Christmas MUST Be Wonderful…

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Picture Source

My husband and I sometimes have discussions about ‘Christmas-time’.  We both have our opinions as to when it is. Jim is English and more of a traditionalist. For him, Christmas time begins on the 25th of December and last twelve days.  For me, partly because of my American upbringing, Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas day – two days longer than the advent season.  He celebrates Christmas when it happens, while I celebrate it as something to look forward to. He enjoys meeting up with family and having the big Christmas feast(s).  I enjoy the preparations and evoking the ambiance of Christmas.  I love having my tree up, lighting my Christmas-y candles, going shopping and seeing the Christmas decorations and watching Christmas movies.

Of course, there is no right way or wrong way to celebrate Christmas.  I know of many different ways people celebrate Christmas.  I also know that for some, Christmas is a very difficult time of year.  Some choose not to celebrate it at all.  Strange as it may seem, I totally get it.  The problem is, we put way too much importance on the ‘how’ of Christmas.  I mean Christmas has to be wonderful right? We have to make sure everyone is happy.  So we negotiate with our spouses as to who we visit and when and who visits us.  We try desperately hard to get the right gifts for people otherwise misunderstandings happen.  (You thought I was a size 12?!) We bake till our backs break only to find out that Bree won’t eat cookies with oats in it, Jaz won’t eat anything with red food colouring (on the fact that she is a veggie) and Sara’s daughter has a nut allergy.  Not to mention all the dieters out there who won’t eat anything at all!

Then there are those who have Christmas memories where things went wrong.  A death. A break-up.  A vicious argument.  Which isn’t fair because like I said, we believe in the importance that Christmas must be wonderful.

We also believe that Christmas is about getting together with family.  However, many will be spending Christmas alone.  Some will not be doing this by choice.  There is a sad growing crisis in the UK of elderly people being abandoned by their family.  These people have grown-up children and grand-children who have cut them off.  Every Christmas, they sit alone at home; no visit, no phone call, not even a card.  As hard as it is to be abandoned, the feeling is compounded at Christmas.  They have many memories of Christmases past when they use to spend it with their family.  Christmas use to be wonderful.  Now they are alone.

Also, that first Christmas after a divorce…dismal!  There is a large family get together and everyone is either fussing over you because they feel sorry for you or they are avoiding talking about your ex altogether.  Then there is Auntie Jo, who perhaps is going a bit senile in her old age.  She keeps asking you where the no-good bum is.  Only she says, ‘Where is that lovely husband of yours?’

Christmas after divorce can be harder still if there are children involved. The anger and resentment may still be there.  Even if you and your ex have been able to work out Christmas arrangements with the kids amicably, the kids have voices of their own.  They may not want to spend it with you and visit Auntie Jo.  On the other hand, they may not be putting up a fuss at all, but you have placed all this pressure on yourself to buy them the best gifts and make it the best Christmas ever for them.  Why?  Because Christmas must be wonderful.

Many people take on a second job over Christmas to afford the gifts they must buy.  Many are in jobs which become more stressful around Christmas.  If you work for a delivery company or are in a retail related job then that usually means lots of late nights, over-time hours and angry customers.  After all, they are paying your wages by buying those special gifts which need to arrive in time otherwise Christmas won’t be wonderful.

Why do we do it?  Why do we put all this hard work and pressure on ourselves to make Christmas perfect?  Why are the gifts, the food and the festivities so important to get right?  Why does it have to be so wonderful?

Every year I find myself speculating on what I will and won’t do during the leading up to Christmas.  The truth is, I do want it to be wonderful for everyone.  I also want as little stress as possible.

How each of us celebrates Christmas is up to us.  However, if you have some concerns as to how Christmas will be this year.  If you are too busy and worried about stress or sinking into depression, then it is time to start planning.  What will bring you peace this Christmas? I’m not suggesting that you think only of yourself.  I am however, giving us all permission to give a bit of love to ourselves as well.

Christmas isn’t about an image.  It isn’t about outward perfection.  Christmas is the celebration of a mysterious, mystical and wonderful event.  As I ponder on that event, the imagery that it evokes isn’t garland, platefuls of food or presents wrapped in metallic paper.  There is no imagery but a starlit night which is sensed more than seen.

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Picture Source

It is a feeling of profound silence.  A silence which grows deep within and warms the heart. A silence which is reflective of that mysterious, mystical moment in history….the birth of Christ. That very first Christmas was wonderful.  I suppose every Christmas must be wonderful if we but allow it to reflect that first.

Peace and the Long Car Journey

Car Journey to Scotland-

One of my hopes and fears about this trip had to do with the slight lack of electronic entertainment for my teenagers.  It wasn’t a total lack as we have wi-fi access in the house we are staying at in Largs but there has been no mention of wi-fi in our accommodation on the Isle of Eigg.  Personally, I have been looking forward to my books and doing some exploring but I was bracing myself in fear of the teenage grumbling that may occur.  However, besides the possible grumbling about the lack of wi-fi, I was most especially worried about the actual road trip there. You know how it is…five people in one car, cramped, the youngest being just fifteen and me charged with the responsibility of maintaining peace for the sake of the sole driver (my husband).

We loaded our car on Saturday morning and prayed together for the journey.  I then suggested to the family that we all look for ways to make each other happy on this trip.  Jadzia had been experiencing some pain in one of her legs so I offered to switch seats with her partway through the journey so she can sit in the front seat.  Then, my son Brandon spoke to both his sisters and suggested switching seats throughout the journey so no one had to sit in the middle for very long.

All three of my teenagers have ipods.  Initially, it had taken me a while to approve of ipods.  I like music but I am conscious of the danger one can be in of not being able to hear the sounds of your environment.  I also felt it to be a bit rude as the person with the ipod is tuning everyone else out…..but it helps keep the peace during long car journeys.

Anyhow…after some trepidation and a bit of guilt, I decided to download Spotify on my phone.  I told myself it would be for just this one time and for a small part of the journey and it would give me a chance to choose my own music without complaints from anyone else.

So when I switched to the back seat, I began my ‘short time’ of self-indulgence.  With the panoramic sun-roof open, I gazed at the layers of cloud formations while enjoying some Scottish folk music.

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Then I gazed at the views from the passenger window whilst listening to folk-rock music of the 60’s and 70’s.  I gazed out the window at the changing terrain, the hills of Cumbria,

the farmlands dotted with sheep and cows and then back through the sun-roof at the clouds again and discovered I still had some imagination left at my age after all.  In the end, I sacrificially volunteered to remain in the back seat, even sitting in the middle seat at times.  Jadzia kept Jim entertained with lively, bubbly discourse and I would at times lower the music and join in—but not too often.  I am embarrassed to admit that I really loved being ‘plugged in’.  I listened to classic rock, Indi-folk, traditional Scottish and folk-rock and no-one complained except when Brianna told me sternly to “stop” dancing in the car. To keep the peace I remained still after that but with the sad realization that my youngest didn’t understand what ‘coolness’ really is because for several hours I allowed the music to take me back.  I was once again sixteen years of age listening to Janis Joplin, Jethro Tull and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The journey couldn’t have gone any better.  Everyone good as gold, happy and thoughtful towards one another. We arrived at Largs tired but content.

Does Your Parenting Style Have An Effect On Your Child’s Religious Outlook?

There seems to be quite a debate when it comes to the best way to rear our children.  I have heard all kinds of comments and opinions from advocates of ‘gentle parenting’ to those who believe the problems with youth today stem from the lack of corporeal punishment.  It can often feel very confusing to new parents who are wanting to raise happy, well behaved children.

Another interesting comment I have often heard throughout my nearly thirty years as a parent is the one of regret.  ‘If I could do it all over again, I would do things differently.’ I myself would like to have done some things differently. When I first began having children, I had no real parenting role models so I raised my children partly on instinct and partly on books by parenting ‘experts’. Looking back at it now, I personally wish I had trusted my instincts more. I often tell new parents (even those adopting) to trust their instincts and to do everything in love. I believe that if we continuously ask ourselves what is the most loving way to handle every situation, we would make fewer parenting mistakes.  However, the sad truth is that not everyone can trust their own instincts.  Why? Because studies show that adults who have been raised by authoritarian parenting methods are often lacking the skill in hearing intuitively! This is especially true in those children who were not allowed to have their own voice or exercise any free will. Children raised in a militant style fashion are taught to do as their told and no questions asked.  Is it any wonder that they grow into adults who turn to others to make their decisions for them? They have not learn to discern their inner voice and when they hear it, they do not trust it.  They turn to advice from those who are smarter or wiser than they perceive they themselves are.

Parents are often authoritarian because what they desire above all is for their children to be well-behaved.  Basically, they want their children to be like adults before their time.  I remember being a young mother and fearing my children’s behavior in public because I felt their behavior was a reflection of myself as a parent.  The sad truth of the matter is that it is often perceived that way.  How often have we seen badly behaved children and heard some comment like, ‘She/He does not know how to control their kids!’ After having six children, I learned an important truth: all kids are different.  Some behave well and some do not and it isn’t always down to parenting skills or lack of.  Every child has different trigger points that can set them off into tantrums.  One of our jobs as a parent is defining those trigger points and recognizing moments in which they can occur.  This can be quite a challenge when your child’s temperament is different from your own or your other children!

I have known of families who impose strict regiments upon their children and guess what?  They are some of the most outwardly best behaved children I have seen.  But let’s not look at things at face value.  Why are they so well-behaved?  Is it because of fear of punishment?  Is it because they feel they must earn their parents love? If that is the case, then they are learning through dominance and dominance does not make for transformation.  Real transformation is from within and is not fear-based. I have seen some of these well-behaved children turn into violent, angry teenagers while others become fearful doormats. Don’t we want our children to be well-adjusted, spiritually strong, happy individuals who see the world as a friendly place?

In the case of religion, children who are raised by overtly strict parents tend  to become dualistic thinkers. Everything is either white or black, right or wrong, good or bad.  There is no room for tolerance in others. Because of the way these children are raised, they have not learned to question what they or others believe.  Everything is set in stone because they were not given the tools to learn for themselves. Can you guess what their perception of God will be like later in life?  Have you seen religious outlooks that are rigid and lack love and tolerance? I am not pointing fingers at any particular religion.  It is more of an individual thing.  You can have one particular church, synagogue, temple with individuals that are both tolerant and intolerant.  Fundamentalism is not a religion, it is a sickness of the spirit. What kind of God do we want our children to know?  A hateful dictator or a loving saviour? It is really true that a great part of how our children will be spiritually is down to how we as parents raise them.  If we raise them in love and respect and allow them to have opinions, then they will be loving, respectful adults.  Let’s discuss rather than dictate religious views with our children.  Share your viewpoints but also allow children to share theirs and to explore their own beliefs. Above all, raise them in love.

 

 

Love Abounds

My time away has been longer than I had expected!  My days have been busy ones since I have been back from New York.  A project with a deadline, a friend in hospital, work, housework, etcetera.  But one thing I have been diligent with is my daily meditation.  it is both my source of renewal and my preparation for the day ahead of me.  It is time spent in the fountain of love so that I in turn can bring forth love to others joyously ad effortlessly.  For this I am truly and humbly grateful. Because without this fountain, I deplete and I lose the spring in my step, the joy in my heart, the sense of communion with God who is love Himself and I see more of myself and less of others.  I encourage anyone who has yet to begin a practice of meditation to begin one now.  I encourage all to keep it up and never give it up.

The wedding was beautiful.  I am so proud of my daughter for her hard work and creativity in putting it all together.  Upstate New York is beautiful during the autumn season.  The colours are vibrant, rich and gorgeous.

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A sense of the outdoors was brought in with faux autumn leaves, decorated pumpkins and bouquets made with love using autumn colours.  Brittany with her natural red hair and her lace wedding dress was breath-takingly beautiful. I loved seeing Dan’s (the groom) expression when she first appeared in all her glory.  There were three beautiful flower girls scattering rose petals of red, peach and yellow which seemed to me to mimic the fall leaves fluttering down outside…but with a touch of humour as the youngest flower girl grabbed handfuls of petals and tossed them down with enthusiasm.

It was a strangely emotional day for me.  In a sense I felt like I was in a dream and found myself feeling a rush of love towards every guest.  On reflection, everybody seemed to be feeling this.  It is unusual I think where the bride’s parents are divorced to suddenly see those who once you called family to feel they are family again.  The love was palpable.There was a sense of heaven throughout the wedding ceremony and reception.  I don’t yet have all the pictures but here are a few:

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Our Sense Of Autumn

It is generally noted that the season of Spring is a time when one thinks of new beginnings and hope for the future.  Trees and flowers start to bloom,  the weather is warmer and all throughout nature there are signs of new births.

Then comes Summer, the season where many plans are made to take vacations, bask in the sunshine or meet up with friends at a pub garden.  The mood is happier, the clothes are lighter and there is in a small way, a sense of freedom.

However, it is an Autumn landscape which speaks volumes to me. There is a sense of maturity. A sense that all my hard work has now paid off. You see it in the way the rays of sunshine capture and illuminate bright ochres and ambers as if a painter has added touches of gilding here and there.  The world feels richer, deeper, wiser.  The harvest is reaped and there is much to be thankful for.  There are new comforts in fleecy jackets, hot soups and root vegetable stews.  It is a time of  year when one feels the most nurtured and wishes to reach out and bring nurturing to others.

 

 

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Picture Source

 

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Perhaps it is just me but Autumn brings out my deepest mothering instincts as well as my deepest feelings of contentment. It is about seeing small children with big smiles while they crunch fallen leaves under their feet.  When I was a child, I felt more keenly that I was another year older when school started up again then when it was my birthday.  Autumn begins and it is the season of acquiring new information, deeper contemplation and becoming more grounded.

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Picture Source

 

Decisions and commitments made in Autumn are decisions and commitments made in wisdom.  So today, let’s reflect on this season as the season to focus on our wisdom.  What is important?  What is right?  How do we serve? How do we nurture both ourselves and others?  What decisions do we need to make?

 

Books! Glorious Books!

I have had a passion for books ever since I learned to read.  I still remember the day when reading suddenly clicked.  I was in first grade and we had (joy of all joys) ‘silent reading time’.  There were short stories of Dick and Jane (anyone remember them?).  I kept reading each one, and then going back to the bookcase to replace it with another.  I was reading quickly for the first time and I ended up reading them all and being absolutely thrilled. Soon after, my mother took me to the public library to get a children’s library card and the world just opened up for me.

Genres have changed over the years becoming broader and more inclusive.  These days I try to read more non-fiction as fiction can often be a vice for me.  When I do read fiction, I just can’t put it down and everything else in my life becomes second place.  I suppose that’s because when I was a child, books (especially sci-fi and fantasy) were my escape.

When my children were small, I discovered the joy of sharing my passion with them.  It is a wonderful experience to be able to read aloud to your children.  I revelled in it! I became actress and story-teller all in one.  I especially loved doing the voice of the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I have a couple of wonderful home videos of me reading Cinderella to little Tara and The Lion King to little Brittany.

Reading to Brianna with Brittany and Brandon

Reading to Brianna with Brittany and Brandon

In recent years, books have become my teachers, my mentors, my muse.  Reading is also my way of starting my day in the morning as well as relaxing during my lunch break and at the end of the day.  I love especially reading during a thunderstorm.  It has to be fiction then–perhaps a re-reading of  Tolkien or one of  MacDonald’s luscious faery stories or an intense suspenseful book by King.  I try not to be fanatical about my books.  Well, maybe I don’t try all that hard!  I have them in nearly every room of the house.  I love seeing my bookcases filled with them although  at the moment I don’t have enough bookcases.

Recently, I had a birthday and was blessed with books and an Amazon gift card which of course I spent immediately on more books.  I now have two large piles of books on my bedside table as well as more on its way and more waiting to be read in my bookcases.

Bedside table books

 

The Philosophy book pictured above is a borrow from my daughter Jadzia who just finished her A level course.

 

More books

The bear is a gift from Jadzia one Christmas when she was 7.  I was then given a little baby bear which I keep together on my night table as well.  With all these books, it is a bit of a challenge placing my cup of tea there as well, but I manage.

So let’s talk books….what are your favourites?  What are you currently reading?

Reflections of Mamá

Her hair once dark was now half silver.  It was as if the moonlight gleaming through the bedroom window had decided to take sanctuary by gently interweaving itself within her dark tresses.  I didn’t blame the moon as I too found sanctuary in her presence.  She was very old, yet young still.  I was proud of her for I was sure that many of her age ordinarily had hair pearly white and I considered it a privilege to be allowed to brush it.  I had to be very gentle as it was delicate and came off easily with the brush.  My heart was so full of love for this ancient relative of mine.  I spoke to her in limited phrases because my Spanish was not fluent and she didn’t speak a word of English that I knew of.

“Usted es muy bonita Mamá.” (You are very pretty, Mama)

We all called her Mamá; my mom, dad, mi abuela (my grandmother) and my brothers but she was la madre de mi abuela (my grandmother’s mother) and they lived together. At this time she was about 100 years old.  She was relatively healthy but I knew on account of her age that she wouldn’t be here much longer.  Knowing this caused me to reflect sadly and so …very discreetly…

“Su pelo es precioso Mamá.” (Your hair is lovely Mamá.)…I pocketed some of the strands of hair which came off with the brush.

About a year or two before this, I had interviewed Mamá for an assignment I had to write for school.  My mother helped by translating between us.  Through this, I learned that she was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico.  She had lived on a farm in the late 1800’s wearing long skirts and dresses.  She told me how challenging it often was to milk the cow; how the udder wouldn’t fill with milk so readily. She had to get the calf and bring it close to the mother so that the milk would let down.  Mamá would then quickly move the calf out of the way so she could milk her. Obviously, these are the facts from the interview that I found the most interesting because it is all I now remember except that I got a good grade on it. It was probably the longest dialogue we ever exchanged.  We communicated in other ways but I can’t really recall how we did it.

When I was very young, we would often sit rather serenely next to each other on the sofa.  I would bring my hand up and down her arm amusing myself with smoothing her wrinkles in one direction and then another.  She would smile at me and call me, ‘Nena’ (little girl) and I would always call her  Mamá and tell her she was pretty.  Perhaps that is why she felt pretty.  She refused to wear spectacles because they made her look ugly she said.  She loved her peach floral dress that she wore on her 100th birthday but she wasn’t happy with her gift of a rocking chair because that was for old people.

Mamá passed when she was 102, two days before John Lennon was assassinated.  I was fifteen.

Looking back, I sometimes wonder if the love I felt from her was all in my head.  I don’t think so though.  Children are intuitive and as a child I think I would have known.  When I was born,  Mamá lived with us.  She was there when I was a baby till I was two years old.  She showed love and I showed it back.  With language limitations we got along splendidly through the gift and power of love.

In a burgundy velvet jewellery case lined with with a piece of vanilla satin cloth holds a few strands of  hair that was touched by moonlight long ago.

Petra Hernandez

Petra Hernandez

With So Much Love And Adoration…..

When my son Brandon was about two years old, he would often wake up in the morning before I was ready to start my day.  Being pregnant back then with my sixth child caused me to need a lot of sleep and I found myself rising at later times in the morning.  That is to say I tried to but it is impossible to ignore a toddler who is awake and ready to start the day. What I often did was to pick Brandon up and bring him to bed with me in the hopes he would go back to sleep himself.  He would nuzzle close, place one chubby thumb in his mouth and with his other hand caress my face all the while murmuring, “Mommy, Mommy.”  With so much love and adoration, how could I possibly go back to being asleep?  I have never risen from bed in the morning so happy and content as I did in those days.

 

Brandon

There is something about small children that makes me feel their spirits are more pure and not yet tarnished by the woes of life.  Jesus spoke about the importance of being like a child.  The more I contemplate this, the more I see why.  When we are small, we love our parents unconditionally and quickly forget when they anger us.  Then comes a certain time in our lives when we begin to perceive more and more faults within our parents and others.  I think for me it began between the age of nine and eleven.  When we are still young we learn that people aren’t perfect but rarely find fault with ourselves.  Then we enter adolescence and find all we perceive as faults within ourselves….you know, the ones nobody else sees.  If we decide to take the spiritual path of love and wisdom, we begin to discover what our true faults are only then to discover that there are no faults, only ways we have to learn to love and grow better.  One such way is realizing that we must grow younger.  Like Brandon when he was two, we need to look at individual people with love and see right to their spirits and know that’s who they are.  Have you ever had someone look at you that way and see your real self?  It’s the part of you that you know intimately and hope that others would see…but they often do not.  If you have ever had that experience then you know that what comes next is that you begin to yearn to be who you really are.  You end up courageously allowing yourself to shine through. You begin to trust and love people more and see the true in others.

When we begin to love and receive so much love and adoration, how could we possibly go back to being asleep?

Memories And Mementos: When To Cherish And When To Let Go

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I opened the box and scanned the contents wondering what long-forgotten treasures laid within.  Inside, I found a large stack of playbills and other theatre programs, some ticket stubs, both my elementary and Junior High autograph books, some assorted greeting cards and a small, black leatherette book which I didn’t recognize.  I closed the box and set it aside to bring with me.

Nothing about where I was felt surreal or unusual.  Yet, here I was sitting in the attic of the house where I lived for 10 months with my ex before we had finally physically separated many years ago.  The house will soon be sold so I came to have a look for things I had left behind.  Occasionally,  I would call down to my son Dustin for help to bring an item or a box down.  The attic was full of things that had never been discarded…old clothes, a car seat, a portable crib, some Christmas ornaments, porcelain dolls and other items.  Most of what I found, I no longer needed or wanted or didn’t belong to me.  There were items I had once treasured that now made me uncomfortable to look at.  Joyfully, I did find some real treasures. I found some old VHS videos I had made of my children when they were little, three photograph albums, a nativity set my mother made for me in her ceramic class.  Each piece had been meticulously hand-painted.  I also found a pile of drawings my children had made and a few other treasures.

Afterwards, I spent time deciding what was indeed a treasured item and what did I no longer want to hold on to.  I have spent years practising the art of living in the present.  It is an art where wisdom is sought and secured within many moments of decision-making while I strive to find the balance between not worrying about the future yet still caring enough to plan things carefully.  Now yet again, here was a moment to decide what mementos of my past were still worth treasuring and what was better still to let go of.

I opened the little, black book I had found in the box.  It was a diary I had started twenty years ago and never finished.  Imagine that!  It didn’t have many entries but the entries I wrote spanned five years.  In it I found some long forgotten memories which contained some real treasures.

‘Dustin did 64 multiplication problems in 3 minutes and 12 seconds.  I was impressed!’

‘Jadzia played with play-dough and cleaned up afterwards all by herself!  She even swept! She’s not even three yet!

‘Tara likes to do cartwheels all the time.  She is a great help to me-with Jadzia especially.  She is my beautiful ballerina.’

‘Brittany is such an enchanting child, filled with wonder at every little thing of nature…she finds beauty in all things and she is a joy to be with.’

I also found a couple of historical entries about the deaths of both Princess Diana and Mother Teresa.  There was a mention of someone I use to know whose spirit I found beautiful which led to me contacting her on Facebook.  After reading every entry, I decided it was worth keeping….nothing too embarrassing and some lovely memories for me to share with my children.

We don’t always have mementos that stir up memories.  Sometimes memories re-surface on their own.  They can be like sparkling jewels in the sun or terrible reminders of social blunders or mistakes we have made.  It is much easier to throw away a memento which calls up bad memories or feelings than to push against the feeling itself or to turn your mind to a happier thought.  When a sad or bitter memory gets a hold of you with its talon claws, it can be a terrible struggle at best or an out and out inner war at worst.   In the past I handled those individual moments differently based on where my instincts led me.  Sometimes, it was hard to let go if I am honest.  Sometimes, I allowed myself to dwell on those bad memories and most of the time that was a mistake.  It was a mistake when it led me to feelings of worthlessness and despair.  Some memories can do that.  Some can only be diminished through meditation, prayer and/or counselling.  In my diary was this 1998 entry:

‘I spent time with the Lord tonight…it was time worth spent!  My mind was so cluttered with many things.  I couldn’t organize my thoughts.  He broke through all that and calmed the storm and a scripture verse came to mind.  Matthew 17:21 ‘This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’

Letting go of painful or potentially harmful memories does not mean forgetting them.  They will always be in your sub-conscious and will often re-surface.  Letting go is transforming your thoughts and feelings about them by realizing that it is in the past–a past you have lived through and overcame.  Realize too that you are no longer your past.  Eventually, you will begin to view those painful memories as a distant memory and will feel a sense of detachment from it.

 

Love Without Fear

I arrived back home last Saturday after visiting two of my precious grown-up children (and my future son-in-law).   I also got to see my parents, one of my brothers and one of my closest friends since elementary school.  The trip was a blessing and a success because it was an opportunity to give love and receive love.  It was hard to leave my children but I have family and friends here too.  My heart is over-flowing as I write this.  I am very blessed.

My mom, me, brother Dennis, daughter Brittany and son Dustin

My mom, me, brother Dennis, daughter Brittany and son Dustin

Namaste is a beautiful word in Sanskrit that is commonly used as a greeting and as a goodbye when people are parting in the Southern part of Asia.  It is translated as ‘I bow to you’ but I have also known it to be translated as ‘The divine in me bows to the divine in you.’ For me personally though perhaps inaccurately, I tend to believe it means something much more profound.  I think of it as meaning something more along the lines of, ‘My spirit truly sees your spirit’ or ‘My spirit sees the beauty of your true self’.  The reason I guess is that there have been times when I instinctively recognize or know someone without any information about the person.  Sometimes, I just have a strong and good feeling about a person and the feeling has always shown to be true.  I think we all have this instinct sometimes in our lives but some may have stronger instincts than others. I wish we all had strong spiritual instincts about people because in this day and age, people do not often feel comfortable having their deep, personal, real selves on show.  We fear being rejected.  While it is so much easier to be rejected for shallow things like say our taste in music, it is much harder to have our real self rejected.  Our real self…our spirit…is the part of us that is pure potentiality that we are still growing into.  If we are rejected while on our journey, it could be devastating.  However, seeing others for who they are is a blessing received.  It is often how life-time friendships and partnerships begin.

Namaste after yoga class.  Photo source

Namaste after yoga class. Photo source

To be a fearless giver of love is also a blessing received.  I am learning more and more that LOVE disperses FEAR.  I am finding myself more and more in awe of how true this is and how the giving of love strengthens one’s relationship with God as well as strengthens you as a person.  I am no longer afraid of being rejected if I have given love to someone with the fullness of my heart.  I will love anyway.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t be sad if I am rejected.  Of course it would hurt but loving is worth the risk.

The practice of love is something that comes from some well deep within one’s spirit.  It is not something that is forced or fake.  It is something that one taps into.  For me…. it has happened through my relationship with God and through meditation.  I received God’s love, kept it in my heart and reached out to others in love and then it simply became effortless.  I am awed by it and see it as something beyond me.  However, love is more than just a feeling.  True love always sees the person and their potential.  True love never judges.  True loves always perseveres.  True love always grows. The hard part is knowing which way to give love to individuals in different individual circumstances.  The ‘how’ of love in practice is what I am still learning.

Namaste