Our world of many faiths

December 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Posted in Christmas, faith, family, Holidays, inspiration, knitting, Life, love, women | 7 Comments
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There is a tradition of faith and religion, the seeking of an understanding of the nature of God and our relationship to whoever or whatever God is going back at least 10,000 years on our planet. During those 10,000 years many faiths have emerged helping people find their way to a connection with God from many different viewpoints. Each has validity, each has value.

With so many different faiths the world over, the concept of any one being the one and only true faith is peculiar to me. It doesn’t make any sense if you think about it. However, it does make sense that one faith is the one true faith for one particular person … at a time. Each individual person who wishes to understand the nature of God and what his or her relationship is to God needs a path to follow to get there. For George, it is religion A and that is the one true faith for George. For Natalie, it is religion C and that is the one true faith for Natalie. Michael, on the other hand, finds that religion H works for him, so that is the one true faith for Michael. George, Natalie, and Michael are all on the right path … each has found the one true path of faith that works for him or her.

They should all wave to each other and say, “Hey, way to go! Isn’t this amazing!”

Wouldn’t it make sense that if God exists and has anything to do with the affairs of mankind, that there would be some wisdom coming from that source to provide mankind with many different paths to follow in reaching the God connection.

I believe it would have to be so. We are so different, one to another. We have different cultures, different life experiences, differences in our spiritual nature, and so forth. There would have to be many different paths leading to God. The most fundamentally important thing is seeking God and gaining a closer connection to whoever or whatever God is for you, not which path you use to do so.

If God is love, it could not possibly make any sense at all that conflict, hatred, or war would lead any one of us, some of us, or all of us to a closer relationship with God. That part of the equation must come from somewhere else, and leads to erroneous illogical conclusions that don’t add up.

I’m right, you’re wrong, my God is the one true God, my faith is the one true faith. No — we are each right, our Gods are God, our faiths are faith, our love is love. We are all united in love and faith, regardless of the tradition of knowledge or ritual that gets us there.

I have a dream of a community church of all faiths where people from all over a community from any faith within that community could gather together for the purpose of sharing faith and love, learning more about what unites us in our religions, and celebrating together our gaining of a closer connection to God. You know, if we brought our faiths closer together in friendship and trust we would inevitably grow closer to God all of us together.

That makes sense to me.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is from quite a few years back in Los Angeles when my children were still fairly young. It was a particularly challenging Christmas for me as a single mother. My car was broken, I was out of work, and out of money for the most part. Determined to create Christmas magic, my children and I made Christmas gifts for family members using materials we had on hand for the most part.

I had some red velvet fabric I used to sew Santa outfits and Santa “bags” for a couple of little teddy bears. My son made two cube shaped boxes with lids out of a decorative paper and lined them with some gold-leaf we had on hand in our art supplies. The boxes looked very magical, and we put them inside the red velvet Santa bags that went with the teddy bears. We gave one of the Santa bears and bag with the magic box inside to my parents and the other to one of my older brothers and his family.

I painted watercolor portraits of several nieces and nephews for others in the family, and was up painting the last one on Christmas Eve. While I was painting I watched a televised Midnight Mass. I had never attended a Mass of any kind, and didn’t know what to expect. It was beautiful. Ministers from a wide variety of religions spoke for several minutes each. They all gave a holiday message based on their respective theologies but all had a common theme: love.

Sometimes I think the real reason behind all of the hardship I was experiencing at that time was so that I would be up late painting on Christmas Eve and therefore watching television to help myself stay awake and thereby see that particular show…it was an important part of my own spiritual path.

This holiday season I am thinking of you, whoever you may be and whatever your faith may be. I am sending to you my thoughts of love, my prayers of hope and peace. I am longing to feel a deeper connection with God by reaching out and touching your hand (in spirit) and expressing my gratitude to you for your part in the worldwide search for God along many different paths shining many, many different lights toward truth.

Love,
firefly

About wishing you a Merry Christmas

December 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Christmas, faith, family, Holidays, inspiration, Life, love, women | 14 Comments
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The other day I stopped in at our favorite local apple grower’s roadside store to buy a few pounds of apples and some fresh pressed apple cider. After paying, the lady at the counter said, “Have a nice Christmas,” and I could see a little look of doubt in her eyes as if she wondered if it was okay to say “Christmas” to me. I smiled and said, “Merry Christmas!” She relaxed, smiled and said, “Merry Christmas! It is so hard to tell what to do say these days.”

In response I said, “Let’s not have our communication stifled by such negative considerations. Wishing people a Merry Christmas is a kind, good-natured thing to do.”

That is how I feel about it.

I wish you a Merry Christmas, because wishing you a Merry Christmas is to wish you a season of love and kindness. That is how I mean it. I do not mean to wish Christianity on you, and in saying it I am not saying I am a Christian. The fact is, you don’t know what my faith is (unless you are my immediate family) I don’t discuss it because that is my personal business, not yours. Just as your faith is your personal business, not mine.

But whether I am Christian or not, I wish a Merry Christmas to all of the people of the world.

To attempt to stifle people from wishing one another a Merry Christmas is to stifle well wishing and thoughts of love. Why do that, when love is what the world needs.

Yes, Christmas is particular within the Christian religion is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

But people of any faith or no faith could enjoy a sense of the celebration of brotherly love for the good of mankind and acknowledge a heightened sense of love during this season was inspired by some guy named Jesus who lived back about 2,000 years ago — regardless what the significance of that guy is. Whether he was a prophet, the son of God, God himself, or just some guy … he said some cool stuff and the coolest thing he said was, “Hey guys, you really should stop all the hating and do some loving instead.”

And there was something very convincing about the way he said it, because his words impacted the way much of mankind has lived and regarded one another positively in a huge way and that impact has lasted for more than 2,000 years.

So, I say to you, Merry Christmas. I say this because I wish you well, I wish you love and a sense of peace. I wish these things for you and those you touch and those you love. I wish these things on you and yours today, and for this season, and I hope those feelings will last for as much of the coming year as you can possibly carry it on. I don’t know you personally, perhaps … but I wish you love.

That is all it is, and even if you take a stance of being offended by my wishes of a Merry Christmas to you and yours, I love you any way and wish you love and peace any way. I respect your beliefs, whatever they may be. And, I wish you love.

So, Merry Christmas!

Love,
firefly

The true meaning (or a better meaning) of “righteous”

December 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Posted in art, Christmas, faith, family, inspiration, knitting, Life, shopping, women | 12 Comments
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Our little world is in a bit of trouble, and someone needs to do something effective to turn things around.

But, who can we turn to? Who has the power to turn things around in a little world so seemingly large?  World leaders?  Politicians?  Celebrities?  The media?  Who.

Two thousand years ago, give or take a couple hundred years, someone had the idea it was the every day people who could make the biggest difference, because that is who he brought his message to.  A message of love.  Love your neighbor.

He gave his message to you and to me, to our counterparts way back in those ancient times.

Love.

Many other religions, most I would think, have the same message at their root.  Love is the key.

And so, here we are in the season of love when we – as many of us as can muster it – generate and luxuriate in the feeling of true brotherly love or something close to it.

Why can’t we do this on a more regular basis, why don’t we bring this sense of magical love to each other on a more routine basis each and every day of the year.

It is strange really, because it feels so good to generate those feelings.  When you regard someone else with that beautiful love of the Christmas season it makes you feel so good, very deep inside.  It also does much good for the recipient of your love.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial to feel that way more often, during other less auspicious months of the year?  Wouldn’t it be great to feel that way often, no matter if it is holiday time or not.

Then, at Christmas time we might celebrate the fact of that love being present year round and who knows, Christmas might be an even more powerful magical holiday.  Who knows.

I have thought quite a bit about love over the past year because I know I have work to do in getting it right, getting it right more often and on a broader basis.

There are plenty of people that it is easy to love, you really don’t have to try at all with some people.

With others, it is something you have to consciously set out to do, but it can be done.

When I was in my early twenties, I started working at a company where my sister was also working.  There was this other girl who worked there who was very different  and kind of rubbed us and others the wrong way because her manner communicating and dealing with people seemed course and abrasive.

My sister and I spoke about it and decided something needed to be done about that girl, so we reported our grievances to personnel.  The person in charge of personnel very wisely rebuffed our.   Upon reflection at the time I realized I should experiment with consciously creating a sense of love and friendship  toward that other girl.  My “natural” reaction to her was negative and I decided to create my feelings toward her, rather than to respond to my reactions toward her.   I thought, why not try to purposely like someone who I didn’t feel as easy sense of friendship toward.

I started treating her as if I liked her, and turning my mind toward the feelings I would have about someone I liked when I regarded her.

The interesting thing was that very quickly I actually did start liking her.  As I did this, I began to feel genuine stirrings a friendship and found I could appreciate her differences rather than being put off by them.

My friendship with her became more refreshing and rewarding than the friendships I fell easily into, and it was a powerful life lesson I have carried with me and applied many times sense.  Luckily for me it was a lesson I learned fairly early in my life

There are those who it just feels right not to love because of things they have done that are so very, very wrong.  I know there are some that my heart is hardened against loving other than on a very superficial level.  It is important to me that I face that fact and be honest with myself about it.

I believe that to the degree that I feel justified in loving some and not loving others, I am contributing to the unhappiness of the world at large.  I also believe that when you have a few billion people withholding their love from others for what seem like perfectly legitimate reasons, you have then a world in trouble.

And, it is not our world leaders or politicians or monarchy or those with money and power who can do the real work involved in changing that situation.

The most powerful tool and resource, with the most abundant potential of all, is in the hands and minds of you and I – the people of the world.  We are billions, they are few.  We could love one another the way our various faiths remind us to, and we could do a better job of it than we have done so far.

Something that occurred to me about this recently is that the key and the challenge is to love others because they exist, just because they “are”.  Not to love another because he or she has done something that pleases you, but because that person is.  Only that.

I also believe one of our biggest barriers to loving each other is in judging one another.  That is what causes the world so much pain.  There is a feeling of righteousness people have when they can look at someone else and know that other person is in the wrong.  It gives a person such a feeling of righteous rightness to know that someone else is wrong.

The most righteous thing you can do, however, is to love someone else and in loving them not judge.  Who are any of us to judge one another, anyway?  I say, be your most righteous in how you love others, let that be your righteousness.  Loving someone else is the most right way to be.  Use this beautiful slang definition of righteous, “absolutely genuine or wonderful” (dictionary.com)  in the way you love your “neighbor” and you will see just how right you can feel and be.

I know it seems as if the world and the peace of the world is in the hands of the “leaders”, but if you look at the fact that world leaders have had countless opportunities, centuries, and unimaginable resources to bring healing to the world and they don’t ever get that job done.  It is a logical conclusion that  they are not going to ever be able to get that job done.

But, you and I could actually do it – and all the you and I’s of the world – if we could ever get our own act together and do what we should have been doing all along.  Loving each other, across all differences and boundaries, simply because we all exist and for no other reason.

This we have the ability to do.  It is within you and it is within me.  It cannot be taxed away from us, it cannot be wasted away by power hungry politicians, it cannot be stolen from us by thieves in the night, it cannot hoarded by the rich and wealthy.  It is ours, and we actually have it within us in a great overabundant supply that we never even begin to tap into.

You could make a big difference in the world if you just picked ten to twenty people who you would not normally love or even like.  Bend your mind toward the idea that you do love them, simply because they exist.  Do not try to do all ten to twenty at once, just do this one at a time until it feels real to you.

You might have to work at it, but it will be worthwhile, I can promise you that.

And if you do that with ten to twenty people, and if another ten to twenty people do that, and then another ten to twenty people, and so forth … we could make an impact on the world.

You could pass this suggestion along to others, and get them trying the experiment – an experiment in love.

~firefly

P.S. Featured in the photo at the top of today’s blog are the knucks I am knitting for myself, and yarns I have bought to make some coordinating items.  I promised these photos a couple of weeks back but then I lost (or misplaced) the knitting bag I use for smaller projects.  I just found it the other day, so was able to photograph the knitting progress and the yarn this morning.

The knucks are going to go up my arm several inches, for extra warmth.  I am knitting my knucks out of a very soft, alpaca fingering weight yarn from Berroco (Ultra Alpaca) in the Potting Soil color way.  There will be fingerless gloves in Lavender Mix in a worsted weight of the same yarn to use for extra warmth on the coldest of winter days.

The heavier weight yarns in a brown and purple color are for a hat and scarf that coordinate without totally matching.  I will tell you more about my color choices in a future blog.

Special Last Minute Offer on Knitter’s Eye Charts and Fine Art Photographs

Fine Art Photographs: Buy One Get one Free now through December 18th on any size Fine Art Photograph or print of a painting from my Fine Art Etsy store. However, photographs must be ordered by the 13th of December for Christmas deliverey. Mention “BOGO” in comments on order form at Etsy and tell me the print you choose for free. Offer includes prints of paintings as well, but these may be ordered through the 18th of December for Christmas delivery to lower 48 U.S. states. The BOGO offer is through the 18th of December, but photographs have to be ordered by the 13th for Christmas delivery

For Knitter’s Eye Charts: Buy One Get One Free all Knitter’s Eye Charts (includes sets of three) and other fiber related prints now through December 18th. All orders placed by midnight on the 18th of December will ship out in time for Christmas delivery to lower 48 U.S. states. Please be sure to let me know if the print is shipping directly to the gift recipient so I can package it slightly differently as a gift. Mention “BOGO” in comments section of Etsy order form and tell me which print you choose for free.

Flying Junction: My son over at Flying Junction is still taking orders for Christmas delivery as well on Subway Roll Signs and Bus Scroll Prints. He has added some new cities and prints recently (Seattle, Washington D.C., Atlantic City, and quite a few Los Angeles area signs) so if you need a beautiful quick idea for someone on your list, check out his selection too.

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