Silence. Prayer. Contemplation. Mindfulness. These practices seem to rise when we are faced with a crisis. And that’s a good thing. To reconnect with our inner selves, our inner truths. Crises tend to push us into something more.
Today we are faced with a pandemic that has rocked not only our country but the world. We face fears of our mortality and wonder why? how this could happen? A virus that began in one country affects all of us. Whether we get sick or not I would bet that we all know someone on the front lines in some capacity whether city workers, lawmakers or first responders on any level maybe a restaurant worker, meal deliverer. Maybe you have lost a loved one. Regardless, we are all affected because more than at any other time in our history we are coming to realize we are connected.
Folks I value and teachers I follow have created prayer circles, rituals, services online to keep us connected. We are so fortunate that we have lights, the internet, heat and that our structures are okay for the most part as we deal with “sheltering” as Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen so aptly put.
I offer this prayer, Franciscan Journey_Canticle of the Creatures_Cosmic Version also known as Brother Sun, Sister Moon from St. Francis of Assisi. This version was gifted to us Rev. Br. Mark Gregory D’Alessio, this week’s podcast guest. Being grateful is holy work.
As Caroline Myss reminds us in her book, Entering the Castle: Finding the Inner Path to God and Your soul’s Purpose: “Silence, prayer, contemplation are traditional practices. . .You do these practices in the life you have now. They will enhance your life and the life of every person around you.”
During this pandemic, we are forced to stay home, walk in a nearby woods or forest. Whether by ourselves or with family we have some time for silence, contemplation, mindfulness, and prayer. Sending blessings, love, and deep gratitude to all of you. Remember all comments are appreciated. Judith
Description: This podcast takes a different focus as we deal with COVID – 19 that has hit our planet and our country these past few weeks. We deal with uncertainty, statistics, and isolation as we struggle to handle the implications for our society and the world. Brother Mark’s message is timely. Through the stories of St Francis of Assisi and St Clare, he engages us in a timeless message that our world is Holistic. We are a part of this world, one species interrelated to all species. I hope you hear St Francis’ message: go do what you came here to do. The time is now.
About My Guest: The Rev. Br. Mark Gregory D’Alessio is a Franciscan friar in the new religious society of the Companions of Francis and Clare. He’s also an interspiritual Christian priest, spiritual director, chaplain, retreat leader, author, and past President and Executive Director of the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute, which draws together the inspiration of the church with the wisdom of psychological care.
A graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, he is now a faculty member and community leader. He’s also a faculty member at All Faiths Seminary International for the training of interfaith ministers. A long-time seeker and practitioner of spiritual wisdom, he’s initiated into multiple spiritual lineages, both East (Buddhist) and West (Christian); does his best to affirm the Christian Wisdom tradition within a wider inter-spiritual framework; and, looks to God’s science and spiritual heroes (such as Thích Nhat Hanh and Francis and Clare of Assisi) as sources of inspiration and hope. He’s committed, as a Franciscan, to serving those who are sidelined and at risk.
Currently, Br. Mark lives on Long Island and serves as a crisis counselor and program coordinator at a shelter for men and women who are homeless and as a chaplain at a residential treatment center and school for children with learning and emotional disabilities. Moving to Long Island, he founded the Franciscan Circle, a progressive, interfaith gathering of clergy and lay people who seek to journey in mind and heart with the witness and wisdom of the Saints of Assisi, Francis, and Clare. The Circle is dedicated to developing leaders for thoughtful social action and spiritual care.
The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless awarded Br. Mark with their “Unsung Hero” Award last year.
Transcript: Brother Mark D’Alessio
On the top of a hill in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Floyd, VA sits a sanctuary devoted to bringing and allowing bees to function and exist as their nature intended. Gardens grace the land with seven types of hives placed in a circle in the midst of plants that support their needs. Though mist and a gentle rain surrounded the day work continued and I was grateful to be of some help at the Spikenard Farm and Bee Sanctuary.
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit this farm and bee sanctuary recently. Lending a hand where needed I met Gunther and Vivien Hauk, author and the founders of the sanctuary. I also met Jane, Summer and Rick sanctuary staff members. Together we planted an annual garden bed working side by side sowing seeds such as flax, poppy, zinnia, and sunflowers to name a few. Together we lightly hoed to tamp the seeds into the turned earth. It is said that “many hands make light work”. It’s true. We had this area seeded and hoed in no time working cooperatively. Teaching, learning, helping got the job done in a pleasurable way. I couldn’t help but wonder what songs my Native American ancestors would sing while getting the job done!
The intentions of supporting and sharing the healing of the bees and supporting the land were part of my purpose in going. After weeding in the vegetable gardens we broke bread, shared stories. Then Gunther and I walked the property edges. He showed me future plans for expansion all in keeping with the concepts of biodynamic farming and beekeeping.
Before I left we checked on a recent swarm. Beautiful combs were formed on the hive slats. I was in awe of the gentleness and caring he and his
staff showed. Vital, intense, committed to giving to the whole is the dynamic of a hive. It was a pleasure and a privilege to visit this lovely and well cared for ground.
I have mentioned the plight of our honeybees in previous articles and discussed the concept of relationships in some measure. Biodynamic farming builds and enriches the soil. Biodynamic beekeeping cooperates with the natural order of the Hive, maintaining the integrity and health of these beautiful creatures. We can co-create with the resources beneath our feet and share these resources supporting the dynamic of respectful partnership.
I highly recommend 2 documentaries:
Queen of the Sun
Vanishing of the Bees
Also, Gunther and his wife are Waldorf School trained teachers. The Biodynamic way of farming comes from Rudolph Steiner as does this education model. For more information on Rudolph Steiner’s model for teaching and Biodynamic farming methods and philosophy visit the highlighted link.
Spikenard Farm relies on the support and donations of you and I. I ask all of you dear family and friends to consider donating to this worthwhile model.
“Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary
445 Floyd Highway North
Floyd, VA 24091
For donations in stock please email us firstname.lastname@example.org
All donations are fully tax deductible.
We thank you in advance for your investment in the future of the earth and our life with the bees.”
Gratitude surrounds us this month, doesn’t it? We in the USA have created a day of Thanksgiving and regardless of how the story is told we spend a day together where many of us hold hands and give thanks. I was fortunate to have been with family and friends this holiday. It felt warm and lovely to break bread with them. I hope you have used Thanksgiving to give thanks too. No matter what is in our lives on any given day, we are here and we are participants in life. For that I am grateful.
I decided to share with you my thoughts and feelings about three incredibly remarkable, mystical women that have truly inspired me along the way; some you may know and some you may not. Since I am an avid reader and love to teach, these women are successful authors and teachers. They have been the stars in my sky especially when clouds got in the way of clear viewing. I am excited to talk about them and hopefully inspire you to pick up something different and amazing for your winter reading and for your holiday gift list.
Jean Houston, at 81 years old and proud of her age, is a lover of life, genius, storyteller, philosopher, mentor, and world renown speaker and teacher. She has mentored me through her books to question the bigger picture. Her sense of humor reminds me to lighten up and think BIG. Her book, The Wizard of US, enchants us with the retelling of the Wizard of Oz from a symbolic point of view. In A Mythic Life, she recounts her “dreamland” upbringing in Hollywood and intersperses her worldview and philosophy. I admire that she has been called by many all over the world, heads of state, governments, including our own to bring her love, guidance, and possibilities of co-creating, finding solutions to the critical problems we face today. She brings style, grace, depth all with an eager heart. Thank you, Jean.
Caroline Myss: Wow. She is like the North Star, a guide for a soul traveler. She too has authored many books and teaches all over the world. For example, Sacred Contracts, makes the world of archetypes understandable. As you may know, the world of dreams has been a passion of mine for decades. I appreciate her in-depth understanding of how our archetypes guide us. For me this work is invaluable. More than her books I admire the teacher she is who reveals the person she is. I have gotten online webinars from her website and I am continually impressed at her depth and her clarity. There is no other word I can think of that describes her dissemination of complex philosophical understandings and her depth of the world’s history other than awesome! Her willingness to serve and be of service comes through and reminds me again and again that I/we came here to help create a great world, not mediocre, not one we settle for, but a GREAT world. We have that potential and possibility. It starts with you and me.
I continue to read most of her work. She has a blog, go to her site to sign up. I look forward to her blogs and her insights. I hope you will consider this amazing lady and explore her work. Thank you, Caroline.
Marianne Williamson, another woman facing self and working to create a new world, the new earth. She too has been on the inner journey. Years ago, I came across an article on the qualities of a true leader from The Institute of Noetic Sciences. This organization is dedicated to asking questions and then exploring answers in science, spirituality, and nature. What can we do to improve this earth, where we are born where we play, create, explore and discover our potential. A true leader, they said, is one who goes on the inner journey and honestly knows oneself. Marianne is one such woman. Her books explore relationships, forgiveness, and love that use her understanding from the Course in Miracles as her springboard. Today she is daring to state our political process doesn’t work. How can we change it? What do we want from and can give to our political process that enhances our commitment to serve each other and not the bottom line? Remarkable.
Marianne’s book The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money, and Miracles. helps us get clarity on the law of attraction looking at our deeper self. Thank you, Marianne, for reminding me that miracles are a part of life.
Three women living extraordinary lives because they have listened to the call of their souls, the Holy Spirit, the Divinity that dwells within them, that dwells in all of us. Their gifts have blessed my garden and I look forward to walking new paths. Their collective clarion call to us is to wake up to our authentic self, be grateful for the old story, let it go and pick up the mantle as co-creators. The new is unknown. Remember we have each other.
With gratitude and appreciation for these special ladies in my life, I thank you. Namaste. Judith
I began my journey with yoga in the mid to late seventies, a time when the ecology movement was just beginning. I had to travel to a YMCA to get to a class on a gym floor. I was taking tap and jazz dancing lessons at that time. My teacher was on vacation so I did the 30-day routines, following the instructions religiously. When she returned and I resumed classes she couldn’t get over how limber I was, somehow different, even my breathing was better. She asked what I had been doing. Not much except I was given a yoga book and decided to do the program while waiting for her to come back. She was impressed. I was too. I didn’t realize there could be a difference between traditional dance warmups versus yoga but there was. This feedback and observation have stayed with me ever since.
Years pass and I became a lecturer at the local University and incorporated my basic yoga routine from those first classes in each of my holistic studies classes. Athletes from basketball players to soccer were often inflexible. Athletes train for their sport and those muscle groups works really well but what about the rest of their body? Hamstrings were tight, backs couldn’t bend well. So many students commented on how much better they felt after a yoga class. Athletes were awakened to the fact that though they were good at a sport their bodies were not in as prime condition as they thought. This led to discussions and I only hope to inspiration for these young adults to value their body differently.
During this time I came across Mantak Chia’s book Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao. He reminds me of the importance of respecting our body in its totality, not just a machine that we prod on and on. Every organ system is a community of cells, a neighborhood if you will, that functions in harmony with every other system creating an intricate interplay between all parts, united to serve the whole. When we are young, we give the body little thought except for cosmetic reasons or athletics. As we get older and see how the body can run down, we may step up to the plate and take better care. Often, as I have seen in my nursing career, folks often wait until an alarm bell sounds before making changes. We all do this, get disciplined, life interrupts, then we go back to our habits again.
This week, my podcast guest, Eaglemoon Raes, reminded me of Mantak Chia’s meditation, one that asks us to focus on each organ system and give thanks to that community.
- Sit quietly
- Place feet on the floor, back comfortable, breathe
- Bring your awareness to your heart. Feel your heart’s love.
- Feeling this love, focus your attention on each organ system: brain, eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. all the way through your body.
- When done bring your awareness back to your breath and give thanks for your breath of life.
“These vital organs are intimately connected to our mind. Our body is the filter for all our perceptions, feelings, thoughts, as well as the storehouse for our memory, our very sense of identity.” (p. 21, Awaken Healing Energy through the Tao, by Mantak Chia)
Giving thanks for our bodies seems a timely reminder. Enjoy.
Remember all comments and shares are appreciated.
My Native American elder friend, Grandmother Kitty, Nakota Sioux, who has passed, would often remind us to do everything with ‘an attitude of gratitude’. Being grateful for every aspect of our lives ‘in the moment’ shifts something deep within. Is it easy? Sometimes yes and sometimes not. We have to redirect that which bothers us for just a moment and when we do, our breath becomes our ally.
I woke up today realizing how the sun is traveling the morning sky differently from just one month ago. A kingfisher clicked across the backyard while other birds quietly sang their morning song. I usually begin my day with a warm glass of water with lemon juice. I felt grateful for the clean water I am able to easily drink. And that took one minute, maybe a few breaths of awareness.
Cultivating a mindful practice takes some diligent effort. Yet feeling grateful for something, our car, our job, our family, for being able to get up and walk where we choose and everything in between gives us an easy starting point. So here are 3 easy reminders:
- Choose to be grateful for this moment.
- Pick one area: grateful for the drink in hand, the food on your plate, your family. You get the picture.
- Focus on your breath, taking one inhalation breathing in gratitude for self and exhaling gratitude from your heart for others.
My podcast guest this week. Deb Sodergren, practitioner, teacher and author and owner of Up Vibrations, encourages her clients and all of us to breath deeply and
be grateful. So stop right now and take a deep breath with me. Savor this one moment and breath again with the mindfulness of feeling grateful.
One of my favorite teachers, Caroline Myss, reminds us that every thought, word, and deed carries our name into infinity….pretty amazing! Today I would like to end with gratitude. A reminder for me and a reminder for you….may the gratitude we feel for our precious life and all we share sail up to the moon and reach beyond the stars and bless all.
Remember, please comment and share. You are appreciated