Women Marching

Women Marching

Millions of women are marching across the United States, and the whole world, today. I am marching in my spirit, whole and well, even as I am unable to physically march on my broken foot. I join with all my sisters to say: We are marching for peace! We are marching for love!

We are marching for a better world! A world in which our daughters will grow up to be seen as powerful contributors to society, not just a pretty body for men to grab. A world in which our sons will know that showing compassion and empathy is a truer sign of strength than being the top boss. We are marching for a world in which people experiencing disabilities are fully included in society rather than being mocked by the president of the United States. We are marching so that Muslims, and people of all religions, can live in peace, rather than live in fear that the president will order them rounded up and registered. read more

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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    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.

    Free From Capture: Yeshua and the Woman Caught in Adultery

    Used freely, courtesy of duchesssa on stock.xchng
    Used freely, courtesy of duchesssa on stock.xchng

    She felt the cold air rush in on her face and graze her naked skin. She looked at her partner next to her in the bed, wicked smile starting across his lips. “You’re going to get it now, whore,” he whispered. She stared into his dark eyes, looking for a sign of humanity, a sign of life. She only saw blackness, and demons.

    She had given him everything he asked, and she hadn’t even demanded a very high price. She hated the rough treatment, the constant pain in her body and mind. She felt all their glances on the street. They all knew that she was a dirty woman.

    Her parents had sold her into prostitution when she was only ten years old. The midwives gave her the herbs and the treatments. All in secret. She cried with each miscarriage, each life cut short by cruel circumstance.

    But then the miracle happened. The herbs didn’t take and, at age sixteen, she gave birth to her beloved daughter, the light of her life. She hid away her child, protecting her from the judgment of society and the religious leaders.

    By day she shared bread and fish with her daughter, and the rare treat of an apple or some grapes. They liked to climb trees and play hide-and-seek in the warm morning sun, when people assumed her husband was busy studying Torah. She lived her own lost childhood with her daughter. A kind man knew their secret and had built them a shelter. She laid her daughter to bed there at night, and breathed a prayer of protection over her. Then she sneaked out to earn their living.

    This was the only way she knew to buy a better life for her daughter. Society gave some  protection for widows, but she was only a whore with a child, never married, an illegitimate family. She knew that nobody wanted to help, so she had to fight, the only way she knew how. There were plenty of men ready to oblige.

    She had continued in this life of hell for twelve years. The child was almost old enough to marry now, and, hopefully she could find a family with a son who would understand. She only had to turn a few more tricks, keep up the secret a little longer.

    She knew she shouldn’t have trusted him when she saw him. He was a religious leader, a young man from the learned class. But he was handsome, and, more importantly, he had money. Lots of money. He asked her to do the deed in the morning. She had thought it unusual in daylight where people could see, but he assured her that his parents would not be home.

    The sheets were soft white and the blankets rich purple. She imagined herself a queen dressed all in palace purple as she allowed him to come into her. She closed her eyes and moaned a little to please him while she pictured her daughter, a new happy bride in a happy house, sunshine filling the windows and a flourishing olive grove growing in the field. The dream of abundance swallowed up her pain.

    But the icy fingers of the wind ripped her dream into shreds. The older man stood in the door, his religious robes dark against the morning sun. She tucked her head and shivered underneath the sheets. She did not cry; she had lost all of her tears when her parents abandoned her. She only thought of her daughter.

    The young religious leader rose from the bed and calmly put on his clothes. “You can take her now. Do with her as you please. We’ll take care of these two trouble-makers today.”

    The older religious leader came to the bed and grabbed her from the sheets. He threw her on the floor and threw her clothes on top of her. “Get dressed,” he sneered. “You know what we are going to do to you.”

    The two men dragged her out of the house and down the street. They brought her to the Temple. She saw a young man teaching in the center. She had seen him somewhere before. There was a crowd whispering and talking around him. She marveled as she saw him answer a young man’s question and touch his hand. What kind of religious leader was this?

    The men whisked her through the crowd and threw her at the teacher’s feet. The crowd fell silent. “We found this woman in the middle of adultery!” they proclaimed triumphantly. “Moses said in the Law to stone these kind of women. What do you say?”

    The woman stared into the man’s face. He had kind eyes, a compassion she had never seen from any man. He whispered into her ear, “Don’t be afraid, I know what they’ve done to you.” He looked at the men who had dragged her in, and she saw his eyes turn to thunder.

    “Well, what do you say, Yeshua?” The young religious leader sneered the name and tapped his foot impatiently. He bent down and picked up a stone from the ground. “We don’t have all day.”

    The woman whispered “Are you Yeshua? The great healer?” She had heard all the stories. Hope filled her heart.

    Yeshua bent down and wrote her name on the ground. He wrote the name of her daughter.

    He stood up and proclaimed, “He who is without sin, throw the first stone.” The young religious leader grimaced and tightened his grip on the stone.

    Yeshua bent down and wrote another name. The older man touched the young religious leader’s hand. “Let it go,” he whispered. Yeshua continued to write, name after name, sin after sin, of all of the religious leaders.

    The young man and the old man turned and walked away, followed by all of the religious leaders and most of the crowd. The woman kept staring into Yeshua’s face. A dove made a mournful coo in the still morning air. What was happening?

    Yeshua straightened up and looked around. “Are you the only one left? No one condemns you?”

    “No, Master,” she whispered.

    “Then neither do I. I know you were forced into what they call sin, but you are free from the bondage today. I have arranged for one of my disciples to care for you and your daughter. The Father loves you and has chosen you for this moment. You will be honored in heaven for your bravery.”

    The woman knelt at the feet of the Master and cried.

    John 8:1-11

    A Natural Healer’s Thoughts on Obamacare

    Photo used freely, courtesy of pear83 on stock.xchng
    Photo used freely, courtesy of pear83 on stock.xchng

    I am a healer. I use natural and Holy Spirit-led healing methods and ideas to bring balance in my own life, my family’s life, and the lives of my clients.My greatest hope as a healer and spiritual seeker is to bring balance, light, and love to my community and the world at large as I am led by YHWH, the Creator and great Healer. I believe that everyone has the right to seek an abundant life full of joy, and to follow a journey of healing from physical and emotional pain.

    Sadly, my country is in turmoil right now, following a path of hatred and destruction, the opposite path of healing. I am disgusted by Congress and the constant bickering and posturing of those who supposedly “represent” us. They are willing to shut down the government at the risk of jobs, housing, even food and life itself for Americans everywhere, all in the name of denying universal medical care: The Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare.

    Uh, last time I checked, every other developed nation, even many undeveloped nations, consider universal access to needed medical care a human right. Yet, some Republicans in the United States are willing to let little children starve just to defund the Affordable Care Act.

    What is so bad about Obamacare? The Republicans say that mandating health insurance coverage for everyone is morally wrong, yet they do not blink an eye about mandating automobile insurance coverage. Now for those who say that cars are a luxury, and only people who can afford to get insurance should be allowed to drive, how do you reconcile your beliefs with the need of people to get to work to pay for all the bills of living? Public transportation is a sad thing in this country; outside of some big cities, cars are the only viable form of transportation. Yet, in some of these places, there are police officers who park at highway entrances next to low-wage factories when they know that the shifts change for the day. They write tickets to all of the poor people who have been forced to choose between their auto insurance and their rent. How is this freedom, or even morally permissible?

    Yet, somehow, the Republicans forget these stories when they say mandated insurance is a moral wrong. At least with the Affordable Care Act, the poor will receive government subsidies, or even free care under Medicaid expansions, to obtain their insurance. This is not the case with already-mandated auto insurance!

    Some people claim that the Affordable Care Act is harming workers by encouraging companies to drop full-time workers to part-time hours. Well, many companies have already been doing this for years due to the slow economy and the long, painful recovery. Blaming Obamacare just gives them a way to take the spotlight off their own immoral actions which they would have committed with or without the new medical law. At least all of these part-time workers will now have free or low-cost medical care through the state insurance exchanges.

    Also, the Affordable Care Act is life-giving in so many ways. For example, it prevents abortion! This issue, more than any other, is the heart throb of the Republican party. Some Republicans have spread fear that abortions are covered under the Affordable Care Act, yet this is not true. There are provisions to cover birth control, but not to cover abortion. Conversely, Obamacare prevents abortion, not only by providing birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies, but also by helping women cover the costs associated with pregnancy and delivery. Some women obtain abortions because they cannot afford these costs. Without insurance, an unexpected pregnancy can easily bankrupt a struggling family, with hospital birth alone costing $10,000 to $20,000. Even many private insurances do not cover maternity care, so many insured women have faced these same heart-breaking decisions. Yet, here too, the Affordable Care Act helps, because it mandates that starting in 2014, all private insurance must cover maternity care.

    Beside politics, I also personally support the Affordable Care Act because I believe it is my spiritual responsibility to support and care for my struggling neighbor and my country. It is absolutely appalling to me that million of people lack basic medical care in a developed nation like the United States. This certainly shows that we do not truly care about human rights, which is the foremost teaching of every religion. “As you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto me,” Yeshua said. If only one person dies because we do not support health care as a society, then we have rejected Yeshua completely as a society. By a Harvard study, it is estimated that at least 45,000 people die every year in the United States simply becuase they lack insurance. Millions more do not die, but struggle with pain and ill health due to lack of insurance. All in a society that hypocritically proclaims itself as a “Godly nation” that “loves Jesus”.

    As a natural healer, I use Reiki, sound healing, and other spiritual modalities that are not often practiced in mainstream Western medicine, although even this is changing. The Mayo Clinic has done some promising work with Reiki and accupuncture in cancer treatments. Still, it is rare that insurance will cover “alternative” medicine, and the Affordable Care Act does not change that, unfortunately.

    Still, Western medicine has its place in bringing health, especially in cases of traumatic injury or acute disease. I believe that in this wealthy, developed nation where resources are abundant, the least we can do is offer our Western, mainstream medicine to all, including the “least of these.” Maybe someday we will wake up and learn to value spiritual medicine as well and offer universal access to that as well.

    I am a healer, a dreamer, and a follower of Yeshua, therefore I support Obamacare!

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