My cousin Barbie suffered oxygen loss at birth. She never sat up. She never spoke. Her life expectancy was 10 years. She lived more than twice that because her mother, my Aunt Stella, was a nurse. I was in grade school when Aunt Stella sat me down next to Barbie and taught me how to connect with the person she was inside. As I grow older I become more aware of how life altering those moments were for me.
Years later, my childhood friend Edwina and her family were live-in supervisors in a home for abused children. I visited them there often. I held hyperactive infants and played with hyperactive toddlers. The term “crack-addicted-at-birth” hadn’t been invented yet. None of us understood why those children were so difficult to help, but Edwina and her husband and her children and I all connected with the people trapped inside those challenged little bodies.
Soon after that I began attending a small Spiritualist Healing Church. Part of their regular service was Healing Chairs where practitioners trained by the church offered healing to the congregants. One of the practitioners was a young woman with Down’s Syndrome whose chair was often left empty. The first time I sat in her chair I was feeling very magnanimous and superior because I had chosen to do so. When she placed her hands on my shoulders to begin the healing, the heavens opened up and I heard the angels singing. A future teacher, Johanna Decourcy, explained to me that high level spiritual beings often choose to incarnate in challenged physical form to make the statement that the spirit and not the body matters.
When Sarah Pallin, accepting the Vice Presidential nomination, introduced her infant Down’s Syndrome son as “perfectly beautiful”, I cried knowing how many parent’s lives would be changed by the statement.
As I watched Meryl Streep last night at the Golden Globes, I assumed, perhaps erroneously, that her motivation was primarily the McCarthy Era. Regardless of the motivation, I thank her, a person who can portray any person she chooses to become, for saying that it’s not okay to further isolate people who face a distancing world every time they leave their homes.
Several months ago, I was waiting for a bus on 116th Street and a large gentleman of color sat down beside me. It was just the two of us. He turned out to be a schizophrenic and recovering drug addict. He worked, very skillfully, to engage me conversation, eventually leading us into the topic of Trump and racist sentiment. Somehow I was guided to tell him that I believed that no one can change the world. We all just have to deal with the circumstances that are presented to us in the best way possible. It must have been the answer that he needed to hear because he began to tell me that he was being moved out of the group home he had been living in and would be moving to a new neighborhood where he didn’t know anybody. I told him that he had very good social skills and he would make friends wherever he went if he just did what he had been doing. I think it was what he needed to hear because he fell silent and a minute later the M116 bus arrived and we went our separate ways. I felt like a success that day as much as I ever have.
Thank you, Aunt Stella. Thank you, Meryl.
How does God speak to you?
The Christianity that most of us are familiar with is layered over with hierarchical ritual and rules which often distant people from the very thing they look to religion to find. In recent times, social trappings have been added to create the illusion of the free flow of Spirit in return for allegiance. The truth is that Christianity was born at a crossroads of major spiritual/religious influences from around the world. If one has the patience to sort through the history and literature with a listening heart, rather than a chattering mind, the roots of all that spiritual wisdom can be found in the written records of the many, many people who have found the door to transcendence within the Christian faiths.
This is not just a book about “saints”, a term which has come to have more to do with morality than spirituality. McColman includes the wisdom of the “heretics” as well. He asks readers to look past the limitations of individual people and understand the spiritual experience of the soul contained within the body.
Written for people who want to encounter the mystics rather than study them, McColman encourages us to read the book devotionally rather than academically, allowing the Holy Spirit to enter our lives and transform us.
This book provides a broad range of examples, from C.S. Lewis to Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King Jr., all of whom have something to share with us, regardless of our motivation for reading about Christian mysticism. SHOP FOR THE BOOK
© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks
They gathered hesitantly, just before sunset, as the moon was waxing.
They weren’t sure why the ancestors had asked them to be there.
Some of them hadn’t seen each other for quite some time.
As she welcomed them all, casually and with friendship, they began to relax and reminisce.
The Seven Sisters — by arriving as requested they had agreed to become that — The Seven Sisters.
The intense energy made them all uncomfortable, in different ways.
But soon the ancestors had smoothed out the rough edges and blended the various essences in a keynote…
The silent sound carried them all to a place which they recognized but hadn’t expected to visit.
“Why are we here?” she asked.
“Because you have all answered the call to be in service regardless of the personal cost.”
She had intended to ask more questions, but the words had silenced her thoughts.
They returned to the physical plane together, reunited by something which they did not understand.
“Understanding is over rated.”
“What should we do next?” she asked.
“Whatever is asked of you.”
The Sisters smiled and began chatting amongst themselves.
MESSAGE FROM THE GUIDES
Expect life to respond to your requests now. Think carefully. What have you requested? Serenity, money, love, understanding … It will be clear to you what the consequences of the choice you have made will be. Don’t try and change the results. There are no do-overs at this level. Work with what you asked for.
Where do these crazy ideas come from?
There’s a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milk shake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner. That’s David Lynch sharing his insight into the creative process. Anyone who’s ever left a work project and gone out to sit alone in a restaurant to clear her or his head will recognize it as a gem. It’s one of many contained in this book.
Reprinted as a Tenth Anniversary Edition, it might be more relevant today than ever. Creativity seems to be one of the victims of the money-first, electronic world we live in. It is becoming artisanal, a scarce and illusive commodity. A gift which everyone is born with, most people today have less access to their creative component than their great grandparents did.
David Lynch’s creative credentials are impeccable. I know this first hand. (My personal favorite is Twin Peaks. Sorry, big screen buffs.) To follow Lynch as he meanders through his process is a privilege and a gift. NOTE TO MILLENIALS: Think Steve Jobs and work backwards. SHOP FOR THE BOOK
© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks.com
My first thought when I heard was, “How could you leave us now when we need you the most?”
Selfish, self-serving, and short-sighted though it was, it was also reflective of the climate that followed the presidential election. And, as it turned out, Gwen was there for us as she has been for decades, to light the path ahead for those who choose to see beyond the drama that continues to keep the masses mesmerized.
I got a knot in my stomach when I noticed her absence on election eve. And Judy Woodruff’s grief stricken face as PBS Newshour acknowledged her passing, reflected my feelings on her loss completely, without a word needeing to be spoken.
Then I realized that sitting in her seat was a next-generation, male immigrant, Hari Sreenivasan. His low-key confidence bespoke the fact that he had earned that chair according to Gwen’s standards — and her choice did her proud as the Newshour began a sad but positive transition to the next level.
In a time when the news media seems to have sunk to a new low, Gwen’s hundreds of mentees stepped forward to speak of her, without exception, in terms of their personal loss (rather than their self-engrandizement) and the legacy they valued and hoped to live up to.
As all this unfolds, I can’t help but wonder how equality in this country might be different if Whitney Young had been healthier and able to continue his fight for equality in the boardroom. But that’s another PBS story.
Lastly, I come to realize that when I turned on the PBS Newshour, I didn’t do so thinking that I was supporting a female journalist or an Afro-American journalist. I relaxed as I tuned PBS in and let my guard down to listen to a woman whom I trusted to tell me her observations honestly and from a thoroughly researched perspective. May those she gave a leg up to continue to honor her by measuring the job they do according to her standards — until they develop standards that surpass hers. (And that would be the greatest way to honor her.)
Godspeed on the next leg of your journey, Gwen. I am so grateful that you touched my life for as long as you did. We will miss you. But then, you’re not really gone, are you?
MESSAGE FROM THE GUIDES… Turmoil comes in the wake of recent changes. Ignore the chaos. Do your own thing and wait for it to be over.
The creative altars throughout the Village last weekend inspired James Lotus of 11th Street Gallery to create a special altar project. He began making small wooden altars on posts and distributing them through the Village. So far he’s got twelve of them up. If you stop by the gallery he’ll give you a map that shows where they are located.
The Village of the Arts is getting more exciting everyday!
MESSAGE FROM THE GUIDES: This week’s super full moon is sending lots of creative, mysterious energy to the earth. Soak up the creative, mysterious vibrations when they are at their peak Sunday night and Monday.
This weekend’s Day of the Skeleton celebration in the Village of the Arts was a huge success. The annual homage to those on the other side has been increasing in popularity every year. Word seems to still be spreading because the turnout was super terrific this year!
Parade-sized puppets were better than ever.
The altars to the dead — some inside, some outside — get more creative each year.
Baobab Tree’s altar for Gordon, who crossed just last month, was particularly poignant. He is missed, but so present in every corner of the gallery.
The common Village altar paid tribute to David Bowie this year, an electrifying choice and perfect finale!
THE GUIDES SAY: It’s a new year and a new start. Make the most of it. Begin now. Claim your right to the power which is now emerging and use it wisely.
How do you feel about following Jesus’ example?
For Sister Teresa it was always personal. “I don’t like people to send me something because they want to get rid of it. Giving is something different. It is sharing.” She helped people because they were there and needed her help, not because she was engaged in the business of helping. It brought her challenges from the establishment but it also brought the love of people around the world. And now it has brought her sainthood.
This Commemorative Edition of Mother Teresa’s book, first published in 1995, includes a forward by Thomas Moore and a reprint of the homily delivered in 2003 by Pope John Paul II at her Beatification Mass. The heart of the book remains, however, Mother Teresa’s words of explanation and exhortation. Schooled by Jesuits and initiated into religious life by the the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto, she was called again and again to more advanced challenges as she offered herself in service and learned from her devoted endeavors. In a way it is all brought full circle as she is made a saint by Jesuit Pope Francis. It seems, perhaps, a Thank You from the other side for the spiritual foundation she was given and on which she built so magnificently
This is the first time I’ve read this book. The first edition was sometimes referred to as naive in its basic philosophy. To the contrary, I thought as I read. She has a unique and driving clarity about the essence of Jesus’ teachings. Devoid of religious trappings, her words speak more powerfully today than ever about the universal principles of simple Love that lights the way.
© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks.com
Dare you look into the eyes of your own death?
Poet-philosopher Cheng tells us that death is a part of life, and that life-time-death are inextricably merged, much as we might struggle against that. Thus bodily death, which has become such a terror to most of us, is necessary for life—and for gratitude for the gift of life. He references Etty Hillesum, who before her death in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, wrote in her journal: “…by excluding death from our life, we deprive ourselves of a complete life, and by welcoming it, we enlarge and enrich our life.”
Make no mistake, this is not a morbid text requiring that we face the inevitable. It is rather a testament to life and an exploration of what gives life meaning.
It can be viewed as synchronicitous that this book has been released at a time when facing death has become an unavoidable topic around the world. It is almost constantly in the media at the moment, and as journalists and talking heads search for new ways to talk about what is happening at an alarmingly increasing rate, they are also stumbling across keys to giving meaning to death beyond the mundane experience and the power that it summons as a weapon in the material world.
Written in soaring language, filled with poetry from across the ages, Cheng begins by describing himself as coming from the tribe of the damned, the have-nots. The five meditations were originally presented orally and maintain that interactive quality within the printed words. Readers engage in exploration with Cheng rather than being passively informed by him.
I have spent the last few weeks crying, raging, and trying to make some sense of what I am seeing on TV. The review copy of this book seemed to call to me from the pile it was in. I feel as if it is a gift from the heavens. I won’t pretend that I think I understand what it really means or the impact that it will have on my life. I recognize it as an invitation to transcend the chaos in the world and search for better answers. SHOP FOR THE BOOK
© 2016 Anna Jedrziewski and InannaWorks
Spirit Connection New York extends our condolences, prayers, and healing thoughts to the people of Orlando. We pray that the victims of this tragedy find their way quickly and safely to the other side.
I, personally, call on everyone to ponder on the fact that this nightmare was deliberately visited on both the LGBT and Latino communities. May the thoughts that fueled this attack be tempered, healed, and transformed.
Bridges not walls. May peace and love prevail.