Hands

October 5, 2017

 

“The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands”. Anne Frank

 

Please take four minutes to watch this music video. “Hands” was created as a tribute after the mass killing that happened in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. A deranged man entered a gay nightclub and shot 107 people–49 dead and 58 more wounded. We were left wondering why.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnumaX_EJhE
“Hands” – A Song for Orlando (Lyric Video)

So, here we are again, on our knees, submitting at the altar of why. Just three days ago, this time in Las Vegas, we as a nation witnessed and suffered another senseless act of violence against humanity. More than 550 people shot down, 58 of them dead, while innocently attending an outdoor country music concert.

As a minister, during horrific times like this, I’m often asked, “How do we make sense of it?” Sadly, that’s not possible to answer, for me or anyone else. Because what happened in Las Vegas, and with so many other recent mass killings in the U.S., is that they are sense-less acts of violence. We do not, and cannot, make sense in our rational minds. That’s why we must make an effort to return to the Truth. We as humans are hard-wired to connect. We bleed the same blood. Our hearts beat the same rhythm. But some hearts are hell-bent on disconnection, causing the blood of human kinship to spurt with angry vengeance. How can we possibly make sense of that? I can, when I remember that how I respond is in my hands.

Today, I found myself gazing at the various Celtic crosses I have in my home office. The symbol brings me a measure of peace, and reminds me of what the Celts might have been thinking when they placed a circle around the intersection of the traditional Christian cross.

To me, the Christian cross is a symbol of connection. The Celtic cross is a symbol of responsibility. With connection and responsibility, inner peace can be restored. As we all know, peace begins within. Here’s how the Celtic cross brings me inner peace in the midst of chaos and confusion.

With the traditional Christian cross, the vertical line reminds us of the Heavenly Father energy, often viewed to be above. I was taught as a child in Sunday school that meant God descended into man. As an adult, it became clear to me, for the cross to be whole, we must also honor the Earthly Mother energy. Creation cannot happen without the two coming together as one. So, as I see it, their beams of light, from above and below, merge in the heart. It there that we birth The Beloved I Am. By that I mean my god-self. The indwelling Christ in me. The eternal sacred flame inside every heart.

The cross also reveals a horizontal line, emanating out of the heart to both arms and all the way to our hands. Remember the old spiritual, “He’s got the whole world in his hands?” That’s a truth. The cross demonstrates that when we are connected, Above and Below, and, we feel it in our hearts, what unfolds is all in our hands. Our human hands. Yours and mine. Our country’s hands. And, most timely, in the hands of our leaders.

At some point in history, the Celts decided to place a circle around the intersection of the two lines. What were they showing us? Here’s my take. We must honor that which is greater than we are, regardless of what we call it. God, Creator, Higher Power, Life Itself. That energy isn’t just above, it’s also below. We must remember that when opposition comes into conscious and loving contact, there will be an outcome. When that outcome is deemed good, it’s easy to sing the praises of the Universe. But when that connection is considered bad, tainted by hate and fear and senseless acts of violence, it’s way too easy to make a fist and mutter WTF. What follows is often confusion, sadness and downright despair. I speak from experience, especially the past few days. Until I shifted my thinking while gazing at the Celtic cross. (Notice I didn’t say changed my thinking. I said shifted my thinking.) The shift was remembering that I could react or respond. My response is a simple spiritual practice I learned years ago in a weekend workshop called On Course.

Every face I see is the face of God.
Every voice I hear is the voice of God.

Ask yourself, in the aftermath of the worse mass killing in modern history, what is being asking of me? What would a loving father say or do? What would a nurturing mother say or do? What do I say and what do I do? It’s all in my hands, your hands, our hands. Let’s connect and rise to the beauty of our birthright, and then share it. Because we do have the whole world in our hands. As Anne Frank said, “The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

I ask, under this glorious Harvest Moon, what action might you take that will affirm your core beliefs, while addressing the strife of modern culture? A phone call or email to an elected official? A donation to a charity that shares your beliefs? A simple prayer? Affirm that We Are All One, and that we are all in this together. Please!!!

Autumn

September 19, 2017

 

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which,
if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

One September, before my yoga class began, people were exchanging thoughts about the changing seasons. I mentioned that the autumn equinox was about to arrive. “Oh no,” was what I heard in response. “I’m not ready for summer to be over,” said a woman who loves to garden. “I dread the darkness,” said another.

I pondered this throughout my yoga practice. If autumn is literally about harvesting the fruits of our labor, what symbolic fruits am I to enjoy today? I let my thoughts roam as I reflected on the year that has passed since the last Fall. How and where did I labor this past year? What fruits are emerging as a result of that labor? Where am I resisting?

The answer didn’t come until the very end of class when the teacher invited us to into Savasana. This is sometimes called “corpse pose,” as we lie on our backs, arms at our sides, palms up, and then simply rest.

When the teacher reminded us to surrender, the world YIELD popped into my mind. Used as a verb, to yield means to give over, to give up, to surrender the right of way. I think that was the resistance to autumn that I was hearing before class. However, yield used as a noun means, “…A profit obtained from an investment; a return.”

Anticipating this year’s autumn equinox (Friday, September 22, 1:02pm PDT), I reflect on where I have invested my energy, and what is now returning as a result. I intend to yield to the official arrival of autumn. To let go of my resistance to letting go. To accept that I will be “directed aright” as Thoreau said. I have worked hard enough at “getting” what my life is about. It’s time to yield, and share the yield with joy. What about you?

Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2017

 

“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” -Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, in Shanksville, Pa., in 2002

 

The night before 9/11 twenty-four Ireland travelers, registered for my first tour, convened at O’Connor’s Pub in Portland. The excitement was palpable as we made final plans to depart Portland on Friday, Sept. 14. I went to sleep that night with a big smile on my face, knowing everything was in place. The next morning the smile was replaced by a face that registered shock and devastation.

My stepson, 12 years old and about to start middle school, phoned us from his mom’s house. “Turn on the television,” he whispered. Together we watched in horror what unfolded over the next hour or so. At one point I asked him if he was okay. He replied, again in a whisper, “Is this the beginning of World War III?” I told him I didn’t know, while reminding him that he was safe. I asked him if he wanted me to come get him. “No,” he said, “I want to go to school.” That’s when I remembered I had to be at a Waldorf school at 9:00am for my weekly Life Lessons storytelling adventure with a group of second graders. I hadn’t a clue what I was going to say.

I somberly entered the classroom to find the children gathered around the feet of Mrs. Johnson, all with looks of devastation on their innocent faces. “Pastor Kate is here,” she cried out. “She will help us.” Suddenly I had my own little nest of baby chicks gathered around me, looking for guidance and meaning. My story went something like this.

Far back in time, when the first babies were born, the Creator gave each of them a heart. It would be the place where Love lives. (I invited the children to place their hands on their hearts.)

Like a drum, the hearts would beat, making a thump, thump sound, so we could hear them and remember Love. (We made the sounds together.)

At first the heart beats came at different times. But soon they came into rhythm. All hearts beat together, from the North Pole to the South Pole, from America to Africa, reminding us that we are one human family, created to express Love, together. Now, let’s close our eyes and feel the love coming from our hearts. (At last, smiles began to return to their little faces.)

But over time some grownups started to tie strings around their hearts. (In a pretend mean voice I asked the children to pretend to tie up their hearts, making mean sounds as well.)

Like a ball of yarn, soon some of these hearts were nearly covered up and invisible. And so was their Love. It was replaced by fear and hate. Show me what fear and hate looks like on your faces. (Imagine their expressions.)

And that is what happened this morning. Some grownups, with fear and hate in their hearts, caused great pain and sadness for many, many people, us included. I know I’m feeling sad, and a little bit scared. (At this point I invited the children to quietly say aloud what they were feeling.)

So here’s what our job is today. We must un-tie the strings of our hearts. Ready, get set, go! (Chaos ensued as the boys and girls ran and tumbled around the room, pretending to let fly the many invisible heart strings. Eventually we came back into circle.)

Now feel the Love in your heart. (Another round of thump, thumps.)

Can you feel the love again? (Cries of yes, yes, yes echoed through the classroom.)

This is what we must remember today. Most people are good and they let their love shine. But some tie up their hearts with fear and hate. Fear of people who are different than they are. Hate because of skin colors unlike their own. Or fear of different languages from around the world. Maybe hate because of different beliefs about presidents, countries, or even God. But what’s true is this. Every human has a heart, even the people who did the bad things this morning. The Creator intended the human heart to be where Love lives. Let’s make a pact today to let our Love shine, even if we feel sad or afraid. How about we all connect pinky fingers. Look around our circle. Are we one family? (“Yes,” they shouted in unison. Slowly I began to sing “This Little Light of Mine.” The children joined in. We separated that morning with big smiles on our faces and young hearts once again at peace.)

It wasn’t until I got home that morning that I wondered if the horrific events of 9/11 would cause the Ireland tour to be cancelled. As 9/11 unfolded, and then 9/12, I realized on 9/13 that the 9/14 tour departure would not happen. It was declared an international day of mourning. I felt horrible knowing I had to phone the twenty-four travelers with bad news. That’s when it occurred to me, my own Life Lesson. We were merely inconvenienced, while millions were devastated. We would not go to the airport on 9/14 and demand our flights to Ireland. Instead, I would encourage my travelers to join the world in prayer, reflection and contemplation.

On 9/11/01, and every 9/11 since, I remember that it’s a choice whether to see through the eyes of love or the eyes of fear. To remember that it’s not all about my needs or desires. To always pursue the deeper truth. Missing a tour date was an inconvenience. Loss of thousands of lives was devastation. True to the generous hearts of the Irish people, we were able to move the tour to spring, at no extra cost. The vendors in Ireland took the loss out of respect for their American anam caras, their soul friends.

My plan for today is to sing, whistle and hum “This Little Light of Mine” whenever and wherever it occurs to me to do so. Like the Waldorf second graders (now young adults) I will visualize the joining of pinky fingers, with skins of many colors, reminding us that We Are One, and that we’re all in this together.

Listen to the voice of children singing!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzmdNDf14Rg

Kindness

September 6, 2017

 

“Be kind to one another.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Remember the popular bumper sticker from the 1990s?

Since then it’s been a fun spiritual practice for me. At first it was adding coins to a nearly expired parking meter for the car next to me. On family vacations, we loved paying the bridge toll fee for the car behind us. We’d watch with eager anticipation to see the reactions. In traffic, I get joy by waving an impatient driver into my lane. Lest you think I’m perfect, I can get annoyed when someone doesn’t let me merge into their lane. Where did my kindness go, so easily and so quickly? For kindness to elevate from the occasional good deed to a way of life, it takes focus, willingness and commitment. Both receiving kindness and giving kindness.

Receiving Kindness: A few years ago I popped into a pizza place to get an ice tea to go. I gave the fellow my order, who in turn called it out to his co-worker. I asked the price. The man said it was free. I laughed. “Seriously, how much?” His reply, “Seriously, it’s free.” My reply, “Are you teasing me?” His reply, “Nope, just passing along the kindness someone extended to me.” I said thank you as I walked away smiling. I almost passed up a Random Act of Kindness extended to me. It made me wonder how much good I overlook when my focus is on what’s wrong in the world.

Extending Kindness: Last week I purchased a 2-quart container of Tillamook Vanilla Ice Cream to go with the fresh blackberry pie my husband had baked. I noticed a sale sign that said, “Two for the price of one.” I hate to pass up a bargain, but it’s not safe to have two containers of ice cream in my freezer at one time. As I started to walk away, I noticed a sweet young family in front of me. A dad, obviously pregnant mom and a 3yr old boy. I asked them if they like ice cream. All three sets of eyes lit up as they nodded in unison. I explained the “two for one” deal, and said that I wanted to gift them the second container. The little boy shouted, “Yes!” The parents paused and gave me a quizzical look. “Seriously?” they asked. “Seriously,” I nodded, wearing a big smile. The only down part of this encounter is they got coffee almond fudge and I came away with boring vanilla. I suspect we all stepped away with joy from this simple act of kindness.

With all that’s swarming around us right now—hurricanes, floods, wildfires, nukes, immigration, wars, cancer, you name it—I can easily slip into worry and despair. I allow myself to visit there, but I refuse to take up residence. And so I ask the Universe: What can I do to add kindness to the world, on this day, at this moment? Opportunity is everywhere, if you remain focused and willing, and then take action.

What will your next Random Act of Kindness reveal, as giver and/or receiver?

 

A meditative song for the smoky air and falling ash as a result of wildfires. Bring on the rain!

“I Dreamed of Rain” by Jan Garrett & JD Martin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muTABuD0ngA

It’s Just Numbers

August 6, 2017

 

“11:11 is the Universe knocking itself out to give you evidence of your alignment.”
~ Abraham Hicks

 

A few months back my beloved stepdaughter, who had just turned thirty, asked what number birthday it was for her paternal grandmother. I said that Oma had turned eighty last fall. Justine was stunned. “Eighty,” she gasped. “Really? EIGHTY?” I answered with a simple, “Yes,” and then added, “In fourteen years I will be eighty.” Again, she gasped in shock and awe. To which I replied, “Yep, and in fourteen years you will be forty-four.” This was met with absolute silence. And then we both laughed. It’s only numbers. Here are some “number moments” from my life story.

Weight – I remember the first time the number on a scale influenced my self-esteem. We were in 7th grade and getting weighed in P.E. class, in front of dozens of other girls. For the first time my weight went above 110 pounds. In fact, I weighed in at a whopping 117. I remember the shame I carried when another Kathy’s weight logged in at my previous number of 110. It was that day that I gave my power over to numbers on a bathroom scale. Fast forward several years to when I participated in Weight Watchers. They required a weekly weigh-in, with privacy. I recall the facilitator saying that the number on a bathroom scale is information only. Just feedback. It is up to me whether I give that number power. This revelation allowed me to release the story from the 7th grade weigh-in. I also released from mental bondage the P.E. teacher and the other Kathy, and every weight I’ve ever weighed.

Age – A friend in Ireland is so fascinated by my age, in her mind thinking I appear much younger, that she often asks her friends to guess. In front of me! You can imagine the discomfort this causes in the other, especially men. Usually they guess about ten years younger than I am. Then we all have a good laugh realizing that because I look younger than my age, I have a secret. The secret is that I am old. Suddenly, unbeknownst to those present, the joke implodes and I start to feel old. The real corker was a few years ago. My friend introduced me to her sister. They were both in their forties. I found out later that my friend grilled her sister about my age. She guessed fifty. I was at the time sixty-three years old. When the sister learned that she said, “Oh, I bet Kathleen was a fine looking woman back in her day.” This was, I believe, meant to be a compliment. All I could do was blink my eyes and smile, says she who is now sixty-six.

Numbers have been related to spirituality and religion since the beginning of time. Think of the Ten Commandments, the Twelve Stations of the Cross, the 8-Fold Way of Buddhism, plus the 12-steps of recovery from addictions. We humans resonate and align with numbers. So why not have fun with it?

If you’re on Facebook with me, then you know I occasionally like to post numbers. It’s become a spiritual practice. I type 8:11 when I see that on the digital clock. It was my house address growing up in Ames, Iowa. It always brings me a smile. When I see 9:11, I prayerfully pause to remember that fateful day in 2001. A friend, a night owl, likes to post in military time, like 22:22. Other favorites are 2:22, 3:33 and 4:44. And the best of all is seeing 11:11 on the clock and posting it.

The next full moon is Monday, August 7th, precisely at 11:11am, Pacific time. I’m going to set the alarm on my clock to remind me to notice. It might be a good time for me to step on the scales or starting planning for my 67th birthday. It’s just numbers.

Check out this website for information related to number sequences.

Number Sequences from The Angels
by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.

https://spiritlibrary.com/doreen-virtue/number-sequences-from-the-angels

Mary Magdalene

July 21, 2017

 

“A ministering priestess with a deep understanding of the thresholds of the spirit world.”
Jean-Yves Leloup, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene

My first conscious awareness of Mary Magdalene was in 1971 with the debut of the rock opera, “Jesus Christ Super Star.” Shouldn’t it have been about Mother Mary instead? I mean, a prostitute gets a starring role in the life of Jesus? Little did I know that two years before that the Catholic Church quietly deleted references to Mary Magdalene as a prostitute, probably because it’s not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. In 1969 she was restored as Saint Mary Magdalene. Where was the fanfare for this monumental shift?

Fast forward two decades. At that time I was in my first year of ministry studies. I recall the teacher of our metaphysical bible class speak of Mary Magdalene in a new light. In the Gospel of Matthew, “…a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.” The apostles were appalled, saying the money could have been given to the poor. To which Jesus replied (Matthew 26:13), “Why are you bothering with this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Those last four words found me speechless – IN MEMORY OF HER. I have shared that bible verse with many others who have been equally stunned. In memory of HER? Yes, that’s what the bible says. HER!!! Look it up.

About that same time I was introduced to Margaret Starbird’s ground breaking and controversial book: The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail. A staunch Catholic and military wife, Starbird set out to prove that all the hoopla around Mary Magdalene was false. She was a prostitute. No way was she married to Jesus. It didn’t take long for Margaret’s research to reveal just the opposite. It is her belief, and mine, that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, and that Mary Magdalene was the Holy Grail. Consider the following:

  • Bible scholars call Mary Magdalene the Apostles’ Apostle. That implies that she had an elevated position, closer to Jesus than the traditional apostles we know about.
  • It was Mary Magdalene who first saw the resurrected Christ. It took convincing for the other apostles to believe her.
  • Within the four gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke & John-there are only five nearly identical passages. Four of them are about Mary Magdalene being the first to encounter Jesus post-crucifixion. Given the patriarchal writers of the bible, it tells us the she must have been very important in the life and story of Jesus.
  • It was Judaic law that young Jewish men must be married. Jesus remained a Jew, therefore he would have had to follow the law.
  • At the time of Jesus, only a High Priestess would have had the power to anoint, especially for burial. Perhaps Mary Magdalene was later called a prostitute because men would come to her in order to encounter the Goddess. These were holy rituals, not sordid encounters in the back seat of a car.
  • Take a long look at da Vinci’s famous image of the Last Supper. Who is that feminine figure sitting to the right of Jesus?
  • Look up Song of Songs in the Old Testament. The passion and erotic love component has been attributed to Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
  • In 1896 a papyrus book was found in Cairo. It contained what is believed to be the Gospel of Mary of Magdala. Her message affirms the teachings of Jesus to be a path to inner spiritual knowledge. In 1917 another 3rd century Greek fragment of Gospel of Mary was found in Egypt. In 1955 the first printed edition appeared in German. Her gospel is empowering, reminding us that we are all children of the one God.

With the traditional Christian hymn, “In the Garden,” the writer imagined that he was present with them (Jesus and Mary Magdalene) in the garden. More than a million recordings and printed copies of it have been sold. Here’s just one version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAhsVqbV3pg
Joey+Rory – In The Garden (Live)

I find it interesting that both of my parents requested that this song be sung at their funerals. At the time I imagined them walking with Jesus in the garden of the afterlife, although neither parent was religious. It was only later that I heard In the Garden as a love song between the lover and the beloved, Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Metaphysically, each of us is the lover and the beloved. Divine Union is trying desperately to emerge. Perhaps that’s a reflection of the discord with our current administration’s approach to women. The last vestiges of patriarchy?

Saturday, July 22, is the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene. What does her life and ministry mean to us today? I suggest that she, with Jesus, is modeling the union of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine. Together they are birthing the second coming: The Christ Consciousness. By that I mean honoring and following the principles modeled by Jesus. Love, compassion, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, connection, etc.

On this Feast Day of Mary Magdalene, I will walk in my own garden in the company of like-spirited women. We will wear red and carry with us an egg, both symbols of Mary Magdalene. The woman who will channel Mary Magdalene will anoint us with spikenard oil, what Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus with. We will do all of this In Memory of Her.

Interested in reading more about Mary Magdalene? Or perhaps host a book group in your home and learn about her in the company of others? Email Rev. Kathleen for suggestions: katheenverigin333@gmail.com

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