Archive | July, 2011

In the eye of the beholder?

25 Jul

I was out on the Unity Village golf course today playing a few holes since it’s been too hot to be out there lately. (for those of you who didn’t know I played, that’s because it’s a recent development. )

Of course I can’t help myself and take pretty pictures of the sunset through

the pecan grove.

Then I looked over at the main campus and, as often happens, was washed over

with joy and awe of how beautiful it is.

But that got me thinking, is it beautiful because on my emotional connection to this place? Is the architecture nice but only is stunning to me because it is the symbol of my homeland and is the backdrop for a countless ever-growing pile of memories?

The tower itself, at night, is lit just right to cut a hard line against the soft night sky that

is powerful and strong. I love looking t it and photographing it. The high arches and open observation deck, mysterious and unique.

In a study, scientists discovered that people like what’s familiar. That makes sense, we are drawn to things that feel comfortable, we avoid that which looks, sounds or feels different.

But I”m not completely sold. I think our emotional attachment has a role to play as well.  Who hasn’t been ‘asked’ to look at photos (or videos) of someone’s grandkids. It doesn’t matter what that kid looks like, they are the cutest baby in the world and probably has features that ‘look just like  so and so.’ Even right after being born, the emotional attachment of the adult is where the cuteness comes from.

Maybe I see the beauty of the Village because I’m emotionally attached, maybe it’s  because it is very very familiar.

Or, maybe it’s not just me…

Be Beautiful!

Ra

PS here is the fountains with a rainbow from this morning. 

My kind of community

16 Jul

A couple things have happened in the last week or two that together are compelling me to write about them.

I was chatting with a young friend the other day and told her of the epic short notice move of Jenny’s studio last week. My friend said, ‘Wow, it’s really great that you all helped her out.’ I said simply, ‘that’s the kind of community I want to be a part of.’ That’s the the clearest way to say it too. I’m not keeping track, the next time Jenny needs to move her studio, I’ll be there if I can, same for anyone else. They have done the same for me. Not always with moving stuff, but in co-creating for ourselves a world that is better because each other is in it.

Sure it’s not a new idea, it wasn’t that long ago that the whole town came together to raise the roof of a barn or home. Some communities still do it, but for many of us being in community shows up in different ways.

Dumbledore says in an early Harry Potter book, “Help is always given at Hogwarts to those who ask.” Sometimes being willing to ask for help, or even offer help takes some bravery. This statement though is a reflection of the community I want to be a part of.

As a disclaimer, I also believe in being clear of your boundaries and saying no when it’s right. But that can also be done in love and not separate from supporting one another.

This is about showing up to be in the flow of life and love and service. Giving for the joy of giving, not because you know you will receive, even though that is also true.

Today in the bookstore I was chatting with a lady and guitars came up and I told her I had found a youtube video of one of the members of Lady Antebellum teaching how to play Need you Now. I thought it was cool to see it right from the source, but she pointed out another aspect of it. She, being of the Boomer generation, mused about how different the world was becoming. She said that it used to be that people didn’t just up and share the ‘family secrets’ like that. Now sure, that’s a broad brush, but I do see  she’s talking about. Are we  shifting from a patent pending culture to an open source culture?

I think that we are becoming each day more of a global community. The question becomes less and less about what can I gain, and instead, how can I make the world better?

I’m sure you all can come up with truckfuls of examples of individuals and groups stepping up to make a life, a community and the world a better place.

This, really, is why I want to be a minister. I don’t try to think even for a minute that I have some great answer, I just want to show up as authentic me and hope that maybe someone will be inspired to love more, serve more, discover in them a better way to ‘do’ life. Sometimes, no, all the time, that someone is me.

This is my community, won’t you join me?

Tuning

16 Jul

I have been teaching myself guitar. I had started back in the fall, and then I stopped practicing when I got into winter term. By a couple weeks before the end of Spring term I was getting excited to start playing again. I made myself wait ’til the term was over and went and bought new strings for the guitar I’ve had since I was 5.

I’ve been having a good time, I’ve gotten tuning down, some chords are starting to come naturally, the tips of my fingers are often a little tender as I’m building up calluses, I can even make my way through some songs. In all, it’s been a great summer project.

Today, I looked up the chords for a new song and got to playing it after tuning,

it went ok and I moved on to the the songs I’ve been practicing every day. But something didn’t sound right. Now I’ve been taking the philosophy that if I keep working my fingers in the right-ish ways and plow through the songs, my technique will improve. So often the chords don’t  sound exactly right. But really, I was thinking I was WAY off tonight.

Then I checked again for being in tune… and you guessed it! The G string was off just enough to mess up everything! (it’s right in the middle, there’s no way around it)

Which launched me into thinking about blogging. How often in life do we say, ‘ok, I did that, now on to the next thing’. When in practice we need to keep coming back to check that we’re in tune. Maybe it’s a project or long term path you are working on, when was the last time you returned to HQ (as Charles Fillmore would say) and felt out the next step or if there is need for adjustment? In your relationships are you mindful to show that you care? Are you doing something because it’s the way it’s always been done? Could there be a tune-up of the process?

With a musical instrument, it’s relatively obvious when something is out of tune, but how do we know that in our own lives? What do we measure our clarity by?

The other day some technology was not working as my friend was expecting it to. I came over, assessed the situation, and realized that the ‘on’ switch had not been flipped. In the busyness of the moment, and being distracted by something new, the old routine that held an essential piece was missed. I thought of this when I was percolating this blog while strumming because it was simple what needed to happen, the technology was plugged in, but not turned on! So many times I have found myself doing something and realizing I am not giving it any true attention. Not tuned in or plugged in!

Everyone has their way to tune up and plug in, what dear friends are the ways that you know when you are ‘in tune’ (or not)? I’ll share some of my own after I hear from you.

Peace and love,

Ra

Deeper into Oz

10 Jul

My dear friend Jenny is an artist. She creates colorful, personal, spiritual paintings. The process of painting for her is usually of layers and changing colors on colors as she discovers in her where the color needs to be and what it means.

Back in February, my sis and I were at Jenny’s studio for First Fridays and I was nosing around in her unfinished pile. I came upon a painting that made me do ‘the Ra squeal.’ I pulled it out and was instantly in love.

I already knew that the title of my student chapel service in April was going to be ‘Out of Oz’ and I thought this painting was perfect for the publicity. Back in February Jenny hadn’t decided which way was up yet, we actually tried it each direction, I thought it could make a good yellow brick road that was red turned a quarter either way.

When Jenny created the flyer she warned me that the

painting had transformed a little, and I was  excited because the change process would have gone really well with my talk. But as you can see, it wasn’t a whole lot different.

This Wednesday some friends and I were helping Jenny move studio spaces and I got to see the painting again. She is always working on a bunch of pieces at any given time and some chill for a while before becoming ‘complete’ or added on to.

It took my breath away, (not just because we were moving and it was hot as heck). It has more depth now, before it was fun and bubbly, now there’s something else there too. Jenny said to me, ‘Now it’s about Joplin.’

When I saw it and she said that I knew I had to write about it. When she first started this painting, she didn’t know which way was ‘up.’ It wasn’t originally created as a tornado until I suggested it could be for my flyer, and it was long before the word Joplin brought an emotional reaction to the multitudes of this area.

And that’s exactly like life. The first time we have an experience, or even the first thousand times, we may see it from one perspective. Then something changes. Sometimes it’s a comment from a friend or stranger, other times it’s something that effects the psyche of the community like the Joplin tornado.

When something changes though, there is a choice: we can pretend that nothing happened and it’s business as usual, or we can acknowledge the shift.

When something changes we have the chance to go deeper within ourselves, we ask the questions: What does this mean to me? How do I heal what is hurting? What have I learned?  How do I show up in the world with this new experience/insight?

We don’t always have the answers, and we don’t always like the answers we get. Usually though, the answers bring us to new deeper ways of seeing and understanding ourselves and the world. If we’re paying attention, these insights help us to continuously create a better life.

Like Jenny’s paintings, our lives are a journey. While a painting will eventually be declared complete, there is, at least for Jenny, always a dozen more in progress. The journey of  life is no different. I think of all the pieces of my life and anything I could have called a ‘complete’ journey (such as graduating from college) could also be described as a marker on another dozen roads.

When Jenny allowed this painting to be published for my service, she said it might be done. I have heard her say this before, and it means that she is waiting for the clarity of the next step. While she is waiting for that clarity, she has plenty of other paintings to keep her busy and so she waits. This patience for her work is an example to me, there is much wisdom to letting situations/people/projects rest for a bit to see what the next step might be.

And so dear friends, I invite you to ask the questions, to sit in the unknowing, and be willing to have the painting of your life turned sideways if it will better express you.

Peace and blessings,

Ra

PS Check out Jenny’s work here

Love wash

5 Jul

I know I know, I haven’t blogged in over 2 weeks. I was away at South Central Bi Regional Rally (Bi-Regi) for a week and then I’ve been busy catching up. Some great blog worthy things happened while I was there however, so stay tuned 🙂

On the last night of Bi-Regi they install the new regional officers and celebrate the graduating seniors. Earlier in the week I had the chance to sit with the graduates and talk about ‘life after YOU’ namely NGU and encouraging them to stay connected as they go out into the world. I remember this time, high school is over, YOU is over… you’re an adult now… Now what?

But back to graduation, each graduate is honored on the stage and given a gift and then they are ushered to a love wash. In case you don’t know what a love wash (angel wash) is, a person usually with eyes closed is guided down a row with friends on both sides who whisper loving words in their ear as they pass. I had the honor to receive these graduates as they came off stage and be the first to whisper my blessings as I sent them down the love wash.

There is a family of things I usually say in these kinds of situations. It’s not that I couldn’t come up with different things to say, it’s just that I believe it so much. So I started with ‘You are here to be the light. There is nothing you can’t do when you shine your light’ Simple and powerful. A modernized affirmative version of Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world, a city built on a hill cannot be hidden.” It is my favorite verse and totally applies.

What was amazing and powerful to me was to hear what I started to say when I got into it. Some of these teens I have seen over the years, some I had barely met, a few I had gotten a chance to know some or very well. But I didn’t need to know them to know what to say.

I told them you are the light. There is nothing can stand in your way. You have everything you need in you. When you go within the answer is always there.

To one young man I said, ‘you are a strong centered caring man, and that is exactly what this world needs, for you to be an example of that in the world.’

To a young lady who expresses herself a little different than what you might call ‘the norm’, I said ‘you know who you are, and you are not afraid to show it. Keep being who you are and never let anyone tell you that you can’t be whoever you are guided to be’

To another, ‘You are here to make a difference in this world. Nothing can stand in the way of you doing what you are called to do.’

I spoke these words and many more, sometimes with background knowledge of the person, but often letting my own guidance lead. What was so powerful is that it clicked. I didn’t need to know ‘things’ about each of these beautiful young adults, I just needed to know their spirit and affirm their potential.

It was a beautiful night, it was wonderful to speak those words over 30 times, because to say it with the deep conviction I have, I had to believe it for myself too. Could you do that? Say to yourself 30 times a day that you are strong and centered. That you have everything you need within you. That nothing NOTHING could ever hold you back when you are following your inner wisdom.

As I said, it was a beautiful evening, and now I challenge you dear reader, what are you telling yourself? Try telling yourself how wonderful and full of potential you are every day, not just once, a bunch of times. Say it until you believe it. Say it to other people. Tell them how wonderful they are. Get out there and make the world a giant love wash.

Much Love,

Ra