Tuesday, December 26, 2006

a gift

in this season of giving, i like to receive a gift as deeply and as fully as possible. ours is a world of abundance and the more we have, the more difficult it is to be fully with each thing we have. not being fully with our things creates the illusion of needing more (which, then, in reaching for more, makes it more difficult to be fully with what we have, and the cycle worsens).

i received a gift today. i walked into my office (this being my last week with the organization) and found a prettily wrapped gift sitting on my desk. the note atop the gift explained the gift was given to say thank you for the many things i had done to enrich and enlarge the life of the giver.

i didn't want to open my gift during the noise and busyness of the work day (the giver not being present), so i kept it wrapped and from time to time looked at it and re-read the message...i had enriched and enlarged her life. if there had been nothing else in that package, her beautiful words were enough to fill me. i had enriched and enlarged her life.

a gift is a special occasion and one to be appreciated and enjoyed. at home i prepared myself for the receiving of my gift. i set about lighting incense and turning on soft music, sat down, and held the gift in my hands. the package was gaily wrapped with cheerful flowers all over the outside of it. i sat and admired the flowers, taking time to be aware of all their pretty details. you see, the note on the package was a gift, and the wrapping was a gift too. i didn't want to miss anything of my present.

i opened the package and discovered not just an ordinary box holding my gift, but a tri-coastal designs box, constructed a bit like a hatbox, with cleverly costumed dogs all over the box. the box containing my gift was, again, itself another gift, a cute decorative box for personal use. i sat with the box for just a bit enjoying its clever drawings. once i had savored the new gift box, i opened the gift further.

nestled in the box and wrapped in soft tissue were beautiful small candle holders that look like raindrops, little golden raindrops with bubbles of rain inside. with the bubble candle holders were natural palm wax candles (aura-lites) with affirmational colors of inspiration. my friend had taken the time to choose candle colors that represent current messages in my life. how thoughtful. how perfectly lovely.

her candles burn next to me now, and in the glowing i am reminded how much, even without our noticing, how much we touch the lives of those around us and sometimes, maybe, we even enrich and enlarge another's life.

thank you, jane....

smoke photography by permission

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

protection

when i was a little girl i imagined myself a survivor. if i read a story of some such personal struggle or crisis, i always identified with the survivor, even if there was only one and everyone else in the story perished. i could not not see it that way. i survived.

as i grew older and began to drive a car (and even when i boarded a plane), i always took a moment of prayer or meditation to ask for protection. i envisioned a shield about me that protected me and everyone else with me and then i prayed three words: "no permanent damage." (i tell you this because this is how i have lived this story.) what i meant when i said my three words was that should any trouble come my way, any accident, there would be no permanent consequences. a broken leg is not permanent damage, for it would heal. losing a spleen or puncturing a lung...this would be permanent damage. i envisioned a shield and spoke the words "no permanent damange." in my own car i would say it aloud; on an airplane i whispered it quietly into my window (for i usually have a window seat). i did not say these words in fear; i spoke them with trust, and then went about my business.

when i was 21 years old, or perhaps 22, i was in an accident. my sister was driving; i had my newborn baby son in my arms (this was just before carseats became easily available and legally required) and my infant daughter in the back seat. a gasoline tanker truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into the car we were in. our car was flipped around and thrown into the highway headed in the opposite direction (with oncoming traffic headed into us), barely missing throwing us over an embankment and onto another highway below. the car was totally destroyed. amazingly, not only did all speeding oncoming traffic manage to stop before hitting us, but every one of us in the car walked out without any damage. (i was a nervous nilly on the highways for a while, though.) no permanent damage.

years later i was driving my daughter to college, all of her belongings in the car, as she was moving into her freshman year, when a woman on the highway lost control and crashed into us. every window in that car was broken and the car was totaled but we walked out without so much as a scratch (my daughter went to college with bits and pieces of glass in everything she owned). no permanent damage. i continued my visualization and my three-word prayer every time i started to drive and every time i boarded a plane.

one time i was driving in the midwest in the middle of a snowstorm, my being in the far left lane and an 18-wheeler to my right, when the 18-wheeler started coming into my lane. he was huge and already halfway into my lane, and there was no place for me to go (if i went any further left i would go over an embankment). the roads were slick with newfallen snow. in a split second i anticipated the sound of crunching metal. suddenly and immediately the truck was back in his lane and i was safe, though i never saw him retrace his path. unexpectedly i was safe and tears slid down my face as though a faucet had turned on. i was safe and i couldn't explain how. i simply cried and gave thanks. no permanent damage.

one more time i was in an accident due to another driver losing control, my car totaled, no injuries to me or to my family. (a fourth time my car was totaled but in this one i was not in the car at the time. i cried when i stood in the mechanic's shop and viewed my car in a thousand pieces, but i could only be grateful for my wellness.)

none of the accidents were due to my driving and never did my insurance increase. after the last accident, though, i changed my prayer for a while to two words: "no damage." (it was the least i could do for my insurance company.)

i have sometimes said i am protected by an angel in my car (that protection going to those who drive my car even without my presence). i have no way of proving, or even any way of knowing, if there is such an angel. i don't know if perhaps my visualizations or my affirmations created my subsequent reality. i offer no interpretation or belief to accompany my story. i simply want to tell you how this has played out for me. and i express my gratitude to the Universe for the survival i have known.


photography by permission

Monday, December 18, 2006

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

—Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Sunday, December 17, 2006





satisfaction doesn't come from having more; it comes from needing less...
--diana christine






photography by permission
cindy lee jones

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

being an obligation

several days ago i wrote my post taxes april 2006, sharing what i considered to be one of this year's most meaningful experiences and richest lessons. however, in the writing of the post i began to discover a new message.

i wrote "it seems to me that paying for something is a gift...the requirement to pay for something is a gift to us," and after the writing, the words lingered with me, almost haunting me. the idea of an obligation to pay for a thing being a gift to me felt right, and my experiences with it felt true. our requirement to pay, our obligation, calls for our participation, and participation pulls us into an experience, giving us what we need.

obligation calls not only for our contribution, but for our responsibility, for our commitment. what a lovely thing it is for me to be a visitor to a garden and give my adoration or occasional gift but what greater loveliness for me to be the rain upon which the garden is depending.

i have had various relationships with obligation. i have had responsibility to children who depended on me, who could not survive without my constant care. i have had obligation to a partner who was unemployed and depended on my income for sustenance or who relied on me for courage and support. in those times i responded to obligation with ready acceptance, with open willingness, with loving trust. not only did i accept my obligations, but i did not consider them to be burdens.

however, as i wrote
taxes april 2006 i suddenly saw that i have refused (which is to say i have resisted) the other side of obligation. i have pursued a life of being sure not to "be" an obligation. (really, though, one cannot refuse one side of something without also being resistant to its opposing side.)

in recent years i have pursued being independent, self supporting, not wanting ever to be an obligation to another. i have worked to ensure that anything done for me or given to me by another be for love and never from obligation. sometimes i have been willing to suffer loss rather than ask for help in my avoidance of ever being an obligation.

as i wrote my post, though, i suddenly saw (or rather...felt) another view of obligation, and that of its being a gift. if being obligated to a thing, being required to pay, is a gift, then my refusal to be an obligation is much the same as depriving another of a gift. it seems to me i must from time to time be humble enough to allow myself to be another's obligation, to be another's gift. i am called to explore the gift of interdependence.

and suddenly, the words "being an obligation" are no longer ugly to me but are beautiful and lovely. being an obligation is a deeply meaningful experience.



photo by permission

Monday, December 11, 2006

our
most
appropriate
response
to
anything
is
gratitude,
our
greatest
participation,
thankfulness

awakening

consciousness is not all or nothing.

we are not either fully conscious or not at all conscious.

if we were fully conscious, it seems to me we would not be here. this is our proving ground. this is where we work toward consciousness. and all of us are more, and less, conscious and unconscious. sometimes more, and then sometimes less. our work is in moving to more.

as much as we work toward consciousness, we are to honor our own unconsciousness and that of another, honor those places within us that need to be awakened and deepened.

may i ever be gentle with those places in you that struggle in shadows, love those parts of me that still seek light. and may i ever work toward consciousness.

photography by permission

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christ Consciousness

i grew up in the church, a minister's daughter, and when i was a little girl, from time to time someone would come forth with a puzzle that held the picture of Christ, you know, one of those puzzles where i couldn't see his face until and unless i looked at it at just the right angle. sometimes it was His face and sometimes it was the word CHRIST held in the puzzle but i couldn't see the word until i looked at it just so. i would struggle and work to see what everyone else could see, and then once the image took shape, i could not not see his face. i would then wonder how could it have been that for so long i had been unable to see Him in the picture.

sometimes we struggle with a thing for quite some time and then understand it in a single moment.

earlier this year i was in conversation with a friend and in that conversation came to an understanding of the meaning of Christ.

Christ is the symbol of our Consciousness.

suddenly and in a moment the meaning of so many things in my life shifted into focus.

i consistently embrace the idea that if A equals B and B equals C, then A equals C. if this be true, and if Christ is the symbol of our Consciousness, then every reference to Christ is a reference to our Consciousness. during the next several days following my new understanding, i pondered the meaning of Consciousness in every context that came to me.

in the beginning was Consciousness, and Consciousness was with God, and Consciousness was God; the same was in the beginning with God.

Consciousness is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

being Conscious is my Salvation, my Redemption, my Strong Tower. Consciousness is our hope, our joy.

understanding of the scriptures poured upon me like refreshing rain that cleanses, that opens, that awakens.

sometimes my greater understanding comes to me through music. just after my deepened understanding of Consciousness, i purchased a celtic woman CD that included the song "deer's cry." lisa sings the song and as she moves into the refrain she begins to sing Christ with me…Christ before me…Christ behind me…Christ in me…Christ beneath me…Christ above me…Christ on my right…Christ on my left…Christ when I lie down…Christ when I sit down…Christ when I rise…Christ to shield me…Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me…Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me…

the words and the music wash over me and i feel surrounded by Consciousness, immersed in Consciousness, supported by Consciousness, loved by Consciousness, filled with Consciousness.

though i have listened to the music again and again, i continue to be touched and moved by it, broken open, and brought to tears. and in the crying i am cleansed…

Thursday, December 07, 2006

on being a friend

my heart weeps for the family of james kim, who died in an oregon wilderness while seeking help for his family stranded in a snowstorm. i am sorry for the grief you now bear. my heart weeps for you.

i, too, lost a friend once who became stranded in a snowstorm.

i met cheryl in high school in our small town in southeastern ohio, cheryl being one year younger than i in a school that served an entire county. i was from a conservative minister’s family, and while i did not have the opportunity to participate in the school’s many extracurricular activities, i was an academic and a class officer and had many friends. cheryl, on the other hand, was from an extremely poor family, had few if any friends, and suffered sorrowfully at the hands of fellow students who tormented her. cheryl and her family were taunted for their scruffy dresses, their out-of-fashion shoes, their unkempt hair, the heavy scent of burnt wood and coal that clung to their clothing. for cheryl’s family, childhood was grievous.

i met cheryl in the library, where i spent considerable time during the final months of my senior year in school. she sought my assistance with her homework, which i was glad to give, and we became acquainted. i easily could have been too busy for cheryl, for i had a demanding academic schedule and a full life, but cheryl needed someone to talk to, so i listened. she became my friend. we talked about history and geometry, about hairdos and boys and music, and about dreams for the rest of our lives. we shared the library for quite several months but finally the end of school arrived—i gave cheryl one of my senior class photographs and a hug, i graduated and married, and i left the country. i never saw cheryl again.

during the winter following my graduation and departure from our town, cheryl was driving through the heart of a forest in the middle of a blizzard when her car skidded in the ice and snow and slid into a ditch. she found herself stranded in a seemingly endless snowstorm, and in her efforts to keep warm, she kept the car’s engine running. as snow piled upon and around the car, the exhaust pipe became obstructed and cheryl became overcome by exhaust fumes. it was a couple of weeks before cheryl’s family found her car and her lifeless body.


i was living in germany during this time and was unaware of cheryl’s untimely death. however, in the preparations for her funeral, her family remembered the friend she had so often spoken of, the scholar she so admired, and the person she felt was the only one who had ever shown her kindness. cheryl’s mother slipped my photograph into her hands, and cheryl was buried with my picture in her casket.

many years have passed since then but every time i hear of someone’s struggle with being stranded in a blizzard, i remember cheryl and what she taught me of the importance of kindness, of tenderness, of friendship.

sometimes i look at my life and bewail what feels like too little accomplishment and even far too little growing and deepening. but on a day like today when i remember cheryl , i realize whatever promises my life may give birth to, nothing i do will ever be greater than this, that i was someone’s friend.

and i am grateful to cheryl for teaching me my most precious gift.


photography by permission

taxes april 2006

early in the year i had a new gym membership, and each day as i attended my workout, i parked my car in a nearby garage, a garage that charged a fee for parking between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

as it happened to be, i would arrive at the garage at 5:35 (coming directly from the office), and i would be charged 50 cents for my parking because of this 25-minute overlap. each day as i parked my car and paid my toll, i grumbled under my breath for the necessity of paying 50 cents every time i worked out. i was so close to parking-fee closing time and i was, after all, already paying a gym membership, and 50 cents per day equals an additional $15 per month (though i was not working out every single day).

no one heard my grumbling, as it was under my breath, so it seemed to me to be innocuous enough. however, one day as i paid my fee and felt my own lamenting sigh deep within me, it occured to me i was involved in a practice of resistance. i suddenly realized resistance is not only about expressions of anger but is also about refusal to accept what something is and how it is, no matter how quiet our opposition. and i was practicing resistance.

i set about to make a correction. each day as i paid my two quarters, i thought to myself (just as quietly as i had grumbled) how much i appreciate having the ability to pay 50 cents. many of my brothers and sisters in the world are unable to pay this half dollar and in fact, it was not so long ago that my own income could not have supported an ability to render 50 cents. each day as i paid my parking fee, i gave thanks for the gifts in my own hand, gave thanks for my ability to pay for the convenience of a comfortable garage, gave thanks for my luxury in a gym membership. giving thanks became my practice every time i paid any fees, tolls, or bills.

january and february turned into march and then april, and it was time once again for me to account to the IRS for my income and my taxes. in the previous year i had been unable to pay all of my taxes by april 15 so i had negotiated a monthly payment plan for my unpaid portion. another april had arrived and i anticipated the need for a similar arrangement for another year, expecting the many thousands of dollars already paid to the IRS would not cover the full amount needed to cover the tax year.

just before the april deadline arrived, however, i was invited to make a presentation to an audience in the northeast for a couple of days, an engagement that would pay me a couple thousand dollars. just enough, of course, to pay the remainder due on a certain tax bill. as i completed my tax forms and wrote my check, i was delighted to be able to pay my bill without incurring IRS debt. i was so pleased to make my payment in full that it never occurred to me to complain or grumble about the cost of my tax bill; i simply gave thanks. reflecting upon it later, i realized that practicing gratitude in paying something as small as 50 cents for parking had resulted in natural gratitude in paying a couple thousand dollars. how lovely my new practice.

it seems to me that paying for something is a gift. the requirement to pay for something is a gift to us. our requirement to pay is a call for our participation. our paying for what we have and what we do becomes our interaction. i am being asked to participate, and participation in life and participation in the earth is such a beautiful thing.

my story doesn't end here, though.

several weeks after paying my taxes, i received an envelope from the IRS, an envelope that contained a correction to my tax calculations and a notice that i would soon receive a check from the IRS. several days later i received their check, a check for nearly exactly the amount i thought i had owed them and had paid them in april. once again, i found myself in a position of gratitude.

and i can only sit and wonder.

returning

i have missed being here.

my life has continued to unfold, and beautifully so, but as weeks turned into months i began to wonder how to return. my life is full and rich, and how does one step back into a moving stream?

it seems to me the best way to return is right where i am, with my stepping into what in my life is already in progress. however, i seek your permission to recapture a couple of messages from this year, messages that have been numinous in my awakening.

thank you for your presence in my writing and my life, for your faithfulness, for your friendship.

diana christine