Category Archives: Freedom

Every Age is the Best Age to Be

Engaging while aging.

Iris Apfel- Fashion Icon- is 96

“You’ve got to move to change the state you’re in.”- The Levins

My parents recently shared a marvelous HBO documentary with my wife Julia and I, titled, “If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast.” The quote belongs to George Burns but show is the inspired by Carl Reiner, writer of The Dick Van Dyke Show, among other amazing accolades. It spotlights individuals in their 90’s, who are actively doing what they love and exemplifying the phrase, “still going strong!”  It featured not only Carl’s fellow comedians, singers, actors, and writers but runners, painters, sky divers and more.

As a performer, any time I see someone decades older than me still rocking it, I am seriously heartened. If it is being done, it can be done.

Dick Van Dyke- 91, Carl Reiner- 95, Mel Brooks- 91, Norman Lear-95 years young

When I was young, I joined a band of merry makers who performed comical skits for a local nursing home. We didn’t “knock ’em dead” but we didn’t stir them to life either. The truth is, we weren’t very good but this was my first real exposure to older people sitting around, seemingly lifelessTo my young mind, they had been attacked by the spiders of time, who had consumed their vitality and left them covered in cobwebs. It terrified me.

When I came home, I told my mother about the experience and began to cry saying that I did not want to get old. My mother hugged me and told me not to worry. She suggested that I continue to focus on doing what I loved. Then she said something that sent up a flare in my mind that has never gone out: “Every age is the best age to be.”

Betty White, actress and animal rights activist is 95

My fear was assuaged and I remembered my grandmother. My grandma Ida was filled with vitality and so were her gingerbread men with their raisin eyes and buttons. These cookies were always preceded with a mighty hug and practically leapt from the dish, rising up with the love that had gone into baking them. Here was the difference. My grandmother’s vitality was not inspired by fulfilling some stereotype or motivated by winning my affections, but was driven genuinely by merely offering love.

One of the points made in the film was that one key to vitality was spending time each day in face to face engagement. Not on the computer or phone screen, but face to face with someone in conversation. Face to face engagement with life itself. Actively enjoying life is its own vitality generator.

My family exemplifies this. My mom, in her eighties, does Kundalini yoga, meditates, swims, does her crossword puzzle, and laughs with abandon. Her older sister Phyllis is still auditioning and acting in LA.  My dad remains an avid reader, actively studies history, goes out with friends, and is the classiest host of life’s party that I know. His older sister, Bev is 89, volunteers at a pre-school, plays mahjong, and just got back from seeing her 98-year-old cousin whose catch phrase is, “We’re on the move!”.

Before we saw the documentary, Julia and I were pondering all the time spent in youth, pining to be older. She conjectured about how much more constructive life could have been or how much fun could have been had instead of yearning for the things that could be done when we were “old enough”. That yearning is supplanted, for many, with a new yearning for all the things that can be accomplished once we are sufficiently prepared. Life can be postponed with the thought that everything must be “in place” before we begin to live our dreams. Conversely, we can miss opportunities, telling ourselves that we are no longer in our twenties, thirties, forties, etc.

Ursula Le Guinn, author is 87

The documentary mentioned how much energy we now spend as a society trying to remain young, not allowing ourselves to see how beautiful we are, where we are.

Over the past few years, when Julia and I have gone to sing for local assisted living residents, we have witnessed drooping spirits rise up and bloom as they start to sing along with songs that they remember. This isn’t just a remembrance of the past but a shared connection with others in the moment.

Tony Bennett, celebrated singer is 91

Active engagement with something or someone we love, puts the wheel back in our hands. Whether we are blessed with examples within our circle of family or friends or take heart from documentaries like Carl and his friends, we can choose to do what we love, with love and share that love at any age. When love drives the boat, we can navigate the waves with pleasure.

“Hope brings motion. Motion brings change. Change is your friend when the going gets strange.

The going gets strange.”- The Levins

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, peace activist is 90

The One Word that Makes America Really America

A Contemplation for Our 241st Birthday

I read a book in which an Aboriginal tribe asks why we celebrate birthdays. They point out that we get older regardless. That, in itself, is not a reason to celebrate.

“We celebrate if we are a better, wiser person this year than last. Only you would know, so it is you who tells the others when it is time to have the party.”- Mutant Message Down Under/ Marlo Morgan

Today is America’s birthday. It is up to each of us, individually, to decide if the collective spirit within our land has become better and wiser.

There is a part of me that wants to rail out against the plans to defund our public libraries, the first of which was founded by Benjamin Franklin. The current efforts to privatize our public museums, parks, and schools, for me, diminishes the flame that fires our collective imagination and soul.

Emma Lazarus was the Jewish poet who gave our Statue of Liberty these words to proclaim:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

I feel the pilgrims, the founding fathers and Emma would all be ashamed at our current lack of hospitality.

Still, there is a part of me that appreciates that we were the first nation to not be ruled by a king. Our ideal is that America can be ruled by the people, for the people.  A nation that recognizes its inhabitants are…

“created equal…endowed…with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”- Thomas Jefferson

To me, America is all of humanity living peacefully, boldly, as weird as we want to be.

There is an image conjured up in the TV show, This is US, of an abstract painting. While the painting is a metaphor for life, it can also apply to us here in the US.

“We all get to come along and we add our own color to the painting…

And these colors that we keep adding, what if they keep getting added on top of one another, until, eventually, we’re not even different colors anymore? Just one thing, one painting?

Not you, me or them, it’s just us. And this sloppy, wild, magical thing that has no beginning and no end is right here. I think it’s US.”- This Is Us – Kevin’s Painting of Life https://youtu.be/xh-Tof_QxKU

I am celebrating today because I am grateful that, at this point, we still have the one word that really makes America truly beautiful.

We still have a free press and can share the ideas of those we admire. So, I would like to allow the American author Tom Robbins the chance to reveal this one word to you:

“The word that allows yes, the word that makes no possible.
The word that puts the free in freedom and takes the obligation out of love.
The word that throws a window open after the final door is closed.
The word upon which all adventure, all exhilaration, all meaning, all honor depends.
The word that fires evolution’s motor of mud.
The word that the cocoon whispers to the caterpillar.
The word that molecules recite before bonding.
The word that separates that which is dead from that which is living.
The word no mirror can turn around.
In the beginning was the word and that word was,,,

CHOICE”

 ~ Tom Robbins/ Still Life With Woodpecker

From the far right, to the far left, from the Jimi Hendrix museum in Seattle to the Pride-filled sunsets of Key West, from the nude beaches in San Diego, to the bilingual English and French speaking residents at the tip of Maine, and everyone in between, the CHOICE is still yours!

Happy 4th of July!

 

MLK and “interrelated structure of all reality.”

How MLK stayed connected to love.

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by the Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.- a man who utilized his stream, or what Mooji would call, “the cosmic current of existence,” to help expand our universal understanding.  MLK was a man of action. His actions were blockbuster without having to shoot his way into enemy territory, punch out the bully or watch as the villain plummeted from a great height. Instead he actively connected to love, to the energy and awareness that manifests as all of us, to help us to see, feel and experience this, “Interrelated structure of all reality.”

You could say that MLK was selfless. He was willing to sacrifice even his life to get us to know that our differences are not only skin deep, mere pigmentation, but that our true Self includes everything that we perceive, and can conceive.

Again, I will quote Mooji to show how the actions of MLK stimulated a whole generation to work together towards our greater freedom.

“If you study and learn as a person, you can only function as a person- maybe as a good person, a skilled person- but when you awaken… you start moving as a whole environment. When something arises that needs to be done, that need is recognized, and a movement to fulfill it begins, and other streams join in until it becomes a river. You see how the forces join together.”- Mooji

How did MLK do this?  Martin did not allow himself to be defined and filled in with hatred of injustice but he would daily pray to be used by love, to live in the manner of love. He made sure to perform regular services for others. He strived to stay in good bodily and spiritual health. He meditated on the teachings and actions of his spiritual leader.  Most importantly and the hardest of all, he prayed for the oppressor.

His knew that love was a non-dual reality that transcends our limited clinging to the black and white.

This morning I ran across this Joseph Campbell quote:

“The Indians addressed all of life as a “thou”- the trees, the stones, everything. You can address anything as a “thou”, and if you do it, you can feel the change in your own psychology. The ego that sees a “though” is not the same ego that sees an “it.” And when you go to war with people, the problem of the newspapers is to turn those people into “its.” “ – Joseph Campbell

Matt Khan in talking about surrendering to love says it starts with taking a vacation from concern.  Not denying the things that are wrong or unjust, just taking a vacation from filling ourselves, our mind and body, emotions and cells with what is wrong.  Allowing ourselves to connect or surrender to love allows for solutions to our concerns to come through so when we come back from vacation, we can get back to work refreshed.

We are all a perception away from being able to act as a unified field.  The victory of MLK is not a victory for the church, or for one people but for all of life.

He knew who he was and his most constructive actions came from that knowing that he was, “free at last.”

Today is a chance for reflection and for being aware of the work that needs to still be done.  Still, in the midst of it all, may we be able to connect to love so that our concerns can be faced without anxiety but with the expectation of solutions we will usher in together. 

 

Come Dance with Me

“You’ve got to move to change the state you’re in.”- The Levins

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

~ Rumi

Dance Sweet Hafiz

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”

~ Martha Graham

“Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”

~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Calvin and Hobbes

This past Sunday, Julia and I joined some friends at The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County where Stephanie Miner-Berger of another group called Peace Forest Sanctuary led a guided dance celebration for a multi-generational community with the help of DJ K.  She picked very specific songs that would appeal to the range of folks there.  It was done with such a purity of intention, it engaged people without having them feel self-conscious or instilling a need to demonstrate ego or prowess. It brought me back to all the weekly parties my friends and I would throw during high school and college. We were able to almost fuse our hearts together as a group because our love for one another was able to dance freely.  There is a freedom in dancing that takes you out of your intellectual grasp of reality and opens you up in ways you are not even aware of.

During the cool down yesterday, we were asked to make eye contact and sing “Lean on Me” to various people in the circle. My friend Michelle was next to me and there was such a generous earnestness in her connection with me that even before we got to the line, “no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show,” I was so chocked up that I could no longer sing or look at anyone. I have certainly sung “Lean on Me” hundreds of times but there was something about the intention of this community dance combined with the direct contact with an honest friendship that broke me open.  It made me realize that we hold on to so much. We may not be a stiff-upper lip society but even if we do express ourselves and have people to talk to, we are taking on what is being broadcast all around us as well as our mind’s minute to minute updates.  We are inundated with information and suffering that we have no way of fully processing or understanding. Even with the desire to heal and be healed, there is no way to do that intellectually.  This is of course one of the best reasons to take up meditation but there is also something about dancing that puts you in the seat of Being where the internal meets the external.

Shiva dancing

Someone reminded us after the dance of the Hindu myth where Shiva dances the universe into creation. Buckminster Fuller said that “God is a verb, not a noun.” When we are dancing, even if we were not able to physically move a muscle, we open ourselves to being a part of that same verb.  This of course reminds me of Daniel Ladinsky’s rendition of Hafiz’s poem “The God Who Only Knows Four Words” and The Levins’ lyrical take on it called “Every Child”:

Every Child– Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

Every child has known God. 

That’s quite a claim.

For they don’t know God

as a ‘God of Names’,  

as a ‘God of Don’ts’,  

a ‘God of Shame’,

of stormy moods or any strange behavior. 

Not a king or a queen, a giant, tyrant or savior.

But every child knows God.  Not as someone you can see,

But the God who only knows four words:

Come Dance with me!  Come Dance with me!

Come Dance!  Come Dance!  Come Dance!      

 —with me.  Oh, Come Dance with me!

(Listen here)

Come Dance with Me

May your stillness give way to a peace that cannot help but trip the light fantastic.

Shining out while standing within

Holding the chord

Barring love to uphold justice prevents the completion of the circuit that fulfils our aim.  Locked within us are the answers we seek to resolve the struggle that our minds cannot reconcile. Belief is an individual process that becomes entangled with our upbringing as well as loyalties to both the need to be accepted and our innate fear of punishment.  Love transcends our need for self-preservation.  Wanting to uphold for all beings what we desire for ourselves is not rational but instinctual.  Nestled in our conflict is the desire to embrace our vehemence and outrage, to allow the song of life to rejoin itself in harmony.

Israeli Palestinian peace*************************************************************

Last week I posted the Stream of Light about Elie Wiesel onto Facebook. A musical acquaintance of mine made some accusatory and ugly remarks about Mr. Wiesel.  I deleted his comments. He was outraged and asked me to unfriend him for censoring him.  We messaged back and forth.  I apologized for deleting his comments without asking him to.  My acquaintance is very passionate about standing up for the rights of displaced Palestinians and he felt that Mr. Wiesel, who stood for other groups rights, failed to do so for the Palestinians and was antagonistic to their plight.  I looked up an article written by a Palestinian writer who was a fan of Mr. Wiesel’s book Night but who was disappointed in Mr. Wiesel’s actions.  Since my acquaintance also works for peace, I pointed out that although outraged, our ability to not close the hearts of those who are needed to amend or help facilitate justice, is vital.

Elie Wiesel, who would have concurred that he was not a saint, said:

“No nation is composed of saints alone. None is sheltered from mistakes or misdeeds. All have their Cain and Abel. It takes vision and courage to undergo serious soul-searching and to favor moral conscience over political expediency.”

At the end of our conversation, my acquaintance and I reached an understanding. We both were able to be heard.  In fact, that Friday night as Julia and I sang for a service at a temple, I was wrestling with the issue of people wanting a home for themselves and their families. The depth of the situation, is parallel to the plight of the Native Americans, whose land many of us rent or seem to own.

During the service, Julia and I were asked to sing Jerusalem of Gold, by Naomi Shemer. The song reflects 2,000 years of yearning for a homeland. In the middle of it, I held one of the chords and stood there with my eyes closed. I had to wait, overcome by what felt like an endless torrent of tears.  The innate connection to the song felt deeper than my identification with my tribe. The moments of holding that chord in silence felt like the collective longing all of humanity has for shelter, to belong, to be embraced by the dignity of their own wholeness.

When I related this event to my mother, she shared this excerpt from one of the I Am discourses:

   “When you enter into the understanding of what Indestructible harmony means to Life, you will have entered into the Powerhouse of the universe, because discord is disintegration; and the only thing that is Eternal Perfection is Indestructible Harmony. There is no freedom without Harmony, no permanent health without Harmony, no Victory over that which you call evil, which is discord, except Indestructible Harmony.”

Last night, here in Iowa, Julia’s mom gave me an article she has saved for me about Elie Wiesel talking in a church. Mr. Wiesel confessed that he was only able to speak and sing in this church because he was able to put aside his anger and recognize that not all Christians had turned their backs on the Jews during the holocaust.  What he said after that was what had stayed with the author of the article ever since:

“I believe people who can stand together and sing together, can live in peace together.” – Elie Wiesel

Even in the midst of all this heart wrenching unrest and the Civil Liberties that we still need to stand for here in America and around the world, remembering our harmony will help us to sing as we stand.  I believe our internal harmony bridges the gap between us.

May you hold the chord, even as you struggle to regain your voice within the silence of yearning.

 

Elie Wiesel- Independent but never alone

“Self-confidence is knowing that we have the capacity to do something good and firmly decide not to give up.”

The Dalai Lama

“Self-confidence is not a feeling of superiority, but of independence.”                                      — Lama Yeshe

Even if only one free individual is left, he is proof that the dictator is powerless against freedom. But a free man is never alone; the dictator is alone. The free man is the one who, even in prison, gives to the other prisoners their thirst for, their memory of, freedom.        —Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

***************************************

Happy Independence day.

July 4, 1776

What we celebrate today is the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The draft of this famous document was submitted to the Continental Congress on July 2nd and they were able to agree on the changes by July 4th.  Then the real work began.

It is significant that Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor, Nobel Laureate, Humanitarian and American citizen, passed away on July 2nd.  His life and passing are inextricably linked to American Independence and what that truly means.

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Wiesel’s essay entitled The America I Love:

“The day I received American citizenship was a turning point in my life. I had ceased to be stateless. Until then, unprotected by any government and unwanted by any society, the Jew in me was overcome by a feeling of pride mixed with gratitude.

From that day on, I felt privileged to belong to a country which, for two centuries, has stood as a living symbol of all that is charitable and decent to victims of injustice everywhere—a country in which every person is entitled to dream of happiness, peace and liberty; where those who have are taught to give back. That day I encountered the first American soldiers in the Buchenwald concentration camp. I remember them well. Bewildered, disbelieving, they walked around the place, hell on earth, where our destiny had been played out. They looked at us, just liberated, and did not know what to do or say. Survivors snatched from the dark throes of death, we were empty of all hope—too weak, too emaciated to hug them or even speak to them. Like lost children, the American soldiers wept and wept with rage and sadness. And we received their tears as if they were heartrending offerings from a wounded and generous humanity.

In America, compassion for the refugee and respect for the other still have biblical connotations.

Ever since that encounter, I cannot repress my emotion before the flag and the uniform—anything that represents American heroism in battle. That is especially true on July Fourth. I reread the Declaration of Independence, a document sanctified by the passion of a nation’s thirst for justice and sovereignty, forever admiring both its moral content and majestic intonation. Opposition to oppression in all its forms, defense of all human liberties, celebration of what is right in social intercourse: All this and much more is in that text, which today has special meaning.

Granted, U.S. history has gone through severe trials, of which anti-black racism was the most scandalous and depressing. I happened to witness it in the late Fifties, as I traveled through the South. What did I feel? Shame. Yes, shame for being white. What made it worse was the realization that, at that time, racism was the law, thus making the law itself immoral and unjust.

Still, my generation was lucky to see the downfall of prejudice in many of its forms. True, it took much pain and protest for that law to be changed, but it was.

America understands that a nation is great not because its economy is flourishing or its army invincible but because its ideals are loftier. Hence America’s desire to help those who have lost their freedom to conquer it again. America’s credo might read as follows: For an individual, as for a nation, to be free is an admirable duty—but to help others become free is even more admirable.

Some skeptics may object: But what about Vietnam? And Cambodia? And the support some administrations gave to corrupt regimes in Africa or the Middle East? And the occupation of Iraq? Did we go wrong—and if so, where?

Hope is the key word for men and women like myself, who found in America the strength to overcome cynicism and despair.

Well, one could say that no nation is composed of saints alone. None is sheltered from mistakes or misdeeds. All have their Cain and Abel. It takes vision and courage to undergo serious soul-searching and to favor moral conscience over political expediency. And America, in extreme situations, is endowed with both. America is always ready to learn from its mishaps. Self-criticism remains its second nature.

Hope is a key word in the vocabulary of men and women like myself and so many others who discovered in America the strength to overcome cynicism and despair. Remember the legendary Pandora’s box? It is filled with implacable, terrifying curses. But underneath, at the very bottom, there is hope. Now as before, now more than ever, it is waiting for us.” – Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel made his life about speaking out against indifference.  He believed in the Independence that does not stand alone but recognizes that caring for one another is at the heart of our freedom.

May his light kindle our own vigilance and courage to continue to stand up to injustice.  If we strive to “Make America Great Again,” let us remember what really makes us great is our generous spirit, our kindness and striving compassion to promote true freedom around the world.

Poetry- Bold and Shivering

“Poets, come out of your closets,

Open your windows, open your doors.

You’ve been holed-up too long

in your closed worlds….”

“Poetry is the ultimate inner refuge.

Poems are lumina, emitting light.”- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“My responsibility as a poet, as an artist, is to not look away.” – Nikky Finney

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Nikky Finney

Nikky Finney’s 2011 National Book Award in Poetry acceptance speech :

https://youtu.be/BFSiKx-hzks (Start at 4:50)

Happy 20th annual national Poetry month!

Watching Nikky Finney’s acceptance speech for winning the National Book Award in Poetry, I am reminded why I feel even the word Poetry deserves to be capitalized when it is delivered to us from the midwives of devotion. I must admit I had never heard of this Kentucky poet before Julia shared an NPR link with me.  So many vital things are like Poetry, tucked away at the back of society’s store.  Ms. Finney starts her speech citing a South Carolina law, which prohibits anyone teaching a slave to read or write.  This cruelty was, “determined to control what can never be controlled: the will of the human heart to speak its own mind*.” With the soft shaking voice of the survivor’s victory, Finney invoked those who suffered indignities and death to be able express themselves. She described them as they moved around the room, sitting now where they liked; in finery, in dignity, bold, and shivering.

Yesterday I was talking to my friend Drake Powe, whose very presence is Poetry. Drake said that he still has to battle innate fears of being attacked. This is someone who is well over six feet tall with an obvious strength within and without; someone who generates a deep-seated and infectious calm. Nikky Finney’s professor told her, “Black people were the only people in the United States ever explicitly forbidden to become literate.”

There is legacy that results from that. We have the most eloquent, well-read, intelligent President in office right now. President Obama has endured with dignity, grace, good will and humor, continuous demeaning slander that has welled up from a fury that the old South Carolina laws have proved to be sand-castles dutifully washed away by the tide.

Here is an excerpt from Drake Powe’s blog:

“No matter where we start, or how difficult the situation, we can achieve a state of rest, of contentment and peace… Once as a child I fell into a swimming pool. I was alone, fully clothed and did not know how to swim. I sank like a rock to the bottom of the pool, and knew that it was not where I wanted to be. I pushed off, and shot right back to the top. …you can get to where you want to be from where you are…Stay positive, be open and love your life, as it is. Love is always the best starting point.”

Drake Powe

May you play in the tide that sweeps the beach clean of your heart’s barriers.

Love you, Ira

PS- Check out my good friend Rick Lupert, a wonderfully funny and poignant Poet!

*- from Nikky Finney’s acceptance speech

In the shadow of the country club

“Let man be noble,

Generous and good:

For that alone

Distinguishes him

From all the Living

Beings we know…

…Let the noble man

Be generous and good.

Tirelessly achieving

What is just and useful:

Let him be a model

For those beings whom he surmises.”- Goethe

(And her too, by God!)

Having finally watched the movie Spotlight, I was outraged and saddened. The movie follows the investigative reporters in Boston verifying the local and then world-wide systematic abuse of children by priests. I remembered a bumper sticker that said, “If you are not furious, you’re not paying close enough attention.” My old roommate used to say that “Things are always much darker than people think,” and I would counter with, “Things are much lighter than people are aware of.”

Spotlight

Religion has often been compared to a country club. It is the smugness of the members of the club regarding this abuse that rots its foundation.  My friend Drake Powe has often pointed out to me that wherever there is a strong light there will be a strong shadow.

Watching the show Call the Midwife, I am moved to tears almost every time at the humanity of the nuns in East London.  This show is taken from an actual account of life as a midwife in the nineteen fifties.  These dedicated women use their faith, not as a smug affiliation that allows them to leave their responsibility at the door but motivates them to roll up their sleeves and provide service, mercy and kindness to many who have never received these things in sustaining portions.

Call the Midwife

My friend Janeen once said if women ran the various religions they would be not only closer to God but beneficial to human beings as well.  While I tend to agree with her, we all have to take responsibility for our shadows.

Yesterday, I read an article * written by a young man who went to a Trump rally, expecting it to be funny and he was horrified at the crowd’s ugly, antagonizing intolerance towards any protesters. Even a man silently wearing a shirt that said, “Love is the answer,” was thrown out and ridiculed.

A group of farmers fought the most powerful army in the world to create the first nation in history that was not ruled by a dictator or a king but by the people for the people.  Here is our shadow abdicating love and responsibility using the word Freedom to justify hatred, racism and greed. We are bigger than this.  We are stronger than this and each of us individually, while not being perhaps as strong or consistent as the nuns in Call the Midwife can make a difference despite our shortcomings and fluctuations.

It is never too late to exercise freedom of choice. May we choose freedom for ourselves and those around us.

*- http://m.dailykos.com/story/2016/3/11/1499735/-Trump-Rally-No-Joking-Matter

Rising above the clamp-down

Lock on to what is most healing to your being.  We are in the time of trials and if we become reactive we will be swept into chaos.  Understand that what is happening is a shift of perspective and if we persist in propagating the ‘me only’ model it will not sustain us.  This is not a time for fear but for love and for greater understanding.  Surrender our reactive “I’m right, you are wrong’ seesaws.  Listen to what prompts our prompts.  Is it for more than us?   Here we get to choose which universe we sail in.  This one is determined by our next choice. 
 
 spiritual-freedom-between-light-and-good
Saturday night Julia and I played a wonderful house concert called Notes From Home.  The audience were very attentive, sang and were open, which opened us up.  We allowed ourselves not to give some of our regular introductions but expanded out. We sang and conveyed our full range of material from secret Lamed Vavniks anonymously keeping the world in balance, to ley lines, Hafiz, clowns, love, the Flamingo Tango, being the particle and the wave, being Barely Contained, Shakespeare, and world peace with more Yiddish!
With a laughing vulnerability, we explored the variance of connection.  After the show a woman who had really enjoyed the performance immensely came up to Julia and insisted on telling her that the connection did have a name, and that was Jesus.
The rock group The Clash used to sing a song called, “Working for the Clamp-Down.”  Not to downplay this woman’s faith, as many have a pure connection through Jesus; but her directive-need to label someone else’s connection for them is part of what I consider to be the clamp-down.
Through eons of parading history, countless beautiful people have augmented our connection with insights, questions, poetry, stories, paintings, music, songs, architecture, healing kindness and a myriad of other ways to connect us to the rivers, tributaries, waterfalls leading into oceans and the expansive vastness of outer and inner-space.  The clamp-down requires us to remain within the confines of a mud-puddle.
Sometimes, if we are good, we get to enjoy an ornate fountain or play in a bathtub instead but once we start prancing around inside the fountain, splashing or bring rubber ducks and ships into the tub, our imagination conjures the oceans and then it’s back to the mud-puddle.
The clamp-down is not assigned to any one religion but is utilized by anyone trying to gain control over another person’s connection to their personal source or stream.
I am a huge fan of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Each faith and practice tends to produce people who are able to do miraculous things within their connection. The wisdom held in the vaults of long standing faiths and traditions holds storehouses of treasures.  These vaults tend to be militarily guarded by those who seek to keep those treasures for themselves or may have forgotten what they are guarding and merely enjoy reaping the petty reward of having a little power.
 
When we go back to our roots and drag our heritage treasures into the light, we can start to see everyone else a little clearer. These stories, songs and rituals can guide us to expanding without and within so that we can leave the confines of strict personal definitions, claim our freedom and start splashing again.
Whatever name you give to your connection, may it honor you.