denial, giving up some less-than-positive thing in my life. Over the years I have given up coffee, sweets, baked goods (except basic brown bread), alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, video games, and a number of other things. Every year, there is a bit of struggle involved, and every year I find myself more fully engaged in my spirituality because of that struggle.

When I was talking to the children about Lent last year, I explained to them that giving something up makes us ache a little bit inside. For instance, if you give up chocolates for Lent, and then you want to have a chocolate, when you realize that you can't have it there's a little internal "ouch" that happens. That moment is the moment that we use to remind ourselves to pay attention to God (or Goddess, or the All, as you care to see him/her/them). It doesn't matter what you give up. What matters is the ACT of giving up something, the act of self-denial.

I specifically use that "ouch" moment as a reminder to pause and say a prayer. It's so easy in our busy world to get our heads stuck in our work, in a game, in paying the bills, or even doing all the business end of church or synagogue or temple business. When that "ouch" happens, I know that I need to remember to pray. It only takes a second, after all. I pause regardless of what I'm doing, and say thanks for the reminder, and ask for strength to continue the full 40 days.

Some years are easier than others. Giving up sweets really didn't stress me that much. In fact, it was almost too easy. While I appreciate sweets, they aren't a huge addiction for me. Giving up video games, on the other hand, forced me to look at the world through different eyes. Giving up coffee made me grumpy, and my family insisted that the experiment would NOT be repeated.

This year I am giving up processed foods. As of Wednesday morning, I will no longer eat store-bought bread, english muffins, canned soups, American cheese, or anything that is processed commercially. This means I will have to keep up on my baking (I'm not giving up bread, after all), and plan meals accordingly so that I have time to get all the cooking done in time for 6pm.

In some ways, this won't be all that difficult. I eat pretty well most of the time. But I do love my commercially made coffee creamer, which will have to go. I enjoy my margarine, but that's processed, too. The butter we buy is just cream and salt, so I can continue with that, but my favorite salsa has things in it like xanthan gum and other things I can't pronounce, so it's out. I'll be eating a lot healthier, and I'll be reading the labels on grocery store foods.

What are you giving up for Lent? Even if you're not the least bit Christian, consider it a time for inner reflection and fasting from something that may not be in your best interests. Give it a try!

Pop on over to my column on and read a bit about Lent. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wordy Wednesday - Feb. 15

 "Above all, the listener should be able to understand the poem or the song, not be forced to unravel a complicated, self-indulgent puzzle. Offer your art up to the whole world, not just an elite few." -- Lucinda Williams

"The very purpose of spirituality is self-discipline. Rather than criticizing others, we should evaluate and criticize ourselves. Ask yourself, what am I doing about my anger, my attachment, my pride, my jealousy? These are the things we should check in our day to day lives." - His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Sacraments

I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments--
he got so excited
and ran into a hollow in his tree and came
back holding some acorns, an owl feather,
and a ribbon he had found.
And I just smiled and said, "Yes, dear,
you understand:
everything imparts
His grace.

--St. Francis of Assisi

Translation by Daniel Ladinsky
Love Poems From God: Twelve Voices from the East and West

Wednesday interview: Margaret Hawthorn, Quaker - Manchester Prayer |

Wednesday interview: Margaret Hawthorn, Quaker - Manchester Prayer |

'via Blog this'

Queen attends multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace | Mail Online

Queen attends multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace | Mail Online:

'via Blog this'

Good to see the Queen supporting interfaith ties!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interfaith at Princeton - The Daily Princetonian

Interfaith at Princeton - The Daily Princetonian:

'via Blog this'

I had no idea that Princeton was such a bed of interfaith interaction! This is a wonderful editorial written by a Princeton student who is half Quaker, half Jewish. He brings up an interesting subject: how much culture is TOO much?

As he explains, he is only culturally Jewish, and doesn't attend synagogue very often, but even that little bit has polarized people toward him. It isn't that he's persecuted. Quite the opposite; he is treated very well, and has been included in many things that are open to Jewish students at the university. In a way, it sounds like it's almost a reverse of the problem the rest of the country is experiencing.

Is there such a thing as reverse racism? Instead of being looked down upon because of one's race or culture or creed, Princeton is encouraging students to explore those aspects of themselves. That's a wonderful thing, something that every person should do at some point in their life. Should it be taking over, though? Should it be influencing the courses you take, the people that you hang around with?

College and university are those places where we suddenly shed our parental-influenced personalities and fly as ourselves. We develop our interests that were only dim during our time at home. We explore new avenues, broaden our horizons, and strike out in directions we didn't even know existed. Does this encouragement by Princeton (and probably other higher educational facilities) throw a wrench into that freedom?

This is a good article, not too long. I encourage you to read it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordy Wednesday - Feb. 8

Bill Maher on American exceptionalism: "Always waving the big foam number one finger; we're not number one in most things. We're number one in military. We're number one in money. We're number one in fat toddlers, meth labs, and people we send to prison. We're not number one in literacy, money spent on education. We're not even number one in social mobility. Social mobility means basically the American dream, the ability of one generation to do better than the next. We're tenth. That's like Sweden coming in tenth in Swedish meatballs."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "It is important that when pursing our own self-interest we should be “wise selfish” and not “foolish selfish”. Being foolish selfish means pursuing our own interests in a narrow, shortsighted way. Being wise selfish means taking a broader view and recognizing that our own long-term individual interest lies in the welfare of everyone. Being wise selfish means being compassionate."

"One younger lady looked so lost, staring and staring at the cans and bags, that I asked her if she was a fan of beans (ice breaker). She wasn't. Had not much idea what to do with them. But money was so tight and the costs of all staples and gas and utilities had left them with $20 to spend for food for the week. ... I told her, "We can do this. I can show you what to buy and give you some ideas on how to make it. Very simple and you'll enjoy your meals." And that's what I did. Dried beans, split peas, lentils went into her bag. Bullion cubes. (Don't judge) Garlic bulbs. Rice. A few cans of vegetables. Potatoes and that was it." -- Cara Schultz, on G+, January 24th, 2012

"Maybe making it through this year means making peace with beans. Maybe it means learning how to cook all over again. Maybe it means learning to garden. Maybe it means pooling resources with friends and family. Maybe it means asking for help, going to the food bank, donating to the food bank, creating opportunities to help others, putting unused items on Freecycle, teaching others how to cook and doing our best to make the most of a difficult situation." -- Star Foster, from Patheos

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wordy Wednesday - February 1

"The creation of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin from the level of the individual, and from there it can expand to one's family, to one's neighborhood, to one's community and so on." -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone." -- Bill Cosby

‎"When the archer misses the mark, he turns and looks for the fault within himself. Failure to hit the bull's eye is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim - improve yourself." -- Gilbert Arland - Writer

"Memberships matter. Who we connect up with tells a lot about who we are, what we value, and what others can expect from us. The call to discipleship is pretty simple: Join Jesus! The call is there for you right now. These next moments could reveal a lot about who you are, because of who you choose to be related to." -- from