Memorial Day: Reiki for the victims

Memorial Day: Reiki for the victims

“Eve of Destruction” is a 1960’s protest song written by PF Sloan and made famous by singer Barry McGuire. The lyrics refer to 1960’s issues of fighting against communism and for civil rights, but I think the words are as poignant and true on this Memorial Day, 2014, as ever. Here is the last verse of the song:

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
but when your return, it’s the same old place,
the poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
you can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
hate your next-door-neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
and you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

azlyrics.com

Here is a link to a You Tube video of Barry McGuire performing the song.

I am particularly taken by “hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace.” This is a giant problem in our world, particularly in America. We forget our oneness, our responsibility to love and care for our neighbor as Jesus showed us. Yet, as a Christian religious culture, we say grace in the name of Jesus when we bless our meals. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in this? If we keep down this path of hatred and divisiveness, eventually we will meet our destruction as a planet.

On this Memorial Day, I am thinking about my neighbors, the poor soldiers who have given their bodies and their lives in fighting rich men’s wars for rich men’s definitions of freedom. Their pain is my pain. I am sending Reiki healing energy to the injured soldiers and their families, and to the families who have experienced the ultimate loss: a fallen father or mother, sister or brother, or child. The earth trembles with the pain, injustice, and destruction of war.

I also memorialize and send Reiki to the hurting victims and soldiers of our American culture and societal wars:

  • The young woman who lost her baby in the war on the poor because her boss made her choose between her pregnancy and her job.
  • The Muslim victims of terror when their mosque is graffitied and defaced by the “armies of God” in a Christian town.
  • The progressive Christians who are slandered, excommunicated, and driven out of town in the war on liberalism by fundamental churches.
  • The homosexual teenagers cast out on the street by their intolerant families in the war for “traditional values,” and who face bullying and hopelessness that drive them to suicide.
  • The people wrongly imprisoned for minor offenses or no offense at all because of the unjust, imperfect war on drugs and war on crime.
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    Cloud of Witnesses

    Cloud of Witnesses

    There are spiritual beings all around us. Although we can’t see them, they are cheering us on the journey, weeping when we weep, laughing when we laugh. They can bring us great healing, and joy if we learn to communicate with them.

    The writer of Hebrews in the Bible tells us of a great cloud of witnesses, surrounding us and cheering us on to the finish line (Hebrews 12:1). These are people who have crossed the veil before us: our relatives, beloved friends, faithful saints and leaders of all religious and spiritual traditions who know the joys at the end. There are also crowds of angels and other spirit beings who may never have journeyed on this physical plane, but they encourage and help to guide the spiritual seekers on earth.

    I grew up in a tradition in which it was “evil” to set up altars honoring the deceased or to talk to the dead at all. Generally, this is taboo in this hyper-scientific American (white, Protestant Christian) culture, where spiritual encounters are explained by physics or neuroscience, and children are discouraged from believing in imaginary friends. But I am seeing signs of hope with an increase in paranormal movies and psychic documentaries, with increased public conversation about life beyond the grave, and with the blossoming interest in spirituality and answers beyond the simple black-and-white, heaven-and-hell teachings of the church.

    Cultural conversations with the cloud of witnesses

    Many cultures around the world, even some American cultures, do embrace the spiritual and peek into the veil separating the seen from the unseen. The Japanese set up beautiful altars to honor their deceased. Mexicans celebrate and converse with their ancestors during Dia De Los Muertos. American Indians talk to the spirits and use soul retrieval to help the deceased to cross over. African-Americans share ghost stories and folk mythologies full of truth. Mystic Catholics pray to saints for guidance. All of these methods are ways to communicate with, and receive love and encouragement from, the cloud of witnesses. Of course, I am greatly generalizing here, and every person has an individual view of spirituality, but I am also exploring the big cultural ideas.

    What does it mean to be encouraged by the cloud of witnesses?

    Encouragement: take courage, find strength on the journey.

    Sometimes the evils, hatred, and greed in this world cause me to tremble in fear and lose my grasp on happiness. But I have learned to talk to the unseen beings surrounding me. They tell me jokes and stories, remind me of my mission and destiny on earth, and help me to remember my home full of love on the other side.

    As an empath, when I hear a story of someone abused or the innocent jailed and caged, I feel intense emotion, even to the point of physical sickness. Because of this, I can get too wrapped up in earthly concerns of justice and pain. My cloud of witnesses whispers to me and remind me that karma will always be fulfilled, and I can only change myself, and hopefully help to lift up a few people in my small corner of the world. I really hope that my writing can make some small difference. Ultimately, I cannot save or change a world that does not want to be changed.

    Instead, I can focus on the reward, the homecoming at the end of my journey. My spiritual friends tell stories of wild, trippy dimensions of ultimate bliss and fun. They describe giant feasts of food more delectable than the grandest dinner on earth. They tell me about houses made out of light, and one giant community made out of love. That is a dream worth living for!

    Namaste, friends. In the future, I will talk more about heaven, the cloud of witnesses, and the spectacular spirit beings I have met. For today, look inside. Listen to the whispers of your loved ones who have passed on. Embrace their joy and embrace the journey of light and love.

    My View on Santa Claus

    Picture used freely, courtesy of marczini on stock.xchng
    Picture used freely, courtesy of marczini on stock.xchng

    Yesterday, a friend asked me what I think about Santa Claus. I have a three-year-old son, so this question is on my mind as we approach the holiday season.

    I like the story of Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was legendary in his concern for the poor, bringing them gifts to lift their burdens. Legend says that he even paid the dowries of some poor young women so they could afford marriage and not fall into prostitution. This is amazing, and this is the kind of lesson I want my son to learn.

    Unfortunately, the Santa Claus of today bears little resemblance to the saint of old. Our Santa Claus has become the happy, bearded patron saint of commercialism and corporatism. His tightly-run, efficient North Pole toy factory is a marvel of modern industrialism. His elves are willing workers who, much to the jealousy of managerial staff everywhere, never seem to gripe about hours or higher pay. To his credit, Santa Claus does provide his elves with all guaranteed basic necessities: food, shelter, health care, all in the comfort of his magical snowy village. This is far more generous than corporate America.

    But his promotion of greed, and the idea of getting the latest and greatest gifts from Santa Claus, is the primary reason I choose not to promote this myth with my child. My husband tells stories of childhood Christmases in which Santa did not bring very many or any toys to his poverty-stricken family, while Santa reigned lavish gifts on his richer friends, who promptly flaunted their new treasures at school as soon as Christmas break was over. This is tragic and not a lesson I want my son to learn.

    Unfortunately, I know I will have many teaching moments like this in the future, whether I teach him about Santa Claus or not, because I am raising him in a culture that is driven by ego and greed. I am already struggling with the best way to show him how to deny his ego and learn to care for the needs of all those around him. I want him to understand our human connectedness and the importance of his soul journey, both paths that are treacherous when mixed with greed, holidays or otherwise.

    Another problem I have with Santa Claus is his stereotypical perpetuation of a cultural superiority. 99.9% of the time, Santa Claus is portrayed as a white man who visits children who live in nice, big suburban (or, maybe, country) homes by sliding down their chimneys. Now, I realize that this image has come down through the centuries from a European background and a time when most people probably did have chimneys, or at least fireplaces, but this image today is that of a middle-class or wealthy white family. That is not the face of my family; that is not even the face of America. What message am I really sending my mixed-race child by telling him that a White Man is responsible for Christmas presents and holds a list of all the naughty and nice things my son has done?

    Considering the point of naughty and nice, this is another conflict I have with Santa Claus. No child, and no adult for that matter, is purely naughty or nice. The world exists in shades of gray. Even if Santa Claus puts all the naughty and nice acts on a scale to find out who is worthy of the gifts, who gave Santa the authority to determine the meaning of naughty and nice in the first place? If little Jimmy grabs a toy from the shelf while he sits in the cart at the store because the toy appealed to him, does that go on the naughty list, or is it simple immaturity? What about if little Jaleisha grabs a cookie from the deli and runs out of the store with it because her stomach was growling and her parent’s food stamps had run out for the month? In America, I know which child would get the most blame. Does Santa Claus think the same way? I want my son to learn how to grapple with situational morality, not lists of black and white crimes. Santa Claus does not fit very nicely with this life lesson. To that note, there is a children’s movie, Fred Claus, that I enjoy immensely that confronts these very questions.

    Another children’s Christmas movie that I like with Santa Claus is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I’ve watched that movie with my son before. We talked about how Rudolph was special, and a very important reindeer, even though the other reindeer made fun of him because he looked different. I also talked with my son about the Isle of Misfit Toys and how there are no misfits on earth. Everyone is special and made to be loved by someone. We all must learn to love and accept each other. Rudolph is a great lesson in this.

    Now, some people believe that it is wrong to lie to children about Santa Claus, to lead them to believe in supernatural myths. I actually don’t mind that part. I want my son to believe in the imaginary, see all the possibilities of the supernatural realm. I encourage him to make up stories, have imaginary friends, and believe in unicorns, dragons, fairies. How can we know whether these realms exist or not? I believe they do.

    So my take on Santa Claus is that he is a cultural icon that surrounds us this time of year and my son will learn about him whether I want him to or not. I just use these moments and his questions as a springboard to teach him about the greater truths of loving and caring for each other during the holidays and all the time.

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