WEEKLY STRETCH 1-26-17 ~ WE CAN – WE WILL

Today I feel the desire to piggy-back on my posting from last week. Since then the world has taken a drastic turn and that turn has resulted in an array of feelings and responses. Personally, it has left me feeling unsettled and rattled. I know the same is true for many people.

I’ve made decisions about self-care, limiting the news and social media and trying hard to corral my wayward thoughts and concerns about how our current situation will affect our lives and the future. It’s been extremely challenging and exhausting. I’m struggling to keep myself grounded and positive.

On Saturday, we witnessed something extraordinary that gave me more hope than I’ve felt in many months. We saw huge gatherings across the world that were initiated by women who care deeply about preserving what is sacred and right for all people. We saw women standing up for themselves, millions of them, some marching in enormous crowds, some in smaller ones, and some of us marching in spirit from wherever we were that day. And men were there too, supporting and standing alongside the women in partnership and in alliance. Photos and videos showed a sea of pink in cities around our country and the world. And it was peaceful, kind, and powerful. There were no arrests, no riots. There was nothing destroyed or looted. It was a demonstration of strength and conscience.

I was with my family on Saturday honoring my parents with a cousin’s gathering at my brother and sister-in-law’s home. It was a great day of celebration and connection and I loved being there. And I was torn because I dearly wanted to be with all my sisters, marching and representing the high ground. I kept checking my newsfeed and as photos of marches across the country came in I was brought to tears with pride and sheer amazement at the numbers. At the end of the day I saw photos from around the world and was simply awestruck that so many people could stand tall with so much dignity and heart. I heard from friends who attended marches that there was nothing but kindness and a sense of purpose that permeated the crowds. It reminded me that we can indeed make a difference, that light transcends darkenss and that we can come together for the benefit of all people regardless of gender, race, religon or background. And that we WILL continue to do so.

One friend reminded me of the time in the 60’s when we protested about an unjust war, burned our bras, and demanded equality. So much changed as a result, and we didn’t have social media or a twenty-four-hour news cycle to keep us informed and connected. Times have changed and we can connect in ways we only dreamed of back then. I am trusting that the wave of energy that is building and building will continue to keep us standing tall with dignity. I am trusting that what is right will always move through the darkness and illuminate the way through for the benefit of all concerned. And despite the exhaustion and fear and angst, I am trusting that all is in Divine order, as always. We Can ~ We Will.

STRETCH: (FOR ALL OF US, ESPECIALLY ME!): Keep breathing. Be mindful of your thoughts. Protect your energy. Remember these words: “This too shall pass.”, “We shall overcome.”, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

IN PRAISE OF SISTERHOOD – WEEKLY STRETCH 1-19-17

Kwan Yin is an East Asian bodhisattva * associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. She is commonly known as the “Goddess of Mercy” in English.

A string of dreary days here in the Northeast has offered me some time to reflect and ruminate and the topic that rises to the top is the value of “sisterhood”- in my life and in the lives of some of the people I know. I am blessed to be a member of many different groups focused on different aspects of my lifestyle. Most of the people in these groups are women of various ages and backgrounds. Personally, I thrive in diversity and I’m fortunate to have that in abundance. I work from home almost exclusively now and, while I don’t mind being alone and rather enjoy the solitude, it can and does sometimes get lonely on gloomy, gray days like the ones we have in the Winter. These groups, predominantly via private social media, become my social life and my way of connecting with others of like mind.

One unique little “family” comes to mind. We are seven people – 6 women and one extraordinary man (my husband) – and we are truly a family. We are connected through cyberspace heart to heart and we share our lives, our challenges, our thoughts, our dreams, our fears, our joys and our triumphs. We care about each other and keep each other in heart and mind. While there is physical distance between us, in cyberspace we are only a keystroke away. Technology is truly a gift when used in good ways.

Another group is in support of those of us involved in a “30-Day Challenge”. This challenge is about making drastic changes in diet and lifestyle and we support each other in every way. Many of the women have shared intimate and deeply personal aspects of their lives, some have reported deaths of loved ones, some have children in the hospital, most have simply needed support and a great many have been extremely kind and generous with theirs. We are there for each other for the sole purpose of knowing we are not alone as we all navigate this new way of being. When one falls she has virtual hands ready to pull her back up. It’s amazing to witness and be part of this valiant group of women.

In real-time I am surrounded by some of the most magnificent women imaginable. My family, close friends, fellow ministers are truly women of great substance. Recently I have found myself in deep discussions with most of them, surrounding a variety of issues, and I’ve been struck again and again how deeply the Goddess vibration runs. Women have a very special connection that goes beyond the surface; beyond skin and bone; beyond cosmetics and clothing and who shops where; beyond economics and who has the bigger house or the most successful job. This connection is at the soul level. This is the connection we all share; the essence of The Goddess in each one of us and our innate ability to be deeply compassionate and protective. The women in my life are vibrating with the magnificent light of Kwan Yin, the Goddess of compassion and healing; they radiate kindness and concern and a desire to help and understand. They come from the place of The Divine Mother – the One who loves and supports unconditionally. They are daughters, wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts. They love deeply. And they are strong. Boy, are they strong, and fiercely loyal. Are they flawed? Of course, they are. Everyone is flawed in one way or another. But at the core, where it really counts, I see nothing but the light of The Divine Feminine shining through them and spilling forth into everything they encounter. They are the light of compassion and healing.

These are my sisters. These women reflect to me my own intrinsic divinity and help me see that I too am the essence of The Mother, and now the Crone* in the sacred company of the Wise Ones who hold that essential space for the younger ones who will eventually occupy the throne of wisdom where we now reside. I am humbled by every one of these women and abundantly grateful to all the communities where I am blessed to encounter them every day.

STRETCH: Look at yourself in the mirror. Look long and hard into your own eyes. Notice the fire that burns deep within, beyond your face and your body, beyond your skin and hair. Look into your eyes. Linger there. The eyes are the window to the soul; a soul that burns with the fierce fire of The Mother. You are that. When you can, look into the eyes of the women you encounter in your day and silently bow to the Goddess that is alive within them. These are your sisters.

*Bodhisattva – Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the embodiment of great compassion. He has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering. In China, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is represented in female form and is known as Kuan Yin. Probably because of Kuan Yin’s great compassion, a quality which is traditionally considered feminine. Anyone can be like Kuan Yin. You may say that you don’t have a thousand eyes or a thousand arms or that you lack skilful means, but it is your compassion that can transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands, you can help others. With your compassion, you can bring peace and tranquility to this world. (from www.buddhanet.net)

*Crone – In her positive aspect she is often depicted as a Grandmother, a wise woman, or a midwife. The word Crone is derived from the old word for crown, suggesting the wisdom that emanates from the head like a halo. Her own child baring days are past; she is the wisdom keeper, seer and healer and midwife, whose knowledge is sought out to guide others during life’s hardships and transitions. (from www.goddess-guide.com)

Hope Springs ~ Weekly Stretch 1-13-16


Springing at Michaels – Franne Demetrician

I was in Michael’s craft store the other day shopping for art supplies. I was running late for my first day of a mixed media painting class and just ran in to pick up my paints, not really noticing what was around me. I just wanted to get in and out and not be late for my first day. The last time I was in Michael’s was one of the many trips I made leading up to the holidays. Some of my gifts were special things I made for family and friends so Michael’s and I were good buddies for quite a while.

As I stood in line to check out I looked around the store – you know, the way you do when you wait and want to distract yourself. What I noticed was a major change in the energy of the store. Gone were the red and green, the garland and tinsel, the Santas and snowmen. Instead, all around me was the hope of Spring. I saw cute little outdoorsy things; green and pink decorations, tulips and daffodils, little painted wooden fences and pretty watering cans, all sorts of sweet Spring décor. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry I would have browsed and probably spent a lot more money. At the front window was a display of floral centerpieces. They were so pretty and it was all I could do not to jump out of line and grab one. One of these was in a little box that said “Flower & Garden”. It was my favorite.

As I looked at these pretty Spring decorations I could feel my mood changing, my spirits lifting, and something stirring in my heart. The word that came to mind was “Hope”. It’s no accident that during our President’s farewell speech he reminded us of the idea of hope and the importance of keeping it alive. In a world that consistently presents us with one challenge after another it’s vital, at least for me, to keep hope alive by seeking out the people and events that affirm that wondrous things are also happening. People are being kind and compassionate. Doctors and nurses are healing people. Scientists are looking for answers and researchers are searching for cures to disease and ways to make our lives better. Lovers are finding each other; babies are being made and the miracle of birth is happening in every moment. Children are learning to embrace each other and dedicated teachers are opening their minds. These and so many other things are happening in the world and hope is indeed a living thing.

The dreary days of winter can and often do bring our energy down. But I feel so blessed that for those few moments I was reminded of the promise and hope of spring. I could almost smell those delightful fragrances, and feel the warm rays of springtime sunshine on my face. And it gave me pause to stop and affirm that all is well. I will stop and look around more often. Don’t want to miss an opportunity to find hope.

STRETCH: See where hopefulness resides inside you. Stop and look at your surroundings with the intention of finding something that affirms hope is alive in your life. Dig if you must. It’s there.

THEY MAKE MAGIC! WEEKLY STRETCH 1-6-17

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Last June I wrote about attending rehearsal for an upcoming performance by an amazing band of brothers, the Reock and Roll Revue, led by a very special and gifted friend and family member, Tom Reock. Last night, once again, I took my favorite place in the rehearsal room and watched as one by one a parade of incredible musicians arrived. At any other locale, these people, with few exceptions, look like ordinary folks, pretty much like you and me. Mind you I’m not calling any of them “ordinary”. No one is ordinary. What I AM saying is that when they enter this room every one of them becomes larger than life in my eyes. Each one of them is a multi-dimensional musician – talent vibrating from their very being – and I am in awe of every one of them.

[I should note here that my husband Bob is on percussion and sax, my brother Hal is on bass and vocals, and my niece Lindsay is a back-up vocalist for this gig. Yes – another family affair. Am I proud? You betcha!]

Back to the point of this post. The band is rehearsing for a performance of Steely Dan’s music, including the “Aja” album from beginning to end. Anyone who knows this music is aware of the multiplexities of sound, the crazy-ass lyrics, the dissonant chord voicings and the layers and layers that pervade every song. And these people are nailing it! They have chops, man! They know how to make it happen – and you believe it.

What they don’t know is how much what they are doing is healing me. I have a chronic pain condition that has unexplainable ups and downs. The downs are called flare-ups and I am experiencing a doozy right now. These flare-ups can make it difficult for me to move around and cause extreme fatigue. Knowing that rehearsal was coming up, I made it a point to rest as much as I could so I could get there. Why? Because in my life music is a healer, especially when that music comes from this special group of people. And as soon as the music started the pain and fatigue vanished. My energy was lifted and I felt better. Much better. The music was like an infusion of healing light from Source. I felt the energy of creativity moving through me as the band duplicated note for note, chord for chord, the complex pieces that make up these long beloved songs.

Ticket sales for this show are unprecedented and I know why. These people know how to make magic. And I am blessed to have a front row seat to watch it happen. I will be at every rehearsal. I’m no dummy. I want every drop of that healing energy.

STRETCH: The Universe is a benevolent source of healing. If you need it, ask for it. It will be provided for you. All you need to do is ask.