Showing posts from 2011

The Gift of Self

Image via Wikipedia As we round out the holiday look at gifts and giving, let's look at the one gift that is the best gift to give - the gift of self.

How do we give this gift?  Well, giving the Gift of Self requires that one be mindful, compassionate, and willing to risk.  Giving of Self can be dangerous.  Your heart can be broken; you make be ridiculed and you may even feel like a fool.  BUT!  The reward - the mitzpah returned - is worth the risk.
There are many who give of themselves, daily.  They are the women and men who put their entire lives on the line for their communities, countries and the world.   I offer prayers, daily, for military members, as well as the fire, police and rescue people. Often, unsung heroes, these members of our society risk their lives daily to keep us safe, free from harm and disaster.  
Our media can sometimes concentrate too heavily on the bad behaviors of people, causing the rest of us to think that everyone is like the people portrayed on the news …

The Gift of the Sabbath

Image via Wikipedia

God Resting on the Sabbath -  Engraving from First Russian Illustrated Bible
Of all the controversy this holiday season, the one that has rattled me more than anything else is the fact that churches are closing their doors on Sunday, because Christmas falls on that particular day of the week this year.  Christian churches with congregations that have opted to "be at home" on Sunday rather than come to church for services.
When the subject came up at my congregation, we decided that the church would most definitely be open with Sunday service as usual.  To me this seemed like a no-brainer.  After all, we are Christians; it's Jesus birthday celebration AND it is Sunday, the one day a week given to worship and fellowship by many.  Then, I wondered, what kind of a message are churches that choose to close giving to the world?
Interestingly, I am reading a book for my seminary courses that touched on the importance of Sabbath.  Some of the facts shared by the a…

The Gift of Advocacy

Over fifty years ago, people like Martin Luther King began speaking out about the civil rights of people in the United States, specifically the civil rights of African-Americans.  In the face of violence towards themselves and those that supported them, Rev. King and others maintained their advocacy for equal rights, not just for a privileged few, but for all people.  The combined strength of their voice, their actions brought our nation, indeed, our world closer to this ideal.
Fifty years is a long time; many have forgotten the struggles of the 50's and 60's because prejudice and bigotry has once again raised its head in our world.  What is it about the human psyche that there is such a strong need to vilify and demonize those who are different than we are?  
Recently, a large corporation pulled its support from a television program that showed Muslim-Americans at work and at home.  The program was an attempt to teach people that Muslims are not all terrorists, just like Christ…

Gifts of Kindness

Image by tajasel via Flickr

"Commit Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty," announced the bumper sticker on a car that passed me on the highway over 20 years ago.  My first reactions was, "Cool!"  My second reaction was, "Ya, easier said than done!"
Since that time, I have attempted to give the gift of kindness (randomly, of course) in ways that were not obvious or planned - thus random!  For instance, back when I lived in Maine, I would often pay the toll of the person behind me.  
There are many ways to give kindness randomly.  Here are a few: leave flowers at the front door of an elderly neighbor (or have the florist deliver them anonymously)make cookies, brownies or some other simple food for the fire, police, or emergency workers in your towntry to shovel out a neighbor's walk before they noticesend a note (the kind you write by hand, the old fashioned way) to your favorite teacher, clergy or medical work letting them know how much the…

The Gift of Memories through Words

Mari L. McCarthy, journaling therapy specialist and author, owns Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling. The site includes hundreds of journaling prompts, personal journaling stories, interviews, a blog, and many other resources. Mari has published nine books to date; her most recent ebook is Help for the Holidays: 7 Days of Journaling to Ho! Ho! Ho! Mari is our special guest writer today, sharing with us ideas on how to use the gift of memories through words to create special holiday journals.  

Readers are invited to leave a message for an opportunity to win your choice of either an ebook of Dark Chocolate for a Journaler's Soul, a Dark Chocolate T-Shirt, or Mari's Most Musefull Journaling Tips (8 1/2 x 11 Spiral Bound).
Welcome, Mari!  Thanks for sharing your thought with us today.
Special Holiday Journal Ideas
When we're looking forward to a ritual or special occasion that's upcoming soon, we may wish for a way to deepen our experience and u…

The Gift of Friendship

One of the wonderful things about the internet is the ability to connect with people around the world.  Over the past three years, I have "met" many wonderful people, who share my love for writing, social justice, and peace.  Melissa Foster is one of these people.

Melissa's new book, Come Back to Me, has just been released.  Like the characters in her previous books, those in Come Back to Me draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.
Melissa is our guest writer, today.  She is sharing her thoughts on friendship, a gift that is most definitely a mitzvah for both parties - double blessing! Friendship is a theme found in all Melissa's books.
Friendships That Stand The Test of Time, by Melissa Foster
What would life be like without friends? I, often, wonder about the loneliness that might take over, and how that loneliness might impact other aspects of our lives. Friendships are to be cherished; we’re taught that from a very young age, and for me, that theme is wove…

Gift Giving

Image via Wikipedia
After a month-long look at Giving Thanks, I am taking a month-long look at Gift Giving.  Tis' the season in many cultures around the world.  That being so, I will look at some of the aspects of giving, pondering questions such as, who gives; why do we give; are there rules to giving; what are the traditions around giving; when do we give; are there specific ways to give, etc.
To begin, I will share a few lines from a little book (literally) by Dean Walley - Gifts of the Heart.
"Giving's receiving, Receiving is giving! That's really the secret That lies behind living. So give something each day And you'll find that it's true... All the gifts of the heart Will be given to you."
Giving is receiving and receiving is does this work?  Each time we do a kindness, we give the gift of our self to another through that kindness (Giving does not need to include the exchange of presents.) In accepting that kindness, the person receiving the gift…

World AIDS Day

Image by sassy mom via Flickr
Today, we observe the 23rd World AIDS Day.  Are we any closer to a cure? Is AIDS awareness more prevalent?
For the answers to these questions, let's look at the World Health Organizations statistics. According to the WHO - "An estimated 2.7 million people worldwide were newly infected with HIV in 2010.
An estimated 390 000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2010; 30% fewer than the peak of 560,000 annual new infections in children in 2002 and 2003.
Since 2001, annual HIV incidence has fallen in 33 countries, 22 of them in  sub-Saharan Africa. However, incidence is accelerating again in Eastern Europe and Central Asia after having slowed in the early 2000s, and new infections are on the rise in the Middle East and North Africa.
The number of AIDS-related deaths worldwide is steadily decreasing from a peak of 2.2 million in 2005 to an estimated 1.8 million in 2010. "

photo credit: Wikipedia
In addition, "More than 95 million HIV tests were …

Giving Thanks for Those Who Sacrificed

Today, I am blessed to share with you all a post by a fellow New Englander, grew up not too far from my hometown.  Author, Melissa Ann Goodwin, ponders the meaning of gratitude.  In thanks for her guest blog, I am promoting her new book, The Christmas Village AND, she is gifting one of my readers with a copy.  All you have to do is leave a comment below.

The Christmas Village is a wonderful holiday tale about a troubled boy and his adventures in finding himself.  All I can say is, you must read the book!  I am hooked and can't wait to find out what comes next. For a sneak peak, check out the trailer.

I knew that I wanted this post to be about gratitude. It’s November, and it’s Thanksgiving, and remembering our blessings is at the forefront of our minds. I have so much to be thankful for, this year and always. But, how did I want to express that? Perhaps, I’d write a poem. Maybe, I’d find inspiration in some Thanksgiving quotes. My plan was to meditate on it a bit, open my eyes,…

Lest We Forget

Image via WikipediaWe are a land of immigrants.  This is an important fact to remember.  This is a land where our forefathers and foremothers came to escape political, religious and academic persecution.  But, lest we forget, this is also the land were some of our ancestors were forced to come in chains.  Ripped from their homes, their families, their lives. Many of our loved ones spent years of persecution here, in this land of the Free, at the hands of those who had just escaped the tyranny of their homelands.
Lest we forget, there are also those of us with ancestors who called this land home, long before the Europeans came.  We knew the greatness of this land of Plenty.  We talked to the Great Spirit and gave thanks daily for the blessings.  We thanked our four-legged, winged and finned brothers and sisters for sharing them selves with us; we thanked Mother Earth for the blessings of the earth; and we protected and respected the silent Ones who grew around us.
Lest we forget, this la…

Words of Gratitude from Around the World

One of the things that has been affirmed for me over the past two months in seminary is that Sacred Writings exist everywhere.  Often, we humans, have an egocentric view of the world, believing we, personally, are the only ones with the answers, and even, sometimes, the questions.  Of course, for every question, there are multiple ways to answer, often saying the same thing, but simply using different words.  (Ask any teacher or lawyer this and they will tell you it is true!)
The following are poems and prayers of gratitude from various cultures and religions.  May the beauty of their words touch your heart, and lift your soul.  

Oludumare, oh Divine One! I give thanks to You, the one who is as near as my heartbeat, and more anticipated than my next breath. Let Your wisdom become one with this vessel as I lift my voice in thanks for Your love. African - Yoruban
Great Spirit, Divine One, Creator who is heaven earth rock wind insect tree fox human of every size shape color
Holy are your infini…