Sunday, December 6, 2015

Be A Light....

Chanukah is this week. Running from Sunday night for eight days, each night observers light a candle, remembering the miracle of how an oil lamp stayed lit for eight days even though the oil was almost gone.

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl from Central Synagogue, shares in the short video below the meaning of the Shamash: the candle that lights the other eight candles over the course of Chanukah. She says: "Being a Shamash might not have all the glory of being a Chanukah candle but the light that the Shamash brings is no less miraculous."

Watch the video below to learn about what it means to be a Shamash, a helper of light, in your own life (and stay tuned for the three blessings as the candles are lit during Chanukah).

How are you a Shamash in your part of the world?

Friday, December 4, 2015

God's love stories .. there's a movement

There is a movement of love afoot. Maybe it's because this is what I'm looking for in order to write about it, or maybe others have decided that what we must do is combat violence and hatred is start talking about love more, start living love more. 

As they've appeared on my Facebook and tumblr feeds, I've reposted them but I thought I would collect some here, with original sourcing where possible (in other words, trying to be a good internet citizen). 

1) Change the World Through Love

"She felt like doing her part to change the world, so she started by giving thanks for all the blessings in her life, rather than bemoaning all that was missing from it. ... Each day she lived with more gratitude, more acceptance, more kindness ..." -- Scott Stabile (from his Instagram 

This quote (and I encourage you to read the whole thing on Scott's Instagram account) begins with acknowledging blessings, then with liking oneself, then with small acts of kindness. In various small ways, love can enter the world ... and it's through each of us bringing a small piece of our hearts to the table.

(Scott has a book called "Just Love" based on his articles and Facebook posts. I haven't read it, but if you have, let me know what you thought!)

2) Respond from Stillness

I just recently I wrote an introductory piece on stillness. Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery is a name that has kept popping up but have I read anything of hers? Not until yesterday, when she wrote this piece on Facebook:

It's a beautiful summation of sitting with something (being still) and then taking compassionate action. She says it much better than I did.

Hi My Friends,I have found there to be a distinct pattern to my reaction to personal or global trauma.1. BE...
Posted by Momastery on Friday, December 4, 2015
3) Hug

Hugging is good medicine, is an image shared on Facebook by Beloved Festival which happens yearly in Portland, Oregon. 

Joyful, hugging monks pretty much says it all. (Alas, I couldn't find a source for the numbers. The quote, or part of it, seems to have come from Virginia Satir, a family therapist)

So that's this month's "love moments" I guess we can call them without sounding weird or creepy? (Sorry, I just watched a Tina Fey/Amy Poehler trailer. Everything seems to have a double entendre now.) No? Well, let's just stick to calling them God's love stories and I hope they find ways to transform your life with love.

Where have you seen the movement of love occur online and in life? Please share in the comments and I may add them to the next instalment!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Be Still .... Discover Love Within/Without

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)

Stillness is a habit of love, according to Ed Bacon (8 Habits of Love). It's showing love to the Divine, simply by showing up and paying attention to God. It's showing love to oneself by being generous with one's time in order to find a calm center.

I really struggle with stillness. It's been a part of my Rule of Life as an Associate of OHC (Order of Holy Cross) for about four years now and still I struggle. Even 10 minutes seems an insurmountable amount of time. And I don't get it. It's something I say I want to do and yet I've yet to form the habit.

One of the questions Ed Bacon asks is to reflect on times when you felt that stillness. No monkey brain thoughts, just a calm, quiet peace. In discussions with my current spiritual director, I already knew that a pleasant environment is a key part of my seeking and finding that stillness. Some examples:
  1. watching the Hudson River with a warm cup of tea in my hand in the late afternoon
  2. watching a storm come in over the Santa Barbara hills as I prayed the Jesus prayer using wooden Anglican prayer beads
  3. standing on the cliffs watching the waves crash, and the pelicans fly overhead
But those are really special occasions. I don't have a river or an ocean at my back door or near enough to my workplace. How do I bring it back with me to ordinary life?

The closest thing to a pleasing environment is the altar space that I have at home. It has two icons that I have written along with smaller icons (prints), crosses and other meaningful images. There are candles and angels, places to hold my prayer beads and Associates cross. There would be incense too but I ran out of that.

Taken a year or so ago, it's a little more crowded now (more icons, angels, more candles)

This Advent, I'm participating in Advent meditations on Facebook with Christianne Squires of Still Forming. There's an audio meditation four days a week, and a written one the other two. If this doesn't make meditation a habit, I'm not sure what will! (Advent is under way, but you can start by joining the private Facebook group). 

Do you find time for stillness? Is it easy for you to be still? (And if it is, got any tips for me?)